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4 Tips to a Solid Content Strategy
Creating a content calendar is essential to building an effective marketing strategy. We recommend creating a content calendar to map out your messaging and cadence across all your social media platforms. Here are some recommendations to consider when creating your own content calendar for social media.
Plan Your Content in Advance
Identify Your Tone and Voice
Speak like a human. Use a natural voice in your content and copy to ensure your posts sound native and authentic for the platform. Identify the tone of your brand — are you serious and informational, are you witty and clever, are you funny and timely? Make sure all of your posts are consistent in personality.
Create Quality Content
Analyze Your Social Media Metrics
Take some time to review how your posts and content are performing. What types of posts are your followers engaging with? Learn from your audience and review your analytics to inform decisions about next month’s content calendar.
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Facebook is not only a great platform to bring your brand’s voice to life, it’s also a powerful advertising tool. As an advertising platform, it enables you to reach almost any audience at different stages of the sales funnel. However, Facebook is very strict on the quality of advertising materials they allow, showing targeted ads to only the most relevant audience. Pay attention next time you scroll through your Facebook feed, and you will notice a variety of ads and different campaign objectives that businesses utilize.
Lead generation is a great tool to establish communication with a new audience. Finding qualified leads does not have to be difficult, and Facebook is a great place to begin a lead generation campaign.
How Do Facebook Lead Ads Work?
Facebook offers a mobile-friendly advertising format that allows you to collect leads through a form. Fields of the form are automatically filled-in with information from the user’s Facebook profile and can be supplemented with additional information. The user never has to leave Facebook, which increases your likelihood of a conversion. We recommend keeping your form short and sweet for a better chance of users finishing and submitting the form.
1. Collect leads across all devices: Reach people on any device and quickly grow inbound inquiries.
2. Improve the quality of the lead: You will get higher-quality leads through the use of a welcome screen, which gives users more info about what the offer is before they hit submit. Customize the form fields to capture information that is important to your business.
3. Get the right leads: When creating the campaign, Facebook’s interest based targeting will help you reach the right audience.
4. Access leads in real time: You can see a lead immediately after someone submits their form. Facebook’s integrations and API make it easier to sync your leads directly with your customer system. Make sure to contact your leads as soon as possible while you’re still fresh on their mind.
Set up your first Facebook lead ads campaign similar to any other Facebook ad campaign. Go to Facebook’s Ads Manager and customize all the necessary settings to start collecting your leads now.
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Times of crisis can really be moments when innovation is at its finest. We have to move faster and think on our feet. So how does one navigate through it? Most of us are used to dealing with short-term PR disasters or small crisis matters. As marketers, we need to understand what worked last week may not work this week and adapt to the new changes every day.
Brands need to be careful about what they are posting. That monthly content calendar you created… maybe it’s time hit the pause button. We cannot continue to pretend we are living in a pre-coronavirus digital environment. Do not let your brand become tone-deaf to what’s going on. Now is a time to pause and think. A good PR strategy is not just about when to post, it’s about when to stay silent. Now is not the time to use cheap marketing ploys to get more customers for your brand. If your brand doesn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation, don’t contribute. It is better to stay quiet than contribute to noise.
How do we market during this time when our feeds are flooded with coronavirus posts? Brands can’t stay silent forever. When is a good time for them to post and what should they be posting?
First, we need to understand the changing needs of consumers and their emotional state of mind. That needs to be taken into consideration with new marketing plans. We cannot pretend what is going on isn’t happening. Now more than ever is the time to ramp up your customer service on social media and answer your customers' questions. Stay transparent with your audience. When posting, keep your messages light, happy and inspirational while staying true to your brand.
Some brands are taking the approach of what they offer and how they can help. For example, Orange Theory is offering free at-home workouts, Verizon is offering free live stream concerts, and Instagram has added a new co-watching feature that enables people to view posts together while they video chat. What can your brand do?
Let your customers know what you are doing to help them in whatever way makes the most sense for your brand. Be concise with your communication and continue to offer follow up resources. Be available to your consumers and put social listening tools in place to capture any queries directed at your brand. Be patient with customers with a lot of questions.
Most importantly, share positivity. Positive stories are always appreciated during stressful times, these will help give your audience hope and reassurance. Keep up the thoughtful communications, so your brand will be seen as a trusted source of information for your industry during this time.
We’re in this together.
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Your 7 Step Guide to a Brand Audit
New year, new marketing strategy? Before you make any decisions about your marketing, social media or brand touch points, it is vital to do some research so you can make informed and strategic decisions about what will work best for you. The first thing you should do is perform a brand audit. What is a brand audit? It’s a checkup to understand where your brand stands in its current state.
Your brand is the emotional reaction your audience feels when they see your logo or interact with your company. It’s much more powerful than people realize. Having a strong brand empowers and inspires. Just like a home, if the foundation is cracked in certain areas, it would be the homeowner’s best interest to audit the situation and come up with a detailed plan on how to fix it. Companies and their brands must follow the same rules.
So how can you effectively perform a brand audit? Try these steps to define your brand and develop your marketing strategy in 2020.
Step 1. Start by knowing what you're measuring
Go back through your marketing plan and review your company’s mission, vision and unique selling proposition. Who are your target customers? What do they get from you? Define the brand to yourself before you start asking what others think of it.
Step 2. Look at your print and online marketing materials
Review your logo, brochures, packaging, business cards, print ads, etc. Do they match up with your online presence? This includes website, email marketing, social media, newsletters, etc. Are these elements consistent in terms or design and tone of voice? Are they reaching your target audience?
Step 3. Your website
Use web analytics to assess where web traffic is coming from. Does your website attract your target market? Remember, more traffic is only valuable if it is coming from the right customer. What is your bounce rate? If visitors are leaving your site right away, it is not effective. This is very important for e-commerce websites, as many visitors leave without making a purchase.
Step 4. Review your social media
Use your social media analytics to see what types of consumers are engaging with your brand. Are they the type of consumer you want? What are they posting about in regards to your brand?
Step 5. Survey, survey, survey!
Who should you survey? Ask your customers, potential customers and your employees. Surveying is important to understand how others see your brand. Through focus groups, email surveys, social media polls, phone and online surveys, you can get feedback about what they enjoy or dislike about your brand.
Below are some example questions for customers:
1. What words would you use to describe this brand?
2. What problem does this brand solve?
3. How does this brand make you feel?
4. How could this brand improve customer service?
Survey people in your target demographic that’s not a current customer. This is important because it will measure brand awareness with a target demographic that’s not a customer.
1. Have you ever heard of this brand?
2. Have you used this brand?
3. Where would you expect to find this brand?
4. How would you describe this brand to others?
Your employees are the ones who are directly influencing your customer experience and are a big part of your brand. They must understand your brand to communicate it properly. Make sure to use anonymous surveys to ask questions such as:
1. Why did you choose to work for this brand?
2. How would you describe this brand?
3. What do customers love about this brand?
4. Tell me about your best day working for this brand.
Step 6. Check out your competition
What is your competition doing? Check out their website, social media, print materials and their customer service. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers, target market and employees questions about competitors. These questions can be similar to the ones you used to ask about your brand.
Step 7. Report your findings
Now that you’ve gone through all the work of a brand audit, make sure to create a detailed report of your findings. List all the problems you found during the process and next to each issue write down the action plan required to resolve the problem. Create an action plan for the issues highlighted. Make sure to set a timeline to resolve the issues in a timely manner. Continue to monitor progress to ensure the changes are having the desired effect.
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It is becoming harder and harder for brands to get attention on the internet due to consumer ad blindness. Influencer marketing is becoming a necessity for many marketers and you might consider it when reviewing your 2020 advertising strategy.
Who is an influencer? Influencers have a following in a certain niche that they actively engage with. They have a large number of loyal and dedicated followers. They are real people whom their followers see as a friend and their opinions are valued. Influencers are real-life consumers who are experts in their particular area. This gives them a certain leverage and power to motivate their audience to take desired actions.
As long as the brand is collaborating with the right influencer for them, there are so many benefits. The influencers help create online buzz, strengthen the brand’s reputation and are targeting a niche audience. Brands can and should be using this type of marketing to their advantage.
Still unsure? We complied some information that should help you understand influencer marketing a little better.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when deciding to work with an influencer is to base your choice on their social media popularity. Influence isn’t about popularity. It’s about finding an industry voice that appeals to your audience, regardless of the size of their social media following. Finding your right target audience requires a deep understanding of your brand’s potential customers. Do your research to ensure that the influencer is relevant to your brand’s image.
Influencers have the power to increase your brand or company's exposure and boost awareness. When an influencer recommends or endorses something, their followers are more likely to engage because of the authentic relationship they’ve already built. Collaborating with influencers helps start meaningful online conversations about your brand and expand on it with continued marketing efforts.
Credibility & Trust
Creating engaging content is how influencers make their living. Collaborating with them helps redefine your content strategy and can give it a new perspective. Because influencer content is seen as more trustworthy and authentic, it’s likely to be well-received with their followers. Most are followed because of their quality endorsements and testimonials. This strengthens your brand’s reputation and reinforces your credibility.
Influencer marketing can reach new audiences, produce new content for your brand, and reach an audience that might have never known about your brand or cared about your brand. When deciding how to go about your marketing strategy, it is definitely something to consider when thinking of new ways to get your brand noticed.
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Ever scroll through Instagram and happen upon one of those super-satisfying shots of food or products artfully arranged on a flat surface and shot from above? That’s called a flatlay, and it’s an Instagram fan favorite. Flatlays can highlight a product, capture an experience or moment in time, or tell a story about your brand. Incorporating flatlays into your grid is a surefire way to earn double-taps and engagement from your followers, but there’s a science to getting them just right.
In this post, we’ll share our best magic tricks for creating well-styled flatlays that will stop social media scrollers in their tracks.
1. Find Your Focus
Decide what you want your flatlay to accomplish. Is your goal to drive sales by showcasing your company’s latest gadget? Or do you want to show customers how to use your product or service with a cool lifestyle image? Maybe you just want to highlight the latte art at your favorite local coffee shop!
Find the subject you want to focus on and make it the starting point of your flatlay design. This is called your ‘hero’ piece, and everything else you include in the photo are the supportive backup singers that help it shine.
2. Pick A Theme
Your flatlay should reflect your brand and personality, so think like an editor and pick a cohesive theme to tie it all together. Is your vibe fun and colorful, modern and minimalist, or earthy and organic? Choose all of your elements -- from the background to color scheme and props -- based on that theme.
If your brand is fun and family-focused, use bold pops of color and sweet treats as props. If you prefer a modern aesthetic, stick to a neutral palette with metallic accents. Earthy and organic? Bring a plant to the party!
3. Back It Up
You can’t go wrong with a clean, neutral background. It’s easy on the eyes and lets your hero piece ‘pop’ with minimal distraction. Marble countertops, wood tabletops or floors, butcher blocks, white poster board, neutral wrapping paper, and light-colored squares of scrapbooking paper are all great background options for your flatlay designs.
Pick a background that works well with your theme. Wood and natural textiles work great for earthy vibes, while white marble is a minimalist go-to.
Tip: Don’t have Instagram-worthy marble counters? No worries! Take a trip to the hardware store and buy a large marble tile from the flooring department.
4. Get Creative
This is the fun part: arranging all of your elements into an engaging flatlay design. The styling possibilities are endless, but if you’re just starting out, less is more. Just remember to place your hero piece front-and-center in your layout, and layer in other props.
Here are a few of our favorites:
To get the signature 'bird's-eye-view', stand directly above your flatlay setup and shoot straight down.
5. Play With Filters
You’re not done yet! Flatlays really shine with a bright, clean filter. Check out this post for our favorite user-friendly iOS photo editing apps that will take your flatlay images to the next level.
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In our last post, we shared our top tips to help small business owners stay motivated in their Instagram hustle. This time, we’re taking a deep-dive into a few of our favorite iOS photography apps that turn your phone into an on-the-go editing studio. They’ll take your iPhone photos to the next level, and help you create engaging content that your followers will want to double-tap.
Before we head to the app store, let’s optimize your iPhone’s camera settings to help you get the best photos, every time.
Now that you’re taking better raw photos, on to the fun part: the edit. We rounded up four easy-to-use photography apps to help you streamline the process.
Ever take a photo and wish you could Photoshop something out? TouchRetouch lets you remove unwanted elements from an image with the swipe of a finger. Just highlight the object, tap ‘go’, and watch the app work its magic. It also has a line removal tool that makes it easy to get rid of linear objects, like power lines, that clutter up your shot.
A Color Story
Color-loving filter junkies, rejoice! A Color Story is a virtual playground of editing tools, filters, presets and special effects to freshen up your images and make them pop. The app is free, but you can upgrade to purchase filter packs and unlock special features. It takes some practice to navigate the app’s functionality and find your style, but it’s time well spent.
The best thing about A Color Story is the ‘recipe’ function, which allows you to save all your layers and adjustments to create custom presets for quick bulk editing.
If you take a lot of food or product shots for your business, you’ll love Foodie. It’s preloaded with a variety of aesthetically-pleasing filters that you can apply in a quick tap. It’s super user-friendly, and perfect when you need to edit and upload in a hurry.
Want to add text to your images, make photo collages, or upgrade your Instagram stories with cool templates? Canva has you covered. This app has a great font library, lots of free graphic elements, and customizable templates for all your social content; it’s like a design studio in your pocket.
Want more social media tips and tricks? Bookmark our blog for updates and follow us on Instagram and Facebook!
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When you own a small business you wear a lot of hats, and ‘social media manager’ may be one of them. In the daily grind of managing your staff, interacting with clients and dominating your to-do list, it’s easy to let your social media strategy slip to the bottom of the priority pile.
Here’s why you shouldn’t let it: more than a third of Internet users say they go to social networks to find information about a brand or product; 71% of consumers who’ve had a positive social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others; and 90% of marketers say social media has increased their brand exposure.*
Instagram is an effective way to get the community engaged with your small business, and a great place to focus your time and energy if your marketing resources are limited. Whether you’re in the early phases of building your brand online or struggling through a creative rut that has your Instagram hustle feeling more like a slog, we have you covered with a handful of tips that will make updating your grid a workday ritual that’s as easy and enjoyable as your morning coffee.
Check out accounts from influencers and other businesses in your industry -- from big brands to local companies -- and take notes on what you like about their social media style. Do they have great photos with interesting composition and good lighting? A consistent aesthetic with a specific theme or color scheme? Witty and/or relatable captions that make you feel connected to the brand? Round up a mental list of what makes you feel inspired in others’ feeds and use it to spark your own creativity on the ‘gram.
Just make sure your inspiration doesn’t turn into imitation; stay authentic and keep your posts fresh and original.
Crowdsource Fresh Content
Generating photo content is half the battle; don’t go it alone. Give your team a rundown of your Instagram goals and show them examples of the photography styles you’d like to emulate. Then set up a shared album on the company cloud where everyone can post photos straight from their iPhones, and you’ll have a library of grid-worthy images in no time.
Streamline Your Editing
There’s something so satisfying about an Instagram account with a cohesive filter style or color scheme. A Color Story is a great photo editing app that lets you build and save custom “recipes” with your favorite photo tweaks, color adjustments, effects and filters. It takes some practice and patience to get familiar with all the app’s functionalities, but once your recipes are set, you can apply them to your photos with a quick tap (and bulk-edit multiple photos at once to save even more time).
Plan Your Grid
Now that you have a stockpile of edited photos that are Instagram-ready, try a visual planner like Planoly to lay out your grid. You can bulk-upload images, move them around to find your perfect arrangement, draft captions and tags, and schedule posts. With a little planning and organization, you can have a month’s worth of fresh posts queued up and ready to roll.
Let Your Customers Do The Work
If you sell a product or service, your customers may already be creating great content for you! Include your Instagram handle in all your marketing, along with a friendly request for folks to tag you in any photos they share about their experiences with your business. Then share those personalized images on your grid and/or stories (the Repost app makes this a breeze). Highlighting your tagged content is a great way to build meaningful engagement and make your customers feel valued and connected to your brand.
*Source: Fundera Social Media Stats
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Honesty, Authenticity, and Thoughtfulness are the three pillars on which Black Oak Creative builds its brand and lives by everyday. This accounts not only for the way we treat each other in the office but also the way we strive to treat our clients. We place importance on the entire chain - not just the client's brand, but also the people who are intaking that brand on a daily basis.
In marketing agencies today, it can be easy to lose that sense of thoughtfulness that truly makes the relationship with the clients so special. The only way to successfully market someone is by getting a full understanding of what they actually need for their brand. It’s pretty simple, we care about who our clients care about and then what those people care about. It's really just a never ending train of care! From there we reverse engineer our marketing strategy based on that information. We want to provide marketing with a service for our client's customers and feed them content, information, and products based on what is important to them and grabs their attention.
Think about it, people only want to see content that sparks their interest or speaks to them on some level, so you truly have to think about not only what your client needs but what their followers will also be interested in. As soon as you show them something they like they will share it with someone else and then that person will do the same, leaving you with your own team of advocates. In this day and age, people want something that they can relate to and something that feels familiar to them. So if you are creating content that is genuine and carries a message with which they can relate, then they are more likely to connect with that brand and desire more content.
We have no doubt that combining honesty, authenticity and thoughtfulness into your marketing plan will take it to the next level. Be honest with what you post, authentic with the information you are putting out, and always be thoughtful when thinking of the brand and how you can better them in the long run. We get it, marketing can be hard, but trust us when we say that you’ll go a long way if you learn that genuinely caring about your clients is the coolest thing that you can do.
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NATIVE ADVERTISING IN 2019
In this day and age, advertisement requires thoughtful strategy. The phenomenon and continual growth of digital advertising has recreated the way businesses execute on social, and if brands don’t follow suite to the ever-developing trends and technology, they will inevitably fall behind. In order to effectively sell a product or provide a service, businesses must work harder than ever to stand out amongst the influx of information and voices vying to be heard. So, how can you adapt your business to stay at the forefront of advertising?
Native advertising is a dominating force in the digital realm, constituting around 20% of all advertising revenue. Projections indicate that this percentage will reach a whopping 74% by 2021. Essentially, native advertising is promoted content that is strategically placed in a non-disruptive way to the viewer. Many forms of native ads don’t even appear to be ads at all.
Before native ads, banner ads were the go-to digital advertisement. But today, this form of advertisement is often referred to as “banner blindness.” Why? Because by now most businesses have caught on to the necessity of having an online presence, meaning that you’re nothing special for having an internet ad. Instead, you need to show your audience why you do it best - enter native ads.
Native ads are usually tailored to the user. Have you ever been on the prowl for a new winter jacket and after mining through your favorite online shops run into a promo ad for your dream jacket on your Instagram feed? Coincidence? Definitely not.
So how can you effectively use native ads to stay at the top of your game during 2019? We’ve compiled a short lists of key things to keep in mind.
Going mobile: Adapt your ads to where the attention lies. Today, that’s social and mobile. Connecting and engaging with your audience not only means targeting ads to their favorite social platforms, but doing so in a way that feels authentic and meaningful. Instead of bombarding them with product, give them something tasty and relevant - aka disguising ads as content they love to look at every day. In order to accomplish that, it’s important to know your target demographic inside and out - what are their daily habits? When do they most use their phone? What is important to them when buying a product? Are they loyal to brands or looking for the best deal?
Content is still key. Although the primary goal and advantage of native advertising is strategic placement, none of that matters if it’s not top-quality material and most importantly, tailored to the needs of the viewer. Don’t slack on what you put out there. Native advertisement does its best work when content and placement work together as a team.
The value of native advertising lies in its ability to benefit both parties. In order for businesses to generate sales, they have to connect with their customer’s needs and tailor their ads accordingly. Essentially, businesses are catering to their customers to prove they know them better than their competition does. Native advertising shouldn’t be viewed as a bogus scam or deceptive ploy, but rather a helpful tool that operates on its own as you go about your business.
We don’t really give this digital tool enough credit. The reality is your favorite pair of shoes, nicest piece of furniture, or even that winter coat is all thanks to a native ad working its magic.