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3 ways entertainment marketers can better engage fans on social media

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This post originally appeared on MediaPost and we are pleased to be able to share it with you here!

Some of the most popular social media accounts belong to entertainment brands — celebrities, TV shows, movies, entertainment media — the list goes on. These brands have built up large, loyal followings by sharing lots of great content on social media. These brands resonate well on visually focused channels like Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat, and on social hubs like Facebook and Twitter.

What can we learn from these successes? How can other entertainment marketers better engage fans on social media? Luckily, entertainment brands have plenty of engaging, social-ready content at their fingertips; it’s just a matter of figuring out what to share and how. If you’re working with an entertainment brand, here are three ways to more deeply engage with your fans on social media.

Provide sneak peeks for your fans

Give your followers something extra or early. Reward their loyalty by sharing content earlier on your social channels than anywhere else. Some brands post new trailers first on social channels. Others send a secret password to share new content with lucky contest winners before sharing it publicly. No matter how you decide to do it, giving your social audiences early access to new content is a great way to reward followers (and get new ones).

Sony Pictures’ Goosebumps movie recently encouraged fans to tweet to unlock a new trailer. When fans posted enough tweets to hit a volume threshold, Sony released a new full-length trailer for the movie. It was a great way to get fans excited about the film and spread the word across Twitter.

Make the most of your content exhaust

Content exhaust is anything that’s left over after a project is finished, all the extra content that’s created and discarded as you work on polishing the final product. That can be outtakes, behind the scenes stories, images from the cutting room floor, backstage video, pre-Photoshop photos, and more. What may seem mundane to those involved in a production can be extremely interesting to fans who don’t experience the entertainment business every day. Inviting your fans behind the scenes makes them feel more connected and invested in your project. And on social media, it’s completely acceptable to share less polished content, particularly on channels like Snapchat. Just because something is public doesn’t mean it has to be perfect, so don’t feel like everything you share has to have the same production values as the show or movie itself. Use the content exhaust you’re already creating to your advantage.

ABC Family does a wonderful job with Pretty Little Liars. Across the “PLL” social accounts, they’re constantly posting pictures of the cast goofing around together, attending red carpet events, even posing with signs about fans. This kind of content rewards fans for following and makes them feel included in how the show is made.

 

We do too! #PLL #Ezria #EzriaForever

A photo posted by Pretty Little Liars (@prettylittleliars) on

Go beyond the story on screen

Fans of a show or movie will want to go deeper into the story, beyond what can be shown on screen. Use social media to provide more information for them. You could share extended scenes, deeper dives into a back story, more information about real-life events that influence a story, interviews with writers and directors — anything that extends the story beyond the main screen. The more information you provide about a story, the more invested the audience will be in its outcome. A lot of fans will try to piece together this information on their own, so provide some help or participate in the conversation when you can.

True Detective on HBO does this very well. The show’s story is full of mystery already, and every week fans discuss possible clues and conspiracies across social media. On Instagram, the show shares images and short videos through the season to encourage this conversation. They could take further advantage of this by sharing more information from the show’s writer about the unusual real-life events and locations that inspire the storyline.

 

#TrueDetective

A video posted by True Detective (@truedetective) on

 

Want to measure the impact of your social media content? Take a look at all the analytics we offer at Union Metrics.

Written by Sarah

July 30th, 2015 at 8:12 am

Our Favorite Social Media Stats and Facts

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Social media changes quickly, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest usage information for the top channels. We thought we’d make it easier by rounding up our five favorite nuggets for our four favorite social networks: Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook.

Many of these come from Union Metrics research, so feel free to check out our resources page or see how we can help you measure your efforts in each of these places, if you’re eager to see how that after-hours Tumblr queue is paying off.

Tumblr

  1. Tumblr is a night owl. 42% of all Tumblr activity takes place between 5pm and 1am ET (Source). Takeaway: Brands should try posting outside of traditional business hours to see how their content performs.
  2. Disney is by far the most popular brand on Tumblr, seeing more overall activity and stronger engagement than any other brand – nearly two times more (Source). Takeaway: Consider a Tumblr presence to join in on the fan conversation that inevitably already exists around your brand.
  3. 50% of Tumblr users have gone out and bought something they’ve seen on their dashboard (Source). Takeaway: Make it easy for your followers to buy the things you show them on their dash. With the ”Buy” button introduced last year, it’s easier than ever.
  4. Saturday and Sunday are the most active days on Tumblr (Source). Takeaway: Have a content plan for the weekends. Pay attention to when the most original content is published (bonus stat: that’s 4pm on Sunday) and see how your content performs posted at or around that time.
  5. Fandom thrives on Tumblr (Source). Takeaway: Movies and television shows should know that their fandoms are on Tumblr, and they are legion. Incorporate fan art (like Teen Wolf) or photos (like Doctor Who) into your content strategy where it makes sense. Make fans feel heard, and appreciated.

Times of Tumblr

Twitter

  1. Most customers expect a response on social media within an hour (Source). Takeaway: This is true even of nights and weekends, so brands looking to have an active Twitter presence need to be prepared for that.
  2. Tweets with images or videos in them get more engagement than tweets with text alone (Source). Takeaway: Add appropriate visuals to your tweets whenever possible, but don’t just stick any old image on there just to have one. Choose striking, meaningful visual content to catch your audience’s eye.
  3. Related to that last point? Tweets with images take up more than twice as much vertical space in the timeline (Source). Takeaway: Simply taking up more space on someone’s feed- particularly when they’re out and about, scrolling through mobile- means your tweets are much harder to simply scan and dismiss. Especially if you choose that visually arresting image we talked about.
  4. Speaking of mobile users, recent numbers show “80% of users access Twitter via their mobile device” (Source). Takeaway: This means that unless those mobile users are on wifi, they don’t have as much bandwidth to work with and they aren’t going to want to wait forever for images to download, so make sure those visually arresting images aren’t huge. If it’s a big infographic, choose one piece to show and link back to the whole thing.
  5. When a show’s stars live-tweet an episode during its airtime, they “generate 64% more discussion (ie. tweets about the show) than programs whose cast members abstain” (Source). Takeaway: Even if you’re not in TV, live-tweeting a relevant event- a webinar, a conference, a presentation or panel during an industry meetup- will make you part of a bigger discussion and introduce you to new contacts. Just be sure to use the official hashtags—  or create them.

Instagram

  1. Our own Union Metrics research recommends brands try posting outside of U.S. business hours (Source). Takeaway: Evenings and weekends are times most people have free to browse social and catch up on their streams. Brands should test posting during these times and see if they get a bump in engagement from fans and followers who are otherwise busy during the work day.
  2. Keeping up your content cadence matters more than how often you post (Source). Takeaway: Obviously you don’t want to completely flood the Instagram feed of your fans and followers, but it’s not unusual for brands to post several times a day. If you have a large queue of content for a campaign, however, and it runs dry afterward before you can plan a robust content calendar, you will start to lose followers.
  3. Content on Instagram lives longer than you probably realize (Source). Takeaway: Although most activity happens in the first several hours after a brand posts to Instagram, it’s not unusual to see low-level content for days and weeks after a post is first made. Don’t be afraid to edit old posts with newer hashtags to see if you can boost engagement on them.
  4. Brands who advertise on Instagram may continue to see increased engagement after an advertising period has ended; in one case we saw a brand with “a nearly 10% increase in engagement rates across the board, increasing the total activities received per organic post by 25% on average” (Source). Takeaway: If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and advertising on Instagram, the benefits could be longer lasting than you might have assumed.
  5. Related to the previous point, Instagram is opening up advertising to everyone this fall (Source). Takeaway: Just be sure your creative is up to snuff; Instagram users are used to high-quality, well-executed content.

 

 

Facebook

  1. Images that include people and faces perform well on Facebook (Source). Takeaway: Facebook is a place people connect with friends and family they’re close to in real life, so reflecting this ease and friendliness in your visuals helps your content resonate with those who choose to connect with your brand there.
  2. You have three seconds to get your fans’ attention in a video (Source). Takeaway: Videos need to be immediately arresting, and also perform well without sound since not everyone opts to turn it on. Shorter videos also tend to perform better than long videos on Facebook.
  3. Posts with a ton of hashtags don’t perform well on Facebook (Source). Takeaway: Your audience may love hashtags on Facebook, but it seems like most don’t, unless they’re a big popular hashtag like #TBT or popular and annual, like #NationalRunningDay. Use your discretion and test one or two on your posts to see how your audience responds. But definitely don’t leave all 30 from your Instagram post on Facebook; edit that cross-post down!
  4. 79% of all users are accessing Facebook from their mobile (Source). Takeaway: A lot of social activity is happening on people’s phones, when they’re out and about, commuting, or at home in the evenings. Be sure your content is optimized for mobile to capitalize on this audience. Think about what you want to see within the confines of a smartphone screen and how much data you have to work with.
  5. Facebook isn’t just Facebook; most people know they own Instagram, but some forget about the other entities in the Facebook ecosystem, including WhatsApp, Messenger, and Occulus (Source). Takeaway: These other apps are something to keep an eye on as the industry develops over the coming years, particularly in the private messaging space. It’s direct access to consumers, but difficult for brands to balance without coming across as creepy or intrusive.

Written by Sarah

July 28th, 2015 at 9:08 am

Amazon Prime Day on Twitter

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So, how big a deal was Amazon Prime Day today? There certainly was a lot of hype leading up to it. How did it turn out? Let’s see what Twitter thought.

On Wednesday, July 15, there were 252,000 tweets about Amazon Prime Day, from more than 145,000 different Twitter accounts. These tweets have generated more than 1.9 billion potential impressions and a potential unique reach of 193 million. This graph shows related tweets hour-by-hour today. New tweets came in at a rate of around 10.5k per hour.

Amazon Prime Day on Twitter

Some of the top tweets discussed the biggest or most interesting deals, while other reflected some disappointment in the sales offered. Most of the really good deals sold out quickly. Here’s a sample of the most popular Amazon Prime Day tweets.

Did you participate? What kinds of deals did you score? Did you post about Amazon Prime Day on Twitter?

And of course, if you’re interested in these kind of analytics for your event or brand, take a look at TweetReach Pro. Real-time, ongoing Twitter analytics for any hashtags, keywords, accounts on Twitter, starting at just $99 per month. For $99, you get 2 real-time Trackers, unlimited full snapshot reports, and more! Questions? Let’s talk.

Written by Jenn D

July 15th, 2015 at 2:04 pm

4 ways branded Snapchat content is different

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Recently we looked at how Snapchat has evolved for brands, but we wanted to dig a little deeper into how exactly content on Snapchat differs for brands, and show you with more examples across different industries. After all it’s one thing to have a vague idea about the disappearing images those kids are sending and what actually goes into the stories teams are building to send to their Snapchat fans.

Still got questions? Leave ‘em in the comments! Let’s get snapping.

1. It’s more informal

While other platforms like Instagram are all about beautiful, well-staged photography- particularly product tableaus for many brands- Snapchat is more about sharing what’s happening in the moment, with quality as a lesser concern. (Possibly a result of the in-app camera being generally darker and the photos compressed to save server space.) The relaxed tone leaves viewers feeling more like an insider than someone looking at repurposed magazine shots, and that can create a sense of intimacy with a brand that can lead to customer loyalty.

2. And less aspirational

The informal feel of Snapchat means viewers aren’t expecting to see their aspirations laid out for them the way they are in places like Instagram and Pinterest. Brands who normally present a more luxurious, well-staged feel- like Sephora- tone things down on Snapchat to bring their followers of-the-moment updates. Snapchat is the sweatpants-in-the-makeup-chair-before-a-photoshoot platform.

3. Making it perfect for behind-the-scenes shares

If you have access to the latest gadgets, the coolest musicians, or the upcoming fashion line, then Snapchat is the perfect place to share behind-the-scenes moments with these people and things in way that feels very intimate (like the sweatpants makeup chair example in the last section). Even though viewers know anyone can watch a story who chooses to follow that brand on Snapchat, it still feels like a celebrity has sent a story just to you, especially if they take over an MTV rep’s phone and shoot in selfie mode.

4. But it still matches overall brand aesthetic

While it’s important not to overly stage and process your Snapchat content- which is impossible, given the previously mentioned in-app camera quality- you DO still want it to feel cohesive with the rest of your brand. Viewers can take screenshots and those will end up on the wild of the Internet, so unless it’s a strategic brand move, you don’t want to completely depart from the rest of your visual brand.

How do you do that? Let’s look at some examples more in-depth.

Brands on Snapchat: How they do it.

Beauty brand Sephora has an extensive social presence that is very cohesive and navigates the differences between each platform well; you can compare the well-staged and lit product shots and celebrity regrams on their Instagram profile, their well-executed digital magazine on Tumblr, similar product shots and information shared across their Twitter and Facebook profiles, and their extensive Pinterest presence (how-tos, inspiration) with their much more informal Snapchat presence:

 

 

NPR has a more serious expected presence as a news organization, so Snapchat is a great way for them to infuse more personality into their reporting with some behind-the-scenes tours, quick facts from various reporters, on-the-ground reporting for breaking news, and more. They’ve written extensively about their experience with Snapchat on their Social Media Desk Tumblr, with their latest intern sharing her experience with running Snapchat for a major news organization, how to engage an audience on Snapchat, and even the difference in reporting a breaking news event on different platforms (Snapchat vs. Instagram). Even if you’re not a news organization, there are some great takeaways from NPR. Particularly: Experiment, try new things, don’t be afraid to fail. It makes you more human to your audience. 

Mashable has a much lighter brand reputation, known for mixing in fun, Buzzfeed-esque posts alongside reporting from big tech events and covering product and platform updates. Their Snapchat is incredibly well-executed, utilizing all the different ways the platform has to communicate: Drawing on the screen, combining drawing with text, emojis, and more:

 

Finally GE uses Snapchat to show off a much more casual side of their brand. While their Tumblr is full of high quality images and gifs around different science and tech that you can see repurposed on their Instagram profile, while Facebook and Twitter share science and tech news of a slightly different flavor repackaged for each place, they use Snapchat to share quick science facts and encourage viewers to engage with them back on those different platforms:

Bonus: Basic updates

Recently Snapchat has released some updates that make it even easier to use. Where you used to have to hold your finger on the screen to view a snap- and if you let go, the countdown didn’t stop!- now you simply tap a snap or story to view it. Dismissing a story simply requires swiping down from the top of the screen instead of letting go, but is still an option in case you decide viewing an up-close-and-personal running of the bulls isn’t for you.

Written by Sarah

July 8th, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Guides,Trends

Tagged with ,

Social TV: Between and serialized Netflix

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Until now all of Netflix’s original programming has been binge-able; whole seasons released at once that fans park themselves to consume on the couch while they tweet about it. This changed with the recent release of Between, a show developed in partnership with a Canadian channel that follows the traditional one-new-episode-released-per-week formula. Episodes air on City TV in Canada then become available on Netflix several hours later.

How this affects the conversation

As expected, the biggest spike in Twitter conversation around Between so far in terms of the number of people tweeting and the subsequent reach of their tweets was the day the first episode was released, May 21st, followed by a second, smaller spike the day the second episode was released, May 28th: Between contributors Between reach exposure The most tweets, however, came the day after each episode aired:

Between tweets

And nearly all of the most retweeted tweets came from the show’s star Jennette McCurdy:

Or from Netflix’s Twitter account:

What does this tell us?

Although the overall numbers for this show are lower than around Game of Thrones or fellow Netflix original Daredevil, that’s to be expected for a small, original show without a fanbase to draw on from previous seasons (GoT) or a successful comic book universe (Daredevil, part of the Marvel Universe). It does, however, have star Jennette McCurdy’s existing fans to draw on; those who grew up watching her on iCarly or Sam and Cat are older and excited to see her take on a darker, more serious role in this sci-fi show, so it makes sense that she’s promoting her latest project to her fans and followers on Twitter, encouraging them to tune in when it’s available and even offering to tweet with her fans while they watch.

The episodes become available on Netflix at 11:30pm Eastern, which explains why more tweets around the show are made the next day; fans might be tweeting about their excitement around the latest episode the day it airs, then discussing it or live-tweeting a second viewing (or a first, if they have an early bedtime) the day after it originally airs on Canada’s City TV.

Final takeaways

The overall success of a serialized television show on Netflix vs a binge-able one remains to be seen, but they’re doing everything on the social promotion front right on Twitter, including show-specific hashtags and live-tweeting hashtags:

They could be doing a little more on other networks where their target audience has a presence: Instagram, for example. The official Netflix Instagram account has one photo referencing the show vs. much more promotion for their other original series (Marco Polo, Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, etc) , but this likely has to do with the City TV partnership and the fact that City has established their own Instagram profile for the show. Netflix could still use a third-party app to do some re-gramming, however.

Written by Sarah

June 4th, 2015 at 10:15 am

How Snapchat has evolved for brands

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We’ve written about brands on Snapchat before- covering both the basics and brands who do it well- but social media platforms evolve almost as quickly as snaps disappear from your screen, so we thought an update was due.

Let’s dive into an updated version of the basics, how use of the platform has evolved for brands, how brand content is different on Snapchat than on other channels, and some good brand examples to illustrate it all along the way.

How the basics have changed

You still have a score, and Snapchat still has a step-by-step screencapped guide to finding and adding friends. Brands will still want to concentrate on creating stories over sending individual snaps, however, and that makes the biggest basic to be sure you make your stories viewable to anyone who adds you.

Snapchat Story Settings for Brand

This way all fans have to do is add you, and they’ll be able to see any story that you create. Adding back every single fan or follower who decides to follow you on the platform and then manually sending snaps to each one of them would quickly turn into a logistical nightmare. You can also still decide who sends you snaps: Everyone, or just those you approve of as friends. Use your discretion.

And as of right now advertising on Snapchat is expensive with Discover being a slightly more affordable option, but not one that will be the right fit for every brand that doesn’t have the ability to produce a wealth of Discover-specific content.

How Snapchat is evolving

Aside from the arrival of Discover, when we wrote our first piece on Snapchat, “Our Story” was a new feature that has indeed become a regular thing. Now called “Our Stories” and found under the “Live” section, it looks like this:

Live on SnapchatIf you’re in the geographic location where an event is taking place, you have the option to add a snap to the story. This could be a fun thing for a brand to participate in, but ultimately it would get lost in the noise of the collaborative snap (unless you’re doing a sponsored version, like Bud Light). Our Stories are a fun way to see what’s happening live at an event elsewhere in the world and could give some insight into Snapchat users in different areas; particularly important if you’re looking to reach a global audience.

Other Snapchat feature updates since our first post include the ability to send cash using Snapcash, adding a fun Geofilter overlay to your images if one is available, as well as use Chat and Video Chat. Experiment with these in a way that makes sense for your brand. We haven’t heard of any big brands using these features with customers just yet, but that doesn’t mean smaller independent brands haven’t been experimenting. Limited chatting, for example, could be a fun way to add another layer of engagement in a Snapchat-based contest (see the official rules from a GE Snapchat contest as an example).

Brands are still largely using the platform to share behind-the-scenes content with a very intimate, down-to-earth feel, like these examples from Mashable, MTV, and NPR:

NPR in particular has been open about its experimentation with the platform and their intern shared her experiences in using it and learning what worked on their NPR Social Media Desk Tumblr. Here’s a great excerpt:

“Yes, it’s time-consuming to answer queries and respond to comments. But it’s also a really wonderful way to foster an engaged community. When I started addressing our followers directly, the number of snaps we receive went up hugely! The feedback really helped shape my editorial approach to the platform.”

Brands have also begun to experiment with interactive material on Snapchat; Cosmopolitan’s first Discover post was one users could customize and share.

How brand content differs on Snapchat

As you can see from the examples in the previous section, brands don’t go for polished video production on Snapchat; it’s a very informal, more intimate setting on this platform where even your more “permanent” content only lasts for 24 hours.

A brand that really presents itself differently across different platforms according to the prevailing tastes and culture of each place- and of their own target audience- is Sephora. On Snapchat they give product previews or even share little aesthetic pieces of their day, like this:

SephoraSnaps

 

On Tumblr they run a digital magazine full of high-impact product photos, interviews with celebrities and makeup artists, as well as tips, tricks, and how-tos. On Instagram they alternate between impeccably staged product shots with regrams of celebrities and well-known beauty names using or wearing their products, with fewer behind-the-scenes or selfie shots. Sephora’s Twitter shares product news and store events while repurposing those product shots, with a lot of the same content tailored differently for Facebook. Finally their Pinterest is a smorgasbord of products, how-tos, inspiration, and event-specific versions of how-tos and inspiration (prom hair, anyone?).

What’s the takeaway here? Sephora has done their homework and come up with a visual content strategy that is on brand across platforms, but also speaks to the specific aesthetics of each and the audience they’re trying to reach in each place. Tumblr is a well-executed yet accessible digital glossy, Instagram is more polished but still throws in a few behind-the-scenes shots, Pinterest has every how-to you could want categorized and organized, while Twitter and Facebook share the basic news. It makes sense then that Snapchat is a way to show a more relaxed version of their brand that gives followers and idea of the hands putting all of those other pieces together. It feels more intimate, like they’re sharing it just with you, the more dedicated fans who follow them there.

Anything else?

Yes, and it’s still a big one: Let your audience know you’re on Snapchat on every other platform you have a presence on and be sure you pick a handle that’s the same as your others or that’s simple to search for and/or figure out, like YourBrandSnaps. If they don’t know you’re there, they can’t follow you!

Oh, and have fun with it. Happy snapping!

Got any questions, or know of anything that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Sarah

June 2nd, 2015 at 11:03 am

Posted in Guides,Trends

Tagged with ,

Just do it, online: How brands can provide virtual fitness support

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Everyone’s motivational style is a little different, but everyone loves getting encouragement for the hard work they do, especially if they mostly train alone for races or other sporting events. Many fitness-related brands have figured this out and work motivational and supportive content into their visual marketing. It looks a little something like this:

MotivationalVisuals

Clockwise from top left: Tone It Up on Instagram, Clif Bar on Instagram, Lululemon on Instagram, and Nike on Instagram

All of these examples hail from Instagram, but visual marketing doesn’t just exist on image-based platforms so we’ll cover some examples from other platforms as well as pointing you to some more in-depth visual content marketing advice resources.

Types of motivational visual content

As you can see from just a few Instagram examples, different brands approach motivational images a little bit differently: Some superimpose inspiring quotes or other text over images, some pair motivational images featuring regular people or well-known athletes or fitness models with inspiring captions, some run campaigns with brand-related hashtags, and some do a mixture of all of these. What remains consistent across these images are their striking, professional quality, the minimal branding present, and the tone that intends to push the viewer farther while still feeling achievable.

Any one of these types of visual content isn’t necessarily better than any of the others; it just depends on what resonates with your particular audience. Even if your audience overlaps with the audience of all of these other brands- and that’s very possible in this space- the types of visual content that perform best for you may not necessarily look just like what performs best for Nike.

So how do you figure out what works well for you? Start with these five steps:

  1. Look at best practices in the industry— and lucky for you we have examples of brands who do this well in the next section.
  2. Plan your visual approach based on a mix of best practices and where there’s room for a new approach.
  3. Test. Test different images with text and without, posted at different times, across different networks.
  4. Measure. Use tools like our Instagram Account Checkup to measure your progress, or even our Union Metrics Social Suite if you have more resources.
  5. Plan new content based on what’s performing well.

And then? Keep testing new ideas, measuring, planning, testing again, and generally repeating these steps.

So first things first, let’s look at who does it well beyond the examples at the top of this post.

Brands who do it well

All of the brands whose Instagram accounts we featured at the top of this post do well in executing professional, motivating images to support their audience in reaching their goals- and hopefully using some of their products while doing it- across platforms.

Tone It Up has a whole Pinterest board dedicated to inspiration:

Tone it Up Pinterest

 

Nike Women has a Tumblr that taps into the fitness community on that site:

Nike Women Tumblr

 

Lululemon includes motivational, supportive images in their tweets:

Lululemon Tweet

 

 

And Clif Bar shares inspiring images from their sponsored athletes on Facebook, cross-posted from their Instagram account:

Clif Bar FB

What makes these good examples?

Inspiration is all about evoking a feeling in your audience; in this case that you empathize with the struggle audience members face in their unique fitness journeys and goals. Whether an audience member is a yoga beginner or has run three triathlons, there will still be days when they are tired or don’t believe they’ll ever make it over that next plataeu. Including these kinds of motivational, inspirational images is a form of support because it says I know that feeling, I have felt it too. But oh, look at how it can be worth it. or We’re all in this together; I believe in you. This isn’t a quick fix, this is a lifestyle. 

When you can connect with your audience on an emotional level it leads to brand loyalty from them. There’s also an aspirational element in that many of these images reflect the kind of lifestyle audience members wish they had or are working to have.

Room for improvement

So here’s where brands who aren’t yet executing an established visual content marketing plan can create one that will help them stand out. You’ve seen the best practices, so start thinking hard about your brand, its values and its target audience and start asking yourself these questions:

  1. Where is there a need for something new? A new visual presentation, perhaps; video does appear in a lot of these accounts, but it has hardly been maximized yet. A new voice or tone? There isn’t a whole lot of humor present. Would that make sense for your brand? Thinking about the common elements you see in communicating a fitness lifestyle can also show you what hasn’t been done yet.
  2. Is there a part of the fitness community that isn’t being reached? There’s one post about a visually impaired runner (we realize the irony of including that in a post about visual content marketing, but representation across audiences is important to keep in mind) but what about other disabled athletes? Consider plus-sized athletes or other underrepresented and underserved audiences; they’re hungry for quality products and brands who support them.
  3. What does your brand do that can fill that need? Even if your products don’t immediately cater to niche markets, think creatively about how your products could be used in new ways, tweaked to meet new needs, or even upgraded. Or simply how you can communicate an inclusive fitness lifestyle message across target audiences.

The bottom line

It’s about communicating that you’re supportive of your target audience’s lifestyle. Create a manifesto- like Sport England did for #ThisGirlCan- and work from it.

Written by Sarah

May 26th, 2015 at 10:50 am

Take a look at our new visual content marketing guide

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Planning a comprehensive visual content marketing strategy across social channels is overwhelming. Let us help. For free.

How?

Just download our guide to creating impactful visual content for any social channel and revel in 18 pages of research and insights.

Okay, but what does it discuss, exactly?

Our new 18-page visual content marketing guide covers best practices and tips for creating the most impactful visual content for any social media channel. From traditionally text-based channels like Twitter to channels that put photos and videos first like Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and Pinterest, as well as mixed-media channels like Tumblr and Facebook. It answers questions like how to use images or animated GIFs or videos, the technical specifications to create the most suitable visual for a particular channel, which formats shine where, and much more.

Here’s an excerpt about best practices for visuals on Twitter:

“We recommend including visual content in at least some of your tweets for a variety of reasons. First, tweets with images take up more than twice as much vertical space in the timeline as tweets without images. So you’re getting more timeline real estate by including an image than with text alone. Second, we’ve seen evidence that suggests that tweets with images in them get more engagement in the form of retweets, replies and clicks. They’re great for grabbing attention and let you say more than words on their own. “

It’s easy to see how much more attention-grabbing the tweets with images are, and yet how many tweets don’t include them.

Okay, you’ve convinced me. What was that link again?

Just go here. Happy reading.

Written by Sarah

May 21st, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Analytics and other industries: Where else can data shine?

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It’s the people that make a company what it is and nobody knows those people better than the People Operations Manager. We’ve tapped ours, Elisabeth Giammona, to write a series of posts about us, our industry, the challenges of people ops, and more. Let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter at @UnionMetrics.

Courtesy the Found Animals Foundation on Flickr. Used with Creative Commons License.

Pictured: People Operations Assistant Manager. Image courtesy the Found Animals Foundation on Flickr. Used with Creative Commons License.

It probably doesn’t come as a shock that as an analytics provider, we love data! While we focus on measuring likes, reblogs and followers, we find it just as cool that many other industries know the value of capturing and analyzing data in their respective areas of focus. Data analytics is becoming increasingly important in areas across organizations and one that has great potential is in the field of people operations (or “human resources,” if you prefer the traditional).

Union Metrics’ products allow companies to analyze community engagement on social media, but we know that capturing engagement within an existing group or company can have important outcomes. Even though conversations about people operations goals and results are traditionally thought of as more qualitative, there are plenty of quantitative metrics that leaders can use to understand how people are working and which programs may or may not be contributing to individual and company successes.

So what types of metrics can a top-notch people operations team measure? How about starting with employee productivity, performance and retention? With insights into these critical components, a company can start to discern if employees have the tools and resources needed to effectively complete their jobs, or if adjustments to the environment or more input from managers could be helpful. These metrics provide clarity around if existing conditions are working or if it might be time to make a change to keep people and company goals on track.

Then add some metrics related to specific programs like benefits, wellness or daily perks, and you’re on your way to better understanding employee contributions, and how happy employees are in their jobs alongside which benefits are meaningful and worth keeping and which can go. Taking analytics one step further, companies can even leverage data to predict possible future outcomes and the effectiveness of new programs earlier in the research and procurement process.

What else do we like about people operations analytics? It modernizes the approach to understanding what is working and what isn’t as it relates to the human capital components of organizations, and talent is the lifeblood of any organization. This isn’t yesterday’s slow approach of annual company surveys; people operations metrics provide real-time data that allow the HR team to make meaningful decisions across an organization, rather than just relying on outdated information or hunches.

Measuring employee and team metrics might not sound as glamorous as monitoring likes around the latest and greatest cat GIF, but having data that keeps companies smart about individual and group performance can shape plans that keep employees engaged and the business running. And we are a team that loves to keep running.

Written by Sarah

May 20th, 2015 at 11:24 am

Posted in Features,Trends

Tagged with , ,

5 tips for visual branding in video on social media

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Still not recommended for your video content strategy. Image via Alexandre van de sande on Flickr; used with Creative Commons license

The rising popularity of video across social media means you’re probably doing more of it and you want to be sure your videos are as recognizable to your brand as the rest of your content is.

Designing a cohesive visual style is a lot like finding your voice in writing; it might vary a bit in tone across platforms depending on the audience you’re writing to in each place, but overall you want people to be able to recognize when it’s you. With that in mind, here are some tips for realizing a cohesive visual brand across social media channels.

1. Do your research.

Who’s your competition and what themes stand out from their visual branding? What about brands or personal brands you admire? Take a look at a few accounts and take notes on what you like about their styles- intentional or not- and think about how to apply it to your own.

2. Consider your resources.

Some of the things you identified in the previous point might be impossible if you’ve got a team of just yourself and $0 in the budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still tie things together. It can be as simple as choosing a few visual cues to repeat or finding a design overlay that matches your branding. See the next point for more on this.

3. Decide on a common element.

Will it be the same host in your videos every time, either by face or voice? Different hosts, but a carefully chosen background? (Like John Green’s salon on the Mental Floss YouTube channel; a very identifiable background despite different hosts.) The same filter used in post-processing along with your logo? Find a common thread that will tie your work together when someone is looking at your video content as a whole, and that makes it easily recognizable out in the wilds of the Internet.

4. Consider what you’ve already created.

If older video content (say your Vine account or first run at a YouTube channel) has low engagement and doesn’t match the new style you have in mind, you can consider editing your account page and/or removing pieces from the resources page on your website altogether and starting fresh. Otherwise on a more casual platform like Instagram you can show how your brand has evolved, visually and otherwise, over time. That highlights the authenticity to your work that can’t be manually produced.

5. Test, measure, test, repeat.

The advice we’ll almost always give: Decide what your goals are for the videos on each platform you’re going to tackle, then measure and plan new content going forward based on what’s working. Test new approaches you can think of, measure those, repeat.

Last but never least? Have fun with it. Your audience will be able to tell.

Image via Alexandre van de sande on Flickr; used with Creative Commons license.

Written by Sarah

May 5th, 2015 at 9:11 am