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.

0

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…

 

 

Add a comment

Food Styling – Sells Product!

FoodPhotography-01

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!

Add a comment

IGTV – Promotions in the main Instagram feed…

 

m_main_igtv_posta-magazine

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:

0-1 0

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!

 

Add a comment

POV: 2019 State of Influencer Marketing Report

safe_image

The team at Relatable recently put out a report on the state of influencer marketing for 2019. They partnered up with 350 brands and agencies to source comprehensive data and insights to help hone in on the current situation.

This study showed that influencer marketing is not about earned media and shipping out free products anymore, it is now about working with the right and relevant influential individual that can help companies reach their target audience. Although, 95% of respondents believe that influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing, 24% of them have zero experience with influencer marketing in their company and 8 out of 10 brands will have a dedicated influencer marketing budget in 2019.

Marketing teams are tending to launch monthly and quarterly campaigns, combined with an always-on program, while about 1 in 4 are limiting their executions to when they’re launching new products. 82% of respondents stated that their company is currently advertising on Facebook and 7 out of 10 marketers agree that their Facebook Ads are getting increasingly more expensive and harder to optimize. 76% of marketing teams are operating their influencer marketing manually, without any tools, and although there is no lack of platforms, tools, and technologies available for those who are looking to take their influencer marketing to the next level, many are still not leveraging them.

Half of the marketing teams think finding influencers to participate is a very big challenge. They also fear a lack of control on message and need to make sure that the influencer’s creation(s) will resonate with their audience and will authentically connect with new and existing consumers. On top of this, 75% of marketing teams are concerned about fraud and bots that mess with results.

Awareness and consideration were the most common marketing objectives when running an influencer marketing campaign with only 50% being sales.  Fewer and fewer brands are using follower growth as a KPI, which is good to see.  There is a clear opportunity to combine influencer marketing efforts and content marketing budgets to increase return on advertising dollars.

With 80% of brands allocating a budget to influencer marketing and nearly 1 out of 4 lacking the necessary experience to manage these campaigns, there is a real need for education and support. Influencers should not be in a silo and most likely not run by your PR firm. Your social media manager should project manage the relationships and either grind it out manually or, if the budget permits, they should leverage tools or 3rd party agencies to help do some of the heavy lifting.

Add a comment

Social Media: Planning For The Now

Social-Media-Tactics

Lately, I have been having a lot of conversations with Founders and Marketing Directors about social media and I find that there are a lot of blanket statements being thrown around that are built on very soft foundations. It is so important to really understand the value or opportunity each social network can provide and then map that against your product or offering. You also need to take into account current usage and tools and trends on each, to make sure you are approaching it the right way, for right now. Sircle Media issues a general roadmap for our clients that is revisited each quarter, but each brand needs to take that a bit deeper for their own business.

We suggest a quarterly re-assessment for brands that reviews the current state of the union on their top platforms and takes into account the most pressing needs for that brand in the immediate future. For example, if a brand just landed their first big order with a major retailer, the most important thing for the company at that moment is likely supporting velocity so they can help ensure that (even more) important second order. If this is the case you might need to:

1- Run hyper-local and super targeted Ads to underwrite the relationship and potentially drive foot traffic.

2- DM local influencers on Instagram and try and get them to engage with you and perhaps even pay them to go to the store and hype the shelf space.

3- Create content that specifically highlights the relationship (your logo and their’s) and then boost that content or run them as Ads at fans of said retailer and your competitors.

When the company needs to triage and be narrowly focused on a top priority like this, you have to have a smart plan of attack in place to improve your chances of winning. You don’t want to be stuck in the mud, with edits and debates over general lifestyle photography when your most pressing need deserves more attention. You also don’t want to be single platform reliant, as I think many Brand Managers are with Instagram right now. You need to have a holistic plan of attack and not dismiss any platform or component of a platform without research and thinking.

You need to have a current game plan built upon what is in front of you and not be so romantic or so set in stone about what did or did not work before. Social platforms and how best to use them are constantly evolving and it is imperative you are evolving with it. Think about what you want to happen and then reverse engineer from there.

You don’t necessarily want a certain amount of Instagram followers. You want a retailer to shelve your product and you think that your Instagram count is a necessary step to get there. I will admit that for a long time it was, but nowadays you have more savvy buyers and some realize that your follower count is not the only measure of your influence. If you are smart about using FB/IG Ads and influencers the way you should in q1 2019, then you are actually accomplishing what your follower count used to imply. You are proving that you are able to support the retail relationship with awareness and attention that benefits you both.

That is playing the current social game the right way…right now!

 

 

 

Add a comment

Influencer Spotlight: @Headstandsandheels

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 6.55.49 AM

At Sircle Media, a big part of what we do for brands is managing relationships and strategic partnerships with influencers. These days, a lot of people are faking it in the influencer space, so it is really important to analyze and understand what makes one great.

We recently partnered with an amazing young woman, who goes by @headstandsandheels on Instagram. First off, I like the handle selection, as it doesnt pigeonhole her as much as others because she can toe the like between health and fashion. She is not a macro influencer with 100K+ followers, but she provides so much more depth than many of those profiles. To me, it is about strategically finding underpriced attention, rather than reaching for overpriced partners that often lack the punch their numbers imply.

We prefer to look for brand ambassador type engagements over one and done relationships that are all too common these days on social. We contacted Melanie and together came up with a multi-dimensional partnership to be run over the next few months for our client, Terra Origin. It involves many posts, online content, offline events and a really comprehensive collaboration that allows her to really get to know and experience the brand and products and provide her take on how they make her feel or perform in general. In order to really wield influence and opine on their value, she had to immerse herself in them. This way she can provide honest and truthful information (the whole point of “influence”) and our client (who of course, believes deeply in their products) gets to show off their wares to someone who is a bullseye target.

Plenty of influencers strike these types of partnerships every day, so this alone is not a differentiator.  What makes her special is that she is a wonderful soul and a pleasure to work with. So many influencers lack business acumen and are hard to deal with. Others don’t actually have influence and are selling follower count over everything else and not willing to put in the work. Melanie acted like a business person and really sat down and negotiated with us to help get us to terms (financial/logistical/creative) that work for both parties.

I also want to point out how she engages with her community. Many influencers post content that is beautiful (and even accomplishes the reach desired from the relationship) but I find that so many don’t engage in their comments on those photos. They treat the relationship like PR (one-way presentation) and don’t get into the weeds and conversation with their followers. To me, an influencer who does not do that religiously is leaving opportunity on the table and extremely vulnerable to losing their influence as platforms evolve. She is in there, having a conversation and providing depth in addition to her width. This makes her a great partner.

Bonus: In the image here, she is wearing Sweaty Betty which is a brand Terra Origin would love to be associated with. I know some marketing folks who would be annoyed that they were underwriting the relationship and another brand was stealing some of the thunder.  I personally love the association upside it brings with it. I look at it as her being authentic and living her life and she is bringing value to that other brand too in the process. To me, it means she either worked with them before and as a truthful influencer, continues to bring value to a brand she had a relationship with because she genuinely likes the product. OR it is a brand she just loves (and has such a solid brand profile, that you could argue it actually raises her street cred) and that brand should pay attention and come work with her. Regardless of the spirit, I love and applaud the hustle and tactic.

Big fan Melanie, big fan!

 

Add a comment

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.

Maria Lozano (1)

————————————————————–

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.

Screen_Shot_2018-10-25_at_3.34.30_PM

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!

Screen_Shot_2018-10-25_at_3.37.00_PM

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.

Screen_Shot_2018-10-25_at_3.38.11_PM

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!

Add a comment

POV: Three types of paid social media

paid-social-media-marketing

If you pay attention to any content put out by Sircle Media, then you would know we are big fans of paid social (meaning paying social networks to market on their platforms).  We have historically broken that down to paid acquisition and content boosting and awareness. The truth is there are really three categories and the middle lane might just be the most important. I recently recorded a podcast episode that breaks them down and below I dive in a bit more.

Categories: 

1- ROI/ROAS type marketing: Think driving top of funnel clicks and awarness and down funnel sales and conversions. This is true marketing via social platforms and very easily measurable and attributable. If you are looking to sell products online, this must be in the mix and will probably provide the best bang for your buck. Many brands will hire an acquisition firm or employee to run point here and they are typically measured based on their return on spend. Some brands need a return that is higher (i.e. 4X1 ROAS) and some can go 1X1 (or even lose money) depending on their product and LTV (lifetime value).

Regardless of a brand’s specific formula, whoever is running point will typically not want to get involved in the other key categories I break out below. Mainly because every dollar spent there directly impacts and compromises their ROI metrics. If only measured in that way, it makes sense but for the actual brand, it is a myopic and potentially dangerous stance. Yes, you want to sell and transact, but to have a transformational business you must also build a brand.  You will need to invest money in awareness for said brand, and it is likely not your acquisition team that will want to (or should) manage that spend,

2- Awareness and Branding: Think unpublished (dark) posts, video view campaigns, A/B testing different marketing messages and different niche target groups. Essentially using the Facebook Ads platform to market your wares and putting your key messages out at scale and/or in front of highly targeted audiences.

This takes some planning, testing and experimenting with theories.  Some of the metrics will seem counter-intuitive. i.e. you might actually aim for higher CPMs if that means you are hitting a more coveted and highly targeted audience, and you need to be ok with that. It is really about leveraging this insanely powerful advertising platform and thinking more about brand pushing at scale than ringing the register. It is more like TV than DR, but imagine if TV could truly segment and guarantee delivery and consumption to a bunch of different audiences for pennies on the dollar.  Sounds great right? Well that’s what it is…

3- Boosting of published content: Think about all the time you spend on carefully crafting your content (assets and copy), so you should now want to guarantee delivery of those posts to specific groups. This can be done by a layman, but still requires some expertise and a fundamental understanding of how Facebook and Instagram Ads work in general.

If you sweat brand look and feel (which most brands do) then you should take the time and invest the funds to make sure that content is actually seen. If you publish and just count on organic exposure, you won’t have much luck. A little bit of money goes a long way here and if you experiment some and get a feel for which audiences perform best it can be very powerful. It is also worth noting, that if you optimize for reach or engagement you will get drastically different results and both are important.  If you want to just reach a ton of people and have them see your product (awareness and consideration) then you optimize for reach, but if you want to get them to take action (trial and purchase) you want to optimize for engagement.

Paid social is a battlefield and you need to be attacking it on all three fronts. Each has tremendous value on its own and can often be run by different parties on your team. Ultimately, having all of them running together can really transform your brand from being good to great or unknown to relevant. If you fully understand the purpose each one serves, then the investment of funds and effort in each component of paid social will pay off!

Add a comment

It’s Time to Start Animating!

dd87464c90f2e74d367542c6acf8c1d920ae1a6e

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

—————————————————————————

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!

 

Add a comment

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

—————————————————————————

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!

Add a comment