Social Media

 

 

Social Media Marketing & Influencers; Download Facebook Marketing Tutorial

When I was doing part time marketing in early 80’s, I popularized the concept of Early Adopters. I read the book Diffusion of Innovations and hence borrowed the term from Professor Everett M. Rogers who was a communication scholar, sociologist, writer, and teacher. He originated the diffusion of innovations theory and introduced the term early adopter. I only made it popular.

Early Adopters of a technology were those who risked their money and bought the very first of everything not knowing how good it might be. This was in their DNA. For manufacturers reaching the very first buyers or early adopters was the key to a successful launch of a technology or product or service. This is almost 15 years before the Internet. Finding Early Adopters for Branding and Marketing was very difficult prior to Internet and Social Media. Social Media has facilitated this search tremendously.

In very similar ways, Social Media Influencers are the same as Early Adopters or at least their fans and followers believe they are. These days they don’t even have to risk their money. Companies will be glad to send them free products to test and influence others to buy them. Example is a toy tester on YouTube. This is a very powerful marketing concept. Social Media is growing very fast and I believe there are tons of good article on the Internet. I have selected a few depicting my future Social Media Strategy. Notice you still have to create content. Our strategy for creating content to foster Intrinsic Motivation will not change.

Alex Katiraie

Facebook Ads Funnel is one of the most powerful, evergreen marketing strategies that will help generate new leads, increase ROI and grow your business.

 

There’s no doubt that Facebook Ads are a powerhouse when it comes to generating both leads and sales. However, the chances of someone buying your product or service the first time they see your ad or engage with your brand are quite slim.

To get people actually converting on your core offer, you need multiple touchpoints. And you need a funnel to move prospects from one point to the next.

Unfortunately, often DIY marketers overlook the potential of Facebook funnels because they seem too complex. Also, with so many moving parts, it can be confusing and easy to mess up.

To set you up for success, here’s how to create a perfect Facebook Ads funnel to boost your conversions and maximize your ROI.

What is a Facebook Ads funnel

Facebook Ads funnel is a sequence of ad campaigns designed to take users along the buyer’s journey, from complete strangers to paying customers.

Technically speaking, the Facebook Ads funnel consists of multiple campaigns with multiple ads that include different value propositions delivered to the right audience at the right moment.

facebook ads funnel infographic

The Facebook Ads funnel consists of three main stages:

  • Awareness – Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
  • Consideration – Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
  • Conversion/Decision – Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

This is followed by the Post-Purchase stage where your goal is to turn existing buyers into loyal customers and even brand advocates. This increases your customer lifetime value (CLV) and radically improves your advertising profitability, as explained in our PPC guide.

That’s our 3+1 Facebook Ads funnel design.

Facebook Ads allow you to target users at every stage of the buyer’s journey:

  1. Strangers (cold audience) – Those not aware of your brand and products/service
  2. Prospects (warm audience) – People that are aware of you and have shown some form of interest
  3. Leads (hot audience) – Highly interested users that shared their contact info and want to learn more or try your product/service
  4. Customers – Buyers of your products/service
  5. Loyal Promoters – Delighted customers that love your products/service so much they buy from you regularly, as well as share and promote your brand (for free).

Facebook is one of the rare marketing channels that allows you to build a full-funnel in just one platform.

You can do this by moving users from one stage of the funnel to the next and showing them different ads that resonate at each step of the buyer’s journey.

IMPORTANT: Although Facebook’s very powerful, you should never put all your eggs in one basket. For best results aim for an omnichannel marketing approach which numerous studies prove to bring the best results.

A Facebook Ads funnel will potentially increase your conversion rates, grow sales and even save money on advertising.

Without a Facebook funnel, you’d be wasting ad dollars pitching your products/service to cold audiences that are just not going to convert.

Many inexperienced marketers try Facebook Ads, run it for a while and give up once they see the acquisition costs are too high or they’re not getting enough conversions.

The problem is that they’re going straight for the sale, pitching products to complete strangers. The goals are completely misaligned with the audience as most users aren’t ready to buy after just one ad.

 

Why most users aren’t ready to buy after just one ad

Most users aren’t going to convert on your core offer (buy from you) after just one Facebook ad. That’s because they’re just introduced to your brand for the first time. They still don’t know you, don’t trust you and probably don’t care about your brand yet.

You may be tempted to go straight for the sale with just one ad, however, that’s unlikely to work.

While sales are the ultimate goal, very few will buy your product/service the first time they see your ad. High-value conversions typically happen once a user interacts with your brand over multiple touchpoints.

People on Facebook and Instagram aren’t actively looking for products to buy. Instead, they’re socializing with friends, reading the news or watching funny cat videos.

cat video on facebook

Your ads are an interruption of that experience. That’s why you need a scroll-stopping ad that’s going to grab users’ full attention.

But even so, if you do manage to grab attention, don’t expect users to immediately buy from you. Remember, they still don’t know nor trust you enough to spend their hard-earned cash.

The reason for this lies in the fundamentals of human psychology you see every day.

Imagine you’re meeting a girl you like at a party.

You wouldn’t try to go in for the kiss straight away. At least I hope not.

You’d get rejected or even slapped.

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via GIPHY

To stand a chance, you need to win her affection. You need to woo her.

So, first, grab her attention, introduce yourself and strike up a conversation.

Then if she’s into you and shows interest, ask for her number.

Next, go out on a date or two.

And finally, if you manage to win her over, go in for the kiss.

Replace the party with Facebook, dates with ad campaigns, and a kiss with a sale, and you see how the Facebook Ads funnel unfolds.

The analogy continues even after the first kiss (sale). If you’re a good kisser she’s going to brag about you to all her friends (brand advocacy).
And if you’re a keeper, she’ll become your lifelong partner (customer loyalty).

Ok, enough with the love advice. Let me show you how to build a perfect Facebook Ads sales funnel for your business.

 

How to create a perfect Facebook Ads funnel

Building a perfect Facebook Ads funnel is the process of mapping out and configuring your Facebook campaign sequence across the buyer’s journey. From attracting and warming up cold audiences all the way to converting them into delighted customers.

The funnel building process includes choosing the right Facebook campaign objective, targeting the right audience and using optimal ad format and messaging that resonate at each stage of the funnel.

IMPORTANT: Ads on Facebook and Instagram belong to the same advertising platform – Facebook Ads. That’s why you’ll see ad examples from both social networks.

3X Your Business in 90 Days

Get an unfair advantage with our powerful 3-step funnel strategy and learn how to increase leads and sales by 300% fast.

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Stage 1: TOFU – Turn Strangers into Prospects

At the Top of the Funnel (TOFU) or the Awareness stage, your Facebook ad goal is to attract new audiences.

Unless you’re a household brand like Nike, IKEA or Coca Cola, these new audiences are complete strangers to your business. That’s why we call them “cold audience;” they don’t know you, don’t trust you, and aren’t interested yet.

If you want to warm up these cold audiences and convert strangers into prospects, you need to educate them about the “life-changing” benefits of your products/service.

Instead of starting your funnel with a Conversion objective, raise awareness and make people realize they need your product/service. Do this by highlighting their interests, needs and problems, and how you can solve all that.

Focus your ads on the unique benefits you offer. Make this stage informational and educational.

Comedy works great at this stage as well.

Casper, a mattress company, subtly shows how awesome the mattresses are without coming off salesy.
casper mattress video ad on facebook

The mattress is so good that star athletes like John Tavares take the whole concept of “eat, breathe and sleep hockey” to a whole new level by sleeping at the rink on one of them.

Also, be sure not to ask for too much at this stage.

It’s way too early for asking users to convert for a free trial, demo, quote or consultation. Even though it’s all free, most people will hesitate because giving up contact information in exchange for freebies is still too much of a commitment for a complete stranger.

However, depending on your business model and target audience, a free downloadable like a report, e-book or checklist can work well even in the Awareness stage.

Make your offer as non-threatening as possible.

And don’t worry about not getting many sales yet. All efforts at this stage will set up a strong foundation for later phases and boost your conversion rates when it matters the most.

 

a) Audience targeting for the Awareness stage

In the Awareness stage, you’re trying to reach completely new users. For the most part, you should use the following two types of Facebook Audiences:

  • Saved Audience
  • Lookalike Audience

Saved Audience is perfect for prospecting because it allows you to target users based on their demographics, location, interests, behaviour, etc.
create a saved audience on facebook

For instance, you can target women between 25-55, who live in Canada and are interested in dog grooming.

Use all the information you know about your ideal customer when building out a ‘Saved Audience’ for prospecting.

But remember, you also want to start with relatively broad targeting to reach as many people as you can and allow the Facebook algorithm to work its magic.

The other type of audience you should use for the Awareness stage is a Lookalike Audience of your past converters.

If you already have some customer data from before, Facebook can find other users that are similar to your past buyers. This is a very powerful technique as it can help you reach new people that are more likely to convert.

create a lookalike audience on facebook

You can create a Lookalike Audience from your existing customers or site visitors.

Also, you can create a Lookalike Audience that is similar to your most valuable customers based on their lifetime value (LTV or CLV).

 

b) Top of the Funnel campaign objectives

Choosing your Facebook campaign objective determines what goal (or action) you want Facebook to optimize for. The best campaign objectives for the Awareness stage are:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • Video Views
  • Messages

top of the funnel facebook ad objectives

Your initial goal might not be your ultimate conversion goal, but a cue that helps you reach users who sign up or buy and weed out low-quality traffic.

Avoid objectives such as Conversions, Catalog Sales and Lead Generation during the Awareness stage, as they don’t tend to work well with cold audiences.

Since your ads won’t convert well and because there’s a higher demand for these objectives, it will also end up costing you more.

It’s best to focus on micro-conversions such as reach, traffic and video views in the Awareness stage.

Be specific about the immediate goal you want your audience to accomplish and choose your objective accordingly.

No matter how small or insignificant it may seem for your bottom-line, a good combination of the right audience and a corresponding objective will lay the groundwork that will pay off in the later stages many times over.

 

c) Optimal ad type for the Awareness stage

Since cold audiences are completely new to your brand, you want to use Facebook ad formats that instantly grab attention and embed in users’ minds.

Ad types that are proven to work the best in the Awareness stage are:

  • Video ads
  • Collection ads
  • Image ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Instant Experience ads

One of the best ways to start the buyer’s journey is with a Facebook video ad.

Videos are an excellent ad format because they allow you to introduce your brand and highlight the unique benefits of your products/service in an engaging way.

Video ads are a perfect scroll-stopper for cold audiences that see your brand for the first time. And focusing your video ads on your unique value proposition can leave a strong first impression.

Daily Life’s Facebook ad shows a burning candle with a simple message “Do you feel burnt out?” to spark curiosity.

instagram video ad of a burning candle

Tailored Athlete uses video to capture the eyes of complete strangers by showing off how their shirts and jeans fit perfectly.

tailored athlete video ad on instagram

The Facebook ad highlights that the jeans are so comfortable and stretchy that you can even do backflips in them.

Telling a compelling story about what makes your product/service awesome and unique will provide a memorable experience. So, next time users see your ads (in later funnel phases), your brand will be instantly recognizable.

But there’s another critical benefit of using videos for your initial interaction with cold audiences.

Facebook Ads funnel that initiates with a video (aka Video Funnels) provides a unique opportunity to retarget an audience based on how much of a video they watched.

It’s perfect for moving users to the next stage of the funnel.

create a custom audience based on video views on facebook

You can create a Custom Audience based on people that have watched 25% or 50% of your video which will be used for the next stage, Consideration.

When you choose Video View objective Facebook charges you on a CPM (cost per thousand) basis, which is a fraction of the cost of running other campaign types.

Video-based campaigns allow you to reach a vast audience, embed your brand into users’ minds and lower your customer acquisition costs (CAC).

And don’t be intimidated by creating and editing a video. You can use simple tools like Canva, Offeo and Animoto to create your video ads.

You can also repurpose your Live Facebook Videos. Hell, you can even use Facebook’s Video Creation Kit to turn still images into video ads.
facebook video creation kit

Collections ads, on the other hand, allow you to combine the power of video and images to tell an immersive story, as well as show off your products, or highlight key features.

Klein Watches uses collection ads to depict a lifestyle of someone wearing its watches, while also showing off different watch styles.
collection ad on facebook
If you don’t have videos, image and carousel ads will also work well in the Awareness stage.
carousel ad on facebook advertising a travel agency

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to create new Custom Audiences based on users that engaged with a specific image or carousel ad.

Just be sure to use appropriate ad copy and CTA that sounds less threatening to cold audiences.

 

d) Best ad copy, CTA and offer for cold audiences

When advertising to cold audiences you need to be patient. Go easy on your prospects.

Use Facebook ads to get noticed, introduce your brand and warm up those complete strangers. Get them interested.

Provide useful, engaging and fun content with offers that don’t require users to do too much work.

Some good examples of Awareness stage offers include getting users to:

  • Watch a video
  • Visit your website
  • Take a quiz
  • Check out your product page
  • Read a blog post or a guide, etc.

Any action that doesn’t require commitment is a good fit for cold audiences. Another reason why those video views, mentioned in the previous section, will get you great results.

Even a free giveaway can be a tough ask for cold audiences if it requires giving up contact info. So, tread carefully.

Also, make sure your Facebook ads communicate the need for your product/service. Focus your ad copy on unique features and benefits instead of directly pitching like a door to door salesman.

Use this ad from Fresh Cove as a fine example.
awareness stage facebook ad advertising the benefits of fresh cove underware

There’s no pitching. The Instagram ad only spotlights the value proposition: odour resistant, natural moisture management properties and enhanced breathability.

There’s no mention of price, discounts or other sales pitches, just a compelling statement:

“Your manhood deserves the best.”

Hard to argue that!

This Facebook ad by Bellabeat asks the question:

“What if one jewelry piece could change your life?!”
facebook ad promoting benefits as part of an awareness campaign

Basically, all these ad examples don’t ask for anything more than for users to click and learn more.

While we’re on the subject, some proven Facebook Ads CTAs for Top of the Funnel are:

  • Learn More
  • Watch More
  • See Menu
  • Listen Now
  • Send Message

If you have paid attention to all the examples so far, you probably noticed a pattern: most CTAs in the Awareness stage include the “Learn now” button.

That’s because it’s the least intimidating call-to-action text for cold audiences.

In some instances, you can also try CTAs like “shop now,” “download,” and “sign up.” So, be sure to A/B test your call-to-action buttons to find the one that resonates best with your cold audience.

One thing you should definitely avoid during the Awareness stage is talking about the price in your Facebook ads.

Pitching your products directly to cold audiences isn’t going to work. Remember, these people are complete strangers to your brand, and being too salesy at this stage will only drive them off.

Save your higher-commitment offers for the next two stages.

 

Stage 2: MOFU – Turn Prospects into Leads

In the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), your goal is to turn prospects into leads by collecting their contact information for further nurturing.

Use warmed up audiences from the previous stage and get them interested enough to want to try out your product/service.

You want prospects to consider buying your products, hence the name Consideration stage.

Ideally, prospects should come to your website or landing page, get exposed to your core offer (products/service) and leave their contact info. So, make sure you have a professionally designed website with optimized user experience.

The Consideration stage is a good time to be more direct and ask for users’email in exchange for something of value, like a downloadable pdf, special offer, free sample or trial, webinar, etc.
otraport consideration ad advertising free guide

In this stage, it’s also a good practice to have a dedicated landing page optimized for lead capturing.

Ontraport has a dedicated squeeze page where users can leave their email in exchange for the free business optimization guide.

ontraport free guide landing page

Capturing lead information is essential. You can use email remarketing to nurture leads and gradually bring them closer to the purchase.

Prospects are still far away from making a buying decision, so be careful not to scare them off by being too pushy.

The Consideration stage is also an opportunity to build trust.

Prospects that try your products or download your lead magnets are getting up close and personal with your brand. But even more so, they get a glimpse of what it’s like to be your customer. So, ensure it’s a smooth experience.

 

a) Audience targeting for the Consideration stage

In the Consideration stage, target audiences that previously engaged with your Top of the Funnel ads. These users have expressed an interest either by clicking through and visiting your site or by watching your video ads.

Best Facebook audiences for the Consideration stage are:

  • Custom Audiences
  • Lookalike Audiences

Create a Custom Audience of users that have previously clicked on your Facebook ads, visited your landing pages and shown some interest in your product/service.

Include people that you just attracted in the previous funnel step.

create facebook custom audience based on traffic or engagement for consideration stage

Use Custom Audiences to retarget to users that have visited your website, interacted with your Facebook Page, etc.

Now is the time to target users that have watched a significant portion of your video ads (ideally 25 or 50%).
create facebook audience based on people that watched 50% of a video
You can also target users who have opened your Instant Experience or Collection ads.
create facebook audience based on people that opened a collection ad on facebook

Don’t forget to build a Lookalike Audience that’s going to target Facebook users that are most similar to the ones from your Custom Audience.

Also, once your Middle of the Funnel campaigns starts getting some traction, create a Lookalike Audience that will find new users similar to ones that tend to convert on your lead forms.

 

b) Middle of the Funnel campaign objectives

In the Middle of the Funnel or the Consideration stage, you want to turn prospects into leads by collecting their contact info. That’s why you want to choose campaign objectives that focus on lead generation, including:

  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • Lead Generation
  • Messages
  • Conversions

facebook ads funnel objectives for the consideration stage

Traffic objectives can work pretty well if you want to drive more clicks and visitors to a high-performing landing page or a product page.

Messages objective is good if your business model involves direct communication with potential customers.

Facebook recently introduced a new Lead Generation objective that unlocks Lead Form Ads. This ad format allows users to fill out a form directly from your ad, without leaving Facebook.
facebook lead form ads

Lead Form ads provide a frictionless user experience and could potentially increase your sign-up rates.

They can also save you the trouble of creating a dedicated landing page.

However, these ads are only available on mobile. Plus, they may not offer all the customization options you’d want.

Finally, if you’re getting good results with your MOFU campaigns, you can test out the Conversion objective and see how it performs in terms of conversion rates and acquisition costs.

 

c) Optimal ad type for the Consideration stage

In the Consideration stage, some of the best performing ad formats are:

  • Image ads
  • Carousel ads

By far the most used Facebook ad format for the Consideration stage are image ads.

ConsenSys, a blockchain developer tool uses image ads to offer free downloadables.
facebook ad promoting a downloadable lead magnet

Other formats like Carousel can work just as well, both for e-commerce…
facebook ad promoting a sign-up for e-commerce

…and other business models, like SAAS Analytics tools.
facebook ad promoting a sign-up for a SAAS company

Things are more straightforward in the Consideration stage. At this step, prospects are already acquainted with your brand and products.

That’s why there’s not much need for complex ad formats. Keep it simple and focus on delivering the right message.

 

d) Best ad copy, CTA and offer for warm audiences

In the Consideration stage, prospects are warmed up and interested, you just have to give them a nudge to turn that interest into desire. It’s also time to aim for high-value actions like sign-ups.

To get people to submit their contact info you need an irresistible lead magnet.

Remember that what you ask in your Facebook ads should be proportional to the perceived value of what people are getting.

A freebie in exchange for a phone number or email should be a fair trade. And it will gradually build trust, which is essential for closing the deal down the line.

Proven lead magnet offers for the Consideration stage are:

  • Free trials
  • Webinars
  • Free samples
  • Special deals and discounts
  • Product demos
  • Downloadable e-books, reports, case studies, etc.
  • Giveaways

ArchiTonic invites prospects to sign up for a chance to win a masterfully designed, ergonomic office chair.
instagram ad promoting a giveaway

Axis, a company that automates your existing “dumb” window shades offers a cool discount in exchange for a sign-up.
instagram ad promoting a discount for those that sign-up

If you’re an e-commerce merchant with easy-to-understand products, you can also invite users to your product pages with a “shop now” CTA…
facebook ad promoting an e-commerce business
…and let the product page take care of the lead capture with a pop-up form.
lead capture popup on the e-commerce landing page

Just make sure to target your warm audiences with a different offer from the one you’re showing to cold audiences.

Unlike the Awareness ads, where your ad copy focused only on the features and benefits, in the Consideration stage you also want to highlight things like:

  • Social proof
  • No risk
  • The perceived value of the freebie, etc.

Lumin offers a Free 1-Month Trial of their skincare subscription service.
facebook ad promoting a free trial

The ad copy includes cues like “60,000 happy members,” “try free for 30 days” and even star ratings and a testimonial.

Since the target audience knows you better and is interested in your products/services, you can use a bit more aggressive language for your call-to-action.

Good CTA buttons for the Consideration stage include:

  • Sign up
  • Get offer
  • Download
  • Get Quote
  • Subscribe
  • Learn more
  • Book now
  • Shop now
  • Install now (for apps)

 

Stage 3: BOFU – Turn Leads into Customers

At the Bottom of your Facebook Ads Funnel, the goal is to turn leads into paying customers. Finally, it’s time to start selling directly!

In the earlier stages, you’ve introduced your brand, got users interested, and built trust with freebies and lead magnets. And now the audience is as hot as it’ll ever be.

Be sure to clearly communicate your value proposition to get leads excited and wanting your products.

You also want users to act fast, get them while their hot.

MizuTowel reinstates the unique value proposition in their BOFU Facebook ads, while at the same time offering a limited time 40% discount to create a sense of urgency.
instagram ad promoting a 40% discount

The main idea for the Conversion stage is to get prospects and leads to convert on your core offer, which means to get them buying your product or signing up for your service.

 

a) Audience targeting for the Conversion stage

Audience targeting in the Conversion stage should be very specific, focusing on Custom Audiences made up largely of your existing leads and those similar to them.

You also want to make sure to exclude any users that became customers during the earlier stages.

During the Conversion stage target the following audiences:

  • Custom Audiences (consisting of your leads)
  • Lookalike Audiences (similar to your Custom Audience)

Set up Facebook Custom Audiences to reach past website visitors, leads and people that interacted with your ads in the previous funnel stages.

You can target all website visitors, those that stayed on your site for a specific amount of time or users that visited a specific page, such as a lead magnet Thank You page.
facebook custom audience based on people that visited specific pages

Same as before, create a Lookalike Audience to extend the reach to similar users to the ones from your Custom Audience.

If you’re running an online store, choose the Catalog Sales campaign objective and you’ll be able to retarget users that viewed or added to cart but haven’t purchased yet.
facebook audience based on people that added to cart but haven't purchased
This is a powerful audience targeting strategy that can recover abandoned carts and boost your sales.

 

b) Bottom of the Funnel campaign objectives

Your Bottom of the Funnel is all about acquiring a customer. That’s why you should obviously optimize your Facebook Funnel campaigns for conversions.

Make sure to set up a Facebook Pixel with conversion tracking to pass revenue and conversion data back to your Facebook ad campaign. This helps FB understand what works and optimize campaigns for even better performance.

The main three Facebook campaign objectives to use in the Bottom of the Funnel stage are:

  • Conversions
  • Catalog Sales
  • Store Traffic

facebook ads objectives for the bottom of the funnel stage

Conversion objective is universally a good choice for BOFU campaigns since it optimizes for maximum conversions. And since at this stage your audience is already pre-heated, there’s a high chance of them converting.

Catalog Sales objective works great for e-commerce businesses that integrate their product feed with Facebook to track “add to cart” actions, purchases, abandoned carts and more.

You can upload your WooCommerce product catalogue to Facebook using a simple plugin like the official Facebook for WooCommerce.

The Catalog Sales objective optimizes your campaign to reach as many sales on your e-commerce as possible. It also allows you to create Dynamic Product Ads which we’ll cover in the next section.

Don’t forget to monitor your conversion performance, Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), revenue and other KPIs to get a complete overview of your Facebook Funnel results.

Finally, the Store Visits objective is good for merchants running physical stores that want to attract foot traffic to their shop.

 

c) Optimal ad type for the Conversion stage

The best performing Facebook ad formats for the Conversion stage are:

  • Image ads
  • DPA (Dynamic Product Ads)
  • Carousel ads

Image ads are a good fit if you’re selling one core product or service. No need to complicate things, focus your campaign on that single product.

Deliver Carousel ads to show new or bestselling products to recent website visitors.
facebook carousel ads that promote a discount

Dynamic Product Ads automatically show the right products to people who have expressed interest in them.

For example, if a shopper views a coffee mug, an umbrella and a pen on your e-commerce, the next time around, Facebook will dynamically retarget that user with these exact products.

Like Bunny uses Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) to remind you of the items you were browsing. To bolster the offer, there’s also a special, 50% limited time discount.
facebook DPA ads that promote a product user added to cart but hasn't purchased

Ingenious ad copy including the question “Is this your style?” hints that the exact outfit you were looking at before is available and waiting for you.

 

d) Best ad copy, CTA and offer for hot audiences

Hot audiences are close to making the final purchase. You just need to give them a small nudge.

Your ad messaging should be specific, direct and to the point.

Boost users’ confidence and reinforce their buying decision. Make your offer irresistible!

No more sweet-talking, in the Conversion stage it’s time to highlight the value of the deal. Ideally, your ad copy should include things like:

  • Price (especially if it’s an attractive price)
  • Shipping options (i.e. free shipping, fast delivery)
  • Special deals and discounts
  • Amount saved
  • Free gift
  • Social proof
  • Sense of urgency
  • Risk-free (guarantee) purchase, etc.

Make sure to address any last objections potential customers might have. Whether it’s the price, shipping cost or any other purchasing obstacle.

My Perfect Cosmetics company reinforces buyer’s confidence with a 40% discount and a full money-back guarantee.
instagram add promoting a 40% discount and a money back guarantee

You also don’t want potential customers to hesitate and overthink your offer. That’s why it’s critical to create a sense of urgency.

Mentioning things like how long the offer lasts, or limited quantity will deliver the final blow and get you that coveted sale.

Strong CTAs work best at the Conversion stage:

  • Shop now
  • Get offer
  • Sign up
  • Subscribe

Be confident in your ad messaging and you’ll have the customer in the bag.

But a sale doesn’t mean the end of the buyer’s journey. It’s just the start of a new relationship.

 

Stage 4: Post-purchase– Increase your CLV

Your best customers are the ones you already have. Don’t neglect existing customers, nurture them with post-purchase Facebook ads.

Turning existing buyers into loyal customers and promoters will increase the customer lifetime value (CLV) and also generate new referrals through word of mouth promotion.

In the Post-purchase phase use Facebook ads to incentivize two main actions:

  • Repeat purchases
  • Word of mouth promotion

Existing customers are the most profitable since it’s cheap and easy to re-acquire them.

When a customer buys repeatedly it increases the CLV in relation to the acquisition costs (CAC). A better CLV to CAC ratio means the customer is more profitable.

customer lifetime value vs customer acquisition cost ratio

But even more so, these loyal customers can take away some of the heavy liftings and promote your brand to their social network. And people trust reviews and word of mouth promotion.

This phase is the most straightforward.

Since existing customers already bought from you, you don’t need to bend backwards to grab their attention. Just show them some appreciation and offer a good incentive for a repeat purchase.

 

a) Audience targeting for Post-purchase stage

Post-purchase audience targeting is based on just one type of Facebook audience – Custom Audience.

Build a new Custom Audience based on your previous buyers.

You can get even more granular with your setup and segment your existing customers based on CLV data.
facebook audience based on a customer list

With CLV segmentation you can increase the budget for re-engaging the most valuable customers and allocate a smaller amount for the rest.

 

b) Post-purchase campaign objectives

Your Post-purchase phase goal is to get repeat purchases, so conversion-based objectives will work best. Depending on your business model, focus on the following three:

  • Conversions
  • Catalog Sales
  • Store Traffic

Using these objectives Facebook will optimize your campaigns to generate as many repeat sales as possible within your budget.

For even better performance, optimize this campaign for Value to receive higher-value purchases and improve your return on ad spend (ROAS).
facebook ad delivery optimization based on CLV

 

c) Optimal ad type for the Post-purchase stage

In terms of ad format, in the Post-purchase phase it’s best to use:

  • Video ads
  • Image ads
  • Carousel ads
  • DPA (Dynamic Product Ads)

Video ads can work great if you want to introduce a new product you just launched to existing customers. A video is the best choice for explaining the benefits and features.

Similarly, Carousel and DPA ads can show off new product collections, especially useful for e-commerce merchants that sell multiple products.

Image ads work best for promoting a special offer for existing customers.

 

d) Best ad copy, CTA and offer for existing customers

Existing customers know you well, they trust you and hopefully love your products/service. You also know a lot about them and their preferences. Use your Facebook ad messaging to establish a closer relationship, keep things personal and light.

One of the best ways to make your customers/clients happy is to show them you care and provide high-quality service.

Delight your loyal customers with free gifts, exclusive offers, special discounts, referral incentives, etc.

Post-purchase Facebook ads work great in the following cases:

  • When you’re launching a new product
  • Asking for reviews and feedback
  • Incentivizing social media shares
  • Asking for referrals
  • Encouraging user-generated content (UGC) which you can use in your promos
  • Providing more useful content on how to use your products/service
  • Reminding users when their supplies are about to run out

An essential Post-purchase tactic is to target people when their product is about to run out. Use Facebook ads to remind existing customers to come back to your site and reorder.

Goli knows when it’s time for a refill. This Facebook ad is aimed at loyal customers that are about to run out of their supply.

facebook ad that promotes discount to existing customers

A 10% coupon is a good enough incentive to get delighted customers coming back for more.

For this to work, configure a special Custom Audience that will target users who made a purchase for example 30 or 45 days ago, depending on how much supplies last.

Here is an example: if the package you’re selling is a one month’s supply of tea, create a campaign that targets a ‘45-day purchaser’ audience and excludes a 25-day purchaser audience.
facebook ad audience targeting based on existing customers that might be interested in restocking the product

In terms of CTAs, use the same types as in the Conversion stage:

  • Shop now
  • Get offer
  • Sign up
  • Subscribe

 

How to move users from one stage of the funnel to the next

Moving users through your Facebook funnel is done by creating Custom Audiences that include and exclude users based on the actions they take.

For instance, when creating your Conversion stage Custom Audience, you can choose to include users that visited your product page or landing page and exclude those that already converted.
including and excluding users from facebook custom audience to move users along the facebook ads funnel

Excluding users is extremely important for your Facebook funnel.

Without the Exclude function, you’ll end up showing ads from all previous funnel stages even to users that reached the Bottom of the Funnel. That would be a complete mess and a waste of your ad dollars.

Remember to always exclude the people who have already converted during one funnel stage from the current stage’s remarketing audience; they’ll be moved to the next stage.

 

Conclusion

The Facebook Ads Funnel is an extremely powerful marketing strategy. With it, you can reach new customers with the right ad at the right moment, and boost conversions, generate more sales and grow your business.

Depending on your business model and target market, you may need more touch points for each step of the funnel.

You also may need multiple funnels to promote different products, discounts, locations, etc.

Tracking how people move through your funnels can quickly become confusing and complicated.

Be meticulous and map out the entire funnel journey before configuring your Facebook campaigns.

If you have any questions or comments, drop a line down below.

Or, if you need help building your Facebook funnel, reach out to the pros. Contact us to learn how we can help elevate your business. ?

Why Influencer Marketing Pays Off for Small Businesses
Small-business owners face a massive challenge when it comes to marketing their companies and products. Without the proper tools or experience, they can end up spending large budgets with no guaranteed return. The typical customer sees countless ads every day, across a huge array of channels.
The chances of a small business successfully cutting through that noise are slim. The way small businesses thrive is through relationships, and influencer marketing could be the best option. Word-of-mouth marketing is the oldest and most valuable way of convincing people to buy a product or service. Being encouraged and reassured by a trusted source has more value than any other sort of advertising. Social-media influencers have proven rapport with their followers, easily affecting the buying behaviors of those who subscribe to their feeds.
With carefully chosen, highly relevant influencers, a small business owner can target the most relevant consumers for a fraction of the cost of traditional media. Here are some of the advantages:
1. Create a cost-effective campaign.
An influencer-marketing campaign is extremely flexible, meaning that your initial investment can be quite small and a successful program can immediately be scaled up.
2. Build brand loyalty fast.
A startup does not have the benefit of years of customer relationships and brand loyalty. By having an influencer create native content with your brand’s message, you can build equity with potential customers more quickly.
Thus, you leverage the longstanding relationship an influencer has with an audience based on a crucial pre-established trust. You are essentially being introduced to the person’s followers with an implicit credibility: This gives a company a major advantage, especially when paired with the vital market research that social media can provide on consumers (from “likes,” shares and comments).
3. Achieve highly targeted advertising.
The traditional model of attempting to reach a large, broad audience can be very expensive and inefficient. With an influencer-marketing platform, you can create a highly targeted campaign by zeroing in on very specific variables, like the geography of consumers or an age group. For instance, pairing with an influencer who has a dense following in a particular geographic location and a high concentration of millennial followers could make a campaign more focused and budget sensitive. My company, InstaBrand recently executed a campaign for a jewelry company to promote a highly curated collection for men. By carefully selecting key influencers on Instagram whose followings were most likely to appreciate the brand, the campaign resulted in a fourfold increase in online sales. Reaching the right people is sometimes far more important than reaching a lot of people.
4. Return on investment is easily trackable.
With influencer marketing, return on investment is highly quantifiable. With a wide array of metrics available to your business, you can appraise the success of an influencer-driven campaign. Follower acquisition is an important key performance indicator: A follower is essentially a potential customer who can be targeted and advertised to at no additional cost. A potential consumer is more likely to become a purchasing customer if he or she elected to hear from you. You can then draw on a wide array of metrics to track the effectiveness of individual posts, seeing how well followers react to the content and if it translates to sales. Hashtags and promo codes let you monitor sales, usage and click-through rates, making them valuable indicators of a return on investment.
5. Create premium content without paying model or a photographer.
Content creation takes labor and resources from talented individuals, and a small-business owner might find it best to outsource this. Influencers are also major content creators, not just distributors. Pairing up with a fashion influencer will not only bring you marketing, but professionally produced photos that you can repurpose. Next time you’re considering traditional advertising for your small business, take a stab at influencer marketing and track the return on investment. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
For example, take Periscope, which was recently acquired by Twitter—it allows users to give a live video broadcast of some stretch of their lives. Compare that to simply taking a video and posting it later—Periscope users collectively watch 40 years of live video each and every day. Instagram and Snapchat also support on-the-go, in-the-moment updates as opposed to late-game retrospectives, and could collectively herald in a new era of immediacy in social media. If it catches on, you can forget about scheduling all your company’s social media posts in advance. Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/09/28/the-top-7-social-media-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-2016/#4ede3cfa115b
Reward your influencer.
Rewards for your influencer need to reflect the relationship that you’re building between you two. Money is great compensation, but should be mentioned with caution. Influencers can also be paid with product, shout-outs, discounts and even commissions, if that is a good fit. Remember that you are building a relationship where the influencer should leave feeling loved, important and well-compensated for their time, effort and brand loyalty. Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/279117

7 Steps to Get Influencers to Share Your Content
Influencer marketing is one of the hottest strategies today, which means there are plenty of marketers out there wanting to build mutually beneficial relationships.

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You’ve already researched and identified your influencers (if not, read this). Now, here are seven steps to get them to share.
Related: How to Get 1,000 Visitors to Your Next Blog Post Using an Influencer Group Post
1. Share their content.
Sharing your influencer’s content is an easy way to get them to notice you. Determine what platforms they’re most active on, and focus your efforts there. You can check up on their social pages or use a social-media management tool to create a list of your influencers. That will make it easy to view and retweet their content. Add a personal touch to your sharing by creating a modified tweet that says something positive about the piece. You can also tag them in the tweet to increase the chances that they’ll see it.
2. Comment on their blog.
Engaging with your influencer on their blog is a great way to connect with them further — especially if they actively respond to comments. Say something insightful about the post that might inspire others to engage as well. Make sure you use your real name, so the influencer can recognize who you are, but don’t say anything that can be perceived as self-serving.
3. Offer to contribute to their blog
If the influencer hasn’t noticed you yet, they will if you contact them about writing a guest post. Check their website to see if they have posted guest submission guidelines, and follow them to a T. If they don’t have any guidelines listed, then reach out to them with an email requesting to contribute.
Be sure to include:

  • Who you are and what you do
  • A detailed synopsis of what you’d like to write
  • An explanation of how their audience could benefit from the piece

4. Write amazing content.
Engaging with your influencer and landing a guest post are helpful steps to building a relationship with your influencer. Now you can see if they’re interested in sharing your content. I’ve always stressed the point that quality trumps quantity — and it couldn’t be more true when you’re trying to create content that influencers will share.
Research by Moz and Buzzsumo found that the Internet has a dearth of quality content, which is why when it does appear, it’s bound to get more engagement:

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Your article should be relevant to both of your niches and be well-researched, accurate and engaging. Influencers won’t be interested in sharing rewrites of other people’s work, so be original, and offer a new perspective that will get people talking.
5. Consider mentioning them.
One easy way to get an influencer’s attention with your content is by somehow featuring them in it — especially if you didn’t manage a guest post with them before. It can be something as simple as curating a quote or highlighting positive attributes of the influencer or their brand. If it’s a high-quality, helpful endorsement, they’ll love to share it.  Mentioning an influencer in your article is a great strategy — especially for new relationships. However, you can still find success with just quality, targeted content.
6: Tell them about it.
The blogosphere and social media are crowded arenas. Even if an influencer is interested in your content, there’s no guarantee they’ll manage to find and read it on their own. It’s your job to make sure they do. If you featured them in your post, it’s totally acceptable to send them a quick email about it.
Otherwise, I definitely recommend tagging them when you share the post on Twitter. Just be sure that the post you’re tagging them in is genuinely relevant to them and their audience — otherwise it will seem like you’re fishing for shares.
7. Ask them to share.
There are only so many ways to encourage someone to share your content indirectly. If you wrote great content, built a relationship with the influencer and consistently shared their content, there’s no reason they wouldn’t be willing to share yours — unless they’re not interested in collaborating with you at all.
If that’s the case, it’s best to move on to targeting someone more aligned with your interests. If you send them an email telling them about the post, you can include a short comment at the end asking them to share if they think their audience would enjoy it. The worst thing that could happen is that they say “No,” and you take your efforts to the next influencer.
How Influencer Marketing Moves Beyond Raising Awareness
One of the biggest challenges in social-media marketing is making a direct connection between social activities and the point of sale. For the most part, social and influencer marketing are largely considered awareness-raising tactics, so effectiveness is usually measured using three main metrics: reach, impressions and engagement.
However, from awareness to familiarity and consideration, consumers at different stages of the purchase journey regularly interact with influencer content. Therefore, by working with social-media stars, brands are able to influence consumer decision-makings and ultimately shorten the sales cycle.
In traditional marketing, brands blast consumers with sales pitches and promotional messages to drive conversions. Today’s decision journey is a highly consumer-driven process where empowered customers use Internet and social media to actively seek information helpful to them. According to McKinsey, two thirds of consumer touch points with brands during the consideration phase, where people add or subtract products based on their evaluations, are customer-centric activities such as online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations.
In today’s world, here is a layer of social relevance in the modern sales funnel — brands not only need to know who their target customers are and what they like, but also who they listen to and connect with. In essence, the idea is to understand the customer so well that you know what motivates them to make a purchase and develop content to guide them toward that destination.
So how does influencer marketing fit into the whole process?
Education phase
For consumers who have only heard of your brand or seen your ads somewhere, collaborating with influencers is a great way to get them familiarize with your brand identity and product offerings. For instance, influencers can help tell a great story that instantly elevates your brand image and fosters strong brand affinity among their fans. If your products have more technical details and require more usage instructions, influencers are able to create how-to tutorials that demonstrate product benefits in an easy-to-understand way.
Consideration phase
When consumers are comparing your products to competitive ones, reviews can be make-or-break factors for their final purchase decisions. A review from an average customer is valuable, but it can never rival the reach and effectiveness of an influencer review that is well trusted by the followers. While a typical customer review evaluates a product based on an individual’s circumstances, influencers usually test a full range of products in a given category in order to offer recommendations that cover different people’s needs. Most importantly, social validation and third-party endorsement is key to captivate today’s social-savvy consumers.
Purchase phase
Offering discounts to wavering customers is probably the quickest way to convert them into sales. One way in which influencers can step in is to weave announcements about your sales events into nicely packaged posts that entice their fans to take actions. Another approach is for influencers to share promo codes — the best practice here is to always create codes unique to each influencer you are working with, so you can track whose audience respond well. This is particularly important if you are promoting on platforms such as Instagram and Vine, where direct sales attributions are not currently available due to their mobile native nature.
Other considerations
Admittedly, brands are also able to target prospects at different phases of the life cycle by producing tailored, engaging content on their own. In fact, GoPro, Red Bull, and GE are among some of the most sophisticated content marketers out there who have successfully become social influencers themselves. However, the level of trust that people have towards influencers is unparalleled — it has been shown that offers shared by trusted advocates are four to 10 times more likely to convert than those distributed by brands. Here are some tips to help you make the most of influencer marketing that aligns with the consumer purchase journey.

  • Develop relationships. Influencers usually collaborate with brands whose products they genuinely like. Turn one-off projects into long-term brand-influencer relationship by regularly interacting with influencers on social media and inviting them to your events. After all, a true brand advocate is hard to come by.
  • Encourage full disclosure. Being forthright about sponsorship details is not only compliance with FTC regulations. In fact, including a disclaimer about the relationship between brand and influencer could boost the credibility of the brand as well as the endorsement.
  • Give influencers creative freedom. Authenticity is the currency of influence. The more authentic influencers are, the more their content will resonate with their audience. If you are merely using influencers as digital billboards to broadcast your brand messages, you are being disrespectful to the influencer as well as their audience you want to reach.

 

9 Social Media Marketing Trends That Could Make or Break Your Business in 2017
Social media is always evolving, so what’s next?
That’s the question I was asked in an interview recently. This kind of question can be really easy since there are so many easy candidates – IoT, VR, and just about anything to do with Facebook.
But if you don’t want to rely on the cliches of future social technology, it can be a challenge to pick out what will matter and why. I suppose this post is somewhere in the middle and I hope it helps you think about where the substance breaks away from the shiny social media objects.
The most important thing about social media marketing isn’t always the tech. It’s the people.1
A lot of what draws marketers’ attention to social media is technology: new apps, networks and the latest features on major platforms. But the most important thing about social media marketing isn’t always the technology. It’s the people and how they use that technology to create, publish, share, interact and transact.
Social media is a dynamic of consumer behaviors driving new social technology development while at the same time, new technologies that affect consumer behaviors. It’s important for brands looking at what’s next in social media to understand this dynamic amongst their own customers and broader community.
With that dynamic cycle of people and technology in mind, here are a few directions for social media evolution I think are worth paying attention to:
1. The Facebook Internet
Facebook is dominating social media usage, video and advertising and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Along with WhatsApp messaging and predictions that Instagram will soon become the second biggest social network, many Facebook users don’t really need to leave, do they? Think about that customer expectation when developing your Facebook marketing strategy and how much you can accomplish with customer engagement before they ever even think of visiting your boring corporate website.
2. Converged Social
The combination of Microsoft and LinkedIn will create innovations that will benefit marketers in some interesting ways, especially if professional social profiles become accessible and integrated within Microsoft 365 apps. There’s more convergence to come and guesses are hot as to whether Facebook, Google or Apple will buy Twitter or if Twitter will go the way of Friendster and MySpace.
Imagine what it could mean to your content co-creation and influencer marketing efforts with the integration of the LinkedIn network to Office 365. Need an expert quote for a blog post, ebook or article? Right click.
3. Hot Video
Real-time video is the hot shot on the block right now with Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope leading the way towards social engagement with customers in ways many brands haven’t explored before. Facebook’s own Nicola Mendelsohn says in five years, Facebook will “probably” be “all video”.
Like live TV, live video presents brands some opportunities for things to go differently than planned, like Mark Zuckerberg’s inevitably comedic Q/A with Jerry Seinfeld on Facebook live that has reached over 9 million views. On the other hand, who wouldn’t trade some awkward for the reach and exposure (159m views) of aChewbacca Mom event?
If real-time video isn’t in your comfort zone, find someone who is comfortable with that kind of exposure and media creation. Then train them to be your social champion.
4. Paying to Play Social
Social Advertising will continue to rise with even more options for advertisers. Social media advertising is projected to generate $11 billion in revenue by 2017, up from just $6.1 billion in 2013. More social networks and apps will expand their advertising offerings, just look at Snapchat now inserting ads in between users’ “Stories” and Snapchat Partners, API access that will provide access to creating custom buying and management tools.
There’s no getting around the requirement for paid amplification with content on social networks. More importantly, with Facebook’s continued efforts at putting the focus on individuals over brands, companies need to think about the collective social wisdom of their employees and community for distribution vs. simply publishing on the brand social home base.
5. Dark Social
With 84% of global social shares dark to social media analytics, there’s a growing importance, but brands are challenged to measure its effectiveness in ways that synch with other social media measurement. There’s no shortage of recommendations on how to  measure dark social, but we all need more concrete direction on this and collaboration between apps, networks and platforms to make it meaningful.
6. Social Chat Bots
Again, Facebook has opened doors for a new kind of engagement and with customers’ expectation of real-time engagement, bots may be able to satisfy basic customer service and information needs for brands. Will bots be a service or communications solution for your brand? Maybe.
At a minimum, brands will need to invest in more interactive social experiences for their community and what better what to that than a neural network and some AI?
7. Mobile First
Mobile traffic now exceeds desktop traffic and 2 billion consumers worldwide are expected to own a smartphone in 2016. There’s nothing new about the importance of mobile friendliness or having apps, but the cost of ignoring mobile social media experiences for brands dragging their feet will rise dramatically. At a minimum, make sure Google thinks your site is mobile friendly and maybe, most of your customers will too.
8. Social Media Automation
“Martech Shock” extends to social media as brands look to automate and scale. The use of social media automation tools and platform features will grow to help brands with prospecting, delivering content to the right customers at the right time and engagement – all integrated with a marketing dashboard for end to end reporting of the impact social media has across the customer journey. Just don’t think this kind of solution is “plug and play”. As with CRM, analytics and marketing automation, you will need human expertise and a strategy to make the most out of your automation software investment.
9. Social Content Participation
People are empowered and motivated more than ever to co-create social contentwith brands. If a brand makes that possible, I think consumers will be incredibly interested in partnering with companies in ways that serve mutual interests.
In a way, this kind of consumer and brand collaboration is tapping into the whole user-generated content phenomenon. There are so many ways to do it, especially because of mobile devices allowing people to participate at all times with brands on topics they’re passionate about. Content can easily become an outcome of this type of participation, whether it’s a video, image or even text. Activating passionate people within a social network environment where they can co-create and participate is an exciting opportunity to scale reach, content quantity and connect with social influencers.
Here’s the thing: Sometimes social media marketing often seems doomed to become nothing more than another advertising channel, with artificial automation schemes for brands to scale the illusion of customer engagement. While that seems a bit cynical, I also think the collective power of individuals on social networks has never been greater – for content, engagement and influence. When brands and marketers can marry the wisdom and action of the crowd with technology that actually solves a real problem, I think the future of social media is brighter than ever.
How To Get Your Content Amplified By Influencers
Do your content marketing efforts need a boost? Contributor Wojtek Mazur discusses how to identify and court influencers to help amplify your message.  Creating content can be relatively simple and straightforward, but successfully getting it out there in front of the right audience is much more difficult. To get noticed on a scale as large as the internet, you need help with the amplification of your content.
A great way to reach your target audience is through entities that already exist and matter within your sphere. To achieve this effectively, though, you need to find people and platforms that are of great influence already.  Before we delve into how to identify these key players, you should really define what value you are searching for. A large part of this is understanding what “influence” means, then finding someone who embodies these very qualities.
What Is An Influencer?
In the current world of extreme content competition on the Web, influencers are those who control the authority within a particular niche and industry. Influencers are resource persons, and thus, they command a large number of engaged followers. Most importantly, a true influencer’s words are weighty, and therefore, they drive action. An influencer’s post is certain to inspire a conversation and engage the audience. This simply means they are able amplify your content, help you reach your targeted audience and more.
Don’t Let The Social Follower Numbers Fool You
First off all, a word for the wise: Don’t be fooled by large numbers. An account may have many Twitter followers or Facebook fans, but that can mean next to nothing. How many of those followers are active and committed users? It is better to look for someone with an engaged audience.
Compare two blogs, for instance — one with a huge number of followers with no user engagement or one with a moderate number of followers with a lot of comments and shares. The one with more comments and shares may very well be better, as their audience is not only reading the content but also having more active discussions on the matter in question. Do you want to share with 1,000 readers who might simply glance over your work or 100 who will readily share, discuss and relate to it?
Twitter is another great example. Retweets, favorites and replies are all huge indicators of an engaged following. The number of followers doesn’t matter if the content doesn’t resonate.
An account with tons of followers but few retweets, favorites or replies simply has followers who aren’t engaged. If there’s a high volume of content being re-shared, however, it shows an audience that’s paying attention and diving into the content already on offer.
Identifying Real Influencers
Simply following the trends in your niche or industry is a starter for identifying influencers who matter. A manual search also can help determine those whose opinions carry the most weight in the industry, influencing a large base of active and engaged users. However, there are also tools that have made the task of identifying and initiating contact with influencers a breeze.

Use The Right Tools To Research
The right tools will not only help you identify and create a list of influencers who matter within your niche, but they also can help you determine the behavioral pattern of each influencer based on historical data. This includes the kinds of posts they like or are most likely to share, the blogs they are most likely to visit, authors they follow and so on.
Knowing this type of information will put you at an advantage when trying to establish contact with such an influencer.

 

Klout

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Klout grabbed a lot of attention when it launched back in 2008, as it was one of the first networks to score its users based on social influence. The service analyzes your content on multiple major social media platforms and how it resonates with users to calculate your score within a range of 1–100. Klout is usually used for measuring your own social media impact. However, its score can be valuable if you want to get a quick overview of a given user’s social influence within your network. It also allows you to add topics of interest to your profile and to discover the top scoring experts within these particular topics.

Impactana

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The Impactana app is a very complex tool that provides you with a bunch of interesting features for influencer discovery. For starters, through researching any keyword and topic, you can see top influencer profiles, along with their scores in terms of audience reach, social buzz around them and the impact of their content.
You can also view full profiles containing detailed data about each of your influencers. This information includes email addresses, a list of all existing social profiles, websites a particular influencer is associated with and a list of content he or she has authored.
Another way of benefitting from the Impactana tool is by using a keyword or platform search to discover the most influential pieces of content on the Web. Aside from the basic metrics of social buzz, such as likes and shares, the tool provides other important user engagement metrics, such as the number of views, comments and incoming links generated by a particular piece of content.
The icing on the cake is the feature that allows you to view those who shared these pieces of content. Thanks to this, you can find those who have read and actually care about the content around your area of interest.
What Can An Influencer Do For You?
Connecting with real influencers can bring you many benefits. More than just sending traffic your way thanks to amplifying social reach to your audience, a well-respected and known voice in your industry adds quality and a stamp of authority to your brand. It works like a personal recommendation, exceptionally improving your credibility.
Additionally, by linking to your platform, making mentions of your brand or referring to your posts, an influencer can help increase your rankings in organic search results. Since this signal is one of the ranking factors search engines take into consideration, you are likely to benefit from a quality backlink from an influencer in more ways than simply reaching your target audience alone.
In his presentation, “8 Things Influencers Can Do For You,” Jay Baer named eight types of influencers, along with the functions and positive actions they take on for you and your brand.

  • The Megaphone: Amplifying your brand or content to their audience.
  • The Reporter: Covering, reviewing and reporting your brand like a journalist would.
  • The Face: Giving an identity to your brand and pieces of content.
  • The Connector: Linking your brand and content with new platforms that matter.
  • The Creative: Creatively setting your brand and content apart from competitors with unique strategies.
  • The Designer: Giving your brand innovations in terms of ideas, contents, products and services.
  • The Neighbor: Setting you up as a voice and authority within your niche through meaningful conversations.
  • The Defender: Protecting your brand during the bad times.

Once you know and understand these types of influence and benefits, it helps you set your needs and determine what exactly you want to achieve. Whether your goal is content amplification alone or something else, you should adjust your research to target influencers whose qualities and behavior are the best fit for your goals.
What Can YOU Do For An Influencer?
Relationships with influencers are not a one-way partnership that benefits you alone. In fact, such partnerships work only when they benefit from you first. Asking yourself what they may need and what can you do to help out should be the first thing you do, rather than what the influencer is able to do for you right away.
Just as in everyday life, you will likely not ask for a favor from a stranger or somebody you just met a while ago. The chances you will get help are much higher when you ask someone who has benefited from your help in the past and may want to reciprocate the gesture.
As Rand Fishkin stated on an episode of Whiteboard Friday, “The interesting thing about influencers is they need new, unique content to share all the time.” Therefore, you should work to provide them with valuable content which will make them look good and help them grow their own brand and audience.
Establish And Nurture Valuable Relationships
Influencers will give preference to members of their community who engage in their conversations, follow them on social media platforms, comment on their articles, share their posts and so on. It might be worth spending some time breeding this familiarity with the influencer even before sending the first pitch.
When initiating the first contact, offer something that provides value to the influencer. For example, you might just want to appreciate his/her last article, provide constructive feedback on the post and creatively throw in an interesting angle. You might also want to mention how you shared it with your friends and colleagues and how they, too, found it very valuable.
That’s just a first step, of course. You will need to work to build genuine relationships with influencers so that in the future, should you have a piece of content you need to amplify, it will be much easier to reach out to them. This is the stage where you can explain your content or content idea to the influencer and explain why sharing such content would provide value to his/her followers and inspire a conversation.
When this works, be sure to follow up with a note of gratitude, and even maybe a shout-out on social media. This will most certainly be valuable again later down the road.
Conclusion
Real influencers have an active passion and interest for what they do, so the content you offer needs to be worth sharing.  Furthermore, it’s often better to build valuable relationships — such as by sharing their content and opening channels of communication — even before trying to get any of your own work shared. Building relationships is by far the most important aspect when aiming to employ the influencer strategy to get your content amplified.
Influencers in every niche are those who have a lot of clout, so it is imperative that you employ a strategy that grabs their attention. Remember that influencers have needs, too, and only by helping them reach their goals can you hope to benefit from them.

How To Find Trending Topics for Social Optimized Content

What’s hot? What are the trending topics getting shared? Creating content around trending content can build entire businesses and feeds the content-social-sharing mill that is the Internet.
I’ve written about how to find pre-qualified “evergreen” content ideas for search. In other words, how to do research to find content ideas that you know will work well for organic traffic.
Finding prequalified content ideas around trending topics is a bit trickier – there’s much more noise. But it can be done, BuzzFeed certainly doesn’t guess at ideas. They have tools that help them identify and bubble up winners.
If you are a website owner trying to go viral and get ahead on a trend, you may not have a proprietary listening tool, but you can certainly do plenty of deep research to find the next trending topic to cover.
You may have seen Twitter Trends and you may stalk BuzzFeed Trending but here are several free (or mostly free) tools & sources for trending topic ideas.
Ruzzit
Ruzzit is a fairly new tool. It’s still in Beta in fact.
But it surfaces new, trending content faster and easier than other tools I’ve found (also it’s free and doesn’t require a login).
It pulls social stats from all the major social platforms’ APIs and sorts them according to the most shares by time period or network.

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You can also search by keyword or media type. Extremely powerful stuff, and very straightforward to use.
Try out Ruzzit here.
Trending Reddit + Subreddits
Despite the recent controversies at Reddit, it is still the “Front Page of the Internet” and general tastemaker of cultural trends. Even BuzzFeed sources a lot of content from there.
I’ve written on how to use Reddit for SEO & Content Marketing before, but never on using it to surface trending topics. First a bit of background.
By default, Reddit is set to surface trending topics. When you sort Reddit or individual subreddits dedicated to a specific topic, you are seeing which posts have the most velocity (by upvotes/comments) right now. The tab is called “Hot.”
It’s extremely powerful. The problem is that every other news outlet and website owner publishing trending topics knows this. Once you see a Hot topic on the Reddit Front Page, you’re late to the trending party.
The secret is to look at Hot topics on specific subreddits, each of which is dedicated to a specific topic. For example, the /r/woodworking subreddit is dedicated to… woodworking.
If you click on the Hot button in Woodworking, you’ll see trending topics of that topic. If you are in a specific niche, go explore all the subreddits related to your audience and have

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Micro-influencers Bring Mega ROI for Brands
The expansion of social media over the last several years has given brands a direct line of communication with consumers like they have never had before. Social platforms have become the go-to for product announcements, customer engagement initiatives and customer service issues. But one initiative has started to stand out among them all — advertising and marketing.
Brands want to spend their money advertising where the consumers are most apt to see and engage with their content, and social media is a hotbed of brand engagement. A recent report said the average American checks their social media profiles 17 times a day, which is basically once every hour they are awake. So the strategy for brands seems simple — find some mega-celebrities with millions of followers, pay them to post about your brand, and watch the money roll in, right? Wrong.
Markerly recently completed a data study that shows utilizing a mega-celebrity just isn’t the best option for the majority of brand influencer campaigns. Sure, the follower counts are eye-popping and have value in terms of mass appeal, but when you’re looking to market a product or service that is meant for a niche audience, and you need a trusted and influential member of that circle, mega-celebrities aren’t your best bet. That’s when you turn to micro-influencers — folks with smaller, more loyal followings who have significant clout within their respective communities. Here’s why:
Increased engagement.
Most would assume that more followers mean more engagement, right? According to our recent study on Instagram engagement, as total followers go up, the engagement rate actually decreases. Influencers with follower counts of 1K-10K have a like rate of 4 percent, compared to just 1.6 percent for those with follower counts of more than 10M. Comment rates also decline significantly, as those with 10K-100K followers are four times more likely to get a comment than those in with more than 10M followers.
Of course, as you decrease follower counts, you lose reach while adding that extra engagement. Conversely, as you increase followers you gain back that broader reach but lose the engagement that drives sales and brand loyalty. As such, we’ve found that the sweet spot for influencers is in the 10K-100K follower range. This results in a broad enough reach while also ensuring a solid amount of engagement.
Related: 3 Strategies for Finding the Best Influencer to Boost Your Brand

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Bang for your buck.
Let’s face it, utilizing a celebrity as part of your influencer campaign is not going to be cheap and could likely bust your entire budget. For $25,000, you can run a campaign with several micro-influencers within your chosen verticals and get in front of roughly five million consumer followers. That same price figure will barely get a conversation started with a celebrity — it will run you well into the six figures to work with the Kardashians or Jenners — and all you’re really paying for is bragging rights. Why spend all of that money if it isn’t going to move the needle? Where does the ROI come from?
Consider a major sports brand that is launching a line of shoes specifically for serious runners. Should they pay into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to have Selena Gomez (98.2M followers) post a photo to Instagram wearing the shoe? Or is there more value to use an influencer like Meb Keflezighi (30K Instagram followers), who is one of the most successful marathon runners in the world today? If the brand wants to engage with an audience that they know is directly in the market for their products, they choose Keflezighi over Gomez any day.   As a brand, you want to engage with consumers who are passionate about the products you are selling. Whether it’s athletic wear, mobile apps/games, clothes or food/beverage, utilizing micro-influencers will drive visibility and engagement, and ultimately brand loyalty and sales, without a mega-sized budget.
10 Marketing Tricks From the Pros
Marketing is the lifeblood of any startup – without it, the company will be sure to sink. So for entrepreneurs looking to boost their productivity with simple tricks, I set out to find answers.
I recently asked some of the smartest and most experienced marketing people I know for their No. 1 marketing hack. While all provided extremely effective solutions, I was amazed at how simple some of them were.
Here is a list comprised of the top ten, categorized by marketing experts.
Social Media
1. Boost your posts. “Give your social media content a boost. Businesses are finding it more and more difficult to get their message heard. By the latest estimates, Facebook is showing only 6 percent of a business’ content to their fan base. So give your content a paid boost. If you have more than 100 likes on your page, a ‘boost’ button will appear at the bottom of each post. Use it. For less than $30, you can get your message out to thousands of unique users.”
-Rob Wellman, CEO of Social5
Related: Is Your Marketing Message Getting Muddled?
2. Load up on data, and do it quickly. “Facebook advertising can deliver the cheapest CPM’s in online marketing with the ability to test ad efficiency in real-time. Use the power editor “duplicate” tool to create hundreds of ads and change one element per ad. Give these a small budget, and you’ll quickly see what works and what doesn’t without breaking the bank. Double down on the ones that work, and kill the ones that don’t.”
-Kyle Ivins, co-founder Envolve Agency
3. Retweet and engage “Don’t just tweet out stuff about your company. Engage with other companies, your customers and thought leaders in your market. Retweet their tweets and add your thoughts. Respond to tweets that aren’t directed at you and give your thoughts on those. Followers will start flowing your way.”
Jason Barber, co-founder Friendemic
Advertising
4. Explore pay-per-click advertising. Google isn’t the only show in town when it comes to pay-per-click advertising.
“Google has the most volume when it comes to their ad network. But they’re far from the only option. Bing provides great results for businesses targeting the baby boomer generation. You can also look into Google Search Partner Networks for other opportunities for higher ROI.”
-Jacob Baadsgaard, CEO Disruptive Advertising
5. One ad per keyword. “If you’re running a campaign with a dozen keywords and only have one ad, then you’re throwing money away. Create specific ad groups that target single keywords. Then create two to three ads for that one keyword. See which ad works best, then run with it.”
-Scott Cohen, CEO of 180Fusion
Related: 7 Marketing Truths Every Business Leader Should Know
Public relations
6. Don’t brag, give real value. “The greatest secret in media and public relations right now is that the press (and your potential customers) are most interested in the value added information that will help them succeed in a given area—not in hearing promotional information from you. By thinking of your readers’ needs first—not your own self-interests—you will receive business traction and audience engagement beyond your dreams.”
-Cheryl Snapp Conner, Snapp Conner PR
7. One sentence “Here’s a pro tip that’s extremely obvious, but often completely ignored by entrepreneurs everywhere: You should be able to explain your startup in one sentence. That’s it. No exceptions.”
-Harrison Weber, Journalist and News Editor for VentureBeat
SEO
8. Poach your competitors’ mentions. “Create a Google Alert for your competitors’ brand names. Find out where they are being mentioned and in what context. Then, see if there’s opportunities to be mentioned alongside of them. Many times journalists and editors will write about one brand and be open to including a similar brand for parity.”
-Nathan Tanner, Foxtail Insights

 

Email marketing
9. Trim your subjects. “Get an immediate lift in email marketing revenue by reducing your subject lines to only one word. Choose that word carefully. It should induce irresistible curiosity, while staying relevant to your message. With the right word, your open rates will skyrocket. Do some testing to really dial it in.”
-Tyler Dixon, Marketing Director for SpinGo
Outdoor advertising
10. Think outside the box. “Get creative when working with a budget and with advertisers. A client of mine recently secured a ‘pay for performance’ billboard on one of the busiest stretches of an interstate. They only pay the billboard agency if a sale results from that billboard. You’d be surprised what you can get accomplished if you only ask.”
-Matt Frisbie, CEO of ChiefMO
Related: 6 Ways to Get Customers Hooked and Raving About Your Brand
3 Strategies for Finding the Best Influencer to Boost Your Brand
1. Enlist Vizsense.
There’s no shortage of influencers out there, so the challenge lies in finding the right one. Companies are trying to solve this problem by building tools to collect billions of social interactions and interpret them systematically. Imagine these tools as x-ray machines, where data interpretation is only as good as the lone radiologist who knows how to interpret. Enter VizSense, which helps users interpret their data to make sure they’re targeting the right influencers by providing a team of radiologists. With a slogan like “weaponize your brand’s influence,” you really can’t go wrong.
Related: 4 Ways to Get Influencers to Spread Your Brand’s Message
2. Identify “right.”
There are two types of influencers: those who spend more time doing what they talk about, and those who spend more time talking about what they do. When the former group speaks, people actively listen because they’re inspired, whereas when the latter speaks — again — people may still listen but they’re also reading their email, checking Facebook, or otherwise attempting to multi-task because they’re not engaged. The point is, there are influencers who don’t necessarily have a million twitter followers but drive impact nonetheless.
Related: Enterprise Tech Takes the Guess Work Out of Influencer Marketing
3. Vet them.
Having “influencer” status is great — unless it’s self-prescribed. Make sure the people you target are who they say they are by verifying their identities on any of the big three social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook). Look for the little blue badge that means “vetted” no matter what platform you’re using.
Connections and relationships are everything. Building a credible network of influencers earns not only greater brand awareness but also trust, making your brand more reputable and praiseworthy.

3 Qualities to Look for in a Social Media Influencer
Influencer marketing is gaining immense popularity. In fact, it can work exceptionally well, often outperforming traditional marketing channels. The key is to connect with the right social media influencers who can help you drive brand awareness and revenue.
Of course, a seemingly endless supply of influencers can be found across popular social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Vine. But your task to be choosy: Here are three qualities to look for as you identify potential influencers to help market your brand.
1. An audience and personality that matches your brand’s
Looking solely at follower count is a common mistake that leads to a poorly performing influencer marketing campaign. It doesn’t matter if an influencer has 3 million followers — if there isn’t a similarity between the influencer and the product or service you are selling, there’s going to be very little-to-no interest from his or her social following.
An example? While Snoop Dogg might be a great influencer to help build brand awareness for a hover-board company, you probably wouldn’t want to market a female fitness product to his following. You need to immediately sense a connection between this individual’s following and what you yourself are promoting.
You also want to be cautious because of the financial element: Securing a notable influencer doesn’t come cheap; some brands are literally shelling out millions to get their products into the social feeds of personalities with massive followings.
Influencer marketing campaigns with a mismatched personality and/or audience, then, will result in just one thing — a wasted marketing budget.
2. A social media profile with high levels of engagement
Again, follower count isn’t everything. A social media influencer with a smaller following that likes, comments on and shares content is more valuable than one with a larger audience that doesn’t engage. The latter group is going to be more likely to follow your brand or click-through and land on your website or social media profile.
So, while a global superstar with millions of followers looks appealing, oftentimes you will see more success with a more targeted influencer who has a smaller, but highly engaged, following.
When you do identify the right potential influencer, spend some time looking at his or her previous posts and check out newer posts carefully to see what kind of engagement they experience. Take your time to make sure you find the best influencers for your brand.
3. A true understanding of marketing and branding
You are going to encounter some influencers who will gladly take your money and post your content or promote your brand, but are people that don’t truly understand marketing.
You are also going to encounter some that will go the extra mile and interact with their followers to help your campaign be a success.
To find the latter instead of the former, ask to see examples of previous campaigns and check whether this influencer interacted at all within the post. Don’t be afraid to say what it is exactly that you want.
If you want this influencer to be involved, say so. These people aren’t mind readers, so be very detailed when discussing your expectations.
The influencers you choose should be accommodating, especially if they are anticipating a long-term relationship with your brand.
Marketing Via Paid Online Influencers Sees Dramatic Growth in Survey
Paid endorsements by online influencers is now used by 52 percent of online marketers — a number that is rapidly closing in on display ads (58 percent) as the top paid avenue for online advertising. The explosion was registered in the 2014 State of Sponsored Social Report conducted by Halverson Group on behalf of influencer marketing firm IZEA.
It’s not just the fact that “sponsored social” is second on the list of channels used, it’s how quickly it rose to popularity. When asked how they feel about various marketing channels vs. how they felt a year ago, marketers showed a far greater gap between then and now in sponsored social against any other channel. In fact, sponsored social’s momentum was almost twice that of experiential marketing and more than twice that of online display ads.
It destroyed traditional channels. Official sponsorship status in standard TV spots and ads in radio, magazines and newspapers all scored negative momentum from last year (meaning they are less favorable now).
When asked about the leap, even the industry’s biggest supporter of sponsored posts — IZEA CEO Ted Murphy — was surprised.
“It floored me, to be honest,” Murphy says. “I think we have been watching the industry and kind of seeing this happen, but I didn’t realize the support would be quite that strong.”
Murphy, whose IZEA serves as a platform to connect interested brands with willing social influencers and publishers, says the results surprised the research team at Halverson as well. He says what they think is happening is earned media, paid media and content marketing are beginning to blend. Sponsored social offers so many benefits across channels — public relations, media and marketing — brands get more benefit for the investment, according to Murphy.
Murphy started IZEA in 2006 when the industry found sponsored blog posts and social posts largely taboo. Today, the New York Times sells sponsored posts and even the Associated Press offers sponsored tweets.
While the study’s impression is that sponsored social is suddenly shifting to be a nearly universal marketing activity, let’s also be fair. The survey was a sampling of a national panel who had some level of accountability or familiarity with sponsored-social marketing. It didn’t include those not accountable or familiar with the topic, so if that universe is vast, the numbers may not be all that impressive. Despite the bias, however, the numbers are quite interesting and have implication for marketers and business owners, large and small.
Sponsored social is effective.
Sponsored social ranked first among all other channels for overall effectiveness, scoring 7.27 on a 10-point scale. It beat out experiential marketing (7.25), celebrity endorsement (6.87) and television advertising (6.54). Based on that list, it’s no surprise that 74 percent would use or recommend sponsored social in the future.
Perhaps the most interesting and tactically useful result from the survey was the average dollar amount marketers paid for each type of post. The average video post will run $554 while a blog post comes in at $384. A sponsored tweet runs $331. But the survey does little by way of telling you who charges what, so assume that high-dollar investments were with high-follower-count influencers.
The survey showed interesting upward trends for brands investing dollars on social marketing beyond a content and organic-focused program. Of those surveyed, 85 percent were moderately or highly familiar with sponsored social and 53 percent had experience with sponsored-social opportunities in the past year. However, almost 30 percent said they had no experience with it, indicating an upside potential, but also perhaps lingering hesitation.
Some 52 percent of companies responding said they had standalone budgets for sponsored social and 25 percent had organizational budgets for the channel in excess of $500,000.
“I ultimately believe that you’re talking about a multi-billion industry,” Murphy says. “To be honest, we may already be there. The difficult thing is we’re the first folks trying to quantify this in any real way, but we already know that all the major media companies are doing sponsored posts. In celebrity endorsements, sponsored posts are included but not always broken out. So this channel may already be that big. We just don’t know for certain.”
As for how sponsored social works, companies say 36 percent of the time, money is the incentive. Free products come in closely behind at 33 percent while discounts and coupons, 22 percent, and free service, 18 percent, follow.
And Murphy says there are few holdouts to the old, taboo way of thinking.
“I think that you’re probably north of 90 percent at this point,” he says, referring to the percentage of publishers, bloggers and influencers who are open to sponsored social. “There are still some holdouts that I would say are more traditional journalists who consider it an ethical issue. At the same time, the New York Times is selling sponsored posts. The question is no longer, ‘can you,’ or ‘is it ethical?’ The question is, ‘How are you doing it?’ Are you being transparent, disclosing properly and does the audience understand the content is sponsored, authentic and fair? If it becomes an infomercial and people feel like they’ve been tricked, it doesn’t work.“
Murphy says the audience is the most important part of sponsored social. Without the audience, the publisher has no opportunity to monetize.
It’s fair to note that the survey’s definition of sponsored social focuses specifically on a brand or company paying a blogger or online influencer to write, tweet, post or otherwise share a given product or service with his or her network. It does not take into account paid social advertising like when a brand uses Facebook’s Sponsored Posts on its own content. That would certainly tilt the scales to show that social advertising overall has overtaken other avenues of spend to reach consumers. Perhaps that balances the bias in the survey panel, perhaps it doesn’t. But we can at least draw a broad assumption that spending money to gain endorsement is a growing trend and thought of well by those who do it.
Creators are word-of-mouth advocates.
As for influencers, or as the report calls them, “Creators,” the main takeaway for me was that this type of influencer outreach seems to create the coveted stakeholder all brands want: an advocate. Results showed 88 percent of the creators — all IZEA program participants, so again biased but relevant — verbally tell friends about brands that sponsor them. What that tells us is sponsored social effectively turns influencers into true word-of-mouth advocates. That’s pretty powerful stuff if you believe the Word of Mouth Marketing Institute’s statistics that word of mouth is 62 times more powerful than traditional advertising.
Additionally, 72 percent say they share additional posts outside of the contractual agreement for free, adding value for the investment. And 77 percent say they are likely to purchase from brands that sponsor them, meaning the investment results in customer acquisition as well.
“This is something we’ve known for a long time, but never had the ability to quantify it,” Murphy says. “To put a number to that is huge. It underscores that this is more than just a transaction for these people. When someone decides they want to work for a brand and publicly share and endorse them to their followers, it’s much more about creating a relationship and doing so in an authentic way. If they were truly fans of the brand and excited to spread the word, they wouldn’t be doing things outside of what they’re contractually obligated to do.”
The creators bring credibility to the table, so social-media purists can calm down. The most important factors they consider when deciding to take a brand’s money include whether their audience finds the content interesting or relevant, and whether the product or service fits with their content or was something they were proud to represent.
Some other interesting nuggets:

  • The majority of those being paid to create content or refer brands were over the age of 30. In fact, 83 percent of all creators were, with 59 percent ages 30 to 44. Only 7 percent were under the age of 25.
  • Food was the most prominent category of content followed by lifestyle, parenting, beauty and DIY/crafting. Health, fashion, entertainment, music, pop culture and video games ranked on the list as well. Social media (eighth), technology (11th), advertising (12th) and business (20th) were as well.
  • Social-media paid-sponsorship posts ranked eighth on the category. This tells me social-technology companies are spending an inordinate amount of money sponsoring social compared to other industries because social is a very small, defined niche of content compared to other verticals.
  • Twitter, Facebook and the good, old, trusty blog were the top three networks used for sponsored social according to the creators. Instagram and Google+ were close behind with YouTube and LinkedIn next in line.

To their credit, 92 percent of creators were at least aware of the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines around disclosure for receiving payment for endorsement or promotion. Unfortunately, marketers have a ways to go. Only 71 percent were aware of FTC guidelines in the space. That will need to change, so be aware of the disclosure guidelines.
In the end, take the report with a grain of salt.
The bias pointed out in the selection of marketers, coupled with the fact that the only creators surveyed were IZEA publishing partners leaves a lot to be desired in the sampling. The total number of respondents was also concerning as only 152 marketers and 152 creators made up the quantitative part of the survey.
To be truly indicative of a wide market trend, we need a lot more responses, but also for it to be of brand marketers, not just those familiar with sponsored social. What if that group makes up less than 10 percent of the total? That would make these numbers moot. And asking questions such as “Is sponsored social a source of income for you?” to an audience of people who are paid to share branded content by a company is sort of redundant, right?
Still, the swift change from last year’s sentiment around sponsored social is something to take note of. There are brands spending money — apparently a considerable amount — on sponsored social. It is perceived as effective and is producing the coveted word-of-mouth behavior in the influencer community. You may wish to consider sponsored social for your company.
It should be noted that while IZEA benefits from a positive overall take on sponsored social and it sponsors the study, Halvorson Group conducts the survey and produces the results independently. Prior to this year, IZEA conducted the study itself, but elected to add third-party creditability and management this year.
Using both a quantitative national study and a qualitative online bulletin board as gathering points, Halvorson gathered the results and published the report. You can find it online here.
27 Masters of Marketing and PR Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From

Everyone in marketing and public relations knows just how difficult the job can be. If you are just starting out, you are wise to learn from the key players on this list of industry leaders who have succeed in a big ways in this challenging field. They are all a little different but share these fundamental values:

  • Willingness to learn and try new things.
  • Patience with people.
  • A strong sense of pride in what they do.
  • Always able to overcome adversity.

Here, in no particular rank, are 27 top experts worth paying attention to if you want to become a successful marketer or public relations professional.
1. Bryan Eisenberg is a world-famous speaker and author. He understands what it takes to turn heads in the business world, and is great at what he does. He is most famous for his co-authorship of the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and USA Today.
Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a PR Firm
2. Lewis Howes was named “5 Internet Guru’s Who Can Make You Rich” by Details Magazine and is host of The School of Greatness Podcast on iTunes. He started out playing professional football then transitioned into the business world. Since then, he has written a number of books, invested in start ups, built a successful company and sold it for seven figures. He is the guy to follow if you are interested in entrepreneurship.
3. Oliver Roup, the founder and CEO of VigLink is someone you need to keep your eye on. His company has raised a whopping $26 million for web publishers who are looking to make money from content. He understands the process of starting a new business, and he is still growing as a marketing expert and entrepreneur.
4. Zac Johnson is a leader in the online marketing world. He is the president at MoneyReign, and boasts more than 500 followers on LinkedIn. On top of the people that follow him for his quality, he also has 99 plus endorsements in PPC, affiliate marketing, and blogging. Close behind those, he has 91 endorsements in online marketing.
5. Jeremiah Owyang is an expert marketer. He is the founder of the website Crowd Companies, which helps draw crowds to different sites by using marketing techniques. If you’re not following him, start now! He has a lot to share with people who want to learn more about the world of marketing and public relations.
6. Jacob Morgan is an inspiration to anyone in the public relations world. He is an accomplished writer who just released his second book,The Future of Work, discusses how to run a business in a professional, efficient manner. If you’re an inexperienced entrepreneur, there is lots to learn from Morgan.
7. Anne Ahola Ward is an author and entrepreneur who understands what it takes to succeed in the business world. She has quite a few publications, including her most popular ones “7 Reasons Why You Have to Fire Yourself” and “Desktop is Dead, not SEO.” She knows what works in online marketing and shares tons of tips.
8. Tammy Blythe Goodman has experience in the world of social media marketing. She has taken multiple courses on the subject and has expansive knowledge on how to market for your social media business and make the most of it. If you follow her lead, you will see growth in your business in no time.
Related: 6 PR Tips for Generating Publicity for Your Startup
9. Mat Morrison knows his way around the marketing world. He currently owns the English company Mediczar Ltd. Prior to that, he was a social media strategy director for Starcom MediaVest Group. Combine this with his experience in the business since 1999, and it’s plain to see why he is a key player to follow in the social marketing world.
10. Scott Monty is a communications expert with vast experience in public relations who knows how to communicate in a way that gets results. If you’re in the midst of figuring out your business, he offers great tips to get your business that extra growth you need without spending extra money.
11. Larry Alton is a professional freelancer who knows his way around social media marketing. His writing style brings crowds to see what is being offered or shown on the page he is promoting. He is a key figure to follow if you want to learn how to market your business using a freelance writer.
12. John Boitnott is a widely-published writer who can score results. His work on Entrepreneur.com alone shows his writing commands attention. If you need someone who can get you connected, this is your guy.
13. Duane Forrester has been in the business of online marketing for 15 years. He understands what makes people want to visit your page, and he’s very good at what he does. His public relation skills are off the charts – he can bring people together just by using his words.
14. Scott James is currently a brand strategist with Greenleaf Book Group. He works with people who are publishing books in the field of marketing. Scott can help people plan for the most effective marketing strategy before their book even hits the shelves. He also uses his extensive public relation skills to communicate with people in a way that gets things done.
15. Lea Ann Stundins has in-depth experience at branding for many different companies. She has worked in the field on a freelance basis for almost 10 years, and has also served as a creative director title at United Commercial Realty. Keep your eye on her to learn how to start your company using simple branding strategies.
16. Travis Wright has been in the business of digital marketing for 20 years. He focuses on helping businesses grow via social marketing. It doesn’t matter how big or small the company is, Travis is up to the job. His enthusiasm and professionalism make him a key person to follow.
17. Liz Strauss knows how important it is to communicate in the world of marketing. She is the CEO for GeniusShared, which trains people how to be good people and business smart. This combination of public relations and marketing savvy is the perfect mix for a successful business structure. Follow her if you are interested in learning about both of these important aspects of entrepreneurship.
Related: The 6 PR Tips Every Startup Should Employ
18. Andre F. Bourque is an advisor who helps companies figure out how to create the best content for their business. Couple that with an extensive journalist career and you can see why Andre is a solid person to follow if you want to gain more business knowledge.
19. Gary C. Bizzo has made a career out of nothing. He climbed to the top and proved himself to be a strong leader in the world of business, entrepreneurship and marketing. You should follow him if you want to learn how to lead your business into the future with public relation skills.
20. Eric Siu is the CEO of Single Grain, LLC. He worked very hard to bringing his public relation skills out in the open and used them build trust. He’s capable of helping companies build their audience by using a range of marketing strategies including SEO and social media marketing.
21. Rohan Chandrashekhar has a long list of achievements, most notably as the CEO of BUZZVALVE. In a little less than a year, Rohan has built a thriving clientele. He has also been published in The Wall Street Journal. He has the knowledge and experience in customer service. He knows how to please people.
22. Larry Kim, is the founder of WordStream, a company that creates software designed to make search engine marketing easier than ever before. He knows how to get people’s attention and it shows through his work. If you want some marketing inspiration, he is the perfect person to follow.
23. Steve Hall is well known for starting the successful publicationAdrants, which covers every aspect of marketing, but focuses on social media and advertising. If you want to start up your own business, or you’re trying to make your already existing business flourish, then he is the guy to follow.
24. Ritu Sharma is an excellent speaker who has made a career out of her public relations skills. Ritu took it another step and co-founded Social Media for Nonprofits. The organization seeks to help nonprofit companies expand their social media awareness. If you want to see how a leader speaks, don’t miss out on Ritu’s updates.
25. Peter Daisyme works in accounting. His public relations skills are second to none. He spends his time talking to people and figuring out how to help them sell their property online. He is a skilled problem solver and has a keen eye for helping people with property that they otherwise would not be able to sell. He’s currently working on Host.
26 Chris Monteleone has spent his entire career in sports, media and entertainment dealing with major leagues, TV networks, film studios and more. He has made a career out of building relationships and listening. He recently raised $1 million to fund his new company, Sweigh, which is a social polling platform that measures sentiment around keywords, people and topics in real time. He is a key figure to follow if you are looking to learn how to successfully package, sell and market a new idea.
27. Justin Levy is a social media expert who knows how to market to any demographic in a way that is attractive to the eyes and is always successful. He is the director for social marketing at Citrix, and also does public speaking via his website. Justin is a great person to follow if you want to learn how to market your company using social media outlets.
There you have it. If you’re looking for some new ideas, marketing tips, or PR advice to help your business grow, these are the professionals that you need to follow. Each of them brings a particular expertise to the table with insights that will help you take your business to the next level.

5 Free Influencer Outreach Templates for Your Content Campaigns

Influencer outreach is critical for any content marketing campaign, because influencers expose your brand to a larger audience, and because your audience values endorsements from third parties — often more than they value your word alone.
According to Zuberance, 92 percent of consumers trust brand advocates. Further, Visual.ly found that content shared by influencers receives 16 times more engagement than paid advertisements or content presented by a brand itself. Despite its importance, influencer outreach is often one of those to-do list items that marketers fail to get around to — mostly because it’s such a huge task.
Related: 5 Strategies for Becoming More Influential
Want to simplify things? Here are five free templates you can use to streamline the influencer outreach process.
1. Initial outreach template
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential influencers, I suggest you prioritize top influencers and send them personalized emails. For those a little further down the list, a template will do just fine.
Here’s an example:
Hi [name],
My name is [your name] from [company]. I’ve been following your blog since 2013.
Your recent post [blog topic] really resonated with me. I thought it was something my audience would appreciate, so I shared it with my social media and email subscribers.
I wanted to get in touch with you to discuss [topic] further, and see if we can work on something similar together.
If you’re interested we can set up a phone call this week to discuss starting a collaboration that would bring value to both our audiences.
Best,
[your name]
2. Curation template
A common way to build a relationship with a potential influencer is by asking them to contribute to your content. Here’s a clear, polite template you can use for this purpose:
Hi [name],
Can I feature you in a blog post?
I’m writing an expert advice piece and am reaching out to all the big players in the [topic] field, and I think your contribution would be very valuable. I plan to mention your brand in the post as well, so it could bring you some helpful exposure.
Here’s what I would like to know for the piece:
[insert question(s)]
I know you are probably busy and completely understand if you don’t have time to contribute. If you are interested, I would appreciate it if you got back to me within the next seven days.
Thank you,
[your name]
3. Influencer mention template
Once you’ve featured an influencer in your content, you have to make sure they notice.
Related: 5 Ways to Maximize Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Here’s a template you can use to let influencers know you wrote about them, and to politely request that they share the content with their networks.
Hi [name],
I wanted to thank you again for contributing to my expert advice post. I was amazed by how much great advice I got, including yours, and I think the post will bring a lot of value to my readers.
The post just went live:
[insert link]
Take a look at it if you have time. I would love to know what you think. It would be great if you could like and share it with your audience.
Thanks again,
[your name]
4. Guest blog template
This template can help speed up the process of contacting potential blogs to guest post, but be sure to note whether or not they have specific guidelines before you send a message.
Hi [name],
My name is [your name] from [company]. I’ve been following your blog since 2013.
I read all your posts and I loved your recent one on [blog topic]. However I noticed that it’s been awhile since anyone wrote about [your topic idea] on your blog.
I know a lot about [your topic idea] and think I would be a valuable contributor if you let me write a guest post about it.
Here are a few headline ideas that I think would really draw your readers in:
[headline 1]
[headline 2]
[headline 3]
Also here are a few samples of other pieces I’ve written in the niche:
[link 1]
[link 2]
Thanks for your time,
[your name]
5. Invitation template
Finally, this template will be helpful if you want to ask an influencer to review your product or feature your giveaway on their website.
Hi [name],
My name is [your name] from [company]. I really enjoy your [relevant content] and am impressed by how well you’ve done with [their company name].
I’m reaching out to you because I have a product that I think your audience would appreciate. Would you be willing to test and review [product]?
I can provide a free sample for you to review, and three extra ones that you can give away to your audience.
Please let me know if you are interested.
Thanks for your time,
[your name]
Influencer outreach is a huge task, which is why it’s important to take advantage of any tools you can to make the process a little easier. These five email templates are a great place to start, though you’ll want to customize their language to suit your business and your niche.
Are you active with influencer marketing? If so, share any other tips you have for getting in contact with influencers by leaving a comment below.
Tools

1. BOTTLENOSE
Bottlenose is a trend intelligence platform that’s designed to help you filter through the noise of social conversations to find what really matters. Its Sonar trend visualization shows that matters to your business in real time.
2. BUZZFEED
Buzzfeed provides a wealth of social news and entertainment. While this is definitely not the New York Times, Buzzfeed shows what’s going on in popular culture. You can browse content in sections ranging from Style to Books, and the trending section shows the most popular posts.
3. GOOGLE TRENDS
Google Trends can help you find trending searches and the most popular searches in a wide range of categories. Click on “Trending Now” on the home page to see a list of hot searches. You can click on the calendar icon to see the top searches for the past month or visualize the top searches in full screen.
Read my previous post for more on how to use Trends.
4. BUZZSUMO
Buzzsumo is an awesome resource for finding hot topics and key influencers. Just enter a topic, keyword or domain to perform a search. Your results are filtered by the number of total shares across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
While you can click on a link to read an individual article, you can often get a sense of popular sentiment simply by skimming the headlines returned in your search.
Pricing ranges from a free version for individuals to an enterprise version at $499+ per month.
5. GOOGLE+
Google+ has its own trending list on the Explore page. You can explore individual hashtags or click on the Trending topics on the upper right to see what people are posting for those topics.
6. QUORA
Quora provides its members with personalized information feeds while encouraging them to answer questions in their areas of expertise. The company’s mission is to “share and grow the world’s knowledge” by creating a massive database of questions and answers.
You can browse the Top Stories feed on your home page to see some of the most popular Quora content. In addition, you can search for specific keyword phrases and look at the most popular content (according to “upvotes,” comments and shares).
7. REDDIT
Reddit has its own version of trending topics. While some of the things you’ll find here are silly, this “front page of the internet” can give you the pulse of what’s hot in popular culture.
8. FACEBOOK
Facebook rolled out its own version of Trending Topics early this year. “Trending” appears on your homepage sidebar with a personalized list of trending phrases and a short explanation of why they’re hot. Click through to see a lengthy list of related posts.

9. SWAYY
Swayy allows you to discover and curate new content. You get recommended articles, trending keywords and topics of interest, as well as an analytics dashboard that shows the trends of your actions and people’s reactions.
10. SPROUT SOCIAL
Sprout Social is a system for social media management with features including engagement, publishing, analytics, monitoring, collaboration, CRM, helpdesk and mobile.
You can get a 30-day free trail. The Deluxe version is $59 per user/month and includes a social inbox; real-time brand monitoring; publishing, scheduling and drafting; comprehensive reporting and management of up to 10 social profiles.
11. RADIAN6
Radian6 is another enterprise-grade tool for social that allows you to listen and engage, monitor your brand, and get insights into sentiment, demographics, trends, intent and more. You can request a demonstration if you’re interested in this social component of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
So there you have it: 11 tools for finding the hottest topics, social listening and more. What other tools do you use for coming up with content ideas and keeping up with the latest trends in your industry?

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