The Digital Download: Is TikTok More Than Just Dancing Videos?

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

The Digital Download: Is TikTok More Than Just Dancing Videos?

The future of social media is recommendation. Otherwise, it’s a pay-to-play game, and even ads to boost content can come off as unauthentic. With platforms like TikTok driven by user preference more than ever, your social strategy has to be equally targeted towards people who don’t know who you are just as it is for people who do. 

Think of TikTok as a tool for a specific need; it’s great to have when a job calls for it. No digital marketing strategy should only have one tool in its toolbox though, especially when we’ve seen platforms fall apart, profiles get hacked, and users move from one platform to another for seemingly no reason at all. But let me tell you why TikTok is a smart choice to include in your social media marketing plan for any brand.

First and foremost, if you’re spending money on video creation for other social media platforms, it’s a no-brainer to transform that video into a TikTok. The average watch time for TikTok exceeds both Facebook AND YouTube. And, as stated in the upfront, customers are more likely to trust mobile video platforms and feel better after spending excessive time on TikTok as opposed to other social platforms. People are more likely to understand your message on TikTok, with 96% of people watching FB and IG with the sound off, but more than 75% of users are watching TikTok with the sound on.

Just like Youtube, TikTok has the same ultimate goals—community and consistency. Users turn to TikTok to have conversations and to be a part of the conversation. Some people have recently had to combat loneliness due to isolation during the pandemic. The comment section of a TikTok video shows just how much users are craving that human connection they’ve missed out on in the last couple of years. Some reply with their thoughts, a joke, and often they’ll tag their friends. Even people who don’t know each other will have conversations. There’s a lot of community that happens in the comments.

The second goal is consistency. Whether it’s your content niche, your posting schedule, or your hashtag strategy, if you’re on TikTok, then you must have some sort of consistency. Research top hashtags pertaining to the topic of your video with this useful tool and DON’T use trending hashtags unless it’s relevant to your content. Find and repeat content formulas that work for you and your audience. Try some of these key content themes: 

  • Recipes and roadmaps
  • Best/worst (insert whatever) ever
  • The one thing you need to know about…
  • Duets/stitches
  • Stories
    • That one time when…
  • Replies/reactions
  • Transformations
  • Quotable shares

Take time after posting to see if the video sparked meaningful conversations within the comments. With user-driven platforms, it is important for content to generate interactions to increase the number of people seeing your video. You want users to feel compelled to share to get your message out there. Brands like Duolingo, the San Diego Zoo, and the Empire State Building, among others, have taken the lead on TikTok; don’t let your brand get left behind. After all, you don’t want to get to a job and realize that you’re missing the tool that you need. Contact us to see how TikTok and other user-driven platforms can fit into your digital marketing strategy.

The Digital Download: Reframing the way you view influencers

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

The Digital Download: Reframing the way you view influencers

Influencer marketing isn’t limited to celebrities anymore. Thanks to the rise in popularity of social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, anyone with a devoted following and curated community can hold influence. 

But in a post-pandemic world, after so many people worldwide were forced to feed their social needs online … and everyone began evaluating digital ads for their authenticity … we’re left to redefine what influencers are. In the past, we knew them as public relation officers, brand ambassadors and blogger relations, but now we’ve finally landed on the term “influencers.” However, if you associate influence with people who have a staggering number of followers on social media, then you’re missing a big portion of the influencer marketing pie. 

Jason Falls, author of Winfluence – Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand, argues that a winning influencer strategy includes online influencers, but these strategies also will have to expand far beyond a digital space. Influencers can actually be anyone that can motivate an audience to take action. 

And really, influencer marketing is kind of a misleading term. Rather than focusing on the individual influencer, companies should focus on having the greatest impact possible. Wherever it happens and with whomever it involves. And not just online. 

Influencers could include a public speaker, a bartender, a political leader, a YouTuber, a minister, an activist, etc. In this day and age, marketers must reframe how we think about influencer marketing by removing the “r” and instead focusing solely on influence. That allows us to really see what we’re trying to accomplish: actually influencing a group of people and not just considering the person we consider to be an influencer. 

So then, what makes influencer marketing so successful? Not only is it becoming one of the most effective ways to reach niche markets and audiences, but done well, these audiences can grow to trust your brand through authentic word-of-mouth marketing. One survey found that 38% of shoppers rely on influencer reviews when online shopping, while 30% said they’re open to hearing from influencers several times per day. Another survey showed that during the pandemic, consumers trusted influencers more than brands. 

Keep in mind that identifying the right influencers to associate with your brand can make or break your influencer marketing campaign. Influencer marketing strategy must consider the prospective influencer’s follower demographic and how it aligns with your marketing goals. The only way to do that is to leverage influencer marketing tools. That’s why at Geile/Leon, we’ve partnered with Klear, an influencer discovery tool that allows us to really dive into metrics and follower demographics of potential influencers to ensure they’re the perfect fit for our clients. 

The influencer marketing industry is set to increase by approximately $13.8 billion this year, which is why Geile/Leon has expanded their service offerings to include it. SocialPubli found 42% of marketers consider influencer marketing their top revenue-generating marketing tactic, and other surveys and statistics like these prove that digital marketing is headed in the influence direction, which means Geile/Leon is following suit. 

What does that mean for you? Get in touch with us to find out how influencer marketing can benefit your brand.

The Digital Download: Futuristic Trends from SMMW22

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

The Digital Download: Futuristic Trends from SMMW22

At Geile/Leon, we meet every Wednesday to discuss different trends in marketing, communications and all aspects of business. It’s fun and always insightful to find new perspectives, explore new technology and identify changes in different industries. Sure, we have a good time doing it, but it helps us focus on how we can capitalize on different trends and technology to help our clients evolve and stay at the forefront of their markets.

This is why, at Social Media Marketing World 2022, there were a few technology-driven trends and ideas that really captured my attention. These were futuristic trends. Not fully formed or even fully understood, but trends that held great potential for marketing. Early adopters may still be learning how to harness this potential, but #SMMW22 made it clear that these are trends that every marketer should watch closely.

 Web 3.0

Throughout the conference, Web 3.0 was always part of the conversation. Especially during keynote speeches. It’s the latest (and if you asked anyone there, the greatest) technology to leverage machine learning, AI and blockchain to achieve real-world human communication. Not only will it let every individual access their own data, but they will also be compensated for their content and time spent on the web.

So what does that mean and how did we get there?

Let’s start at the beginning with Web 1.0, which we saw as the static web. It was the birthplace of the website. No algorithms or real-time engagement. Basic, centralized and simple.

That evolved to where we are now: Web 2.0, the social web. It’s highly centralized by companies like Meta (Facebook and all its other platforms), Twitter, Google, banks and more who make money on interaction-based usage of their platforms.

The next evolutionary step will be Web 3.0 (aka web3), a decentralized internet that empowers every single user and places great importance on free speech. Every person who uses web3 can monetize their own data and maintain their own privacy. It will be faster and more secure with a highly personalized experience.

The Metaverse

One of the most innovative byproducts of web3 is the Metaverse. It’s not fully defined yet, but it will be the successor state to today’s mobile internet. However, it’s too early to fully understand how marketers can utilize it or what it will become. What do we know? It will revolve around virtual experiences in the physical AND virtual world. While web3 focuses on people, places and things, the metaverse is where you will experience the future of the internet.

The metaverse shouldn’t be confused with Facebook’s Meta, but it’s also no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg most likely chose that name to link itself to this new idea. The metaverse is a network of 3D worlds that you navigate as an avatar. It is focused on social connection, enabled by AI, blockchain, NFTs, AR, VR and gaming. While it’s a virtual world, your interactions will be very real, and users will be working, shopping, socializing and playing together.

Matthew Ball, an influential venture capitalist who has written about the Metaverse extensively, believes that just as smartphones revolutionized tech, the economy, and society itself, the Metaverse will do the same.

NFTs

Non-fungible tokens, AKA NFTs, are scarce digital assets that represent real-world objects like art, music, videos, etc. They cost real-life money and each have unique identifying codes. They are also unique investments – the ultimate collector’s item that some believe will change investing forever.

The $174 million that has been spent on NFTs (according to Forbes Advisor) gives evidence to that prediction. But why spend millions on a digital asset when you could easily view or download the image or video that copies it for free online? The NFT’s unique identifying code is proof that you own it…and all the digital bragging rights that go along with it.

We’ve seen big brands like McDonald’s, NBA, Taco Bell, Gucci and Nike (just to name a few) utilizing these digital collectibles to build connections and engagement with their fanbase. Not only can this build brand loyalty, but now the NFT owner is truly invested in the brand’s success because it can only help their investment. And keep in mind that NFTs don’t require shipping or storage overhead, plus there’s no worry about product defects.

Bottom line: people are essentially buying the brand itself instead of the products that brand produces.

Web 3.0, the metaverse and NFTs are all in their infancy stages, so Geile/Leon isn’t necessarily adopting them into digital strategies. However, it would be unwise for us to not continue to watch how they unfold in the marketplace to see what impact they may have on the digital world.

The Digital Download: A new blog series by our Digital Content Producer

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

The Digital Download: A new blog series by our Digital Content Producer

Over the past eight years working in social media marketing, I’ve learned that it’s impossible to find success without staying relevant and up-to-date on trends in the social atmosphere. As Geile/Leon’s digital content producer, I know our client’s success depends on my dedication to staying on top of what’s happening in the digital space. That is why I jetted out to sunny San Diego in mid-March to attend Social Media Marketing World 2022.

Hosted by Michael Stelzner and the Social Media Examiner team, this annual conference never fails to bring together an expert-studded host of speakers (and attendees) from around the world, all of whom want to up their social media game by diving into the nitty-gritty details and holistic strategies that include paid and organic social media marketing, content creation, ads, video development…and too many more to list.

The conference was a wealth of knowledge and perspectives, which not only provided a valuable tool that I can use for our clients’ success, but also inspired me to create a blog series titled The Digital Download. As the series unfolds, we’ll cover wide-ranging topics from future trends and the changing tides on various platforms to the Metaverse, NFTs, influencer marketing, and more!

However, today, I wanted to focus on the overarching theme behind every session that I attended: authenticity.

Although there was a huge range of topics covered throughout SMMW22, a large amount of our conversation focused on techniques for brands to communicate authentically with their audience in order to maximize key performances. That’s also why the auditoriums were packed to capacity for the sessions that dove into influencer marketing strategy and taking advantage of platforms that reward content that feels organically created, like TikTok, Stories, etc.

Word-of-mouth recommendations from influential members of social communities are tremendously powerful for brands, and as such, brands should concentrate on the value they provide to their followers, whether it’s educational, inspirational, or entertaining. If it doesn’t provide value, don’t post it.

The discussion revolving around the power of authenticity felt very familiar. There is a ton of overlap with Geile/Leon’s Return on Empathy™ concept, illustrating the tangible and intangible benefits of well-executed empathy marketing. It has to be genuine in order to resonate emotionally with consumers. To learn more about how this works, download our free Return on Empathy™ whitepaper here.

I am looking forward to where this blog series takes us, as I believe this will be a very valuable resource for brands to understand how to successfully utilize social media in an effective and enduring way. So make sure to follow us on our social media accounts so you don’t miss any new content from me, Melissa!

 

Read Part 2: Futuristic Trends from SMMW22

Read Part 3: Reframing the Way You View Influencers

Read Part 4: Is TikTok More Than Just Dancing Videos?

Digital Strategies for Any Higher Education Institution During a Pandemic

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Digital Strategies for Any Higher Education Institution During a Pandemic

While there are countless industries that have struggled since the beginning of the pandemic, one industry that’s facing major challenges and seismic changes is higher education. These institutions have been forced to completely rethink how they’re marketing to potential and current students. Whether it’s navigating new COVID restrictions, rolling out virtual learning, dealing with students opting out of college all together and decreased marketing budgets, they are struggling to connect with their end users. 

Here at G/L, we work with higher education clients who are faced with all of these challenges.  Based on our experience, we’ve gathered some strategies that we believe should be incorporated into any higher education marketing strategy. And guess what? They’re all techniques within the digital space…and they don’t cost a fortune.

First and foremost, any marketing strategy, especially that within a higher education space, needs to be reaching the right audiences (Gen Z and millennials mostly) where they’re already at — on their phones and online. And the best part is that digital marketing, especially social media marketing, is one of the most budget-friendly options out there. But before you start worrying about your advertising budget, this first recommendation will only cost your higher education institution time and effort. 

Audit your digital experience 

Take time out to evaluate every aspect of your digital presence. Start with auditing your online programs, your class registration process and your payment tools. Make sure that these processes and experiences are simple and easy to use for all involved. Next, make sure that your website is easy to navigate via mobile devices. According to Statcounter Global Stats,  54.25 percent of people worldwide are using their mobile devices to access the internet. Without a mobile optimization, your website is only accessible to less than half of the population. 

Lastly, incorporate customized experiences into your strategy. Not only is this a trend in the digital space, but it’s expected from higher education institutions by prospective students. Whether that’s creating custom landing pages for your different student personas (ie. international, first-years, etc.), utilizing a personalized student portal or employing personalized digital ad and/or email campaigns, these digital tools will build trust between your brand and your audience.

Don’t skimp on your social media

Since the onset of COVID-19, social media usage worldwide is up by 44 percent, and 40 percent of consumers are spending longer on social media sites due to a lack of in-person connection. Not only are your prospective students on social media, but it’s also one of the most budget-friendly marketing tools to use. However, with varying platforms and strategies, it’s hard to know what tactics a higher education institution should take. Here’s what we would suggest:

Utilize chat bots

This is another great way to bring that personalized touch to your brand without a lot of labor. The pandemic has restricted in-person appointments, however you can still have those personalized conversations answer questions and concerns by using chatbots. Using this streamlined method can also help your prospective students through the enrollment and application process. Try chatbots with LinkedIn Conversation ads and FB Messaging ads. Check out how we did this for our client, Lindenwood University here.

Utilize TikTok + Instagram Reels

Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has rapidly grown to be the seventh-largest social media platform. As of 2020, 62 percent of users are between the ages of 10-29 and nine out of ten of these users open the app multiple times a day. On Instagram, there’s a reported 1 billion monthly active users as of 2020, 70 percent of whom are under the age of 35. Overall, 29 percent of teens say TikTok is their preferred social platform, and for Instagram it’s 25 percent. All of these statistics say that it’s a no brainer for a higher education institution to have some sort of organic strategy for short-term video across both platforms. At the very least, it would help increase brand awareness, brand recall and new student acquisition. 

Utilize Influencers

Morning Consult reports that “72 percent of Gen Z and Millennials follow influencers, and teenagers are more likely to follow many.” Taking advantage of the reach that well-known alumni, professors, and distinguished students is a great way to reach your audience the way they want to be reached – via those who they seek out daily for information and opinions. 

Increase your video content output

Video is a crucial part in any higher education marketing strategy for the simple fact that your students and prospects can’t visit and experience your campus for themselves. So it’s up to the school to create an immersive experience representing the atmosphere of their campus and curriculum to those students at home in front of their computers/mobile devices. It’s imperative for marketers to make those experiences come to life through video in order to drive prospective students to enroll. Some video content ideas could be:

  1. Campus tour videos (check out our work for Ursuline Academy)
  2. Speakers
  3. Day-in-the-life videos
  4. Meet the professors
  5. Department spotlights

Obviously, every school needs their own strategic, brand-driven marketing solutions that are tailored to their specific goals and brand, which is something we can help with. Let’s chat and see how Geile/Leon Marketing Communications can help your higher education institution build a marketing plan that will get you the most return on investment. 

A Video Strategy for Every Phase of the Funnel

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

A Video Strategy for Every Phase of the Funnel

Why video?

It’s a known fact. The play button has become the most compelling digital call-to-action. In the past, video was used as a supporting element in digital marketing campaigns, but within the past five years, that notion began changing, and now video lead generation campaigns can be more powerful and effective than other marketing methods that don’t involve an interactive element.

Studies show that video messages are processed by the human brain 60,000 times faster than just text, the reason being that videos incorporate verbal AND non-verbal communication channels. That means that the viewer is able to pick up on tone of voice, body language, and other visual clues to be able to interpret the information being presented.

In return, videos have a higher level of engagement, thus providing better returns. According to Disruptive Advertising, videos are believed to have 120% more shares than text and images. Therefore (and not surprising), nearly 25% of all the ads you see online have a video component.

Which videos boost lead generation campaigns the most?

When companies are faced with the fact that videos are 12 times more likely to be watched than text is to be read, the question changes from being “Should we use video?” to “What kind of video should we use?” And we’re here to tell you that that question depends on your goals.

At Geile/Leon, we begin every project by working backwards from the client’s goals, and then collaborate on what kind of marketing efforts will support and attain those goals. When we’re looking at video marketing, the same is true. First, you must establish where in the sales funnel you want to reach your consumers.

Geile/Leon’s Video Funnel

If your goal is gaining website traffic, you’ll be speaking to users that most likely have just started their search for your product or services. Just like with blog content, keyword and topic research is important in identifying trends that captivate the right audience and choosing your video subject. Types of videos that speak to the top of the funnel are more than about spreading brand awareness – they must engage your buyer persona and answer any questions they may have. A great place to start could be:

  • An explainer video
  • A whiteboard series

A top-of-the-funnel video must be short and aid in the viewer’s research, which will ultimately position you as a relevant source of information when it comes to interacting with your brand further. Less than a minute is the average video length for spreading brand awareness.

If your goal is to convert leads, then we know you’re speaking to users in the mid-funnel range. Using the following types of videos will help build your brand trust up between your company and the customer:

  • Webinars
  • How-To’s
  • Content Promo
  • Product Demo

Webinars and how-to’s are a great way to convert leads because they can cover a broad range of topics in great depth and provide clear instructions on overcoming a specific challenge, offering the viewer a reason to return to your site for your valuable insight. With promo videos, establishing the viewer’s pain points and how your product or services can resolve them can create a sense of urgency and need for what you’re promoting. 1-3 minutes is a typical video length when users are in the consideration phase, as your videos will need to contain a little more information and provide value.

When you’re searching to close those engaged leads, then we know you’re speaking to those at the very bottom of the funnel. Viewers want to be reassured that you are the best choice. But why would they take your word for it – you have skin in the game. Let your past and current loyal customers talk for you by using testimonial and case study videos. Not only do these types of videos showcase your company’s value through genuine examples, but it attaches a positive personal story to your product or services, which is arguably the best form of advertising. Videos in this stage should be less than two minutes, since the information contained within them are directly telling the viewer what you want them to do and why.

Importance of having a strong CTA

In today’s muddied digital space, it’s not enough to just create engaging video content – the viewer needs to think about the video even after it’s over. That’s why at a strategic point in the video or even afterward, you need to create a clear call-to-action. Whether it’s asking users to check out your related content or driving them to buy a product will depend on what stage in the funnel you are speaking to.

No matter if you’re marketing to consumers or even to other businesses, video marketing’s effectiveness in lead generation is prevalent. Agencies like us understand the importance of video marketing to influence buying decisions and have made it an essential part of our digital service offerings. Recently, we’ve taken our 30 years of commercial and digital video experience completely in-house, cutting the project timeline, communication gaps, and keeping the cost down for our clients. Introducing, G/L Video Content Studios!

If you’re looking to attract high quality leads to improve your conversion rates and provide great returns on your online investments, let’s talk.

TikTok Expansion Hurting Advertisers?

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

TikTok Expansion Hurting Advertisers?

Since the start of the pandemic, millions of people worldwide have found themselves trying to kill time during quarantine, yearning to connect with people both inside and outside their front door. Some families needed an outlet to be together with each other that would allow them to have fun, and other individuals wanted an avenue of creative flow.  

Enter TikTok. 

TikTok is a social media app for video shorts where users can create short dances, lip-sync to their favorite movie quotes, show off their talents, and be funny. It’s free for all to use and easy to start creating content.

And while the platform itself doesn’t release user data, outside firms have been keeping their eye on its user base. And what they’re finding is that it’s substantially grown since the outbreak of COVID-19. In fact, TikTok has generated “the most downloads for any app ever in a quarter” in Q1 2020, according to the app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

A Shift In Audience

Since TikTok was first released in August 2016, its popularity really exploded among young Americans and around the world. According to the most recent Comscore data provided to Adweek, US users 18 and older brought in 22.2 million unique visitors in January, 23.2 million in February, and 28.8 million in March. Then in April, the number skyrocketed to 39.2 million. But it seems as though those numbers are primarily coming from the Millennial demographic. TikTok’s GenZ audience grew by nearly 5 million unique visitors from January to April, but it’s just that the Millennial demographic is growing at a faster rate during quarantine.

In January, there were fewer than 5 million American Millennials (ages 25-34) on the app. In April, there were nearly 11 million.

The percentage of U.S.-based TikTok users aged 18-24 fell 5.8% from January to April. During that same time period, the share of 25- to 34-year-olds rose 5%, and the 35-44 demographic grew 3.2%. With content creation in the social media app on the rise, the need for followers and fame has also led to people trying to scourge for a ‘get TikTok followers app‘, even among the older demographic.

Citation: AdWeek

While the app creators most likely see the expanded user base as a positive, advertisers may not see it as such.

Why Advertisers are Sweating

There’s a lot of unknown about how the shift in demographics and overall expansion of users on TikTok will affect the long-term for marketers, but some believe it will present obstacles. 

“Targeting is still fairly limited on TikTok, so as the audience becomes more diverse, you can open yourself up to a lot of waste,” Melanie Nelson, associate director at The Media Kitchen, told Adweek. “We’ve also seen TikTok increase their prices pretty substantially quarter over quarter, which makes total sense. They have a broader audience that they can put in front of advertisers.”

In fact, according Adweek:

The platform’s sponsored hashtag challenge went from $120,000 in Q4 2019 to $180,000 in Q1 2020, a 50% increase quarter over quarter. In that same period, TikTok’s brand takeover product, where a brand’s ad appears first on all TikTok users’ screens when they open the app, went from $70,000 to $100,000, according to one media buyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Citation: AdWeek

As marketers and businesses see a depletion and cancellation of their ad budgets across countless industries, this increase in cost for paid campaigns on TikTok with wasted spending by not having a more targeted audience build, TikTok may see many advertisers pull their advertising support.

Just like spending just for the sake of spending isn’t wise, targeting a platform just because it’s growing quickly would be a failure to consider the full wealth of data available to marketers. And that’s not to say TikTok is a bad play or a good play! But it would be wise for anyone budgeting what is likely now a limited digital marketing spend would be wise to fully consider what is effective rather than what is popular. 

Luckily, we have decades of experience determining strategies and watching trends come and go. Get in touch and we’ll determine how to maximize the effectiveness of your digital marketing plan.

In a Time of Crisis, Turn to Maslow for Marketing Advice

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

In a Time of Crisis, Turn to Maslow for Marketing Advice

My time during these past few weeks has been occupied much in the same way yours and many others’ has. I spend my time at home worrying. The irony is that we are all isolated while feeling the same sense of worry.  

Is there going to be toilet paper when I brave the grocery store? Is my loved one going to get sick? Heck… am I going to get sick? And I know I’m not alone. 

The word “survival-mode” may be overused (did anyone from Survivor actually risk not making it off the island safely?!), but psychologically, this is where most of the world is at, asking themselves daily, “Are my basic needs going to be met?”

That places me (and millions others around the world) at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The Cliff Notes version is that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychology model that presents itself as a pyramid, with the idea that needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals become concerned about fulfilling the needs at the next level up the pyramid. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

image courtesy of Simply Psychology
image courtesy of Simply Psychology

According to the Wall Street Journal, within the last week of March, 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment. Like I said, millions are at the bottom of this hierarchy. Brands know this, too. Those brands that have been created to serve the top of the hierarchy? Most aren’t relevant right now. But that doesn’t mean they’re out of the game – there’s a way that those brands that are normally serving the top needs can connect with people at the bottom. 

Brands like DoorDash are not only helping those end users get food, but also aiding those locally-owned restaurants by waiving delivery fees and pick-up order commissions. They are also supporting their contracted delivery people, known as Dashers, by moving deliveries to no-contact, and providing them with free hand sanitizer. And for those Dashers that find themselves sick? They’re receiving financial assistance  from DoorDash. 

Another shift in DoorDash’s services that we’re seeing: they’ve partnered with convenience stores nationwide so that they’re not only able to provide their customers with food, but also household essentials.

Locally, a St. Louis brand is really changing up their business model to help those in need. Arch Apparel, who defines themselves as “A St. Louis-inspired streetwear brand,” announced on Instagram that they will be creating and selling masks to help in this pandemic. They’re donating a portion of the proceeds to a local group providing meals to St. Louis health care workers. Additionally, all of these meals will be sourced from local restaurants. A great example of St. Louisans helping St. Louisans.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-kziacpWvs/

And to keep the examples coming from our home base here in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch announced that it will start producing hand sanitizer. The company said they would consult with the American Red Cross and other nonprofit partners to figure out the best places to send the newly bottled sanitizer, using its extensive supply and logistics network to get the sanitizer into production and into the hands of those who need it. This is just the latest effort in the brand’s long list of supporting communities during times of crisis.

And in a way, that’s the great thing about the economy. At its core, it’s designed to meet people at their position within the hierarchy and fulfill their needs. There are probably hundreds of examples of brands shifting to reach people at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs during these difficult times, and that list probably grows by the day. 

It’s important to listen to your customers, discover what they need and strive to demonstrate how the brand can fulfill their needs. But never in our lifetimes have these needs been greater, so it is inspirational to see the empathetic response from so many brands. We believe that is how we will succeed, by working together and focusing on maximizing your Return on Empathy.

Optimizing Your Video for Social: How to Create an Oscar-Worthy Performance

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Optimizing Your Video for Social: How to Create an Oscar-Worthy Performance

Online video is helpful, if not essential, to a successful social media strategy. However, this goes far beyond simply just uploading an existing asset to your profile. No matter what type of video,  whether it’s a television commercial to something you shot on your smartphone, uncut and poorly lit, it’s important to abide by a few key rules of thumb when posting video as part of your social strategy. So what makes an online video well suited for social media? The answers aren’t complicated, but they are crucial.

Online Video Checklist

First and foremost, you’ve got to grab the user’s attention immediately. Our tendency as a social media user is to just keep scrolling, so if you as a brand don’t grab their eyeballs and hold on for dear life, then your video is dead in the water.

Keep in mind that browsing social media feeds is an overwhelmingly mobile activity, with mobile social media time ranging between 63% for those over 50 years old and 78% for those between the ages of 18 to 34. With users scrolling through a never-ending feed full of more and more content to discover, you have very little time to grab their attention.

Data from Facebook and Nielsen shows that 47% of the value of a video campaign comes within the initial three seconds of a video and 75% from the initial ten seconds. Auto-play will give you a hand here, since it immediately immerses the user into your video as soon as it pops up in their feed, but then it’s up to you to keep them there. That makes the first few seconds incredibly important in your video.

Next, make sure you test vertical video. Since the majority of viewers of your social media video will be on their mobile devices oriented to portrait mode, you shouldn’t make them have to rotate their devices to get the full effect of your video. Spoiler alert: they won’t. Creating a video oriented towards the way the viewers are already using their device is especially important when targeting a younger generation. Utilizing vertical video will also demand more attention from the user as it will utilize the majority of the viewing screen.

Beyond ensuring your video is attention-grabbing off the bat and vertically oriented, you should expect viewers to watch the video without sound. The majority of auto-played videos default to having the sound disabled, and research from Digiday shows that the majority of people (up to 85%) never turn the sound on for a video in their feed.

If you don’t create a video that communicates your message without sound, then it doesn’t stand a chance of capturing most viewers’ interest. Instead,emphasize visually appealing shots and incorporate subtitles or text to communicate your message if words are even required. That’s why becoming a visual storyteller has gained so much importance in online video.

Finally, choose your thumbnail wisely. Social media users do have the option to disable auto-play for videos in their feeds. If they do that, then a compelling thumbnail image for your video is the best way to intrigue users enough to click and watch your video. Think of your thumbnail as your call-to-action to press play.

So let’s put that into a quick checklist you can utilize whenever you’re going to post a video on social media. Ask yourself:

  1. Will this capture the attention of the audience within the first few seconds?
  2. Am I utilizing vertical video to better optimize for my mobile users?
  3. Do I need audio to fully tell this video story?
  4. Would my chosen thumbnail entice users to click the play button?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, maybe rethink how your video plays into your social media strategy and the best practices of social video.

It’s not hard to make an online video, but it can be challenging to make a compelling online video that reaches who you want and where you want in the sales funnel. Luckily, we’re here to help. Get in touch and see how G/L Content Studios and our social team can create targeted social and digital video campaigns for your brand.

Trending from G/L: Instagram’s Hidden Like Count Test

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Trending from G/L: Instagram’s Hidden Like Count Test

Instagram is positive. It’s happy. It’s bright. It makes the users ‘feel good’. But, is the pressure to align with Instagram’s “happy” culture causing users to actually be less happy “IRL?” While no one’s questioning Instagram’s impact on users’ purchasing decisions, a recent test by Instagram could change the way advertisers and influencers use the platform altogether.

Let me explain.

Twitter is known in the social media community as probably the best way to directly, in real time, engage with your audience. But, it can also be a catalyst for bullies. Twitter is a notorious hotbed of abuse, so much so that the social platform has recently abandoned its previously “reactive” approach towards abusive content, and begun to take action on how to be proactive and preventative when it comes to abusive content. On the other end of the spectrum, Instagram looks to be the friendliest of the social media platforms. The visually-led community cultivates positive and motivational messaging, where posts that go viral tend to have a positive message, and where many of the most famous accounts are of dogs and cats.

But some mental health experts say that this positivity presents a unique problem. It encourages its users to post upbeat and staged photos that others could be misleading to others and potentially harmful. Scarlett Dixon is a primary example.

The fashion blogger posted a promoted photo of herself having breakfast, with the intention of promoting Listerine mouthwash. The photo was quickly screenshotted and posted on Twitter, where users called out the inauthenticity of the image. The user stated, “Instagram is a ridiculous lie factory made to make us all feel inadequate.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnIlqUShl31/?utm_source=ig_embed

The tweet took off, with more than 111,000 likes and almost 25,000 retweets. Dixion even responded to comments calling her fake, saying, “My feed isn’t a place of reality. I mean, who spends their time in such a beautiful city, perched on a ledge, ice-cream in hand and smile permanently affixed to her face? It’s staged, guys.”

It’s for this reason alone that experts are looking at how harmful Instagram is to its users mental health. In a 2017 survey by the Royal Society for Public Health, 14- to 24-year-olds scored Instagram as the top social platform that most negatively impacts their quality of sleep, their fear of missing out, and their body image.

“It’s a reward cycle, you get a squirt of dopamine every time you get a like or a positive response on social media,” explains psychologist Emma Kenny when speaking to Cosmopolitan about the effect of social media likes on one’s mental health.“It’s like a hit, similar to the way you feel when you have a drink. The social media like triggers that reward cycle and the more you get it, the more you want it.”

Now, Instagram is testing out a way to possibly combat these negative effects on its users, but it might be at the expense of its advertisers, and more specifically, its influencers.

Imagine an Instagram where no one but you can see how many likes or followers you have. That’s exactly what Instagram is currently testing internally. Researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered the change in a beta view on her Instagram, and Instagram confirmed the testing with TechCrunch.

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who share a post will see the total number of likes it gets,” says Instagram in a pop-up message about the feature test.

An Instagram spokesperson said that the testing is a result of the company trying to find ways “to reduce pressure on Instagram,” which is likely their way of addressing how this validation culture has been shown to hurt mental health and self esteem.

With influencers’ income solely dependent on their engagement rates and likelihood of a post “going viral,” this change can directly hurt their business. By hiding their engagement on posts, influencers could find it harder to get deals with businesses for sponsored content. Brands need to see engagement on content before tapping an influencer to rep their product so that they can gauge their ROI. It would also make it near impossible for users to figure out which posts are popular on the platform, and therefore, influential. For a social media specialist like me, it will be harder to learn what kind of content is resonating with the Instagram community.

As this testing concludes and impacts possible changes on the platform, it will be interesting to see how Instagram social media strategies change across the board for influencers, businesses and advertisers alike.

If you’re in the market for the creation of a social media strategy to fully optimize your business’s digital footprint that will directly improve sales, brand awareness, and engagement, let’s chat.

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