Buffer: A Free Tool to Manage Social Network Posts
Name: Buffer (Visit Buffer)
Type: Social Media Management Tool
Best Website For: Free Social Media Management App
Reason it's on The Best Sites:
Buffer is probably the best free tool for managing social media posts. The site lets you schedule social media posts in advance. While it doesn't support as many platforms as HootSuite, it has a usable free plan.
Keeping Twitter safe and free from spam is a top priority for us. — Yoel Roth, API Policy and Product Trust at Twitter
This year, the team at Twitter has taken additional action to keep Twitter free from spam. Specifically, they have introduced new rules around automation and the use of multiple accounts.
You might be wondering, “why is this important to me?”
In short, Twitter might suspend your account if you fail to comply.
These rules are also encouraging good sharing practices on Twitter and will benefit everyone in the long run.
And since this is such an important topic, we would love to explore it together with you. In this blog post, we’ll share the rationale behind the new rules and what the rules would mean to you — as a Twitter user and a Buffer customer.
It’ll be great to hear your thoughts in the comments section below, too.
Why did Twitter introduce these new rules?
First, let’s understand the rationale behind these rules.
Spam has been an issue on Twitter for a long time and you might recognize these two common types of spam:
- A single account posting identical (or almost identical) tweets
- Multiple accounts posting identical (or almost identical) tweets
Such tweets often don’t provide the best experience to Twitter users, especially since Twitter still show most tweets in the reverse-chronological order. Such aggressive spam from others can prevent your followers from seeing your thoughtfully-created tweets.
That’s why the team at Twitter wants to tackle them with the new rules.
As you’ll find out below, the new rules may create some extra steps for you as a social media manager — regardless of whether you use automation or not. But overall, we feel that these changes will benefit Twitter as a whole and benefit you as a marketer.
What are the new Twitter rules (and what do they mean to you)?
Yoel Roth, who works on API Policy and Product Trust at Twitter, published a blog post about the new rules. The blog post, however, is targeted more at developers than marketers. Hence, we would love to share what the new rules mean to you.
The Twitter Rules prohibit posting duplicative or substantially similar content — both on one account and across multiple accounts.
Let’s break that down further. Here are the four key areas:
- Posting to multiple accounts
- Posting multiple similar tweets
- Posting multiple tweets to a trending topic
- Simultaneously perform actions such as Likes, Retweets, or follows from multiple accounts
1. Posting to multiple accounts
What Twitter said
Posting duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions over multiple accounts you control, or creating duplicate or substantially similar accounts, with or without the use of automation, is never allowed.
What it means to social media managers
There are three key takeaways from this guideline:
- You cannot post identical (or even almost identical) content to multiple accounts.
- You cannot create multiple accounts that are very similar to one another.
- The above applies to you whether you use an automation tool (which includes scheduling) or you manually post your tweets.
Here’s an example of what’s not allowed:
If you have multiple distinct accounts, which you wish to post the same content to, Twitter recommends that you retweet the content from one account using the remaining accounts (like Brian did in the below example).
Be aware, however, that “bulk, aggressive, or very high-volume automated Retweeting is not permitted”. In other words, retweeting from a few accounts is fine. Retweeting from a hundred accounts will probably raise a red flag.
What it means to Buffer customers
Buffer used to allow you to post the same content to multiple Twitter accounts using the composer. With this new guideline, we have implemented three changes to help you stay clear of this guideline.
First, you can no longer select multiple Twitter accounts in the composer.
When you try to select more than one Twitter account in your Buffer composer, you’ll see a message about this new change.
Second, you can no longer use the drag-and-drop copy feature to copy posts from one Twitter Queue to another. We hope that by removing this feature, we can prevent users from unintentionally posting similar content to multiple Twitter accounts, thereby violating the new rule.
Third, you can no longer Re-Buffer previously published Twitter posts to Twitter accounts using drag-and-drop. You can still use the Re-Buffer button, which allows you to modify the post before sharing it again.
2. Posting multiple similar tweets
What Twitter said
What it means to social media managers
This rule means that you cannot post or schedule identical tweets (including replies and mentions) over several hours or days.
It isn’t clear if you can post an identical tweet after a longer timeframe such as a month or two. It seems best to avoid that, too.
Here’s an example of what’s not allowed:
Here’s an example of what we try to do when we want to share a blog post several times:
What it means to Buffer customers
To help you prevent instances of sharing similar content multiple times unintentionally, you can no longer schedule posts for Twitter multiple times using the Power Scheduler feature.
Here’s how the Power Schedule feature looks like:
You can still use the Power Schedule for other social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You just can’t use it for Twitter anymore.
You can also still use the Re-Buffer feature in the Posts Report in your Buffer analytics. We’ve added a short note to remind you to modify your tweet before scheduling so that you aren’t posting “substantially similar” tweets.
3. Posting multiple tweets to a trending topic
What Twitter said
Posting multiple updates (on a single account or across multiple accounts you control) to a trending or popular topic (for instance, through the use of a specific hashtag) with an intent to subvert or manipulate the topic, or to artificially inflate the prominence of a hashtag or topic, is never allowed.
What it means to social media managers
This rule means that you cannot post multiple tweets on a trending topic with the intention to dominate the topic “to drive traffic or attention to unrelated accounts, products, services, or initiatives”.
This applies to you in all of the following circumstances:
- Whether you are posting to a single account or multiple accounts
- Whether the content is exactly identical or slightly different
- Whether you are using a hashtag or not
Here’s my best guess of what’s not allowed (e.g. when #bufferchat is trending):
What it means to Buffer customers
The product changes mentioned above will help you avoid posting duplicative content to a single account or multiple accounts.
4. Simultaneously perform actions such as Likes, Retweets, or follows from multiple accounts
What Twitter said
The use of any form of automation … to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets, across many accounts … (whether or not you created or directly control those accounts) is not permitted.
What it means to social media managers
This rule means that you cannot use tools to help you like, retweet, or follow from multiple accounts.
For example, some tools allow you to like a tweet using several accounts with just a click. Some tools even automatically like tweets using several accounts. These are no longer allowed, and using these tools can risk your account being suspended.
What it means to Buffer customers
Buffer doesn’t have any features that allow you to do any of that. So you don’t have to worry about violating this rule while using Buffer.
Other rules and resources
Besides these four rules, Twitter has a page where it lists all their rules. It’ll be great to check that out, especially the section on spam.
If you would like to read further on this topic, here are a few more resources:
- The Twitter Rules
- Twitter’s tweet thread about the new rules
- Twitter bans bulk tweeting and duplicate accounts in bot crackdown (The Verge)
- What Twitter’s New Rules Mean for Social Media Scheduling (MeetEdgar)
If you have any questions about the rules, feel free to mention them below. While I cannot guarantee that I know the answer, I’ll be happy to discuss them with you.
Over to you
Overall, we are optimistic that the new Twitter rules will be beneficial to the entire Twitter ecosystem.
Reducing spam on Twitter can also greatly benefit marketers in many ways. First, there’ll be a higher chance for your quality content to be seen. Second, as you no longer have to compete with the spam for your followers’ attention, you can post fewer tweets and spend more time making each one even better. Third, when the overall quality of tweets improves, people might be more likely to interact with tweets or click on links in tweets, bringing you more engagement and traffic.
Are there more benefits that you can think of?
We understand that many of you are used to the features that we’ve just removed and these changes will cause much inconvenient for you. If you have any thoughts and feedback, we would love for you to share them below. Thank you.
Do you know how much an influencer marketing campaign costs? Or how much you should be paying an influencer?
If you’re not quite sure, don’t be worried. I’m like you. I didn’t know much before I did the research for this blog post.
And in truth, there’s no exact science to figuring out how much you should pay influencers, as one social media executive explained to Digiday: “We have no idea what to pay them. That’s the problem.”1Digiday, 2016
While there isn’t a clearcut answer to this question, there are some guidelines used by marketers, agencies, and influencers themselves. There are even tools to help you calculate how much to pay specific influencers.
We are going to share all these in this blog post. If you are interested, let’s dive in.
6 factors that affect the cost of influencer marketing
Before we dive into the guidelines used by marketers, agencies, and influencers, I would love to briefly cover the factors that affect the cost of each influencer marketing campaign.
This is because the guidelines below might not always apply to your influencer marketing campaign. Understanding these factors allows you to adjust your rates accordingly so that you can find a price that works for both you and the influencer.
1. Social media platform
The social media platform chosen for the campaign is one of the key factors that influence the cost. As you’ll read below, the cost of influencer marketing varies across channels. It’s as though each social media platform has its own “market” rate.
Instagram tends to be the top choice for social media influencer marketing, followed by YouTube and Snapchat. Generally, influencer marketing is less common on Facebook and Twitter.
musical.ly, a less well-known yet massive social media platform, is becoming more popular for influencer marketing. Companies like Coca-Cola have partnered with influencers on musical.ly for their campaigns.
Traditionally, brands look at the potential reach of an advertising channel to decide how much to pay for an advertisement. Hence, the number of followers of an influencer became a consideration when deciding how much to pay an influencer. The idea is that the more followers an influencer has, the more people the brand could reach. So influencers with a larger following will usually charge more.
According to Digiday’s state of influencer marketing report, ‘The number of followers is still the gold standard for a social star’s “influence”’2Digiday, 2017.
But as it’s possible for people to buy fake followers to inflate their follower count, brands are also looking at other metrics to price their influencer marketing campaign.
Engagement is one of the alternative metrics that brands have been using. While it’s easy to buy fake followers, it’s harder to buy fake engagement (though, it’s not impossible). When influencers can get their followers to engage with their social media posts, the influencer marketing campaign becomes more effective for the brand as those followers are essentially engaging with the brand.
Furthermore, social media algorithms are prioritizing engagement. The more positive engagement a post gets, the more people will see the post. Influencers who have higher engagement rate are more likely to have a greater reach.
Hence, the higher the engagement rate the influencer gets, the more expensive the campaign will be.
The product you’re selling (or the industry you’re in) can also affect the cost of your influencer marketing campaign. Hiring an influencer to promote a sports car will generally cost more than hiring an influencer to promote a fruit juice.
A good rule-of-thumb is that the more expensive your product is, the more expensive the campaign will be.
5. Direct partnership or through an agency
Chelsea Naftelberg, associate director of content and partnerships for the social media agency, Attention, shared with Digiday that “if you are working with a talent agent instead of directly with an influencer, expect to pay a little more to take their fee into account.”3Digiday, 2017
Working with a talent agency is more expensive than working with an influencer directly.
This is because the talent agency would usually to charge a commission for connecting you with the right influencers. In addition, influencers that are part of a talent agency are usually more experienced with influencer marketing and would command a higher fee.
If you want to save some money here, here are two ways to find the right influencers for your campaign yourself.
Finally, the extent of the campaign will also affect the cost. Here are some questions to think about:
- How many posts do you want from the influencer?
- Who creates the content? You or the influencer?
- Do you want the influencer to cross-post to their other social media profiles?
- Do you want the influencer to keep the post on their profile permanently? (Some influencers delete their sponsored posts after the campaign.)
Simply put, the more work the influencer has to do, the more expensive the campaign will be.
How much does influencer marketing cost?
$5,000 to $10,000.
According to HYPR, an influencer marketing platform, that is the price you can expect to pay for a post by an influencer with 500,000 to one million followers across their social media profiles4Digiday, 2017.
But what are the “market” rates for each social media platform?
Or what if you want to work with smaller influencers — micro-influencers?
From my research, I discovered insightful guidelines from various sources such as Digiday, Quora, and blogs. In some cases, marketers and agencies shared how much they pay for influencers. In other cases, influencers themselves disclosed how much they charge brands.
Here’s what I found:
$10 per 1,000 followers
According to Digiday’s findings, a good guideline for Instagram influencer marketing is $1,000 for every 100,000 followers (or simplified to $10 for every 1,000 followers)5Digiday, 2017. The following quotes are from the same article..
Chelsea Naftelberg, associate director of content and partnerships for social media agency Attention, estimates how much her team should pay an Instagram influencer based on $1,000 per 100,000 followers.
Langer thinks that brands can start with $250 per Instagram post for social stars with less than 50,000 followers, then add roughly $1,000 per 100,000 followers per post.
This matches what lifestyle blogger, Lee Anne, charges for her Instagram sponsored posts. The formula she uses and recommends is $5 to $10 per 1,000 followers6Life by Lee, 2016.
$250 to $750 per 1,000 engagement
Another guideline is to look at the average post engagement that the influencer gets.
As most people have more followers than the amount of engagement they receive per post, you’ll generally pay more for each engagement than each follower. Tony Tran, CEO and co-founder of influencer marketing platform, Lumanu, suggests paying around $0.25 to $0.75 per average post engagement (or $250 to $750 per 1,000 engagement)7Quora, 2017. That means that if the influencer usually gets 1,000 engagement for each post, you’ll want to pay him or her about $250 to $750.
A tool you can use to help you is the Instagram Money Calculator by Influencer Marketing Hub.
Simply enter the username of the Instagram influencer that you’re interested in and the calculator will estimate the earnings per post (or the cost per post for you).
It seems like a post on our Instagram account is worth about $200. Would you pay that much for a post on our Instagram profile? (Perhaps a new revenue source for us? )
Another tool is InfluencerDB. InfluencerDB suggests a media value per post (or cost per post for you) based on the engagement and reach of the Instagram account.
$20 per 1,000 subscribers
It’s common for YouTube influencers to charge more than Instagram influencers as creating a YouTube video can require much more effort than creating an Instagram post. Furthermore, YouTube videos are often longer than Instagram videos.
Henry Langer, a lead account manager of influencer marketing platform, HYPR, shared with Digiday that YouTube influencers usually charge $2,000 for every 100,000 subscribers they have (or simplified to $20 for every 1,000 subscribers)8Digiday, 2017.
For YouTubers with more than 50,000 subscribers, marketers can add roughly $2,000 per 100,000 followers per video, up until around 1 million subscribers, at which point a dedicated video could cost upwards of $25,000-$50,000, according to Langer.
$50 to $100 per 1,000 video views
Thanks to the analytics provided on YouTube, you can also look at the average video views of the influencer.
Not every subscriber would watch every video by the influencer so each video view would generally cost more than each subscriber. Tony Tran of Lumanu recommends paying around $0.05 to $0.10 per average video view (or $50 to $100 per 1,000 video views). He suggests looking at the 30 most recent videos by the influencer to get a good average of his or her video views9Quora, 2017.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of pricing your campaign, you could use a platform like FameBit (by YouTube). On FameBit, you can set a budget and have YouTube influencers reach out to you with their proposal. Here’s a great Quora answer on how to set your budget based on metrics like customer lifetime value and conversion rate.
$10 per 1,000 followers
There is less influencer marketing cost data for Snapchat than Instagram and YouTube but here are some data points that could be helpful.
According to Captiv8, an influencer marketing startup, a Snapchat influencer with three million to seven million followers can charge, on average, $75,000 for a snap while one with 50,000 to 500,000 followers can charge, on average, $1,000 for a snap10The New York Times, 2016. That is about $11 to $25 per 1,000 followers for influencers and $2 to $20 per 1,000 followers for micro-influencers — or a ballpark figure of $10 per 1,000 followers.
Marketers in the UK seems to pay Snapchat influencers much more — about $70 to $100 per 1,000 followers.11eMarketer, 2017.
$100 per 1,000 views
As Snapchat doesn’t reveal the follower count, that number is often estimated using the number of views of the first Snapchat story. Some brands and agencies prefer to look at the number of views directly. After gathering insights from more than 30 Snapchat influencers, Snapchat influencer, Cyrene Quiamco, shared the following rates with Digiday12Digiday, 2017:
- $500 for 1,000-5,000 views
- $1,000-$3,000 for 5,000-10,000 views
- $3,000-$5,000 for 10,000-20,000 views
- $5,000-$10,000 for 30,000-50,000 views
- $10,000-$30,000 for 50,000-100,000 views
That is about $100 per 1,000 views.
Have you worked with a Snapchat influencer before? It’ll be great if you are up for sharing some of your numbers.
Facebook and Twitter – maybe not
From my research, influencer marketing seems to be less common on Facebook and Twitter.
Tony Tran of Lumanu actually advises against it13Quora, 2017.
Facebook: you should never pay for a Facebook-only influencer. Facebook is a channel for content amplification — thus it only makes sense to pay an influencer to post on Facebook if you are already paying her for content creation on one of her other channels. Facebook organic reach is notoriously bad, so there really is no value in paying a Facebook influencer no matter how large her reach is – unless you can get permission to boost the content (at which point it’s your own money anyways!)
Twitter – forget it, stop, turn around and RUN do not walk away. Twitter is a sinkhole for tossing any marketing dollars, much less influencer marketing. Unless you’re getting a free shoutout on Twitter, don’t even think about spending influencer dollars here.
This matches my personal experience. I don’t remember seeing any influencer marketing posts on Facebook and Twitter. Have you seen any?
If you have done influencer marketing on Facebook or Twitter, I would love to hear your experiences! Would you recommend it?
How much would you pay for influencer marketing?
From my research, one thing is clear. There isn’t a clearcut answer to the cost of influencer marketing. It is influenced by many factors such as the chosen social media platform, follower count, engagement rate, and more.
Fortunately, there are some guidelines that you can refer to and adjust according to your particular situation.
- Instagram – $10 per 1,000 followers or $250 to $750 per 1,000 engagement
- YouTube – $20 per 1,000 subscribers or $50 to $100 per 1,000 video views
- Snapchat – $10 per 1,000 followers or $100 per 1,000 views
Do these numbers match your experiences? How much have you paid or how much would you pay for influencer marketing? Let’s share what we know and help one another.
There are times when we all run out of content ideas.
I’ve been in this situation many times myself — feeling unsure about what content to create and share.
However, after much trial and error, I’ve managed to find a few solutions to help keep a constant stream of content ideas flowing. These strategies help me uncover the types of social media content that our audience loves to engage with and share.
And in this post, you’ll learn about six ways to discover the content your audience craves.
Let’s dive in.
1. Use your analytics
One of the best ways to find out what your audience likes (or what works for you) is to use your analytics.
Your social media analytics can tell you what’s working and what’s not.
What you’ll want to do is to study your top-performing posts and re-create them. Here’s how to find your top posts with the native analytics in Facebook, Instagram, and more.
One way to find your top-performing Facebook posts is to go to your Page Insights > Posts and manually look for posts with high reach or engagement.
A shortcut is to use the Pages to Watch feature in the “Overview” tab. When you click on your own Page, Facebook will show you your top posts for the week.
To get the analytics for Instagram, you’ll need to have a business account. (Here’s how to convert to a business account if you wish to.)
In your business account, tap on the analytics icon on your profile. Then, tap on “See more” under the “Posts” section. Here, you’ll see your top posts sorted by impressions. You can also sort it by engagement, reach, and more, and adjust the time period.
If you are using our Pro or Business plan, you can easily find this information in your Buffer dashboard. Go to your Analytics tab and then Posts report. Then, click on “Most Popular” to see your most-engaged posts.
Once you’ve found your top posts, try to find a pattern among them. Here are some questions you could ask yourself:
- Is there a common topic among them?
- Is the content from a particular source — your blog or other publications?
- Does a particular content type — text, image, or video — perform consistently better?
- Did people leave any interesting comments on those posts?
2. Ask your audience
The second strategy is to ask your audience.
You could simply post a question or a poll on your social media profiles. For example, “What content do you want to see us sharing?”
If you would like open-ended replies, posting a question will be great. If you have a rough sense of what your audience might be interested in, you could create a poll and list a few options. For example, a while back, we created a Twitter poll to ask our followers what sort of content they would like to see more of from us.
Buffer Poll: What sort of content would you like to see more of from the Buffer Blog?
— Buffer (@buffer) April 14, 2016
A few people also replied the tweet to give us more suggestions.
As Facebook and Instagram (Stories) only allow two options for polls, my favorite way around it is to do a manual emoji poll.
Alternatively, you could email your blog subscribers and ask them what they would like to see from you. For example, at the end of 2017, we reached out to our blog subscribers with a survey. In the survey, we asked them what topics they enjoy the most and what topics they would like to see more from us.
From the answer, we learned about what to create for the blog and also what to share on our social media.
3. Learn from your industry peers
The third strategy is to learn from your industry peers.
Look at the top pages in your industry and see what is working for them. If you have a similar target audience, what worked for them will likely work for you, too.
It’ll be great to go beyond just your competitors. Are there other companies that you admire, which you can learn from? Maybe because they are in the same space but aren’t your direct competitor. Or perhaps their way of marketing resonates with you. For example, I often like to check out the social media profiles of HubSpot, MailChimp, and Airbnb.
Here are a few ways to research on your favorite companies:
On Facebook, you could use Pages to Watch. This feature allows you to quickly compare the performance of your Page with similar Pages. You can also click on any of the Pages and see their top posts for the week. For instance, here’s a recent top post from Shopify:
You can find this feature in your Page Insights, at the bottom of your Overview tab. This feature will only appear once you have more than 100 Likes on your Page.
On Twitter, you could create a Twitter list of the companies that you would like to learn from and regularly check out what they share.
Here’s how to create a Twitter list:
- Click on your profile photo and select “List”
- Click on “Create a list” and fill out the fields (You might want to keep this list private)
- Hit “Save list”
Once you’ve created your list, head to the companies’ profile, click on the three dots, and select “Add or remove from lists…” to add them to your list.
A tool I like to use to monitor several lists at the same time is TweetDeck. It is a free tool by Twitter, which allows you to have multiple columns of tweets from a list, search result, and more.
Here’s a point worth noting: while it’s great to learn from your favorite companies, you might not want to follow them exactly. This is because ultimately your brand is different from theirs and you would likely want to be unique with what you’re sharing on your social media profiles.
The point here is to look for general patterns and ideas that you can adapt for your own brand.
4. Use a research tool
The fourth strategy is to use a content research tool like Buzzsumo.
Buzzsumo is like Google for the most shared content. You can search for any keywords (e.g. “social media marketing”), and Buzzsumo will show you the most shared content that’s relevant to the keyword.
Look through the results and see if you can identify the popular topics around that particular keyword.
What is also helpful is that Buzzsumo breaks down the share count by networks. So you can see if a piece of content is more popular on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Buzzsumo also allows you to sort the results by social network. For example, maybe you want to see what types of articles are popular on Twitter. You can click on the “Twitter Shares” header, and Buzzsumo will sort the articles by the number of shares on Twitter.
This is also a great way to find quality content to share on your social media profiles. If an article has done really well on Twitter in general, it would likely resonate with your audience, provided that it is relevant to them.
5. Create marketing personas
The fifth strategy is to create marketing personas. Your marketing personas will give you ideas on what content to create and share on social media.
Here’s what a persona is and why it’s important, according to Adele Revella, the founder and president of The Buyer Persona Institute14Content Marketing Institute, 2015 (Emphasis added) :
… a buyer persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.
Without personas, you may only be guessing what content your audience wants, which means you are more likely to revert to creating content around what you know best (your products and company) instead of around the information your audience is actively seeking.
Once you have done your research and created your marketing personas, you’ll have a better sense of your core audience’s goals and challenges, and the content that they want to read.
To help you with this, here’s our beginner’s guide to creating marketing personas.
Experiment with Jobs To Be Done
Besides creating personas, you could also try the Jobs to Be Done methodology (we’ve tried both ourselves!)
Jobs to Be Done is a concept created by Harvard Business School professor, Clayton M. Christensen, and his team. The idea is that understanding the jobs our customers want to do (or the reasons they buy products) is more useful in helping us create and sell great products than just having demographic information.
Here’s a short video about the methodology and how Intercom uses it for marketing:
How does this apply to creating content that your audience loves?
By understanding the jobs that your customers want to do, you can create and share content that helps them with those jobs.
For example, we have been creating content that helps our readers with their social media strategy, content creation, engagement, and more. And those blog posts seemed to have resonated with our readers. (You might have noticed in the survey results I shared above, we phrased each option as “Content that helps me with (a job)” rather than just the topic.)
6. Follow trends
The final strategy is to keep an eye out for general trends in the social media space and follow them. This will help you get a general sense of the types of content to post. While it won’t be very specific to your audience, I think it can still be helpful.
For example, the top content format now is video. In our 2018 Social Media Trends report, we pointed out that “video posts have the highest average engagement and twice the level of engagement of other post types on average”2Buzzsumo, 2017. Also, according to our State of Social 2018 report, we found that 85 percent of businesses would like to create more videos in 2018.
Does that you mean you should be creating videos?
I think it’ll be great to experiment with a few videos if your resources allow and see how they perform. You can create simple videos without a big budget using tools like Animoto and Lumen 5 (and more here). If you are keen, here’s our step-by-step guide to creating engaging social media videos.
Over to you: How do you find out what your audience likes?
The key to growing your following and engagement on social media is to create content that your audience craves. Here are six ways of discovering that content:
- Use your analytics
- Ask your audience
- Learn from your industry peers
- Use Buzzsumo
- Create marketing personas
- Follow trends
How do you discover the content that your audience likes? Let’s exchange notes below.
But as a busy social media manager, it can be difficult to find the time to consistently post to Instagram.
This is where scheduling comes in.
Learning how to schedule Instagram posts is one of the biggest time savers and productivity hacks for social media managers today. And what’s more, scheduling your Instagram posts has many benefits.
Studies have shown that consistency is key to growth on Instagram, so scheduling your Instagram posts and ensuring regular updates can be a win-win situation—both boosting your reach and engagement as well as saving you valuable time throughout the day.
This guide will explain exactly how to schedule Instagram posts (and how scheduling can benefit your business).
Let’s dive in
Buffer for Instagram now comes with direct scheduling! Schedule single-image posts or set reminders to post videos at your best times to grow your Instagram following. Learn more today.
3 benefits of scheduling your Instagram posts
1. You can save time
Crafting and posting the perfect Instagram post can be time-consuming — especially if you’re creating your posts on the day you want to publish them.
However, scheduling your posts ahead of time might be a better, productivity-boosting way to create and share your Instagram content. By batching your work, you can avoid the costs associated with multitasking and context switching.
According to research shared by Inc., multitaskers take 50 percent more time to complete a single task and commit 50 percent more errors2Inc., June 2014. By spending an hour or two creating and scheduling your posts for the week ahead, you can save a ton of time and keep a consistent quality across the board.
With Buffer for Instagram, you can now schedule single-image posts directly from desktop or mobile (with a few limitations). For any other scheduled Instagram posts, we’ll send a reminder notification to your mobile device to finish the post when the time is right. This approach can free up so much of your time to focus on the many other tasks social media managers must tackle daily.
2. Ensure you’re posting consistently
Consistency plays a key role in social media success. When you’re consistently and frequently publishing new content, your audience will learn what to expect from your and when it’ll be posted.
For example, every night the NBA shares a round-up of the latest scores from around the league and because I know when to expect this, I open up Instagram to check the results every morning when I start my day:
Keeping a consistent schedule makes sure you maximize engagement without hitting any lulls or stretches without updates.
A few years back, Union Metrics put together data on brands and Instagram and it found that most brands post to Instagram daily — the average was in fact 1.5 posts per day. Another interesting learning from Union Metrics’ study was that there was no correlation between increased frequency and lower engagement, so brands that posted multiple times per day didn’t notice any negative effects.
The lesson here is that consistency is key for Instagram success. By scheduling your posts ahead of time you can ensure your profile is always filled with fresh new content.
3. Create and upload content from your desktop
Smartphones are becoming awesome tools for creating content, but sometimes, especially if you’re a social media manager, it can be easier to prepare and schedule all of your content on a desktop computer. One of the advantages of scheduling your posts in the web app is that you’ll have access to images of videos that might not be on your phone.
Most Instagram scheduler tools, Buffer included, enable you to create your posts on your desktop before publishing on mobile.
With Buffer for Business you can also check exactly how your Instagram profile gallery will look once you’ve published your scheduled posts:
Scheduling direct posts vs scheduling reminders
In some exciting news, you can now schedule certain types of Instagram posts directly from third-party apps like Buffer to Instagram.
For any of your scheduled posts that Buffer can’t share directly, we’ll let you know after you create the post. Once the scheduled posting time comes around, we’ll send a reminder notification to you via the Buffer app on your mobile device. You can then finish the post in the Instagram app, where you can add things like filters and photo tags.
Which posts can be shared directly?
- Single images with (or without) a caption shared to business profiles
Which posts will you need to finish in the Instagram app? (We’ll send you a reminder)
- Posts scheduled to personal profiles
- Single-image posts that are very long (portrait) or very wide (landscape). Technically, third-party apps can only directly post images within the range of 4:5 and 1.91:1 aspect ratios
- Video posts
While scheduling Instagram posts directly helps you save a ton of time for basic image posts, one of the great things about reminders are that they allow you to create an image on your desktop, and then use all of Instagram’s handy native features, like image filters, to put a final coat of polish on the post.
How to schedule Instagram posts: Getting set up for both direct scheduling and reminders
Here are a few quick steps to get started with Instagram scheduling:
Step 1: If your Instagram profile is for an organization, switch it to a business profile
If your Instagram profile isn’t a business profile already, switching it will enable Buffer to schedule posts directly to your profile. Here are some handy instructions from Facebook (you’ll need to have a Facebook Page to switch to an Instagram business profile). If your Instagram profile is a personal profile, Buffer will schedule reminders only.
Step 2: Connect your Instagram account
To connect your Instagram account with Buffer from our web dashboard, first, click Connect More on the left-hand side of your Buffer dashboard, below any social accounts you’ve already connected:
From here, click on Connect below Instagram:
Finally, you’ll be asked to log in to your Instagram account and then you’re all set to start scheduling your Instagram posts with Buffer.
Note: If you’re a current Buffer user who has an Instagram profile already connected, you can simply visit that profile in your Buffer dashboard and follow the prompts from the banner on the page. You can also connect Instagram to Buffer through our iOS and Android apps.
Creating and scheduling Instagram content with Buffer
Once you’ve connected your Instagram account with Buffer, it’s time to create the content you want to post to Instagram.
After you’ve sourced the video or image you’d like to post, it’s great to draft your caption, choose any hashtags you’d like to include and any other Instagram accounts you’d like to @-mention in your post.
- Caption: Instagram captions are limited to 2,200 characters, and after three lines of text they become truncated with an ellipsis. Try to include any key details at the front of your caption.
- Hashtags: Hashtags allow Instagrammers to discover content and accounts to follow. Research from Track Maven found that posts with over 11 hashtags tend to get more engagement.
- @-mentions: Is there anyone else featured in your photo? Maybe you could @-mention them in the caption. This will notify them when you put the post live on Instagram.
The below post from Amy Tangerine is a great example of how to effectively use your caption, hashtags, and an @-mention:
(For more on how to craft a great Instagram post, check out our Instagram marketing guide).
Now it’s time to schedule your post for the ideal time. To do this, hop over to your Buffer dashboard and choose your Instagram account by selecting it on the left-hand side of your dashboard.
Under the “Content” tab, you’ll see a section labeled “Queue”. Here you can upload a photo and write your caption (including any hashtags and @-mentions).
If you upload your content and it doesn’t meet the requirements for direct scheduling, we’ll let you know that it will be scheduled as a reminder and that you’ll receive a notification to your mobile device when it’s time to post.
Once you’ve uploaded your content, you can decide whether you want to:
- Add the post to your Buffer queue
- Schedule the post for a custom date and time (this is especially handy for big events or posts that need to be published on a certain date)
- Share the post immediately with Share Now
- If you’re on a paid Buffer plan, you can also bump the post to the start of your queue using Share Next.
If the post is scheduled as a reminder
When it’s time for your post to be published, Buffer will send you a notification to whichever devices have been connected to your Buffer account. Here’s how the reminder might look on your device.
Tapping “Open in Instagram” will automatically copy your caption and open Instagram, with the photo or video ready to be customized. Here you can also crop and edit your content as needed.
Now, tap Share and you’re all set! Your post will then be published to Instagram and you’ll be able to see it on your timeline.
Here’s a quick recap of how Buffer for Instagram’s reminders work:
Ready to start scheduling your Instagram posts? Get started with Buffer today
With Buffer for Instagram, we’re excited to be giving you the power to manage your social media marketing from one central location, and we’re eager for you to have the tools you need to plan, track, and amplify your Instagram marketing.
Over to you
Thanks for checking out our guide on how to schedule posts on Instagram. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments: What are your top tips for scheduling Instagram posts? Which tools do you use to create and share content on Instagram?
Photo credit: Erik Lucatero
How do you know if your customers (and potential customers) are talking about you on social media?
If they tagged your social media profile in their posts, you could check your notifications. If they didn’t, maybe you could search on each social media platform every time you want to find out. Sounds tedious? Here’s a better way:
Use social media monitoring tools.
There’s a great deal of wonderful social media tools out there. Among them are tools built specifically to help you pick out relevant conversations on social media — social media monitoring tools. Some of these tools allow you to monitor multiple social media profiles on the different social media platforms from a single place. There are even some that let you monitor social media trends and keywords.
There’s likely one that suits your needs. Let’s take a look at the 20 best ones for small and medium businesses!
What is social media monitoring?
Social media monitoring is the process of listening out for social media conversations that are relevant to your brand. Businesses engage in social media monitoring for several reasons, such as to connect with their customers, to provide customer support, to measure their social media reach, or to understand social media trends.
To “listen”, businesses use social media monitoring tools to collect social mentions and track keywords, hashtags, and URLs that they are interested in.
Social media monitoring is also sometimes known as social listening.
The 20 best social media monitoring tools for SMBs
All the social media monitoring tools listed below are not arranged in any particular order. They are all great in their own ways and will suit different social media monitoring needs.
For example, some are standalone monitoring tools while others have it as a feature within a social media management tool. Some gather individual social media mentions and messages while others analyze sets of social media content and trends.
Here’s an overview of all the tools in this blog post:
I’m sure I’m missing some great tools out there, and it’ll be great to get your help. If you have tried and love any social media monitoring tools for small and medium businesses, I would love for you to share them in the comments section below, including why you love them. Thank you!
Compare the tools easily with this spreadsheet
To make it easier for you to compare the tools, I’ve created a spreadsheet with the following information of each social media monitoring tool:
- How much do the plans cost?
- Does it have a free plan, free trial, or free demo?
- Is it a standalone monitoring tool or is it part of a social media management tool?
- What platforms are supported?
- What are the main monitoring features?
- Can I reply directly through the tool?
1. Buffer Reply
All your social engagement in one team inbox
Description: Buffer Reply organizes your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram engagement into neatly-threaded conversations in one team inbox. You will have all the information you need to know about each customer to provide personalized responses. Oh, and you can easily add emojis and GIFs.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram
Prices: Starting at $50 per month and $250 per month
Once you’ve researched all your options and if you think Buffer Reply might suit your needs, we would love for you to check out our webinar on engaging with your customers using Buffer Reply.
Effectively track topics that matter—then respond quickly
Description: Hootsuite’s monitoring tool is part of its entire package of social media management tools. If you were to subscribe to one of their plans, you can also enjoy other features such as scheduling and analytics.
With Hootsuite, you can set up unlimited streams of social media content based on your mentions, selected keywords, hashtags, or locations. Furthermore, Hootsuite integrates with more than a hundred apps to help you do more from its dashboard.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs, forums, and more
Prices: Free, $19 per month, $99 per month, $499 per month, and enterprise pricing
3. Sprout Social
Intelligent, real-time social media monitoring with Sprout
Description: Similar to Hootsuite, Sprout Social’s monitoring and engagement tools are part of its social media management software. Sprout Social has two separate features for social monitoring and engagement.
In the Smart Inbox, you’ll get all your social media mentions and messages. With the discovery feature, you can search for particular keywords on Twitter or Instagram (for example when someone mentions your brand without tagging your social media profile).
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+
Prices (per user): $99 per month, $149 per month, and $249 per month
Discover what people are really saying about your business
Description: Agorapulse is also an all-in-one social media management tool, which comes with scheduling, monitoring, engagement, and analytics features.
Its inbox collects all your social media mentions while its listening feature allows you to search for keywords, URL, and handle on Twitter. Agorapulse also allows you to monitor comments on your Facebook and Instagram ads.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube
Prices: $49 per month, $99 per month, $199 per month, and $299 per month
5. Zoho Social
Social media management software for growing businesses
Description: Zoho Social is a social media management dashboard where you can publish and schedule posts, monitor social activities, analyze your social media performance.
In the Zoho Social dashboard, you’ll get real-time updates of how people are interacting with your brands. I find this great for events, where I might want to monitor related social media posts and engage with the attendees.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+
Prices: Free, $10 per month, and $50 per month
Smart social media monitoring for businesses of all sizes
Description: Brand24 is a powerful yet affordable tool for those who want to dive deep into social media monitoring. Besides the major social media platforms, Brand24 also monitors blogs, forums, and other sites for mentions of your brand.
Apart from collecting your mentions and allowing you to reply, Brand24 analyzes your social media reach, interactions, sentiment, and more.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, forums, and more
Prices: $49 per month, $99 per month, and $399 per month
Media monitoring made simple
Description: Mention is more than just a monitoring tool for social media; it also monitors mentions of your brand across the web such as on Yelp, Booking.com, Tripadvisor, and Amazon. On its custom company plan, you can get in-depth insights and reports of your brand mentions.
If you connect your social media profiles to Mention, you can reply mentions directly within Mention. (You can even add a Buffer account and schedule your social media posts.)
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, forums, and more
Prices: $29 per month, $99 per month, and enterprise pricing
8. Social Mention
Real-time social media search and analysis
Description: Not to be confused with Mention above, Social Mention is a free social media search engine for user-generated content across the web. It lets you find and measure what people are saying about your brand and products on places such as Twitter, YouTube, and blogs.
Since an account is not required, I believe Social Mention doesn’t save your searches.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google, and other websites
Hashtag tracking for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Description: Rather than finding individual mentions of your brand, Keyhole provides trends, insights, and analysis of your preferred hashtags, keywords, or accounts. This makes it better for gathering data and reporting results than replying your social media mentions.
If you want to test out its tools, it offers free hashtag, keyword, and account tracking.
Platforms supported: Twitter and Instagram
Prices: $165 per month, $349 per month, $599 per month, $999 per month, and enterprise pricing
Simple, fast, and affordable social media monitoring
Description: Like Keyhole, Trackur is a monitoring and analytics tool. It can help you find mentions of your brand (or your keywords) on social media, blogs, forums, and more and then analyze the trends, sentiment, and influence level.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs, forums, and more
Prices: $97 per month, $197 per month, and $447 per month
Social media monitoring and engagement made simple
Description: Buzzlogix helps you with both social monitoring and social engagement. For social monitoring, you can track content with your preferred keywords and get the statistics in easy-to-understand graphs. For social engagement, you can monitor multiple social media profiles and response to social mentions and messages.
Platforms supported: Google+, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, forums, and news sites
Prices: $19.95 per month, $49.95 per month, $99.95 per month, and $399.95 per month
The most powerful Twitter tool for real-time tracking, organizing, and engagement
Description: TweetDeck is the official Twitter management dashboard, where you can manage multiple Twitter accounts and monitor mentions, keywords, Twitter lists, and more in separate columns. And it’s free!
Platform supported: Twitter
Instagram analytics and management platform
Description: Iconosquare is one of the most popular Instagram analytics and management platforms. Besides its robust analytics and management features, Iconosquare offers custom feeds, which you can use to monitor specific Instagram content. For each feed, you can add up to 50 users and 20 hashtags.
Platforms supported: Instagram
Prices (per Instagram account): $9 per month, $29per month, $49 per month, and from $990 per month
Social media monitoring for Pinterest and Instagram
Description: Tailwind is built specifically for Pinterest and Instagram, the two visual social media platforms. Apart from its scheduling and analytics features, Tailwind enables you to monitor your content and your competitors. It also provides information about emerging trends so that you can tap into them.
Platforms supported: Pinterest and Instagram
Prices: $15 per month, $799.99 per month, and enterprise pricing
Seize opportunities via social listening
Description: Sendible is a full social media management tool, built for agencies that manage multiple clients. On top of scheduling and collaborating on social media content, you can also respond to comments and messages from an inbox and monitor hashtags, keywords, and your competitors on social media and the web.
Platforms supported: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, blogs, review sites (e.g. Yelp), and more
Prices: $49 per month, $199 per month, and $499 per month, and enterprise pricing
The remaining social media monitoring tools are more pricey than those above. I have not had the opportunity to try them out myself (as they do not provide free trials). I’ve selected them based on reviews and their brand name. If you have used any of them before, it’ll be great to hear your experience.
16. Union Metrics
Social intelligence. Designed for marketing teams.
Description: Union Metrics provides the social intelligence that can help you improve your social media strategy. With Union Metrics, you can track and analyze social media posts, monitor your competitors and trends, conduct research, and more.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr
Prices: $99 per month, $199 per month, and enterprise pricing
Connect with the people you care about
Description: HubSpot is a comprehensive marketing automation software that includes everything from social media and emails to SEO and lead management. The social media management features are included in the plans starting from $200 per month.
Because HubSpot integrates many parts of marketing together (such as customer relationship management and social media), it allows you to better monitor your leads and customers on social media.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Xing, YouTube, blogging platform with RSS feeds, and Pinterest
Prices: Starting at $200 per month, $800 per month, and $2,400 per month
Real-time social intelligence
Description: NUVI gathers all your social media data in real-time and displays it in insightful visualizations to help you make decisions quickly and effectively. Like most social media management tools, NUVI can help you publish and schedule posts, analyze your social media activities, and create reports.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, VK, blogs, and RSS feeds
Price: Custom pricing
Manage your brand
Description: Falcon.io is a marketing platform that helps social media marketers with social listening, customer engagement, content marketing, and audience management. Its social listening features help you monitor your brand, stay on top of popular topics, and engage influencers.
Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube
Prices: $1,000 per month, $1,750 per month, and enterprise pricing
Put social data intelligence to work. Instantly.
Description: Talkwalker is one of the most powerful media monitoring tools. Besides being able to monitor social media platforms and websites, it can also monitor print and TV and radio broadcasts.
It even has image recognition technology to help you pick up social media posts of your brand or product even when your brand isn’t mentioned in the caption.
Platforms supported: More than 10 social platforms, websites, print, and broadcasts
Prices: $8,400 per year, $12,000 per year, and enterprise pricing
100 more social media monitoring tools
While the tools above are all social media monitoring tools, they are different in subtle and big ways and serve different needs. I hope you found one suitable for your company. Otherwise, do check out this comprehensive list by G2 Crowd:
Once you have picked your social media monitoring tool, I would love to hear which tool you decided on and what considerations you have made. I believe it can help others make the right decision for their company, too.
In speaking with thousands of marketers and businesses over the past several years, we’ve learned that marketing has an incredible potential to impact people’s lives.
In fact, the American Marketing Association defines marketing as:
“The activity, set of institutions, skills, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
I love that. We as marketers are benefiting society at large!
But marketing skills and career growth don’t come easy in a field that moves at the speed of light. It seems like every week companies are demanding an evolved skill set out of their employees – giving rise to a new era of marketing roles such as the Full-Stack and T-Shaped Marketer.
Brands that can successfully bring a variety of people, marketing skills, and unique perspectives together have a huge advantage when it comes to providing value.
That’s why we’ve partnered with the incredible marketing team at Asana, a leading work management software, to break down the top 7 invaluable marketing skills that help some of the greatest brand teams on the planet produce consistently great content.
Let’s dive in!
7 invaluable marketing skills for teams
As Sujan Patel writes on his blog, “the modern marketer has to be familiar with a lot, good at many, and master of a few.”
Having a variety of skills and tools not only provides ultimate flexibility as a team to create a variety of successful marketing campaigns, but it also allows each marketer to shine as an individual.
These 7 high-level marketing skills will help to ensure your team has ultimate flexibility and individuality.
There seems to be a general belief that marketing has always been about storytelling – and that marketers have always identified as natural storytellers.
But that may not be the case.
LinkedIn found that just seven years ago the number of marketers listing “storytelling” on their profile as a skill was obsolete. It didn’t exist at all as a respected marketing discipline.
Today, however, between 7 percent and 8 percent of all marketers on LinkedIn worldwide identify themselves as storytellers based on their profile descriptions and list of skills.
As a marketer, storytelling doesn’t just mean telling your audience what your product or service does or what it has done. Effective storytelling involves a deep understanding of human emotions, motivations, and psychology in order to effectively communicate with them in an authentic and engaging way.
During the writing of this article, Asana CMO Dave King told me: “The best marketers are problem solvers and storytellers. Content creators should ask ‘what problem is this piece solving for my audience.’”
As marketers, there are endless ways to tell a story.
One of my favorite ways to develop a compelling story is to use “The Story Spine” formula created by professional playwright and improvisor Kenn Adams. Over the years, Pixar has won countless awards by using this formula, including 13 Academy Awards, 9 Golden Globes, and 11 Grammys.
Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
I encourage you to practice this formula for your own own brand, products, or services.
Let’s give it a shot with a brand we might all know of: Nike.
- Once upon a time there was a passionate shoemaker that wanted to get his shoes into the hands of runners around the world.
- Every day, he worked on perfecting his shoes so that these runners could perform at an optimum level.
- But one day, this shoemaker realized that supplying shoes to thousands of runners around the world was no easy task.
- Because of that, he worked harder and harder to ensure that he had the supply of products needed to be successful despite what critics said.
- Because of that, his shoes continued to improve and more and more athletes started to wear them in prestigious competitions.
- Until finally, it wasn’t just about running anymore. It became about something bigger – finding your inner champion doing what you love in gear that makes you feel great.
As Ken describes, “The Story Spine is not the story, it’s the spine. It’s nothing but the bare-boned structure upon which the story is built. And, that’s what makes it such a powerful tool.”
It’s up to us as marketers to fill in all the little nuances of the story.
As many marketers know all too well – there is always something to be done.
Being an effective prioritizer is one of those marketing skills that doesn’t get talked about enough, but plays a huge role in the success of your team and content.
Producing consistently great content means saying yes to a handful of awesome content ideas/opportunities and saying no to many others.
The Asana marketing team uses a project labeled “Content Opportunities” to which anyone in the company is highly encouraged to contribute ideas. Then, when their marketing team is ready to take action on a piece of content or campaign, they add it to their Editorial Calendar project.
This management of ideas, projects, and initiatives is what allows them to be super focused and productive on a consistent basis.
So how can you develop prioritization as a marketing skill? And how can you prioritize content and campaigns that will perform at a high level?
That’s where the importance of goal-setting comes into play!
Today, our marketing team is using two types of goal-setting methods depending on the scope. For long-term planning and strategizing, we use a modified Warren Buffett Framework, and for short-term (experimental content), we use a framework called ICE.
The Modified Warren Buffett Framework
My colleague Hailley has long admired the original framework for setting goals from Warren Buffett – a method where you write down 25 things you want to accomplish in your career, and from that, pick the top five as the focus and put the other 20 on an “avoid at all costs” list.
We’ve since adopted a modified version of this goal-setting framework. Here’s a quick overview of how it works (with a real-life example goals from one of our 6-week cycles):
Step 1: Choose 10 goals
Brainstorm a list of 10 goals related to your work on the team that can be accomplished in a certain, predesignated timeframe.
Remember to focus on goals and not tasks. A good way to remember this is that tasks describe how you spend your time, whereas goals are your results.
Step 2: Assign a “tag” to each goal
Next, go through and add a tag to each goal with the category that it falls into. The tagging system should be unique for each person.
Come up with your tags, and assign them to each of your 10 goals.
Step 3: Pick three goals to focus on (P1s)
This is the most difficult portion of the exercise! Refining the list from 10 to the three that you will focus on during the specified time period.
Pick one goal for each tag that you have on your list.
Then, add a P2 and a P3 to prioritize the rest of your goals within the list.
That doesn’t mean you have 10 goals all competing with each other at the same time.
It means that as soon as you complete a P1 in any one of the categories, you then (and only then) move onto your P2 and P3.
ICE Score Framework
“ICE” stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease.
Below is a description of each element directly from the creators of the ICE Score Framework at GrowthHackers:
- Impact: The possible impact the idea could have on the business if considered a “win
- Confidence: This relates to how confident you are in whether it’ll result in a wi
- Ease: This relates to how many resources, and what kind, are needed to implement the idea
For each idea, give each factor a score from one to ten. The overall score is determined by taking the average of the three scores. You should start with the idea that has the highest score.
For example, let’s say you wanted to run a content partnership experiment with a peer or influencer within your industry (similar to this one!) Your ICE score might look like this:
- Impact: 8
- Confidence: 7
- Ease: 7
- Total: 22
Comparing that to other ICE scores, you can quickly determine which ideas to tackle next and which ones to table for the time being. Over time, you’ll be able to score ideas quickly and efficiently.
Why is team collaboration necessary?
Part of the answer, according to research from strategy professor Benjamin Jones at the Kellogg School, is that our individual knowledge base is becoming more and more specialized.
Jones gives a great example of the Wright Brothers and building an airplane:
“In 1903, two people designed and flew an airplane. Today, a Boeing 787 has dozens of specialists working on the engines alone. Then there are the controls, the hydraulics, the airframe itself. There is an incredible range of specialized skills needed.”
There is an ever-growing need for collaboration among specialists (teams) within companies to get a product or service off of the ground.
In our experiences at Buffer and Asana, the most successful marketing teams coordinate on two important levels:
- Messaging: Ensuring there’s consistency in what is being said across channels (blog, website, social, etc.
- Distribution: Planning and sequencing content rollout for maximum impact across channels
By combining the right set of marketing skills in both messaging and distribution you are setting your campaigns up for a much higher rate of success.
Whether you’re launching a full-on marketing campaign or simply posting a video to Facebook, creating a consistent message across channels is an important part of building your brand.
We’ve found that having effective collaboration tools in place makes all of the difference.
Here’s a quick example of some of the tools and workflows we use in order to help our teams create consistent messaging:
- Kick off a conversation in messaging app, Slack, about the proposed idea or campaign:
- Start a doc in Dropbox Paper with additional details, comments, copy, etc:
- Create a project within Asana and assign tasks to team members across the organization:
These three tools are invaluable for transparent and cross-functional collaboration and communication among teams within your organization. They’re especially important for us at Buffer as a fully remote company!
Without a solid distribution plan in place, your messages may never reach their intended audiences. Having the skills to not only create the assets, but efficiently deliver those assets across multiple channels, is an important quality for any marketer.
Here’s a quick look at some of the tools and workflows we use to distribute consistent content:
- WordPress for hosting and creating blog content:
- Discourse for internal distribution, information, and announcements:
- Buffer for social media planning, scheduling, and analytics:
At the core of any great team collaboration is trust. Trust is the willingness and openness to intentionally communicate with teammates on your direct team and across the company.
It’s up to you to make space (physically or virtually) for people to meet and share ideas. Pixar is a perfect example of this in action – they designed their offices so that artists, designers, programmers, and marketers would purposely bump into each other.
Humans are, by nature, very visual beings.
In the brain itself, there are hundreds of millions of neurons devoted to visual processing, nearly 30 percent of the entire cortex, as compared with 8 percent for touch and just 3 percent for hearing.
In other words, the most successful marketing teams are not only able to communicate messages in written form, they’re also able to create stunning designs that aid in telling a compelling visual story.
We wrote an article in 2017 titled, “Why Every Marketer Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer” and the general theory still remains true, even more so, today in 2018.
The best part is there are tons of free resources our there to get started! Here are some of our favorites:
- Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Graphic Design (Skillshare)
- How to Create Better Graphic Design (Udemy)
- The Landing Page Conversion Course (Unbounce)
- Graphic Design 101 (Udemy)
- 11 Simple Design Tips to Enhance Your Social Media Images (Buffer)
- Designing Asana: A Day in the Life of a Product Designer (Asana)
Visual storytelling is one of those marketing skills that often goes overlooked, but plays a massive role in the success of every single piece of content.
Have you ever wondered how some marketing teams come up with so many great ideas?
Behind every one successful marketing idea or campaign, there were dozens (if not hundreds) of little failures along the way.
It reminds me a lot of what is known as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in product development. A MVP is a product that has the minimum amount of features required to validate if people want it or not.
The same theory holds true for marketing experimentation and testing.
A marketing team that is unafraid of failure and willing to run hundreds of different tests in order to quickly validate ideas will often succeed over a marketing team that puts their eggs (ideas) into one basket (channel/campaign).
The Information, for example, might have hundreds of potential story ideas in Asana at any one time — prioritizing experiments and ideas based on competition, importance, opportunity costs, and lots more.
Although there isn’t a true scientific way of running marketing experiments, this is the formula we’ve come up with at Buffer to systematically test ideas:
We start with setting clear goals and then work backwards from there.
Let’s say we wanted to increase Buffer blog traffic by 10% in one year (goal).
Our marketing team would start by getting together and brainstorming all of the different ways we could accomplish that – SEO, social media, affiliates, etc.
We’d then prioritize ideas based on impact (Warren Buffett Framework / ICE Scores) and begin testing.
Then, we’d constantly measure and analyze results along the way while making incremental improvements.
Approaching experimentation and testing with a growth mindset, similar to developing a product, is a marketing skill that will help take your team to the next level.
As marketers, we’re all somewhere on the analytics expertise scale (whether we know it or not!) From the analytics wizards to those of us just starting to dip our toes in data analysis, we all have a base layer to work from.
Our Director of Marketing at Buffer, Kevan Lee, puts it perfectly:
“The great thing about deepening your skills in analytics is that we all have a base layer to work from. We all know how to build intuition. And intuition is just an absorbed history of data. Add to that the ability to ask good questions, and you’re well on your way. (The tools themselves matter far less than you’d think.)”
Asking good questions, when it comes to data and marketing analytics, is an invaluable marketing skill to have on any team.
This graphic from Moz shows just how many BIG questions there are to ask:
At first, asking all of these questions can be a bit intimidating.
What if I don’t know the answers?
One way we like to think about approaching analytics is this idea of “Crawl, Walk, Run” – It might look something like this if you’re just starting out:
- Crawling: Which channels get the most engagement?
- Walking: Which tactics and/or strategies are contributing to this engagement?
- Running: Which channels, tactics, and strategies should we implement to increase engagement?
Another great way of thinking of analytics is the “Hierarchy of Analytics” model made popular by data wizard Christopher S. Penn:
In the beginning, you might experiment with various analytics platforms and tools in order to get a feel for the basics of marketing analytics. Understanding what data is available, its limitations, and what you can report is a great start.
Then, as you become more skilled and confident with data, you might dive into things like understanding why something happened or what might happen in the future based on your findings.
There are some incredible data analysis tools out there from companies like Google, IBM, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft that can help you do just that!
I like to think that the path to becoming a great marketer is a lifelong journey and never truly complete.
Knowledge, passion, and expertise are intangible qualities that we usually don’t acquire overnight. These are often developed as result of years (even decades) of hard work, mistakes, self-reflection, and personal growth.
Even a virtuoso like Michelangelo was quoted as saying, “I am still learning” late into his career.
At Buffer and Asana, we aim to build our marketing teams around folks who are naturally curious, hungry to learn, passionate, and open to new ideas.
“A love of learning is one of primary skills we look for in marketers because it tells us a couple things: do they love what they do, and are they curious about the world?” explains Kevan Lee. “Those two factors alone can take you quite far!”
Just like food nourishes our bodies, information and continuous learning nourishes our minds.
But where do you start on your learning journey as a marketer?
We’ve found that having a framework in place allows us to identify opportunities for growth. We call it the T-Shaped Marketer Framework:
I encourage you to create one of these templates for yourself. It’s an incredible, eye-opening activity that will provide you with a clear path forward.
Then, we suggest forming habits around the marketing disciplines you’re most excited about:
- If you want to get better at data analysis, try taking a course on Udemy or Skillshare to expand your skills
- If you want to dive into video marketing, experiment with creating a video in Animoto or take a free Adobe Premiere tutorial on YouTube.
- If social media is your passion, we’ve got a ton of great learning resources on our Social Blog, Skillshare, and the Buffer Podcast.
- If you want to improve your organization, workflow, or project management skills, Asana has created a ton of great resources and best practices for work management on their blog.
If you’re curious, inquisitive, genuine, and if your intent is sincere, there will always be people who will support you in your journey.
Experiment and try out new things – some of them might even scare you! Once you gain some momentum, keep it going. That will set you up for a lifetime of success in marketing.
Over to you
Thank you so much for checking out this post!
If you’re interested in learning more about career and marketing skills from some uber-talented professionals in the industry, feel free to check out the Asana blog. It’s packed with some incredible insights.
We’d also love to continue the conversation with you below!
What skills are we missing from this list? What has helped your team create consistently great content? What would you suggest to those looking to hire marketers?
When was the last time you watched a video on social media?
Videos are becoming increasingly popular on social media, especially on mobile. Over the past year, the time people spent watching Facebook Live every day has increased by four times and Instagram videos by 80 percent3Facebook, 2017.
To create engaging social media videos, Facebook recommends creating videos as short as 15 seconds2Facebook, 2017. Sounds easier? But where do you start?
In this guide, you’ll learn step-by-step how to create short social media videos — anything from a few seconds to a few minutes. We’ve also included many tools and examples to help you get started.
How to create engaging social media videos
Creating videos can be more challenging than writing a blog post or designing an image. But it isn’t as difficult as you might have imagined. Here’s how you can create effective short social media videos easily:
The first step is to brainstorm ideas for your videos. Here are three quick ways to generate a ton of ideas:
Look at your top blog posts
If you write a blog, like us, you’ll likely have a treasure trove of content ideas on your blog. The blog posts that resonate with your audience is probably great content for your videos. This strategy has helped us create well-liked videos such as this and this.
You can use your Google Analytics to find your top posts. Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. You should see something like this:
In the upper-right corner, increase the date range to a month. A quarter or a year is fine, too.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and change the number of rows shown to 100.
Voilà! Now you have your top 100 blog posts for the past month (quarter or year) — and tons of content ideas for your video.
Study the most shared content
Sometimes, your top blog posts are also your most shared. But sometimes, they aren’t. Using a tool like Buzzsumo, you can find your most shared content. You can also find the most shared content for any topic!
To find your most shared blog posts, enter your blog URL on Buzzsumo.
You’ll get a list of your most shared blog posts, ordered in terms of the number of shares.
You could also sort the results by the various social media platforms. For example, if you plan to create a Facebook video, you can sort the list by Facebook engagements. Now, you’ll have a list of blog posts that generated the most shares, likes, and comments on Facebook.
Check out popular videos from similar brands
Finally, you can also look around on social media to see what topics are popular at the moment. With Facebook’s Pages to Watch, you can easily check out the top posts from your favorite or similar Facebook Pages.
To access Pages to Watch, go to your Facebook Page > Insights. You’ll find the section at the bottom of the Overview tab.
When you click on any of the Pages, you’ll see its top posts for the week. The posts should give you some video content ideas. It’ll be great to keep an eye out for video posts specifically.
For Twitter, Social Bearing is a great tool for finding any Twitter account’s top tweets. For Instagram, you could try using the Explore feature, which shows you popular posts that are relevant to your account. On LinkedIn, you have the Companies to track feature in your Company Page analytics.
Once you have brainstormed your content ideas and picked one to work on, you can start planning for it.
The two ways I like to plan for a video is to either write a script or create a storyboard. Both encourage me to think through the entire flow and important aspects of the video. A storyboard also helps me visualize how a shot would look like, which will be handy for the next step — recording.
If you are not familiar with storyboarding, here’s a quick guide to get you started.
To help you with your planning, here are some tips from Facebook for creating effective videos:
Capture attention early: Videos auto-play on most social media platforms. By capturing attention with the first few seconds of your video, you have a higher chance of stopping a viewer while she scrolls through her feed. Facebook recommends starting with your most captivating elements, incorporating your brand message and identity early, and using engaging post copy.
Keep your message simple: Facebook encourages you to ask yourself, “What is the most important message I need to deliver in this video?”
Design for sound off: Facebook found that people watch mobile videos everywhere — home, at work, during their commute, etc.3Facebook, 2017 Oftentimes, they wouldn’t want the sound (and perhaps that’s why mobile videos are designed to play without sound). According to Digiday, 85 percent of Facebook videos are played without sound4Digiday, 2016. Add captions or text to tell your story visually.
Experiment with size: More than 50 percent of videos are played on mobile now5Ooyala, 2017. And square and vertical videos take up more screen space than landscape videos when the phone is held vertically. In our own experiments, we found that square videos outperformed landscape videos on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in terms of average engagement and views.
If you’re looking for information about video specs of all the major social media platforms such as the maximum length and default audio state, we hope we’ve gotten you covered with this blog post.
Now, the fun part — recording!
Thanks to the advancement of technology (yay to smartphones!), you can create engaging, high-quality videos with just a few simple tools and tricks. Here are some of our suggestions:
Use your smartphone
You don’t need expensive video equipment to get started. One of the most powerful video tools is right in your pocket — your smartphone. Most smartphones today can record videos of high visual and audio quality.
There are also many video-editing mobile apps available, which you’ll learn about later in this post.
Stabilize your phone with a tripod
Speak into a microphone
It’s best to find a quiet location to record your video. To improve the sound quality further, you can get a lavalier microphone for just $20. Just plug it into your phone and hit record.
Find good lighting
Natural light is one of the best light sources for your videos. If you can’t get that, lamps work great, too. When recording your video, be sure to face the light source so that the light spreads evenly across your face.
If you prefer a more advanced light setup, you’ll love this “Lighting on the Fly” guide by Wistia.
Find or create your video background
Finally, find a nice background for your video. A simple colored background is a great option as it encourages viewers to focus on you and prevents them from being distracted by things going on in the background.
If you can’t find a suitable background, you could create one yourself. You could buy a large foam board from Amazon or a stationery store and place it behind you. Or you could build your own lightbox if you are filming a small physical product.
Great work on recording your video clips! Now, let’s put them together.
Here are a few of our favorite video-editing tools:
For creating video slideshows, we love to use Animoto. It allows us to easily combine video clips, stock videos, photos, and text together to create short engaging videos. Music can also be added to the video in just a few clicks.
If you’re looking for more music choices, Brian Peters found 13 fantastic places for background music.
If you like to edit on-the-go, Facebook recommends Quik by GoPro (Android, iOS). You can just pick your videos and photos, and Quik will automatically find highlights, add effects, and sync transitions with the music. You can then customize the video to your liking.
Note: You’ll want to be mindful of the copyrights and royalties of the videos, images, and music you use for your videos. Here’s a quick rundown of a few rules and licenses.
Finally, you’re ready to share your video!
While there are many ways to share your videos on your social media profiles, we hope the best way for you is to use Buffer’s Tailored Posts.
With Tailored Posts, you can easily schedule or post different videos to each of your social media profiles. All at once, from a single place. And videos will be uploaded directly to the social media platforms.
To use Tailored Posts, click on the Buffer browser extension on any website. (Tailored Posts is coming to the desktop and mobile dashboards soon!)
Then, select the social profiles you want to share the video with, update the copy, and upload the video.
Then, hit “Add to Queue”. Your video will be added to your respective social profile queues and shared at the selected times.
7 video ideas and examples to help you get started
I know creating videos can feel a little intimidating at first. I had many questions myself. What should I include in the video? How long should it be? What type of music should I use?
I hope from these ideas and examples of short social media videos, you’ll find some inspiration and the answers to your questions.
How-to, tips, or tutorial
HubSpot created a short video on how to convince your boss to let you work from home, with stock footages and text.
GoPro interviewed three customers to promote its drone, GoPro Karma, and to introduce its new features.
Wistia did a recap video of their time at Inbound 2017.
We had such a great time at @hubspot’s #inbound17! Check out our recap video and head over to the blog for 3 lessons learned from the year’s biggest conference for marketing and sales professionals. Link in bio!
A post shared by Wistia (@wistia) on
Patagonia shared a quick behind-the-scenes look at their factory.
What makes a factory #FairTrade Certified? Rigorous standards for health and safety, respect for the environmental, no child or forced labor, maternity and paid leave, community empowerment, and additional money back to workers. Learn more about our #FairTradeFleece and the #FairTradeDifference through the link in our profile. ⠀
A post shared by Patagonia (@patagonia) on
Ben & Jerry’s created a simple looping video to promote a new flavor of ice cream.
A post shared by Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) on
We made a short video slideshow sharing five tips that increased our Facebook video views and engagement.
Starbucks compiled photos of its iconic holiday cups from its customers into a simple video slideshow.
For more ideas, check out Facebook’s Creative Hub, where they have listed close to 100 Facebook videos for your inspiration.
How do you create your social media videos?
With videos being the third most-wanted content type in the future (after social media posts and news), it’ll be great to get started now6HubSpot, 2016. Here’s a simple framework you can use (and adapt):
If you have already been creating videos, I would love to learn from you. Do you have any tips for creating engaging social media videos? How does your video creation process look like?
Topic: Video marketing
Experiment with ideas. Test and see which works better. Analyze your data.
These are phrases we often use on this blog. To us, social media marketing is a bit of a science. We recommend testing things, running experiments, and analyzing data — because it worked for us. This experimental mindset has helped us grow our social media results.
But one thing we haven’t done well is to explain the how: how to run social media experiments.
In this post, you’ll learn the six simple steps of running social media experiments. We’ve even included 87 ideas, which you can start testing immediately.
How to run social media experiments successfully
Running social media experiments can be hard when you’re not sure where to start and where to head to. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you hit the ground running.
Before we dive into the guide, here’s a quick caveat: social media experiments are not perfect or entirely scientific. Some factors are out of our control, such as organic reach since it’s determined by the social media algorithms.
This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t get meaningful results (it has worked for us and many others); it’s just good to be mindful of this while running your experiments.
1. Set goals
As with most planning, it’s crucial to start by setting your goals. Why?
Imagine the following situation. Both social media posts are sharing the same blog post with a different headline.
Post A received 100 Likes, 100 shares, 10 clicks, and 5,000 impressions.
Post B received 10 Likes, 10 shares, 100 clicks, and 1,000 impressions.
Which post do you think is better?
I think it depends on your goals! If you think social media is for engagement, you’ll likely prefer Post A. But if you think social media is for driving traffic, you’ll probably prefer Post B instead.
Here’s a list of social media goals you could choose from:
- Reach (or impressions)
- Engagement (Likes, comments, and shares)
- Traffic from social media
- Leads from social media
- Revenue from social media
For us, our overarching goal for social media is engagement and brand-building. (Here’s why.) So we focus more on our social media reach, engagement, and following than traffic, leads, or revenue from social media.
Having said that, each social media post can sometimes have its own micro-goal. For example, while our overall social media goal is engagement and majority of our posts are meant for generating engagement, we have some posts that are meant for driving traffic, such as this and this.
2. Brainstorm ideas
Once you have set your goals, you are ready to come up with ideas. While you are thinking of new ideas, it’ll be good if you could form a hypothesis around the idea, too. This is the format we like to use7Inspired by Brian Balfour:
If we (experiment idea),
then (expected results),
If we curate top content from other Facebook Pages,
then we can grow our Facebook reach by 10%,
because they are content proven to be popular.
You could also keep it as simple as “Curating top third-party content will increase our reach on Facebook.”
Here are a few suggestions for coming up with social media experiment ideas:
Read blog posts for ideas
This is my favorite method because there’s so much written about social media marketing every day. Listicles and case studies of successful social media tactics can be a great source of inspiration for experiment ideas.
If you want somewhere to get started, we have quite a few blog posts with experiment ideas in them:
- Get Over Your Creativity Block With These 20 Social Media Content Ideas
- 20 Creative Ways to Use Social Media for Storytelling
- 7 Powerful Social Media Experiments That Grew Our Traffic by 241% in 8 Months
- 10 Unique Ideas to Test on Every Social Media Channel (And How to Tell What Works)
- We Made These 10 Social Media Mistakes so You Don’t Have To
There’s also a huge list of 100 social media experiment ideas below. Click here to skip right to it, and feel free to take any of the ideas.
Follow social media trends
The second method is to follow social media trends.
For example, videos are becoming the most popular content format on social media. Facebook has been pushing for videos on its platform for the last few years, and LinkedIn has recently introduced native videos. Our internal data also showed that videos received an average of 873 interactions per post, compared with 279 for photos and 190 for text posts.
So it’ll be a good idea to test videos on your social media profiles.
We recently wrote about the 10 major social media trends for 2018, which you might find useful for generating ideas.
What ideas can you think of in light of these trends?
Study industry leaders and competitors
The final method is to watch and learn from the best companies in your industry and your competitors. What have they been doing that is worth trying yourself?
It’s also good to be aware that the ideas that worked for them might not always work for you. You all likely have many differences such as branding, positioning, and audience. But if you think an idea is suitable for your brand, I would say go for it and modify it for your own brand.
There are some free tools you can use to track industry leaders and competitors.
On Twitter, you could add your favorite companies to a Twitter list. To create a Twitter list, click on your profile photo in the upper-right corner and click on “Lists”. Then, click on “Create new list” and fill out the information.
On LinkedIn, you have the Companies to track feature in your Company Page analytics. Clicking on any of the company names will bring you to their Company Page. You can access this section by clicking on Analytics > Followers.
The next step is to prioritize your ideas. A prioritization framework we like to use at Buffer is the ICE score by GrowthHackers.
ICE stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease.
- Impact: The possible impact of the idea on your selected metric (e.g. 10 percent increase in reach)
- Confidence: Your confidence level about the success of the experiment (e.g. three companies have found success with this idea)
- Ease: The number of resources required (e.g. no design or engineering help needed)
For each experiment, give each factor a score from one to 10. The overall score is determined by taking the average of the three scores. You should start with the experiment that has the highest score.
Here are two simple examples of ICE scoring in action:
Curating top third-party content will increase our reach on Facebook.
Impact = 6
Confidence = 8
Ease = 8
Overall = 7.3
Partnering with micro-influencers will grow our Instagram reach.
Impact = 8
Confidence = 4
Ease = 3
Overall = 5
Based on the ICE score, I would run experiment A before experiment B.
While this process can be a little time-consuming at the start, it’s important. It’ll help you think through the experiment details (such as what metric to track) and maximize your impact with the resources you have.
After a while, you should be able to build up a good intuition about the potential of ideas without having to score every single idea.
Now you’re ready to test your top ideas!
There are a few things you want to be mindful when testing.
(Ideally) test one thing at a time to understand what’s making the difference. For example, if you want to test your copy as an experiment, it’ll be best to keep the multimedia the same. Otherwise, you won’t know if the copy or the multimedia caused one post to outperform the other.
Look at the right metrics to measure the results of your experiment. This is where the goals you’ve set will be helpful. For instance, if you want to maximize your social media reach, you would pick reach or impressions over clicks.
Run one experiment at a time for a start. Similar to the first point above, doing so lets you know which experiment moved the needle. (When you are feeling advanced, you could run multiple experiments concurrently as long as you understand how they will affect the metrics.)
Run each experiment for at least a week for smaller experiments. This isn’t entirely scientific but I believe a week is sufficient for the results to be seen. For bigger experiments such as shifting your social strategy to posting more videos, you might want to test it for a month to a quarter. The bigger the experiment, the longer it should be tested.
5. Analyze and learn
Finally, you’ll want to analyze your results to see if your experiment has been a success. Here are some questions you could ask yourself:
- Did it achieve the results I had expected? Why?
- Did any other factors contribute to the success or failure?
- Can I learn anything else from this experiment?
To help you with your experiment tracking, I’ve created a simple tracking template: Social Media Experiment Tracking. Feel free to make a copy and modify it to your liking.
When running scientific experiments, it’s important to look at the statistical significance of the results — to ensure that the result isn’t a fluke and can be repeated successfully. But for social media experiments, it might not always be feasible. That’s because your sample size (impressions of a post) isn’t within your control.
My non-scientific recommendation here is to repeat the experiment a few times and see if the result remains the same. If the result can be repeated, you can consider turning the experiment into a regular part of your social media marketing.
Congratulations! You have just planned, run, and analyze a social media experiment!
Whether you had a successful experiment or not, it’ll be great to repeat step four (test) and five (analyze and learn) continuously. Then once a quarter, you could take a step back and look at the bigger picture again. Your social media goals might have changed, or there might be new social media tactics to try.
Re-evaluate your goals, brainstorm new ideas, and test them. All the best!
87 social media experiment ideas
To help you get started with running social media experiments, here’s a mega list of ideas for you to try. Some are low-hanging fruits while others might require much effort:
- Post when your followers are online
- Post when your followers are offline
- Post during commute times
- Post during lunch time
- Post on the weekends
- Post less
- Post more
Headlines and copy
- Write short headlines
- Write long headlines
- Write really long headlines (or stories)
- Use social proof in your copy
- Add emojis
- Customize your post for each social media platform
- Post questions
- Ask for opinions on a trending topic
- Share top industry news
- Share thought-leadership articles
- Share interesting, relevant statistics
- Share inspiration quotes
- Post interviews
- Host a live Q&A
- Post behind-the-scenes videos
- Share your company culture
- Re-use top posts
- Poll your audience
- Retweet a mention every day
- Create a branded hashtag
- Host a giveaway and invite people to comment
- Host a giveaway and invite people to tag a friend
- Host a giveaway and invite people to share your post
- Host a giveaway with other brands
- Celebrate national or international events
- Create a huge image on your Instagram profile with multiple posts
- Create a Twitter moment
- Create a Slideshare presentation (and share it)
- Curate third-party content
- Post self-explanatory images
- Post photos of your product
- Post infographics
- Post GIFs
- Post audio recordings
- Post slideshow videos
- Post tutorial or tips videos
- Post a 360 photo or video
- Go live
- Livestream an event
- Live-tweet an event
- Upload videos directly to social media platforms (vs YouTube)
- Create landscape videos
- Create square (or letterbox) videos
- Create portrait videos
- Create short 10-15s videos
- Create long 20-30min videos
- Add captions to videos
- Add music to videos
- Use a cover video for Facebook
- Boost your top posts
- Use social proof in your copy
- Use a photo of a person
- Test the carousel ad format
- Test the video ad format
- Test stories ads
- Test Messenger ads
- Test Snapchat Geofilters
- Test Snap Ads
- Sequence your Facebook ads
- Share user-generated content
- Share customer stories
- Sponsor a micro-influencer (sponsored posts)
- Create a piece of content with a micro-influencer and share it together
- Host a social media takeover
- Do a social swap
- Host social media events with another brand
- Host a roundtable with experts in your industry
- Hire an agency for a social media campaign
- Pin a post
- Reply to all mentions
- Use Facebook Messenger
- Create a Facebook Messenger bot
- Use a social media management tool
- Use a social media analytics tool
- Use Facebook’s preferred audience feature
- Offer time-limited discounts
- Ask your CEO (or a colleague that is well-known in your industry) to share your posts
How do you run social media experiments?
Having a framework for running social media experiments can be very helpful. Here’s one I like (though you can tweak it however much you like):
- Set goals
- Analyze and learn
I’m curious about how you run your social media experiments. Do you use a framework or system? Do you use any tools to help you with it? Let’s chat in the comments section below.
Instagram now has more than 800 million monthly users and sky-high user engagement levels.
I know we are at Buffer!
Lately, we’ve been sharing, liking, and trying new ways to grow Buffer’s Instagram account, and it’s been so much fun. Since Instagram is a platform we’re keen to focus on, we thought it would be fun to research some ways to grow a following there.
Whether you’re growing your own personal account or working on behalf of a company, read on to find out the 10 best tactics (with tools and examples!) we uncovered that could help you grow a bigger, more relevant audience on Instagram.
Buffer for Instagram now comes with direct scheduling! Schedule single-image posts or set reminders to post videos and multi-image posts at your best times to grow your Instagram following. Learn more today.
Top 10 Instagram Growth Tactics
10 actionable ways to supercharge your follower growth on Instagram:
1. Post consistently (at least once a day)
2. Try videos, live videos, and Stories
3. Study and use quality hashtags
4. Share user-generated content
5. Collaborate with others
6. Post at your best times
7. Use your analytics
8. Engage your fans
9. Host contests
1. Post consistently (at least once a day)
Visual marketing tool Tailwind studied more than 100,000 Instagram profiles in 2017 to understand how posting frequency affects follower growth and engagement rate2Tailwind, 2017.
They found that the more often you post, the more likes and followers you get.
According to the study, profiles that posted seven or more times a week (or at least once a day) get more likes and gain more followers faster than those that post less frequently.
Here’s the impact of posting more:
You can almost double your follower growth rate by moving from less than one post per week to 1-6 posts a week. You can more than double your follower growth rate again by moving from posting 1-6 times per week to once or more per day.
The key takeaway: Post consistently on Instagram. Brands that get into a regular flow with Instagram posts tend to see the best results.
With Instagram’s algorithmic timeline, consistency feels like a key element to getting your posts seen and appearing at the top of the timeline. If your posts are shared on a regular basis and picking up good engagement, then our hunch is Instagram’s algorithm may place your posts near the top of your follower’s feeds.
2. Try videos, live videos, and Stories
While Instagram started as a photo-sharing network, it has grown beyond just photos. With features like videos, live videos and Stories, brands can now create many different types of content to engage their fans and grow their following.
Here are a few compelling reasons to try posting these new content types:
- The average engagement for videos is growing faster than the average engagement for images3NewsWhip, 2017
- When you go live on Instagram, you will appear right at the front of the Stories feed4Here’s an example.
- More than 250 million people use Instagram Stories every day5Instagram, 2018
- Sixty-eight percent of marketers surveyed plan to create more Stories in 20186Buffer, 2018
How to Create Beautiful Instagram Stories (and 10 Amazing Templates to Use)
Here’s All You Need to Know About Live Video on Instagram Stories:
A Video Marketing Guide On Creating Epic Content for Social Media
3. Study and use quality hashtags
We’ve explored hashtags a lot on the blog, but it seems that nowhere on social media are they quite as important as on Instagram. The right hashtags (and location tag) can expose your image to a large and targeted audience, and Instagram users don’t seem to get hashtag fatigue in the same way they might on other networks.
Due to its popularity, it’s even possible to follow a hashtag now!
Simply Measured did two studies and found that Instagram posts with both hashtags and a location tag get the highest average engagement7Simply Measured, 2014 and 2015. In other words, hashtags could be your best bet for growing a fast following on Instagram.
For example, check out one of our recent top Instagram posts, where we used ten hashtags and a location tag:
While Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, TrackMaven found that nine hashtags seem to be the optimal number for getting the maximum engagement8TrackMaven, 2016.
With free Instagram tools like Display Purpose, Focalmark, and AutoHash, you can easily get quality, relevant hashtags for your Instagram posts. For instance, with Display Purpose, simply type in a few words about your image and it’ll recommend the top hashtags to use.
4. Share user-generated content
In a year, we grew our Instagram following by almost 400 percent – from 4,250 to 21,000 followers. And a large percentage of this growth was a result of us embracing and sharing user-generated content.
The easiest way to think about user-generated content is this: brands taking the best-of-the-best user content from around the web and featuring it on their own social media or other platforms while giving credit to the original creator (user).
At Buffer, we started the hashtags #BufferStories and #BufferCommunity to showcase the unique stories of our users. These hashtags have opened up a huge variety of content options from curated stories of digital nomads to social media tips from marketers. Here’s an example:
5. Collaborate with others
Another great way to extend your Instagram reach and grow your following is to collaborate with others, either through partnerships or sponsorships.
For example, we once collaborated with Brian Fanzo, founder and CEO of iSocialFanz, by taking over each other’s Instagram Stories. Through the partnership, we were both able to provide value to our own audience and reach a new audience.
If you have the budget for social media sponsorships, then influencer marketing might be suitable for you. Swedish watchmaker Daniel Wellington is a classic example. They grew their Instagram following from 850,000 to 2.1 million followers in one year by sponsoring Instagram influencers10Mediakix, 2016.
The Instagram influencers tag Daniel Wellington’s Instagram account in their sponsored post, which drives people to check out Daniel Wellington’s profile. Through this strategy, Daniel Wellington has amassed more than four million followers so far.
If you wish to explore influencer marketing, here’s a quick five-step influencer marketing guide to get you started.
6. Post at your best times
After looking at more than five studies on the best times to post, I learned that there isn’t a universal best time to post on Instagram.
Instead, every brand has its own best times to post. You have yours, too!
Timeliness of a post is one of the major factors in the Instagram algorithm. So a possible best time for you to post on Instagram is when your followers are most active. Here’s how you can find that information:
- In the Instagram app, tap on your profile photo
- Tap on the Instagram Insights (bar chart) icon
- Scroll down to the “Followers” section and tap on “See more”
At the bottom of the page, you’ll see on which day of the week and at which hours of the day your followers are most active. For example, our followers seem to be most active on Thursdays from 9 am to 3pm ET. You could also look at where your followers are based and experiment with times that you think they’ll be active.
Alternatively, you can use Instagram analytics tools like Iconosquare or Buffer for Business to find your best time to post using your Instagram data. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a business profile on Instagram and, thereby, no access to Instagram Insights. Here’s how the Iconosquare feature looks like:
7. Use your analytics
One of the key ways to grow your Instagram following is to post high-quality content that your followers like and would engage with.
How do you know what your followers like? Again, Instagram Insights provides the data for you to understand which posts your followers like the most.
- In the Instagram app, tap on your profile photo
- Tap on the Instagram Insights (bar chart) icon
- Scroll down to the “Posts” section and tap on “See more”
Here, you’ll see your top posts sorted by impressions. You can tap on the sentence at the top of the page and change the filters according. For example, you could instead see your top videos in the past three months sorted by comments.
Do you notice any trends?
Does a certain type of image get more impressions or engagement? Post more of those images and see if your followers continue to like and engage with them.
You can even dive deeper into the data by selecting a post and tapping on “View Insights”. For example, I found that, with one of our recent posts, we reached more than 1,700 people who weren’t following us. If they like that post, there’s a high chance that they might end up following us for more similar posts.
8. Engage your fans
In the Instagram algorithm, engagement is one of the major considerations (perhaps the top consideration) when determining how many people to show a post to.
The more engagement a post has, the more people will see it in their feed.
With many engagements, your posts may even be featured in the top posts of hashtags or in the Explore tab, reaching even more people. And possibly gaining more followers.
A great practice is then to engage your followers by liking or replying to their comments to your posts. Since they took the effort to check out your posts and commenting on them, it feels great to reciprocate by continuing the conversation. Here at Buffer, we use Buffer Reply to easily and quickly reply our fans on Instagram (Facebook, and Twitter).
9. Host contests
Our most commented-on Instagram posts are all contest posts, where we gave out Buffer swags as the prize. Here’s one of them:
These posts are great for increasing your reach on Instagram and gaining new followers. For example, you could invite your followers to comment with their favorite emojis or tag a friend to enter the contest.
With the help of either the algorithm or your followers, you could reach many people who might not have heard of your brand before. And if they like the posts on your profile, they might choose to follow you.
To help you get started, Social Media Examiner has an awesome primer on all kinds of Instagram contests.
Finally, make sure your existing fans know you’re on Instagram through cross-posting. Instagram makes it simple to share your posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, which could be a great tactic to get some extra exposure.
And there’s a great advantage to cross-post! A Buzzsumo study of more than one billion Facebook posts from three million brand pages found that images posted to Facebook via Instagram receive more engagement than natively published images11Buzzsumo, 2016:
You can also try embedding Instagram photos in your blog posts (see this post for an example) or adding an Instagram feed to your Facebook page for some additional discovery. Here’s a look at Buffer’s Facebook Page with an added Instagram feed:
One last tactic: How to drive traffic from Instagram?
One of the challenges of marketing on Instagram (and possibly a part of its joy for users) is that you can’t quite add links for your viewers to click.
If you want to send your followers to a specific link, it’s becoming a common practice to change the link in your Instagram profile and add the comment “link in bio” to a corresponding photo or video.
You could also use a tool like Campsite to create a mobile-friendly page where you can list multiple links and associate the links to the respective Instagram post (which you can then link to from your bio).
Wrapping it up: Anatomy of a perfect post
We’ve gone over quite a lot of tactics to remember and try! The kind folks at Made Freshly combined lots of these tips for growing a following into this fun, evergreen infographic:
Bonus! Buffer for Instagram: Now with direct scheduling
We are so excited to share that Buffer for Instagram now comes with direct scheduling!
Schedule single-image posts or set reminders to post videos and multi-image posts at your best times to grow your Instagram following. Learn more today.
What are your Instagram experiences?
In our quest to grow our followers, it’s always helpful to remember what really matters in all of this: The friends we’ll talk to, the relationships we’ll create, and the fun we’ll have.
An easy way to keep this principle central is to spend a bit of time each day just hanging out and enjoying Instagram. You might respond to comments, like photos, follow some new friends, and comment on awesome posts. It’s the time spent showing and sharing the love that can pay off in new followers. It also creates a better social media experience for everyone.
We’d love to keep the conversation going—both in the comments here and on Instagram, of course! Lots of awesome friends shared their top tips for marketing on the social network, and we’d love to hear yours, too! Add your thoughts below!
You might also enjoy these Instagram marketing resources:The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Analytics: Metrics, Insights, Tools, and Tips A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing: The Playbook That Drives Results How Instagram Stories Work: A Powerful New Way to Engage
LinkedIn Groups do not have a great reputation. Many of them are filled with self-promotion and spam rather than valuable discussions and meaningful interactions. Hence, it can be easy to turn down the idea of creating a one for your business. “It wouldn’t work.”
While it is true that there are few good LinkedIn Groups, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful for all businesses. With the shift in social media usage in the recent years, closed communities such as Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups might be the next best way to engage your audience.
In this post, we’ll explore why your business should have a LinkedIn Group and how to create and manage a successful group.
Read on to find out more.
Why LinkedIn Groups
If you’re still wondering if LinkedIn Groups are useful for your business, I hope the following reasons can convince you of its importance and power.
First, social media as we know it is changing. There’s a significant shift from simply broadcasting marketing messages to engaging fans. Instead of building huge public pages, more and more businesses are opting for niche closed communities. This shift is also encouraged by changes on major social media platforms such as Facebook, where meaningful content in groups is given priority over public content.
LinkedIn has also announced that they will be improving the LinkedIn Group experience, which is “at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals to help and support one another”12The screenshot below was taken by David Spinks..
Second, LinkedIn usage is growing. While Facebook and Instagram had received the attention of most marketers (including ourselves) in 2017, LinkedIn has steadily grown its user base to more than 500 million members.
And unlike Facebook and Instagram, people on LinkedIn are there to further their professional network, build their personal brand, and increase their industry knowledge. This makes communities like LinkedIn Groups a great way for bringing your customers together, especially if you are a business-to-business (B2B) company.
Finally, LinkedIn Groups have powerful community management features that are not available on other social media platforms. For example, LinkedIn sends a daily or weekly digest of all activities in the group to your members to keep them updated and engaged. You can also send an admin announcement email to your members once a week — an email that’ll sit in their inbox, not a notification in the app.
If these reasons are convincing enough for you, if you have the resources, and if you want to learn more about creating and managing a LinkedIn Group, let’s dive in further.
How to create a successful LinkedIn Group
1. Pick a topic that your customers care about
A Group, however, should be focused around a topic that has a natural connection to your brand and less on directly promoting your brand or company. People should join the group because they are interested in the topic, not your company. Over time, the audience will create a natural connection with the topic and your brand, through an earned connection, which is much more valuable.
HubSpot’s LinkedIn Group is about inbound marketing; Content Marketing Institute’s LinkedIn Group is about content marketing. They focused not on their own brand but on topics that their customers care about.
Your customers might be interested in discussing your products with fellow customers. They are, however, likely to be more interested in the wider topic instead. For example, if we had a LinkedIn Group, members would likely be more keen to discuss how to improve their social media marketing than chat about how to use Buffer.
Having a topic that your customers care about will not only attract them to be part of your LinkedIn Group. It will also help keep the conversations in the group focused and make it easier for you and your team to manage the group.
Here are some questions to help you decide on your group topic:
- What are your goals for the community?
- What conversations would be useful to your customers?
- What are some questions that your customers often ask you?
- What are the common topics that your brand is related to?
2. Create your LinkedIn Group
Once you’ve decided on your topic, the next step is to create your group on LinkedIn.
Creating a LinkedIn group is as simple as filling out a form. Navigate to your LinkedIn Groups and click on “Create group”. Or you can use this direct link if you’re logged in: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/create.
Here are the fields to fill out:
- Group title
- Group logo
- Group rules (optional but highly recommended)
- Group membership (standard or unlisted)
One aspect that I would recommend focusing on is the group rules. Your group rules will help your members understand what’s encouraged and what’s not. Having your groups rules stated explicitly will also make it easier for you to manage your group and moderate conversations.
Here’s an example by Content Marketing Institute LinkedIn Group:
It might sound harsh that they would “delete any discussion submission which includes a link to posts and articles or are a promotion of services” and “Members who repeatedly submit links will be removed from the group.” From my personal experience, having such rules and enforcing them seem to be the key difference between a LinkedIn Group with meaningful discussions and one that is filled with spam and links.
If you want to check out more group rules for reference, I thought Search Engine Land, Step Into The Spotlight!, and Lean Startup Circle have pretty good group rules. (You’ll have to join the groups to see the rules.)
3. Set up message templates
One handy feature of LinkedIn Groups is its message templates. You can create custom messages that would be automatically sent to people interested in joining your LinkedIn Group. This is a great opportunity to let your brand tone shine. If you do not create a custom message, LinkedIn will send its default message accordingly.
Here are the various message templates:
- Request-to-join Message (to people who requested to join your group)
- Welcome Message (to people whom you have approved their membership in your group)
- Decline Message (to people whom you have declined their request to join your group)
- Decline and Block Message (to people whom you have declined their request and want to block any further requests)
To access this setting, click on “Manage” on your LinkedIn Group homepage and select “Templates” on the left. Then, click on “Create Template” for the ones you want to customize. Here’s how customizing the template looks like:
Here’s an example of how a custom welcome message email looks like (the message is in the middle section while the other two sections are automatically generated, I believe):
If you would like interested people to fill out an application form to join the group, you could include an application form in your request-to-join message, like HubSpot did:
This way, you can ensure that only people that fit your target persona or people who are really interested would join your LinkedIn Group.
4. Invite your connections and grow your group
To help ensure that your LinkedIn Group remains a trusted place for you and your members to gather, you can now invite only people whom you’re connected to on LinkedIn.
To invite your connections, click on “Manage” on your LinkedIn Group homepage and select “Invited Users” on the left.
If you have other marketing channels, such as other social media profiles, email, or a blog, you could use them to promote your new LinkedIn Group. Alternatively, you could also share your LinkedIn Group on your personal LinkedIn profile and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
Here are a few more ideas from LinkedIn on promoting your group:
- Optimize and edit your group information to include keywords that prospective members are likely to search for.
- Encourage group members to invite people.
- Advertise your group with LinkedIn Ads by clicking the Advertising link at the bottom of any LinkedIn page.
It might be tempting to think that the bigger your group is, the better it would be. Before you go about growing your group, here’s a thought to consider: many of the largest LinkedIn Groups have over a million members and are often filled with just links. It’s often the smaller groups with proper moderation that have meaningful discussions. (LinkedIn has now limited the number of members in a group to 20,0002LinkedIn, 2017.)
5. Start discussions and be active
This step and the next are the most crucial ones, which will influence how well your LinkedIn Group becomes. You ready?
Once you’ve created your LinkedIn Group and invited your connections, your group would likely still feel very empty. Members might not post anything if there aren’t any posts in the group (or they might just start sharing links ).
I would recommend creating a “Welcome post” as the group’s first post, where you welcome new members, share what the group is about, and gently remind members to check the group rules.
Then, feature that post so that it stays at the top of the group feed for all new members to read. You can feature a post by clicking on the three dots in the upper-right corner of the post and selecting “Feature”. Here’s an example of how a featured post looks like:
The next thing to do is to start some discussions in the group. This serves two purposes:
- It helps get conversations going in the group, and
- It signals to your group members the type of posts that are appropriate and encouraged.
The question-and-answer format seems to be the best way to start valuable conversations in LinkedIn Groups. According to Inc., James McDonald, who started a successful industrial water treatment LinkedIn Group several years back, posted a question every day and let his members respond to it3Inc., 2013.
Besides starting discussions, you’ll also want to participate in relevant discussions by commenting or liking. This will encourage your members to post more and, again, let them know the type of discussions that are recommended the group.
Starting discussions and participating in them can be quite time-consuming. But your effort will pay off once you have created a culture of having meaningful discussions. New members tend to follow the actions of existing members. If they see only quality conversations and no self-promotional posts, they’ll more likely contribute to the discussions than promote their own things in the group.
6. Moderate all posts and remove spam
This next step is just as important as the previous. Once your members become active (yay!), it’ll be crucial to moderate the posts in your LinkedIn Group. My hunch is that most LinkedIn Groups fail because of a lack of moderation.
According to LinkedIn, “Spam is the top reason people leave groups” and, if I may add, the top reason people become inactive in groups4LinkedIn, 2017. Spam in LinkedIn Groups is usually in the form of links. So I would recommend being quite sensitive to members sharing links in your LinkedIn Group, and deleting the post or removing the member.
To remove a post or comment in your LinkedIn Group, click on the three dots in the upper-right corner of the post or by the comment and select “Delete”.
To help you reduce spam, LinkedIn also has an auto-moderation system that would flag promotional content. You could also encourage your members (or group managers) to flag posts that are not appropriate for the group. Then you can head to your group management page to moderate the posts under the sections, “Moderation Queue” and “Classifier Queue”.
Here’s a little heads up: building an engaged community can take some time and effort. You’ll likely have to repeat step five and six for quite some time so don’t be disheartened if your group isn’t very active after the first month or two.
If you would like to learn more best practices for managing LinkedIn Groups, there are a few good answers in this Quora thread (especially the answers of Alice Fuller, Andy Foote, and Jeff Martens).
Who’s doing it well? A few great examples
In case it’s helpful to take a peek at what great LinkedIn Groups are doing, here are a few of my favorites (from my very limited research). Approval is required before one joins a group so I have not been able to check out many. If you know of any other great examples, would you kindly share them below? Thank you!
Search Engine Land
Search Engine Land is a LinkedIn Group for SEO, filled with many great question-and-answer discussions. They are very strict about not sharing links in the group, except for links from Search Engine Land’s websites. (The assumption is that as it is a Search Engine Land’s group, people who join are interested in getting news directly from the company.)
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing claims to be the largest and most active social media marketing LinkedIn Group as of May 2017. There are many great discussions in the group, such as the one in the screenshot. At the same time, as it is such a big group, moderation can take some time so you’ll often see self-promotion posts in the group.
Step Into The Spotlight!
Step Into The Spotlight! is a business and marketing LinkedIn Group by Tsufit, author of Step Into The Spotlight. Tsufit regularly starts discussions and moderates the posts to keep the group free of spam. While self-promotion in the group is generally not encouraged, there’s a post where members can showcase their work in the comments of the post.
Over to you: Which are your favorite LinkedIn Groups?
LinkedIn is the best platform to reach professionals who are interested in connecting with other professionals. This makes it a great place to build your professional community. While LinkedIn Groups might not have a great reputation (now), the few well-run groups are good indications that it’s possible to create a successful one.
That’s all from me. I would love to hear about your favorite LinkedIn Groups and why you think they are great!