On Instagram carousel posts…

Instagram made another power move last week, by introducing the ability to publish a carousel of images or videos in one post on the platform.  Now brands (and individuals) can share multiple pictures to better tell their story and not be limited to only one piece of content. This is a game changer for the social network that yields the best “attention grabbing” opportunities already.

While you were able to post up to 5 images as part of an advertising buy already, now you can post up to 10 and it doesn’t need to be an Ad unit. As a result, you can add more context to any story and use a large grip of images and/or videos to do so.

You just select the pieces you want to share, and then post them as a grouping.  Users will see small blue circles at the bottom, subtly telling them to scroll and consume.  This represents another body blow to Snap, Inc., as it pulls more user attention inward with the newness of it. Also, by introducing the swiping of content, which has not historically been part of the IG interface, but has been part of the Snapchat ecosystem.

Over the coming months you are sure to see many carousel posts and lots of creativity, as brands and individuals look to stand out from the clutter. We are all in for sure.

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Win of The Week: Brand collaboration gold…

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Social media is all about leveraging content, engagement and growth tactics effectively. Brand collaborations are an excellent way to attack all three and are very easy to execute. They offer you access to new eyeballs, easy ways to “stage your product” and new conversations with potential would be customers along the way. We are all in!

Here at Sircle Media, we are big buyers of underpriced attention for our clients. Brands are all trying to figure out how to maximize their own social media efforts and are usually very interested in collaborating this way. We regularly seek out partners who have a nice aesthetic, are clearly open to working with other brands and who have a highly engaged audience.  As an agency, companies are even more interested in working with us, as we can be an entree to working with multiple brands and not just a one off transaction. We use this to our client’s advantage of course, to help land more relationships and control the conversation along the way.

Some brands make the mistake of only looking to others who have larger audiences than their own. In every collaboration there is always one who will be bigger and one smaller, and we think they all have value. We care more about the image, the target and the experience. If a brand has a smaller, but highly engaged audience of core customers we want to be in front of, then we are buyers for sure!

These have proven to be a surefire way to grow an Instagram following, to land nice looking content to round out your own feed and to create direct communication opportunities with customers. With content, you get to use the imagery (including secondary shots of the products side by side) in your messaging, which alleviates some of your organic content creation pressure.

When it comes to engagement and growth, we recommend some gaming to help stir the pot. Above, we had an Instagram contest, that required both a follow AND the tagging of friends to enter.  We received 451 likes, 300 new followers and 142 comments, each of which included the tagging of 2 IG users. Afterwards, we engage with those accounts and strike up conversations on a one-to-one level, that can help our client Modern Oats establish a dialogue that would not have existed before.

In the end of the day, these collaborations provide a very powerful punch and should be a core component to any social media strategy.

 

 

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On navigating highs and lows in business…

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When running your own business, you are constantly dealing with crap. Its just the bottom line, and not everyone is built for that.  I signed up for it and I choose to deal with it in a positive and productive way in the macro. That being said, the reality is that it can be very tough and tiring in the micro.

Being an Entrepreneur, especially at the helm of a service business is much more grind than glory.  You constantly have to navigate volatile and erratic market conditions, different (and often counter productive) client personalities and employee development and idiosyncrasies, while also maintaing an offensive mindset, despite being mired in defense on the daily. You must be razor sharp and always tweaking and improving, otherwise you can lose….quickly.

Just this past week our company signed on 2 new clients, both of whom came from referrals who are very pleased with our service. Good stuff, right?  In the same week however, we had to fire an irrational and unprofessional client (first ever, but probably not the last) AND we had one client notify us that they wouldn’t be renewing at the end of their contract, despite us executing on every original KPI, especially a 10 to 1 ROAS via paid social over the last 10 months. Completely illogical!

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We all face ups and downs each week and it is our ability to absorb, digest and adapt that makes all of the difference. You need to always remain on an even keel to win. Never let a good deed get you too high and more importantly, never let a misstep get you too low.  Maintain balance and take everything as a lesson and a chance to evolve on your journey.

Remember, “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” 

-Charles R. Swindoll

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Sircle Squad: Marisa Folsom

We recently sat down with Marisa, a (2 semester) photography intern to learn a bit more about her. Here is what we learned:

Marisa

Full name/nickname? Marisa Folsom

Nicknames: I don’t have too many, but a couple are Mari and Misa, but Mari only really makes sense in Japanese.

Age? 21

University and Major? Fordham University, and I’m double majoring in Visual Arts (with a concentration in Photography) and New Media & Digital Design.

What made you choose Sircle Media? I didn’t really know what to expect when I was asked to come in, but my first day at Sircle Media was so hands-on and I had such a great time shooting with Jenna and Ticha that I immediately wanted to intern here.

Most surprising discovery/realization after working here? I think I was most surprised by the amount of trust and confidence the team has in its interns. I’m used to internships that have interns do smaller tasks, but I was surprised to be assigned real work immediately and to see my photographs up on our clients’ social media platforms so soon after!

What is the best part of your internship? Working at Sircle Media has really been unlike any other one of my internships. I love how friendly and welcoming the environment is, and how confident in my abilities my supervisors are. It’s great to be able to do some real hands-on work while simultaneously having fun!

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor? My supervisors Jenna and Ticha are awesome, and working with them has been equally as awesome. They’re both so welcoming and friendly, and I’ve felt part of the squad from day one, whether I’m shooting, editing, or in front of the camera. They give me great suggestions and directions for my photographs and edits, and I’ve learned a lot from them. Simultaneously seeing them do their work has been very informative, and gives me new ideas that I might not have come up with on my own.

Advice you would give to a future intern? Be confident in your own abilities! There’s a reason why you’re here and the rest of the team is confident in what you do, so show them what you’ve got.

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On playing the content game the right way…

The Fhitting Room, knows how to play the content game the right way. It doesn’t hurt that their Founder is a marketing maven and super savvy Entrepreneur, but they also clearly understand how to leverage the tools at their disposal in today’s digital landscape.

They came to Sircle for some help with content creation and together we crafted some videos about their incredible staff. In the crowded personal fitness space, especially in NYC, it is hard to stand out from the clutter. Besides being a one of a kind, excellent workout, they realized that their people are the foundation of what makes them special and represent a real unique selling proposition in the market.

We created a video series that highlights the stories behind these amazing humans and we used that social content natively on Facebook to draw users in. In doing so we leveraged the platform’s love for video, to hack increased organic and paid reach for targeted visibility in Manhattan. The content strategy/journey only begins there…

Once the user clicks through to consume more, they land on a FHITPRO profile page that takes you into a much deeper conversation about the trainer. You learn about their back story, a 21 question series about their personality, their Spotify playlist (content a prospect or customer can enjoy from home or work) and then it even links to their schedule, so people can book a class and experience them for themselves.

This funnel directly leads to bookings and email captures for future marketing. It also leads to retargeting opportunities that can be custom tailored based on the trainer(s) that the visitor viewed while on the site. This way the business can use content and strategic marketing to covert them later on, if they don’t transact up front, which is highly likely.

For those who do book, they now have a more intimate relationship with that trainer when they arrive. As a direct result, the customers are becoming more transformational than transactional and more sticky to The Fhitting Room brand in the process. This is mission critical for any small business looking to flourish. #wellplayed

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Win of The Week: Leveraging influencers via smart “pay to play” tactics…

Sircle-Influencer Pay To Play

Influencer marketing represents an excellent opportunity to get a brand in front of new eyeballs and to leverage underpriced attention. It is important to have an open mind to the potential that these collaborations can bring and to think about it more strategically than just “paying someone to post something.”

In January we advised one of our clients to rethink their influencer engagement strategy altogether.  In 2016, they deployed a hardline approach when it came to “pay to play” engagements. They would not do them and would only gift products where they had much less control AND limited their potential target list, by immediately canceling out anyone who asked for a fee.

This year they were hellbent on driving more traffic and wanted us to “get more creative” with ideas to help do so. They suggested buying email lists, affiliate deals (where they would pay commissions for converted traffic sent from other domains) and even programmatic marketing, that is very expensive and unproven for their model. It was time to change their POV once and for all.

Rather than denying all paid scenarios from the jump, we recommended they take a different posture. Dropping the term “influencer” from the conversation, we said “if we told you that Jane Doe had taken time to harvest a community of followers, one that actually listens to and cares about what she has to say, and that they are mostly your exact target demo, would you consider paying her for an opportunity to speak with them for a few minutes?” Of course they would, and this is no different.

They begrudgingly agreed to give us $500 to test out our theory “and prove that this wasn’t a complete waste of time.” We went to a couple of influencers who we knew had a highly engaged audience, understood the need to “give value” to their partners (especially an Agency like Sircle Media, who can bring them multiple brands and not just one) and who would work with us from a marketing angle. We also negotiated the price down to $400 ($200 each) and kept the $100 spread to help us boost some of the great content on Facebook down the line.

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We asked that they both post on January 23rd and had them do it on Instagram with a #linkinbio CTA that encourages users to take action and click that link. As a result, revenue on 1/23/17 was $1837.55 on a $400 all in spend (4.5X1 ROAS).  In addition to that, it doubled their referred traffic (one of their main goals coming into the new year) and delivered new ammunition for our retargeting efforts, which have already proven to be our best revenue driving audience on Facebook. We then took that $100 (in negotiated savings) and applied it to those efforts to drive new revenue further down stream.

It is important to not draw a line in the sand when it comes to engaging influencers. Sure, some have more value than others and of course there are some who wont deliver the goods. This is true with any type of marketing of course and cannot be your reason for not participating. I always say “you cant stop dating just because you had a bad relationship in the past and/or just fear the outcome if it does go south. You need to continue to date, to find the right one for you.”

Influencers represent an excellent value play and need to be in your social media strategy conversation if you have a consumer product. Added bonus is that if they take great photos, they also contribute positively to the look and feel of your outgoing content strategy. Bottom line, it just pays to play!

 

 

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