Snap strikes back…

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Snap, Inc. stepped up their game last week, with the introduction of Context Cards. The newly public company has taken a number of body blows of late, most at the hands of their main competitor, Instagram.  This new feature, provides a great user experience and a solid way for businesses to integrate.

Just like Google Maps offers the ability to access a business’ contact information, hours, and reviews, these cards will provide the same information within the app. This is an intuitive feature in the mobile experience for most users and will feel very familiar and seamless, which will help with early adoption.

What I really like about this move from a local SMB lens, is that it will sync to commonly used convenience apps, such as Uber, OpenTable, and TripAdvisor and give users immediate access to reviews, reservations and even a ride to get there. My guess is that many other apps and tools will be joining the party very soon too.

The feature seems to be very easy to use, as you just swipe up when you see a card on a snap, and any additional information on the tagged place appears. If you are a native Snap user already this will be super simple and straightforward, which means it should catch on quickly.

This piece on SocialMediaToday.com, highlights the potential impact on influencer marketing – “despite recent reports showing that more influencers are moving away from Snapchat, and towards Instagram, Snapchat influencers still have significant sway, and audience reach. The introduction of Context Cards could facilitate a new partnership option for businesses, where they could pay for relevant influencers to visit their stores or events and add the relevant tags to have the Context Cards show up in their Snaps.

Imagine if one of your favorite celebrities was at a location nearby and Snapped about it – you could immediately find out the details and get there ASAP to meet them in person.”

We love that angle too, and think it might be time for SMB’s to get in the Snap game!

 

 

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On winning in Q4…

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Another Q4 is upon us and it is time for brands to really lock in and focus on finishing the year off strong, if they want to win the social game. We shared this piece on our thoughts about how to think about the 4th quarter last year and all of it remains super relevant again now. Give it a read!

This year we are encouraging our clients to really be smart in these key areas:

VIDEO:

We have published a bunch of pieces on our POV on video this year and all brands should read up and become better versed on the topic as they tackle Q4 and/or start their budget planning for 2018.

This doesn’t mean that they should just be pushing out random disjointed videos with no plan. We recommend that brands rethink video and make sure to put it where it works best. Some should be simple and native (slideshows, boomerangs, GIFs and live) and not only super structured or stylized ones.  Others should be of higher quality, and showcase the product and/or key attributes and USP’s.  Assess top KPI’s and create videos against them!

INSTAGRAM STORIES:

All brands should be highly active with Instagram Stories in Q4, as it represents underpriced attention on the platform where users pay the most attention. Given the ephemeral nature of the content, we encourage clients to not overthink it. We recommend a “document over create” mentality and it warrants some experimentation. It should be looked at as inexpensive impressions, in front of an interested and highly attentive audience.

We wrote this piece highlighting Instagram Stories back in August, that is worth a read.

LIVE (Facebook and Instagram):

All brands should be getting involved with Facebook (and even Instagram) Live. Once again this represents very underpriced attention and it is a way to hack increased exposure on Facebook. Fan bases are mostly irrelevant these days when it comes to organic content and for brands looking to contact more people on Facebook with their content, this is now a must. Rather than talking about why it won’t work, you need to be cracking the code on what will.

We created this post on Facebook and/or Instagram Live that highlights the need and breaks down some small ball tactics to help clients glean even more value from their efforts. Live video is watched 3x longer than videos that aren’t live anymore, AND users comment on Facebook Live videos at 10x the rate of regular videos.

ANCHOR:

For brands really looking to put out consistent content about their brand or industry, Anchor represents a very easy way to get into the podcasting/audio game. Some people might prefer audio over video, and this would be a path to do so seamlessly. This is only a recommendation for the most consistent content producers, as it takes time and commitment to stick the landing. It is probably a little early for most, but given the emergence of voice and podcasting it is worth investigating at this point. Don’t sit on the sidelines and get involved!

These are just some of the key areas of focus right now, and ones that we feel will pay dividends for our clients. Get your team in position and go and win this quarter!

 

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On investing (financially and mentally) in paid social…

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Social media advertising (meaning spending money on Ads products from social networks) is a must have, plain and simple. The faster Brand Managers and CMO’s get their heads around that the better off their brand will be. How much to invest and how to allocate is the next question.

Truth is there is no boiler plate budget to allocate, especially for a brand still trying to figure out its way on paid social.  First, I think it is important to not think about it as paid social Vs. traditional means of advertising, because it becomes abstract and decision makers get gun shy about jumping into an unknown arena. We suggest you think as a human being living in 2017 and think about where people are paying attention and how you can reach them cost effectively. If you can find underpriced areas to reach targeted prospects, you should entertain that, wherever it might exist, right? Make a threshold decision to at least explore those and you’ll find that social media platforms are very attractive in that regard.

One you have made that smart decision, then I do think you need to be able to allocate a healthy budget that is consistent and doesn’t waiver as soon as the winds change.  I suggest brands allocate enough so they can balance between acquisition, retention and R&D/experimentation. Explained further:

You want to be able to allocate funds to reaching brand new eyeballs and bringing them in at the top of the funnel. This is done with clicks campaigns and boosted posts targeted at new audiences. It is very important to allocate a fair amount to this initiative, as this is your method for advertising to brand new prospects. You cant skimp on this and you need to constantly feed the top of the funnel, if you ever wish to convert consistently downstream.

Almost 10 years ago I purchased a billboard placement for 1 month on the Long Island Expressway for $30,000 because it allowed me to put my message in front of “over 1 million commuters” (BS) to create the same type of awareness.  Mind you that those commuters were not all looking at our ad (most weren’t), were not targeted (so our product didn’t apply to many of them) AND there was no CTA at all to move them down the funnel and/or track them. Social networks allow you to target the right audience without overpaying for the reach of others, provides you with a CTA opportunity AND awesome insights and reporting.

You also want to take people further down the funnel with retargeting as part of a conversions campaign and want to message to your earned audiences (visitors, emails, fans etc.) to keep them in the community and engaging with and hopefully sharing your content. It also allows you to have a more receptive group to target when you roll out new products and SKUs. Those who know and love the brand are the most likely to pounce when you diversify and add more options.  Retargeting is a surefire way to convert new customers and repeat customers too, just with slightly varied messaging. New sales are your foundation and turning a one time customer to a repeat customer, is a very important building block for online success.

Lastly, you want to have a budget focused on experimenting with new techniques (different audience segmentation, dark posting etc.) and with new products from social networks as they roll out, so you can be an early adopter and capitalize on underpriced attention before the big guys roll in. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest continue to roll out advancements (seemingly daily) and you want to have dollars available to put in play.  Whereas Google PPC Ads are very overpriced and flooded in most categories, Instagram Ads optimized for video views, are actually less so and provide great value for their price.  We are big believers in that approach at the moment and the clients we have with those available funds are reaping the benefits of this recommendation.

Bottomline is you need to first commit to the idea that social networks are a real value play for your budget. Then you want to allocate funds to all three of the areas above, and don’t want to deplete an initiative to fund another one, before you give it the chance to really kick in and return nice results. Now I am not saying it needs to be equally distributed into thirds, and at times it will likely lean more heavily in one area.  What I am saying is brands need to fund all three consistently, monitor the performance closely AND remain focused on proving the positive (it works) rather than the negative (it doesnt).

Do that, and you will win!

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On native Facebook video…

If you are trying to sell products or services of any kind, you need to be creating video content, posting it natively to Facebook AND putting money behind said content, to promote it on the social network. In the video above we talked about the importance of video in your online storytelling efforts, and in this post we talked about the benefits of posting it directly on Facebook.

If you are making video and you are thinking about how to best distribute and/or use it, then you should read this report to learn about the compelling stats behind Facebook video that is posted natively Vs. linked elsewhere.  The numbers are staggering and make a very strong argument to think Facebook first when creating. If you already have an inventory of videos, then you should be uploading the video file and not the link to the video on YouTube or Vimeo. Don’t compromise your results by doing the latter.

We also recommend that brands seriously consider allocating a unique budget to Instagram advertising right now, with video as the creative. We are doing this because we are seeing CPM’s that are very low, when optimizing for reach and this represents very underpriced attention on a platform where attention is the most likely given. The smart hack is to post creative content, seeking video views with an optimization for reach, because it is the best way to get the most visibility.

You earn really solid exposure, with low cost and you put some of your best content in front of targeted eyeballs. The added bonus with this tactic, is that it is a surefire way to get new followers (which everyone is looking for these days) as an ancillary benefit too. The reasoning being that with all of these new eyeballs, comes new followers once they see your content and learn your story.

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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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Win of the week: Facebook’s new custom audiences drive revenue!

Last month we wrote a piece about Facebook improving their targeting game and then we got to work for some of our clients, looking to hit hard in the final month of the year.  We have seen some really nice results early on.

One brand in particular, is our client Birdie’s Slippers. They are a new fashion brand, without a big budget and only sell through one channel, E-commerce. Every dollar is super important at their stage in their life cycle, and they don’t have enough marketing dollars to get into the Google AdWords game.  Facebook marketing is their only allocated spend and they were looking to really glean as much value out of that campaign as humanly possible.

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We started targeting people who engaged with their page over the past 30 days and here you can see we spent $17.36 and earned $336, using this technique on just one piece of creative.

15380365_10158196248710643_1781615209652302970_nWe have done a great job with their content this year, and through collaborations, page post engagements and empowered word of mouth, they have a highly engaged fan page. Even though their fan base is still relatively small, they are engaged and interested which is much more important than total fan count.

Here we took a fun and attention grabbing post and then targeted that audience with a moderate spend. We know this group had already engaged with the brand so there was some familiarity and we then deployed this new targeting technique to move them further down the sales funnel.

Marketers have a real winner on their hands here and they should get involved right away. Brands (and other “traditional” digital agencies) seem to always be looking to pick holes in the Facebook Ads game, which is just insanity. This year, do the opposite – and win!

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Facebook ups their targeting game

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We have made it very clear that we are big buyers of the Facebook Ads platform and all that comes with it here in this blog before. The Social Network provides unparalleled targeting opportunities and if you play the game right and are committed to staying the course, it can/will provide brands with an excellent ROI. We remain, ALL IN!

They just stepped their game up to a whole new level by adding to their already awesome custom audience groupings, that allow you to target people based on an action they took. Previously you were able to put Ads in front of people who engaged with Lead Ads, Facebook Canvas creatives and even videos.  We have seen excellent results, especially when retargeting those who have watched video content.  This is an excellent way to move users down the conversion funnel.

They have now added to this group and included the targeting of users who have engaged with your page, known on the platform as “Facebook Page Engagement Custom Audiences.” This will allow marketers to go into the Ads Manager, create a new custom audience and create a new target group based on their engagements with your fan page during a certain timeframe.

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You can create audiences based on the following types of engagement:

  • Everyone who engaged with your Page
  • Anyone who visited your Page
  • People who engaged with any post or ad
  • People who clicked any call-to-action button
  • People who sent a message to your Page
  • People who saved your Page or any post

Now you can glean more value out of the people who actually engage with the content you put out and better leverage your community management efforts. Brands can zero in on the users who are actually taking time to engage with their fan page, and hit the right fans (or random users) rather than going with a shotgun approach to all fans or friends of fans, many of whom will never engage with our transact with them.

This is a very exciting opportunity for serious social media marketers, and one we will be attacking right away for our clients. For some more detail on this new rollout and a breakdown on how to easily create these types of audiences, click here.

 

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On real social media strategy, that solves client needs…

Our client IMDbPro, (an Amazon Company) was referred to Sircle Media because they were seeking a social strategy that was right for their unique business. They are really focused on new user acquisition for their paid service, which focuses on all types of professionals in and around the entertainment industry. Whereas their consumer facing brand IMDb, can rely on countless movie quotes, actor backstories and unlimited useful (and sometimes useless) movie facts and pieces of information to help them create and cultivate a community, the Pro version has more of an uphill battle.

Sircle explained they needed to do a better job with conveying the USP’s of the platform, many of which lived only behind their pay wall.  We suggested moving some of their powerful video testimonials to their homepage, so new prospects could get a taste of the benefits they could expect from a subscription to the service.

We also recommended featuring a free 30 day trial to reduce the risk for new users and help get them into the brand’s marketing CRM channel.  We then created and implemented the use of video (as seem above) to help them convey the ease of signing up and to earn them more visibility. This type of clean and simple video content, is effective at conveying a brand’s key marketing messages and is a surefire way to hack more impressions on social media.

This creative will be used for organic messaging, as well as on paid social efforts.  We will optimize for reach and then retarget users who viewed the video, with messages that will move them further down the funnel.  Social networks provide targeted pools of individuals that you can serve smart messages to, and video arms you with a powerful tool that earns more impressions than all other forms of content.

Our suggestion is that brands reverse engineer what they want to have happen, without over thinking how social platforms will help at the outset. First identify the barriers to conversions and then work to remove them. Next, capture your USP’s through video, to properly convey your marketing messages and accelerate the reach of that content. Finally, deploy on social media platforms and add gasoline to the fire with paid social efforts.

Wash, rinse, repeat!

 

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Be content, with content marketing funnels.

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If you aren’t all in on leveraging Facebook’s Advertising platform, you are missing out.  Paid Facebook efforts are the most powerful tool in your arsenal these days and you need to be leveraging them on the daily. We have pointed that out here on this blog many times before, and we continue to deploy for our clients on a consistent basis.

The royal flush is to have a content plan, that you then put money behind to help convert users down a marketing funnel. In the picture above you can see that strategy in full effect. Our awesome client Lurong Living, has been a believer in the power of social media for many years now and has been with Sircle for 3+.

They are looking to sell products and subscriptions online, and they want to target a very specific audience and even subsets of audiences with their messages. Facebook has proven to be the real winner (not surprisingly) to do so, and we are constantly driving results through our efforts.

With this one post, we created a very simple recipe (piece of content) that lives on their domain. We then targeted a specific audience with $10 via a boosted post and optimized it for engagement. Typically that would translate to very little reach, as Facebook is objective based and is promoting this to users based on their likelihood to interact with it. The 10,000+ people who saw this piece of content were therefore an ancillary benefit of this initiative. Of greater importance (at least in this instance) were the 685 clicks and 558 link clicks bringing traffic back to the website.

This not only led to direct sales opportunities, but it was a very easy way to build up an audience for our retargeting campaign. Now we know what type of content they consumed and can target them with a very specific Ad that we know they are likely to be interested in.

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This is just a small snapshot of the results of leveraging that funnel mentality. Those conversions produced 4X the spend up front and since the product purchased was a monthly subscription, the lifetime value goes way beyond that.

Yup- It pays to play!

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Win of The Week- Facebook Advertising Small Ball

Sircle- WIN of the Week

Our client Direct Eats recently launched an awesome new website and they looked to us to help them with a smart social media strategy to help drive awareness. Upon launch we focused heavily on driving traffic to the site from both their current base (fans, emails) and new prospects, via strategic targeting, including special interest groups and fans of competitor brands. This was very successful and while the goal was only traffic to start, it produced some really nice revenue and a ROAS around 5 to 1.

Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 9.05.21 AMNow that we had started the funnel, we took a close look at Google Analytics and user behavior and then created some social content that would present the types of products or categories that users were interested in. We created the post you see here and then boosted it to 2 distinct groups:

$10 at website visitors from the last 30 days – because we wanted to retarget them with a nice looking piece of content and drive behavior with a limited time offer CTA.

$10 to fans of the brand – because fans really take to new and newsworthy content from the brands they follow, especially “insiders only” type messaging.

 

Both produced 3 direct transactions on the website, as you can see below:

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The first row shows the retargeting results, which as you can see had much less reach and engagement than the second row, which shows the fan target. That being said, it packed a nice punch and produced the same amount of sales. We turned $20 into $130 with some smart execution and a willingness to invest. Clearly, both have merit and warrant continued experimentation.

These types of small ball tactics, are precisely what make social media management so exciting and such a vital role to any organization who has online initiatives and goals (as all should).  This client launched a new website, with better functionality and UX and then leveraged Facebook to drive revenue and results. Well played guys, well played!

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