Tag: brand marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favorite Blume product and why?

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

Thanks for Bluming with us, Buffer friends! ❤️


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

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

https://buffer.com/resources/how-blume-markets-and-sells-to-a-gen-z-audience/

Empower Your Cause Marketing with Influencers

How effective is influencer marketing? Just by its nature alone, we can assume the answer is “very.” Major brands spend millions a year to get influencers on their side to promote their products. Non-profits and movements have also found mainstream support thanks to the visibility from influencers and celebrities standing behind their values.

Admittedly, this industry has taken a hit in 2020. Many influencers who were once paid to engage in the community, travel and create content outside of the home are losing contracts due to their inability to meet that end of the bargain. It has led some to wonder if the era of influencer marketing could be dying in the face of a changing economic landscape due to the pandemic.

At the end of 2019 and into the beginning of the year, many believed that influencer marketing budgets and campaigns would be skyrocketing, not declining. What was once relevant has taken a sharp turn and we are forced to look not at numbers but at anecdotal evidence.

This kind of data is still valuable. Using COVID as an example, you can see that the outpouring of support for hospitals, people’s campaigns, homeless shelters and more has grown across the globe, even as many have faced economic hardships themselves. Why? It is due to the kindness we share with one another in times of trouble. But it could also be in part to influencers who are using their muscles to share these messages and bring in donations where they are needed most.

Utilize Influencer Marketing For Your Own Cause

According to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey, 87% of the participants who were asked said they were not only willing but would absolutely switch to another brand if they found out they were supporting a cause in which the customer believed. This shows that the desire to support causes through brand awareness is already there — your job is to get the message out.

Here is where influencers come in. An influencer already has a strong audience that is loyal to them as their own brand. They enjoy their content and have largely stuck with them even as formats have changed to meet the demands of quarantine. The first part of the process is already done for you: visibility.

In fact, influencers are becoming a real marketing powerhouse across an array of industries including cosmetics and beauty, fashion, education and nonprofits. Influencers can drive traffic and exposure to just about any project, even if it is brand new and has no traffic of its own.

Next, we want to be targeting those influencers. This is also easier when we are looking at causes versus products because we are narrowing in on something about which the influencer feels strongly. We can assume their audience also falls into that demographic and are more likely to also care about that cause–it may even be why they are following that influencer in the first place.

Approach with The Cause In Mind

Influencers get plenty of offers for campaigns, so you need to stand out. Come out with a strong message about the cause and how you think they would specifically be useful in promoting the message. Let them know what specific characteristics they have that make them uniquely suited to work with you, like their passion, content, or aesthetic.

Share what it is you hope to accomplish and how they can be a part of it. Have a specific task you have in mind for them–don’t just tell them that they will be sharing posts. Remember that influencer marketing is more than just connecting with those influencers. It is about getting them directly involved with a campaign tailored to their talents and their audience.

One tool to help you here is Text Optimizer that allows you to better research context around your target keyword and create a more optimized content and social media strategy when working with an influencer:

Text Optimizer

Don’t Target a Single Influencer

The more channels you have promoting your cause, the better. Lady Gaga managed to raise $35 million for Coronavirus efforts early on in the US stages of the pandemic. It was an amazing feat, but we can’t all get Lady Gaga signed onto a cause, especially when she is already associated with so many top notch brands.

In contrast, YouTuber Vaush managed to raise $19,000 for the Black Lives Matter movement through streaming his Minecraft videos. Mr Beast raised $20 million to plant trees around the world in an effort to correct environmental damage done through deforestation and climate change.

Influencers come in all different sizes of viewership, ability and passions. Can you imagine what having two on your side would do? Three? Thirty? There is no limit to how many influencers you can get on board, particularly for a good cause. It is all about finding the ones who most represent what you are hoping to accomplish.

Have Your Creatives Ready

While most influencers will prefer to create their own assets to be in-line with their styles and aesthetic, having branded content ready is always helpful. Creating your own branded kit and sharing it with influencers is a great idea–include your logo in different dimensions, screenshots or visuals available for reuse, and color palettes. Both Visme and Venngage are good resources.

At the very least, create some visuals featuring your logo and message for influencers and publishers to reuse (and even take offline in the form of branded merchandise) easily. Here are plenty of free templates on Placeit to help you.

Create branded visuals

Whichever social media channels you decide to use, make sure you have your own site set up to promote your cause and consolidate your whole marketing strategy around your site. Make sure to publicize your story and reuse your visuals on your own site to build consistent visibility that doesn’t rely on any single third-party platform.

Cause marketing is tough but the right influencers are able to make a real difference.

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The post Empower Your Cause Marketing with Influencers appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/08/empower-your-cause-marketing-with-influencers/

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

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

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

That mission led to the launch of Huel.

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

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

How Buffer helps Huel to connect with customers across platforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping feeds filled with valuable content

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

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

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

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

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

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

Generating original content ideas

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

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

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

Huel’s take on the #dollypartonchallenge

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

Managing social media as part of a team

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

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

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

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

From ‘check out’ to checkout

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

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

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


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

https://buffer.com/resources/how-huel-uses-social-media-to-reach-an-audience-of-over-400-000/

How to Integrate Cause Marketing for Your Brand

Cause marketing isn’t just a nice thing to do for the world — it’s a smart thing to do for your business. If you’ve been thinking about cause marketing as a soft campaign that serious companies don’t invest in, think again.

Cause marketing has direct effects on your income, stability, and growth. In fact, cause marketing may be a misnomer. The strategies utilized for effective cause marketing are integrated throughout a business, not just in the marketing department.

What is Cause Marketing?

The simplest definition of cause marketing is this: a program designed by a business or an organization to do something good for the community, world, environment, or other cause. However, it might be more helpful to define cause marketing by what it is not:

  • It is not philanthropy. Among the most common misconceptions about cause marketing is that it is as simple as a business giving money to a good cause in an act of altruism. In fact, cause marketing is much more complicated than that, and it is far from solely motivated by altruism.
  • It is not a campaign. Cause marketing is not a single campaign designed to draw attention for a week or a season. It is integral to a company’s business plan.
  • It is not a dedication for general charity. Effective cause marketing chooses a very specific cause that is in line with something that the business is related to. It makes a logical connection between the business and the cause.

What are the benefits of Cause Marketing?

  • Create shareable content. If you want your consumers to care about and share your content, you have to earn the right to share it. A cause marketing campaign is a powerful way to market a meaningful cause and your business simultaneously.
  • Meet younger consumer expectations. 81% of millennials expect the companies they support to make contributions to charity.
  • Grow consumer trust. When consumers believe that a brand is strongly aligned with a purpose, they are over four times more likely to trust them.
  • Increase earnings. Brands that consumers believe are making the world a better place have had their wallet share multiply by 9.
  • Attract consumers. Two-thirds of consumers want brands to take a stand on political and social issues. Being one of those brands makes you more likely to attract 2/3 of the consumer base.

How can I Integrate Cause Marketing into my Plan?

If you would like to take advantage of cause marketing, here are some steps to integrate cause marketing into your business model:

1. Find Your Story

We make sense of the world through stories. Brands are quickly realizing the value of integrating storytelling into their marketing campaigns. If you want your cause marketing to pay off, it must be integral to your story.

  • Example: TOMS Shoes: Integrating story and cause
  • TOMS founded their company on the principle of giving a shoe to a child who needed one for every shoe that they sold, called “One for One.” They effectively created a compelling connection between wearing TOMS shoes and providing shoes for somebody who needs them.

    This story was integrated throughout their business model from the beginning. The cost of the shoe that was given away was built into the cost of the one that was sold. This has allowed TOMS to grow without having to alter their campaign.

    2. Identify your Customer Base

    For your cause marketing campaign to be successful, you need to know your customer base. Not every cause will be as meaningful to every consumer, so you will want to choose a cause that is both in line with your business identity and the values of your customer base.

  • Example: Chobani: Understanding your market
  • Chobani made a connection with American values by showing a commitment to military families and Veterans with their Operation Homefront program. They are intimately tied to this not-for-profit with a presence in every state of Continental America. They’ve raised $1 million for America’s military families through their campaign. Military marking on some of their yogurt shows their commitment to this campaign.

    3. Engage Your Consumers on Social Media

    A good cause marketing campaign sells itself through organic marketing on social media. People like to share news about things that matter to them and show off how they’re supporting a cause that matters.

  • Example: Starbucks Red: Engage consumers with a cause
  • Starbucks created a visible way for consumers to share support for the cause and for Starbucks by proxy. Their Red Campaign utilizes red cups and other products that stand for a contribution to supporting the fight against AIDS in Africa. Starbucks is connected to Africa because so many of their coffee beans come from this area. Consumers share pictures on social media of the Starbucks Red Cups, which allows the Red Campaign to generate organic marketing on social media throughout their consumer base.

    Can Cause Marketing Make a Difference?

    Cause marketing is a powerful way to make a difference for your business and for the world. Marketing isn’t just a way to get your business ahead — it can make a real difference in the world in ways you may not expect. If you want your business to grow, commit to developing a company that will make a difference in the world as it grows.

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

    The post How to Integrate Cause Marketing for Your Brand appeared first on Social Media Week.

    http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/07/how-to-integrate-cause-marketing-for-your-brand/

    A Brand’s Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    Remarkable brands are more than a logo.

    They are a collection of images and feelings and connections. (Often experienced through social media.)

    Take Nike for instance. When you think of Nike, you likely see movement, you feel momentum. You associate Nike with getting things done. This feeling is reinforced by all their imagery and of course by the iconic swoosh logo.

    With Skittles, you likely see rainbows, bright colors, and excitement. These are hallmarks of their commercials and their ads.

    We associate brands with images and feelings because – as neuroscience researchers have found – our brains love to stitch thoughts together. One thought always brings other thoughts, especially if those thoughts are recalled at the same time over and over. That’s why seeing a brand in a certain context, again and again, trains our minds to think of that brand whenever we randomly see those things in real life.

    Our perception of any brand is constantly being reinforced by the images we see … which is why visual marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there.

    And it’s why Unsplash is fast becoming a go-to place for brands to be.

    In this article, we’ll dive into the Unsplash strategies working today and how you can make the most of this “blue ocean” channel. Keep reading to find out how to build and shift brand perception using visual marketing and Unsplash.

    Let’s dive in.


    The Real Power of Visual Marketing

    There have been numerous studies showing the power of visual marketing for building brand recognition and awareness. We know that content with images is generally more engaging, gets shared more on social media and attracts more attention.

    The visual component of most marketing strategies is usually aimed at commanding attention, stimulating curiosity, and prompting immediate action.

    Yet, this visual marketing strategy that focuses on immediate gains is very limited. The real power of visual marketing is in creating branded associations and controlling customers’ perceptions of the brand.

    As we know, human beings are highly visual, as multiple studies confirm. Consider these two numbers showing how much our brain relies on visualizations:

    When we think, most of us picture things. We remember colors, shapes, and symbols. This is where the real power of visual marketing lies – building connections between what you think and feel and what you experience with a brand on social, web, etc.


    How brands are using Unsplash as a new visual marketing channel

    Unsplash is one of the best places to find free images … and one of the largest: it is used more than Getty, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock combined.

    Social media and marketing teams around the world use Unsplash for beautiful, free imagery.

    But brands are finding a home – and real traction – through Unsplash also.

    This has happened through organic posting and through paid advertising with Unsplash for Brands. Let’s talk about more about how organic and paid work with Unsplash.

    Organic posting on Unsplash

    As you might have seen, many brands are uploading their own curated photos to Unsplash, contributing great, free photography to the Unsplash system.

    These photos, for instance, are by Sticker Mule.

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    It’s completely free to upload these photos. The greatest part is that you’re giving back to the community and delivering value to photo-seekers. For your brand, you’re also reaping huuuuge benefits.

    This photo from Sticker Mule …

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    It’s been viewed more than 13 million times!

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    Overall, the Sticker Mule account has 74 million views on just 15 total photos.

    Sticker Mule is just one of many examples of brands doing unique, creative work on Unsplash and seeing huge results.

    The furniture company Inside Weather has a very on-brand collection of images, featuring furniture pics that line up beautifully with the brand style on their website.

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    Brands like Sticker Mule and Inside Weather have a concise collection of photos to choose from (25 or fewer). And then there are brands like Morning Brew (a business newsletter) and The New York Public Library that have hundreds of photos on Unsplash.

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    For additional inspiration, here’s a list of some brands and institutions doing great things on Unsplash:

    Unlike numerous other advertising solutions out there, Unsplash offers a non-interruptive, unintrusive experience: Customers who are seeing branded images don’t have to interrupt their current browsing journeys, while publishers don’t have to compromise on their content quality.

    Unsplash Advertising works in three steps:

    • Upload and publish your branded images to Unsplash
    • Align photos with important and relevant search terms
    • Syndicate the images to publishers and creators who use Unsplash to find creative photos that can be used for free in their content and social media channels

    Sponsored images appear in the top-left of the homepage and search results. The photographer’s name and avatar show up by default (rather than showing up when you hover over the picture). When you do hover, a small “sponsored” label appears on the image.

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    Does Unsplash advertising work?

    Unsplash advertising program is currently by invite only (you can apply here) but earlier case studies have shown tremendous success, so there’s definitely a huge potential here:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel
    Case studies from Square, Google Chromebook and Boxed Water. See their examples below.

    Aggregate results across these early advertiser case studies show Unsplash to be more effective at elevating how people feel about a brand – more effective than even digital, TV, and Instagram campaigns.

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    Create Visual Content that Captures Your Brand Goals without Being Promotional

    This is a fundamental step to creating an effective visual marketing:

    • Your images need to feature your product the way you want it to be perceived
    • At the same time, make sure your images are non-promotional and creative enough for publishers and social media users to want to use them on their sites and social media feeds

    In other words, when crafting your visual marketing strategy, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Do my images capture my brand’s goals?
    • Are they good enough for people to want to use them?

    The key focus here is in building organic imagery around the brand through providing branded visual content that is worth using.

    To create high-quality branded photography, brands can choose to

    • Upload their own pictures
    • Work with creative photographers from the Unsplash community

    A Few Examples of Unsplash-Hosted Campaigns

    Boxed Water was interested in promoting the awareness of plastic bottle alternatives. It is know that plastic is the major pollutant of the environment, Boxed Water has focused on how sustainable their product is, as opposed to commonly used plastic bottles.

    In order to build the perception of that contrast, most of their branded photography is outdoors featuring people in a perfect harmony with nature:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel
    Through branded photography Boxed Water showcases what plastic bottles lack: Sustainability, forest- and ocean-friendliness, pollution-free

    Another Unsplash advertiser – Google Chromebook – was willing to become known as a creativity- and travel-friendly solution that is being used by younger generations, so they worked with Unsplash photographers to create pictures reflecting that perception:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel
    Chromebooks featured here are shown as creativity- and travel-related options for younger users. 

    Another example is Square employing visual marketing to shift the audience perception from a very narrow concept of a mobile credit card reader to a broader one of a full-stack financial and merchant service provider.

    The goal behind their campaign was to broaden the perception of the brand and capture the attention of small business owners who were not aware of the various business management and growth tools Square had.

    Unsplash photographers were tasked to create pictures which would associate Square with business, entrepreneurs, payments, and stores:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel
    Square’s Unsplash photos feature the product in the wild, being used by small business owners and patrons

    Notice how subtle the brand’s presence is in all the pictures, yet how hard it is to miss.

    Tips for Creating Powerful Branded Photography on Unsplash

    Unsplash has a detailed guide on how to create photography that gets noticed and used through the Unsplash platform, and all of those tips apply for brands, too:

    • Avoid being promotional or self-centered (don’t just post product pictures or selfies)
    • Pictures should be of high resolution with the minimum size requirement of 5 megapixels and 2500 by 2000 pixels (for a landscape picture)
    • Photos should be clear, creative, and original
    • Don’t use watermarks. Your brand identity needs to be a natural and subtle part of the context of the photo, not overlaid on it.

    Tip #1: Post your photos around upcoming dates

    When creating your branded photography, it is always a good idea to think of upcoming holidays, seasons, or notable dates. Timing your content strategy right is always effective (here’s a quick guide on doing that right).

    Note: When planning a seasonal campaign on Unsplash, time everything carefully to upload photos at least one month prior to the holiday or the start of the season, as this when content creators start planning their articles too.

    Tip #2: Align photos with important and relevant search terms

    While the quality of the actual photography is fundamental to success, you also want those pictures to be discoverable.

    Don’t forget that the real beauty of using the Unsplash platform is that it is used by content creators and social media influencers, and you want your branded photos to be found by them.

    Unlike other visual advertising solutions (Instagram, for example), with Unsplash you won’t have to set your audience targeting: Your visual content and relevance settings define its visibility in a most organic way.

    In other words, this step is where you are able to define who is able to discover your branded images and how wide your audience is going to be.

    Tip #3: Use a lot of tags to get your pictures discovered by users & publishers

    Unsplash does use automated tagging to help photos  be discovered but you need to also manually tag your images to ensure multi-purpose discoverability of your branded photos.

    Here are some tips for properly tagging your branded photos:

    • List the objects within your photo (for example, “snow”, “water”, etc.)
    • Add symbolic and metaphorical tags that reflect what the photo is evoking. These should describe the mood and the atmosphere behind the picture (for example, “motivation”, “nature”, “solitude”)
    • Include tags for content creators to be able to find and use your pictures within their articles (for example, “work at home”, “hobby”, “marketing”, “sustainability”, etc.)
    • When possible, list trending hashtags. Unsplash helpfully offers a “trending search” section that shows which words have been typed into the Unsplash search box recently. It is also a good idea to keep an eye on that section and add tags to older photos when they are relevant to a current hot trend.

    Here’s what was trending in July:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    To add tags to your photos:

    • Upload your picture and publish it
    • Go to your profile and hover over the picture
    • Select “Edit” and click to the “Tags” tab
    • Add your tags one by one:
    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    When I am stuck and cannot come up with more tags, I use semantic analysis to identify related concepts, brands and places. Here are semantically-related results for [skyscraper], for example:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    Additionally, here’s the list of popular topics and keywords that are searched on Unsplash, so pick those that make the most sense:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    Tip #4: Don’t forget to add captions

    While tags drive visibility inside the Unsplash platform, captions will help expand your content reach even further.

    Unsplash images are very well indexed in Google, and rank well in Google Images which is an important visual discoverability tool used by many content creators.

    Thanks to its domain authority and high-quality of photographic content, Unsplash ranks incredibly well in Google, so hosting your branded visual content on the platform will also improve your brand’s organic visibility in both Google Images and generic Google search:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel
    Unsplash can bring your branded photos on top of Google for more exposure

    Unsplash uses machine learning and image recognition technologies to handle much of its content search engine friendliness. For example, when you upload a photo of a seagull to the platform, it will automatically be named “Free Bird Image”.

    So whether you apply any additional efforts or not, once you upload your branded photos to Unsplash, they will start ranking in Google quite well.

    Yet, adding more text around the picture will be helpful in generating even more organic presence for your branded pictures. That being said, always add a descriptive 1-3-sentence caption to increase its odds of getting found in both Unsplash and Google.

    Tip #5: Add the location information

    Finally, if your picture features a certain location, do add it. Location settings make your photos discoverable for location-based search queries. For example, when someone is searching for “NYC”, your picture labeled there will show up in search results.

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    Tip #6: Syndicate the branded images to publishers

    Once your branded pictures are uploaded and tagged, they will now be findable through Unsplash search results, just as regular pictures would, but labeled as “sponsored”:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    Unsplash has a huge community of photographers and content creators utilizing the platform to find free images for their articles, videos, and infographics.

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    But the platform reach doesn’t stop there. By offering the free API for developers to use, Unsplash allows its users’ photos to be integrated into a variety of content management platforms and graphic design solutions, including:

    Imagine your visual message to be integrated into all or any of those platforms.

    The potential reach includes some best-known publications and media outlets including Buzzfeed and Medium, to name the few.

    This means your branded creative photography will be unstoppable bringing your products in front of audiences across the web. Here are just a few headlines organically placing Unsplash advertisers in a highly relevant context on incredibly popular publications:

    A Brand's Guide to Unsplash: How to Unlock the Next Big Visual Marketing Channel

    (Notice the relevant context here: It is all about starting a new business angle that puts the brand’s product in front of the target audience, i.e. those that are looking to start a new business.)


    Conclusion

    Visual marketing plays a major role in influencing and swaying customers’ perceptions of the brand, and I find it pretty exciting that we finally get a visual marketing solution allowing brands to impact buyers’ buying decisions without forcing their branded imaginary on either customers or publishers.

    It’s one of those innovations that promotes creativity and offers something for everyone. As Luke Chesser, Cofounder of Unsplash, put it:

    Brands get impact, contributors get paid opportunities, and creators get more images to create openly with. It’s a win-win-win.

    https://buffer.com/resources/unsplash-for-brands/

    How to Pre-Launch on Instagram: The Inside Story of Jot Coffee’s Social Media Strategy

    How to Pre-Launch on Instagram: The Inside Story of Jot Coffee’s Social Media Strategy

    Launched in April 2020, Jot Coffee, a newly launched DTC (direct-to-consumer) coffee brand, has quickly picked up steam as the new at-home coffee brand that delivers an exceptionally delicious experience, both in-person and digitally. But how did they manage to generate so much interest and excitement for their launch?

    Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how Jot built excitement for its launch on Instagram and how to create a community from day one. You’ll hear directly from Jackie Modena, Director of Community at Jot, and you’ll learn:

    • Where to find inspiration for creating on-brand social media content
    • How to plan for a successful new brand or product launch on Instagram
    • How to generate pre-launch interest, UGC (user-generated content), and followers
    • How to engage with your brand’s community in a timely manner
    • How to stay up to date on social media trends and updates
    How to Pre-Launch on Instagram: The Inside Story of Jot Coffee’s Social Media Strategy

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

    This series was born on Instagram Stories, which means you also have the ability to watch the original interview in our Highlights found on our @buffer Instagram profile.


    Who are you?

    Hi, I’m Jackie Modena! I’m with Jot, a newly launched DTC company that makes a first-of-its-kind 20x concentrated Ultra Coffee from fair trade, organic beans. All it takes is one tablespoon of our Ultra Coffee to create delicious, café-quality drinks at home, like iced lattes, americanos, and cappuccinos. We have a small but mighty (and highly caffeinated) team based out of Boulder, CO.

    I’m Jot’s Director of Community, where I oversee the strategic direction of our social media, develop content, engage with and grow our community, manage influencer partnerships, and work closely with PR, performance marketing and customer service.

    How to Pre-Launch on Instagram: The Inside Story of Jot Coffee’s Social Media Strategy

    I’ve previously held in-house marketing and social media roles at other national CPG companies like Ripple Foods and ICONIC Protein, and prior to that, worked for a boutique PR agency that specialized in servicing natural & organic CPG food, beverage and lifestyle brands.

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

    When we first started out with our social channels, we developed a set of creative guidelines to help inform the types of content, visual direction and aesthetic that we wanted to create.

    We were also fortunate to launch with some amazing GIF, video and still content from an early creative shoot organized by our branding agency, Red Antler. Those assets really helped to set the foundation for the tone and visual direction of our social media. From there, it was easy to find content partners and curated content that fit our aesthetic. For inspiration, I follow relevant Instagram hashtags that either tie directly to our brand or to an aesthetic (ex. #coffeephotography, #coffeevibes, #morninglight, #lightsandshadows, etc.), look to other brand accounts (both competitors and other categories), and follow my favorite creator accounts for inspiration.

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

    I try to consolidate things as much as possible, so that I’m not bouncing around from platform to platform all day. That’s what makes Buffer such a great tool—I’m able to manage our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all in one place.

    While we typically have ‘themes’ or overarching content initiatives that we plan six months to a year in advance, I only look to schedule content a few weeks out—and even then, I consider it a rough plan. Things can change so quickly, and it’s important to be able to pivot quickly and adapt to the landscape.

    While we typically have ‘themes’ or overarching content initiatives that we plan six months to a year in advance, I only look to schedule content a few weeks out

    From there, as it relates to Instagram, my day-to-day looks like the following:

    1. I’m checking in on UGC via our tagged posts and hashtags, and engaging with members of community who share their Ultra Coffee photos and recipes. We try to encourage customers to use #jotcoffee and #justonetablespoon, and we’re currently running a #summerofjot campaign.
    2. I’m checking in on stories and DMs throughout the day, to engage with our customers, re-share stories to our own story, and field any customer service-related questions that might come in.
    3. I like to keep an eye on the engagement on Facebook and Instagram ads, both to moderate any comments that violate our community guidelines and to answer questions from consumers who might be curious about our product.

    How do you plan for a successful new brand or product launch?

    As a marketer, brand and product launches are some of my favorite initiatives to plan, strategize and execute.

    With Jot, when it came to Instagram specifically, we were careful to start curating our feed with on-brand, aesthetic content (and I think this can be a great time to utilize more ambitious grid-style posts that span 3-, 6- or 9-feed posts in size) leading up to our launch, without showing the actual product.

    How to Pre-Launch on Instagram: The Inside Story of Jot Coffee’s Social Media Strategy
    Jot’s pre-launch grid-style post that spanned 6-feed posts.

    While we planned to have a presence on all the major social media platforms, we knew that Instagram was going to be a main priority for us and where we’d be dedicating a majority of our resources when it came to content, influencer and community.

    To help generate pre-launch interest, followers and UGC, we launched a friends & family program in the weeks before our official launch, and encouraged participants to share their Ultra Coffee experience with us. This allowed us to start gathering early customer feedback and troubleshooting possible customer service and community questions.

    To help generate pre-launch interest, followers and UGC, we launched a friends & family program in the weeks before our official launch, and encouraged participants to share their Ultra Coffee experience with us.

    We also received a lot of great unboxing and other UGC content for social, which we started gathering and saving to ensure we’d have enough content on our launch day to really make a splash. Again, a tool like Buffer can be really helpful in this regard, because you can start to build up your content database and schedule out your launch day posts and stories (knowing how hectic launch days usually are, this can be a huge time-saver!).

    In terms of other product launches I’ve worked on in the past for more established companies with an existing community, I think it’s fun to build anticipation with teaser posts leading up to the official launch. It gets the community engaged and involved and almost makes the launch into a game (you could even tie in a giveaway if someone guesses the correct new flavor/product).

    What marketing/social media advice do you have for brands that are pre-launch?

    I’d establish yourself on all the main social channels (and try to keep a consistent handle across all platforms) but figure out which channels are going to be your main focus.

    For us as a DTC consumer product, it made sense that Instagram, and to an extent Facebook, would be an important part of our marketing strategy, so it was really essential that we nailed it on those platforms. We have more flexibility when it comes to posting cadence and strategy for our other platforms like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and TikTok, which allows us to be a little more experimental in our content.

    When you’re a small startup, you’re only going to have so many resources—time, budget, manpower—to devote to your social channels, so invest wisely in your primary channels while maintaining relevant content on your secondary channels.

    What’s your number one tip for engaging with your brand’s community?

    Time is of the essence, so check in with your platforms of highest engagement frequently. If your priority platform is Instagram and that’s where you’re seeing the most engagement, you don’t need to necessarily be glued to Instagram all day but consider designating a few 15-minute chunks of time throughout the day as Instagram check-in time and even blocking your calendar as such.

    Time is of the essence, so check in with your platforms of highest engagement frequently.

    I do think it’s important to try and engage in a timely manner, whether it’s through DMs, a comment on a piece of UGC, or a comment on a post, because your followers are more likely to still be active on the platform and see your engagement.

    I’ve also seen instances where follower conversations or questions can snowball in an unintended direction, or misinformation can be spread, if the brand doesn’t engage quickly enough with the community, so try to monitor and stay on top of conversations as they happen rather than being days behind and trying to do damage control later.

    How do you stay up to date on social media trends?

    I find that many of the social media scheduling and influencer platforms I utilize have fantastic blogs and email newsletters (including Buffer!) so make sure you’re signed up to receive their communications—they often have all the latest news & updates on the major social media platforms and trends in the space.

    I have a few newsletters I’m subscribed to as well—The Hustle, Lean Luxe, and Morning Brew’s new marketing-centric newsletter, for a quick take on trends in retail, marketing and DTC businesses.

    Finally, I’d recommend seeking out a few networking groups specific to your position or industry. I really like the Create & Cultivate and Women in Influencer Marketing Facebook groups—they’re a great way to share resources, ask questions, discuss ideas/approaches and meet others in the industry. Since conferences and trade shows are off the table at the moment, these kinds of groups can be a great stand-in for in-person networking opportunities and can lead to collaborating, brainstorming and sharing.

    How do you take your Ultra Coffee?

    My favorite everyday way to take my Ultra Coffee is in an iced latte—it’s as simple as 8 oz milk (I prefer Oatly Barista Style), ice, and a tablespoon of Ultra Coffee.

    When I want to switch things up, I go for one of our new #summerofjot recipes: one tablespoon of Ultra Coffee, 6 oz water, one tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1.5 tbsp maple, and ice – for a refreshing and unique Cold Brew Lemonade.

    View this post on Instagram

    Iced coffee season has officially returned. To celebrate, we’re hosting our first Ultra Coffee recipe contest. It’s as simple as whipping up your favorite iced or cold Ultra Coffee beverage, snapping a photo or video, and sharing it using #summerofjot. ⁣ ⁣ We’ll be selecting three winners by 7/3 to receive a three-month Ultra Coffee subscription (3x bottles, every 4 weeks). ⁣ ⁣ In addition, as part of our ongoing efforts to support the Black Lives Matter movement, for every entry received we’ll be making a $10 donation to @thelovelandfoundation, an organization that brings opportunity and healing to communities of color, and especially to Black women and girls.⁣ ⁣ We’ll be sharing some of our favorite iced and cold summer-ready recipes over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out if you need some inspiration. ⁣ ⁣ For more details, check out our #summerofjot stories highlight.

    A post shared by Jot (@jot) on


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

    Have any questions for Jackie? Feel free to drop your question in a comment and Jackie, or someone from the Buffer team, will get to them as soon as possible.

    https://buffer.com/resources/jot-coffee-social-media-strategy/

    PODCAST: Reddit’s Community Approach to Brand Marketing with Will Cady, Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit

    This week’s episode of Social Media Week’s Leads2Scale podcast features Will Cady, Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit.

    At Reddit, Will oversees a team built to find homes for brands amidst Reddit’s vast ecosystem of every online community imaginable.

    During the conversation, Will discussed:

    • Will’s background as a musician and what lead him to join Reddit
    • The parallels between the music industry, social media and building community
    • The growth of subreddits and the role they have played in driving community engagement
    • And how they work with brands and the role they play on the platform

    Listen to the full episode below:

    Subscribe to Leads2Scale on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Spotify, Castbox, Overcast, or Stitcher.

    If you have suggestions for who we should interview or what topics you would like us to cover, please reach out to us at leads2scale@socialmediaweek.org.

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

    WATCH THE SMWLDN 2019 PROMO

    The post PODCAST: Reddit’s Community Approach to Brand Marketing with Will Cady, Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit appeared first on Social Media Week.

    http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/07/podcast-reddits-community-approach-to-brand-marketing-with-will-cady-head-of-brand-strategy-at-reddit/

    PODCAST: Reddit’s Community Approach to Brand Marketing with Will Cady, Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit

    This week’s episode of Social Media Week’s Leads2Scale podcast features Will Cady, Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit.

    At Reddit, Will oversees a team built to find homes for brands amidst Reddit’s vast ecosystem of every online community imaginable.

    During the conversation, Will discussed:

    • Will’s background as a musician and what lead him to join Reddit
    • The parallels between the music industry, social media and building community
    • The growth of subreddits and the role they have played in driving community engagement
    • And how they work with brands and the role they play on the platform

    Listen to the full episode below:

    Subscribe to Leads2Scale on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Spotify, Castbox, Overcast, or Stitcher.

    If you have suggestions for who we should interview or what topics you would like us to cover, please reach out to us at leads2scale@socialmediaweek.org.

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

    WATCH THE SMWLDN 2019 PROMO

    The post PODCAST: Reddit’s Community Approach to Brand Marketing with Will Cady, Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit appeared first on Social Media Week.

    http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/07/podcast-reddits-community-approach-to-brand-marketing-with-will-cady-head-of-brand-strategy-at-reddit/