It’s Time to Start Animating!

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This week’s intern blog post comes from one of our animation interns, Fiona O’Sullivan. She currently goes to school at Moore College of Art and Design and has been an awesome addition to our team. Here, she dives into the importance of animation and motion graphics. Enjoy!

Fiona

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Video has taken over in the world of social media advertising. Social networks are big fans of video, ranking these kinds of posts higher than non-video posts in their algorithm formulas. Users also like them, so much so, that they spend much more time on pages and accounts that have them than those that do not. In addition to this, people are more open and willing to stop and learn about a product if they are able to watch a video rather than reading a paragraph explaining that same product. Personally, I always scout out videos to explain what I am looking at, rather than consuming a boring description.

Having videos for advertisements on social media platforms is mandatory. A lot of businesses have caught on to this trend and there is a subcategory of video that’s really gaining some momentum: animation. Animated posts and Ads are now becoming more popular for visual storytelling. Using animation in social media advertising is beneficial because it is versatile, it simplifies complex ideas, and if done right, is entertaining.

Animation can be used for anything from longer form explainer videos to infographics and everything in between. Above, our client OWYN uses an animated graphic to showcase new SKU’s and capture user attention on Instagram. Simple, yet very effective especially with some paid social behind it.

Social media Ads don’t typically have a very long runtime, so they need to get the point across quickly. If an Ad is trying to convey a complex idea or explain a product, an animation is a smart way to go. Animated explainer videos can condense and simplify the concept and help guide the viewer to get the point of the creative and message. Animated explainer posts are excellent at streamlining complicated thoughts and showing how a product is used. Of the top 50 explainer videos ranked by HubSpot, Video Brewery, and Switch Video, only 7 are not animated.

If you really spend the time and funds, they can be very entertaining and compelling. They have a graphic and unique look that is memorable and will halt scrolling thumbs in their tracks. Newer, hipper brands such as Spotify, fully understand this and use animation to make their content stand out from the thousands of others on social media, plus they’re super fun to watch. An animation can be much more engaging than a live action video or a talking head explaining a product.

Animation uses graphics, storytelling, and emotion to get its point across in a way that live action video, photo, and text usually cannot. It is much easier to tell a quick story through an animated piece of content than to write it out as text and it can be very difficult to capture the depth of a message via a still photo or graphic.

Most brands don’t have the in-house talent or staff for animation and/or motion graphics so they leave this very important tool out of their marketing mix. This is a mistake and one they should remedy right away. This kind of content will not only help a business explain and market a product, but it will also help to guide consumers to buy that product too. Adding animated content and Ads to the mix will surely boost any marketing program and if you made it to the end of this post, you should know, it’s time to start animating!

 

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Instagram Is The Social Network Of The Moment…

can_you_buy_50_instagram_likes_for_an_affordable_priceOur Fall 2018 Interns have been part of the #SircleSquad for a little over a month now and they’re getting down to business! This semester, we’ll be sharing a blog post by one of our interns, on a topic selected by them.

First up, is Amanda Arevalo of Fordham University!

Amanda Arevalo

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Instagram is the most important social media platform to invest your company’s time in, plain and simple. Facebook and Twitter are important too, but Instagram takes the top seat. While Facebook offers more total reach, Instagram has a higher rate of engagement with users. While Twitter is ideal for small businesses and organizations, Instagram is more useful for storytelling, since there are twice the amount of users on Instagram than on Twitter, and its photo-based layout allows brands to have a more personal connection with followers. Statistically speaking, Instagram has more than 800 million active users- 60% of whom check Instagram daily and 80% of users following at least one business account. Those are compelling numbers, so having a strong following, heavy engagement, and the right micro-influencers are crucial to building your brand’s awareness.

For that reason, Instagram is essential to any business, especially if they are early or growth stage entities. The good news is, this isn’t the hard part. If you follow another brand on your business’s Instagram account and you “like” pictures of that brand’s content, a number of things can happen. First the chances of that brand noticing your brand and following back, perhaps to create a collaboration, increases. Some of their followers coming across your brand’s content and liking it also increases. It takes a lot of work, but it is well worth it. If you then create interesting content that tells a story about your brand instead of making a generic sales pitch, you’ll also have a better chance of increasing and keeping your following. Over time, your brand’s impact and awareness will grow exponentially.

Many think that the role of Instagram is to simply display content that followers will like. While this is true, it shouldn’t be the main and only focus. Many companies dedicate all of their time to creating attractive photos, but they tend to forget the importance of engagement. You can have all the followers in the world, but if you lack that necessary engagement with your followers, then none of the likes or views will even matter. So if you spend the time to convey a message or stir up an emotion and you actually succeed and get a response, do not squander that conversation opportunity by staying radio silent.

So what exactly should engagement look like? The focus here is to create a personality for your brand. Your brand’s personality is then used as a tool to create a dialogue with your followers. People tend to not care about brands that don’t care about them. If many people are asking questions on your photos, and your brand doesn’t answer, then their questions are simply left hanging. That’s one potential customer that you just lost. While one may not seem like a big deal, having at least one unanswered question on almost all of your photos means that you have many ignored users. Over time, the number of people that will not want to buy from or interact with your brand, because they feel uncared for or unheard, can add up.

One of the most powerful tools in your engagement arsenal is the regram. If a very happy customer or fan/follower posts a picture of themselves with your product, then that’s great free marketing right there. Your customer is happy, and they want to show all the other people on their feed. This WOM opportunity is powerful and you can pay them back by posting their image on your account. This could potentially lead to more customers coming your way. Simply liking that picture will show that you are taking into account their opinion of your product, but regramming the picture takes this appreciation a step further. It shows that you’re really taking into account what they have to say, which many followers will genuinely appreciate. Knowing that they’re on your account makes them feel excited and cared for, because in that way you’re saying, “I’m happy that you’re happy,” and who doesn’t like that?

Asking engagement questions is also a surefire way to create a dialogue with your followers. This is especially useful to do with your Instagram Story content, which is another super powerful feature on Instagram. Asking a question, even if it’s as broad as “What’s your favorite Fall drink?” will create a dialogue that’s fun and interesting. Instagram Stories have different features where you can add polls (such as the classic poll and the slider) and a “Questions!” feature (which would also be perfect for an “Ask Me Anything” session). Because of this, users will know your company is active, well rounded, and thoughtful- and not to mention, you’ll be able to learn a little more about the audience that your product attracts most.

With different engagement tactics in the books, you begin to publicly establish a foundation for your product. This is something that potential customers truly like to see. Now the question is, how can you get followers to move down the marketing journey path from awareness to consideration and trial? Something people like to see is that a product is attainable, especially after seeing that someone they admire uses it as well. If let’s say, someone who enjoys makeup, sees their favorite influencer use a high-end makeup product, then they will be more inclined to think, “If they [the influencer] are using that brand, then why can’t I?” The use of an influencer will make your brand seem much more appealing to the average user.

On Instagram, there are a plethora of influencers that like to post great photos on their personal accounts with all types of brands in tow. Finding the right influencer is also the best way to target a niche market for your brand, especially if you’re able to extend your reach. At the same time, you can also diversify your audience, and speak to a new, niche market. If you have been focusing on one targeted audience, then you might be ignoring a whole different group of people that are also actively purchasing similar products. Therefore, you should experiment with different types of micro-influencers and use them as trojan horses into new communities. Searching for different types of influencers will allow for different types of people to buy your products. Like with any sale, it is better to have a warm introduction, than to make a cold call to a new customer!

At the end of the day, Instagram is not a magic tool. It’s only useful if you make it useful through effort. That’s why boosting your awareness, creating appropriate content, engaging heavily with your followers (and/or with anyone who engages with your content), and finding the right people to further represent your brand should all be taken very seriously.  With all of these in motion, you are setting your brand up to win on Instagram.  The people and the awareness are there, and so it is on you to go and find them!

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Instagram Story Stickers = Free Exposure Hack

OWYN Stories

Last week I wrote a post about the necessary ingredients needed to succeed as a healthy CPG (or beverage) brand. One such brand is our awesome client OWYN. They have super smart people running point, are investing the necessary capital and hustle, have a great tasting and healthy product and are all about storytelling.

They are always open to new ideas and hacking ways to stand out from the clutter and get their brand messaging out there in the process. Ahead of a weekend full of events, we went ahead and created a custom branded GIF for Instagram Stories that can be used by them and by any IG user for that matter.  We submitted to Giphy and got it approved and it is now searchable by anybody who is posting a Story.
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Without prodding or planning, we had someone post it within a day of creating the asset. Even better, the person @Jessmair, is a power user, with 57K followers on the platform. We have effectively empowered a true influencer with some ammunition to do the heavy lifting for us. We put in some work and earned some free exposure for the brand.

We call that a win!

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Sircle Squad Profile: Lauren Utecht

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Full name/nickname: Lauren Utecht. Sometimes people just shorten my name to Laur or Lau.

Age: 22

University & Major: Roger Williams University. Major – Journalism, Minor – Film, and Concentration – Spanish

What made you choose Sircle Media? I decided to apply to Sircle Media because after researching the company and looking at their website, I really liked their overall vision and POV on social media. At school, I was introduced to the power of social media and all things digital. I believe it has opened up a window of opportunity for brands to have conversations, develop relationships and show that they care about their customers by sharing personal stories and giving them an inside look at their company through the use of digital elements. Sircle Media really emphasized this idea and I knew it was somewhere I could enhance my skills. I always make sure I can believe in a company before I interview with them. Most importantly, I really liked the company environment as it seemed positive and productive. Everyone was extremely friendly, encouraging and I could see that there was a lot of opportunity for growth. That is why I ultimately chose Sircle Media.

Most surprising discovery/realization after working here? The most surprising thing I’ve learned after working here is that brands don’t need to take their social media management too seriously. What I mean is that people don’t want a product being shoved down their throats on social media and most likely aren’t going to take the time to read a long caption explaining a product. I always knew it was best to keep captions short, but I’m really learning to have fun with my posts. It’s OK to be silly and make jokes and puns because it shows off the brand’s personality, explains who they are, what they stand for and breaks the ice between sellers and buyers.

What’s the best part of your job? The best part of my job is that it is not restrictive at all and I have a ton of autonomy. With social media, every day is different from the last and I get an opportunity that most new hires don’t, which is to have fun while learning new skills. Social media forces me to be creative, innovative and keep up with all of the latest trends. Social Media Managers have the ability to create content that can influence a culture and shape the future. That is really exciting and encourages me to be better.

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor? I’ve been working really closely with Sara Lerner on a few brands. Both she and Adam truly care about their employees. They help me believe in myself because they took a chance on me very early on in my career. They are now teaching me everything it takes to be a Social Media Manager, from building relationships with clients to managing day to day functions and even experimenting with audiences by promoting posts. They are always accessible if I need help and when I have questions, they get back to me right away. They are always reminding me that no question is dumb and are constantly encouraging me.

Advice to future interns/employees? My advice would be to ask questions and research topics you don’t feel comfortable with. It’s always better to make sure you’re doing something correctly than guess and make a mistake because you were too nervous to ask.

Bonus Questions:

What are three songs that never fail to get you hyped?: “Closer” by the Chainsmokers, “Levels” by Avicii and “All of the Lights” by Kanye West ft. Rihanna and Kid Cudi.

What is something about you that people would be surprised to know?: My sister and I did competitive gymnastics since we were very young. I was always getting injured and eventually had to give it up at the beginning of high school, after my third broken arm because I fell too far behind on my skills.

What cartoon/movie character were you inexplicably afraid of as a kid?: I wasn’t really afraid, but I hated the “The Emperor’s New Groove” for some reason when all of my friends were obsessed with it.

Favorite hobbies? I love to travel and see new places around the world. I’m a firm believer that spending money on experiences rather than on material items makes you happier. I love to run, as I ran track all throughout high school and college. I like to cook and experiment with new recipes, read a lot and watch really good movies because film has always been another interest of mine. I also love playing with my dog and spending time with family and friends! :)

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POV: The keys to winning as a healthy CPG brand…

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With Expo East looming, it got me thinking about what I think makes for a winner brand in the healthy CPG (Consumer Packaged Good) space. Everyone thinks they have the best (or at least a really great) product, or they wouldn’t be grinding it out in this vertical. It is so demanding and defeating, so you need to have the underlying belief that you have the goods and ride that horse until the end of the race. The big differentiators I have found between the winning and losing brands are:

1- Good taste and health profile. I have some clients with products that taste good but have too much sugar or just aren’t really all that healthy or good for you. Then I have others with great labels and concepts, but a product that consumers won’t like or buy (more than once). You sort of need to nail both.

2- Good operators. I am such a believer that you need smart, compassionate and driven leaders (and the team to follow) to win in this game. There are so many layers and paths to navigate and it cannot be a B- player making the calls, especially at the top.

3- Funding. Bottom line is you need the funds to even sit at the table and be able to deal yourself into the game to have a chance to really make it. You cannot get by with minimal cash because you cannot invest in the mission-critical areas needed to succeed. If you are always making “either-or” decisions then you are always leaving opportunity on the table and greatly reducing your chances of coming out on

4- Solid storytelling. You need to be able to story tell and explain your USP’s to make people listen. Then your DTP’s (Describe The Product) need to be tight, concise and believable. So much of this comes down to your social media messaging, execution and ongoing dialogue with consumers. Everyone thinks their baby is the cutest, but most aren’t and/or others wont see it like you do. You need to be able to clearly convey your why (and your why they should care) if you want them to become customers and brand advocates. Your branding, packaging, website, label, POS, and story all lay the foundation. Then how and where you spread those messages around makes a big difference. Underinvesting in any or worse, all of those, will greatly compromise your chances of winning.

5- Grit. Finally, with all of the above in the right place, you need a leader, team, and brand with the grit and willingness to stick it out when times get tough or you suffer major losses or setbacks. They will come, so you need to have the mental fortitude to weather the storm, bounce back quickly and keep plowing forward. This game is not for the weak, trust me on that!

I encourage all players in this space to look inward and figure out if they are lacking in any of these core categories. The good news is that most can be course corrected and adjusted, but only if you stop, breathe, assess, and are honest with yourself. It does require reflection, forward thinking and serious commitment

Most of my clients have some of these attributes in place and a few have them all. An analogy I like to use is that I feel like a High School or College Basketball Coach sometimes. Working with all of my clients is important and meaningful to me, but collaborating with those really special ones that come around more rarely (like a true NBA star in the making) is incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun along the way!

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Don’t sleep on August: Take some time to assess and plan your social media strategy…

On this episode, I talk about the importance of taking some time to plan during August. When many brands and individuals slow down and go quiet, I think it is a smart move to lean in and think strategically. Don’t want until after Labor Day to turn the engines on and make sure you are in full stride come September.

When it comes to your social media strategy:
1- Look around at the competition and see what they are doing when it comes to content, cadence, frequency etc. Most are moving towards less posting and higher quality!

2- Remember Instagram/Facebook followers/fans are irrelevant. It is a paid ecosystem now and the faster you get your head around that, the better off you will be. Allocate a budget, force rank your KPIs and GO!!!

3- To that end, take a look at the Ads others are running! In an effort to be more transparent with users, Facebook rolled out the ability to see all of the Ads a page is running even if you are not the intended target audience. This translates into a very powerful tool for brands to learn more about their competition and vertical and to see what other “best of breed” brands are doing.

Bottomline is that social media is not static and as it pivots, so too should you. Spend some time really investing in understanding what you want to have happen and then deploy social media strategies for the now and the future, rather than holding onto the past. Use August to learn, and attack and thank me in September!

 

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Sircle Squad Profile: Kevin Sikorski

With the end of July in sight, it’s time to introduce everyone to one of our Photography Interns, Kevin!

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Hometown: Norwich, Connecticut

School: Parson’s School of Design

Major: BFA Photography

Why Sircle? Social media is how I have grown through photography and gotten many opportunities as well as made some of my best friends. I love shooting models as well at products so I felt this would be a good fit to learn how to further push myself.
Random Fun Fact: One time I got flown out to have lunch with Michael Jordan

Most Likely To…: Most likely to embarrass myself

Favorite Movie/Book: Any Harry Potter movie or Book

Appetizer or Dessert? Dessert

Beach or Forest? Beach

Favorite Client to Work On: FatBoy

 

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Sircle Squad Profile: Taylor Gray

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Summer 2018 is in full swing, and so are our amazing crew of interns. Have you listened to their awesome playlist?

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Taylor Gray.

Hometown: Boca Raton, FL

School: University of Florida

Major: Advertising

Why Sircle? To get great experience working with advertising on all forms of social media.

Random Fun Fact: I am EXTREMELY afraid of mayonnaise!

Most Likely To… WIn the lottery and lose the ticket!

Favorite Movie? Notting Hill

Appetizer or Dessert? Dessert

Beach or Forest? Beach

Favorite Client to Work On: Kidfresh

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Hump Day Hype: Today is the most important day…

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“The long span of the bridge of your life is supported by countless cables called habits, attitudes, and desires. What you do in life depends upon what you are and what you want. What you get from life depends upon how much you want it, how much you are willing to work and plan and cooperate and use your resources. The long span of the bridge of your life is supported by countless cables that you are spinning now, and that is why today is such an important day. Make the cables strong!” — L.G. Elliott

I read this quote over the weekend and I just love the simple, yet profound message.  Your long-term narrative is determined by your short-term actions and it is important to put in the time, effort and care into the little things you do if you want to have an impact on the ultimate outcome of your life.

We all come into work each day and for the most part, we are in control of what goes down. Meaning, if we want to be really alert, efficient and productive we can and conversely if we want to coast thru the day and/or just turn in mediocre work, that is an option too. The former is preferred, but the latter happens more than most would like, especially by me, the employer of 14 employees.

Now sometimes we are hungover, super tired from lack of sleep or even sick and on those days we have greater forces taking over and impacting things. Hopefully, we all take actions to avoid those, such as not getting [too] drunk, trying to get a solid 8 hours of shut-eye and/or working out and eating right to maintain good health.  That being said they are sometimes inevitable and when those do happen we have less control over the outcome.  

That is all the more reason that when you wake up coherent, well rested and in good health, you should be grateful for the day that lies ahead of you and put in your best effort. Not for your employer, but selfishly for yourself and the bridge you want to build.  Put in the kind of effort that your future you will be proud of today and then do that for as many days as you are able.  

Trust me, they add up and suddenly your bridge has taken you very far and the foundation and support cables are rock solid. You cannot do yesterday over and you don’t need to worry about tomorrow just yet.  It all comes down to what you do today.

 
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IHOB = Marketing Genius!

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On this episode, I break down the marketing genius of IHOB from IHOP.  In case you missed it, the company announced it would be changing its name by replacing the P for pancakes, with B for burgers and the internet freaked out. There was so much hype in June around the name and this for a brand that I (and many) haven’t thought about in quite some time.

The move, it turns out was a publicity stunt to announce the addition of burgers to the menu to help capture off-peak hour business and help turn the tide on declining numbers, experienced by most brands in their category.  IHOP and their creative agency decided to temporarily change its name (with no intent on keeping it that way) to earn massive exposure and accelerate WOM around their message. While most of the chatter was negative, mainly from IHOP loyalists, the masses did their heavy lifting for them and got the word out that burgers are now ready for consumption at an IHOP near you.

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Competitor brands with smart social media teams, jumped in right away to get into the dialogue. Hats off to Burger King, for quickly making this new mock logo and pushing it out via Twitter. This was a very easy way for them to use the draft wind of IHOPs move, to accelerate their own brand message. #wellplayed

While this article in Adweek claims that foot traffic did not increase following the stunt, it does concur that the buzz/awareness was valuable in its own right and IHOP claims that the data used by Foursquare does not accurately capture the true metrics. It appears that the brand is pleased with the play and I think Droga5 deserves some brops (see what I did there?) for the work!

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