Snapchat Overview: Why I Started To Snap

Snapchat may not yet have the following of the other more established players in the social space, yet its growth continues as it becomes more influential through its capacity to introduce new innovations that keep the app ahead of the game. Every week there seems to be new features to try out.

Snapchat first made waves with content that would disappear after 10 seconds or less. But where many other apps have hung their hat on their initial premise, and have been unable to hold that initial attention as a result, Snapchat’s gone on to introduce additional, industry-leading functions to keep their primarily young audience base coming back for more – and tapping into an arena where brands need to play.

A bit of history: They introduced Stories in late 2013, geofilters in mid 2014 and the lenses in September 2015. Just last month, Snapchat announced a major revamp of their messaging features. In my opinion, their ability to remain loyal and responsive to their audience needs and interests, and continuously deliver on new features to them, is what keeps the app top of mind, and keeps their users glued to their devices.

Snapchat’s 100 million daily active users are now contributing more than eight billion video views on the platform every day. Per day.

And now… the introduction of new emoji stickers for videos.

via GIPHY

The stickers are like any other emoji, but they move and scale in proportion to the actual video. It’s odd looking – but then again, this is the platform that popularized “rainbow vomit.” Am I right?

Video stickers are interesting and interactive – and you can immediately see how this new feature will be popular among Snapchat’s fan base. Oh, you kids!

Snapchat Unveils New Video Stickers Tool | Social Media TodayAccording to TechCrunch, Eitan Pilipski, an engineer who Snapchat recently recruited from augmented reality company Vuforia assisted in its development. Vuforia is a shop that strives to help brands generate vision-based data and computing, including mapping 3-D objects into real-world video – for example, enabling gamers to overlay 3-D objects into a physical space via their tablet device.

If Snapchat’s other innovations are anything to go by, I’d expect to see other platforms looking to implement similar in the near future, especially if the option continues to be popular among Snapchat’s user base. And, this all coming on the heels of this week’s f8 Conference with the use of bots, AR, VR, and AI, of course.

So, why have I started using Snapchat?

[You can ‘Snap’ me at hotleadsnaps]

Understanding the way people communicate, share news, endorse brands, products and services, and stay engaged is a passion of mine. And Snapchat’s ability to stay on trend and avoid becoming another teen fad that dies out truly does keep my interest. Testing, using, adopting and understanding the latest technology and features is the best way to understand how people will use it, behave around it, and in the end – think of it.

The regularity with which Snapchat has been able to execute new innovations and keep users coming back bodes well for its future. They are never just trying to play catch up. They create its own trends and lead the way, showing how in touch they are with their core users.
Again, it’s not as big as the established players, for sure, but it’s getting there. I suggest you stop ignoring it and pay a visit to ‘Michael Platco’ and his friends to join the party. A list of more Snapchat folks that are killing it can be found via Inc.com here. And for brands that are killing it, check out this rundown.

Instagram Tools to Tackle the New Algorithm

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Is your business ready for Instagram’s new algorithm? Everyone can calm down just a little. Instead of getting nervous about audiences finding your content, let’s focus on ways to analyze your Instagram engagement. Tracking engagement will help you execute quality content that keeps you at the top of the Instagram feed.

Here I’ll outline three tools to track and evaluate how people respond to your content on Instagram. A couple weeks ago, Instagram announced that they’ll be releasing an algorithm that will prioritize what’s shown in users’ feeds. This algorithm will determine what content Instagram believes people will be most interested in and then show the most relevant posts at the top of the feed, regardless of how many accounts users follow or what time zone they’re in.

If you use Facebook for content marketing, you know how important it is to make sure you’re ranked highly within a social media platform’s algorithm. Algorithms that prioritize content in a user’s feed can (and will) inevitably affect your business on those platforms.

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When the Instagram algorithm kicks in, maintaining high levels of engagement will help keep your content on top, whether you’re a small company or a large one.

Your focus should instead be Instagram Analytics Tools.

As the algorithm launch approaches, it’s important to use analytics tools to see which portion of your Instagram audience is interacting with what content, what content is performing best, and which audience segments you may be missing. As you learn from these analytics, you can create stronger and more relevant content that your audience will be more receptive to.

Though Instagram shares the same ad platform as Facebook, the platform does not yet have an analytics tool like Facebook’s Insights and Audience Insights. But, we’re in luck! There are a number of third-party Instagram analytics tools available for businesses and marketers to measure their marketing efforts.

The following three tools will help you to track and evaluate the success of your content & strategy around it on Instagram.

Simply Measured

Simply Measured offers a variety of reports and analyses, some of which are free and some are available only with a paid plan.

free report on instagram engagement from simply measured

Simply Measured’s free user report offers detailed analysis for a single Instagram account, including metrics on top posts, best times for engagement, and the amount and types of engagement.

When you first visit the site, you can get a free user report on any Instagram account (with up to 25,000 followers) in exchange for following the company on Twitter. This user report provides an in-depth analysis of the past two months, including your top post, best days and hours for engagement, top photo tags, top filters, and the amount and types of engagement you’ve received on your posts.

simply measured graph of optimal times to post on instagram

Knowing what days and times are best to post content can help you increase your engagement on any platform.

Additional analytics tools come with pricing plans starting at $500 a month, and include features like cross-platform analysis, social brand and hashtag monitoring, and the ability to add unlimited users to the account at no additional charge.

Iconosquare

Iconosquare is my go-to tool for anything Instagram, including contests, management tools, and so on. It’s also decent for analytics.

iconosquare metrics for instagram spread rates and talk rates

Iconosquare evaluates metrics you don’t see as often, such as spread rates and talk rates.

Iconosquare’s analytics allow you to track important metrics like follower growth and losses, best times to post for maximum engagement, engagement rates, and engagement growth. It also shows your best performing content, both in terms of likes and comments.

iconosquare graphs of instagram growth history

Being able to evaluate your Instagram growth history over long periods of time can help you continue to grow your presence on the platform.

Iconosquare offers a 7-day free trial, during which you can access the analytics information to see if the tool is right for you and for your business’s needs. The plus plan is currently $28.80 a year and includes features like daily email reports, comment trackers, and analytics on the key Instagram metrics discussed above.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a popular tool that many businesses already use, and it offers detailed reporting on a profile’s Instagram activity.

You can find analytics under the Reports section. You can see detailed information on daily growth in followers (and how much that number increased or decreased in the past month), the number of posts you’re sharing, your most used hashtags, your most engaged hashtags, and the number of engagements (both in total and the rate of engagement per medium).

sprout social instagram audience growth graph

Being able to evaluate your Instagram audience growth by day makes it easier for you to spot growth trends.

The only downside to Sprout Social compared to the two analytics platforms above is that it only accumulates Instagram data for the analytics once your profile is connected – no past data is provided, which is a bummer.

engagement graph for instagram from sprout social

Sprout Social provides stats not only on the total amount of engagement received, but also the rate of engagement per medium or post.

Sprout Social offers a 30-day free trial, and the comprehensive reporting is available with the Deluxe plan, starting at $59 per user per month.

So, just the use of a few tools can be very important to your long-term success with Instagram marketing, as they continue to tweak the service and their algorithms. This is especially true with the upcoming news feed algorithm. The three analytics tools in this article can give you great insights that you need to create higher-performing content, both immediately and in the long run.

Yes, Instagram has changed its timeline algorithm, but no, it is not the end of the world for businesses.

My additional tips:

  • Create great content that’s valuable
  • Throw some money in the mix to create additional brand awareness and grow followers using all the amazing targeting options available
  • Change up your content with video
  • Get on the #hashtag #bandwagon – but DO NOT OVERDUE IT.

If you’re a brand that does not care about your followers, or if you don’t care if your followers find value in your content, Instagram may be dead for you. But, if you are like most business owners, you do care about your customers and want to provide value to them. After all, if there is not value in your brand, your product, your service, and ultimately your content marketing strategy, why would anyone care anyway?

In conclusion, fear not. Instagram is definitely not dead. In fact, this is an opportunity for you to fine-tune your content strategy when it matters most.

What do you think? How do you feel about the upcoming Instagram algorithm? Do you use any of these Instagram analytics tools? Share your experience. Do you use one that I didn’t mention here? Share your thoughts, experience, and knowledge in the comments below.

Drive Event Engagement With Social Media

Social media marketing is a necessary tool for building great events, and it can also be fantastic for driving engagement during your event too. Here are a some surefire ways you can drive engagement before, during, and after your event using social media marketing.

Before the event:

  • Create a content plan: Your event content plan should feature content that educates followers about the event topic, industry, speakers (etc.). Your content plan should also drive traffic to the event website, and include sales messaging.
  • Designate that hashtag: Every event should have its own naming system and hashtag to encourage and drive organic online engagement.
  • Email marketing: Use email marketing to keep prospects and ticket holders up to date with speaker content, agenda updates, discounts, accompanying event materials etc.
  • Get speakers/sponsors involved! Equip everyone involved with messaging and images to share with their networks. Create content about individuals speakers and make sure to tag them and any sponsors in social media messages.

During the event:

  • Live updates via your social media networks. Use Twitter to live tweet and interact with attendees sharing with the event hashtags. Tweet quotes from speakers and share photos. You can also share photos on Instagram. On other social networks where you can’t post as frequently choose your updates more carefully.
  • Live Feeds and Twitter walls. Digital Twitter feeds are usually a big hit. It visiaull helps an event’s design and look & feel. Attendees love  seeing their own content displayed. And there are tons of tools to help you build the best feed affordably. A favorite of mine is Tint, and others I’ve used are TweetBeam,  Twitterfall, and HootFeed from Hootsuite.
  • Live stream or record parts of your event.  You can live stream using Periscope or Meerkat, Facebook, and you can also share snippets of the event via Snapchat or Vine. And be sure to save videos so you can use them for post-event content.
  • Social media kiosks. If you’re not sure how social savvy your event attendees are, teach them. You can set up a branded social media stations. Make the station fun with photo ops and giveaways complete with the event hashtag. Take time to engage with visitors letting them know the social campaigns happening around the event or sign them up for Twitter and help them send their 1st tweet. A favorite vendor of mine is Fonteco.

After the event:

  • Thank event attendees via social media channels. A personal thank you goes a long way and helps sustain authenticity.
  • Compile shared moments and share them with your audience. You can use Storify to pull all messages using your event hashtag onto one landing page. I love Storify because it lets the people included know they are part of your Storify via Twitter – driving instant traffic.

And post post event? Use all the content (quotes, pictures, etc.) that you’ve collected during the event to create even more wonderful recap content and build awareness for the next event.

Audience Building Is Not a Spectator Sport

Building an audience from scratch and fostering meaningful conversations is intuitive and normal for individual people, but an obvious challenge for brands. From traditional marketing tactics to experiential, digital and word of mouth (including social media), marketers can’t sit idly by and just expect that their customers are engaged with their brand, or that most of them even want to engage. Yes, social media allows millions of active users globally to compete for attention, but if all of us are now publishers, who really listens?

Are we all slaves to our digital platforms? Or can we go back to the basics? Define your audience, reach out to them in person and online, engage them with what they like and want, ensure authentic conversation, create experiences and share products that relate to them so they not only stick around, they bring more people along with them.

As technologist and founder of Kapuno (an online community platform for niche discussions), Cyrus Radfar says in his recent post, “Social media isn’t going anywhere, but as it continues to get harder and harder to win the channels, the social proof communities can provide will help niche communities work together to spread the messages they decide are important through the more mass-market feeds.” He closes with a call to action, “Find your community and help build it, because that is where the next generation is going when they realize that social media won’t afford them a voice.”In every conversation we have with our clients, whether we’re in the “nice to meet you” phase, executing mid-program, or recapping our work, we consistently reinforce how an engaged community is crucial to a brand’s Integrated Marketing Communications success.

Encouraging our clients to push through Integrated Marketing to what we coined as an Integrated Engagement Plan is an achievable goal if done right, and will complete the circle of consumer to advocate for a brand. Our formula: 

Integrated Marketing Communications:

  • Brand & Agency Collaboration
  • Aim: Ensure consistency of message & complementary media use
  • Marketing to Consumers

Integrated Engagement Plan:

  • Brand, Agency & Consumer Collaboration
  • Aim: Sustained “On-Brand” Conversation led by Advocates
  • Engagement, Amplification & Recruitment with Brand Advocates
  • Marketing with Consumers & Advocates

Community and audience building goes a long way when fostering authentic brand love. It also requires marketers to think and act differently, even in the planning stages.

Social May Win At Volume. But, What About Influence?

Research shows social media is often less than 5% of all Word of Mouth on a particular subject. With the many different ways to look at this, we decided to focus on volume over impact – with the recent topic of Scottish Independence, as well as the focus on Millennial culture and digital behavior.

After a robust social media blitz that indicated a potential separatist landslide, Scotland decided to remain a part of the United Kingdom. Appinions did some digging and noted that news versus social means different formats lead to different impact. Sometimes social can win the volume game, but still lose on the influence game; social can be efficient but not effective.

Above data via Appinions

The win at volume gets tremendous contribution from Millennials. In the last decade, this group is a paramount focus for brands and organizations. Rising into adulthood at the start of the century, their impact has proven to be a major focus to take fast action toward, from the White House and the auto industry to global and social issues.

As we start to plan our trip to Hollywood next month for the WOMMA Summit we reviewed our “A-Ha!” moments from the April 2014 WOMMNext event. Our attention returned to this data point: Millennials spend close to 18 hours per day on their smart devices (via Crowdtap). But for brands, Word of Mouth still overtakes all that time spent when it comes to influence and impact. Despite Millennials’ time in the digital space, still 84% of these Word of Mouth impressions from Millennials result from offline conversations, the majority being face-to-face, according to the latest research from the Keller Fay Group.

Escalate sees program-specific results that support the assertion that social media, while not a tactic to be ignored, is perhaps not as revolutionary a marketing innovation as some would have us believe. Through our experiential programs, we learned that:

  • Face-to-face recommendations for a client brand were 15X more likely to include desired key brand messages than social media recommendations.
  • Analysis of a one-month spike (>2X the next-highest month that year) in digital “buzz” about a client brand found that 80% of all digital “conversation” was, in fact, neutral in tone (for example: on Twitter, a simple re-tweet without a meaningful personal comment; a shared Facebook post with no point of view from the consumer)

As much as the research can be revealing, Millennials are still a very digital generation and sharing online is a part of their makeup. But, it’s not the only way they communicate, and far from the most common…or most effective. All marketing touch points need to be considered. Social is just one of them. In order to reach Millennials and make their way into their conversations, brands need to be as authentic and transparent as they possibly can. Otherwise, no matter what the the format, they’ll tune it out and the message can die. Brands need to consider all the channels, especially the real world.


image via WOMMA

As Millennials are increasingly tapped into digital media, the question isn’t whether they hear a brand message, but if they’ll listen, and talk about it with their friends.