Category: Social Media Marketing

5 Ways Gen Z Has Changed Social Media (and How Brands Have Taken Notice)

With over 61 million people in the United States alone, Generation Z is poised to bring about some significant changes. Indeed, CNBC’s Chris Morris covered how those born after 1996 are already changing the workplace and other aspects of day-to-day life.

Because members of Gen Z have grown up in the digital age, they are more comfortable with it than older generations — and as a result, they are also more inclined to influence and reshape it.

Anyone hoping to succeed in social media should be especially mindful of how Gen Z has already had an impact. Here’s a closer look at some of the ways Gen Z is changing the social media landscape, as well as how some brands have taken notice:

1. Channel Hopping

Unlike other groups, Gen Z isn’t always going to stay on the same social media platform for hours on end. As AdWeek’s Brittany Hodak explains, “Gen Z tends to find new products on Instagram, with 45 percent using it for brand discovery. They then turn to YouTube for product research at twice the rate that their millennial brothers and sisters do. Once Gen Z decides to make a purchase, many head into brick-and-mortar stores, where they’re more likely than any other generation to share their shopping experiences on Snapchat.”

This doesn’t just require that brands have a strong presence across several different social media channels — it also means that companies need to find ways to deliver smaller, bite-size pieces of content, such as by using shorter video pre-roll ads.

“If there is one thing Gen Z values most, it’s time,” writes Gen Z influencer and marketing expert Connor Blakley. “The best brands leverage new technology to provide customers with an added layer of functionality and convenience.”

2. The Rise of Digital ‘Third Places’

Third places” have long been viewed as important elements of building community—the places where we spend our time when we aren’t at home or at work. While third places have traditionally been physical locations like malls or coffee shops, Gen Z is leading a trend that sees digital software becoming its own third place.

One need only look at the wild success of Fortnite to see that digital spaces can become a legitimate third place. Other brands are also seeking to establish themselves in this same way.

For example, the app Squad lets users screen share from their smartphones — perfect for browsing apps together, watching videos or even collaborating on school projects when users aren’t in the same physical location. The app has already seen notable success among teen girls, thanks to its ability to create a digital hangout space.

3. The Power of Internet Influencers

Though athletes and pop stars still gain lots of headlines, Gen Z is far more likely to be influenced by social media celebrities. This could include anyone from fashion bloggers to Instagram travel photographers.

These mini-celebrities often have followers numbering in the thousands, rather than millions. But because they form closer connections with their niche audience, they are often viewed as more trustworthy and engaging when involved in marketing partnerships.

For example, Fiji Water partnered with fashion blogger Danielle Bernstein to create a series of workout videos, linking the influencer’s fitness and style credentials with the brand. Such partnerships will prove even more essential in communicating brand values to Gen Z — 57 percent have made purchases based on online influencer promotions.

4. Seeking Content First

Though connecting with friends through social media is still important for Gen Z, surveys have found that they are far more likely than other groups to use social media “to fill up spare time” or “to find funny or entertaining content.”

The phrase “content is king” may feel like it has been overused in recent years, but Gen Z’s social media habits prove that providing great content is crucial to connecting with this audience. Gen Z isn’t going to appreciate intrusive ads that disrupt their entertainment experience. However, brands that provide quality entertainment in their own right can quickly build a huge following of their own.

Red Bull’s YouTube channel doesn’t simply pump out ads for its drinks …

Instead, it focuses on lifestyle videos built around the extreme sports community. With over 8 million subscribers, it is clear that a content-first, rather than marketing-first approach will yield superior engagement.

5. Visual Content Dominates

Gen Z seeks visual content more than anything else when online, and their preferred social media networks are a clear reflection of this. A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are by far the most popular platforms for teens. In comparison, only about half of teens use Facebook, while less than one-third use Twitter.

The key commonality between the most popular social media platforms is their visual-first function. Videos and photos are more engaging and easier to consume, especially when viewed on a smartphone.

As Gen Z entrepreneur Deep Patel writes, “This opens the door for brands to share more human stories of their own, which will inspire audiences to try out their product. Storytelling feels real, immediate and personal, but it also demands a mix of more time-intensive video, images and graphics, and requires brands to be more creative and thoughtful in the intent.”

Incorporating your brand’s core messaging into visual content will make it much more likely to stand out and appeal to the younger generation.

By 2020, it is expected that Gen Z “will account for 40 percent of all consumers and influence nearly $4 billion in discretionary spending.” Savvy brands understand the importance of adapting to the changes Gen Z is bringing now so they will be better poised for success in the years ahead.

As you learn to leverage social media in a way that appeals to Gen Z, your brand will be far better positioned in our increasingly digital world.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

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The post 5 Ways Gen Z Has Changed Social Media (and How Brands Have Taken Notice) appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/03/5-ways-gen-z-has-changed-social-media-and-how-brands-have-taken-notice/

6 Outdated Social Media Strategies That Repel Gen Z

Are you ready for the next generation of consumers? Gen Z brings over $143 billion in spending power plus influence over their parents’ buying decisions. But, if your social media strategies are outdated, expect to get left behind.

As 2020 approaches, a new generation of consumers is taking over the global marketplace. Poised to become the most influential generation ever, Gen Z’s direct spending is an estimated $143 billion, while 90% of them also influence their parents’ buying decisions.

Who is Gen Z?

Generation Z (born from 1995 – 2015) is the first generation of digital natives.

They have high expectations of brands and make lightning-fast decisions when sizing up web pages.

If your social media marketing is outdated, Gen Z will swipe and tap their way to your competitors in seconds – and probably take their millennial parents and friends with them. Find out if your brand is ready for the next generation. Below are 6 outdated strategies for social media that may be chasing away Gen Z’ers.

Outdated Strategy #1: Following “Best Times to Post” Guides Too Closely

“Best times to post” guides can be misleading. Use them as a starting point, but don’t’ stick to them religiously.

Run a Google search on “best times to post to social media”, and you’ll uncover pages of tips and advice. While best posting suggestions can be helpful, you should use them with caution, and only as a starting point.

Best posting times can be misleading because:

  • Studies are often based on when brands post content or when users are online, instead of when people interact with brands.
  • Many publishers form recommendations based on dated statistics. Your “2019 Guide” may contain data that can be traced back 3-6 years (a lifetime in the social media world).
  • Most recommendations are based on averages, which overlook low-competition, high-engagement opportunities.

Even the highest-quality guides can’t predict the quirks of your target audience.

Solution: Update Your Posting Schedule With Analytics

Social media insights offer data that helps you form the best, most productive posting schedules.

For example, you can find out what days and times your Facebook followers are online by visiting your FacebookI nsights page and search under Posts > When your fans are online.

Source: Sharelov

Then, conduct A/B testing to discover when they’re most likely to engage with your brand.

Find what works best for your brand and achieve a higher level of engagement than the best posting guides can offer.

Outdated Strategy #2: Focusing Too Heavily on Self-Promotion

Millennials and Gen Z have a low tolerance for brands that constantly self-promote.

Review your last 10 posts on Facebook. What percent of them include a link to your product, landing page, or website?

If the answer is 100%, your social media marketing strategy is outdated.

Solution: Update Your Social Media Content Plan

Gen Z and millennials want to feel that your brand cares more than just making money. Today’s followers look for content that informs, entertains or supports a social cause.

Instead of constant promotions, update your content plan to include some of the following:

Encourage User-generated Content

More than 40% of millennials and Gen Z expect to see user-generated content before making a purchase.

UGC stats

Source: Statista

There are many types of user-generated content that work well for social media, including:

  • Reviews
  • Images
  • Testimonials

To encourage sharing, use hashtags to promote contests, rewards, and giveaways.

For example, to promote its Marie Kondo series, Netflix encourages followers to create posts about what sparks joy for them.

netflix marie kondo

Source: Netflix on Instagram

Users who tag their posts with #gotjoy get a chance to meet Marie Kondo.

Offering prize incentives is an excellent way to encourage user-generated content.

Create Polls And Questions

Polls and questions are a fun way to connect with your audience.

For example, HelloFresh’s “Just for Fun” stories section packs fun and entertaining food-based trivia questions.

hellofresh IG stories - create polls

Source: HelloFresh on Instagram

Tell Other People’s Stories

Sharing stories about other people never gets old and inspires meaningful conversations.

Uber shared a heartwarming story about one of its drivers who collects doodles and signatures from all of the people that ride with him.

twitter uber - share stories

Source: Uber on Twitter

Uber’s stories turn everyday people into heroes, in a way that’s relevant to its brand.

This is a great way to inspire engagement and shares.

Share Breaking News and Trends

Sharing news related to your industry is a popular way to engage B2B audiences.

Post Relevant Curated Content

Curated content serves 3 purposes:

  • Helps balance out self-serving links
  • Enables you to build relationships with other businesses by sharing their content
  • Keeps your pages fresh and fun to browse

Recommend Tools or Books That Help Your Followers

Recommending helpful tools and books is also a great way to engage B2B audiences.

instagram recommendation

Source: Von Wrede Real Estate on Instagram

The post description explains why the book is relevant to the company’s followers.

Support Social Causes

Millennials are drawn toward brands that take a social stand, but Gen Z raises the bar by expecting brands to support social causes.

A leader in social cause marketing, TOMS actively develops initiatives to help provide basics such as clean water, medical procedures, and local education.

TOMS’ business model also includes social activism. For example, the company delivered over 700,000 postcards and spoke with members of Congress to help end gun violence.

toms on facebook

Source: TOMS shoes on Facebook

Outdated Strategy #3: Faking Likes, Followers, or Engagement

Paying or trading for social media engagement is an outdated strategy that can get you banned, repel millennials/Gen Z, and throw off your data.

There are many ways to “fake it” on social media, but these defeat the purpose of social marketing as they don’t help build authentic relationships with your audience.

Using auto-engagement bots or buying likes/followers are only some of the dishonest tactics. Others include:

  • Mass-following accounts to encourage people to follow back, only to unfollow them the next day
  • Mass-following accounts and unfollowing those who do not reciprocate
  • Mass-commenting on public social media posts and asking for follow

Over time, dishonest strategies compromise your reputation and may also get you banned from social channels.

Blackhat techniques also invalidate the most useful tool at your disposal — social media insights.

Without reliable analytics, your brand may never discover what motivates your audience, what posting schedule works best, or who your biggest fans are.

Solution: Update Your Approach with Meaningful Conversations

It’s good to expand your reach, but don’t forget to that developing meaningful conversations is the priority.

Seek a higher standard of engagement. This includes those sparked by:

  • User-generated content
  • Reviews
  • Customer service inquiries

It’s better to have one valued customer than 100 distant followers. Focus on attracting the right type of followers that are active and engaged.

Follow only legitimate accounts that are relevant to your brand and work toward developing genuine connections by inspiring meaningful conversations.

Focus On Your Revenue

There’s high earning potential in social marketing.

Here’s what some brands do every 60 seconds online:

  • Walmart sells $30,000 of products
  • Apple sells $23,000 of products
  • Amazon Fulfillment delivers 1,902 parcels

You can’t cash in on social media likes, so remember to focus on strategies that drive revenue.

Create a well-written social media marketing strategy to avoid getting caught in the “Like” trap.

A documented strategy requires you to put goals and objectives in writing, helping you stay on track during the planning and execution stages.

10 goals your brand can achieve on social media

Source: Sharelov

Outdated Strategy #4: Getting Stuck on Facebook

Don’t let Facebook become your entire social media world.

Facebook may be the biggest social network, but Generation Z’s favorite, YouTube, is a close second. Some experts predict Instagram may surpass them both.

Additionally, new social platforms are expected to launch in 2019, so sticking to just one (or even two) social platforms could mean missed opportunities.

Solution: Update Your Social Networks For 2019

Align your most active social media channels with your target audience.

When choosing your social channels, pay attention to your underlying purpose: increasing revenue.

Monitor your insights and ROI to determine which channels are most profitable.

Outdated Strategy #5: Relying Entirely On Organic Reach

Organic reach is no longer effective without paid advertising to enhance it.

While organic posts are crucial for building relationships with your audience, algorithms have come to require paid advertising for organic posts to get seen.

Solution: Update Your Organic Strategy with Paid Social

As organic reach declines, brands must supplement their social media efforts with paid advertising.

Social networks like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram make it easy to place ads. The price range is within reach for most small businesses, and audience targeting is sophisticated yet simple to use.

Outdated Strategy #6: Missing out on Multiculture

If your brand image doesn’t include a variety of cultures and personality types, you risk losing younger audiences.

Do the images on your website, ads, and content include people of different cultures and personalities? If not, you’re already old-fashioned and outdated.

People of all ages now recognize when brands lack diversity.

Generation Z is especially turned off when brands don’t demonstrate a multicultural and inclusive mindset.

Solution: Update Your Marketing to Reflect an Inclusive Culture

Review your business’s communication channels by asking the following questions:

  • Are our brand images reflecting a mix of people from different cultures?
  • Do we embrace a diverse approach in our influencer campaigns?
  • Do our products and services cater to people of all cultures?

If you answered no to any of the above, you need to reinvent your brand’s core values.

If you want to resonate with younger generations, taking a multicultural approach is a must.

Review Your Plan for Outdated Social Media Strategies

As Millennials and Gen Zers take over the global consumer market, marketers will need to make changes to their social strategies.

Brands that update their social media approach are set to win over the younger generations and can expect to reap the rewards.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

WATCH OUR 2019 PROMO

The post 6 Outdated Social Media Strategies That Repel Gen Z appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/03/6-outdated-social-media-strategies-that-repel-gen-z/

6 New (and Improved) Facebook Retargeting Ideas to Boost Your Brand’s Marketing

Is your remarketing getting the results you’re looking for on Facebook?

No matter how good you’re doing, you could be doing better. Facebook is constantly evolving, and given its recent struggles with public image and algorithm changes, you have to stay constantly on top of any changes.

Targeting people who’ve engaged with your content or your business before is a time-honored and proven marketing strategy, even pre-web. Online retargeting first began to be a thing with the advent of the cookie, a piece of data stored on a user’s machine that could relay information back to a site owner.

Today, online retargeting is one of the most common tactics in a marketer’s tool box, and one that most users are fine with. Thirty percent of all users appreciate retargeting, and only eleven percent object.

Facebook has had a rough few months, but it’s still one of the platforms of choice for most marketing professionals. Its robust tools and user data make it a great choice for anyone trying to reach a potential audience. If you’re trying to retarget users through Facebook, it’s an extremely useful platform—and there are some new ways you can take advantage of the retargeting options available to you, too:

1. One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Especially for those starting out with Facebook advertising (for example, small businesses that started offline), it’s an easy temptation to run “set it and forget it” campaigns.

You can’t do that if you’re going to make the most of your Facebook retargeting. For each stage in your sales funnel, you have to create a separate campaign—maybe several. The old adage that you have to touch someone seven times before a conversion still holds true, but the deeper truth of it is that if you give them content they’re NOT interested in, you might turn them off.

If your customer is still in the information-gathering step, don’t send them product offers. If your customer’s ready to purchase a product, don’t send them a link to your blog. You might still get a bump, but you need to tie each retargeting campaign to a specific stage in the sales funnel.

2. Create Dynamic Product Ads

If you sell a product, your best bet for retargeting those who’ve browsed your selection is probably a dynamic product ad. This Facebook specialty serves up a small gallery or carousel of the products that the person was already looking at.

Eighty percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase when they receive a personalized experience. If you’re utilizing dynamic product ads to touch potential purchasers or abandoned cart shoppers, you can capitalize on that.

3. Target Your Repeat Customers

Forty-one percent of United States e-commerce revenue comes from returning customers. That’s a staggering amount. Once people find a company or a store they like, they return to it, over and over again.

You can drive that behavior yourself by targeting past purchasers with news about new products, special offers, different services you offer, and upsells they might be interested in. Utilizing your knowledge of what they’re interested in already can help you build Custom Audiences that can help you narrow this even further.

Think outside the box a little bit, too—cross-reference interests with people who’ve purchased before to find those who are interested in a new product or service.

4. Remarket Based On App Actions

If you want a really interesting option for retargeting, use app actions. When you create an app specific to your company, you can target actions taken within the app and create campaigns based on those actions.

For example, you could send remarketing ads to people who had gone through a tutorial step to remind them of the different useful features your app has. Or you could reach abandoned-cart shoppers who’ve gone through several of the steps to purchase but not taken the final step, same as you could with a website. Make sure you’re going after mobile specifically, as you already know your customers are browsing mobile …

They downloaded the app, right?

5. Touch Base With Your Free Trial Users

Maybe you offer free trials for your software or service. That’s another super useful remarketing tool. Create a free trial user campaign—either while they’re on the free trial or when the trial has run out.

If you’re retargeting them while they’re still in the free trial, some good options can be reminding them when the trial runs out, or giving them a discount if they sign up now.

You can even give them an easy portal to enter their payment information to convert from the free trial to the full version. There are plenty more ways out there to reach them—the only limit is your imagination.

6. Send Relevant Content to Landing Page Visitors

You’ve been sending people to your landing pages, right? If you want to nudge people a little further down the sales funnel, try creating a retargeting campaign that serves blog posts to those people that are similar to the content they were looking for. It’s a great way to get them that little bit more engaged.

Remarketing is a hugely helpful tool in every marketer’s toolbox. You can make the most of Facebook retargeting—it just takes time, effort, dedication, and a willingness to try new things. With these tips, you can bring your Facebook retargeting game to the next level and make the most of the audience that’s already engaged with your content.

The post 6 New (and Improved) Facebook Retargeting Ideas to Boost Your Brand’s Marketing appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/02/6-new-and-improved-facebook-retargeting-ideas-to-boost-your-brands-marketing/

6 New (and Improved) Facebook Retargeting Ideas to Boost Your Brand’s Marketing

Is your remarketing getting the results you’re looking for on Facebook?

No matter how good you’re doing, you could be doing better. Facebook is constantly evolving, and given its recent struggles with public image and algorithm changes, you have to stay constantly on top of any changes.

Targeting people who’ve engaged with your content or your business before is a time-honored and proven marketing strategy, even pre-web. Online retargeting first began to be a thing with the advent of the cookie, a piece of data stored on a user’s machine that could relay information back to a site owner.

Today, online retargeting is one of the most common tactics in a marketer’s tool box, and one that most users are fine with. Thirty percent of all users appreciate retargeting, and only eleven percent object.

Facebook has had a rough few months, but it’s still one of the platforms of choice for most marketing professionals. Its robust tools and user data make it a great choice for anyone trying to reach a potential audience. If you’re trying to retarget users through Facebook, it’s an extremely useful platform—and there are some new ways you can take advantage of the retargeting options available to you, too:

1. One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Especially for those starting out with Facebook advertising (for example, small businesses that started offline), it’s an easy temptation to run “set it and forget it” campaigns.

You can’t do that if you’re going to make the most of your Facebook retargeting. For each stage in your sales funnel, you have to create a separate campaign—maybe several. The old adage that you have to touch someone seven times before a conversion still holds true, but the deeper truth of it is that if you give them content they’re NOT interested in, you might turn them off.

If your customer is still in the information-gathering step, don’t send them product offers. If your customer’s ready to purchase a product, don’t send them a link to your blog. You might still get a bump, but you need to tie each retargeting campaign to a specific stage in the sales funnel.

2. Create Dynamic Product Ads

If you sell a product, your best bet for retargeting those who’ve browsed your selection is probably a dynamic product ad. This Facebook specialty serves up a small gallery or carousel of the products that the person was already looking at.

Eighty percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase when they receive a personalized experience. If you’re utilizing dynamic product ads to touch potential purchasers or abandoned cart shoppers, you can capitalize on that.

3. Target Your Repeat Customers

Forty-one percent of United States e-commerce revenue comes from returning customers. That’s a staggering amount. Once people find a company or a store they like, they return to it, over and over again.

You can drive that behavior yourself by targeting past purchasers with news about new products, special offers, different services you offer, and upsells they might be interested in. Utilizing your knowledge of what they’re interested in already can help you build Custom Audiences that can help you narrow this even further.

Think outside the box a little bit, too—cross-reference interests with people who’ve purchased before to find those who are interested in a new product or service.

4. Remarket Based On App Actions

If you want a really interesting option for retargeting, use app actions. When you create an app specific to your company, you can target actions taken within the app and create campaigns based on those actions.

For example, you could send remarketing ads to people who had gone through a tutorial step to remind them of the different useful features your app has. Or you could reach abandoned-cart shoppers who’ve gone through several of the steps to purchase but not taken the final step, same as you could with a website. Make sure you’re going after mobile specifically, as you already know your customers are browsing mobile …

They downloaded the app, right?

5. Touch Base With Your Free Trial Users

Maybe you offer free trials for your software or service. That’s another super useful remarketing tool. Create a free trial user campaign—either while they’re on the free trial or when the trial has run out.

If you’re retargeting them while they’re still in the free trial, some good options can be reminding them when the trial runs out, or giving them a discount if they sign up now.

You can even give them an easy portal to enter their payment information to convert from the free trial to the full version. There are plenty more ways out there to reach them—the only limit is your imagination.

6. Send Relevant Content to Landing Page Visitors

You’ve been sending people to your landing pages, right? If you want to nudge people a little further down the sales funnel, try creating a retargeting campaign that serves blog posts to those people that are similar to the content they were looking for. It’s a great way to get them that little bit more engaged.

Remarketing is a hugely helpful tool in every marketer’s toolbox. You can make the most of Facebook retargeting—it just takes time, effort, dedication, and a willingness to try new things. With these tips, you can bring your Facebook retargeting game to the next level and make the most of the audience that’s already engaged with your content.

The post 6 New (and Improved) Facebook Retargeting Ideas to Boost Your Brand’s Marketing appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/02/6-new-and-improved-facebook-retargeting-ideas-to-boost-your-brands-marketing/

Does Vertical Video Make a Difference? We Spent $6,000 on Tests to Find Out

There has been much discussion recently on industry-leading publications about the effectiveness of video on social media.

For example, did you know that video posts on Facebook receive at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types?

Since our 2017 research with Animoto comparing square vs. landscape video, little has been published around the impact of video format on overall video engagement.

Specifically, vertical video vs. square video.

Vertical Video vs. Square Video

While we know that square video (1:1) results in 30-35 percent more video views and an 80-100 percent increase in engagement compared to landscape video (16:9), we wanted to know how vertical video stacks up on Instagram and Facebook (both within the News Feed and Stories).

Which is why we teamed up with our friends at Animoto once again to test (and test again) the hypothesis that vertical video would perform better than square video on social media.

We were shocked by the results!

Today we’re excited to share our research with you along with several actionable takeaways for marketers looking to improve their social media video marketing results in 2019.

Author’s Note: We’ll be talking a lot about great video marketing tools in this post. Our must-haves are Animoto’s iPhone app for vertical videos, Animoto’s web app for square videos, and Buffer for sharing. Feel free to grab a subscription from each before we get started.

Table of Contents

Below are the full details from our study on everything from our vertical video hypothesis to the surprising results! Here’s a quick look at what we’ll cover:

Let’s do this!

The vertical video and mobile hypothesis

This research idea with Animoto all came from one simple statistic: square video takes up 78% more real estate in a person’s mobile newsfeed than does landscape video – making square video more engaging, more effective, and easier to watch.

And since square video outperformed landscape video in almost every category, we hypothesized that vertical video would eclipse square in a brand new study.

But why is video – particularly mobile video – such an important part of your social media strategy?

According to a recent report from Nielsen, U.S. adults are spending 10 hours and 24 minutes per day interacting with media, whether that be watching, listening to, or reading content across all of their devices.

And shockingly, mobile phones (smartphones) alone accounted for 65% of total digital usage, up from 62% in Q1 2018:

Nielsen Media Usage 2019

As mobile usage continues to increase year-over-year, our social media and video marketing strategies must evolve along with the expanded use to focus on mobile-first experiences.

Sometimes that’s as simple as formatting the video to fit natively within the platform.

3 important video marketing takeaways

Video is leading the way with social media marketing and so we’re super excited to share this actionable research with you.

By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with data-backed ideas and insights that you can apply to your own videos today.

But first, a few key takeaways to set the study up!

1. Facebook News Feed: Use vertical video to drive traffic

In all of the experiments we conducted, we consistently found that vertical video outperformed square video within the Facebook News Feed. First let’s look at the cost per click (CPC) comparison:

  • Buffer: Cost per click (CPCs) 26 percent less expensive with vertical video
  • Animoto: Cost per click (CPCs) 38 percent less expensive with vertical video

Square vs. Vertical Video Cost Per CLick

Next, let’s take a look at the cost per view (CPV) comparison:

  • Buffer: Cost per view (CPVs) 68 percent less expensive with vertical video
  • Animoto: Cost per view (CPVs) 26 percent less expensive with vertical video

Square vs. Vertical Video - Cost Per View

Since the video tests (vertical vs. square) were identical in content, theme, length, headline, caption, and more, it came as quite the surprise that vertical video outperformed square by such a significant margin (as much as 68 percent less expensive in cost per view).

It’s also interesting to note that not only did vertical video outperform square in the Facebook News Feed, but Facebook outperformed Instagram in overall cost per click (CPC) within the feed. An important takeaway for advertisers.

Buffer averaged $0.29 CPC on Facebook and $0.51 CPC on Instagram. Animoto averaged $0.32 CPC on Facebook and $1.31 CPC on Instagram.

2. Instagram Feed vs. Stories: Stories are a great way to inspire action

When looking at the Instagram Feed vs. Stories, it became immediately clear that Instagram Stories are a great way to inspire people to take action. In both the case of Buffer and Animoto, Stories consistently reduced advertising costs in regards to cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and cost per view (CPV):

  • Animoto: Stories 57 percent less expensive for CPMs and CPCs than the feed
  • Buffer: Stories 50 percent less expensive for CPMs and 30 percent for CPCs than the feed

Cost per click (CPC) data:

Instagram Feed vs. Instagram Stories - Vertical Video

Cost per one thousand impressions (CPM) data:

Instagram Stories Vertical Video CPM

However, it’s important to note that costs actually increased with Stories compared to the feed when measuring cost per view (CPV):

  • Animoto: 108 percent more expensive on 3-second CPV and 65 percent more expensive on 50% total watch time CPV
  • Buffer: 71 percent more expensive on CPV 3 seconds and 21 percent more expensive on 50% total watch time CPV

Instagram Stories Vertical Video - Cost Per View

As many of you savvy marketers might have guessed at this point, we witnessed a rise in cost per view as cost per click decreased.

We believe that this is largely due to the fact that it is hard to get people to watch your entire video or when they’re too busy taking action such as “swiping up” or clicking on a link.

Overall, Instagram Stories are a great way to get people to take action and a big opportunity for brands to utilize in 2019.

3. Instagram News Feed: Use vertical video to generate engagement

The final big takeaway from our research is that the Instagram Feed is a powerful platform for driving engagement when compared to Facebook (News Feed & Stories) and Instagram Stories… almost too good!

Reversing the Instagram Feed data from takeaway #2, you’ll notice that 3-second CPVs were 91 percent less expensive on average for Buffer and Animoto. In addition, 50 percent total watch time CPVs were 43 percent less expensive on average.

But which format drives more engagement within the Instagram Feed? Turns out it’s vertical video!

  • Animoto: Vertical video resulted in 13 percent more 3-second video views and 157 percent more 50% total watch time views
  • Buffer: Vertical video resulted in 6 percent more 3-second video views and 187 percent more 50% total watch time views

Instagram News Feed - Video View Stats

The practical takeaway here is that the Instagram Feed is a great way to boost awareness around your product and generate engagement.

Other key video marketing learnings

In addition to the three key learnings above, our research pointed to some other unexpected takeaways that you might be able to apply to your video marketing strategy.

1. Facebook marketing is alive and well

We’ve discussed the power of Facebook marketing (here and in previous studies) and found that it remains a viable way for brands and businesses to reach target audiences. Particularly, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to drive traffic to your website.

In all of our tests, we found that Facebook consistently generated a lower CPC than its Instagram counterpart.

While Instagram was the most effective way to generate interactions and engagement in our tests, Facebook emerged as an extremely reliable way to drive traffic.

We’ve seen this hold true over the past two years at Buffer as well. Our most successful social media advertising campaign of all time – a campaign that is still running today – runs on the Facebook News Feed:

Facebook Advertising Results

This campaign has generated more than 169,000 link clicks and reached more than 1,500,000 people since launching in April 2017.

The best part is that it’s a super simple ad concept:

Buffer Facebook Ad Example

While brands and businesses flock to Instagram in 2019 in search of a new promising advertising platform, look for Facebook to continue to offer a low-cost, action-based alternative.

In terms of what type of content to create for Facebook, remember that, on average, video posts receive at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types.

2. Highly-produced “polished” video content doesn’t always win

One of the more interesting portions of our experiment revolved around testing what we called “organic” vs. “polished” video content.

  • Organic videos are what you would imagine as DIY-style. These videos didn’t include any B-roll, special effects, transitions, or other more produced elements. In other words, they looked like they were made by an amateur.
  • Polished videos are much more produced. These videos included studio lighting, B-roll, special effects, transitions, and other elements that give them a professional feel.

With our research, we wanted to know if spending more time, resources, and money on producing polished videos actually resulted in greater results than organic DIY videos.

We found that there was no statistically significant difference in the results.

In fact, in many cases, organic DIY videos outperformed polished videos on both Facebook and Instagram.

In collaboration with Animoto, Smarties ran their own experiments to test whether or not highly-produced video ads outperformed organic DIY video ads on Instagram Stories:

Their team found that organic DIY videos resulted in a 50 percent decrease in cost per 10-second video view on their highest performing ad. In their case, unpolished smartphone imagery was up to 2x more effective at capturing their viewer’s attention.

All of this to say that it’s more important to experiment with a variety of video types and formats than it is to work on perfecting a single video. The more video content you publish, the more feedback you’ll receive from your audience, and the quicker you’ll improve.

3. Instagram Stories ads one of the biggest opportunities in 2019

As a result of this experiment, we see Instagram Stories as one of the biggest opportunities for brands and businesses in 2019. It’s why we built a tool called Stories Creator dedicated to helping brands create thumb-stopping Stories content.

And though Instagram Stories now has an incredible 500 million people around the world using the channel on a daily basis, it remains a relatively untapped advertising resource.

“Right now, one of the interesting things about Stories is there’s a benefit to being an early adopter… the pricing is really attractive. And so we think the mix shift to Stories is a big opportunity for us. And it’s going to take time to continue to get advertisers in, but we’re very happy with demand to date,” explained Sheryl Sandberg in Facebook’s recent Q4 earnings call.

We discussed the impact of Stories in this research above, but other big brands such as Bustle, Nike, Square, and more have experienced similar results as a part of their strategies.

Blenders Eyewear, for example, has generated thousands in revenue for their products using Stories ads – leveraging special announcements like a much anticipated restock, flash sale, giveaway and any limited time promos:

Blenders Eyewear Instagram Stories Examples

We’ve seen similar results when we use Instagram Stories ads to promote our blog posts and podcast as well. Our Instagram Stories ads cost just $0.06 – $0.12 per click when a typical Facebook feed ad usually costs around $0.30 – $0.60 per click.

Multiply that cost savings by thousands of dollars in ad spend and it’s a no-brainer in choosing Instagram Stories as our primary social media advertising channel in 2019.

Overall vertical video research conclusion

If we were to boil down this research to one key point, it would be that businesses and brands must keep up with mobile-centric video trends if they want to succeed on social media in 2019. A mobile-centric strategy relies heavily on vertical video and creating content that feels native to each platform.

As we mentioned in the beginning, mobile phones alone accounted for 65% of total digital usage in Q2 2018 (up from 62% in Q1 2018) – with that number growing by the day.

Everything from your website to the content you create for social media must focus on the mobile experience. Sheryl Sandberg puts it perfectly when she mentions:

One of the challenges that marketers have is keeping up where consumers are. If you think about our history, people made the shift to mobile before marketers did. And I think one of the successes we’ve had is we made it easier for advertisers to move into a mobile environment.

For marketers, the constant challenge is making it easier for your audience and customers to consume content when and where they want it. Not when and where it’s convenient for you, but when and where it’s convenient for them.

Luckily for us, Facebook and Instagram are making it easier than ever for marketers to provide a mobile-first experience.

It all comes down to whether or not you are willing to be an early adopter, experiment with vertical and square video, try new things, and always be looking to the future of social media.

What’s next for video marketing?

We’re in the midst of a video revolution. The traditional 16:9, landscape format is being replaced by a new, 9:16, vertical format that has fast become the default for video creation and consumption.

Vertical video used to be seen as a mistake —something people do when they forget to turn their phone horizontally while filming — but since the rise of platforms like Instagram Stories, vertical video has taken over and become an innovative way for individuals and businesses to tell stories.

Over one billion people use the vertical video format on Facebook-owned properties like Instagram and WhatsApp alone — and even YouTube has now embraced vertical video on the web and mobile.

Vertical video has changed video production. Anyone can now create incredible video content from a smartphone — no need for cameras, expensive editing suites, it can all be done in the palm of your hand.

Interested in creating  your own vertical videos? Check out Animoto’s Social Video Maker iPhone app designed for just that. Their web app is great for mobile-friendly square videos. We used Animoto to help generate more than 2,000,000 video views on social media in 2018.

https://blog.bufferapp.com/vertical-video

Does Vertical Video Make a Difference? We Spent $6,000 on Tests to Find Out

There has been much discussion recently on industry-leading publications about the effectiveness of video on social media.

For example, did you know that video posts on Facebook receive at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types?

Since our 2017 research with Animoto comparing square vs. landscape video, little has been published around the impact of video format on overall video engagement.

Specifically, vertical video vs. square video.

Vertical Video vs. Square Video

While we know that square video (1:1) results in 30-35 percent more video views and an 80-100 percent increase in engagement compared to landscape video (16:9), we wanted to know how vertical video stacks up on Instagram and Facebook (both within the News Feed and Stories).

Which is why we teamed up with our friends at Animoto once again to test (and test again) the hypothesis that vertical video would perform better than square video on social media.

We were shocked by the results!

Today we’re excited to share our research with you along with several actionable takeaways for marketers looking to improve their social media video marketing results in 2019.

Author’s Note: We’ll be talking a lot about great video marketing tools in this post. Our must-haves are Animoto’s iPhone app for vertical videos, Animoto’s web app for square videos, and Buffer for sharing. Feel free to grab a subscription from each before we get started.

Table of Contents

Below are the full details from our study on everything from our vertical video hypothesis to the surprising results! Here’s a quick look at what we’ll cover:

Let’s do this!

The vertical video and mobile hypothesis

This research idea with Animoto all came from one simple statistic: square video takes up 78% more real estate in a person’s mobile newsfeed than does landscape video – making square video more engaging, more effective, and easier to watch.

And since square video outperformed landscape video in almost every category, we hypothesized that vertical video would eclipse square in a brand new study.

But why is video – particularly mobile video – such an important part of your social media strategy?

According to a recent report from Nielsen, U.S. adults are spending 10 hours and 24 minutes per day interacting with media, whether that be watching, listening to, or reading content across all of their devices.

And shockingly, mobile phones (smartphones) alone accounted for 65% of total digital usage, up from 62% in Q1 2018:

Nielsen Media Usage 2019

As mobile usage continues to increase year-over-year, our social media and video marketing strategies must evolve along with the expanded use to focus on mobile-first experiences.

Sometimes that’s as simple as formatting the video to fit natively within the platform.

3 important video marketing takeaways

Video is leading the way with social media marketing and so we’re super excited to share this actionable research with you.

By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with data-backed ideas and insights that you can apply to your own videos today.

But first, a few key takeaways to set the study up!

1. Facebook News Feed: Use vertical video to drive traffic

In all of the experiments we conducted, we consistently found that vertical video outperformed square video within the Facebook News Feed. First let’s look at the cost per click (CPC) comparison:

  • Buffer: Cost per click (CPCs) 26 percent less expensive with vertical video
  • Animoto: Cost per click (CPCs) 38 percent less expensive with vertical video

Square vs. Vertical Video Cost Per CLick

Next, let’s take a look at the cost per view (CPV) comparison:

  • Buffer: Cost per view (CPVs) 68 percent less expensive with vertical video
  • Animoto: Cost per view (CPVs) 26 percent less expensive with vertical video

Square vs. Vertical Video - Cost Per View

Since the video tests (vertical vs. square) were identical in content, theme, length, headline, caption, and more, it came as quite the surprise that vertical video outperformed square by such a significant margin (as much as 68 percent less expensive in cost per view).

It’s also interesting to note that not only did vertical video outperform square in the Facebook News Feed, but Facebook outperformed Instagram in overall cost per click (CPC) within the feed. An important takeaway for advertisers.

Buffer averaged $0.29 CPC on Facebook and $0.51 CPC on Instagram. Animoto averaged $0.32 CPC on Facebook and $1.31 CPC on Instagram.

2. Instagram Feed vs. Stories: Stories are a great way to inspire action

When looking at the Instagram Feed vs. Stories, it became immediately clear that Instagram Stories are a great way to inspire people to take action. In both the case of Buffer and Animoto, Stories consistently reduced advertising costs in regards to cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and cost per view (CPV):

  • Animoto: Stories 57 percent less expensive for CPMs and CPCs than the feed
  • Buffer: Stories 50 percent less expensive for CPMs and 30 percent for CPCs than the feed

Cost per click (CPC) data:

Instagram Feed vs. Instagram Stories - Vertical Video

Cost per one thousand impressions (CPM) data:

Instagram Stories Vertical Video CPM

However, it’s important to note that costs actually increased with Stories compared to the feed when measuring cost per view (CPV):

  • Animoto: 108 percent more expensive on 3-second CPV and 65 percent more expensive on 50% total watch time CPV
  • Buffer: 71 percent more expensive on CPV 3 seconds and 21 percent more expensive on 50% total watch time CPV

Instagram Stories Vertical Video - Cost Per View

As many of you savvy marketers might have guessed at this point, we witnessed a rise in cost per view as cost per click decreased.

We believe that this is largely due to the fact that it is hard to get people to watch your entire video or when they’re too busy taking action such as “swiping up” or clicking on a link.

Overall, Instagram Stories are a great way to get people to take action and a big opportunity for brands to utilize in 2019.

3. Instagram News Feed: Use vertical video to generate engagement

The final big takeaway from our research is that the Instagram Feed is a powerful platform for driving engagement when compared to Facebook (News Feed & Stories) and Instagram Stories… almost too good!

Reversing the Instagram Feed data from takeaway #2, you’ll notice that 3-second CPVs were 91 percent less expensive on average for Buffer and Animoto. In addition, 50 percent total watch time CPVs were 43 percent less expensive on average.

But which format drives more engagement within the Instagram Feed? Turns out it’s vertical video!

  • Animoto: Vertical video resulted in 13 percent more 3-second video views and 157 percent more 50% total watch time views
  • Buffer: Vertical video resulted in 6 percent more 3-second video views and 187 percent more 50% total watch time views

Instagram News Feed - Video View Stats

The practical takeaway here is that the Instagram Feed is a great way to boost awareness around your product and generate engagement.

Other key video marketing learnings

In addition to the three key learnings above, our research pointed to some other unexpected takeaways that you might be able to apply to your video marketing strategy.

1. Facebook marketing is alive and well

We’ve discussed the power of Facebook marketing (here and in previous studies) and found that it remains a viable way for brands and businesses to reach target audiences. Particularly, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to drive traffic to your website.

In all of our tests, we found that Facebook consistently generated a lower CPC than its Instagram counterpart.

While Instagram was the most effective way to generate interactions and engagement in our tests, Facebook emerged as an extremely reliable way to drive traffic.

We’ve seen this hold true over the past two years at Buffer as well. Our most successful social media advertising campaign of all time – a campaign that is still running today – runs on the Facebook News Feed:

Facebook Advertising Results

This campaign has generated more than 169,000 link clicks and reached more than 1,500,000 people since launching in April 2017.

The best part is that it’s a super simple ad concept:

Buffer Facebook Ad Example

While brands and businesses flock to Instagram in 2019 in search of a new promising advertising platform, look for Facebook to continue to offer a low-cost, action-based alternative.

In terms of what type of content to create for Facebook, remember that, on average, video posts receive at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types.

2. Highly-produced “polished” video content doesn’t always win

One of the more interesting portions of our experiment revolved around testing what we called “organic” vs. “polished” video content.

  • Organic videos are what you would imagine as DIY-style. These videos didn’t include any B-roll, special effects, transitions, or other more produced elements. In other words, they looked like they were made by an amateur.
  • Polished videos are much more produced. These videos included studio lighting, B-roll, special effects, transitions, and other elements that give them a professional feel.

With our research, we wanted to know if spending more time, resources, and money on producing polished videos actually resulted in greater results than organic DIY videos.

We found that there was no statistically significant difference in the results.

In fact, in many cases, organic DIY videos outperformed polished videos on both Facebook and Instagram.

In collaboration with Animoto, Smarties ran their own experiments to test whether or not highly-produced video ads outperformed organic DIY video ads on Instagram Stories:

Their team found that organic DIY videos resulted in a 50 percent decrease in cost per 10-second video view on their highest performing ad. In their case, unpolished smartphone imagery was up to 2x more effective at capturing their viewer’s attention.

All of this to say that it’s more important to experiment with a variety of video types and formats than it is to work on perfecting a single video. The more video content you publish, the more feedback you’ll receive from your audience, and the quicker you’ll improve.

3. Instagram Stories ads one of the biggest opportunities in 2019

As a result of this experiment, we see Instagram Stories as one of the biggest opportunities for brands and businesses in 2019. It’s why we built a tool called Stories Creator dedicated to helping brands create thumb-stopping Stories content.

And though Instagram Stories now has an incredible 500 million people around the world using the channel on a daily basis, it remains a relatively untapped advertising resource.

“Right now, one of the interesting things about Stories is there’s a benefit to being an early adopter… the pricing is really attractive. And so we think the mix shift to Stories is a big opportunity for us. And it’s going to take time to continue to get advertisers in, but we’re very happy with demand to date,” explained Sheryl Sandberg in Facebook’s recent Q4 earnings call.

We discussed the impact of Stories in this research above, but other big brands such as Bustle, Nike, Square, and more have experienced similar results as a part of their strategies.

Blenders Eyewear, for example, has generated thousands in revenue for their products using Stories ads – leveraging special announcements like a much anticipated restock, flash sale, giveaway and any limited time promos:

Blenders Eyewear Instagram Stories Examples

We’ve seen similar results when we use Instagram Stories ads to promote our blog posts and podcast as well. Our Instagram Stories ads cost just $0.06 – $0.12 per click when a typical Facebook feed ad usually costs around $0.30 – $0.60 per click.

Multiply that cost savings by thousands of dollars in ad spend and it’s a no-brainer in choosing Instagram Stories as our primary social media advertising channel in 2019.

Overall vertical video research conclusion

If we were to boil down this research to one key point, it would be that businesses and brands must keep up with mobile-centric video trends if they want to succeed on social media in 2019. A mobile-centric strategy relies heavily on vertical video and creating content that feels native to each platform.

As we mentioned in the beginning, mobile phones alone accounted for 65% of total digital usage in Q2 2018 (up from 62% in Q1 2018) – with that number growing by the day.

Everything from your website to the content you create for social media must focus on the mobile experience. Sheryl Sandberg puts it perfectly when she mentions:

One of the challenges that marketers have is keeping up where consumers are. If you think about our history, people made the shift to mobile before marketers did. And I think one of the successes we’ve had is we made it easier for advertisers to move into a mobile environment.

For marketers, the constant challenge is making it easier for your audience and customers to consume content when and where they want it. Not when and where it’s convenient for you, but when and where it’s convenient for them.

Luckily for us, Facebook and Instagram are making it easier than ever for marketers to provide a mobile-first experience.

It all comes down to whether or not you are willing to be an early adopter, experiment with vertical and square video, try new things, and always be looking to the future of social media.

What’s next for video marketing?

We’re in the midst of a video revolution. The traditional 16:9, landscape format is being replaced by a new, 9:16, vertical format that has fast become the default for video creation and consumption.

Vertical video used to be seen as a mistake —something people do when they forget to turn their phone horizontally while filming — but since the rise of platforms like Instagram Stories, vertical video has taken over and become an innovative way for individuals and businesses to tell stories.

Over one billion people use the vertical video format on Facebook-owned properties like Instagram and WhatsApp alone — and even YouTube has now embraced vertical video on the web and mobile.

Vertical video has changed video production. Anyone can now create incredible video content from a smartphone — no need for cameras, expensive editing suites, it can all be done in the palm of your hand.

Interested in creating  your own vertical videos? Check out Animoto’s Social Video Maker iPhone app designed for just that. Their web app is great for mobile-friendly square videos. We used Animoto to help generate more than 2,000,000 video views on social media in 2018.

https://blog.bufferapp.com/vertical-video

Does Vertical Video Make a Difference? We Spent $6,000 on Tests to Find Out

There has been much discussion recently on industry-leading publications about the effectiveness of video on social media.

For example, did you know that video posts on Facebook receive at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types?

Since our 2017 research with Animoto comparing square vs. landscape video, little has been published around the impact of video format on overall video engagement.

Specifically, vertical video vs. square video.

Vertical Video vs. Square Video

While we know that square video (1:1) results in 30-35 percent more video views and an 80-100 percent increase in engagement compared to landscape video (16:9), we wanted to know how vertical video stacks up on Instagram and Facebook (both within the News Feed and Stories).

Which is why we teamed up with our friends at Animoto once again to test (and test again) the hypothesis that vertical video would perform better than square video on social media.

We were shocked by the results!

Today we’re excited to share our research with you along with several actionable takeaways for marketers looking to improve their social media video marketing results in 2019.

Author’s Note: We’ll be talking a lot about great video marketing tools in this post. Our must-haves are Animoto’s iPhone app for vertical videos, Animoto’s web app for square videos, and Buffer for sharing. Feel free to grab a subscription from each before we get started.

Table of Contents

Below are the full details from our study on everything from our vertical video hypothesis to the surprising results! Here’s a quick look at what we’ll cover:

Let’s do this!

The vertical video and mobile hypothesis

This research idea with Animoto all came from one simple statistic: square video takes up 78% more real estate in a person’s mobile newsfeed than does landscape video – making square video more engaging, more effective, and easier to watch.

And since square video outperformed landscape video in almost every category, we hypothesized that vertical video would eclipse square in a brand new study.

But why is video – particularly mobile video – such an important part of your social media strategy?

According to a recent report from Nielsen, U.S. adults are spending 10 hours and 24 minutes per day interacting with media, whether that be watching, listening to, or reading content across all of their devices.

And shockingly, mobile phones (smartphones) alone accounted for 65% of total digital usage, up from 62% in Q1 2018:

Nielsen Media Usage 2019

As mobile usage continues to increase year-over-year, our social media and video marketing strategies must evolve along with the expanded use to focus on mobile-first experiences.

Sometimes that’s as simple as formatting the video to fit natively within the platform.

3 important video marketing takeaways

Video is leading the way with social media marketing and so we’re super excited to share this actionable research with you.

By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with data-backed ideas and insights that you can apply to your own videos today.

But first, a few key takeaways to set the study up!

1. Facebook News Feed: Use vertical video to drive traffic

In all of the experiments we conducted, we consistently found that vertical video outperformed square video within the Facebook News Feed. First let’s look at the cost per click (CPC) comparison:

  • Buffer: Cost per click (CPCs) 26 percent less expensive with vertical video
  • Animoto: Cost per click (CPCs) 38 percent less expensive with vertical video

Square vs. Vertical Video Cost Per CLick

Next, let’s take a look at the cost per view (CPV) comparison:

  • Buffer: Cost per view (CPVs) 68 percent less expensive with vertical video
  • Animoto: Cost per view (CPVs) 26 percent less expensive with vertical video

Square vs. Vertical Video - Cost Per View

Since the video tests (vertical vs. square) were identical in content, theme, length, headline, caption, and more, it came as quite the surprise that vertical video outperformed square by such a significant margin (as much as 68 percent less expensive in cost per view).

It’s also interesting to note that not only did vertical video outperform square in the Facebook News Feed, but Facebook outperformed Instagram in overall cost per click (CPC) within the feed. An important takeaway for advertisers.

Buffer averaged $0.29 CPC on Facebook and $0.51 CPC on Instagram. Animoto averaged $0.32 CPC on Facebook and $1.31 CPC on Instagram.

2. Instagram Feed vs. Stories: Stories are a great way to inspire action

When looking at the Instagram Feed vs. Stories, it became immediately clear that Instagram Stories are a great way to inspire people to take action. In both the case of Buffer and Animoto, Stories consistently reduced advertising costs in regards to cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and cost per view (CPV):

  • Animoto: Stories 57 percent less expensive for CPMs and CPCs than the feed
  • Buffer: Stories 50 percent less expensive for CPMs and 30 percent for CPCs than the feed

Cost per click (CPC) data:

Instagram Feed vs. Instagram Stories - Vertical Video

Cost per one thousand impressions (CPM) data:

Instagram Stories Vertical Video CPM

However, it’s important to note that costs actually increased with Stories compared to the feed when measuring cost per view (CPV):

  • Animoto: 108 percent more expensive on 3-second CPV and 65 percent more expensive on 50% total watch time CPV
  • Buffer: 71 percent more expensive on CPV 3 seconds and 21 percent more expensive on 50% total watch time CPV

Instagram Stories Vertical Video - Cost Per View

As many of you savvy marketers might have guessed at this point, we witnessed a rise in cost per view as cost per click decreased.

We believe that this is largely due to the fact that it is hard to get people to watch your entire video or when they’re too busy taking action such as “swiping up” or clicking on a link.

Overall, Instagram Stories are a great way to get people to take action and a big opportunity for brands to utilize in 2019.

3. Instagram News Feed: Use vertical video to generate engagement

The final big takeaway from our research is that the Instagram Feed is a powerful platform for driving engagement when compared to Facebook (News Feed & Stories) and Instagram Stories… almost too good!

Reversing the Instagram Feed data from takeaway #2, you’ll notice that 3-second CPVs were 91 percent less expensive on average for Buffer and Animoto. In addition, 50 percent total watch time CPVs were 43 percent less expensive on average.

But which format drives more engagement within the Instagram Feed? Turns out it’s vertical video!

  • Animoto: Vertical video resulted in 13 percent more 3-second video views and 157 percent more 50% total watch time views
  • Buffer: Vertical video resulted in 6 percent more 3-second video views and 187 percent more 50% total watch time views

Instagram News Feed - Video View Stats

The practical takeaway here is that the Instagram Feed is a great way to boost awareness around your product and generate engagement.

Other key video marketing learnings

In addition to the three key learnings above, our research pointed to some other unexpected takeaways that you might be able to apply to your video marketing strategy.

1. Facebook marketing is alive and well

We’ve discussed the power of Facebook marketing (here and in previous studies) and found that it remains a viable way for brands and businesses to reach target audiences. Particularly, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to drive traffic to your website.

In all of our tests, we found that Facebook consistently generated a lower CPC than its Instagram counterpart.

While Instagram was the most effective way to generate interactions and engagement in our tests, Facebook emerged as an extremely reliable way to drive traffic.

We’ve seen this hold true over the past two years at Buffer as well. Our most successful social media advertising campaign of all time – a campaign that is still running today – runs on the Facebook News Feed:

Facebook Advertising Results

This campaign has generated more than 169,000 link clicks and reached more than 1,500,000 people since launching in April 2017.

The best part is that it’s a super simple ad concept:

Buffer Facebook Ad Example

While brands and businesses flock to Instagram in 2019 in search of a new promising advertising platform, look for Facebook to continue to offer a low-cost, action-based alternative.

In terms of what type of content to create for Facebook, remember that, on average, video posts receive at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types.

2. Highly-produced “polished” video content doesn’t always win

One of the more interesting portions of our experiment revolved around testing what we called “organic” vs. “polished” video content.

  • Organic videos are what you would imagine as DIY-style. These videos didn’t include any B-roll, special effects, transitions, or other more produced elements. In other words, they looked like they were made by an amateur.
  • Polished videos are much more produced. These videos included studio lighting, B-roll, special effects, transitions, and other elements that give them a professional feel.

With our research, we wanted to know if spending more time, resources, and money on producing polished videos actually resulted in greater results than organic DIY videos.

We found that there was no statistically significant difference in the results.

In fact, in many cases, organic DIY videos outperformed polished videos on both Facebook and Instagram.

In collaboration with Animoto, Smarties ran their own experiments to test whether or not highly-produced video ads outperformed organic DIY video ads on Instagram Stories:

Their team found that organic DIY videos resulted in a 50 percent decrease in cost per 10-second video view on their highest performing ad. In their case, unpolished smartphone imagery was up to 2x more effective at capturing their viewer’s attention.

All of this to say that it’s more important to experiment with a variety of video types and formats than it is to work on perfecting a single video. The more video content you publish, the more feedback you’ll receive from your audience, and the quicker you’ll improve.

3. Instagram Stories ads one of the biggest opportunities in 2019

As a result of this experiment, we see Instagram Stories as one of the biggest opportunities for brands and businesses in 2019. It’s why we built a tool called Stories Creator dedicated to helping brands create thumb-stopping Stories content.

And though Instagram Stories now has an incredible 500 million people around the world using the channel on a daily basis, it remains a relatively untapped advertising resource.

“Right now, one of the interesting things about Stories is there’s a benefit to being an early adopter… the pricing is really attractive. And so we think the mix shift to Stories is a big opportunity for us. And it’s going to take time to continue to get advertisers in, but we’re very happy with demand to date,” explained Sheryl Sandberg in Facebook’s recent Q4 earnings call.

We discussed the impact of Stories in this research above, but other big brands such as Bustle, Nike, Square, and more have experienced similar results as a part of their strategies.

Blenders Eyewear, for example, has generated thousands in revenue for their products using Stories ads – leveraging special announcements like a much anticipated restock, flash sale, giveaway and any limited time promos:

Blenders Eyewear Instagram Stories Examples

We’ve seen similar results when we use Instagram Stories ads to promote our blog posts and podcast as well. Our Instagram Stories ads cost just $0.06 – $0.12 per click when a typical Facebook feed ad usually costs around $0.30 – $0.60 per click.

Multiply that cost savings by thousands of dollars in ad spend and it’s a no-brainer in choosing Instagram Stories as our primary social media advertising channel in 2019.

Overall vertical video research conclusion

If we were to boil down this research to one key point, it would be that businesses and brands must keep up with mobile-centric video trends if they want to succeed on social media in 2019. A mobile-centric strategy relies heavily on vertical video and creating content that feels native to each platform.

As we mentioned in the beginning, mobile phones alone accounted for 65% of total digital usage in Q2 2018 (up from 62% in Q1 2018) – with that number growing by the day.

Everything from your website to the content you create for social media must focus on the mobile experience. Sheryl Sandberg puts it perfectly when she mentions:

One of the challenges that marketers have is keeping up where consumers are. If you think about our history, people made the shift to mobile before marketers did. And I think one of the successes we’ve had is we made it easier for advertisers to move into a mobile environment.

For marketers, the constant challenge is making it easier for your audience and customers to consume content when and where they want it. Not when and where it’s convenient for you, but when and where it’s convenient for them.

Luckily for us, Facebook and Instagram are making it easier than ever for marketers to provide a mobile-first experience.

It all comes down to whether or not you are willing to be an early adopter, experiment with vertical and square video, try new things, and always be looking to the future of social media.

What’s next for video marketing?

We’re in the midst of a video revolution. The traditional 16:9, landscape format is being replaced by a new, 9:16, vertical format that has fast become the default for video creation and consumption.

Vertical video used to be seen as a mistake —something people do when they forget to turn their phone horizontally while filming — but since the rise of platforms like Instagram Stories, vertical video has taken over and become an innovative way for individuals and businesses to tell stories.

Over one billion people use the vertical video format on Facebook-owned properties like Instagram and WhatsApp alone — and even YouTube has now embraced vertical video on the web and mobile.

Vertical video has changed video production. Anyone can now create incredible video content from a smartphone — no need for cameras, expensive editing suites, it can all be done in the palm of your hand.

Interested in creating  your own vertical videos? Check out Animoto’s Social Video Maker iPhone app designed for just that. Their web app is great for mobile-friendly square videos. We used Animoto to help generate more than 2,000,000 video views on social media in 2018.

https://blog.bufferapp.com/vertical-video

Does Vertical Video Make a Difference? We Spent $6,000 on Tests to Find Out

There has been much discussion recently on industry-leading publications about the effectiveness of video on social media.

For example, did you know that video posts on Facebook receive at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types?

Since our 2017 research with Animoto comparing square vs. landscape video, little has been published around the impact of video format on overall video engagement.

Specifically, vertical video vs. square video.

Vertical Video vs. Square Video

While we know that square video (1:1) results in 30-35 percent more video views and an 80-100 percent increase in engagement compared to landscape video (16:9), we wanted to know how vertical video stacks up on Instagram and Facebook (both within the News Feed and Stories).

Which is why we teamed up with our friends at Animoto once again to test (and test again) the hypothesis that vertical video would perform better than square video on social media.

We were shocked by the results!

Today we’re excited to share our research with you along with several actionable takeaways for marketers looking to improve their social media video marketing results in 2019.

Author’s Note: We’ll be talking a lot about great video marketing tools in this post. Our must-haves are Animoto’s iPhone app for vertical videos, Animoto’s web app for square videos, and Buffer for sharing. Feel free to grab a subscription from each before we get started.

Table of Contents

Below are the full details from our study on everything from our vertical video hypothesis to the surprising results! Here’s a quick look at what we’ll cover:

Let’s do this!

The vertical video and mobile hypothesis

This research idea with Animoto all came from one simple statistic: square video takes up 78% more real estate in a person’s mobile newsfeed than does landscape video – making square video more engaging, more effective, and easier to watch.

And since square video outperformed landscape video in almost every category, we hypothesized that vertical video would eclipse square in a brand new study.

But why is video – particularly mobile video – such an important part of your social media strategy?

According to a recent report from Nielsen, U.S. adults are spending 10 hours and 24 minutes per day interacting with media, whether that be watching, listening to, or reading content across all of their devices.

And shockingly, mobile phones (smartphones) alone accounted for 65% of total digital usage, up from 62% in Q1 2018:

Nielsen Media Usage 2019

As mobile usage continues to increase year-over-year, our social media and video marketing strategies must evolve along with the expanded use to focus on mobile-first experiences.

Sometimes that’s as simple as formatting the video to fit natively within the platform.

3 important video marketing takeaways

Video is leading the way with social media marketing and so we’re super excited to share this actionable research with you.

By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with data-backed ideas and insights that you can apply to your own videos today.

But first, a few key takeaways to set the study up!

1. Facebook News Feed: Use vertical video to drive traffic

In all of the experiments we conducted, we consistently found that vertical video outperformed square video within the Facebook News Feed. First let’s look at the cost per click (CPC) comparison:

  • Buffer: Cost per click (CPCs) 26 percent less expensive with vertical video
  • Animoto: Cost per click (CPCs) 38 percent less expensive with vertical video

Square vs. Vertical Video Cost Per CLick

Next, let’s take a look at the cost per view (CPV) comparison:

  • Buffer: Cost per view (CPVs) 68 percent less expensive with vertical video
  • Animoto: Cost per view (CPVs) 26 percent less expensive with vertical video

Square vs. Vertical Video - Cost Per View

Since the video tests (vertical vs. square) were identical in content, theme, length, headline, caption, and more, it came as quite the surprise that vertical video outperformed square by such a significant margin (as much as 68 percent less expensive in cost per view).

It’s also interesting to note that not only did vertical video outperform square in the Facebook News Feed, but Facebook outperformed Instagram in overall cost per click (CPC) within the feed. An important takeaway for advertisers.

Buffer averaged $0.29 CPC on Facebook and $0.51 CPC on Instagram. Animoto averaged $0.32 CPC on Facebook and $1.31 CPC on Instagram.

2. Instagram Feed vs. Stories: Stories are a great way to inspire action

When looking at the Instagram Feed vs. Stories, it became immediately clear that Instagram Stories are a great way to inspire people to take action. In both the case of Buffer and Animoto, Stories consistently reduced advertising costs in regards to cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and cost per view (CPV):

  • Animoto: Stories 57 percent less expensive for CPMs and CPCs than the feed
  • Buffer: Stories 50 percent less expensive for CPMs and 30 percent for CPCs than the feed

Cost per click (CPC) data:

Instagram Feed vs. Instagram Stories - Vertical Video

Cost per one thousand impressions (CPM) data:

Instagram Stories Vertical Video CPM

However, it’s important to note that costs actually increased with Stories compared to the feed when measuring cost per view (CPV):

  • Animoto: 108 percent more expensive on 3-second CPV and 65 percent more expensive on 50% total watch time CPV
  • Buffer: 71 percent more expensive on CPV 3 seconds and 21 percent more expensive on 50% total watch time CPV

Instagram Stories Vertical Video - Cost Per View

As many of you savvy marketers might have guessed at this point, we witnessed a rise in cost per view as cost per click decreased.

We believe that this is largely due to the fact that it is hard to get people to watch your entire video or when they’re too busy taking action such as “swiping up” or clicking on a link.

Overall, Instagram Stories are a great way to get people to take action and a big opportunity for brands to utilize in 2019.

3. Instagram News Feed: Use vertical video to generate engagement

The final big takeaway from our research is that the Instagram Feed is a powerful platform for driving engagement when compared to Facebook (News Feed & Stories) and Instagram Stories… almost too good!

Reversing the Instagram Feed data from takeaway #2, you’ll notice that 3-second CPVs were 91 percent less expensive on average for Buffer and Animoto. In addition, 50 percent total watch time CPVs were 43 percent less expensive on average.

But which format drives more engagement within the Instagram Feed? Turns out it’s vertical video!

  • Animoto: Vertical video resulted in 13 percent more 3-second video views and 157 percent more 50% total watch time views
  • Buffer: Vertical video resulted in 6 percent more 3-second video views and 187 percent more 50% total watch time views

Instagram News Feed - Video View Stats

The practical takeaway here is that the Instagram Feed is a great way to boost awareness around your product and generate engagement.

Other key video marketing learnings

In addition to the three key learnings above, our research pointed to some other unexpected takeaways that you might be able to apply to your video marketing strategy.

1. Facebook marketing is alive and well

We’ve discussed the power of Facebook marketing (here and in previous studies) and found that it remains a viable way for brands and businesses to reach target audiences. Particularly, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to drive traffic to your website.

In all of our tests, we found that Facebook consistently generated a lower CPC than its Instagram counterpart.

While Instagram was the most effective way to generate interactions and engagement in our tests, Facebook emerged as an extremely reliable way to drive traffic.

We’ve seen this hold true over the past two years at Buffer as well. Our most successful social media advertising campaign of all time – a campaign that is still running today – runs on the Facebook News Feed:

Facebook Advertising Results

This campaign has generated more than 169,000 link clicks and reached more than 1,500,000 people since launching in April 2017.

The best part is that it’s a super simple ad concept:

Buffer Facebook Ad Example

While brands and businesses flock to Instagram in 2019 in search of a new promising advertising platform, look for Facebook to continue to offer a low-cost, action-based alternative.

In terms of what type of content to create for Facebook, remember that, on average, video posts receive at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types.

2. Highly-produced “polished” video content doesn’t always win

One of the more interesting portions of our experiment revolved around testing what we called “organic” vs. “polished” video content.

  • Organic videos are what you would imagine as DIY-style. These videos didn’t include any B-roll, special effects, transitions, or other more produced elements. In other words, they looked like they were made by an amateur.
  • Polished videos are much more produced. These videos included studio lighting, B-roll, special effects, transitions, and other elements that give them a professional feel.

With our research, we wanted to know if spending more time, resources, and money on producing polished videos actually resulted in greater results than organic DIY videos.

We found that there was no statistically significant difference in the results.

In fact, in many cases, organic DIY videos outperformed polished videos on both Facebook and Instagram.

In collaboration with Animoto, Smarties ran their own experiments to test whether or not highly-produced video ads outperformed organic DIY video ads on Instagram Stories:

Their team found that organic DIY videos resulted in a 50 percent decrease in cost per 10-second video view on their highest performing ad. In their case, unpolished smartphone imagery was up to 2x more effective at capturing their viewer’s attention.

All of this to say that it’s more important to experiment with a variety of video types and formats than it is to work on perfecting a single video. The more video content you publish, the more feedback you’ll receive from your audience, and the quicker you’ll improve.

3. Instagram Stories ads one of the biggest opportunities in 2019

As a result of this experiment, we see Instagram Stories as one of the biggest opportunities for brands and businesses in 2019. It’s why we built a tool called Stories Creator dedicated to helping brands create thumb-stopping Stories content.

And though Instagram Stories now has an incredible 500 million people around the world using the channel on a daily basis, it remains a relatively untapped advertising resource.

“Right now, one of the interesting things about Stories is there’s a benefit to being an early adopter… the pricing is really attractive. And so we think the mix shift to Stories is a big opportunity for us. And it’s going to take time to continue to get advertisers in, but we’re very happy with demand to date,” explained Sheryl Sandberg in Facebook’s recent Q4 earnings call.

We discussed the impact of Stories in this research above, but other big brands such as Bustle, Nike, Square, and more have experienced similar results as a part of their strategies.

Blenders Eyewear, for example, has generated thousands in revenue for their products using Stories ads – leveraging special announcements like a much anticipated restock, flash sale, giveaway and any limited time promos:

Blenders Eyewear Instagram Stories Examples

We’ve seen similar results when we use Instagram Stories ads to promote our blog posts and podcast as well. Our Instagram Stories ads cost just $0.06 – $0.12 per click when a typical Facebook feed ad usually costs around $0.30 – $0.60 per click.

Multiply that cost savings by thousands of dollars in ad spend and it’s a no-brainer in choosing Instagram Stories as our primary social media advertising channel in 2019.

Overall vertical video research conclusion

If we were to boil down this research to one key point, it would be that businesses and brands must keep up with mobile-centric video trends if they want to succeed on social media in 2019. A mobile-centric strategy relies heavily on vertical video and creating content that feels native to each platform.

As we mentioned in the beginning, mobile phones alone accounted for 65% of total digital usage in Q2 2018 (up from 62% in Q1 2018) – with that number growing by the day.

Everything from your website to the content you create for social media must focus on the mobile experience. Sheryl Sandberg puts it perfectly when she mentions:

One of the challenges that marketers have is keeping up where consumers are. If you think about our history, people made the shift to mobile before marketers did. And I think one of the successes we’ve had is we made it easier for advertisers to move into a mobile environment.

For marketers, the constant challenge is making it easier for your audience and customers to consume content when and where they want it. Not when and where it’s convenient for you, but when and where it’s convenient for them.

Luckily for us, Facebook and Instagram are making it easier than ever for marketers to provide a mobile-first experience.

It all comes down to whether or not you are willing to be an early adopter, experiment with vertical and square video, try new things, and always be looking to the future of social media.

What’s next for video marketing?

We’re in the midst of a video revolution. The traditional 16:9, landscape format is being replaced by a new, 9:16, vertical format that has fast become the default for video creation and consumption.

Vertical video used to be seen as a mistake —something people do when they forget to turn their phone horizontally while filming — but since the rise of platforms like Instagram Stories, vertical video has taken over and become an innovative way for individuals and businesses to tell stories.

Over one billion people use the vertical video format on Facebook-owned properties like Instagram and WhatsApp alone — and even YouTube has now embraced vertical video on the web and mobile.

Vertical video has changed video production. Anyone can now create incredible video content from a smartphone — no need for cameras, expensive editing suites, it can all be done in the palm of your hand.

Interested in creating  your own vertical videos? Check out Animoto’s Social Video Maker iPhone app designed for just that. Their web app is great for mobile-friendly square videos. We used Animoto to help generate more than 2,000,000 video views on social media in 2018.

https://blog.bufferapp.com/vertical-video

The State of Social 2019 Report: New Data and Social Media Marketing Research

https://buffer.com/state-of-social-2019

What 777,367,063 Facebook Posts Tell Us About Successful Content in 2019 (New Research)

Facebook marketing in 2019 isn’t dead. On the contrary, it’s far from it.

Now removed from the dim outlook that businesses faced at the beginning of 2018, Facebook has and will remain an essential tool for brands’ marketing strategies moving forward.

In our upcoming State of Social Media 2019 Report (releasing January 16th) we found that 93.7 percent of businesses use and are currently active on Facebook — the most among any other social media network.

Most Used Social Media Platforms 2019

And although we continue to see a dramatic rise in the usage and effectiveness of Stories content, traditional posts in the Facebook News Feed offer a powerful outlet for brands looking to generate engagement and traffic.

Which is why we asked our friends at BuzzSumo to help us put together a massive data set looking at the top Facebook posts over the past year. In total, we dwindled down more than 777 million posts to 500 of the most popular, according to total engagements. The top 500 Facebook posts represent more than one billion engagements across Facebook.

Today we’re excited to share everything we learned about the most successful posts to help guide your Facebook marketing strategy in 2019.

Table of Contents

Let’s dive in!

Key takeaways from 777 million Facebook posts

BuzzSumo has access to some of the world’s most robust Facebook data, which powers lots of incredible research studies like this one where we analyzed content from 20,000 influential Facebook Business Pages.

They’re also the company behind one of my personal favorites, The 2019 Ultimate Guide to Facebook Engagement, an annual report that analyzes everything you need to know about the tactical side of Facebook marketing.

Needless to say, their product offers some eye-opening insights into the world of Facebook marketing.

Key takeaway #1: Video performs better than all other types of Facebook posts

When it comes to taking your Facebook strategy to the next level, there is no better way to do so than through the use of video content.

On average, video posts on Facebook get at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types.

In fact, when looking at what types of content made up the top 500 Facebook posts of 2018, more than 81 percent were videos!

Images only accounted for 18 percent of the top posts, while Links made up a mere 0.2 percent.

Top 500 Facebook Posts of 2018 and 2019

On the other hand (quite shockingly), link posts received 76 percent less engagement than videos on average. This includes links with images. In other words, not even images are helping link posts to perform better.

We’ll get into Facebook video themes and content later in this article, but for now, it’s clear that brands should be investing heavily in video content in 2019.

Key takeaway #2: The most common reactions to top Facebook video posts are LOVE and HAHA

You might be wondering why we chose to analyze the most common reactions to top Facebook posts.

Great question!

Reactions give us a unique look into human psychology and a better understanding of “why” people like certain types of content on Facebook. Plus, it helps point us in the direction of what to create for our own brand in the future.

The reactions LOVE and HAHA made up 81 percent of the total Facebook video reactions in 2018 (Likes not included in the data set):

Top 500 Facebook Posts of 2018

Clearly, people are interacting with content that they find inspirational, funny, or a mix of both (more on that next). Brands that focus on creating content around these emotions are more likely to produce successful content for their Page moving forward.

Though it’s important to note here that, more often than not, content isn’t necessarily loveable or funny to everyone. In other words, something that is “loved” by one person might be “funny” or even “sad” to another.

Which is great news for brands and B2B businesses because it means that content doesn’t need to be overwhelmingly funny or inspirational.

Brands and marketers just need to know what their audience will find personally entertaining, which starts with an understanding of who they are.

Key takeaway #3: Inspirational, funny, or practical content generates the most engagement

In order to hone in on the exact types of content brands and marketers should be creating more of in 2019, we attempted to categorize the types of content from the data set. In conjunction with the most common reactions on Facebook and a subjective analysis of the top 500 Facebook posts, three common themes started to emerge.

The most successful content could be categorized as inspirational, funny, or practical.

For example, the number one most successful post on Facebook in 2018 was one from speaker and storyteller, Jay Shetty:

Shetty accounts for several of the top 500 posts because he creates content that inspires people. Inspirational content leads to a greater amount of reactions, comments, and shares, which in turn, leads to greater organic reach.

The best part is that any brand is capable of creating this type of content. All it takes is a renewed understanding of what people are looking for on social media (specifically, your audience as we mentioned above) and how you can deliver that to them on a consistent basis.

Which leads us to a breakdown of some of the year’s most successful Facebook posts and the psychological reasons behind why they worked.

Four examples of the year’s most successful Facebook posts

In an attempt to make this study as relevant as we could to a variety of brands and industries, we decided not to simply cover the top 10 Facebook posts from 2018. Instead, we hand-picked several posts from the top 500 that teach us something valuable about the art of Facebook marketing.

But if you’re curious, here are the official top 10 Facebook posts of 2018:

Note: We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below on why you believe these posts worked so well. Let’s help each other improve!

10. “An amazing moment in African enterprise history” – Strive Masiyiwa

9. “Hero Boy Saves Chicken” – Life Changing Videos

8. “When your dogs smells another dog on you” – Funny in Public

7. “Tianmen Mountain, China” – Inspire Uplift

6. “Common Dental Procedures” – Science Nature Page

5. “Wow” – Penoy Rap Radio

4. “Before You Take Someone For Granted Watch This” – Jay Shetty

3. “Scalloped Potato Roll” – BuzzFeed Tasty

2. “7 Super easy ways to keep your food fresher, longer!” – So Yummy

1. “Before You Feel Pressure Watch This” – Jay Shetty

Now, onto a more detailed breakdown of some of our favorites.

The Norfolk Police Department (Humanizing your brand)

You wouldn’t normally classify your local police department as having one of the best Facebook Pages and content of 2018, but the Norfolk Police aren’t your typical department.

Generating more than 3.2 million engagements and growing their audience to well-over 180,000 fans in the past year, the NPD is the perfect case study for how to approach Facebook marketing with limited budget and resources.

(Here’s the link to the lip sync challenge video, which has over 78 million views as of writing. The video can’t be embedded — likely due to copyrights of the music.)

Why it works:

The Norfolk PD offers a variety of inspiring and funny content that caters to their local community. And while they aren’t “selling fun” per se, they’re building a considerably large and loyal following with fun content.

Most importantly, the NPD makes their content relatable and human. In each one of their posts, you get a behind-the-scenes look at the officers and staff that make up their department. Then they take it to the next level with vulnerability.

It’s not easy to get in front of the camera. And it’s not easy to go out on a limb with experimental content, especially as a local police department. However, the NPD threw every traditional rule aside and decided to go for it.

In the end, they were rewarded for their efforts.

Brainy Crafts (Hacking your way into people’s hearts)

It wouldn’t be a top Facebooks posts of 2018 roundup without mentioning the wonderfully engaging world of “practical life and cooking hacks.”

Pages like BuzzFeed Tasty, 5-Minute Crafts, DIY Crafts TV, and lots more have taken full advantage of people’s unending desire to improve their lives in one form or another.

Here’s a great example from Brainy Crafts of how to hack your way to being more resourceful in the kitchen:

Episode 11: Kitchen Life Hacks

16 Life Hacks That Will Make You More Resourceful In The Kitchen

Posted by Brainy Crafts on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Why it works:

As we discussed earlier, “practical” or “how to” content makes up a significant majority of the top Facebook posts of 2018.

Educating your audience on Facebook isn’t just about teaching them a new skill, it’s about what they will do with that knowledge. More often than not, they’ll share it with their friends and family.

When Fast Company asked Tasty global GM Ashley McCollum why this type of content is so popular, she responded:

“We didn’t set out to build a food network. We didn’t sit in a conference room and say, ‘Oh, let’s do some market research.’ What we did is build content around the concept that people would share it with people in their lives. It’s not just how to make the recipe, how to chop the onion. It gives you a reason to reach out to your friend. It allows you to connect with another person.”

One simple suggestion to make this actionable is to repurpose your most-shared blog posts into a standalone Facebook video post.

For example, one of the most popular Buffer Blog posts of 2018 was “The New Facebook Algorithm 2018: Everything Marketers Need to Know” – We turned the text into a one minute explainer video that was viewed and shared more than 16,000 times.

The best part is it only took us about one hour to create since we already had the blog content to work from!

Strive Masiyiwa (Rise of the active CEO on social media)

One Page that accounts for a whopping 33 of the top 500 Facebook posts of 2018 isn’t a brand at all. It’s the Executive Chairman & Founder of the global enterprise Econet Group, Strive Masiyiwa.

Masiyiwa has racked up more than 3.5 million fans to his Page, ranks 437 among all Public Figures in the world, and generated 108+ million engagements to his posts in 2018.

And the most interesting part is that he’s done all of this through images and captions (not videos). A lot of his high ranking posts are more like micro-blogs, averaging well-over 300 words per caption.

Why it works:

According to data from OkToPost, only 40 percent of CEOs are active on social media. Of those users, 70 percent use LinkedIn only. However, this number is expected to grow significantly in 2019 as people turn to authentic sources of information.

In an era of distrust in the news, CEOs and other top executives have a unique opportunity to be more social. This can help boost your brand’s reputation and build trust among your users.

Finally, Strive Masiyiwa proves that video isn’t the only type of content that works on social media. But it’s important to note that in examining his content, every single post is extremely detailed and informative.

Funniest Family Moments (Curating the best content from around the web)

The Funniest Family Moments Page managed to snag 22 posts in the top 500, generating a total of 51,546,121 total engagements in 2018.

Baby and animal videos certainly don’t hurt their case, but there’s something else at play here that all brands can use to improve their Facebook marketing strategy in 2019: curated content.

It’s incredibly simple to get started with curated content and the perfect way to supplement your in-house content strategy. Take, for example, Funniest Family Moments’ top post from 2018:

Dog and baby

Good nannies!❤

Posted by Funniest Family Moments on Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Why it works:

At its core, the post is nothing more than a compilation of videos from around the web. However, it has garnered more than 129 million views and five million engagements – and counting.

Content curation is all about finding and organizing existing content artifacts to create new insights and shared value for your audience.

If you can do that consistently, your audience will look to you as a continuous source of inspirational, funny, and practical content (there’s that theme again). Plus, curated content helps to establish your brand as a thought leader in your space. Instead of “talking about yourself” all of the time, you’re demonstrating that you’re willing to add value in different ways.

Incorporating these learnings into your Facebook strategy

Now that we’ve examined some of the top Facebook posts of 2018, you’re probably wondering:

How can I apply these tips to my own Facebook strategy?

Even if you’re not a top Page or generating millions of engagements per month, you can still find a ton of success on Facebook. In fact, it just might be the biggest opportunity for brands in the coming year!

We recommend following these three guidelines:

Consider your own behavior and posting habits on social media

Before reading this section, I encourage you to visit your own Facebook profile (plus a few family and friend’s profiles) and take mental notes on the type of content shared.

  • Did you notice any trends?
  • What types of content did you/they share?

At a high level, our personal Facebook profiles are our individual “story.” They are an ever-evolving record of our lives and interests. Most of all, they’re a direct reflection of who we are – at least who we want people to think we are.

As brands and marketers, we need to consider how to create content for Facebook that uniquely mirrors our audience’s stories and personalities. This requires constant experimentation and improvement to our marketing strategies. What works one day might not work the next as people are continually changing based on both internal and external factors.

“When the marketers move in, the members move out. The secret, therefore, to social media success is to act, and think, and feel, and behave like a member FIRST. A member first, and a marketer second.” – Mari Smith

There are tons of ways to find out exactly who your audience is and then tailor content around those specific demographics.

Perhaps the quickest and cheapest way to get to know your audience is through Facebook’s free tool: Audience Insights.

Facebook Audience Insights - Top Facebook Posts

In less than five minutes I was able to find out that followers of the Buffer Facebook Page also follow pages such as Marketo, Moz, Hootsuite, as well as several others. I also found out that 37 percent of our followers are women between the ages of 25-34, 72 percent graduated from college, and four percent live in either San Francisco or New York.

From this data, I’m able to begin creating a list of content that our target demographic will find interesting. I also have the option of exploring similar Facebook Pages to see what content is resonating most with these folks and generating ideas from those themes.

There are lots of other ways to gather valuable data on your customers as well. Some of the most effective techniques we’ve used are:

  • Surveys
  • Customer interviews
  • Social media posts
  • Emails
  • Trade shows and conferences
  • NPS scores
  • Chat widgets like Drift or Intercom

Research, ideate, create, learn, and repeat.

Create content for Facebook that is both human and story-forward

Did you know that 84 percent of marketers believe that building trust will be the primary focus for their marketing efforts in the future?

That’s because consumers are looking for brands with a purpose – brands that are mission-driven and stand for something important.

Shallow marketing campaigns aren’t going to cut it in 2019. What will cut it are authentic, human-forward stories that allow your brand to connect with customers on a personal level. Smaller brands, in particular, have an opportunity to double or even triple engagement with this personal approach.

Take local shop Coffee Hub Xenia, for example. This simple video gave their community a behind-the-scenes look at the faces behind their brand as well as a why the business exists.

405 reactions, 221 shares, 63 comments, and 14,000 views aren’t too shabby for a Page with only 2,400 Likes. In looking at the comments, it’s clear that this video had an emotional impact on their audience as well.

This Facebook post didn’t succeed because of the production quality or gaming the Facebook algorithm, it succeeded because it told the inspirational story of a small business and the important part they play in their community.

Remember that effective storytelling involves a deep understanding of human emotions, motivations, and psychology in order to truly move your audience.

Play the long game by focusing on building an engaged community

Social media is changing right before our eyes.

Mobile usage, short attention spans, and the increasing influence of Millennials and Generation Z’ers on social media continue to pave the way for short-lived, in-the-moment content in 2019. It also highlights an effective social media marketing strategy: community building.

There has been a general trend towards niche and active groups on social media, with Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, leading the way to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

The challenge (and opportunity) is understanding the role social media plays in brand awareness vs. sales.

If you’re a Digitally-Native, Vertical Brand (DNVB), social media ads might be a critical piece of your overall acquisition strategy – as they should be! But if you’re also looking to grow your audience and engagement organically, then it’s worth investing the time and resources into building a community.

As Tarah Boyleston, marketing and design lead at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, explained to us in a recent interview:

“No one wants to follow a brand that is only trying to sell them something. We share personal stories, family recipes, and behind the scenes imagery of our lives at the bakery. These glimpses into the ‘life of a biscuiteer’ are free!”

That approach has allowed Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit to grow both on and offline.

Callie's Biscuits - Top Facebook Posts 2019

The first step in building a community on social media is freeing yourself from always having a sales or traffic goal tied to each post. This will immediately help your content to be human and entertaining as people won’t feel like they’re being sold to.

The second step in community building is creating meaningful conversations and interactions with your customers. Ensure that every time they reach out to your brand on social media (or elsewhere) that you provide a memorable experience. This will increase the likelihood that these people share the positive experience with their friends.

And finally, the third step in community building is understanding that it’s a long journey to success. Growing your brand awareness doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen through a few posts or interactions. Real growth comes with consistency and providing your customers with a wonderful experience each time they come in contact with your brand.

Over to you!

Where do you think Facebook marketing is headed in 2019?

Are brands and businesses poised for success?

We’d love to hear what types of Facebook posts are working for your brand! We’ll gather each one of your tips and share them with the community in a big roundup.

Wishing you the best in the coming year!

https://blog.bufferapp.com/facebook-marketing-2019

Why Social Listening is Essential to Your Marketing Plan

Creating the perfect marketing plan is far from simple. It is essential to determine your target audience and strategize on the best way to assemble your marketing plan. Are you going to focus on a specific group? Are you looking to attract new customers to your brand or business? If you do, then you need to have an “in” with your customer base, which means you need to be paying attention to social media and do a bit of social listening.

Social Listening 101

To use social listening as part of your marketing strategy you need to know what social listening entails. Simply put, social listening relates to listening to what people are saying about your company, your products and services, your overall brand, and of course your competitors. Social listening takes into consideration other categories that may prove relevant to your customers or potential customer base.

Social listening is not just about interaction with customers on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. It involves listening to what people are saying, both positive and negative. Social listening means more than just basic keyword searches, although keywords can play a considerable role locating new customers and reaching out to customers unhappy with your competitors.

Where Social Listening Assists Your Marketing Plan

As previously mentioned, social listening is all about using social media to find out what people are saying about your company, your brand, products, services, as well as your competitors and other points of interest to your customers. Utilizing social listening, or social monitoring, is a way to find out not only what people are saying, but find out what they are looking for from your company and others in the same niche.

  • Determine where you have erred or succeeded – Through social listening, you can determine when you have failed or hit the ball out of the park. For example, you make a post on your social media accounts that generate a lot of negative feedback. Go to that post and determine what the problems were and how you can fix them in the future. Conversely, if you have a post that generates a lot of positive feedback or business for your brand, consider what you did at that moment and focus on utilizing that technique in the future.

 

  • The Competition – Monitoring what people are saying about your company and brand is essential. Another essential aspect to social listening is finding out what current or potential customers are saying about the competition. If you determine that they are failing their customers through products, services, or even customer service, use that information to improve how your company handles different situations. Furthermore, you can use the unhappiness expressed by customers of your competitors to develop your products or offer them services the competition lacks.

 

  • What are your customers saying? – Do you think you have a handle on what your customers are saying? You might think you do, but in reality, in most cases, customers are continually making complaints regarding a company’s customer service. Social listening affords your business with the opportunity to see what your customers think about your products, services, overall brand, and customer service relations. Paying close attention to what your customer base is saying helps determine where changes in customer engagement need to be made, as well as deciding what customers want from your brand.

 

  • Product & Services Feedback – Through brand tracking, mentions, etc., you can determine what customers are saying about your products and services. Sometimes the feedback received can help improve a current product, service, or even a company policy. On other occasions, it is possible to pass on this information to your company’s development team. This is one way to create a product or service your customers have been searching for but never came across.

 

  • Hunt New Customers – Social listening also helps your company locating people who are upset or unhappy with your competitors. Utilize this information to make a play for a new potential customer. Avoid trying to sell the potential customer on your product and services while discussing their unhappiness with your competitor. Leave the door open for contact and see where that takes you.

Get a Step Ahead: Implement Social Listening into your Marketing Plan

When it comes to creating a marketing plan more has to be taken into consideration than just your products, services, brand name and how your competitors are faring. Social listening affords your marketing team with the ability to find out what people are saying, determine how to initiate conversation, and target potential new customers. Social listening is a powerful tool that should be utilized by all marketing teams, as the rewards for using this tool are innumerable.

The post Why Social Listening is Essential to Your Marketing Plan appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2018/12/why-social-listening-is-essential-to-your-marketing-plan/

King of Marketing – King of Marketing

Posts about King of Marketing written by Mike Armstrong News – MAN Media!
— Read on kingofmarketinguk.wordpress.com/category/king-of-marketing/

https://welshbizuk.wordpress.com/2018/12/23/king-of-marketing-king-of-marketing/

Plan Your Social Media Campaigns To Win at Marketing in 2019

Social media platforms are constantly updated with new features to appeal to users. The good news for businesses and marketers is that they too can use these changes to improve the way they engage with their social media audience.

During 2018, there were plenty of new features introduced and new trends emerging across all popular platforms. So for the coming year, you will need to plan your social media campaigns based on these changes.

In this post, you’ll discover how to effectively plan your social media campaigns for 2019.

1. Prepare for Increased Ad Spend

One of the biggest social media challenges for marketers is that it’s getting more difficult to reach their audience using organic content.

This is particularly true with Facebook and Twitter, which prioritize relevance and engagement before recency. This means that the algorithms of these two platforms will choose to display posts by users and pages that you engage with the most first, instead of showing the most recent posts.

Instagram also switched to this algorithm for a brief period. Due to increasing user complaints, they switched back to the recency algorithm in March 2018, showing the most recent content first to keep news feeds fresh.

At the same time, you will have a hard time reaching a relevant audience with organic posts if they don’t follow you.

So there’s an increased need to invest in paid ads to reach a wider audience on social media. It’s no surprise that marketers in the Social Spending Report from Social Media Today spent the majority of their social media budgets on advertising. Also, 68% of marketers in the survey were planning to spend even more on advertising in 2019.

These numbers show just how important it is for you to plan ahead for increased ad spend on social media next year. This will ensure that you can improve the way you attract a new and relevant audience, since paid ads allow you to precisely target the most relevant users on social media.

2. Go Live

Although live video has been around for a while, its popularity has grown significantly this year on Facebook and Instagram. And the proof is in the numbers. According to a study by Livestream and New York Magazine, there was an 81% increase in live video viewership between 2015 and 2016.

80% of consumers prefer to watch a brand’s live videos rather than reading their blog; 82% prefer a brand’s live videos over their social media posts. This goes to show that brands and marketers need to gear up and prepare for more live video content on social media during 2019.

Live video presents an excellent opportunity for your audience to interact with you through Q&A and chat sessions. You can invite them to participate in ongoing discussions while they tune in to your live streaming sessions. This is one of the reasons why live streaming is so successful for engaging audiences on social media.

Live video also adds a sense of authenticity that helps brands build trust and boost loyalty with their audiences. 87% of consumers in the survey said that they would watch more video online if it could give them a behind-the-scenes look. So you could plan for more behind-the-scenes live videos or live event videos as a part of your social media strategy.

3. Tell Recurring Stories through IGTV

One of the most significant developments in social media this year was the introduction of IGTV on Instagram. This feature enables users to create long-form video content unlike the usual Instagram videos or Stories. Users can create videos of up to an hour using this feature.

According to TechCrunch, however, a lot of content creators aren’t getting as many views on their IGTV videos as compared to their usual feed videos. These content creators were getting 6.8X as many views on their feed videos as their IGTV posts two months into the launch of the feature. But that doesn’t mean that IGTV is a failure.

With plenty of experiments and strategizing, content creators have learned that episodic videos tend to perform really well on IGTV. Lilly Singh, for instance, has been running a show covering comedy news on IGTV and called it “Spice News.” For the first 10 episodes, she averaged 434,000+ views per episode.

Spice News

Image Source: Instagram

So for 2019, you could come up with a plan to create more episodic videos through IGTV. You could tell recurring stories or come up with a series that will be relevant to your brand or industry. You could interview industry experts, tell your employees’ stories, or even showcase how different customers are benefiting from your products in a series of videos.

4. Optimize Your Video Strategy

The use of social video has been increasing rapidly among brands. 81% of businesses in a Wyzowl study said that they are using video for marketing. These numbers are impressive considering how only 63% were using it in 2017. And 78% of marketers in the study said that they’re getting a good ROI out of video. In some cases, video ads even manage to outperform image ads in terms of engagements and clicks.

There’s a good chance you’re already using video in your social media and advertising strategies. However, you should plan to optimize your video strategy further to get even better returns in 2019. If you aren’t already using videos, make sure to start in the coming year and use the following optimization tips for success:

1) Optimize for Sound Off

Avoid making videos that only make sense with the sound on. 85% of video views on Facebook are reproduced without sound, so you need to make sure that the videos you create make sense even when there’s no sound. You could add subtitles and text in video. Or you could create video ads with a storyline that clearly conveys your message without the need for sound.

2) Choose the Right Format

A majority of social media users access social platforms through their smartphones. So you need to keep these users in mind when creating your social videos. Choose a format that looks great both on a desktop screen and a phone screen. This means either letterbox or square videos, which have managed to get more views and engagements than landscape videos in an Animoto and Buffer study.

3) Keep It Short

Your feed videos and video ads should not be too long, or you could stand a chance of losing your viewers’ attention. Try to engage them immediately in the first few seconds to ensure that they continue watching. But don’t make it too long if you want to get your message across effectively.

5. Prepare for In-the-Moment Consumption

Ever since the introduction of Stories by Instagram and Facebook, there has been an increasing need for brands to create in-the-moment content for immediate consumption.

One of the main factors that contributed to this trend is the rapid rise in usage among consumers. As of May 2018, there were 150 million daily active users of the Facebook Stories feature. And from 300 million daily active users in November 2017, Instagram Stories now have 400 million daily active users.

Stories give brands the opportunity to engage and interact with their audiences through polls, reactions, and votes. These features allow consumers to get more involved in the content creation process and social media activity of brands. It enables them to lend their voices and directly influence how brands deliver content to them.

There’s also the fact that the content you deliver on Stories tends to be more authentic than pre-packaged content. You’re likely to use this feature to deliver in-the-moment content and showcase what’s happening at that moment. So rather than polishing and editing your content for your audience, you’re delivering something that’s real and authentic to win the trust of your audience.

For 2019, you can use the Stories feature to take your followers behind-the-scenes of your brand. Show them how your team is working to deliver the kind of products and services that they expect. You could also conduct polls and votes to see exactly what your audience likes. Ask them to vote on what topics or content formats they like the most, which influencers they’d like to see an interview of, and more.

The Q&A feature is an excellent option for brands that want to better engage their audience. You could conduct a Q&A session during which you answer some of your followers’ top questions.

Or you could use it in your influencer marketing campaign, where you have an industry influencer answering your followers’ questions. This allows your audience to actively engage with your Stories content and your brand.

Some brands like Lorna Jane, an activewear brand, take it one step further and use their Stories to feature their customers. This way, they can prominently showcase their appreciation for the community and make them feel included. But since these last for only 24 hours, they don’t have to worry even if the images are of low quality or do not fit their aesthetics. And they can still fill up their actual feed with professionally-taken photos.

Lorna Jane

6. Optimize Your Social Influencer Strategy

As mentioned earlier, social media algorithms are changing in such a way that a brand’s organic content has a harder time getting visibility on users’ news feeds. The content from accounts they interact with regularly gets more priority and visibility. So this has made it even more vital for brands to partner with real people such as influencers to improve their brands’ visibility.

People look up to influencers and regularly engage with their content, which is what helped them earn their influencer status in the first place. The ability to drive authentic engagement and reach a relevant audience has urged many brands to work with influencers even in the past years. In fact, influencer marketing doubled on Instagram during 2017, according to Klear.

At the same time, people are starting to lose trust in some influencers because of the multitude of endorsements they’ve signed up for. If someone is promoting a lot of brands without a bad thing to say about any of them, there’s a good chance they’ll lose the trust of their audience. So it’s crucial that you look for authentic influencers with a niche and relevant influence for 2019.

For increased authenticity and relevant reach, brands are looking to micro-influencers rather than top-tier ones. According to a Launchmetrics study, 45.8% of brands wanted to work with micro-influencers in 2018. And only 9.3% wanted to work with mega-influencers, who had over 500,000 followers.

So you could shift your focus to these authentic micro-influencers for your social influencer strategy in 2019. Micro-influencers also charge less, which is perfect if you want to realign your social media budget and prioritize on other tactics such as ads and videos.

Conclusion

These are some of the best tactics and updates you should prepare for if you want to launch a successful social media campaign in 2019. It’s clear that the biggest change will be to the importance of different types of video content. You will need to realign your budget and focus on ads and video for a bigger impact.

The post Plan Your Social Media Campaigns To Win at Marketing in 2019 appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2018/12/plan-your-social-media-campaigns-to-win-at-marketing-in-2019/

The Power of Purpose: How Taking a Stand Helps Brands to Win Customer’s Hearts (and Business)

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S., with more than 116 million people hitting the shops in search of a great deal.

But REI, an outdoor clothing and equipment brand, does Black Friday differently to other retailers.

For the fourth year in a row, REI closed its doors on Black Friday 2018, giving every one of its 12,000 employees the day off to enjoy the outdoors.

“There are things more important than buying/selling tents – like going outside and actually using them,” it explained on Twitter.

It might seem counter-intuitive to think that closing all your retail stores on the busiest shopping day of the year will be good for business. But that’s exactly what REI has found.

REI’s CEO, Jerry Stritzke believes that the relationships between consumers and brands are changing — whilst you used to be able to win people over with deals, you now need “something more”, he told Business Insider.

And it seems that Stritzke’s intuition has led REI down the right path.

“Since launching #OptOutside, we’ve watched more than 200 retailers go out of business,” Stritzke told BestBlackFriday.com. “We’ve stayed healthy partly because we’ve stuck with our core values — like giving our employees time to do what they love with the people they love during the holidays. It’s enabled us to add millions of new members and, most importantly, connect millions of people with the outdoors.”

According to data from Edelman, sixty-four percent of consumers around the world will choose, switch, avoid or boycott a business based on its stand on societal and political issues.

But taking a stand isn’t as simple as jumping in on a trending topic on Twitter, or sharing a quick piece of content here and there. It must run much deeper than that.

“You have to be walking the walk before you talk the talk,” Mike Dupree, Senior Manager for Media & Entertainment at Twitter, explained to me.

Mike has been working with brands on their content and marketing efforts on Twitter for over six years, and he recently jumped on a call with me to explain the power of purpose-driven marketing — the topic of his talk at this year’s Social Fresh conference.

Demonstration before communication

REI’s Opt Outside campaign has been incredibly successful since it first launched in 2015 because it’s not just a marketing front — even REI’s CEO, takes Black Friday off to enjoy the outdoors.

And Mike believes that this authenticity is key, not only to REI’s success, but to any purpose-driven campaign: “Being authentic is always critical in marketing, but when it comes to brand purpose it becomes even more important.”

“Any purpose-driven campaign shouldn’t be viewed as a short-term thing,” Mike explained. “The purpose has to be deep rooted in the company across all facets of the organisation — from marketing and customer service to communications and policy, and everywhere in between.”

“In short, it’s about demonstration before communication,” Mike concluded.

This is exactly why Opt Outside has worked for REI. For years before it launched the campaign, and communicated its “Opt Outside” ethos, it had demonstrated it through its actions. Enjoying the outdoors is a part of REI’s brand message, and over the years it has consistently supported nonprofit partners, and encouraged both employees and customers to make the most of the outdoors.

Having a purpose without being divisive, or taking sides

“We know that consumers will buy or boycott brands based on a social or political issue,” Mike explained. “So there’s always a risk when you choose to be bold.”

But to stand for something, and embrace a purpose, brands don’t need to create campaigns that choose sides on political, or social topics.

“We’ve seen numerous examples of brands taking a stand without taking sides,” Mike told me. “The key is to find universal issues that strike a cultural chord with anybody — something that everybody can get behind.”

For example, throughout 2018 brands have consistently helped out with disaster relief efforts after after hurricanes, superstorms, and earthquakes.

Verizon deployed mobile towers and generators to those regions prone to natural disasters so that it could assist with communication during disaster relief. It then communicated this by creating a campaign, #AllOurThanks, that enabled people to share their gratitude to first responders who are always there in times of crisis.

And Anheuser-Busch sent more than 300,000 cans of emergency canned drinking water to local communities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia as the states prepared for the expected impacts of Hurricane Florence.

This action wasn’t a one-off, though. Water is incredibly important to Anheuser-Busch’s brewing process, and it has been committed to conserving water for years as part of its Better World focus. Since 2010, it has partnered with the River Network to host a series of local river and watershed restoration and protection projects.

3 steps to finding a purpose that aligns with your brand

The campaigns we’ve discussed so far (REI, Verizon, Anheuser-Busch) all have something in common:

The purpose they support is fully aligned with their brand — and that’s not an accident. As Mike explained:

“Ideally as a brand you decide to choose an area that aligns with your brand purpose that also connects with your overall brand ethos, and the product/service you offer. If you choose that well, having your brand be a part of the campaign shouldn’t be taken the wrong way.”

Here are three things to consider before aligning your brand with a purpose:

1. Does your brand have a right or role to be here?

You never want to shoehorn your brand into a conversation in which it doesn’t belong. “This can be a PR nightmare,” Mike told me.

The best examples of purpose-driven marketing are when brands connect with issues and purposes that they have long supported or played a part in. Anheuser-Busch’s water campaign worked for its brand because it has been supporting clean water-related causes since 2010 — it wasn’t just jumping in during a moment of crisis to try and grab some attention.

“If you’re already walking the walk as a brand, you’ll know what discussions to be a part of and where to stay away,” Mike explained.

2. Are you doing or just saying?

It’s not enough to simply jump into a conversation during a fleeting moment, you have to have actions that back up your communications.

“Consistency over time is important,” Mike told me. “If you want to build an enduring connection with your customers you have to have consistency over time. Both in what you’re doing and what you’re saying.”

Mike continued: “If it’s just a trending hashtag or we’re in the middle of a crisis and you want to jump in quickly to get some social media micro-wins, that’s not going to help your brand and it’ll probably hurt your brand in the long run.”

3. Will this stand up in five years from now?

This is a great question to ask yourself. When it comes to purpose-driven marketing, you need to think about how this campaign will be looked back on and how it might shape your business moving forward.

If it’s fully aligned with your business ethos and historic actions, you’ll more than likely look back on it as a positive. But if you’re just jumping into a trending topic, or something your brand isn’t fully aligned with it probably won’t stand the test of time.

Take the REI “Opt Outside” campaign. The team at REI knew that it was completely in-line with its business ethos, and the impact would be seen as positive — even if it did lose out on sales on the biggest shopping day of the year.

“REI is a retail brand that has a business interest in Black Friday. But it has more of an interest in embracing the outdoors lifestyle and culture than it does in one big shopping day each year,” Mike explained. “It believes that this approach will keep customers coming back, and build loyalty that lasts years, and years.”

You’re never too small to have a purpose

Verizon, REI, and Anheuser-Busch are huge brands. But that doesn’t mean a smaller business can’t make an impact with purpose-driven marketing.

Just look at businesses like TOMS. When TOMS first launched its shoes, its purpose was front and center: for every pair of shoes you buy, another pair will be donated to people in need in countries around the world.

And no matter your size, embracing purpose-driven marketing is a great way to stand out and build strong, lasting relationships with consumers.

“It’s never been harder for brands to stand out and make connections that are enduring if you can do that it’ll help your business [in the long-term],” Mike concluded.

“We see that 75 percent of consumers expect brands to make a contribution to their well-being, and quality of life — if you aren’t doing that you’ll be left behind. And that’s applicable to businesses of any size.”

Mike Dupree will be sharing more about the power of purpose during his talk at the Social Fresh conference. Social Fresh 2018 will be taking place on December 5-7, 2018 at Full Sail University, Winter Park, FL. Click here for more information or to book your ticket.

https://blog.bufferapp.com/purpose-driven-marketing

Attention SME’s Free Marketing on WelshBiz

Free  marketing for SME – what’s the catch?

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Any SME who is connected to a larger company can have free marketing from MA Consultancy on WelshBiz our Welsh Business News Channel, if they can get me a marketing contract (or at least a meeting to discuss marketing – where i can get the contract), they will get there marketing and branding advice for free.

They way it will work.  You tell me what you want / need.  I will tell you what else you ,need, We will agree a price., you will pay me, when you get me in to the larger business and I do business, you will get a full refund!

I am currently 10X my business please let me know if you want to do the same.

Email – maconsultancy1@gmail.com

Phone – 07960872549

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https://welshbizuk.wordpress.com/2018/11/28/attention-smes-free-marketing-on-welshbiz/

Life After the News Feed: Why Facebook is Shifting to Stories (And Why Your Business Should Too)

The News Feed is one of Facebook’s marque innovations.

Rolled out to users in 2006, it became the go-to place for people to connect with their friends,  share updates about their day-to-day life and enjoy content from brands they followed. Not to mention, it also played a pivotal role in Facebook’s march to advertising dominance.

In life and business, though, change is inevitable. And just as popular culture, music, and fashion move on,  Facebook should too.

For nearly a decade, the News Feed was the jewel in Facebook’s crown. However, over the past couple of years, Facebook has been locked into a battle with misinformation, troubled by privacy issues, and found itself trying to counter a decline in original content (photos, videos, status updates) shared by users. It even admitted the News Feed can have a negative impact on mental health.

This wasn’t the way it was meant to be.

Facebook was meant to help people stay connected with those closest to them. But Mark Zuckerberg has admitted that the platform has underdelivered there. In a post on his Facebook Page back in January the Facebook founder noted:

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands, and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

And that should be a big worry for Facebook. When the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology looked into what factors can kill a social network, they found that when the bonds between users weren’t particularly strong, neither was the users’ relationship with that network.

The study also found that as networks grow, they become more cluttered, so we begin to miss out on some of the most relevant content from those closest to us. This is most definitely the case with Facebook — and was a key factor in the company’s decision to shift the News Feed to focus more on updates from people, not brands.

In a blog post about this change Facebook shared:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

The rise of Stories

While the News Feed has been experiencing growing pains, a new format has arisen: Stories.

Since Snapchat debuted the Stories format in 2013, it’s gone from strength to strength and is quickly becoming the default format for content consumption and creation. In total, consulting firm Block Party estimates that nearly one billion accounts are using the Stories format daily and Zuckerberg recently shared that people now post more than one billion Stories every day.

At its annual, flagship conference, F8, Chris Cox, Facebook’s Facebook’s chief product officer, also noted that “the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.” And Zuckerberg recently added that “it looks like Stories will be a bigger medium than [news] feed has been.”

The shift to stories is coming

From making the status composer default to the camera to encourage Story creation on mobile, to adding Story preview tiles to the top of the feed, Facebook is constantly running tests and experiments to familiarise more of its user base with Stories.

Over on Instagram, 47 percent of users find that Instagram Stories helps them be more authentic in their communication with friends and family, something Facebook would love to encourage on its flagship product too.

In short, it feels safe to say that Facebook is pivoting to Stories. But when your platform is the size of Facebook’s, no change is ever simple.

The roadblocks ahead for Stories

The biggest hurdle for Facebook’s move to Stories is revenue.

Right now, the majority of Facebook’s advertising revenue comes from the News Feed. As Zuckerberg recently share in a post on his Facebook Page:

“Another challenge is that we’re earlier in developing our ads products for stories, so we don’t make as much money from them yet as we do from feed ads. We’re following our normal playbook here of building out the best consumer products first and focusing on succeeding there before ramping up ads. I’m optimistic that we’ll get ads in stories to perform as well as feed over time, and that the opportunity will be even bigger because it looks like stories will be a bigger medium than feed has been.”

Though Facebook has rolled out Stories Ads, it will need to reinvent mobile video ads for this to be a success. Pre and post-roll video ads within Stories is fine for now, but if Stories are to become as profitable as the News Feed, Facebook needs to think outside the box and develop a brand new ad product from the ground up, like it did with News Feed ads five-or-so years ago.

The second hurdle is ensuring users buy into Stories.

300 million daily active users across Facebook and Messenger is great — it’s probably even more daily active users than Snapchat has on its own Stories (according to data obtained by The Daily Beast). But Facebook has 2.2 billion monthly users and the vast majority don’t use Stories yet.

Like it or not, Stories will replace the News Feed

When it comes time to shift away from the News Feed, it’s more likely that users will just have to deal with the hand they’re dealt.

When the News Feed launched, Facebook users had no choice about adopting it, and it wasn’t instantly popular — a group called “Students Against Facebook News Feed” was even formed, reaching more than 280,000 members at its peak.

Despite the pushback, Facebook persisted knowing that no matter how loud or vocal people were in reaction to the change, they would still likely continue to use Facebook anyway.

The same Swiss Federal Institute of Technology study I mentioned earlier found that when left with only two available coping strategies: to accept change or to leave, the vast majority will accept change and continue to use Facebook.

And in a 2006 post about the News Feed, then TechCrunch editor, Michael Arrington noted that: “If this feature had been part Facebook since the beginning, their users would be screaming if Facebook tried to remove it.” Eventually, I believe we’ll look back at Facebook Stories in the same way.

Stories might not be welcomed by all. But one thing is for certain: however you feel about it, it’s time to start preparing for life after the News Feed.

4 ways your business can embrace Stories

Stories are an essential part of a modern social media strategy.

Block Party’s research found that nearly four in five (79 percent) of businesses use Stories on InstagramInstagram also found that more than one in three said that they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Instagram Stories.

As the user numbers continue to grow on Facebook Stories, it won’t be long until a large number of businesses start moving to post there too. But we’re not quite there yet.

Block Party found that only nine of 100 accounts it tracked on Instagram Stories, also posted to Facebook Stories. “All but one of those exclusively syndicated their Instagram Stories to Facebook,” it said. However, some early adopters have already started seeing better results from Facebook Stories than the News Feed.

Here are four ways you can begin to use Stories for your business and ensure you’re riding atop the next big social media wave.

1. Take your audience behind-the-scenes

Stories offer a perfect way to share unfiltered, authentic content with your audience.

Design agency AJ&Smart uses Stories to provide an authentic look at what’s happening at the business day-to-day and tries to show as much of that in real-time as possible.

For example, in its Stories, you might see behind-the-scenes at a client workshop or the team traveling to a client meeting.

The Guardian also found that, on Stories, “less polished” content performs better than heavily produced videos, so you don’t have to worry about the production quality of your content. Instead, just point and shoot with your phone and focus on creating a compelling narrative.

2. Cross-post between Instagram and Facebook

If you’ve linked your Instagram account to your Facebook page, you can cross-post your Stories content at the tap of a button, or even set your account to automatically publish all of your Stories from Instagram to Facebook.

To do this, tap your profile icon in the top-right corner of Instagram, then open your “Account settings” and choose “Story controls”. From here, tap the switch to turn on auto-posting to Facebook:

Cross-posting the same content to Instagram and Facebook might not be the best long-term strategy as your audience on the two platforms might prefer different content. But this is a great way to get started, and learn a little about what your audience enjoys on both platforms.

3. Experiment with Stories ads

Stories ads are a new addition to Facebook’s ad inventory and enable brands to share image-based or short video ads. At Buffer, we started testing Stories ads a few months back and now we’re seeing clicks to our website from Stories for just $0.06!

It’s super simple to get started with Stories ads and we’ve just launched Stories Creator, a simple tool to help you design thumb-stopping images for your Stories ads.

To help you create Facebook and Instagram Stories ads that’ll get you results, here are three tips for creating great Stories ad creatives and the exact steps to creating Facebook and Instagram Stories ads.

4. Share user-generated content to Stories

User-generated content is incredibly powerful on Instagram. In fact, it helped us to grow our Buffer account to over 40,000 followers.

And Stories offers businesses the chance to repost content from their audience at a more frequent pace than in the feed. For example, Kettlebell Kings regularly shares one or two user-generated posts to its feed each day, but by using Stories it can share 10-12 posts from followers.

This content is incredibly engaging for its audience as people who follow Kettlebell Kings love to see workout examples and techniques. It’s also incredibly rewarding for those featured and it encourages more and more customers to share their content on Instagram.

Over to you

What are your thoughts on the future of Stories on Facebook? Has your business started posting Stories? Let us know in the comments below — excited to join the conversation.

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How a Branded Hashtag Campaign Helped Tommy’s Superfoods to Reach More Than One Million People

When Tommy Williams was growing up in Austin Texas, he probably didn’t think his love for cooking and local farmers markets would lead to starting a nationally-recognized food brand.

But that’s exactly what happened.

Williams began to embrace his entrepreneurial spirit after college. As a graduate, he started selling a variety of salsas and spice mixes in local retailers — and this is where his passion for promoting a healthier way of eating really came to the fore.

In 2014, Tommy’s Superfoods was born. The company sells non-GMO verified, seasoned frozen vegetables and its products are now available in popular retailers such as Costco, Bristol Farms, Kroger, and more.

However, as any business in the consumer goods industry will tell you, it can be hard to stand out next to thousands of other quality products.

Tommy’s Superfoods needed a way to simultaneously increase brand recognition and brand loyalty. The resulting campaign helped the business to reach more than one million people on social media and grow its email list by 22 percent.

Here’s how the campaign generated these impressive results…

Creating a movement to help achieve business goals

Wondering how to go about increasing its brand recognition and growing its email list, Tommy’s Superfoods turned to Road Warrior Creative, an agency that specializes in food and social good marketing.

The campaign — #ThinkVeggiesFirst — was focused on teaching people to start each meal by choosing the vegetable component first, as a healthy way of eating.

“We decided to build the campaign as a monthly challenge,” explained Amber Hinds, Creative Director & CEO of Road Warrior Creative. “We challenged people to eat vegetables at every meal – even breakfast!”

The campaign initially ran for the month of February and aligned perfectly with the time of year when people are still thinking about New Year’s resolutions. “We made it a ‘movement’ that people could engage with and participate in,” said Amber.

Amber and her team needed a way to not only inspire people to eat more vegetables but also build awareness of its products and drive signups to Tommy’s Superfoods’ mailing list.

To do this, Road Warrior Creative worked alongside Tommy’s Superfoods to create a ton of added value for people who signed up to its email list.

“We created a branded landing page where people who joined the email list would receive a free printable meal planner download, coupons for buy one get one free on Tommy’s Superfoods products, and could enter to win 100 free packages of Tommy’s.”

Building a successful multi-channel marketing campaign

With the #ThinkVeggiesFirst concept in the bag, Amber and her team then needed to figure out how they could generate awareness of the campaign, and drive traffic to the landing page.

To do this they first looked at what they could learn from other campaigns in the healthy eating niche. “We began researching similar ideas and learning about the types of content that would work best for achieving campaign goals,” Amber explained.

Creating a content plan

Next, it was time to put everything they learned from their research stage into a cohesive content plan, looking at when they would publish blog posts and email newsletters as well as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest posts.

Mailchimp made it simple for Road Warrior Creative to set up a bunch of email messages to send subscribers during the challenge.

The email campaigns focused on keeping new signups on track during the 28-day challenge. For example, around half-way through the campaign they shared a bunch of fun, veggie-first meal ideas:

When it came to social media content Amber and the Road Warrior team focused on creating content native to each platform: sharing beautiful images of veggie-first meals on Instagram, saving recipes to its boards on Pinterest and posting videos on Facebook.

And with Buffer’s social media publishing tools in their corner, it was simple to get the whole month’s content scheduled across Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram in one go.

Data point:
According to data from Meltwater, Tommy’s Superfoods’ #ThinkVeggiesFirst content on social media has reached more than one million people since the campaign started in February.

Complementing organic content with paid ads

Paid social media ads also played a part in the #ThinkVeggiesFirst campaign. Road Warrior set up various audiences within Facebook Ads, targeting people with an interest in healthy eating and custom audiences containing recent website visitors.

Amber says the largest social media success during the campaign came from Facebook ads. “We saw greater engagement and conversions from video ads than ads with still imagery,” she noted. “And greater success with retargeted ads than those to a defined audience.“

Encouraging user-generated content

They also used the sweepstakes component of campaign — the chance to win 100 free packs of Tommy’s Superfoods vegetables for joining its mailing list — as a way to encourage user-generated content. Every person who signed up to the mailing list received an entry to the sweepstakes, then, for additional entries, they were encouraged to post their own ‘veggie-centric’ meals on Instagram, tagging Tommy’s and #ThinkVeggiesFirst in the photo.

Over the course of February, each email sent to Tommy’s Superfoods subscribers featured a reminder about the campaign:

And the hashtag has now been used more than 600 times on Instagram:

Amber also focused on generating links back to the landing page from popular healthy eating and sweepstakes websites. “A large number of signups were also generated by link building efforts — all unpaid, more of a matter of time and effort put in than cost — and getting other websites to talk about and share the sweepstakes with their followers.”

Building towards long-term success

At the end of February, Tommy’s Superfoods had grown its email list by 22 percent in just 28-days.

And what started out as a month-long campaign has become a staple part of Tommy’s Superfoods marketing strategy.

Once February was over, the #ThinkVeggiesFirst campaign didn’t end. Instead, the landing page was updated to remove any mentions of the sweepstakes, and it continues to be a regular source of email subscribers for the brand.

On social, #ThinkVeggiesFirst has also remained a key part of Tommy’s Superfoods strategy with the hashtag being used on each of its Instagram posts, and it has also begun working with micro-influencers to encourage people to eat healthily and help keep its products top-of-mind at meal times.

If you’re looking to learn more about how you can create multi-channel marketing campaigns, and grow your business using email, social media, and more, check out our new series: The 5-Part Small Business Marketing Playbook.

Over the course of five days, you’ll receive top tips, strategies, and best practices around making the most out of your small business marketing and social media campaigns. Proudly brought to you by the folks at Mailchimp, Square, WooCommerce, and Buffer. 💌

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Why Personalization is the Next Big Opportunity in Social Media Marketing

Social media marketers are always looking to uncover the “next big thing”, and as we head into 2019 personalized social media engagement is becoming the latest must-have strategy for businesses of all sizes.

According to recent Epsilon research, 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience.

And this applies to social media too. Today’s social media users want to interact with brands on a personal level and be treated as individuals.

But how exactly do you go about creating personalized social media experiences?

Look no further than Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. Kimpton truly understands the importance of personalization on social media and has built a team that’s focused on delivering “ridiculously personal experiences” to customers both online and offline.

How Kimpton provides personalized social media experiences for customers

Director of Social Media at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Whitney Reynolds has spearheaded its shift towards a more personalized social media strategy and Kimpton now uses social media as a way to provide surprise and delight to everyone the business interacts with.

“At Kimpton, we believe that heartfelt, human connections make people’s lives better. That’s why we go out of our way to create what we call ‘ridiculously personal experiences’ both on property and online.”– Whitney Reynolds, Director of Social Media, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

For example, when one customer tweeted about the great in-person experience they’d received at a Kimpton hotel in Nashville, its social team continued that experience by sharing an additional recommendation to enhance the customer’s stay:

The Kimpton social media team is also keen to ensure that these one-off, in-the-moment interactions aren’t lost:

“We ask a lot of conversational questions so that we get to know more about each guest every time [we interact on social media], and we use a social CRM to make note of the interesting things that we want to remember about you.”

So if you were to share that you love pugs, have four kids, or fundraise for a particular nonprofit, Kimpton will make a note of it ready for your next conversation.

“We treasure this information,” Whitney said. “It means we don’t have to start from scratch with every conversation on social. We’re picking up with our followers where we left off.”

The importance of human-to-human interactions

While technology plays a part behind-the-scenes, Kimpton’s social media personalization strategy is powered by humans — and Whitney sees the team as the most important part of this strategy.

Kimpton’s social media engagement is handled by its Social Listening Desk, a team that responds to social chatter 24/7/365 across all its social channels.

“We hire for heart. Technical writing skills and knowledge of social platforms are important, but the most essential qualities we look for in a Social Listening Desk team member are empathy, heart and a sense of humor.”

“For our social media team, it’s really about finding the right people from the start – the ones who innately go out of their way to connect with each person, and get a real kick out of doing it.”

The Social Listening Desk team are also encouraged to go out of their way to make people feel special in each message:

“If there’s an opportunity to make someone’s day by really personalizing an interaction, our Listening Desk is empowered to act on it. We even have a mechanism for surprising and delighting our followers that anyone on our social team can activate as they see fit.”

How user-generated content can enhance the personalized experience

As a business that puts so much focus on its customers, user-generated content also has a huge role to play in Kimpton’s strategy — both across social media and its website.

“We’re fortunate to have hundreds of beautiful guest photos coming in via hashtags, geo-tags, and mentions each day from our 148 hotels and restaurants,” Whitney explained.  “We love that, often, a guest’s first instinct is to pull out their camera phone and post a picture of their experience to Instagram or Twitter, and we don’t take it for granted.”

To encourage more sharing, and reward those customers who do share their Kimpton experiences on social media, the Social Listening Desk team will ‘Like’ posts featuring their hotels and restaurants.

But to take things a step further, Whitney encourages the team to comment on guests’ photos to thank them for posting, often calling out a specific detail of the photo that they loved. And sometimes, they’ll ask to repost their favorite content:

Kimpton also features social content and guest photos on hotel and restaurant websites as well as having dedication pages for user-generated social media content on KimptonHotels.com:

“We know that our followers would rather see real photos from real guests, especially during the research phase of the booking process, so we rely heavily on user-generated content for telling our brand story and the stories of our hotels,” Whitney explained.

How you can harness the power of social media personalization

Reaching your audience with personalized messages and experiences can work wonders for your business. But if I could pick out one key takeaway that you can use for your business right away it would be this:

Social media personalization isn’t really about your content — or how big your budget is — what really matters is the way you communicate with your audience.

People on social media want to be seen as individuals with their own likes, habits, and personalities. If you can tap into this, and deliver each message with care, your audience will respond in-kind.

And what’s even more exciting is that social media personalization is still an under-the-radar strategy, so there’s a huge opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

Whitney Reynolds will be sharing more about the power of personalization during her talk at the Social Fresh conference. Social Fresh 2018 will be taking place on December 5-7, 2018 at Full Sail University, Winter Park, FL. Click here for more information or to book your ticket.

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How Instagram Helps Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit to Serve Over 250,000 Customers Per Year

Snap, filter, post, then eat. If you’re a millennial, Instagramming your meals is probably a guilty pleasure, and an occasional part of your mealtime routine.

An incredible 69 percent of millennials take a photo (or a video) of their food before eating. But social media isn’t just a place for us to share our posts about favorite foods, and scroll through endless images of beautiful, mouth-watering meals, snacks and treats. It’s completely changed the way we decide what and where we eat too. It’s even begun to adjust the way restaurants are designed, and meals are prepared.

Thanks to platforms like Instagram, we’re able to browse and discover cool restaurants, bars, and foods via social media.

And according to research by Zizzi, 18-35-year-olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 percent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.

Many businesses in the catering and restaurant industries have started to catch on to the power of social media to not only build a following online, but to drive people in-store to buy, consume, and share experiences.

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is one of those businesses.

Callie’s now serves more than a quarter-of-a-million people at its events and eateries each year, and social media plays a big part in its growth.

Here’s how…

Embracing social media

“We had a business, so we needed an Instagram page,” Tarah Boyleston, Callie’s marketing and design lead explained to us.

And though Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit started out on social media through necessity, it’s now seeing the rewards of its social media strategy play out, with customers frequently heading to its events and eateries after seeing its biscuits on social media.

“Locals have come into the eatery just to get the special biscuit they saw on Instagram and vacationers tell us they’ve been waiting months to try our biscuits after seeing a video on Facebook,” explained Tarah.

“It’s a great feeling knowing you can connect to so many people with something as simple as biscuits.”

Focusing on high-quality content

Callie’s really started to go all-in on social media marketing at the beginning of 2018 as the team started to focus more on the quality of its content. Tarah especially focused on:

  • Sharing high-quality images
  • Writing fun, detailed captions
  • Using relevant hashtags on every post

“After making these changes, we watched our @callieshotlittlebiscuit account organically grow by the thousands per month,” Tarah told us.

And you can’t argue with the data over the course of 2018, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit’s main Instagram account has grown to more than 31,000 followers, and is adding around 2,700 new followers per month.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have if you can’t get people in your doors. We encourage our millennial following to join the hot little party with mouth-watering images, easily accessible Facebook events, and most of all, keeping things fun!”

Tarah Boyleston
Marketing & Design, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

Spreading its message locally, and nationally

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit has three eateries: two in Charleston, South Carolina, and one in Atlanta, Georgia. But that doesn’t stop Tarah from using social media to share the brand’s message and voice far and wide.

“Our social channels are truly the voice of our brand,” Tarah explained.

“We are lucky to have our first location in a vacation destination like Charleston, and even though our followers are mostly local, we are able to get our voice out to the entire country. Non-local growth is just as important [as local].”

By thinking outside of the local areas in which it operates, Callie’s has been able to grow a brand that’s recognized by biscuit-lovers across the U.S. (and even further afield).

This approach has lead to new opportunities for Callie’s to run events, and generate sales, outside of Charleston and Atlanta. For example, Callie’s recently teamed up with Packed Party, a Texas-based online boutique, to promote National Biscuit Month, and this partnership was so successful on social media that it led to Callie’s running an event in Texas. As Tarah told us:

“Even though we were states apart, we used both voices to drive traffic to our stores and increase brand awareness in Texas. Our Texas following increased so much that we ended the month with a pop up in Austin.”

Working with partners and influencers

The event in Texas isn’t the only time Callie’s has worked with partners and influencers. In fact, it’s a staple part of their social media strategy.

“We love partnering with brands that share our values because it allows our followers to learn about amazing artisans and it brings new followers to us,” Tarah explained.

“Our largest events have been in partnership with amazing groups such as Create and Cultivate (500+ person event) and a seated dinner for 100 during Charleston Wine + Food week.”

These kinds of events are marketed heavily through social media, email marketing, and local press outlets. Callie’s likes to give away tickets on its social channels to increase awareness and build its audience. During these events, Callie’s also takes followers who are unable to attend behind-the-scenes using Instagram Stories.

And when it comes to launching new eateries, partnerships and influencer campaigns play a big role in establishing a new, local audience:

“This summer, we made a large effort to partner with more brands and influencers to grow our Atlanta account. This is an account that was on a slow-and-steady growth pace and partnering with big voices in town instantly made a difference,” Tarah shared.

Pro tip: Run small, exclusive events for followers

“Our locations are fairly small, so we keep events to a limited amount of people. Advertising a certain amount of tickets gives the allure of exclusivity, and Instagrammers love being ‘in the know’. Our email and social channels are our largest platforms for our voice, so posting event details to increase ticket sales is just logical for us.”

Tarah Boyleston
Marketing & Design, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

How your business can use social media to drive offline sales

Tarah also shared four pro-tips for businesses that are looking to use social media to drive footfall and sales offline:

1. Be consistent

“Have a consistent online presence. The more followers see you, the more you will be on their minds when they’re looking for something to do on the weekend.”

2. Share information often.

“In a world of constant scrolling and swiping, you want to make things effortless for your followers,” Tarah shared.

“Give them any and all information necessary to get to your event. Instagram stories are a great tool for event information because you can use multiple slides to get the point across. I always include swipe up feature with a link to the Facebook event.”

3. Boost with ads

“For non-local events, we often use Facebook and Instagram ads to reach a targeted location. We boosted our ticket sales in Texas by targeting the neighborhood where the event was located and using key terms to attract our audience.”

4. Go behind-the-scenes

“Lastly, give your customers and followers a piece of your personal life,” Tarah recommended.

“No one wants to follow a brand that is only trying to sell them something. We share personal stories, family recipes, and behind the scenes imagery of our lives at the bakery. These glimpses into the ‘life of a biscuiteer’ are free!”

If you’re looking to learn more about how to grow your business using email, social media, and more, check out our new series: The 5-Part Small Business Marketing Playbook.

Over the course of five days, you’ll receive top tips, strategies, and best practices around making the most out of your small business marketing and social media campaigns. Proudly brought to you by the folks at Mailchimp, Square, WooCommerce, and Buffer. 💌

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We Analyzed 15,000 Instagram Stories from 200 of the World’s Top Brands (New Stories Research)

An incredible 400 million people around the world use Instagram Stories on a daily basis (with that number rapidly growing by the minute).

Besides being an interesting and fun way to connect with friends and family, stories offer businesses a unique opportunity to capture the direct attention of audiences and potential customers.

Instagram Stories Research - Stories Growth

But where do you start? And what makes for great stories content? We partnered with Delmondo to answer these questions, and more!

Together we analyzed more than 15,000 Instagram Stories from 200 of the world’s top brands in one of the largest Instagram Stories research studies to date.

Today, we’re excited to share this brand new research with you (spoiler alert: Instagram Stories content is incredibly engaging) as well as proven best-practices on how your business can create content for Instagram Stories that both engages, and converts.

Let’s dive in!

Table of contents

Key findings from analyzing 15,000 Instagram Stories


Delmondo is a Facebook and Instagram Media Solutions Partner and was the first to launch Instagram Stories analytics in the summer of 2017. In doing so, they now have access to some of the most robust Instagram Stories data on the planet, which powers a ton of incredible research studies like this one where they shared findings from more than 5,000 Instagram Stories.

Earlier this month, we approached their team with one (not-so-simple) question:

How are Instagram Stories performing for brands and businesses heading into 2019?

Here’s what we learned…

1. One to seven stories is the optimal posting length

It’s long been debated whether or not posting more leads to better results on social media. Many brands report a positive increase in results when they post more, while others experience the opposite.

Which is exactly why we wanted to know what top brands are experiencing when it comes to optimal posting length. I.e., how many individual stories produce the highest completion rate.

Completion rate is determined by calculating the number of times your stories were watched from the first story frame all the way to the last story frame within the given 24-hour time period.

What we found is that one to seven stories is the optimal posting length:

Optimal Instagram Stories Length

After seven stories, completion rate drops to below 70 percent.

However, it’s important to note here that this is more of a guide than a hard limit on the best time to post to Instagram Stories. It’s crucial to experiment with various story lengths and use your own data to determine what works for you.

Even if your brand or business posts a longer story length, say 12 to 20 story frames, the results are still phenomenal. There is very little difference in completion rate between 12 and 20 frames as there is between one and seven.

Perhaps more incredibly, top accounts that post 20 or more stories still see a 55 percent or greater completion rate, proving just how engaging stories content can be at any length.

2. The best time to post to Instagram Stories is outside of work hours

One of the most interesting takeaways from our research with Delmondo is around the best time(s) to post to stories. Given the ephemeral nature of stories, brands that work hard to create great Stories content will want to maximize the reach of that content.

And while there are hundreds of different factors that go into the Instagram Stories algorithm, post timing arguably still plays a key role in the success of your content.

We found that there are four distinct spikes in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings. In other words, outside of normal U.S. working hours (all times are Eastern):

Best Times to Post Instagram Stories - Instagram Stories Research

Based on the data above, the best times to post to Instagram Stories are:

  • 4am – 6am Eastern Time
  • 8am – 10am Eastern Time
  • 12pm – 2pm Eastern Time
  • 8pm – 10pm Eastern Time

One hypothesis for this finding is that people have more time to watch Instagram Stories before work, during their lunch break, and in the evenings after work. Posting during these prime hours will give your stories the extra boost they need.

3. More content leads to greater median reach and impressions

Another reason that Instagram Stories are such a powerful channel for brands and businesses is that the threshold for content consumption appears to be higher.

There is only so much space in the news feed. The more content that people and brands post, the less space there is for everyone else. Because stories disappear after 24 hours, that makes more room, so to speak, for fresh new content to be shown.

The data from our research shows that the more stories top Instagram accounts post, the more median reach and impressions they get. We can definitively say that stories posting length has a positive correlation with reach and impressions metrics.

Correlation between stories length and median reach:

Instagram Stories Average Median Reach

Correlation between stories length and median impressions:

Instagram Stories Median Impressions

We’re not necessarily suggesting that brands and businesses start to post a ton of stories content just for the sake of posting, but the data shows that you can increases both median reach and median impressions by posting more content on Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories research benchmarks for specific verticals

In an effort to make this research even more interesting and valuable, we looked at four unique verticals to compare a variety of data points such as completion rates, posting frequency, and more. Those four verticals are, brand accounts, entertainment accounts, media accounts, and sports accounts.

We defined the industry verticals using the following criteria:

  • Brand: Consumer related products or service brand
  • Entertainment: TV/Movie networks, TV shows, movies, and similar
  • Media: Newspapers, news organizations, news websites, publishers
  • Sports: Sports or eSports teams, leagues and events

Hopefully the following Instagram Stories research will help shed some light into what the world’s top brands are experiencing in terms of results.

Average completion rate and stories length

First, we looked at how Instagram Stories performed for these four verticals in 2017 vs. 2018:

Year Over Year Instagram Stories Research Comparison

What’s incredible is that completion rate has risen by 12% for brands and businesses in just over one year. Meanwhile, accounts are posting slightly less stories content on average.

It’s worth reiterating here that all four verticals are seeing a 65% or greater average completion rate with Instagram Stories. Meaning that audiences are sticking around to watch this content at fairly high rates.

Average reach and impressions

Next, we wanted to know how Instagram Stories are performing for these verticals when it comes to reach and impressions (based on overall average follower size):

Average Reach vs. Impressions - Instagram Stories Research

It’s interesting to note that although average reach rate is 5.82 percent for all verticals, there is a huge swing between sports accounts and media accounts.

Still, in a social media world where average organic reach within the news feed is often less than four percent, a five percent (or greater) average reach rate is welcomed with open arms by many businesses.

Average posting frequency per month

Last, but not least, in addition to understanding how many individual frames per story (story length) are being posted by the world’s top brands on Instagram, we also wanted to know how often they are posting per month.

For this data point, we looked at how many individual days during the month, on average, these verticals posted to Instagram Stories.

Here’s what we found:

Instagram Stories Average Days Posting Per Month

Sports accounts are posting the most days per month (13.7), whereas brand accounts are posting the least amount of days per month (8.7).

Overall, we’re not at a point where brands are posting daily to Instagram Stories. However, as the popularity of Instagram Stories grows and businesses continue to see success with the channel, we predict that daily posting will become more of a common thread throughout different verticals.

Best practices for posting to Instagram Stories

Now that we’ve shared the data from more than 15,000 Instagram Stories, we thought it would be useful to provide a few actionable steps on what to do with all of this research.

Here are three key takeaways that your brand or business can get started with today.

1. Post your best stories content first

In their 2018 benchmark study, Delmondo found that, on average, more people exit on the first and last story frame than any other part of your stories.

Meaning, if your first story frame does not immediately capture the attention of your audience, they will quickly exit your stories content in search of something else.

Average Exits In Instagram Stories

Whether you’re promoting your product, giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your business, or simply posting entertaining content, make sure that it hooks your audience in right from the beginning.

Airbnb, for example, slowly reveals content throughout their Instagram Stories in order to encourage users to move onto the next story frame – only revealing the answer on the very last story frame.

AirBnb Instagram Stories Example

Bonus tip: You’ll notice in the graph above that average exits decrease as users move through the story frames. For loyal users that make it all the way to the last story frame, we recommend including some kind of CTA to provide them with a “next step.”

2. Post consistently to stories

Today, Instagram Stories is one of the most engaging social media channels available. Completion rates are well-above 50 percent and more and more users are consuming stories content on a daily basis.

Now is the perfect time for your brand to experiment with Instagram Stories content.

The best part is, your stories don’t have to be complicated.

The Guardian found that for their Instagram Stories, simple static graphics and quick explainer videos outperformed their professionally-produced videos.

The North Face, for example, uses simple photos and text overlays to reinforce their brand using Instagram Stories:

The North Face Instagram Stories Example

Simplicity means:

  1. Using a background image to quickly tell a story
  2. Adding short copy to convey your message
  3. Decorating with minimal graphics and logos

And you’re done!

3. Calculate your own data

Of course, the research above is only the beginning for brands and businesses looking to improve their Instagram Stories content going into 2019.

In order to make the most out of this channel, it’s important that you accurately calculate your own stories data on a regular basis. Keeping a close eye on the following data points will ensure that you’re continually improving:

  • Completion rate
  • Reach and impressions
  • Exit rates according to story frame
  • Stories post timing
  • Stories length
  • And more!

One example of calculating data in action is when we began to experiment with Instagram Stories ads here at Buffer. Instagram Stories, compared to ads in the Facebook and Instagram news feed, have helped decrease our cost per click (CPC) to the Buffer Podcast landing page by more than 50 percent in some cases.

Other brands like Warby Parker are using Instagram Stories to promote their products in fun and interesting ways and comparing those results to traditional marketing channels such as email and content:

Warby Parker Instagram Stories Example

Before we go, a huge shoutout to Delmondo for helping us put together one of the largest Instagram Stories studies to date. If you’d like to learn more about all of the in-depth stories analytics and insights their platform provides, check them out at www.delmondo.co.

Tell them Brian sent you!

Over to you

I’d love to hear from you!

How are you feeling about your Instagram Stories strategy moving forward? Are you excited for the future of stories in general? What experiments do you plan on trying first?

Feel free to drop me a comment or question below about the data in this study or just to say “hello.”

I’m looking forward to chatting about this Instagram Stories research so that we can all learn from each other!

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