Improve Your Instagram Promoted Posts

Instagram promoted posts have grown in popularity since they were rolled out and will continue to be leveraged more by brands in 2016. As a marketer, this excites me. As a consumer, this annoys me. Unfortunately, many brands are using Instagram as an advertising tool rather than a content tool. Instagram is a platform to showcase content. The content should be unique and engaging to your followers. I received a promoted post about improving my marketing. It was an advertisement that was just slapped on Instagram. Not relevant to platform and most of the audience it targeted. How did I know? I knew from reading the comments, which of course were as negative as the ones running through my head.

Although Instagram has given brand tips for content that wins on the platform, many brands have ignored them. Please, I beg you; don’t be one of those brands. Create unique content for Instagram. Below are four tips that will help you with your next batch of promoted posts on Instagram.

  1. Make It Blend, But Stand Out

Seems contradictory, but it’s not. You need to make your content look native to your consumers’ feeds. Yet, you also need to make the content stand out so it grabs their attention and they engage with it. You don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons such as “Oh here’s another ad.” Rather, you want people to say, “Nice photography” or “cool idea”. Research what content your consumers are engaging with and go from there. Once you have created your content, stop and say out loud, “Does this look like a traditional advertisement?” If the answer is yes, you need to go back to the creative board.

  1. Target Based on Insights

The great thing about Instagram is it is linked to consumers’ Facebook pages. You can target people on Instagram the same way you do on Facebook. You have the ability to reach your exact audience. Go beyond age and location when targeting. Every Millennial isn’t the same and everyone in the same zip code isn’t friends. Target your Instagram audience based on a specific page preference or shopping habits. Once you do this, you have to ensure the content is right so they engage.


  1. Have a Strong Call to Action

Instagram now allows brands to add an action button to their promoted posts. The most popular calls to action are “shop now” “learn more” or “explore”. Your CTA should be more than the button, but also in your post copy. What is going to make consumers leave the platform they are on to go to your brand website? Something that is timely will surely prompt their attention and incentivize them to click. Consider adding an offer or discount during the time of your promoted posts.

  1. Think Like the Consumer

Always remember to be consumer first. This means look at your content and ask, “If this wasn’t my brand would I be interested or care?” We often ignore this      question which is why consumers end up ignoring our content.  Make your content from the consumer perspective not the brand perspective.

With carousel and promoted video options, 2016 is sure to be an interesting year for marketing on Instagram. Do you have any tips to add to this list? Post them in the comments below.


Do More with Your Holiday Content This Year

Beginning in November, holiday content demand reaches a high among consumers. They’re seeking the perfect holiday party appetizers, decorations, gift ideas, and more. How does your brand help answer the demand? It’s time to go beyond one or two simple “Happy Holidays” posts. Consumers are looking for more integrated, relevant holiday content. During the holidays consumers are looking for solutions. How can you make their lives less stressful, during the most wonderfully stressful time of the year?

During the holidays, consumers are more open and actually seeking brand messages. They spend more on goods and services and seek more branded content because of it. This is not just to the time to sell with them, but forge stronger relationships with them. You need to use the holidays as a time to sell, but also to retain.  You can do this by just not offering solutions, but offering conversations about solutions.

Here are a few tips to help your brand do more with your holiday content this year.

  1. Create User Generated Content Lists

Ask your community what common problems they have during the holidays and how your products or services help. Then compile a list, jazz it up, and share it back with your community. Consumers love relatable content as well as tips from people just like them. Be sure to add in a few of your own secret brand tips and tricks as the cherry on top of the holiday cake.


  1. Showcase a Unique Use of Your Product

Is there a special way consumers can use your product during the holidays to make their lives easier? Showcase that. If you’re not aware of any, ask your community. If your business offers services, give a discount on relevant services that will help your target. The holidays are a time when the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Turkey is just turkey in May. During Thanksgiving, turkey is a peace offering, a thank you, an “I love you” during dinner. Translate that extraordinary appeal to your brand and products.

  1. Add to or Create Memorable Traditions

During Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, there are certain traditions that almost all Americans partake in some form or another. How does your brand fit into those traditions? How can your brand shake up those traditions to make them more exciting? And even better what fun traditions can be created around your brand?

Always remember to make your content relevant to the platform and time. It’s better to push out content related to the holidays outside of the home earlier in the month and then content related to in the home closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Christmas Tree

Do Old Mass Marketing Vehicles Still Work?

When you’re driving how often do you look at billboards and ads on buses? The answer is, probably more than you think. Why? Advertisers still purchase this space for their brands because they still work. If you’re stuck at a red light you’re going to look around and take the time to read the billboard on the side of the road. Same if you’re waiting on your train and your train has been turned into a cold Coors® light train.

A few years ago, Coors Light Beer brought their signature mountains to trains all over Chicago. The brand was showcasing how their cans turn blue when they’re cold and ready to drink. What better city to showcase their cold technology than the Windy City. The train artwork was accompanied by print ads inside the trains and train stations. Consumers were immersed in the message and the brand during their daily commute. It was effective because the average train commuter takes 2-4 trips per day for work or school.

I remember riding the train when I lived in Chicago. You are on for 15-30 minutes and to keep yourself occupied you read the various advertisements if you don’t have a book or your phone is dying. It’s an easy way to pass the time. This is great news for brands! Consumers are actually willingly take time to read and digest your message. With this, they’re more likely to consider your brand and hopefully purchase.

The best way to ensure these old schools vehicles are effective is to place them at the center of a larger integrated campaign. Coors Light had digital surround to amplify the campaign and make sure it had greater reach than Chicago. Your brand should have a social and digital overlay. This will get you greater reach and impressions for your campaign message. Make sure creative is consistent and the brand messages are clear across all channels and vehicles.

The great thing about these vehicles is that they are cheaper than some digital and social executions. This gives your brand the opportunity to customize messages for different markets. Place the city name on the billboard and buses or the sports team. The more relevant, recognizable and relatable the marketing the more your target audience will notice and acknowledge it. To answer the question we began with, yes, old mass marketing vehicles still work. Follow the tips above and your ads will go further. Make the campaign relevant to the timing, platforms, and audience.

Best Emerging Apps for Event Marketing

In 2015, your event marketing will not be successful without a digital component. The digital aspect can come alive in the form of a branded hashtag where consumers can post pictures, allowing attendees to register via social media, or sharing content during or after the event. Your brand should be using Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter for event marketing. Yes, Facebook is still relevant and great for an overall social campaign, but these platforms offer unique event benefits. Keep Facebook as the cherry on top of your cake. When the three aforementioned platforms are used creatively and as a part of a larger, integrated campaign the results will exceed your previous event executions. Here are a few tips how you can begin using these platforms to enhance your next event.

  1. Instagram

This app can be used in a variety of promotional ways for your event including contests for free access and generating greater awareness. Create a branded event hashtag and ask your followers to post pictures to it for a chance to win entry for them and their friend. You get them to spread your event message to all of their followers by doing this. You also have the ability to tag your promotional images with popular/trending hashtags to gain more interest. Be sure your brand is a fit if you’re going to use a popular hashtag. There are millions to choose from.

  1. Snapchat

The platform allows brands to provide access to live events. It is an amazing platform for real time marketing. You can also use SnapChat as a way to surprise and delight users by sharing exclusive, quick videos that can’t be accessed anywhere else. This app is great for consumers in attendance and those that may have missed out. They still a connection to the event and the brand.

  1. Twitter

Much like Instagram, Twitter is great for its hashtags. You can do many of the same contests and awareness plays by using branded hashtags on Twitter. Twitter is better for linking back to your brand’s website or event page. If you require registration or have more information than can fit in 140 characters, be sure to include a link. Keep driving traffic to the link on a consistent basis to ensure consumers see it. Twitter messages can get lost on timelines.

To truly win in the event marketing space, your brand should include all three platforms in your campaign. While many Millennials are on all three platforms, some are not and you have to ensure you capture everyone. Also, remember that each platform is different and the content and approach for each should vary while still sharing the same message.

An example of a good campaign that integrates all three platforms would be first promoting your event on Twitter with a branded hashtag and link to website, then sharing teaser videos and promotional images of the event on Instagram, and finally sharing live video via Snapchat the day of the event. These apps give you more ways to connect consumers to your brand beyond your event. Make your event work harder for you and provide a stronger ROI by incorporating the above suggestions.

Lessons from Straight Outta Compton’s Social Media Marketing

Straight Outta Compton premiered Friday and finished with an amazing $60.2 million open weekend at the box office. Only costing $25 million to create, the N.W.A. biopic has one of the highest grossing August open weekends in recent years. The movie had the typical movie marketing leading up to its release including online trailers and cast interviews. Since the movie is about the legendary Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, it couldn’t be released without a cool piece of marketing. If you have been on any social media platform the last two weeks, you’ve likely seen a “Straight Outta Somewhere” meme.

Fans were able to go to insert their picture and hometown name into the movies poster. Celebrities including Serena Williams, Jennifer Lopez, Ed Sheeran, LeBron James, and Bette Midler even got into the fun making and sharing their own memes. Yes, Bette Midler did a throwback to her Hocus Pocus days and made a “Straight Outta Salem” meme of her character Winnie. With celebrities and everyone young and old making memes, the buzz around the movie grew quickly close to the release. A movie about rap’s most notorious and “dangerous” group is already cool, but the memes added an additional interactive, cool layer. Fans felt like if you didn’t go see the movie, you were missing out on being a part of popular culture at the moment.

Straight Outta Somewhere

Did everyone that created and shared a meme go see the movie, probably not, but they helped announce and promote the film possibly attributing to its success. When it comes to having a successful social media campaign, four things matter creativity, context, interaction and shareability. This campaign had each of those components. When creating your next social media campaign, remember these four lessons from Straight Outta Compton.

  1. Creativity

Social media is so saturated with brand content that only the creative are seen as strong and thrive. Straight Outta Somewhere was a campaign that allowed the consumer to think they were creative by interacting with the content. Campaign creativity can come to life in various forms including the hashtag you use, the actual design creative, concept, or platform you use. See what’s already been done time and time again and try something new. Social media is about testing new ideas to achieve new results.

  1. Context

Straight Outta Somewhere was relevant to the context of the movie. Everyone comes from somewhere and has a story to tell. Also, we should all be proud of where we come from and where we are going. This campaign struck an emotional chord and played on that with NWA fans, movie fans, and regular consumers. Be sure your campaign is placed in the right context to consumers that will allow them to emotionally connect to, find timely and relevant.

Bette Midler


  1. Interaction

Are you just asking your consumers to follow, post, or share something? You should be asking them to interact with the content. That’s why Straight Outta Somewhere was so great, because people were able to insert themselves into the campaign. Consumers want to interact with your brand and your campaign. Allow them to do so and you will see the results that you want.

  1. Shareability

Social media was created to share content. If your campaign content is not shareworthy, it will not be successful. With new Facebook and Twitter algorithms and policies, people will not see your brand’s content unless you pay or your fans share it. The point of Straight Outta Somewhere was to create an image and then share it across platforms. At the heart of the campaign was shareability which led to its success. Find out what your consumers are already sharing and incorporate that into your campaign.

If your campaign hits on the above and is socially relevant to your consumers, you will likely have a viral social media campaign. Happy sharing!

Straight Outta Compton

Why Customized Marketing is Important to Millennials

For the recent stop of the Mad Decent Block Party (a musical festival that travels the US and Canada), Budlight created 200,000 individualized festival cans. The festival cans will continue to be distributed through the end of September as the party hits more cities. The cans are colorful and vibrant like festival attendees. In addition to great music and fun, festival goers are seeking unique experiences that will create unforgettable memories. The Budlight festival cans hit on that perfectly. Older generations say that Millennials are obsessed with being unique. And if that is true, Budlight has found the right tactic to reach, engage, and influence this unique group.

Festivals cans are only available to those that attend a Mad Decent Block Party. It’s an exclusive for fans that they are sure to wait in line for. In a past post, “Best Brand Activations at Music Festivals” we discussed the top 4 categories that companies should place their marketing within. Innovation was number two and this is the space that Budlight so brilliantly chose. Not only do Millennial festival goers want unique experiences they want shareable experiences. Going to a festival isn’t cool unless you share photos on Instagram and Snapchat. Budlight created a way to make sure it gets naturally incorporated into pictures. Who wouldn’t want to snap a picture of their customized can?


You’ve seen all of your friends sharing pictures once they found their name on a Coke bottle. The Coca-Cola Company has been running its “Share a Coke” campaign that features names on various size bottles and allows consumers to create and send their own bottles online. Consumers are craving marketing that is customized as if the brand is speaking directly to them.  We live in a digital world that almost demands us to share our lives every day. Millennials are seeking ways to make the mundane look exciting and not so ordinary. Customized marketing helps consumers not feel like one of billion, but one in a million.

Diet Coke Israel launched a similar campaign to Budlight with 2 million bottles in 2014. In 2012, Absolut was the first brand to do individualized cans. They created the “Absolut Unique” campaign that carried the tagline “One of a kind. Millions of expressions.” Beverage companies seem to have the customized packaging down and it’s only a matter of time before other big CPG companies begin to do the same. We are marketing in the age of anti-marketing. Millennials are savvier to marketing and we as marketers have to keep reinventing our tactics and pushing innovation to break through to them.

Diet Coke Can

While smaller companies can’t create a mass reaching customized campaign like Budlight or Coke, there are cheaper ways to create customized content. Smaller companies can leverage their various social media channels to create customized responses and content that their consumers are seeking. Personalization is key when it comes to a brand interacting with its consumers today.