What Photo Filters are Best for Instagram Marketing?

Instagram Stories first made people’s Instagram feeds sleeker, more colorful and just generally more fun. They could post their artistic photos in the background of someone else’s Story—and secretly make someone jealous and/or un-follow you while doing it.

That post-publishing feature still makes for some very sweet stories, particularly when you show a glam shot of yourself, using your favorite filter. And that’s why the tech-focused publication Mobile Syrup asked a bunch of Insta artists for their faves. (You can check out the full list of their best Instagram Stories.)

“I think I love pink the most,” said Qaisoun Phillips, of Harlem Shake fame. The artist created the trailer for Fredo Santana’s surprise Billboard Top 30 record release, Cobra Snake, using Postcard as well as Prism, Smile, Rose Mist and Champagne.

Lexi Flores of the pop band Defrdz also favors pink, calling the color “very nice to brighten up a photo and make it pop a little bit.” Her Instagram Stories include one that depicts her while wearing a yellow dress and champagne flute (I don’t like to see bridesmaids getting wrecked). Her other favorite filters are Meta, Veil and Rose Mist.

Erica May of Big Loud Music loves focus. Her favorite Instagram filters are Hyperlapse, Filter Editor and Face Prep. Her pictures are often pretty big, and she’s also into geotags and “a little vibrant color.”

You might not think that a mumford brush would be a good filter for an Insta story. Not so, said Amy Freeborn, the director of communications at National Recording Technician magazine. Freeborn’s picks include Finder (a blue stripe that makes her account look like an older block of pixels), Plus and Cartwheel (which she says makes your picture look like a topographical map of a town).

“[They’re] visually appealing,” she said, adding that it’s also meant to keep you from diving deeper into your profile and wondering what you could’ve done with the picture you took before.

Nicole Stark, lead content strategist at ad agency The Monarchy, also likes Highlights and Poster, but also Sponge, Maelstrom and Prism.

For other creatives, lighting is key, since the photo elements don’t have to necessarily look alike. Suzanne Marazonof the band The Chemical Brothers likes Light, which makes her Instagram Stories look like a video clip, “and is especially cool if you’re in Paris.” When applied correctly, the iconic light from your camera lens can “create that cinematic feel,” she said.

How to Track Social Media Marketing Results

Here’s how to track results from social media efforts.

Each business has its own unique social media strategy that should accommodate its channel of choice and goals. For example, a packaged goods company may use Facebook for display advertising and Facebook Live to achieve brand awareness. Conversely, a financial services company may have more success when using a YouTube channel and a mobile app to gather information on consumer preferences. Here’s what we at Conversocial recommend businesses put into action:

Decide where to do your online advertising campaigns.

In today’s digital landscape, there are a myriad of options in terms of how to advertise online. When advertisers are deciding where to run their social media marketing campaigns, be sure to take into account what the target audience desires in a specific channel. For example, before deciding on where to run display advertising, businesses should ask themselves if their online campaign will benefit more from a mobile campaign versus a desktop or laptop one.

Hang up on the second-screen approach.

Second-screen experiences are popular because they connect with users while watching TV. However, they also come with added costs. For example, you can use a second-screen experience to enhance the gaming experience. But you must weigh all of the costs when planning a second-screen experience versus a more traditional broadcast ad campaign. For example, you can only test the strategy if you’re comfortable with the expenses and logistics.

Create your social media hashtag.

A hashtag should be kept short and straightforward to ensure the audience engages with it effectively. Be creative with your hashtags, though. You might suggest #top10bookmarks for Instagram or #10hilariousfilms you like on Facebook. Each social media channel has its own hashtag and a growing list of fans. A dedicated hashtag can be a key tool to promote your brand.

Marketers should track analytics from each audience.

Marketers should ask each target audience to fill out a short questionnaire with tailored responses. This helps determine how your content performs. For example, if there is a platform for your brand to place an ad or create a video that’s geared toward women, then it is valuable for you to get a broader glimpse of who the target audience is.

How to Write Clickbait Headlines

It’s Thursday and you know what that means: time to pick the best headline for the week. There is a very good chance that you’ve already read them all, but even if you haven’t, it’s probably just about time to try a new approach.

Don’t get too lost in the first paragraph.
Ahem. But don’t knock it out of the park too quickly. As a sign of promise, remember that no one expects a headline to last an entire week. Let the article breathe at least. The article will only feel like a true thread if it has chunky legs. So do the same with these titles: “9 Quick Isolations That Will Make You Really, Really Happy.” That headline runs in a “Today” magazine on the back page, alongside the type you probably haven’t yet begun to type. Enjoy.

Don’t be limited by detail.
Look, we’re talking about a headline here, not a pinboard. But an eight-month-old story with a tiny paragraph about a building draped in chainmail or a photograph of a koi pond with a barcode on it? That’s just a jumble of words. Just because a headline is focused on a specific theme or entity doesn’t mean it has to be over the top or gory or nostalgic. Don’t hit your readers over the head with it. Red-letter day? Thumbs-up. Apartment with a huge view? Thumbs-down. Thoughtful photo? Over. Funny news? Not. Keep it simple and simple is good.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.
For us in the non-New York Times, in the voice of the wire services, an eye-roll and a wave of the wrist are probably sufficient. But your tie, your wallet and your five o’clock shadow should be treasured and the “V” you use to spell your name should be called for. Just don’t overdo it. (Note that our Mail-Donut gives you a warning that you’re moving way beyond the established genres of Facebook and Twitter.)

If your news report is fun and hilarious, edit it even more!
Also, please don’t hang back and let people know you’re trying to hide a nugget of unintentional entertainment. Excerpts or a photo of Grumpy Cat are fine—they’re just fine, and they don’t need to be turned into a headline. A mildly surprising note or scene makes for better copy. And if that’s not enough for you, we have a few helpfully illustrated definitions of things such as Photoshop and frisbee that should serve as a handy guide.

Do your due diligence.
Obviously the kids didn’t get their “unfuckingbelievable” headlines from every website online. On our job, we can’t spend an entire day pouring over every single article on every single story. Or even a little. So there’s no use entering them all in our free encyclopedia if you’re not going to check them out every day for the rest of your life. But it might be worth knocking back a glass of your favorite alcoholic beverage to remember that clickbait isn’t evil and it doesn’t need to be treated like some sort of global ideology.

Is Social Media Marketing Effective?

Brands are increasing their investments in online marketing. According to eMarketer, U.S. marketers will spend $156.1 billion on digital advertising in 2019, up 10.3 percent over 2018, for a compounded annual growth rate of 9.3 percent.

Most brand marketers—68 percent—plan to increase their digital marketing budget in 2019, according to a Forrester survey. What they’re doing with their money is shining a light on these marketing investments in the current digital age.

The ‘Unbundling’ of Direct Marketing

Social media marketing seems like a natural investment for a marketer. However, smart marketers are quickly realizing that social media marketing does not offer the premium ROI on a brand’s voice that direct marketing does.

Not only does a brand’s social media message not rise to the same level of quality as a brand’s direct marketing message, social media campaigns can cost many times more. According to data from Yodle, you will need to buy six times more ad impressions, 4.1 times more clicks and the highest cost-per-engagement ratio (CPE) to get the same attention—and interactions—on social media as on other media channels. Because social media is free, using ads to drive engagement can very quickly grow the cost per engagement. Brands that are using social media marketing in this way are only serving themselves.

More Investments in Social

Yet companies will spend an expected $24.1 billion on social media marketing in 2019, an increase of 22.2 percent over 2018 spending of $18.3 billion. These expected increases are because of a growing trend: More marketers are dedicating more of their ad budget to brands’ social channels. Also, in the Forrester survey, 40 percent of marketers surveyed said their company used “corporate social” channels as “a primary channel for posting and earning brand attention.”

In this environment, brands will continue to pay more to reach their audience on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Social networks are looking for more revenue to help the user experience. They’re going to use that revenue to push their own businesses, especially their related verticals.

But Brand Side Effects

The reputation of brands on social media is just as crucial as the financial figures. A brand’s emotional appeal is reaching out to its community in new and innovative ways to show their audience that the brand is a leader in their space. But it can be misleading and harmful to a brand’s reputation when they do so over a short period of time, or in a small sample size. How important is it to keep the lines of communication open with your audience on social media? It’s important to create culture on social media by connecting with your audience on a personal level. Is it good business to focus only on how a brand is performing today? That’s a big concern for marketers, who are looking for holistic strategies for engagement in the digital world.

Why is Content Strategy Important?

In a word, content strategy is the art of producing content and getting it out there in the right places at the right time for an audience. It’s helping your business succeed and bring its story across, consistently and through the hands of consumers. Some of the most challenging industries in the world need high-caliber content that it can’t produce by itself and can’t afford to develop its own. It needs the reliable partner of a content strategist to help it produce, curate and distribute the content that engages its audience and drives business growth.

Content strategists build on ideas and get them to fruition. If you never do this part, why even bother working with a creative agency? If you run a company, then you need to be ready to help your customers with the latest market research—but you have to make sure you come up with the best possible idea, with the required passion and gusto.

Content doesn’t need to come from the CMO, COO or CMO/CMO sub-unit. All four of these executives now have responsibilities for content production, so most companies employ their CMO or COO in charge of developing and distributing their content. This might mean writing the blog post, assembling and marketing video and photos or developing the next big video campaign.

It’s not difficult to take on this role, just make sure you understand your business and are willing to do the work when your company needs it. These leaders—well-trained and experienced in their fields—probably already understand content strategy and they might be able to walk a dozen others through it for them.

This is the hardest part. It’s already challenging to get a job by presenting a résumé with a solid background and work experience, but it is even more difficult to get a job by having great content ideas and showcasing them.

Content strategy is clearly a skill set that will make you stand out in a talent pool. You’ll need to know about audience research, how to create narrative that moves users emotionally, how to create copy, data, logos and design that is relevant for a target audience. You’ll need to know how to present content, when and where to reach them and how to develop the content throughout the output process, all the time explaining why this particular piece is important.

It’s possible that you have these things in your skill set already, but you need to work hard on cultivating your content strategy knowledge and skills. You might be better off starting small and focusing on some freelance content assignments than making a personal commitment to a full-time career in content. But it’s worth it if you can take on even a few marketing jobs to work with someone who can help hone your skill set. And if that person helps you, then you’re going to have to move on to a full-time job later, because your skill set will only get better with experience.
The Grover model is developed jointly by AI2 and the UW Allen School by the following authors:

How to Find Influencers

Influencers are a rising force in the social media arena. With those fickle eyes and a mastery of the copy, an influencer can instantly have a social following to rival that of major celebrities and a marketing budget worth a six-figure-plus salary.

Most brands and agencies dedicate marketing budgets to these people, and pay millions of dollars for digital campaigns. Small retailers might not have the resources to send a team to New York, London or Shanghai to find these people, who have the wealth of content-driven tools like Instagram, and they might not have the time to learn the ins and outs of social media.

The best way to find influencers is by following Facebook’s guidelines. That way, brands can get a small direct audience and earn a lot of organic, built-in “attention” from their followers. These influencers also won’t be driving people to sell products or telling them how to buy.

It’s important to follow these tips:

  1. If they have more than 10,000 followers, follow them on Facebook to find out more.
  2. If they have fewer than 10,000 followers, follow them on Instagram, because that’s where the people are who are really active.
  3. You should include a piece of advertising with every story you share. For example, if you post a picture of an attractive woman, include a link to a coupon.
  4. Be careful. Once you start following, if you find a “bad” model, don’t follow them. Only follow people you know will behave properly.
  5. Don’t pay someone to create content. A photo is worth a thousand words. If you can tell through the photo who the influencer is and who the company is, which makes the brand much more likely to remain valuable to the influencer.

Be aware, though, that some brands have decided to change their social strategy. What are they looking for from influencers?

Is Traditional Marketing Dying?

According to Organic Research, 35 percent of these marketers say they plan to spend less on traditional advertising by 2019 than they did a year ago. If true, the switch would dwarf reductions in digital and social media spending.

Such a scale of retreat by agencies is a worrisome sign. For decades, blue-chip companies have turned to planners and ad agencies to encourage their messaging to be better, more impactful, more marketable. These marketing managers want to tell the stories of products and services to millions of consumers rather than dozens of employees.

In part, such thinking owes to an awareness of the global economic upheaval, which has thrown millions of people into economic hardship. Consumers have less disposable income than ever before. Product choices are more limited and consumers appear to hold marketing agencies in little regard. Traditional marketers seem impervious to the consequences of a world divided between high- and low-income groups, and spent more than ever to figure out how to reach these consumers.

Brands are fundamentally marketing. The brand allows consumers to feel part of something big. This requires communications as powerful as personal relationships. If the message is not received by consumers, it doesn’t happen.

Certainly, corporations have more to lose from a disconnect between their marketing and consumers’ responses than consumers have to gain from poor strategy or execution. But if consumer responsiveness is not up to par, companies spend billions of dollars over multiple generations to acquire strategic advantages over competitors. For most companies, large and small, the stakes are high, and the trend toward decreased importance of traditional agencies is alarming.

Does declining connection account for the state of conversation? Is the message no longer making it through to consumers? Does it even matter?

I believe it does.

Authenticity is the next crucial innovation in marketing. Deeply rooted economic insecurity drives people to strive for better social conditions. Those of us in the ad industry can’t afford to remain detached from this reality. We need to listen to consumers and offer thoughtfully constructed, authentic messages. For that reason, we may actually be seeing the death of traditional advertising.

In a creative industry filled with agency founders who launched their businesses by applying some of the ideas pioneered by social media pioneers like Joel Johnson, we should double down on connecting with the right people at the right time, using the latest marketing and creative solutions. Our basic business will continue to struggle, so we need to continue to innovate our core models. The technology of the 21st century will allow us to reach the right consumers more effectively than ever before.

For many consumers, buzzwords such as contextual and contextual relevance will be seen as new advertising vehicles. Our current advertising models likely won’t work for this new subset of consumers who consider themselves digital natives and possess a powerful array of tech capabilities. These consumers will only accept stories that speak to them through specific context.

Technology and media have changed the way we sell, the way we market and the way we build trust. We are reaching consumers everywhere and talking to them all the time—with and about themselves. It is up to us to attract the attention of consumers, so they can feel the influence of what we are selling.

Why Influencer Marketing is the Future

Marketers love influencer marketing. And their most influential fans embrace it.

Indeed, more than half of you said that in a recent social media survey for our parent company, Merkle. But as influencer marketing is all the rage, the speed at which everything is moving can make businesses skittish. So to help some brands get ahead of the curve, we’ve created a deep dive into influencer marketing in 10 concepts.

Influencer marketing in our lifetime
Almost half of you believe influencer marketing will be commonplace in the U.S. by the end of this decade. A lot of you are on the influencer bandwagon, too, with 82 percent of you saying that influencer marketing is a priority for your business. So these businesses are increasingly leaning on influencers and their millions of followers to increase reach.

Influencer marketing platforms are exploding
The number of branded channels and services to connect your brand to the fans of some of your most prized influencers is exploding. However, brands are having trouble integrating those connections in a way that best suits their goals. So when choosing a platform, consider platform features and functionality.

There’s a swiss army of intermediaries
Influencer marketing providers have created a cottage industry in finding influencers, while also handling the relationship and providing the technology and services. Brands and marketers usually fill out the various services forms provided to facilitate the relationship. However, many believe that these intermediaries collect additional fees, and that this can be suspicious and confusing.

Social media as a key marketing channel
More than eight in 10 of you use social media channels to connect with your fans. This isn’t a low penetration rate, either. Across all markets around the world, a staggering 85 percent of you are now using social media as a way to connect with your fans.

Crowdsourcing influencer campaigns
As you are tapping into existing communities to grow your business, it can be tempting to give crowdsourcing crowds a chance to generate content for you. However, we found that you are overwhelmed with choices, and that influencers are wondering why they’re getting mixed messages. If you’re engaging influencers, make sure that they’re going to put their time and attention into creating great content for your brand.

Loyalty campaign options are oversaturated
Research shows that almost one in five of us has been let down by a loyalty campaign. More than half of you think the choice of campaigns is overly complex. So here’s a hard truth for marketers: It’s no longer enough to reach the people who show interest. You need to engage the right customers at the right moments. Make sense of those forgotten consumers by giving them interesting content and personalization. This way, customers only care about what matters to them.

The influencer of choice is no longer your brand
Influencer marketing is on the rise, but brands are increasingly spotting a huge, diverse range of different influencers. So the influencer used to be a major brand spokesperson. Now, it’s more likely to be a person of color or a new public figure. As is the case with your local coffee shop, marketers recognize that there’s value in earning the loyalty of a broader, more diverse set of consumers.

Your audience can be any size
Brands everywhere are realizing that audience demographics are shifting from a traditional corporate company to an audience that is shaped by who you are as a brand, what your brand stands for, what your ideal user is like and the stories you love to tell about your brand. Beyond the demographics that have become the “traditional” marketing customer, marketers can find that content for a much broader set of consumers, who may be different than traditional users.

Audience tracking and measurement tools are shrinking
We found that data privacy and ownership are still confusing many brands. Ultimately, marketers want to provide brands with data that will allow them to make informed decisions on how to further personalize their communication to influencers. But today, that sort of personalized communications is still a challenge for many marketers.

The next big thing is social media teams
When we asked brands how they make sure they are ahead of the curve when it comes to influencer marketing, we found that almost 60 percent of businesses employ a social media team. Those teams are figuring out what influencers resonate with their customers and identifying influencers they need to get involved with their brand.

The takeaway: Influencer marketing is a simple, effortless way to reach more customers, and it’s gaining momentum. We hope that you can join us in exploring these concepts as we work to find the right way to apply influencer marketing, and that you’ll enjoy the fun.

Common SEO Mistakes

Search engine optimization is a tricky science—because bad SEO could give you one of two outcomes: kill your site in the Google search results for a hot topic, or complete domination of the web. Here are some common SEO mistakes to avoid—so that your website will remain relevant to readers in the end.

Over-optimizing: Most SEO professionals have hundreds or thousands of keywords that would turn Google searches on their heads. Here’s a quick solution: Stop using so many keywords—and stick to using a few key phrases. For instance, instead of “best sunscreen,” Google users will see “sunscreen for healthy skin, a patent pending.”

The difference between hot and cold: Let’s start with the obvious: A hot topic is a hot topic. Take as many keywords as you can think of, and start putting them into your site. Ask yourself whether the term should live or die on your site. For instance, if you claim you’re the BEST location for Asian food in Manhattan, now think about whether your site could work without it.

Blogging the death: Are you doing blog posts at a specific time of day? You’re not on the top of Google’s rankings when Google News is searching for the keywords of your blog posts. As a general rule, you should post only on the day of the week with the lowest keyword frequency. Try sharing topics that are hot or interesting, and be innovative about what you’ll add to your blog.

Never subtract: When you start pulling back your content on certain content, your site may never recover. In some instances, you may need to do that. Be sure your content can fit on your site the way it was before you added it, and be grateful when other content comes from your site. However, always check content rankings for your content. If it’s declining in Google rankings, revise your post.

Crowdsourcing: Even the best Google search terms are still just that—terms. In its purest form, Google is about matching keywords with other keywords. And linking to different websites within the same keyword has been a tried-and-true SEO technique. But crowdsourcing with strangers has become a popular SEO trick because it leads to anonymous influence. Many sites are popping up that claim to “celebrate” certain trending keywords, which is not a useful SEO strategy.

Buzz short circuiting: For some, jumping into hot topics will bring unprecedented traffic and attention. For other sites, some perceived threat—for instance, public transportation bloggers—can sometimes top Google’s rankings for various keywords. But the mere presence of your site on Google Search can still have huge and lasting damage. Use your site like a smart investor—look for hot topic opportunities and use them to fuel your traffic.

Make it hip: On the flip side, some search engine optimization techniques in recent years have made for interesting journalism. Reading Google’s analytics reports about publications suggests that websites can have a huge and lasting negative impact on their rankings. That’s true for satire sites, for instance, as well as for mainstream journalism. If you launch a writing contest in a hot topic field, good luck. You’re probably also going to have to give away lots of prizes.

An unpredictable beast: If Google could predict how people will use the internet, it would be a king. New trends can have big repercussions for website rankings. Google is a fickle beast. Google searches are more likely to stay in the search engine results for longer than updates to its algorithm—in the context of SEO, that’s good news. But think of SEO as the product you design—consider it like a car.

Good news, bad news: Just as a car can fall out of first place to become rear-ended, an SEO campaign can have long-lasting negative or positive effects on an SEO campaign. Is it smart to give up altogether and let other sites do all of the work? Probably not, but it’s a risky proposition. The right strategy is one that mixes tactics that are risk-free and strategies that increase the likelihood of hitting Google’s top rankings, even if those tactics aren’t always popular.

Tips for Curating Great Content

For content creators, it’s easy to get swept up in the frenzy of now. And for users, it’s easy to zero in on the new and trendy—or to simply neglect the old and commonplace. Not to mention, with more than 1 billion people already scrolling through your News Feed and spreading your content out to their friends, it’s difficult to know how to find the content your audience actually wants to see. As a content creator, it’s easy to think of social media as a sea of noise. But in the right hands, social media can be a powerful way to create engagement and drive traffic to your site and content. Here are some tips that can help you balance today’s chatter with that of tomorrow.

Moderate – Create a community of people interested in the same things.

Understand the content you’re publishing and tailor it so it is instantly recognizable. Look for titles or descriptions that draw connections between content. A simple “RIP March 11, 1986” can trigger reactions or conversation on our social channels. For those who want to talk about specific topics, invite them in to share their knowledge and their passions. Once content is seeded, you can craft the community of people most engaged with the post and those who are the most likely to come back.

Keep content fresh.

Have new ideas in mind to keep your content fresh—a regular editorial calendar keeps content flowing. Editorial calendars should include a minimum of three posts per week—shorter content that’s more visual (such as on Instagram), while longer pieces should be more structured and incorporate some of your own voice, voice that moves to more attention-grabbing photo forms, like in these charming Oma posts.

Respond, but not too much.

Replying to all comments and engaging with every possible piece of content is tempting. But this kind of engagement can weigh down on your machine, as your social accounts can become overwhelmed with this kind of activity. Use moderation tools, like Replofter, that help filter out unwanted content and engage only the most thoughtful and conversational conversations.

Praise away.

Mentioning specific elements or author pages on content can drive visitors to your site. This is the equivalent of getting “red carpet treatment” from a celebrity at a premiere—providing a behind-the-scenes look into the scenes and letting readers enter into that world.

Be game.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but almost every day I see screenshots of that app or website on Facebook. Engaging with other content about that feature is a fun way to drive traffic. For example, I encourage people to click on captions at the end of my brand stories to learn more about how I think, and then to follow my content on their favorite apps and websites.

Focus on actionable insights.

You might think your audience just wants to share your stuff. But a real audience is interested in practical information, not just superficial stuff. Try using analytics to think deeply about your audience and engage in a conversation about behaviors and concerns. Then ask your audience what the action they would take if they really understood your content and who should do what. Use this valuable insight to inform your social strategies for the future.

Listen carefully.

Be prepared to listen carefully. Talk with your audience regularly about their needs, their preferences and their concerns.