On video content and its current dominance in social media…

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At Sircle Media we have have been talking about the importance of video in your online content game plan for some time now and the momentum just keeps on increasing on the topic.  It really is a must have component up and down the communication funnel, from long form marketing pieces, down to short form social media communication assets.

Animoto released their The State of Social Video 2017: Marketing in a Video First World Report and the numbers were staggering when it came to proof that video is a force to be reckoned with.  The infographic offers many compelling stats that should make marketers pay attention, and we break down some key takeaways here:

  • 64% of consumers say watching a marketing video on Facebook has influenced a purchase decision in the last month.

Facebook video is the main frontier, especially in crowded categories where you want to stand out from the clutter with your USP!

  • 81% of marketers are optimizing their social videos for mobile viewership, including 39% that are creating square and/or vertical videos.

Consumers are watching on mobile devices, so you must be thinking in that format first. Be native!

  • The report also found that social media video drives brand engagement and sales with 83% of marketers reporting they are confident Facebook video content will drive purchases

I repeat, 83% of marketers are confident that Facebook video content will drive purchases!

  • Marketers feel the most confident about reaching customers with video on Facebook and YouTube. Consumers are still viewing on these platforms, but are also starting to expand the platforms where they’re watching branded video content. The top three channels they’re watching videos from brands are Facebook, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat.

It is no longer the case that your video strategy is synonymous with YouTube.  The consumption is coming from other channels and you need to be thinking about how and where you will be distributing during the creation process.  The good news is that the consumers are there, the data clearly shows they are watching videos and then they are taking action based on those messages.

Any marketer not getting in on this action, is making a huge mistake!

 

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On Facebook Live (Part Deux)…

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Long live live video!  We talked about Facebook Live here in this blog a year ago and since then, the platform has exploded.  As Facebook continues to dominate the content scene, there is a real wave of momentum on their live video platform. The Social Network wants to be much more than families sharing pics and friends pushing memes (though both are great) and the ability for brands and personas to push out their message in a live format is killing it right now!

Facebook live (and Instagram live can be done at the same time with another phone/camera to kill two birds with one stone) is a definite recommendation for a brand looking for diverse ways to get content out to their audience and reach new people too. This piece on Mediakix breaks down some compelling stats, and we highlighted two below:

Facebook Live Videos Are Watched 3x Longer Than Videos That Aren’t Live Anymore

According to Facebook, users watch Facebook Live videos 3x longer than videos that aren’t live.

Users Comment On Facebook Live Videos At 10x The Rate Of Regular Videos

Facebook Live is a dream for engagement, driving comments at over ten times the rate of non-live videos. Again, because the focus of Facebook Live is a window into and interaction with a moment in time as it unfolds in real time, commenting is about being a part of a live conversation.

Here is a great piece on how to harness the power of FB Live and we have seen much of this work in practice for our clients over the past few months. Take our client Paula’s Choice Skincare for example.  They have a very charming and knowledgable Founder, who feels very comfortable getting in front of the camera.  Though not everyone needs to be quite as skilled and poised as her, it certainly helps their cause.

Before we go live, we announce it to the fanbase so they “tune in” to the time we will be broadcasting. This is much like a TV show (pre TIVO/DVR of course) and meant to get fans to adjust their schedules to digest some real interactive content.

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Also, after you run a FB live, you can edit the post and add a CTA to it, to get people back to your website. It is a good tactic to add a link and say something like “we’re sorry you missed us live, but if you want to hear the biggest takeaways from it, click here:” which could send users back to the website to consume a blog post about the live session. This is an excellent way to generate e-commerce sales and/or retargeting opportunities, as part of a conversion funnel.

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The (organic mind you) reach and engagement on these has been excellent.  Facebook rewards the effort with exposure in user’s feeds and wants to put this type of super relevant and useful content front and center. To top that off, we encourage brands to share and/or add something like:

“Never miss a live post again!  Make sure you LIKE us on Facebook and go to your settings and be sure to turn on notifications when we go live and “see first” to not miss any valuable posts.”  When you get people to take that action you will dramatically increase your reach and engagement on live.

Our recommendation is to not overthink it, and to just get started. Get on with an iPhone or a camera with an inexpensive tripod and just get talking. Some easy topics are: a new product announcement, new location opening, new branding explained and/or just some interactive Q&A about products or services.  Do it, and then assess and adjust as you go along. This is definitely about documenting rather that carefully crafting and creating.  Once you see momentum, you can better stage the presentation and create a more structured model.

You need to take that first step and remember that this is about hacking underpriced attention AND riding the Facebook Live video wave. FB wants to push it hard, and you should grab their fin and let them take you with them on the ride…

 

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Ready for Reddit?

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A client recently asked me whether or not they should “get involved” with Reddit. Their target demographic is female and they are in a very crowded and subjective vertical, so I recommended they pass. This report which was done in October 2016, clearly shows that the majority of the audience is made up of males 18-25 and offers a lot of other insights into this insanely popular, but very unique platform.

The community is the asset with Reddit and that community abhors self promotion or anything that seems advertorial.  The biggest thing with Reddit is you need to be 100% authentic and if users sense that you are fake and/or somehow not open, honest and transparent, then they will crush you and call you out.  Even if they are wrong and you are being sincere, it is too late once that happens.

I equated it to walking into a comedy club and a comedian starts laying into you. They might be totally off base with their comments or observations and have you pegged wrong, but once they say it and the laughs start rolling in they will continue and it is literally impossible to go back and undue it. Better bet is to just walk out and never look back.

Brands or personas (Elon Musk, Bill Gates etc…) can host AMA’s (ask me anything) in an attempt to strike up an open and honest dialog with potential consumers. This works in their favor as it can immediately ignite massive exposure and chatter within this highly active community. Reddit users are passionate and spend 10+ minutes per session, which is very attractive to marketers of course.  You will get good and bad chatter for sure, but if you are prepared to answer them openly and honestly (and ok with taking a few gut punches along the way) it can be worth the time invested for sure.

I did some research on brands “doing it right” and came up with some examples:

Uniqlo has been on Reddit since 2012. Arielle Dyda, a Uniqlo e-commerce manager, uses her personal account to respond to fans. When Uniqlo has a deal, Dyda shares it with the popular fashion subreddits. Referrals from Reddit have been shown to drive 20% of Uniqlo’s total online sales for a deal.  Uniqlo’s presence is genuine and natural. Their brand is strengthened by using someone who knows the community and is upfront in her approach.

Amazon is equally strengthened by brand ambassadors like AmazonJosh and AmazonAndrew, who monitor game and collector subreddits for questions, and give extremely nuanced product recommendations.

From personal experience I find it to be like an angry and aggressive Tripadvsior or Yelp:

This company recently pitched my company through a random email solicitation.  When my employee (24 year old male) went to look them up, he found this write up:

Have any of you guys ever received an email from brandzooka? Are they scammers? Or can they be trusted

Then some user named PaddyoColorado (coincidence they are in CO) replied with:

Brandzooka is a real company – a start-up in Boulder Colorado – that helps small businesses run targeted video campaigns to specific audiences on all kinds of web sites. They help the little guy advertise where only the big guys used to play.

Then in typical Reddit form, they got crushed:

“It looks like you’ve created this account for the sole purpose of writing this “review”.”

“Brandzooka have sleeper cells everywhere it would seem. Trust no one lol”

“Spam straight from this company in the weed state came into my server’s inbox too. There is no opt-out in the e-mail, and it was sent to a non-public “admin” e-mail account along with a non-existent “yde” account.

“Bounced it straight to SpamCop, as well as sending a PM to a MyWOT user.”

This made me pass on taking the call for sure. That company might actually be great, but I read it on Reddit that they might not be and I am not even giving them a try.  That is powerful persuasion for sure!

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An important day at Facebook…

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On March 9th, The Facebook product team shipped yet another Snap body blow with the rollout of Messenger Day. The functionality is incredibly similar to Snapchat and allows users to post limited time content to their day, that they can share with all or some of their contacts on the platform.

Here’s how Messenger Day works:

  1. First make sure you’ve updated your Messenger app so you have the latest version.
  2. Open Messenger, and tap on the camera highlighted with a sun to celebrate this launch. Doing so drops you right into the full-screen camera. Or, tap the “Add to your day” button at the top of your inbox to get started.
  3. Snap a quick selfie or take a photo or video of what’s around you.
  4. To add art and effects, tap the smiley face icon in the top right and then tap to add to your photo or video. You can also add text over your images by tapping the “Aa” icon, and you can overlay a drawing by tapping the squiggly line in the top right corner.
  5. Once you have your photo or video the way you want it, tap the arrow in the bottom right corner. You can then add directly to your day, save it to your phone’s camera roll, and/or you can choose to send it to a specific person or group of people. The photo or video that you add to your day will be viewable for 24 hours.

Currently it is only available to users and not pages, because they dont have access to the Messenger app, which is available only to individual users. This makes the feature more accessible to small businesses, contractors, and public figures that have a large number of clients or interested users as Facebook friends. That will likely change soon.

As with all platform developments, it is smart to experiment with ways to leverage for your business. We encourage brands to get involved early so they can get ahead of the field. This piece from Social Media Examiner serves up some early adopter tips on how to use it for marketing. Enjoy!

 

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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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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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On using video to hack better exposure on Facebook

If you are an online marketer, then you probably know that video content is all the rage right now.  It is a mission critical component for any content marketing plan and a surefire way to help you win online.

Facebook in particular, loves videos and continues to reward brands with increased exposure and engagement on its platform. It does this because users prefer this type of content and FB is focused entirely on creating an excellent user experience, to ensure the social network remains sticky and that they don’t lose their users to the competition. If you are a marketer you should be riding this wave.

Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 8.19.07 PMOur client Natalie’s launched some new flavors this month and wanted to create awareness and excitement around it. We created a simple, yet attention grabbing video (see above) and pushed it out with a nominal budget on their Facebook fan page.  We set the promoted post to optimize for engagement and earned some really nice metrics, as you can see to the left. Added bonus, were the many shares it earned, which helped us also grab a reach of over 18000 people.

While we like to balance their social content between photography, graphics and short form video (all of which perform well and have their place) we felt that video was warranted given the freshness of the message (new flavors) and the fact that they wanted to get the best bang for their buck. For the moment, that is video all day, every day.

If you want to have more potential customers consume your content and see more tangible success out of your social media efforts (read: every brand) then you need to really pay attention and deal yourself into the video game. Your prospects are watchin…

 

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On content and why you need to up your game…

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Social media content is an important area of focus for brands wishing to communicate online. Content is king and queen (perhaps even the whole castle) and you have to be committed to putting it out there for the world to see of you want attention. We tell clients that the business drives social and not the other way around, so the content plan begins well before it shows up on social.

First a brand must define who they are and what sets them apart from the pack.  It sounds crazy that you have to remind them of this, but we constantly explain that their story, should be their story. Not some other contrived fabricated tale, not what they think people want to hear, but their actual narrative. In this new age of brand transparency, if you aren’t honest and forthcoming it will be hard to land and keep customers.

For a healthy CPG brand this is so important to do, because it is a very crowded vertical and everyone thinks their baby is the cutest. Meaning they are so passionate about what they sell and why customers should care, but they struggle with how to explain that. Sircle encourages them to just start documenting and putting out a lot of content that conveys the why, behind the what.  It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it should be clean, concise and helpful in some way.

Gluten free, allergy conscious, all natural, non-GMO the list goes on and on.  Why should I care and why is your product a solution? Document some longer form content to answer those questions and ideally use video (more context, more organic and paid reach and more likely to be consumed) as your main format to do so.  Then take that content and push it our via social.

Remember content needs to:

1-Stand out from the clutter (the goal is to capture attention)

2-Be on brand (the goal is to get some of your branding out there and in front of consumers)

3-Be native to platforms (think sizing, clarity, length when talking videos)

4-Be experimental (don’t just be safe, experiment with new ideas)

5-Feel original (be careful of being too “cookie cutter” AND copying from other brands)

You need to put out consistently good content, do it at a reasonable and aggressive frequency AND not get complacent or lazy.  Don’t worry about social posting frequency, before you figure out what you might want to say.  If you have a lot to say and share (NOTE: playing DJ and passing along content from publishers can help covey your point too, and put less pressure on you to be the actual songwriter) then you will know how often you should post on the various social platforms. Let the content dictate your actions and then leverage social to win.

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POV on Instagram Stories

If you are alive and have a smartphone (read: everyone) then you probably already know that Instagram rolled out their “Stories” feature in August as a way to compete with their growing competitor, Snapchat.  By rolling out this easy to use feature, natively on the already popular Instagram platform, they took an increasingly growing and popular format (short term “must see” disappearing content) and served it up in a seamless way (via Instagram’s app already on most users phones).

Facebook has historically either purchased their growing competitors (i.e. Instagram) or outflanked them and beat them at their own game (Facebook Live > Periscope and now Stories >Snapchat). Many influencers jumped right in, as did some major brands. Over the past couple of weeks smaller brands have dabbled, including us on some of our client accounts. Our approach (as it always is with these things) was to sit, watch and consume both content put out by brands AND the many articles written about the topic in the past three weeks before we jumped in with a recommendation for our clients.  Now that we have done that and a new month and a new season is afoot, here it is.

We think Instagram stories are great for offering up context as opposed to content. Whereas we are big believers in using Facebook and Instagram proper for staging attractive looking content that stands out and is appealing visually, with stories we are much more about “documenting rather than creating”.  So it should feel raw and semi abstract. Less structured, no edits and just real deal storytelling about what the brand is up to.

For now it is a great way to document the how, why, where and even the who, behind the what. Some ideas:

1) Give followers more context into who you are and what your personalities are about? Are you fun? Do you clown around? Do you like dogs? Do you like memes?

2) Document growth and inertia. Palettes of product going out? Perhaps a shipment headed to a customer, a blogger or model visit to the studio etc.

3) Celebrate your fans, followers and even retail partners. Have some fan photos queued up on a screen and create a story saying “we see you @ABC and @DEF and @RST and we appreciate you!” OR go to some of your retailers and shoot on location!

4) Show off product being eaten in the office? Create a story about the making of the product. Show off your point of sale displays, so perhaps people recognize them when they see them in a store. Give an inside look into your warehouse or studio filled with product, or even your production line etc.

5) Show off ingredients and/or USP’s with quick story clips.  What is in it and/or what makes it different? Tell the followers first hand without the need for a fully stylized video shoot!

In the end of the day, be fun and whimsical.  Don’t feel the need to stage, light or refine.  Experiment and remember, it doesn’t last an eternity.  So take some risks and be a bit more carefree and real.  Instagram could be your buttoned up self at work, but Instagram stories can be you at home in sweats and a scrunchie.  Got it?

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Organic Reach on Facebook is Not (completely) Dead

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If you work in social media marketing, then you are well aware that organic reach on Facebook is real hard to come by these days. As they have moved to a pay to play model, marketers have had to pivot their approach on The Social Network and adapt to the new realities. We are big believers in paying to leverage Facebook’s powerful targeting capabilities and have written about that here in this blog.

Despite the paid approach that we deploy for nearly all of our clients, we are constantly seeking ways to game organic reach too. In a study performed earlier this year by BuzzSumo they analyzed 1Billon (yeah, with a B) Facebook posts from all types of brand and business fan pages and came up with some clear conclusions on ways to garner more engagement.

Part of our job as an agency focused on outsourced social media management, is to keep our ear to the grindstone and to research and experiment with tactics that will product results for our clients. We have found that most of these core findings are accurate and that some produce stand out results.

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We’ve seen that pushing Instagram posts directly from IG to the Facebook fan page is really producing nice engagement for brands. This is even easier now, with the new roll out of brand profiles on Instagram and it is delivering positive results.

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We have also found that it is drastically outperforming other tactics with regards to organic reach.  Above is a screenshot from a client’s fan page that does not put any dollars towards their Facebook efforts. They have decided to invest their funds elsewhere and as a result their organic reach has been nominal. We post great content to their fan page 3-5X per week and they average 100 people reached and have almost zero engagement on their posts. Many brands without a paid strategy, are familiar with those type of poor metrics.

This week all 3 pieces of content were published on Instagram and simultaneously pushed to Facebook. As you can see, the reach and engagement numbers skyrocketed as a direct result. Going forward we are going to advocate that clients have this approach in their efforts, especially those with zero or little budget for paid efforts on FB.  Now this means we’ll need to think about their Instagram content and how it might display on Facebook.  Will it be sized right and will it make sense as a status there too?  We encourage native storytelling by platform and now need to think about a directional flow from IG to FB that will work.

The moral of the story here is that you need to continue to experiment and iterate to find results thru social media. We read up on industry trends and studies, we remain active practitioners and we never sit back and coast when it comes to tactics. Success is contingent on a marathon over a sprint mentality and you must always be looking for ways to drive results!

 

 

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