Tag: The Voice of Social media

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.


How Twitter is Expanding its Reach in Audio

In June 2020, Twitter introduced audio tweets where you can record your voice and share that audio as a tweet to your followers. A perk? These can also be listened to while you multi-task across other day-to-day activities including checking email or working on a document — comparable to a micro podcast. There’s a lot that can go unsaid or uninterpreted via text, so the platform’s goal with the offering is to bring a more human experience to conversations.

Following this, the company announced in December its own audio-based social networking product and Clubhouse rival, Spaces, was heading into beta phase. This opened the door for users to chat in real-time using voice instead of text, as they do today. The product remains in beta while the platform works out technical issues and bugs with the feature, but also the more complex issues that arise from hosting live audio, including moderation.

Fast forward to today, Twitter announced its acquisition of community-focused podcast app, Breaker. Here’s a breakdown of the latest.

What is Breaker?

Since its inception in 2016, Breaker’s mission centered around influencing the perception of audio and disrupting the norms of podcasts as audio feeds and podcast apps as productivity tools. Instead, Breaker painted a picture of podcast apps as an experience around which a community could be established. More specifically, Breaker users have the ability to like and comment on their favorite episodes, discover new podcasts that align with their passions, following friends with similar interests and taste, and share their favorite shows to their other social media platforms to spark conversation.

Creating the future of audio

Breaker co-founder Leah Culver took to Twitter sharing her eagerneses to help create the future of audio through and build out Twitter Spaces while CEO Erik Berlin emphasized his vision to help the industry redefine and reimagine traditional podcasts.

“We’re truly passionate about audio communication and we’re inspired by the ways Twitter is facilitating public conversations for people around the world,” shared Berlin in the official announcement. In his own Medium post, he shared, “We’re now inspired to go even further in re-imagining how we communicate with each other, beyond the scope of traditional podcasts.”

In a separate thread, Twitter engineering lead Michael Montano, reiterated his excitement to leverage Berlin and Culver’s backgrounds to help “improve the health of public conversation on our service.” He added, “both Erik and Leah have founded and sold startups previously and will bring an entrepreneurial spirit to our engineering organization.”

According to TechCrunch, Berlin was previously the founder and CTO at social advertising company 140 Proof — which sold to Acuity — while Culver previously founded Pownce and Grove and co-authored web technologies OAuth and oEmbed.

“As an entrepreneur she’s been out front, testing ideas on several waves of online conversation and publishing. Pownce and Convore were exciting and in many ways ahead of their times,” said Montao of Culver’s efforts to push for more open standards over the past several years.

Podcasting: the new tech battleground

With the ebbs and flows of tech, there seems to be areas that receive targeted traction. Podcasting is that space today. Look no further than the giants Amazon, Google, Apple and Spotify.

Amazon’s $300 million acquisition of Wondery, Sirius bought Stitcher for $300 million, not to mention Spotify’s purchases of Anchor, Gimlet, Parcast, Megaphone, and The Joe Rogan experience — one of the most popular shows on the scene to date. Unakin to these deals, however, Twitter’s play is unique in that its sale doesn’t center on strictly podcasts themselves and the content, rather Breaker’s sale is made up of staff and technology with the larger objective of cementing Spaces as a viable offering for marketers and users.

Feature image credit via Breaker.

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The post How Twitter is Expanding its Reach in Audio appeared first on Social Media Week.


How YouTube is Supporting Black Creators and Artists

Last summer admist the Black Lives Matter Movement and protests in support of George Floyd, YouTube announced the launch of a multi-year $100 million fund dedicated to amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists and their stories. More specifically, the fund has supported programs such as 2 Chainz’ “Money Maker Fund” series highlighting HBCU entrepreneurs and Masego’s “Studying Abroad” livestreamed concert series.

Today, the platform is using capital for that effort to create a global grant program for Black creators.

“The painful events of this year have reminded us of the importance of human connection and the need to continue to strengthen human rights around the world. In the midst of uncertainty, creators continue to share stories that might not otherwise be heard while also building online communities,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote in a blog post detailing the decision and reflecting on 2020.

The #YouTubeBlack Voices Class of 2021

Per Billboard, the program is kicking off with an inaugural class of 132 individuals spanning musicians and lifestyle vloggers including Kelly Stamps and Jabril Ashe, also known as Jabrils, who share educational videos centered around the emerging gaming, technology, and AI spaces.

The musicians named to the group include Brent Faiyaz, BRS Kash, Fireboy DML, Jean Dawson, Jensen McRae, Jerome Farah, Joy Oladokun, KennyHoopla, Mariah the Scientist, MC Carol, Miiesha, Myke Towers, Péricles, Rael, Rexx Life Raj, Sauti Sol, serpentwithfeet, Sho Madjozi, Tkay Maidza, Urias and Yung Baby Tate.

Each grant recipient will be provided an undisclosed funding amount to be used in support of their channels, and can encompass needs such as editing, lighting or other equipment to amplify and enhance the quality of their content. YouTube will also offer additional resources such as workshops, training and networking opportunities to boost skills and fuel meaning collaborations. “We are not only supporting them in the moment, but this is seed funding that will help them to thrive on the platform long-term,” he added.

Hailing from across the United States, Kenya, Brazil, Australia, South Africa and Nigeria, the cohort was selected in part based on their past participation in #YouTubeBlack, a campaign and event series promoting Black creators launched in 2016.

Paving a future for change

“These creators and artists have been doing this work already and are known by their communities, but we’re really excited to invest in them, and we believe that they can and will become household names with this support, shared Malik Ducard, YouTube Vice President of Partners on the #YouTubeBlack community.

In today’s landscape, influencers are themselves a media channel. The budgets put against them shouldn’t just be production-driven but rather emphasize a broader commitment to diverse and authentic stories driven by co-communication and co-creation. For YouTube, this effort is not only beneficial in ensuring these creators have their voices heard, but in allowing the platform to stay true to its goals and values and its commitment to its community.

“This is not a flash-in-the pan Instagram moment. This is about keeping the drum beat of change alive, and in the DNA of our organization,” added Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s Global Head of Music, reiterating the confidence in the ability of this group to lead and find long-term success through raw passion, creativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit. “Our expectation is that these artists are going to be significant and important voices and make music even more enjoyable.”

The future of brand-artist collaborations

For brands partnering with music artists – the takeaway here is that social listening requires responsiveness, flexibility, and mindfulness when it comes to integrating culture. People want to be heard, not sold to, and efforts should extend offline. This is only achieved through a full understanding of a new age of partnerships – one where brands have a bigger role to play in artist’s lives and artists are crossing the threshold to become true digital marketers monetizing the whole self.

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How to Win Social Media Conversions After The Holiday Rush

If only the world of marketing came with a little respite once in a while. As a chaotic, tumultuous holiday season packed with desperate brainstorming sessions for new holiday slogans, themed ads and special offers draw to a close, marketers find themselves tasked with campaigning their way through the new year lulls. 

While the transitional months from winter into spring are typically quiet for many businesses spanning retail and eCommerce, more companies are assembling marketing campaigns in order to win customers and maximise profits during the spending downturns of January, February and March. 

Retail Sales

(Image: Statista)

As we can see from the chart above, drops in retail sales from the build-up to the festive season into the new year can amount to a 30% fall in purchases among consumers. The chart, which has plotted out the recent history of retail sales in the United Kingdom, shows that while spending has steadily increased, peaks in spending around Christmas time have been consistent until 2020. 

The arrival of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, however, pointed to a significant disruptive influence in retail sales online in the UK. With more citizens facing more time spent indoors while social distancing and isolating away from the pandemic, it appears that more online shoppers chose to spend their money on goods and services.

With the pandemic culminating in a widespread shift towards workers transitioning away from office commutes and towards working-from-home (WFH) and the continued prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic around much of the world, marketers may be facing a fresh opportunity to create successful marketing campaigns during this traditionally slow period for sales. 

Realizing The Greater Roles of Social Media in the WFH Landscape

The rise of WFH looks as though it’s here to stay, and this could carry significant ramifications for the world of marketing – especially as social media campaigns continue to gain traction among marketers aiming to generate greater brand awareness and loyalty alongside advertising campaigns. 

Social Media Usage

(Image: Marketing Charts)

According to the metrics above, social media usage in the US was set to accelerate significantly in the wake of COVID. With more citizens across the world unable to interact with friends and family in person, social media usage became more prevalent. With one social network, TikTok, experiencing a huge increase in users. 

Social Media During Covid-19

(Image: Marketing Charts)

The height of the pandemic saw more marketers take to tapping into the potential of this huge new network of active social media users. In fact, as much as 84.2% of CMOs looked to use social media to build brand awareness online, while customer retention and acquisition both ranked high. 

While businesses can certainly tap into social media for continued campaigning following the conclusion of the festive season, one of the most significant drawbacks of this time of year amounts to how best marketers can utilize their social media campaigns to draw in new and returning customers. 

With this in mind, let’s explore some of the key ways in which CMOs are looking to keep things fresh when it comes to content in the new year: 

Champion Community Interactions

There are few better ways of entering the new year successfully than to work towards championing community-driven content. By opening your business up to its community, you can not only share their content but also build a significant level of brand loyalty and awareness online. It’s even possible to build a space for dedicated users to interact with each other and share their experiences and ideas using platforms like Mighty Networks or Zapnito

Kristen Baker, a marketing manager at HubSpot explained that “in today’s highly digital and connected society, it’s funny to think people can still feel disconnected from others. This goes for personal relationships as well as business relationships – specifically between brands and their customers as well as brands and their employees. So, what is it that has people feeling a disconnect to others and the companies they do business with? It’s a lack of community.”

One key example of an organisation building a huge cross-platform community through marketing can be found on Netflix. When the company teamed up with content marketing agency, Mustache, the result amounted to a series of new social media accounts using the @NetflixIsAJoke handle to post funny videos, memes and other forms of content. 

The campaign prompted a vibrant community across a range of platforms and generated around 3.5 million new followers for Netflix in the process. 

By spending the quieter months following the festive period working on building a community and engaging more with your social media followers, you could not only establish more brand loyalty but build a deeper understanding of who your customers are and the sort of content they would like to see. You could even invite them to create content on your behalf and share the best entries in return for a prize. 

As marketing budgets tighten following the holiday season, user-generated content can pay dividends in keeping your social media followers engaged and continually clicking on your brand for updates. This, in turn, can lead to a healthy boost to website traffic, conversions, and much more engagement later on when new promotions kick-off. 

Work on More Organic Promotions

There are many reasons why the new year is a good time to start interacting more with your customers. In the age of WFH, it’s likely that they’ll have more time to spend on social media, and in those long drawn out winter months, they may actually crave some interaction with people – even if that ‘someone’ actually turns out to be a brand. 

You can help to foster a sense of loyalty by introducing a more evergreen promotion in the form of a loyalty scheme. As a new year arrives, customers may be looking for new challenges, and a loyalty or referral program could be perfect for keeping them engaged in those early months. 

There are plenty of ways in which you can introduce a loyalty program specific to your business. The classic approach made popular by both coffee shops and bookshops is a stamp card where every purchase equals a stamp. After a pre-determined number of stamps, the customer can receive a free product or service – or a freebie. 

If your business is more heavily dependent on service subscriptions, then it’s possible to run a referral program where customers get discounts for referring friends. You could also introduce tiered loyalty schemes where customers can move through tiers based on the purchases they make. The higher the tier they’re in, the greater the discounts. 

Naturally, these more organic and evergreen promotions encourage customers to convert more often, knowing that they’ll be rewarded for their loyalty. At a time that’s traditionally much more tranquil following the frantic festive season, loyalty rewards can bring a significant boost to conversions. 

Promote Self Improvement

The rise of the pandemic has led to a widespread increase in self-improvement measures. Whether it’s eating healthily, regular exercise or mindfulness, it seems that these trends are likely to continue in the age of WFH. 

This could be a significant opportunity for social media marketers who are looking to increase brand loyalty in the new year. Your social media marketing efforts can resonate with consumers more by promoting self-improvement. 

Be sure to generate trust in your brand by sharing your expertise, creating tutorials to share across social media (these can be video-based or textual), or even creating online courses central to your content. 

These approaches can add value to your business on social media, and followers will feel emboldened in following you and taking on the information that you share. 

The notion of self-improvement can be a significant tool for businesses to use in their marketing campaigns in January and February, where New Year’s resolutions remain fresh in the minds of consumers online. Position your online self-improvement materials on your social media accounts as a means of offering your followers the opportunity to learn through your company’s expertise. 

This social media marketing approach can be created as a freebie or as a paid service, but as long as it demonstrates value to your customers, it’s an effective way of resonating with their mindsets following on from the festive period. This boost in loyalty and awareness among your social media follower will lead to more click-throughs on to your landing page and subsequently more conversions from users who were content with your self-improvement content. 

Content Trial and Error

Of course, it’s vital at this time of year to continually monitor the performance of your campaigns. Raw metrics are likely to show drops in the number of conversions being made with your company, so it’s important to look elsewhere for key indicators surrounding how your campaigns are taking shape. 

By running links to your website’s landing pages from social media, you can actively review each step of your sales funnel through dedicated analytics engines like Google Analytics and Finteza. Both platforms are capable of providing rich insights into the causes of page and cart abandonment and various bouncebacks. 

Google Analytics

(Image: EasyAutoTagging)

At a time of year where consumer spending is largely frantic, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your funnels are kept squeaky clean and free of any potential sticking points for non-committal visitors. 

Be sure to regularly monitor your social media links and posts, and always compare and contrast your performance by looking into the various impressions you’re getting and the click-through rate that they’re generating. 

It may even be worth setting up different landing pages for each social media platform so you can better identify the best-optimised campaign for each network. 

As the frantic festive period and the huge marketing pushes of companies become a memory, it can be much more difficult to generate campaigns that can see similar levels of traction. In markets with a little less consumer spending power, the process of trial and error can really pay dividends in spotting newly emerging trends and capitalizing on them.

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The post How to Win Social Media Conversions After The Holiday Rush appeared first on Social Media Week.


Crafting a Support Network as a Founder and CEO

Crafting a Support Network as a Founder and CEO

This post was originally published on Joel.is.

Sometime in late 2018, the concept of having a support network clicked for me. This was the year that I started working with Mandy, my second Executive Assistant. Caryn, who I worked with in that capacity for around a year and a half, had transitioned to lead Finance. The gap without this type of support helped me to reflect on the most ideal setup.

The journey to a support network

The first time around that I worked with an Executive Assistant, I had the thought that they could help me by taking on a lot of tasks I had been doing myself. And this is true in many ways. The second time around, I realized that the ultimate way an EA can help me to scale is to be a key partner in creating a support network around myself.

Rather than having my EA take on my tax filings, the best thing they can do is help me to find three people I can meet to decide on a great financial advisor to work with long-term. And this approach can be taken in many areas, and can be done yourself, without an EA. I now believe that the best way to reach your potential in life, is to form a support network for yourself and cultivate it over time.

In some ways, even thinking about getting this type of support feels like a privilege, and it is. At the same time, I believe thinking in this way should be something for everyone, at least in some form. We’ve all had mentors and people who have supported us in various ways, we’ve had parents or grandparents play that role. And for specific needs, we have people we can turn to: we have a dentist and a GP. We just may not have thought about this as a support network we cultivate and intentionally craft. And as a key example of one aspect of a support network, I’d argue, most of us should have a therapist.

Dedicated vs natural support

Friends and a partner are great pieces of your support network, too. But there’s a risk to over-reliance on those people to support you in tough times. It can take a toll on them, and it may line up with a tough time for them too.

In that sense, having naturally existing relationships as your only support can be risky and put you in a more vulnerable spot. Personally, I found that having a therapist I met with regularly helped me to process and work through some of my challenges and thereby have those challenges better formed and be in a more healthy place to discuss them in a different way with my partner.

This doesn’t mean to hold back from sharing challenges with a partner or friends, and often I do. In general, you communicate more regularly with your partner and friends than you meet with a therapist, so it’s likely that you’d share with them first. However, knowing that you’ll meet with your therapist in a few days helps to relieve some of the stress you feel and the urgency to find a solution. And when you do speak with your therapist, you have an opportunity to approach the challenge from a different perspective.

Relying on your co-founder for everything

I’ve found that having a co-founder also makes it easy to avoid getting more dedicated support such as a therapist or a coach. When you have a co-founder, it’s easy to rely on them for all of these support functions. This is a wonderful aspect of having a co-founder, they can be your best supporter. It’s also easy to build this reliance, because your co-founder is likely someone you speak with more than anyone else, perhaps even a spouse.

Not having a coach in the final year or two of working with my co-founder is something I consider a mistake. As we both became more burned out, and our vision for the company and natural choices of approach diverged, we couldn’t be the ones to help each other with those specific challenges. While I think the outcome to part ways was always going to be the right one, having a coach would likely have made the journey to that result smoother.

A key risk with over-reliance on natural relationships for support, is that they are not necessarily the best people to help you. They won’t be the best therapist, or the best coach, or the best financial advisor you could get. Additionally, these relationships are two-way streets. You can’t take too much otherwise it will feel one-sided and imbalanced.

Types of support to consider

Here are some of the types of support I’ve put in place for myself in the past couple of years:

  • Therapist
  • Coach
  • Executive Assistant
  • Financial Advisor / CPA
  • Peer founder / CEO group
  • Surfing and kite-surfing instructors
  • House cleaning

Other types of support I’m considering putting in place in coming years:

  • Personal trainer
  • Language tutor

In general, instructors and tutors fall into an overall category of being taught, which is something I’ve increasingly been leaning into. For my last few surf vacations, mainly due to Jess’ suggestion / request, I’ve had lessons almost every day. And there’s no doubt that I progressed faster than alone.

Of course, for most of us, cost is a key factor here. It is worth, however, establishing some of these relationships even if you do not set up regular sessions, even if you only have a one-off session.

As an example, I worked closely with a therapist for around two years. Since mid-2019, I’ve not met regularly with my therapist and have used some of the tools she introduced me to. However, I know that if I ever have a specific issue, or want to have regular sessions again for a few months, I can reach out to her. Having that existing relationship makes the barrier much lower for the future.

There are a couple of other benefits in getting professional support. Firstly, they will have their own network of other people who can help. For example, my financial advisor is connected to a group of people specialized in various different aspects, and was able to connect me with an attorney to help set up a trust. Secondly, if you set up regular sessions it will add a layer of accountability for yourself in that area, be it having your finances more in order or studying a language.

Start sooner than you think

If you’re an individual, it may feel like overkill to get some of this type of help in place. However, many of these elements of support are most effective as preventative measures, rather than necessary measures. It’s best to get them in place before a crisis, as the people you connect with can be ready and have relevant context, or even help you avoid the crisis in the first place.

And as a founder / CEO, I personally wish I had started to work on my personal support network much sooner. If you have a growing organization, don’t wait too long. As a founder, you generally get everything off the ground yourself and play every role. This can gear you up to have a mindset of solving everything yourself. But, if your company is starting to grow, if you’re starting to hire people, I’d recommend building your support network now. It will help you scale more smoothly, will make the journey feel calmer, and will equip you better for issues that will inevitably arise.


Welcoming Maria Thomas as Buffer’s Chief Product Officer

Welcoming Maria Thomas as Buffer’s Chief Product Officer

In July, we shared that we were looking for a product leader to help us take Buffer forward in our next phase. After speaking to an incredible group of talented folks in product, I’m happy to share that Maria Thomas has joined us as our new Chief Product Officer.

Welcoming Maria Thomas as Buffer’s Chief Product Officer

We’re now a 10-year old company, and in the past year, I’ve done a lot of reflection on the purpose of the company and how we can set ourselves up to reach our potential and have the most impact. Buffer’s mission is to provide essential tools to help small businesses get off the ground and grow.

Maria brings with her a breadth of experience working in SaaS and working with small businesses. Her most recent roles have been as the VP of Product at Bitly for the past two years and Insightly for the prior three and a half years. These are both SaaS companies that served small businesses and navigated the ups and downs of all that comes with that segment, including having a large free user base. Maria also spent seven years building products for SMBs at Intuit.

The opportunity to bring on an executive is rare, especially at a company like Buffer, where we have some very loyal and long-tenured people and are striving to create a decades-long sustainable company. There’s much we can learn, however, from someone with experience of where we’re trying to go, and with Maria we have found a great blend of significant experience and expertise we can learn from and an excitement for the unique type of company we are. In particular, Maria and I connected and had great conversations around the freedom and creativity that can come with being unconstrained by VC investment and how that can help us have a more pure focus on the customer, and ultimately more compounding long-term success.

In Maria’s own words:

I am inspired and humbled to join Buffer. You have quite a following in the product management community. Several of my peers revealed that they’d had a long ‘crush on Buffer’ once they learned that I joined you as your CPO. I am thrilled to join a product-led company focused on helping SMBs, a profitable, transparent, sustainable SaaS business, and a majority female executive team.

We’re lucky to benefit from all of Maria’s great experience in product as well as her many years as an executive of similarly sized companies. Maria joined us late last year and has already had a significant impact, helping us to shape our goals and strategy for 2021. I’m confident that within the next few months, customers will start to see the positive and tangible results of her contributions.


How Google is Preparing for Fully Immersive AR Environments

Since its inception, one of the biggest use cases of AR on mobile remains the ability to play with your appearance whether through clothes, accessories, or makeup. Snapchat and Instagram are no stranger to this trend, and now Google is making its mark in the space with its own update.

Specifically, the tech giant tapped ModiFace and Perfect Corp, two companies highly involved in AR beauty technologies, to deliver a feature that gives online shoppers a way to virtually try on makeup without having to deviate from their Search results.

Separately, Google teamed up with Snapchat to put an immersive twist on its ‘Year in Search’ trends overview. Here’s a high-level overview of the latest.

Bringing the benefits of in-store shopping to mobile

Similar to YouTube’s AR feature for makeup try-on launched last year, Google’s latest push utilizes top brands including L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, MAC Cosmetics, Black Opal, and Charlotte Tilbury allowing consumers to try on a variety of makeup products without having to set foot in a store to test the look and feel.

Here’s how it works: When a user searches for a particular lipstick or eyeshadow product such as— “L’Oréal’s Infallible Paints Metallic Eyeshadow,” — they’ll be directed to the virtual try-on shopping experience at the top of their search results. From there, they can browse a library of photos of models representing a range of skin tones to help compare the shades and find the right product for them

“Seventy-three percent of U.S. shoppers are planning to buy online,” said Archana Kannan, Group Product Manager, Shopping and author of the announcement regarding this past holiday season’s expectations. “There are plenty of perks with online shopping, from the convenience of doing it from your couch to the multitude of options right at your fingertips.”

Details aside — the key takeaway here is that more than ever consumers are finding out about products from social media, then clicking through direct links to retailers to make purchases or even transacting directly on social platforms like Facebook or Instagram without leaving the app. A big driver of this shift? Influencers.

Endorsements from experts and enthusiasts

As part of the effort, Google is taking into consideration how consumers ultimately make their decision and a big trend as of late is recommendations from trusted sources like influencers.

In this vein, the company is unveiling recommendations from beauty, apparel and home and garden enthusiasts and experts, including online influencers, when a consumer browses Google Shopping on their phone. For example, hear the latest from professional makeup artist Jonet about makeup looks, or get holiday gift ideas from Homesick Candles.

“Sometimes it’s helpful to get recommendations and see how products work for other people,” explained Kannan. “Once you’ve found a product you love, you’ll be able to easily shop these recommendations.” This feature comes from Shoploop, a product formerly part of Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator.

The ‘Year in Search’ AR experience

The end of the year always seems to be nostalgic and Google and Snapchat are leaning into this in an innovative way. A new Google Lens accessible through Snapchat gives users an interactive walk down memory lane of all the key events of 2020 and noteworthy insights.

For instance, clicking on a photo of a Black Lives Matter protest highlights that compared to the previous year, searches of the term were up five-fold. Further, searches for “protest near me” were made in every state in the country for the first time ever.

“As 2020 comes to an end, Snap and Google have partnered to bring Google’s iconic “Year in Search” story to life with an immersive augmented reality experience. This marks the first time Google’s “Year in Search” has been brought to life in AR, and the campaign’s debut on Snapchat.”

Additionally, Snapchat also reports that for the first time Google will run its “Year in Search” video as ads on the platform.

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Announcing Adweek’s Acquisition of Social Media Week

Since 2009 we’ve made it our mission to help you, our loyal community members, play a pivotal role in an engaged and elevated conversation on the impact of social media on marketing, media and culture.

Today, we are thrilled to continue this mission and share that Social Media Week will become part of Adweek. Toby Daniels, who founded Social Media Week in 2009, will join Adweek as Chief Innovation Officer, while also overseeing the SMW business. “Joining forces with Adweek represents an opportunity to work with a world-class team, accessing a full spectrum of capabilities which will not only help to extend the Social Media Week brand and offering but also help us better serve our community and our partners. We are ecstatic to have found a home and strategic partner in Adweek, a company we have long admired for its first-class journalism and coverage of our industry, its dedication to fostering community and its events and awards, which are the gold standard in our industry”, said Daniels in a statement.

“The SMW acquisition is an important step forward in deepening our connection with these influential and rising marketers,” shared Adweek CEO Jeff Litvack in the official press release, which you can read in full here. “Social media has always been a critical way for brands to reach and interact with their consumers and 2020 has further thrust it into the spotlight.”

“In 2020, the pandemic, the rise of Black Lives Matter, and a socially distanced world reinforced the demand for real-time social engagement and the criticality of social media as a marketing platform,” added Adweek’s Chief Content Officer Lisa Granatstein. “We’re excited to supersize our social media programming with next-level insights and best practices to help our audience continue to capitalize on these seismic consumer and marketing trends.”

SMW entered unchartered territory when we went virtual in 2020. We held our first virtual conference in May with more than 10,000 attendees and 175 hours of content and quickly followed this pivot with the launch of SMW+, a live and on-demand platform for marketers looking to level up their careers, none of which would have been possible without your support.

Under Adweek, we will continue to expand our virtual presence beginning with #SMWNYC, kicking off May 4–7, 2021. The theme of this year’s flagship conference is “Reinvention: Rebuilding the Systems of Social Media Marketing for a Better Future” Plus, we will continue to invest in SMW+ and are eager to share more incredible content, shows, and series and grow the audience over the course of the year.

We look forward to delivering you world-class experiences under our new leadership and the opportunity to share this exciting journey with each and every one of you.

The post Announcing Adweek’s Acquisition of Social Media Week appeared first on Social Media Week.


Announcing Adweek’s Acquisition of Social Media Week

Since 2009 we’ve made it our mission to help you, our loyal community members, play a pivotal role in an engaged and elevated conversation on the impact of social media on marketing, media and culture.

Today, we are thrilled to continue this mission and share that Social Media Week will become part of Adweek. Toby Daniels, who founded Social Media Week in 2009, will join Adweek as Chief Innovation Officer, while also overseeing the SMW business. “Joining forces with Adweek represents an opportunity to work with a world-class team, accessing a full spectrum of capabilities which will not only help to extend the Social Media Week brand and offering but also help us better serve our community and our partners. We are ecstatic to have found a home and strategic partner in Adweek, a company we have long admired for its first-class journalism and coverage of our industry, its dedication to fostering community and its events and awards, which are the gold standard in our industry”, said Daniels in a statement.

“The SMW acquisition is an important step forward in deepening our connection with these influential and rising marketers,” shared Adweek CEO Jeff Litvack in the official press release, which you can read in full here. “Social media has always been a critical way for brands to reach and interact with their consumers and 2020 has further thrust it into the spotlight.”

“In 2020, the pandemic, the rise of Black Lives Matter, and a socially distanced world reinforced the demand for real-time social engagement and the criticality of social media as a marketing platform,” added Adweek’s Chief Content Officer Lisa Granatstein. “We’re excited to supersize our social media programming with next-level insights and best practices to help our audience continue to capitalize on these seismic consumer and marketing trends.”

SMW entered unchartered territory when we went virtual in 2020. We held our first virtual conference in May with more than 10,000 attendees and 175 hours of content and quickly followed this pivot with the launch of SMW+, a live and on-demand platform for marketers looking to level up their careers, none of which would have been possible without your support.

Under Adweek, we will continue to expand our virtual presence beginning with #SMWNYC, kicking off May 4–7, 2021. The theme of this year’s flagship conference is “Reinvention: Rebuilding the Systems of Social Media Marketing for a Better Future” Plus, we will continue to invest in SMW+ and are eager to share more incredible content, shows, and series and grow the audience over the course of the year.

We look forward to delivering you world-class experiences under our new leadership and the opportunity to share this exciting journey with each and every one of you.

The post Announcing Adweek’s Acquisition of Social Media Week appeared first on Social Media Week.


How to Build a Brand Ambassador Network on Instagram

Can you believe Instagram turned 10 in 2020? Boasting 1 billion users, it’s surely not a platform that you have ignored as a marketer or business owner.

However, I see many brands fall short with their Instagram marketing strategy. I don’t want you to be one of those brands so I’ve created this post on how you can boost the effectiveness of your Instagram presence with brand ambassadors to grow more traffic, brand awareness and sales.

Why Does My Brand Need Brand Ambassadors?

Sixty-percent of Instagram users log on daily. That means that your target consumers are interested in what their peers and people they follow post about. Don’t you want some of those daily posts to be about your brand? Brand ambassadors can be influencers or happy consumers. They have the ability to create authentic posts about your brand. After all, consumers are ad blind and they don’t want to hear about your brand from your brand itself. Consumers want to learn about new products and/or services from their peers. Brand ambassadors are considered to be peers.

Where to Find Brand Ambassadors?

There are many ways to identify people who are the perfect fit for your brand ambassador program on Instagram. As I mentioned, brand ambassadors can be influencers or happy consumers. Influencers have a lot of followers on Instagram while happy customers may not have huge a social following, but they can still get your brand in front of hundreds of their friends and family.

Here are a few ways you can go about identifying brand ambassadors to post on Instagram.

  • Identify and activate influencers using a tool like GroupHigh or BuzzSumo
  • Consult with your client services team to identify happy consumers and email them and ask them to post on Instagram and tag your brand
  • Send out an email to your consumers asking them to share their experience with your brand on Instagram

How to Get Ambassadors to Post

Turning someone into a brand ambassador often requires some creativity and a little incentivization. Based on successful brand ambassador programs on Instagram, there are few things we can learn from other brands on how to get consumers to post on Instagram about their experience with your brand.

  • Offer free product for posts
  • Offer different tiers of gift cards for how many likes an ambassador gets on their post
  • Monetarily incentivize ambassadors to post
  • Set up a commission structure for the sales that come in from their Instagram posts
  • Organizing and Scaling Your Brand Ambassador Program

The goal is to get as many brand ambassadors as you can to post. This takes a lot of organization. You can create a Google Sheet to track who is in your program and the links and reach of their posts. You can also keep a running list of all your brand ambassadors in an email marketing tool like MailChimp so you can regularly communicate with them.

However, organizing, scaling, and incentivizing your ambassadors can be a tedious process. Especially when your days are filled with other marketing initiatives. That’s why tools like CrewFire which organizes and allows your to incentivize your ambassadors to post are like a dream come true for marketers.

Creative Ways to Maximize Your Earned Media from Ambassadors

Your brand ambassadors are going to create some amazing earned media for you on Instagram. The images and words they used can be great assets for more than just sales. Here are a few ways that you can reuse your earned Instagram media:

  • Use the images on all of your social channels
  • Utilize their images and quotes from their posts on your homepage
  • Create a category on your website for potential consumers to see all of your earned Instagram content
  • Use their images in your marketing materials

How to Track the Results from Your Brand Ambassador Program

To ensure that your brand ambassador program on Instagram is reaching its fullest potential, you’re going to want to track your earned media. Create a spreadsheet, consult your earned media, and utilize Google Analytics to record how your program is performing.

To be able to track your ambassadors on an individual level, ask them to put your link in their bio on the day that they post about you. Even if they won’t put your link in their bio, you can still track the results of your brand ambassador program on Instagram.

These are the most sensible metrics to track:

  • Impressions (number of followers the ambassador has)
  • The number of likes their posts get
  • The number of Instagram comments an ambassador gets on their posts
  • The number of posts the ambassador posts about your brand
  • Traffic their posts brought to your website (if they put your link in their bio)
  • Sales (if they put your link in their bio)

Key Takeaways

Brand ambassadors are a cost effective and authentic way to earn media for your brand and create brand awareness on Instagram. Consumers want to hear about brands from their peers and not from your brand, so these third-party recommendations are very powerful.
Don’t forget to incentivize your ambassadors to post and remember that a little goes a long way. Usually, your happy consumers just need a little nudge to post about your brand.

Have you worked with ambassadors on Instagram? If so, feel free to reach out on social with your tips and insights!

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How to Effectively Engage Your Audience Through Email Marketing

Gone are the days of Spray and Pray email marketing. You cannot do those once customary ‘Email blasts’ to every subscriber on your contact list. The email marketing landscape has changed rapidly, thanks to the ever-increasing demand for personalized messaging. Striving for higher subscriber engagement is the primary reason behind this transition. However, things are not as simple as they seem to be since subscriber engagement is about sending the right message to the right message person at the right time.

As per a recent report by Campaign Monitor, “Increasing customer engagement rates was the most important goal for 58% of marketers and the most significant barrier for 44% of marketers.” These numbers show how much customer engagement means to email marketers and how crucial it is to enhance it.

Hence, I have compiled a few of the most effective tactics that you can pursue to take your subscriber engagement rate through the roof.

Dynamic and storytelling content

‘Content is king,’ and content hasn’t earned that title just like that. For any communication, be it personal or professional, communication is the soul, which stands true for email marketing. Weaving storytelling content in your emails would immediately elevate their online experience. They would be hooked from the get-go. However, it is some extra effort to sync your storytelling and branding together, but it is subscriber engagement you are aiming for, so you go to give it everything.

You can feature value-added content in your storytelling, such as news, tips, customer success stories, tips, and much more. As per a Forbes report, “millennials no longer become engaged through pure ads.”

When you strike the right chord with the subscribers, your engaging content will start impacting the sales as well. Connecting with people at a personal level leaves a profound impact on their buying behavior, and if executed right, it can do wonders for your brand.

If you are also looking to enhance your email campaign’s engagement appeal, then look no further than Mailchimp email experts or Marketo certified experts. They are the best in the business of taking your email marketing endeavors to the next level.

Impactful subject lines

On average, 121 emails are being received in every inbox each day. That’s a lot of emails, irrespective of whether they are personal, professional, and promotional. Now, in this sea of emails, the subject line is the deciding factor if your emails would be opened or will be another forgotten message that was never read in the first place.

It’s imperative to create subject lines that make a substantial impact on the readers. They will appeal to them and boost your engagement rates. A well-crafted subject line is short, tempting, and descriptive. You can go for different tonalities such as personal, informational, how-to, etc. Inserting emojis in subject lines is clever since they promise higher CTRs.

Here is a good example of how a precise subject line can set the right premise for your email. The subject line for Postable’s email says, “Refer your friends and get $$$.” The messaging is to the point clear, and hence, the recipient knows exactly what to expect once they open the mail.

Source: Really Good Emails

Personalized emails

A Campaign Monitor report found that “improving email personalization was the number one goal for 38% of marketers and was also the number one challenge for 36% of marketers.” To achieve personalization in your email marketing campaign, you can practice marketing automation, email list segmentation, and even third-party integrations.

Striking that chord with the recipients is easier if the content you serve them is relevant to them and as per their interests. Personalization doesn’t stop at just adding their name in the subject line. Instead, you can engage with them in even more ways, such as writing first-person emails and more. The plan is to give them a feeling that you understand your email subscribers and value them.

The following email template example depicts the point I am trying to make. When a subscriber sees the recipient’s name at the outset, they will trust you more, which would lead to much higher engagement. This email sounds more like a well-thought letter than a robotic email that you and I already receive truckloads of on a daily basis. Hence, a personalized email is a perfect start to have a loyal and engaging subscriber base.

Source: Really Good Emails

Segmentation of your email lists

Personalization gets you higher subscriber engagement, and nothing comes closer to personalization than segmenting your target lists. As email marketers, we create so much content that we sometimes forget diversity amongst our respective user bases. Information that’s relevant to one subscriber might be redundant for another. A great way to serve both of them is by segmenting your email list and creating specific personalized content based on that.

For example, if you experience low usage rates, then sending out re-engagement emails to engage inactive customers would be the best thing. For a more consistent customer, you can update him about the upcoming deals and offers.

The big takeaway here? In the end, customer engagement is decisive to customer acquisition and eventual customer retention. However, before trying to engage with them, it’s better to understand them first. It’s indispensable to have an understanding of who your customers are, what they prefer, or what’s the best way to connect with them.

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How Reddit is Expanding its Video Presence with Dubsmash

2020 has seen a surge in the ever-expanding category of video offerings, particularly short-form, geared toward younger audiences. The latest to make a place in the space? Reddit.

The platform recently revealed its acquisition of short video platform Dubsmash. While the app will retain its own platform and brand, Reddit will integrate its video creation tools to help boost the creative opportunities available to creators and brands.

“Video is increasingly core to how people want to connect, and as we continue to grow our community, we’re committed to providing the best possible tools users need to find, create, and interact with one another through video,” Reddit shared in the official announcement.

The path towards video

Since launching native videos in 2017, Reddit reports usage has increased sharply, growing 2X in 2020 alone resulting in millions of organic video uploads. Separately, a spokesperson for Reddit shared with sources at Social Media Today that A Reddit spokesperson told SMT that, RPAN’s first year, over 291,000 streams were shared on the platform, by more than 54,000 streamers.

While initially these streams were capped at 45 minutes, there’s now a way to extend the length, which could open the window for creators to monetize their videos and tap into Dubsmash’s 52 million daily active users.

For some background, Dubsmash stands as one of TikTok’s biggest rivals that gained initial traction in 2015 as a lip-sync video app. In 2017, it broadened its appeal by incorporating more features that would earn it the title of social platform and moved its headquarters from Berlin to Brooklyn. Fast forward to this year, it had over one billion downloads and was second in the short-form video market.

Elevating underrepresented voices

Consumers prefer realistic portrayals of life versus displays of escapism, therefore it’s more important than ever to listen to their conversations rather than predict what they want or value.

In this vein, platforms must adapt as brands now take a stance on political and social issues far more than in previous decades, not only offering a branch of support but also acting as advocates for the consumers they represent and the issues they face.

Per the announcement, Dubsmash as a “welcoming platform for creators and users who are under-represented in social media.” Roughly 25 percent of all Black teens in the U.S and females represent 70 percent of Dubsmash users. This seems to align nicely with Reddit’s mission of fostering a sense of community and belonging via thousands of topics and passion points.

“In our years of building Dubsmash, we’ve learned how video can spark creativity, unlock interactions, and deepen connections within communities,” added Dubsmash’s co-founder and president, Suchit Dash. “Our focus is showing a different side of the internet.”

The transition to video — it’s only beginning

“The transition to video will be bigger than the transition to mobile,” explained Reddit Chief Executive and co-founder Steve Huffman in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. “We’re still only at the beginning.”

Video streaming apps specifically saw a 40 percent YoY spike with games, (35%), financing and shopping apps (25%), and social and communications apps (20%) following closely behind. Overall, it’s safe to say mobile adoption was accelerated by the global pandemic in ways that simply cannot and will not be reversed. App Annie predicts we’re ahead by roughly 2 to 3 years.

As we look ahead, predictions show that video will account for 78 percent of mobile traffic by 2021, up from 60 percent today. TikTok may be the king for now, but that won’t stop others from making their mark.

In an era of empowered consumers, video will continue to a core format central to how we find, share, and relate to content. Experiences should be the primary focus for brands — and these have to be easy-to-navigate, immensely creative, and match the space and flow of communication. Video is one of these focus areas worth integrating into your content strategy.

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How Twitter is Driving Tweet Exposure and Virtual Hangouts

It’s hard to believe more than seven years ago Snapchat unveiled “Stories,” a feature allowing consumers to string together images and videos into a digestible, diary-esque sequence that would disappear after 24 hours. It proved so popular that several other prominent players including Instagram and LinkedIn created their own Stories doppelgängers.

Most recently, Twitter is carving its name in this space. Last month Twitter introduced its own take on stories—fleeting tweets called Fleets. Now it’s making it easier to share Tweets inside stories on other platforms.

Integrating Tweets into Instagram and Snapchat

In the latest move, users can transform Tweets into stickers within Snapchat, with the ability to customize content with other traditional creative elements found across other versions of Stories including captions, filters, and Bitmojis. Previously, if someone wanted to share a tweet on Snapchat, they’d have to resort to taking a screenshot of it and manually inserting it as an image, without having access to any of Snapchat’s camera or editing features for added flair.

Here’s the full breakdown:

  • Tap the share icon on a Tweet (it must be public — not a protected tweet)
  • Select the Snapchat icon at the bottom of the share menu to create the sticker. This will open directly to your iOS Camera and generate an immovable sticker if you are already signed in and not in the process of creating a separate Snap
  • Take your Snap — either photo or video — and customize with captions and Snapchat Creative Tools including your Bitmoji, Cameo and Filters
  • Select the blue “Send” button to distribute to individual friends or groups
  • Once shared, the Snap will link back to the Tweet  thread on Twitter where you can see the whole conversation

Outside of Snapchat, Twitter also revealed it will soon launch a small test of a similar feature to let iOS users share tweets in Instagram Stories.

Doubling down on virtual experiences and live video

In the virtual hangout realm, Twitter also announced its acquisition of the video app Squad. Per TechCrunch, the startup’s co-founders, CEO Esther Crawford and CTO Ethan Sutin, along with the rest of Squad’s team will now join Twitter’s team across its design, engineering and product departments.

Similar to the likes of Houseparty, Squad allows groups to connect with each other in real-time but the key differentiator that helps it rise above the noise is screen-sharing. As shown in this example, any chat participant can share their screen which can spur discussion around other platforms and content forms including private messages. Put differently, the objective here is context and facilitation of broader discussion around Tweets.
Squad will help Twitter “bring new ways for people to interact, express themselves, and join in the public conversation,” Twitter VP of Product, Ilya Brown, shared in a tweet.

Earlier this year, the startup noted that its usage had increased 1100% as a result of the lockdowns due to the global pandemic. It also garnered $7.2 million in venture capital from First Round, Y Combinator, betaworks, Halogen Ventures, and ex-TechCrunch editor Alexia Bonatsos’s Dream Machine amongst several other investors.

The future of multi-participant chat

2020 was a case in point that to succeed, platforms must innovate and provide new functionality to expand app usage. Tools including interactive Q&As, live chats, gaming, and livestreaming are golden tickets to ensuring longevity for their ability to help both creators and brands achieve more personal forms of entertainment and monetize their offerings.

While the future of Fleets may be uncertain, Twitter’s acquisition of Squad feels like a step in the right direction to standing the offering up. Connection to real-time trends and close friends is tablestakes in today’s landscape and perhaps this move will open the floodgate for a revamp of Twitter’s app. For instance, a dedicated tab emphasizing video clips and discussions via Squad. With the angle of simple, multi-participant chat, it also ticks another important box regarding consumers craving more intimate interactions that are welcomed versus those that are forced and disruptive.

Image credit via TechCrunch

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4 Data-Driven Digital Marketing Tactics to Embrace in 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improve Your Data Quality

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

Sisense defines data quality as follows:

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

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

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

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

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


Embrace Inclusive Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Use Cross-Channel Marketing

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

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

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

What does it mean for businesses?

They need to be everywhere.

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

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

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

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


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

Personalize Your Marketing

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

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

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

Marketing personalization is about creating on-site personalized experiences.

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

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

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

Now imagine this:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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Music: An Undervalued Asset in Marketing

Hosted by Jesse Kirshbaum and in partnership with Triller, Beats, Bytes, and Brands is a show exploring the future of music marketing and how innovations in social media and shifts in consumer behavior are reshaping how music is made, consumed, and shared and how brands will need a music strategy to ensure they keep pace with culture.

As Triller continues to grow in popularity, there is an opportunity for brands to reach a highly sought after demographic and engage with a bustling social video community where you can show the world who you are by capturing flawless videos and sharing them in seconds.

“Music is an undervalued asset when it comes to marketing products and embedding them in culture,” said Kirshbaum. “With Beats, Bytes, and Brands we are giving you a weekly master class, featuring various experts in this specific field, discussing current trends, best practices, key learnings, and how best your brand can utilize music as a marketing vehicle.”

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

Each episode of season one dives into relevant topics such as playlist culture, music in gaming, the do’s and don’ts of artists partnerships, and more. Viewers are invited to put their finger on the pulse of what’s hot and relevant to both brand marketers and culture at large

The eight episodes include:

  • EP1: Music Marketing with Jesus Malverde Gonzalez
  • EP2: Crafting a Music Strategy with Anthony Demby
  • EP3: State of the Livestream Business with Fabrice Sergent
  • EP4: Power of Music with Aubrey Marcus
  • EP5: Creativity and The Power of Playlists with Tuma Basa
  • EP6: Artist Partnerships with Louis Colon III
  • EP7: Music X Gaming with Raphaella Lima
  • EP8: Supporting Emerging Indie Artists with Andrew Keller

You can watch all eight episodes for free on SMW+, our streaming platform for marketers who are looking to level up in their careers, thanks to the support of Trille and Beats and Bytes.

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Empathy: Your Path to Becoming a Powerful and Transformative Leader

Empathy, a word that has been used extensively during 2020. It is abundant yet also scarce. It is a foundational part of being human, however, when we look at what has happened this year and when we think about our politicians, the News Media, Social Media and the role of Corporations, you can argue that empathy is very much in short supply.

This is why we teamed up with Facebook, the 404, and Michael Ventura, the author of Applied Empathy, a book that helps us understand that empathy can provide a direct path to powerful and transformational leadership, to bring you The Business of Empathy, a 12-part content series that is exclusively available, for free, on SMW+.

Last year we announced the formation of the 404, a community of multi-disciplined, digital thought-leaders brought together to take necessary steps toward solving problems that exist as a product of how we use social media. Functioning as a coalition, The 404 is made up of over 40 member companies, including Facebook, who has provided support by offering up its Global Partner Centers to host 404 events and meetings, and most recently, a new content series on our live and on-demand streaming service, SMW+.

“Facebook is proud to support the Business of Empathy program and bring the industry together to make a change for good. The global pandemic has touched all aspects of our lives, and for business leaders, it’s more important than ever to dial up empathy for our customers, employees, and communities,” shared Sylvia Zhou, Global Industry Relations and Intelligence Lead at Facebook.

Each episode of The Business of Empathy takes on a different topic and features interviews with some of the world’s most successful business and marketing leaders, including former Head of Digital for Visa and CMO of Eargo, Shiv Singh, author of Restoring the Soul of Business and former Chief Growth Officer for Publicis, Rishad Tobaccowala, and Lola Banjo, a Strategic Innovation Partner at Salesforce.

“Our world is a diverse and nuanced place and those who can perspective take and evolve their understanding and behaviors will be well poised to usher in a more inclusive, collaborative world. This is why The Business of Empathy is so important. The time for empathy is now,” said Michael Ventura, author of Applied Empathy.

The 12 episodes of The Business of Empathy include:

  • EP1: Why Empathy, Why Now? with Michael Ventura
  • EP2: Empathy and Strategic Innovation with Lola Banjo
  • EP3: Empathy, Expertise and the Truth with Shiv Singh
  • EP4: Empathy in a Remote and Distant World with Teodora Pavkovic
  • EP5: Empathic Archetypes with Michael Ventura
  • EP6: Empathy and Design Thinking with Paulette Bluhm-Sauriol
  • EP7: Empathy, Innovation, and Pharma with Cal Austin
  • EP8: Empathy and Visual Communication with Kirstin Benson
  • EP9: Exploring the Whole Self with Michael Ventura
  • EP10: Empathic Leadership with Karuna Rawal
  • EP11: Empathy and Team Culture with Kiesha Garrison
  • EP12: Restoring the Soul of Business with Rishad Tobaccowala

You can watch all 12 episodes for free on SMW+, our streaming platform for marketers who are looking to level up in their careers, thanks to Facebook’s support.

We are confident that by watching this series you will become more enlightened and educated in the ways that empathy can be transformative to your career and help you become a more powerful leader.

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5 Insights to Boost Your Brand’s Social Presence in 2021 and Beyond

It’s been a whirlwind of a year and anticipating what lies ahead is no easier to navigate. Our friends at Hootsuite launched their 5th annual Social Trends report illuminating the top trends set to shape brands in 2021 and how to adapt and thrive. You can download the full report here, but here’s a peek at some of the high-level insights backed by the brightest minds in marketing and data.

A shift to short-term ROI

This year saw a rush to deliver a short-term return on investment (ROI) to recoup lost sales from the upheaval of the pandemic. In fact, 73 percent of all marketers ranked “increased acquisition of new customers” as their top outcome for social in 2021, compared to only 46% last year, marking a 58 percent year-over-year increase. This has led to a very transaction-focused year.

But transactions alone don’t create memorable brands or long-term growth.

That’s why you need to innovate to win long-term loyalty and engagement. How? By bringing back the fun to the buying process, making shopping more social and using social as a way to connect with customers, foster loyalty, and prevent disjointed experiences.

Finding your place in social conversations

The uptick in social media use in 2020 translated into numerous opportunities for brands. Unfortunately, many faltered by jumping in too soon instead of taking crucial time to listen to their audiences. The reality is, many people want to engage with each other, not brands. Those that let their audiences guide them were able to find spaces where they could fit into the conversation in a meaningful and authentic way. 

Brands who will find success in 2021 are not necessarily the ones leading the conversation, but rather finding creative avenues to fit into it and break through the walls of indifference.

To join the conversation instead of just interrupting, lean into user-generated content (UGC) in lieu of costly content production, bolster social listening to find where you fit, and pick your time and place for engagement and participation. 

The tipping point for baby boomers

Baby boomers are spending even more time on social platforms now as a result of the pandemic, yet marketers still overlook and under-represent this lucrative group in favor of targeting younger demographics.

Why? For one, we have a tendency to fall prey to the irresistible chase of newness—rather than pursuing effectiveness. To capitalize on boomers’ growing tech enthusiasm, look to smart segmentation and thoughtful representation. That’s how savvy brands like yours will leapfrog over companies still stereotyping. 

Tying engagement data to identity

Social media isn’t simply about racking up likes, those are just a means to an end. You want to make sure your social efforts drive real results for your business. To do it, move beyond reactions and dig deeper to see how social data can help you understand your customers better.

Linking social media engagement to identity is more critical than ever for marketers. After so many traditional approaches fell by the wayside, it’s become the strongest bridge between brands and customers. To achieve this, look to establish a solid UTM framework for both paid and organic ads and integrate your data into your CRMs. This will ensure greater visibility into customer touchpoints and untapped opportunities.

Success will boil down to taking steps — big or small — to gather key insights from quantifiable data. Be sure to map these back to your broader marketing objectives to avoid getting lost in a pit of attribution or stuck measuring social in a silo.

Becoming a purpose-driven brand

While 2020 wasn’t the beginning of the shift towards purpose-driven marketing, it kicked things into high gear.

Now 53 percent of people say they want brands to proactively make the world a better place.

Becoming a purpose-driven brand isn’t something you can fake or simply mimic on social media. You can’t tick a box and be done. Brands must be cognizant of what is going on in the world and take into consideration the conversations already unfolding. If you’re going to take a stance, make sure your actions back it up.

In 2021, the strongest brands will balance the twin demands of building a better business and better world. This strategy must start in your boardroom and should use social listening to learn and gain intelligence.

Download the report


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Shareholder Update: Q3 2020

Shareholder Update: Q3 2020

Note: This is the quarterly update sent to Buffer shareholders, with a bit of added information for context. We share these updates transparently as a part of our ‘default to transparency’ value. See all of our revenue on our public revenue dashboard and see all of our reports and updates here.

Before I get into the numbers, please join me in celebrating a pretty big milestone this season — Buffer’s 10 year anniversary!

In late 2010, Joel launched the first version of Buffer and has led the company from that early twinkle of an idea to building a company that is now generating over $21,000,000 in annual revenue.

It’s wild to reflect on the different checkpoints, successes, and challenges that have been experienced over the past decade. The experiences, growth pains, and learnings have really shaped where we are today and where we’re headed next. We’ll be sharing more reflections in the very near future.

We have another piece of exciting news to share as well. As you may know, we’ve been looking for an experienced product leader to join Buffer for quite some time. We are thrilled to welcome our new Chief Product Officer, Maria Thomas, to our team. We look forward to partnering with Maria to expand on a unique strategy that helps us serve customers, differentiate Buffer, and continue to realize solid, sustainable growth over the next several years.

Let’s take a look at our financial results for Q3 and end of year outlook.  

Financial results from Q3 2020

Q3 2020

  • Total net income: $700,996
  • EBITDA margin: 16%
  • MRR: $1,761,962 (up slightly from $1,705,370 MRR at end of Q2)

We’re projecting an overall end of year ARR at just over $21.1M. This projection is an overall ARR downturn compared to 2019 ARR and we can attribute it to a few factors:

  1. Our Q1/Q2 decision to sunset Reply and focus those resources on building a product more complimentary to the overall Buffer experience for SMB customers.
  2. Our Q2 response of extending payment relief to customers struggling to adapt to the detrimental impacts of the pandemic on their businesses.
  3. The volatility of financial markets due to the economic effects of the pandemic on U.S. businesses and global businesses. Businesses represent a significant portion of our customer base and revenue. We’re all adapting to a new normal, experiencing uncertainty in this next wave, and this certainly impacts consumer behavior even in the social media space.

We have a number of initiatives in motion expected to have a positive impact on new business and retention metrics. We’ll share more about those product features in our Q4 report.

Shareholder Update: Q3 2020
Shareholder Update: Q3 2020
Shareholder Update: Q3 2020

*Our drop in bank balance is due to us paying off a bank line of credit balance.

Looking ahead

As we head into the final weeks of 2020, the senior leadership team is solidifying our company objectives for 2021 and setting down shorter term OKRs across all areas. We’re so happy to welcome Maria to the team and to continue to build on the endless learnings from the past decade.


Announcing our Theme for 2021: “Reinvention: Rebuilding the Systems of Social Media Marketing for a Better Future”

If we have learned anything from the tumultuousness and catastrophic events of 2020, it is that we need to make substantial and even systemic changes in society and especially in our industry. The spotlight of scrutiny has never been brighter and what is in plain sight for all of us to see is a business landscape that has failed to adequately respond to the moment.

Social Media Week’s flagship conferences will take place: May 5-8, June 30-July 2, and October 27-29

The Great Re-Invention

Author, marketing guru, and former Chief Growth Officer at Publicis, Rishad Tobaccowala, says that we are in the midst of a Great Re-Invention of society, business, and ourselves.

What he means is that at the macro-level, when we face societal change and economic uncertainty, systems undergo a kind of stress test. All systems go through it, government, healthcare, education, infrastructure, business, and of course marketing. In 2020, many of these systems failed, or at the very least, buckled under the weight of a global pandemic, civic uprising, misinformation, and economic uncertainty.

How Our Systems Are Failing Us

The system of marketing buckled and continues to be weighed down by a failure to be strategic, versus. tactical, an obsession with short term gains, the glorification of shiny social media, an ocean of unwanted and frankly irrelevant data, the latest technology or tools, and probably most importantly, a failure by marketers to put themselves in the shoes of their customers and lead with empathy.

There’s a reason why so many brand messages during the early days of the Pandemic were trite, cliched, and in many cases completely tone-deaf, or that marketers felt paralyzed as the ground swell of racial inequality led to an uprising, protests and civil unrest. As marketers, we were ill-equipped to quickly respond and adapt to the movement. The reason why is there are only a few stand-out examples during this period, including the likes of Postmates, P&G, Clorox, Aviation Gin and AirBnb comes down to whether their brand values, leadership and messages were grounded in something bigger than their own organizations.

These examples, both the failures and the successes, should force us to look at every aspect of our industry and ask important questions, such as, what does our brand actually stand for? Does our leadership embody empathic-led and human-first principles of marketing? Is our message right, and are we engaging appropriately through the mediums in which we communicate? Most importantly, how must we reinvent ourselves and how should we as marketers respond to the challenges of our time?

Reinvention v.s. Invention

During periods of massive disruption and societal and business change, we also experience something truly remarkable; invention and ingenuity. The creation of something new. The Phoenix rising from the ashes.

There are businesses and brands that exist today that have become category leaders including AirBnb, Uber, and Pinterest that were invented after the Great Recession of 2008. There will be businesses and brands that will be invented in 2020 and over the coming years that will be similarly disruptive. This is certain. Invention is good. Invention is sexy and cool. But what needs reinvention? What does this moment mean in terms of fixing what’s broken and designing new systems for how we do marketing?

In his October 2020 piece, “The ABCDE of Marketing Re-Invented,” Rishad addresses this question through a framework for how marketing has changed and is changing into the future.

A = Audience
B = Brand
C = Content
D = Data
E = Enterprise

In adapting the ABCDE Framework for reinvention we have put together a list of questions, which we believe represent the priority areas that we need to focus on:

Audiences: Who we are marketing to, how we find them, and how has their mindset shifted? How can we think about people and not consumers?
Brand: Brands continue to be important but the way they are built is changing greatly and our relationship with them is complicated. How should experience and purpose play into brand strategy?

Content: Has always been a key to marketing but here is much more of it, there are new ways to make it, faster and cheaper, so how do we cut through the noise?

Data: Data is key to the future of marketing, but very few companies will find a competitive edge in how they use it. How do we focus on quality versus quantity?

Enterprise: A progressive company is where information and decision making is transparent and leaders are accountable. How do we give power back to the people and inspire leaders to step out of their way?

Where Does Re-Invention Start?

We believe that reinvention starts with acknowledging what is not working, asking the hardest and most important questions, and being willing to embrace the idea that change, however hard, or potentially costly in the short term, is what will allow us to survive and thrive in the future.
Much of the change we’ve experienced in recent years has been technologically driven, and we imagine this change will continue and even accelerate, but as marketers, the change we should want to affect, the kind of future we should be working hard to realize, is one that is human-first, technology second.

With some much still uncertain about the future, we should come together and commit that 2021 will be the year where our industry undergoes the greatest reinvention of our lifetime and that the outcome we are striving for is more equitable, fair, and positive and less extractive, exploitative and divisive.

The post Announcing our Theme for 2021: “Reinvention: Rebuilding the Systems of Social Media Marketing for a Better Future” appeared first on Social Media Week.


How WhatsApp is Streamlining In-App Shopping

In May, Facebook Shops made its debut streamlining the process for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. In order to best facilitate the new on-platform shopping experience, the platform has also expressed its interest leading the path for customers to message businesses from their shop listings, via its family of apps including WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct.

While consumers can’t yet view a business’ shop and make purchases directly from within a messenger stream, as of today they can select the items they wish to purchase and share their list from within a WhatsApp messenger stream.

How to use WhatsApp Carts

When you are visiting a business’ catalog on WhatsApp (tap on the shopping button icon listed next to their name), you can use the ‘Message Business’ to start a conversation or use the ‘Add to Cart’ button if you’re ready to place an order with the business about a product that you’re viewing. As users find the items they want when interacting with a business in the app, they’ll now be able to tap “add to cart” as they go.

Once you’ve finished shopping, you can then send your Cart as a message to the business to submit your full order. You can access the details of your order by tapping on the ‘View Cart’ button in your chat window with the seller.

What this ultimately enables is an easier process for brands to keep track of requests and help create a more seamless way to deliver personalized responses. Shopping might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Whatsapp, but it’s become an increasingly popular space for small businesses eager to sell their products.

Per The Verge, more than 175 million people used the service to message a WhatsApp Business account each day as of late October. Further, the WhatsApp Business app reached over 50 million users worldwide as of July this year.

Supercharging the shopping experience

This isn’t WhatsApp’s first foray into e-commerce. To date, it’s launched QR codes, dedicated shopping buttons, and the ability to share catalog links in direct chat messages. It also opened up free storage to merchants to host their business’s messages.

“Catalogs have allowed people to quickly see what’s available and helped businesses organize their chats around particular items. With more and more shopping happening through chats, we want to make buying and selling even easier,” the platform explained.

WhatsApp’s growth and the future of shoppable social media

Many of the old ways in which people and businesses communicate are not working. Per Shopify data, a whopping 92 percent of U.S. consumers have shopped online since the start of the pandemic, compared to 65 percent who have shopped in-store. In addition, over half of consumers have shifted more of their spending online since March, particularly young consumers between 18 and 34. These younger consumers are also more likely than other age groups to find products and shop them via social media, utilize new commerce tools, and prioritize shipping.

Stats aside — what’s key here is: With an acceleration towards apps for personal commerce and e-commerce, the time is now to consider Alternative shipping options, conversational commerce, and shoppable social media.

Consumers are starting to consciously cut back on mindless scrolling or mindless following. If a brand wants to cut through the noise and truly resonate, they must stay true to their personality, while delivering value through their content. Understanding specific wants and needs and diving deeper into the consumer’s motivation versus relying on predictions based on prior purchase patterns will be instrumental in e-commerce strategies in 2021 and beyond.

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TikTok’s Top 100: 2020 in Review

Since September 2020, TikTok has amassed more than 800 million active users worldwide and the app has been downloaded over 2 billion times on the App Store and Google Play. To commemorate a year of success, the app released its annual edition of TikTok 100 — a year-in-review roundup highlighting the top videos, genres, creators, and memes that took the Internet by storm.

“From a global pandemic that introduced us to social distancing to protests for racial equality, community hardships, and personal and economic uncertainties the world over, 2020 was full of all the feelings. Throughout those moments, millions of Americans turned to TikTok to share their stories and lift others up,” the platform shared.

As you look to identify ways your brand can get a piece of the action and create your own TikTok experience, here are a few highlights from 2020.

Top Viral Videos

Bella Poarch’s video lip-syncing “M to the B” was TikTok’s biggest viral video of the year, The clip quickly went viral after she published it in August and is currently the most-liked video on TikTok with nearly 520 million views and over 43 million likes.

Second to Poarch, Ohio native Nathan Apodaca aka doggface208. After his aforementioned “Dreams” video went viral on September 25 — it now has over 69 million views and 12 million likes (and counting) — the short clip also served to benefit Fleetwood Mac. Streams for “Dreams” more than doubled while sales nearly tripled since his video became a sensation. “It struck a chord,” stated Chris Ferzli, Ocean Spray’s director of global corporate affairs.

Almost making the top list: Will Smith for his take on the “Wipe it Down” challenge and Julian Bass’ superhero special effects video that earned the attention of Disney executive chairman Bob Iger.

Top trends, hashtags, and challenges

By now it’s no secret TikTok is the birthplace of trends — whether referring to a dance, a new comedy format, or a memorable quote — and 2020 saw no shortage of these viral moments.

Amongst those earning top spots include the #blindinglights dance challenge. Set to The Weeknd’s chart-topping hit “Blinding Lights,” the moment brought families, friends together, bound by a love for the song and finding ways to have a little fun at home during the pandemic by dancing. The hashtag #blindinglights has approximately 3.5 billion views.

Speaking of social distancing, another trend that kept users entertained during COVID, Curtis Roach‘s “bored in the house”– a quarantine anthem that inspired over 4.5 million videos to date, and the hashtag #boredinthehouse has approximately 4.8 billion views.

The ‘YouHaveTo’ hashtag has earned over 7.3 billion views today. Set to a cover of Odezsa‘s “A Moment Apart” by @hannah_harpist, TikTokers parodied a monologue about how “you have to start romanticizing your life.” Those who have put their own twist on the trend include familiar names such as Dr. Phil and Catfish’s Nev Schulman.

Finally, who could forget the Time Warp Scan feature, which freezes an image in place as a blue line crosses the screen allowing for limitless creative transformation? The #timewarpscan hashtag has been viewed over 14.3 billion times to date.

Top creators and celebrities

Creators are at the heart of TikTok and this year many stepped up in the delivery of videos authentic to who they are and the brands that align with their goals and values. We saw an enormous cultural shift as voices were used to spread awareness around the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, underrepresented communities, and more. The platform continues to be a launchpad for those seeking to forge community and inspire.

So who were the biggest breakout stars? TikTok’s list of top creators overall is led by none other than Charli D’Amelio, and also includes familiar names including Addison Rae, Bella Poarch, and Noah Beck.

A separate creator list dubbed ‘Most Impactful,’ recognizes creators for their efforts in the fight for positive change in the U.S. and around the world. The top three named in this group were Doctor Leslie (@drleslie), Taylor Cassidy (@taylorcassidy), and Sienna Mae (@siennamae).

In the celebrity space, Jason Derulo came out on top, followed by Kylie Jenner and Lizzo. Others who made the top 10 include Tyga, Charlie Puth, Shay Mitchell, Jack Black, Lil Yachty, China McClain, and Dr. Phil.

Top songs

TikTok’s top 10 songs feature hits from established hitmakers, rising stars, and previously-unknown artists. The unabated creativity of the platform transformed the sounds into immersive experiences in a COVID-19 world when in-person experiences including concerts were longer possible.

The number one ranking went to Jason Derulo’s “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat),” with Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage Remix” coming in second and “WAP” by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stalin taking fourth. Also making the list– “Say So” by Doja Cat.

Check out the full list here including winners in categories such as top food recipes, trends, and hacks, top style and beauty trends, and top product elements. Stay tuned on the 31st for a special New Year’s Eve countdown live on TikTok!

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7 Key Tips For Optimizing Your Email Marketing Ahead of Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again. As the holiday season fast approaches, the nights are beginning to draw in, the temperature is beginning to drop, and marketers are hard at work figuring out a winning strategy to entice customers into their sales funnels. 

The winter period is an extremely busy period for online marketers as businesses ramp up their efforts to appeal to buyers in the run-up to Christmas. 

Top Days of Email Marketing

(Image: Clicky Blog)

In fact, in the US, the busiest five days in the calendar year for email marketers all fall between Thanksgiving Day and mid-December. That’s a hectic schedule, so it’s vital that a plan is in place to make the most of your email marketing efforts. 

Although marketing has evolved at a rapid pace in the 21st Century, email marketing has proven itself time and time again that it’s going nowhere when it comes to sales funnel optimization. 

Marketing Channels

(Image: Software Advice

In fact, despite the rise of increasingly advanced technology, only social media marketing is ranked higher in the minds of marketers when it comes to campaign effectiveness. 

This means that your email marketing should be fully optimized as we head into the holiday period. However, if you feel like you’re not quite ready for entering battle with your competitors to make your voice heard and leverage sales in the tumultuous festive marketplace, don’t worry. Here’s a compilation of seven key tips to get your campaigns in good stead for the competitive landscape ahead: 

Adapt Your Subject Lines for Festive Frivolity

If there’s one thing you can be certain of during the festive period, it’s that your marketing emails are going to have plenty of company in the inboxes of recipients. 

It’s imperative that you exercise creativity with your email subject lines and use some seasonal triggers to enable you to stand out from your inbox. Whether your creative streak extends to festive puns, themed keywords or just a little bit of alliteration, these subtle boosts to your visibility can help you to stand out from the crowd and build more engagement. 

One of the most effective ways of standing out is by including some themed emojis in your subject line. This can be a great attention-grabbing technique that may come across as tacky for your business during any other time of year – but as it’s a time of festive cheer, should strike a chord with your customers. 

Furthermore, emojis have been proven to be effective when it comes to email open rates, with Mailjet finding that 63% of email subscribers in the UK were more likely to open emails with an emoji in its subject line. 

Above, Enchant has created a compilation of eye-catching emoji-based seasonal email campaigns. As we can see, the cheery attitude is complimented by the emojis in a way that adds colour and frivolity to a recipient’s inbox.

Use Audience Segmentation Wisely

Sending targeted and personalized festive emails can carry significantly higher engagement rates than generic mass emails. Segmenting contacts is by far the most effective way of adapting your messages to the specific interests of your customers and purchasing habits. 

There are plenty of ways in which segmentation can take place. One of the most effective options is through categorizing audience interests based on the types of products they’ve purchased or the sections of your website that they’ve browsed. 

It’s also possible to segment your subscribers into year-round and more seasonal shopper groups. Shoppers who are more active during festive periods and less active throughout the year require different approaches to your loyal everyday shoppers – especially when it comes to mailing frequency and follow-ups. 

Segmenting your subscribers into those who more frequently seek to utilise coupons can help you to develop campaigns tailor suited to your more bargain-conscious shoppers. This segment can be particularly useful in avoiding offering discounted products to loyal customers who are likely willing to buy at full price. 

Above, Sendinblue highlights how Airbnb has segmented audiences based on their browsing habits to offer locations that they may be more interested in visiting. 

There are plenty of tools available that can provide you with the insights and ability to segment your subscribers effectively, with Google Analytics and Kissmetrics among the market leaders. 

Set Up Exclusive Holiday Offers

To help shoppers to get into the holiday spirit, it’s worth creating holiday offers that run alongside festive themes. For much of the year, your emails tend to look the same, so this is really an opportunity to create new layouts and build eye-catching deals. 

Switch your approach up and build some holiday-themed offers alongside some fitting templates. According to OptinMonster, one client, Cloudways, achieved a 120% boost in free trial signups by creating a holiday marketing campaign that’s fitted with a suitable offer. 

Holiday-themed offers help to develop a natural sense of urgency among your subscribers. The natural time constraints on building a campaign to match a specific holiday or festive period gives customers a clear understanding of how long they have to act on their interest. 

Be Sure to Optimize for Mobile

Did you know that TechCrunch recently announced that Cyber Monday sales had topped almost $8 billion? Significantly, $2.2 billion of this figure stemmed from sales on smartphone devices.

With this in mind, it’s essential to craft email marketing campaigns that consider the fact that users will be browsing on their smartphones. If your emails during the festive period aren’t mobile-friendly, your business risks losing out on a significant portion of its market. 

To ensure that your email campaigns can be viewed by readers wherever they’re choosing to access their inbox, it’s important to integrate a responsive design that can adapt to all screen sizes. Responsive design relies on media queries to make your emails mobile-friendly. Media queries can trim your email’s designs and hide text on mobile while scaling images to fit various different screen sizes among many other useful applications. 

Always Test Your Emails

No matter what campaign you create, there’s always time for A/B testing. It’s vital as a marketer to figure out which products and services work best in driving more conversions for subscribers. 

There’s never an inconvenient time to test your products ahead of the winter festive period. Even if you’re in the middle of June, it can be useful to run some campaigns to see what’s generating more interest early on. This can give you a credible idea of what your subscribers are looking for and where conversions are most likely to take place. 

Split testing and A/B tests can help you to identify possible errors and shortcomings before the busy season, giving you plenty of time to act in advance. 

Once again, Google Analytics can be a great way of measuring the performance of your test campaigns. The platform can offer comprehensive insights into exactly where your visitors are coming from and how willing they are to act on their interest by making a conversion. Platforms like Finteza can be useful for gaining visualizations into the quality of incoming traffic. 

Quality of traffic

The tool automatically identifies the quality of traffic, for example, “Clean Traffic”, “Spam”, “Cookie Manipulation”, and more. 

Entice Customers With Seasonal Freebies

Everyone loves a freebie, especially during the festive period. Christmas, in particular, is a great time to build brand loyalty with giveaways and free goods. 

While some freebies can be met with scepticism among customers at various other times across the year, holidays that champion giving like Christmas can really work wonders in creating more receptive audiences for offers. 

Additionally, with how many competitors you’ll be battling with to win the interest of your customers, a free prize draw, competition or giveaway can work wonders in driving more traffic to your website. With an alluring array of deals and call to actions in sight, there could be significant profits on offer for brands brave enough to give valuable products or services away for free. 

Create an Intuitive Emailing Schedule

To get the most out of the lucrative holiday season, it’s important to begin planning your email marketing campaigns in advance, leaving nothing to chance. 

Since the emergence of Covid-19, the digital marketing landscape has gone into overdrive as businesses attempt to adapt to a brand new world of remote work and self-isolation. Some retailers may attempt to get in early on the chaos of festive email campaigns, but the best approach is to develop an emailing schedule that you trust. 

It’s important to resist the temptation of bombarding customers with emails as this could bring on fatigue with your campaign while sending too early can run the risk of subscribers ignoring your content. 

Utilize your analytics accordingly and schedule emails to be sent at what you believe to be the most opportune time for your specific audience. With the right blend of engaging content, the appeal of offers, and a tried-and-tested formula, you’ll likely win the attention and trust of your subscribers.

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The post 7 Key Tips For Optimizing Your Email Marketing Ahead of Holiday Season appeared first on Social Media Week.


IFundWomen’s Guide to Cultivating an Inclusive and Engaged Digital Community

IFundWomen's Guide to Cultivating an Inclusive and Engaged Digital Community

How does IFundWomen empower and support women entrepreneurs? Their strength is in their community. IFundWomen, the go-to funding marketplace for women-owned businesses, aims to empower and support women entrepreneurs as they navigate building their businesses. They’ve identified a powerful marketing channel to help these women bring their visions to life: digital community.

Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how IFundWomen integrates their marketing and community building to foster inclusive digital spaces. You’ll hear directly from Shakivla Todd, Marketing Associate at IFundWomen, and you’ll learn:

  • Community tactics to build closer, longer-lasting relationships with your customers
  • How to learn from your community to inform your marketing strategy
  • Where Shakivla finds inspiration for creating social media content for a small business audience⠀
  • How to avoid tone-deaf marketing in uncertain times
IFundWomen's Guide to Cultivating an Inclusive and Engaged Digital Community

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.

Who are you?

My name is Shakivla Todd and I am the Marketing Associate for IFundWomen. More importantly, I’m a stellar older sister, a dope friend, and a budding plant mom. IFundWomen is the go-to funding marketplace for women-owned businesses and the people who want to support them with capital, coaching, and connections. We offer immediate access to capital through a premium online fundraising experience, access to small business grants from corporate partners, expert business coaching on all the topics entrepreneurs need to know about, and a network of women business owners that sparks confidence, accelerates knowledge, and ignites action.

I manage our digital communities through social media strategy, Slack engagement, and e-mail marketing. I also am a startup coach and I get to coach women entrepreneurs on how to level up their social media game—this is one of my favorite parts of my role!

IFundWomen's Guide to Cultivating an Inclusive and Engaged Digital Community

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

I spend a lot of time scrolling through Instagram to get inspo for social content. I am always stalking Ellevest, R29 Unbothered, Freelancing Females, Girlboss, the list goes on. Additionally, our community is #TeamMemes so pop culture inspires a good amount of my content. I am also looking for the next thing to be memeified! For example, millennials collectively are re-watching the early 2000s sitcom Girlfriends on Netflix. Everyone is talking about it, so I made a meme from a picture of the cast to promote one of our grant programs.

IFundWomen's Guide to Cultivating an Inclusive and Engaged Digital Community

Lastly, I would be lying if I didn’t say that we get inspired by checking out our competitors. It’s a great tactic!

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

First thing I do in the morning is check all DMs across platforms. I can do this from laying in my bed, so it’s a good slow start to the day and I don’t have to worry about it during the workday. I like to respond to any messages and comments within 24 hours, but if it’s a launch day or something important I check in with Instagram much more frequently.

On an amazing day, I have already scheduled my posts into Buffer. So, I’ll go check on them to make sure everything is still good to go. After that, my day is clear to be creative and strategize for future content. I collaborate with our sales, coaching, and creative teams to ensure that we are consistently marketing our products, services, events, and partnership. I have to make sure everything is reflected in our marketing content calendar.

What advice do you have for brands that are trying to foster a supportive, inclusive online community?

Don’t be tone-deaf. A lot of STUFF is going on in this land of 2020. You can’t ignore it. You have to find some way to address it that aligns with your brand’s mission, values, and voice. That being said, don’t just say something to say something. Be authentic and make it work for you. For example, during the aftermath of George Floyd’s death instead of going silent or posting a black square, our response was amplifying and supporting Black women-owned businesses recognizing that one of the most important actions to combat racial injustice is to redistribute money to Black-owned businesses. ⁠

Don’t be tone-deaf. A lot of STUFF is going on in this land of 2020. You can’t ignore it. You have to find some way to address it that aligns with your brand’s mission, values, and voice.

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

Our community is loud and clear about what they need, want, and love. I like to try out different tactics and just watch to see where our community takes it. If something goes “viral” I continue to create content similar to that. Our followers are also often in our DMs asking for help to get their businesses funded. Their specific questions fuel my marketing strategy.

Our followers are also often in our DMs asking for help to get their businesses funded. Their specific questions fuel my marketing strategy.

For example, IFundWomen partners with companies to build grant programs for businesses. Over the summer, during the application window for one of our grants people were consistently sliding in our DMs asking very specific questions about their grant application. We decided to host a workshop specifically on grant writing. To promote this free workshop I seriously just took a screenshot of the first slide of the presentation that was going to be used for the workshop. The post blew up with nearly 1000 likes and over 400 people registered for the workshop. I think it succeeded because the Instagram post was very simple, straight to the point, and directly addressed a concern our community was having.

IFundWomen's Guide to Cultivating an Inclusive and Engaged Digital Community

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

Perform like everyone’s best friend on the gram. What does that mean? That means most comments and DMs get very personalized responses. I interact with our followers not only on our posts but on their posts as well if it comes across our feed. I often engage as if our business account is a personal account. It’s a great tactic to beat the algorithm, but also to build community and brand trust.

Perform like everyone’s best friend on the gram.

I love reading Buffer’s, Later’s, Hootsuite’s blogs, and Social Media Today. A good scroll through TikTok and Twitter is also good for the brain. I think most trends start in those two apps. Shameless plug, I take what I learn all over the internet and put it into a roundup of “trends to keep up with” in my newsletter, Trending with Shak.

What’s your favorite IFundWomen partnership to date and why?

The Funding Journey is an IGTV series where we interview successful founders on the long, sometimes complicated, journey to getting their businesses funded. It’s my favorite because:

  1. I get to put on my true producer hat and build something out start to finish.
  2. Most of the founders we interview are from HUGE brands. It means amazing reach for us as a brand plus our community LOVES hearing from brands they love like Black Girl Sunscreen, Lively, and The Helm.
IFundWomen's Guide to Cultivating an Inclusive and Engaged Digital Community
Link to Instagram post found here.
IFundWomen's Guide to Cultivating an Inclusive and Engaged Digital Community
Link to Instagram post found here.

We hope this interview with Shakivla 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 Shakivla? Feel free to reply with your questions to the Twitter post below and Shakivla or someone from the Buffer team will get to them as soon as possible.


How Instagram is Expanding its Branded Content Offerings

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

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

Here’s a breakdown of the latest:

Integrating the branded content tag in Reels and Live

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

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

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

New workflow and age restrictions

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

The process follows a simple three-step approach:

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

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

Promoting branded content in Stories and with product tags

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

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

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

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The post How Instagram is Expanding its Branded Content Offerings appeared first on Social Media Week.


How Snapchat is Preparing for the Next Creator Movement

2020 has seen many brands and platforms step outside of their comfort zones and experiment with ways they can deliver content at scale and create personal experiences. A player of late that has stood out in departure from the original focus on intimate communications is Snapchat.

Here’s a breakdown of what the company has released these past few weeks and what they could mean for marketers and creators.

Making video creations and communication more expressive with ‘Sounds’

Earlier this fall Snapchat released ‘Sounds,’ a TikTok-rival feature that allows users to enhance their Snaps with music from a curated catalog of both emerging and established artists. Tracks can be added pre or post-capture and then shared either publicly, via your Story, or directly to specific connections.

To add music before recording video, select the Sounds tool designated by the music notes icon on the right-hand side of the Camera screen and select a track from the Featured Sounds list. Alternatively, use the Sounds tool after taking a Snap to drop in a song after you record.

The current Sounds catalog offers “millions” of licensed songs from Snap’s music industry partners including Warner Music Group, NMPA. and Universal Music Publishing Group. Per Variety, beyond music, Snapchat is also working on introducing the ability for users to create their own sounds and add them to Snaps — an update expected to roll out globally on the platform in the coming months.

Acquiring mobile music app Voisey

Delving even further into the music industry space, Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. recently acquired startup Voisey, a mobile music app founded in 2018 that allows users to record short videos using professional vocal effects and backing tracks provided by producers. Clips are one-minute in length following the ever popular short-form format dominating the social media sphere.

Think of it as a musical equivalent of stickers and filters, where users can pick from a selection of user-created backing beats, hit record, and then customize the content by overlaying to the track with their own vocals. More specifically, they can add auto-tune, choral, spacey amongst other voice effects.

“We are on the verge of a revolution in music creation with the boundaries between creator and audience blurring like never before. Apps like Voisey focus on giving consumers tools that enable them to go from zero to 100 faster than ever before,” said Mark Mulligan founder of MIDiA Research in a statement to Business Insider.

The move seemingly follows a trend in which apps are more eager than ever to deliver unique creative at scale. Instagram, for instance, allows users to create high quality photos, TikTok the ability to create share-worthy short-form videos, and now, the window of opportunity centers on the next generation of music creators and giving them the tools to collaborate and work efficiently and effectively.

Unveiling ‘Spotlight,’ a short-form video feed

Taking a page out of TikTok’s playbook and Instagram’s ‘Reels,’ Snapchat introduced a short-form video feed option, ‘Spotlight,’ showcasing the top Snaps submitted on the platform by more than 249 million users and offering financial incentive for the most entertaining content. Snaps in this designated feed will play on a continuous loop until the user swipes to the next one. Previously, Snapchat users were limited to seeing snaps posted by their friends or posted by publishers in the app’s Discover feature.

As part of the push, Snapchat is offering a million dollars per day in funding, which it will distribute to the best Spotlight clips. The app will utilize a similar algorithm to TikTok in ranking each clip based on engagement. In particular, factors like total views, view time, and number of Favorites and Shares will be weighed. Clips are displayed in full screen, so the intent is for the platform to utilize specific indicators to better tailor the feed over time. In terms of how brands can get involved, a spokesman said Snap expects it will introduce ads to the product in coming months.

Instagram’s Explore page, TikTok’s ‘For You,’ YouTube’s recommended videos, and now Spotlight — it’s clear that a discovery engine is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have as creators become the crux of social media engagement. With an emphasis on exclusive content, these feeds are evolving as the key differentiator that will continue to etch platforms out above their competitors in the fight for online talent.

Photo credit via The Verge

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