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Why Twitter Engagement Is Essential for Brands Today

Twitter has grown quickly since its inception. With its crisp 140-character limit (since increased to 280), and the variety of quality content, it was an instant hit with users.

However, it’s not enough to just send out an occasional tweet and expect audiences to find you.

Your brand needs to stay consistently engaged to connect with your audience and drive conversation.

Why Twitter Engagement Remains Relevant

There’s a reason why Twitter is still one of the top 5 social media channels and continues to thrive. Its 330 million monthly active users are proof of that. From a marketing perspective, the immense user commitment is a great opportunity for brands.

Read on to learn about the opportunities Twitter presents to connect meaningfully with your audience.

1. Engage With a Targeted Audience

This vast base of active users is one of the biggest perks of Twitter. It allows you to target a dedicated niche audience – one that will be more willing to engage with your brand.

Targeting on Twitter is a lot different than on Facebook. You may find the platform less granular, but there’s huge opportunity thanks to the unique characteristics of Twitter.

Engage With a Targeted Audience on Twitter

The openness of the platform increases the viral potential of your content. Even with an audience of 100 people, a retweet from a major influencer can help you reach thousands of users. This can give a major boost to your Twitter engagement rate.

While your content still reaches all of those people who are most likely to leverage your brand’s services via your followers, an added benefit is that you can also reach the followers of the people who retweet you.

2. Reach Your Audience Immediately

The immediacy of Twitter also works in favor of it as a platform to engage customers.

If you have something new to share with your followers, you usually share it on your blog. But the information may take a while to trickle through your intended audience. You could send out an email newsletter, but the reach or immediacy may still be limited.

But with Twitter, you can get that information out as fast as you can type 280 characters. It’ll appear immediately in the feed of anyone online at that point and can be discovered by those who check later.

Brands can leverage this to share news on product launches and updates, or keep customers updated on service outages or other widespread issues.

Additionally, you can also use Twitter to share live videos of events you’re hosting or taking part in. Pair that with coverage of the event using live Tweets. Live Tweeting makes for a great strategy which will result in soaring Twitter engagement rates during an event.

Just look at General Electric’s coverage of their 3D Printing Summit, earlier this year.

Reach audiences immediately with a hashtag on Twitter

They live-tweeted the happenings of the event by leveraging the #IndustryIn3D hashtag to drive further engagement on Twitter. Primarily, they shared what industry experts had to say about 3D printing in additive manufacturing. The unique hashtag helped the niche audience for this content stay up to date throughout the event.

3. Respond to Customers Quickly

Twitter’s immediacy is especially well-suited for customer service. People expect brand Twitter handles to be monitored regularly.

It’s one of the best places for customers to directly interact with businesses. No wonder 85% of SMBs leverage Twitter to provide customer support to their patrons. Twitter knows this and does its part to facilitate this. Take their Quick Replies functionality, for instance.

Take a look at Intel’s dedicated support account for ideas on how to implement this. They use it to promptly address questions from customers.

Use it for Customer Service Twitter Engagement

4. Chat with Audiences Directly

When it comes to customer-brand interactions on platforms like Facebook, most readers assume the responses are meant to be public-facing and not completely personalized to each user. While it make seem like a small distinction, on Twitter the replies, although public, are hidden by default.

This gives people the impression that the conversation is more personal and direct.

Brands like Wendy’s demonstrate a good understanding of the personal nature of the conversations brands can have on Twitter. Wendy’s well-received wit and sarcastic humor translates well on the platform, and the engagement in likes and RTs shows their unique brand voice reaches an audience outside of just the accounts involved in the conversation.

Unique branded conversation on Twitter

5. Build Exposure & Boost SEO

Twitter is a great place for widespread free marketing – all the better to help you with your link building efforts. People frequently link websites in their Tweets. Now, while backlinks from Twitter don’t really impact your search rankings, there’s still some advantage to be had here.

How? Well, many bloggers and high authority sites use Twitter and may come across your content. If they like it, chances are they might cite your content as a reference in their own posts, giving a boost to your SEO in turn.

Similarly, you might find ideas or references to use for your own articles. Twitter is a good tool to research any bloggers or influencers you want to reach out to in connection with your brand. It’s something I’ve done personally and always found very useful.

6. Establish Your Expertise

Several companies do this and you should too: host regular Twitter chats. Twitter chats are open scheduled conversations users conduct as a means to interact with their audience. Typically, they center around a single unique hashtag created by the brand for that sole purpose.

This kind of conversation is pretty unique to the platform. It allows industry leaders and interested parties to come together and discuss relevant industry topics. Taking part in and hosting such discussions is a good way to establish your expertise and credibility in the domain. An added bonus is the regular Twitter engagement it rakes in.

Take Sprout Social’s weekly Twitter chat, #SproutChat, which takes place every Wednesday between 2-3 pm CDT. The conversations focus on topics and challenges that social media marketers and brands face. These chats are a great way to bring together experts and influencers and build your brand authority around an easily identifiable hashtag.

Use twitter chats to establish expertise

Image via Twitter

How to Improve Your Twitter Engagement

We’ve seen why Twitter engagement is a powerful tool for brands. Which brings us to the next point of our discussion – how to improve your engagement rates on Twitter.

1. Experiment with Posting Times

To earn the maximum amount of Twitter engagement, the simplest trick is to tweet during peak hours. This guarantees the maximum exposure your tweet can earn. However, peak times vary with industry, location, and audience demographics.

Experiment by scheduling your tweets for different times to try to figure out the best time that works for you. Alternatively, Sprout Social’s post scheduler can help you with that using our ViralPost technology.

Sprout calendar

2. Include Visuals

This applies to Twitter as well as other social media platforms. Adding images or videos to your Tweets will add to their visual appeal. Words won’t grab the attention of a user scrolling through their feeds as well as a post with an eye-catching photo or video. Of course, engaging multimedia content also increases your chances of getting retweeted.

Visuals help provide a storyline and context to your content, which can be more difficult to achieve with text alone. The key to driving Twitter engagement rate is providing useful, value-providing content to your audience.

Starbucks keeps things interesting and fresh by regularly mixing up their content on Twitter. You’ll find plenty of appealing photos, videos, and GIFs that reflect their brand identity.

starbucks coffee tweet with engaging visuals

3. Make the Most of Retweeting

Twitter’s algorithm factors in the number of likes and retweets to determine the popularity of tweet. Retweeting and liking your own posts can increase your exposure.

If you have a tweet that’s resonated well with your audience, why not keep breathing new life into it every few hours or couple of days?

This is good for your Twitter engagement as the tweet will still have its previous engagement visible. You can keep the discussion going and your audience growing as the previous RTs and likes will only encourage others to engage.

Additionally, it’s always a good practice to retweet on-topic posts from your audience, since it will make them more inclined to reciprocate. And, while you don’t want to overuse this tactic, you might want to encourage your audience to retweet your content on occasion.

4. Add Links in Your Tweets

Tweets containing links to your blog content are a very valuable asset for brands looking to drive site traffic. You can think of these tweets as links with a headline.

Now, while these types of posts can earn you a lot of retweets, it’s not their only benefit. They also drive your Twitter engagement with the link clicks they earn you.

Like I said, the best way to improve your engagement rates on Twitter is to share content that adds value to your audience.

Adding a link that redirects users to a blog post that provides them with more information is a great way of adding this value. Not to mention it adds to your credibility and helps with your search rankings.

Use tweets to promote blog posts

Conclusion

There you have it. Twitter continues to be as relevant a tool as it was when it first came out. This relevancy is exactly what makes Twitter engagement essential for modern brands.

There’s much to be gained from having an active Twitter account for your business, which is precisely why it’s crucial that you strive to improve your Twitter engagement rates.

What’s your take? What are your top strategies for building Twitter engagement?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

This post Why Twitter Engagement Is Essential for Brands Today originally appeared on Sprout Social.

The Complete List of Instagram Features for Marketing Experts

Keeping up with social network changes is a challenge. Especially today when there are updates almost weekly. Your social media marketing strategy often needs to change with these updates.

We’re here to help. Instagram has nearly a billion users. Like most other modern social channels, Instagram is packed full of features. In this post, we’re going to dive deep into Insta’s classic features and newest additions.

Instagram Features for Marketers

Since its launch, Instagram has added many features that benefit marketers – both paid ads features as well as organic posts. Let’s take a look at some of the most important Insta features for marketers.

Video Features

You’re probably familiar with Instagram Video posts – they’re like regular photo posts, except they allow for video up to 60 seconds long. You can add a filter, a caption and tag your location before you share the post.

Video posts generate more user engagement than photos on Instagram.

 

video vs. photo instagram

This is huge for brands who are looking to win with Instagram’s new algorithm which tracks user engagement in your posts to determine whether or not to display your content (more on this below).

To learn how to post a video check out this post.

Live Video

Live Video is different than Instagram Video because well, it’s live. Here’s how it works:

  • Followers get a push notification telling them you’re going live
  • Followers can comment on or like your Live Video stream in real time
  • The video is gone after you end it (it doesn’t save to your account)

This is another way for marketers to build brand transparency and authenticity – both being important with Instagram’s latest algorithm update. Check out this Instagram guide to learn how to post Live Video.

Stories Features

One of the biggest additions to Instagram as of late is the Stories feature. Stories is similar to Snapchat in that users add clips of video to a story which is viewable for 24 hours before it vanishes.

You can view Story content as many times as you want within that 24-hour period.

Stories appear as little circles in the top of your followers’ feeds.

 

instagram stories
Source: The Verge

More Stories Features:

  • Video recording up to 15 seconds
  • Image viewing up to 10 seconds
  • Unlimited story additions
  • Direct messaging within Stories
  • Swipe down on the camera screen to unlock photos and videos from your personal camera roll (You can only access content on your camera roll from the last 24 hours)
  • You can track the total number of views and which users have viewed your content

Under your Instagram settings, you can adjust Story settings. You can hide your stories from certain users’ feeds and edit who can or can’t reply to you via direct message. Want to learn more about Instagram Stories? Check out our Instagram video specs for ad sizes and more.

Tips for Making the Most of Instagram Stories

  • Several of the same benefits of Instagram stories are applicable to Snapchat. In fact, many of the tips we provided in our article Snapchat for Business work for Instagram.
  • Cross-promote your Instagram on Facebook and Twitter. Users will come over to your Insta account just to see your Stories.
  • Hold Instagram contests, special promotions through Stories with user-generated content.

Push Notifications for Your Favorite Accounts

As a business, you might not consider receiving notifications from accounts that you follow to be a priority. But, you absolutely want your followers to add notifications from you.

This somewhat hidden feature is available on the mobile app. To turn on notifications:

Go to the profile you want notifications from > click the three dots (hotdog icon) and select > “Turn on Post Notifications.”

 

instagram notifications

 

Once selected, you’ll receive updates every time that account posts new content.

Why Notifications Are Good for Business

In a study from Localytics, researchers found 65% of mobile users who selected to receive push notifications for an app returned within 30 days. The study also discovered users who enabled push notification engaged three times more than those who opted out.

Modern social users are getting accustomed to being able to set notifications for things they want to stay informed of: like how many steps they’ve taken that day when it’s time to walk the dog, and now – when their bestie posts a new Instagram story.

Tips for getting users to turn on notifications for your account:

  • Ask them to! You’d be surprised how many people respond to a direct command like that on social media. Ever wonder why majority of the web’s call-to-actions are “click here?”
  • Always post the most valuable content possible. Ask yourself – is this post something that my users can’t live without? Is this something they absolutely want to know? The answers should be yes.

If your users enable notifications for your account you can bank on earning extra sales when you post about new product launches, deals, and promotions.

Your Favorite Filters

There are 40 Instagram filters for you to get creative with when you’re posting new Instagram videos or photos. But, as a business, you’re going to want your content to be consistent in terms of brand image and style.

If you have more than one person managing your Instagram, it can be tough to keep your look and feel consistent. Instagram allows you to manage your favorite filters by selecting the gear icon at the end of the filter list.

 

instagram filters selection

 

Have someone on your design team or a senior marketer/branding manager select the filters that your company will use. Don’t go overboard analyzing this – just go with what you feel best suits your company’s identity.

Carefully Manage Geo-tagged Content

Using Geo-tagged content for marketing purposes can be extremely valuable, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses. However, if you’ve got Geo-tagging turned on, even photos or videos that you didn’t tag may display the exact street where you posted the photo to Instagram.

 

maps feature example

 

You might want this if the content you post is around the location of your business (especially if you want customers to remember your business location, like a restaurant or store). On the other hand, if you’re a social media manager or agency, you may want to watch where you post and ensure those geotags are removed.

You can easily do this: Select the location icon > click “Edit” in the top right corner > Select as many images or videos as you want and remove the geotags.

Manage Multiple Instagram Accounts

In early 2016, Instagram rolled out a feature allowing users to switch between different accounts from within the application. This made managing multiple Instagram accounts much more efficient for marketers and businesses.

 

manage multiple instagram accounts

 

This is great for agencies or brands that want to feature certain types of content on different accounts (like one for showcasing company culture and one for showcasing products). Or maybe you’re a big company with lots of brands – like, “Adidas,” and you want your shoes and your women’s workout gear on separate accounts.

Social media managers don’t have to log out and into each account – they can simply switch from within the app.

Note: You can only add up to five Instagram accounts.

An Easier Way to Manage Instagram

While Instagram’s native platform makes it easier for businesses to switch between accounts, you still lack a lot of management features and analytics tools. With third-party social media management tools like Sprout Social, you can monitor hashtags, manage comments and gain powerful insights into Instagram data.

 

manage instagram posts in sprout social

 

Here you can manage multiple accounts and all of the comments from one inbox as opposed to switching between accounts each time you need to check on what’s happened with each.

As a business, you simplify your engagement and provide your social media team with a collaboration tool to get things done more efficiently.

New Instagram Features in 2018

Instagram has released a ton of new updates this year alone. Let’s take a look at the most important new features for businesses and marketing experts.

Activity Status Tracker

On June 23, 2018, Insta users noticed a green dot indicating that their contacts were active in the app. You can see the activity status from both the direct message page. If you don’t want users to see whether or not you’re active, turn off “Show Activity Status” in your Instagram settings.

activity status Instagram
Source: Bustle

IGTV

Instagram TV is an app within Instagram that gives users the ability to share videos that are up to an hour long – like a TV episode.

This is big news for content creators who are into video content – one of the fastest growing trends in content marketing as over 80% of businesses are using video marketing.

instagram tv

IGTV gives marketers the ability to share longer video content with the advantage of your users being notified when you share a new video is shared.

Mute the Accounts You Follow

This year, Instagram debuted the mute feature, which lets you mute posts from certain accounts without having to unfollow that particular user. This way, you can stay up-to-date with whatever your favorite accounts are up to – without the interruptions to your workday. This adds to Instagram’s latest efforts to give users more control over the content they see in their feed.

Hyperlink Username and Hashtags In Your Bio

When you type an @ or #, the username or hashtag that follows will automatically be hyperlinked.

This is great news for businesses as this is just another way to get your followers to engage with other accounts you own or branded hashtags your company uses.

Algorithm Updates

We’ll never know the exact formula – but what Instagram has said is that they want users to see more posts from their friends and family and fewer posts from ads, etc. According to Instagram, users now see family and friend posts 90% of the time.

Here’s what we know about the new algorithm.

  • User engagement matters: If users engage with your content regularly, they’re more likely to see your posts.
  • User interests determine more of what they see in their feed
  • More recent posts will have priority

So what does this mean for marketers and businesses?

You’re going to have to compete for attention. You’ll need to concentrate on organic growth too – and not just rely solely on ads since they’re going to be seen a lot less often.

  • Make sure you’re always sharing the highest-quality content.
  • Focus on engagement from users – aim to get users interacting with your posts.
  • Increase your transparency – users are obviously favoring accounts that they’re more familiar with (like friends and family). Show users why you’re a trustworthy brand.

How to Create the Right Content for the Latest Algorithm

So how exactly do you keep users engaged on Instagram? We keep hammering on “share the most valuable content possible,” right? You’re probably wondering what makes for the most valuable Instagram content. Here’s the math on what makes quality content on Insta:

  • Instagram images with mostly blue overtones generate nearly 25% more likes.
  • 93% of consumers consider the visual appeal before purchasing.
  • 40% of people respond better to visual content than plain text.
  • Instagram captions with mentions generate 56% more engagement.
  • Locations added to Instagram content drives 79% higher engagement.

High-quality content is visually appealing and you should use mentions, captions, and hashtags to your advantage.

Businesses Can Turn Existing Posts Into Ads

Previously, you couldn’t turn an existing post into an ad unless you hit the in-app Promote button. Now businesses can turn their organic posts into ads in the Ads Manager.

Here are a couple tips on what organic posts are worth paying to promote:

  • Go with your most popular posts – these are likely your best content that, for whatever reason, your users are relating to most
  • Run ads that make sense for the type of content you’re promoting – if your organic posts received a lot of likes, consider running them as an Engagement Ad

Check out this guide on creating Instagram/Facebook ads within the Ads Manager.

Note: You’ll manage your Instagram Ads within Facebook’s Ad Manager as Facebook owns Instagram.

Emoji Slider Polls

Instagram is now putting emojis to use as a way of polling how much users like or dislike something.

 

emoji polls

 

Marketers can use this to their advantage – asking users to rate their favorite products. Just beware that they can dislike your products too!

Stories Updates

Stories is a newer feature in Instagram – like we’ve mentioned, it’s similar to Snapchat. Users love it – and as such, it evolves quickly. Just this year there have been many updates to Stories.

Stories @Mentions and Stickers

Instagram recently added the ability for users to use @ mentions to tag other users in their stories. These @ mentions can be typed on the image, or they can be added as Stickers. Users might tag a friend’s username or the locations where they’re at.

When a user tags you in their story, you get a notification via direct message and from there you’ll be able to add a user’s story to your own.

This is a great way for brands to increase awareness and reach – you’re able to share your customer’s content in your own story for a more authentic and trustworthy feel.

Shoppable Tags In Stories

Shoppable tags allow businesses to tag their products in their photos. For example, if you feature a model running in your brand’s running shoes – you’d tag the shoes so that users can click right over to the product page and purchase the shoes.

Now, businesses can tag products inside Stories as well. This is a great way to showcase your product(s) in live action or in user-generated content (like from the @ mentions we just discussed). Imagine the authenticity of sharing one of your customer’s Stories in your own story, with a tag on your product.

Bulk Upload to Stories

Instagram announced recently that users can now upload photos and videos to Stories in bulk. This is going to be a time-saver for businesses and social media managers.

Users can select up to 10 videos or photos to upload at a time.

Developers Can Create AR Effects

Another recent addition to Instagram is the ability for developers to partner with brands to create filters. This will be much like what we’ve seen on Snapchat – and branded filters will probably be a high-ticket ad feature.

Here’s an example of a Snapchat branded filter by Taco Bell:

 

Taco Bell Snapchat filter

 

In Conclusion

Social media evolves quickly to keep up with consumer demands and competition from other platforms. Your best bet is to stay informed of these new features and updates and focus on how you can benefit from new features as a marketer or business.

Make sure you’re not focused solely on Instagram Ads in the coming months – keep engagement as a top priority as the algorithm has changed to favor engagement.

What are your favorite, new Instagram features? How are you using them to achieve your business goals?

This post The Complete List of Instagram Features for Marketing Experts originally appeared on Sprout Social.

7 Ways Brands Take Advantage of Facebook Stories

Videos are perfect for social media.

They’re immersive, engaging and inherently social. The right video creates the intimacy of face-to-face interaction, without ever asking your audience to leave their sofa. It’s no wonder that social platforms around the world are investing in video.

Facebook Stories is just one of the latest ways to delight your customers with visual content.

These user-generated slideshows and video collections are short-term pieces of engaging content available for up to 24 hours. Facebook brought Stories to the market after the format achieved phenomenal success on Snapchat.

Facebook supports 2.23 billion monthly active users. That’s about three times the viewership of Snapchat. If you want your brand story to be a best-seller, you’ve got a better chance of finding your audience with Facebook. Just 14 months after launching, Facebook had 150 million active users per day for Stories.

The question is, how do brands take advantage of these new media moments?

How can you make your story a real page-turner?

How to Create Facebook Stories

Facebook Stories are made up of visual content in video or slideshow format. They’re created on your smartphone camera and last about 20 seconds. Stories are also inherently temporary. After 24 hours your story automatically deletes itself. However, there is an option to save your content into a private file for future insights.

Facebook stories come packed with text, filters and stickers. Adding the right elements to your story, from location-specific tags to unique images, boosts engagement. Facebook also allows you to see who has watched your story. That’s ideal when you need to enhance your targeting strategy. To create a story:

  • Click the “Create Story” button on your Facebook smart phone app.
  • Record a video by holding down the round button. Or create a slideshow by touching the button once.
  • Edit by adding location tags, filters and stickers
  • Share your story by touching the + icon in the middle of the screen or share with specific users on Messenger.

Your published stories appear on the “Stories Row.” This is a section at the top of your news feed which lists available content.

An example of the Facebook "Stories Row" feature

To add camera effects to your stories, simply swipe up or tap the effects icon. Facebook offers a selection of masks, frames and filters. Add targeted messages by selecting the text icon. If you’re feeling playful, hit the “doodle” icon to draw on your video.

For tech-savvy creators, there’s an AR studio available for Mac where you can create augmented reality experiences for your audiences.

Why Do Brands Use Facebook Stories?

As a marketing strategy, Facebook has a solid track record. Around 96% of advertising experts say that Facebook produces greater ROI than any other social network.

At the 2018 F8 conference hosted by Facebook, the social media platform revealed that Stories are one of their most popular services. In fact, the network predicts that Stories will be the most dominant form of social sharing by 2019.

So, what makes stories so valuable to marketing?

1.      Prime Real Estate

Facebook Stories appear right at the top of the Facebook app.

They’re the first thing that your customers see when they log onto their profile. This means Stories are great for grabbing attention. The Stories section even follows your customers as they scroll through their news on a desktop too!

As anyone who’s ever dealt with an SEO strategy will know, having your content front and center is crucial for engagement.

The "add to your story" button on Facebook

2.      Rising Stories Use

From Instagram to Snapchat, Stories are rising in popularity.

More people are switching to the Stories format to connect in an organic and immediate way. After all, what better way to show your personality than through an organic, raw video snapshot?

On Instagram, 250 million people use Stories every day. If you’re not exploring all of your options with video content, you’re missing out.

3.      Better Connections

People don’t trust companies these days.

However, the genuine and authentic nature of video often cuts through audience cynicism.

Facebook Stories provides an organic way to connect with your customers. With Stories, brands demonstrate what makes them special in an easy-to-consume way. Show what’s going on behind the scenes of your business or introduce a member of staff. Let your audience get to know the people behind the company.

4.      Measure your Campaigns Easily

Facebook is a great platform for both targeting and analytics.

You can see exactly who’s tuning into your Facebook stories. This means that targeting the most interested leads is easy.

Once you know who’s watching your stories, you can adapt your targeting efforts and watch your results grow. You can even supplement your Facebook Stories analytics with tools like Sprout Social, for a better insight into your entire social campaign.

An example of Facebook analytics from the Sprout Social dashboard

How to Take Advantage of Facebook Stories

Facebook Stories are popular because they combine two essential modes of communication: video and storytelling.

Storytelling gives companies a way to build affinity and trust with their customers. On the other hand, video boosts engagement with easy-to-consume content. Today, companies and consumers upload more video content in a month than the major US TV networks could create in 30 years.

Facebook Stories are bite-sized pieces of content that establish connections with your company.

So, how do you make the most of them?

1.     Create Exciting Time-Sensitive Content

One of the things that make Facebook Stories so compelling is the fact that they’re short-lived. Facebook Stories only exist for a maximum of 24 hours. Companies use them to take advantage of “FOMO” – the fear of missing out.

Your fans use social media to stay up-to-date with concepts they care about. Creating incredible time-sensitive content ensures that your customers will be hanging on every word. Use Stories to:

  • Get personal: Let your customers see what goes on behind the scenes in your office.
  • Announce: Share important updates and announcements for a limited time.
  • Host competitions and giveaways: Reward engaged customers for paying attention.
  • Show limited-time sales and discount codes
An example of a Facebook story from band "Blink-182"

2.     Be Unique

While Facebook and Instagram Stories are naturally connected, that doesn’t mean you should post the same things on each platform. Every channel has its own nuances to consider. For instance, Instagram is more interactive than Facebook.

Users expect to see fresh content on your Instagram page several times a day. On Facebook, posts happen less frequently.

Since some of your audience will follow you on both platforms, repeat content can get a little overwhelming. Think about the specific demographics of your Facebook audiences, and tailor your content to suit them.

3.     Be Brand Focused

Facebook provides various filters and effects for your stories. These extras are available both when you’re creating your story and when you’re editing your broadcast on Facebook.

Adding live filters is as simple as tapping the “Effects” icon on the bottom left-hand corner of your smartphone screen. You can change the font, add stickers, and adjust other components too. Adding filters makes your content more engaging and interesting. It’s also a chance for you to build your brand image. For instance:

  • Use filters relevant to your brand.
  • Add themes specific to the promotions you’re currently running.
  • Use colors and text styles consistent with your brand image
An example of 3 different Facebook filter options for Facebook stories

4.     Deliver Unforgettable Experiences

Customer experience is one of the most important topics in today’s marketing world. Video is a great way to enhance experiences, and Facebook Stories lets you build even further on your experiential marketing strategy.

For instance, Facebook Stories are fantastic for extending the reach of events. Create image slideshows and videos leading up to an event. Alternatively, host miniature announcements from people involved with the upcoming experience.

Facebook Collaborative Stories also ensures that you can cover your story from every possible angle. With “collaborative” stories, you can connect your videos with slideshows and clips from other people in your social network. It’s a great way to enhance brand reach and improve your video content.

An example of Facebook's

5.     Focus on More Than Promotion

As with any good social media strategy, remember that there’s more to delighting your audience than delivering promotional posts and discount codes. While people want product and service-focused posts from your company, they also want a chance to get to know your team as people too.

Rather than concentrating exclusively on sales, look for ways to delight your audience through content that appeals to them. For instance:

  • Celebrate business milestones and new announcements
  • Give previews of new products and upcoming projects
  • Share video clips of events you attend
  • Share important tips related to your niche
  • Snap selfies of your team.

6.     Use Multiple Voices

Give your voice more range.

With tools like Collaborative Stories, you can give countless people within your brand their own voice.

Influencer marketing is a popular way to build credibility for your company. If you want your customers to trust and appreciate you more, try teaming up with people they already love. Ask influencers to share stories with you or add to your existing strategy.

Alternatively, give your team more of a social presence. 71% of marketers are using employee advocacy today with the help of tools like Bambu by Sprout Social. Give your business voice a more authentic tone with messages from your staff.

Bambu's

7.     Track the Performance of Your Stories

Finally, make sure you know where your stories are having the biggest impact.

When you know what kind of people are viewing your content, you know who’s interested in your brand. Use Facebook to see the users that are tuning into your social tales, then build on your insights with a social media tool like Sprout Social.

Facebook Stories recently announced an upcoming “Archive” option similar to Instagram Stories. This new tool will give companies more opportunities to save clips privately when they expire. That means that you can go back, check out your performance and even re-share content to your news feed.

There’s no excuse for not optimizing at every opportunity.

The more targeted your stories are, the more effective they become.

Telling the Right Tales with Facebook

Video content is a powerful way to engage with your audience.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies refrain from creating videos because they think their posts have to be perfect, professionally-made and pristine.

The truth? Your customers prefer the more natural moments that features like Stories let you place on social media.

Facebook Stories gives brands an opportunity to share their journey with people in a raw and organic way. The time-sensitive and authentic nature of Facebook Stories mimic the everyday interactions and memorable moments often overlooked by the digital world.

 

This post 7 Ways Brands Take Advantage of Facebook Stories originally appeared on Sprout Social.

7 Psychology Facts That All Social Media Marketers Should Know

What do psychology and social media have in common?

A lot more than you might imagine! Believe it or not, there are some very scientific reasons that people like, share, comment, click, and even purchase products online.

Understanding the psychology facts behind the way audiences think on social media is the first step in creating a better experiences, stronger relationships, and even more loyal customers in the long run.

This week on The Science of Social Media, we’re looking at 7 psychology facts that all social media marketers should know and how you can apply them to everything from content and customer support to strategy and execution.

Let’s kick it off!



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What you’ll learn in this episode

What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation between Hailley Griffis and Brian Peters. Short on time? No worries! Here are four quick takeaways:

  • The most successful marketers regularly use psychology to help them be better at their jobs
  • One of the most effective ways to build trust and credibility for your brand is to be transparent and not shy away from your flaws
  • Colors are powerful tool because they have a huge affect on people’s behavior and how they perceive your brand from the very beginning
  • According to a report byPsychological Science, evoking strong emotions can increase the likelihood of something being shared

7 Psychology Facts That All Social Media Marketers Should Know

  • Psychology Fact 1: Transparency and building trust with customers
  • Psychology Fact 2: Why emotions are a powerful tool (and even contagious)
  • Psychology Fact 3: The Halo effect and how it impacts our perceptions
  • Psychology Fact 4: Using reciprocity to increase action
  • Psychology Fact 5: The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon and frequency illusion
  • Psychology Fact 6: Color and its impact on social media marketing
  • Psychology Fact 7: The 5 psychological reasons behind why people share online

Hailley: Hi everyone! I’m Hailley Griffis and this is The Science of Social Media, a podcast by Buffer. Your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and learning.

Brian: Welcome to episode #107! I’m Brian Peters and this week we’re here to talk to you all about psychology and how it can help you with your social media marketing. We pulled together 7 things that all social media marketers should know and we can’t wait to share them with you!

Hailley: It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good psychology episode, this is going to be great! Let’s kick of the show!

Brian: Before we get started let’s talk about marketers using psychology for a moment, because most marketers are not psychologists – although if you are that’s a huge leg up!

But many successful marketers are regularly using psychology to help them be better at their jobs and connect with their audience.

We’re all about being thoughtful and honest marketers who use psychology ethically and respectfully to attract and engage an audience.

Hailley: Really well said, Brian! With that in mind, let’s jump right into the psychology.

1. Transparency and building trust with customers

First off, and I love this one, is that one of the best ways to build trust and credibility for your brand is to be transparent and not shy away from your flaws.

So if you are familiar with Buffer, you know that we’re all about transparency. It’s one of our core values and you can go online right now and look up how much money Buffer is making and even check out Brian and I’s salaries.

Now, we are not transparent because of the marketing benefits, but after becoming transparent we definitely saw more and more benefits, including marketing ones, to our transparency.

Brian: Exactly, so let’s talk a little bit about why transparency is so powerful. Well, it’s no secret that people tend to question marketing claims, and it’s for a good reason. Many marketing claims simply aren’t credible.

So the way to gain trust is to be transparency and right off the bat, point out your flaws or product shortcomings.

Be really open about what your product does and does not do. You can do this in social media posts, ads, in engagement when customers are asking you questions, there are tons of opportunities to be more open and start building trust with your audience.

Hailley: Yes, I love that you mention ads as well. I found potentially the original example of that in advertising, it’s actually still referenced textbooks today! In 1949, Volkswagen came out with an ad doing pointing our their own flaws. It’s known as the Lemon ad.

So there’s the word lemon as the headline and then a photo of a Volkswagen beetle and below it the copy reads:

“This Volkswagen missed the boat. The chrome strip on the glove compartment is blemished and must be replaced. Chances are you wouldn’t have noticed it; Inspector Kurt Kroner did.”

And then the ad went on to talk about how important attention to detail is for the folks at Volkswagen. The Lemon ad is a famous example of how to optimize credibility and it is so easy to replicate.

2. Why emotions are a powerful tool (and even contagious)

Brian: The second psychology fact that we’re touching on today is that emotions are really powerful and even contagious.

Evoking strong emotions can increase the likelihood of something being shared, according to a report by Psychological Science. And while any content that was emotional did affect the audience, the University of Pennsylvania found that more specifically, positive content had the best results. The more positive the content, the more it was shared.

This is because it makes the person who is interacting with that content more positive and happy, so they are far more likely to want to share it and spread the happiness.

Hailley: And emojis have a really interesting place in all of this as well.

So as humans, mimicking expressions when you are face-to-face is one of the ways that we become closer with each other. And scientists found that using an emoji actives the same parts of the brain and replicates the same experience as those face-to-face interactions, making us all more connected.

I wonder if it’s even more powerful with Apple’s new emojis that copy your exact facial expressions?

Brian: There are a lot of ways you can use this information to your advantage as a social media manager.

A great place to start is to look at the tone of your social posts and check them for positivity and happiness. Then, try and share more feel-good stories from your customers or in the other content you curate. A few other things that you can do are use humor in your content, and of course, add positive and happy emojis to your posts.

3. The Halo effect and how it impacts our perceptions

Hailley: Next up, let’s talk about something called the Halo effect and just how much it really affects us.

The halo effect is a type of immediate judgement discrepancy, or cognitive bias, where a person making an initial assessment of another person, place, or thing will assume ambiguous information based upon concrete information.

This is like the expression, you never get a second change to make a great first impression.

Brian: Exactly! What this means in practice is that we tend to allow a single attractive quality of a person or brand influence our judgement for other unrelated aspects.

And what we really want to emphasize here is how much celebrity endorsements can influence perceptions of a brand, where the audience might associate the traits of the celebrity with the brand or product.

Essentially what we’re saying is that influencer marketing works, it’s backed by psychology.

Hailley: Yes! Influencer marketing works and also social proof is important.

Here are some ways you can leverage the Halo effect in your social media marketing:

  • You can highlighting a recognizable customer or get a customer testimonial.
  • You can work with recognizable influencers or if possible get a celebrity endorsement.
  • You can associate with cool companies that enhance your brand, this is something we do quite often and it is definitely something we recommend.

Onto psychology fact number four!

4. Using reciprocity to increase action

Brian: The fourth piece of psychology we want to chat through today is reciprocity.

So the concept of reciprocity is simple — if someone does something for you, you naturally will want to do something for them. This is right from Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

I think we’ve all experienced this. If a friend invites you to their party, for example, it may feel like there’s an obligation for you to invite them to a future party you are hosting.

Hailley: Yes, and in the context of a social obligation people are more likely to say yes to those who they owe.

So what’s interesting here is that the key to using the reciprocity is to be the first to give and to ensure that what you give is personalized and unexpected.

For social media marketers, giveaways, free content, and unexpected resources are all great examples of this.

Brian: Totally! This is again something we’ve done at Buffer, though I don’t think we knew what the principle was really called before this episode, but it has also worked really well for us.

We sent people who participated in our Twitter chat for the first time stickers, it was unexpected by them and I’m sure some people kept coming back because of that.

So think of ways you can use reciprocity in your social media marketing, and it can be anything from stickers, to an ebook, or maybe a free design template.

Just be sure you’re giving away the free thing before you ask for something in return.

5. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon and frequency illusion

Hailley: Alright, let’s see if I can pronounce this next one. It’s called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or the less complicated version is the frequency illusion.

This phenomenon occurs when the thing you’ve just noticed, experienced or been told about suddenly crops up all the time. It gives you the feeling that out of nowhere, pretty much everyone you know is talking about the thing you just noticed.

And you’re not crazy; you are totally seeing it more. But the thing is, of course, that’s because you’re noticing it more.

Brian: Yes, I’ve definitely experienced this and I’m sure our listeners have too.

According to PS Mag, this phenomenon is caused by two processes. The first process is selective attention and it kicks in when you’re struck by a new word, thing, or idea; after that, you unconsciously keep an eye out for it, and as a result find it surprisingly often.

The second process is confirmation bias and it reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight popularity.

Hailley: For marketers, this phenomenon is precisely why nurturing is incredibly important. Once someone starts noticing your brand, maybe they’ve come across a Facebook post or gone to your website, then you’ll want to help them start seeing you “everywhere.”

One of the best ways to increase the effectiveness of your sales funnel is to send audiences retargeting ads and Facebook Pixel is a great tool to do just that.

6. Color and its impact on social media marketing

Brian: Now, let’s talk about color.

Color might be the part of psychology that marketers are more familiar with. We chatted about colors back in episode #61 and specifically why Facebook is blue.

Colors are powerful because they affect people’s behavior and how they perceive your brand.

You might not have thought that color could impact social media strategy, but the psychology behind colors proves they are worth the extra effort.

Hailley: Yes they are! According to a study called Impact of Color on Marketing, people make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62 to 90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone.

What’s interesting here is that although certain colors do tell us specific things, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but it’s less about the meaning behind the colors and more about whether or not the colors line up with what people expect from your brand personality.

Brian: Exactly! So a big takeaway here is to start considering color in your social media content and plan, but also think about how that color lines up with your brand voice and tone.

Let’s also take a look at some information from a KissMetrics infographic where they looked at color. According to them, here are what a few popular colors make us feel:

  • Yellow: optimism and youth
  • Red: sense of urgency
  • Blue: trust and security
  • Green: wealth and relaxation
  • Orange: agressive
  • Pink: romantic
  • Black: powerful
  • Purple: calm

Onto psychology fact number seven – and we saved the best for last!

7. The 5 psychological reasons behind why people share online

Hailley: To wrap up, let’s talk about the psychology behind sharing.

We’re all looking for more engagement on our posts and we want to share content that really resonates with people. Well, luckily for us, the New York Times conducted a massive study awhile back about the psychology of online sharing.

They named five primary motivations for sharing, which we will take a look at, but most notably they talk about how there’s a common thread for all the motivations for sharing, and that’s that people are motivated to share based on their relationships with their network online.

Brian: Yes, so as marketers we should really be focusing on creating and sharing content with our audience that will enhance their relationships as a result of sharing it.

Here are the five most important reasons people share online:

  • They wanted to better the lives of others (94%)
  • They want the content to reflect their online identity (68%)
  • They want grow and nourish relationships (80% )
  • They share because they like the feeling of having others comment on it and engage (81%)
  • They want to spread the word about something that they believe in (84%)

Remember what we said at the beginning of this section, the common theme here is that people are motivated to share based on their relationships with their network online. Keep that in mind next time you’re loading up your Buffer queue!

Hailley: Thank you so much for tuning in to the Science of Social Media today. The show notes for this episode are now available on the Buffer Blog at blog.buffer.com with a complete transcript.

If you ever want to get in touch with me or Brian, we’re always here for your on social media using the hashtag #bufferpodcast. You can also say hi to us anytime and hello@bufferapp.com

Brian: As always, thank you so much for your iTunes reviews! It’s so awesome to read through all your kind comments there – and we actually do read through all of them so thank you.

Best of luck using these neat psychology discoveries to help you in your social media content creation and sharing this week! Let us know if any of these tactics work particularly well for you.

Until next Monday, everyone!

How to say hello to us

We would all love to say hello to you on social media – especially Twitter!

  • Hailley on Twitter and Hailley’s Website
  • Brian on Twitter and Brian’s Website

Thanks for listening! Feel free to connect with our team at Buffer on Twitter, Buffer on Facebook, our Podcast homepage, or with the hashtag #bufferpodcast.

Enjoy the show? It’d mean the world to us if you’d be up for giving us a rating and review on iTunes!

About The Science of Social Media podcast

The Science of Social Media is your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and inspiration. Every Monday (and sometimes more) we share the most cutting-edge social media marketing tactics from brands and influencers in every industry. If you’re a social media team of one, business owner, marketer, or someone simply interested in social media marketing, you’re sure to find something useful in each and every episode.  It’s our hope that you’ll join our 16,000+ weekly iTunes listeners and rock your social media channels as a result!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.

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