Category: Social Media Advice

Reflecting on 10 Years of Building Buffer

Reflecting on 10 Years of Building Buffer

Today marks ten years since I launched the first version of Buffer. What started as a landing page to gauge interest, and then a very basic product that I worked on alone, has become so much more. Buffer is now a leading social media management platform and a team of nearly 90 people working remotely worldwide, with our own approach and culture.

Reaching this milestone means a lot for me, and I thought it would be interesting to reflect on each year of the Buffer journey. As you’ll see, things have changed enormously over time, and I could not be more proud of where we are now.

2010: After getting paying customers, I shifted the focus to marketing.

I launched Buffer on November 30th, 2010. One of the things that inspired me to launch earlier than I may have otherwise, was an initiative someone started on Hacker News called November Startup Sprint. I decided to participate and committed to launching the first version of Buffer by the end of November 2010, which I only just accomplished. Something I learned from this experience is that you’ll always have additional features or fixes you want to finish before you launch, but actually putting something out there in the world is really what starts momentum.

I employed many of The Lean Startup techniques in order to validate the problem and the existence of an audience before launching. Thankfully, these steps and a healthy dose of luck resulted in some strong initial traction for the product. I had the first paying customer within four days of launch.

After the first paying customer, I took a step back, acknowledged that as a significant milestone, and decided a slight shift in focus was required. As an engineer, it’s easy to keep building, adding more features. I knew it was time to focus on marketing and further customer development. This is what led me to bring on a co-founder. It was time to keep the balance of development, marketing, and customer development with a product that had proved it was “good enough.” It was clear that there would be more people out there who would find value even at the early stage. This has been a valuable lesson I’ve tried to maintain: when the signal is there that the product is good enough, shout about it!

Read more about how I went from an idea to paying customers in seven weeks.

2011: Transitioning to working full-time on Buffer.

2011 was a year of transition for me, from contract web development work to working full-time on Buffer. Before starting Buffer, I was doing what I called “working in waves,” a method to have enough funds to work full-time on a project for a certain period of time. The idea is that you work a full-time job or contract work for a set amount of time and then work full-time on your startup idea once you have enough funds to support yourself for a set amount of time. Having tried working in waves, I would not recommend it as a long term strategy. Read my thoughts.

With Buffer, I was completely focused on hitting ramen profitability. I sensed that if I could get there, it would change everything. Ramen profitability describes a situation where you’re making just enough to pay your living expenses. For me, that first goal was £1,200 per month.

We reached ramen profitability early in 2011, and I gradually dropped the number of days of contract development work I was doing as the revenue grew. My co-founder finished his college year and had the summer free to focus entirely on Buffer. We decided to get on a plane and travel to what we thought of as Startup Mecca, San Francisco. This was, in fact, my first ever trip to the U.S., which I now call home. Later in 2011, strong revenue growth combined with a year of working on Buffer and some great education from AngelPad allowed us to raise $450,000.

2012: Becoming a fully remote company.

Becoming a fully remote company is a decision I made in 2012. During the few months I spent focused on whether to commit to Buffer being a distributed team, I sought advice from many people. I received some of the best advice from David Cancel, whom I had the chance to sit down and chat with over coffee. His key insight was that in his experience founding several companies so far, he has found that two scenarios work well, while one doesn’t work too well. He advised that we either be fully distributed or have everyone in the same office. David said that the time he had a main office with most people there and only one or two people working remotely didn’t work so well.

With this insight and further thinking, we became a fully distributed team. Here’s a screenshot from my email to the team sharing this news:

Reflecting on 10 Years of Building Buffer
An email to the Buffer team about becoming a fully distributed company.

We immediately hired several people working remotely to quickly balance out the team from a group forming in San Francisco and ensure we were truly fully distributed. This was an immediate benefit to us, especially as a team focused on outstanding customer support since we quickly covered all time-zones. Read more about how I made the decision for Buffer to be fully remote.

Becoming fully remote didn’t mean we never met up in person, though. Over the years, we’ve found ways to incorporate annual retreats into our yearly planning and have prioritized this key time together for brainstorming, talking strategy, and setting the tone for the year ahead. See more about our past ten retreats in this post.

2013: Creating values and living by them.

In 2013, as we became a team of ten, we decided to articulate and document our company values. At the time, I knew we had already formed a strong culture, so I polled the team to ask them how they would describe it. From there, we came up with our original Buffer values.

Reflecting on 10 Years of Building Buffer
The original ten Buffer values.

One of our more unique values, default to transparency, which is the value that Buffer is known by the most, was put to the test this same year. In late 2013, Buffer was hacked. We shared transparently and quickly with our customers and the broader public what had happened and what we were doing about it. We alerted our community to the breach before knowing the source of it, and we provided updates on our progress every few hours for the first few days. Both our community and the public responded well to this openness, reinforcing my theory at the time that bugs and downtime can be a good thing, as long as they are rare and handled with great care.

We further committed to this value by making our salaries transparent at the end of 2013, which resulted in a spike of applications for open Buffer jobs, and is a step I believe contributed significantly to growing our brand.

Check out our transparency page to see a full timeline of transparency at Buffer.

2014: Our largest acquisition offer and deciding not to sell Buffer.

In the early years, we received a number of acquisition offers. The earliest offer we had for Buffer was not long after we had started, and it felt fairly easy for us to say no simply because we felt we had much more growth ahead and wanted to see where our path would lead.

However, in 2014 we received our largest acquisition offer to date. It was a nine-figure offer from a public company, and it stopped us in our tracks and made us truly step back and reflect. For myself, my co-founder, and for most of our team with early-stage stock options grants, it would have been a life-changing outcome. An offer like that drives existential questioning, making you really think about the purpose and fulfillment of what you’re doing. Ultimately, we believed there was significantly more growth from where we were, and we have since increased revenue 6x. Beyond the growth potential, however, it was the culture and the movements we had become part of (transparency and remote work, in particular), which led us to turn the offer down and continue on our path. The most memorable advice we received during this decision process was from Hiten Shah, who asked us simply, “Are you done?”.

Money will come and go, but experiences and learning is what I define as true wealth. This is why I try to frame a decision of whether to sell around the opportunities for learning and experience in each path. I reflected on how if I sold Buffer, I would sacrifice many future learnings. I asked myself if and when I would ever have the learning opportunity I did for the years ahead from that stage of Buffer. Here’s a longer post reflecting on not selling Buffer.

I made the decision to continue learning with Buffer, and this is a decision I feel great about to this day. Instead of an acquisition, we raised $3.5 million in late 2014 with a secondary liquidity component, in part to remove the pressure to sell and help us go long. Here I am six years later, still energized and happy with my gradual return, so overall, I believe that worked out. More recently, I’ve been focused on finding ways to separate exit from liquidity for myself and the whole team. This helps us take a genuinely long-term view on the business.

2015: Exploring self-management.

In 2015, after reading Reinventing Organizations, the entire team voted and agreed to become self-managed. We reorganized Buffer into a completely flat structure. At first, this felt energizing and invigorating. There was a great sense of freedom and ownership. Over the course of a few months, things started to feel off. People were easily lost, especially those that had just joined Buffer. More experienced people often didn’t quite see a place to help out and share ideas around which direction a project could take. The amount of freedom people had, with absolutely no guidance, expectations, or accountability, was pretty overwhelming.

Our self-management setup was a partial success for customers. One of the experiments we pursued during this time was to create a team specifically aimed at launching new functionality rapidly for customers. We launched Pablo, our popular image creation product, out of this team. The main challenge we found with these types of projects is resourcing, maintaining, and improving them over time. We’ve since become more deliberate about what we choose to launch rapidly while maintaining our culture of experimentation.

We eventually decided to move away from self-management. This period will always hold a special place in my heart, though I believe ultimately we are better placed with some hierarchy and structure. It reinforced to me that it’s okay to try big experiments and to go in knowing that not all of them will work. This is a mindset we’ve kept at Buffer and has helped us continue to experiment with the way we work. This type of exploration and playfulness generally becomes harder to do as you grow larger, and the boldness, optimism, and curiosity that it requires is something that I’m committed to supporting.

2016: Launching Reply, then facing cash-flow challenges and layoffs.

Early in 2016, we launched Buffer Reply, which was the result of an acquisition and a lot of great work to adapt the product to make it feel like a Buffer offering. This was a bold move to expand beyond social media marketing and into social customer service. As a company, we had always held ourselves to a very high bar for customer service, and we found the tools out there for managing customer service on social media to be lacking. We had some success with Reply, and over the next few years, grew monthly revenue from $4k at acquisition to over $70k at its peak. Ultimately, we found that the need for customer service on social media was less widespread and didn’t develop as we imagined it may, and also found that we were spreading ourselves thin with taking on very different types of products and customer segments, so we sunset Reply in 2020. The experience of Reply increased our ambitions as a company, launched us to serving more than a single customer job, and paved the way for us to build a social engagement tool, which is coming in early 2021.

After we concluded our self-management experiment, we felt a drive to grow the team more rapidly again. We ultimately grew from 34 to 94 people. With team growth, however, comes the need for new systems, and existing approaches start to show cracks and feel ineffective. Our revenue growth, while strong, didn’t keep pace with hiring, and we found ourselves in financial challenges.

With the prospect of only five months of runway before depleting our cash reserves, we made the excruciating decision to lay off ten team members. What was more disappointing than anything was that this was totally within our control. It was all caused by the fact that we grew the team too big, too fast. We thought we were being mindful about balancing the pace of our hiring with our revenue growth, but we weren’t. One of our advisors gave us an apt metaphor for what happened: We moved into a house that we couldn’t afford with our monthly paycheck.

Reflecting on 10 Years of Building Buffer
A chart showing our bank balance projections for 2016.

We made an important yet challenging decision to solve our financial challenges ourselves rather than raising a bridge round of funding to see us through. It was a painful process to go through, and I’ve now experienced first-hand the loss of morale, the negative impact on culture, and the erosion of trust that layoffs can cause. This is especially true for a small, tight-knit, and mission-driven team. With all of that said, I’m grateful for the personal and company growth that this enabled for us. We immediately leveled up our financial operations and set down a commitment to financial stability.

This experience led us to truly figure out sustainability at Buffer and understand how we could be around long term. I believe we’re better off as a company for this and have developed some strong financial principles for our company, which have led to us being around and self-sustaining four years on. I’m proud of the results we have to show for these efforts. We’ve been profitable every quarter since we made these layoffs; eighteen straight quarters of profitability.

2017: Recommitting to a single path, stabilizing the company, experiencing co-founder conflict, and the lows of burnout.

2017 was perhaps the hardest year of the Buffer journey so far. After a difficult 2016, I focused on stabilizing the company, mending the erosion of trust with the team, and charting a clear, singular, and enduring direction for the company going forward. In the midst of this, significant conflict developed between myself and my co-founder, and several investors became involved in the disputes. This contributed to some of the lowest points of my career and experiencing severe burnout.

In the earlier part of the Buffer journey, we were lucky to have it all: great growth, funding on fantastic terms, building a generous, positive, inclusive culture, and maintaining a lot of individual freedom. Over time, some of these things started to feel like trade-offs, and we started to debate our path. Rapid growth vs. freedom, focus on culture vs. product, performance vs. nurturing. I don’t fundamentally believe these things must be at odds, but in late 2016, it felt that way to all of us. My co-founder and I started to increasingly fall on different sides of these choices. What was once a beautiful balance of complementary strengths and opinions felt like constant misalignment and mixed messages to the team. After many attempts at finding common ground, we agreed we had grown apart and developed differing visions. In early 2017, my co-founder and our CTO both moved on from Buffer.

After this significant change, I focused on stabilizing the company for the team and in terms of our financials. I articulated a clear path for the company focused on sustainable growth, product quality, and an empowering company culture. We had great revenue growth, and I made a decision to pause hiring for most of 2017 in order to build our profitability. We went from burning $30-150k per month in early 2016 to consistently generating more than $300k in monthly profit in 2017.

After an initial amicable parting and starting to meet as friends rather than co-workers, we started to open up about lingering unsaid frustrations. With this, resentment started to grow between my co-founder and I, specifically around the timing and scale of liquidity he could expect. Admittedly, as the CEO of an 85+ person company just recently coming out of layoffs and significant leadership change, this wasn’t my top focus. All of this led to high stress, low energy and capacity, negativity, and stubbornness. This also drove challenges in my relationship with my partner, Jess. I’m happy to say we got through it and got married in 2019.

Throughout all of this, I can look back and see that while I was exercising and keeping myself in good shape, as well as feeling optimistic about the future of Buffer, it was adrenaline that was carrying me forward. By the spring of 2017, the company felt much more stable, and the adrenaline was no longer needed. As soon as the adrenaline subsided, my body and mind could suddenly feel what it had worked through. That’s when burnout hit me, and I felt unable to function effectively. With great support from my leadership team, I took a six-week break to recharge and came back much better equipped to take on the rest of the year.

Read my full experience with burnout here.

2018: Spending $3.3 Million buying out investors.

After recommitting to a path of long-term sustainability in 2017, I had conversations with our main venture capital investors, and it became clear that our choice of path was not a great fit for the investment. Thankfully, we had been open about this possibility when we raised the funding back in 2014, and so we were able to open up conversations about a way to move forward. These discussions were challenging and uncomfortable, but pushing ahead with them allowed us to ensure Buffer was set up to run independently in the long-term.

These discussions, and over a year and a half of profitability, resulted in our ability to spend $3.3 Million buying out our VC investors. This was one of the most important decisions I’ve made in the Buffer journey so far. This was a key inflection point for Buffer that put us truly on a path of sustainable, long-term growth, and we’ve been better off for the significant increase in alignment in our shareholder base. I’m grateful to our VC investors for being open to this solution and to our many remaining investors who are excited about this unusual path.

Reflecting on 10 Years of Building Buffer
A timeline of funding history. 

At times, this move towards stability and setting ourselves up for the future has felt like a slow journey and has drawn focus away from customers, which I have found painful. With that said, this is foundational work on the core of the company — ownership — and has set us up to be able to be more customer-focused and have less distractions going forward. Additionally, it has helped us to maintain and continue to craft a company culture that puts people over profit, something I believe will pay dividends for years to come. With the benefit of hindsight, these decisions have driven long-term benefits for Buffer. For example, we figured out how to be profitable and sustainable, and as a result, we were better set up for unknown future events like the impact of COVID-19 and the global pandemic on our customers, team, and finances.

2019: Creating balance and setting myself and Buffer up to scale sustainably.

2019 was a different year for me in many ways. On the personal side of things, I established a routine living in Boulder, I got married, and refocused on hobbies like skiing. This was the year that I really worked on integrating my work and personal lives, rather than taking the early-stage mentality of sacrificing my personal life, relationships, and hobbies in order to spend more time and energy on work. While we had become financially sustainable, I truly believe this personal change made it sustainable for me to keep operating as CEO in the long-term.

At Buffer, after two eventful and foundation-building years for the company itself, I decided to turn this thinking to my role. Something that clicked for me towards the end of 2018 was that I would significantly benefit from setting up a support system around myself. Without an active co-founder, it became that much more critical that I have other types of support to fill that gap. I decided to take a new approach this time, putting together a group of people rather than relying on a single person. In late 2018, I brought on a new Executive Assistant and tasked her with helping me to form this support network, which I decided would include a coach, a financial advisor, and regularly connecting with other founders. In addition, I was regularly meeting with a therapist since mid-2017. By the end of 2019, this support system was fully established, and I am confident this group has made me a better leader over time.

2019 also marked the beginning of starting to reflect on my role, and the initial step I took towards the end of the year was to make a decision to hire a Product leader. This was the final area of the company I chose to fully let go of, and we recently brought on a great CPO to lead us and level up our product strategy, quality, and operations.

2020: Building a resilient company and taking a step back to think about purpose.

We are almost at the end of 2020, and I think calling this a tough year would be an understatement for many. This year our focus was on building a resilient company.

I started the year traveling and taking some time off in Thailand and New Zealand. As part of this, I had a chance to step back and start to reflect on what we had achieved and where I may want to take the company next. A level of clarity started to emerge about the type of customer, and type of company, that I feel energized to work towards.

Of course, by the end of February, COVID-19 was taking hold and already starting to impact many countries around the world. We were lucky at Buffer, as a fully distributed team with several people in Asia, that we had an early warning, and it became clear quickly that this would be a global challenge. We canceled our upcoming company retreat to Greece and start to focus on how to get the company through this period as unscathed as possible. Our mantra for the year became resilience, with a focus on people over profit and mental well being. A key decision I made was that I wanted to get through the year accruing the least debt possible in terms of impact on the team, issues such as burnout, customer satisfaction, and our financial position. We set up a COVID-19 customer assistance program, reduced some of our performance criteria and deadline focus, and implemented a 4-day workweek pilot.

This year, we experienced the worst customer churn we’ve ever seen at Buffer as thousands of our small business customers struggled to adapt and survive. We saw a consistent decline in revenue from mid-March to mid-June, and throughout that period, we crafted countless new projections and scenarios to ensure we could emerge in a strong position. Thankfully, the decline eased off, and since mid-June, we’ve seen modest growth.

With the financial impact of the pandemic stabilizing, I was able to turn back to some of the reflections I had around Buffer’s purpose and my CEO role. I worked with my coach and arrived at clarity that what we’ve always been focused on at Buffer is helping small businesses to succeed and do good along the way by providing tools to grow and serve an audience and inspirational content to rethink how businesses are built. As for my role, I’ve realized that the next key evolution is in truly reflecting on the work that energizes me versus the work that drains me. I love to focus on the high level of bold vision and strategy and the details around customer experiences and our culture. The in-between of operations and keeping the train running on time is less fun for me. I’ve been shifting my role, and Caro, our Chief of Special projects and someone I’ve now worked with on Buffer for over eight years has been stepping into operations to give us the best long-term outcomes.

Reflecting on 10 Years of Building Buffer
One of our all-hands meetings.

It’s been powerful to take a step back and reflect on ten years of building a company. Looking back, there are a few additional observations I want to share.

In the early days, it’s easy to treat a startup as a sprint, but it’s really a marathon. It’s vital to pace yourself and take care of yourself. Regular rest is a necessity, and I’m going to continue to work towards incorporating rest and true vacations into my annual cycle. Additionally, as with life, there are seasons to a company. There have been stages of growth, market changes, and role evolutions. There are always periods with different focuses, and it is a continual journey towards ideal equilibrium.

I’ve learned that it’s hard to grow without compromising, and after doing so, you might have to work to find your purpose again. This is an example of the hard work it takes to create something enduring. If you are to be successful long-term, you have to take time to reflect and rediscover your passion, and sometimes make some bold changes to get back on track.

I’ve been fortunate and privileged and have achieved more than I could ever have dreamed of. I’m proud that Buffer has reached the 10-year mark and that with the help of many people, I’ve created a company that gives meaningful employment to over 85 people across the world. We’re far from perfect and still have much to improve and learn, but there’s a time to catch your breath and say, “we’ve created something awesome.” We have many people on the team who have been part of this wild ride for six, seven, even eight years now, and this blows my mind. It’s a significant part of any person’s life to spend working on something, and I couldn’t be more grateful to those people.

As I look ahead to 2021, while I’ve learned that it never gets easier, it’s always interesting, and there is never a dull week. My admiration for long-term companies has grown significantly. I find myself fascinated by companies that exist for decades and even more so by founders who find a way to keep evolving, increasing their ambition, and remaining energized.

I’m excited to continue on this path of long-term sustainability and thankful to have an incredible team to work with, thousands of happy customers, and a foundation of profitability. It has felt liberating to have a structure that allows us to think in terms of years rather than quarters. I’m ready to dig in for another decade and see the heights we can reach and the value we can provide.

Whether this is the first post of mine you’ve read, you’ve been following along since the beginning, or you’re somewhere in between, thank you for taking the time to read this as I reflect on this big milestone in Buffer’s history. I’m so thankful for the incredible community and customers we have around us that let us continue to do what we do every year.

https://buffer.com/resources/10-years/

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

Success on social media can often feel like a secret science. Something that only the few can achieve. But creating a successful social media strategy is a skill that can be learned. Mastered, even.

And you don’t need a flashy brand or a big budget.

What you need is a deep understanding of what your audience cares about, and how to get your content in front of them in the right places at the right times.

That’s why analytics are so important. Analytics help you to make better decisions and get better results. And today, I’m excited to announce our latest feature:

Analytics for LinkedIn Pages!

Together with our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter integrations, this makes Buffer’s analytics an all-in-one solution for these four popular social networks for businesses.

Want to see what’s new and why 3,000 customers use our analytics to boost their social media strategy?

Let’s take a look.


Buffer’s social media analytics and reporting solution

If you have been using Buffer for your social media planning and scheduling but not measurement and reporting, I think you’ll be thrilled to try our analytics. The analytics in Buffer lets you track your performance, analyze your posts, and report your results. Ultimately, we want to give you more data and help you get better results.

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

Let’s talk about the new feature first.

How to analyze and report your LinkedIn performance

We intentionally designed our analytics to be simple so that you can easily get what you need and create reports in a few clicks. For this feature, we managed to work with the LinkedIn team as we built it.

“I’m excited about this new feature by Buffer because we have seen many small businesses leverage their LinkedIn Page to build thought leadership and recruit new teammates. This new feature will help them understand what’s working so that they can get better results on LinkedIn,” said Ting Ba, the Group Product Marketing Manager of LinkedIn Pages.

Here’s a quick 2-min video walkthrough of using Buffer to analyze your LinkedIn posts and showcase your results. If you prefer a more in-depth explanation, feel free to read on.

This new feature will help [small businesses] understand what’s working so that they can get better results on LinkedIn.

– Ting Ba, Group Product Marketing Manager, LinkedIn Pages

1. Know what’s working to optimize your LinkedIn strategy

If you know what content resonates with your followers, you can create more of those content to engage your followers and grow your following.

But how do you know what’s connecting with your followers?

Buffer allows you to easily see your top-performing posts sorted by your most important metric: impressions, likes, comments, shares, or engagement rate.

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

I like to sort my posts by engagement rate because it tells me how often people engaged with a post after seeing it. To me, a high engagement rate is a sign that the content resonated with my followers. But you can also sort your posts by other metrics, depending on the goals of your strategy. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here.

Once you have sorted your posts, you can immediately see which posts have performed the best (according to your chosen metric). Next, analyze the top posts to see if there’s a clear recipe for success. Think about:

  • What’s special about these posts?
  • Is there a post type (e.g. video, image, article, text) that my audience seems to prefer?
  • Is there a topic that my audience seems to like?
  • When were the posts published? Is there a trend?

To make things even easier for you, Buffer analyzes your posts for you to tell you which day, post type, and posting frequency gave you the highest engagement rate. This lets you experiment with different posting strategies without the hassle of analyzing your posts yourself.

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

2. Understand your LinkedIn growth and results

After you have analyzed your posts and come up with more content, you would also want to know if the new posts are bringing in better results.

  • Are we getting more followers?
  • Is the number of impressions growing month-on-month?
  • Or simply, did all the metrics increase?

There are several ways to do this in Buffer, depending on what you want to achieve:

First, if you want a quick overview of your LinkedIn Page performance, you can this at a glance under the Overview tab. This is a summary of your Page’s key metrics and how they have changed compared with the previous period.

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

Second, if you want to see how these metrics have changed over time, you can look at the metrics insights chart under the Overview tab. This is one of our customers’ favorites because they can visually see the growth of the metrics. It is also a great chart to show others in your reports.

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

Finally, if you want to see how your posts have performed on aggregate, you can look at the post summary table under the Posts tab. It tells you the number of impressions, likes, etc. received by your posts and how those metrics have changed compared with the previous period.

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

3. Showcase the value of your work

After all your hard work, you would also want to put together monthly reports to share your results with your team, your manager, or your clients. It is also a great way to show that you understand your numbers.

Every table and chart can be easily added to a social media report in a few clicks.

First, click on the plus button in the upper-right corner of the table or chart.

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

Then, if you want to create a new report, enter the title of the report. If you want to add the chart to an existing report, select the respective report.

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

And there you have it—your social media report! (And not a spreadsheet in sight.)

To make your report more comprehensive, I recommend adding a description of the report and notes for the charts in your report. This will help people who view your report make sense of the data and understand your work.

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

Once the report is ready, you can export it as a PDF file and share it.

Here’s a pro tip: Instead of creating new reports every month, you can simply change the date period of your report to get the updated data.

Everything that I have described above is also available for your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter channels. You can create multi-channel reports by adding charts from various social channels into the same report. You no longer have to go to each social network to download the data and compile them in a spreadsheet!


A recap of our latest analytics features and improvements

Besides analytics for LinkedIn Pages, we have also added several other analytics features this year, which I thought you might be interested in:

Campaigns

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

Social media is not just about posting X times a day. Top brands plan campaigns that span multiple social networks. You can now plan your social media campaigns and get automated campaign reports in Buffer.

Boosted post insights

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

If you boost your Facebook and Instagram posts, you would want to know how they are performing. How does it compare with your organic results? You can do this comparison right inside Buffer.

Best time to post on Instagram

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

The age-old question: when is the best time to post? Our team developed an in-house statistical model to predict your reach potential on Instagram according to your previous posts and your follower activity. This is personalized to your brand specifically. To save you time, we also suggest the top three dates and times to maximize your reach on Instagram.

Hashtag analytics for first comments

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

While we had hashtag analytics for Instagram posts for a long time, we were not able to analyze the hashtags in the comments. Many customers put their hashtags in the first comment to keep the caption tidy. To ensure that they can also benefit from the hashtag analytics, we made it possible to track and analyze hashtags in the comments.

New date period options for faster reporting

More Data, Better Results: Introducing LinkedIn Analytics and More

Here’s a small improvement that saves lots of time. Previously, the date period options available were “Last 7 days”, “Last 28 days”, “Last 30 days”, and “Last 90 days”. We realized they were not that helpful because what customers really wanted was to look at their data for the week or the month. So we updated the options to “This month”, “Last month”, “This week”, and “Last week”. This has made weekly reviews and monthly reporting much simpler.

Get more data. Make better decisions.

Doing social media without analytics is like running with your eyes closed. You will get somewhere but probably not where you want to go. We want to equip you with the data you need in a simple and accessible way so that you can make better decisions. Better decisions on what content to post to grow your reach and engagement.

If you already have analytics in your Buffer subscription, the new LinkedIn integration is already available to you.

Otherwise, feel free to grab a 14-day trial of Buffer and start making better decisions.


FAQs

Where can I find the analytics in my Buffer account?

If you already have the analytics in your Buffer subscription, click on “Analyze” in the upper-left corner to see your analytics.

I have a Buffer subscription but why do I not have access to the analytics?

It might be because you do not have the analytics in your Buffer subscription. You can try the analytics for free for 14 days before you decide whether you want to keep it.

Can I connect my LinkedIn personal profiles?

It’s currently not possible to connect your LinkedIn personal profiles to Buffer’s analytics. If you need this, would you be up for sharing your feedback with us?

https://buffer.com/resources/linkedin-page-analytics/

Beats, Bytes and Brands: A New SMW+ Series in Partnership with Triller

Following the announcement of our subscription packages for SMW+, we’re excited to introduce a new branded content series in partnership with Triller and Beats & Bytes to the platform. If you haven’t already, be sure to browse our suite of subscription options and activate your membership so you can tune in to all of the latest content live and on-demand including this new series.

Hosted by Jesse Kirshbaum, the CEO of NUE Agency and EIC of Beats & Bytes, the show, Beats, Bytes and Brands, is an eight-part series about the future of music marketing, exploring the intersections of music, culture, technology and social media and its impact on brands.

“We eat, breathe, drink and sleep everything that happens at intersections of music, technology, culture, and social media. Therefore, it was great to collaborate with SMW+ and Triller to stoke the conversation and take a deep dive with a bunch of friends as well as industry experts in various areas, as we collectively navigate these new and pivotal times. Each episode focuses on a central topic such as playlist culture, how to craft a music strategy, the state of the livestream business, the power of music, artists partnerships and music and gaming,” said Kirshbaum.

“Launching this series with Beats & Bytes and Social Media Week’s new streaming platform SMW+ provides Triller with a unique opportunity to reach and engage a global audience of marketers, brands and music industry professionals,” shared Bonin Bough, the show’s guest host and Chief Growth Officer at Triller. “This collaboration also solidifies Triller’s place in the music industry as a place that celebrtates creativity and supports emerging and established artists.”

The series brings together leaders in music, technology and marketing, including Bough, Fabrice Sergent, the founder of Bandsintown, Tuma Basa, the Head of Black Music at YouTube, and Raphi Lima, who is the head of Global Music Partnerships and Marketing at Electronic Arts.

“In lieu of actually being able to see our favorite musicians perform live, we are all turning to streaming, I’m excited to be able to share some of the best of what I am seeing in the space on Beats, Bytes, Brands,” stated Sergent.

Beats, Bytes and Brands, presented by Triller, broadcasts live on SMW+, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram and is also available on-demand on SMW+ from November 17th, 2020. Visit smw.plus/discover to learn more and to activate a free trial subscription.

About SMW+

SMW+ is a streaming platform that connects professionals in marketing with the smartest, thought-leaders around the world. Visit http://smw.plus to learn more.

About Beats & Bytes

Beats & Bytes is the premiere authority on music, tech and brands. The weekly newsletter is received by music & tech enthusiasts, thought-leaders, music industry elite, brands, investors, publicists, etc. Each week delivers an aggregation of all of the latest industry happenings within the intersection of music x tech x brands along with Jesse Kirshbaum, CEO of Nue Agency’s POV’s on the latest trends.

About Triller

Triller is an AI-powered entertainment app that allows users to create professional-looking videos in a matter of seconds. Pick a song, select the portion of the song you want to use, snap a few takes and with the tap of a button you have a celebrity-quality music video starring you and your friends. Triller relies solely on organic growth and has more than 250 million downloads, with celebrities like Alicia Keys, Cardi B, Marshmello, Roddy Ricch and Eminem regularly using the app to create their own music videos. Triller recently was acquired by Proxima Media. For more information, visit www.triller.co and follow @Triller on Instagram.

The post Beats, Bytes and Brands: A New SMW+ Series in Partnership with Triller appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/beats-bytes-and-brands-a-new-smw-series-in-partnership-with-triller/

5 Creative Ways Brands Are Using Influencers

Most people tend to associate influencers with social media. However, influencers have been around for a lot longer than most people might think and can be dated as far back as the middle ages with royalty, popes, knights, earls, and artists. 

In recent years, influencers have exploded in popularity on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Snap, Pinterest, and TikTok. This has resulted in the emergence of 4 distinct influencer types: nano, micro, macro, and celebrity influencers.

Image courtesy of Tribe

Brands, both large and small are tapping into the influencer space at an ever-increasing rate. That’s why it may not come as a surprise to hear that the market has been forecasted to be worth more than $15 billion by 2022. Here’s a fresh look at some creative ways brands are using influencers plus key stats and tips to bookmark.

Product discovery

The beauty of the internet is that it is now easier than ever to discover new products and services. Brands are aware of this and they are also aware that influencers are one of the top ways by which people discover new products and services, far more than with traditional means. 

Recent statistics show that “71%  of consumers prefer to discover brands themselves via channels such as friend’s recommendations, browsing in-store or online searches, than from traditional forms of push advertising, with endorsements acting as a valuable tool to spark discovery.” 

Nowadays, one of the quickest ways to raise awareness about a new product is to have many influencers simultaneously talking about it. Take the Ivy Park X Adidas launch in January of this year. Ahead of the sports apparel launch, a number of influencers and celebrities received boxes of clothes from the brands and posted to social media, amplifying the publicity around it. The result was that the line sold out within an hour of being released, showing the impact of such efforts. 

Shatter stereotypes through sensitivity

Many notable artists like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Alice Cooper, at some point in time, called Detriot home. Despite Detroit’s celebrity status in pop culture as a place that starts new trends, it has had issues ‘shaking off’ its Bronx-like image, and in 2018 it was dubbed the worst city in America to live in.

In order to debunk the Detroit stereotype, Bedrock Real Estate launched an influencer campaign via film to show the positive aspects of the city and make local residents feel to be from Detroit. The video acquired over 150,000 views and was endorsed by local influencers like Big Sean who narrated the video showing his sensitive side, Shinola, and Detroit Bikes.

Leverage the ‘new normal’

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work. Ultimately, working from home has become the new normal. To take advantage of ‘our new’ work from home (WFH) routines, Canadian clothing brand Henri Vézina launched an ad campaign displaying male models wearing half-suits.

Image courtesy of Henri Vézina

Whilst, the campaign did not directly use influencers; however, it did manage to generate a lot of chatter over social media by tying in our new unfound reality that a lot of us are working from home and using Zoom to hold workplace meetings. The creative ad campaign resulted in 100s of influencers organically sharing the campaign. 

Image curation and branding

A brand is only ever as powerful as the willingness of the public to purchase from it and the public is more likely to financially support a brand if they respond positively to its branding and public image. This is why brands invest massive resources in building a specific image and perception among the public. 

Take Victoria’s Secret, for example, that was once the top lingerie brand in the world that has since lost sizable market share amid accusations of body shaming, transphobia, and a lack of diversity. When FentyXSavage, a newer lingerie line, came out with the intention of taking over Victoria’s Secret, they made sure to brand themselves as the ‘antithesis to Victoria’s Secret,’ and this was partially done with influencer marketing. They collaborated with plus-size, transgender, and influencers of color so define themselves as distinct and inclusive.

Drive ‘hidden’ public demand

The power of influencers to drive public demand for specific goods and services is difficult to overstate as has been proven many times in the past. Take beauty blenders; soft sponges that are used for the application of makeup. They were first created in 2009 but it was not until the mid-2010s that beauty influencers began touting them in makeup tutorials and review videos. 

The then-unknown beauty tool was deemed a necessary item for everyone’s makeup kit and exploded in popularity. According to an article by WhoWhatWear, 17 beauty blenders are sold every minute. What this means is that the power of influencer marketing can drive public interest for new products that they were otherwise unaware of.

Campaign tips and tools

If you are thinking about running a micro-influencer campaign, then here are some useful tools that you may want to consider using:

  • Influencer discovery platforms: There are a variety of influencer platforms you can use, such as Upfluence, Influence, Tribe, AspireIQ, and Post For Rent.
  • Analyze your connections: You can use the Chrome extension Discover.ly to analyze your email, LinkedIn, and Facebook connections to discover if you or your friends have existing relationships with influencers.
  • Auditing influencer profiles: There are a number of tools that enable you to analyze an influencer profile including engagement rate, follower authenticity, and so on. These tools include Upfluence, Klear, Hypeauditor, and Analisa. Infactica can also be used to analyze banned TikTok user accounts. 
  • Web scraping: Octoparse can be used to extract both tweets and Instagram posts, and other tools with similar functions include Parsehub and Scrapinghub.

Key stats

The impact of influencer marketing not just on purchasing decisions but on popular culture cannot be overstated and this is reflected in the increased influencer marketing budgets in the last few years. Here are some key statistics you need to know:

  • Influencers are on track to replace celebrities as the go-to gatekeepers of consumer trust as 6 in 10 teenagers trust influencers over celebrities. 
  • Influencer marketing campaigns earn a 650% return for every dollar spent
  • The influencer marketing industry is expected to hit $10 billion by 2020

Google searches for “influencer marketing” have grown a whopping 1500% and it is clear that influencer marketing is here to stay. Influencer marketing has been able to snatch a sizable chunk of business and power from traditional marketing because it does something the latter could not do; form genuine connections.

For most people, their favorite influencer is not necessarily a celebrity that they idolize but a fellow civilian who is relatable to them and makes content that is relevant to them. Essentially, influencers act as trusted friends to their followers which means that they are more likely to buy whatever the influencer recommends to this.

This has, in turn, manifested in influencer marketing providing a greater return on investment for those who leverage it as well as relevant product and service recommendations for consumers who benefit from it.

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The post 5 Creative Ways Brands Are Using Influencers appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/5-creative-ways-brands-are-using-influencers/

How to Use Exaggerated Emotion and Original Audio to Drive Your TikTok Engagement

Since 2018 TikTok has nearly tripled in size. Among U.S. users 18 and older, TikTok brought in 22.2 million mobile unique visitors in January 2020, 23.2 million in February and 28.8 million in March. In April, that number skyrocketed to 39.2 million.

Looking ahead to 2021, new projections find that the platform will exceed one billion users. Despite this growth, it remains an untapped space for many marketers due to the obstacles that come with adapting for younger audiences and the related cultural nuances, values and interests that define them.

To help add some clarity for those looking to stake their TikTok territory, creative analytics platform VidMob employed its computer vision algorithm to examine roughly 1,500 ad posts that ran this year across 34 brand accounts.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the key findings of the study and patterns of the videos that saw the most engagement and how marketers can use them to maximize their results.

Exaggerated emotion and the human gaze

Per Vidmob, exaggerated emotions like expressing surprise and anger led to an average of 1.7x boost in the number of six-second views, compared to more neutral expressions such as calmness. In addition, cycling between four or more emotions in a single video led to a tripling of conversion rates.

Not only is the use of talent critical to a successful TikTok presence, but leveraging footage and imagery of talent that focused particularly on these more powerful emotions prove to engage the audience further and foster a deeper connection that resonates.

In this vein, background content and providing context to viewers is especially important results showed. When users can see a creator in their kitchen, bathroom or bedroom for instance, it is easier for audiences to easily associate and relate to the content they’re consuming.

A couple of other details to keep in mind:

  • Limit close-ups—videos in which the subject’s face took up less than a fifth of the screen performed 31 percent better in terms of clicks.
  • Aim to show multiple perspectives versus a single gaze — clickthrough increased by 1.7x when the subject looked directly into the camera for less than half of the video’s duration compared to more than half
  • More emotions are better than one — using 4 or more emotions resulted in a 3.3x greater conversion rate when the on-screen talent versus when they showed 3 or fewer.

Music and voice effects

In a recent webinar presentation of the findings, Sarah Graham, research strategist at VidMob, explained, “On other platforms, advertisers are focused on the visual elements of the creative specifically whereas on TikTok, sound is very much key to the success of creative. There was a level of audio analysis that we were able to do here that we haven’t done on other platforms.”

Voice effects and music not only increase engagement but create a more native feel for its users. For brands, original music helps them create their own footprint and stand out above the noise. How you employ audio ultimately boils down to what you aim to achieve — depending on if your objective is awareness. conversions, or consideration, there are different paths to take including whether you only use audio or if it’s combined with music.

Some stats to support your decisions shared as part of the findings include:

  • Uploading an original track can lead to 52 percent more six-second views on average
  • Posts with either music or voice over saw 1.6x more clickthrough than those with both, and employing the platform’s voice alteration tools led to 1.7 times more click than a subject’s natural voice.
  • Audio-only ads led to a 51 percent lift in 6-second view rate, by comparison to voiceover plus music or voiceover-only

Copy and CTAs

The average retention rate across the majority of social platforms is 2 to 3 words per second. Compared to TikTok, however, given that it is a quick-moving platform and that its UI is very friendly to scrolling — audiences are effectively retaining more content at higher rates of 5 to 10 words per second. For brands, this shows the value of being able to convey more information in a shorter period of time.

A few other details in this regard worth noting:

  • Audio with 4 or more words per second saw a 19 percent lift in Conversion Rate compared to talk tracks featuring 2 to 3 words per second.
  • Featuring a CTA in the opening frame led to a 44 percent lift in conversion rate compared to when it was displayed later.

Using influencers and UGC-style content in different ways than other platforms is what ultimately makes TikTok a powerful player. The biggest lesson for marketers here: Avoid an urge to recycle — rather, experiment and think outside the box as to what you create, how it will cater to this specific space, and why the ad will be native to the environment.

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The post How to Use Exaggerated Emotion and Original Audio to Drive Your TikTok Engagement appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/how-to-use-exaggerated-emotion-and-original-audio-to-drive-your-tiktok-engagement/

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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Feature image credit: marketingland.com

The post How Instagram’s New Redesign is Driving Short-Form Video and In-App Shopping appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/how-instagrams-new-redesign-is-driving-short-form-video-and-in-app-shopping/

Announcing The Social Media MarTech Index

Brought to you by Social Media Week, The Social Media Martech Index is a global list of all the companies that provide marketing technology solutions to the social media industry.

The Index is designed to help social media marketers as they think about their social media tech stack over the coming 6-12 months.

How is the Index organized?

The Index contains 21 different data points on each company:

  • Company
  • Website
  • Category
  • Industry
  • Phone number
  • City
  • State
  • Country
  • Zip
  • Number of Employees
  • Annual Revenue
  • Description
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook Company Page
  • Total Money Raised
  • Street Address
  • Web Technologies
  • Time Zone
  • Year Founded
  • Twitter Handle
  • LinkedIn Bio

How are the companies organized into categories?

Companies are organized into 24 categories and can be easily filtered within the Index:

  • ABM
  • Advocacy Loyalty & Referrals
  • Call Analytics & Management
  • CMS & Web Experience Management
  • Community & Reviews
  • Content Marketing
  • CRM
  • Customer Experience Service & Success
  • DAM & MRM
  • Email Marketing
  • Events Meetings & Webinars
  • Influencers
  • Interactive Content
  • Live Chat & Chatbots
  • Marketing Automation & Campaign/Lead Management
  • Mobile Apps
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Native/Content Advertising
  • Optimization Personalization & Testing
  • Search & Social Advertising
  • SEO
  • Social Media Marketing & Monitoring
  • Video Advertising
  • Video Marketing

How was the Index created?

The Social Media MarTech Index has been created through a process of research, data collection and thanks in part, and with permission from, Scott Brinkler, Chief Martech and The MarTech 5,000.

Featured Companies

The Index is not ranked in any specific way, however it is possible to filter using the categories list above. The Index also includes Featured Companies. These companies have chosen to increase their visibility within the Index by purchasing a Featured Company listing.

How Can I Access the Index?

The Social Media MarTech Index is a free resource and can be downloaded here.

The post Announcing The Social Media MarTech Index appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/announcing-the-social-media-martech-index/

5 Mobile Trends Marketers Should Know for 2021

In 2020 consumers have reshaped their daily lives. They expect brands to tap into innovative ways to engage with them at virtually every stage of the journey in a world where digital connections are the new norm. Through mobile devices and video we’ve endeavored to create shared experience and a sense of belonging.

According to a new report by App Annie, several of these trends are here to stay. Before we take a closer look them, here are a few quick takeaways to note:

  • Mobile data is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have when it comes to being armed for disruptors like TikTok and staying ahead of changing consumer behaviors
  • Mobile advertising will dominate overall digital ad spend and likely hit $290 billion worldwide in 2021
  • Don’t overlook mobile gaming — it captures 1.5x of the market compared to all other gaming platforms combined

Now let’s unpack some of the underpinning themes around mobile to keep top of mind as we navigate these final months of the year.

TikTok: a more powerful opportunity than ever

Perhaps the biggest ticket item all marketers are eager to know as they shape their mobile strategies is what does the future look like for TikTok? To put it simply — very promising. Per App Annie, the platform will exceed one billion users, 1.2B to be exact, over the course of the next year despite whether it will still be operational in the U.S. or not still up for debate.

For context if you haven’t kept tabs, since 2018 TikTok has nearly tripled in size. Even more, it saw the second-highest consumer spend among non-gaming apps in Q3 2020, which remains a a testament to its earnings potential for investors and the breadth and depth of the experience it offers its users.

Compared to some of its competitors that prioritize ad revenue, TikTok has found a sweet spot where it monetizes from ads, but also delivers opportunities for creators to transact in more authentic ways such as tipping and virtual gifts that paves the way to a hard-to-break positive feedback loop that keeps users invested.

The continued rise of “at-home” activities

As restaurants, gyms, malls, and other non-essential businesses shuttered their doors in March, we turned to our devices. While some may initially have thought this would be a temporary fix, many recent insights say otherwise. App Annie for instance, finds that time spent in key “at-home” categories is expected to top 1.3 trillion hours on Android phones alone in 2021.

More specifically, food delivery apps will become mainstream in the QSR space, financial apps will continue to gain steam as more people feel empowered by taking control of their finances in fun and inclusive spaces like those offered by Public.com amongst others. E-commerce is also on track to skyrocket to unforeseen levels. The report notes that in the U.S. consumers will set a new record for mobile shopping at 1 billion hours spent on Android devices in the holiday shopping season.

The ‘hyper casual’ gaming era and video streaming apps

Mobile games saw a 15 percent spike in weekly downloads from peak stay at home orders through Q3 and shows no signs of stopping. In 2021, App Annie predicts spend on mobile games will cross the $120 billion threshold adding, “….We expect 2021 to be the year of the hybrid mobile game genres, as gamers get savvier and mobile phones are becoming more capable in providing sophisticated experiences previously only available on Console or PC.”

Another big trend to note, especially if you’re a brand eager to maximize reach and engagement amongst younger demographics like Gen Z? The increase in multiplayer games that blend deeper ‘core’ multiplayer gameplay and mechanics with meaningful interactions between friends and family. Look no further than Among Us or Hunter Assassin as key examples that help illustrate this shift. “Hyper casual games have been a great user acquisition funnel for many publishers, and now we expect the focus to shift partially to building depth and engagement,” the report notes.

Finally, what of video streaming? U.S. consumers will have an average of 9.5 video streaming apps on their phones in 2021, an increase of 85 percent YoY — a direct response to a need to fill our content-hungry voids as we await a vaccine. “In a fragmented market, we are starting to see a major movement toward consumers seeking out a mini, curated ‘bundle’ of video streaming providers — as apps on their phones.” As far as the players that will rise to the top — socializing, connection and shared-experiences should be at the center of their plans.

You can download and check out the full report here: https://www.appannie.com/en/insights/market-data/2021-five-things-you-need-to-know-in-mobile/.

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The post 5 Mobile Trends Marketers Should Know for 2021 appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/5-mobile-trends-marketers-should-know-for-2021/

How Facebook is Helping Brands Adapt for the Mindful Consumer

2020 has been a challenge — particularly when it comes to mental health. From online fitness classes to recipe inspiration and DIY projects — consumers have a renewed sense of appreciation for the simpler things in life as they carve out new mindful habits. While this has become apparent, what this will ultimately spell out for the industry is still up for discussion.

Facebook recently embarked on a report to uncover some of the trends that will have a lasting impact on health and well-being and what they mean for brands as they prepare their strategies ahead of 2021.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key topics and findings.

Self-care as an essential ritual

During a time where widespread working-from-home arrangements have blurred the boundaries between work and leisure, wellness routines and creative pursuits have become instrumental in carving out “me” time. For consumers, this is regarded as essential for relaxation and as a means of entertainment in lieu of regular social events.

Per the report findings, over half (58%) U.S. consumers who have worked on a craft or DIY project for the first time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic say this is an activity they could see themselves continuing to do for years to come. Further, 80 percent of Americans intend to regularly practice self-care post-pandemic.

What is the moral here for brands? Self-care is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Consumers are more likely to engage in mindful purchases with a treat yourself mentality as opposed to impulsive ones and crave opportunities to create small moments of serenity day-to-day. In turn, there is a tremendous opportunity for brands to step in and reshape their narratives in ways that empower the consumer to establish their own health-building habits.

Altruism and purpose

Seventy percent of survey respondents reported they are now more aware that human activity threatens the climate than they were before the outbreak of COVID-19. Roughly the same percentage (71%) of consumers say they’d lose trust in a brand forever should it be seen placing profit over people.

Beyond helping people care for themselves, it is table stakes for today’s brands to take a stand on social and environmental issues and consumers will be quick to flag when they don’t or an attempt is disingenuous. In this vein, customers want to be thought of as humans, not consumers, and have their values and interests reflected in the companies they support. More than ever, they want the affirmation their purchasing power is being used to create positive change.

The prioritization of brands to display human qualities including empathy, compassion, and kindness is not only one consumers look to in a brand’s external communications, but also across their organization. As an example, 55 percent of U.S. consumers find it important that a brand offers medical and paid sick leave benefits to all employees. In other major markets like the U.K., this figure is even higher at 75 percent.

Social listening and empathetic experiences

As the report refers to it, “future-proofing” is on the rise with consumers tackling tough, longer-term decisions amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19. This ranges from career choices to saving or relocating, and even lifestyle specifics such as diets. More specifically, 75 percent of global consumers plan to eat and drink healthier as a result of the pandemic.

In addition to self-care, this year peace of mind has largely been derived from planning and brands can continue to play an instrumental role in this regard as consumers seek safety and stability. Experiences are varied so this can present obstacles by way of not being able to lean back on a one-size-fits-all strategy. To overcome this, brands must lead with adaptability, practice regular social listening to ensure alignment with values and needs of consumers, and reflect this effort through empathetic messaging.

COVID-19 has not only sharpened the individual level of mindfulness but what it means to be collectively well as a society. Consumers expect brands to step up, be active listeners, and assume responsibility for their communities as definitions of care and wellness evolve. As the brand-consumer relationship faces growing complexity, marketers should focus on several basic questions as their guidepost including who are you marketing to, how can you appropriately target them, and how has their mindset shifted?

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The post How Facebook is Helping Brands Adapt for the Mindful Consumer appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/how-facebook-is-helping-brands-adapt-for-the-mindful-consumer/

How Pinterest is Helping Retailers Through Enhanced Discovery and New Ad Options

While COVID-19 may have closed brick and mortar stores, it also has proven the efficiency in e-commerce when it comes to scaling sales and setting up shop and platforms are finding their role in the shift. Pinterest, most recently introduced including a new storefront profile, faster Catalogs feed ingestion, collections as a shopping ad format, video for collections, automatic bidding, conversion insights and analysis, and an improved product tagging test. This follows a new finding, that is, the number of Pinners engaging with shopping surfaces on Pinterest has grown over 85 percent in the past six months.

Here’s a recap of the latest updates and how you can put them to work for your bramd.

Transforming Shop Tabs to Storefronts

In the absence of the physical in-store browsing experience, discovery is everything. Pinterest is supporting merchants in this regard by giving the storefront profile an overhaul complete with “featured in-stock products organized by category, featured product groups and dynamically-created recommendations.”

With more ways to present their products on the tab, the goal is to encourage more online shopping behavior that nods to the in-store experience. Pinterest is also working on a product tagging option which would allow retailers to tag their products in scene images further instilling a sense of inspiration users of the platform notoriously crave. Finally, when searching for shopping-related ideas users will be shown recommended merchants based on the particular category. For instance, if you search ‘wool coat’ an option for Bluxome would appearch in addition to the product description including a link to purchase and the retail price.

Catalogs feed ingestion and video

Pinterest is also improving its catalog ingestion process. For brands, having an intuitive way to connect their product listings directly to their Pins is tablestakes and the platform is eager to streamline this to take the hassle out of uploading catalogs and shorten the time required to activate shopping ads. Further, merchants will have the option to designate a main asset and a corresponding product image in their uploads to create a multi-image ad unit.

Beyond these more basic updates, the company is also using this opportunity to lean into video, a format that continues to be top of mind. With this feature, brands have the option to apply video as a hero in a Collections ad unit to share their store in more innovative and compelling ways that drive inspiration to action.

As part of its Q2 update, Pinterest revealed that catalog ingestion had grown 10x in the first half of 2020. Chances are this will increase even further as merchants look to add more shoppable Pins to augment sales on the platform and capitalize on the rise of e-commerce.

Automatic bidding & conversion analysis

A primary concern for marketers is ensuring their ad bids align with their objectives.At a high level, automatic bidding taps into internal insights including key metrics to map campaigns to the right users based on their interests, habits, and history.

Pinterest specifically introduced automatic budding for shopping aimed at maximizing sales for brands on the platform in an easy, automatic, and effective way. Advertisers keep control over an ad group’s bid and can adjust as necessary to aim for the maximum number of results while promotions are geared towards users with a history of buying or displaying purchase intent.

“On average, advertisers who tested Automatic Bidding for Catalog Sales saw 28 percent more conversions when optimizing for the ‘Conversion’ event and nearly 29 percent more clicks when optimizing for ‘Click’ event for the same budget,” the company shared.

Lastly, in today’s environment adaptability and a willingness to experiment is a core element of any strategy small or large. To help brands test and see how their campaigns are performing across different objectives Pinterest rolled out a series of new “Conversation Analysis” visualization tools that illustrate how a consumer is completing their path to purchase. By having these fundamental pieces of information presented in a familiar funnel, marketers not only gain a clearer picture of future expectations but immediate new ways to prove impact including comparison of multiple attribution views.

Shoppable Product Pins has increased by 44 percent in 2020, while the number of Pinners engaging within shopping surfaces across the app has grown over 85 percent in the past six months. At 416 million monthly active users, Pinterest’s reach is also expanding. It’s worth a look, and these new tools could further enhance its offering.

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The post How Pinterest is Helping Retailers Through Enhanced Discovery and New Ad Options appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/how-pinterest-is-helping-retailers-through-enhanced-discovery-and-new-ad-options/

Invest in Your Professional Education with SMW+

During the Pandemic, the number one thing that we have heard from our community is that professional learning opportunities are more important to them today, than ever before.

At Social Media Week we have been committed to helping professionals grow in their careers for more than a decade and today, I am excited to share with you the latest iteration of SMW+, our streaming platform that connects you with the smartest minds in our industry through a weekly program of live and on-demand programming.

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Today, the platform hosts over 20 original shows, including The Marketers MBA, hosted by GoDaddy’s Global Head of Social Evan Weiner, a show about trends in consumer marketing hosted by Salesforce’s Director of Market Strategy Mathew Sweezey, Media Genius, hosted by Weber Shandwick’s Head of Brand Randa Stephan, Branding During the Age of Black Lives Matter with Black Enterprise’s Selena Hill and Don’t Forget the Human, with Reddit’s Head of Strategy Will Cady.

I am also hugely proud to announce the launch of a brand new series which we have developed in partnership with Facebook and The 404 called The Business of Empathy. Aimed at marketers across every facet of our industry, The Business of Empathy is a 12-part series that aims to help marketers understand how to apply the principles of empathy to their businesses everyday and learn from empathetic leaders from around the world, including author of Savvy Shiv Singh, design and innovation leads at Pfizer and PepsiCo and author and industry legend Rishad Tobaccowala.

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Our industry is experiencing an extraordinary amount of change and disruption and with this comes a great deal of uncertainty and insecurity. We are convinced that to address this, we must invest in our professional education and set aside invaluable time to learn about the latest and most important trends, best practices and acquire new skills and understanding through services like SMW+.

We asked a number of our SMW+ presenters, what they think about the service, how it benefits them and what they hope you will take away from the content they are hosting on the platform. Here’s what a few had to say:

“SMW+ has been a great platform for uniquely candid, in-depth exploration of the most present ideas in the world of marketing. Topics like empathy, purpose, creativity, measurement, and others aren’t just referenced in discussion on SMW+, they have room to stretch out and breathe; making for a far more enlightening forum for all involved.” — Will Cady, Head of Creative Strategy, Reddit

“SMW+ provides me with a platform to talk to bright and talented people who can offer tangible insight into how they are effective at what they do. Our conversations are candid and cut through the fluff so that viewers can take away lessons that they can apply to their own roles.” — Katie Perry, VP Marketing, Public.com

“SMW+ is a unique destination that provides marketers with the tools, resources, and information they need to cut through the noise in today’s content-driven world. My series, “Branding in the Age of Black Lives Matter,” serves to enrich marketers on how to effectively communicate, engage, and tap into diverse audiences. Not only do viewers learn the best practices and strategies to engage with BIPOC, but I, too, gained a wealth of knowledge from the industry experts, corporate change agents, and influential leaders that I interviewed. From brand activism to effective storytelling to corporate appropriation, these conversations have expanded by understanding of messaging and sharpened my skills as a communicator and content creator.” — Selena Hill, Digital Editor, Black Enterprise Magazine

“SMW+ has been an amazing platform to meet, learn from and network with leaders and peers in our industry. Even as we’re all navigating new (and mostly remote) work scenarios, this platform enables the connections and conversations that help us to keep learning from each other. It’s also been a place where we can take a step back from the daily chaos, hear new perspectives and just think about what’s happening so that it all makes a bit more sense. Even as a presenter, the process of designing content and interviews for each episode of Media Genius made me think a little deeper about the why, so what and now what of it all. I hope that any viewer who tuned into Media Genius got as much information and inspiration as my team and I did creating it.” — Randa Stephan, Head of Brand, Weber Shandwick

Why SMW+?

SMW+ enables digital marketers to become smarter, better informed, and more connected. By joining the platform you will:

  • Learn from the best – Programs are led by the world’s greatest thought leaders, innovators, and marketing practitioners, including speakers from Twitter, Facebook, Google, H&M, Reddit, Amazon, Nestle, Salesforce, GREY.
  • Advance your career – With a wide range of shows and programs available to choose from – take your career to the next level with programs that are customized to suit your goals.
  • Join the SMW community – when times are hard and the future feels uncertain, we can achieve more together than on our own. Access a community of the world’s most dynamic marketers from leading brands, agencies and platforms.

What’s included in your SMW+ subscription?

We have designed the subscription packages to suit your budget, whether you are an independent contractor or employee and have made it very straightforward to activate or cancel your subscription at any time. Here’s what’s included:

  • Monthly, Annual and Teams packages
  • Watch Shows and Episodes live each week
  • Watch Shows and Episodes on-demand
  • Add Episodes to calendar feature
  • Access to SMW Slack Networking Group and Expert Network
  • Free 30min consultation with SMW+ Presenter (Annual only)

The post Invest in Your Professional Education with SMW+ appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/11/invest-in-your-professional-education-with-smw/

How TikTok and Shopify are Fueling Shoppable Videos

Earlier this year, TikTok announced a $200 million creator fund with a goal of helping more leading creators in its community sustain themselves financially solely through TikTok. More recently, the platform announced a partnership with Teespring allowing creators to sell merchandise they design and create directly to fans via the app itself.

As social commerce continues to proliferate, brands and retailers are recognizing that to rise above the noise they must tap emerging spaces with highly creative and engaged audiences. In this spirit, TikTok and Shopfiy announced a global partnership geared to help more than one million merchants reach highly engaged audiences and drive sales by tapping into TikTok’s global scale.

Helping Shopify Merchants Engage TikTok Users

“The TikTok channel means Shopify merchants—even those without a strong TikTok following of their own yet—can connect with these new audiences using content that feels authentic and genuine to the TikTok experience,” said Satish Kanwar, Vice President of Product at Shopify, in a statement about the new partnership.

At a high level, the partnership enables merchants access to TikTok’s key business features and software as part of its Business Ads manager including the ability to designate which product they want to spotlight. They can also access a variety of TikTok’s ready-made templates to help customize their campaign with their brands’ images, and videos. The tools are already designed for commerce and compatible for “merchants of any size,” so any heavy lifting is removed from the equation.

As a perk, they can claim a $300 ad credit to put toward their first TikTok campaign. Beyond launching ads, merchants can use the software to target specific audiences and track ad performance so they can more easily track for what they’re doing well versus what they can improve on in their next ad.

#ShopBlack Challenge

Prior to its latest push, TikTok had toyed with allowing users to drop e-commerce inks in their bios, launched ‘Shop Now’ buttons for brands to incorporate into their videos, and introduced shoppable components to hashtags with Hashtag Challenge Plus, it’s e-commerce feature.

Along the vein of hashtags as a commerce function, as part of the partnership TikTok and Shopify are hosting a co-branded #ShopBlack challenge scheduled to run from November 10 to November 15. The effort will feature products from over 40 merchants in a powerful testament to the responsibility and meaningful opportunity for today’s social platforms to support the notion that societal issues like racial equality and business growth are connected efforts. Specifically, by serving as an outlet through which Black entrepreneurs can share their stories and inspiration as business owners within the larger TikTok community.

Separately, Shopify released its own Black Business Directory through which users can discover and buy from Black Shopify merchants. The platform also recently announced its partnership with Operation Hope to create one million Black-owned businesses by 2030.

Simplifying social commerce

This partnership is just one example that speaks to the growing social commerce movement, a trend that has been accelerated by the coronavirus. As the physical stores closed in 2020 and sent massive traffic to online destinations, platforms spanning Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest rushed to update their shopping features. Mobile-apps are the shopping malls of the internet.

Content can be moved more cheaply and quickly than ever before and there are new ways to make it to ensure it stands out above the crowd. The influx of social channels as retail avenues doesn’t come without its own challenges, however.

“One of the concerns brands have with [the] growth of e-commerce across social, retailers and their own .com is that it requires managing multiple retail streams,” shared Jess Richards, EVP and Managing Director of Commerce at Havas Media Group. “The connectivity with Shopify for Merchants can simplify the approach.”

In an era of empowered consumers, experiences should be the primary focus for brands — and these have to be easy-to-navigate, streamlined, and delivered in hyper-relevant formats that match the space and flow of communication. Video is one of these expanding areas worth watching.

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The post How TikTok and Shopify are Fueling Shoppable Videos appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/10/how-tiktok-and-shopify-are-fueling-shoppable-videos/

How Pinterest is Advocating for Underrepresented Communities and Cultural Sensitivity

Earlier this year, in a push to create a more diverse community and deliver unique and hyper-refined results for every person, Pinterest upgraded its skin tone feature launched initially in 2018 and opened it to more regions including the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The move was fueled by earlier research that found over half (60%) of the top 100 search terms for skin-related searches on the platform also included a tone.

Today, Pinterest is furthering its commitment to underrepresented users and demonstrating that it understands its users can’t feel inspired if they don’t feel represented. Here’s a breakdown of what the platform has in the works.

A new self-identification tool

Following its recent introduction of Story Pins and curated spaces, Pinterest is committed to ensuring that 50 percent of the managed creators it works with come from underrepresented groups.

“As we continue to build a platform for everyone, it’s important that the ideas Pinners discover and take action on are inclusive of our global community…We’re continuing to make progress on our commitments to support meaningful change—whether it’s increasing the discoverability of diverse ideas to reflect our hundreds of millions of Pinners, using our marketing channels to help drive change or our amplifying creators from all backgrounds and experiences.” the platform shared in the official announcement.

Pinterest further explained that its aim is to have those who self-identify via its upcoming tool see their content in key areas across the platform including the Today tab, Shopping Spotlights and the Pinterest Shop. This will all be centrally managed by retailers, creators, and advertisers through the Community Information tab in the settings menu — but the catch is these must be registered business profiles.

“Make the World See All Beauty” Campaign

As part of this event and in partnership with advertising agency 72andSunny, Pinterest also kicked off its newest campaign “Make the World See All Beauty,” including a social film and V Magazine cover wrap which shines a light on 10 creators pushing the boundaries and driving the conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion. The film highlights some of their personally captured content with the goal of displaying a more representative future — one where the beauty world sees all variations of beauty.

The campaign will go live on Pinterest creator social channels and YouTube in addition to exclusive content in Story Pins. Participating creators include Nyma Tang, Kiitan Akinniranye, Tennille Murphy, Kiitan Akinniranye, and Nam Vo.

Differentiating between appropriation and appreciation

In an effort to use an atypical Halloween and holiday season to drive awareness about cultural sensitivity — Pinterest earlier this month announced that it would implement informational prompts into key searches as people planned their unique celebrations at home.

“Many people may not know that certain costumes are appropriations of other cultures. As a platform for positivity, we want to make it easy to find culturally-appropriate Halloween ideas, and bring awareness to the fact that costumes should not be opportunities to turn a person’s identity into a stereotyped image,” the platform explained.

To help brands and Pinners give additional consideration to the campaign tie-ins and decisions around these celebrations, searches — like for “Day of the Dead costumes” — will now show a Pin at the top of results with information curated by Pinterest employee group PIndigenous and experts such as Dr. Adrienne Keene on how to celebrate thoughtfully and respectfully. Additionally, the platform will limit recommendations for costumes that appropriate cultures.

Whether in the context of Halloween or otherwise, these conversations are integral to advancing as a society and an industry. The Black Lives Matter movement has fundamentally altered the advertising industry and accelerated the need for brands to tackle tough questions head-on including how they define terms including “diversity” and “inclusion” within their own organization but also how that is manifested in their messaging to consumers. With this, they also have an important role to play in understanding the difference between performative action and a real, long-term strategy and commitment to DE&I.

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The post How Pinterest is Advocating for Underrepresented Communities and Cultural Sensitivity appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/10/how-pinterest-is-advocating-for-underrepresented-communities-and-cultural-sensitivity/

How LinkedIn is Combining Paid and Organic Tools to Boost Virtual Events

In May Linkedin debuted Virtual Events to help smooth the transition to virtual events. Since then, more than 200,000 events have been hosted on the platform, reaching nearly 10 million digital attendees. Seven months of this “new normal,” however, there is still a lot to navigate and new questions and virtual surrounding hybrid and virtual events continue to surface.

To improve its Events options even further, LinkedIn solicited feedback about the offering and identified several key areas of improvement. More specifically, the company is introducing new discovery features, promotion options, and data capture processes.

Here’s a high-level overview of the updates and how you can bring them into your strategy for your next event.

Driving organic discovery

First off, LinkedIn is enhancing organic discovery through personalized recommendations in the “My Network” tab and weekly Event email digests. “So far, we’ve seen a +40% increase in event attendees from recommendations found in the ‘My Network’ tab,” the company shared.

Separately, when you post an event from your business Page, LinkedIn will automatically notify your followers who are most likely to attend based on various criteria, including their interests. In an age of information overload, hyper-targeted and relevant messages are critical to rise above the noise and earn attention. Ideally, these efforts will help reduce the clutter in this regard and limit potential spam.

Capturing leads

As part of the feedback, Linkedin also heard from businesses that they’d like more streamlined options for tracking attendees and gathering important data on those who have registered their interest in their event. In response, the platform is introducing registration forms for events where details including names and details can be captured.

A bonus? These lists are downloadable directly from your event page and used to send personalized notes including thank you emails. In addition, you can bring these into your CRM or share it with your sales teams to build your outreach lists over time.

Promoting and retargeting events

Per Linkedin, Page followers who are exposed to your organic content are 61 percent more likely to convert on your paid ad. What does this really mean in the grand scheme of your strategy planning? Successful promotion involves a mixed media strategy.

To help boost the reach of organic posts around events, the company is rolling out “Sponsored Content Single Image Ads.” Per LinkedIn’s Head of Product, Ajay Datta, these will be particularly effective in engaging executives, decision-makers, and other hard-to-reach audiences. In addition, when included with an Event URL, these ads can be a straightforward way to trace how it performs against new, specified metrics, such as the total number of registrants, as well as views and clicks on the ad that resulted in a registration. To continue the conversation with prior event registrants, simply create a custom target audience in Campaign Manager based on those who have RSVPed to any of your LinkedIn Events.

The growing usage of video connection

According to Linkedin, 60 percent of members want to use video meetings on LinkedIn for networking. This added layer of human connection while keeping a safe distance amid the current pandemic, is more important than ever and gives an opportunity for people to bring humanity to their conversations and practice digital empathy.

In this vein, LinkedIn announced the full roll-out of its new video meeting options within InMessage. The platform hinted at this update a few weeks back as part of its overall refresh including new colors and visuals. To initiate a video call with another person or group in a thread, click on the video meeting icon and select a provider including Blue Jeans or Zoom, to sign-in or register. LinkedIn isn’t stopping here, either. The company hinted that it is also working on advanced event analytics, a new Events Ad format, and attendee networking options slated for roll out soon.

Let’s face it — B2B events will likely never be the same but rather become a hybrid of the physical and digital. COVID-19 has taught us that we can use technology and re-think the various aspects of in-person events from ticketing and registration to presentations and networking and redesign them in meaningful ways to maximize impact for everyone involved.

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The post How LinkedIn is Combining Paid and Organic Tools to Boost Virtual Events appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/10/how-linkedin-is-combining-paid-and-organic-tools-to-boost-virtual-events/

Watch New Content Series “The Business of Empathy” Exclusively for SMW+

Since we launched SMW+ in August we’ve dropped 20+ original shows on the platform, hosted by some of the smartest people in the industry spanning brands, platforms, and agencies. Today, we’re excited to announce a new series in partnership with Facebook and The 404 titled, “The Business of Empathy.”

Across three different conversations, the series, hosted by Michael Ventura, author of Applied Empathy, will take a close look at how we can practice empathy for ourselves, for others, and based on what is happening in the world around us and why this is key for business. The insights shared from leaders at Salesforce, Pfizer, Getty Images, and more will help us understand each other more meaningfully and the opportunities we have to use empathy as a vehicle for innovation, education, and connection in a radically shifting environment.

How can you authentically build empathy for someone who might be experiencing something that you never experienced? How can your own strengths and weaknesses inform your ability to empathize with your team and organization as a whole? These questions and more will be unpacked across the three episodes dropping on the platform in the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime, check out the official trailer for the first season below and stay tuned for more updates on when the series launches!

The post Watch New Content Series “The Business of Empathy” Exclusively for SMW+ appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/10/watch-new-content-series-the-business-of-empathy-exclusively-for-smw/

5 Best Practices for Twitter Video Marketing

Contrary to what many might think, Twitter is actually a gold mine for video marketing. There has been a 95 percent increase in daily video views on Twitter over the past 18 months. Likewise, there has been an 85 percent year-over-year increase in watch time on Twitter. More so, you are losing out if your Twitter marketing strategy does not include videos. Why? Apparently, tweets with videos attract 10x more engagements than tweets without.

What it takes for effective video marketing is understanding its peculiarities and adapting your strategy appropriately. The following points highlight the best practices for video marketing on Twitter.

Consider your Target Audience

This obvious first step determines everything about the video including how effective it is going to be.

Twitter is about starting and joining conversations. Your video strategy must address the needs of your audience else it won’t fly. Two questions you must ask before making your video are:

  • Needs. What is my audience concerned about?
  • Trends. What is my audience talking about?

Any video that is not relevant in at least one of those respects is dead on arrival. Therefore, before the questions above, you must also ask yourself, ‘who is my audience?’

Only when these factors are clear can you make a video that will appeal to people the right way.

Keep Videos Short and Direct

You need to communicate your message as soon as possible. Passing a message within the first 3 seconds can impact overall breakthrough metrics by 13%. Also, Twitter recommends keeping messages below 15 seconds to maximize branding impact.

This video by Debonairs Pizza exemplifies this. The 10-second video passes a simple message which is ‘dessert for every pizza’. The message was displayed for exactly three seconds and was followed by different pizza pictures and a persistent chocolate dessert. With such succinctness, no viewer is left in doubt of the message of the video.

Include Product and People

Your video should feature both your product and the people using your product. Don’t ignore the importance of emotions in advertising and the role that displaying a human connection to the product plays. Don’t leave your audience clueless; help them to connect the dots. According to Twitter, videos that show a positive human interaction or human desire for a product record a 40% increase in the overall response.

This Budweiser Zero ad does a good job of this. In the video, soccer goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe stops shots with one hand while holding a can of Budweiser Zero in the other, obviously having fun at it.

Use Visual Cues

Every element in the video should reinforce the message you are trying to pass across. Hence, even the tiniest details must be products of deliberate choice. More so, display aspects such as color, typography, graphics, etc. are not tiny details.

Display your logo or branding element as early as possible in the video. In addition, displaying your brand for more than half of the video could result in a 25% increase in brand recall and a 21 percent increase in message recall.

This video marketing Google Safe Browsing opens and closes with the Google logo, such that, no viewer can be left unclear of which brand.

To determine if your video has an effective visual display, try playing it without sounds. If a third-party cannot understand the message in a video without the sounds, then you need to up your visual game.

Consider this video by Slack. It displays a recreation of the usual office talk with Slack channels. And without a sound (even without the accompanying text), anyone can understand the message.

Keep Tweet Copy Concise

A 280-character limit for tweet copy accompanies the 280-second limit for videos. However, you need to pick which to emphasize. And if you are sharing a video, there is no need for a lengthy piece. The tweet copy should only be used to call the viewer’s attention to the video or to call the viewer to take an action.

If the video can’t say all that you want to explain, then the tweet copy should only contain a short and precise call-to-action, such as below:

The tweet precisely states what the video is about and also includes a call-to-action for viewers to read more about the product.

Finally, If videos haven’t featured in your Twitter marketing strategy in the past, then it is time to make a change. And when making videos, always aim for impact. That is why you must set clear metrics ahead to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.

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The post 5 Best Practices for Twitter Video Marketing appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/10/5-best-practices-for-twitter-video-marketing/

How Zoom’s New Spin Off Platform is Catering to the Virtual Event Trend

It’s no secret Zoom has come into its own over the course of 2020 — evolving from a niche enterprise solution to a frequently used verb and video conferencing app integral to carrying out our day to day lives both personal and professional.

For context, the app surged from 10 million daily active users in December 2019, to 200 million in March 2020. Further, at one point earlier this year, Zoom reached more than 300 million daily call participants. This growth is nothing short of remarkable and the platform is pushing to continue its lockdown success in some big ways. Specifically, new event discovery and monetization features, which will enable paid Zoom users to create and host ticketed online events.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s new.

Introducing OnZoom

A primary goal of many marketers and businesses in these uncertain times is simplifying how virtual events are delivered and engaging new audiences in ways that combat technology fatigue. Enter OnZoom.

OnZoom, as described in the official announcement, is a “a one-of-a-kind online events platform and marketplace that supports – and salutes – the creativity, perseverance, and innovation that enabled so many people to adapt their in-person events to virtual or hybrid experiences.” More specifically, the platform supports one-time events or event series with up to 100 or 1,000 attendees ranging from classes, concerts, stand-up, and more. Essentially, anything you could use Zoom for initially with the major difference now being the ability to earn money from the events and have them be easily searchable via a public directory.

Hosts can use OnZoom to list and sell tickets and share and promote their events via email and social media. Organizers will need a paid Zoom account in addition to a business Paypal account to manage ticket transactions though the company noted other payment options aren’t off the table and could be introduced at a later time with the broader global roll out slated for 2021. For nonprofits, Zoom teamed up with Pledgeling to allow for the ability to receive donations by attendees.

Third-party integration with Zapps

From a more practical standpoint, Zoom announced the integration of third-party apps directly into calls hosted on the platform so that users can save precious time and headaches from toggling to numerous tabs for the apps they use for their work including Slack, Asana, Atlassian, DropBox and SurveyMonkey. Rather, all of the core tools you use to communicate and stay organized are centralized under what the company has named ‘Zapps.’ At launch there are over 25 partners supporting the integration.

“Zapps help surface all the applications you need to be productive and enable the free flow of information between teams before, during, and after the meeting,” the company shared. “Think of Zapps as an app store right where you need it most — in a Zoom meeting, chat, webinar, phone call, and even your contacts directory.”

Zapps will be available through the main taskbar during Zoom calls where each individual app can be launched as a screen share. Similarly to Apple’s App store, you can browse and select the various apps you want integrated into your Zoom account and based on your customization, these will be displayed under “My Zapps” for easy access in your meetings.

Embracing change and preparing for a future of hybrid work

We are experiencing a massive acceleration of digital transformation. Whether we like it or not the world has made a quick adoption to a new way of living with technology being front and center of our unique pivots. Through education and reinvention we can take a beat, ask the hard questions, and open the door to new opportunities that advance our careers and businesses in profound ways. The outcome of this evolution remains to be seen, but one thing remains clear: there is much more value to gain from embracing the moment through innovation and creativity that supports this paradigm shift than fearing it.

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The post How Zoom’s New Spin Off Platform is Catering to the Virtual Event Trend appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/10/how-zooms-new-spin-off-platform-is-catering-to-the-virtual-event-trend/

How Google is Helping Marketers Navigate Shifting Shopping Behaviors

The 2020 holiday season will undoubtedly look a little different this year, but one thing that is unchanged: it is still a time of peak demand and a critical time to connect with consumers. With just under 70 days until Christmas, brands are scaling their efforts as best they can and learning along the way as they reinvent and maximize opportunities.

In support of this, Google launched a 27-page guide on evolving shopping patterns and how to prepare for them including some case studies brands can emulate in their own approach. Here’s an overview of some of the key trends extracted from the findings.

Extended period of shopping and deal-hunting

COVID-19 has led to an increase in shoppers looking for value in terms of quality and price. More specifically, 62 percent of U.S, shoppers are planning to start holiday shopping earlier this year to avoid missing out on items. “This means retailers will need to rethink the usual timelines for Cyber Monday and Cyber Week to help shoppers already looking for special offers and deals this October,” says Google. In short, it isn’t only about peak days anymore.

A growing number of people are recognizing the efficiency and other benefits of ordering online. While deal-seeking certainly isn’t a new concept, the emphasis on value and quality are higher than ever as people turn to their devices to research, browse, and purchase. In fact, searches for “best affordable” are up 60 percent year-over-year and just under half (46%) expect brands to offer discounts.

The takeaway to note from these shifts in behavior: Maximize the exposure of your sales and holiday deals. The report points to a case study from handbag company Dagne Dover who delivered 4X return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) over two months using Google Smart shopping campaigns.

Preparing for a surge in first-time online shoppers

A whopping 69 percent of U.S. shoppers are planning to shop online for the holidays more than they have in previous years. Further, over 50 percent of surveyed US shoppers tried a new shopping service for the first time this year and more than one in ten surveyed reported trying a new shopping app for the first time.

“Due to this overall trend toward online shopping this year, retailers will need to be ready to offer helpful, frictionless shopping experiences for more first-time online shoppers,” the report states. This is critical as stores shift to mere transaction points while the majority of the decision making happens online whether the item will be picked up in store, at the curb, or delivered to someone’s home.

Simplicity, streamlined, and speed are key terms in this vein to keep in mind. Accuracy is another important element where ensuring relevant search terms and fully complete online listings are a make or break in the eye’s of today’s shoppers. If you’re in need of fresh ways to enhance your online shopping experience, Google suggests checking out Grow My Store and testing your mobile site speed with Test My Site. Petco, for example, upped investment in Search, Shopping, and local inventory ads and saw a 100 percent lift in their e-commerce business, along with a 10x increase in new e-commerce customers.

The purpose-driven consumer

With more choices around brands and products than ever before, people are taking a beat and identifying ways to use their purchasing power for good. 2020 has been a testament to the various ways consumers can align their purchase decisions with companies with shared values and support local causes that are important to them.

Roughly half (46%) of surveyed U.S. shoppers “make a deliberate effort to shop at businesses that align with my values.” What’s more — 66 percent of U.S. consumers who plan to shop this holiday season said they will shop more at local small businesses. During an age of social distancing, consumers crave a sense of community and preserving local shops and cafes is one way to maintain a sense of normalcy and empowerment amid the uncertainty. Just since last year searches for “support local businesses” grew by over 20,000 percent.

Google also notes that many shoppers are trying new brands for the first time. Specifically, over 70 percent of viewers say YouTube makes them more aware of new brands. Sportswear brand Ariat took these insights and launched YouTube TrueView in-stream ads and increased investment in Shopping ads to help drive online sales and engagement with its customers in new ways. The result? A 700 percent lift in sales year-over-year and a 300 percent boost in online conversions year-over-year.

This isn’t to say all shoppers are testing the waters — some will prefer what’s already familiar to them. Regardless if you’re engaging with new or repeat customers, actionable formats will be differentiators this holiday season. To best prepare, embrace these tough questions including what do we stand for and how do we leverage social media appropriately to serve our customers and community. Your consumers will reciprocate the mindfulness and authenticity with loyalty and trust.

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5 Reasons to Enter the 25th Annual Webby Awards

Social Media Week is a proud partner of the 25th Annual Webby Awards, the most prestigious international award honoring Internet excellence.

If you’re making creative work for social media platforms, The Webby Awards is the perfect opportunity to showcase your projects to the world. Whether you’ve made social media projects or experiences in response to COVID-19, new social video series, or experimental social ad campaigns, this anniversary season of The Webby Awards is the perfect place.

Here are 5 reasons you should enter the competition, and take advantage of the best pricing before their early deadline on Friday, October 30th.

Mark Your Spot in History

Since 1997, The Webbys has honored the breadth of the Internet. With Winners ranging from early Web icons, to viral sensations, to digital powerhouses, Webby Winners represent the best of the best. You can claim your space alongside past winners like Glossier (Founder Emily Weiss pictured above), Instagram, The New York Times, The Try Guys, Peloton, Nike, Netflix, MoMA, Wieden + Kennedy, and more.

Stand Out Amongst Your Peers

In today’s digital landscape, it has become hard to stand out. Winning a Webby Award sets you apart from your peers, both as a member of a team and as an individual creator. A Webby signals to your industry that you are the creative to work with, and you deliver high-quality digital work.

Have Your Work Seen by the Best

All entries in The Webby Awards are reviewed by a community of the most prolific digital artists, creatives, innovators, and leaders. Your work will be reviewed by their judging body The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). Judges include: Kevin Systrom, Co-Founder, Instagram; Tiffany Rolfe, EVP, Chief Creative Officer US, R/GA; Rick Gomez, EVP, Chief Marketing & Digital Officer, Target; David Droga, Creative Chairman & Founder, Droga5; Linda Boff, CMO, GE; and dream hampton, Filmmaker.

Attract New Partners and Clients

A Webby Award proves that you’re the best of the Internet, and shows people around the world that your team is the one to work with. Over 80% of past Webby Winners report that their win helped drive new business.

Be Awarded in New Categories

This anniversary season of The Webbys has new categories to adapt to the changing nature of the Internet. New categories include expanded Social honors for Interview/Talk Show, Best Editing, Best Influencer, and Performance & Dance. Additional categories include a new suites of Virtual & Remote categories for innovation across virtual events.

The Webby Awards Early Entry Deadline is Friday, October 30th. Work is accepted across Websites and Mobile Sites; Video; Advertising, Media & PR; Social; Podcasts; Games and new this year Apps and Software and Virtual & Remote. Don’t miss your chance to showcase your best work!

Enter today at www.webbyawards.com

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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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How YouTube is Creating More Direct Shopping Options for Video

According to Google, over half (55%) of shoppers use online videos while shopping in-store. In addition, 50 percent of shoppers say online videos help them decide the specific brand or product to buy. What’s even more, Bloomberg Intelligence predicts the e-commerce retail market, excluding China, could reach a whopping $2.8 trillion by 2025. While the pandemic continues to accelerate online shopping and the digital transformation of many businesses, platforms and brands are preparing for the future.

After adding a merchandise ‘shelf’ for product tie-ins last year which helped creators display branded products beneath clips and unveiling ‘merch alerts’ for live-streams earlier this year as well as AR try-ons for makeup tutorials and various ad-driven tools, YouTube is upping its game.

Here’s a peek at the latest and what it means for marketers and our industry as we look ahead.

Creating a catalog of items for YouTube shoppers

Per Bloomberg, YouTube is introducing a process in which creators will have the ability to tag specific products mentioned or worn in their content directly in their videos to spur more direct shopping on the actual platform itself as opposed to driving viewers elsewhere. More specifically, viewers can simply tap on any product they see in a clip for more details.

This is not officially rolled out yet, rather still in the beta phase with a limited number of channels though a Google spokesperson also revealed YouTube is testing integration with Shopify as part of this push.

More opportunities to reach consumers online

On a recent earnings call, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai emphasized that the video-sharing giant’s overwhelming amount of tutorials and unboxing videos are an untapped shopping opportunity where products are touted on screen. The pandemic may have taken a hit at marketing budgets but these simple opportunities in the e-commerce space are proving to be inexpensive and highly effective as people use more of their free time browsing their devices and not in physical brick and mortar stores.

For creators, this opens the door to greater creative freedom to include more products in their content. Separately, for brands, a shift towards integrated product listings for video is a meaningful opportunity to engage with creators and learn more about the values and interests of younger demographics, but also engage with emerging storytelling formats that resonate. Finally, for YouTube parent company Google this represents a chance to glean more insight into its consumer base to enhance its advertising efforts over time.

Influencer-led consumer habits

Recent research from Takumi found that in the last six months roughly a quarter of 16-44-year-olds (27%) have been influenced to purchase a product or service by YouTube creators, followed by 24 percent on Instagram and 15 percent on TikTok. Further, consumers prefer the legacy platforms such as YouTube more (28%) than those on newer platforms such as Instagram (22%) and TikTok (15%).

“Influencer marketing in 2020 will continue to push boundaries, innovate and become a trusted awareness, engagement and sales attribution approach for brands,” shared CEO Mary Keane Dawson. “Brands who can entertain and educate through influencers will capture the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers versus traditional media.” The key takeaway to note: there is a clear correlation between trust developed over time and increased purchasing and this applies to all platforms and age groups.

Regardless of which platforms you’re utilizing to fuel your e-commerce initiatives the time is now to be platform agnostic and arm yourself with the insights of influencers who know how to engage across each in the most meaningful and successful ways.

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How Facebook is Championing Black-Owned Businesses Through a Season of Support

In June Facebook announced its commitment of $200 million to support Black-owned businesses, Black creators and non-profits supporting Black communities. This was part of an even loftier goal of investing over $1 billion with diverse suppliers in the U.S. by the end of 2021. This past summer, Facebook introduced “Black Business August,” a month-long series of education and business growth content featuring training, programming, and business spotlights.

Today, and with the holiday season not too far around the corner, the platform is taking its efforts even further to ensure as many SMBs survive through year end as possible. Here’s a recap of some of the latest efforts.

Introducing the ‘Season of Support’

The ‘Season of Support’ is a three-month-long initiative centered around free resources, education and training to help businesses navigate this uncertain time all over the world.

“Black-owned businesses have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, closing at twice the rate of other small businesses. But we know that millions of people want to help. More than 3.5 million people on Facebook in the U.S. have joined new groups created to support Black-owned businesses since March,” shared Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook Chief Operating Officer in the official announcement.

The primary goal is to drive momentum leading up to November 27th also known as Black Friday — a critical marker of the kickoff of the holiday season and signifier of the overall trends and indicators that will play out heading into December. While much is up in the air, one thing is clear and has been for several months — more people will shop online than ever.

#BuyBlack Friday Campaign

Facebook tapped the U.S. Black Chambers, an influential network of Black entrepreneurs, to help drive people to #BuyBlack over the holidays in a number of ways including dedicated events and assistance offerings on Facebook’s ‘Lift Black Voices Hub’ and on the Facebook App Facebook Page.

Included in this is a new #BuyBlack Friday Show that will take place live every Friday beginning October 30th to November 27th. Each episode will feature businesses, musical artists, and entertainers such as stand-up comedian and New York Times best-selling writer and actress, Phoebe Robinson.

One example of a prominent voice slated to share their story during the series is Elle Jae Essentials, founded by La’Asia Johnson in 2017 and based in Flint, Michigan. When she lost over 70 percent of her revenue due to the global pandemic, Johnson got creative. She turned to virtual events on Facebook and Instagram and started groups like ‘The Garden’ to stay connected with her loyal fans and promote her beauty line — something born out of her battle with Chron’s disease beginning at age 14 due to a skin reaction from her favorite skincare products.

Additionally, the platform is unveiling a #BuyBlack Friday Gift Guide, a curated selection of products from Black-owned businesses spanning beauty, fashion and home, and Businesses Nearby, a tool aimed to improve the discovery of local stores self-designated as Black-owned.

Emotional Health Resource Center

As much as financial security is top of mind as we look to the end of the year, so is mental health. An important trend exacerbated by COVID-19 is the use of technology to innovate in the ways we facilitate these difficult conversations and bring together the necessary resources to eliminate the stigmas surrounding mental health issues.

In a separate push, Facebook is teaming up with leading experts and authorities on these topics like The Aspen Institute, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Kids Help Phone and It’s OK to Talk across several new updates. Primarily, the platform is introducing a talk show on Facebook Watch in the coming weeks featuring Award-Winning Actress Taraji P. Henson and Tracie Jade Jenkins, Executive Director of Henson’s Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. The two will tackle a number of key mental health topics — particularly those faced by the Black community.

Elsewhere, Facebook is hosting a Digital Stress Management Guide on WhatsApp in partnership with the World Health Organization, publishing Mental Well-Being Guides on Instagram, and adding a sticker pack on Messenger to help normalize conversations around mental health. Finally, users can get crisis support via Messenger through support from the Crisis Text Line.

As people continue to navigate their own personal circumstances from managing financial stress, to coping with loss and grief, to taking care of overall emotional health, having a large-scale platform to seek guidance and support is essential. By showcasing personal stories of adversity and integrating expert advice and resources across core features, technology can be a powerful tool in finding comfort and addressing these issues head-on.

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How Linkedin is Creating More Personalized and Authentic Professional Networks

Year-over-year LinkedIn has seen a 50 percent increase in the amount of content shared on its platform. Today, at 706 million members worldwide, the company is taking a hard look at its community and the needs presented by this prescient moment in our industry. Through a redesign and several new features, including its own version of Stories, the platform is eager to help marketers stay informed, connected, and reskill themselves to meet the continued demands of the virtual workforce.

Here’s how LinkedIn is building on its mission to serve as a platform for discovering unexpected opportunities.

Personalized and streamlined search experiences

Search is a vital element to the LinkedIn experience and the platform reports it has experienced a 15 percent increase in global searches over the last six months as people browse job opportunities, explore online learning courses, and engage in virtual events.

From adding new filters to organizing search results by criteria including people, jobs, groups, courses, companies, posts, and events, the platform is incorporating more of its functions into search matches for improved discovery and accurate results. In short, a blended search experience. Personalization is also top of mind, catered to displaying results from your connections more often.

Paired with a holistic search experience are several physical redesign changes to the platform including a warmer color palette with blue and green accents and illustrations that showcase people with different abilities, diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, and a wide range of jobs and industries. “Our site redesign comes at a crucial tipping point, as we see record numbers of members turning to the platform to share their stories, get support, and help others,” shared CEO Ryan Roslansky.

Introducing Stories

In the same vein of providing a more human way to connect, LinkedIn also introduced a widely anticipated feature: Stories. Similarly to what we’re accustomed to seeing on other platforms, LinkedIn Stories are full-screen posts including images, video, or text, available for 24 hours, and can be responded to via a private message. To help spark creativity there are two unique features to Linkedin Stories including “Question of the Day” and localized stickers.

“No, Stories aren’t new in the industry, but we took the time to understand how this format fits in the professional context that defines everything we do and what happens on LinkedIn,” stated Roslansky.

During a time where we must rely on platforms and tools like Zoom to stay connected, finding opportunities is a challenge and conveying our personal brand without face-to-face interaction can feel daunting. These more casual ways to learn, inspire, and connect are a nod to the need to humanize work culture and the prioritization of community and conversations in the marketing space. For marketers and brands particularly, they can utilize the Stories feature to share insights on timely breaking news or company announcements, walk through a product demo, recruit employees, or help others master new skills in quick, snackable posts.

Messaging

The amount of private messages sent between LinkedIn members has more than quadrupled over the past five years. Compared to last year alone, the platform saw a 25 percent increase in messages sent.

Beyond making it easier to sift through and edit your InMail messages, LinkedIn is bringing more opportunities for new ways to connect in these intimate spaces. This includes emoji reactions and the ability to switch the conversation from chat to-face-to-face through Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans, or Zoom with the tap of an icon.

A whopping 92 percent of the online population uses emojis daily and in recent months Zoom has become synonymous with virtual meetings boasting more than 300 million daily meeting participants. Whether we feel indifferent about these new mediums of communicating or not, they’re here to stay and undoubtedly ingrained in our modern practices and habits. They’ve shown us ways to express ourselves better, be a genuine support for someone in need, and fill the gap when words simply don’t cut it.

There has never been a more critical time to build instant trust, put a face to your brand, and have personal interactions at scale. By giving marketers a sense of freedom to share their lives and their daily activities more authentically, the human experience of building a brand and establishing a professional network can be shared even during a pandemic.

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Instagram’s 10th Birthday: Evolving through Culture and Community

In celebration of its 10th birthday, Instagram unveiled several updates over the past few days centered on video, messaging and e-commerce, three major topics top of mind for many brands and creators as of late.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s new:

Reels: Longer clips and improved editing

In August Instagram introduced its TikTok competitor, Reels, giving users the ability to add AR effects from Instagram’s gallery to their videos and record videos hands-free via a timer function. When published, Reels are added to a new tab on the user profile and also posted to the main Instagram feed. Reels are also searchable in the Explore tab in the new Reels section.

In a short period of time since its launch, the platform has onboarded a number of top creators to Reels including Doug the Pug and Prince William and Kate. To build on this momentum, Instagram is responding to feedback from the past few weeks including giving Reels users the ability to create longer videos (up to 30 seconds versus the original 15), extend the timer by 10 seconds when they record, and use tools for trimming and deleting clips to simplify the editing process.

“Culture is the collection of stories we tell, and we believe everyone has something worth saying. But it’s often young people and creators who spark those conversations. They set the trends; they signal what’s next,” shared Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram. Mosseri also hinted that we could see tabs for Reels in the coming months. Speed is critical for earning and maintaining attention and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that it is tablestakes for marketers to create for the vertical space and be more open to learning from creators versus simply mimicking the advertising space.

Combining Facebook Messaging with Instagram Direct

One in three people claim that it is difficult to remember where to find a certain conversation thread. Facebook wants to alleviate this confusion by bringing all of its messaging components into a single platform beginning with integrating Messenger and Instagram Direct. Those using Messenger can now cross-share messaging to Instagram without needing to download another app and can also control where they receive messages and calls, such as in your chats or message requests.

“People are communicating in private spaces now more than ever. More than a billion people already use Messenger as a place to share, hang out and express themselves with family and friends,” said Mosseri in the official announcement. Simple, intimate ways to engage will continue to dominate more of our industry’s services and products around these ideas. Messaging apps, for example, have outgrown social networks as the connective tools of choice. What does this mean for marketers? We must continue to rethink our audience relationships in a shifting environment where users favor experiences over products.

E-commerce on IGTV, Stories, Live and Reels

Shopping has become a larger part of the Instagram experience over the past few years — particularly now as consumers complete more purchases online due to COVID-19’s acceleration of e-commerce. To double down on the growth of this trend, users can now view products and make purchases across IGTV, Instagram Live, and Stories with the ability to do the same on Reels coming soon, according to TechCrunch.

The push to allow creators to directly monetize their user base on Instagram, while also giving brands a way to sell merchandise to their fans, not native, however. In 2018, Instagram Explore expanded through its Shopping tab, followed by Stories incorporating Tags into the content. Last year, Checkout was announced giving users a direct way to pay for items directly in the app. Most recently, this past summer the dedicated Shop hub got a major redesign encouraging even more browsing and discovery of brands, creators, and products.

From information sharing to entertainment, socializing, shopping, networking, and mindless scrolling, Instagram has come a long way. By 2030 even more can happen — and it is likely going to involve more emphasis on commerce, innovative ways to organize content, and streamlined processes for connecting with brands.

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4 Smart Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Social Media Ad Budget

The cost of Facebook ads has increased by 90 percent year-over-year. Twitter is already more expensive than Facebook. And, Instagram is fast catching up. What can we do as marketers to survive in such a hyper-competitive environment? You’ll need to learn to make the most of your marketing budget moving forward.

Here are four tips to help you get the best bang for your marketing buck.

Focus on Improving Your Quality Score

Each ad platform has a quality score that dictates your cost per click or cost per impression. Facebook refers to this as the Relevance Score, while Twitter calls it the Quality Adjusted Bid. Formalities aside, the biggest thing to note is that a higher quality score means the platform is going to show your ads to more people. Conversely, a lower quality score means you will have to pay more. The quality score is determined by engagement. So, the more your target audience clicks on, likes, and shares your advertised content, the lower you pay.

Previously, it was the norm to rapidly test out different creatives and then promote the winners. But, doing so now can be extremely expensive and ineffective. Fortunately, you can figure out which content has the highest chance of good engagement without even running an ad campaign.

Your website, for instance, is a gold mine of creative ideas perfect for your social media marketing campaign. Here’s an awesome way to find your top-performing content using Google Analytics and a spreadsheet.

(Image Source)

Your best content attracted engagement for a reason. It clicked with your target audience. Use this creative to come up with fresh ad ideas. For example, each subheading in an article can be turned into a sponsored post with a bit of work. Start with organic posts first. See which posts perform the best, then sponsor them across the ad-network. By the time you hit play on your ad campaign, you’ll already have most of the hard work done.

Use Your Audience’s Insider-Speak to Stand Out

Creatives that deliver the most value will always attract more engagement. But, you can take it even further. As social creatures, we tend to belong to cliques and groups with specific lingo. This insider-speak serves as an “Identify Friend or Foe” test, which separates the group members from the outsiders. Suffice to say, using your audience’s insider-jargon will help you break the ice and establish an instant rapport with them.

For example, Millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to use chat acronyms on social media. You can strategically insert abbreviations into your sponsored content to get it to resonate with them. Even images are awesome places to use them! Check out this US Marine Corps ad for a marathon.

(Image Source)

The ad is targeted to millennials and Gen Z since it starts with an acronym they likely know.

The same principle can be applied to virtually any demographic or audience group, be it baby boomers, coders, or artists. (Even social media professionals have their own jargon!)

Create Your Own Graphic

There’re plenty of stock photos and graphics online, which can certainly take one huge step off your checklist. The problem is, everyone’s doing it. Using stock photos or graphics comes with three deal-breaking disadvantages.

Primarily, your audience may have already seen it, so it won’t have the first-impressions effect. Second, it comes across as lazy and unoriginal. Finally, it will never completely match your content unless you write it around the picture, which is self-defeating.

There are some cases where stock photos may work, but their utility is very limited. Instead, spend some time taking your photos or creating graphics that complement your post perfectly. You will have more freedom and will be able to better express your ideas. The images don’t have to be Picasso grade either.  Any basic design or photo that gets the idea across will do for the most part. For example, check out this graphic from Manly Wellness:

(Image Source)

Notice that this image doesn’t illustrate the point – frequency of contact as much as it supports it. It may seem counterintuitive, but images don’t always need to be central to your social media strategy. They can play a supporting role while letting the text do most of the heavy lifting. Images and custom graphics can be used to capture your audience’s attention before they start reading the text, and eventually, clicking the ad.

Use Videos as Sponsored Posts

If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video speaks a million. The power of video is undeniable. For example, LinkedIn users are 20 times more likely to share a video than any other post. And with YouTube now being the second-largest search engine, you would not want to miss out on creating video ads.

While your chosen video depends on your marketing goals and KPIs, the following types are good places to start:

  • Behind the scenes videos
  • Live videos
  • How-to videos
  • User-created videos
  • Informational videos

Even so, it’s worth noting that videos don’t perform that well just because they are videos. It’s high-quality video content that accounts for most of the “video effectiveness stats” that populate the internet. And those certainly require some investment. That being said, it’s best to have a combination of different types and quality videos in your social media mix.

That’s exactly what Freshbooks does on their #imakealiving campaign. They amplified the power of video in social media through sponsored partnerships with successful entrepreneurs.

(Image Source)

These videos are submitted by the entrepreneurs themselves, therefore the production and quality vary.

It’s generally a good idea to make videos that directly represent your brand and/or product as professional as possible. But, more affordable, Go-Pro type instant and user-generated videos can be used for social proof and building credibility.

The bottom line? Running a social media ad campaign doesn’t need to cost you a lot. Most end up turning expensive solely because it takes so much rinse and repeat to find the winning creative copy, graphic, color combo. Once that truth is established, your ads can start paying for themselves. The idea to reduce your ad spend is to do as much of the research before while keeping your ads looking spectacular.

Use any other methods that have helped you get better results out of your social media marketing? Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know!

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