6 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Graphic Designer

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Hiring the wrong freelance graphic designer can make or break your brand or marketing objectives. A designer that can’t complete projects on time, lacks the ability to adapt to your brand aesthetic, or has never taken on the type of work you’re doing could cause you to lose business.

Regardless of the type of project you’re hiring a designer for, it’s important to make sure you’re bringing in the right person for the job. Pose these six questions to each candidate before making a hire.

6 Freelance Designer Interview Questions

1) What motivated you to apply for this project?

This question can reveal a lot about whether the graphic designer you’re interviewing is genuinely interested in your company and what they’ll be working on. If they aren’t, it’ll show in the final product — and that’s a losing situation for everyone.

Ask questions that gauge their knowledge of your business and goals, and observe how well their skills and interests align. You want a graphic designer who fundamentally understands what you are building and why it’s important. Ideally, they’ll already be familiar with your company or will have interacted with you as a customer in the past.

2) What is your workload like?

There’s a big difference between the level of attention you’ll get from your freelance designer if you’re providing a significant portion of their income versus sending them a small project here and there.

Before committing to a contract, set clear expectations around your requirements. Will you need closer to five or 40 hours of their time each week? Find out how booked up they are with other clients and if it’s realistic for them to take on your project given your expectations and their other commitments.

3) Can you describe your design aesthetic?

A critical factor to consider when hiring a graphic designer is whether their work aligns with the overall design aesthetic you envision for your project.

If the designer you’re considering has a portfolio full of edgy, hand-illustrated black-and-white cartoon characters, they might not be the best fit to work with a mature brand that wants to appear authoritative. It’s a good idea to look through the designer’s work to get a sense of whether their aesthetic jibes with your vision before getting too far into the interview process, but be sure to ask this question regardless.

4) What is your design process like?

The graphic designer you’re considering should be able to articulate a clear path to achieving your desired results. An inability to do so could mean they don’t have enough experience to suit your needs.

For example, here’s how veteran graphic designer Ian Paget of Logo Geek kicks off a project with a new client: “I start my design process by creating a list of goals that can be used as a tick-list to refer to during the design phase and when selecting the best solution. We cover areas such as the brand’s story, values, competition and target audience.”

Having a well-defined, agreed upon design process like this is key to the success of the designer-client relationship.

5) How would your other clients describe working with you?

When a graphic designer has a page of their portfolio website dedicated to testimonials or keeps an offline copy of positive reviews they’ve received from past clients, it tells you their customers are happy with their results and willing to publicly vouch for them. If they don’t offer to share, just ask.

However, if they’re unable to produce a few positive testimonials, that’s might be an indication they are unable to sustain good client relationships or produce quality results. Tread lightly.

6) Do you have a blog?

Graphic designers who have a blog and actively take steps to showcase their domain expertise are more likely to bring additional value, advice, and experience to the table –beyond the deliverables you’ve agreed upon. The right graphic designer with an active social media following or established personal brand can help create more than just a new style for your company; they can become a worthy advocate, too.

As for who should be asking the questions: If your graphic designer will be working hand-in-hand with other members of your content team such as writers and marketers, it’s essential these stakeholders have a say during the interview process. Aside from being able to weigh in on whether they like the designer’s work or not, your other team members’ inputs are valuable for a few reasons: they will have a close pulse on anticipating the timing for upcoming projects, an understanding of the deliverables, and will likely be the ones interacting most with the designer on a day-to-day basis.

These six questions will ensure you come out of the interview with a clear sense of whether the graphic designer candidate is right for the job. When you and the person you hire are on the same page, you’ll cultivate a better rapport and get mutually beneficial results.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can't Resist

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It’s one thing to write great content, but it’s another thing to get it read and ranked — which is where nailing the title comes in.

Titles are what sell the content. They represent it in search engines, in email, and on social media. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the most common questions we get concern crafting titles.Download this free report to get even more data-backed tips on writing catchy  titles and headlines. 

How long should my headline be? What words should I use? What words should I avoid? Should I optimize it for search, or for social? Or both?

Luckily, we’ve come up with a simple formula for writing catchy headlines and blog titles that you can reference from here on out. So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

A Foolproof Method for How to Write Catchy Headlines and Titles

1) Start with a working title.

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of coming up with a perfect title, start with a rough draft: your working title. What is that, exactly? A lot of people confuse working titles with topics. Let’s clear that up:

Topics are very general and could yield several different blog posts. Think “raising healthy kids,” or “kitchen storage.” A writer might look at either of those topics and choose to take them in very, very different directions.

A working title, on the other hand, is very specific and guides the creation of a single blog post. For example, from the topic “raising healthy kids,” you could derive the following working titles:

  • “How the Right Nutrition Can Strengthen Your Kids’ Bones”
  • “A Parent’s Guide to Promoting Your Child’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Well-Being”
  • “X Recipes for Quick & Healthy Dinners Your Teenagers Will Gobble Up”

See how different and specific each of those is? That’s what makes them working titles, instead of overarching topics. It’s also worth noting that none of those titles are perfect — they should just be specific enough to guide your blog post. (We’ll worry about making it clickable and search-friendly later.)

2) Stay accurate.

Accuracy is critical when trying to finesse a title, because it sets clear expectations for your readers. While I’m sure lots of people would love to click into a post that said “10 B2B Companies Killing Facebook So Freaking Hard They Don’t Need Any Other Marketing Channel” … it’s a little bombastic, no?

Unless, of course, you truly did find 10 B2B companies rocking Facebook that hard, and you could confirm that all 10 of them had stopped using other marketing channels. First and foremost, your title needs to accurately reflect the content that follows.

One way to ensure accuracy? Add bracketed clarification to your headline, like we did in this blog post:

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In a study of over 3.3 million paid link headlines, we found that headlines with this type of clarification — [Interview], [Podcast], [Infographic], etc. — performed 38% better than headlines without clarification. Again, it’s all about setting clear expectations. Thanks to the brackets, these readers knew exactly what they were getting themselves into before they even clicked.

So if you remember nothing else from this blog post, let it be this: The most important rule of titles is to respect the reader experience. If you set high expectations in your title that you can’t fulfill in the content, you’ll lose readers’ trust.

Accuracy encompasses more than just hyperbole, though. With the example working title above, you’d also want to confirm all of the examples are, indeed, B2B. Or even that they’re all companies — instead of, say, individual bloggers that target B2B audiences. See what I mean?

3) Make it sexy.

Just because you have to be accurate doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make your title pop. There are a lot of ways to make a title sexier.

Of course, all of this hinges on understanding your core buyer persona. You need to find language that resonates with them, and know what they find valuable. (Haven’t created or refined your buyer personas yet? Download this free template to create your own buyer personas for your business.)

Once you’re armed with knowledge of your buyer persona’s preferred style, try testing out some of these tips for making your headlines a little sexier:

  • Have some fun with alliteration. The title and header in this blog post, for instance, play with alliteration: “Foolproof Formula.” It’s a device that makes something a little lovelier to read, and that can have a subtle but strong impact on your reader.
  • Use strong language. Strong phrases (and, frankly, often negative ones) like “Things People Hate,” or “Brilliant” pack quite a punch. However, these must be used in moderation. As one of my coworkers likes to say, “If everything is bold, nothing is bold.”
  • Make the value clear. As we mentioned above, presenting the format and/or contents to a reader helps make your content a little sexier. According to our research, templates tend to be particularly powerful for CTR: We found that adding “[Template]” to our titles got the most average views of all bracketed terms.
  • Make it visual. Is there an opportunity to include visuals within your post? Make that clear in the title. Our research revealed that headlines featuring the word “photo(s)” performed 37% better than headlines without this word.
  • Focus on the “whos,” not the “whys”. Want to intrigue your audience? Focus on the “who”: Headlines including the word “who” generated a 22% higher CTR than headlines without it.

For example, let’s say you’re writing a post titled, “15 of Our Favorite Brands on Snapchat.” How might we punch up our accurate-but-boring working title? Here are some options:

  • 15 Brilliant Brands Who Are Killing It on Snapchat
  • Snapchat Success: 15 Inspiring Brands Who Just Get It
  • 15 Must-Follow Brands That Are Seeing Snapchat Success

4) Keep it short.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long or short your title should be. It depends what your goals are, and where your headline will appear.

Do you want this post to rank really well in search? Focus on keeping the title under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.

Are you trying to optimize your title for social sharing? According to our own analysis at HubSpot, headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average. As for Facebook, headlines with either 12 or 14 words received the most Likes.

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Additionally, headlines with eight words had a 21% higher clickthrough rate than the average title, according to the folks at Outbrain.

The lesson? It’s always a good idea to run a few tests to see what works best for your particular audience.

Let’s say I was writing this blog post: “Think Social Media Is Just for Kids? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong.” To shorten it, I would simply try to rephrase it and cut out extraneous words. For instance, I might do something like this:

  • Before: Think Social Media Is Just for Kids? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong
  • After: 10 Stats That Prove Social Media Isn’t Just for Kids

See? It’s that easy. Try sounding out the title in your head to make sure it’s easily digestible for your readers. The less of a mouthful you can make your titles, the better.

5) Try to optimize for search and social.

I say “try” because, sometimes, trying too hard to optimize for these things can make your title sound strange. Remember: You want to optimize your title for your audience above all else, but if you can optimize for both search and social, that’s great.

The secret to thinking about all three at once? Focus on keywords that you know your audience is already searching for, then look into the search volume for those keywords.

Once you have a keyword in mind, you’ll want to be sure to place it as closely as possible to the beginning of your headline to catch your reader’s attention. (Again, you should keep your headline under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.)

Another important consideration? Make sure your headlines are tweetable: “The 120-130-character range is the sweet spot for high clickthrough rate, according to an analysis of 200,000 tweets with links,” explains my colleague, Senior Marketing Manager Lindsay Kolowich. “This leaves enough space for people to include a short comment if they choose to manually retweet and cite you.” 

Here’s an example: Let’s say I’m writing a post titled, “X B2B Companies Using Facebook in Cool Ways.” Looks like there’s some wiggle room to optimize it without compromising clarity, right?

If the goal is to rank for the term, “Facebook Marketing,” I’d recommend something like this:

“New to Facebook Marketing? Here Are 10 B2B Companies Doing It Right”

This new title works for a few reasons:

  • It’s 56 characters long. This means that it’s short enough to not be cut off in search engines and it’s short enough to be retweeted.
  • The keyword is in the beginning. By moving “Facebook Marketing” to the beginning of the title, we’re ultimately increasing the odds that we’ll grab our audience’s attention.
  • It’s human. I wasn’t kidding when I said you should focus on optimizing for your audience first. This title presents both a pain point and a solution all wrapped up in one.

(Download this ebook for more data-backed SEO strategies we recommend.)

6) Brainstorm with someone else.

Once you’ve refined your title using the tips above, it’s time to come up for air and connect with another human. Title brainstorming is an essential part of the process.

Here at HubSpot, we spend a decent amount of time and brainpower coming up with our titles. The final step before scheduling a blog post is pulling another member of our team into a back-and-forth title brainstorm in a chat room. One member of the duo will post the title they recommend into the chat pane window. The other person will then refine that title even further, or suggest other angles. After several back-and-forths, the duo will agree on the title that’s accurate, sexy, concise, and SEO-friendly.

Only when both parties agree on a title do we schedule our post for publishing — which can take as little as five seconds and as long as ten or so minutes. While that seems like a long time, it’s essential to put our best feet forward with each post we publish.

What’s your process for crafting titles? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Source: How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can't Resist
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Build A Business Plan That Actually Works [Free Template]

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We’re living in a golden age of startups and side hustles, where it seems like more people than ever before are striking out on their own with new business ventures.

Whether you’re just beginning to think about starting a business, or already drafting a formal document with your current business goals, it’s crucial to clearly define the scope of every aspect of the company — from mission, to target customers, to funding and finances, and beyond. 

When you’re just getting started, it can be tempting to think of a business plan as just a catchy company name and a quick description of what you’re selling. But in the back of your mind, you’re probably aware that planning a business involves thinking through a huge number of details and decisions. It can be daunting to consider the full scope of all that starting your business really takes.

HubSpot and General Assembly have teamed up to help get you started on the right foot with our free Business Plan Template. Inside, you’ll find templates and checklists to help you:

  • Sell the story of your company
  • Describe your product line and plan for how to stand out among competitors
  • Put together the necessary financial projections to make a strong start
  • Plan longer-term goals and metrics
  • Consider legal formalities that require attention
  • Create your buyer persona and determine your product/marketing fit

Click here to download your Business Plan Template and get started.

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Source: How to Build A Business Plan That Actually Works [Free Template]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

12 Tools That'll Keep You Productive Morning, Noon & Night

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When I need to have a very productive day, I tell myself it’s going to be easy.

I’ll just wake up early, grab a big cup of coffee, and then begin powering through my to-do list. Maybe I’ll break for a meal, or a stretch, or a quick conversation with a coworker. But I’ll truck on, energy unwavering until bedtime, where I’ll promptly fall asleep for eight, wonderful, uninterrupted hours of sleep.

Cool fantasy, self. Real life is rarely — if ever — that picture-perfect. Our bodies aren’t designed to operate at a constant 100% efficiency level. So if you want to be more productive throughout the day, you’re better off relegating certain activities to certain times, and devoting yourself to doing those activities within those windows. Download our complete guide here for more tips on improving your productivity.

And to make sure you get the right things done at the right times of day, you can lean on a plethora of different free or relatively cheap apps and tools. Below, we’ve collected some of the highest-rated and often-recommended productivity apps for each part of the day. Try them out and see if they work for you.

15 of the Best Productivity Tools for All-Day Efficiency

Morning

1) Headspace

Price: Free, with subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web

Starting your day off with a quick meditation session can be a great way to gear up for the day — even scientists say so. According to a 2012 study, people who meditated “stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative feedback after task performance.”

Sold … but not sure how to get started? We recommend downloading Headspace. It gives you 10 free guided meditation sessions, and if you end up getting hooked, you can sign up for a monthly subscription.

2) Prompts or Writing Challenge

Price: Prompts is $2.99 on iPhone | Writing Challenge is $1.89 on Android

You may have heard about the benefits of writing something — anything — in the morning. But actually making time for morning freewriting a reality can be a challenge. How do you actually find something to write about when you’ve barely had time to make your coffee?

By downloading a writing prompts app, of course. Prompts and Writing Challenge are both great options. They give you a jumping-off point for a piece, and then let you dive right into writing. Prompts is especially cool for folks who like to track their habits to stay motivated because it offers some basic analytics for you to analyze your writing habit progress.

3) Todoist

Price: Free, with premium subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web

You don’t have to actually write down your to-do lists in the morning, but you should definitely take a look at them before you dive into your work. And if your to-do list is cluttered and confusing, you’ll end up losing precious time to reorganizing and re-prioritizing it.

To prevent that from happening, I’d highly suggest a tool like Todoist. HubSpot Senior Marketing Manager Lindsay Kolowich introduced me to it, and it’s completely transformed the way I keep track of what I need to accomplish. It allows you to add deadlines and labels to each list item, then automatically sorts your whole to-do list by what you have to accomplish that day. That can help you keep you on top of what you need to accomplish on a given day, and prevents you from getting sidetracked by down-the-road projects.

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4) Jell

Price: Free, with premium subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web

After you set your own to-do list, chances are, you’ll need to check in with your teammates about what’s on their plates for the day. One super easy way to do this — especially when you have a remote team — is by using an app called Jell.

Instead of calling a 30-minute meeting to debrief on what everyone’s doing, you simply fill out a form in Jell that gets sent to the rest of your team. (If you’re using Slack, it has a handy integration to have these messages posted in there, too.)

This way, you can quickly get on the same page with your team, and then move on to the most important work of your day. Here’s what Jell looks like in action:

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5) Feedly

Price: Free for desktop, iPhone, and Android

Before I get started on my work every day, I like to check in on what my peer influencers are writing or talking about in the marketing and technology space. With Feedly, you can add a feed of the latest blog posts and articles from your favorite publishers to get inspired and informed to kick off your day. I even set Feedly as my homepage so I have to check it out. Here’s what it looks like:

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Afternoon

6) Do

Price: $10/month on iPhone and Web

Fast-forward a few hours, and chances are, you’ll have a block of meetings on your plate. (That is, after all, the best time of day to have them.) But if you’re going to take time out of your day for meetings, they better be productive. There’s nothing worse than wasting a bunch of people’s time on something that could have been handled over email.

Yep — a tool can help you with that too. The Do app can help you keep yours more organized and actionable — that way, no one’s wasting time sitting in unnecessary meetings. If you’re looking for a free option, Solid (available on Web only) is a great choice.

7) Stormboard

Price: Free, with premium subscriptions available on Web

When your attention starts to wane, it can be hard to get things done. For many people, that tends to happen in the afternoon.

Turns out, that can be a good thing: When you’re less focused, you have more room to be creative. So the afternoon is a great time for brainstorming, collaboration, and breaking through cognitive barriers.

If you and your team are feeling particularly creative one afternoon, a great tool to consider using is Stormboard. It allows everyone to easily brainstorm and collaborate — even if they aren’t in the same room. Then, you can prioritize the best ideas to be put into action at a later date.

8) Unstuck

Price: Free on iPhone, Android, Web

But what if you’re not focused or feeling creative? You’ve got to get work done, but you’re feeling … stuck.

Unstuck can help. It’s an app that acts like an in-the-moment personal coach. It’ll ask you a series of questions to unearth what exactly is blocking you, and then give you steps to get through that block. Having this “outside” perspective can be a game-changer to breaking through some seriously inhibiting time-sucks.

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9) StayFocusd and Freedom

Price: StayFocusd is free | Freedom is less than $3 per month after a free trial for iPhone

StayFocusd and its mobile app Freedom can help you stay focused (get it?) throughout the day, by blocking access to distracting websites for certain periods of time. So whether it’s Twitter, Reddit, or YouTube, you can customize certain periods of time when you’re allowed to be distracted — and when you’re not. As the day goes on, you might be more tempted to slack off and lose your steam, and these apps will help keep you going with a reminder — and a countdown clock:

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You should still take breaks throughout the day — but instead of getting sucked into procrastinating online, get up from your desk and take a walk. More on that next.

10) Daily Water

Price: Daily Water is free for iPhone and Android

When you’re in the zone getting work done, it can sometimes be hard to remember to take care of yourself. Daily Water is a handy app that reminds you to take a break, stand up, and rehydrate. You can set the app to remind you to drink water during different intervals of the day, so you can schedule breaks for in between projects to stay healthy, focused, and productive all day long.

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11) Quartz or Inside

Price: Quartz is free on iPhone | Inside is free on iPhone, Android, Web

When you’ve been in the weeds all day getting important projects done, it can be tempting to take some time to catch up on what you missed in the news.

The trouble is, those reading breaks can sometimes get unruly. That 15 minutes you thought would be enough turn into 45 minutes of reading, and you’re suddenly late for your train home.

To feel in-the-know about the day without breaking your productivity streak, try catching up via your favorite news summary app. Mine is from Quartz: a chat-themed news summary app that’s quickly become a staple of my phone’s home screen. A few quick clicks, and I’m on my way to catching a ride home.

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Night

12) 7 Minute Workout

Price: Free on iPhone, Android

Everyone has their favorite time of day to work out, but science says that your lung function peaks around 5 p.m. So if you want to squeeze in a quick workout sometime in your day, right before dinner might be the trick.

If you don’t have a regular routine or are just trying to do something fast, I’d recommend checking out J&J’s 7 Minute Workout app. You can pick from its programs, or design one of your own — and all can be done in less than 30 minutes.

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13) Podcasts or Stitcher

Price: Podcasts is free on iPhone; Sticher is free on iPhone, Android, Web

Chances are, you’ll have spent most of your day looking at things. Reading on the computer. Watching slides on the projector. Scanning news on your phone. So when you leave work, you should strengthen one of your other senses, such as your listening comprehension. It’s an underdeveloped skill — especially in adults — but it can have a big impact on our professional and personal lives.

If you want to strengthen your listening skills, try playing a few podcast episodes on your phone during your commute home. If you have an iPhone, you have a Podcasts app already built-in. Otherwise, you can access them through Stitcher.

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14) Grid Diary or Journey

Price: Grid Diary is free with premium options on iPhone | Journey is Free on Android, Chrome App

Many might think that journaling is just a teenage pastime, but it has many benefits for people of any age.

If you don’t love the idea of actually penning your ideas and experiences to paper, you can use Grid Diary or Journey. Both allow you to not only capture written recaps of your day, but also add photos to your entries. Plus, they both have built-in prompts — so even on the most hectic of days, you can distill some insights for your future self.

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15) Sleep Genius

Price: $4.99 on iPhone; Free with in-app purchases on Android

Finally. You’ve made it through the day and kept yourself productive. You take a moment to celebrate … but then, you realize that tomorrow’s to-do list is already jam-packed. You need a good night’s sleep, and you need it now.

Sleep Genius might be the cure. The app has built-in relaxation techniques and gentle alarms to wake you up at a natural moment in your sleep cycle, helping make sure you feel rested come morning.

After all, if you’re feeling sluggish the next day, even the best apps might not be effective. (But that cup of coffee might do the trick.)

What are your favorite productivity tools for different times of day? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Source: 12 Tools That'll Keep You Productive Morning, Noon & Night
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Decline of Organic Facebook Reach & How to Outsmart the Algorithm

If you’ve been managing a Facebook Page over the past few years, you’ve likely noticed a drop in how many of your fans have been viewing and interacting with your organic posts. This decline in organic Facebook reach came to a head in 2014, when marketers started picking up on (and complaining about) the situation in droves, prompting a response from Facebook’s VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland.

“Over the past few months, I’ve read articles and answered questions from many people who are concerned about declines in organic reach for their Facebook Pages,” Boland wrote in June of 2014.

He continued, “My colleagues and I at Facebook understand that this has been a pain point for many businesses, and we’re committed to helping you understand what’s driving this change … ”

The two main reasons Boland cited for the organic reach decline? First, there’s simply too much content being published on Facebook, making visibility in the News Feed increasingly competitive. Second, Facebook is deliberately trying to show people the content that is most relevant to them, as opposed to surfacing all the content available.

The good news in all of this is that there’s a lot you can do to counteract these changes, like being more selective about what you publish, paying attention to when you publish, and putting money behind your posts (a.k.a. “boosting” them).

Download our free Facebook guide here for more tips on maximizing your Facebook reach.

Before we dive deeper into how you can improve your Facebook Page’s organic reach, let’s explore exactly what happened during the Great Organic Reach Decline of 2014, and how Facebook decides what content gets surfaced nowadays.

How (And Why) Facebook Reach Has Declined Over Time

Facebook defines organic reachas “how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page.” Prior to 2012, that number used to be much, much higher than it is now.

From the moment “Fan Pages” launched in 2007, anyone could create a Page for their company or organization, start collecting fans, and post unlimited messages to their fan bases with the assumption that they would see those messages. But when 2012 rolled around, Page managers learned that only a fraction of their Facebook fans — 16% on average — were seeing their Page posts in their News Feeds. And that fraction has only gotten smaller and smaller since.

A study from Edgerank Checker found that between February 2012 and March 2014, organic reach for the average Facebook Page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. Research from Social@Ogilvy, meanwhile, suggests that for Pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach could be as low as 2%.

Based on the figures above, that means a Page with 10,000 fans could expect just 650 of them to actually see that Page’s posts in their News Feeds. For a Page with 1 million fans, about 20,000 would end up seeing posts (based on the 2% figure).

SocialFlow analyzed over 3,000 posts by publishers on Facebook and found that organic reach dropped 42% between January and May 2016.

Then, later in 2016, Facebook adjusted its News Feed algorithm again — to further prioritize content from friends and family over Pages. In the blog post announcing the algorithm change, Facebook Engineering Director Lars Backstrom warned that Pages could anticipate a dip in organic reach — which could leave reach lower than that earlier 2% estimate, in some cases.

After this algorithm adjustment, SocialFlow adjusted the decline in organic reach — which had dropped further. Between January and July 2016, publishers saw a 52% decline in organic reach on Facebook.

Fewer people seeing your Page’s organic posts on Facebook means fewer clicks, comments, and shares. And having fewer of those interactions means fewer conversions, leads, and customers. Understandably, this has annoyed the crap out of many a Facebook Page manager. So why would Facebook decide to decrease organic post visibility in the first place?

We already touched on Facebook’s official response to this question in the introduction: There are simply too many Pages producing too much content for too many fans, which means competition for visibility on the News Feed is high. What’s more, Facebook is trying to make sure people are only seeing the best content — the stuff that is relevant to them.

Some publishers have cracked the code when it comes to engagement on Facebook: by publishing and broadcasting video. (And we’ll get into that later in the post.) But many in the marketing world suspect that Facebook had (and still has) an ulterior motive: to get people to start spending more on ads.

More Money = More Reach

As Facebook has evolved into more of a paid marketing platform than an organic one, Page managers are realizing they’re now expected to pay for ads yet again to reach those newly acquired Fans, even if those Fans have seemingly elected to see a brand’s posts by liking their Page in the first place.

In a 2014 interview with Digiday, James Del (who was the head of now-defunct Gawker’s content studio at the time) summed up the general sentiment:

Facebook may be pulling off one of the most lucrative grifts of all time; first, they convinced brands they needed to purchase all their Fans and Likes — even though everyone knows you can’t buy love; then, Facebook continues to charge those same brands money to speak to the Fans they just bought.”

Of course, Facebook has denied that this is the case. Boland even had a section in his 2014 organic reach update post titled, “Is organic reach dropping because Facebook is trying to make more money?” Boland’s response:

No. Our goal is always to provide the best experience for the people that use Facebook. We believe that delivering the best experiences for people also benefits the businesses that use Facebook. If people are more active and engaged with stories that appear in News Feed, they are also more likely to be active and engaged with content from businesses.”

From Facebook’s perspective, it’s simply not an ideal user experience to flood the News Feed with posts just because a Page has lots of Likes and is publishing prolifically.

Nowadays, Facebook is encouraging marketers to look at their fan bases as a way to make paid advertising more effective rather than using it as a free broadcast channel. Additionally, Facebook says you should assume organic reach will eventually arrive at zero. So, if you really want to reach your target audience on Facebook, you’ll need to supplement your organic efforts with some paid advertising.

Additionally, Facebook advises marketers to expect things to keep changing, and often times for the better. Facebook has never been stagnant in terms of innovation, so no marketer can figure out a formula and then stick with it forever.

That being said, knowing how Facebook currently surfaces organic content in the News Feed can be helpful for understanding the broader Facebook marketing ecosystem.

How Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Works

When Facebook first launched News Feed back in 2006, the algorithm was pretty basic. Different post formats were assigned different point values — so a post with just text might be worth one point, while a post with a link in it might be worth two points, and so on. By multiplying the post format point value by the number of people interacting with a given post, Facebook could generate a ranking system for determining the order in which posts would appear.

As the years rolled on, the News Feed algorithm evolved to factor in the recency of posts, as well as the relationship between the person doing the posting and the person interacting with said post. This iteration of the algorithm was known as EdgeRank. But in 2011, Facebook abandoned EdgeRank for a more complex algorithm that incorporates machine learning.

That machine learning-based algorithm is what’s responsible for surfacing content on your News Feed today. Unlike its predecessors, which assigned generic point values to post formats, the current algorithm adapts to individual user preferences. So, for example, if you never, ever, interact with photos in your News Feed, Facebook’s algorithm will pick up on that and show you fewer photos over time.

On the other side of the coin, Facebook has identified for marketers the content formats that drive engagement and sharing — native and live videos. Facebook ranks live videos higher in the News Feed, as well as videos with higher watch and completion rates and videos that are clicked on or unmuted as signals of viewer interest.

Ultimately, there are thousands of factors that inform Facebook’s algorithm, which range from using trigger words that indicate important events (e.g., “congratulations”) to whether or not you’ve actually clicked a link in a post before liking it.

Facebook’s end goal here is to have its algorithm match News Feed content to the individual needs and interests of each and every user. As Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, told Time in a 2015 interview:

If you could rate everything that happened on Earth today that was published anywhere by any of your friends, any of your family, any news source…and then pick the 10 that were the most meaningful to know today, that would be a really cool service for us to build. That is really what we aspire to have News Feed become.”

How to Deal With Declining Organic Reach

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how Facebook surfaces content, let’s explore some tips for dealing with the decline in organic Page reach.

1) Be more selective about what you post.

Marketers have to switch gears from untargeted, frequent publishing to targeted, selective publishing. The goal is no longer to spray and pray — it’s to get as much interaction from a single post as possible. Each post published to a brand Page can be targeted to a specific audience regardless of whether or not it’s sponsored, which may improve overall interaction with that post among other people who are likely to find it more interesting and relevant.

2) Remind your Fans they can go to Pages Feed on the left sidebar of their News Feed to see content from Pages they’ve Liked.

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3) Educate your super fans that they can update their notification settings from your Page.

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4) Encourage fans to engage with your posts when they do see them, so they see more of them.

This can be as simple as adding a reminder to “Please Like and share” at the end of your posts.

5) Share engaging videos on Facebook.

Videos on Facebook are engaging and make visitors more likely to stop, watch, and maybe even unmute when they spot them in the News Feed. Use videos with captions, animations, and engaging visuals to draw in Facebook users’ attention.

According to a recent study by quintly, native Facebook videos have an 186% higher engagement rate and are shared more than 1000% more than videos linked to from other hosting sites. Take the extra steps to publish videos for the platforms you’re promoting them on for best results — distribute your content on Facebook, YouTube, and other social platforms you’re trying to leverage.

6) Broadcast on Facebook Live.

If you’re not already doing so, start broadcasting on Facebook Live. Users spend 3X more time watching live broadcasts than traditional videos on the platform, so start experimenting with live content if you’re concerned about your organic reach. Advertise what you’re doing on different platforms to generate buzz, broadcast for several minutes (at least) to help your broadcast get surfaced in the News Feed, and share authentic, behind-the-scenes content to attract and interest your viewers.

To learn more about Facebook Live broadcasting strategies, check out our free guide.

7) Re-allocate your time and effort toward your owned assets.

Since the only constant with Facebook (and the larger digital media landscape) is change, it’s always safest to focus on the digital channels you entirely own and control — your website and blog. Spend the vast majority of your effort creating content (blog posts and long-form content such as ebooks, case studies, or videos) that will continue to garner inbound traffic, leads, and customers long after they’re first created. If you have time and budget, share those assets to Facebook for additional reach.

8) Start treating Facebook like a paid ad platform.

If you’re going to pay-to-play, get your targeting right. Once you’ve built an audience of relevant fans, focus on advertising the content assets you’ve created — blog posts, ebooks, etc. — and use ads to amplify them to targeted users. Remember: It’s likely only a matter of time before organic reach hits zero, so you might as well hone your paid strategy now, which brings me to one final recommendation …

9) If you do advertise, go beyond the basics.

Facebook’s targeting capabilities have gotten considerably better over the past few years. You can now pay to reach your ideal persona based on demographics, interests, web behavior, and more. Additionally, there are a bunch of tools and features that can help you maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns, including:

To learn more about how you can improve your Facebook Page’s reach, check out our free guide: How to Attract Customers with Facebook.

What are your thoughts and experiences with Facebook’s organic reach decline? How have you adjusted your inbound marketing strategy accordingly?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Does Influencer Marketing Actually Work? A HubSpot Blog Experiment

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I ran my first experiment in influencer marketing in middle school. My mom had bought me a pair of practical (her words) but hideous (my words) sneakers — and insisted I wear them to gym class.

Believing — maybe rightfully — that my reputation hinged on having cool footwear, I convinced my mom to buy a second pair as a gift for my friend Kelly’s birthday. Kelly was the coolest girl in sixth grade. Everything she did turned into a trend.

Kelly wore her sneakers to gym, probably at behest of her mom. Next thing I knew, everyone was rocking my ugly shoes. I was trendy, not lame. The experiment was a total success.

I didn’t think about influencer marketing again until I joined HubSpot. On the blog team, we’re always looking for ways to scale traffic — which gets continually harder as your audience grows. We’ve already captured much of the “low-hanging fruit.” Partnering with influencers could help us reach new readers while bringing our current ones fresh insights and promoting worthy thought leaders. Win-win-win.

When I started experimenting with influencer marketing strategies for the HubSpot Sales Blog seven months ago, I was operating under a few key assumptions:

  1. If one influencer is good, 23 is better.
  2. A huge name on a standard quality blog post is better than an unknown name on a great quality post.
  3. Partnering with influencers is an efficient and scalable way to grow traffic.

Turns out, those assumptions were mostly — even completely — false.

Experiment #1: Is Influencer Marketing a Silver Bullet?

Let’s go back to November 2016, when I set out to create a blog post that received 10,000 views or more in its first 30 days.

For context, average views per Sales Blog post for November was 3,180.

I decided to create an influencer round-up (a type of post gathers quotes from multiple influencers on a single theme or topic). Harnessing the reach of some of the biggest names in sales through their social shares would surely push the post over the 10K line.

Since there are relatively few sales influencers, and their expertise is pretty varied, I chose a broad theme for the round-up post: How to Have Your Best Sales Year Yet. Each month received its own section and covered a different aspect of selling, from qualifying to giving demos.

Then it was time to get the influencers on board. First, I identified 30 sales experts and thought leaders, and wrote a personalized email to each one.

Twenty-three influencers agreed to participate. That’s approximately 77% of the 30 I approached — a great response rate that was likely bolstered by the personalized emails.

Next, I wrote custom questions for each influencer based on their area of expertise. I collected their interview answers for the post through a combination of phone and email interviews. I also asked each influencer to commit to promoting the post on LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as their email newsletter if they had one.

After the post went live, I created custom tracking URLs for each influencer to use for their share(s). This step allowed me to see exactly how much traffic every individual was responsible for. I also created a custom image for social media each influencer with a quote from their interview:

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From start to finish, the entire post took me roughly 18 hours. A standard, non-influencer post takes me 45 minutes to an hour. That’s a big difference in time.

The Results:

The post ended up getting around 9,100 views in the first 30 days. The influencers were responsible for 4,143 of those views — each sharing their link on Facebook and Twitter within three days of the launch date, with several sharing the link on LinkedIn as well.

Sounds like our influencer strategy worked, right? Well, not quite.

When I dug deeper, I discovered the influencer traffic wasn’t distributed evenly. In fact, one person was responsible for 77% of all influencer traffic.

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Some influencers drove less than 20 views each.

These results killed my first assumption: If one influencer is good, 23 is better.

Experiment #2: Is Targeted Influencer Marketing a Silver Bullet?

With this in mind, I had two goals for the next post in my influencer marketing experiment:

  • Feature as many “heavy hitters” as possible.
  • Feature the influencers’ products — giving them a clear incentive to promote the piece beyond being quoted as a thought leader.

I chose The 20 Most Highly-Rated Sales Books of All Time as the theme, since it would enable me to satisfy both criteria. I sent an email to each author with a custom URL and a polite request for them to share it.

The Results:

All in all, the influencers drove around 5,700 views. Guess who was responsible for 60% of those views? The same influencer who was responsible for 77% of the traffic for the first post.

It’s not surprising this influencer is such a reliable source of traffic. He has more than 1.7 million Facebook fans. A mere 0.002% of them clicked on the link to the HubSpot Sales Blog.

What is surprising is that the other influencers are driving such little traffic. It takes roughly the same amount of time to get a quote from the other influencers as this superstar one, but the results are completely disproportional.

Experiment #3: Looking for a Scalable Solution

Is the solution to concentrate solely on massive influencers? Unfortunately, there aren’t enough out there in the sales space.

What if we skipped the time-consuming process of picking a theme, finding experts, reaching out to them, developing questions, transcribing and editing their answers, and putting everything together into a post? What if I started with content that already existed, cutting out the creation process entirely?

I started handpicking influencers based on their network size and asking to publish their original content and/or repurpose some of their existing content — along with a social share, of course.

This strategy requires much less time. Each post would receive fewer page views, but I’d be able to produce more in the same amount of time — meaning we’d drive more overall traffic.

It’s also great for the influencers. They’ve already done the hard work of content creation; now they can sit back and enjoy its amplification. We send their posts out to our 50,000-plus email subscribers and give them the option of adding in-line links and a CTA to their website or virtual offers.

I started this experiment with an excerpt of a book from a well-known author, who has a sizable audience.

The Results:

The post got 2,143 views — and 1,200 of those came from the HubSpot Sales Blog email subscribers. Because the author didn’t use the tracking URL I sent her, I can’t say definitively how many views her Facebook and LinkedIn posts generated, although it’s likely around 300. Not that impressive.

We see similar results whenever we publish posts for “the name” versus the content. If the writing isn’t relevant, insightful, or helpful, it doesn’t seem to matter who’s got the byline — the post tends to strike out.

There goes my second assumption: A huge name on a standard quality blog post is better than an unknown name on a great quality post.

Experiment #4: Content First, Influencer Second

With that in mind, I decided to focus on content first, influencer second. I looked for sales experts with unique perspectives and ideas and largely ignored the size of their audience.

A sales leader I found on LinkedIn is a perfect example. He’s not a recognizable name, but he’s built a solid following (almost 10,000 followers) by consistently posting entertaining, helpful articles on LinkedIn.

His posts we’ve published get an average of 4,600 views.

Tom Niesen, CEO of Acuity Training, belongs in this category as well. He wrote a post about upfront contracts that generated roughly 6,000 views before Sandler Training shared it on social and drove 1,000 more.

These partnerships might not create one massive traffic spike, but they’re lightweight for me to manage, generate content I’d be happy to share with our readers no matter who wrote it, and are a scalable way to work with influencers to produce content that consistently performs above average.

My third assumption: Partnering with influencers is an efficient and scalable way to grow traffic — still true, if it’s the right influencer.

3 Influencer Marketing Takeaways

It turns out influencer marketing has gotten a bit more complex since middle school. After running these four experiments, here are my three main takeaways.

1) If you’re trying to drive traffic, use your time and energy to get one major influencer on board rather than five to 10 mid-level ones.

An influencer’s impact depends on both their audience size and engagement — you can get similar results from an influencer with tons of followers and low engagement and one with a medium following but crazy-high engagement.

I recommend looking at the influencer’s average Facebook post performance. If they’re receiving 600-1000+ reactions and 500+ shares on any given post, they’re probably a major influencer. Validate this by giving them a dedicated tracking URL to share and seeing how much traffic they drive.

2) That being said, quality still matters.

Weak content rarely performs well even with a “big name.”

When evaluating content for the Sales Blog, I ask myself these questions:

  • Are the ideas relevant?
  • Have we covered this material in other posts?
  • Does the author give enough explanation, detail, and instruction that the reader can immediately apply the concepts?
  • If they make a controversial argument, do they sufficiently back it up with research?
  • Is the post engaging from beginning to end?

If the answers aren’t all “yes,” then I’ll ask the author to edit the piece.

3) Prioritizing content leads to posts that get traffic on their own merits.

I’m proud of our readers. They’re not star-struck — if a post is great, they read it and share it, regardless of the byline.

Ultimately, our best “hack” for growing traffic? Publishing great content. That’s an assumption I’m happy to operate under.

How does your content team approach influencer marketing? Let us know in the comments.

Intro to Lead Gen

Source: Does Influencer Marketing Actually Work? A HubSpot Blog Experiment
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Avoid Burnout at Work: 7 Strategies from HubSpot’s Manager of Culture

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Doesn’t it seem like we don’t go a day without hearing about employee burnout — mostly what a problem it is?

In a survey conducted last year by Morar Consulting, 95% of human resources professionals blamed the loss of good employees on job burnout. Headlines call it a “crisis.” Type the words “employee burnout” into the Google search bar, and one of the autocomplete phrases likely ends with, “is becoming a huge problem.” And yet, despite all the research pointing to how bad it is — for reasons ranging from physical health to how much employers lose on turnover because of it — it continues to be a huge problem.

But what are you supposed to do about it?

Many of us recognize these patterns in friends and family, but rarely ask that question of ourselves or, sometimes, our employees. So many people are afraid to take time for themselves until it’s too late and we reach — you guessed it — burnout status. Download our free guide here for more interviewing and screening tips to build  your team.

That’s why I decided to enlist the help of an expert: HubSpot’s Manager of Culture and Experience, Tamara Lilian. I asked her about the many ways her team goes above and beyond to prevent employee burnout here — and, perhaps even more important, how employees and employers everywhere can put them into practice in their own environments.

So, what did we learn? Read on to find out — or listen to our interview with Lilian by pressing “play” below.

How to Avoid Burnout at Work

For Employers and Managers

1) Learn how to recognize signs of burnout.

This tip applies more to individual managers than it does to employers as a whole. When workloads are at a peak for everyone, and there’s plenty of stress to go around, it can be difficult to remember to observe what — and how — others around us are doing. And when it comes to signs of burnout, it’s often difficult for people to recognize them even within themselves.

That’s why it’s so important for managers to be able to recognize them — and take the necessary actions to address and resolve them. And while that can be tough for new managers, Lilian says, with some knowledge and information, it’s certainly not impossible.

“We’re stepping up our manager training, and we’re working on trainings to support them with their teams,” she explains. That includes things like knowing how to manage workloads in a way that mitigates burnout before it even happens, as well as supporting employees during their time off.

Actionably, what does that mean? To start, if you have people on your team who are particularly overeager to tackle things, recognize that it’s a great attitude to have, but check in regularly to make sure that person isn’t biting off more than she can chew. That way, you’re working to manage her workload in a way that prevents burnout.

And while employees should also be encouraged to take time off when they need it, make sure they know that they should truly be offline during their times out of the office. For that reason, it’s fair to request as much advanced notice as necessary, so you can work together to make sure there’s a support system in place at the office that can allow that person to fully disconnect.

2) Set the tone with a company (or team) culture code.

Here at HubSpot, we have a Culture Code, a document created to represent our people, culture, and values. It was written by CTO and Co-founder Dharmesh Shah with the mentality that, to build the best company, he would build it much like an engineer builds a product with code.

But the keys here are the three aforementioned things that the Culture Code was built to support: people, culture, and values. And no matter how big or small your team or company, you can still build a “code” guide the way your team operates. In fact, there are a few things from HubSpot’s own that can be applied to a number of environments, says Lilian. These are things like:

Transparency

“We share everything internally, from executive leadership meeting decks, to finances, to board meetings,” Lilian explains. “That creates trust, which in turn makes people feel valued.”

One easy way to add more transparency to your team or company culture is to always add context to major changes or decisions, especially when they impact the things your employees work on. If there’s a sudden pivot, explain why, and acknowledge that it’s sudden.

Trust

“Speaking of trust,” says Lilian, “in the Culture Code, we have a three-word policy: use good judgment. There’s no employee handbook you receive on Day One, because we put an enormous amount of trust in our employees.”

Showing that you trust your employees can manifest itself in a number of ways, but a big one is to stop micromanaging. Autonomy is also a big part of our culture here at HubSpot — which means that while managers are encouraged to maintain strong communication and be available for help whenever it’s needed, they trust us to get our work done on time, ask for help when we need it, and keep them updated on projects.

In other words, employees are given a large degree of control over their own work, which has been shown to correlate with both higher productivity and overall wellness. It also allows employees the freedom to independently discover the ways in which their work contributes to an organization’s overall success, which can lead to a greater willingness to ask questions — instead of being afraid of looking like they don’t know something. Being able to obtain that information without being judged for it can encourage creativity, too, as transparent, comprehensive answers can encourage new ideas.

People > Perks

“Sure, the free beer, being able to bring your dog to work, and having a gym on-site are cool,” says Lilian. “But that’s not what keeps people here. Keeping people motivated, challenged, and welcomed with an inclusive work environment is what keeps people here.”

That said, as you begin to build your team, remember that perks don’t go unappreciated. Free coffee is great for most of us, let alone free beer. But also think about the things for which the novelty isn’t quite as likely to wear off — things like the engaging work that Lilian referred to. If your team isn’t producing quality work, don’t assume that it’s due to laziness. The issue could just be a lack of interest. Have a conversation with employees about that to find out what’s making them lose interest, and together, figure out how to make it more engaging.

3) Lead by example.

Riddle me this: If you never see your boss take a vacation, how good are you going to feel about taking one? Probably not great — you wouldn’t be mirroring the example set by your manager to never take time off.

“You have to lead by example,” says Lilian. “For example, our CEO, Brian Halligan, just took his one-month sabbatical. If he can take that time off, then others definitely can.”

In the end, leading by the example of taking time off when you need it ends up benefitting everyone. Not only will it permit you the time you need to disconnect and recharge — which boosts productivity — but also, you’re showing your team that it’s an important thing to do.

They say that actions speak louder than words, but this tip partially goes back to the idea of knowing when to recognize burnout. Don’t just take time off — encourage it, too. If you’re planning to take some time off and realize that it’s been a while since your employees have, bring that up in your next conversation. Even if that person responds that she’s too busy to take time off, discuss the importance of breaks and that you’re ready to work with her to make sure all bases are covered while she’s out.

For Employees

4) Use the resources made available to you.

And while we’re on the topic of the old “I don’t have time” excuse, when it comes to taking care of yourself, “you need to make the time,” says Lilian.

She points to the the Healthy@HubSpot program, which includes things like on-site fitness classes, a kitchen full of healthy snacks — including fresh fruit and vegetables — and standing desks. And while not every workplace will have the budget for these types of resources, it’s important to take advantage of those that are available.

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For example, maybe your workplace has a nice outdoor area. Weather permitting, don’t let it go to waste — eat lunch there, or sit there for five minutes when you’re feeling particularly stressed (more on that later).

Sometimes, though, taking advantage of what’s made available to you comes down to your colleagues. “It sound so simple, but just grabbing coffee with someone you work with can have an impact,” says Lilian, “or turning a meeting into a ‘walking meeting’ outside.”

She also encourages making time to do these things with people who you don’t necessarily work with regularly. “Getting to know folks from other parts of the business can benefit the quality of your work,” she explains, by gaining more neutral and fresh insights or ideas.

5) Get away from your desk.

I’ll never forget a quote I once read from Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport in the article “25 Ways to Practice Self-Care”:

I know what you’re thinking. The time to take care of yourself is when you have time to take care of yourself. Bright-and-early Saturday morning yoga. Sunday afternoon hike. But that’s not where my head’s at. I’m talking 3:18 p.m. on a Tuesday. When you’re sitting at your desk, ready to throttle your boss. Or quietly seething that your colleague got credit for something that your colleague totally didn’t do. That’s when you need to get up and walk away. And go do something. Anything. On such days, I head out for a coffee. Not because I need a coffee, but because I need to get out. I wander down to this little joint in a giant office complex on the Hudson River. And, then, instead of walking back to the office, I park it on a bench. And I just sit there. Breathing actual nonrecycled office-building air. Watching the ferries pull up to the dock. Because sometimes doing a better job means not doing your job at all.”

In other words, when you’re starting to feel like you might lose it — whether it’s the result of a frustrating project or a co-worker’s annoying whistling — step away. Now.

Lilian emphasizes the importance of getting away from your desk — even if it means doing your work somewhere else. “Results matter more than hours, or where we produce them. You can actually see this in the HubSpot offices, as we create ‘nomad desks’ where folks can work from in addition to their main desk,” she explains. “But we have plenty of collaborative workspaces to grab a seat at any time, if you need a change of environment or feel more creative or inspired in a different area.”

6) Take the time you need — with good judgment.

This practice falls along the lines of taking advantages of the resources made available to you. If you have paid time off — use it!

According to Project: Time Off’s 2016 State of American Vacation, the use of paid vacation has been dwindling among U.S.employees since 2000. In fact, last year, 55% of them didn’t even use all of their vacation days, with an average of .2 days taken off per employee.

I don’t know about you, but those numbers make me sad. If you’ve read the text leading up to this point, then you already know that taking time off can aid productivity. But if the refresh-and-renew benefit isn’t your thing, think of it this way: “By giving up this time off, Americans are effectively volunteering hundreds of millions of days of free work for their employers,” writes the Project: Time Off report, “which results in $61.4 billion in forfeited benefits.”

Okay, so maybe you’re worried about leaving your team in a lurch by taking time off. You’re in luck — there’s a fairly simple solution for that. “This goes back to using good judgment,” Lilian explains. “If you’re looking to take a week’s vacation with your family, make sure your team is set up for success while you are gone.”

Not sure how to start? Here are two key points:

  • Let your team know when you’ll be out of the office as far in advance as possible. My colleague, Sophia Bernazzani, uses the rule of one week notice for every day that you’ll be out of the office — so if you’ll be off for ten business days, let your colleagues and manager know about it ten weeks before you leave.
  • Be prepared to hustle before you leave in order to get ahead on the time you’ll be out. Not only will you be minimizing the amount of extra work your colleagues have to share in your absence, but also, you’ll (hopefully) be returning to that much less to catch up on when you return.
  • Make sure which regularly-occurring tasks you’ll be out for. For example, let’s say you and a colleague take turns doing something each month, like compiling a monthly performance report. If you’re going to be away during the time when it’s normally your turn, work with a colleague to rearrange the schedule so that she doesn’t have to unexpectedly take it on.

7) Don’t check in during your time off — and don’t feel bad about it.

Part of the point of working so hard before you leave for your vacation is to make sure you can completely step away during your time off. And yes — a lot of people “do a significant amount of work while on vacation,” Robert Blendon, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professor told NPR. “So they’re taking their stress along with them wherever they go.”

The point of a vacation is to leave your stress behind, or at least to try your best to detach from it, so you can feel rested when you get back to work. Keeping that source of stress present during your time off is like going to the dentist with one cavity and leaving with four. It defeats the purpose of why you went there.

So please — don’t come back to work with four cavities. Disconnect when you’re away, and get the rest you need.

They Say It Takes a Village

Remember, preventing job burnout requires efforts from both managers and employees. The latter can’t be afraid to ask for the things they need to be well and do the best work they can — but their supervisors also have to create an environment where it’s not discouraged. Start making some of these incremental changes, and you’ll be well on your way to your own healthy workplace.

How does your team prevent job burnout? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: How to Avoid Burnout at Work: 7 Strategies from HubSpot’s Manager of Culture
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Clip Art Through the Years: A Nostalgic Look Back

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When I was growing up, it was a pretty big deal to have a computer with an operating system other than DOS. If you had an Apple, or even a computer with Windows, your house was the place to be. Not only were you likely to have the coolest games, but also, you probably had access to clip art libraries, which made for hours of entertainment — for me, at least.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a world where you can’t procure an image just by searching for it online. When I was in school, the only way to include a picture in a book report, for example, was with enough luck to find what I was looking for in a magazine. Clip art opened up a whole new world of visuals for academic assignments — not to mention, the newsletters that my childhood, future-writer self liked to put together for fun.

But today, clip art has become a bit of a thing of the past, at least since Microsoft retired its version in 2014. That’s an important distinction — clip art isn’t limited to Microsoft, and actually had several predecessors before it found its way into the likes of Word and PowerPoint. New Call-to-action

And maybe its retirement was for the best — when I think back to some of its more popular images, they would look positively antiquated today. But where did clip art come from, anyway? Today, we’re honoring its legacy with a trip through time.

The History of Clip Art

The 1980s

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Source: Computer History Museum

It all began with the idea to create a digital library of images. That was made possible by a program called VCN ExecuVision, a presentation program created in 1983 for IBM personal computers. Think of it as a primitive version of PowerPoint. But the $400 software didn’t come with these image libraries — instead, they were available on separate floppy disks that had to be purchased for $90 each.

But despite this seemingly trailblazing effort on behalf of IBM, it was really Apple who may have emerged as a leader in the digital image space, at least around the early-to-mid 1980s. That’s partially due to the 1984 development of MacPaint, which was released alongside Apple’s word processing program, MacWrite. As the story goes, they were the only two applications pre-installed on this historic Macintosh 128K.

But what made MacPaint so important was its role as the first program that allowed users to manipulate bitmap images: The “simple line art,” according to The Atlantic, that comprised “early electronic clip art.”

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Source: DigiBarn

Not long after that, however, the T/Maker Company collaborated with Apple to develop another word processing program, WriteNow. While it’s not clear if that particular program came equipped with its own image library, the same company began producing and selling groups of bitmap images under a new name: ClickArt.

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Source: Vetusware

The 1990s

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Source: MakeUseOf

By the mid-1990s, T/Maker was the largest distributor of unlicensed images, with a library of roughly half a million in 1995. Microsoft took note of ClickArt’s success, and thought to eliminate the extra step of having to install additional software to access artwork. So in 1996, Microsoft Word 6.0 came equipped with 82 clip art images — a miniscule amount compared to the 120,515 files available on openclipart.org today.

And yet, Microsoft became the brand most strongly identified with the idea of clip art, despite its predecessors having laid much of the groundwork. That could be because its in-app nature — across the entire Microsoft Office Suite — made adding art to documents and presentations a groundbreakingly seamless process.

The Early 2000s

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Source: Wayback Machine

By August 2000, at least 41% of U.S. households had computers with internet access, indicating that people were using it more and more for consuming information and media. And like so many other things — books, for one — clip art was becoming available for purchase online via sites like clipart.com, which is still in existence, but today looks a bit different than its 1996 counterpart above.

clipartcom2017.png

And while clip art isn’t exactly one of those things that we think of as having suffered “death by download” — like books, music, and movies — the ability to procure images online made something like Microsoft’s in-app feature obsolete.

Clip Art’s (Semi) Retirement

In December 2014, Microsoft announced that it would be doing away with any in-app art libraries.

“The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop,” the statement read.

Instead, users would now have to use either images from their own devices, or those found through Bing Image Search, where they’re now automatically sent when searching for art within Microsoft apps — step-by-step directions can be found here.

The announcement, for many, read as the end of an era. What would become of cartoonish images of urban landscapes, or out-of-date business travelers with flip phones? As it turns out, if that’s what you’re looking for, you might be in luck.

Clip Art in 2017 and Beyond

For those who need a fix of this kind of old-school imagery, not all hope is lost. There are still plenty of resources out there to find these pictures, including the aforementioned sites openclipart.org and clipart.com. Plus, as The Atlantic so astutely points out, if you search Bing images for “clip art,” you might find some of those fittingly nostalgic results:

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 1.10.05 PM.png

And perhaps this version of clip art isn’t really gone for good — after all, NPR once noted Microsoft’s penchant for revitalizing its older pieces of technology, like Clippy.

In any case, clip art has certainly taken many forms over the years — and we’re curious to see what shape, if any, it takes in the future.

Which clip art images make you the most nostalgic? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Want to Learn Graphic Design? 8 Tips & Tricks for Beginners

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For many of us, the thought of high school conjures memories of ample notebook doodles. Hand-drawn bubble letters, pictograms, and stick-figures would decorate homework, tests, and papers — and teachers, of course, were constantly asking us to knock it off.

And so, most of us did, perhaps because we figured out that we just weren’t that good at drawing on paper. But when some of us were in high school, we didn’t yet have the numerous digital options for “drawing” our ideas. But now, machines can help us bring them to life — and it’s become a career path for many people.

Graphic design is something that marketers can always benefit from learning, even without a formal education. In those cases, we enter a world of do-it-yourself education, with repeated recommendations like, “learn Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign,” or, “read a book about basic design principles.” And as much as those help, learning fundamentals, navigating new tools, and developing a personal style make for a tricky balancing act. Download our full collection of blog design examples here to inspire your own  blog design.

That’s why we put together this list of tips that we wish we had received at the onset of our respective DIY graphic design journeys, along with some tools that can help you with them.

8 Tips for Learning Graphic Design

1) Always keep an ear to the ground.

As marketers, we already know how much there is to learn from influencers. After all, 49% of folks trust the people they know above anyone else for product or service recommendations, and in the digital age, that includes influencers.

Influencers — who according to NeoReach are “individual[s] with an online presence who … influence the opinions and behaviors of your target audience” — are often willing to share the secrets to their success in their content. If you make a point to listen to and engage with them, you’ll become more familiar with the online design world, which can help you discover more tips from other industry experts, become comfortable with relevant terminology, and stay on top of trends.

Wondering how to engage? Turn to Twitter or Instagram as a place to start conversations with these influencers. You never know who might respond to your questions — and any positive connection you make can only help you learn more. Following along and joining the exchange can naturally lead you to become a part of a design community that will support you throughout your journey.

What to Do Right Now

Create a targeted list of influential designers on Twitter, so you can follow their daily insights without having to pick out their tweets from a sea of friends, coworkers, and news sources. You can use the Social Monitoring tool in your HubSpot software to do this by following the people on this list, specifically as they discuss topics that matter to you.

Add a variety of influencers to this list — a mix of those who are well-known among most designers, those that personally inspire you, and those whose work you do not enjoy. That last point may seem counterintuitive, but consistently observing the work of that group can help you understand why you don’t like it, which is a key part of understanding design.

If you’re not sure how to discover designers to follow, try 365 Awesome Designers, which features the work of one designer each day.

2) Collect inspirational work.

Once you decide to learn design, start building a catalog of work you think is successful. That can be as simple as bookmarking images in your web browser, making a Pinterest board, or saving items to a folder on your computer. Like a list of influencers, a catalog of inspiring work will help you to identify trends — both past and present — in design as you begin to recognize patterns in the work of others. You’ll also start to understand your own personal style preferences and interests. If you find yourself continually saving infographics, for example, you might start looking into specific resources to learn how to create them.

Your catalog will also serve to inspire designs you create in the future, which is underscored by the idea that “all creative work builds on what came before” — a line from Austin Kleon’s TEDx talk. If you can reference items in your catalog quickly, you’ll be better equipped to begin your own projects.

What to Do Right Now

Get acquainted with leading designer portfolio sites like Dribbble and Behance. These platforms showcase an abundance of high-quality work from leading designers across the spectrum — everyone from web and UX designers, to graphic designers and typographers. The designers on these sites often provide insight into their design processes, which will be key as you start your own creations.

Setting aside time in your day to review these sites might be hard on top of your workload. One way to naturally work it into your day is to use the app Panda, which replaces your “New Tab” in Chrome with an aggregated stream of content from various sources, including Dribbble. Each time you open a new tab, you can discover and save something that catches your eye. Fair warning, though: An application like this might be distracting to some.

3) Dissect the process.

One of the most pivotal moments in my design journey was when I recognized that every single illustration, infographic, and icon I had ever ogled over was the product of someone mastering how to combine shapes and lines. That’s not to say that other factors don’t play a role — just wait until you try and learn meshes in Illustrator — but fundamentally, these designs were built up from simple shapes.

Analyzing the process behind a design will allow you to understand the steps required to produce a piece of work. Depending on your current skill level, you may have a leg up in knowing which tools were used, or which aspect was created first. But don’t let that stop you — examining the construction of a design will let you flex your creative muscle. Educated guesses will do far more to teach you than doing nothing at all. Plus, you’ll likely find that:

  1. You know more than you think you do.
  2. When you identify holes in that knowledge, you’ll know what techniques or concepts you need to explore to narrow the gap.
  3. There’s more than one way to achieve a desired result.

What to Do Right Now

A quick way to expedite the learning curve when dissecting a design is to download a free vector or PSD design resource, and dig through the layers to see how the designer constructed the object — you can find a number of those files here.

Once you pick your file, open it in Photoshop, then open the Layers Panel (which you can learn to use here) and un-collapse some of the folders, so that you can see the layers contained within them.

By simply changing the visibility of the layers, you can begin to see how the designer used each shape to build upon one another. You can also begin to understand how to use Photoshop Effects, like drop shadows and strokes.

4) Get specific with your online search queries.

As you begin creating your own designs, you’ll likely hit an obstacle where you think to yourself, “Hmm. How the heck do I do that?” Chances are, others have wondered the same thing. Like many self-taught disciplines these days, the majority of my own technical design knowledge was gained by watching a YouTube tutorial while I actively followed along.

The key is to be really specific with your searches, so you can find a highly relevant tutorial. Searching for something like “how to create an icon” might deliver really broad search results. Instead, type in exactly what you want to learn, like, “how to create a flat icon with a long shadow.” Boom.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 12.35.14 PM.png

What to Do Right Now

Browse a design terminology glossary to find the specific terms for techniques you’re trying to learn. That can help you find what you’re looking for online much more easily, in addition to helping you familiarize yourself with the language.

5) Reproduce your favorite work.

Let me be clear: Under no circumstances should you infringe on anyone’s copyrighted work. Never reproduce someone else’s work and try to pass it off as your own.

That said, re-creating a design you like — without advertising it as your own work — will help you gain a deeper understanding of design technique. As with dissecting a design, it’ll help you learn new technical skills that’ll come in handy when you’re creating your own designs.

You’ll have to get creative with the method you choose to recreate the design, so this exercise will utilize both the left and right sides of your brain. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t duplicate a design exactly — remember, the process is more important than the result.

What to Do Right Now

Find a design piece you think is successful — which should be easy if you’ve created an inspiration catalog — and use your preferred piece of software to recreate it, whether that’s Photoshop, Illustrator, or another software. It’s really up to you to choose how you go about actually creating it. Use specific search queries and tap into your design community relationships as resources.

6) Embrace negative space.

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Source: Apptension

The proper use of negative space is often overlooked by beginner and advanced designers alike. What is negative space (or “white space”)? It’s the space in your design that’s not occupied by any visual or written element. A design piece that doesn’t incorporate enough negative space is like a sentence with no spaces – itisdifficulttocomprehend.

Jan Tischold, one the most influential typographers in history, stresses this importance: “White space is to be regarded as an active element, not a passive background.” The effective use of negative space is just as crucial as the design itself. Don’t believe me? It’s scientifically proven that white space improves legibility and comprehension.

What to Do Right Now

Learning to effectively use white space won’t happen overnight. You’ll have to try out different options to find what works for each design. First, I’d recommend reading some of the articles on this list, compiled by David Kadavy, author of Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty. Then, try to put some of these theories into action.

Remember, there’s no hard-and-fast rule to using white space. It takes practice. Eventually, you’ll find that exercises in resizing elements of your composition and changing the layout will lead to a natural understanding of the amount of breathing room required.

7) Don’t be afraid to get feedback.

On some level, everyone is afraid of criticism. We’re afraid our ideas will get shot down and we’ll be sent back to square one. Learning to accept constructive criticism is no easy task, but it’s key to becoming a better designer.

Paul Arden, who was the creative force behind Saatchi & Saatchi at a pinnacle of its success, wrote this in his best-selling book, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be:

If, instead of seeking approval, you ask, ‘What’s wrong with it? How can I make it better?’, you are more likely to get a truthful, critical answer. You may even get an improvement on your idea. And you are still in a position to reject the criticism if you think it is wrong. Can you find fault with this?”

The takeaway: Design critics allow us to incorporate others’ viewpoints into our work and improve upon our ideas. You always have the option to reject the feedback — but considering it in the first place is what’s important. Design is subjective in nature, and just because someone else has a different opinion doesn’t mean you’re wrong. In fact, trusting your intuition is equally important. Just make sure you have the means to back up your design decisions.

What to Do Right Now

The best way to get feedback is to have a one-on-one conversation with an experienced designer. If you don’t know anyone in the design world, that can be difficult. Fortunately, the internet is filled with communities of designers eager to give feedback — that’s why we suggested finding influencers and peers to engage with.

If you haven’t had time to become a part of a community, now’s the time to step outside of your comfort zone and take action. Inbound.org offers a great feedback center where viewers can comment directly on your design. Other great forums include The Crit Prit, and Reddit’s Design Critiques.

8) Pick a passion project.

If you only listen to one piece of advice from this post, let it be this one.

We all know how hard it is to work on something you don’t want to. It just plain sucks. Picking a project that you aren’t passionate about will likely lead to frustration, as you’ll likely feel reluctant to devote the time and effort necessary to complete the project. And you would be remiss to ignore the fact that, at some point in your career, you’ll have to design something you may feel less than thrilled about.

But that likely won’t occur until you’ve learned a thing or two and have advanced your design skills. In the beginning, it’s OK to focus on passion projects.

When you’re taking the time to teach yourself graphic design and the consequences — like money lost on a wasted design class — are minimal, passion is a major motivator. When you pick something you care about, you’ll compel yourself to work through the frustration that comes with the sometimes tedious nature of design.

It’ll also provide direction. Time and time again, the hardest part of learning design is not knowing what to design. Be decisive and choose something you can work on for a length of time.

What to Do Right Now

Align your interests or current situation with your projects. If you’re a blogger, try creating the header image for your next post. Voice your willingness to work on an offer with your content team. Looking for a job? Redesign your resume and try to further your personal brand by creating a logo. There’s a number of ways to work design into your day, but it’s up to you to pick something that matters to you — don’t design something simply because you think you should.

And Above All

It’s important just to get started. It’s easy to be intimidated by the sheer amount of learning associated with graphic design, but remind yourself that even the most talented designers were newbies once, too.

What makes the creative field so special is that everyone’s journey is unique — there’s no one way to approach DIY design. You’ll find your own means to discern what you want and need to learn.

Design is an iterative process, so keep reworking your ideas and projects. As you progress, you’ll develop your own workflow and one day that design that took you all day will only take you an hour. Trust me, I’m living proof.

What other tips do you have for self-taught designers? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: Want to Learn Graphic Design? 8 Tips & Tricks for Beginners
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The 10 Best User-Generated Content Campaigns on Instagram

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When it comes time to make a purchasing decision, who are you more likely to trust — a brand, or a fellow consumer who uses the product?

We’re more likely to take recommendations from friends and family members than brands when it comes time to make buying decisions — and that’s the logic behind user-generated content on social media.

Download our essential guide to Instagram for business for more helpful tips  and tricks.

User-generated content, or UGC, consists of any form of content that’s created by users and consumers about a brand or product. UGC isn’t paid for, and its authenticity makes the user the brand advertiser as well.

UGC is particularly prevalent on Instagram, where brands can easily repost and regram UGC from users’ accounts. And it’s worthwhile for brands to do this — 76% of individuals surveyed said they trusted content shared by “average” people more than by brands, and nearly 100% of consumers trust recommendations from others.

In this post, we’ll discuss just how successful UGC on Instagram can be — as well as review 10 brands using it successfully.

Why User-Generated Content?

In this year’s Internet Trends Report, Mary Meeker presented some compelling data about the success of UGC for brands on Instagram. Check it out:

UGC can generate more engagement on Instagram — meaning more comments and likes on posts. And engagement is critically important to brands’ success on the platform — because the more users engage with your stuff, the higher your posts are prioritized in the Instagram feed, and the more likely it is that new users will find your content on the Explore tab.

A lot of global brands are sharing Instagram content reposted, or “regrammed,” from fans and users. Take a look:

Now that we understand the importance of UGC, let’s dive into how some of these brands are killing the UGC game on Instagram.

10 Examples of the Best User-Generated Content on Instagram

1) The UPS Store

No, we don’t mean UPS, where you might go to send care packages or holiday gifts to your loved ones. We mean The UPS Store, which uses its Instagram to showcase the customers you might not think about as readily — small business owners. Small business owners on Instagram post content using the hashtag #TheUPSStoreCustomer, which The UPS Store then shares to its own account, like so:

This is a clever UGC campaign other B2B brands should take note of — especially if the products and services themselves aren’t especially sexy. Instagram posts featuring packing tape, shipping peanuts, and cardboard boxes might not be visually interesting, but behind-the-scenes stories of real people and brands The UPS Store is helping are.

Takeaway for Marketers: Use UGC to showcase an unexpected or unique aspect of your brand. Whether it’s content from your customers, your users, or members of your community, ask other Instagrammers to submit content that shows “the other side” of what your brand is all about.

2) Aerie

Women’s clothing company Aerie’s #AerieReal campaign is #UGCgoals. The campaign is simple, but powerful.

There’s been broad debate and outcry over the excessive use of photo editing in marketing advertising — centered around its impact on the young women consuming magazines and images on social media. There’s been particular concern around the impact edited photos can have on women’s self-esteem and sense of a healthy body image.

So Aerie made a pledge to stop retouching photos of models in its bathing suits. And for every Instagram user that posted an unedited photo of themselves in a bathing suit (using the hashtag #AerieReal, of course), Aerie now donates $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

Takeaway for Marketers: Give people a reason to get involved in your campaign that’s bigger than Instagram itself. Whether it’s an awareness campaign or a donation drive like Aerie, customers want to buy from companies that support important causes. If you can, partner with a cause or charitable organization your message resonates with to get Instagrammers excited about your UGC campaign. You’ll do good for the world, you’ll drive engagement on the platform, and more people will learn about your brand via word-of-mouth if it catches on.

3) Buffer

Social media scheduling tool Buffer uses the #BufferCommunity to showcase the photographs and personalities of its many different users around the world. These images aren’t promotional — or even remotely brand-centric — and that’s what makes them so effective (okay, the cute puppy probably helps too).

Buffer’s tools are about making it easier to share and strategize on social media, and these photos implicitly share the message that Buffer’s community members can work from anywhere, on a variety of different projects, thanks (in part) to its ease of use.

Takeaway for Marketers: Cultivate a brand personality so strong that your users want to share their life with you on social media. Create a great product, excel at helping customers succeed, and curate a presence on social media your users want to keep engaging with. Then, ask them to share with you so you can continue adding personality and diversity to your content to show what your community is all about — helping people be better at social media, in Buffer’s case.

4) Wayfair

Online furniture store Wayfair has a fun UGC campaign that lets customers showcase the results of their online shopping sprees. Using the hashtag #WayfairAtHome, users can post their home setups featuring Wayfair products:

Then, Wayfair reposts UGC and provides a link so users can shop for the items featured in a real customer’s home — an ingenious strategy for combining customer testimonials and design inspiration all-in-one.

Wayfair has another UGC campaign that’s not as popular, but it’s an adorable effective way to show its products in action with the help of the #WayfairPetSquad.

 

So much room for activities! #wayfairpetsquad @nala_cat

A post shared by Wayfair (@wayfair) on Apr 9, 2017 at 6:16am PDT

Takeaway for Marketers: Leverage UGC to help Instagram users find and shop for your products. Remember, people trust customer testimonials, and if you show them being successfully used by real people, it’s easier to get them to your website to start shopping.

5) IBM

Software giant IBM uses UGC on Instagram primarily from its customers and community members using the hashtag #IBM. Its UGC strategy is simpler than some described previously, but it does a great job at providing an inside look at one of the biggest technology companies in the world.

It’s cool to see real humans working at IBM and using its products and services to do things you and I do every day — like taking artfully posed photographs and conducting group brainstorms.

Takeaway for Marketers: Showcase the human side of your brand — especially if your product or service can’t be easily visualized, as in the case of IBM. Source content from customers, employees, and community members to show what your product looks like in action so other Instagrammers can picture themselves using it, too.

6) Netflix

Popular video streaming service Netflix uses UGC to promote fans’ posts about specific shows and movies — and hashtags the title to help spread the word about new premieres.

 

“HEY, WHERE MY BAE’S AT?” 🎤🙆🏻~@mirandasingsofficial #HatersBackOff via @ginalee

A post shared by Netflix US (@netflix) on Oct 14, 2016 at 3:22pm PDT

Netflix is leaning into creating more original programming, so getting the word out about new releases is a key part of its social media strategy. UGC shows other people are getting excited about new shows too — and makes Instagrammers coming across Netflix’s Instagram intrigued to see what the fuss is all about.

 

Brunch in Stars Hollow. Via @alovelybean #GilmoreGirls

A post shared by Netflix US (@netflix) on Nov 26, 2016 at 9:42am PST

Takeaway for Marketers: If you’re making an announcement or releasing a new product, use UGC to get the word out about your fans and customers trying it out for the first time. You’ll help create a feedback loop to help more and more people on Instagram learn about you — and what new product they can get involved with.

7) Hootsuite

Social media management software company Hootsuite uses the hashtag #HootsuiteLife to promote UGC about what it’s like to work at Hootsuite around the world.

Hootsuite’s culture is something the company is proud of — and it uses this fun way of living and working to attract talented people to come with them. #HootsuiteLife is all about employees and community members showcasing how much fun it is to work at Hootsuite all over social media. It uses the hashtag to empower employees to share their days with the rest of the world on social media.

A secondary UGC campaign — #LifeofOwly — lets employees show off the company’s lovable mascot in action, too.

Takeaway for Marketers: Collaborate with your recruiting and HR teams to see if you can combine forces to drive social media engagement and help hire new people simultaneously. If your organization has a lot to offer and you want to showcase your culture, events, and perks, team up to create an employee UGC campaign that empowers employees to share and helps attract great new talent.

8) Starbucks

Every December, Starbucks launches the latest #RedCupContest to promote its holiday-themed seasonal beverages and — you guessed it — red cups. It encourages coffee drinkers to submit shots of their coffees for the chance to win a pricey Starbucks gift card — and drinkers always deliver (there are more than 40,000 posts of red cups and counting).

The #RedCupContest is a smart UGC campaign. It incentivizes fans to participate and engage online by offering a prize, it promotes a seasonal campaign, and it helps generate sales — because you have to buy a red cup to take a picture first.

Takeaway for Marketers: Use a contest to promote and generate buzz around a UGC campaign. Offer a prize for participation (using a branded hashtag, of course) to get people excited about commenting, posting, and sharing on Instagram.

9) Adobe

Creative software company Adobe uses the hashtag #Adobe_Perspective to source and share content from artists and content creators using its software to do their jobs every day.

It can sometimes be hard to imagine what you can do with a software without seeing it in action, and this UGC campaign lets Adobe show off its capabilities while engaging with its community of users.

#Adobe_InColor is Adobe’s Pride Month-themed UGC campaign that’s already generated nearly 300 posts in just the first few weeks of June. This UGC campaign lets Adobe showcase the talent of its customers and the values and culture of its community clearly and easily on social media.

 

All the colors of citrus ❤️ Link in bio for more of @wrightkitchen’s work.

A post shared by Adobe (@adobe) on Jun 9, 2017 at 9:12am PDT

Takeaway for Marketers: Encourage customers and users to share their results from successfully using your product. These images will help give prospective customers an idea of what they can expect, and great results will speak for themselves to promote your product. And if you’re doing a cultural campaign, open it up to your entire community, and not just employees, to generate awareness and buzz around a culture initiative you’re proud of.

10) BMW

Car company BMW uses #BMWRepost to share Instagram posts of proud BMW owners and their wheels:

 

Make everyday feel like a holiday. The #BMW #3series Sedan. #BMWrepost @bmwf30driver

A post shared by BMW (@bmw) on Jun 11, 2017 at 1:01pm PDT

BMW sells luxury cars to owners who are undoubtedly proud of their achievement, and this campaign gives owners the opportunity to show off — and lets BMW show off its proud and loyal base of customers. If I were on the hunt for a car and saw this many happy BMW users, I might consider one of its cars for my purchase. (I don’t know how to drive, but you catch my drift.)

 

A trustworthy partner to take you around the globe. The #BMW #X5. #BMWrepost @hunterdreier

A post shared by BMW (@bmw) on Jun 10, 2017 at 8:12am PDT

Takeaway for Marketers: Give customers and users a platform from which they can brag about their purchase. You don’t need to sell luxury items — there are plenty of everyday brands with cult followings who love to get engaged on social media about why they love shopping and buying from certain brands. Create a hashtag that lets customers share why they love you, and they’ll love you back.

What’s your favorite UGC campaign on Instagram? Share with us in the comments below.

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Source: The 10 Best User-Generated Content Campaigns on Instagram
blog.hubspot.com/marketing