Tag Archive | "consumer"

12 Social Media Advertising Mistakes Even the Big Brands Make

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Social media advertising done badly is like throwing money down the rabbit hole.

Here are some prime examples of what not to do with your advertising. Fear not if you’ve made these mistakes in the past: The majority of us have made the same mistakes. Just learn from them and move on.

Targeting too narrow of an audience

First off, this does not mean that you shouldn’t retarget your website audience or your customer-relationship-management list. You need to do that no matter what your remarketing audience size is because they are your bread and butter. They know your brand and are much, much more likely to make a purchase than people who see an ad based on something too general like “bags.”

What I mean by too narrow is prospecting for more customers and honing in on a tiny audience on Facebook and now Pinterest by layering interest targeting into a lookalike audience that is only targeting females age 25 through 35 in Atlanta. This audience will be entirely too small to really find out if your ads are meant for that audience. Fix this by spreading out your advertising dollars and by A/B testing ad sets against one another.

Targeting too wide of an audience

On the flip side of No. 1, you can target too widely. Think of it this way: You are throwing out a massive net in the ocean with huge holes in it trying to catch an angelfish. You may get one every blue moon, but it’s rare. Now, if you were to narrow your 5 million person audience down to 1 million to 2 million by layering in declared or deduced interests (like hobbies or purchases) on top of your lookalike audience, that would work.

Wrong image size for your platform

Take the time to do some research on what each platform’s strength is in regards to images. Pinterest allows for massive images where you can tell an entire story to your audience with text overlay, while Twitter only allows very small 800- by 320-pixel images. I’ve seen brands just throw image into their ads that cut off people’s heads. Take the time to make your images look good. Here is an image size guide from HubSpot if you need one.

Not using text overlay

Facebook and Instagram have the 20 percent text overlay rule, which limits the amount of text you can overlay on your image. Anything more than 20 percent text will flag your advertisement, and Facebook will turn it off until you fix it true, but the other social platforms don’t. Text overlay is a great way to catch people’s eyes. I like to think of text overlay as the “hook” to your net. It catches the eyes and gives the consumer an idea of what they are in for if they keep reading. Here is a great example of text overlay that will stop people mid-scroll on Facebook to see what it’s about:


Thinking your audience is everyone from age 18 through 90

This hits back on No. 2. No, your audience is not “females that have nails ages 18 through 90.” Get real about who your audience is and serve your ads only to them. You will have a much better return on investment than if you spray and pray.

Leaving your campaign on too long

Now you probably have an evergreen campaign running, right? Well, even evergreen campaigns can get dull after a while. Make sure you are watching your frequency on Facebook month-to-month for these evergreen campaigns and then narrow it down to week-to-week if you are running a specific time-frame campaign. Here is an example of a brand leaving their campaign on far too long:



Click-baiting is so 2015. When you click-bait someone to click through to your website, they probably aren’t a valued consumer that you want to remarket to. Not only are you wasting money on serving an initial ad to them, you are wasting money on all of the remarketing you will do in the future. Just don’t do it.

Not providing enough information

This goes along with click-baiting. Give people enough information so that they don’t have to guess at what your company/offer is all about. Not only will this weed out the irrelevant users that won’t purchase from you, it will save you money in the long run when optimizing for impressions when remarketing.

Providing too much information

Too much text is a huge no-no. Don’t write a paragraph and expect people to read it. More than likely, people will keep scrolling because they don’t have time to read it. Instead, shorten your sentence on Facebook and Instagram to 180 characters and put some text overlay on the image. This will guarantee that people will at least stop for a brief second to see what the image is about.

No call to action

Tell people what to do by using call-to-action buttons on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The bystander effect is real even in online situations. If people aren’t told to “sign up” or “shop now,” they will just assume that they are just supposed to read what you have on the ad. Every single one of your ads needs to have a call to action, whether it is in the copy or a button.

Not optimizing for the right objective

This is inside of the ad set level and is pretty in-depth but worth knowing to get the best bang for your buck. Here is a breakdown on what you need to optimize and bid for based on your objective.

Sending people to your home page in every ad

If you want people to “shop now” while showing them a specific product, make sure you are driving them to that product page. Nothing is worse than being sent to your home page and having to search around for the product. Not only is this best practice, but it allows you to create custom audiences based on what people are clicking through to and then remarketing them further down the funnel.

With this insight on social media advertising mistakes that even the big brands make, you can fix your campaigns and optimize them to perform better to get an even greater ROI than you are seeing now.

Jackson Salzman is a paid social account analyst for Elite SEM.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Article courtesy of SocialTimes

How Social Channels Teach Businesses the New Rules of Video

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When you ask anyone under the age of 25 where they interact with their friends and get their news, a common answer today will be Snapchat. When asked where they like to follow brands for inspiration, perhaps they’ll answer Instagram.

It’s social media platforms like these that make it easy for anyone to share their content, from an up- and-coming social media star to major publishers like ESPN, Cosmopolitan and BuzzFeed to brands like J. Crew and Coca-Cola.

As Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report showed, video usage continues to rise, with Generation Z communicating primarily via images (live, moving, and still) versus text

The change to consumer expectations driven by social helps businesses accept that it’s OK–in fact consumers actually prefer it–when brands create videos that are authentic and evoke emotion. This increased demand and the ability today to create inexpensive yet engaging videos gives companies the financial and creative freedom to break free of six-week production cycles and massive video budgets. Having this freedom means being able to generate more impactful videos and more often, which means more engagement with customers, employees, readers–you name it.

As video consumption habits change, businesses will experiment more, get comfortable with making authentic videos and see how their videos are viewed more as a result. They will start to really succeed with video and further capitalize on quantity with quality (based on the wants of the consumer) for the very first time.

Snapchat takes the fear out of ‘unedited’

Brands that pay for space in Snapchat’s Discover have the opportunity to create bite-sized videos that automatically appear on every user’s feed. For most young consumers, checking their Snapchat feed is second nature and, therefore, brands see unprecedented engagement with these short, candid and honest videos.

However, only certain kinds of content lend themselves to Snapchat. Content like beauty tutorials, celebrity soundbites and instant replays from sporting events do well on Snapchat, as they are short enough to hold viewers’ attention without being skipped. Viewers also love to see behind-the-scenes footage of an event, video or photo shoot.

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show famously took advantage of the instant gratification of Snapchat by posting live video interviews from all the models backstage. This raw footage appeals to fans as it makes them feel more engaged with the event and closer to the “characters.”

Using raw, unedited content has historically been scary to marketers–or realistically, any business person. We’re all familiar with revision history and track changes: When was the last time you put a true “first take” out into the world? Snapchat is bringing unedited into the mainstream with confidence. And the payoff? Both customer engagement and brand affinity.

Instagram makes short, sweet

In March, Instagram started allowing longer videos than its original 15 seconds in the feed; enabling users to record and share videos up to 60 seconds long. Some quick math shows that this mean four times more content per video—four times!

This offers an entirely new opportunity for companies trying to share their stories on the channel, and it also offers Instagram a larger revenue opportunity for video ads. Each video length has a time and a place.

Much has been written about how to make longer videos entertaining on these channels, as well, which is key. You don’t just want to put up a long-form video that was already kind of boring (like a one minute snippet from a five-minute product walkthrough), but rather create channel-specific content that uses the longer format to tell a compelling story aimed at Instagram’s key demographics.

BuzzFeed has done extremely well in this category with its cooking videos. Its Tasty series began on Facebook, but it took off with such success that BuzzFeed created its own Instagram handle dedicated to this type of content (this account boasts more than 3.5 million followers and an average of 350,000 views per video, mind you). The ability to post a longer video with a full recipe in the comments also makes Instagram a more strategic choice for this type of content.

Product reviews, travel videos and workout tutorials are all video-friendly content that can be edited and shared on Instagram by anyone today.

Know thy endgame

Businesses have to know their endgame when it comes to publishing a video, even if that video is going to be short, raw or ephemeral. Are you creating a video for brand awareness? Then perhaps social distribution is the way to go, versus hosting it on your site alone. Are you trying to get closer to a specific demographic? That could drive platform choice and subject matter. Are you trying to convert a prospect into a customer? You need to make sure you’re able to track who watches the video, what they liked best and also know how to contact them.

Years ago the common endgame was simply content virality. People knew it when they saw it, but they didn’t know how to create it consistently. But virality is all about reaching as many people as possible, no matter who they are or what they’re interested in.

Today, not being viral is the new viral because short, sweet, raw, authentic and targeted videos go much further than one-hit wonders. With the technology available today, a brand can create a video to serve any business purpose (hiring, customer support, training, marketing, sales, etc.). It can focus on the honesty of the human connection that the video creates and worry less about making sure that it has a big-shot art director signed up for the project. The endgame is what matters.

Big businesses can learn a lot from the way bloggers and social media influencers use platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. Many take advantage of the popularity of videos on these platforms without the use of professional equipment or a background in video editing. They understand that the current generation favors video content above text and are taking advantage of this market shift. They post honest and relatable videos that viewers love and often share. Generally they use these short videos to grow their brand by driving traffic back to their blog or website.

In a world full of text-only blogs and static imagery, video is the way for brands to stand out. Don’t get left behind.

Chris Savage is the CEO of video marketing platform Wistia.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Article courtesy of SocialTimes

Signs of a new Samsung Gear VR are surfacing

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Putting Online Video Advertising In Context

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By 2018, eMarketer projects that cord-cutters and “cord-nevers” will represent around 20 percent of the U.S. population, while more than 53 percent of all television viewers will also access programming online.

Digital video viewers, more broadly defined as those consuming any form of online video content, will be near 70 percent of the total U.S. population, and video ad spending will top $13 billion.

For companies looking to produce online video as part of a broader campaign, it’s important to understand that online video and video that is online are not the same, even if they’re intended to accomplish similar objectives.

Content and context are everything

Context is extremely important–where and how video ads are being viewed, whether the audience is captive and what the consumer is expected to do next are all points that need to be considered.

It is important to understand that the term “online video” encompasses more than the obvious. Take Home Depot, which has a strategy for meeting consumers in the micro-moment that relies heavily on the production of detailed, multipart “how-to” videos that cover everything from installing a ceiling fan to tiling a fireplace.

Home improvement lends itself particularly well to online video. Lowe’s much loved #fixinsix series leveraged Vine to distribute creative mini-tutorials on things like cleaning dirty grill grates and stripping wallpaper

And online Halloween giant BuyCostumes.com strategically connected with Halloween DIYers to ask them to post tutorials for improving basic haunted house props.

Online video is content placed within a particular context to achieve a specific end. This goes for paid advertisements, owned media and earned coverage.

Any first step, then, should involve the identification of key goals and the definition of your target audience. Since we are focused on video advertising here, we should start with a brief overview of what we mean when we say “the view,” which is often misused because all views are not created equal.

The view and captive audiences

Broadly, a “view” means that someone has seen your video, or at least some part of your video. They are tallied similar to their living room counterparts, based on the assumption that your message and a particular audience have occupied the same space at the same time.

Views are not impressions. An impression simply means that your content has been delivered to an individual, and does not mean that he or she actually watched it.

And what counts as a view varies by platform.

Facebook, which auto-plays any video appearing before the user, defines “the view” as three seconds of completed video. On mobile devices, only 50 percent of this video screen has to be visible for the video to start and the view to count.

Snapchat, which is much less cluttered but no less prone to casual browsing, counts any loaded video content as a full “view.” As Kurt Wagner pointed out in Re/code, this means that even a half-second of exposure is tallied for the total view count.

YouTube’s in-stream ads are non-skippable pre-roll videos up to 15 seconds long. A view is counted if the user does not navigate away from the page before the video ends, or if they interact with the ad (e.g. clicks on calls to action or companion banners).

YouTube’s TrueView ad format, on the other hand, is skippable after five seconds, and advertisers are only charged for completed views or up to 30 seconds–whichever comes first.

It’s equally important to understand that the viewer will likely fall into one of two broad camps: captive (e.g., beholden to view five or more seconds of ad content prior to their video), or opted-in (e.g., having chosen to view an advertisement beyond the point where it can be skipped).

These are broad strokes, but useful ones. Our goal, ideally, would be to engage captive viewers and make ads worth opting into. On Facebook or Snapchat, we have to make fast work of this. We know that visitors are likely browsing and, therefore, we need arresting content. Online attention is likely to be divided and, unlike television, the screen is not dedicated to one thing.

How to view (and use) online video more efficiently

It’s best to think of online video advertising as an awareness tool. In other words, don’t expect immediate action. This doesn’t mean that you ignore it, but it does mean that you should not automatically assume that clicks equal success. Video’s natural habitat is the upper funnel and its core strengths are awareness and interest.

At R2C Group, we talk about the “assisted conversion,” referring to video’s ability to help build a foundation that may support a conversion further down the funnel.

While unlikely partners, video ads are not necessarily divorced from action. A strong, well-timed offer may be delivered via video and–with the right creative, CTA and landing page–leveraged to influence immediate behavior. It’s important, as it is with any effort, to clearly define success and set appropriate expectations.

There are three essential steps for optimizing video against behavior:

  1. Pick your target audience and put the ad in market: This seems obvious, but it’s surprising how many companies forget to start somewhere.
  2. Look for the behavior(s): This may be an action you’ve already defined (and you should define an action if your goal is to drive it) or something else–full video views, for example. Having a target audience allows you to work with these behaviors, whether or not they’re the behaviors you expected when you put your ad in market.
  3. Optimize for the desired behavior(s): This may include a specific audience, refining a message or creative or adjusting a CTA. If you’re in a meeting with an agency strategizing an online video campaign and the words “target,” “test,” or “optimize” don’t come up, you’re not getting your money’s worth.

Most of the time, as stated above, direct action may be hard to come by. That doesn’t mean you can’t evaluate success. Other key performance indicators might include:

  • Ad recall: How many people remember seeing your ad (usually tracked as a percentage increase).
  • Brand awareness: How many people report having heard of your brand before (usually tracked as a percentage increase).
  • Brand interest: How many people report interest in your brand (usually tracked as a percentage increase).
  • View rate: How many people view your entire spot (can be tracked as a raw number or percentage increase).
  • Further engagement: Clicking through to the site is certainly an action, but it may not be the desired conversion action. Do people who click through to your site view additional content, subscribe to a newsletter or become a fan of your Facebook page?

More than anything, be ready and willing to embrace test and learn as you go. While we know that online video is a valuable method of communications, and that there are good (and bad) examples of its usage, there is no one path to take. There are only good tools to take with you.

Mark Yesayian is the managing director of R2C Group.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Article courtesy of SocialTimes

Marketing tech company Performance Horizon raises $15.4M

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Oculus VR shuffles the deck, promotes Jason Rubin to Head of Content

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In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, an art director works on visual development at the Oculus Story Studio, a hub for digital animators and experimental filmmakers in San Francisco’s trendy South of Market district. Storytelling techniques in virtual reality are just in their infancy, and the consumer version of the industry-leading headset Oculus Rift is only due to ship later in March 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

HP sheds some more light the Omen X VR PC backpack

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OMEN X VR Pack_Heroic_FrontLeft

Chat Bots Have Marketers Talking, and It’s Not Why You Think

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Over the past few months, there has been a media swarm around chat bots. Some wonder if the simulated computer software programs (most recently popularized within messaging applications like Facebook Messenger) will replace humans in a variety of jobs, while others speculate about just how helpful the technology really is to businesses. It seems that virtually everyone is talking about bots, including marketers.

Chat bots are the latest evolution in a long legacy of technologies changing the way consumers interact with companies. Every invention from telephones to social media has made businesses more accessible to consumers, and chat bots are no exception. I’ve been fascinated by the coverage for two reasons. One, the technology behind bots has been around for years, and some companies are doing a good job of marketing it. And two, bots—when done right—can help us do our jobs as marketers.

Not all bots are created equal, however, and marketers must carefully consider both the strengths and hurdles of bot technology before embracing it with open arms.

This is especially true within messaging apps, which have great potential to change the way businesses and consumers communicate. Messaging apps are perhaps the last remaining space on our mobile phones where users are in complete control of the interactions.

Messaging apps like Messenger and WhatsApp are popular for a reason–they’re easy to use, frictionless and convenient. This makes it all the more important for marketers to get their chat bot implementation right the first time. With already limited budgets, the costs of improving customer satisfaction are high for marketers, and they risk turning consumers away from a technology that has a lot of merit if they release a poor, ineffective chat bot.

In the world of online customer service, even a single bad experience is like food poisoning for marketers. No matter how delicious the food (or digital channel), consumers are not likely to give it a second chance if it has negative side effects. Bots will become yet another fad if they are not engaging and useful, which is why implementing the right bot technology is a business-critical decision.

In addition to choosing intelligent bots, integrating them with agent assistance and future-proofing investments in bot technology, marketers also have to ensure a customer-service experience that allows consumers to resolve challenges online, on their own terms and, ideally, within a single channel.

In today’s wave of “DIY” companies like Uber and Amazon, shoppers want to self-serve, and chat bots can make it easy for consumers to get answers and information on their own terms, and within widely used, convenient channels. Bots are very capable of offering this kind of personalized, on-brand customer service experience, but only if they can understand natural language, predict intent and know when to escalate that person’s query to a live agent.

For example, imagine you’ve hit a roadblock while booking a trip from New York to Chicago on an airline’s website. Rather than just saying something generic such as, “how can I help you?,” an intelligent bot would say, “Scott, I noticed you are trying to book a trip to Chicago, but your usual flight time is not available–is that why you messaged me?” It’s a powerful, compelling moment for the consumer–the kind we (as consumers) want more of.

To provide this level of compelling customer service, bots must be able to predict consumer intent, as well as know when to escalate a service request to human assistance without losing past context. The amount of data available to marketers about consumers is astounding, and businesses do their customers (and themselves) a disservice when they fail to leverage this technology to make real-time decisions about how to deliver the right treatment, and when.

When the app store first emerged on the scene, developers rushed to create an app for just about everything. But the ones that we still use today (and often) are ones that actually help us do something of value.

In the same vein, bot technology will become more mainstream, but its success will be dependent on its usefulness. Smart companies, and smart marketers, are looking at bots as an intriguing piece of an intent-driven engagement strategy that cuts across channels. But it’s only one piece. It’s essential that the front-end–where consumers first interact with a brand–be integrated with a platform that can serve up this predictive data.

Marketers have the opportunity to find great value from the chat bot trend and help solidify the technology as a key part of the customer-service experience, but only if they get it right the first time. In the world of customer service, second chances are no guarantee.

Scott Horn is the chief marketing officer at customer acquisition and engagement provider [24]7.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Article courtesy of SocialTimes

Smart-home technology must work harder to create smarter consumers

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Enterprise hardware maker Ubiquiti extends to the home network with AmpliFi

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July 2016
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