RottenNeighbor featured in Google’s Top 5 Trends

RottenNeighbor climbed into the top 5 Google Hot Trends today and caused a huge surge of traffic on the site. Since its launch, has averaged several hundred thousand hits per day and been featured in over 200 media outlets courtesy of the Associated Press. Read more

Gatti's Jingle Campaign Microsite Launches

Pixeldust and Nice Monster launched a microsite for Gatti's web-based jingle contest. Gatti's, a rapidly-expanding, long-time Texas pizza chain, is looking to update their current jingle with a public music contest. Pixeldust and Nice Monster built the web application for users and musicians to upload their music and videos for the contest. Submissions will be judged by regular users and a panel of Gatti's judges. The winning jingle will receive a cash prize of $10,000 and media exposure, and be featured in Gatti's end-of-contest concert. Read more

You're So Going Down: The Pixeldust Bi-annual Rock Paper Scissors Contest

That's right folks--it's that time of year again where fists will tremble, the air will be laced with sweet smell of victory, and the theme music to the opening sequence of Teen Wolf can be heard faintly in the background. I'm talking about the Pixeldust Bi-annual Rock Paper Scissors Contest. Read more

RottenNeighbor featured on the AP Newswire

AP Newswire featured RottenNeighbor today as a “website seemingly tailor-made for such suburban woes.” The article covered some of the most popular posts on the site, discussed changing neighborhood trends demonstrated on RottenNeighbor, and touched on the possibility of a reality show based on the site. The story was picked up by more than 200 media outlets including To read more on this story, click here. Read more

Copywriter Seeking Rejection

There are few things I fear more than rejection. In the past, my method for dealing with the dreaded “no” resembled my method for dealing with spiders: if I saw one coming, I ran.
Why? Because rejection hurts. It makes us blush, fidget, and fantasize about sinking beneath the floor (where there are undoubtedly spiders). It makes us feel small and worthless. And avoiding it isn’t all that hard. You can not ask for things that might result in rejection. You can apologize profusely before asking for anything. You can make yourself feel small and worthless before anyone else has a chance.
But, as I discovered during my copywriting apprenticeship at Viget, that approach can be problematic. After roughly a week, my advisor sent me a TED talk by Jia Jiang on overcoming the fear of rejection. She then told me that I would be devoting the following week to “rejection therapy.” The goal was not to run away from rejection, but to run towards it. I was to rack up as many rejections as I could, simply by asking for things.
Once my fight-or-flight response had subsided, I decided to make a list. I scheduled my rejection attempts for lunch breaks and after work. It looked like this:  
Request a tour of the Phillips Collection from the curator Ask for a free meal refill from a restaurant I likeGet a ballroom pro to waltz with me (preferably to the strains of “Moon River”)Request a lesson in latte art from a barista. Ask a random stranger to have a staring contest with me. Ask to sit in on an English class at Georgetown (Fitzgerald and His Circle, please)Ask to work in a bookstore for 30 minutesTry to get Happy Tart’s recipe for gluten free chocolate cupcakes.Mount a llama head somewhere in the office.Request an interview with the cool book collector dude from Bridge Street BooksExchange movie reviews with someone from the New Yorker movie club Chat with a copywriter or designer I admire
As I brainstormed, I realized that I kept going back to my bucket list, rummaging around in a neglected corner where once beautiful ideas die alone and unloved. These were the things I had always wanted to do, but never had because it meant risking rejection. In other words, by avoiding rejection, I had been inviting regret.
With that in mind, I jumped right in. While riding the metro, I spotted an elderly businessman, and decided to improvise. Scooching over, I offered him my notebook, and asked him to draw me a picture of a flower... He said no. Very busy. Sorry. In the silence that followed, I realized that, all in all, that wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was awkward, but now it was over. Like a belly flop from the low-dive, it stung — but just for about five minutes. And only a few people saw.
As the week progressed, I discovered that you can build up a resistance to rejection. Each time you ask an awkward question, receive an uncomfortable glance, and brace for the sock to the stomach that is rejection, you become a little less afraid. You gain confidence, and with that confidence, the ability (occasionally) to convert a “no” into a “yes.”
Every few weeks, taco-loving Vigets make a pilgrimage to Taco Bamba — a tiny, beloved taqueria in Falls Church. One of these trips happened during my week of rejection hunting. About half-way through my second taco, I realized that 1) I wanted another, and 2) I could easily turn this into my request for a meal refill. I hadn’t planned on having an audience of coworkers, but love of tacos makes one do foolish things. I marched up to the register, and asked the lady if I could please have another taco, and could it please be free. “Uhhhh no,” she said. “Never surrender,” I thought. I told her I was from California, that I missed good tacos, and that theirs were the best in the area (all true). We started chatting, and at the end, she handed me a bag of chips, and a container of guacamole. Lesson: when one door closes, a tub of guac opens.
The lady at Taco Bamba wasn’t the first to seem genuinely interested in being helpful. One morning, I showed up at the coffee shop across the street, and asked the barista to teach me how to do latte art. It was 6:30 a.m., and I received the impression she hadn’t had her coffee yet. Nevertheless, she proceeded to give me an in-depth, step-by-step tutorial. She patiently walked me through demonstrations with soy, then with whole milk (fun fact: soy makes subpar foam). I felt like a barista apprentice, and left the coffee shop high on espresso and the milk of human kindness.
Later that week, I approached a woman outside my building, and challenged her to a staring contest. She agreed without hesitation. We locked eyeballs, and she immediately began chanting “dead puppies, dead puppies, dead puppies,” until I broke. A disturbing approach, but effective.
In happier news, the llama head I bought at Target found a new home in the biz dev office. Many thanks to our Digital Strategist and Director of Digital Strategy. To be fair, I didn’t actually think I’d be rejected on that one.

Main takeaway: people want to say yes. By the end of the week, I was convinced that rejection doesn’t hurt nearly as much as the failure to ask. And it doesn’t have to translate to requests for free tacos.  Sometimes it means asking for feedback, and accepting when the feedback is “you can do better.”  Sometimes it means taking risks, and refusing to be discouraged by a “no” or “I don’t like this.”
There’s a piece of paper taped above my desk. On it, writ large and extra bold, it says “CLOSED MOUTH NO FOOD.” It means that if I let the fear of rejection guide my decisions, I’m essentially closing my mouth. I’m refusing all the things that are supposed to help me grow — things like advice, critique, foamy lattes, and, of course, chips and guac.

Source: VigetInspire

31 Call To Action Examples (And How to Write the Perfect One)

Let’s talk about the call to action. Want more email subscribers? Contest entries? Conversions? You won’t get them without the right call to action. Almost all of your marketing content should have well-crafted call to actions designed to drive action. It’s an essential part of copywriting that doesn’t always get the attention that it deserves. Read more

Make Like it Matters

(This is a sponsored post.)Our sponsor Media temple is holding a contest to give away a bunch of stuff, including a nice big monitor and gift cards. Entering is easy, you just drop them an image or URL to a project you're proud of. Do it quickly though, as entries end on Tuesday. Then the top 20 will be publicly voted on. US residents only.
Direct Link to Article — Permalink
Make Like it Matters is a post from CSS-Tricks
Source: CssTricks

Pinterest Contests: All You need To Know To Run It Now (and Win New Leads)

Pinterest is truly a platform that is unlike any other social media site that we have, where the goal is to store content from outside sources instead of just sharing it or creating it. And it only makes sense that Pinterest contests would be unlike any other social media contest examples that we’re familiar with. Since Read more

How to start

Quite a few years ago I found myself in a situation where I wanted to start my own business. I was sick of working at the places I was working at, and I wanted to get out on my own. Problem was… I had no idea what that was. I didn’t have any obvious breakout ideas. The experimental ideas I did have seemed impossible to market, as in, I had no idea how to sell anything. The thought occurred to me to try to raise money to build something, but I didn’t even know where to begin.It was an awful unmotivating place to be.My daughter, Addison, turned 3 this week. How on earth have these 3 years gone by?If you know toddlers at all, you can imagine the types of games we’re playing. Lots and lots of pretend. She’s often “the teacher” and I have to be the student. A baby student. Complete with my weird impression of talking like a small baby.Addison is also obsessed with her fake groceries and kitchen. She makes me pretend I’m buying those plastic groceries until her “store” is out of stock. Then she becomes the chef, and cooks everything I bought.She makes a “soup”. Which is just a bowl of random plastic things: fake strawberries, a milk carton, a whole turkey.She’s a terrible chef.But that’s the point, isn’t it? There’s no way she can actually be a good chef. She can’t even be an actual chef. She’ll kill herself if I give her real knives or let her use the actual stove.She has to start somewhere. Anywhere. And pretending to be a chef even with the fakest of tools is somewhere.The job I had before I struck out on my own was an ecommerce hosting provider for clients who sold downloadable software. Like Shopify but for digital products and with a huge catalog of software sold for their clients.They had this contest. They wanted to know what would happen if they gave everyone the ability to open up their own “store” with that catalog of software from their clients.In other words, an affiliate program. You got a commision from any sales your site made.Out of the box, everyone’s site looked the same. But you could style and brand it however you wanted. You could even set your affiliate commision. Everyone in the company was invited to compete at who could sell the most in a month before they launched this program to the public.The winner cleaned up. They had this great idea to take the dynamically created pages of their store and convert it to a static site they could further optimize for SEO. If you looked up any of these niche software products in Google that month, it was highly likely, you’d find their store at the top of the list.I’m sure there’s more than a few people reading this cringing at the contest itself. An affiliate program, really!? Yuck. Those are a race to the bottom.First, the winner, was just the winner in the first month. What happens when everyone copies their SEO strategy? Then it’s just a bunch of Google spam which Google has gotten better about crushing. Also, the affiliate commissions will race to zero with people trying to undercut each other on the same exact products. Some people will try and take Google Ads out, which might work for one person in the short term, but when everyone starts, they’ll all lose a bunch of money to Google and profit will go to zero.Yes. Yes. And yes. That’s all true.But that’s not that much different from making soup out of pretend strawberries, milk and turkey.Today, that company I worked for doesn’t even run this affiliate program anymore probably because of all those reasons above.But I learned an incredible amount from that terrible contest. I learned about SEO and how to improve my own search listings. I learned about creating Google ads, keyword research, and split tests. I learned about using copy and pictures to get people interested.One of my most successful experiments on my affiliate site was creating a banner of someone asking visitors: “PLEASE DON’T BUY ANYTHING HERE”. Sales went up.My first real business was a company called Inkling. We made it easy for companies to host their own prediction markets which look like stock exchanges, but instead of stock in real companies, it was pseudo-betting on business decisions.We were late to the market. There were multiple companies already out there that knew this stuff so much better than we did. Not to mention, the best selling book, “The Wisdom of Crowds”, gave our biggest competitor so much free press and publicity.How could we possibly catch up?All those things I learned from my fake store sure came in handy. It took awhile, but I got our SEO in order. Eventually we were the top result for the phrase “prediction markets”. Google Ads were no sweat for me to create and optimize. We constantly tweaked our copy to get better at persuasion.Eventually, I can confidently say, we were the number one company hosting businesses prediction markets.So many of the strategies I use today to run Highrise, started with running that crappy, pretend store.Feeling stuck trying to create your own business? Just start. Start anywhere. Pick up some junk in your house and figure out how to sell it. Online or just starting making phone calls. Sign up for some affiliate program and start learning how to craft websites, ads, copy, SEO, whatever. It doesn’t matter.Do anything. It doesn’t matter if it feels pretty fake. It’s ok to just pretend for awhile.P.S. Please help spread this by clicking the ❤ below.You should follow my YouTube channel, where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life. And if you need a no-hassle system to track leads and manage follow-ups you should try Highrise.How to start was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

4 Things You Should Know Before You Start Using Memes on Social Media

Memes are one of the greatest symbols of social media.
They’re edgy. They’re funny. They’re easy to iterate on, and every week, a new one pops up.
But despite their popularity, it seems like using memes is a risky decision for a brand — or is it?

Memes can work well for brands, but only for those that get the essential elements of using a meme right.
If you try to use a meme and don’t hit the mark, you’ll look foolish and out of touch at best, but could also end up seriously offending someone.
So whether you’re new to memes, or looking to spin your meme mastery into good business, this guide will help you nail marketing with memes.

Their simple form and humor give memes inherent virility and a broad appeal. If you’ve been thinking about using memes to promote your brand on social media, you’re in good company.
As memes rise in popularity, brands grow keener on capitalizing on their pervasiveness and charm.
Why Memes Work
Memes are successful because they’re “carriers of culture.”
Memes seem to collect our ideas, emotions, and actions in a simple and transferable form, making them perfect for the Internet age.
Several points make memes great for brands:

They are an easy way to capitalize on shared knowledge.
They are great for humanizing your brand and sharing it on social media with an authentic voice.
They make it easier to showcase complex concepts such as your brand personality and company culture.
According to research, they lead to higher engagement from your audience.
They increase the chance that people will remember your brand when they see the meme elsewhere.

While some companies have managed to use memes to inject new energy in their brands, not all who have ventured in meme-territory have come back victorious.
One of the potentially most damaging ways to use a meme is to get embroidered in a legal battle over licensing rights, as New York-based drugstore chain Duane Read found out.
Although there’s no surefire way to use them, there are various ways in which you can protect yourself from having a meme backfire on your brand:

Check the rights on an image: It’s important to be aware of the risks you’re taking, even if the chance of ending up on the wrong side of the law is minuscule.
Develop a clear policy: Figure out what’s your brand’s tolerable level of risk and create guidelines that everyone on your team understands and follows.
Make sure you’re not implying an endorsement: In the case of Duane Reade, that’s what got the brand in trouble.
Consider the alternatives: If you want to use a particular image but are afraid there might be implications, explore alternative paths. For example, you can try licensing an image that you want to feature as a major part of a marketing campaign.

Know Your Audience
Start by making sure incorporating memes in your social marketing will click with your audience. Learn who your brand followers are and what they care about. Are they the type of people who would enjoy seeing a meme, or would they find it hard to understand it?
Your brand personality holds great insights into the type of people who follow you on social media and the expectations they have of you. For example, if you are a popular brand that appeals to millennials, memes are probably a good bet. However, if you’re trying to project a much classier, high-brow image, a meme might fall on deaf ears.
Good example: Totino’s
Totino’s is aware that their customer base is not looking for a Michelin-star culinary experience. They can poke some fun at themselves while selling their frozen pizza rolls, and their customers will love it.
Totino’s does this well with their version of the “Whomst” meme, which makes fun of those who use linguistic hypercorrection to appear more enlightened:

The brand injects itself into the meme by jokingly suggesting that the higher state of existence is literally to become a pizza roll. The savvy usage of the meme earns them instant recognition from their followers:

Bad Example: Club Orange
Irish soft drink Club Orange shows us what can happen if you don’t know your audience.
In this example, the brand used the “Success Kid” meme as part of one of their regular social media campaigns:

(Image Source)
Club Orange runs a weekly “Crate Friday” contest in which they send a full crate of their product to one of the people who comment on their Facebook update:

This use of meme misses the mark because of how disconnected all elements are — there’s no link between the image, the contest, and the question Club Orange is asking to engage their followers.
To make sure the memes you use on your Facebook page click with your audience:

Develop well-defined customer personas for the main segments of your audience. When you have a clear picture of who you’re talking to, it will be much easier to know if a certain meme is a good bet.
Start on a small scale: Experiment with using a meme on a small segment of your audience. If you suspect a specific demographic might be particularly (un)responsive to memes, use Facebook’s targeting capabilities to confirm your hypothesis.

Use an Appropriate Tone
Success on social heavily depends on the voice and tone brands use—and memes are part of that. Voice and tone matter because they provide consistency for the personality of your brand.
For some brands, memes come as a natural fit to their existing content. But for more serious or professional brands, finding the right tone makes all the difference between a successful meme and a total flop.
Good Example: Gucci
Luxury fashion retailer Gucci is not the first place you’d look for meme marketing. Nevertheless, the brand has found an inventive way to capitalize on the popularity of this internet phenomenon.
Gucci has recently featured a series of commissioned memes on their Facebook page, many of which depict Gucci products. In this example, they have appropriated the “Arthur’s Fist” meme that was popular in late 2016:


Notice the great caption that goes along with the image. The accompanying copy describes the image in the same way a curator would describe an artwork. This is an inventive way to fit the meme into the personality of the brand, while still benefitting from the link to popular culture.
Even though this example doesn’t use the original meme, most brand followers spot the connection immediately.
Bad Example: Club Mate
German beverage Club Mate, which is well-known for its affiliation with Berlin’s raucous and youthful nightlife, has taken advantage of meme content in its Facebook presence.
The “Oscars Best Picture Meme” arose in the aftermath of the 2017 Oscars, where the incorrect winner was announced, and the ultimate reveal occurred by a camera shot of the correct winning card:

By linking itself to the event, Club Mate is making a risky bet — many people were upset because they felt the whole mix-up was emblematic of racism. Instead of being a lighthearted meme, the Oscars debacle turned into a political issue with a lot of commentary surrounding the event and its aftermath.
Club Mate certainly had no intention to make any allusions to racial issues, but this underlines the importance of thoroughly considering all aspects of a meme and how it may be perceived before using it.

To make sure you’re using the appropriate tone in your memes:

Include a section on voice and tone in your social media strategy guidelines and make sure everyone on your team follows it.
Don’t try to sound too smart with the language you use, and make sure the memes are not too obscure. The beauty of memes is in the fact that they can be understood by everyone in the audience.
Make sure you don’t sound offensive with your memes. Poking fun at racial and gender issues is obviously a big no-no. The best policy is to keep things lighthearted when using memes.

Develop a Great Taste for Using Humor
All memes rely on humor, so it’s essential to know just how much of it to inject into a meme for your brand. Using humor is always the easiest way to make your brand sound human and create an emotional connection with your audience.
Obviously, making fun of your customers should be avoided, but even poking fun at your brand can backfire, as we see in one of the examples below.
Good Example: New South Wales Police
The police force of New South Wales in Australia has successfully appropriated memes for public service announcements. Here, they’ve taken advantage of the “Persian Cat Guardian” meme, which uses an image of a poorly taxidermied cat to express disbelief at a hypothetical situation:

(Image Source)
NSW Police Force uses the meme to remind their Facebook audience about the dangers of speeding.
This is a great use case because this kind of humor is unexpected from a “boring” organization such as the police. The meme immediately draws people in and encourages them to read the full status.
Moreover, by using such a lighthearted tone, the NSW police manages to get across their point on a controversial topic that may have otherwise provoked a heated debate. What’s more, they even sneak in a statistic — without the meme, this message would feel dry and boring.

Bad Example: Jimmy John’s
Sandwich company Jimmy John’s is a no-frills chain known for its no-nonsense, self-deprecating approach to its brand. And while that’s a great approach to have, it should always be used with care.
In this example, we see Jimmy John’s use the “Be Like Bill” meme, which disparages people who are overactive on social media:

(Image Source)
But the Jimmy John’s meme doesn’t quite hit the mark:

A large share of the brand’s audience is heavily committed to social media — telling them that it’s not worth posting what they’re eating might be perceived as a signal that it’s not worth to be a customer of Jimmy John’s at all.
Additionally, happy customers who post on social media provide a great opportunity for word-of-mouth promotion. By discouraging their audience from sharing their experience, Jimmy John’s is missing out on the chance to have those people serve as brand ambassadors.
To make sure you’re using the right amount of humor in your campaigns, remember to follow the basic rules:

A joke can go a long way with your audience, especially if they’re not expecting that level of informality from you. Just remember that there’s a limit to how much you can use this tactic before it gets predictable and commonplace.
Sometimes a good joke is too tempting to pass on, but remember that your brand is on social media to achieve its business goals, not to post anything funny that comes to mind.

Embed Your Brand in a Meme
Some companies venture beyond the established tropes and try to create their own meme where the brand takes center stage. A few are lucky enough to inspire memes, but not all of them have the gumption to capitalize on those opportunities.
In either case, having a meme that features your brand go viral is great for brand recognition.
Let’s see what makes the difference between those who succeed and those who fail:
Good Example: Netflix
One of the most surprising outcomes of the success of Netflix’s Stranger Things was the slew of memes surrounding a relatively minor character, Barb. Through the popularity of these memes, Barb has come to symbolize particular topics and ideas many of us care about.
The Barb-meme phenomenon came as a surprise even to the creators of the show, but Netflix did not hesitate to take advantage of it. Below, we see the brand sharing images that do fan service to lovers of Barb, and capitalize on the memes to generate even more buzz about the show.

Bad Example: Doritos
Doritos misses the mark in trying to create amusing memes that include the actual tortilla chips. While humorous and shareable, they miss the point of memes because they depend on already existing tropes. The result is an unconvincing attempt to blend humor with their brand.

If you’re looking to embed your brand in a meme, remember the following:

It should be simple enough that the majority of your audience can understand it without further explanation.
The meme cannot be about your brand, it can only feature it. Pushing too hard will make it easy for people to recognize your effort for what it is — an ad.

The Tools You Need to Create Your First Meme
To recap, brands interested in including memes in their social marketing should think about the following elements:

They should make sure memes would fit with their audience
They should make sure to use an appropriate tone
They should be careful about how they use humor with memes
They should consider how their brand fits within the meme

After considering these, you’re ready to start using memes in your social media channels.
The first step is to keep an eye on to stay in the know on trends. Sharing an old meme or overusing the same one are two easy ways to spoil your efforts before you’ve even started.
There are many websites that can help you create a meme quickly — imgflip, Meme Generator, and are just a few you might find useful.
Take slow steps, experiment, and hopefully, you’ll find the power that memes can create for your brand. Just remember that — like any superpower — memes should be used responsibly.

Lead Generation with Instagram—The Definitive Guide

When you’ve mastered lead generation on Facebook, it feels like you’re firing on all cylinders. You have eBooks, free tools, surveys, all types of lead magnets going out. You have traffic and conversions coming in. Everything is going great — your lead generation is better than ever before.
Then you turn to Instagram, and everything works a little differently.

Suddenly, you can’t push your great new eBook anymore. Instagram is a visual platform, and your text-heavy copy looks clumsy and out of place. Although you want to use Instagram as another lead generation tool, you can’t immediately transfer your Facebook success onto this new platform — until now.
We’ll go through the basics of lead generation on Instagram—all the formal and informal ways you can nudge potential customers from Instagram to your product—and offer some tips to get you started.

What Is Lead Generation and Why Should I Bother?
Lead generation is the generation of customer interest in your product or service. More substantial than just generating brand awareness, you’re trying to entice potential customers into becoming full-fledged customers.
On Facebook or on your website, you probably offer up a lead magnet. A lead magnet is something of value you offer a customer in exchange for their information. Whether you’re offering an eBook, a free tool that will leave the user wanting more, an article, or a discount code, a lead magnet is an incentive. It entices the customer, so they give you an email address, a phone number — any piece of information that can help you to follow up later.
On Instagram, lead generation works differently. You aren’t going to entice users to download your eBook because they’re not on Instagram to read. They just want to keep scrolling through their feed.
Instead, Instagram lead generation is all about creating intrigue and encouraging customers to make the leap from your Instagram ad to a sign-up form, an app download, or your website. Although it might seem daunting, every business can do it.
Let’s Get Started: Setting Up a Campaign
Instagram ads aren’t hard to make, and it takes as little time to set up an Instagram campaign as it does to make a Facebook one.
If you don’t need a refresher on best practices for Instagram ads, then let’s jump right in and focus on how to create ad targets specifically optimized for lead generation.
You start by setting it up as a Facebook campaign.
Step 1: Select Lead Generation as your goal.

Step 2: Proceed as you normally would with Facebook, selecting the Facebook page you want to promote and creating your Target Audience.
Step 3: Next you’ll set your placement to Instagram. You’ll see the options for Facebook as well, but make sure you check Instagram.

Step 4: Set up your budget and be sure to select leads in the “Optimization for Ad Delivery feed.”

Step 5: Select ad format. Depending on your campaign, that could be a video, slideshow, single image or carousel ad.
Note: Carousel ads, which let you showcase multiple images and links in a single ad, are still very new to Instagram. However, they’ve produced some impressive results on Facebook. Advertisers have seen carousel link ads drive 30-50% lower cost-per-conversion and 20-30% lower cost-per-click than single-image ads, so don’t be afraid to try something new.

Step 6: Create your ad text. Tell people what they can expect in exchange for their contact information. Say you were creating an ad for your college radio station. You might generate leads by offering curated weekly playlists, and you’d want to make those playlists the focal point of the copy.

Step 7: Now you make the lead-generating form that works in Instagram. When you create this form, keep the questions short and discrete. You don’t want to leave them open-ended. With our radio station example, we just went for names and email, but notice there’s a custom question, so you can get the exact piece of customer information you need from your ads.

Step 8: Now we’re done! When people finish signing up, they’ll see a “Thank You” page. Don’t underestimate this step—put your website link in here. If someone’s interested in the playlist or discount you’re offering, chances are they want to know more. Use this opportunity to drive people to your website.

Don’t Forget to Test!
Now you’ve seen how easy it is to make a lead generation ad on Instagram, don’t forget to make more than one.
A/B testing your lead generation ads is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. With AdEspresso, in a few minutes you can create thousands of variants of your Instagram Ads with only three clicks.
The basics of split testing for Instagram are the same as the basics of A/B testing for Facebook, but just to refresh here are the most important things to keep in mind:

Be patient. Ads that appear to be doing well in the first days or week of testing might take a sharp drop, and vice versa. Don’t stop running one version of your add as soon as you see a glimmer of a better click through rate on it.
Only change one thing per ad. If you switch up targeting, picture, and CTA on one version of an ad, you’re changing too many things at once. Take it one difference at a time so you can figure out exactly what works.
Choose a metric that defines success before you begin. Do you want the most leads generated? The cheapest? Determine what is going to define the success of your campaign before you set up your ads so you can be decisive about which ones to keep running.

All Kinds of Calls-to-Action
Our example showed a lead generating form with “Sign Up” as the call-to-action. But Instagram lets you get creative with the action button. You can prompt users to “Learn More,” “Contact Us, “Get Directions,” and a variety of other options, depending on what you’re advertising.

For downloadable apps, the “Install Now” action can lead users straight from Instagram to your landing page to the App Store. The roommate and apartment hunting app, Roomiapp, has the “Install Now” action enabled, and also suggests that you tag a friend.
This makes it easy for people to get straight into your product if they like your ad — no need to find a download link in your bio or on your website. If you’re looking to increase downloads, this is definitely the CTA for you.

Make the Most of Embedded Links
Instagram is also home to lots of companies thinking outside the box, beyond email collection and “Sign Up” forms.
Minimalist cosmetic brand Glossier is known for its Insta-friendly aesthetic, and they make great use of the embedded e-commerce options in Instagram posts. Although not direct lead generation, you can definitely capture new customers by having links directly in your content, not just in paid posts.

Glossier lets you know more information about their product, without ever leaving the post. And then they hit you with a CTA: Shop Now.

In the e-commerce ecosystem, embedded links can really set your whole account apart. You’re doing the work of lead generation in all your posts, not just your ads.
#LinkInBio: Sometimes Less Is More
Aside from embedded, e-commerce links, the only other place on Instagram where a link is allowed is in a bio. You can make use of that space by putting a lead-capturing link to your website there.
Here’s a good example: Uniqlo USA has a short and compact bio. They feature the handles of their other social platforms and a link to their website, without being too overwhelming.

On the other hand, Forever 21 has a lot going on. While Instagram is the place for fun emojis and hashtags, it’s hard to tell where all these handles go, or how you could use them. With their direct link all the way down at the bottom, followed by a physical address, this bio isn’t going to be a particularly strong lead generator.

Even if you do it right, referring people to your bio can be limiting because takes your audience out of the context of their feed. Because of this, you might be less likely to get clicks on that link to your website in your bio than if you linked people in a CTA.
However, if people do click out of the ad and into your bio, not only will they find the link to your product or website, but they’ll likely spend some time exploring your Instagram (and hopefully will give you a follow).
Getting Creative With In-Image CTAs
Instagram is a visual platform. Nobody is there for your eye-catching caption text, as good as it is. You want to grab people with your images and stop them mid-scroll with a call-to-action that’s part of the image itself.
This ad from The New Yorker puts the offer right in the ad image. They’re probably targeting at student-age Instagram users, and they’re letting them know: 12 weeks for $6. Pair that with a signature funky cartoon, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

This ad from startup insurance company Lemonade doesn’t put an offer or a dollar amount right in the image, but this geo-targeted video still grabs attention. Live in New York? Got stuff? You’re going to want that covered — click the link.
 Grab Leads With Promotional Contests
Promotional contests are a great way to generate a lot of buzz and a lot of leads. Whether you hype them over Instagram Stories, regular posts or ads, a contest that has a clear call-to-action and any easy way for users to register to win can be great for generating brand awareness and leads.
You don’t want to overcomplicate things. This contest for a free magazine subscription has too many hoops to jump through, and it’s asking for too many things. And savvy users might be turned off, seeing it as a blatant attempt at getting engagement on a million platforms:

(Image Source)
Keep your contests simple and focused on the prize. They can be as low barrier as like-to-win or comment-to-win. But if you’re trying to capture emails through your contest, referring people to the bio is a great way to keep the confusion to a minimum and find some great leads.

The hype here is in the visuals — what kind of Insta-Girl are you? When Sally Hansen has grabbed that attention, they immediately transfer it to their contest and encourage submissions, instead of trying to cram that all into one overcrowded image.
Thinking About Lead Generation In Everything You Do
If you’re thinking that lead generation on Instagram is a lost cause, that everyone’s on mobile and no one will ever fill out your form, and that you’ll never get the hang of Instagram lead generation, think again.
Instagram still sees higher engagement and higher conversion than Facebook or Twitter and, as we’ve just shown, it’s as easy to make an Instagram campaign as a Facebook one — maybe even easier.
But you shouldn’t just be thinking about Instagram lead generation with your ads, your strategy can’t be reduced to just “Sign Up” forms.
Think about it with your posts, with your stories, with your bio, and with your promotional contests — anything that could lead people further along the path to becoming a strong and loyal customer. Focus on that, and people will be clicking on your Instagram ads in no time.

19 Amazing Native Advertising Ad Examples

It’s easy to hear the phrase “native advertising” and think, “Psh.”
Native advertising can sometimes get a bad reputation, especially when advertisers (or publishers) make big mistakes with how and what kind of content they present.
Case in point: The Atlantic being forced to eat crow and repent after publishing an editorial that appeared like it was written by the Atlantic editorial team, but in reality came from the Church of Scientology.

Certainly bad PR, but it did inspire some good spinoffs.
Now there are reports that the FTC plans to force publishers to explicitly signpost when native advertisements exist alongside normal content. #FakeNews is the mantra of the day.
Despite this, there’s still one very good reason to not give up on native ads.

Why people are wrong about native advertisements
One of the big criticisms of native ads hinges on the fact that they “look” like normal content and trick users into believing they’re “real.” That’s just not true—when’s the last time you were actually fooled by a piece of native advertising? It just doesn’t happen.
The key to the success of native ads isn’t that they trick users but that they express themselves as exactly what they are. Buzzfeed and other content masterminds have shown that people will eagerly click on native ads even when they’re labeled “sponsored.” Why?
Because a native ad doesn’t require you to abandon the experience you’re currently in. You don’t get redirected to another site and have to figure out how to get back later—you just keep flowing through what Cody Brown calls the content buffet:
(Source: Cody Brown)
So don’t fret if FTC regulations force a little more explicit signaling about the native ads out there, a little more honesty on the part of publishers—the strength of native advertising is not how well they hide. It’s how well they can stand out.
Successful native advertising is brash, it’s colorful, and it stands out amidst the rest of the content around it. Studying it can tell you a lot about how to do advertising in general—especially advertising on Facebook.
1. Adobe (New York Times T Brand Studio)
The New York Times’ “T Brand Studio” deftly combines subtle native advertising with high-quality in-house content marketing befitting of the Gray Lady. This well-researched Adobe piece on the future of shopping provides valuable insights and statistics regarding shopping trends in a VR-centric future, but does so without appearing too salesy.
More info on T Brand Studio: Beyond native: How the NY Times plans to turn T Brand Studio into a full-fledged agency

Takeaway: Just because it’s advertising doesn’t mean you have to let your editorial standards drop. Thoughtful, long-form content, even when it’s part of your marketing, can be a powerful way to get your name out there and create a beneficial brand association.
2. Patrón Tequila (Twitter)
For International Margarita Day (February 22nd), Patrón took to Twitter with a promoted hashtag #MargaritaoftheYear and tweet prompting users to help vote for one of 7 innovative cocktail recipes.

Takeaway: When you’re on a social network like Facebook, you need to look for ways to integrate a social experience into your ads. You want people to be tagging their friends, commenting and sharing the things that your company puts out there, so you need to engage with your audience on a casual, informal level.
3. Morgan Stanley (BBC Future)
While the BBC is thought of as a public service broadcaster, they do have substantial native ad channels such as BBC Capital, BBC Travel, and BBC Future for non-UK audiences. This content marketing is subtly included towards the bottom of the BBC News homepage, with no indication that the article is sponsored. Iceland is certainly in vogue at the moment, so coupled with the authority of the BBC, Morgan Stanley scored a big win with this profile on the gorgeous island nation.

Takeaway: When it comes to advertising, the value that you’re delivering to your audience is what matters, not the fact that the content is hyper-relevant to your brand or your company. Especially when you’re competing with lots of other content for attention (e.g. Facebook’s Newsfeed), you’re going to need to produce something that people actually want to read if you want them to voluntarily check out your branded content.
4. General Electric (The Message)
GE’s 8-week long podcast series “The Message” explores aspects of sound technology through a sci-fi narrative about a rookie podcaster and a group of cryptographers decoding an ominous message from space. The podcast achieved broad media acclaim and won the 2016 Webby Award for Best Use of Native Advertising.

And that’s not all—it also featured a viral, interactive game and inspired a subreddit where people traded theories and discussed questions they had about the program.
Takeaway: While The Message came about well after Serial had popularized podcasting, GE challenged themselves to work with the medium in a way that no one had before. That’s key here—you can look at what others are doing in the world of advertising, and even hop on the bandwagon, but if you want to really make an impact, look for a way to go beyond and do things a little differently.
5. New York Lottery (#JackpotDrumroll)
To increase interest in the record $1.58 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016, the New York Lottery decided to literally drum up sales by hiring 211 drummers across New York State to stand outside of bodegas and convenience stores for twelve hours straight. This stunt led to news coverage across the state, amounting to an estimated $4.5 million in earned media. It was nominated for the 2016 Webby Award for Best Use of Native Advertising.

Takeaway: This may seem like a crazy stunt, but guerrilla marketing pretty often involves physical stunts of this kind. Salesforce founder Marc Benioff was famous for doing things like showing up to protest competitors conferences back in the early 2000s. If you’re looking for a way to set yourself apart from the pack, it’s an option!
6. Cedar Point Catch-a-Ghost
Famed Ohio theme park Cedar Point decided to promote its Halloween offerings by inviting users to screenshot a fleeting image of a ghost on their Snapchat story, in exchange for a coupon/prize. This encouraged repeat viewings, as the task was difficult, but it also spoke to their targeted teen demographic. It increased engagement on their Snapstory by 233% and 144k unique users. Also, since this was not formatted as an interrupting paid ad, but rather a seamless part of Cedar Point’s social media presence, it positioned the brand as a valuable content producer.


Takeaway: Contests are a powerful tool for drumming up audience interest on social media. In order to create a sustainable content strategy and not just a flash in the pan, however, you want to make sure that the contest leads users to sign up or subscribe to your channels. Otherwise, you could acquire a ton of users—but only temporarily.
7. Taco Bell
Taco Bell’s sponsored Snapchat Lens for Cinco De Mayo 2016 was a record-breaker, garnering over 224 million views in a single day.
That was a huge success, though perhaps not that feasible for most of us, as these custom lenses can cost up to $750,000 for a primetime spot. Taco Bell was, however, also one of the very first marketers to buy into Snapchat’s on-demand geo-filter program.
Prices for these start as low as $5—a worthy investment if you’re thinking about Snapchat as a potential advertising channel.

Takeaway: Sometimes big brands pull off marketing campaigns that no small or medium-sized company has the resources to follow. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t ever have a way to do something similar. There are plenty of ways that your SMB can use Snapchat in your advertising, for instance, even if you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to put towards it!
8. Airbnb (South London Hosted by Artwork / Thump)
This portal on Vice Media’s Thump Channel invites users to explore South London as curated by DJ and producer Artwork. The portal includes videos, several original articles, and an explorable map of points of interest. This subtly nods to Airbnb as being the best way to explore South London, but the branding isn’t overbearing, and the content has clear standalone value.

9. Netflix (Cocainenomics by the Wall Street Journal)
To promote its show Narcos, Netflix collaborated with the Wall Street Journal to create an interactive portal exploring the history of the international drug trade, and its nexus in Medellín, Colombia.
Featuring well-designed maps, timelines, articles, and even a quiz, this is a great example of native advertising generating interest and value.

Takeaway: Partnerships can be an incredibly powerful way to take your advertising in directions that would not have been possible otherwise. Other kinds of businesses bring different kinds of value to their audiences—and have different kinds of reputations—so the right kind of partnership can create very powerful effects both with regards to capturing new customers and delighting the ones you already have.
10. Newcastle Brown Ale (Gizmodo)
Newcastle embraced the snark of the then-Gawker affiliate Gizmodo in this 2014 paid article entitled “We’ve Disguised This Newcastle Ad as an Article to Get You to Click It.” The article explains how Newcastle purchased ad space from Gizmodo so they could embed a video about a focus group discussing a Super Bowl ad that Newcastle couldn’t afford to make.
Certainly a meta-approach to advertising, but the wry tone and radical honestly of this piece will cement Newcastle as a self-aware presence in the minds of the Gizmodo/Gawker crowd.

Takeaway: The amount of noise in the advertising/marketing world has grown exponentially over the last decade. One surefire way to make sure that you stand out amongst the crowd is to take a self-aware stance in your advertising. It can also work out for publishers, who have an opportunity to be honest about why they’re putting native advertising in front of their readers—because it costs money to create good content!
11. Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil (Good News by The Telegraph)
Leading British health supplement company Seven Seas utilized a unique native advertising approach by sponsoring a curated page of positive and uplifting news in The Telegraph. You barely notice the Seven Seas branding if you’re not looking for it. Mostly you see a litany of articles having to do with well-being, human interest stories, and the like:

“Scientists reverse ageing in mammals”
“Boy donates hair”
“Man takes terminally ill dog on farewell cross-country road trip”

Although these topics have nothing to do with cod liver oil whatsoever, one leaves the page with a small psychological bias to view Seven Seas in a more positive light. It’s simply association.

Takeaway: The content on this Telegraph sponsored page has nothing to do with cod liver oil. That goes to show that you don’t need to be self-promotional for your advertising to work—all you need is a brand an idea of the kind of content you should produce to make a statement.
12. Denny’s (Twitter)
Denny’s is known for its surreal Twitter, aiming to produce content aligned with the Dada-eqsue end of the meme spectrum. These aren’t paid ads, Denny’s is counting on Twitter users to be interested enough in their content to actually follow their account. Clearly targeting a millenial demographic, Denny’s embraces odd haikus and egg-based non-sequiturs to build brand awareness and street cred in a demographic not typically interested in casual dining chains.

Takeaway: No one says you have to adopt the Brand Marketing Voice to have a proper social presence. Denny’s has 355.4k followers and whoever runs their Twitter sounds like a 14-year old with a highly active Tumblr. Feel free to experiment.
13. Xerox (The Atlantic)
Xerox and The Atlantic collaborated to develop a portal for readers interested in seeing the latest ideas in the realm of productivity and growth hacking. Featuring articles by leading experts and a free e-book, the well designed page is also interactive.
Based on the problems you’re having with your business, such as alignment, productivity, or agility—you can choose to receive different kinds of information.

Takeaway: Most of the examples in this post concern consumer-facing content. But B2B customers are just as human and just as interested in reading native content. We’re big fans of this technique—read our guide to marketing and promoting your free eBook here.
14. Ikea (The Telegraph)
The Telegraph scores again with a quirky A-Z quiz from Ikea that provides readers with tips on how to get a good night’s sleep. Like other native ads, this campaign shies away from selling a specific product, but instead aims to strengthen Ikea’s brand association as a quirky yet accessible organization.

Takeaway: The good old-fashioned quiz, brought back into style (mostly) by Buzzfeed, is a cost-effective and fresh format for native advertising. It fits into the same vein as content like eBooks—you want to take the knowledge and expertise that your company has and use it to help others diagnose issues with their life, business, sleep (above), or other facets of their life.
15. Airbnb (New York Times)
This New York Times/T Brand Studio collaboration with Airbnb tells the story of Ellis Island and immigration in New York, by exploring specific family histories through narration, maps, and archival photos. Although subtle, this native ad focuses on aspects of hospitality and homebuilding that newcomers may experience in New York, a well-aligned sentiment for a short-term housing platform like Airbnb.

Takeaway: Even if your advertising isn’t going to be directly about your product or your company, it can still try to fulfill the mission that your company represents. Airbnb’s brand is all about hospitality, so this piece of content about the legacy of Ellis Island and how it has welcomed immigrants for centuries makes perfect sense for them to post.
16. Leidos (Politico Focus)
Engineering consultancy Leidos appeals to the Beltway set through “Hacker Avenue,” an interactive exploration of the vulnerabilities our society faces as we become increasingly reliant on the Internet of Things. Using smart infographics, a mini-game that leads you to important facts and statistics, and a robust piece of accompanying content, Leidos scored a big win on a platform not typically thought of as being aligned with native advertising.

Takeaway: Infographics are hands-down one of the best ways to create content that’s inherently shareable. Combine a great infographic with a great marketing campaign, and you can see your content spread across the internet like wildfire. For more on how to create sharable infographics, check out our piece on the 6 things all viral infographics have in common.
17. YouTube (Awesome Stuff Week)
To drum up interest in YouTube’s new e-commerce integrations, a campaign was launched to leverage YouTube’s top talent in the gadget and fashion spheres. iJustine and Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy were just two of the YouTubers brought together to celebrate what wound up being called “Awesome Stuff Week,” a curated celebration of unboxings and makeup demos. It’s a natural medium for the message that you can now buy items straight from within YouTube videos.

(Image Source)

Takeaway: If you’re trying to tell users about a new service or release a new product, it always helps to build your marketing campaign on the back of something people already know—like influencers. On Instagram, contacting influencers and working with them to increase your exposure can be an easy way to get your brand’s name out there fast.
18. Warner Brothers (Fortune Magazine)
To promote its “Batman vs. Superman” film, Warner Brothers decided to sponsor a native advertising interview with villain Lex Luther Jr, under the guise of sponsorship by “LexCorp.” This is a great way to acknowledge the pitfalls of native advertising (such as the non-discreet sponsorship branding), while also helping maintain suspension of disbelief, for a tycoon like Luther probably would sponsor native advertising in a magazine like Fortune.

Takeaway: You can have some fun with the standard formats of advertising—for instance, there’s no reason you can’t have an interview with a fictional figure appear in the pages of Forbes!
19. IBM (The Atlantic)
The Atlantic proves again that it is at the forefront of developing high-quality and engaging sponsored content, this time for IBM. In this 4 part series, “Blood, Sweat, and Data” new innovations in sports medicine, equipment, and cloud solutions are analyzed alongside accessible infographics and shareable statistics.

Takeaway: Whenever you’re trying to produce engaging content for marketing purposes, you want to identify opportunities you have that will be 1) the least effort for you, and 2) the most entertaining for your audience. Data is a place where you often get this opportunity—you have a lot of it, and when put into the right kind of narrative, it will enthrall your audience.

25 Proven Ways to Get More Customer Reviews on Social Media

Engagement on your posts works as social proof, but the reviews on your social media are powerful testimonials that can affect how new users perceive your business. They work as the digital version of word-of-mouth marketing, and have the potential to touch everyone who views your Pages and profiles.
If you think reviews are more trouble than they’re worth, consider this fact: 80% of customers trust reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, and only trust immediate recommendations from friends and family more.

There are plenty of sites you can get reviews on, and only a small portion of users will actually leave them. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get more customer reviews on social media.
Let’s look at the 25 ways to get more social media reviews that we use on a regular basis.

Which Platforms Should I Focus On?
If you check out your Google Analytics and notice that one platform is sending you the most traffic, prioritize getting reviews on that platform first. This could be Facebook, or it might be Google. Facebook and Google reviews, in my experience, have been most effective for businesses across all industries. LinkedIn reviews are huge for B2B businesses; as a freelance writer, my LinkedIn reviews have helped me get a ton of work.
Additional platforms include Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Angie’s List, local directories, and Yahoo.
Facebook-Specific Tactics
Facebook reviews should be one of your first priorities. Now users can see your number of Facebook reviews—and the star ranking from them—in a Google searching, giving them a ton of weight. To add to this weight, don’t forget that a ton of users look up businesses on Facebook in particular to search for reviews, social proof, and to “get to know” the business.
When your business Page pops up in searches, users will see your number of reviews and their ranking directly under the name.

1. Make Sure Your Review Tab is Visible (and Activated). If you get on Facebook and visit the Pages of a few of your favorite business, you may notice that you can’t leave a review for some of them because they don’t have it activated. Many businesses don’t even realize that they have this feature turned off. To active reviews, click on your Page’s settings.

Once in the settings, scroll down in the General section to where it says “Reviews” and turn them on.

2. Respond to All Reviews. Responding to all reviews, believe it or not, will actually get you more of them. Users will see this interaction as you valuing the time they took to leave the review for you—and you should, because it can significantly help your business. Respond to as many reviews as possible, even if you’re just liking star-only reviews without comments. And always, always thank the customer in person when possible.

Google-Specific Tactics
It goes without saying that Google reviews are a powerful tool. Google still ranks #1 for all search engine tools; having plenty of reviews to tell first-time potential customers how great you are will get users to click on you instead of your competitors. I can think of at least fifteen times where I ended up choosing a business just because they had more Google reviews, and I know I’m not alone in that. 

3. Verify Your Business. Verifying your business on Google will let your reviews pop up in map searches, and it will allow you to respond to reviews. Responding to all reviews is just as important on Google as it is for Facebook. You can get your business verified on Google here.
4. Always Have Your Google Page as Part of Your Email Signature. Several tools, like Wisestamp, let you automatically share social media platform links in your email signature. By placing a link to your Google Page, you can drive more traffic there, and thus, more reviews.

Tools like Wisestamp let you place social icons in your email signature, which link to your social profiles. 

5. Rank Positive Reviews as Helpful. On Google, you can give comments a boost by labeling them “helpful.” Anyone can do this, but you can get a head start by labeling the most positive reviews as helpful. Not only will this help you prioritize the most positive comments, which will help your business, it will show other users that people are actually reading the reviews—and can encourage them to jump in, too.

LinkedIn-Specific Tactics
LinkedIn recommendations can be extremely helpful in fields where you need to trust an individual employee or worker (like freelance workers, doctors, or insurance agents), and in B2B businesses. If you want clients to trust you personally, they’re extremely valuable.

6. Promote Your Profiles On Your Site & Email. There are multiple plugins and tools that let you promote your LinkedIn on your site and email. Since LinkedIn doesn’t get as much traffic as other profiles might, just getting more connections can mean more reviews. View a list of LinkedIn plugins here.
7. Invite Connections to Review You. While you can (and should) ask for reviews off-platform, you can also invite connections to write you a recommendation on it. They’ll get an email and a notification, and it’s almost more work to ignore the message than to just write the recommendation.

8. Place Best Recommendations Higher Up. With the old LinkedIn format (which was way better), you could actually move your recommendations section up higher in your profile. You can’t do this anymore (which makes no sense), but you can reorder the recommendations you have. Putting the most detailed, most positive recommendations first will encourage other clients leaving you reviews to follow suit; when it comes to LinkedIn, it’s all about the detail, and everyone likes to have an idea of what they should say.

9. Offer to Trade Recommendations with Coworkers/Employees. If you have coworkers, see if they’d be willing to trade LinkedIn reviews, benefiting both of you. Ultimately, if you (or the company you work for) has employees listed under the company page and multiple employees have great recommendations, this benefits everyone involved. And sometimes, seeing a review on your profile can be enough to let your clients know they can leave one, too.

Yelp-Specific Tactics
In certain industries (especially restaurants, hospitality, and customer-service industries), Yelp is still important. If your business starts a profile, try to get at least 5 reviews on it as soon as possible; this helps it look more “full.” 

10. Have a Yelp Review Badge on Your Site. Are you detecting a platform-specific pattern here? Yelp may not be the first place your loyal customers interact with you, but for some businesses, it could be the first touchpoint for new users. Placing a yelp badge on your site can send loyal traffic there to write reviews for you. Get badges and banners here.

11. Place Yelp Signage in Store. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you should display Yelp signage in store. Yelp has some of these signs ready to go, including a “Find Us on Yelp” option and a “People Love Us!” sign for businesses with high ratings on the site. If customers notice or ask about it, it’s an easy way to ask them to leave a review if they get the chance.

Getting More Customer Reviews on Social Media: General Tactics  
Now that we’ve looked at how to get more reviews on specific platforms, we’re going to take a look at general tactics that work on almost all platforms, including those we didn’t discuss in depth. 

12. Ask for Them One-on-One.This is the most effective way to get reviews: to appeal to someone that you have an actual relationship with and just ask. You’d be surprised how saying “hey, it would really help me out of if you did this” will be the most effective way to get more reviews. Five different businesses have asked me this outright, and the first thing I did when I went home was write up the reviews.
13. Send Email Requests. Again, this is all about asking. Don’t be afraid to send out an email campaign with the sole message being “Let us know what you think- Leave us a Review!” These emails should include links to your profiles on the platforms you want to focus on. Sometimes, using segmented lists of high-value clients or emailing individual clients directly with personalized emails can get you the best results.
14. Offer Incentives. Want results? Offer incentives. When I worked in retail a few years back, one of my favorite restaurants told us they’d give us 10% off if we showed them a review we wrote on Yelp or Facebook (we got 10% off a purchase for each one). It worked! A few of us even wrote them right there in line, and they got multiple reviews out of a lot of us.
15. Promote The Reviews You Already Have. Reviews work a lot like UGC; this makes sense since they’re a form of user generated content. If you promote and feature the reviews you’ve already gotten, more users will be more likely to leave some, too.
16. Place CTAs on Your Site. This is another form of “it never hurts to ask.” Many sites now have social media widgets or plugins somewhere within them where they display UGC and customer reviews. Place a CTA next to them that specifically encourages users to “Leave us a Review” can be extremely effective. Direct, clear, concise CTAs are used in marketing for a good reason, and they can work just as well here as everywhere else.

17. Incentivize Employees to Ask for Reviews.If you’re the business’s owner or head of a department, train your employees to ask more reviews. Many employees take pride in their work, but need to be reminded to ask for reviews. If you can incentivize them to ask for more reviews, everyone wins; have a contest, and whichever employee gets the most or best (or both!) customer reviews on social media can win a prize. Whoever has the most direct interaction and relationships with the customers should be the ones to ask.
18. Use Timing to Your Advantage. If you ask customers at the right time, they’ll be a lot more likely to leave you a review on social media. For businesses who may not have continual clients (like real estate agents or mortgage brokers), contact the client 3-5 days after a purchase. Ensure that they’re still happy, thank them for their purchase, and ask for a review. This time frame is optimal; you’re fresh in their mind and they’re familiar with you.
19. Don’t Delete Negative Reviews. Deleting negative reviews can actually hurt you if anyone notices, and result in a perceived loss of transparency. Instead, use these negative reviews to your advantage by addressing them. Apologize for the user’s experience, and offer a solution to resolve the complaint. If you can’t, ask to contact the user through email or private message. Other users will still see the negative review, but they’ll also see that you took ownership of the situation and tried to make it right. This counts for a lot.

20. Tell Users Exactly Where You Want Them to Review. In many cases, being specific can benefit you. Ask users to leave reviews on specific platforms. You can also ask them to mention the employee who helped them by name, or ask them to mention how your business helped them. If users know what to write, they don’t have to think about what to put down; this makes it easier for them.
21. Utilize Display Plugins. There are a million and one plugins that we can use to help us promote our businesses, and some of them can help us get more reviews on social media. The Facebook Reviews plugin for WordPress, for example, lets you display Facebook reviews on your site; Smash Balloon does the same. You can also use tools to showcase LinkedIn recommendations on your site. Most of these plugins let users easily navigate to your site to view the recommendations; when combined with a CTA, these tools can help you get more reviews fast.

22. Make Reviews a Contest Participation Requirement. If you want to generate conversation and get more reviews at once, you can make leaving reviews a mandatory part of a social contest. Make sure you clarify that to enter, you must write an honest review, and the contents won’t be taken into consideration. You can’t track this with social contest software, and make sure you aren’t breaking any platform violations if you host the contest on-site. You can always have a raffle for participants that you announce on social but carry out offline.
23. Print Requests on Receipts. This is another brick-and-mortar specific tactic; print out receipts with “Leave us a Review on Facebook/Yelp/Google” instructions on the bottom. Many people keep their receipts. If you’re in the B2B industry, many clients may scan their receipts into invoicing software later to keep track of business expenses. The more you can remind customers to leave you reviews, the better.
24. Follow Up. Following up is an important business strategy, and it can help you get more reviews. You have to be gentle with this; don’t be pushy. But especially with customers you have close relationships with, you can say “hey, did you ever get a chance to write a review for us?” If you have a close personal relationship with the customer, you can do what my kickboxing instructor does: “If you remember this time, I won’t make you run.”  Incentives + favors + follow ups all in one.
25. Wait a While… and Then Ask Again. This tactic should be used extremely carefully and over a longer period of time. It can be used when your customers either forgot to leave reviews, or if you’d like to ask them to leave a review on another platform. I’d wait for a few months (even as long as six) before asking for a second review, and when you do, thank them profusely for the first.

Final Thoughts
Getting more reviews on social media can take a little effort, but it’s an investment that will pay off.
To get started, choose the specific platform(s) that will benefit you most. Then ask your most loyal, engaged customers to leave reviews “as a favor.” Third, optimize all your platforms to make it easy for every user to come in contact with you.
By interacting with reviews and utilizing them as part of your marketing strategy, you’ll be able to generate more reviews in an upwards cycle that will benefit your business. You’ve just got to get started—and ask.
What do you think? How do you get more customer reviews on social media? How do you leverage the reviews you do get? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Pinterest Marketing

With the ever-growing list of social media sites available to start marketing on, it’s often difficult to choose which ones you want to actually prioritize. Facebook is almost always a given for brands to start with, and Instagram and Twitter are normally ranked high too.
Pinterest marketing has also been skyrocketing to popularity amongst marketers.

This step-by-step guide to Pinterest marketing is going to provide marketers and businesses with everything they need to build a strong content marketing presence on the platform—including how to get your individual pins noticed.
In our January 2017 update, we’ve added sections on getting your pins noticed, Facebook and Pinterest integration, buyable pins,  Pinterest’s Promoted Pins- and more!

If you are here just for the tutorial on Promoted Pins you can click here and go straight to the point! But why don’t you take a coffee and refresh your memory going through the whole guide?
Why Pinterest?
Pinterest functions a little differently than any of the other social media sites listed above; for many pinners, the idea isn’t necessarily so much to broadcast images or ideas to followers, but it’s to save ideas, products, or content for later. This makes it a perfect marketing platform.
One of the key ways Pinterest is different from other social media sites is that it serves a different function; as mentioned above, the focus of Pinterest isn’t primarily to post your own ideas or content, it’s to save content that you find valuable for later. For businesses looking to have their content or products purchased, Pinterest is a great tool to have in your arsenal. I’ve saved products I liked to Pinterest and gone back and purchased them later, and I’m far from the only one.
Another key difference: Pinterest displays content differently than any other social media site, and it does so in four ways. Users can view your pins:

On their homefeed, if they follow you or the pins are deemed to be particularly relevant to their interests.
By searching for a keyword relevant to your pin.
In relevant categories (like “Food and Drink” and “Health and Fitness”).
On your actual profile, under themed/categorized boards.

This means that relevant, interested users can find your content organically, whether they’re following you (or even know anything about you) or not.
Finally, the biggest and best reason businesses should be on Pinterest: research has shown that large amounts of Pinterest users actually use the platform to research purchasing decisions before buying, and with many buying something they’ve found on the site.
If that’s not a good reason, I don’t know what is.
Setting Up Your Pinterest Profile
When I first got a Pinterest back in 2012, you had to wait at least a few days to be allowed to create an account. Now, it’s much easier—and instantaneous.
#1 – Creating an Account
When you go to create an account, you’ll see the option at the bottom of the sign in box to “Continue as a Business.” If you miss it, you can still convert your account to a business later, but it’s easier to do it now.

When you create your account as a business, you’ll be asked to fill out the additional fields supplying the information of your business’s name, what type of business you are, and your website (though this is optional).

Once you’re done, hit create account.
You’ll then be asked to follow 5 topics that interest you. This doesn’t really matter, since you’ll be using this to promote your content instead of following others, but it never hurts to select topics that are relevant to your business.

Once your account is created, your home page will look like the screenshot below. This is just what you see, not what anyone following you will see. Click on the red thumb tack in the top right-hand corner to get to your profile.

#2 – Setting Up Your Profile
Your profile starts out looking like this—blank and ready to be filled in. To do so, first click the “Edit Profile” button.

I’ve seen some businesses make the mistake of not filling out all the information here, and that’s a mistake.
Give as much information as you can—users will see this, and the more info, the better. Choose an image that best represents your brand; for many, this is a logo. Make sure to add your website so users can visit you through it. Locations matter if you’re a local or brick-and-mortar location, and always, always try to use keywords in your “about me.”

Once your profile has been set up, you can start creating your boards.

#3 – Setting Up Boards
You can create a board from your profile page. You’ll be asked to name it, describe it, what category it falls under, if it’s secret, and if you want to invite collaborators.

When you name your board, keep keywords in mind, and make sure it’s a relevant title. If you’re creating a board with candy recipes, for example, you could name it “Sweet Treats,” but this could also include cakes, cookies, and pies; adding “candy” in the title as a keyword could help your search results and help you connect with more relevant users.
Having numerous, specialized, detailed boards can help increase the visibility of your pins
The description matters just as much as the title; again, keywords matter, and describe it accurately.
This is a great example of an accurate description that’s detailed and features some keywords
If you invite collaborators, keep in mind that they can pin to and edit the board.
Once you add pins to the board, you can choose which image you want to represent the board. You’ll go to “edit board,” and then choose to change your cover image.

You can scroll through the images selected and choose your new cover image.

# 4 – Viewing Analytics
Pinterest has their own analytics program, available only for business accounts. You can view the analytics by clicking on the tab on the navigation bar in the top left hand corner of the page.
This account is new, so it doesn’t have any analytics information yet, but Pinterest’s analytics can tell you how many views and how much engagement your pins and boards are getting, along with information about your followers or those who viewed your pins.

For more information, we’ve got a full post about Pinterest Analytics that goes over everything you need to know here.
How to Get Pins Noticed
While setting up your profile in a way that’s optimized for success is important, your actual pins will be what matters most. Your pins need to be visually striking so they stand out against the others, whether that’s in a page of other search results or under a general category.
There are several ways you can get your pins noticed and increase their visibility, in addition to choosing the right keywords to describe them. These include choosing the right image size and following best image practices.
Best Image Size
Choosing the right image size on Pinterest can help your pin stand out from the rest, regardless of where users are viewing it.
Image on Pinterest will be scaled to fit the platform, with the width being scaled to 236 pixels.
By Pinterest’s own recommendations, the best aspect ratios for Pins fall between a 2:3 and 1:3.5 (width to height). The minimum recommended width is 600 pixels. Having Pins that are taller than they are wide can help your pins have enough space to stand out, but pins that seem to go on forever and are too long don’t get nearly as much engagement.
Best Image Practices
To help get your pins noticed, there are several best image practices you can use to increase views, repins, and engagement. These include:

Tasteful branding. This comes from Pinterest’s own recommendations; according to Pinterest, including “tasteful branding” in the image can help increase repins and engagement, which can lead to purchases. Whether this is featuring the packaging of your product in the image or just a small logo or watermark, they recommend adding it in where possible.

Add lifestyle images. While images of your products alone can be effective, adding in lifestyle images where users are actively using your product can help it get the attention of users. Avoid overly user-generated images, but having high quality images of someone using your product in its best use case can be effective.

Text overlays. This isn’t Facebook; there’s no 20% rule. Adding text overlay to your image can help get your point and your ideas across quickly.

List images. Lists and listicles are big in content marketing right now; Pinterest is no different. Having an image that demonstrates the list your pin will take you to can be a great way to stand out and increase engagement.

Pinterest Promoted Pins
Promoted Pins rolled out for everyone last year, and businesses in all industries are using the platform.
Since its rolled out, it has provided businesses and brands of all sizes a major platform to connect with new and interested users.
Promoted Pins: How It Works
Pinterest’s Promoted Pins is their paid ad platform. It works on a bidding system like the other social media ad platforms we’re familiar with.
You pay to have your pin placed in front of your target audience. Your pins will show up in relevant category feeds and relevant searches, aided by the keywords that you choose.
You must have a business Pinterest account in order to access and run your own promoted pins campaigns.
How to Create Promoted Pins
To access the promoted pins platform, click on the Ads clickable tab and drop down menu, which can be located in the left hand corner.
This will take you to the dashboard, where you can see the total number of impressions, engagement, conversions, and ad spend on all your campaigns in the prior week. This information can be broken down by engagement campaigns and traffic campaigns.

To get started creating a promoted pin, click on the + in the top right hand corner of Pinterest’s navigation bar, and select “Create an Ad.”

You’ll first be asked to decide whether you want to boost engagement with your pins, which will focus on- and charge by- close up views, repins, and clicks, or send traffic to your site, which will charge by clicks.

Once you choose your campaign goal, you’ll add in information abut your campaign name, your daily budget, and the start and end date for your campaign.
The end date is optional, but I highly recommend it—keeping your pins updated and varied is as important here as it is on any other platform.
When you’ve filled out all of the information, click “Pick a Pin”

On the next screen, you’ll be asked to select the pin you want to promote.
When choosing a pin, you can search for a pin by the keyword or URL, or scroll through your pins. You can see the number of repins each has as you scroll through them. Pinterest also gives you the option of viewing your most clicked and most repined pins in the past 30 days.

On the next screen, you’ll give your promoted pin it’s name, which will be the visible title of the pin that users will see. You can also set a destination URL.

Promoted Pins Targeting
Below this, you’ll be able to select different interests, which are used as a sort of targeting criteria. These interests will help reach a relevant audience in their browsing and home feeds. They will also sort your post into the correct categories.

When you scroll down, you’ll be asked to choose keywords. I believe that this is the most important section in the entire ad creation process.
The keywords you choose will determine what searches your pin shows up in. You want to connect with users who are actively searching for content like yours. Pinterest automatically suggests searches based on their information about your pin, and they’ll provide a list of keywords for every search that you make.

Click on different keywords to add them to your campaign. Pinterest recommends using 20-30 keywords per promoted pin.
When it comes to the keywords you choose, think outside the box to help your pin show up in more searches. For example, instead of just having keywords like “beet soup” and “beets,” you can add “chilled soup,” “summer recipes,” and “liquid diet.”  This gives you more diversity,  expanding visibility.
When you scroll to the next section, you have the ability to have your pins only shown to those:

in certain locations
who speak certain languages
use specific devices
are a certain gender

Finalizing Your Campaign
Next, you’ll be able to set your Maximum CPC bid. This is the most you’re willing to pay for a single click to your website (or, in the case of an engagement objective, for a single measure of engagement). This must be at least $0.10. Pinterest will let you know if your bid is too high or low compared to what others are bidding.

Once you submit your campaign, it will need to pend approval. You can view your campaigns’ approval status under the Engagement campaigns or Traffic campaigns tabs.

Editing Your Campaign
At any point, if you want to edit your campaign, click on the name of the campaign you want to edit. You’ll be taken to the overview of its information, and you can choose “Edit Promoted Pin” in the top right hand corner.

From there you can pause your campaign, change your maximum bid, and add more targeting or keyword information.

Promoted Pins Analytics
Both as your campaigns progress and once they’re over, it’s important to monitor them through the promoted pins analytics.
You can find information about how your campaigns are performing on the home page of the ads platform, or find detailed information on each campaign by clicking on them.

Pinterest’s reporting shows you your total impressions, total engagement, total conversions, and your total spend over the past thirty days both for your campaigns as a whole and by engagement goals.
You can also see your highest and lowest performing promoted pins.
How to Use Pinterest’s Analytics
Most social media platforms have given us analytics to track our presence and impact on the platform, as well as our audience on it. We’ve got Facebook Insights (and Audience Insights), Google Analytics, and Twitter’s Analytics. Now, we’ve got Pinterest Analytics.
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Accessing Pinterest Analytics
First of all, there’s one thing I’ve seen causing confusion that we have to note: personal Pinterest users will be unable to get analytics for their profiles. You need to have your profile converted to a business profile in order to access the analytics. You can do this by either signing up as a business, or—if you already have an account—by converting it here.
Once you’re using Pinterest as a business, you can access your analytics from your profile Page. Click on the star in the top right corner next to “Edit Profile,” and it will reveal a drop down menu. You’ll see “Analytics” as an option to click on.

When you first access Pinterest’s Analytics, you’ll be taken right to your dashboard.

On your dashboard, you’ll be able to see a quick overview of what’s going on with your profile, including:

Number of average daily impressions
Average daily viewers
Amount of average monthly viewers
Average monthly engaged
Top pin impressions in the past 30 days (which will show you the amount of impressions, repins, clicks, and likes those pins have)

On the right hand side of the page, you’ll see a box that says “What to see more?” Once you confirm your website by installing a code they give you into your website index, you’ll be able to know what all of your content is doing on Pinterest—not just the pins you’ve actually pinned.

The dashboard is designed to give you a quick overview of what’s going on in a glance—the other tabs will give you a more in-depth look.
Your Profile
In the top of the analytics page, you’ll see different tabs you can click on: analytics, your pinterest profile, and audience.

Under the “Your Pinterest Profile,” you’ll be able to access detailed information about the activity on your profile. It is appropriately named.
The different tabs and information include:

Impressions. Under this tab, you can see your overall impressions within a certain range of eye (which you can adjust), your top pin impressions, and boards with top impressions.
Repins. You can see your average daily pins and repinners, the content that has been most repinned in the past 30 days, and boards with the most repinned pins.
Clicks. Evaluate the number of clicks to your website from your pins (daily clicks and daily visitors). You can also see the most clicked pins within the past 30 days, and the board with the most clicked pins.
All time data. This shows the best performance of your pins in the entire history that you’ve had your Pinterest. You can see your all time most repinned pins, the best in search, and power pins (pins with a high mix of clicks, repins, and “more”).

If you want to know how your content is performing on Pinterest, this will give you everything you need to know.
Audience Analytics
It’s no surprise that the audience analytics tab is going to give us information about the audience we have on Pinterest, which can be incredibly helpful, as we all know, for a lot of reasons. There are two tabs: demographics and interests, both self explanatory.
Under the demographics tab, you’ll be able to see:

Number of average monthly viewers
Average monthly engaged

The country of your audience

Under the Interests tab, you’ll be able to see what your audience is—you guessed it—interested in. This will manifest in a list of topics and niches, accompanied by images, to show what other interests your audience shares.

You’ll also be able to see Pinner boards that have a lot of your pins on them, and other brands that your audience engages with (giving you a good look at your competition).
How to Use This Information
It’s  always good to know who your audience is and how your profile is performing, in the most amount of detail as possible.
By looking at your audience analytics and comparing it to your audience on other platforms, you can see who you’re missing.  Sometimes the answer will be that a large percentage of that demographic just doesn’t frequently use Pinterest; sometimes, though, you’re missing them for another reason. You can either create new pins, boards, and content to try to engage with them.
Analytics can also help you to gear more content towards the audience that you do have on Pinterest. In a lot of cases, the audience you have on Pinterest may not be identical to the one you have on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube—and that’s ok.
Different people use different platforms, and you’ll want to adjust your content to that. If, for example, I noticed that my cooking site had an audience with a large interest in camping, I could create content about food to take or cook on a camping trip.
Pinterest’s Buyable Pins

Promoted Pins are doing exceptionally well, and buyable pins are driving major conversions.

Image courtesy of

Pinterest alone, even without their ad platform, is a valuable marketing tool, allowing businesses and marketers to showcase their brand in a variety of different ways. Promoted Pins allow businesses to guarantee that users are seeing their pins. Buyable pins enable users to purchase directly off of a pin, without ever leaving Pinterest.
Here’s everything we know about Pinterest’s buyable pins…
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What Are Pinterest’s Buyable Pins?
Pinterest’s buyable pins are a simple, fast, and secure way for users to make purchases without ever leaving Pinterest.
Buyable pins are identifiable to users by a blue “Buy It” tag that shows up right next to the red “Pint it” button. Users can  see the price of the item, and will be taken through a swift check out process, all on Pinterest.
If you’ve ever wanted a way to boost impulse buys, I think buyable pins just might be your answer. As users are browsing through Pinterest, creating their wishlists and getting ideas, they’ll be able to see your product, the price, and purchase it all with a few quick taps or clicks on their mobile device. They don’t even repeatedly enter in their payment information, making the process go swiftly—before they get the chance to talk themselves out of it.
With the assistance of Shopify and its store owners, Pinterest plans on having roughly 2 million Buyable Pins active by the end of this month.
Buyable pins are currently starting with testing just for iPhone and Ipad users in the US (users must have recently updated IOS systems). They just started rolling out buyable pins on June 30th, so apple mobile device users are just starting to get a glimpse of them for the first time.
After testing is completed, it seems that Pinterest fully intends to release buyable pins for Android and even desktop users.
How Pinterest is Keeping Buyers’ Information Secure
Right now, there is a simple, fast, and secure check outPintrest designed specifically for mobile users. Normally, checkouts and purchases on mobile can be cumbersome and exhausting tasks, so Pinterest made sure to change that.
Pinterest will never actually be a “middle man” for buyers’ financial information; they will use a secure checkout that will deliver the payment information right to the vendor, and not store the information themselves. Apple Pay is one option for users to make purchases securely on buyable pins, and Braintree is working behind the scenes to help with other methods of secure payment.
Long story short: Pinterest doesn’t store your information, keeping your payment information and privacy off as many platforms as possible. The payment process will be secure, but fast and simple. It will be easy for both buyers and merchants, and safe for both to use. Who can say no to that?
Why Pinterest’s Buyable Pins are a Game Changer
As far as I know, on no other social media platform has there ever been the opportunity for marketers to enable buyers to purchase directly off the social media platform (I’m not counting sites like Shopify and Groupon, where people purely go to purchase). Instagram has announced a competing “Buy It” button, which is proof that this could be a feature that’s here to stay (and potentially revolutionary).
Pinterest at its very core is a fascinating (and addicting) blend of wish list creation, window shopping, and recipe hunting. Especially when it comes to the wish list creation and window-shopping, a buyable pin could be a really powerful thing. Just imagine the revenue that could bring in at Christmas time alone, when people are desperately hunting for that last minute gift.
Even better—users can potentially continue on through Pinterest, making multiple purchases, encouraged to do so since they never leave the site and risk not coming back.
The benefits for marketers are huge. And here’s one of the biggest and best parts of buyable pins: Pinterest doesn’t take a cut of your sales. There’s no commission. You keep every dollar you make on the sales you get from buyable pins. Though that has the potential to change down the line if buyable pins see a lot of success, for now marketers are using them with no drawbacks.

How to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic To Your Site
With Pinterest weighing heavily on many users when they’re making buying decisions, it’s essential to use  best practices to drive more traffic to your site so they can make the decision to buy with you. Fortunately, there are 4 incredibly easy ways to help your pins stand out, driving traffic (and eager customers) to your site.
1. Use Taller Pins
Choosing taller pins (but not too tall!) can make all the difference in how much traffic you’re getting to your site. While most pins will be slightly taller than they are wide, pins of a certain dimension are likely to perform the best.
You want your pin to be taller than it is wide. This focus of these dimensions is purely on the image, though additional text can help increase clicks, too.
On Pinterest, all images will be scaled to a width of 235 pixels (with an expanded width of 736 pixels once you click on it). The ideal ratio seems to be closer to 1:3.5 (or 600 pixels wide by 2,100 pixels tall, for example).
Taller pins stand out in the Newsfeed automatically, and can be quick to draw the eye. While you don’t want it to be much taller than 1:3.5, you can test out different lengths and see what resonates best with your audience.
2. Post at Peak Times
Posting at peak times will help more users to see and click on your pins. Most importantly, it will also encourage more repins, will which continue to cycle through the site. Peak times for Pinterest are 8-11PM, particularly on Saturdays.
Other high traffic times include:

Fridays at 3PM
2-4 AM and PM, every day
9 PM daily (which is considered to be the true peak time)

Even though you do want to post at peak times, space your content out, with no more than one pin per hour. Since Pinterest has traditionally had rules in place so that only one pin per hour per user will show up in a certain category, you don’t want to take any chances.
3. Add CTAs to your Descriptions
Some of the best advice you’ll ever see in any blog post about marketing is to slap a CTA on whatever it is you’re sharing, whether it’s a Facebook post or an email. The same applies to Pinterest, though they’re overwhelmingly underused on this platform for some reason.
While ending with a CTA is more common, you can also start your description with a CTA, too.
If you scroll through Pinterest, it’s a little surprising how few pins actually have CTAs attached. Encouraging users to “click to learn more” or “sign up now” can be enough to actually inspire action.
Don’t believe me?  Call to action pins can increase engagement and conversions by up to 80%. If that’s not enough motivation, I don’t know what is.
Ending your description with a CTA can increase both traffic to and conversions on your site.
Add CTAs to the end of your descriptions, and keep them brief and to the point. You can also add your CTA to the image itself as text overlay if you choose.
4. Install Rich Pins
Rich pins give users additional information to capture their interest and make them want to click.
No matter what type of business you have, Rich pins can automatically help send traffic to your site from Pinterest. Rich pins are dynamic, and offer more information than a regular pin. The idea is similar to Twitter Cards.
There are different types of rich pins available for businesses to install and use. The types of rich pins currently available are:

Article Pins, which feature article title, a description, date of publication, and the author’s name.
Recipe Pins, which feature ingredients, serving information, and cooking times
App pins, which include install buttons and are currently available to iOS apps only.
Place pins, which are ideal for local businesses and include a map, address, and phone number

Movie pins, which include ratings, prominent cast member names, and reviews
Product pins, which include up-to-date pricing, and purchasing information
Product pins reflect current prices and availability; this product, for example, is currently listed as out of stock.

Rich pins are synced up with your site, and will continue to automatically update and provide the most accurate information. This means that product pins, for example, will update the price listed automatically; if your product goes on sale, that’s reflected in the pin.
The extra information from rich pins can help drive more relevant and engaged traffic to your site. They’ll have all the up-to-date information that they need before they even get there.
You can find more information about installing rich pins here.
Integrating Pinterest Marketing & Facebook Marketing
Facebook is a social network dedicated to connecting people from all around the world. Pinterest is visual discovery tool designed to link people with similar interests or projects. Together, they can be a match made in social media heaven.
While Facebook is clearly the king of social media, Pinterest can be used in conjunction with Facebook. Think of it the best of both worlds; you’ve got Facebook’s reach and engagement with Pinterest’s potential for discovery.
In addition, check out this data:

Although Pinterest doesn’t have Facebook larger reach, 55% of Pinterest users have engaged with brands through Pinterest. This is opposed to 48% of Facebook

43% of Pinterest users note that they use Pinterest to “associate with retailers or brands with which I identify.” Compare this to the 24% of Facebook users who agree to the same use with Facebook

Pinterest users are more loyal than Facebook fans in terms of showing support

The above shows the following: While Facebook has the userbase, Pinterest has the engagement and the loyalty factor. Pairing the two together can provide you with some great results. So, what are some ways to combine the span of Facebook with the library of wealth Pinterest provides? You just have to follow a few easy steps…
Pin content from Facebook
The great thing about Pinterest is that you can “pin” or save a recipe, craft idea, DIY resource, and even how-to guides.
Plus, with over 10 million users, Pinterest has cultivated an audience of users, innovators, and as with any social network, addicts. However, if fans are able to pin content directly from Facebook, you can create twice as much usership than with one platform alone.
The Four Seasons of Boston combines the power of Facebook with the usefulness of Pinterest by pinning valuable content straight from a business page:

For example, The Four Seasons posts the hotel chef’s food inspiration, such as a recipe for beef bourguignon. The recipe has a “pin it” button in the corner, making it easy for users to save the recipe directly from Facebook.
Users won’t be able to pin straight from your Facebook Page; however, using third party software like Shortstack you can easily create a tab that has pinnable images in it.
Hold a contest
Contests are a great way to boost engagement, drive sales, and involve your followers in your product or service. However, if you post a contest on Facebook with the intention of directing your followers to Pinterest, your contest can hold a larger significance.
Several great examples that showcase how a Pinterest and Facebook integration can be beneficial include:

Logitech posted a contest on Facebook asking followers to follow them on Pinterest. They then request fans to pin the place they would most likely want to work, study, or create on their terms with the Logitech tablet folio. After, fans are asked to click on any of the pins to fill out an entry form for a chance to win a Logitech product of their choice, plus a $500 gift card towards a tablet

In the Esurance Fantasy Tailgate Sweepstakes, Facebook followers are asked to create a Pinterest board containing items such as who they are cheering for and game day activities. They are also asked to fill out an entry-form on Facebook. Winners receive $2,000 worth of tailgate swag.

Timex asked Facebook followers to pin their favorite Timex and accessories from their Pinterest inspiration board for a chance to win a featured Timex and a $100 Visa gift card.

When send traffic from Facebook to Pinterest, you encourage your followers to get involved in a fun way.
Promote specific Pinterest boards
The beauty of Pinterest is that it allows businesses and users to create different boards, which are essentially categories that group together the best pieces of content.
For example, companies like HubSpot have categorized their boards into great sections, such as marketing eBooks, helpful webinars, or holiday marketing techniques. However, when you promote specific Pinterest boards on Facebook, you are able to target a bunch of content through one update.
For example, Entrepreneuress Academy, an online membership site that teaches people how to grow their businesses online, promotes certain boards on Facebook. For example, a board with inspirational quotes and wise words is linked in an update, complete with a teaser image. This promotes both the board, plus the mass amounts of content within it, through Facebook.

Facebook and Pinterest are a match made in social media heaven. By using the best features of both sites, you’ll be able to optimize each platform and interact with your followers in fun and creative ways.

How to Share Timely Content on Pinterest
Due to the long lifecycle of pins, tons of content that is shared is designed to be evergreen, meaning that it will stay relevant for long periods of time. This is a solid strategy, and it’s one I highly recommend.
That being said, timely content does have its place on Pinterest and can perform incredibly well. Let’s not even get started on the drool-worthy, holiday-specific recipes that pop up every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Superbowl.
Timing can be everything in marketing, and having the right content be cycled through at the right time can provide huge results. Education companies can benefit from having content like “10 Products All Teachers Need to Go Back to School” go live in August, and a landscaping business could get a ton of business from relevant content just in time for spring gardening.
What Makes Sharing Timely Content on Pinterest So Difficult?
Timely content can be challenging in a way that is unique to Pinterest. Because pins have a longer life cycle than most social media posts, content may take some extra time to get traction compared to other platforms. This can result in your valuable, relevant content never getting enough traction at the right time, which means that it won’t get the kind of results that it could have.
There’s another challenge with timely pins. When pinners find a pin and share it, it replicates as being a new pin from that day; we don’t necessarily see the date of the original pin unless we go digging (and let’s be real, nobody does that). Because of this, time-sensitive pins (like pins advertising contests or sales) may be shared long after the relevant deadline has passed. This can result in confusion and frustration.
There’s no way to know, by looking at the image or description, if the contest is over. People may repin a dead link or an out-of-date contest.
Simply put: if your pin has a time limit before it’s no longer relevant, it can be difficult to get it the visibility or traction needed before that deadline is up.
To make sure all your timely content is being shared at the right time (and not after), and your pins are always as accurate as possible, we’ve got 5 tips to help you share timely content on Pinterestfor better results.
#1. Use Rich Pins
The biggest problem with the average pin is that it’s a stagnant post that continues to be shared as if it’s current.
While we can go into Facebook and comment on an old post to keep users updated on what’s happening, or they can see a time stamp on the original post, this isn’t necessarily true for Pinterest; our pins can be repinned again and again until we lose track and can’t update everyone. This makes Pinterest a difficult platform to use when advertising products, especially when listing timely content like sales prices.

Rich pins (which we’ve talked about above) are the solution. Rich pins are synced up to your website, and will automatically update themselves will relevant information. If price changes on a product, for example, the price on the pin will automatically update, without any efforts on your part. This allows us to share timely product information in a pin, without worrying that a temporary price discount will aggravate users later when they click to our site after the sale has expired only to see the full price. If your products are out of stock, this will also be reflected in the pin.

There are a few different types of rich pins, including recipe pins, app pins, product pins, place pins, and article pins. To see how to install rich pins, you can see an awesome guide here.
#2. Place End Dates on an Image
This tip can be important for content that’s not only timely, but also time sensitive. If you have a pin with a deadline, like a contest, event/ event registration, or a sale, you want to make it clear to everyone looking at your pin when that deadline is. This can prevent the pin from continuing to circulate after it’s no longer evident.
While mentioning end dates for the sale/contest/event/etc. in the description can be helpful, plenty of users will repin a pin and change the text, sometimes without ever reading the original text. For this reason, placing a date on the actual pin image (in the text) can be useful.

This can also help increase urgency when a user first sees the timely content. With nothing inspiring action quite like a deadline, this can help drive immediate results in both engagement and clicks to your site. When an expiration date is in plain sight, users are also much more likely to convert immediately instead of just saving the pin for later.
#3. Change Visibility (with Third Party Tools)
On Facebook, there are scheduling tools that allow your posts to no longer show up in the Newsfeed after a certain period of time. This allows brands to share time-sensitive and relevant content, but can keep it from continuing to appear once it’s no longer relevant. While Pinterest doesn’t offer a tool like this (at least not currently) there are third party tools that do.
Shortstack’s contest software, for example, has an awesome visibility feature for Pinterest. With this tool, you can control what your audience sees at different times. You can, for example, display discounts, sales, and contests, for a limited time.

I haven’t seen any other tools yet that offer adjustable visibility settings like Shortstack (though there are some incredible scheduling tools like ViralTag that I do recommend), but I’m keeping my eye out for more!
 #4. Promote Your Pins
If you’ve got timely content (especially if it has a deadline) and want to get a lot of eyes on it fast, Promoted Pins is your best bet.
Promoted Pins has been popular with marketers, and can give your content the instant visibility boost that is sometimes necessary with timely content, launching it in front of the right people instead of waiting for it to be seen. If you’re actively promoting a campaign, like a contest or a sale, and want a ton of eyes on this particular campaign, paying for increased visibility, engagement, and clicks is completely worth it.

You can see more about how to run promoted pin campaigns here.
#5. Capitalize on Keywords
If you’re posting timely content that’s relevant based on a specific event, holiday, or season, users might come to Pinterest searching for it. You want to make sure your pin is the one that pops up when they hit enter on that search button. A deliberate use of keywords will help with this.
This image will rank for keywords “fall wedding ideas” and “autumn wedding,” which keeps them covered regardless of which terminology their audience uses.
Keywords are just as important on pins as they are on blog posts. Pinterest’s search engine is frequently used by pinners who are looking for specific content, and you want to make sure that yours is what you find. Having relevant, timely content is a great way to help you rank well in a lot of those searches, as there will be a surge of interested users looking for your content at exactly the right time (think wing recipe searches come Superbowl time).
“First week of school checklist” and “teacher survival kit” could be powerful keywords for this image this time of year.
Keywords can be placed both in the pin title and in the pin description, and you can use both opportunities to try to rank for a different keyword. These keywords can even help your pin show up in Google search results, increasing reach and visibility further.

Pinterest B2B Examples from Big Brands
Pinterest, as it turns out, is one of the most effective platforms when it comes to driving sales from social media. B2B businesses are killing it on the platform.

Although Pinterest does not have the same reach as other platforms, 55 percent of Pinterest users have engaged with retailers and brands through Pinterest, as opposed to 48 percent of Facebook users who have engaged with retailers or brands through Facebook.
Further, Pinterest also appears to be a better bridge to brand association: 43 percent of Pinterest users note that they use Pinterest to “associate with retailers or brands with which I identify,” as opposed to 24 percent of Facebook users who agree to the same use with Facebook.
So, as a B2B organization, what are some specific ways to optimize Pinterest in your overall strategy?
Create boards your audience will love
Pinterest boards are essentially categories that group together the best pieces of content. For example, companies like HubSpot have categorized their boards into great sections, such as marketing eBooks, helpful webinars, holiday marketing techniques, as well as amusing boards like “Meme-tastic marketing.”

HubSpot’s boards are carefully pieced together to contain the right information for their audience: Those looking to improve the marketing process.
In addition to creating awesome boards, be sure to link all the content in your boards to your website or a landing page — within reason, of course — so you’re reiterating your messaging, as well as your organization.
Up the visual content
Pinterest is all about the visual. From infographics, to charts, to advice guides, your brand should increase your visual content in order to reach your audience.
General Electric (GE) is a great example of a company that has used Pinterest to show off their products. GE has a board called “Badass Machines.” which illustrate different technologies produced by the company. Examples include wind machines, aviation engines, and locomotives,

GE does things a little differently: They post visually stunning images which are either filtered through an editing program or taken at an interesting angle. The combination of the two amps up their Pinterest page, while promoting their brand in a cool new way. This is something any B2B organization can do, no matter the product or service.
Put a face to your organization
Sometimes your audience wants to know more about you, your processes, and your accomplishments before they sign on or commit.
While you can show what you’re all about on platforms like Facebook, studies show Pinterest users are more loyal than Facebook fans in terms of showing support. When you have a more supportive fanbase, you should tailor your content in such a way which makes you relatable.
For example, let’s say you wanted to promote your company culture or a new face in your organization. You can use Pinterest to communicate this.

Headshots of the new CEO or the team, pictures of a company event, photos of your office, or even an infographic which shows how you make things happen are all ways you can use Pinterest to illustrate why your organization is one to follow.
Focus on trends
Trends or patterns can show what’s happening in your industry, as well as what you’re doing to make strides based on these trends.
Promoting industry trends via Pinterest gives your audience some different perspectives, as well as direction, into their current strategy and what you can do to help.
For instance, IBM has a board called “Big Data and Analytics,” which demonstrates how certain types of data helps them to make better decisions.

Another board, “IBM Social Sentiment Index” illustrates public opinion from a range of social data. Both of these boards show why IBM is ahead of the curve; they’re actively promoting and engaging in the latest trends.

Final Thoughts
Pinterest is a valuable tool with marketers, providing a huge potential opportunity for increased sales—and for free. With paid options like promoted pins and additional features like buyable pins, that potential has only increased. Add in best practices and cross-platform integration, and it because an invaluable tool all businesses should be using.
When it comes to Pinterest, sticking to the basics—simple keywords, straightforward image, clear description—can help improve your results, making our job as marketers and businesses much easier. This step-by-step guide to Pinterest marketing gives you everything SMBs need to get their campaigns up and running.
What do you think? Do you use Pinterest as part of your marketing strategy? How increase your pins’ visibility? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

How Do You Hire a Designer?

My friend Jeff just asked me this question. He was looking for a designer for a one-off graphic design job. He had the project all scoped out. He just didn't know how to do it. He's not a fool; he web searched around for stuff, but what you find doing that is a confusing mess with plenty of results that don't feel right.
I figured I'd document that journey here, and contrast it hiring an electrician. A trite comparison, perhaps, but as the light switch in my bathroom doesn't work right now and I'm actually in the process of hiring an electrician, it seems apt.


To set the stage more accurately, this is what Jeff asked me, verbatim:
I have a conference in a month that my boss wants some roll-up banners and data sheets for. I can write OK, but don't know squat about design. I've tried a few things, but are I'm under a bit of a deadline.
The ol' College Try
First, Jeff tried designing the banners himself. That way they could maybe be used directed, and if not, they would give a new designer very specific direction.

I'm impressed by this as work from a complete non-designer. I've certainly seen "professional" design work worse than this.

Jeff Finds Fiverr
With these in hand (he thinks of them as mockups), he finds Fiverr, which is a marketplace of sorts for design (and other services).

He says:
I took these mockups and sent them to some Fiverr designers and basically said, "Make something like this but good; you know, like how a designer would do it".
The results?
That did not produce anything useable.
That's just one person's experience of course, but it seems to jive with what is often said about these types of sites. They turn design into a commodity. Nobody is getting incredible work, but incredible work isn't what the people who use this site want. They want affordable work. "Five dollar work," is the implication.
Unfortunately affordable, in this case, resulted in unusable.
Other Options
Upwork, Craigslist, word of mouth? I really have no idea how to hire somebody for a short term project.
I think Jeff was asking me, because I might have known some other resource for hiring designers that is like, "Oh, don't mess around with those other sites, here's the one you should be using that will be perfect for you."
I couldn't give him that because I just don't have enough experience in hiring designers at this scope to know.
I know there is a site called Thumbtack for hiring professionals. In a web search of mine, I was able to land there and poke my way through a "wizard" about what I wanted for a design.

This was specific to web design, not trade show banner design, but they likely have stuff for all kinds of design services.

I hired a chef one time on Thumbtack, and it worked out OK. The way it works is that people get in touch with you after you post what you're looking for, giving you an opportunity to vet them. Upwork looks pretty similar.
There is also 99designs, in which you select a package which apparently directly affects the quality of design you get back:

Something about getting 30-50 designs back feels awkward to me. That's a ton of people doing work for nothing (they know what they are getting into, but still.) And that's a lot of design for me to sift through when it's done.
I'd rather see three designs and go through a couple of rounds of feedback. Apparently, you can ask for revisions (while the "contest" is "open"), but that's all I know. I would think the designer is incentivized to do revisions because they would stand a higher chance of that design getting picked as the winner. Only the winning designer gets paid.
Seems like a slightly higher-brow Fiverr. The kind of site that designers turn up their noses to and write Medium articles about the death of design, but that also make a zillion dollars and have a bunch of satisfied customers.
My gut instinct is that Jeff would have had better luck slightly on 99designs that Fiverr, but that's only based on the look of the site and the pricing.
It kind of makes sense there are sites filling the pricing tiers in the market. Fiverr is apparently holding down the low end with $5 pricing. 99designs lists their Bronze package for "Poster" at $199. Then there are clearly more high end market places like Sortfolio (specifically for web design) who's lowest price tier is "$3,000 and under".

Word of Mouth
It sounds like the thing that worked was:
I ended up going to our printing company and being like "Y'all know any designers?"
Even Silicon Valley, with all those busy minds trying to solve problems for the common citizen and make the world a better place can't beat the ol' "just ask someone who probably knows".
Contrast This To Hiring An Electrician
The world has got hiring an electrician licked. Using the web, this is my go-to:

I know a lot of people have luck on Angie's List, including me:

They still make the Yellow Pages, at least where I live, so even that's a possibility. Hiring an electrician is downright easy.
My World
I struggled to find any answer at all for Jeff because my world is so weirdly different. I know a bunch of designers, so I can just reach out to them for either the work directly or referrals. I've hired designers by looking around Dribbble and reaching out to people who's work I like. I can ask around on Twitter and probably find someone. My mom sells printing for a living and knows a ton of local designers. I can reach out to people I've worked with or hired before.
Aside from Dribbble, not much of that is useful for Jeff. It's just my life and industry experience.
It's no wonder companies are trying to commoditize design. They see opportunity in making it as easy to hire a designer as it is to hire an electrician. It's no wonder people use those companies; they look amazing compared to the spammy garbage it's so easy to find in web search results.
I bet there are a lot of people here reading this who are designs who want to be found. They don't want to be a part of a commodity site and don't think of their work as a commodity. Word of mouth works pretty well for them, but that feels like a risky foundation for business.
Jeff wants to find you, you want to be found, and I don't really know how to tell him where to find you.

How Do You Hire a Designer? is a post from CSS-Tricks
Source: CssTricks

4 Types of Tools You Should Use to Increase UGC

Let’s go through a hypothetical scenario. You’re looking for a new CPA to help you with tax preparation for your small business. As if local firms know it, you start getting postcards and brochures in the mail and emails in your inbox, all full of perfectly-crafted copy.
They all look like great options. Your friend hears you’re looking, and refers you to the CPA they’ve used for three years.
Which would you go with?

Most, without any hesitation, would go with the referral.
This is why UGC is so important to our businesses; we’re more likely to trust this virtual version of word-of-mouth marketing that comes from other users than actual marketing material.
We’re going to take a look at the 4 tools that are most effective when you want to increase the creation and sharing of user-generated content.

Hard data actually proves this exact fact; a whopping 70% of consumers trust peer reviews and recommendations (even if they’re from strangers) over any type of traditional marketing material. UGC-based ads also get an average of 4x higher click-through rates.
In order to use the UGC, however, you first need to earn it. This can be challenging, but there are several different types of tools to increase UGC that can help you kickstart your new campaigns.
1. UGC Sharing & Curation Tools
User generated content is only valuable if it’s shared, so UGC sharing and curation tools (which often come as one plugin) for your site is already an important move. Even aside from the obvious benefits this has (including driving sales and increased conversions), this can generate more UGC if the displays are paired with a CTA encouraging it.
Kaplan College (using TINT) chose to ask for UGC of proud students and their accomplishments. This is a subject plenty will be happy to weigh in on.
TINT and ReadyPulse are two fantastic UGC sharing tools. They both offer content curation (meaning they’ll search for the user generated content for you) and allow you to create, place, and moderate streams of UGC on your website. They can be placed on your home page, on a designated social page, and even next to relevant products.
ReadyPulse’s customer Skull Candy chose a fun and dynamic hashtag to attach to the UGC on their site.
Always, always make sure to attach a call to action above the stream of social content, prompting users to share content with your specific branded hashtag. This will make it possible for the curation part of the tools to work the way they need to.
2. Contest Software
One of the easiest ways to drive major UGC fast is to host a social media contest. A lot of brands will host contests purely to drive user generated content, and don’t even try to collect leads (though I always recommend getting leads whenever possible). Photo sharing contests and hashtag contests are both great ways to get a flood of UGC.
Wishpond’s photo contests, hashtag contests, and photo caption contests are some of the best ways to get high-quality UGC.
Contest software can increase the overall success of your social contests. Two great options are Shortstack and Wishpond. They both allow you to create landing pages and widgets you can place on your site, expanding the reach of your contest to multiple platforms. This will drive up the amount of engagement from your contest. As long as UGC is a part of that contest’s requirements, they can help you see major increases.
3. Hashtag Research Tools
Some of the best UGC is posted on social media. Whether you use a content curation tool or go searching yourself, you need to be able to find that content if you want to share it. This is where you need to have unique hashtags particular to your brand, which are searchable on Instagram and Twitter.
Having a catchy hashtag can also inspire the creation of UGC, whether it’s the hashtag you use year-round or a seasonal or contest hashtag. Because of this, it’s important to do your research to help increase its usage. The focus here is going to be on hashtag creation instead of searching for trending topics; that’s another goal for another blog post.
Image source:
I’ve mentioned Hashtagify before here, and it’s still a fantastic tool to use for hashtag research. You can enter any hashtag and see commonly associated words. This can give you new creative ideas for your hashtag.
Sprout Social’s hashtag tool is a personal favorite. They’ll tell you which words and topics were most mentioned, along with common associations with those phrases. This will tell you what content is getting the most traction, and what phrases customers are most likely to respond to.
4. Review Generation & Display Tools
An exceptionally valuable type of UGC comes in the form of customer testimonials and purchase reviews. Most brands will feature these on their sites because they can significantly help increase purchases. Reviews can also be placed in emails and social media posts to drive conversions there, too. Just like with all other types of user-generated content, however, you typically need to ask users for reviews if you want them to leave one.

Review follow-up tools as essential; you don’t have to manually follow-up, and most will automatically reach out to ask customer’s for reviews at the exact time they’re most likely to leave them. Yotpo, ResellerRatings, and Vendasta are all great examples of review generating tools. They’ll automatically contact your customers to request reviews, which you can then feature by relevant products on your site.

Best Practices to Increase UGC
These 4 types of tools discussed above can all be effective and make a huge impact on helping you increase your UGC. While they can streamline the process and make it more efficient, it’s also important to note that they won’t do all the work on their own. Every brand needs to make an effort to encourage UGC on a regular basis.
Best practices to increase UGC include:

Feature it often. Share and promote UGC on every platform that you have. Share it on social media, add it to your email campaigns, and place it on your site in prominent, relevant locations. The more you share it, the more you’ll get back. This is why the UGC sharing tools can be so beneficial.
Use hashtags consistently. While running specific hashtag campaigns that are seasonal or timely (including contests) can generate major conversation quickly, it’s good to always have one key branded hashtag that you promote, too. Users will become familiar with it and more likely to use it throughout the year, with no special event needed.
Ask for it. If you want users to leave reviews or create and share content on social media, explicitly ask them to do so. Ask them to do it while they’re in your store, ask them through email, and issue CTAs on social media every so often asking them there.
It helps to be specific and to ask them exactly what you want them to share. One study found that 50% of consumers want brands to tell them what type of content to create, but only 16% of brands do. Instead of saying “Share your thoughts with us,” go for “Tell us why you loved your last workout/purchase/spa day/ coaching session.” A touch of specificity can go a long way.

Final Thoughts
User generated content is an extremely valuable currency all brands should be leveraging.
Finding new ways to not only share UGC but to encourage the creation of it will directly benefit your brand. These 4 types of tools to increase UGC can help brands regardless of size or industry, which is an investment worth making.
What do you think? How do you implement and encourage UGC for your brand? Which tools do you use? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Tools You Need to Prepare for Holiday Marketing

Holiday marketing season is in full swing, and it’s a lot to keep track of. Most brands ramp up their social media marketing this time of year, including the number of both their paid and organic campaigns.
This time of year often means increased site traffic and high sales potential, and we want to capitalize on all of it. With the bigger workload and the chaos the holiday season brings, working smarter is essential, and that means high quality, reliable marketing tools.

These are the 5 tools you need to prepare for your holiday marketing.

1. Social Media Management Software
I normally recommend that brands of all sizes (including one-person LLCs) use social media management software. These tools are designed to let you manage your social media profiles and posts from multiple platforms in one dashboard. They typically include features that let you draft and schedule posts ahead of time, assign tasks to team members, monitor and respond to user engagement, and evaluate social performance over time.
Creating streams of social engagement, like those of Twitter mentions on Hootsuite, will help you manage the influx of holiday engagement.
This time of year, we typically see peaks in user engagement. This includes users commenting on posts, leaving reviews, and sending private messages. Social media management software can consolidate the engagement (both public and private) all in one place. This makes responding to users unbelievably faster, and it ensures that no one slips through the cracks when you’re juggling multiple platforms. The scheduling tools let you plan your campaigns far in advance, and schedule posts so you don’t have to update them manually when you’re in the middle of the holiday rush.
Scheduling posts ahead of time is immensely beneficial this time of year. Tools like Rignite (pictured here) offer easy scheduling options.
Hootsuite is typically my go-to recommendation because it’s adaptable to businesses of all sizes. This means that it’s scalable as your business or brand grows, which is a huge benefit. It’s got all the features listed above. Other great social media management tools I recommend include Sprout Social, Rignite, and Agora Pulse. Most offer free trials so you can see what works best for your business.
As always, don’t forget to use AdEspresso to manage your paid ad campaigns, so you don’t miss out on a single sale.
2. Contest Software
Throwing a contest on social media can ramp up engagement. It also gives you the opportunity to promote certain products (especially if they’re prizes). Using contests with big prizes this time of year can help you stand out from other businesses.
Using holiday themes (Thankful Thursday = Thanksgiving) in your social contests can boost engagement.
You can run social media contests without any contest software, but they won’t be nearly as effective. Contest apps like Wishpond and Shortstack are easy to use and effective. They have fast and beautiful landing pages that you can use to capture real lead information in addition to engagement, and you can more effortlessly promote your content on more platforms. A “Facebook contest” or “Instagram contest” can become a “social contest” with landing pages shared across multiple social media sites.
High-quality landing pages from contest apps will get you more tangible results in the form of quality leads.
3. Chatbot Creators
Imagine having a tool that could handle a large number of initial customer messages that ask about things like tracking their package or warranty information. Chatbots can do exactly this, and can be programmed to instantly respond to private Facebook messages. With the drastic increase of customer service inquiries most brands face this time of year, chatbots are a huge asset.
Pandorabots and are two easy-to-use tools that allow you to create a chatbot. They’re both extremely user-friendly (even for my technologically-challenged fellows). Pandorabots is my choice for features and programming ability. Remember to program your chatbots to pass along customer service inquiries to actual people if it can’t answer your clients’ questions.
Chatbots are easier to program than you’d initially think, and can handle simple customer service inquiries that would otherwise take up a ton of resources.
Some chatbots go one step further beyond handling customer inquiries and can actually drive sales. Read more about chatbots and how to use them here.
4. Instagram Selling Storefronts
Instagram’s visual focus and high engagement make it an incredible platform to sell on, but their no-links-but-the-profile-link format hinders that just a bit. Instagram selling tools can remedy this.
There’s many selling tools that turn Instagram in a virtual storefront, and giving customers the ability to purchase quickly from your feed during the high-demand holiday season can only be beneficial.
Two popular types of Instagram selling tools work by turning your profile link into a shoppable virtual storefront.
HavetoHave.It and Like2Buy are two of the most popular selling tools. They turn your singular profile link into a virtual storefront. These storefronts are shoppable, curated content that matches the content you shared on Instagram.  Some of these tools can by synced up with Shopify to help you keep track of your inventory.
Users can click on images in the virtual storefront to view and purchase different products.
Since you want to make purchases as easy as possible to make (especially this time of year), Instagram selling tools can be exceptionally valuable.
Maximize the selling power of Instagram by using Instagram Ads to send users to designated landing pages. Instagram is also testing the ability to post links in stories, but it will take some time before we get access.
5. Hashtag Researching Tools
Instagram and Twitter rely heavily on hashtags, and being able to identify and create perfect holiday hashtags for your brand can make or break your campaigns. Researching hashtags can give you a strong understanding of what will perform well and what hashtags users are excited to attach to their own posts. Lots of brands benefit from having holiday-specific hashtags associated with their name.
Hashtag researching tools make this significantly easier; they can help you see whether you want to come up with a Christmas pun or focus on traditions like #uglysweatercontests instead.
Hashtag research can help you develop not only a great holiday hashtag, but an incredible holiday campaign.
Hashtagify is my favorite hashtag researching tool. You can type in a word and see the most commonly used hashtags associated with it. This can give you some new ideas that you hadn’t thought of, and it’s extremely effective. Each of the associated hashtags is clickable, so you can click to see more associations. This can help you develop a creative but relevant holiday hashtag (and campaign) for your brand to boost engagement and UGC.
Final Thoughts
Most brands experience massive increases in social engagement, site traffic, sales, and customer service inquiries during the holiday season. The incredible social media marketing tools discussed in this post are valuable year-round but are exceptionally important during this busy season of the year. These five tools you need to prepare for holiday marketing are high quality, reliable, and ideal for brands of all sizes.
What do you think? Have you used any of the tools we mentioned? Which tools do you use to prepare for the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Prepare Your Instagram for the Holidays

While it may seem like I might be jumping the gun a bit to some, the holidays are here. If you’re not ready, you want to get ready fast.
The holidays are often a period of exceptionally high revenue for a lot of businesses, regardless of industry, and you don’t want to miss out on any of it by not being prepared.

Social media marketing is an essential part of holiday marketing preparation, and that includes Instagram.
User interaction with brands on Instagram is still high, and the feeling of transparency it offers users makes it an ideal platform for holiday marketing.
Today we’re going to take a look at how to prepare your Instagram for the holidays so you can get started right away.

1. Have an Inventory of Holiday Themed Content
This seems like such an obvious statement, but it’s where I see businesses drowning every single year. The reason is simple: we know we’ll need a lot of holiday images and posts, but we completely forget that we’ll probably be too busy to continue to create them once the holidays start rearing full force.
That means that before everything kicks off, you should have a firm idea about:

Which products you want to push this holiday season
What offers and sales you want to use (and when)
How you want to encourage customers to purchase

Tons of brands are already promoting their Christmas-themed products, so it’s time for everyone to start planning.
Once you’ve got this information squared away, you can create a library of holiday images that you’ll share on social media, and have a rough idea of when you want to post what. This will help you increase the variety of what you’re posting, which can lead to better results.
2. Choose Questions to Optimize UGC
Asking about holiday traditions or holiday themed questions is one of the best ways to get massive engagement quickly; this strategy might even be more effect during the holidays than any other time of year because we all hold our holiday traditions so dear.
You can even go with the “This or That” questions, asking questions like “Which do you prefer: stocking presents or those under the tree/ turkey or ham/ real tree or fake tree/ eggnog vs apple cider/ Black Friday or Cyber Monday?”
You can use these questions to feature your products or to boost UGC. If you ask users to take a picture of their holiday traditions via the “this or that” format, you’re likely to get a ton of engagement and a huge store of user created content that you can use to leverage additional benefits for the brand. Remind users to always share their content with a specific hashtag that your business is using.
 3. Use Scheduling Software
The last thing you want to be worrying about is making sure you or someone on your staff is available at 3 in the afternoon, or whenever your users’ peak activity time is, to upload your picture for maximum engagement. That’s exhausting enough to manage even when you don’t have Black Friday sales and gift giving looming around the corner.
I typically recommend that businesses use scheduling software to create and schedule posts ahead of time, but I think that it’s essential in our peak busy season. I’ve worked in retail, hospitality, publishing, and now marketing consulting & writing, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in—you’re going to be swamped from mid-November to December 26th  (and some won’t get to breathe until January 2nd).

Hootsuite (pictured above) is a personal favorite; it’s a great social media managing tool, and it has amazing post scheduling and publishing abilities. You can schedule posts for multiple platforms through Hootsuite, too. Hootsuite is now integrated with AdEspresso, after all, so you know it’s got to be good.
You can use tools like this to create and schedule out posts way in advance. This is an enormous perk come the crazy holiday season.
 4. Research Relevant Holiday Hashtags
Hashtags are a powerful tool on Instagram, and they have a few big important uses for brands. Researching holiday-related hashtags ahead of time and planning out your strategies will keep you ahead of the game.

Knowing what holiday hashtags are frequently used can allow you to attach soon-to-be trending hashtags to your posts. This can maximize the visibility and reach of your posts, potentially connecting you with new audience members. This is a major advantage this time of year.
Knowing which hashtags will be used can also help you create your own unique, branded holiday-themed hashtag. You can attach this branded hashtag to all of your posts to generate conversation involving your brand. Get your users to share content with the hashtag to find UGC that you can use later, especially if you’re hosting a holiday themed contest.

Hashtag tracking and research tools like Hashtagify can help you with this.
5. Find a Way to Give Back
Even if we’re dealing with crazy in-laws or great aunts who keep asking us when we’ll ever find someone to marry us, many people have strong sentimental feelings surrounding the holiday season (even if it’s really, really deep down). If you’re able to connect with those feelings in your Instagram post, you can make a big and lasting impression on your followers.

Being involved with your local community carries a lot of weight for small and medium businesses. This is especially true if you actively participate in work for or with a charity. Placing a Toys for Tots donation box or hosting a food drive for holiday meals does your community good; sharing an image of your good deeds both promotes customer involvement and makes you look a little extra good, too. Win-win all around.
6. Prepare for Increases in Ad Costs
The holidays are a time when social media ads are in high demand from advertisers. Instagram Ads already cost a bit more than Facebook Ads, which I often think are worth it for the (on average) high click through and conversation rates they have. While there’s nothing we can do about the holiday increases in ad costs, you should know that they’re coming and plan accordingly.
The holidays for marketers are pretty much already here. If you’re planning on running Instagram Ads in the weeks leading up to Black Friday or Christmas and you haven’t done research via split testing, that needs to happen immediately. Test your audiences, your offers, and your images, and see what sticks. This will help you send out higher performing ads earlier on in the holiday season, getting you better results when they matter and saving you a lot of money with the increased costs. 
Final Thoughts
The holiday season is already here for marketers (and let’s be real, major retailers have been ready since July), and we all need to be taking advantage of these last couple of days or weeks before it hits full force. Knowing how to prepare your Instagram for the holiday season can ensure major boosts in revenue and ROI. With Thanksgiving already rapidly approaching (and that means Black Friday and Cyber Monday!), you want to start marketing prep as soon as possible—starting with your Instagram.
What do you think? How do you prepare your Instagram for the Holidays? Do you run social ads? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!  

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