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If you’re using digital marketing to reach your target demographic, you should be familiar with and comfortable using the two largest platforms, Facebook and Instagram. If not, click this link and take a few minutes to read up on the differences and similarities between them.
But increasingly, digital marketers are feeling pressure from upper management to explore a third platform—Snapchat. Chances are they heard about it from a teenager or college student in their life, and now they think that your company should be advertising there. Or maybe on the flip side, you’ve been encouraging your company to advertise on Snapchat, but you’re receiving pushback from your company due to Snapchat’s dubious reputation (some claim that Snapchat was founded to enable sexting, but founder Evan Spiegal denies this).
Either way, this article will help you decide whether or not you should devote your time and budget to Snapchat. Since Instagram is the platform that competes most directly with Snapchat, we’re going to look at them side by side. But first, an overview of Snapchat for the unacquainted.
Basic Overview of Snapchat
Snapchat is a messaging app that allows you to take photos, videos, and voice messages (all referred to as “snaps”), add fun filters, text, and drawings, and send them to your friends. Originally, the primary differentiator is that on Snapchat, unlike Instagram, the photos and videos you send are only visible for a few seconds before they disappear forever.
Not surprisingly, people have found a way to hack the system and uncover supposedly deleted content. Still, this probably doesn’t need to be a concern for your business. The basic rule of thumb for every company should be to only produce marketing content that wouldn’t damage your reputation or harm your brand if it was shown publicly.
I say originally because Instagram caught wind of what Snapchat was doing and quickly added Instagram Stories which offer similar functionality, with the added bonus that they are easily searchable. Now Snapchat has some other interesting features like Spectacles by Snapchat that set them apart from the competition in other ways (for now).
If you’ve never used Snapchat before and need a more basic overview, first I’d suggest just downloading it—it’s fairly intuitive. But if you need more help, check out this easy to use guide.
Snapchat vs. Instagram: What’s the Difference?
Snapchat and Instagram are both popular among a wide range of audiences, and both can be advantageous for your marketing strategy. But just because you can advertise on a platform doesn’t mean that you should. Especially if your marketing department is small or you have limited capacity. Key differences between Snapchat and Instagram should be considered before allocating your marketing dollars.
Snapchat boasts an impressive 187 million daily users, but Instagram is significantly larger, with 400 million daily users. Snapchat is the app for Generation Y, as these graphs show, while Instagram outperforms Snapchat for Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and beyond. Despite that fact that Instagram has three times as many users as Snapchat, the younger demographic still prefers customizable but short-lived snaps over Instagram photos and videos. Of course, all of this may change as the platforms go head to head in their competition for key age groups. I wouldn’t be surprised to find significant usage increases for either platform, but Instagram in particular, as they pivot to counter Snapchats new features.
Snapchat Users by Age
Instagram Users by Age
Pro Tip: Instagram offers the ability to reach more people, plus its ad platform is integrated with Facebook, making campaigns on both platforms incredibly simple. However, Snapchat may be better suited for humorous, silly, and goofy ad content due to its filters and custom effects.
Both Snapchat and Instagram usage increases significantly at the $70k mark when viewed through the lens of household income. But Instagram usage increases significantly again at the $100k threshold, perhaps due to the way Instagram lends itself to conspicuous consumption and “Instagram celebrities” who show off their style with photos and videos that anyone can see.
Snapchat Users by HHI
Instagram Users by HHI
Pro Tip: Lifestyle brands should focus on Instagram, while raw, authentic brands may perform better on Snapchat, where live content is more common.
Global penetration is where Instagram clearly wins over Snapchat. Both do well in the US, with Snapchat’s 109.5M users against Instagram’s 121M, but Instagram’s popularity in countries like India, Brazil, and Indonesia make it a clear winner if your goal is to target users in these up-and-coming economies.
Snapchat Usage by Country
Instagram Usage by Country
Pro Tip : When targeting consumers in other countries, remember that messages are perceived differently in other places. What works in the US may not be appropriate somewhere else, and may actually damage your brand and hurt sales. It’s best to work with local experts when marketing internationally.
On Instagram, browsing photos and videos is half the fun. If the people you follow haven’t posted anything interesting in a while, you can always tap the magnifying glass at the bottom of your screen to access Search & Explore and scroll curated content to your heart’s content. If you’re new to Instagram the content may seem random at first, but the app is actually aggregating your previous hashtags and search terms to present you with content that may be of interest to you. One of the key benefits to using Instagram is that your content doesn’t disappear, so it can be found organically by users who type in the hashtags you’re using. Plus, you can link to our website on your profile. Snapchat doesn’t offer nearly the same functionality, making Instagram the clear winner in this category. For example, when I’m browsing Instagram looking for inspiration for a new hike in the Cascade Mountains, it’s not uncommon to see an ad for hiking boots, an ice axe, or some other type of gear I might be interested in. As a business owner, I can tell you from personal experience that creating these ads are simple, and they are quite effective.
Snapchat is another story. While there is a Discover function in the bottom right corner, it is not nearly as user friendly as Instagram’s Search & Explore, and due to the temporary nature of Snapchat stories, the depth and breadth of content isn’t there. The closest thing you’ll find is the “For You” section, which contains content from celebrities and companies like Now This and ESPN. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t advertise, however. Snapchat offers your business the unique opportunity to create geofilters that are location specific—meaning you can create a custom Snapchat filter people can use when they’re at an event you sponsor, or in other situations where someone might be inspired to send a snap from your locale. You can also sponsor lenses, which allow users to modify their own images by changing their eyes, mouth, or hair for example. This feature comes at a hefty cost, however, and is likely to be more appealing to larger brands.
Every good marketing strategy begins and ends with consumers. If you’re going to reach them, you have to know where they are. These statistics can help you discern where to make the best use of your marketing budget, but the next step is to really get to know your consumers and create the kind of content that converts.
Note: This article first appeared on the SF Gate's Hearst Bay Blog.
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In a recent episode of On Being, Harvard psychologist Dr. Mahzarin Banaji explains that the unconscious mind is probably nothing more than a preference for the familiar. Our eyes see something with a certain feature or pattern somewhere, and when we see it again, we like it because it is familiar.
Why am I bringing up psychology in a post about remarketing? Because Dr. Banaji’s description of the unconscious provides the scientific basis for why remarketing works.
Let’s back up a little bit. You may be reading this and wondering, “What is remarketing?”
I like to think of it as continuing the conversation with a potential customer. Another way of putting it is marketing to the same person multiple times.
You’ve experienced this yourself. Think of that time you were on Amazon searching for a widget, and then several days later ads for that widget popped up on your Facebook feed.
Or you were driving down the freeway and you see multiple billboards for the same restaurant chain.
Or you saw an ad online, drove past a sign spinner on a street corner, heard a sponsorship blurb on your favorite podcast, and received a coupon in the mail, all for the same product.
Yep, this multi-channel experience is also remarketing. Remarketing includes every form of communication that allows you to place your product in the mind of a consumer after their initial exposure to your brand.
You may be skeptical. I’ve had people respond to this concept with claims like, “I’m immune to marketing!” Or “The more I see an ad, the more annoyed I get!”
Sorry, the simple fact is, remarketing works. And the reason it works is because it appeals to the subconscious. Remember how we started this article? Our unconscious mind tells us to like things that are familiar. So even if our conscious mind is annoyed by repeated ads, our unconscious mind will over time associate the brand with a greater return on investment.
Given the choice between a generic or private label product, and a “name brand” product (characterized by a large marketing/remarketing budget) at the same price point, most people (60%) will purchase the name brand. And why is that? At least in part, our purchasing habits are formed by our unconscious minds’ preference for the comfort and security of the familiar.
Okay, so now that we’ve learned the science behind remarketing, what are some good strategies? Unless you work at one of the top US brands, there’s a good chance you don’t have national recognition. What this really means is that you should be using remarketing more than your competitors, since you can’t rely on name recognition alone.
Here are some simple ways you can use remarketing to grow your business and get an edge on the competition regardless of the size of your company.
Creating an email capture on your website is so simple that I shouldn’t even have to mention it, but I do. If you don’t have a means of collecting email addresses from interested consumers and pushing out ads, newsletters, and promotions, you are missing out on a scalable, cost effective means of remarketing. While one option is just to put a form on your site where people can subscribe, you’ll have a better response rate if you create a special offer, like a 20% off coupon.
Since I’ve already addressed how to create a digital marketing strategy in another post (just substitute “winery” for whatever business you run), I won’t go into the specifics of it here. Suffice it to say that you should see an increase in conversions once you start using email, and the more sophisticated your campaigns get, the more effective your remarketing will become.
I want to be careful here, because unwanted calls from telemarketers are the bane of modern existence. What I am not talking about are robocalls from purchased call lists. Instead I have in view carefully managed calls that offer a clear benefit to recipients.
Growing up, I took 4-H animals to the county fair every summer. During free time between caring for and showing my animals I would wander the vendor tents. You could always find branded company swag being given away, like balloons, magnets, and the ever-popular yardstick that my brother and I used as swords (until our parents found out and confiscated them). Looking back though, the most effective businesses were the ones that held drawings for free or discounted product. If you would write down your phone number on a piece of paper and stick it in a large jar set out for that purpose, you’d be entered to win something like $500 off of a new roof or a free double pane window (up to 48 inches wide).
These contests were not created out of the goodness of someone’s heart, and they weren’t just about increasing brand awareness either. The genius of a drawing like this is that the only people who would enter it are willingly confessing that they are interested in your product or service. Who takes the time to write down their phone number to win a discount on a new roof, if they aren’t in the market for a roof?
In this situation, remarketing with a phone call is likely to be not only received, but welcomed, and has a higher probability of leading to a conversion. The lesson here is to be strategic about not only capturing phone numbers, but also calling them.
Remarketing has become almost synonymous with SEO (search engine optimization) in some circles. That’s why I waited to introduce it until after we had already addressed email and phone, so that you would be open to these other methods before getting caught up in the details of SEO remarketing.
Since Google Adwords is both popular and easy to use, let’s use it as our example.
Google offers five basic ways to remarket:
-Remarketing lists for search ads
-Customer list remarketing
Both dynamic and standard remarketing on Adwords are summed up in this image:
The difference between Standard and Dynamic remarketing is that with dynamic, Adwords tracks which products or services people view on your website, and targets specific ads to them based on what they viewed. Using standard remarketing only, Adwords treats everyone on your site the same way, regardless of what they viewed or interacted with, simply pushing ads to them on the Google Display Network (these are the Google-powered ads you see on random websites when browsing the web).
Unlike Standard and Dynamic remarketing, which place ads on the Display Network, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) places your ads on Google searches. When a person visits your website, looks at a particular product, and then leaves to search for a similar product elsewhere, RLSA allows you to place specific ads on the Google search page pertaining to your product. Think of that time you were looking at a Yeti cooler on Amazon for an upcoming camping trip, decided to google reviews of other coolers, but kept seeing Yeti ads on the Google search page. That’s RSLA, and it is very effective, particularly if your pricing is competitive.
Video remarketing is fairly straightforward. As the name implies, it involves showing your ads to people who have viewed your videos on YouTube, not only on YouTube, but also across the Display Network.
Customer list remarketing builds on the email and phone numbers you captured using methods we talked about earlier in this article. To utilize customer list remarketing, you’ll create a list using the contact information you collected, and when those users are signed into Google, your ads will populate for them across the spectrum of Google’s network.
There’s a lot about remarketing that this article didn’t cover, but that’s okay. My goal is not to overwhelm you with information, but to provide you with a basic introduction that can help you start increasing conversions. If there’s one takeaway, it’s that remarketing works, and you should start using it right away.
This article first appeared on the SF Gate's Hearst Bay Blog.
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Note: This was first published in another form here.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, when a company is not getting the results they want from an advertising campaign, it is because they lack a clear strategy. This is true whether the ad campaign is digital, print, or both.
It’s helpful to think of an advertising strategy in terms of six stages: Nonexistent, Basic, Functional, Optimized, Integrated, and Strategic (credit goes to my friend Hazel Cobb for helping arrive at these terms). Think of these stages as general categories that overlap, rather than distinctly separated phases of business.
Stage 0: Nonexistent
Before entering the Basic stage your business exists, but a Google search would tell people little to nothing about it. Maybe you have a listing on Yelp, but it contains minimal information and no promotions. Depending on your business model, your company may be doing well enough in this stage, but if growth is your desired outcome, you should try to move out of this stage as quickly as possible.
Stage 1: Basic
Your business moves to the Basic stage when you create a website, start a Facebook page, begin handing out flyers, advertise in a print publication, join Instagram, or make a Twitter account. Preferably in that order. Your content should include things like:
You can also create advertisements and hand them out on sidewalks, particularly in areas frequented by your target clientele. Additionally, you can target your audience by placing ads in your local newspaper or industry magazines.
In the Basic stage, you are doing your best just to produce something that reaches someone. You recognize that your marketing and advertising isn’t what it could be, but you don’t have the bandwidth yet to make the necessary changes. To move to the next stage, you need to create the capacity and operations to maintain a regular cadence of content, with the goal of posting at least once daily on social media, and running print ad campaigns that make sense with your budget.
When you have a print piece ready, you can use the U.S. Postal Service to send it to every address within a precise zip code for under .20 cents a piece (plus postage).
Stage 2: Functional
Once you can consistently meet the requirements of the Basic stage (regular digital postings and print campaigns), you have moved into the functional stage. But, don’t stop here, you are still in the early stages of a strategy that is truly effective. Now it is time to start digging into your data and asking questions like: What kind of engagement are we getting? Are we reaching the right people? Do we need to tweak what we are doing to reach our target audience? For digital, you can gather this information through Google Analytics and by analyzing the interactions on social media. For print, you can use unique offer codes and URLs to track effectiveness. Alternatively, if you use an agency for print campaigns, ask them to provide you with the data.
When creating a marketing campaign, start by determining your product/market fit. Are you selling top-shelf products fighting for share in the luxury goods market? Or, are we somewhere closer to the bottom, competing for space at Walmart and the .99 Cent Store? Your answer to these questions should inform where you place your advertising and how you set your parameters. For print, you can hit your demographic by targeting zip codes. A good direct mail company can help you hit homes in regions where average income matches your prices. For digital, the same principles apply. When purchasing ads on social media, set the parameters around the demographic your brand best suits.
Stage 3: Optimized
Now that your marketing strategy is functional and you have begun gathering data, it’s time to optimize. What kinds of trends do you notice? Can you predict whether a print or digital ad will be successful yet among your target audience?
Ideally, you are running simultaneous A/B campaigns testing offers, subject lines, and graphics. However, even if your business isn’t capable of working at this level of complexity, you can still keep track of the type of content that works—that brings in customers, gets likes, shares, and comments—and create more of it. By optimizing your content, your ad campaigns will consistently hit your metrics. I like this flowchart for its simplicity (although it doesn’t include print, you get the idea).
Stage 4: Integrated
Integration means coordinating your messages across all platforms so that your target audience is hit with consistent, repeated messaging. Whether your ideal customer is checking email, browsing social media, flipping through their mail, reading the newspaper, browsing through a magazine, or walking past a poster in a storefront, we want them to be hit with the same consistent messaging and branding about your business. The goal is to plant an implicit, strategic thought in their mind. For example, you may want to brand your business as “The best place for dinner with friends,” “The tech product with the best value,” or “Fun events for every holiday.”
The most successful brands are those that have chosen a message that differentiates them from competitors, so pay attention to what other businesses in your area are doing and set your business apart. Hopefully, integration is not an entirely new idea at this stage. Ideally, as you have moved through the previous stages, you have used consistent messaging in your print and digital campaigns even though that has not been our focus.
Stage 5: Strategic
In the Optimized stage you learned how to create successful one-off campaigns, and in the Integrated stage, you began integrating those campaigns horizontally across channels and platforms. The Strategic stage is where everything comes together across time. It involves mapping out a marketing strategy over the course of at least one calendar year and identifying the messaging and the treatment stream that will allow you to hit your revenue targets.
Instead of creating successful one-off campaigns, you are thinking big picture: how does seasonality affect sales? Can we plan a special promotion during a slow month to drive sales? What kind of treatment stream will turn first-time visitors into repeat customers? Are there products or events that you should promote around major holidays?
In some ways, implementing an annual strategy is easier than running multiple one-off ad campaigns. Once you have created the framework, it can be repeated year after year with tweaks and changes based on your post-campaign learnings.
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The Main Differences Between Facebook and Instagram That You Need to Know (Repost from Hearst Bay Blog)
This article first appeared here.
The Main Differences Between Facebook and Instagram You Need to Know
Instagram is the new Facebook for the up-and-coming generation of consumers, but if you are a traditional business owner, there is a good chance that you are not taking advantage of either social media platform like you should.
Before we offer some tips on how you can better promote your business on Facebook and Instagram, let’s back up a step and look at why you should use social media marketing.
Social Media Marketing is Effective
Conversion rates for social media ads can be eight times more effective than other online advertising. One of the main reasons for this is that social media platforms present relevant ads customized by user-curated preferences. How does that work? Every time a Facebook or Instagram user “likes” an image, joins a group, or comments on a page, that information gets put into an algorithm. When you create an ad campaign on Facebook, you can choose to target users based on that data. For example, if you are trying to sell custom leather motorcycle jackets, you might target people who have liked Harley Davidson, Motorcycles, Honda Shadow, Road Warriors, or a host of other related topics. The more specific you can be about your target customer’s interests, the higher your conversion rate is likely to be, resulting in a greater ROI.
Pro tip: Sneak a peek at the likes and interests of your top customers on Facebook and Instagram, and then target those topics in your ad campaign.
Social Media Marketing is Expansive
Facebook currently boasts nearly 2 billion monthly users, while Instagram has 700 million monthly users and is on trend to add another 100 million every six months. That’s almost one-third of the earth’s population, and the number of users is increasing daily. In other words, unless your target customer is a Luddite (in which case you can stop reading) or lives in China, North Korea, or Iran (where Facebook and Instagram are banned), he or she is either on these platforms or will be soon. But don’t let the massive, global scale of social media scare you off. You can narrow the scope of your ad campaigns by gender, keywords, interests, and region. So even if you are a local company that does business within a specific zip code, social media ads can help you find new paying customers.
Pro tip: Don’t market to everyone—set the correct age, gender, and geography demographics of your target customers before you start your ad campaign.
Social Media Marketing is Easy to Use
Anyone can create a marketing campaign on Facebook or Instagram in just minutes. Not convinced? Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, and ad campaigns for both platforms can be set up here on the Ads Manager page. Give it a try right now. There is even a “Quick Creation” button if the standard setup process feels like too much work. And don’t worry if you have a limited budget. Often you can run a successful ad campaign for mere pennies per click (although in more competitive markets, you should expect to spend more), and both platforms allow you to set a cap on the amount spent per day, so you can control the pace at which your money gets spent.
Still, if your budget allows for it, you may benefit from hiring an agency to run your ad campaigns for you. A good agency will be able to increase your ROI, as they have the expertise to ensure that your ads are visually appealing and your target demographic will view those ads.
Pro tip: Facebook offers free ad credit for first-time users. Use the principles in this article, and experiment with your first ad campaign for free!
Facebook vs. Instagram: What’s the Difference?
Now let’s look at the fundamental differences between Facebook and Instagram. As already mentioned, ad campaigns for both platforms can get created in the same place; however, that does not mean your company should be advertising on both platforms. Several factors should be considered when deciding where to spend your budget.
Age may be the most important demographic distinguishing between Facebook and Instagram. As the following graphs reveal, Facebook skews significantly older than Instagram. Although the majority of Millennials uses both platforms, Instagram's user base decreases drastically after the 18-29-year-old age group, while Facebook maintains a significant user base even among the 65+ age group. Under 18, Instagram is the clear winner. Primary research reveals that despite more than 80% of all high school students in the U.S. having Facebook accounts, most prefer Instagram for daily use.
Facebook Users by Age
Instagram Users by Age
Pro tip: Are your customers over 50? Advertise on Facebook, not Instagram.
Facebook users are spread almost equally across household incomes, so businesses can be confident their target customers have a presence on the platform. Instagram users cluster slightly higher on the scale, with the highest percentage of adapters (60%) being in the $100k+ household income segment.
Facebook Users by HHI
Instagram Users by HHI
Savvy business do not just pursue households with the largest income, however. Target your product or service at the specific segment you wish to reach. High end, niche brands should target households at the top of the income scale, while budget brands should focus on the bottom of the scale. Some firms, like Proctor & Gamble, have mastered a high/low approach, in which they sell to both ends of the market with different products. Be clear about who you want to target, and direct your marketing campaigns towards them.
Pro tip: Lifestyle brands should focus on Instagram.
The countries with the greatest number of Facebook users are India and the United States, with Brazil and Indonesia next in line. This reflects population size, as well as economic well-being and Internet freedom (Facebook and Instagram are blocked in China, but China's most popular social media platform, WeChat, has nearly one billion users).
Facebook Usage by Country
Instagram Usage by Country
Pro tip: Use both Facebook and Instagram to penetrate international markets with ease and within budget.
Engagement: Facebook's Scope vs. Instagram's Volume
Facebook's larger audience means that ad campaigns have the potential to reach a larger audience. Plus, Facebook also offers several methods of interaction, including feed ads, right-hand-side ads, business pages, groups, and a chat function. This makes Facebook better at distributing information, as lengthy text can be displayed, articles and web pages can be linked to directly, and businesses and consumers can hold real-time conversations.
Despite Facebook’s broader scope, Instagram is better at high volume engagement. A survey of random companies reveals that company and brand likes may be drastically different across Facebook and Instagram.
Brand Average Likes Per Post on Instagram and Facebook
Instagram users not only seem to be more generous with their likes, but they also spend significantly more time on company pages once they navigate there. Traffic from Facebook averages 105.55 seconds per site visit, while traffic from Instagram averages 192.04 seconds per visit. Although historically it has been more difficult to attract traffic from Instagram than from Facebook, Instagram now allows users to pay to boost posts, which includes adding a direct link to a post, rather than relying on the notorious “link in bio” tag we all know so well.
Content: Humor on Facebook, Positive Surprises on Instagram
When designing ads, keep in mind the type of engagement users prefer on each platform. Instagram tends to favor positive and surprising content, while Facebook lends itself to entertaining content that can easily be shared and discussed. Do not limit your campaign to images—videos on both Facebook and Instagram result in 62% higher engagement than photos alone. Regardless of whether you are creating a video or an image, be sure to include visual signals about brand identity, including color scheme and logos. Users should be able to identify your content the instant they come across it, even if scrolling on a mobile device. For videos, this means creating content that is designed to be viewed with the sound off, and that intrigues viewers within the first two seconds, leading them to click the ad for the full viewing experience.
Pro tip: Are you marketing fashion or beauty products? Instagram is the platform for you. Are you marketing services? Facebook is likely to return better results.
In Conclusion: Two Overlapping Social Media Platforms with Key Differences
Hopefully, it’s clear now why you should be using Facebook and Instagram to market your company (it’s effective, expansive, and easy to use). But you should also have a better sense of how to create quality content, and how to decide between advertising on Facebook, Instagram, or both.
This article first appeared on the Hearst Bay Area blog.