Category: Instagram

Instagram Called Out For Censoring More Art With New ‘Sensitive Content’ Default

Image via PixieMe /

This week, Instagram launched a new feature allowing users to control how much “upsetting or offensive” content appears on their Explore tab.

Instead of creators the user already follows in their regular feed, the Explore tab displays posts curated by the app’s algorithm based on the user’s account activity.

However, some artists on Instagram are pushing back against this new feature, asking their followers to allow for “sensitive content,” as not doing so might cause their artworks to be censored.

Currently, the platform defines “sensitive content” as “posts that don’t necessarily break our rules, but could potentially be upsetting to some people.” This includes violent or sexually explicit images, such as “pictures of people in see-through clothing” or posts that promote substances such as drugs or tobacco.

With the new feature, users will be able to choose if they wish to “allow” or “limit” such posts from appearing on their Explore tab, or “limit even more” for more protection.

Content creators and artists fear that the new controls will impact the reach of their art, especially as “limit” was set by Instagram as the default setting.

“We don’t know how this will affect artists yet, but the fact is that overnight, everybody’s settings all of a sudden included an option to limit the content they see to varying degrees,” artist Clarity Haynes told Hyperallergic.

“I think of it as a kind of sanitizing of art, and it will most negatively affect artists who are pushing the envelope. Decorative art that is not challenging will be fine, but LGBTQIA+ artists, artists of color, and feminist artists will probably be affected by this.”

Image via Facebook

.@Instagram launches 'Sensitive Content Control' feature

The feature lets you manage how much sensitive content shows up in Explore

— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) July 20, 2021

[via Hyperallergic, cover image via PixieMe /]

Instagram Can Now Automatically Translate Text In Stories Into Over 90 Languages

Image via Michele Ursi /

Instagram has rolled out a built-in translation feature to Stories, allowing users to automatically translate any text that isn’t in their native language.

Stories differ from Instagram’s usual feed posts in that they disappear after 24 hours. Creators and influencers often use them as a more casual representation of themselves, to showcase behind-the-scenes content or their daily lives.

According to MacRumors, now, any time text appears on a Story that isn’t in a user’s original language, it will be automatically translated from more than 90 different languages. However, there isn’t an audio translation option, so you won’t be able to translate what your favorite foreign influencers are saying just yet.

In Stories that feature translations, a “See Translation” banner will pop up, prompting the user to tap on it to view the translated text. While Instagram has had built-in translation tools for feed posts since 2016, this is the first time it’s coming to Stories.

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A post shared by Instagram’s @Creators (@creators)

[via MacRumors, cover image via Michele Ursi /]

Instagram Hack Lets You Share Links On Stories Even Without 10K Followers

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Image via ALEX_UGALEK /

Everyone—whether small business owners, creators or anyone hoping to share an article—could benefit from the coveted ‘Swipe Up’ feature on Instagram stories that directs followers to a webpage. Unfortunately, this tool is currently only available for Instagram accounts with at least 10,000 followers.

The good news is that Instagram is testing link-sharing on stories for a broader set of users, as the company’s VP of Product Vishal Shah confirmed with The Verge. Here, links will appear as stickers that others can tap on.

While everyone else awaits for that to be an official feature, though, there are ways to add the ‘Swipe Up’ function to your Instagram stories, as social marketing tool Later reveals in a blog post. They’re not as straightforward as the feature that larger accounts are entitled to, but they’ll do if you absolutely wish to direct followers to your storefront or an article.

The trick, it seems, is to create IGTV videos, which let you add multiple clickable links to their descriptions. This turns IGTV clips into “landing pages” for your profile.

First, you’ll have to record a video that’s at least 60 seconds long and upload it as an IGTV video. You can then insert your links in the description.

To enable the ‘Swipe Up’ gesture, create an Instagram story and tap the link icon at the top of your screen, then select ‘+ IGTV Video’ and add the video you just recorded to your story.

Viewers can then swipe up your story to jump over to your IGTV video, where they’ll also be able to tap on links in the video’s caption.

For more details, head over to Later’s full blog post, where it also details a second way for anyone to add links to Instagram stories. You can also check out the video below for a step-by-step tutorial on sharing links to longform IGTV videos.

[via Later, cover image via ALEX_UGALEK /]

Instagram Rich List Shows The ‘Highest-Paid’ Users Per Post On The Platform

Image via Shutterstock

Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, must be funny in a rich person’s world.

While the bulk of the community strives to be heard, famous personalities are easily raking in over a million dollars per post. That’s according to UK-based social media analytics tool Hopper HQ, which has just unveiled its annual ‘Instagram Richlist’ for 2021.

Based on its data, Cristiano Ronaldo leads the pack, bagging about US$1.6 million per post for promoting a product or service to his 310 million followers. The soccer star supersedes runner-up and last year’s highest-paid Instagram user, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—so you can imagine the damage Coca-Cola might have incurred as a result of the famous Ronaldo snub.

Johnson reportedly commands about US$1.5 million per sponsored post, and coming in close are Ariana Grande, Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, and Kim Kardashian.

Interestingly, the firm notes that Instagram wealth is beginning to spread more evenly around the world, with influences from Africa and Asia taking up 25% of the list, as opposed to a mere 15% last year.

Hopper HQ says it pulls from internal statistics, “agency rate cards, and public information” to generate its wealth rankings.

It’s, of course, practically impossible for most people to earn as much as these personalities through Instagram posts. The social network, however, has recently disclosed that photo-sharing is no longer its priority.

This means that brands and creators can look to other features to turn a profit on this potentially lucrative platform, such as the ‘Shopping’ feature, which allows the community to browse and shop products featured in posts. You could also maximize your online presence and boost engagement by understanding how Instagram’s algorithm works, as explained directly from Instagram.

Check below for some of the richest Instagram accounts of 2021, according to Hopper HQ’s findings. For the full list, head here.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano): US$1,604,000 per post

2. Dwayne Johnson (@therock): US$1,523,000 per post

3. Ariana Grande (@arianagrande): US$1,510,000 per post

4. Kylie Jenner (@kyliejenner): US$1,494,000 per post

5. Selena Gomez (@selenagomez): US$1,468,000 per post

6. Kim Kardashian (@kimkardashian): US$1,419,000 per post

7. Lionel Messi (@leomessi): US$1,169,000 per post

8. Beyoncé (@beyonce): US$1,147,000 per post

9. Justin Bieber (@justinbieber): US$1,112,000 per post

10. Kendall Jenner (@kendalljenner): US$1,053,000 per post

Click to view enlarged version

Click to view enlarged version. Image via Hopper HQ

Click to view enlarged version

Click to view enlarged version. Image via Hopper HQ

Click to view enlarged version

Click to view enlarged version. Image via Hopper HQ

Click to view enlarged version

Click to view enlarged version. Image via Hopper HQ

[via B&T, images via various sources]

Instagram Declares It Is No Longer An App For Sharing Photos

Image via Jimmy Tudeschi /

With the rise of TikTok, Instagram has begun to shift its sights to take on the newer social media platform.

In a video posted to his Twitter, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri shares that instead of Instagram stagnating as an app focused solely on sharing photos, it has evolved into a community where users turn to “to be entertained.”

“We are no longer a photo-sharing app,” Mosseri can be heard saying in the video. “The number one reason people say they use Instagram, in research, is to be entertained.”

Already in testing, Instagram aims to work with an algorithm similar to YouTube and TikTok, showing users more recommendations in their feeds rather than just content from accounts they follow. And it makes sense, since the two platforms are Instagram’s biggest competitors when it comes to video.

However, this change isn’t new. In 2016, Instagram had already announced that feeds would cease their reverse-chronological order, favoring a feed suited to individuals’ interests. This follows similar moves by Facebook and Twitter in the early 2010s, much to the dismay of many users who were accustomed to a chronological feed they had curated for themselves, rather than relying on an algorithm to curate it for them.

Instagram Confirms ‘Exclusive Stories’ For Accounts To Start Member’s Clubs

Image via PixieMe /

Following in the footsteps of Twitter’s subscription model, Instagram has now confirmed it’s working on a new paid feature, ‘Exclusive Stories’.

For the past two weeks, screenshots of the rumored feature have been circulating online following Alessandro Paluzzi’s tweet. Instagram later confirmed to TechCrunch that the screenshots were of an internal prototype the company was working on.

According to Engadget, users who chance upon Exclusive Stories will be told “only members” can view the content. It also appears that viewers won’t be allowed to screenshot these videos.

Content creators might have to add previews of these paid stories to their Highlights in order to entice followers into shelling out for the subscription.

Though Instagram has yet to announce a launch date for this feature, it’s clear the company is following other social media platforms in developing new ways to keep content creators on the app. Could your favorite influencers be offering paid behind-the-scenes content on Instagram? We’ll find out soon.

#Instagram is working on stories for fan clubs, exclusive stories visible only to fan club members 👀

ℹ️ It is not possible to take screenshots of exclusive stories.

— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) June 21, 2021

[via Engadget, cover image via PixieMe /]

Instagram Lets Some Users Post From Desktop: Find Out If You’re One Of Them

Image via Postmodern Studio /

Instagram is reportedly conducting a trial that lets some users post to their feeds directly from a desktop browser. This is the first known instance in which the photo sharing platform has publicly allowed users to post an image from outside its mobile app.

Instagram confirmed the test to Engadget, saying: “We know that many people access Instagram from their computer. To improve that experience, we’re now testing the ability to create a Feed post on Instagram with their desktop browser.”

Since the pandemic hit last year, people have been spending more time on their desktops and laptops, doing everything from working to video conference and browsing the internet right from their desk. This could perhaps be a reason Instagram’s looking to expand its posting capabilities from more than just the smartphone app.

Previously, leaker Alessandro Paluzzi spotted desktop posting capabilities on Instagram, though his findings at the time only showed an internal test. Now, more selected users are seeing this new feature enabled on their desktops.

According to a test by Engadget, it appears to still be possible to upload multiple photos, edit, and apply filters to images from the desktop browser. There doesn’t seem to be any significant changes when compared to the smartphone app, either.

It’s hardly a surprise Instagram is moving in the direction of its parent company, Facebook. Earlier this week, it was also reported that the company was testing another feature that would place “suggested posts” into users’ feeds among posts they’ve chosen to follow.

As per CNET, you’ll know if you’ve been selected upon logging in, as a pop-up will appear to alert you should you have the feature.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, here’s how to post directly from your desktop:

1. You’ll see a ‘+’ button on the right corner in the top navigation bar of’s desktop website, between the ‘DM’ and ‘compass’ icons. Click on it.

2. Drag and drop the pictures or videos you wish to upload.

3. Make edits and/or apply filters.

4. Add your caption, geo tag, or tag others in your post.

While it’s currently unclear when both trials will be fully rolled out, it seems it won’t be too far off in the future.

NEW! @Instagram lets you create + publish posts via desktop!

— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) June 24, 2021

Now we're talking @instagram

Can now upload from desktop 🤩

— Dean Davies (@deancdavies) June 24, 2021

Well this is a massive shift – you can now create and post Instagram photos from desktop 👀

— James Daly (@JamesDaly90) June 23, 2021

[via Engadget and CNET, cover image via Postmodern Studio /]

Instagram Finally Confirms How Posts Are Ranked… And Why Chronological Is Dead

Image via Shutterstock

Instagram has always been tight-lipped about the way its algorithm works, but it seems that—after years of mounting rumors about the feed being biased and sexist—the social network finally broke down and addressed how posts and stories are prioritized.

In an unexpected blog post, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri unraveled mysteries about its algorithm, like how feeds, Instagram Stories, and the Explore tab are ranked, as well as why the dearly-missed chronological feeds will no longer work in this era.

First off, Mosseri clarified that Instagram’s AI isn’t as one-dimensional as users might think, and that it is really made up of “a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose.” This means that Stories are boosted differently from content on the Explore page; for instance, “People tend to look for their closest friends in Stories, but they want to discover something entirely new in Explore,” Instagram explained. “[So] we rank things differently in different parts of the app, based on how people use them.”

Image via Maximillian Piras / GIPHY

As for why some of your posts are more popular than others, and why certain Stories and posts are shown in your feed first, Instagram named the four “signals” that help its algorithm rank content. In order of importance, they are:

“Information about the post,” such as how many likes a post has already gotten and “more mundane information” like when the photo was uploaded, what location it is tagged at, and how long a video is.

“Information about the person who posted,” where the algorithm gauges “how interesting the person might be to you” in terms of the frequency of interactions people have had with them over the past weeks.

“Your activity,” which gives the algorithm clues about your interests and signals like how many posts you have liked.

And lastly, there’s “your history of interacting with someone,” which tells Instagram whose content to push based on your interactions with a particular user, such as whether the both of you have commented on each other’s posts.

Image via gifnews / GIPHY

Instagram said it used to limit duplicate content across Stories in the past, “but we see a swell of reshared posts in big moments – everything from the World Cup to social unrest – and in these moments people were expecting their Stories to reach more people than they did, so we stopped.”

And to answer the question about whether chronological feeds will ever be back, the straight answer is no. Mosseri explained that while it was feasible to display a “single stream of photos in chronological order” when Instagram launched in 2010, the platform has since grown exponentially, and prioritizing content one way would limit most posts from showing up in your feed.

“As more people joined and more was shared, it became impossible for most people to see everything, let alone all the posts they cared about,” Mosseri said. “By 2016, people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections. So we developed and introduced a Feed that ranked posts based on what you care about most.”

Finally, Mosseri shared that there is a way to “train” the algorithm.

To discover more posts you actually want to see, you can: select your Close Friends, which tells Instagram whose Stories and posts you’d be most interested in; mute accounts who aren’t as important to you; and label recommended posts as “not interested.”

Image via Vishav Arora / GIPHY

You think you wan Chronological Social Media feeds. You actually don’t – you’ll miss far more of the content you want to see. Seeing the best content > seeing content that happens to be posted then you open the app.

Head Of Instagram @mosseri wrote about it today:

— Jack Appleby (@JuiceboxCA) June 8, 2021

[via 9to5Mac, cover image via Shutterstock]

Instagram Makes Hiding ‘Like’ Counts An Option For All Users

Image via Facebook

For the last couple of years, Instagram has been trialing hiding like counts on posts. Now, the social media app will finally allow all users the option of hiding their public like counts on their profiles.

Instagram had originally tested hiding like counts to make the app a less pressurizing experience for content creators. However, it received mixed feedback, with some users preferring the option of not worrying about how many ‘likes’ their posts got, while some found it difficult to get a sense of what was popular.

Starting today, users will have the option to hide like counts on all posts, so they won’t see any like counts at all.

There’s also an option to hide the number of likes on your own posts, so followers won’t be able to see your like counts either.

Users can additionally choose to be selective with which posts to show or hide like counts, as Instagram will allow them to make a choice before sharing a post. The setting can be switched on and off, even after the post has gone live – so you will always have the option of hiding your likes for existing posts.

In the next few weeks, these new updates will also be rolling out to Facebook, so you’ll have the choice of hiding or keeping your posts’ like counts on that platform, too.

To stop viewing all likes, head over to settings, type “Posts” and select ‘Hide Like And View Counts’.

To switch off the visibility of your profile’s like counts from everybody, tap the three dots on the top right corner of a post, and select ‘Hide Like Count’.

Image via Facebook

[via Facebook, images via Facebook]

Follow Mike Armstrong on his main Mike Armstrong Speaker Instagram Account here!

4,072 Followers, 7,502 Following, 416 Posts – See Instagram photos and videos from Mike Armstrong (@mikearmstrongspeaker)
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How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience

The best marketers today are building loyal fans by engaging with their audience in the comments and in messages. By approaching every conversation with genuine interest, they are leveraging social media to drive a remarkable and unforgettable customer experience that has fans coming back over and over again. But how exactly can you create this remarkable customer experience on social media?

One marketer that has mastered the art of social media to drive a better customer experience is Bryanna Evans. She’s the Social Media Manager at Southern Elegance Candle Company (SECC), a home fragrance and budding lifestyle brand that captures the warmth and hospitality that the South is known for. Not only has her focus on engagement helped them build loyal fans, but it’s also helped them double or triple their revenue, as its founder and CEO D’Shawn Russell told us: “Our social media makes us a lot of money… We went from doing maybe $20,000-30,000 a month just posting pretty images to well over a $100,000 a month now simply by engaging people more.

Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how SECC creates a positive customer experience on social media that has customers coming back over and over again. You’ll hear directly from Bryanna Evans, Social Media Manager at SECC, and you’ll learn:

  • How a positive customer experience on social media can bring significant value to your business
  • How your audience can help you with your business’ marketing and product development strategy
  • The tool Bryanna uses to more efficiently engage with SECC’s audience
  • What social platforms are most successful for customer engagement
How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience

This post is part of the #BufferBrandSpotlight, a Buffer social media series that shines a spotlight on the people that are helping build remarkable brands through social media, community building, content creation, and brand storytelling.

This series was born on Instagram stories, which means you can watch the original interview in our Highlights found on our @buffer Instagram profile.

Tell us more about you! What’s Southern Elegance Candle Co. (SECC) all about and what’s your role there?

Southern Elegance Candle Company is a home fragrance and budding lifestyle brand that captures the warmth and hospitality that the South is known for. The fragrances we offer are inspired by our CEO, D’Shawn Russell’s experiences growing up in the South. Through our products, individuals are able to experience the joys of southern-living no matter where they are.

My name is Bryanna Evans and the role I play at Southern Elegance is multifaceted, but my major responsibilities include social media management and overseeing customer service. Although many think of them as separate entities, I feel that they overlap quite a bit. Both assist in my process for developing strategies that appeal to consumers, content creation, and building authentic connections with our audience.

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience

Why does customer experience on social media matter?

In this digitally charged age, everything is at the touch of our fingertips. We’ve been conditioned to expect information just as quickly as we consume it. The same holds firm for customer experience on social media. It’s often the first impression potential consumers have of the company and whether it’s worth investing in them, (browsing their social media platforms, following accounts, purchasing products). It can make or break a brand.

How does SECC create a positive customer experience on social media?

We use our platforms to cultivate a welcoming environment centered around unity and inclusivity. Our tagline ‘Modern Values, Southern Charm’ plays a huge role in our content creation process- from graphics to captions, we try our best to ensure that anyone who comes across our feed feels accepted. We engage with our audience as if we’re long-time friends whether they’ve been following since the beginning or just visiting out of curiosity. That energy also translates into how we approach questions, answer comments, email, and DM’s.

We engage with our audience as if we’re long-time friends whether they’ve been following since the beginning or just visiting out of curiosity. That energy also translates into how we approach questions, answer comments, email, and DM’s.

What are SECC’s most successful social platforms for customer engagement and why?

Instagram and Facebook are our most successful platforms, with TikTok on their heels. I would credit our success to our genuine interests in our audience. The internet has made many skeptical- It’s often hard to know if a brand really cares about you as a consumer or just your money. This feeling can be amplified through robocalls and chatbot assistants. If someone comments on our posts, we comment back. If they call they’re met with a welcoming voice. We spark conversations through quizzes, videos, contests & giveaways.

I would credit our success to our genuine interests in our audience. If someone comments on our posts, we comment back. If they call they’re met with a welcoming voice. We spark conversations through quizzes, videos, contests & giveaways.

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience
Instagram post found here.

How do you learn from your community to help guide your marketing and product development strategy?

Our community is very vocal about what they desire from us. We often get messages regarding fragrances and products they want to return or see. However, in the event that we decide to launch a new product or scent, we try to include them in the process as much as possible. We allow them to test scents, vote for new fragrances, and name candles. We actively seek their feedback and test interest in future projects through story polls, surveys, and asking questions.

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience
Facebook post found here.

How does managing SECC’s social media account and community look like on a day-to-day basis?

We always have a lot going on, so content is planned on a weekly basis. Personally, organization is key. I have to manage my time wisely; to do so I use a personal planner, a social media planner, and two whiteboards. One whiteboard has a tentative time-based schedule written out. This allows me to pivot if something arises and I need to help out on the floor or have an influx of calls for the day. The other contains important reminders for upcoming projects and tasks.

My workday usually starts at 8 AM. When I arrive I review my planners, and reminders for the day. The next hour of work is dedicated to answering customer service emails. For the next half-hour, I create any graphics I need for the day and schedule a few posts, if I haven’t done so over the weekend. Afterward, I dive straight into our Instagram and Facebook DMs. I also reply to comments from anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour. I then take a bit of time to check my work emails and knock out a few things on my to-do list. I also take this opportunity to plan and execute at least one TikTok video for the week for the company account.

We post to our Instagram and Facebook stories daily- depending on what’s happening on the floor I post behind the scene footage around 11:30 AM or 1:00 PM. Throughout the day I share stories we’ve been tagged in or important announcements like sales. After lunch, I go back to answer any new customer service emails, schedule any other posts if needed, answer DMs, story replies, and comments. My day typically ends at 4 PM. Before I leave for the day, I make sure to answer any lingering emails.

We post to our Instagram and Facebook stories daily- depending on what’s happening on the floor I post behind the scene footage around 11:30 AM or 1:00 PM. Throughout the day I share stories we’ve been tagged in or important announcements like sales.

Walk us through how you use our new engagement tool. What are your favorite features?

Buffer’s new engagement tool has really helped to boost the efficiency of replying to comments. My favorite engagement feature by far is the alerts, as they’re a huge time saver. I love how they allow me to prioritize which ones I need to reply to ASAP. When I see a shopping cart or question icon I know that may need to have detailed information available for that individual. An added perk is that the tool makes it easy to scroll through comments on each post and locate those pesky spambot comments so they can be removed or hidden.

What advice do you have for brands that want to start using social media to build a community of loyal followers?

My advice for brands looking to use social media to build a loyal community is to start conversations, gather feedback, and be real with your followers. Social media can be intimidating but at the end of the day, there’s no wrong or right way to go about it. What works for Southern Elegance, may not work for another company. It’s all trial and error. It’s important for brands to experiment with different approaches and see what sticks. A good start is looking into the topics, trends, and habits of your target audience and using that information to curate engaging content.

What works for Southern Elegance, may not work for another company. It’s all trial and error. It’s important for brands to experiment with different approaches and see what sticks. A good start is looking into the topics, trends, and habits of your target audience and using that information to curate engaging content.

I actually follow some of my professors from college. They regularly post articles, start conversations around emerging trends, social media, public relations, and marketing practices. I try to stay active on social media- Even if I don’t post daily, I set time aside to go through each platform, take note of memes, recurring topics, trending hashtags, etc. If I see something I think I can apply or rework to fit Souther Elegance I take notes and dig deeper.

Additionally, in my free time, I take online courses, and attend “YouTube University.” Social media is constantly changing and I’ve found that the best way to keep up with the algorithm changes, updates, and latest strategies is to just put time aside to actively learn.

What’s your favorite SECC product and why?

My favorite Southern Elegance product would have to be our wax melts and warmers. I just turn my warmer on, pop a wax melt in, and go about my day. My favorite fragrances are our Charleston: Sweet Tea and our Savannah: Peach & Champagne as they remind me of my time spent growing up in Georgia and attending my alma mater Georgia Southern University.

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience
Instagram post found here.

Have any questions for Bryanna? Feel free to reply with your questions to the Twitter post below and Bryanna or someone from the Buffer team will get to them as soon as possible.

Introducing a Better Way to Engage With Your Instagram Audience

Introducing a Better Way to Engage With Your Instagram Audience

What if I told you engaging with your customers on Instagram can double or triple your revenue?

That’s exactly what happened to Southern Elegance Candle Co. as its founder and CEO D’Shawn Russell told us:

“Our social media makes us a lot of money… We went from doing maybe $20,000-30,000 a month just posting pretty images to well over a $100,000 a month now simply by engaging people more.”

Russel and Southern Elegance Candle Co aren’t alone. Brands like Glossier (which attributes 70% of its growth to owned, earned, peer-to-peer, or organic channels), MadHappy, and Sass & Belle, focus on responding to almost every customer on Instagram.

So it can be incredibly powerful to focus on engagement. But how do you actually stay on top of every comment?

After working and testing with thousands of customers, we have developed a solution that is truly focused on enabling you to build better relationships and a stronger brand on Instagram.

We are excited to share it’s available to all Buffer customers today!

(If you are not a Buffer customer yet, you can get started at just $15 per month.)

Introducing Instagram engagement in Buffer

Every time an Instagram comment goes unanswered, an opportunity to create a lifelong customer is lost.

The problem?

Staying on top of these interactions is really hard.

Notifications from Instagram quickly disappear and important comments slip through the cracks. And we get why — no one has the time to hang out on Instagram 24/7. Your time is precious, and we’re here to help you win it back.

With this latest addition, you’ll be able to reply to more comments, stay on top of important interactions, and turn your followers into fans. All from the comfort of your Buffer dashboard.

Introducing a Better Way to Engage With Your Instagram Audience

Never miss a comment

It’s really easy to miss new comments among the likes, follows, and mention notifications on Instagram. For most small business owners and marketers, this means checking Instagram regularly to keep a close eye on important comments.

We have experienced this ourselves with our own Instagram account and have heard the same from many customers. And that’s why our engagement features are built specifically to help you stay on top of all your comments.

There are all the benefits of community building and engagement but it’s also a huge time saver for me. I can’t tell you how helpful it has been.

Introducing a Better Way to Engage With Your Instagram Audience

Right at the top, you can immediately see how many unanswered comments you have. The familiar grid view make it super easy and quick for you to jump to the respective Instagram posts to respond to a comment.

You can quickly reply to as many comments as possible, and if there’s a comment that doesn’t need a respose you can easily dismiss it by clicking on the checkmark beside the comment, and it will be considered as “answered”.

Course creator and artist Tamer Ghoneim shared with us, “it’s really important to me to try to reply to every comment but finding them was impossible, notifications expire, and I just didn’t have a good way to manage comments on Instagram. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was when saw the engagement features in Buffer. I literally spent hours if not days looking for something like this. There are all the benefits of community building and engagement but it’s also a huge time saver for me. I can’t tell you how helpful it has been.”

Prioritize important conversations

Notifications in Instagram are shown in a reverse-chronological order. So for most people you’ll see the latest notifications first and likely work your way through in the order they are displayed.

But the latest notification might not be the most important or urgent one to respond to. There could be a comment about a major issue with an order or a comment from an influencer asking about your products—hidden somehow in the middle of all your notifications. These are the comments you might want to prioritize.

With Buffer, you can do just that. We use a mix of filtering and machine learning to identify three types of comments that you might want to check out first:

  1. Negative comments
  2. Comments about an order
  3. Comments with a question
Introducing a Better Way to Engage With Your Instagram Audience

Posts with one or more of these comment types will have a label so that you can spot it right away. No more scrolling and searching. Just click on the post and jump right over to answer the comment.

“We use the Engage tool on a daily basis to ensure we never miss a comment or question from our community. I really like how it flags out comments that may be an issue or that is potentially an important question that we may have missed,” said Stephanie Kaluza, the social media manager of Sass & Belle.

The fastest way to engage on Instagram

Time is one of the most important assets for small businesses. There are always so many things to do and so little time. We want to help small business owners and marketers take back their time so that they can work on other parts of their business and also contribute back to their communities.

First, being able to reply to comments on a laptop and desktop allows you to get through the comments much faster than doing so on a mobile app—without compromising on the quality and thoughtfulness of the response.

“It is difficult to stay on top of Instagram, especially since as a full-time marketer, I’m on a laptop/desktop most of the time and IG is so mobile device oriented. You can’t do everything on the platform from a desktop. Bravo for Buffer’s ingenuity!” Beverly McLean, CTC, Director of Social Media at Covington Travel told us.

Second, there are hotkeys to help speed up your engagement:

  • Use the Up and Down arrow keys to navigate your comments
  • Hit CTRL + D to dismiss comments
  • Hit ENTER to send a reply (and you’ll automatically be brought to the next comment)
Introducing a Better Way to Engage With Your Instagram Audience

Finally, sometimes you might just want to respond with a quick emoji (especially when responding to an emoji comment). Buffer studies the emojis you use most often and suggests them to you when you are responding to a comment.

Build a lifetime audience

For many years, businesses have simply focused on publishing lots and lots of content. The ones that have been able to build a community of loyal following are those that understand our human instinct to connect and socialize.

While many businesses are not being super responsive on social media, this is an easy way to stand out from the crowd, impress your fans, and build a relationship.

If you have a Buffer (Publish) subscription, this has been added to your account for free! Simply click “Engagement” in the upper-left corner to start engaging your fans on Instagram—right within Buffer.

Otherwise, we would love for you to try Buffer for free for 14 days.  


Do I have to pay extra for this feature?

Nope. If you have a Buffer (Publish) subscription, this has been added to your subscription for free. If you are not a Buffer customer yet, you can get started here at just $15/month.

Can I use this for Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn?

We are working on integrating with Facebook right now, so that you’ll be able to reply to comments on your Facebook Page. We do not have a timeline for Twitter and LinkedIn yet.

Does this work for all Instagram profiles?

This only works for Instagram business profiles. If you are using an Instagram personal profile for your business, you could consider converting to a business profile to take advantage of this feature (and our publishing and analytics features).

Selling on Social 101: How Blume Markets and Sells to a Gen Z Audience

Selling on Social 101: How Blume Markets and Sells to a Gen Z Audience

As the buying power of Gen Z grows, marketers at businesses of all sizes are searching for novel ways to connect with this audience and build lasting customer relationships.

It’ll come as no surprise that social media platforms are of the best ways to connect with this generation — which includes today’s teenagers and those in their early 20’s. But marketing to Gen Zers means much more than simply posting pretty pictures and memes.

So what does it take to stand out and connect with this valuable audience in 2021?

One brand that has mastered the art of marketing to Gen Z is Blume, a fast-growing skin, body, and period care brand on a mission to break boundaries and smash taboos.

In this interview, you’ll hear directly from Janice Cheng, Brand and Community Manager at Blume, and you’ll learn:

  • How to build a brand that connects with Gen Z
  • How to market and sell on social media
  • The key to understanding Gen Z’s preferences on social media
  • Successful strategies to use when marketing to Gen Z
Selling on Social 101: How Blume Markets and Sells to a Gen Z Audience

This post is part of the #BufferBrandSpotlight, a Buffer Social Media series that shines a spotlight on the people that are helping build remarkable brands through social media, community building, content creation, and brand storytelling.

This series was born on Instagram stories, which means you can watch the original interview in our Highlights found on our @buffer Instagram profile.

Tell us more about you! What’s Blume all about and what’s your role there?

My name is Janice and I’m based in Vancouver! I’m the Brand Manager at Blume—a fast-growing skin, body, and period care brand on a mission to break boundaries and smash taboos. I joined the team back in June 2019 as the 3rd hire and EA to our founders Taran & Bunny. Now, I’ve been in this Brand role for almost 9 months.

Selling on Social 101: How Blume Markets and Sells to a Gen Z Audience

Why do you think your Gen Z audience connects with your brand?

Gen Zers are conscious (smart) consumers and the most connected generation ever. Growing up with social media, they want transparency, community, and look for brands that align with their values. I think Blume checks off all those boxes in a really genuine way! Since day one, we’ve been more than just our products. Blume is breaking stigma by having conversations about extremely normal, yet still taboo topics, like acne, puberty, periods, and sex ed. As I’m sure most of us know, these are “issues” that carry well into adulthood, so a lot of our audience are millennials as well.

Gen Zers are conscious (smart) consumers and the most connected generation ever. Growing up with social media, they want transparency, community, and look for brands that align with their values.

We’re also a brand that cares. We launched the, Future World Shapers Award (created for Gen Z change-makers), and generally produce engaging and shareable content. More importantly, we prioritize using our platform to amplify the voices of our community and speak up on issues important to us; this includes climate change, the Black Lives Matter movement, and even our pandemic response. Our audience teaches us a lot, and more than anything, they’re our friends! This is all translated through our brand voice cohesively across all channels.

Tell us about a recent social media campaign. What made it so successful?

We’re only about 2.5 years old but one of my fave moments was our in-house Blume Celebrates Skin campaign (a campaign focused on being confident in our own skin is undefined and unrestricted by our physical appearances or the bumps and blemishes on our skin). We were only about five people then (half of our team now) and it was so much fun because it came from our hearts. Quickly and organically, it grabbed the attention of Allure and Daily Mail UK. Sometimes metrics are tricky with these kinds of campaigns. Say someone comes across this campaign and finds new strength and bravery in their natural skin. Although can’t quantify feelings, the reviews and customer testimonials are invaluable to our team.

Selling on Social 101: How Blume Markets and Sells to a Gen Z Audience
Instagram post found here.

BUT! Meltdown (our best-selling acne treatment) continues to be our top community favorite and campaigns like Celebrate Skin reinforce that. Ultimately, our social media goal is to increase engagement, and this campaign accomplished that for us. We’re about to have some of our biggest campaigns this new year! So stay tuned.

Where do you find inspiration for Blume’s social media content?

Recently, a lot on TikTok (obviously), community pages like Girlboss, and also meme pages. We have an #inspo Slack channel where we share things we see on our feeds and Explore pages and what’s circulating in our own friend’s groups! Pro tip: start an #inspo channel whether just for yourself or with your team.

How does Blume leverage user-generated content to connect with its Gen Z audience?

Community is core to all we do. Beyond our products, for us, it’s about adding value to Gen Z, and user-generated content (UGC) is a huge part of that. Using UGC is more impactful than using traditional models or lifestyle images because UGC is by actual people in our community—reflecting a range of real skin. It’s the best way to relate to this audience!

Using UGC is more impactful than using traditional models or lifestyle images because UGC is by actual people in our community—reflecting a range of real skin.

Also, Gen Zers are so creative because producing content is second nature to them so partnerships together are so fun. I love looking through our tagged posts every week and seeing people embrace their shelfies and natural skin. We give them full creative freedom! So rather than believing what we have to say about our products, you should believe our community through UGC, their captions, reviews, and experiences.

Selling on Social 101: How Blume Markets and Sells to a Gen Z Audience
Instagram post found here.

How does Blume embed UGC, customer testimonials, and reviews across all its marketing channels?

We have an incredible tiny team of two that keeps the rest of the team, especially marketing, up to date with all inquiries, trends, and themes of the week. For example, our Meltdown before & after shave has always been highly effective for us because a photo equals a thousand words.

In skincare, especially clean beauty care, it’s really important for us to spotlight the effectiveness of the product and how our products actually work. We’ll use before/after photos and other UGC in ads, Instagram story features, and email newsletters. With permission, of course.

On a regular week, we try to post UGC and/or testimonials about 3-4x on our social media channels.

In skincare, especially clean beauty care, it’s really important for us to spotlight the effectiveness of the product and how our products actually work.

What are Blume’s most successful social platforms for selling and why?

Definitely Instagram—still cracking the code for TikTok. Ultimately, Gen Zers are the trendsetters and determine what’s next. Something can come and go overnight so we have to be quick to pivot, adapt and execute. We can plan all we want but our best performing posts often tend to be non-product focused ones. If we had a Meltdown post planned on a day where the world actually needs more empathy and love, we’ll swap it for a journal prompt post or check-in.

What advice do you have for brands that want to start selling on social media?

Make a list of brands that you love and dig deep into the “why.” For Blume, the core criterion for selling on social is based on value; we focus our marketing on educational content about our products and brand, community building through UGC campaigns and partnerships, and aesthetic shareable graphics.

Also, GET. ON. TIKTOK. Whether to start your brand page or just to get in touch with Gen Z culture, it’s worthwhile I promise you. Here are three easy things you can start right away: write copy like a human (not a robot), have fun with emojis, and start following people to bring eyes to your page!

Selling on Social 101: How Blume Markets and Sells to a Gen Z Audience
Fllow Blume on TikTok here.

For Blume, the core criterion for selling on social is based on value; we focus our marketing on educational content about our products and brand, community building through UGC campaigns and partnerships, and aesthetic shareable graphics.

Personally, I follow Gen Z brands that I admire, read lots of Glossy and Beauty Independent, and ask our awesome Influencer, Lead Eman, for the 411 on what’s cool and what’s not. I also used to scroll TikTok for 4 hours a day (lol) for simultaneous entertainment and market research.

What’s your favorite Blume product and why?

I’d like to say Meltdown because that’s everyone’s #1 and I’ve had a lot of stress acne through 2020, BUT my runner-up is definitely Hug Me, our natural deodorant. Random fact: the probiotics, our secret ingredient, has adapted to my body so well I hardly need deodorant anymore. It’s also unscented so I recommend it to EVERYONE. I might be biased but these two are also my faves because their names are so fun to play with when copywriting. 👋

Thanks for Bluming with us, Buffer friends! ❤️

We hope this interview with Janice helps you get started with or double down on your social media efforts. You can follow Blume on Instagram here!

Have any questions for Janice? Feel free to reply with your questions to the Twitter post below and Janice or someone from the Buffer team will get to them as soon as possible.

4 Data-Driven Digital Marketing Tactics to Embrace in 2021

The new year is fast-approaching, so it’s high time that we evaluate our marketing strategy and come up with tactics to shake things up.

Digital marketing is one of the fastest-changing industries out there – is your marketing strategy agile enough to adapt?

There have been multiple marketing innovations introduced in 2020 (driven by both technology and the pandemic that has changed all the aspects of our lives), yet one trend is the most prominent one: Data

Never before have brands had access to so much marketing data that includes:

  • Internal / private data (customers’ emails, buying preferences, etc.)
  • Public data (like competitors’ identifiable marketing tactics, overall shopping trends, etc.)

You don’t need to be a data scientist or invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in data collection agencies to create a data-driven marketing strategy these days. Thanks to the Internet, big and small brands can access more data that they can process.

And it is a beautiful thing because it gives a competitive advantage to smaller brands that are eager to innovate.

Here are a few data-driven tactics anyone can implement, even without technical skills:

Improve Your Data Quality

Data: Brands lose up to 20% of revenue due to poor data quality practices (Source: zdnet/ Data Quality)

Sisense defines data quality as follows:

Data quality measures the condition of your data, using factors such as accuracy, consistency (in all fields across data sources), integrity (whether the fields are complete), and usability.

How to identify poor data quality? There can be a variety of factors including:

  • Is your data consistent? In other words, if it’s coming from different sources (which is usually the case), does it correlate?
  • Is your data relevant? In other words, are you using the data that helps your company’s bottom line? If you are using Facebook likes as the measure of your success, what exactly does this data do to help your revenue grow?
  • Do you collect the data you need? Does your company have the necessary data that would foster growth?

Improving your data quality is not just necessary, it’s also quite doable. There are multiple solutions that collect, organize and blend data to turn it into actionable insights delivered to each of your teams. The two easiest and the most affordable solutions include:

  • Cyfe (create dashboards to consolidate data and deliver most relevant data to each of your teams)
  • SE Ranking (pull lots of data from various sources to monitor your site health, positions, traffic, etc.)
  • Whatagraph (turn data into visualized email reports that are delivered to different teams within your organizations


Embrace Inclusive Marketing

Data: Over 25% (i.e. one in 4) of US adults have a disability (Source: CDC / Disability & Health Infographics).

Are you including these people in your target audience? Do you create marketing personas that would include a disability?

Inclusive marketing refers to adapting technologies and messaging to enable underrepresented groups to fully connect with and experience brands online.

In web context, inclusive marketing often means making your website accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities and difficulties. These disabilities may prevent web users from being able to see page elements or navigate a site using a mouse or touchpad.

Including these people into your marketing strategy is not only a smart move (otherwise, every fourth user of your site may have hard time navigating it or making a purchase). It’s also a way to show that you care. This means making your marketing philanthropic.

The good news, it is also pretty easy to implement. You don’t have to re-design your site to make it accessible to users with disabilities. You can easily optimize your site for just about any sort of disability by using a solution called accessiBe.


There’s also a DIY way to make your site accessible but it is likely to take you some time.

Use Cross-Channel Marketing

Data: The number of channels consumers are using to make a buying decision is growing. Just over a decade ago the average consumer used two touch-points when buying an item. Four years ago consumers were already using an average of six touch-points with almost 50% regularly using more than four. (Marketing Week / Why marketers are failing to target consumers at key life events)

Many of those touch-points tend to happen on different devices and through different channels. Millennial shoppers shop from mobile devices,

For example, a contemporary consumer will search Google before buying an item after seeing a social media ad. And these two touch-points are very likely to happen on different devices.

What does it mean for businesses?

They need to be everywhere.

You should also be diversifying your content strategy with a wide array of types, in order to reach the highest potential audience, on more channels. This will also help your project build authority, which is critical in retention, churn reduction and overall brand loyalty.

Yes, have a blog. It is a great SEO tool and you should already know how to be targeting keywords by now. But in addition to this, make videos, create infographics, launch a podcast, guest on other podcasts and YouTube channels, embrace newer networks like TikTok and Instagram, and contribute to other blogs. You should be producing diverse content constantly to be able to market to different channels.

Luckily, content re-packaging tools make this process easy and affordable for brands:

  • Venngage: Turn any text into an infographic
  • Haiku Deck: Turn any text into a slideshow
  • InVideo: Turn any text into an engaging video


[Invideo allows you to create videos for Instagram and Facebook ads, customize Youtube videos to brand them better, and more!]

Personalize Your Marketing

Data: 80% of people agree that they are much more likely to buy a product or service from a brand that provides personalized experiences (source: Epsilon Marketing / The impact of personalization)

Marketing personalization is one of the most powerful tactics out there, yet many brands don’t really understand it.

Marketing personalization is going far beyond using “the first name in the marketing email” or even “segmenting your email list by previous engagement”.

Marketing personalization is about creating on-site personalized experiences.

You are scrolling through a website and you see a handful of product suggestions on the bottom. It shows a strip of items that you can tell are based around people of your gender and your age, much of it not flattering. Mainly because it is a selection of products that you have never before purchased or needed to purchase, but that someone might assume a person of your target demographic would enjoy.

Or you are going through your email and catch sight of a message that is titled, “[Your Name], I need to speak to you right away!” Upon opening it, it is a generic, uninteresting automail from someone’s newsletter you forgot you had even signed up for. You roll your eyes and hit ‘delete’ without going any further.

The above examples show how you lazily customize to fit a potential customer. Is it any wonder the fish aren’t biting when the bait is so unappetizing?

Now imagine this:

You are on that same website and below is a collection of items you have been searching for price comparisons on all week. Others are items related to what you have purchased on the site in the past, or reviewed highly elsewhere. They are even within a decent price range of your usual budget.

Later, you are going through your email and there is a newsletter you forgot you signed up for. But rather than cheap clickbait, it has a subject line about something that interests you. You take the time to click and read the whole thing and even end up back on the website through a provided coupon for an item you had put in your cart a few days before but hadn’t pulled the trigger on because of the price. Now you are getting it for 15% off and you couldn’t be more thrilled!

Notice how each of the counterexamples totally changes the consumer experience and makes them more willing to engage with your brand. All because you showed them that you were actually paying attention to them as individuals, not a category or demographic. They are people, not walking dollar signs and stat sheets.

That is the true meaning of personalized ecommerce and when done correctly, it is a great way to generate leads that turn to profit and also build a relationship with your customer base.

Marketing personalization is becoming more and more available for smaller brands that lack huge budgets or technical teams. Finteza is a web analytics platform that comes with a powerful re-marketing solution allowing you to customize users’ experiences based on:

  • Source of traffic
  • On-site actions
  • Demographics (gender, age)
  • Location


What’s more important, it is extremely easy to set up and very affordable.

What’s the real moral or takeaway here? Marketing innovation is a never-ending process. You can never consider this task done, but it is also what makes digital marketing such an exciting industry. Good luck innovating and reinventing!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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How Instagram is Expanding its Branded Content Offerings

Instagram recently unveiled a new redesign of its main home screen on the app in an effort to combat the rise of TikTok. Specifically, the Reels icon is now front and center in the app and directs users to a dedicated page of curated content organized by people they follow and your previous engagement patterns and interests.

Now, the platform is taking additional steps to ensure creators have access to more lucrative brand partnership and revenue options through additional branded content capabilities across Reels, Live, Stories and in posts including product tags.

Here’s a breakdown of the latest:

Integrating the branded content tag in Reels and Live

In an effort to make creation and amplification easier for influencers and brands alike, Instagram is introducing branded content tags to its TikTok-like product, Reels and unveiled plans to test these disclaimers within its Live video product as well in coming weeks. Ultimately, this will allow creators to generate revenue more quickly from their short-form and live video content.

“Branded content is a powerful tool for creators and businesses, and these updates will help them get more out of the content they’re creating together,” Instagram COO Justin Osofsky shared in a statement. “This will continue to be an area of focus for us as we build out a suite of monetization tools that support creators’ various needs and ambitions.”

As social platforms continue to offer creators new tools and platforms in which they can drive direct, measurable sales — the line between affiliate and creator is more blurred than ever. Needs and ambitions continue to shift as a result of the pandemic demanding platform-specific content versus retrofitting one set of assets across all channels.

New workflow and age restrictions

Previously, Branded Content ads were created by promoting already existing posts produced by creators. In a revised workflow, however, Instagram is placing emphasis on co-collaboration by allowing advertisers to post Branded Content ads without the need for creators to post organically on Instagram first. On the surface, this allows for greater efficiency and flexibility while still giving creators the control to approve or pause any ads published from their handle.

The process follows a simple three-step approach:

  • The advertiser sends a request for ad creation access.
  • The creator accepts ad creation access, with a notification sent to the advertiser upon acceptance
  • The creator receives a notification of the created ad for their approval

Finally, businesses and creators can set a minimum age for branded content feed posts. Specifically, they can choose to set a default minimum age or a minimum age for specific countries, or a combination of both options, per the official announcement.

Promoting branded content in Stories and with product tags

Brands will now also be able to promote branded content posts with product tags. Prior to today, branded posts from creators that included product tags were not able to be promoted via Branded Content Ads making it harder for them to reach target audiences.

“More and more, people are shopping directly from the creators they love on Instagram – this new ad format is another way brands can provide a seamless shopping experience on Instagram. This new format will begin testing in the coming months,” the platform shared.

What does this ultimately mean? Brands have a more streamlined ecosystem in which they can get more value out of the content that makes it easy for people to shop directly from creators that inspire them. Within Stories for instance, Branded Content ads can include tappable elements, such as @mentions, location and hashtags in an attempt to give brands wider access to organic Stories’ creative that is “native and authentic to the Stories experience.”

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How Instagram’s New Redesign is Driving Short-Form Video and In-App Shopping

Instagram launched Reels in August after a year of testing, and now the platform is getting serious about its leadership in the e-commerce space, and more specifially competing with the likes of TikTok, through some bold real estate changes that give it direct exposure on the main screen.

Here’s a look at some of the updates brands and marketers can expect on their feeds and how to lean into them as a way to connect with their audiences.

Prioritizing the short-form video feed

In the new redesign, the Compose button and Activity tab are relocated and now accessible at the top-right of the home screen, while the center middle button now belongs to, you guessed it, the Reels icon. Previously, Reel videos were mixed in with other photo and video uploads found on the Explore page or in your feed if someone happened to share onee. This led to the platform testing new layouts over the past couple of months as early users dubbed the content hard to find. Now, the Reels button takes you to a dedicated page of curated content organized by people you follow and your previous engagement patterns and interests.

As far as if we can expect ads to pop up in Reels soon, the quick answer is yes. Instagram Head Adam Mosseri shared in a statement to CNBC, “I think that we can leverage the story ad format [for Reels] because it’s the same immersive experience, so that’ll be helpful because you don’t need to get advertisers to create a bunch of new creative.” This may pave the way to more welcomed advertising opportunities for brands especially amongst younger demographics who crave experiences from the content delivered to them.

If 2020 has underscored any actionable learnings, a top one to pocket is that consumers want to be engaged with in the spaces they’re already interacting. This is what translates into successful, genuine action and loyalty needed to rise about the clutter.

Fueling inspiration, commerce and support of small businesses

By some estimates including those from analysts at IBM, COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to e-commerce by at least five years. Instagram has been virtually shoppable since 2018, but to stay abreast of the current evolution of e-commerce and consumer behavior patterns, the platform wasted no time taking drastic measures to pivot accordingly.

Earlier this summer, Instagram began testing the Shop tab in place of the Activity tab in July, directing users to an updated version of the Instagram Shop. Here, they had the capability to filter by brands they followed on Instagram or by product category. Most recently, the platform is displaying this tab more prominently upon seeing an uptick in younger demographics looking to influencers for buying inspiration.

“…We’ve seen an explosion in short, entertaining videos on Instagram. We’ve also seen an incredible amount of shopping move online, with more and more people buying online and young people looking to their favorite creators for recommendations on what to buy,” Instagram head Mosseri shared in the official announcement.

Specifically, with the push users can more easily access personalized recommendations, shoppable videos, and new product collections as well as browse editors’ picks curated by the @shop channel.

Finding a balance between speed and simplicity

The overarching goal with the design revamp as explained by Director of Product Management, Robby Stein, is an expanded suite of products underpinned by simplicity and seamlessness. Put differently, there’s a clear and a designated spot for posting your own content, a specific spot to go when you want to be entertained, and a distinct hub for making purchases.

In the announcement, Mosseri also reiterated the platform’s biggest risk is not the pace at which it evolves, but that it remains stagnant and inevitably becomes irrelevant. This is a particularly relevant point when taking into consideration how people create and enjoy culture has fundamentally changed and what this means for marketers. Adaptability is inevitable and a necessity in order to foster long-term relationships. The key, however, is doing so purposefully and with a bias toward simple, easy actions driven by authentic digital experiences.

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5 Best Practices for Finding the Right Influencer for Your Brand

Think you can get away without dipping into the world of influencer marketing? Think ahain. According to The State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report, which surveyed 4,000 brands, marketing agencies, and industry professionals, earned media value, which is publicity that comes from promotions, not paid advertising, is $5.78 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.

That means while ROI is notoriously difficult to track when it comes to influencer marketing, the publicity gained from influencer marketing is nearly six times as much as is spent. While direct sales may be difficult to track for some companies, it seems that exposure is exponentially increased thanks to influencer marketing.

Here are the best practices to keep in mind when you’re searching for the right influencer for your brand.

Select the Most Important Platform

Choosing the platforms where you want influencer marketing to have an impact isn’t as cut and dry as you may think. On the one hand, the platform where your business is already performing well is a great place to capitalize on that popularity and help it grow via an influencer campaign. On the other hand, a platform where you don’t have a strong presence but where an influencer who’s a great match for your brand and does have a strong presence is also beneficial because you can break into a platform you’ve been wanting to add to your strategy.

You may want to focus on one type of platform over another, or you could try to do both at the same time, assuming the influencer you choose has a solid following on both platforms. What’s most important is that you choose influencers who are doing their best work on the platforms you’ve decided are most important for your business. More on selecting the right platform next.

Approximately 90% of influencer campaigns include Instagram, so whether you only want to promote your business on Instagram or it’s part of a larger campaign, Instagram should absolutely be included. This is especially true if your customer base is under the age of 35 since the largest concentration of Instagram users are ages 25 to 34, followed by 18 to 24.

Make Sure the Influencer Is Relevant to Your Brand

There’s a lot more to think about than just the influencer’s Instagram following and the average age of their fans. Even if they’re in the exact same niche as you are, their content and messaging have to be consistent with or complementary to your brand, too. If the aesthetics or voice of the influencer’s content is way off compared to your own branding, you’re not going to reach the right audience, no matter how engaged their following is. And you could even harm, or at least muddle, your own reputation, too. 

A good way to find the influencers who are relevant to your brand is to discover which ones are already talking about you. Influencers are experts at knowing their audience and what will connect with them, and if they’re interested in what you sell, chances are they know it’ll be a great match for their audience.

Select Influencers According to Your Budget

When it comes to influencers, you should care more about the quality of their following than the number of followers they have. But, in general, a smaller influencer is going to charge less than a larger-scale influencer. If your budget is meager when starting out, aim for a micro-influencer with a dedicated fan base. What you don’t want to do is try to talk to well-known and well-established influencers into accepting a lower rate than they deserve. You could ruin your relationship with an influencer who you’d love to work with in the future when you have a bigger budget to dedicate to the campaign.

Search the Old Fashioned Way

While you can Google something like “top influencers in organic cooking,” you may be disappointed with the results. Lists of top influencers are often repetitive, only featuring the same ones, and you’ll miss out on a bunch of influencers you don’t even know exist. Instead, go about your search the old fashioned way. If you’re on Instagram, for example, search by hashtag. If you use #ad or #sponsored to search, you can skim the results to see if any post looks like it matches your brand’s industry and look. This process may take a while, but it’ll be worth it, and you’ll come across a lot of high-performing smaller influencers who you’d never know about otherwise.

Spot a Fake Influencer Before You Get Too Far

Many influencers are in it for the money they’re paid, and it’s clear why just about anyone would love that opportunity, even without working for it. Fake influencers quickly gather a massive following by buying followers and engagement, which can make their accounts look popular, even if it’s all smoke and mirrors. There are a few strategies you can use to determine if an influencer is the real deal or not, but the most telling one will be their engagement ratio. If they have a ton of followers and their posts have a bunch of likes, but nobody is actually commenting on their posts in a meaningful way, it could be that all of those “fans” are actually bots.

Narrowing down your list of influencers is just one step toward getting a compelling influencer campaign up and running. You also have to pitch the influencer to encourage them to work with you, and then you have to figure out how they work with clients, what type of campaign you want to run, how to track the effectiveness of it, etc. All in all, though, it will be worth it, and with more businesses planning to increase their budget for influencer marketing, you’ll not just only reach more members of your core customer base, but you’ll also compete with others in your industry.

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What You Need to Know About TikTok and Teespring’s Partnership

A few weeks ago TikTok launched a $200 million creator fund with a goal of helping more leading creators in its community sustain themselves financially solely through TikTok. Fast forward to today, creators will soon be able to sell merchandise they design and create directly to fans via the app itself thanks to a new integration in partnership with realtor commerce platform Teespring.

This isn’t TikTok’s first foray into e-commerce, however. Last year it tested social commerce links in videos and piloted an advertising format with a call-to-action button that links marketers to social influencers. More recently, it introduced its ‘Small Gestures’ digital gift-giving program as a gentle reminder to practice digital empathy and not overlook the power of a small act, especially in these uncertain times.

A move towards non-apparel

As TikTok accelerates its e-commerce plans it wants to make clear its community will be at the center of its decisions and efforts.

“We believe, based on the current trend, that non-apparel items will be outselling apparel by this time next year,” Teespring CEO Chris Lamontagne told The Verge. “Layering in really smart commerce opportunities is key, so it could be physical merchandise or it could be something more digital…we as a collective need to think about creators in this way where they’ve got super engaged fans who love them — there’s already this connection.”

According to the official press release, creators will have a choice from over 180 different products in addition to having the opportunity to create bespoke products uniquely catered to their personal brand. Think beyond your typical t-shirt and hoodie and more along the lines of Skateboard decks and smartphone covers for instance.

Roughly 7,000 TikTok creators in total are part of the initial program though details surrounding which creators will be eligible to participate is still being hashed out. Another outstanding question — how will the products appear in the videos themselves? While details are still worked out the platform knows one thing: it wants to ensure a full shop functionality to make things as streamlined and simple as possible.

Tapping into underrated features

Amidst all of the conversation and social chatter around what TikTok’s future has in store, including the possible $30 billion price tag being discussed, former CEO of Vine, Rus Yusupov, used the opportunity to give TikTok some of his own advice in a CNN op-ed reflecting on the learning lessons garnered from his experience in the short-form video space.

“TikTok hasn’t stopped innovating. They’ve made bold moves we should have made. Specifically, its algorithm-driven distribution model is extremely accurate and effectively surfaces new personalized content. And allowing creators to monetize their content through live streaming is an underreported, underrated feature, and is key to their success.” In short, where he feels Vine failed is in not fully embracing new challenges and opportunities to experiment. It is one thing to become popular very quickly, but another to sustain yourself by constantly pushing the boundaries.

The growing role of exclusive merchandise

During an age of social distancing, e-commerce and exclusive merchandise continue to surge in popularity. Artists and creators enjoy leaning into digital experiences like shopping as a way to connect with their fans, gather feedback, and get creative in ways they haven’t before and are using various platforms to achieve these ends.

Earlier this summer YouTube dropped a feature that lets users include a virtual “shelf” underneath their videos displaying their merch. In June, Instagram opened up its own commerce platform for creators. Finally, late last month, TikTok took this trend a level further by hosting its first shoppable livestream in collaboration with Ntwrk — a home shopping network targeting Generation Z — and artist Joshua Vides. These are just a few of many examples.

With current findings showing that e-commerce is now five years forward due to the global pandemic, there is no shortage of white spaces to consider. The brands that will ultimately stand out above the crowd, however, will be those that can hit a sweet spot of premium content and experiences driven by gaming, shopping, and other means of engagement that feel fresh and accessible.

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7 Instagram Marketing Strategies That Will Increase Your Sales

As more and more companies depend on social media to boost their reach and grow their audience, having a strategy in place is what matters most. You cannot simply hop on when you feel like it and post what you want. You need to understand who your audience is and how to sell to them in the right way.

Here are a fews reasons why social media can benefit your business:

  • It is a great way to build brand recognition.
  • You can connect with your audience and start conversations with them online.
  • Social media can help you learn more about your ideal customer through online engagement.
  • It is a cost-effective way to grow your brand reach.
  • You can also subtly market your product.

Once you realize the importance of social media, you can begin to explore various strategies that will make optimal use of your time and help your company make more money in the long run.

Be subtle with your marketing

According to Statista, the 18-24-year-old age group is the largest demographic in reference to the user base on Instagram.

Gen Z is going to be your target audience with Instagram and it is imperative that you realize that the age-old marketing techniques aren’t going to work with them. 69% of Gen Z said they find online ads disruptive so your aim should be to focus on non-invasive marketing techniques.

A good example is Apple’s ‘Shot on an iPhone’ campaign on Instagram where they post pictures that have been shot using an iPhone:


This simple strategy allows Apple to form relationships with their audience by using their pictures taken on their iPhone and is also a much less invasive marketing technique than others.

Invest in micro-influencer marketing

Do not be afraid to invest in micro-influencer marketing. This is an affordable and non-invasive way to grow your brand on Instagram.

A great example of a company that does this is GymShark.

Gymshark was founded by Ben Francis when he was only 19 years old and has grown to be a popular eCommerce fitness brand. The success of the brand is largely thanks to the emphasis it puts on micro-influencer marketing.

Essentially what Gymshark does is reach out to fitness influencers on Instagram with large followings asking if they would be interested in partnering with the brand. These influencers will then create sponsored posts for Gymshark that will help them reach a whole new audience- the influencer’s audience to be specific.

In some cases, influencers will even add a link to Gymshark’s online store within their bio.

This marketing strategy works so well is because it is reaching your ideal audience without a heavy lift on your end.

For a Facebook ad, you have to trust that an algorithm will put your ad in front of the right people. However, influencer marketing makes sure you are reaching the right people. In the case of Gymshark, that means people who are interested in fitness.

Another great part about this strategy is that it is not as annoying to the viewer. You are not pushing an ad in front of their face that they will probably scroll by. Instead, it is much more subtle. The influencer’s followers who want to know what they are doing and wearing anyway will see your product authentically showcased within their posts.

Use Instagram tools

A good way to grow your Instagram platform is to use tools that can give you a more ‘behind the scenes’ look at what is going on.

Tools can help you focus on your analytics and past posts. This way you will be able to figure out what is working for your brand and what posts do well for you. You can also use tools for scheduling, following the right people, creating a strategy, editing images, etc.

A few tools that you should consider:

  • Grum: Having a schedule for posting is important if you want to appear professional to your audience. You cannot simply post at random with no strategy in mind. Grum helps you schedule out posts in advance so that you can get all of your social media work done in one day.
  • Owlmetrics: Looking at the data is always a good way to understand what is working for you and what you could be doing better. Owlmetrics shows you real-time analytics such as follower gender, like history, follower geo-distribution, and more.
  • Brand Mentions: BrandMentions is a social media tracker that allows you to monitor your brand and your competitors on multiple social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Zyro: This free logo maker from Zyro is a great way to create an awesome logo for your brand that you can use below every image you post on Instagram and maybe even for your profile picture if you like. Zyro is 100% free, has tons of templates, and is extremely customizable.
  • Ampfluence: Ampfluence is the best Instagram marketing agency to use if you want to see solid growth for your account. They do this by creating a customized strategy that will help you reach your target audience and grow your followers.

Let Instagram amplify your content

The end goal of your Instagram strategy should be to focus on an omnichannel approach.

For example, if you have already created written content for your blog or recorded an episode for your podcast, you can use that to create micro pieces which you can then use on other channels (posts, IG slides, IGTV videos, etc.) to get more out of your already existing content. Use IG as an amplifier.

This can even be done with the courses that you create for your audience. You can give your audience a sneak peek of a premium course by creating well thought out Instagram posts or even IGTV videos.

I always say: You have two companies – a media company and your ‘real business’ (in that exact order). The sooner you understand and accept that the sooner you will succeed with your Instagram marketing and business.

Utilize IGTV

IGTV is a relatively new feature on Instagram that lets you post longer videos with no ads (as of now at least). Also, since it is a new feature Instagram is pushing IGTV content in the feed.

Creating an IGTV channel on your Instagram is like having a mini YouTube account connected to your Instagram. You can use it to showcase DIY videos, tutorials, create a series, etc.

IGTV lets you create more episodic content that can be centered around one theme in particular. This can be really engaging for your viewers and they will come back for more.

The Budget Mom (personal finance) is a good example of a brand that takes advantage of IGTV:

Promote engagement by hosting giveaways and contests

A great way to get your audience to engage with your brand is to host giveaways and contests. It is one of the more affordable Instagram marketing strategies and is pretty easy to implement.

You can do this by following a few steps:

  • Figure out your end goal: What do you want out of this? More brand awareness, more followers, or more likes?
  • Decide on a giveaway prize
  • Create an awesome post description and hashtag to go along with your giveaway announcement
  • Decide on eligibility criteria for participants
  • Read Instagram’s rules regarding giveaways
  • Figure out how you are going to promote your giveaway: This could be by paying for ads, investing in influencer marketing, or relying on your own audience to spread the word.
  • Decide on the length of your giveaway: You need to set a time limit. Do you want your giveaway to last for a few days or a few months? When will you announce the winners? Ideally the bigger the prize, the longer you can convince people to wait.
  • Launch and promote your giveaway

A giveaway can be a great way to not only grow your brand but also learn more about your audience. New brands, in particular, see great success with this strategy.

Share user-generated content

A lot of brands make the mistake of only focusing on creating their own content instead of trying to get users to participate in the creation process. The focus should be on getting users to love your brand as much as you do.

Aerie, an activewear brand, does an awesome job of this. They constantly post user-generated content of women who wear their apparel.

This works wonders for a couple of reasons:

  • It helps your audience relate to your brand more because they are seeing people just like them using your brand and loving it.
  • If you share a picture that was posted by someone who loves your brand, it is likely that they will become even more passionate about your products and there is nothing better than referral traffic.
  • People who would love to be featured on your page are even more likely to post images wearing your clothes/ using your product/etc.

Creating a social media strategy for your small business is one of the core components of your digital marketing efforts. It is important to keep in mind that your strategy should align with your goals and should be tailored to your business.

It will take time to figure out exactly who your audience is and the best way to reach them but hopefully, these 7 ideas gave you a place to start.

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How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+

How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+

It all started with a mission. Julian Hearn wanted to create a business he was proud of — a business that was about more than profit; that did the right thing for the planet, for its staff, and its customers.

That mission led to the launch of Huel.

Huel offers nutritionally complete food, delivered to your door. It’s flagship powder product is made from plant-based sustainable ingredients like oats, flaxseed, and coconut, and offers consumers a convenient and affordable alternative to traditional meals and snacks.

Since its launch in 2015, Huel has sold over 100 million meals and built up a passionate audience of over 400,000 followers across social media channels.

How Buffer helps Huel to connect with customers across platforms

Finding the right software is a challenge for marketers. It’s especially difficult in the social media space. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are constantly evolving, and as a result, the needs of marketers are always changing.

“It’s difficult to find something that does it all,” explains Tim Urch, Social Media Manager at Huel.

How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+
Tim Urch, Social Media Manager at Huel

But working with Buffer has enabled Huel to connect with its audience — and grow its presence — across platforms. “I’ve used Buffer since I started at Huel in 2016,” Urch explained, and Buffer has helped Huel to navigate the waves of organic reach and maximize every opportunity to reach its most passionate advocates in their social feeds.

“Because the reach of organic content on social media is limited, getting those messages in front of as many people as you can is essential,” according to Urch. To achieve this he uses a multi-platform approach. This ensures Huel is connecting with and building lasting relationships with its key target customer groups where they naturally choose to engage with content.

I’ve found that the type of follower across social media platforms is different. People have their go-to social media, so if we have a key message we want to get out, it’s important to share it cross platform

Huel uses Buffer to manage its global social media presence made up of 10 profiles across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+
Huel uses Buffer to plan and share social content across their channels

It’s great for managing our social publishing schedule. We can easily tailor our messages to each social platform and review everything in one place.” says Urch

Keeping feeds filled with valuable content

When it comes to keeping Huel’s social media feed filled, Urch focuses on creating content that has a purpose beyond simply generating ‘Likes’. “[We] create content that first and foremost is useful or adds value for our audience,” he explains.

Whenever we think about content we’ve got to consider how it can be useful to our Hueligans [an affectionate term for Huel customers], why would someone want to subscribe to our content and have it appear in their newsfeed?”

For Huel, that content might be tips for product success, nutrition advice from its world class nutrition team, business advice from its founder, or simply fun, relatable content which makes the audience feel part of its unique tribe.

But there’s a balance that Urch aims for. “As a brand we also need to talk about our products, a bit,” he explains.

Creating a sweet spot between what we want to say and what our audience wants to hear is tough – when those two things are the same, we’ve struck gold

Tying entertaining content with the product is Huel’s sweet spot

Generating original content ideas

Anyone who has worked in social media will understand the challenge of keeping your content calendar brimming with ideas. It’s no small task, especially when you’re managing multiple profiles across platforms.

But over time, the Huel team has built up strong instincts about what will work on its social channels, and when planning content, Huel aims to challenge the norms.

A lot of our most successful content has been instinctive, stuff that just came to me or someone in the team,” says Urch. “It might feel a bit left of field, a bit wacky, like a meme or a bold statement that might ruffle some feathers.

Huel’s take on the #dollypartonchallenge

It takes time to build this type of understanding with your audience where you know something will just click — remember Urch has been with the brand for over four years — and as a brand learns more about its audience, its team can begin to lean on intuition a little more. “Something I’ve learned is to trust those gut feelings,” he says. “Part of Huel’s DNA is about thinking a little different.

Managing social media as part of a team

Content ideas are just one side of the coin for brands. The other is collaboration.

Content ideas can come from anywhere. Everyone uses social media and therefore, unlike in other more technical disciplines, everyone knows what could work

So as a Social Media Manager, Urch believes an important skill is to let go of the reins and utilise the team around you. “We have a team of marketing rock stars,” he says. “We brainstorm ideas together all the time, but what about the rest of the business?

To aid collaboration across the team, Urch recently was set up a Slack channel called #social-hit-squad. In this channel a group of about 15 teammates from all areas of the business come together to share ideas and inspiration. But Urch also uses it as a testing ground for his own strategies and content. “We share ideas and I temperature check my own ideas with them too. This has meant our content is more reactive, varied and successful.

From ‘check out’ to checkout

While striking the balance between keeping fans entertained and selling products is a challenge, Huel use Shop Grid to help their Instagram audience navigate their way from their Instagram page to their online store.

How Huel Uses Social Media to Reach an Audience of 400,000+
Shop Grid helps Huel connect their Instagram account to their website

If our Instagram content triggers something in our audience that makes them want to learn more, or buy one of our products, then we want to help facilitate that. Shop Grid is a really simple way for our customers to tap through from a post to our website. It’s qualified traffic with purchase intent,” explains Tim.

Managing a multi-channel strategy in the fast-moving world of social media is a huge challenge for any team. Buffer is proud to play a part in supporting Huel as it builds its brand and audience across social media channels. We hope you can find some inspiration from their approach!

Will Triller Dethrone TikTok?

Since 2018, TikTok has been the talk of the neighborhood. It’s the new kid on the block that brands and influencers alike are attracted to in order to stay ahead and connect more innovatively with one another. In just a few short years, the app’s evolved into the hub of internet sensations including Lil Nas X, Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and dance trends like “The Renegade,” “Say So,” and the #DistanceDance.

This past April the app surpassed 2 billion downloads on both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Recently, however, TikTok has dominated the news including threats to have it banned in the US — its fate now uncertain unless an American company, like Microsoft, acquires it.

Amidst the uncertainty, competitors are looking for windows of opportunity including video-sharing app Triller. Read on to learn more about the basics of this app, why it’s experiencing a moment in the digital space, and what’s next.

Triller at a glance

Triller, first introduced in 2015, was dubbed as “an entertainment platform built for creators.” Similarly to TikTok, Triller is built for short-form, flawless video content that can be shared in seconds and created for trending challenges, music videos, and other viral clips. A key perk that differentiates it from TikTok? Triller auto-edits your takes into a single flawless clip. As stated in the official app store description “You do you, Triller does the rest.”

Outside of its auto-editing algorithm, you can customize content with over 100 filters, text, drawings and emojis, access the top music tracks from your personal music library, and directly share your content across your other platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, a simple text message or email, or store it in your camera roll and decide how you want to use it later. Another useful element especially in an age of social distancing — you can collaborate with friends in a group video.

So just how popular is Triller? As of early July, it garnered 50 million monthly active users, but more recently, the app soared to the top spot in every category in the app store across 50 countries, including the United States, Australia, and Italy. According to an official announcement, Triller now boasts more than 250 million downloads worldwide — a 20x increase.

Who’s on Triller?

Millions have made Triller videos to date including Chance the Rapper, Justin Bieber, Rae Sremmurd, Rita Ora, and Kevin Hart. Marshmello, Skip Marley, Juicy J, Martin Garrix, Millie Bobby Brown, Brad Paisley, Blac Chyna and Mike Tyson are also known for their presence on the platform while others, including rappers Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne, are leading investors in the company.

This summer, a few of Triller’s most notable creators with a combined following of nearly 50 million, Josh Richards, Noah Beck, Griffin Johson and Anothy Reeves, revealed they’d be leaving TikTok and onboarding with Triller. As part of the deal, they will be advisers and equity shareholders in the company.

What’s next?

TikTok isn’t counting itself out just yet. On August 7th at 8:30pm ET, The Weeknd will take to the platform, in the form of a digital avatar, to perform his fourth studio album “After Hours” during a virtual concert. In what TikTok is referring to its “first-ever in-app cross reality experience,” the event will be livestreamed on the company’s official account (@tiktok).

With the future of TikTok unknown, other platforms are wasting no time trying to get a competitive edge. Triller itself unveiled new filters, camera tools, and the acquisition of Hallogen, a go-live app slated to introduce a monetization feature in the near-time. Snapchat shared it would be rolling out a TikTok-like music feature this fall. Finally, last month Instagram officially confirmed that its competitor app, Reels, will launch this summer.

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Instagram is Making it Easier to Kickstart your Small Business

With eCommerce sales rising amid the COVID-19 lockdown, platforms are working every angle to make their interface friendly to brands and businesses looking to build a digital presence in the absence of a traditional brick-and-mortar experience. Leading in the space is Instagram and its parent company Facebook.

Specifically, Instagram has recently introduced a number of ways it’s committing to achieve this underlined by themes of discovery, monetization, and driving conversations around specific products and services.

Making Content Discoverable via the “Shops Tab”

Originally introduced in May as part of a larger announcement of Facebook and Instagram Shops, more users can now expect to see the new “Shop” tab within their bottom navigation bar. At a high-level, users who use the tab will be driven to the current shopping experience in the app which consists of a list of postings with Shopping Tags attached. They can filter by specific categories, including Beauty, Clothing & Accessories, Home, and Travel, much the same way they’re able to via Instagram Explore. Ultimately, additional purchase options will be added as parent company Facebook onboards more companies and introduces more selling options.

Per TechCrunch, the new tab will be indicated with a “Shop” icon that will replace the heart icon (Activity) in the app’s main navigation though the Activity feed will still be available either by toggling to an icon in the top right corner, beside the icon of a ‘Direct’ paper plane, or by going to their profile and tapping the heart icon. For more general insights into set up a Facebook shop, check out this new Blueprint education course the platform recently unveiled.

Maximizing Your IGTV Efforts

Earlier this Spring Instagram shared several key changes to its IGTV app including an important cross-promotional update whereby the first 15 seconds of the video will play with the rest of the content available via a ‘swipe up’ link, as opposed to a freeze-frame from the clip. In addition to this, the platform introduced a broader overhaul of the IGTV display options within the Discover tab. The intent was primarily to highlight top creators but, more importantly, allow users to have more specific control over what they see as opposed to limiting search options solely based on content they’ve already engaged with.

In this vein of ‘control,’ more recently Instagram introduced additional options allowing creators and brands to edit the preview images and thumbnails of their IGTV videos that are displayed in the feed. The app is also unveiling capability for IGTV creators to cross-post to Facebook Watch, serving to increase the exposure of their uploads. With the roll-out of IGTV monetization including ads and Bages through which users can donate to their favorite broadcasters, this is a significant incentivizing factor for companies looking to double down on e-commerce efforts amidst the global pandemic and boost their digital presence.

Put differently, marketers want a reason to put resources against yet another digital app. With further options to generate income from IGTV, they’ll naturally find more reasons to make it a consistent focus. For context into just how much live-stream viewership has increased in recent months, Instagram reported a 70 percent uptick between February and March alone.

Pinning Post Comments

Following a test in May, Instagram is announcing that users can now pin up to three comments within a comment thread. To do this, swipe to the left and tap on the icon resembling a thumbtack. Each of the three posts you designate to pin will appear underneath your photo with a “Pinned” label beneath.

Per Instagram’s VP of Product Vishal Shah, the option is designed to enable brands and users to control the tone of conversations. “By highlighting positive comments, you can better manage the tone of the conversation,” he shared on Twitter. From an e-commerce standpoint, this stands to be a useful way for those building their e-commerce presence to promote great reviews of their product and learn more about new purchasing behaviors by boosting relevant questions and feedback.

Though still up for debate, many experts in space anticipate that such trends will hold beyond the pandemic. Why? As more consumers experiment with online buying options and recognize the convenience and efficiencies of shopping from the comfort of their home, they won’t go back. This will ultimately exacerbate the current growth in e-commerce. Pivoting, in this case, is not necessarily only about a change in direction, but much more directly correlated with moving the needle of a business.

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How Facebook is Looking to Support Democracy in 2020 and Beyond

Amid years of controversy and scrutiny surrounding political content, Facebook is approaching the upcoming 2020 election with a new, multi-faceted approach, what it’s labeling, “another line of defense” against interference and a mechanism to avoid amplifying disinformation. Core to the solution is shifting responsibility to the public at large by equipping them with the details they need to vote and have their voices heard and enabling them to “turn off” political ads they don’t wish to see.

A new voter information hub

“Voting is voice. It’s the single most powerful expression of democracy, the best way to hold our leaders accountable and how we address many of the issues our country is grappling with….but accountability only works if we can see what those seeking our votes are saying, even if we viscerally dislike what they say,” Zuckerberg said in a recent op-ed for USA Today. Put simply, rather than remove misinformation, the emphasis will be on lifting voter participation.

To achieve this the platform is unveiling a Voter Information Hub modeled off of the COVID-19 information center launched earlier this spring. At a high-level, it will provide essential guidance to U.S. voters including how to register to vote, request a mail-in or absentee ballot, and, most importantly, when to vote, where to vote, and whether there are ID requirements. The info center will also supply local alerts from election officials outlining any adjustments to voting methods in light of the pandemic.

With this push, Facebook’s goal is to register 4 million voters using Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger — double what it estimates it helped people register in 2016 and 2018. Further, the platform expects more than 160 million to see this authoritative information between July and November according to Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s Vice President of Product Management and Social Impact.

Opting out of political ads on Facebook and Instagram

Back in January Facebook introduced more options to limit how a user could be targeted by political advertisers by opting-out of Custom Audience targeting. Alternatively, if an advertiser had used a list to exclude them, they could make themselves eligible to see the ads. Looking ahead, Facebook is taking an even bigger step in this direction by enabling people to opt-out of political ads entirely.

Specifically, “all social issues, electoral or political ads from candidates, Super PACs or other organizations that have the “Paid for by” political disclaimer on them.” The same options will also be available on Instagram. There are two ways to turn off political ads — either through each platform’s ad settings or directly for any political or social issue ad that pops on your feed.

In the Facebook app,

  1. Tap the “Menu” button then navigate to your settings (three horizontal lines in the bottom right corner)
  2. Next, tap “Ad Preferences” then “Ad Topics”
  3. In the pop-up menu, select “see fewer ads about this topic

In the Instagram app, the process is similar and beings by:

  1. Pressing the “Menu” button within your main profile (three horizontal lines in the upper right corner)
  2. Under “Settings,” select “Ads” then “Topic Preferences
  3. Finally, tap “Social Issues, Elections or Politics,” and then “Save

To opt-out directly through a political ad, find any post marked as “Paid by” a political campaign, candidate, or group, then “Confirmed Organization.” For Instagram, this will show in a button labeled “Paid for by.” A pop-up message will then appear allowing you to select to see fewer ads that are similar.

Enhancing transparency around ad spend

Another key part of Facebook’s latest initiative is bringing greater transparency around advertising spend. In this vein, the company is introducing a new update to its Ad Library whereby the amount of ad spending can be traced for US House and Senate races as well as Presidential candidates. In addition, a custom tracker will compare the spending of advertisers running political or issue ads allowing voters to gather a breakdown as to the finances behind the different messages they’re being served.

Collectively, this is a significant step for the platform — one that will continue to evolve as the weeks and months go on and that will be interesting to observe as people take political content into their own hands through these manual options.

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How Major Platforms are Standing in Solidarity with the Black Community

For roughly 10 days Americans have gathered to protest the issues of systemic racism, violence, and brutality that our POC communities have suffered at the hands of the authorities. Protests have erupted in virtually every American state, in small towns and major cities alike, and even overseas in Europe and New Zealand.

Social media platforms have also taken action spanning financial support to organizations fighting against racial inequality and promoting education so we can create a pathway towards better education and understanding of how we can support the cause with empathy.

Here’s what we’ve seen from each of the major companies:

Twitter #Allyship Overview

Beyond updating its main profile to reflect its support for the protests, Twitter is also leveraging its #StartSmall initiative to allocate several grants to support organizations designed to address racial inequality. This includes Colin Kaepernick‘s “Know Your Rights Camp” aimed to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, and mass-mobilization.

Most importantly, the platform shared its top insights around how people can improve how they respond to racial inequality in a new guide for allyship. In order to respond, people first need to “understand the historical and structural contexts that have led to racism and discrimination…At Twitter, our principles of allyship are simple: Learn, Ask, Show up, and Speak up,” Marium R. Qureshi and Jade Williams explained in a recent blog post. By this definition, allyship is not about who you are but a commitment to be authentic and consistent in your education around these critical topics.

When you ask questions of friends and colleagues, do so empathetically and avoid coming from a place of disbelief. A couple of example questions following these best practices include “If you have the time/energy, do you feel comfortable sharing your experience with me?” and This week is heavy. How are you feeling/coping?” As far as speaking up and showing up, consider donating to organizations fighting for racial justice and police reform to help further the cause and exercise your voice and right to vote. Conduct a self-audit of whose in your circle and who you interact with online.

LinkedIn Learning: A Pathway to Inclusivity

We must invest our time to become better informed and develop a deeper understanding and awareness that will allow us to properly empathize with black communities who are suffering. This is key in gaining true perspective on the current movement, and the more people are educated, the better equipped we’ll be to enact effective, long-term change.

In this vein, LinkedIn has released several free courses within a “Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging for All” track, covering key topics spanning unconscious bias, addressing culturally sensitive issues, how to hire and retain diverse talent, and more. “Investing in our own learning to understand and confront bias, communicate about topics of difference, and create change can help us individually contribute to building a better workplace and society,” said Hari Srinivasan, Vice President of Product for LinkedIn Learning.

Beyond this, the platform also acknowledges that being a strong ally begins with listening, so it is utilizing its social channels to share stories that amplify perspectives from the Black community. Pathways to better understand are integral to success and LinkedIn is positioned well to bring the awareness needed at the moment via its widespread access to professional and educational insights that can help underscore gaps needing to be addressed.

Pinterest: Elevating Content on Racial Justice

Pinterest is taking a broad approach to its efforts starting with its platform and internal team and extending to external audiences directly supporting the movement.

More specifically, within the app content on racial justice is being elevated as a means to help people stay informed. This includes tips for assessing and adjusting your own mentality and how to approach younger children on the subject. There will also be content guiding users to organizations to support and various resources to learn more about the history of systemic racism in the country. Generally, the platform is committed to growing the diversity of content on the platform and avoiding distraction from serving as a hub to support and learn. In this regard, the platform is not serving ads on Black Lives Matter results.

The company is also donating 25,000 shares of stock to “organizations committed to racial justice and promoting tolerance” and investing $250,000 to help rebuild local businesses damaged in the protests. It is also providing $750,000 in paid media to organizations that support racial justice.

TikTok’s Creator Diversity Council

June is Black Music Month and to celebrate TikTok announced it will offer dedicated programming to celebrate Black artists on the platform who “bring new music, shape culture, and help build the community.”

The platform is also doubling down on technology and strategies around addressing potentially harmful content and creating a more user-friendly appeals process. Along these lines, TikTok plans to develop a creator diversity council to lead impact-driven programs led by the voices driving culture, creativity, and conversations necessary in making an even bigger impact on the problem.

Outside of its team and community, TikTok is donating $3 million from its “Community Relief Fund” to non-profits that help the Black community and an additional $1 million toward fighting racial injustice and inequality that we are witnessing in this country. Also in the music space, YouTube is financially stepping up by offering $1 million to organizations seeking to address injustice.

Leading with Empathy

Finally, the leaders behind Snapchat, Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram have all taken a personal approach to their response leading with emotion-driven memos.

Facebook is committing $10 million to racial injustice and lifting Black voices in addition to partnering with civil rights advisors in its efforts. Along with Instagram, it has also switched all profiles to black and white colors in support of recent events. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri uploaded a personal IGTV response on his own profile underscoring his eagerness and drive to channel frustration, hurt, and anger into positive change.

Similarly, Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel in his own statement called for the creation of an American commission to address racial injustice, and comprehensive tax reform as the way forward. Taking even more drastic measures, Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian has resigned from his position urging the board to replace him with a Black candidate and will use future gains on his Reddit stock to serve the black community, beginning with a $1 million donation to Kaepernick’s ‘Know Your Rights’ initiative.

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The post How Major Platforms are Standing in Solidarity with the Black Community appeared first on Social Media Week.

How to Prepare Your Brand for the Not So Distant Future: 2.22.22

Where will the world be on February 2, 2022? What can we expect the business landscape to look like? What brands will see success and which ones won’t? What will be important to consumers?

All of these are important questions that are top of mind for marketers and will continue to be in the months and years ahead. During #SMWONE Suzy CEO Matt Britton tapped into up to the minute research from his team to play the role of futurist and paint a broad picture of the world we will be living in on the other side of COVID-19.

Here are the primary insights and takeaways:

  • Consumers want variety; not quantity when it comes to their purchases
  • Secondary and tertiary cities are on the path to become the new “hot spots”
  • People are ultimately more fascinating than brands and influencers will be behind the brands that take off

Living: the “accordion effect”

According to Britton, the global pandemic will result in an “accordion effect” in which people will gravitate away from the big cities like New York or San Francisco. Meanwhile, secondary and tertiary cities like Columbus, Ohio, Denver, Colorado, and Denton, Texas are on the path to become the new “hot spots.” “Suburban sprawl simply is not that appealing to the millennial generation,” he added.

What are the tangential effects of this transition? Appreciation is these lower-tiered markets and home prices in areas like New York or San Francisco leveling off. With this, we may see a trickle-down effect whereby there is a resurgence in automobile purchases. This potential increase in demand for consumers buying cars, however, could result in reduced demand in the long-term, for ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber preferred for their ubiquity.

Buying: consumers want variety

Consumers want variety; not quantity when it comes to apparel. One may assume this would open the window of opportunity for retailers but in a down market, this isn’t the case. Britton elaborated with several examples including J.Crew recently filing for bankruptcy and Gap claiming some of its stories will never reopen.

“These companies surely lean too heavily into a brick and mortar layout and did not pivot nearly fast enough to an e-commerce model,” Britton explained.

He pointed to Rent the Runway (RTR) and Ipsy, recently announcing it surpassed $5M in revenue, as prime examples of business models that will continue to be sustainable because the trends of consumers wearing garments less and less or wanting the convenience of beauty products sent to their home is not going to reverse.

Another important retail trend: companies will increasingly look to take over control of their own consumer experience. Nike, for instance, pulled its products off of Amazon this past November. This also holds for the CPG space. In a world of Amazon Prime, companies including Million Dollar Shave Clubface increased pressure to establish a more scalable e-commerce strategy.

“If I’m the CPGs, I’m trying to form a coalition where there are prime benefits where Costco, with traditional CPGs, can compete against Amazon, and maybe P&G one day will make the same decision that Nike made,” explained Britton.

The growing role of influencers

Surfacing headlines are posing the common question: could the coronavirus kill the influencer culture? Per Britton, “influencer culture is just begging and it is here to stay.”

Something Navy fashion blogger cracked a deal with Nordstrom and started to sell her own clothing. In this wavelength, he also mentioned Danielle Berstein who with her “We Wore What” blog is building a bigger audience through socially responsible posts across content and supporting small businesses with her efforts. IN turn, she’s seeing tremendous success via launching new products with numerous retailers.

“People are ultimately more fascinating than brands and influencers will be behind the brands that take off.”

Look no further than the TV space for prime examples of this idea, specifically the story of Oprah Winfrey’s rise to fame as she became a brand in her own right. The same trend will likely take form within the fashion space, per Britton. Influential people who have the right audiences and are built from the ground up will be able to create sustainable, digitally-native businesses that evolve into the new Gaps and the new Nordstroms of the future.

Brands as “ingredient” or “helping” brands

Years ago Home Depot coined the tagline “You can do it. We can help.” As consumers realize they can no longer rely on the services that they once did in a pre-crisis environment, they are now resorting to their own devices. 43 percent of dog owners, for instance, claim they will switch to DIY grooming.

Mattel Playroom, as another example, is using this time to encourage families and children to come up with their own toys in its “Play is Never Cancelled” — this concept of taking what you bought from us and make it bigger and better. Finally, Eva Longoria shocked the Internet when she took to dying her own hair in a L’Oreal ad she filmed herself from her house.

Whether these new habits actually take hold post-COVID, there is a powerful meaning behind brands taking an uncertain time and empowering consumers by giving them the raw ingredients to push forward — a role Britton referred to as “helping brands.”

This is also the case for the food and beverage industry as food preparation has come back into the home. Seventy-five percent of consumers believe they’re more skilled in the kitchen now and over 50 percent believe they will continue to cook more after the crisis. “This will create a substantial shift where these companies who have relied on their packaging and merchandise for years now have to reinvent themselves in a world where their products will be bought digitally, and more consumers are cooking at home on a regular basis,” said Britton.

Entertainment: redefining fun

In the absence of live events, platforms like TikTok and Houseparty are allowing the ability for brands and influencers to collaborate in meaningful and compelling ways. Houseparty specifically saw 17.2M total downloads in March with users carrying out virtual dinner parties, celebrating birthdays, and playing trivia and Pictionary to pass the time at home.

Gaming is also taking off with users engaging with one another on Animal Crossing esports and newcomer apps like Squad. In terms of music, platforms Fortnite and Instagram have become central and taken over the role of “concert venue.” Travis Scott did an entire performance in the form of an avatar on the Fortnite platform that drew in over 12M concurrent viewers. DJs too are using this moment of time to redefine their personal brands, DJ DNice rising to the top for his daily quarantine sets performed on Instagram that draw celebrities like Jennifer Lopez to the crowd.

Work and travel: a slow return

Britton believes travel will come back in full force much like the hospitality space, but it won’t be immediate. As companies struggle with budget cuts and want to avoid the liability of returning to work at the office too quickly, many are taking it upon themselves to postpone major events and issue work from home mandates into 2021.

Similarly to dining out, however, there is an inherent desire to travel and it will return. What is likely to be more apparent in the near future is people opting to travel by car when they’re not as ready to jump on a plane right away. Enter the C2C models of businesses like Airbnb who, despite recently laying off thousands of employees, have a likelihood of finding success for cash strapped homeowners looking for more income and individuals who want quick getaways that are safer than returning to air travel.

Regarding the future of the workplace, businesses are taking serious consideration that not every person across every department needs to be working from the office in order to collaborate and giving employees flexibility as to where they live can boost morale. In short, Britton believes companies will reevaluate their spaces.


While many workers thrive from home, students are struggling to prosper in a remote learning environment, according to Britton.

For younger generations, school is a place for building friendships, escaping from the house, learning responsibility, and seeing their friends and building core communication and interpersonal skills. 54 percent of parents with students engaged in a remote learning situation due to COVID-19 say it’s a daily struggle to support career and parenting during the day per recent findings from Suzy.

When assessing the 20 skills most in demand today, they are very trade and skill-based including items such as cloud computing, SEO, UX design, and video production, all of which aren’t traditionally taught in a liberal arts environment. The major takeaway: the technology companies are where the jobs are, where GDP is expanding and this is not likely to change. For this reason, it’s unlikely students not want to incur debt for a system that doesn’t prepare them to succeed in this capacity. “There are so many skills in demand that aren’t skills where you’re a jack of all trade or a master of none. I expect us to see a reverberation of demand for skills-based learning and skills-based schools versus generalist schools,” said Britton.

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The post How to Prepare Your Brand for the Not So Distant Future: 2.22.22 appeared first on Social Media Week.