Posts

As brands continue to compete for users’ attention on social media, the space is getting more and more crowded, and social platforms have become increasingly selective as to what content they will serve up to their users.

One way to jump in front of the line is to go the route of paid social. In most platforms, there are multiple ways to get exposure. Today, we’re highlighting the differences of  “boosting” or “sponsoring” organic content versus a straight-up paid social ad.

What’s the difference between a “boosted post” and paid advertising?

The difference between boosted post and paid ads infographic

The term for “boosting” will vary by platform. For example, Facebook calls it “boosting” a post, whereas LinkedIn calls it “sponsoring” a post. There’s really no difference in how it works.  Simply put, “boosting” or “sponsoring” ensures more people will see the post by putting a little money behind it.  What many people don’t realize is that simply posting on your channels does not guarantee your followers will see it in their feed.  Boosting a post does.

Boosting takes an organic post (no money behind it) that you have created, hopefully with excellent, tailored content created by you or your team, and increases the chances that your audience (and the people you promote it to) see it by paying for that privilege.

Boosted posts are easier to manage than paid ads, as they are typically a one-off post and aren’t normally part of a larger campaign. Content you may boost include a timely blog post, press release or media mention.

The drawback? Your options for audience targeting, scheduling, budgeting, and ad formats are limited. For example, boosted posts only allow you to promote the post as it organically appears on your page, whereas advertisements allow you to use formats such as carousels, or collection ads for ecommerce.

Paid Social Advertising

Paid Advertising is a larger beast to tame.  As opposed to simply putting money behind a post already in your feed, these are ads created specifically for an ad objective.  As such, paid ads are part of a larger campaign with multiple copy and graphic/video variations for testing. Think of these as fractional print ads that at one point you may have run in a magazine (although, it’s important to note that paid ads can be much more than a static image with some copy.) 

Paid ads are best when pushing a set goal or objective. These have a strong call-to-action (CTA)  and are about getting an audience to click through to your website or landing page.  Paid ads are typically one of the first layers in an integrated sales funnel.

Some instances where you may want to consider running an ad campaign instead of a simple “boost” include: 

  • Highlighting a promotional offer or a direct eCommerce push.
  • Drive registrants, downloads or leads
  • Promoting a product or service with a long decision timeline (so that we can continue to nurture them by retargeting users through other ads)

Boosting Social Posts: Best Practices

A great boosted post should feel natural in users’ feeds. If they aren’t paying close attention, they won’t know it’s an ad. Here are a few tips for getting it right:

  • Start by boosting content that is already performing well organically. This is a good indicator of what will work well on a larger scale.
  • The content should focus on engagement or awareness to widen your social media following. Content where you’re calling for leads, sign-ups, or purchase are typically best served in a traditional ad campaign.
  • Don’t spend a fortune. Spend a small amount, like $10-25. See how it performs and scale from there.
  • Be careful! With most of these platforms, once you take an organic post and promote it, you cannot modify it. Double-check that the copy provided is suitable to push to the masses.

Social Media Advertising: Best Practices

Besides boosting organic content, most social platforms have multiple ways to advertise – everything from display ads and retargeting to direct messaging. These are generally more expensive and rely on an ROI-centric objective. 

With paid ads, you can run variations of a single ad and test each to see which copy, image, and call-to-action (or combination thereof) work best. Paid ads also allow for retargeting and offer the opportunity to experiment with multiple ad formats such as display, text, video, etc. On some platforms, an ad campaign provides more granular targeting options.

If you’re new to social media advertising, here are some of our best tips:

  • Keep the copy short and sweet. Users may not be familiar with your brand quite yet, making their attention span for your content even shorter.
  • Run multiple variations of your ads. Test different headlines, body copy, calls-to-action, graphics, images and videos.  Unlike print or TV, digital ad buys can be turned on, up or off in midstream. Once you’ve gotten some results, narrow your ad set down to the best performers and put money behind these.
  • Leverage both graphics and video for best results. While video is favored by many platforms and consumers, it’s still worth testing both.
  • Be thoughtful and clear on your objective. Social media platforms design their ad algorithms to place your content in front of users likely to take a specific action. Selecting the wrong objective, like selecting a video views objective when your end goal is really to get people to visit your site, will lead to disappointing results.
  • Install the social media platform’s pixel on your site, where applicable. Not only do these pixels provide you with conversion data, you can also use them to create remarketing lists to fine-tune your social marketing efforts.

Ultimately, whether you choose to boost a post or run an advertising campaign depends on your goals. If you are trying to build brand awareness or drive engagement on a particular post, sticking with boosted posts would be advised. If you’re looking to drive conversions, then paid ads are your best solution.

 Need help? Get in touch.

If you want to expand your reach on social media, then understanding each channel’s newsfeed algorithm is a step in the right direction.  Think of each algorithm as a set of rules that the system follows when organizing content.

As digital marketing specialists, we could write a novel on the subject, but for time’s sake we’ve listed some highlights and quick tips to make you an algorithm expert. Let’s start with the social platform that has made “algorithm” a household word…

Facebook

<1% organic reach

Ahhh, trusty old Facebook. As one of the oldest social platforms (created in 2004), one can imagine the number of changes it has seen. Facebook has updated its News Feed display algorithm countless times over the past decade, but it made especially big waves with its announcement in January 2018. See our blog post about the new Facebook update for a detailed breakdown of how they are trying to bring Facebook back to ‘the people,’ but a few main takeaways include:

  • Strategically boosted posts and Facebook ads are more essential than ever.
  • ‘Meaningful Interactions’ will rank higher, another reason to create authentic, engaging content.

Instagram

~10% organic reach

You may remember that Instagram’s feed started out chronological, and then moved to an algorithm in 2016 (to the dismay of many users). Since then, the platform has added new capabilities (stories, highlights, follow tags, etc.) and recharged its algorithm to keep up with the demand for authentic content. If you’re looking to optimize content for Instagram’s current formula, here are some highlights:

  • Facebook owns Instagram: Similar to what we just covered, meaningful engagement ranks your content higher.
  • Stories matter: The algorithm takes story posts’ activity into account. Keep up those real-time updates!
  • Time matters: How fast can you respond to comments and messages? How long can you keep their eyeballs on the prize? The quicker you are and the longer they watch, the better.
  • Strategic hashtags: Remember, people can follow hashtags as well now, so consider using something “popular” that still fits your brand. At CBC, we like to create lists of relevant hashtags to have on hand for our client’s content and make additions as new ones arise.

LinkedIn

If you’re starting to feel a loss of control over when and where your content is displayed, then take solace in the fact that you still have the ability to choose “Top” versus “Recent” content in your LinkedIn homepage feed, thanks to its Sort functionality option.

LinkedIn is a great place to share company culture and industry insights, and users are automatically served Top posts, arranged by LinkedIn’s algorithm. So, consider the following if you want your content floating to the top:

  • Relevance: Tailor content to your LinkedIn audience. Always think: Do they care about this news? Is it helpful? If LinkedIn users “Hide” your post, it will negatively affect position.
  • Big surprise… engagement matters! LinkedIn will let your content hang out for a while and register any likes or comments before moving it up or down the feed. So, ask a question or pose a tip! Adding a call-to-action is always the best way to increase engagement.
  • Go beyond the newsfeed: Participate in LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your organization. Join conversations that are already happening about your industry. Share posts from other people and brands. All of this will increase your reach, thus helping your post’s initial score.
  • Be on time: Since we know LinkedIn lets your content hang in the timeline at first, you should aim to hit users at primetime. Some say 8pm is the magic hour, but check your analytics to be sure.

Twitter

Twitter’s algorithm can be a little confusing due to multiple parts, so buckle up. Twitter technically still displays all tweets in your timeline in reverse chronological order, but you might have to scroll to get there. In 2015, it began introducing such updates, and currently, you still have the option to manage timeline preferences.

There are three sections; let’s break them down:

  • Ranked Tweets: Twitter uses an algorithm to determine what is most relevant to you.
  • ICYMI – In Case You Missed It: These may also be relevant according to the algorithm, and they are from several hours or days ago.
  • Reverse Chronological: Newest on top.

And here are a few tips so your content ends up in those top two sections:

  • Broken record here… engagement matters! Consider both ends; post tweets that elicit replies, and make sure you reply back to followers.
  • If at first you DO succeed, try again: Repurpose content that has been performing well. You can check out Twitter analytics and determine which tweets were most successful.
  • Video, Video, Video: Visual content gets noticed. Videos are six times more likely to be re-tweeted.
  • Strategic Hashtags: Similar to Instagram, find specific/relevant tags that work for your brand. It can also be helpful to jump on trending hashtags.
  • Timing: Similar to LinkedIn, consider time of day so that your initial tweet receives the most eyeballs.

 

There you have it, in a large nutshell. Algorithms rule the social world, so it is important as marketers to ride the wave and dive in headfirst. Learn all you can, in order to be visible – great content should be seen. Follow the rules, just like an algorithm!

Even though the birth of Facebook Live occurred last April, the brand has successfully preserved the feature’s spot in the limelight.

Over the past several months, the world has watched countless brands, bloggers and celebrities use it to creatively advertise products and reach new audiences. Whether it’s through cooking tutorials, a glimpse behind the scenes or a Q&A with an influencer, Facebook Live has certainly become an industry favorite.

Weelicious Live Facebook

In September, Cercone Brown organized a Facebook Live tour with blogger Natalie Thomas from Nat’s Next Adventure and Garnet Hill of their Mobile Boutique in New York City. Natalie gave viewers an insider’s peek into the unique boutique.

Garnet Hill Live

Not Just For The Professionals

It seems that even though similar apps such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories have experienced great success, the masses have yet to heavily engage with Facebook Live. The brand is attempting to change this by encouraging people like you – the everyday person – to get involved.

The brand has launched a campaign that is based on showcasing user-generated content and demonstrating how to go live.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-11-17-06-am

While the tutorial ads feature statements like, “How to go live if you’ve got a hidden talent that you’re ready to make not-so-hidden” or “How to go Live when you have something to say and you just need to say it loud”.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-4-39-16-pm

The set-up for going Live is simple and encourages a spur-of-the-moment call to action. Facebook claims that they want to make the world more open and connected through the Live feature … if only people would begin to engage with it.

In April 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave live streaming new meaning when he rolled out the Facebook Live Application. This gateway for both brands and users to engage in is an influential marketing tool that many companies are not taking advantage of … and they should be. Streaming in real-time provides the ability to field your audience’s burning questions and tailor content based on the reactions of your followers.

Live Q&A with astronauts on the International Space Station! L…

Live Q&A with astronauts on the International Space Station! Leave your questions below.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Below are a few ways marketers can benefit from Facebook Live:

Reach New Audiences in New Ways

Facebook Live gives users the opportunity to watch content on your brand’s Facebook page in an automatic, non-pervasive way. Facebook Live posts will not only engage your current followers, but also attract new ones. Plus, tying a visual to your brand will garner invaluable reactions and comments. Partnering with another brand of influencer in a video is another way to extend reach with this tool.

Watch us explode this watermelon one rubber band at a time!

Posted by BuzzFeed on Friday, April 8, 2016

Connect in Real-Time

The Live feature gives you a similar function as that of a newscast or a television show – the ability to connect to your live audience and start a conversation. Loyal consumers of your product get a notification when you’re live and will ideally open the dialogue.  As they comment, your brand responds in real time.

We got some great news on jobs and the economy this morning, and President Obama wants to tell you all about it. So pull up a chair in the Roosevelt Room next to his economic team and listen in!

Posted by The White House on Friday, March 4, 2016

Customize Your Story

Whether you are consumer or marketer, your Facebook Live story will represent you. With creative filters and tools, it is easy to express yourself on different forms in an instant feed.

Live at the Airbnb Treehouse at the World Premiere of The #JungleBook!

Posted by The Jungle Book on Monday, April 4, 2016

Exclusive Content

Live interviews, event coverage, and behind the scenes footage are all ways to share exclusive content with your following.

Live Interviews: Hit the streets! Steve Portigal for Interviewing Users states, “Interviews create connections between builders and the consumers. It makes the problems tangible and human”.

Watch our #GraziaxFB Brexit Debate with Stella Creasy, Yvette Cooper MP, Penny Mordaunt, Theresa Villiers and chaired by Anushka Asthana.

Posted by Grazia UK on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Steaming Events: Red Bull rep. and pro wake boarder Steel Lafferty shows us some moves on the water for a Red Bull event using Facebook live.

Wakeboarding LiveStream!

Posted by Steel Lafferty on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Behind The Scenes: Jason Carr, a former news anchor for FOX 2 in Detroit, updates Facebook Live viewers on a ride to a gig at WDIV-TV, Local 4 News … but he doesn’t tell that right away.

Hey!

Posted by Jason Carr on Monday, May 23, 2016

Live streaming is not just here to stay – it’s dominating the social scene.  We suggest you don’t sit on the sidelines for this one.

It is no secret that Live Video has transformed the world of social media with applications like Snapchat and Periscope. Even Facebook, as of recently, has been embracing Live Video capabilities and is growing out the now popular feature. After its release back in December, Facebook has expressed that its “Live Video” was going to be an integral part of the platform’s design. Now with one of the biggest pushes it can offer, Facebook is looking to make Live Video mainstream, and forge ahead as one of the most used social media interfaces on the market.

Untitled

[Source]

This week, Facebook released a huge update that aims to make its Live Video feature a part of its infrastructure, holistically. With the update, Live Video will replace the Messaging tab on the bottom portion of the digital app. The new tab will feature broadcasting from around the world, from your friends, and from pages you follow. In addition, Facebook has now allowed you to interact with a map of broadcasts (this feature is only available on the desktop interface).

Still confused on how the update might change your experience? Check out their demo video below:

So what does Facebook’s new update mean for brands? We’ve made it clear that Live Video is definitely an added technique that brands should use in their outreach initiatives (check out our blog posts on Snapchat: Link 1 & Link 2), but Facebook is now giving brands a bigger platform to reach more active users than any other social media outlet. Live Video gives brands exposure opportunities and allows for real-time interaction from a direct brand-to-consumer perspective. With this kind of interaction potential, brands can continue the trend of breaking barriers, promoting transparency with their target audiences.

Another important capability for brands to use will be the measurement tool associated directly with the Live Video feeds. Publishers and video creators will be able to see total live viewership numbers during a broadcast. This gives brands a numerical indication of how well they are doing with impressions, and allows them to see how many actual target audience members they are hitting… something that other Live Video platforms have yet been able to do. (You go, Facebook!)

While there are no paid advertisement opportunities yet available with Facebook’s Live Video, the endless options to integrate your brand into real-time conversations with consumers can open a flood gate of brand exposure. Whether or not you join the wave, Live Video is here to stay in the social media world.

[Source]

In 2008, Barack Obama won what came to be known as the “Facebook Election,” partly due to his campaign’s innovative use of social media. His opponent, John McCain, opted to stay off Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels, which may come to mark the last time in U.S. History that a presidential candidate decides against using social media.

Election

In the upcoming 2016 election, presidential candidates are focusing on social media more than ever before. Campaigns are even breaking ground on new platforms like Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Vine. Hillary Clinton, for example, is a front-runner in the democratic primary polls as well as in social media statistics. The Clinton Camp is extremely active online, and they have employed creative tactics to gain publicity and promote Hillary in a benevolent light.

Election-2

[Image Source]

Recently, Humans of New York, a Facebook account followed by 14 million people posted a photo of a young, teary-eyed boy. The caption quoted the roughly nine-year-old boy expressing his fear of being disliked and rejected growing up as a homosexual. Within a couple hours, in an exemplary move to engage her social following on the basis of her campaign-relevant ideals, Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page had left a comment on the picture offering powerful words of encouragement for the boy:

“Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you – there will be lots of them. -H”

ELection-3

Consider Donald Trump as another example. He has faced criticism for his unfiltered comments on Mexican immigrants and on John McCain’s military service. It is perplexing that Trump chooses to be so outspokenly opinionated when some of his unconventional views generate animosity. However, it is exactly this trait, the stark candidness of Donald Trump, which makes him dominant as a presidential candidate on social media.

Election-4

Trump is a powerhouse on Twitter, because he uses the website as it is intended; he tweets what he thinks exactly when he thinks it. Donald maximizes user engagement by avoiding glossy, carefully worded posts and instead tweeting jaw-dropping proclamations. Trump unapologetically broadcasts his passionate and controversial opinions, generating publicity with a style never before seen from a leading presidential candidate.

Election-5 Election-6

Social media has transformed the way Americans can interact with politicians. Voters now have the opportunity to examine presidential candidates from more platforms than ever before. Hopefully, these new perspectives will help us decide whose leadership we truly believe in before it comes time to cast our vote.

YouTube

[Image Source]

Facebook recently made an announcement that is bound to shake the content marketing world: the social media giant plans to host videos directly on their site. At first glance, this may seem like a small functional detail, but the effects it carries could drastically influence content creation going forward.

As of today, most video content is hosted on YouTube. Content creators and publishers use it as a platform and hosting space for everything from ads to makeup tutorials. For the last couple of years, Facebook and YouTube have worked together synergistically to spread viral content. This made absolute sense in a less mature social media landscape: a growing social network got excellent, free content and an established video hosting site received views, and therefore, revenue.

However, this relationship is currently on the rocks. Facebook announced that it would now allow users to publish video content directly. In return, the site is looking to reclaim the revenue that YouTube has been collecting on their behalf. By offering 55% of their ad revenue to content creators (the same as YouTube), Facebook is making a major move into the realm of video content. This change comes at no surprise given that by 2017, it’s anticipated that nearly 70% of Internet traffic will be from video.

For content creators, this means yet another unique channel for video publishing. More importantly, this also means another set of decisions to consider before publishing content. Rather than being able to leverage YouTube and Facebook simultaneously, marketers will increasingly need to consider the demographics of each site to maximize engagement. While only the largest publishers may be affected short-term, this move by Facebook signals how much, and to what borders-defying extent, social media may evolve in the coming years.

With a constantly growing fan base, Instagram has continued to find new and exciting ways to keep up with its ever-developing consumer. Looking ahead, companies must recognize the importance of having a strong presence on “the gram” so they can utilize its newest features to the best of their abilities.

Insta-artsy

A recent trend in many companies’ Instagram profiles is the so-called visual strategy of “insta-tiling.” Profiles feature photos in a mosaic-style grid that, together, make one larger image. Each individual piece of the puzzle usually has different bits of information, providing more detail than a single post would. Posting nine images instead of just one also provokes viewers to further explore what the brand’s profile has to offer. [Source] What do you think about this strategy’s effectiveness? Are you more prone to click-through when you have nine photos to choose from?

insta

Jumping on the Advertising Bandwagon

On Tuesday, the company announced it would make yet another monumental change to its mobile app. Instagram now has plans to open up users’ news feeds to all types of advertisers. From the global fashion brand to the corner boutique in the user’s area, users will be able to see it all by this fall.

Closing the Deal

In addition to the wider variety of advertisers, Instagram will also be testing a new “shop-now” button. This e-commerce link will allow users to move directly from the image to a page where they can purchase the featured item. Companies like Banana Republic have already taken advantage of this new update. [Source]

One can only hope that with the addition of more advertisements, users’ feeds will not become cluttered with “Click Here for Free Coupons” as so many Facebook news feeds have now become. In an interview with the NY Times, Instagram’s global head of business and brand development ensured fans, “Visual storytelling for brands has more resonance… But we want to make sure the ads [you] see are for things that matter to [you].” We agree, sir. We’d like for our Instagram content to matter to us, too.

 

 

 

 

Another week, another Facebook API update that affects privacy and, therefore, marketing.

Just so we’re on the same page here, APIs (application programming interfaces) are like secret tunnels that allow one application or platform to share information with another. (For example, you can post to Facebook via the Instagram app.) For today’s digital marketer, keeping track of these relationships is key for social channel management.

Facebook is constantly evolving, and claims to be prioritizing users over advertisers. Over the past few months, the company made a few API updates that could cause a little backlash from brands, but we think they’ll lead to a more engaged user experience in the long run.

Facebook

  • Last November, Facebook banned like-gated Facebook pages, encouraging a more organic brand “like” process. While there are still a few ways to procure page likes such as tabs, apps and advertising, this gives users a chance to look over the brand before liking, rather than forcing a shallow fan.
  • In the March/April timeframe, Facebook updated how it measures audience data and how page likes are counted for businesses. For example, they removed memorialized and voluntarily deactivated accounts from business pages’ like counts. While some were disappointed about their drop in followers, this ensures that data is consistent and genuine.
  • A few weeks ago, Facebook locked down their Login and Graph APIs, giving users the ability to choose what data outside apps can read or use when they first access the app. Ideally, this puts users’ minds at ease regarding who is stalking their birthday, or who is checking out their friends’ info.

Facebook discovered that users didn’t like a social media platform where likes were purchased and user data was sneakily pulled, and they did something about it. So –what do you think about Facebook’s “people first” movement? What do you want to see next? (Perhaps this upcoming newsfeed algorithm change?)

Have you seen Microsoft’s new How-Old platform? So far, it’s been a source of viral humor:

blog pic 1

blog pic 3

But in reality, this development could be a game-changer for marketers and advertisers. If algorithms can accurately determine people’s ages and genders from their photos and other public media, then we as marketers can better target them.

Think about these overwhelming statistics regarding visual platforms:

Instagram

o   Launched less than 5 years ago

o   77.6 million estimated users in the USA alone [Source]

Facebook

o   Made public less than 10 years ago

o   1.44 billion monthly active users [Source]

These numbers are incredible, and they reflect the astounding rate at which companies that rely on digital interaction and a robust social presence can grow in this day in age.

So, if sites like these are already the golden conduits for marketers and advertisers to reach their audiences, and these audiences use such platforms to create strong social presences via picture sharing, then Microsoft has hit the jackpot.

By identifying demographics like age and gender, which arguably could lead to psychographic identification, brands and their agencies are one step closer to correctly targeting their ideal end consumers. All in all, the genius How-Old platform seems to be the start of something that will improve the efficiency and success of digital marketing. In the meantime, it’s the start of a great laugh!

[Source]