Michelle Morales

How to Effectively Utilize Influencer Marketing

Influencer with their web camera set up.

Is your company 100% into smart marketing ideas, or completely on board with using up an advertising budget, but cringes at “giving” money to individuals on social media just so they can talk about you to their followers? 

If so, you are not the only one. Although Instagram alone boasts nearly one billion active users, and Facebook calculates the average account holder spends almost 2.5 hours a day on their platform, many companies are still shy about spending marketing dollars for influencers. And that’s not all, according to eMarketer, spending this year is about to grow by over one-third—the highest growth in the industry. Those who aren’t on board are losing out to their competition who is. 

The hesitation for influencer marketing can often be boiled down to a couple of things. First, many marketing executives still see it as a riskier option; something they can’t see direct ROI success from. The second is understanding of influencers and platforms. Creating ads, buying placements, watching how they increase customers…these things have been done for decades. But finding the right influencer can seem a much more daunting task. Trends rise and fall, and influencers can do the same. Hitting on the right mix of product, influencer and audience can feel so risky it seems many people decide to opt out altogether. 

We’re here to simplify influencer marketing. While ROI cannot always be measured the same as traditional marketing, it can have great effects on long-term brand awareness, loyalty and purchase decisions—three things no brand would detest. 

How Influencer Marketing Elevates Brands

Advertising in all aspects is good for a brand. Be it out of home, digital, print…they can all do the three things we listed above. But they can’t always do it with the same trustworthiness that influencers can. 

This is not a shocking revelation. Think about how you feel when you see a random actor on TV trying to tell you about a product. How strongly do you believe what they say versus when your friend tells you about that same product? 

We have become a people that need user reviews. How many stars does the restaurant have on Google? What are people saying about that product on Amazon? What does the product look like when it’s tried out by someone on YouTube? 

Influencer marketing is just another one of the tools consumers use to filter brands and products. It may not be your trusted friend, but if an influencer you follow gives a brand shoutout they must believe it, right? They’re sharing it, they’re attaching their name to it, they must at some level be doing it to help their followers…even if we understand they’re being paid to share, it still feels more personal than seeing the same type of thing in a photoshop-perfect magazine ad. 

Influencer marketing is word-of-mouth. It gives social proof to what you’re learning about. But, just like an ad for ice cream may not be successful in a vegan magazine, finding the wrong influencer can completely miss the mark. 

How to Find the Right Social Media Influencers 

  • Make it authentic: One of the biggest pros of influencer marketing is that it feels more personal. It’s not all about the largest follower base, it’s about finding the accounts that really do believe in your brand, and can share that feeling with others. 
  • Keep it casual: Just like authenticity, if it feels too produced it’s going to come across like an ad you’re forcing an influencer to share for money.
  • Collaborate: In the same vein, some influencers can bring a lot to the table in terms of how to speak to their audience. Listen and let them help figure out the best way to share your product together. 
  • Realistic goals: As with any type of marketing, keeping your end goal in sight is important. Is it to raise sales, get brand recognition or something else? One ad cannot effectively do everything for your brand, and it should not be expected that any influencer can do everything with one post (or even a handful of them).

Overall, keeping long-term plans and goals is also helpful no matter how you start with influencer marketing. Especially if you’re looking for brand loyalty or new followers. Yes, things can go viral and numbers can go up exponentially. But for the majority, influencer marketing can feel subtle. Our advice for you: trust the process. Have confidence that trial and error is part of finding the right fit. 

How to Use Instagram Reels Analytics for Business

A month ago Instagram introduced an improved analytics feature for both Reels and Live features. But what will it actually do to help branded content? We did a breakdown of these new features, and how Instagram is hoping they will provide insight for businesses. 

First: How to Access Analytics in Instagram

Within a business account, you can easily find these new features in the “Insights” section. It will show analytics for up to 30 days across the different types of content in your account. For a specific Reel, you can click the triple dots on that Reel for insights. 

Next: How to Analyze Analytics for Instagram

It’s not enough to know likes or followers if your goal is to grow your audience and increase interactions. Understanding how a platform is reaching your audience, how content is being distributed, and who is accessing it, can all lead to better future strategy with both organic and paid content. Here’s what you can now access across all content types, including Reels and Live: 

  • Accounts reached
  • Reach based on followers and non-followers
  • Reach based on content type, also divided by followers and non-followers
  • Visuals of top content based on reach for each type

Taking in all of this data will help you piece together information about how your audience is interacting, when they are online, and what type of content they are interested in. 

This may differ depending on the type of content you are sharing, which can be helpful to see for organizing future organic content, and making sure not to waste time on things that aren’t interesting to your viewers. 

Finally: How to Use Analytics for Future Content

“Strategy is king,” is one of our favorite mottos around here, and analytics for social is no different. Consuming all the data helps create stronger strategy, and ultimately better content moving forward.

For paid media, the analytics information can be used to inform what segments to target or how to reach more viewers that may be interested in your content or services. While not every brand or company is looking for immediate response from their audience, it is helpful to know what makes someone stay and watch, or swipe away. And using this data can increase ROI for the ads you put in place. 

Whether organic or paid content, analyzing data is a never-ending process that needs to be addressed on a regular basis. Interests and needs can shift and evolve just as quickly as trends and audiences change (which we all know can be very fast!). 

We typically run weekly and monthly reports to make sure content matches audience interests, and tweak ads or posts as needed. This can also differ depending on how much content regularly goes out from a brand, and if there is anything notable happening that may cause larger changes in analytics. Try out a regular schedule for checking analytics, but be flexible with what works best until you settle into a routine. Analyze, adjust and enjoy how your content is resonating with others! 

How to Best Incorporate Short Videos into Your Social Media

There is no denying the popularity of TikTok among viewers of all ages. And while not every consumer is on TikTok, nor is it the place for every brand, there are many things that can be gleaned from it’s popularity. Like why it grasps users’ attention, and how principles used can inform content on other platforms. 

The Basics of TikTok

While TikTok is the clear leader in short-form videos, it doesn’t have all of the capabilities many brands need to more thoroughly connect with their target audience. But what it does have is short, interesting content that is easily watchable on mobile. 

Videos are often engaging in themselves, or joining in popular trends. At the onset of TikTok videos could only be 15 seconds long, although there are ways around that time limit now.

Animated Posts on Social Media

So just how does the TikTok format translate to other platforms? From organic posts to paid advertising, we’ve seen a significant increase of views and interaction when using movement in content. Best practices are to keep videos short, with special attention to ensuring the first three seconds will captivate your audience. 

The easiest rule of thumb for this is to simplify the ad/post to the single most important message; something you would put if all you had was space for a static banner ad. That should be your first three seconds. 

After that, keep the length to no more than 15 seconds unless your content really deserves something longer. Examples of longer content would be how-to videos or occasional announcements that need more in-depth explanation. The likelihood of your audience watching past the first 15 seconds of a standard ad or post is very low.

Best Ideas for Social Posts

Knowing what to post on social is really all about your audience. When you think about videos though, take another cue from TikTok. Not everything has to be high budget, but depending on your brand the level of refinement and company tone should be reflected. 

It also doesn’t have to be a literal recorded video to watch. Animated illustrations, effects applied to still images, or other types of movement can all bring the same amount of engagement. Content can also vary, from product highlights or service information, to influencer content or shared videos from followers. 

The best way to find out what works best for your brand? Start creating and sharing, and see what sticks. A major plus to social media is the ability to track successes and react quickly to feedback and data.

Facebook Ad Rejection? Find Out What to Do Next

Recently the New York Times ran a story about a new adaptive clothing company that had its ad blocked from Facebook, even though it didn’t violate the policies Facebook said it did. Although in the end the issue was resolved, it got us thinking about ads we’ve placed on Facebook on behalf of clients, and hoops we’ve occasionally had to jump through to get them accepted by the platform. 

Have you ever had problems with Facebook’s marketing platform? Have you wondered why your seemingly non-controversial Facebook ads have been rejected? We’ve looked into some of the recent issues that brands have faced, especially with the iOS14 update. 

Is Facebook rejecting more ads?

In the case of the above story, the photo in their ad was for a popular sweatshirt, but Facebook’s algorithm flagged it for promoting “medical and health care products and services including medical devices.” And they aren’t the only adaptive clothing brand that has run into this problem.

From a non-AI standpoint, it’s easy to see where the automated algorithm Facebook has made a mistake. Yes, these mistakes have always occurred, which is why Facebook allows you to appeal the rejection to have it reviewed by another party. The difference in rejections now is that the algorithm seems to be checking things more thoroughly, and including a longer list of why you can be rejected. 

One of the reasons for this can be traced to the iOS14 update, and the subsequent changes that were made to Facebook Ads Manager to work with that Apple update. If Facebook is being held to stricter standards, reason would follow that they are upping their standards for others, and being quicker to act on the flagged items.

How can you avoid Facebook ad rejection?

One of the downsides of how Facebook rejections work is that they don’t give very specific feedback. Yes, they may tell you what part of their rules you violated, but they don’t tell you what part of your ad violated those rules. So it can feel like a guessing game when you’re trying to avoid future rejections. 

For our clients, we always advise following the known rules as closely as possible. One of the simplest things to start with is to read Facebook’s ad policies thoroughly before starting any strategy or advertising plans. 

Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What topics about my company could trigger ad rejection?
  • Are there images we use, or products we feature, that could trigger ad rejection?
  • Is our account set up correctly (including verifying domain and setting up two-factor authentication)?

Understanding where your sore spots could be can help with strategizing how to say what you want without wasting time creating marketing materials you can’t use. 

What can you do if your Facebook ads are rejected?

As a digital agency, we have created and posted ads within many different business sectors. From our experience, there is no 100% way to guarantee your ad will not be rejected, simply because the AI used to judge them is completely capable of making mistakes. Just like it did with the clothing brand in the NYT story. Just as important as mitigating ad rejection is having steps in place if rejection occurs.

The first step is typically to appeal to get your current ad running. Check your account for the message from Facebook first. Reaching out to a Facebook representative is the most ideal way to appeal. If you don’t have someone to reach out to, Facebook chat can also help you start an appeal process. 

Through the appeal process you will typically learn more details about what caused the ad rejection. If it isn’t approved as-is, you’ll be able to pinpoint what needs to be changed for the ad to be accepted. 

After finding out what needs to be changed, the next step is deciding what to do about it. It may be an easy fix, or it may be more strategic to use a different ad altogether. This can come down to budget and timing as well. How you proceed with a new or altered ad is all up to what choice will best support your brand and marketing targets. And like any other marketing or advertising out there, learning from mistakes can help further avoid ad rejection in the future.

Social Listening Amidst Disorder

Improve Social Listening for Brands

To maintain and grow your brand on a digital level, social listening can be one of the most important tools you deploy. Social listening is crucial for a brand that is trying to connect with current customers, especially during events like we’ve been experiencing these last few months.
Here are ways to use social listening to help your brand better understand:

Analyzing Sentiment

Reviewing and analyzing current conversations on places like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can help in understanding what customers are currently feeling towards your brand. This can be useful in two ways. First, it can provide valuable insight into keywords and topics you can use to connect with existing sentiment and need. It can also help you quickly react to consumers. Especially in a situation we are in now, where brand conversations can shift quickly, it’s important to know what people are needing and wanting.

Understanding Conversations

For first-time analysis, it is recommended to do social listening for the full prior year, if the brand has conversation volume to do so. Beyond that quarterly review is typically advised, although more updates can help if the conversation is changing rapidly.

Reviews look for main keywords, top mentions (such as influencer conversation), and which social platforms have the majority of the conversations. Analyzing these, in correlation with daily mentions, whether sentiment is positive or negative, and demographics of the topics/keyword mentions. It can also be useful to target groups like Millennials, etc. if that’s where you know the conversation is happening. For global brands, looking into language or country separately can be necessary too.

Filter What’s Important

Scouting keywords and tracking quantitative data is one thing, understanding the quality of the data is another. To best utilize social listening you need to have strategy and discernment for which conversations to follow, and which to leave behind. For example, a brand we do social listening strategy for recently launched an IGTV channel, prompting a spike in conversation. It’s important to relate the spike to the event to know why the spike occurred to respond accordingly.

Some of this can be found by specifically finding keywords that fit your brand, versus more generic terms that can throw off findings and results. It also helps to read context into conversations, looking for spikes and patterns of conversations/keywords, and analyzing the data in relation to things like new product launches, company updates or current events within the community.

Understanding all aspects of social listening can help with organic content creation as well as advertisements in both digital and other channels. As quickly as conversations and sentiments can change, so can the digital platforms you’re listening on. Every day hashtags shift, platforms add services to entice brands, and the volume of conversations is altered. Truly connecting with your audience, and responding to their current needs and wants, can bring stronger brand loyalty, recognition and drive more meaningful conversations in return.

A Strong Strategy for Digital Customer Service

Marketing may be having some ups and downs during the pandemic, but one thing we have seen stay strong is the need for robust digital and online customer support strategies. This is beyond having a “contact us” button on your website, or a chatbot on your home page. And it’s more than sending an email with Coronavirus updates from your CEO. We’re not saying these things aren’t important ways to communicate; they definitely have their place. But at a time when news can change hourly, having a team in place that quickly answers online or social media concerns is really important to your future relationship with them.

Our digital agency has worked with a number of brands to offer customer service strategy and support across a variety of industries. Through these last couple of months we’ve seen customer inquiries rise up to 30% for some companies – specially CPG brands. This large increase of work became a proving ground for how strong strategy can help navigate unexpected spikes in consumer needs. Here are the takeaways from our years working with clients, and these past months of disruption to the status quo:

Organized Action Plan

Having an action plan for ebbs and flows is key. Not only does that mean knowing what to do when an influx comes, but also managing expectations for the highs and the lows. A good action plan organizes customer response scenarios into levels of escalation. Some questions are asked often and can be easily answered by a customer service representative. Other questions may need approval from a member of the leadership team before proceeding. 

Knowing which questions should be escalated, and who can be counted on for a quick response, provides customers with answers in a timely manner. Creating hard rules for response is important to this process. An example of this would be: Questions will be answered during work days within 12 hours, weekends within 24 hours. If a question is escalated it will receive a response within 24 hours from management. 

Ready to Respond

Whether questions lend themselves to a quick answer or escalation period, a response should always be given as soon as possible. This means that even if an answer may need a 24 hour window for your company’s management to think about, a customer service person should still respond so your customer knows they’ve been heard. 

It’s important to understand the question or comment before you respond, but in some cases something as simple as, “We’ve escalated your question, and will get back to you shortly.” Other cases, like public forums or social media, requesting the customer to contact you directly gives an opportunity for a more in-depth and personal conversation. 

Identify Repeat Inquires 

Another very helpful part of ongoing strategy is to identify repeat questions or comments. Doing this can help efficiencies within customer service, and speed up response time.

Every common question should have a canned response. This doesn’t mean a response has to be written verbatim each time, but it does mean that a very similar response can be given to very similar questions. Identifying and tracking common questions and canned responses is especially helpful in times like we find ourselves now, when unique customer inquiries may spike, but the uniqueness of the inquiry has not. 

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In times when things are uncertain, our advice to stay nimble applies to customer service as well. This may mean shortening or expanding response times that were set forth in the original plan, adding additional canned responses, or preparing for more escalated comments than normal. Connecting with your customers in a time of crisis can help strengthen a relationship and prove real interest in your customers needs.