Millennials, or people between the ages of 18 and 34, make up the largest population group in the United States. There are more than 75 million millennials in total, and that number is projected to increased to more than 81 million by 2036. Additionally, this age group is the most active and engaged across social media platforms.
So it should come as no surprise that marketers are eager to learn more about how to capture millennials’ attention, time, and spending dollars.
Buzz Marketing Group, an agency dedicated to marketing to this demographic, surveyed multicultural millennials to learn more about their content consumption, purchasing, and social media habits. Among other surprising statistics, 83% of respondents said they like when brands take a public stand on issues they feel strongly about, and 28% reported they went on “digital diets,” or breaks from technology, every month.
Read more about multicultural millennial media and purchasing habits in this infographic from Adweek.
There are hundreds of emojis available on iOS and Android mobile device keyboards. Everything from tacos to national flags to artists is represented in cartoon emoji form.
But let’s be real here: Most of us just use the same few emojis over and over.
If you know me, you know I love two things more than anything: cats and sleeping. So it’s fitting that the two emojis I use most often in my texting keyboard are:
Another thing you may already know about me is that I love using Snapchat. So when emojis started popping up in my list of chats with friends in the app, I needed to get to the bottom of it.
In this post, we’ll dive into the history of Snapchat emojis and what they all mean. Bear in mind that these emojis vary slightly across iOS and Android devices, so we’ve written out what the faces look like, too.
What Do Snapchat Emojis Indicate?
Snapchat emojis track the activity and behaviors between Snapchat users and their friends. The frequency, timing, and pattern of your Snapchat interactions with other users will determine which emojis, if any, appear in your list of Snapchat chats.
Not sure what I mean? Check out my list of Snapchats, along with a few different emojis you might see in your own app. To access this page, open up your Snapchat app, and swipe right.
When Snapchat was first created, the app used to show who users’ best friends were publicly (best friends are the users they sent the most Snaps back and forth with). You can imagine why users took issue with this. Can you imagine the awkwardness of finding your best friend or significant other was best friends on Snapchat with somebody else?
So in 2015, Snapchat (now Snap. Inc) axed this feature in the name of user privacy and hid the lists of other users’ best friends — to more outraged reactions. Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel has said that the app will bring back public best friends, but so far, that hasn’t happened.
In the meantime, the friend emojis we decode below have replaced the list of best friends — and provide greater detail. Now, there are more insights into how users interact with friends — you just need to know how these behaviors are represented in the app.
Let’s dive into understanding your Snapchat contacts list better. And remember: These emojis are only visible to you.
What Do Snapchat Emojis Mean?
1) Smiley Face Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: This user is one of your best friends on Snapchat. You frequently send Snaps back and forth to each other.
2) Yellow Heart Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: This user is your #1 best friend. You send the most Snaps to this user, and they send the most Snaps to you.
3) Smirking Face Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: You’re one of this user’s best friends, but they aren’t one of your best friends. They send you more Snaps than you send them.
3) Grimacing Face Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: Your #1 best friend is their #1 best friend, too. You both send lots of Snaps to the same user.
4) Sunglasses Face Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: One of your best friends is one of their best friends. You send a lot of Snaps to someone they also send a lot of Snaps to.
6) Red Heart Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: You’ve been #1 best friends (yellow heart status) with this user for two weeks in a row.
7) Pink Hearts Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: You’ve been #1 best friends with this user for two months in a row.
8) Fire Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: You and this user are on a Snapstreak — you’ve been sending each other Snaps for several days in a row. The number of days you’ve been on a Snapstreak will appear next to the fire emoji.
9) 100 Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: You’ve been on a Snapstreak with this user for 100 days in a row.
10) Hourglass Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: Your Snapstreak with this user will end if you don’t send them a Snap very soon. You can send them a Snap or a Chat to keep it going.
11) Baby Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: You and this user have recently added each other as Snapchat friends.
12) Gold Star Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: Someone has replayed this user’s Snap within the past 24 hours.
13) Gold Sparkles Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: You’re in a Snapchat Group Chat with this user. Learn how to start a Snapchat Group in this article.
14) Birthday Cake Emoji on Snapchat
What it means: Today is this user’s birthday. This emoji will only appear if the user indicated their date of birth in their Account information. Learn how to add your birthday to your account in this article.
How to Customize Snapchat Emojis
If these emojis aren’t speaking to you, you can change them within your Snapchat account. For example, your best friends could be represented by a pizza slice instead of a yellow heart if you really love pizza (and your friends, I suppose). Here’s how it’s done:
1) Open up your Snapchat app and swipe down. You’ll see your profile screen and Snapcode.
2) Tap the Settings gear in the upper right-hand corner.
3) Select “Manage” under the “Additional Services” menu.
4) Select “Friend Emojis.”
5) From there, you can tap into each signifier and choose a new emoji to represent what it means.
And there you have it. We’ll keep this post updated with new developments in the world of Snapchat emojis. In the meantime, keep snapping to see how your emojis change, and let us know how long your longest snap streak is.
What’s your greatest Snapchat emoji achievement? Share with us in the comments below.
You might know that video is important, that your audience wants to see it, and you might even want to make it a part of your strategy. But you’re still asking the big question:
If you aren’t producing video content because you don’t think you have the ability, time, or resources to do it, we have some good news: Your answer to the video content question could be sitting in your pants pocket. (Hint: It’s your iPhone.)
You or a member of your team most likely already owns a great video camera — one that’s easier to use than a traditional, high-tech setup. In this post, we’ll walk you through our tips and best practices for filming high-quality marketing and social media videos with your handy iPhone and a just a few other tools. And if you don’t have time to read them all, we’ve demonstrated how to do it in the video below.
P.S. We filmed it with an iPhone.
How to Shoot Videos with an iPhone
1) Find a quiet place to film.
This might seem obvious, but if you’re filming at work or out in public, the sight of a phone might not tip people off to keep the volume down if they’re nearby. If possible, book a conference space, hang signs telling people to steer clear of where you’re shooting, or bring a coworker with you to block off the area where you plan to film.
2) Make sure your iPhone has enough storage space.
Have you ever experienced the dreaded moment when you were unable to capture a video because you got this pop-up notification?
If this notification pops up while you’re filming a video, your phone will stop recording, and you’ll have to start over. To prevent this, make sure you have enough space before pressing “record.” Delete as many unnecessary files and apps as you can, and if needed, purchase iCloud storage for files to free up more space on your device itself.
To do this, navigate to “Settings,” select “General,” “Storage & iCloud Usage,” and tap “Manage Storage” to buy more space for as little as $0.99 per month.
3) Turn off notifications.
Another distracting iPhone feature that could interrupt your filming is how frequently your device receives notifications. Before you start filming, set your iPhone to Do Not Disturb mode to keep notifications going in the background so you can film uninterrupted.
Swipe up on your phone and tap the crescent moon icon to put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode, and tap it again when you’re done to return your phone to normal settings.
Pro tip: Do Not Disturb is a great way to watch YouTube videos, play games, and sleep uninterrupted, too.
4) Use a tripod.
I don’t care how steady you think your hands are — they probably aren’t steady enough to film a video.
Now, it’s one thing if you’re scrappily putting together a Snapchat Story, but if you’re filming a video for your brand — especially one that will live permanently on your blog, YouTube channel, or other social media assets — you’ll need the help of a tripod to keep the video steady and clear.
This point is especially important if you’re filming in an office building with lots of overhead lighting. You don’t need to buy anything fancy for this step — in fact, our friends at Wistia put together this guide to a DIY lighting setup. You need enough light to give the impression of natural light, which means it’s coming from a variety of different light sources, and not just directly overhead.
If you don’t have the time or budget to purchase a lighting setup, find a room or location with plenty of natural light — and remember to turn off the overhead lights — to keep your video subject looking good.
6) Use a microphone.
Make sure you use some sort of microphone to minimize the impact of distracting ambient noise. The expression “the silence is deafening” is real — especially when it comes to video production.
You don’t need a fancy microphone and boom setup like in the movies, although those would be a great investment to make if you plan to film a lot of videos. You can use something as simple as a microphone that plugs into your iPhone’s headphone input to get great audio for your videos — and you can buy one here.
7) Film horizontally.
When people view videos on mobile devices, the video automatically rotates according to the orientation of the device it’s being viewed on. So, it makes more sense to film horizontally so your video can be viewed if the user rotates his or her phone, or is watching on a large tablet or computer screen. If you film vertically and the viewer’s screen is rotated, the video will appear more constricted.
There are exceptions to this, of course — if you’re filming a video specifically for Snapchat or Instagram, for example, you should film your video vertically on your iPhone, because that’s how the videos will be consumed. But if you’re filming for Facebook, YouTube, or another video hosting site, film horizontally to help viewers get the best possible viewing experience, no matter what device they press play on.
8) Don’t use the iPhone’s zoom capability.
Simply put, iPhone’s zoom will most likely make your video look bad.
We’ll elaborate: Unless you have the ultra-fancy iPhone 7 Plus camera, zooming in on an iPhone will simply enlarge the image — it won’t get you closer to what you’re filming — so it’ll make your final video pixellated and blurry-looking.
Instead, physically move your filming setup closer to your subject to eliminate the need to zoom in.
9) Lock your exposure.
The iPhone does a fantastic job of finding the subject to focus your camera’s exposure — which is great for taking a photo. But when it comes to filming a video, its super-powered exposure will continue adjusting and readjusting according to movement — leaving your final video occasionally blurry and out of focus.
You can solve this problem by locking the exposure while you’re filming. Before you press record, hold down your finger on the subject of your video until a yellow box appears around the person or object and the words “AE/AF Lock” appear:
10) Edit on a computer.
Once you’ve filmed your video, you need to edit it and get it ready for publication. And although the iPhone offers a lot of visual editing tools within its interface, it’s best to use editing software on your computer to fine-tune the images. Software like iMovie and Adobe Premiere Pro let you add sound, captions, and adjust filtering to make your video look (and sound) as professional as possible.
Lights, Camera, Action
You don’t need a ton of expensive equipment to film and edit engaging videos — you just need to follow the steps above to film something that looks professional with the help of your handy iPhone. If you don’t have an iPhone, never fear — we’ll create some guidance for Android devices soon. In the meantime, download our guides to creating videos for social media to get started distributing your content today.
What are your tips for filming videos on the iPhone? Share with us in the comments below.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
3) Educate your super fans that they can update their notification settings from your Page.
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:
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:
If one influencer is good, 23 is better.
A huge name on a standard quality blog post is better than an unknown name on a great quality post.
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:
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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:
A post shared by The UPS Store (@theupsstore) on Feb 25, 2017 at 9:03am PST
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.
A post shared by The UPS Store (@theupsstore) on Apr 13, 2017 at 12:38pm PDT
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.
Women’s clothing company Aerie’s #AerieReal campaign is #UGCgoals. The campaign is simple, but powerful.
A post shared by aerie (@aerie) on Jun 9, 2017 at 6:01pm PDT
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).
A post shared by aerie (@aerie) on May 26, 2017 at 1:49pm PDT
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.
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).
A post shared by Buffer (@buffer) on Jun 11, 2017 at 7:21pm PDT
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.
A post shared by Buffer (@buffer) on May 31, 2017 at 12:05pm PDT
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.
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:
A post shared by Wayfair (@wayfair) on Mar 8, 2017 at 5:52pm PST
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.
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.
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.
A post shared by IBM (@ibm) on Feb 21, 2017 at 6:49pm PST
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.
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.
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.
A post shared by Hootsuite (@hootsuite) on Apr 17, 2017 at 3:33pm PDT
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.
A post shared by Hootsuite (@hootsuite) on Mar 28, 2017 at 11:09am PDT
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.
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).
A post shared by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks) on Nov 22, 2016 at 2:25pm PST
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.
A post shared by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks) on Dec 1, 2016 at 10:07am PST
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.
A post shared by Adobe (@adobe) on May 21, 2017 at 9:27am PDT
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.
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.
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 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.
If you’ve been following the HubSpot Marketing Blog, you already know there’s a battle going on — between Facebook and Snapchat over the disappearing message.
And so far, Facebook’s winning the battle — all because of Instagram.
When Instagram Stories launched in August 2016, Snapchat had already been the first mover in the ephemeral, or disappearing, messaging space since Snapchat Stories were created in 2013. Fast forward to Snapchat’s March 2017 initial public offering (IPO), and Snapchat user growth had slowed significantly — and Instagram Stories’ user growth was rapid and nonstop in the meantime (to date, there are roughly 40 million more Instagram Stories users than Snapchat users).
Today, Snapchat faces an uphill battle: Instagram has more users in total, and more Instagram Story users alone. Plus, Instagram and Snapchat are now competing to roll out new features — and to copy features from each other. In the last month alone, both apps rolled out features that were original, and some that were inspired by the other app.
Snapchat started the disappearing messaging wave, but it doesn’t mean brands are staying exclusive. In fact, a lot of brands have already talked and written about decisions to prioritize Instagram Stories over Snapchat for ephemeral messaging and advertising.
In this post, we’ll dive into brands and marketers making the switch — and the reasons why.
Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories
In essence, both apps and features function in the same way:
On both platforms, users and brands can post photos and videos that are viewable for 24 hours.
Videos can be up to 10 seconds in length.
Photos and videos can be embellished with doodles, emojis, geotags, lenses, and text.
Media is visible to the public, unless you make your Instagram or Snapchat account private.
Both apps let users search through public stories, and see what other users and brands are sharing about.
But there are a few differences worth pointing out, too:
It’s slightly easier to search for and discover new users on Instagram than on Snapchat, where you have to spell out the exact username.
Instagram allows brands to attach to links and landing pages to their Stories.
Instagram permits clickable hashtags and geotags to be added to Stories — on Snapchat, they’re manually searchable.
Instagram Stories are an addition to an existing photo and video-sharing platform — Snapchat is only about ephemeral content-sharing.
As we’ve mentioned, Instagram Stories alone have more users than Snapchat, and some brands are starting to move their ephemeral messaging strategies away from Snapchat to reside primarily or completely on Instagram Stories.
6 Reasons Users Are Switching to Instagram Stories
1) Greater Scale
The simple fact that Instagram has such a big user base — 700 million and counting, to be exact — automatically made it a formidable Snapchat competitor. Instagram Stories creators had instant access to their audiences on the platform when they started posting ephemeral messages, and it caught on quickly — over 200 million Instagram users are posting Stories.
When compared to Snapchat, where brands had to create new followings from scratch, Instagram offers some brands greater reach and scale to connect with people on social media.
That’s what Ben and Jerry’s found out when it started creating content on Instagram Stories. The brand’s senior global marketing manager, Jay Curley, told Digiday about the success it had seen in achieving better results at a greater scale on the platform. He said ads on Instagram Stories were particularly successful and achieved a “higher CPM (cost per impression) rate than usual.” In general, Curley told Digiday, the brand’s large number of Instagram followers were already engaging and interacting with Instagram Stories, so they’d continue creating content there to “serve up relevant stories to [their] fans wherever they are.”
2) Better Targeting
Instagram is part of the Facebook ecosystem, which means its content and ad targeting capabilities are part of Facebook’s platform — which is robust, to say the least (just look at all the ways you can target ads illustrated in this Wordstream infographic). It also means Instagram ads can be targeted and curated based on users’ data on Instagram, and on Facebook.
Snapchat has only just launched a self-serve ad platform in May 2017, making it easier for advertisers to purchase and create ad space on the platform, so we can’t say for certain which offers a better user experience for brands. But when you consider the wealth of data behind billions of Facebook and Instagram users combined against Snapchat’s data of only 166 million users, Instagram’s targeting takes the cake.
Mediassociates’ senior vice president of marketing and content, Ben Kunz, told Digiday that Instagram also offered users more flexible ad buying options. Instagram ads can be purchased on a cost-per-click basis, in addition to the cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) basis — making Instagram ads potentially more valuable, since brands only have to pay for the ads that users actually interact with.
The bottom line, for Kunz, is data. He told Digiday, “it’s not the ‘billboard’ space that matters; it’s the quality of the data behind it. Better audience data always equals better advertising performance.”
3) More Traffic
Another benefit to Instagram’s larger audience is its ability to drive more traffic to brands’ websites and landing pages. Social media helps drive brand awareness on its own, and Instagram Stories also added the ability for brands to link to web pages — making it undeniably easier for audiences to find and interact with brands on their sites, too.
Instagram also offers brands a unified dashboard where they can easily view analytics of Story and ad performance in one place — and see which Stories are driving visitors to websites.
Marissa Emanuele manages social media at Pegasystems, and she’s switched from Snapchat to Instagram Stories for these reasons. “The analytics on Instagram can’t be matched by Snapchat yet. Plus, Instagram Stories let you link to blog posts or landing pages, so you can drive traffic directly from social.”
4) More Discoverability
Snapchat and Instagram are racing to innovate new features — and copy features from one another. Snapchat created a search bar and universal Stories to help users find new content and accounts to follow, and Instagram rolled out Location and Hashtag Stories to do the same — with a key difference.
Users can tap geotags and hashtags on Instagram Stories, and navigate to see what other users are posting about the location or topic — on Instagram, or within Stories. Snapchat users can head to the search bar to choose locations and events, and see what Stories users are posting … but they can’t do it directly from within the Snapchat Story they’re watching.
This extra manual step makes getting found and discovered on Snapchat that much harder than it is on Instagram, making Instagram more compelling for brands that seek to build up and engage a broader audience.
5) More Authentic
Snapchat’s means of monetization lies within the Discover tab and in Snapchat Stories, and some users have cited a better, more authentic experience on Instagram Stories. Instagram users can easily jump between ephemeral content on Instagram Stories and curated, beautiful photos on the Instagram feed, and auto-advance through Instagram Stories seamlessly without being interrupted by ads. Plus, Instagram’s Explore tab suggests new content and users, so the experience isn’t interrupted and inundated by low-quality ads.
Owen Williams cited a lack of authenticity as his reason for moving from Snapchat to Instagram Stories. “Now you’re forced to pick which stories to watch end-to-end before even starting, and it’s filled with either advertisements between each one, or … clickbait.”
6) More User-Friendly
Perhaps the most compelling reason brands are moving from Snapchat to Instagram is that it’s easier to use than Snapchat.
Instagram has made it easier to add new followers, watch (and re-watch) content, share Stories, and reply to Stories. The discoverability discussed previously makes it easier to attract new followers, and for users, it’s easier to find and connect with content they’re interested in checking out. The power of Instagram’s huge network makes it easier for brands and users to get what they want out of social media — to be social.
Social media influencer Erica Moss switched to Instagram because she got a better user experience there:
While Snapchat was busy pretending to be exclusive and untouchable, Instagram leveled up on its broad appeal and user-friendliness to replicate — and improve — the ephemeral photo and video experience. After some testing on my personal Snapchat and Story, Instagram was the clear winner with higher view counts (by about 3X) and more comments. From a brand perspective, any users who follow you on Instagram are already opted into your Story, and the auto-advance feature means if you focus on creating great content, you’ll remain top of mind in a more authentic way.”
Snapchat’s Not Over Yet
Just because Instagram might be a better fit for brands and social media marketers specifically, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon efforts on Snapchat entirely. Audiences on Snapchat are highly engaged — users spend an average of 25-30 minutes per day on the app. So if you’ve built an audience there, don’t abandon them altogether, but see if you can keep them engaged while also building an Instagram Story following.
Emanuele noted the importance of meeting your audience where they already are. “If you’ve built an audience on Snapchat, you should still post from time to time to keep them engaged.”
Whether you’re fully invested in Instagram Stories, or are still engaged with your Snapchat audience, our advice for social media strategy is to experiment, analyze the results, and make changes from there. We’ll keep you posted about new innovations on both platforms to help make the decision easier. For more information on how to grow your ephemeral messaging followings, download our guides to using Snapchat and Instagram for business.
Have you switched to Instagram Stories, or are you a Snapchat loyalist? Share with us in the comments below.