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.
The way we consume content has always been driven by technology.
In the early 20th century, cinema was the clear leader, with 65 percent of the U.S. population attending the cinema each week in 1930.
Then came the television, and scarcity turned into abundance. Instead of having to go to the cinema to watch the news or a catch a bit of light entertainment every week, it could be viewed from the comfort of your own home, daily.
Following this, the percentage of people that went to the cinema each week took a steep decline:
And now, as traditional TV viewership declines, the next-generation television and entertainment product will almost certainly be in your pocket.
From Facebook Watch to Twitter’s live video broadcasts, and most recently, the launch of IGTV, a new app for watching long-form, vertical video from your favorite Instagram creators, it’s clear that social platforms are vying to be — and likely will become – the next big broadcast channels.
IGTV is a standalone vertical video app, and unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long.
As soon as you open the IGTV app, a video will start playing — much like when you first turn on a TV. This means you don’t have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram.
“Also like TV, IGTV has channels,” Instagram co-founder, Kevin Systrom said on the Instagram blog. “But, in IGTV, the creators are the channels. When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch. Anyone can be a creator — you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel.”
Vertical videos have changed the way in which many of us create and consume content, capturing a large percentage of the video-watching market in the process.
Last year Facebook revealed that its users were more likely to watch vertical videos for longer than traditional 16:9 videos, so it makes sense that Instagram would want to follow suit and embrace, full-screen, vertical video (aside from Stories).
And at IGTV’s launch event, Systrom, explained: “The tools we watch video on are old and out of date. Think about it—we still watch videos formatted for TV, on a vertical screen.”
Examples of IGTV content
1. Manchester City FC
Manchester City FC shared a video containing every single one of the team’s goals in the Premier League during the 2017/18 season. In total, that’s 37-minutes of highlights for their fans to consume.
2. The Economist
The Economist published a 9-minute show a pioneering eco-resort that is trying to prove that tourism can help to revive and protect marine life.
3. National Geographic
National Geographic debuted on IGTV with a 47-minute documentary hosted by Will Smith. The documentary titled ‘One Strange Rock: Home’, follows NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson as she returns home to Earth.
How we got here: From photo sharing to long-form video
Raymond Loewy was one of the 20th century’s most prolific and influential designers. And the theory behind all of his designs was a simple one, called MAYA: Most Advanced Yet Acceptable.
He said to sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising.
For an example of Loewy’s theory in action, look no further than Instagram.
Five years ago, an Instagram product that focused purely on longer-form, mobile videoes may have been met with skepticism. And in 2013, we might all have been thinking, “I’d never watch a 15-minute show on Instagram.” But now, it feels like a natural progression.
When Instagram first launched it was an app that enabled users to filter and share photos. Then, in 2013, videos were added, allowing users to share 15-second clips to their Instagram feed. Next came 60-second videos, vertical video formats, full-screen live video experiences and Stories.
Now, IGTV, though brand new, feels somewhat familiar and a next logical step for Instagram.
How will brand content evolve on IGTV
Will we all have to start producing, high-quality TV-like experiences for Instagram?
If you have the time, budgets and skillsets to put together this type of content, then yes, it might be a great play for your business.
But as video content gets longer, production values and time investment increase. And whilst creating a bunch of engaging, sub-10-second videos for a story on Instagram is a science in itself, creating a 15-minute video is a completely different challenge.
Success on IGTV will be more akin to creating and growing a YouTube channel than an Instagram profile and we’ll see plenty of experimentation from brands and creators alike to see what works on this new platform.
Content production likely won’t be the only way to make IGTV work for your brand, though.
Getting paid has always been a problem for creators and at the IGTV launch, Systrom confirmed that Instagram is focused on ways to help creators to make a living.
Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, recently launched its Brand Collabs Manager to help creators land sponsorship and partnership deals so we could see partnerships and sponsorships between brands and creators become a trend on IGTV, with brands seeking to align themselves and create content alongside stand-out IGTV creators.
And while there aren’t any ads on IGTV at launch, they’ll be on the way soon and ads could also be a way for brands to reach their audience through IGTV. With longer-form content, we may also see Instagram experiment with new ad types such as pre and mid-roll ads.
Over to you
What do you think about IGTV? Are you excited to create and consume long-form content on Instagram? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Too busy to read? Just click the play button below to listen to this post.
“We love coffee, but we love community and people more.”
This Foster Coffee Company credo isn’t just a brand statement.
It’s at the heart of their social media strategy too.
We spoke to co-founder Nicholas Pidek and marketing associate, Justin Ozanich, about how social media has helped them grow their community and business.
“Two and a half years ago we were just brewing coffee at the farmers’ market, and we learned early on that social media was a huge part of our strategy to grow our business. You know, we were serving coffee one day a week. Saturday mornings we would get up at 5 a.m. and serve people from 7 till 1… but we were able to use social media every day of the week to touch people.” – Nicholas
What began as two friends experimenting with craft coffee at a farmers’ market has become a local business success story.
Foster Coffee Company now has two thriving locations in Michigan, where people gather to drink great coffee, work, converse, celebrate the local community and build relationships. Along the way, that initial partnership has blossomed into a team of coffee and community enthusiasts, whose faces feature regularly on their social media platforms.
“Part of our strategy with growing was just producing really good content.
We’ve got some really great resources at our disposal of people who work for pretty much next to nothing because they believe in the brand – to take photos for us and come out and shoot our product and photograph people, to really tell people our story.
Our philosophy is products are great and there are so many great companies out there that have the most beautiful photographs of their cappuccinos, and their lattes, and that’s something that we do speckle in there, but primarily people are attracted to people. So we want people to see other people interacting with each other and with our products at the same time.
People drive our community, not products.” – Nicholas
Discovering Buffer through a personal touch
With a people-first philosophy and content strategy, Nicholas started exploring ways to better plan out social media campaigns and expand Foster’s reach on social. His exploration into social media management platforms even involved a serendipitous personal connection, the exact kind of thing their coffee shops aim to cultivate.
“Early on, I started using Buffer and just kind of did the gamut of looking at what platforms were out there. I was just really thrilled with the platform.
Adam, who works for Buffer, started coming into Foster, and when I found out that he was working for Buffer, that was kind of a cool connection there – that someone from this company is actually working in our coffee shop.” – Nicholas
Buffer is the ideal publishing platform for Foster because it enables them to plan, schedule and deliver their content in a consistent, yet flexible way.
“I start off with photographs, so really our Buffer scheduling starts at the photoshoot. We capture new content on a weekly basis and decide the direction of that content anywhere from two weeks to a month in advance – where we want our publishing schedule to go. Two weeks seems to be a sweet spot for us. It is far enough out that we can stay ahead of the schedule without scrambling to find content, and at the same time it’s not that difficult to add something or make last minute changes – we can just click and drag stuff around.
I use the calendar feature in Buffer all the time. I schedule pretty much exclusively from that perspective.
For example, if something awesome is happening in the shop or if we have something unique that pops up, it’s really easy to insert that into the schedule. We don’t have to be married to a plan, which is a great feature.” – Justin
“One of the things that I think has really helped us, as far as social media engagement and growing our following goes, is early on Nick understood the power of really great content, instead of just settling for mediocre.
He took the initiative to make sure that we have really good photographers working with us regularly to produce great content that represents our vision. I really like that because it shows our audience that we have a certain level of care for every aspect of our business and want to bring our customers the best in every avenue.
We want them to know that we really care about our product, and that we really care about them and their experience, and I feel that is transferable through those photos. And then when they generate their own content about Foster, they also understand that we care about their experience and are willing to share their images on social.” – Justin
Harnessing user-generated content is something the team at Foster are being more deliberate about. It’s an opportunity to generate word-of-mouth, build loyalty and create advocates for their brand.
“We are reaching a certain level of popularity, where people from all walks of life with varying degrees of photography skills are drawn to capture their version of community attached to our brand. So now we’re sprinkling these into our feeds to feature other people’s viewpoints of the Foster vision.” – Nicholas
Making decisions with data
Social media analytics are also playing an increasingly important role in helping to guide content decisions.
“One of the things that I really like about Buffer is how I can build out as far as I want into the foreseeable future, but really start to tailor campaigns if we see certain trends within the industry. We can get ahead of that and it’s really easy to customize the publishing schedule afterwards.
We want to know our top performing posts for the year, we want to know what content was in those posts, so that way we can build a better model moving forward of content that generates more engagement.
Because as we know, the more engagement we can get online, the more that’s going to translate to a possible sale, or somebody walking through our doors, or checking out our website and maybe making a purchase that way” – Justin
A peek inside Foster Coffee Company’s social media analytics
(Advanced Analytics and Reports are available on Buffer for Business plans)
They’re also exploring how social media tools can help with their market positioning and benchmarking their growth.
“Being a small business, one of the best ways that we’ve found to determine our market position is with social media.
We aren’t directly competing with large publicly traded companies and franchises, but in a way we are. From a purely economic and capitalistic viewpoint, we’re all competing for coffee consumers. We intentionally add an altruistic community-centric mission to our vision, but through our social engagement measurement systems, we can at least get a rough estimate of the market position of the purely profit-driven companies around us in comparison to ours. We can measure how we’re both making an impact based on our reasons to exist.” – Nicholas
Say hello to amazing coffee
If you’re ever in town and in need of a fresh brew, do pop by Foster Coffee Company in either Owosso or Flint and say hello. Aside from excelling on social media, they’re great people who make amazing coffee!
Foster Coffee Company: Key Stats
2013: year founded by Jonathan Moore and Nicholas Pidek
2: the number of coffee shop locations
15k+: combined social media audience
30%: year-on-year social media follower growth
We hope you found this case study useful! Ready to grow your small business? Getting started with Buffer is easy. Learn more about our plans and try it free.
Too busy to read? Just click the play button below to listen to Hailley and Brian discuss the Instagram algorithm on our podcast.
How exactly does the Instagram feed work?
That question has puzzled marketers ever since Instagram first introduced its algorithm in July 2016.
The Instagram algorithm was introduced to help surface the best, most relevant content to each user every-time they check their feed. Until now, though, the inner-workings of the feed have been kept under wraps, but recently Instagram shared the six key ranking factors publicly for the first time.
In this post, we’ll break down the Instagram feed for you. We’ll go through the factors that influence the ranking of your content and explain why the Instagram algorithm is actually great for marketers.
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.
How does the Instagram algorithm work?
Recently, Instagram invited a small group of journalists to their San Francisco office to put an end to the rumors and share how the Instagram feed ranking algorithm really works.
Instagram revealed that there are three main factors that determine what you see in your Instagram feed:
There are also three additional criteria that play a smaller part in your Instagram feed rankings:
We’ll discuss each factor in a little more detail below.
The 3 most important Instagram feed ranking factors
1. Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post
When the algorithmic timeline was announced, Instagram mentioned that it would show you content that you’ll likely be interested in first:
The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.
Content that is relevant to your interests will rank higher on your feed. But how does Instagram know your interests? One way could be to look at the genres of content (e.g. travel, food, fashion, sports, etc.) you have interacted with in the past.
With the level of photo recognition technologies available now, I believe it’s possible for the algorithm to categorize posts into simple genres such as travel, food, fashion, and more — and possibly even more sophisticated genres. The algorithm could also look at the hashtags used.
If there’s a certain genre of content that you engage with more frequently (e.g. food), Instagram might rank content of that genre (e.g. food, restaurants, etc.) higher on your feed.
An Instagram spokesperson told Business Insider that ranking of Instagram posts is not a popularity contest. Posts with less engagement that are more relevant to you can still appear right at the top of your feed.
2. Timeliness: How recent the posts are
The next key ingredient in the Instagram algorithm, as shared by Instagram a while back, is timeliness.
The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.
Instagram wants to show you posts that are recent and, consequently, more relevant.
Something from last week might not interest you as much as something from an hour ago, so Instagram will likely show you more recent posts rather than posts from a few days or weeks ago — even if the older post had received a lot of engagement.
This implies that recent posts likely rank higher in your feed and that the timing of your post is still relevant.
According to a talk from Instagram’s Thomas Dimson, and my personal experience (admittedly, a sample size of only one), it seems that the Instagram algorithm re-orders only the new posts between your current visit and your last visit.
For example, if I visited Instagram at 11 PM last night and again at 9 AM this morning, and there were 50 posts created in between. The algorithm would sort only those 50 posts created and not include posts from before 11 PM last night. Based on my personal experience, if I were to scroll past all those 50 posts, I’d see the same posts in the same order as when I last visited (11 PM last night).
(If your personal experience is different from this, it’d be great to hear from you!)
If this is true, it could mean that the best time to post is when your followers are most active as there would be less competition (e.g. between 9 to 10 AM in the image below).
(Image from Thomas’s slide deck)
3. Relationship: The accounts you regularly interact with
In a June 2016 announcement about the feed ranking algorithm, Instagram stated the following:
And no matter how many accounts you follow, you should see your best friend’s latest posts.
Just like Facebook, Instagram doesn’t want you to miss important posts from your friends and family, such as a post about your friend’s engagement. This implies that content from your “best friends” likely ranks higher on your feed.
I also believe that the Instagram algorithm studies your past interactions to determine your “best friends”. In a talk about designing and implementing the Instagram algorithm, Thomas Dimson also shared in his talk how Instagram could have determined the people you care about:
- People whose content you like (possibly including stories and live videos)
- People you direct message
- People you search for
- People you know in real life
While these might not be the exact criteria used in the Instagram algorithm, they give us a hint that Instagram probably considers the accounts you frequently interact with as “people you care about”. And it has confirmed that content from these accounts will rank higher on your feed.
An Instagram spokesperson also told Business Insider that profile searches are a signal Instagram looks at when ranking posts in your feed. When you search (regularly) for certain profiles, it likely indicates that you are interested in the account’s posts and might not have seen them on your feed.
Instagram might then rank their posts higher on your feed so that you don’t have to search for their profiles to see their posts, improving your Instagram experience.
Thomas from Instagram also mentioned in his talk that when they experimented with the new algorithm, the number of searches went down. They took it as a good sign as it meant that people are seeing the posts they are interested in without having to search for their favorite profiles.
3 additional Instagram feed ranking factors
Frequency: How often a user opens Instagram
Every time a user opens up Instagram, the algorithm will try to show the best posts since their last visit.
So if you open Instagram once daily, you’ll likely see the posts that Instagram’s algorithm feels are the most relevant for that day. However, if you open Instagram hourly, Instagram will try to show you most relevant content you haven’t yet seen before.
Following: Content from all accounts a user follows
If you follow thousands of accounts on Instagram, the algorithm must sort through more content in order to decide what to show you each time you open up the app. This means users who follow large numbers of people might see less from each individual account, whereas users who follow just a few select accounts are likely to see more from their closest friends or favorite accounts.
Usage: How long a user spends on Instagram
Whether a user tends to browse Instagram in short bursts or longer sessions can also affect what the algorithm shows. If a user prefers to short visits to Instagram, the algorithm will ensure it shows the most relevant posts first, whereas for users who prefer longer browsing sessions it may provide a deeper catalog of fresh content to browse.
Quickfire Instagram feed FAQs
Are photos or videos preferred by the Instagram algorithm?
In short, no. Instagram doesn’t give extra weight to either videos or photos within its feed. However, if the data shows that a certain user prefers to engage with videos over photos, then that specific user may see more video content in their feed.
Does posting too frequently affect ranking?
Instagram accounts aren’t down-ranked for posting content frequently. Though Christina d’Avignon, a product designer for Instagram feed, did tell The Verge: “we do make sure your feed feels diverse so we may break up posts.”
Are business and personal accounts treated differently by the algorithm?
As reported by Techcrunch: “Instagram doesn’t give extra feed presence to personal accounts or business accounts, so switching won’t help your reach.”
Will posting Stories or Live videos affect ranking?
Creating Instagram Stories or live broadcasting with Instagram won’t affect how your content ranks within the feed.
Why is the Instagram feed algorithm is great for marketers
As the number of users on Instagram increases, the number of posts will likely increase, too.
When users follow more people, the number of posts in their feed will increase. The natural result of this is that the impressions (or organic reach) of each post will fall — unless every user spends more time on Instagram looking at all the additional posts.
The reality is that people usually don’t see all the new posts when they visit Instagram. A study by Instagram themselves found that before the algorithm, on average, users missed 70 percent of the posts on their feeds and 50 percent of the posts from their friends. Now, though, Instagram’s 800 million users reportedly see 90 percent of their friends’ posts.
But as long as you are creating engaging, relevant, and timely content, the algorithm is actually an advantage to you. It will help to surface your great content to more of your followers than when posts were arranged reverse-chronologically.
(Graphic inspired by Thomas’s slide)
Here’s another way to look at it: Without this algorithm, one quick way to get your Instagram followers’ attention would be to post many times a day. If most brands follow this strategy, the number of Instagram posts would increase dramatically, and the organic reach of each post would fall proportionally — even if it’s a quality post.
With this algorithm, brands are encouraged to post only their best content, and the quality of their content will determine their reach. Brands with the best content overall will stand out more easily now than without the algorithm.
Here’s a bonus: The Explore tab also uses an algorithm to surface content based on the user’s interests and past behaviors. It is another brilliant way for your great content to reach more people!
Over to you
Instagram marketing is an incredibly exciting, ever-changing topic. And I believe that the Instagram algorithm is great for both brands and users in the long run — though it may have resulted in drops in organic reach for some accounts.
I’d love to head any thoughts you might have on the Instagram feed and the ranking factors listed above. How are you currently approaching Instagram marketing? Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know.
A version of this post was originally published in April 2017. This version has been updated based on new information shared by Instagram.
We understand the challenge. Social media scheduling can be a time-consuming process.
So we would love to help!
In this post, I’ll be sharing some ways you can save time while scheduling content for social media using Buffer.
6 ways to save time scheduling content for social media
1. Create a posting schedule
Instead of selecting a time for every single post you’re scheduling, Buffer (and several other social media management tools) allow you to create a posting schedule that can help take all that hassle away.
Your Buffer posting schedule is a schedule of your preferred posting times. Whenever you schedule a post (i.e. “Add to Queue”), the post will fill up the next available time slot on your posting schedule.
For example, for the screenshot above, imagine that we have posts scheduled until Sunday. The next post we schedule or “Add to Queue” will fill up the Monday 7:47 AM slot and be posted on that day and time.
So rather than having to select a time every time you schedule a post (which can be quite troublesome), you can simply hit “Add to Queue”. Hassle-free.
You can find your posting schedule in Buffer by going to Settings > Posting Schedule.
Pro tip: Your posting schedule is unique to each of your connected social media accounts. As your best times to post for each social media platform is likely different, this will allow you to create unique posting schedules for each social media accounts.
2. Use a browser extension
With our browser extension (available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera), you can easily schedule any great content you come across online.
The browser extension will enable you to do three powerful ways of scheduling. (There’s a fourth way for advanced users. See pro tip below!)
Schedule from the web
Whenever you come across an article that you think your audience might like, click on the Buffer extension button on your browser. You’ll see a Buffer composer appear in the middle of your browser. From there, you can select the social media accounts you want to share to and customize the post for each social media platform.
Schedule from within an article
Here’s an even faster way to schedule a post once you find an article worth sharing.
If you want to attach an image to your post, hover over the image and you’ll see a button appear on the image. When you click on the “Share image” button, the same Buffer composer will appear. But this time, the image will already be attached to your post.
If you want to share a quote from the article instead, highlight the quote, right-click, and select Buffer > Buffer Selected Text.
This time, the text will appear in the Buffer composer in quotation marks, with the link appended to the post.
Schedule retweets from Twitter
Finally, you can even schedule Twitter retweets from the platform directly.
When you have the Buffer browser extension installed, you’ll see an additional button at the bottom of tweets.
When you click on it, you’ll see the Buffer composer again but this time with the tweet you want to retweet. You can add a comment (optional) or the retweet will appear as a native retweet on Twitter.
You can also click on the retweet button on Twitter and select “Buffer Retweet”.
Pro tip: The fourth way of scheduling is to schedule a piece of content for multiple times all at once with Buffer’s Power Scheduler. Here’s a full walkthrough of this feature if you would like to learn more about it.
3. Select a suggested media
Here’s one of our unique and most-loved features: Suggested media.
Whenever you drop a link into the Buffer composer (or whenever you use the Buffer browser extension), we’ll automatically pick up the images on that website and suggest them to you.
There’s no need to download an image from a website and upload it to your post again.
For scheduling to Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, you’ll see some suggested media below the message box. Simply click on any to attach it to your post. You can include up to four images for Twitter and one for Instagram and Pinterest.
For Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, you’ll see a link preview instead — how your post will look like when you share the link on the social media platform directly. If the website has multiple images, you can choose an alternative image by using the arrows on the image.
Pro tip: If you prefer to attach an image to your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ post instead, click on “Replace link attachment with image or video” to see the suggested media.
4. Schedule on the go
What if, while you’re commuting or taking a lunch break, you find a great content that you want to share to your brand’s social media profiles?
If this happens to you often, you might find a social media management app handy.
For iOS, you’ll first have to turn on the share extension. You can do so under “Settings” > “Set up Extension”, where you’ll see a set of short instructions.
P.s. Our iOS app just won the Webby Awards for best practices for mobile sites and apps!
Pro tip: If you like sharing or scheduling social media posts from your phone, here are the 10 top features of our mobile apps to help you share smarter.
5. Have a list of your favorite websites
A big part of scheduling content for social media is finding and curating the content. It can be challenging to “simply” find content whenever you want to.
Where do you go to find content?
One of my favorite tips is to create a list of your favorite websites that you know produce great content. If you’re not sure where to start, here are 70+ websites for topics such as business, marketing, education, design, and more.
Your Content Inbox can be found under the “Content” tab > “Content Inbox”. Here, you can add up 15 RSS feeds to your Content Inbox and have new content from your favorite websites delivered to you whenever they are published.
Whenever you find an article that you want to add to your Buffer queue, hit “Add” and customize the message. (The title of the article will be pre-populated but just having the title alone isn’t the best for engagement and, in turn, reach.) Otherwise, you can hit “Dismiss” or ignore the article in your Content Inbox.
Pro tip: We understand that different content works well on different social media platforms. So each of your connected social media accounts has its own Content Inbox, meaning you can add up to 15 RSS feeds for each social media account.
6. Reshare your top content (with a twist)
The last way to minimize the time it takes to schedule content is to re-share your top content (with a twist!)
Because of the algorithmic timelines, not all of your followers would have seen all your posts. So it makes sense to reshare some of your best posts for those who might have missed them. And since those posts have done well recently, they would likely do well again.
With our Pro and Business plans, you can easily find your top posts in last seven, 30, 90, or more days in your Buffer dashboard > Analytics > Posts Report. Click on “Most Popular” to find your recent top posts, and click on “Re-Buffer” to add that posts to your Buffer queue.
It’s best to write a new message for your posts to keep things fresh and engaging. You could even change the media (though sometimes it’s the media that helps a post do well). This is especially important for Twitter since they have tightened their rules on sharing similar content.
Pro tip: Besides filtering by “Most Popular”, you can also filter by “Most Clicks”, “Most Comments”, etc. and by post types (e.g. “Link Posts”, “Image Posts”, etc.)
Over to you: How do you save time while scheduling for social media?
While scheduling content for social media is a fun task for social media managers, it can get quite time-consuming at times. I hope the tips I’ve shared in this post can help you speed things up a little.
It’ll be great to learn from you, too. What tips and tricks do you use to minimize the time it takes to schedule content for your brand’s social media accounts?
At Buffer, we think a lot about the future of social media.
It started as a way for friends to connect online, evolved into a broadcasting channel, and is now a place for brands to provide personalized, human experiences with their audience and customers.
Social media is as much about engagement with other people as it is about sharing content.
It’s why we call it “social” media.
Here are just a few reasons why social media engagement is a vital part of any social media marketing strategy.
1. Simply broadcasting content results in low reach and referral traffic
Over the last few years, organic reach (on Facebook in particular) has dropped so dramatically that some people have questioned the viability of organic posting at all.
In 2017, Buzzsumo analyzed 880 million Facebook posts and uncovered a sharp decline in engagements. This is linked to a perceived push by social media platforms to encourage brands to use advertising to boost their reach.
In 2018, Facebook also announced that they would change their post ranking algorithm to prioritize personal posts over brand page posts in the News Feed. A key part of the change is that they are using “meaningful engagement” as an important signal that a post should be prioritized.
In other words, posts with more active and thoughtful interactions will get more reach.
There’s a fascinating insight into why Facebook are taking this approach in this explainer video from their Newsfeed team.
“Interacting with people is associated with a greater sense of well-being… On the other hand, just scrolling through your Facebook feed, passively reading or watching without interacting with others, tends to make people feel worse.” – Facebook
2. People expect businesses to respond on social media, and fast
Twitter and Facebook have become the first places people go to for customer support, product enquiries or just to say thank you to businesses.
Back in 2013 it was estimated that 67% of consumers use Facebook and Twitter for customer service, and that was five years ago! With the rise of Facebook Messenger usage, that number is likely to have trended upwards as over 8 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses on Messenger alone each month.
This report by Sprout Social also suggests that using social media is now the top choice for people seeking customer service.
The speed at which business respond is also important. According to research commissioned by Twitter in 2016, 71% of their users expect a response within an hour.
3. Social media engagement increases loyalty and generates word of mouth.
People love positive interactions with brands on social media. Here’s just one example of nice tweet someone shared about Buffer.
There’s also a ton of data that suggests that answering complaints on social media increases customer advocacy and reduces churn. For example, Jay Baer’s research found that answering a complaint on social media can increase customer advocacy by as much 25%.
On the flipside, in Sprout Social’s research they discovered that 30% of customers who are shunned by brands on social media are more likely to switch to a competitor.
What’s more – social media experiences are, by design, both public and easy to share. This creates a compounding impact on positive experiences, compared to say, an email exchange or phone call.
The Twitter exchange below is a neat example of how thoughtful and fun social engagement between a customer and brand can go viral. Aside from garnering hundreds of retweets, it got picked up by news outlets including Buzzfeed and the Mirror.
@TeaAndCopy Were there no other packs in the plaice, or was that the sole one on the shelf? Floundering for an explanation! David.
— Sainsbury's (@sainsburys) January 10, 2014
@TeaAndCopy If I'm herring you right, you're looking to eel our relationship. I'll tell the store to find the shelf & fillet. David.
— Sainsbury's (@sainsburys) January 10, 2014
.@sainsburys All these exchanges in a roe have been brill-iant, David. I'll try to kipper a lid on it, but Gods hake, it's been fin-tastic.
— Marty Lawrence (@TeaAndCopy) January 10, 2014
4. You can learn directly from customers and prospects
We use social media to learn from our customers and community about how we can improve their experience.
If you're a Buffer customer, what would you most like to see us add or improve in the product?
— Joel Gascoigne (@joelgascoigne) December 16, 2017
Better collaboration tools for agencies that manage client accounts. Similar to what Mailchimp does. Would be nice for clients to get approval notifications as well.
— Brandon Kidd (@SmashBrando) December 16, 2017
The basic workflow as an agency is I have my own account to manage social but clients can grant me access to their account so I can manage social for them. If they decide to move on, they keep their account. They could grant me publish privileges (full access).
— Brandon Kidd (@SmashBrando) December 16, 2017
Amazing, thanks for the insights here. We have a full Drafts + Approvals workflow being built right now. I think this will help you a lot.
Do you sometimes have clients that hire you and want you to set up their whole account? Or are clients always good setting up themselves?
— Joel Gascoigne (@joelgascoigne) December 16, 2017
Having this direct line to customers enables us to build relationships, develop empathy and ultimately build a better product for our users.
Social Media Engagement Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Looking again at the Sprout Social study, apparently brands are only responding to 11 percent of messages on social media and are sharing a whopping 23 promotional messages for every response to their social audience.
If we extrapolate this into the makeup of total social media activity, the contrast is stark and pretty worrisome!
The benefits of social media engagement seem clear, so why haven’t more brands fully embraced it as a marketing strategy?
I believe there are three key challenges that, on the surface, seem quite daunting for marketers and their organizations.
- Finding the resources to engage with all relevant conversations
- Quality control: maintaining a consistent, authentic voice and tone
- Measuring the impact of social media engagement
The best brands on social media turn these challenges into opportunities, and this is how you can nail your social media engagement too.
1. Engaging with all relevant conversations
Staying on top of “mentions” on social media, tapping into relevant conversations, and filtering out irrelevant social chatter is the basis of most social media engagement strategies.
Our marketing team at Buffer uses our own product, Buffer Reply, to focus in on relevant conversations across our key social networks and respond to them quickly.
Reply is a little different to other social media engagement tools because it is more like an inbox rather than a collection of feeds or streams.
It’s a bit like a traditional email inbox, where all relevant messages, whether they’re from Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, appear in the order that the conversation was started. Having threaded conversations neatly organized in one inbox saves our team a huge amount of time. We don’t have to jump between multiple streams and we don’t have to dig through every conversation to see what it’s about or whether it needs a response.
Our team also uses Reply to prioritize certain conversations – for example customer support issues. We have automation rules (which you can learn more about here – they’re quite magical) set up to move certain types of conversations to specific folders, so that we can better manage how we respond to them.
We also use filters to weed out conversations that on the surface appear like they might be relevant but are actually totally unrelated to our business.
Reply isn’t the only tool available to help make social media engagement easier and minimize the time it takes to find and respond to social media posts and messages. There are a number of different options available, depending on your needs. Here’s a list we put together with some of our favorites.
2. Maintaining a consistent, authentic voice
Putting yourself out there on social media can be scary. Will people like what you have to say? Are you putting your brand in its best light?
Having an authentic voice on social media is important but not as easy as it sounds. It’s important because it humanizes your brand – whether that’s a company big or small, or a personal brand – and encourages people to respond and talk about you positively.
It’s difficult because things like “voice” and “tone” are quite subjective. Here’s how Kevan, Buffer’s director of marketing described the challenge in a previous blog post:
“We don’t want brands talking at us as if we are dollar signs. We want authentic communication. Finding a voice for your social media marketing can be difficult because the concept is somewhat unlike other optimization strategies online. Voice is not a statistic you can track or a design element you can tweak. Voice goes deeper than that.”
As an example of how to develop your social media voice, here’s a four-part formula suggested by Stephanie Schwab, writing for Social Media Explorer. She breaks voice down into tone, character, language, and purpose.
Having a clear voice and tone guide is especially helpful when there are multiple people engaging on social media on behalf of a brand.
But what does that look like in practice?
At Buffer, we have a tone guide (which you read about here along with some other guides that we think are quite inspirational). We use this guide to help empower our team. We also provide our whole team with access to Reply to engage with our community.
Here are some tactics we use to engage with people on social media authentically and efficiently.
Everyone on our team has a personal signature set up in Reply to help humanize our social media responses.
Here’s what it looks like on Twitter:
GIFs and emojis
Emojis and GIFs have become a massive part of the language of social media. We use emojis and GIFs to add personality to our social media conversations and convey our feelings more efficiently.
Assigning conversations to teammates
Reply has a neat feature that enables us to automatically assign social media conversations to specific people on the team. If it’s a technical support query, it might go to one of our customer support advocates. If it’s a shoutout or someone seeking general social media advice, we can route the message directly to our social media manager Bonnie. This helps us provide a better, faster experience for the people we engage with.
As a backup, we also have a some pre-written replies to some of the more common (or tricky) conversations we have on social media, which are available to our team – only if they need it.
In general, we encourage each other to write our own, personal social media messages.
3. Measuring the impact of social media engagement
In my opinion, being able to quantify the return-on-investment is the biggest thing that holds brands back from investing in social media engagement.
It’s often not quite as straightforward as measuring clicks on an ad campaign, or sales from an email promotion.
At Buffer, we measure success through multiple lenses.
Customer support impact
How many messages are we responding to on social media? Are we responding (and resolving issues) faster? Is it reducing the number of support requests we receive through other channels, like email?
Reply tracks our key customer support metrics for us and lets us export the data to CSV so that we can aggregate it with statistics across our other main support channel – email.
Below is an example of one of our reports in Reply. It lets us compare message volume with response time. We can also see how much engagement is happening on each platform.
The impact social media engagement has on your brand is more difficult to measure because someone’s journey with your brand is nonlinear and attribution is murky. Brand perceptions are built up over time and through multiple channels.
At Buffer, the brand metric that we focus on is reach – the number of people who are coming into contact with Buffer each week. We have an annual goal for reach, and we track weekly progress against it. For example, this year we are aiming to reach 105 million people!
We treat social media as a component of total reach, and it is a big contributor for us to our total reach number.
In the table below, Social Reach is the total number of people who see our content within a social media feed and Social Engagement is the cumulative total of likes, comments, shares and clicks, etc.
We include Social Engagement because it helps us measure the quality of our reach. By engaging with our audience on social media ourselves, we try to drive both of these numbers up!
Ultimately, how you measure the effectiveness of engaging with people on social media depends on your goals.
We believe that social media is for branding – so we engage with people on social media to provide quick and friendly customer support, build affinity with our brand, and grow our reach.
You might have different goals for your social media program, so how you measure your social media engagement should line up with those goals.
For example, your goal might be to develop an email list, or build a network of influencers, or drive downloads of your app.
Over to you
Do you have a social media engagement strategy? How do you measure it? We’d love to learn from other marketers! Feel free to leave a comment below or engage with us on social media.
Pinterest is one of the world’s leading platforms for sharing ideas and finding inspiration.
Over 200 million people flock to the social network each month to discover new products, recipes, destinations, articles, influencers, and so much more.
But Pinterest isn’t just for individual users like you and me.
It also represents a huge opportunity for businesses and brands looking to build an engaged audience and drive valuable traffic to their website:
- More than 52% of Pinterest users report that Pinterest helps them find items to buy; and
- 61% say they’ve discovered new brands and products from Promoted Pins.
Today, we’re excited to share with you exactly how to use Pinterest for business.
During an exclusive Facebook Live event with the Pinterest team, we learned more than 100 insider strategies and this article contains the very best of those ideas.
Let’s dive in!
How to use Pinterest: The insider guide for businesses
Table of contents
- Pinterest terminology overview: Pins, Boards, Repins, and Promoted Pins
- Getting started with Pinterest: Creating a business account, setting up your profile, creating boards, and more
- Pinterest best-practices: General tips and tricks for your business
- The art of the Pin: Specific strategies for maximizing Pin results,
- The art of the board: Specific strategies for maximizing boards and profiles
- Summary and key takeaways
Feel free to skip around as you please!
Looking for more insider tips? We recently hosted an exclusive Facebook Live event with the Pinterest team all about how you can succeed as a business on Pinterest. Brian Peters from Buffer along with Aaron Ru and Leon Lin from Pinterest shared tons of proven top tip and strategies to get the most out of Pinterest.
How to use Pinterest for business: Overview
Pinterest functionality is a lot different than what you might see on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. And it’s constantly evolving!
Let’s start with a quick overview of the various features and terminology you’ll need to know in how to use Pinterest to the fullest.
Pins are a central part of the Pinterest experience and they are how users discover new content.
As Pinterest puts it, “Pins are visual bookmarks that you collect on boards. You can save Pins you find on Pinterest or add new ones from your favorite websites.”
Each Pin typically contains an image, infographic, or video and a link back to the original source.
I like to think of Pinterest boards as a virtual version of an old-school cork board – allowing users to save their favorite pieces of content (Pins) in one place.
Pinterest explains, “Boards are where you save and organize your Pins. You can make boards for anything and everything—save your recipes to one board and your dream vacation destinations to another.”
Boards allow businesses and brands to curate their favorite content based on hundreds of topics and interests that users can quickly browse.
Even if businesses aren’t creating original content for Pinterest, they can still add a ton of value to their followers through Repins.
A Repin is when a user adds a Pin to their own board while browsing Pinterest. It’s important to remember that when a user Repins an original Pin, the user who first pinned the image will also get credit.
Keep in mind that Repins maintain the original source link of the content no matter how many times it has been Repinned.
Like many other social networks, Pinterest provides businesses with a robust set of advertising tools to get their content in front of new users. In Pinterest’s case, they are called Promoted Pins.
Promoted Pins are Pins that businesses pay to appear where users are likely to notice them. The Promoted Pins a user sees are based on interests and activity on the platform (or because you visited an advertiser’s site or app).
Fun fact: 1 out of 2 Pinterest users have made a purchase after seeing a Promoted Pin.
How to use Pinterest for business: Getting started
If you’re just getting started with how to use Pinterest or you’re wondering how you can take advantage of exciting new features for businesses, this section will help get you up and running in no time.
1. Create a Pinterest business account
There are two options to create a Pinterest business account. First, you can covert an existing personal account into a business account. Business accounts are better for marketing because they come with extra features, like Pinterest Analytics and Promoted Pins.
The second option is to create a business account from scratch:
Enter your business information such as email, name, website URL, and then hit “create account.”
Either way, we highly recommend creating a business account to get the most out of Pinterest.
2. Complete your Pinterest profile
Once you’ve created a new business account, there’s still some work to do to make sure it’s optimized for success.
Completing your profile is the next key step in ensuring that your account is discoverable and looks legitimate to users on Pinterest.
Make sure that your business name, profile picture, username, and description all match your brand identity across other social media networks.
3. Claim your business website
Claiming your website on Pinterest unlocks a host of great features including: analytics, a featured logo, early access to tools, and more.
To claim your website, you need to be able to edit your website’s HTML code. Here’s a easy-to-follow guide from Pinterest on how to quickly claim your website.
4. Create your first Pinterest Board
We’ll get into how to use Pinterest best-practices later n this guide, but for now I wanted to quickly show you how to create and organize your first board(s) so that you can start Pinning!
Head to your Pinterest profile and click on “Boards.” From there, click on the red “plus” symbol to create your first Board:
Next, choose a name for your board and select if you would like to make the board “secret.”
Only you (and anyone you invite) can see your secret Pins and boards. Secret Pins and boards won’t appear in the home feed, in search or anywhere else around Pinterest.
Setting your boards to “secret” will allow you to fill them with great content before ever sharing them with the world.
Once your board is created, there’s one more step before it’s ready to go. Hover over your newly created board and select the small “pencil icon” to edit your board’s settings:
You can edit the individual settings for each board including: name, category, description, cover image, and more.
Filling out these details for each board will help with SEO (discoverability) as well as providing users with additional context about your account content.
5. Create your first Pin
Now that you have your board(s) in place, it’s time to start Pinning!
Here’s a quick breakdown of the various ways to Pin and Repin content on Pinterest.
Pinterest browser button
One of the easiest ways to Pin content to your boards from around the web is with the Pinterest browser button. Once installed, simply select the Pinterest button on your browser, choose and image to Pin, and select a board.
Buffer Extension for Pinterest
One of my favorite ways to share content to Pinterest is with the Buffer Chrome Extension.
The Buffer Chrome Extension allows me to quickly customize and schedule Pins to my Pinterest account from anywhere on the web:
Buffer will automatically add the Pins to your queue based on the schedule you have created. And Buffer will also share insights into how your Pins are performing once they are sent out.
I’ve found this saves me a ton of time and allows me to plan my Pinterest content days/weeks/months in advance.
We’d love for you to give Buffer for Pinterest a try for free!
Manually Pin your content
You can also create Pins from scratch manually.
To do so, choose the board that you would like to Pin to. Then, select “Create a Pin:”
From there, you’ll be able to add Pin details such as the website URL, description, and featured image:
Manually Pinning content is a great option as well if you’re in a pinch, but I prefer the Pinterest Browser Button or Buffer Extension in order to stay consistent on Pinterest and maximize results.
How to use Pinterest for business: Best-practices
We had the pleasure of chatting with Pinterest team members Aaron Ru and Leon Lin about how to use Pinterest for business.
Needless to say, they had a plethora of insider information to share!
Let’s start with some high-level advice on getting the most out of your Pinterest business account. Then, we’ll move into more specific strategies for Pins and boards.
Share your best ideas
The number one thing you can do to be successful on Pinterest is to focus on sharing your best ideas. According to Pinterest:
“The best Pins represent the best ideas – they’re inspirational and actionable. Create Pins that have a clear audience, and are engaging for that audience.”
Key takeaway: Inspirational and actionable.
People come to Pinterest to find ideas from brands and businesses (like you), and they’re actively looking for new ideas and inspiration from great accounts.
Find your audience on Pinterest
Like many other social media networks, focusing on a niche group of highly-engaged users will produce far greater results than targeting a broad, unspecified audience.
If you focus on sharing consistent content within your niche, people will start to look to you as a continual source of inspiration and information. Focusing on a niche audience will also produce favorable results within the Pinterest algorithm.
As the Pinterest team puts it, “Our system will then do the work of showing your content to more people who might also be interested in your Pins.”
Check out the latest pins from our friends over at Canva:
Every new Pin is focused on the specific theme of design. Now, anytime a user needs some design inspiration, they know they can go to Canva directly on Pinterest.
Be patient, stick with it
Unlike social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where engagement and reach typically happen within the first 24 to 48 hours, content on Pinterest will continue to grow over the course of days, weeks, months, and even years.
In that regard, Pinterest is one of the most powerful social media networks for long-term growth and sustainable traffic to your website – a major advantage!
The Pinterest team’s biggest piece of advice when it comes to long-term growth:
“Be patient and stick with it. Publishing consistently over consecutive months is the best way to build a dedicated audience.”
How to use Pinterest for business: The art of the Pin
The Pinterest team shared more than 75 tips, tricks, and strategies on how to use Pinterest Pins and boards. We’ve distilled that information down into the most actionable takeaways for marketers and businesses, starting with Pins.
The art of the Pin: Images
Pinterest is a visual-first platform and so a good image can make all of the difference in maximizing results.
Use unique, eye-catching images
Images that stand out, are colorful, unique, and say something specific about what you have to offer will give you a major edge compared to other content on the platform.
The Pinterest team explains further, “Lifestyle images are often more effective than product shots. Much of what works with traditional print ads works on Pinterest as well (angles, graphic backgrounds, color, use of space, etc.)”
Use high-resolution, uncluttered images
Similar to most all social media networks and websites, you want to make sure that the images you share are in full, high-resolution. If your images are pixelated, small, or unclear, they will not capture users’ attention in the Pinterest feed.
You’ll also want to steer clear of cluttered images.
According to Pinterest, 80% of Pinners use Pinterest on mobile, so check out your Pin on mobile to make sure the message is easy to digest (and that text is legible in the desktop feed as well as on smaller, mobile formats.)
Use a vertical aspect ratio
As Pinners and marketers know, Pins are organized into columns. Meaning that vertical images take up more space and stand out more in the feed.
The ideal aspect ratio for a vertical Pin is 2:3—600px wide x 900px high.
Here’s a great example from the Social Media Examiner Pinterest account:
Square images – 600px wide x 600px tall – can work well, too!
*The Pinterest team advised businesses to make sure that Pins do not exceed a 2:3 ratio because they’ll get cut off and/or distributed less frequently.
Consider adding a little copy
If your image doesn’t give enough context on its own, the Pinterest team recommends adding copy to the image to help land your message.
But as we mentioned before, try to keep the copy simple and don’t let it clutter the overall image.
Add tasteful branding
To convey credibility, build a brand, and help people understand who or where the Pin is coming from, try including your product, packaging, or logo in your image.
Here’s an example of an infographic we created to promote our blog post on Pinterest – including the Buffer logo directly at the top:
Pro-Tip: Avoid logo placement in the corners of the Pin, or it will get covered up by our visual search icon.
Use multiple images
Did you know: Pins that feature multiple products generally get 30% higher clickthrough rates and 20% higher checkouts, possibly because they evoke curiosity and inspire people to act?
The Pinterest team explained that this works especially well for food, DIY, and beauty content creators who show how-to steps.
It also works well for outfit, roundup, and before/after Pins!
The art of the Pin: Title, description, and hashtags
Provide helpful, detailed descriptions
It probably goes without saying, but Pins with descriptions drive more clicks to your site than those without.
If your objective is to drive clicks, use the description to hint that there’s more to see on your website. Don’t give everything away on Pinterest – just enough to pique a user’s curiosity.
Pinterest mentioned that a strong call to action—like “shop,” “make,” “find,” or “buy”—will encourage people to take the next step.
Use solid, well-researched keywords
One of the keys for ensure that your Pins remain discoverable over a long period of time is to think of the Pinner’s mindset when they are looking for content like yours… and then incorporate those keywords directly into the title and description.
For example, if you’re a DIY blogger with great summer drink recipes, use words like “summer”, “drinks”, “non-alcoholic”, and “recipe” in the title and description.
Or, if you’re a financial services company trying to reach new home buyers, try “home purchase” and “financial help.”
Pro Tip: The Pinterest Search function can help you find new keywords. If your Pin is a roast chicken recipe, for example, search for “roast chicken” on Pinterest. You’ll see suggested searches for “roast chicken whole” and “roast chicken oven,” and search guides like “simple” or “cast iron.”
All of these are great keywords you can add to your description when appropriate!
Add up to 20 relevant hashtags
Yes, it’s true!
Hashtags are a key part of the Pinterest search and discoverability experience.
The Pinterest team recommends that individual Pinners and businesses use up to 20 hashtags to help users discover trending, relevant content.
Pro Tip: Hashtags should act as broad search terms, not niche humor (#springfashion is great, #ilookterribleinhats is not).
Utilize video Pins to bring your ideas to life
Video content on Pinterest can be an incredible way to bring your ideas to life with motion and sound.
To use up as much screen space as possible, make sure your videos are designed for mobile, and are exported in either square or portrait format.
Shorter videos work best when you want Pinners to discover you (if your goal is awareness or storytelling). Go longer when you want people to do something with your idea (great for education or tutorials).
The art of the Pin: When and how to save images
Once you have a good feel for what sort of content works for your business on Pinterest and an array of relevant Pins and boards on your profile, it’s time to master the art of when and how to Pin.
Here’s a list of quick tips to get you started!
First five Pins each day are prioritized for distribution
According to Pinterest, you won’t be penalized for having a lot of Pins. However, aim to keep them organized in relevant boards.
It’s also a good idea to save Pins regularly, rather than all at once. In other words, consistent, daily activity is much better than a once-a-week or once-a-day flurry of Pins.
By using a tool like Buffer for Pinterest, we’re able to schedule content out days, weeks, and even months in advance. This allows us to keep a consistent stream of Pins flowing to our boards without “spamming” our followers or missing out on positive Pinterest algorithm benefits.
Always include links
When people click on a Pin, they expect to be taken to a landing page so they can learn more about the idea or information that you shared on Pinterest.
That means ensuring that your content includes a relevant link to the original source every single time – even if the link does not lead to your own website.
*Note: Pinterest does not distribute Pins with broken links.
Lean into trends
People come to Pinterest well in advance of the season, holiday, or event they’re planning for.
Start saving Pins about upcoming trends, seasonal events, or holidays around 45 days in advance. Then keep adding more ideas daily and maintain a steady pace of content.
For example, Cristin Cooper // The Southern Style Guide shared a variety of birthday party themed Pins leading up to the summer season here in the United States:
Pinterest users could then save her Pins leading up to their event(s) and refer back to them later for inspiration.
Linking multiple Pins to the same destination
Pinterest best-practices show that it’s a beneficial strategy to save a variety of images that appeal to different types of Pinners – all linking back to the same source or destination.
When doing so, just make sure to add specific descriptions for each Pin. This will greatly help to improve your SEO.
Save to the most relevant board first
The Pinterest team shared that it’s great to save a Pin to multiple boards, but that it’s important to save to the most relevant board first – that Pin will get distribution priority in the Pinterest feed.
And remember that saving Pins to irrelevant boards won’t help and may hurt the distribution of your content on Pinterest.
In other words, make sure the Pin and board are a perfect match.
Add content to Pinterest while it’s fresh
Last, but not least, Pinterest prioritizes Pins that are new to the world and to Pinterest.
As soon as you create new content on your website or on other social media channels, be sure to save it to Pinterest as well.
You can quickly do this by utilizing Buffer Tailored Posts, which allows you to schedule unique content to each social media platform from one place.
How to use Pinterest for business: The art of the board
Now that we’ve covered just about everything marketers and businesses need to know about Pins, it’s time to chat about how to use Pinterest boards.
Again, the Pinterest team shared several useful, insider tips to maximizing Pinterest board results.
Strategically name your boards
First and foremost, ensure that your board names are specific and relevant to your audience on Pinterest. Be creative, but use board names that contain strong keywords for SEO.
Looking at the Cristin Cooper // The Southern Style Guide profile again, she has clear, well-defined audience in mind with straight-forward, yet creative board names:
Each board above is structured around a fairly general keyword and topic, allowing her to save a variety of Pins to each.
Create at least 5 cohesive boards
One big mistake businesses often make when creating boards on Pinterest is that none of their boards are connected to a specific theme or style. Their profile seems to be a bunch of random topics, which can be confusing to Pinners.
Try organizing your boards with sections, styles, or specific topics, where it makes sense.
For example, Food Network organizes several of their boards around a fun theme they call, “Let’s”:
“Let’s Cook”, “Let’s Watch”, “Let’s Celebrate” is their unique way of utilizing relevant topics and keywords to grow their audience while also adding their own uniqueness to their Pinterest profile.
Optimize your board for search
Another way to have your content discovered on Pinterest on a consistent basis is to use your boards as an individual SEO tool.
To optimize your board for Pinterest SEO, start by adding keywords to your board description and pick a board category to help the Pinterest algorithm better understand your content. I.e., what it’s about, who it’s for, what it contains, etc.
You can add keywords and a board description directly within the board editor.
Join group boards authentically
Pinning solo is great, but teaming up with other influencers and businesses on Pinterest can help take your results to the next level.
Group boards are the perfect way to collaborate with other Pinners and can help to show your audience brand new content from two brands that they might love.
*Note: The Pinterest team does not recommend joining group boards as a strategy to increase your followers. But joining group boards will give your content a boost as Pinterest prioritizes content to Pinners who’ve opted to follow your boards as a result of the partnership.
How to use Pinterest for businesses: Key takeaways
There is a TON to learn about how to use Pinterest for businesses. We hope this guide will serve as your launch pad for incredible results on Pinterest moving forward.
We recommend starting off small – experimenting with a few of the Pinterest strategies above and then increasing your output and experiments over time.
If we could leave you with just three tips on how to use Pinterest before you go, they would be:
- The best Pins represent the best ideas. Great Pins are inspirational and actionable. Create Pins that have a clear audience and are engaging for that audience.
- Focus on finding an authentic audience on Pinterest. If you optimize your content and boards, the Pinterest algorithm will do the work of showing your content to more people who might also be interested in your Pins. The key is consistency!
- Be patient and stick with it. Unlike social networks where all of your audience reach typically happens in the first 24 hours, your content on Pinterest will continue to grow over the course of months or even years. Publishing consistently over consecutive months is the best way to build a dedicated audience.
In-case you missed it, we’d love to invite you to check out our recent Facebook Live event with the Pinterest team – Lots of incredible insider tips shared!
Too busy to read? Just click the play button below to listen to this post.
Facebook, as a platform, is barely recognizable from the social network that launched to connect Harvard University students in February 2004.
And looking ahead, the Facebook of five years from now is highly unlikely to resemble the product that 2.2 billion people use every month right now.
That’s no bad thing. If Facebook is to thrive over the next 5, 10, 15+ years, it’ll need to evolve.
Here’s where we think it’s heading…
Back in January, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, outlined his vision for the future of Facebook on his Page:
What followed was an update that would prioritize posts from friends and family over public content from Pages in the News Feed.
And just a couple of weeks back, Facebook announced another significant update that could signal a new path for the platform — an update that only developers are likely to have picked up on so far.
On April 25, Facebook announced some API changes on its developer blog:
The `publish_actions` permission will be deprecated. This permission granted apps access to publish posts to Facebook as the logged in user. Apps created from today onwards will not have access to this permission. Apps created before today that have been previously approved to request `publish_actions` can continue to do so until August 1, 2018.
These changes mean that developers, and platforms like Buffer, will be unable to post content on behalf of personal Facebook profiles. This brings Facebook’s API in-line with Instagram’s, meaning developers can only post to business profiles and pages on both Facebook and Instagram.
For more information on how these API changes relate to the Buffer product, you read this full overview with all the details in the Buffer FAQ.
At Buffer, we believe it paints a pretty clear picture that Facebook wants individuals to be interacting with its products (Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp) and others on the networks in a manual, deliberate way — whether that is posting content, consuming content or engaging with content.
What this means for the Facebook ecosystem
Facebook seems very keen to encourage more users to share content and counter the decline of user-generated posts.
For example, its recent focus on Stories and Groups could be seen as a way to encourage more unique content. This, coupled with the “meaningful interactions” update, shows that Facebook might be hoping that more unique content shared by users, reaching more of their closest friends and family will help to spark more conversation and interaction on the platform.
In his January update, Zuckerberg shared:
The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.
For many, Facebook has evolved into a passive experience. Somewhere you go to view a photo, read a news story or watch a video, but not a place you share and engage with friends.
Throughout 2018, and beyond, Facebook will likely continue to experiment with ways to connect users to those closest to them and encourage time on Facebook to be time well spent.
So rather than prioritizing content that might grab a user’s attention, but drive little interaction, Facebook will favor the content that sparks conversations and brings people closer together.
As Brian Peters’ explained in a recent post:
Active interactions such as sharing, commenting, and reacting will hold much more weight than “passive” interactions such as clicking, viewing, or hovering.
The API changes could also help from a privacy and trust standpoint too, as users will know that every update shared by themselves as well as their friends and family will have come directly from them.
So no apps or third-party products will be posting on their behalf or accessing their own or their friends’ data without being given really explicit permission.
What this means for businesses on Facebook
It appears that Facebook wants to encourage businesses to continue to create and share high-quality content on its platform and will continue to support third-party tools (like Buffer) that help businesses to create, schedule, publish and analyze the performance of their content.
At Buffer, we also believe that these changes will help to make Facebook a “healthy” environment for both businesses and individuals. As Joel recently shared:
These new restrictions are more likely to affect products that are pushing the boundaries of what are healthy social media strategies. We believe that the changes will result in a healthier ecosystem for Facebook and Instagram and, by extension, a better place to be for our mutual users.
But what does this mean for marketing on Facebook? Here are a couple of thoughts…
Fewer posts will receive organic reach
Overall, I believe that this might lead to marketing on Facebook feeling a little more like search engine marketing — a direction we’ve been heading in for a couple of years as organic reach has declined.
On Facebook now, some of your best content will still reach your audience and organically take off (similar to reaching page 1 of Google for a relevant keyword) and this will happen for 1-2% of the best content on Facebook.
And for those pieces of content that don’t break through organically, Facebook’s advertising product offers the chance to display your content to your target audience using its incredibly powerful targeting features (similar to using Google AdWords).
Content should become a destination
There’s also an opportunity for businesses to start thinking about episodic content — the type of stuff your audience will actively seek out if they get into a routine of knowing when it’s published.
Much like how people might purposefully open Netflix to watch the latest episode of their favorite series, people will begin to actively seek out the best content on Facebook.
Moz’s Whiteboard Friday has made their blog a go-to destination for search engine marketers for a few years. And now we’re seeing similar on Facebook. For example, The Ringer’s NBA Desktop show has basketball fans heading to their Facebook Page to check out the latest episode every Tuesday and Friday.
But episodic content doesn’t have to mean high-end video production. It could be a weekly Facebook Live session, daily featured images or a question of the day (using Facebook’s polling feature).
Marketers need to start thinking about how they can make their content worth seeking out. It’s almost like “Inbound Marketing 2.0”.
Instead of interrupting the Facebook News Feed with content, how can you make your content a destination for your target audience?
That’s the big challenge ahead for social media marketers.
Over to you
What are your thoughts on the future of Facebook marketing? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Instagram has released a new way for users to easily share feed posts to stories.
More than 300 million users now use Instagram stories daily and this update will enable them to share any post from their Instagram feed directly to stories.
In the feature’s launch blog post Instagram explained:
When you come across something in feed that inspires you — like a post from a friend raising money for a cause or a photo of a new design from your favorite brand — you can now quickly share that post as a sticker to your story for your friends and followers to see.
How to share feed posts to Instagram Stories
To share feed posts to stories:
- Tap the paper airplane button below the post (like you would to send a direct message)
- You’ll then see an option on the following menu to “Create a story with this post”
- Tap it to see the feed post as a sticker with a customized background ready to share to your story. You can move, resize or rotate the photo or video. You can also use drawing tools or add text and stickers.
Any post shared to a story will include a link back to the original post and include the original poster’s username.
Only posts from public Instagram accounts can be shared to stories. If you have a public account and would like to opt-out from letting people share your posts to stories, you can do so within Instagram’s settings.
In a recent episode of The Science of Social Media, hosts, Hailley and Brian discussed this update (around the 4:45 mark in the below audio):
How brands can use this feature
Many brands and influencers already use stories as a way to drive attention to their latest feed and promote their latest posts. This update will be a welcome improvement to this process by allowing users to directly link to their latest feed posts, rather than taking a screenshot of a post and manually adding it to stories.
As Brian mentions in the podcast, this could enable brands to use stories as a way to cross-promote their feed posts to their audience on stories — people who may have potentially missed the post in the feed.
“One of the reasons we love stories so much is that it can be used as cross-promote content and now users will be able to go from stories directly to your feed,” he explained.
Hailley also drew comparisons between this feature and Twitter’s quote tweet functionality, where users can share content from the feed, but also add their own thoughts and context around it.
This is another exciting update from Instagram — following the share to stories and live video chat announcements at F8 — and it helps to better connect the feed to stories as well as providing a way for users to re-share some of their favorite Instagram content in a more public way than sharing with a couple of friends via a direct message.
These updates now available on Android and will be coming to iOS in the coming days.
What do you think to this release from Instagram? Will it change how you use Instagram stories for your business? Let us know in the comments
Check out another recent Instagram launch: IGTV: Long-form video on Instagram
Too busy to read? Just click the play button below to listen to this post.
Lead generation is an important task for any marketing department.
And for most companies lead generation means focusing on creating lead capture forms and driving traffic back to those forms.
But that’s not the only way to generate new leads for your business.
Nowadays, social media content can play an integral role in lead generation for businesses of all sizes.
But how does someone go from viewing a piece of content on Facebook to making a purchase?
Look no further than the NFL’s Miami Dolphins…
How the Miami Dolphins generate leads from Facebook video
In 2017, the Dolphins became the #1 ranked NFL team for video views on Facebook.
Alone, that’s quite an achievement, yet the Dolphins didn’t just use their video content as a way to boost engagement with fans, it was also a key part of their lead generation strategy.
During an off-season marketing campaign to sell season tickets, the Dolphins used data generated from the likes, comments and shares their videos to better target people who they felt were likely to become season ticket holders and results are astonishing:
25 percent of new season ticket memberships during the 2017 season was a direct result of leads generated from engaging with social media content. This brought in more than $4 million in revenue for the team.
The strategy: How to generate leads using social Facebook video
Step 1: Create content
Social media content is the most important part of this strategy. Without content, the Dolphins wouldn’t have been able to target such an engaged, receptive audience.
For this campaign, the Dolphins created a series of videos called ‘The Life’. The Life focused on the Dolphins organization, the Miami community, and the players. The videos featured no mentions of season ticket sales. Instead, they focused on telling stories that might resonate with new and existing fans.
Note: The Life is one of 11 video shows the Dolphins have published directly to Facebook, including:
- Dolphins Daily: A short, daily roundup of news from the Dolphins franchise.
- The Grind: Behind-the-scenes content from practice sessions.
- The Audible: A live, interactive podcast show.
Step 2: Create an Engagement Custom Audience
Next, the Dolphins created engagement custom audiences on Facebook. These audiences were made up of fans who had interacted with their chosen pieces of content. This meant that the Dolphins could target people specific ads at people who had interacted with content.
Step 3: Build a relationship using Lead Ads
Instead of trying to make a sale directly on Facebook, the Dolphins instead focused on creating leads.
The Dolphins used Facebook Lead ads to re-connect with fans who engaged with their video content. The lead ads invited each user to sign up for various events at the new stadium or receive more information about ticket packages.
Following the link from these ads would enable the user to share their details with a Dolphins sales rep:
Step 4: Make the sale
Once people had signed up for the events from the Lead ads, the Dolphins were able to start making sales right away. And as we mentioned at the start of this post, 25% of new season ticket memberships during the 2017 season were a direct result of leads generated on Facebook.
Scale your lead generation strategy with social media content
The Miami Dolphins might be one of the most famous and richest sports franchises in the world, but the great thing about their lead generation strategy is that any business can replicate it—all you need is great content to get the ball rolling.
Instead of going right in for the sale, think about how you can create an audience of leads using content and gradually move them down your sales funnel using various ad-types.
This strategy works even if you don’t have a sales team and simply want to move leads through your funnel using Facebook Ads. For example, here’s a simplified look at how a lead-gen campaign might look for a fitness product:
- Step: 1 First, you might create a video ad showing a simple home workout for people in your audience who are interested in fitness:
- Step 2: Next, you could create a Facebook carousel ad looking to drive clicks to your website and increase brand awareness amongst people who watched 10 percent of the fitness video you created for step 1:
- Step 3: Then, you might create a conversion focused ad aiming to get people who clicked the link in the previous ad to become customers of your fitness company:
Content has proven to be a huge success as a way to generate leads for the Miami Dolphins and many other businesses on Facebook — we’ve even experimented with this technique at Buffer as a way to move leads through our funnel.
Have you ever used content as a way to generate leads for your business? I’d love to hear your experiences and any tips you might have.
Up to €20 million…
or four percent of your total worldwide annual turnover of the previous financial year, whichever is higher.
That’s the penalty for failing to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU’s new data privacy law.
Okay, sorry to start this post on such a heavy note, but the GDPR is very important to comply with. And not only that, I believe that the new regulation is something we should fully embrace as I can see it bringing around positive changes that could be beneficial to both customers and businesses.
In this post, I’ll share some benefits of the GDPR for your business and your customers. I’ll also cover several key things to note for social media marketing.
Disclaimer: This is my personal understanding of the GDPR based on my research and only covers social media marketing. To ensure that you’re compliant with all aspects of the GDPR, you should consult your legal advisor.
What is the GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new data privacy regulation that aims to give individuals in the EU protection and control over their personal data. This affects how businesses can collect and use personal data.
The regulation will be enforceable from May 25, 2018.
While it is an EU law, it is applicable to any organization with personal data of EU citizens and residents. So if you are a business with customers in the EU, the GDPR will be applicable to you when you are handling personal data of your EU customers.
You can learn more out GDPR in the below podcast episode:
Why the GDPR is beneficial to your business
If you have read the regulation or started preparing for it, you might notice that it requires some effort to be fully compliant with the regulation. But I think there are several potential wins for your business:
- Greater trust: Your customers will know what data of theirs is collected and how it will be used.
- Better email engagement: Only people who are interested in and who choose to opt-in to your email will receive your content.
- Improved marketing experience: With stricter regulation on the use of personal data for marketing and advertising, consumers will likely have a better experience while surfing the internet (and hopefully become more receptive). This will benefit all businesses that do online marketing.
And these are just from the marketing perspective. For more benefits that being GDPR-compliant can bring to your business, check out this article by Michael Fimin, CEO and co-founder of Netwrix, an IT security software company.
How the GDPR will benefit consumers
Besides benefiting your business, the GDPR is also favorable for your customers in many ways.
- More privacy: Businesses are required to collect and process only personal data that are necessary for each specific purpose and implement measures to protect personal data.
- More security of their personal data: With stricter rules on collection and processing of personal data, there would likely be fewer data breaches such as the recent incidents.
- More control over their shopping experiences: Consumers will be able to decide upfront whether they want to receive marketing emails from businesses or whether they want their website behavior to be tracked for analytics and advertising purposes.
For example, visitors on mailchimp.com can now customize their cookie preferences.
Organic social media marketing
Organic social media is probably a big part of your role as a social media marketer. The good news is that I believe organic social media marketing (i.e. excluding social media advertising) is largely unaffected by the new regulation.
But there are several instances you want to be mindful of:
- You would not want to export or scrape contact details from your social media followers or groups as that is personal data. (I personally don’t think this is right even without the new regulations)
- If you are sending traffic from social media to your website and you’re using Google Analytics to track visitor behavior, you will likely need to get consent for that.
- If you run social media ads, especially lead ads, there are several things to be aware of. Let’s quickly go through them.
Paid social media marketing (or social advertising)
Under the GDPR, if you want to use your customers’ data or track their behavior for advertising, you must obtain the legal basis to do so. That is, you have to obtain an explicit opt-in consent from your customers.
Here are a few key points to know:
- Your customers must be given a free and genuine choice to accept or reject (and be allowed to easily withdraw their consent).
- You have to state what data will be collected and how it will be used.
- The request for consent has to be in a clear and plain language.
- Inactivity also doesn’t constitute consent. Your customers have to take an action. (E.g. Pre-tick boxes for consent are not allowed.)
As there are very stringent requirements for obtaining consent, it’s best to refer to the regulations directly and check with your legal advisor.
Several social media advertising features use customer data that you upload, collect personal data, or track behavior on your site. If you use any of the following features, it’ll be great to look further into the actions you should take before May 25, 2018:
- Facebook Pixel
- Facebook Custom Audiences
- Facebook Lead Ads
- LinkedIn Matched Audiences
- LinkedIn Insight Tag
- LinkedIn Sponsored InMail
- LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms
- Twitter Pixel
- Twitter Tailored Audiences
- Pinterest Tag
- Pinterest Audiences
For more information about advertising on social media platforms under the GDPR, check out the following resources by the respective platforms:
(I can’t seem to find Pinterest’s information about GDPR. If you know of any, would you mind sharing the link to their page in the comments section below? Thanks!)
Lead form ads on Facebook and LinkedIn
There have also been some changes to lead form ads on Facebook and LinkedIn to help you stay in compliant with the GDPR. As you would be collecting data through lead forms, you’ll need to state how the data will be processed and establish a legal basis (e.g. consent) for processing the data.
Facebook lead ads
Before you can create a lead ad on Facebook, you’ll have to explicitly accept their lead ad terms. You can view and accept their terms here. (Also as a refresher, here are Facebook’s advertising policies.)
LinkedIn lead gen form
LinkedIn also has some suggestions for the custom text. For example, if you are collecting email addresses for your newsletter, you could use “We’ll use your information to register you to receive our newsletters.”
Further GDPR reading resources
The GDPR is a huge and important topic. Here are some of the resources that I have found helpful:
- General Data Protection Regulation (the official PDF arranged neatly as a website)
- GDPR: What Growth People Need To Know (by Reforge)
- MailChimp’s GDPR Guide (by MailChimp)
- GDPR Compliance for Email Marketing. A Step-by-Step Guide. (by We Compose)
Do you know of any other helpful resources?
Over to you: How are you preparing for GDPR?
As a quick reminder, GDPR comes into effect on May 25, 2018. It’ll be best to prepare your business for it before that date.
At Buffer, we are working hard to be compliant with the GDPR before the enforcement date. We’ll be sharing an update soon so keep an eye out for it!
In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. We’ll try our best to answer them.