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.

Learn more about HubSpot Classroom Training!


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

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

Why Brands and Influencers Are Leaving Snapchat for Instagram Stories

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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.

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

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.

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Source: Why Brands and Influencers Are Leaving Snapchat for Instagram Stories
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Work with Influencers: The Ultimate Guide

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How much digital content do you consume on a daily basis?

It’s tough to put a number on that, isn’t it? Here’s an even tougher question: How much of that content do you genuinely trust — especially when it comes to an investment in a product or a service?

According to Twitter, if you really only trust your friends and family for this information, you’re part of the majority. But if you also have the highest trust in influencers for these recommendations, you’re far from alone — 49% of survey respondents are right there with you.

But what is an “influencer”? According to NeoReach, it’s “an individual with an online presence who has the potential to influence the opinions and behaviors of your target audience.” Because these folks — like bloggers and social media personalities — build a following over a long period of time by producing interesting, quality content, people begin to trust them. They’re relatable, and their opinions become respected. New Call-to-action

That’s why brands see the value of turning to influencers to reach or engage new audiences — it’s a way to broadcast their messages as told by an authoritative source that people actually pay attention to. And no matter your industry, there’s likely an opportunity for your brand to connect and collaborate with influencers. Below, we’ve outlined seven tactics to try.

7 Ways to Work with Influencers

1) Gifting Goods and Services

One of the easiest way to expose your brand to potential customers is to get it into the hands of the influencers it listens to. Identify bloggers who share the same aesthetic as your brand — if they love your gifted goods and services, that’s likely to give them a reason to share positive feedback about it with their readers and viewers. That makes research a crucial first step to finding an influencer, since you’ll want an influential partner with whose audience you’ll resonate. For example, if you work for a company that manufactures auto parts, it might not make sense to partner with a fashion blogger.

But whether you’re gifting a tour of your facility or free product, you’ll want to work with bloggers that produce high-quality content — the goal is to make the influential messaging about your brand highly shareable.

It’s important to note, however, that gifting goods and services doesn’t guarantee exposure. While many influencers will accept gifts, that doesn’t equate with a promise of editorial coverage. In fact, some prefer to be paid for coverage in addition to any gifts they receive — some influencers with followers in the millions, for example, receive an average of $100,000 for a earned post (that’s what it’s called when a brand receives, or earns a mention from an influencer). So if you’re new to influencer partnerships, or your budget is limited, don’t be afraid to start on a smaller scale.

Communication is imperative throughout the process of discovering and working with an influencer. If you don’t have a ton of merchandise to give away, get in touch with the blogger before sending out gifts to agree on specifics first. That way, if the person really wants to charge you, you can do some math on your end to determine the ROI of the partnership.

Here’s an example of this technique. When TomTom gifted influential “lifestyle and fitness enthusiasts” with its new fitness tracker, 47% of whom shared it, that helped the brand gain exposure from numerous posts:

Source: IMA

2) Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts serve as a less labor-intensive way for brands to work with influencers — bloggers in particular. Essentially, a sponsored blog post is one that a blogger is paid to publish about a brand, on her own blog, in her own voice. And while you can supplement the influencer with important points you’d like her to cover in the post, writing the content in her own voice can help maintain a consistent appeal to her readers.

If the blogger is following FTC guidelines, however, she’ll have to include a small note somewhere in the post to indicate that the story was sponsored by the brand, but that the opinions expressed in the post are her own.

Partnering with bloggers on these types of posts can be great for gaining awareness and securing a few valuable links from authoritative domains.

Children’s book author Chiêu Anh Urban enlisted parenting bloggers to promote one of her activity books. Here’s an example of one such sponsored post from the blog Toddler Approved:

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3) Product Reviews

While this technique is often a result of gifting, product reviews from influencers that align with your brand can serve as a powerful way to convince potential customers to buy your product or service. Remember, influencers have grown to become one of the most trusted online resources. And with 81% of shoppers conducting online research before making big purchases, the discovery of these reviews can — pardon the pun — influence their decisions. Here’s an example of how TechnologyAdvice reviewed accounting software platform Xero:

Again, merely sending your product to an influencer doesn’t guarantee coverage — you have to build communication and nurture the relationship. Also, make sure your brand will be portrayed in a positive light. While you can’t necessarily stop someone from producing a negative review of your product or service, you can get an idea of how a given influencer might talk about your brand by looking at her other reviews. If she’s generally not receptive to your type of product, then it might be best to look elsewhere.

4) Giveaways

At risk of sounding like a broken record: Sending products to an influencer, even for a giveaway, does not guarantee coverage. However, if an influencer agrees to work with you on a giveaway, it’s a great way to build excitement around your brand. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff?

It’s especially important here to partner with an influencer who aligns with your brand identity — if her audience isn’t a good fit for your product, there might not be a ton of enthusiasm around a chance to win something from you, even if it’s free. And when it come to deciding what to give away, we suggest a few guidelines:

  • Offer something of real value. You want to make it worth the audience’s time to enter.
  • Make sure it’s something you can afford to give away.
  • Remember that the influencer ultimately knows her audience better than you do, so be receptive to feedback regarding what she thinks you should be giving away.

As for the process of entering the giveaway, don’t make it too complicated for people to participate — but do require them to do something low-effort that somehow benefits your marketing goals. For example, if you want to increase your social media following on a specific channel, you can ask participants to post a photo on Instagram with a caption about the giveaway and a branded hashtag. Here’s an example of how the South Florida Lifestyle blog partnered with a number of brands on social media for a giveaway:

 

Summer Giveaway! HOW TO ENTER: 1.FOLLOW ALL OF US @south.florida.lifestyle @mumidesign @petite.chic.mom @active.sfl @me_and_kay @cocomingos @devonmariephotography @makeupbyrorylee @ourgirlsenrich 2.LIKE this photo on all accounts 3.TAG a friend and leave a COMMENT when you have completed the loop. Must be following ALL accounts in the loop to qualify. *Tagging of celebrity accounts, yourself and same person repeatedly, or other giveaway contestants will lead to disqualification. Must be 18+ to enter and have a US mailing address. This is not affiliated with Instagram in anyway and contestants must agree to Instagram’s terms of use. Giveaway ends Friday, June 2 at 6:30am. Winner will be messaged Friday night. . . . Lululemon Running hat, socks, glass water bottle from @active.sfl , large and small S’well Palm Beach Water Bottles and pool float from @south.florida.lifestyle ,set of 5 packing Cubes @mumidesign , $50 Nordstrom Gift Card from @petite.chic.mom , toddle dress and unisex baby onsies, teething toy from @cocomingos , girls bathing suit and necklace from @me_and_kay @devonmariephotography , makeup palette from @makeupbyrorylee , Dream book, pens, play makeup brushes and lip balm from @ourgirlsenrich . . #Giveaway #LoopGiveaway #FreePrizes #Shopgiveaway #SummerGiveaway #IGloops

A post shared by Active South Florida Lifestyle (@active.sfl) on May 31, 2017 at 3:30am PDT

If an influencer wants to be paid in exchange for including your brand in a giveaway, think about the work required on her end — she has to tease it, promote it, track responses, and pick a winner. Of course, compensation could be negotiable, but if this person has the right kind of reach, don’t immediately turn away a potential partnership because of the cost.

5) Influencer Competitions

Then, there’s another kind of contest — the kind that invites the influencers themselves to participate in a competition. The prize? That can be anything ranging from exclusive brand features on your channels, a chance to travel (on your dime, of course ) somewhere on behalf of the brand as an ambassador, or the opportunity to sit on a “best of” list, just to name a few options.

But remember, the best influencers get approached a lot, so be prepared to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Go equipped with information about your own reach, audience, and the ways that participation in a contest ultimately benefits the influencer.

Skype executed a promotion like this one with its “Your City, Your Passion” competition. Influencers around the world were encouraged to share why they’re so passionate about their respective cities, with the hope of winning a Skype session with a famed expert within their given field — for example, Epic Mealtime creator Darren Morenstein.

6) Guest Posts

When it comes to influential bloggers, one of the strongest ways to reach their respective audiences is by contributing a guest post on their publications. Not only can it help to establish you as an industry expert — one that’s legitimate enough to earn a byline on a highly-trusted platform — but also, it’s a way to gain backlinks from a high-authority site.

Again, this approach requires some research to find out whether or not a given blogger even accepts guest posts. Once you find one who does, the site might have editorial guidelines. Read those closely — editors are extremely busy and likely receive a high volume of pitches.

Back when his company was in its early stages, Videofruit founder Bryan Harris earned quite a name for himself after penning a guest post on the influential OkDork blog. According to Entrepreneur, Harris saw “astronomical” results within the same day his post was published:

  • A 500% increase in pageviews
  • A 600% increase in unique pageviews
  • A 6% decrease in bounce rate

7) Affiliate Marketing Programs

As a marketer, you may have come across the term “global affiliate network.” According to Rakuten Marketing, it’s essentially a system to “connect advertisers with publishers to reach new audiences and influence repeat purchases.” In other words, it helps brands that join the network connect with the influencers that best align with their products and services.

Many of these programs work on a cost-per-sale or cost-per-acquisition model, which means that you could incur a cost when you earn coverage from an influencer. Each network is different, so it might be worthwhile to explore those that have been named as top-ranked, like this list from mThink.

Invest in Influencer Marketing

There is a shift in how marketers are reaching consumers. With so much digital “noise,” especially from brands, customers like the marketing they come across to personally resonate with them — maybe that’s why, for example, the open rate for personalized emails is 6.2% higher than those that aren’t.

And that’s why consumers also turn to people that they know — or, at least, are familiar with, like influencers — for product and service recommendations. There’s reason to invest in partnering with content creators who fall within these trusted resources, to build awareness of your brand and what you produce. The options are plenty, but the key is finding the right partner, with the right audience.

How have you worked with influencers? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: How to Work with Influencers: The Ultimate Guide
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Why Generation Z Should Be Included in Your Content Strategy [Infographic]

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I’ll admit it: I’ve always been a bit befuddled by the letters assigned to generations. In fact, I remember the day that I lamentably found out that I wasn’t a member of Generation X. I had missed the mark by just a hair, and growing up in the 90s, learning that it wasn’t me who the Spice Girls were singing about in soda commercials was very sad news.

But now, pop musicians are singing to one of the newest populations, and as marketers, it’s time for us to turn our attention to it: Generation Z.

If you’re asking, “what is Generation Z?”, here are a few fun facts, courtesy of Adweek:

  • Generation Z is comprised of those born between about 1996 and 2010.
  • Members didn’t witness the dawn of the online era like Millennials did — they were born into it.
  • Half of them say they “can’t live without” YouTube.

But why should marketers pay attention to this particular generation? Well, like every other one before it, Generation Z is steadily gaining some degree of purchasing power, especially those who were born in 1999 or earlier. Many of them are about to start or graduate from college and enter a new phase of independence and decision-making. And who’s there to help guide those decisions? Brands, of course.

But what’s the best way to reach them? To find out, look no further — Adweek broke down the digital behavior of Generation Z into this helpful infographic, which we’ve shared below.


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Source: Why Generation Z Should Be Included in Your Content Strategy [Infographic]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

6 New LinkedIn Features You May Have Missed

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If you’ve logged into LinkedIn over the past few weeks, you may have noticed something different. Actually, everything is different, because LinkedIn completely overhauled its desktop site.

After Microsoft acquired the job search and networking website in 2016, LinkedIn announced it would redesign its desktop website to more closely mirror its mobile apps.

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LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform, with more than 467 million members worldwide. However, LinkedIn members aren’t actually spending much time on the site. In fact, only 23% of LinkedIn users visited the site every month at the end of 2016. That’s not a great monthly active user number, and the website redesign was meant to “create more value” for LinkedIn members — and, hopefully, make them want to spend more time on the site.

For example, the LinkedIn desktop homepage used to look something like this:

linkedin_old_homepage.pngSource: LinkedIn

And this is what my LinkedIn homepage looked like when I wrote this article:

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There’s a lot behind this slick interface. Let’s dive into some of the biggest changes to the site since the redesign and how marketers and users might take advantage of them going forward.

6 Changes to LinkedIn You May Have Missed

1) A new homepage feed

Using a combination of human editors and new algorithms, LinkedIn will start surfacing more content and fewer status updates. The homepage feed will start suggesting organic, sponsored, and native advertising content users might be interested in reading. The feed will also help users follow trending stories … sound familiar? If LinkedIn is trying to make its user base engage more on the platform, modeling a feed in the style of Facebook is a safe bet.

2) More analytics

LinkedIn now provides more analytics about how other users interact with the content you share — not just who views your profile or who likes one of your posts. Now, users can see not only who likes their content, but which companies they come from and what roles they’re in.

Here are analytics from an article I posted recently on LinkedIn:

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The platform also suggests other articles I might share with my network for even more engagement.

3) New (and missing) search features

LinkedIn refined its search capabilities so users can search all of LinkedIn with a single, unified search experience based on certain keywords. Now, users can easily toggle between different categories related to search terms without having to move between different categories of the site.

Check out what the results look like when I search for “content marketing:”

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Whereas previously, LinkedIn users had to go into each of these sections (“People,” “Jobs,” “Companies”) in order to conduct searches, now users can search from one place to get all of the results they’re looking for.

Notably, LinkedIn removed some of the Advanced Search filters that were previously available on LinkedIn Premium and are now only available for the more expensive Sales Navigator tier of LinkedIn Premium. These filters include “years of experience,” “function,” and “seniority level.” 

4) Chat-like messaging

Soon, LinkedIn will roll out messaging that allows users to send InMail like a chat instead of an email. Users won’t have to navigate to another pane to send a private message — instead, they’ll be able to send a direct chat without leaving the LinkedIn homepage feed, as shown in the image below:

linkedin_messaging.pngSource: TechCrunch

In another nod to Facebook’s Messenger layout, this change helps users easily spend more time clicking around the site. Plus, users might be less likely to send the dreaded default InMail message if they know it will appear like a chat instead of an email.

5) Calendar chatbot

Next, LinkedIn is introducing a chatbot. It will look at two connections’ calendars and find and set times for them to meet directly within LinkedIn’s messenger platform. It hasn’t been rolled out as of the time of this posting, but in another nod to Facebook Messenger and other bots, this is an addition designed to keep users spending time on the site. Stay tuned for more news when the bot launches fully.

6) New blogging interface

LinkedIn also now features a slick new publishing platform. Before, publishers had to navigate to LinkedIn Pulse to write an original blog post. Now, users are one click away from a slick, easy-to-use blog publishing platform.

Check it out:

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Blogging on LinkedIn could garner more attention to your brand’s site if LinkedIn grows in popularity. In fact, content consumption on LinkedIn has increased over the last few years, so marketers should consider LinkedIn as a platform for reproducing or creating original content.

What’s Next For LinkedIn?

Amidst these changes, marketers should keep an eye on where their audience is spending time. If LinkedIn’s number of monthly active users increases in its next quarterly report, it might be worthwhile to invest more resources in running campaigns and creating content for the site.

We’ll keep you posted on more changes to the platform and its usage as that news unfolds. In the meantime, click around the new website and experiment with the new analytics capabilities to see if your audience wants to spend time on LinkedIn with you. And if you need guidance for running a strong LinkedIn ad campaign, download our guide here.

Do you publish original content on LinkedIn? Share with us in the comments below.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

What Makes Content Go Viral? 3 Experts Weigh In

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When was the last time you created something online that went viral?

Whether you’re new to content marketing or are a viral content maven, you probably know that it can be nearly impossible to predict which tweet or video or meme might go viral. Often, it feels like virality is just completely random.

We asked three content marketing experts to weigh in on what they think makes some content super-popular while other content goes straight to the internet graveyard.

Drawing from their own knowledge and experience, they share their perspectives below. Learn what they think sets viral content apart.

What Makes Content Go Viral?

We all have opinions on what types of content go viral: a soundless social video, a data-backed explainer, a perfectly timed newsjack. But no matter the format, it ultimately comes down to emotion. Does the story make you feel enraged, inspired, understood? With everything you create you have to ask: If this scrolled by on my newsfeed, would I care? If the answer is no, it’s not worth it. Your online content habits are your own best judge.

— Megan Conley, Content Marketing Strategist at HubSpot

When creating new content, seriously ask yourself two questions: “Why would anyone share this?” and “Will this help someone better express themselves?” If you can’t answer either of these questions, that content has no chance at going viral. People share content that strikes an emotional chord with them. Your job is to identify and articulate that emotion-driving element.

— Nadya Khoja, Director of Marketing at Venngage

There are two interdependent sides to the notion of viral content. On the human side, when a piece of content excites its audience, triggering an emotional response, to the point that they can’t help but to share it. In other words, it’s “remarkable” content. From the engineering side, social technologies measure engagement, map it over time down to the millisecond, and then surface content deemed high quality to get more impressions and even more engagement. The interplay between those two mechanisms is what makes content go viral.

— Eric Peters, Growth Marketer at HubSpot Academy

Get more expert insights about creating viral content in our upcoming live video master class, 12 Principles of Viral Content. 

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Source: What Makes Content Go Viral? 3 Experts Weigh In
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

May Social Media News: The Fight Over the Disappearing Message Continues

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In life, there are a few certainties: death, taxes, and Facebook.

This month, we’ve seen the competition continue to heat up between Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat over how to create the most engaging and marketable disappearing message.

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Instagram and Snapchat continue to innovate — and copy each other — to win when it comes to user base and engagement. Instagram Stories have millions more users than Snapchat, but Snapchat has the advantage of entrenchment with millennials. In fact, 35% and 46% of Snapchat users can’t be reached on Facebook or Instagram, respectively.

Snapchat versus Instagram isn’t all that’s new in the social media world this month. The list isn’t exhaustive, but you can expect to learn the major highlights — what was launched, what changed, and what these stories could mean for marketers.

13 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month

Snapchat News

1) Snapchat launched new features.

Snapchat launched a ton of brand-new features this month to innovate in the face of heightened competition from Instagram and Facebook. Here’s a rundown of what’s new in the app:

Sponsored world lenses: Last month, Snapchat launched World Lenses, which let users add augmented reality (AR) elements to their Snaps. Now, brands can get in on the action by buying AR ads users can get creative with. Adweek notes Warner Brothers, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Netflix are the first brands to purchase these elements, so keep an eye out for them in your app.

Magic Eraser: (No, not the cleaning sponge.) Snapchat’s new Magic Eraser lets users erase elements from Snaps with the click of a button. Here are before-and-after shots of the same Snap — one of which I used the Magic Eraser on. It’s not perfect, but it does the trick for a quick edit on the go:

snap-eraser-1.png snap-eraser-2.png

Custom Stories: Users can now create Snapchat Stories that are viewable only for a certain group of friends. Custom Stories can also be further customized with Geofences, which limit Story viewing to a specific location. Here’s the demo video from Snapchat:

Now that Snapchat is part of a company in fierce competition with much larger social media apps, it’s doing all it can to be at the cutting-edge of innovation to keep users engaged on the app. There’s no telling when, but we can be almost completely assured a version of these new capabilities will be rolled out on Instagram soon.

2) Snapchat launched Instagram-inspired features.

This isn’t to say Snapchat is completely innocent: It’s also launched a couple features that might look familiar to fans of Instagram Stories. Here are the features that were “inspired” by Instagram and Instagram Stories:

Looping videos: Inspired by Instagram’s Boomerang, Snapchat now lets users create looping videos that play infinitely — instead of expiring and needing to be replayed after the maximum length of 10 seconds. The sender has to make this option available when editing a Snap, and if it’s enabled, the viewer doesn’t send a notification they’ve replayed a Snap.

Self-serve ads manager: This isn’t strictly Instagram-inspired, but the rollout of a self-serve Snapchat ads manager is a nod to its desire to maintain and grow its user base among smaller brands, too. This will make it easier for brands without the budget of Coca-Cola or Walmart to advertise on Snapchat — and without having to go through a sales team to do it.

3) Snap Inc. hosted its first earnings call as a public company.

Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, hosted its first earnings call for investors since its initial public offering (IPO) back in March. Here are a few of the highlights we gleaned with the help of The Motley Fool:

Snap Inc. raised $3.4 billion last quarter. That’s the largest social media IPO since Twitter’s back in November 2013.

Snap Inc. experienced slowed daily active user (DAU) growth. DAUs are growing 36% year over year, but Snapchat added only 8 million more DAUs in its first quarter as a public company — missing analysts’ target growth of 9-10 million users. User growth is highly concentrated in North America and Europe, which will make it tough to grow at the pace needed to keep up with the competition.

Snap Inc. invested heavily in research and development, and increased its engineer headcount by 260%. This further reinforces our previous notes about the competition heating up — facing increased pressure from Instagram and Facebook, Snapchat is trying to innovate and create new things as quickly as possible.

Revenue decreased and losses increased — making its path to profitability even longer. Snap Inc. is spending so much on R&D, and the ads business is in still in such a nascent stage, that analysts don’t predict Snap’s profitability anytime soon.

TL;DR: Snap Inc. is growing slower than anticipated. It’s responding to increased competition by hiring like crazy to innovate and roll out new, differentiating features, but it will need to expand worldwide to keep growing its user base.

Instagram News

4) Instagram launched a new feature.

Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) launched a new feature for Instagram Stories, its own Snapchat-inspired answer to the ephemeral messaging craze. Here’s what’s brand-new with Instagram this month:

Archive option: Users are starting to archive Instagram posts — instead of deleting altogether. For whatever reason, if you want to hide a post from view, you can now archive it, where you can view it privately or restore it to your feed if you change your mind. This change hasn’t been rolled out to my app yet, so it’s safe to say it’s still in a testing phase, but stay tuned.

5) Instagram launched Snapchat-inspired features.

Like Snapchat, Instagram lifted a few features from the playbook of its biggest competitor. Here are a few of Snapchat’s greatest hits, now living within Instagram Stories:

Face filters: In a move that’s possibly the biggest Snapchat ripoff (er, we mean, “inspiration”) yet, Instagram unveiled face filters for the front-facing camera. Like Snapchat Lenses, users can add augmented reality filters and masks to their selfies to make them silly and fun. Here’s what a few of them look like in action:

instagram-face-filters.pngSource: Instagram

Location and Hashtag Stories: In a nod to Snapchat’s Story Search, Location and Hashtag Stories let users search to see what other users are posting about. You can now search content across cities and hashtags used — the one differentiator between Snapchat’s search feature launched earlier this year. Here’s what it looks like in action:

instagram-hashtag-stories.pngSource: Instagram

With these two changes in place, there isn’t much left that’s proprietarily different about Snapchat over Instagram, so it might start coming down to user preference. Instagram has been advertising on the platform longer than Snapchat — plus, verified brands can add links to posts on Instagram Stories — which might continue the wave of brands and publishers that are choosing Instagram for their ephemeral messaging needs.

Facebook News

6) Facebook updated the News Feed algorithm.

Facebook has made more adjustment to its News Feed algorithm this month. Here are the biggest changes to how Facebook adjusts what you see when you log in every day:

Facebook will further downgrade publishers that publish clickbait headlines. The algorithm will now start downgrading posts based on individual instances of clickbait and based on a Page’s past history of being clickbaity (if that’s a word yet). Additionally, posts will be downgraded in the News Feed if the headline overexaggerates the content in the link itself — a nuance that signals a deepened commitment to its position as a news site.

Facebook will downgrade links to sites that provide a low-quality experience or are inundated with disruptive ads. This means pages that post links to sites that offer “little substantive content” or disruptive, “malicious” ads will be downgraded in the News Feed and may be ineligible to be promoted on Facebook.

TL;DR: Don’t publish clickbait and don’t link to low-quality sites when you post for your brand on Facebook for maximum reach and exposure in the News Feed.

7) Facebook is testing joint notifications across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.

Facebook wants to make it easier than ever for its users to stay within its apps by launching joint notifications for Messenger and Instagram within Facebook notifications. In a statement to CNET, Facebook said it was running a “very small test” of this feature — here’s what it will look like if it’s rolled out everywhere:

facebook-instagram-messenger-notification-integration.pngSource: CNET

8) Facebook Live launches — now with friends.

Facebook Live launched something new, too. Now, users can go live with another Facebook friend in a shared screen. This could make interviews easier conduct via Facebook Live, a highly engaging content format on the platform, or it could be a fun way to connect with friends. Either way, it looks like Google Hangouts and FaceTime on the News Feed:

9) Facebook inked a deal with Major League Baseball to livestream games.

Facebook made a deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) to livestream 20 free games this summer — roughly one per week. This is a clear nod to Twitter’s dominance in livestreaming — the app broadcasts pro football, hockey, baseball, and basketball games, as well as live news coverage that attracts millions of viewers. You can watch the live stream of the first MLB game on Facebook here.

We’ll see if viewers gravitate toward Facebook and away from Twitter to watch baseball for free this summer — we’ll keep you posted. (And I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to root for the Boston Red Sox.)

10) Facebook announced it will hire 3,000 Facebook Live monitors.

In response to growing backlash against the lack of oversight over Facebook Live videos depicting violent crimes, Facebook announced it would start the process of hiring 3,000 people specifically to monitor live video content. In a Facebook post, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said monitors will serve to get people help if they need it and remove offensive content from the platform.

It’s unclear how effective these monitors will be — and Facebook certainly can’t prevent violence in the first place — but Zuckerberg cited the fast prevention of a suicide mentioned on a live broadcast, so we’re cautiously optimistic this will decrease violent incidents on the platform.

Twitter News

11) #NuggsforCarter set a new record for the most retweets ever.

It started as an innocent question — Carter Wilkerson wanted to know how many retweets would be a high enough achievement to earn a lifetime supply of free chicken nuggets from Wendy’s.

When the Wendy’s social media team gave him a number, Wilkerson made it his mission. And although he hasn’t hit 18 million retweets yet, he hit another milestone: This month, his tweet dethroned comedian Ellen Degeneres’ infamous Oscar selfie to become the most retweeted ever on Twitter.

12) Co-founder Biz Stone returned to Twitter.

After selling visual search engine Jelly to Pinterest earlier this year, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced in a Medium post that he was returning to Twitter to focus on company culture, team morale, and people operations. Twitter has experienced a lot of executive turnover in recent years — in addition to intense scrutiny over abuse and dissemination of fake news on the platform — so a morale boost is coming at a good time for Twitter.

13) Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o inked a movie deal — based on a tweet.

This news might be the best of all, depending on your music and film tastes: Hollywood might see its first film that originated thanks to a simple tweet.

Actress Lupita Nyong’o and musician Rihanna were spotted sitting together at a Paris Fashion Week runway, and someone tweeted a photo of them that spawned into a discussion — looping in director Ava Duvernay — of creating a heist movie together.

No word yet on when this inevitable blockbuster is coming out, but Netflix bought the rights to it — making it what might possibly be the most 2017 movie of all time.

Did we miss any big social media stories? Share with us in the comments below.

free social media content calendar template

Source: May Social Media News: The Fight Over the Disappearing Message Continues
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Help! My Brand Went Viral: 12 Small Brands That Made It Big

When you think of viral marketing, your mind probably wanders to that Oreos “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet, which garnered an enviable 40,000 retweets and Facebook likes during 2013’s Super Bowl power outage. Or perhaps you think of the Dove “Real Beauty Sketches,” a video with more than 67 million views to date.

When these global brands go viral, it’s not a huge surprise.

They have agencies and well-staffed marketing teams standing by to handle the good, the bad, and the ugly that can result when brands go viral. But what happens to the little guys? What happens to small brands that hit on marketing gold, kind of by accident?

Below, we’re taking a look at how small brands have handled their 15 minutes of viral fame. Some struggled, some succeeded, but all of them earned a spot on this elusive roster. Here’s what they did, and what you can learn from their stories.

12 Small Brands That Went Viral

1) Dominique Ansel Bakery (The Cronut)


Image Credit: CNN Traveler

Pastry chef Dominique Ansel was not a doughnut devotee. The French-born, New York-based bakery owner had tasted a few, but he was far more familiar with the croissants he had grown up eating. When someone pointed out that he didn’t have a donut on the menu of his New York bakery, Ansel decided to head back to his roots and invent a new kind of pastry.

Enter: the Cronut.

Ansel’s new confection really gained steam after a food blogger from Grub Street tried a Cronut and documented the experience. Traffic to the bakery website rose by more than 300 percent, and hundreds would line up every day to get their hands on the trendiest pastry around.

Viral Best Practice: Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

Each batch of Cronuts took Ansel’s team three days to prepare. They could make about 350 Cronuts every day in their bakery, which meant the numbers were limited.

By managing the output of his pastries and avoiding the draw of producing more than his team and facility could manage, Ansel created controlled demand that he could meet without sacrificing the quality of his product.

Four years later, you’ll still find a line outside of Ansel’s bakery before their 8:00 A.M. opening. But the true secret to his success? Ansel claims that he’s had one Cronut every day since their invention. I’m really hoping that’s the key to my next promotion as well.

2) ALSA (The Ice Bucket Challenge)


Image Credit: Iconosquare Blog

In 2014, the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association launched one of the most successful viral campaigns of all time. Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates were a handful of the celebrities who took the challenge and dumped buckets of ice over their heads to raise funds and awareness for ALS research.

By the time the videos had stopped filling newsfeeds around the world, the campaign had raised more than $220 million for ALS organizations worldwide. Awareness of the disease rose and it reached the fifth most popular Google search for all of 2014.

In 2015, a year after the the ice bucket challenge went viral, money from the campaign was said to fund research that identified a new gene, NEK1, that contributes to the disease.

Viral Best Practice: They Looked Outside Their Target Audience

True, most of those who made a donation during the video craze have never made a second. But overall A.L.S. contributions have stayed about 25 percent higher than the year before the challenge, and the average donor age has dropped from above 50 to 35.

By shooting outside of their target demographic and trying alternative marketing tactics (video) that might normally take a backseat to more traditional fundraising efforts (galas, email marketing, etc … ) A.L.S.A. was able to bring in millions in one-time donations, raise brand awareness, and gain an overall contribution baseline of 25 percent. I’d say that’s enough incentive to shake things up in your next campaign.

3) Roman Originals (The Dress)


Image Credit: Wired

What happens when your company isn’t even the one behind a viral sensation?

“We woke up one morning and had the world and media coming down upon us,” says Peter Christodoulou, the co-founder of Roman Originals. It started with a wedding photo posted online. A young woman was pictured standing next to a bride, and no one could agree on what color her dress was.

What followed was an international debate dubbed #DressGate.

Christodoulou explained that his company had hoped to sell 200 of the lace-detailed dresses per week, but the UK-based retailer sold 3,000 in just 10 days. Celebrities, global brands, and just about everyone else was tweeting, sharing, and talking about “The Dress.” At its height, the controversy sparked 10,000 tweets per minute.

Viral Best Practice: Other Brands Can and Will Capitalize on Your Success

Brands around the world capitalized on the craze and amplified the popularity of “The Dress.” Dunkin’ Donuts, Legos, and Tide were just a few of the brands that came out with clever dress-themed ads of their own.

A few months later, Christodoulou said his company “won the social media lottery. We’ve had a brilliant year … Hopefully our spring/summer 2016 range will be well-received.”

While the line might not have sparked the global frenzy the original $74 dress had, Roman Originals showed the marketing world that virality can happen to anyone. And retailers everywhere showed that jumping on trending topics can do as much for you as it does for the company that originated the trend.

4) Metro Trains Melbourne (Dumb Ways to Die)


Screen Capture from DWTD on YouTube

Are you already humming that catchy little song in your head? You’re welcome for that all day.

Melbourne’s metro system didn’t have a safety campaign in market before “Dumb Ways to Die” (DWTD). They had information at stations, but nothing that was really influencing safe behavior or showing that the company cared, so they brought agency McCann Melbourne on to help.

Metro Trains’ Chloe Alsop explained, “We kept coming back to the same thing: it’s really hard to get hit by a train. A wrong or careless behaviour is required.” Without a serious tone or tugging at heartstrings, an impactful, memorable, and shareable campaign was built.

By April 2014, the campaign had been viewed 77 million times on YouTube. The accompanying game became the No. 1 free app in 101 countries, and in six weeks, DWTD had garnered an estimated $60 million in earned media. The most important stat that came out of the campaign? A 21% reduction in railway accidents and near misses following the campaign.

Viral Best Practice: Launch Outside Your Target Market to Build Buzz

McCann created the original campaign using North American voices and characters because “the video had to go viral first, later it would catch the attention of the real target audience.”

Today, the campaign has become a franchise used by metro transit around the world. The takeaway for us? As McCann spokesperson John Mescall says, “It used to be ‘Think global, act local.’ That’s no longer true; we need to think and act global.”

The next time you launch a campaign, try thinking about where you might launch outside of your target market to build buzz.

5) Invisible Children (Kony 2012)


Image Credit: NPR

Invisible Children was around for eight years before Kony 2012 turned them into a household name. They got their start by showing a short film called “The Rough Cut” at high schools and community centers around the United States.

The goal was to raise awareness of Joseph Kony, a war criminal responsible for a decades-long civil war in Uganda and surrounding countries, and most maligned for his kidnapping and use of children as sex slaves and soldiers.

The group flipped Kony 2012, a 30-minute YouTube video, to public on March 5, 2012. It was not their first or their last video but it was their loudest. In six days, it garnered more than 100 million views becoming (for the moment) the fastest growing viral video of all time. As the days passed, however, criticism of the video, the organization, and its founders grew.

The San Diego-based company wasn’t ready for the deluge of attention, traffic, or critique the video brought upon them. Invisible Children’s co-founder and star of Kony 2012 received the brunt of the criticism, culminating in a public mental health breakdown a few days after the video’s infamous launch.

Viral Best Practice: Have a PR Plan in Place

In 2015, three years after Kony 2012 ignited the internet’s attention, the company shuttered most of its US operations. Joseph Kony is still at large, and Invisible Children’s downsized African programs have honed their focus to early warning systems and defection messaging.

Kony 2012 is still a divisive subject, but it’s also a cautionary tale for organizations whose aims to go viral may not match their infrastructure or readiness. Site traffic, man-power, and the lack of a PR agency/strategy all contributed to the chaos in the days following Kony 2012’s launch.

6) Sphero (Makers of BB-8)


Image Credit: Shorty Awards

How did a small, Boulder, Colorado-based robotics company become the creator of spherical droid BB-8? Sphero was part of the inaugural class of Disney’s Accelerator tech-development program, which helps companies expand creatively using Disney’s impressive resources.

They happened to be in a meeting with Disney CEO Bob Iger as he was scrolling through offerings for Force Friday, a September 2015 toy and merchandising event held in anticipation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Iger asked the crew if they could make the rolling droid, BB-8, and they spent the next 10 months working on the product in time for a Force Friday launch. They sold more than a million robots in 2015 alone, more than doubling their all-time selling record.

Viral Best Practice: Use Social Media in New Ways (and it doesn’t hurt to have Disney on your side)

Sphero hit the jackpot with their Snapchat marketing campaign for Force Friday. The droid’s creators waited in lines with throngs of Force Friday patrons, snapping the hype and excitement of fellow fans.

They leveraged the cast of The Force Awakens, along with Snapchat influencers at five flagship Disney stores around the world to build buzz about the movie and their robot.

It’s been labeled the first global product launch using Snapchat, and the results were impressive with 10.3 million views, 4.76 thousand screenshots, 69.1 million seconds watched, and 411 thousand social engagements.

Sphero also handled media requests and newfound attention with Brandfolder, a Digital Asset Management (DAM) platform that kept their product photos, company information, and tech specs easily accessible and accurate. For your next product launch, how could you leverage social media in unexpected or nontraditional ways?

7) Niantic Inc. (Pokemon Go)


Image Credit: Niantic

Are you still recovering? Is it still too fresh to talk about?

Niantic Inc. was as surprised as you likely were when Pokemon Go became a global obsession. The company had prepared their server load for game launch with a ‘worst case’ estimate of five times the normal volume.

What they got was an astounding 50 times the expected traffic — within 24 hours of the game’s launch. But frustrated players and downed servers eventually gave way to 2016’s hottest trend.

Viral Best Practice: Focus on Quality and Innovation

After launch, the creators of Pokemon Go ironed out those kinks and continued to innovate on their product. They still release special, limited-time offerings like their ghost-themed Halloween event which saw a 1.3 billion increase in Pokemon caught by players, and a user spike of 13.2 percent globally.

Niantic also resisted the urge to monetize things too soon on a large scale. Instead, they focused on “core game mechanics, learning things on the technical side, the ops and customer support side, the community and marketing side.”

A more natural way for them to monetize early on? Quigley says, “We’re encouraging people to get out and about in their neighborhoods, their cities, their communities — what more natural way to integrate someone into the game than to have these paid sponsor locations that are interleaved among their other locations?”

Pokemon Go is a success story of a company that wasn’t expecting success but, by focusing on creating a quality product and resisting the urge to monetize too soon, was able to create not only a global sensation but a lasting one.

8) Cards Against Humanity 


Image Credit: Cards Against Humanity

You know it, you love it, and you’re embarrassed by it when your mom asks what it is. Your answer is invariably, “It’s like Apples to Apples … but different.”

This self-proclaimed “party game for horrible people” did not come from some hip Silicon Valley incubator. Instead, it was the brainchild of eight friends who’d known each other since grade school in their hometown of Chicago. They had no major outside investment, unless you count their one small crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, and it took them a while to even have a business address. “Our main priority is to be funny — and to have people like us,” says game co-creator Max Temkin.

Viral Best Practice: Know Your Brand Voice (and Stand By It)

Cards Against Humanity has always taken an unorthodox approach to marketing. You can download the full game for free on their website (something more than 1.5 million people have done). They once ran an anti-sale for Black Friday where they priced the game, normally $25, at $30 a box. With a tagline of “Today only! Cards Against Humanity products are $5 more. Consume!” the company inexplicably sold more cards. Their marketing strategy (or anti-strategy) would make most marketers cringe, but it works for them.

2016’s Black Friday campaign featured live video of the company “digging a holiday hole” and asking people to donate to its “cause.” They raised close to $30,000 with the stunt. Most recently, they launched their first-ever Super Bowl ad featuring nothing but a potato and a clever article about why the ad “failed.”

Cards Against Humanity is one of the clearest cases of knowing your brand voice and sticking with it. Their copy, creative, and campaigns are uniquely their own, and uniquely unapologetic about it, just like their game.  

9) Chubbies


Image Credit: Chubbies on Instagram

Love ’em, hate ’em, or loathe ’em, Chubbies is here to stay. The founders were four Stanford buddies who bonded over their mutual love of short shorts. Says co-founder Tom Montgomery, we noticed that “If you had a really cool pair of shorts, people would talk about it.” They decided to test their idea for Chubbies out at a Fourth of July beach party before going all in. They donned their “Chubbies,” headed to Lake Tahoe, and quickly found “the shorts struck the same emotional chord with other people that it struck with us.”

Their website launched in September 2011, just a few months before winter, giving them time to prepare for the busy spring months. Chubbies’ team spent that time building up inventory and marketing to their target audience: fraternities.

Witty emails, unapologetic copy, and bro-friendly photography set them apart, and their guerilla-style email tactics spread their name and their product through college towns everywhere.

Viral Best Practice: Build a Strong Narrative Before You Go Viral

In 2014 they raised a $4.4 million round of funding and a steady growth curve followed. They’ve expanded beyond their signature shorts but continue to build the brand around what made them successful in the first place — the weekend. “We’re constantly building this brand around the weekend and the feeling you get around Friday at 5 p.m. When a guy throws them on, the stress and rigors of the work week can be put on hold for a bit.”

That connection to their brand identity creates a strong narrative in their marketing efforts across channels. They speak to their audience unwaveringly, and their audience responds.

10) James Frey (A Million Little Pieces)


Image via: Amazon

Author James Frey had an explosive product launch in 2005. His book, A Million Little Pieces originally marketed as his memoir, was catapulted to overnight success after being named on Oprah’s television book club.

Two million copies were sold, making it the fastest-selling book in the club’s 10-year history. It topped the New York Times Best Seller list for 15 straight weeks and was published in 28 languages by 30 different publishers all over the world.

Unfortunately, months after Oprah lauded his bravery as well as his book, it was revealed that his memoir was more fiction than fact. Winfrey publically chastised Frey on her show, famously asking “Why would you lie?” Frey was dropped from his publishing house and he was hit with lawsuits from many readers.

Viral Best Practice: It’s Never Too Late to Refresh Your Brand

Frey continues to write books, with successes like I Am Number Four being made into movies. Even Oprah apologized for how she turned on him so suddenly. While he enjoys renewed success, Frey maintains a life decidedly out of the spotlight. The lesson here? Well, make sure your marketing isn’t full of lies, and be prepared to stand by your content if Oprah ever picks it up. But it’s also never too late to reinvent yourself and still have a successful career, even after a bad viral moment.

11) Dollar Shave Club


Image Credit: Dollar Shave Club on Instagram

At this point, Dollar Shave Club‘s (DSC) inaugural video is legendary. My first reaction to a shaving subscription service was, “huh?” But with a single video, DSC flawlessly spoke to shaver pain points, poked fun at themselves, and announced to the world that they were ready to shake up a previously forgettable industry

Co-founder Michael Dubin wrote the video, starred in it, and had a friend shoot it in a single day for less than $4,500. It crashed the company’s servers 90 minutes after it went live and catapulted the company to become the second-largest men’s razor seller in America.

Viral Best Practice: Don’t Be Afraid to Poke Fun at Yourself

That video has been viewed over 22 million times, and DSC has 1.1 million subscribers and growing. They earned a $615 million valuation in 2015, and in 2016 they were acquired by Unilever for $1 billion dollars cash. They continue with successful marketing, expertly branded packaging, and a unique presence in an industry that has finally been woken up. All thanks (in part) to a video that poked fun at the company while educating their consumer.

12) Chatbooks


Screen Capture from Chatbooks on YouTube

A four-minute viral video? It goes against every 15-, 30-, and 45-second best practice in the book, but boy did it pay off for Utah-based subscription photo service Chatbooks. The video educates its viewer on how to use a relatively new app that turns your photos into albums so you don’t have to.

Why was it so successful? They nail their buyer persona. The video features a busy, realistic mom. She speaks to the audience with all the advice, sarcasm, and “I get it, I’ve been there” relatability that you’d look for from a fellow cool mom. It closes with a catchy tagline: “done is better than perfect.”

Chatbooks sold 1 million subscriptions in its first 18 months. It’s racked up over 1 million views on YouTube and the company is pushing 200,000 “likes” on Facebook. They continue to put out honest, pain-point driven videos featuring the same now-recognizable mom.

Viral Best Practice: Get Detailed and Personal with Your Personas

It’s easy to phone in your user personas. Instead of just targeting “moms,” Chatbooks clearly thought through how that mom thinks, what she worries about during the day, how she’s spending her time, and how photos figure into her hectic schedule. The result? A video their target audience couldn’t help but share.

The Next Time Your Boss Asks for a Viral Campaign …

It’s nearly impossible to know what will go viral, and trying for that elusive result will usually come across as forced and futile.

Instead, research your target audience, decide if you can expand that audience, and create campaigns that are thoughtful, actionable, and relevant. But before you launch, make sure you’re prepared for the maelstrom that could follow. It’s always smart to have a PR plan in place should the worst (or the best) happen.

And finally, don’t expect for every piece of content you release thereafter to be equally as successful. Continue to create content that resonates with your audience and you’ll do just fine.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing