POV: Motion Graphics

When trying to create content that will tell your brand’s story in a compelling way, you need to have assets that stand out from the clutter. User attention span continues to dwindle, so you don’t have much time to make an impact. It is more important than ever before to be clever, creative and concise with your messaging.

Data shows that video outperforms still imagery, but most brands haven’t figured out how to create video content affordably in house. The main reason is that most are thinking longer form and/or live action video, and both come with a higher cost (financial and opportunity).  While we love live action at Sircle Media, the real gold, when it comes to social content, is in motion graphics.

The format can be fun and simple and can be crafted by someone sitting at a desk, rather than off running around with a camera somewhere.  If you have people on your team that are good at it, as we do here at Sircle, then you can be off to the races. Some of our best content, both from a likeability and data POV, are these types of assets. We find that they make stakeholders happy, whether they are brand (ART) or results (SCIENCE) oriented in nature.

A lot of time is spent on branding and packaging, especially with healthy CPG and beverage brands, which is where we spend most of our time and energy. We think it is only logical to bring some of that art to life. Even if your Art Director prefers real imagery and/or live video, remember that the brand is the most important character in your messaging. Bring that brand to life with motion graphics and thank me later.

 

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Content creation is serious business…

One of the most important components of a successful social media game plan is the ability to create solid content. Brands need to stand out from the clutter and produce assets that are memorable, especially in crowded verticals. It is not enough to just wing it and hope for the best. It is mission critical that you have members of your team who can shoot and edit at a high level to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.

There is plenty of photography talent out there these days and we even use some freelancers from time to time to help us capture certain styles or solve for non-studio or even non-NYC shots. I would argue though that you still need to control the aesthetic from a brand-side POV and cannot rely solely on freelancers. Someone needs to be able to edit and modify as needed and have enough social chops to know when to create a video, vs when to post a carousel or even just which individual stills work in specific scenarios.

Not everything needs to be super stylized and overly branded and recent data shows that consumers actually prefer UGC or more “real imagery” instead. That being said, nothing should be lazy or careless. You can/should use UGC and 3rd party content as part of your mix, but a good editor can still create brand side assets made to feel real and authentic. Also, if you think about the end goal and reverse engineer from what you want to have happen, then you can glean more value out of all of your content from your website photos, to influencer collaborations, to photo shoots and everything in between.

As a very important differentiator, I think that having a social media agency mindset with a real understanding of the “what” and “why” makes a big difference when looking to create content that produces results. So unless you are totally content, let’s get to work and make some totally great content!

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Instagram Trends To Watch In Early 2019

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Square_Lexi-02Hi, my name is Lexi and I am new to Sircle Media. This is my first ever blog post at Sircle and I decided to reference this article about marketing trends on Instagram in 2019 that was put out by Socialbakers. We use Instagram all day long for clients and it was helpful to see some data around usage and consumption. I offer some personal and professional insight sprinkled on top of their list of the 5 platform trends that marketers must know. I hope you enjoy.

As a Social Media Manager and an avid Instagram user myself, I feel as though I understand Instagram’s popularity as a social media platform and how it would be a huge miss for brands not to utilize it for marketing purposes. Whether I’m sending memes to my friends or seeing what Kylie Jenner is up to, I spend multiple hours in a single day on Instagram. I am sure that most people reading this are addicted to IG too!

Since launching in 2010, Instagram has evolved tremendously from a photo-sharing site to the powerful marketing channel it is today. I remember using Instagram solely as an editing tool back in 2011 when I wanted to have cool pictures of me and my friends to post on Facebook during our senior year of high school. Boy, have times changed! Since then, Instagram has grown at a rapid pace, with over 1 billion active users to date.

So, what does Instagram’s dominance in the social media sphere mean for marketers? In this blog post, I am going to tackle and discuss the five Instagram trends marketers should know as 2019 unfolds.

First, high customer engagement is super important and you shouldn’t be against using paid social to find those right customers. Because Instagram is a highly visual platform, this particular social network is perfect for getting your proper target engaged AND keeping them absorbed in your content. For me, Glossier does an amazing job at producing content I like to see on my feed, while also successfully selling me on their wide range of beauty products.

According to Instagram Business, 80% of accounts follow a business on the platform and 60% use it to discover new products. In addition, 72% users buy products after seeing them on the platform. With that being said, I feel that in order to move someone down a purchase funnel, your business must be utilizing all of Instagram’s e-commerce features. For example, add a link to your bio to drive visitors to your website, include action buttons such as “shop,” use Instagram Story links and highlights to show off new products, and create shoppable posts for a more seamless shopping experience within the app.

Not only can you leverage e-commerce features on Instagram, but their Instagram Story feature, in general, is key. I believe the ephemeral content craze began with the creation of Snapchat, but once Instagram Stories were rolled out, they clearly became much more popular. Ephemeral content encourages followers to interact with your brand, allows you to increase website traffic, create buzz surrounding a new product launch, and so much more.

Now when it comes to IGTV, I am still just getting my feet wet. For those who don’t know, IGTV is Instagram’s longer-form video hub displayed as a vertical video on an Instagram account. To be honest, sometimes I forget to check out IGTV, but just recently, IG pushed out a new update, where video previews can be published in the main feed. This is a big update and a clear indication that Instagram is focused on continuing to try and get users to adopt IGTV. I already see influencers actively using it for how-to videos and a behind-the-scenes look at their lives. Which brings me to my final Instagram trend to look out for in 2019….Influencer marketing.

According to eMarketer, 78% of influencers consider Instagram to be the best platform for brand collaborations. When well-respected influencers post about brands they are eating, wearing, drinking, you name it, followers are able to easily find and buy the featured items. I cannot even begin to describe the countless number of times I have purchased a product this way. For example, whenever Arielle Charnas posts about the clothes she is wearing, you bet I am going to swipe up and check it out nine times out of ten. Brands should be making sure they find the right influencer(s) that fits their target audience and that their performance metrics are on point. Since I started working at Sircle, I’ve made sure to keep my eyes peeled for influencers who are engaging with the brands that I manage in order to readily turn them into brand ambassadors.

So, to sum things up, Instagram, just like any other social media platform, is constantly evolving and we will see so many new trends in the future. I recommend that you take the time to apply these tactics now and stay on top of the latest trends!  See you on The Gram!

 

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Stop Motion: If done right, it makes people stop and pay attention!

Dictionary result for stop-motion

noun
  1. a cinematographic technique whereby the camera is repeatedly stopped and started, for example, to give animated figures the impression of movement.

We have all seen them. Those clever videos that bring a seemingly still environment to life through a series of photos being married together into one asset. They are a great way to stand out from the clutter and add a deeper narrative than you can get with an individual still photograph.

It is very important to do it with precision though. If you don’t have the creative chops or the patience for that matter, they can come out very sloppy. When that happens it takes a seamless and high-quality asset and it degrades the experience quite a bit. Our recommendation is to keep it very simple, with only a few movements or transitions OR hire an expert like Sircle Media.

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When planning it out it is a good idea to storyboard it first, make a plan of attack and then get to work. Think about spillage, dust, light and even the shadow created by you and your camera. The slightest variation can trip you up and then you need to start all over again. That can lead to a huge time suck OR even quitting and never getting to the finish line.

If you want to talk stop motions, hit us up! We would love to discuss…

 

 

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Food Styling – Sells Product!

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If you want to stand out in the very crowded healthy CPG or beverage categories, it is very important to create high quality and memorable visual content. At Sircle Media, we are big believers in video content, but still photographs can pack quite a punch too.

One of the big differentiators from one brand to the next is the flavor or taste profile and brands need to include some imagery that helps tell that story. Well executed food styling can really make your product stand out and make it crave-able, which can move someone from awareness to trial very quickly. We all want healthy products in our lives and the added bonus is that they taste great too.

Sell that narrative and you will earn more first time users. Follow thru on that promise (meaning the product actually does taste good) and you will have customers for life!

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IGTV – Promotions in the main Instagram feed…

 

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Instagram has stumbled a bit out of the gate with IGTV, but the platform is committed to making this product stick. Not only does it open up a new frontier for creators on the social network, but it steals those same creators and the eyeballs that watch them from YouTube. The added cherry on top is the additional real estate for Ads and the revenue that comes with it. Trust me, they are going to make it work.

They recently rolled out a new feature that allows you to publish your IGTV uploads directly to the feed, where you can tease users back to view the whole video and your channel in the process. They made it super seamless at the time of posting, which will make it easy to adopt for users and is a very smart way to draw attention for sure.

Below you can see how it looks in the Instagram grid as well as the teaser to watch the full video when you click on the actual asset:

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We encourage brands to experiment with this and to use some longer form video content (especially a “hero” video that describes who you are and what you sell) in the process. There are some nuances to consider when doing this and we touch on the topic in a recent episode of our podcast, The Inner Sircle.  Enjoy!

 

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On Social Media Content That Attracts Audiences…

This week’s blog post comes from our intern, Maria Lozano. Maria currently attends Rutgers University and studies Journalism and Media Studies.

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Social media content has the power to be very effective in growing a business. The first step to successfully executing a social media strategy is generating an audience: those who you think fall into your target audience, a unique set of consumers you can draw in, and existing customers who you hope remain loyal to your brand. Unfortunately, growing and sustaining an audience is a difficult task for brands. Not only are you competing with other brands, or bidding for the same consumer, but you’re also trying to make your product stand out. Paying close attention to the content your audience responds to is the key to keeping their attention. After working closely with brands such as Koia and Cake Beauty, I noticed a growing demand for certain types of content, copy and messaging.

When focusing on Instagram, the most popular content is giveaways for both Cake and Koia. In an age where customers turn to media to find new products, giveaways inspire people to make the first move and force an interaction. A giveaway can generate new followers and new eyeballs for your brand for sure.

In a recent Cake Beauty giveaway, the post earned over 1,000 likes and comments overnight. This generated hundreds of additional followers and 5000+ profile views, according to Iconosquare. People love free products and winning. The experience of a contest is worth sharing with friends by tagging them in the comments. This improves the chances of reaching customers beyond your target audience. I follow certain brands because I know they have giveaways every week. Because of that, I will continue to follow and stay updated on their products.

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Koia is another brand that hosts giveaways consistently. Most often, they’ll include a theme, an example of one being “living a healthy lifestyle.” When deciding to collaborate, the brand should seek out like-minded partners who target very similar demos. With Koia, this collaboration with other healthy food products, generated 650+ likes, more than a thousand comments, and an additional hundred followers.  It also generated some really interesting comments to engage with on the partner brand’s feed. Great social media management ammunition for sure!

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Copy is often overlooked, but optimizing it to its full potential could intrigue your audience. It can help convey your personality in a way that is sometimes more impactful than just the asset alone and/or it is definitely the best way to convey USPs.

From measuring the engagement rate from Iconosquare, I noticed that Koia’s Instagram posts that included the benefits of their ingredients received more engagement than any other content. A recent Koia posting included a “Did you know?” type of message with the fact that the turmeric found in the Mango Creme flavor, is a natural detox. These simple fun facts resonate well with Koia’s audience because it reinforces that Koia products can help sustain a healthier lifestyle.

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With all of the content out there these days, customers need more than just the basics. Spending time creating really compelling assets that stand out from the clutter and writing copy that captures their attention and interest is so important. Spending the time to test and learn with new types of content, copy and messaging will help a brand differentiate and catch on faster than those who do not. It is definitely a worthwhile investment!

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Instagram Story Stickers = Free Exposure Hack

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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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On cutting out the term “blasts” from your email strategy…

In this episode, Chris talks about the term email “blasts” and why all marketers need to remove it from their vocabulary.  Not all prospects or customers are the same and many are in different stages of their relationship with your brand or business of course. Therefore, they shouldn’t be spoken to in the same way.

There are lots of different emails that should be in your rotation. Some emails are promotional (though not every promotion makes sense for your entire audience), some are content laden (such as newsletters or ongoings of the business) and some are behavior based in nature (based on a profile, an action or inaction etc.). Within those categories, there are many different variations and messages that should be used. Think about what you would say to each person receiving the email on a one to one basis and attack accordingly.

Email marketing is such an important part of your digital footprint and one that brands have abandoned or even worse, never really invested in the right way. As things evolve and you want to start controlling your own destiny and margins, it is a must-have part of the equation. Thinking about new ways to tactically communicate with your prospects and customers is very rewarding and even enjoyable. Not a blast though – we are not using that term here! ;)

 

 

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On the ROI of video marketing…

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Measuring Return On Investment (ROI) of your video efforts begins with understanding what the videos set out to accomplish. If you go into the process knowing that video is more likely to be consumed than other forms of content it can change your POV a bit and better shape the conversation.

Video, is a tool that can be used by various departments within a business to help “market” their message. Sales, HR, Customer Service and Marketing all can benefit from the positive attributes of a well-positioned video message to tell their story. Attributing a direct ROI to video and breaking that down by the department can be tricky, making true video ROI a tough one to map out.

Let’s say you have a PowerPoint presentation that your salespeople use in pitches and/or in their email or LinkedIn solicitations for new business, how would video perform instead? Assuming you have a great product, with compelling unique selling propositions (USPs) clearly laid out in this presentation, perhaps a video format would produce higher consumption rates? It is a big commitment to sit and read through a long sales deck, but an animated video that brings the hot buttons to life might be worth 60-90 seconds of the end consumer’s day. If you can increase consumption rates, then you increase your sales conversion potential, which directly impacts the ROI of your sales team’s efforts.

When putting out any social media content, the major platforms (READ: Instagram and Facebook) will reward your video content over still images. So if you are measuring the performance (reach, engagement etc.) of your content, especially your paid efforts, then a video is going to deliver you more for your dollar, also known as a better return on your investment.

From a true marketing standpoint, it is not much different from a traditional marketing campaign. Comscore reports that on average a person watches north of 25 hours of online video a month, so it’s not the matter of trying to prove that online video marketing is effective. The Executives at every business, however, want to know that the marketing dollars are achieving the highest value and ROI while receiving the desired results.

So how do you measure ROI of online video?

  1. Know your objectives.
    The essential component of executing a campaign successfully is having clear goals. The simplest way to measure return on what you’re investing is knowing your target audience and what message you are trying to deliver. Your objectives may vary. For example, if you’re trying to promote product sampling, your objective may be to have individuals register for a coupon on your website after viewing the video. If you want to increase exposure and awareness of your brand or business, you might be simply looking at views to measure the total exposure of the campaign. Dividing cost, by views can give you a cost-per-view metric. Know what you want to see happen before you start.
  2. Social = Sharing = Exposure.
    Remember, ROI doesn’t necessarily have to equal a dollar figure. It can be social interactions, shares, conversations around your brand and recommendations by your brand ambassadors. If your video is getting shared by your target demographic and this audience is recommending your video to their friends, the reach and engagement are just as valuable as a dollar figure. Make sure you give them the opportunity to easily share your video!
  3. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
    Measuring online video ROI isn’t always an exact science and with a non-traditional platform, you have room to come up with creative and different ways to validate your efforts.  Online video can often drive traffic back to your website and one way is to look at what that traffic would have cost if it had been acquired by a push advertisement.

For example, comparing a pay per click model and the received traffic you can use the following:
Running ads on a website with $3 per click which results in 300 unique visitors to your website. This traffic of 300 people to your website is then worth $900. Although this approach offers an easy dollar figure, it’s crucial to note that the difference in pay per click banner ad traffic and organic post video engagement differs greatly and the value through organic engagement is much higher.

Online video enhances and creates the most engaging online user experiences. When it comes to ROI, the measurement metrics differ greatly depending on the specific goals. Success lies in the ability to target a specific audience based on demographic, geographic and contextual parameters. Being able to speak the language of your target audience and deliver a strategic message in a simplified format is a sure fire way to increase business. So grab your camera, and let’s do this…

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