Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Weekly Bias: Instagram Sees Exponential Growth Related to Stories

Pedigree flips the script for a pet adoption campaign, Instagram Stories are attributed with exponential growth of the platform, and video content is still king. This and more in this week’s Weekly Bias.

Get Maximum Value from Influencer Video Content

It’s no secret that video content is king these days, which means influencer video content is also important. Allowing influencers creative freedom with their video content, as well as showcasing influencers in the brand’s video content are two ways to increase the value of the videos. However, it’s also vital that brands use influencers who are relevant to the content, looking more for engagement than sheer number of followers. Read more on B2C.

Instagram’s Exponential Growth Related to Instagram Stories

It took just four months for Instagram to go from 600 to 700 million users, showing exponentially faster growth than it has in previous months. Instagram insiders attribute much of this growth to the Snapchat-esque Instagram Stories feature, which now sees 200 million daily users, more than Snapchats 161 million daily users. Sad news for Snapchat, who has seen an 82% decline in growth since last August. Read more on the growth trend on TechCrunch.

Fake News Gets Debunked by Google Algorithms

Fake news has been in the…well, in the news a lot lately as brands like Facebook and Google do their part to shine a light on the epidemic and bring awareness to online users. Google has gone one step further, updating the search algorithm in an effort to bury fake news stories. Google’s “raters”, the 10,000 person-strong team armed with assessing search results, have been told to flag low-quality indexes, or those that are conspiratorial in nature. Read more on Bloomberg Technology.

Pets Adopt Humans in Pedigree’s New Adoption Campaign

Playing on the fact that a large majority of humans spend their waking moments in front of a screen, BBDO Agency in New York used reality to create an ad campaign that is both familiar and a bit uncomfortable, showing these humans on screen in cages waiting to be adopted by a dog. It’s a tug on the heartstrings that also sends a beautiful message with no spoken words at all – “Sometimes you need a dog as much as a dog needs you. Adopt.” To see the ad spot, visit AdWeek.

Collective Bias, an Inmar Company, Publishes Landmark Research Study Measuring Sales Impact of Influencer Marketing

BENTONVILLE, Ark., April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Collective Bias, Inc., the leader in shopper-focused influencer marketing, and an Inmar Company, today announced a milestone for social content measurement and its impact on driving in-store sales. The Power of Influence: A Window into ROI is the first industry report to comprehensively analyze social campaigns at scale across multiple methodologies and product categories. The study shows the effect of online influencers on brick-and-mortar sales metrics and sets a new standard for the industry, focusing on bona fide sales lift not simply Earned Media Value (EMV). Using Collective Bias’ proprietary measurement platform, Inmar Analytics, and partner analysis through Nielsen Catalina Solutions and Placed.com, the report directly ties increases in metrics such as foot traffic, basket size and coupon redemption to influencer marketing initiatives.

Methodologies and Results
During 2016 Collective Bias measured sales results for 11 influencer campaigns conducted over an 8- to 12-week period for national brands spanning five CPG categories. The report includes analysis across more than 450 influencers. The research also concludes that there is a wide variance in performance, driven largely by the advertiser category, seasonality, price point, purchase frequency, and budget size. Across categories, influencer content significantly outperformed control groups.

Loyalty Card Study

  • By pairing Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) frequent shopper and loyalty card data with Collective Bias’ first-party audience data, this study examined a campaign for a major confection brand at multiple retailers. The analysis measured a 7.6x return on ad spend (ROAS), by weighing households exposed to the campaign’s influencer content versus an unexposed control group.

Promotions Tie-In

  • This analysis measured the impact of Collective Bias influencer content on promotional/coupon redemptions rates and sales for two campaigns – a national rice brand and a frozen foods brand, both at major retailers. The rice brand saw a 45% redemption rate. The brand’s benchmark was 15%, representing a 3x lift as contrasted by industry digital coupon redemption rates of 8% in food categories as reported by Inmar Analytics.

Retail Sales Lift Analysis

  • By using client-supplied POS data and forming test and control groups across multiple retailer regions, Collective Bias measured sales lift for campaigns across several CPG products. In one example for a major laundry detergent, based on a $75k campaign spent, the brand saw a sales lift of $233k – representing a 3.1x ROAS.

In-Store Traffic Analysis

  • Through mobile geo-fencing and measurement partner Placed.com, the impact of influencer marketing campaigns on driving in-store foot traffic to large retailer locations was analyzed. By examining the behavior of those exposed to influencer content versus an identical unexposed control, results showed that of the group exposed to influencer content, 48% visited the retailer within four days vs. only 29% in the identical but unexposed control.

“Within the marketing and advertising landscape, the widespread use of influencer campaigns by brands is a relatively new development, and one which has been primarily lauded for generating awareness and buzz,” said Bill Sussman, President, Collective Bias. “We have always been pioneers in this industry, and now, we are setting a new standard for accountability. We know our advertisers are not satisfied with hazy metrics. Now with the power of Inmar Analytics, we can truly understand the data science online influencers and content, what is driving in-store activity and the real numbers that show return on spend.”

Measuring digital campaigns and their impact on e-commerce sales is typically a straightforward process with all engagements and transactions occurring within a semi-closed online ecosystem, like an e-cart or online checkout system. Tying these digital campaigns – particularly influencer campaigns – to in-store activity requires rigorous analysis, scientific data correlation and a view beyond EMV as a measure of ROI. The research also concludes that there is a wide variance in performance, driven largely by the advertiser category, seasonality, price point, purchase frequency and budget size.

“What makes this study significant is its breadth,” said Irv Turner, Vice President, Analytics and Applied Data Sciences for Collective Bias. “We didn’t settle on a singular way of looking at influencer marketing’s impact nor on one particular use case. This study irrefutably proves influencer marketing drives results.”

To download the full report, visit here. For more information, please visit Collectivebias.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

About Collective Bias and Inmar
At the forefront of influencer marketing and measurement, Collective Bias’ proprietary data and technology enables influencer selection and management, resulting in campaigns that drive true engagement and impact sales for leading brands across multiple verticals. Collective Bias was named one of Forbes’ “Most Promising Companies” three years in a row and listed in the “Inc. 5000.”  Social Fabric® is Collective Bias’ hand-selected community of over 9,000+ shopping-focused influencers with an aggregate multi-channel reach in excess of 80 million.

Collective Bias is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Inmar, Inc. Anyone who has redeemed a coupon, filled a prescription or returned a product, has touched Inmar. We apply technology and data science to improve outcomes for consumers and those who serve them. As a trusted intermediary for over 35 years, Inmar has unmatched access to billions of consumer and business transactions in real time. Our analytics, platforms and services enable engagement with shoppers and patients, and optimize results. Together Collective Bias and Inmar are set to measure influencer marketing’s impact along the entire purchase funnel.

Contact:
Holly Pavlika
HollyPavlika@collectivebias.com
917-763-4531

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Why Marketers Shouldn’t Believe Instagram, Snapchat Are Equal for Influencers

This article by Holly Pavlika, SVP of Content and Marketing for Collective Bias, originally appeared on AdWeek.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in the case of Instagram versus Snapchat, imitation may also be fighting words.

Last August, Instagram’s launch of its now wildly popular Stories feature appeared to forgo any subtlety as an attempt to poach Snapchat’s defining 24-hour ephemeral content feature of the same name, Snapchat Stories.

Instagram has not been shy in its admission of the practically identical offerings, either—CEO Kevin Systrom candidly told TechCrunch that Snapchat deserved all the credit for the concept.

Yet consumers tend to care most about the experience and interface—areas where Instagram Stories is arguably already superior to Snapchat Stories despite obvious similarities.

In fact, a Delmondo study found roughly a 40 percent drop in unique viewers after measuring 21,500 Snapchat Stories starting in July 2016 (just before Instagram stories came out) through November 2016.

Snapchat’s overall growth rate of daily active users has been dramatically decelerating in recent months as well, causing speculation that the platform may have plateaued.

Regardless, brand marketers might be having trouble telling Instagram and Snapchat apart these days, and there are several aspects to consider when prioritizing one channel over another—especially when it comes to influencer marketing.

Notably, influencer marketing company Collective Bias has been methodically testing and exploring solutions for brands to leverage Instagram Stories utilizing Instagram influencers.

Here are a few reasons why Instagram is proving to be the preferred platform versus Snapchat:

Larger overall audience

Although Instagram got a head start and launched one year before Snapchat, there are more than 600 million monthly active Instagram users, compared with more than 300 million for Snapchat. That’s a considerable difference in audience size and when thinking about the potential reach of each channel.

Not to mention, Instagram’s user base shows no signs of slowing down, with 2017 projected to be the year when more than one-half of all social network users will use Instagram.

It’s also worth noting that in addition to the slowing growth rate of Snapchat, which became widely known for its coveted younger user base, much of its growth now is coming from older Americans, and its usage projections for the 24-and-under demographic have decreased.

For influencers, Instagram affords much broader exposure for their content when compared with Snapchat.

Better identifiable insights

Think of influencers as one-person businesses. By switching accounts over to Instagram for Business as “public figures,” influencers can take advantage of the various insights the platform provides.

Although analytics features are somewhat rudimentary for Instagram, they are still more accessible than Snapchat. The ephemeral, organic nature of Snapchat means that metrics are essentially a scattered assortment of manually extractable data.

While elements like screenshot totals or completion and fall-off rates can shape a better understanding of how Snapchat users are engaging with content, this still doesn’t overcome the platform’s biggest measurement barrier. The fleeting nature of Snapchat’s content may be revolutionary for social sharing, but it is a nightmare for measurement—temporary content means temporary metrics. Brands and influencers would be required to perform daily monitors and invest considerable time into Snapchat to ensure accurate data.

Conversely, Instagram offers the permanent feed, and its business profiles provide filters to look back on content performance retrospectively up to two years.

Stronger Facebook relationship

Perhaps the steal of the decade occurred in 2012, when Facebook purchased then-13-person startup Instagram for a cool $1 billion—today, Instagram is worth upward of $50 billion and has become invaluable for Facebook’s future.

Obviously, Facebook will go to great lengths to protect and support its investment, which further fortifies Instagram’s market dominance.

And while Instagram is backed by a company that could realistically be worth $1 trillion one day, Snapchat has a less-than-amicable relationship with it. It’s hard to imagine anyone defying Facebook, but that’s exactly what Snapchat did in rejecting Facebook’s all-cash acquisition offer of at least $3 billion several years ago. Given the now $34 billion valuation for Snapchat following its initial public offering, the decision has clearly paid off so far, but it doesn’t help the whole, “If you’re not with me, you’re against me” scenario with Facebook.

Make no mistake, Facebook has not forgotten about Snapchat as the one that got away, and the OG social network juggernaut has an abundance of resources at its disposal. Instagram could easily emerge as the mainstream replacement for Snapchat in the coming years, and if Instagram’s updates don’t convince you that Facebook is out to get Snapchat, then just check out its new Messenger Day feature.

Broader search functionality

Content sharing on Snapchat is more peer-to-peer oriented and, aside from submitting stories for consideration to be featured on public filters, users tend to be more private with their use of the platform.

Snapchat is less intuitive than Instagram for searching and discovering content. Instagram’s wide use of hashtags and other more organized search features makes it easier to hone in on influential users or specific topics.

With 70 percent of the most-used Instagram hashtags being branded, there is clearly a consumer appetite for engagement with influencers and brands on this channel. In fact, just a couple of years ago, Instagram brand engagement was reported by Forrester Research as 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and 84 times higher than Twitter.

While neither platform is going anywhere anytime soon, the similarities between Instagram and Snapchat should give marketers pause when deciding where to invest time and effort. After cloning many of Snapchat’s core features, it’s no secret that Instagram is making serious moves to capture market share. There are also plenty of indicators to support Instagram as the more optimal influencer channel over Snapchat.

Either way, marketers should experiment with both platforms to determine which will ultimately best support their business.

 

Get Grilling: Influencers Bring a Taste of the Season

With the weather getting warmer, more and more people are heading outdoors for fun activities and for meal time. The spring and summer months are ripe for grilling season. In fact, a survey by Weber GrillWatch shows that Mother’s Day through Labor Day is prime grilling season, with 45% of people grilling for their moms and 4th of July being the peak grilling day with 87% of survey takers firing up the charcoal.

INFLUENCERS SHOWCASE GRILLING RECIPES

Influencers can help brands launch grilling season by creating unique recipes specifically for the grill, whether it’s salads, mail dishes, sides, or desserts.

Dinner at the Zoo shared the recipe for Grilled Sriracha Shrimp while showing how Kingsford charcoal is part of their Father’s Day celebration.

To help shine the spotlight on the opening of Price Chopper, Grumpy’s Honey Bunch created a delicious Blue Moon Chipotle Chicken Marinade.

For those with a more sophisticated palate, Platings and Pairings whipped up some Grilled Oysters with Habanero Butter made with El Yucateco hot sauce.

Perfect for 4th of July cookouts, The Melrose Family shares how to create all the fixings for a Burger Bar.

And of course, grilling wouldn’t be complete without dessert! Old House to New Home used Hershey’s Sundae Dream to create s’mores on the grill.

Whether it’s for a holiday or just for dinner in the middle of the week, grilling during the summer months is something we love to do. Influencers can showcase brands with unique recipes, fun ways to cook on the grill, or gift ideas for the grill master in your home!

Marketing to Hispanics: Stats You Need to Know

With sales of Hispanic food and beverages projected to reach $21 billion in 2020, the influence of Hispanic culture in the U.S. cannot be denied. Being 55 million strong, Hispanics make up 18 percent of the U.S. population and boast $1.5 trillion in spending power. That’s no small chunk of change. Hispanic shoppers are a crucial demographic for brands and retailers to engage with as their market size continues to grow. Here are some statistics and insights to advise your marketing strategies.

Young Hispanics are proving their influence.

U.S. Hispanic shoppers are more engaged throughout the path to purchase.

  • 38% search for sales and promotion deals online before making a shopping trip (IRI Worldwide)
  • 24% percent compare prices offline before making a shopping trip (IRI Worldwide)

U.S. Hispanics are significantly influenced by social media and blogs.

  • When buying beauty/skincare products, 33% read a blog and 33% get information from social media, respectively (IRI Worldwide)

U.S. Hispanics prefer inexpensive and healthy food.

  • 68% cook more frequently at home (Statista)
  • 67% select products to create more meals at the lowest total cost (Statista)
  • 59% bring snacks/food from home to work/school (Statista)
  • 47% eat healthy foods even though it’s more expensive (Statista)
  • 46% shop around to get better grocery deals (Statista)

U.S. Hispanics are online and on mobile.

  • 83% of Hispanics who access the internet on a mobile device use it while in a store to inform a purchase in real time (Think with Google)
  • They use the internet more than TV when gathering information about a purchase (Think with Google)
  • Among those who recall seeing online ads and content, 93% of them take action, such as performing a search, visiting a company’s website or making a purchase (Think with Google)

5 Things We’ve Learned from the Influencer Marketing Industry

This article by Amy Callahan originally appeared on Huffington Post.

I founded Collective Bias in 2009. Our journey began with an idea jotted down on a napkin, and now I’m honored to say that we’re widely recognized as a leader in influencer marketing. A lot has changed in those eight years, and we’ve learned a thing or two about how to successfully work with influencers and how to help brands get the most out of their influencer marketing campaigns.

#1 – Show respect.

In the early days of influencer marketing, marketers were more respectful. Today marketers are too controlling. They expect influencers to do and say whatever the brand requests. This is the worst thing you could do as a brand. After consulting with legal experts, we found out that this could get you in trouble with the FTC. There is a lot of interpretation with the published FTC guidelines, but we believe if an influencer is going to use the disclosure “in my own opinion” then it should be their opinion and not supplied copy from marketers.

Show respect by engaging with them. Influencers spent time and effort building their influence and trust among their respective networks…and they expect the same from us as marketers. During the honeymooning stage of Influencer Marketing and Social Media, there was much more engagement between brands and influencers. Everyone on both sides got very excited when either listened and responded. It was, after all, a new form of advertising that allowed a two-way conversation. Don’t take this medium for granted. Marketers who spend time engaging with their influencers and advocates will only see positive results.

#2 – Trust and unleash.

Trust influencers and unleash them to do what you’re paying them to do. They are business professionals, and have done this for a living for awhile. They know what they’re doing. Just trust them. They will respect your brand, just like you will respect their work. This trust will work out in your favor, especially if there is a negative situation that arises with your product. In the early days, one of the most frequently asked questions we heard from clients was, “How can I control what’s being said about my product?” I know this can be hard for marketers. But let the influencer be creative and let them use their own voice. After all, that’s what their audience is used to. Prescribing copy and content will stand out like a sore thumb and like I said earlier, it will violate FTC guidelines. In our experience, we’ve seen the best content come from the campaigns with the least amount of guardrails.

#3 – Stop glamorizing.

We live in a world that is somewhat shaped by the media. The media has to stop glamorizing influencers. It has set unrealistic expectations. It’s affecting authenticity. There is a general lack of seriousness that is not good for the industry. To avoid falling into this trap, marketers should select influencers who are in the business of influencing. These influencers understand how to create high-quality content and how to work with brands. Marketers should require quality and authenticity. Do this by identifying influencers based on their passion for your product or for your category. Finding influencers who already have an affinity toward your brand/category only helps increase the authenticity and credibility in the content they produce for you.

#4 – Think beyond the celebrity.

The media has glamorized influencers so much that some marketers rely on celebrities too much or think that they are the only route. This is fine if you can afford it and if your only KPI is reach. However, several studies have shown that celebs don’t generate much (if any) engagement for brands. Last year, we ran a study of more than 14,000 U.S. consumers and found 70% of millennials prefer product endorsements by non-celebrity influencers. Only 3% said they would consider buying a product in store that was endorsed by a celebrity. So if you are a marketer trying to engage the millennial audience, celebrity endorsements probably aren’t the best use of your budget or time.

#5 – Don’t be gullible.

Just like fake news is a thing…fake numbers are unfortunately also a thing. Influencer Marketing is a strategy that is here to stay and according to a study by Launch Metrics, 62% of marketers surveyed implemented an influencer campaign in 2016. The top question we get from clients, though, is what’s the ROI? Influencer Marketing ROI and metrics have been difficult to define. We are all doing it in different ways. There is no standard industry metric, unfortunately, but I believe 2017 will be the year that a standard metric is set and true ROI will be defined for our industry. Until then, be sure to truly understand the metrics reported to you. Are they verified? Are they showing true engagement and influence on purchase intent? All these questions should be asked, and most Influencer Marketing companies should be able to answer them.

Whether these tips are common sense or serve as a good reminder for you, there is no doubt that this industry has changed, and our mindset about Influencer Marketing has evolved. In my opinion, these five pillars will always remain at the core of an effective Influencer Marketing strategy.

Which Is Best: Micro, Power Middle Or Celebrity Influencers?

The latest declaration in marketing is “micro influencers” versus “power middle” influencers or celebrity influencers. Which is the best option for your brand?

But first, there needs to be a standardization of what constitutes the difference. MediaKix says micro influencers are anyone with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. However, 100,000 followers does not constitute micro-influencer in our opinion.

We would consider power middle influencers anyone with over 20,000 followers. We studied our 9,000+ influencer community and found that, at about 100,000 followers, the engagement drops off considerably. The sweet spot for reach and engagement from our study is typically between 35k and 65k in followers. This would leave the micro influencer definition as any influencer with less than 20,000 followers. It’s not about the size of the following; marketers should be looking for engagement with the audience.

The sweet spot for reach & engagement is between 35k - 65k in followers. #influencermarketing Click To Tweet

Here’s how to define the spectrum of influencers:

• micro-influencers: < 10,000 followers
• power middle influencer: 20,000 to 250,000 followers; perhaps as high as 250k but varies based on category. An automotive influencer with 250k would be considered a  web celeb while beauty influencer with 250k in followers would fall into the power middle.
• web celeb: 250,000 to millions of followers
• celebrity: millions of followers

The truth is it’s neither micro, power middle, web celebs or celebrity influencers alone are the way to go. The truth is it can, and should be, any combination of the above.

Influencer selection all starts with determining objectives and KPIs. 

If your objective is brand/product awareness:

If you’re looking to drive tremendous buzz then a celebrity might very well be the way to go. There is no doubt with millions of followers a celebrity possesses the reach to create tremendous awareness. But as is true for every influencer, celebrities must be chosen for their authenticity and brand fit.

I happen to adore Chrissy Teigen. She has a very engaged audience, and she speaks her mind in a fresh, honest way, often with disarming humor. Plus her audience loves her. Do they believe Chrissy uses Tresemme? I can’t honestly attest to that. But I would place bets, and I’m not a betting woman, that micro and power middle influencers would use the products before they write word one about the product.

Chrissy’s success as a brand isn’t tied to the success of the product, and her personal brand is so much bigger than that of the brand. However, a micro or power middle influencer needs his/her relationship with each brand they work with. Each relationship builds her stature as an influencer. If a power middle influencer recommends a brand and the audience likes the brand they have recommended, the more his/her audience learns to trust his/her opinion. It is this trust with audiences that makes micro and power middle influencers so valuable to brands. These influencers have the ability to get audiences to listen to messages a brand often misses the mark on. 

RELATED CONTENT: Is Your Brand Staying Authentic?

If your objective is to drive purchase consideration and sales:

If you are looking to drive or impact purchase decisions, a study Collective Bias conducted showed that celebrities are not the path to take. In fact, 30 percent of consumers said they were more likely to consider purchasing a product when the product is endorsed by a non-celebrity influencer. That said, you could have a multi-tiered influencer plan using a celebrity for buzz and awareness, and layer in a combination of micro and power influencers. Each type could be part of a channel strategy and content strategy. We often have brands who will utilize a power middle influencer’s video or content on their social channels, website and even in-store.

Micro #influencers have less reach, but better engagement b/c they are close to their audience. Click To Tweet

Micro influencers have much less reach, but can garner tremendous engagement because they are closer to their audience. As an influencer’s audience grows, it becomes much harder to keep that personal touch that is all-important for building trust. Many brands tend to go for the bigger numbers but, in truth, micro influencers with their smaller, niche communities can have a big impact if you can enlist enough of them at scale. It’s also important to remember that the micro influencer might be the macro influencer a year from now, so building a relationship early on can instill a sense of loyalty that may be very important down the road. So building a plan with a mix of types of influencers just makes sense.

If your objective is a successful new product launch:

If you are launching a new product, shoot for a  mix of all the influencers if you have the budget for it. Start with a celebrity to kick start brand awareness, but be sure to negotiate some “extras” with the celebrity.

For example, interaction between your celebrity and the key macro influencers you are considering can be a great way to build tremendous excitement for your new product. Jessica Alba had this advantage when she started Honest Company. She played the role of celebrity and attended many blogger events where she interacted with both micro and macro influencers.

Christy Turlington did the same with the launch of Every Mother Counts. She started following and interacting with hundreds of moms on Twitter prior to her launch. She enlisted an army of moms well in advance who shared her passion. Both Jessica and Christy leveraged micro, power middle and their own celebrity very successfully. 

RELATED CONTENT: How to Use Instagram to Launch Products

If the objective is content creation:

Looking to employ influencers where the objective is to create content? Then celebrities are definitely not the answer. Celebrities will require tremendous sums of money per piece. In this case, again, a combo of micro and power middle influencers is the answer. Often these micro influencers are hungry and will go the extra mile to create content outside the scope of your request. We see this all the time. This extra effort makes them memorable to the brands and companies they work with. And influencers learn very early on that it’s all about content and sharing across channels to build their personal brands.

In conclusion, influencers can bring tremendous value to brands whether they are micro influencers, power middle influencers and even celebrities. It all starts with a deep dive at the start of any campaign into your objectives, KPIs, channel and content strategies and even audience strategy. It’s time for influencer marketing to be given a seat at the table with other marketing disciplines because influencers can play a role with everything from corporate initiatives, to shopper marketing to traditional advertising.

Want to learn more about the “Sweet Spot of Influence”? Get your free copy of our white paper here

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The Weekly Bias: Facebook Seeks to End Fake News

Brands focus more on middle-age than Millennials, B2B videos get a facelift, and Facebook tackles the war on fake news, all in this week’s Weekly Bias.

B2B Videos Don’t Have to Be Boring

Most B2B videos show the sign out front, perhaps the factory assembly line or offices, but B2B videos, according to Forbes, don’t have to be this way. Among other things, it is recommended to consider not only your target audience, but the platform on which the video will live, and customize the video for that platform. Above all, make it shareable. For more tips, read the full article on Forbes.

Could Facebook Fact-Checkers End Fake News?

Facebook has received quite a bit of criticism regarding their current system for tackling fake news – by simply relying on users to flag posts. Facebook is now going to pay fact-checkers to monitor news, and they will also work harder to educate users on how to tell the difference between real and fake news stories shared on the social platform. To read more on the new fact-checkers and Facebook’s push to educate users to be more discerning, read the full article on The Drum.

YouTube Withholds Monetization Until Accounts Hit 10K

YouTube announced five years ago that their Partner Program was open to all creators, allowing anyone who signed up for a YouTube account and uploaded a video to start earning money. This apparently brought on a lot of creators essentially posting other people’s content for the sake of views. YouTube changed their rules, announcing that the Partner Program is now only open to creators with 10,000 lifetime views or more, hoping to gain enough information about the creators in that time to make an educated decision on their authenticity. Read more on The Verge.

Brands Looking to Older Generation in Ads

It seems that some brands are looking at new demographics in their advertising, using older models and brand ambassadors to represent their products that have been primarily geared towards younger consumers. Reebok China has an 80-year-old brand ambassador with serious muscle definition, while other brands are looking to the 50 and older age group for creative marketing. “According to Terri Meyer, co-CEO and founder at creative agency Terri & Sandy, the campaign reflects that ’60 is the new 40.'” Read more in this article on AdAge.

How to Use Instagram to Launch Products

This article by Kirsten Thompson originally appeared on her blog, Sweet Tea, LLC.

There is no denying the social power of Instagram, especially as they continue to roll out new features like Instagram Stories and Instagram Live, and promotional options for brands. There are over 500 million active users on Instagram, and 75% of those users report taking action on an Instagram post, like clicking through to a website. (source)

So it only makes sense to include Instagram in your launch strategy, using a combination of influencers with strong Instagram followings and gorgeous photography or video, to build anticipation and hype.

PRE-LAUNCH PLANNING

You need to take a few things into consideration when mapping out your pre-launch plan for Instagram.

#1 – YOUR GOAL

Carefully consider what your ultimate goal is for this pre-launch hoopla on Instagram before diving in. For example, are you trying to drop people into your sales funnel, or deliver them directly to a landing page? Are you trying to establish yourself as an authority on a particular subject, or grow an existing customer base?

Your actions, and those of your influencers, should directly lead people to fulfilling your ultimate goal. Marketing for a new product or service that is new for your brand is vastly different than launching a new product that will be added to your existing product catalog.

#2 – YOUR SCHEDULE

Determine how far ahead of the big launch day you want to start your pre-launch festivities on Instagram. If you start building hype too soon, people might lose interest and get tired of waiting. Wait too long, however, and Instagram’s new feed may not get your most exciting announcements in front of the people who need to see them.

Be sure to give yourself enough time to bring on and education influencers as well. They will need time to create and plan their content to help promote your product launch.

#3 – YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

The influencers you choose, and the posts they create as part of the launch plan, should directly relate to your target audience. If your brand is launching a new product for a different niche market, be sure the influencers you select will speak to that new niche.

#4 – YOUR AESTHETIC

Influencers should take into account the color scheme or overall feel of their Instagram feed. You want whatever you post to fit neatly into the influencer’s aesthetic while also standing out just enough to be noticed as something extra special. This will help the content to feel organic and authentic, rather than promotional in nature.

INSTAGRAM LAUNCH IDEAS

You can get really creative using Instagram to launch a new product, service, or business. It’s more than just beautiful photos – it truly is a social platform that fosters deep connections and opens the doors for awesome networking, so don’t be afraid to do something a little different from your normal routine.

These ideas will get you started, and I also encourage you to combine a few of these to create an epic launch plan all your own.

COUNTDOWN

Countdowns are great because they build anticipation. Countdowns should be more than just “5 days until the big day!” – think of how you can take people behind the scenes, giving them a tiny taste of what’s to come each day leading up to the launch.

Instagram is known for beautiful photos, but it's also a really amazing micro-blogging community, and ripe for networking. All of these elements combine to make it the perfect place to build hype about your upcoming launch. Read the post to find out how.

Share the backstory of your upcoming product or service – why did you create this thing? Who does it serve? Why is it important to you, and why should others get excited? That’s all part of building excitement. Sharing a countdown on your brand’s Instagram feed is a great opportunity to also showcase some of your influencer’s content each day as part of the countdown.

GIVEAWAY

A giveaway is a great opportunity for you to grow your Instagram following and get your new shiny thing in the hands of someone who can help spread the word organically.

Partner with influencers to do a giveaway for each of their Instagram audiences, incorporate a unique hashtag, and be sure to highlight the winner of each giveaway as they are chosen. Be sure to start the giveaway a few days before launch day, then announce the winner(s) on launch day as part of the celebration.

SNEAK PEEKS

People love to see a peek behind the curtain, and sneak peeks allow you to show people what they have to look forward to.

Instagram is known for beautiful photos, but it's also a really amazing micro-blogging community, and ripe for networking. All of these elements combine to make it the perfect place to build hype about your upcoming launch. Read the post to find out how.

Share what goes into the product you are launching, or testimonials from a beta group or influencers who got a first look. Have influencers show creative uses for your new product on their Instagram channels as well.

INSTAGRAM TAKEOVER

An Instagram takeover is when you virtually take over another person’s Instagram account, or they take over yours, typically for one day. This can be done one of two ways:

Have your influencers create a series of images, captions & hashtags ahead of time, then send them to your brand. These posts will be scheduled out on your brand’s Instagram channel to create several posts over the course of one 24-hour period, highlighting an influencer and how they use your product.

Instagram is known for beautiful photos, but it's also a really amazing micro-blogging community, and ripe for networking. All of these elements combine to make it the perfect place to build hype about your upcoming launch. Read the post to find out how.

Be clear that the influencer should send people to your Instagram account that day, and be active engaging with people in the comment section.

INSTAGRAM STORIES & INSTAGRAM LIVE

Pop into Instagram Stories each day leading up to your big launch day to share what you’re working on, any new announcements or collaborations, any special deals you might be offering, etc. Give people an idea of all the hard work you’re putting into this big launch, and tell them how much it means to you. They’ll appreciate it so much more if you’re transparent.

Go live on Instagram a few times to answer questions about your soon-to-be-launched product or service as well, or share the chaos in the office as your team prepares for launch day. Most consumers don’t ever get a glimpse of the work behind a launch, but Instagram Live is the perfect tool to share those raw and unfiltered glimpses behind the curtain.

For more social media tips for your brand, check out these posts:

Pinterest’s New Visual Search Feature Takes Over the Web

Pinterest, mainly known for discovery, has recently become a successful social commerce platform, giving consumers a seamless experience from discovery to purchase. In fact, 93% of active pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases and 87% said they’ve purchased something because of Pinterest (Millard Brown Digital). Features like its buyable pins and its shopping cart give Pinterest a leg up in commerce compared to its fellow social networks. And now Pinterest is taking over the web, allowing Google Chrome users to leverage its visual search on any website.

How it works

Users have to install Pinterest’s existing browser extension in Google Chrome. Once added, users hover over a website image and click the magnifying glass icon, then zoom in on the exact product or portion of the image they want to search. The extension will return related images on Pinterest directly on the same screen.

What are the Pro’s and Con’s for brands?

Pro: Extends reach of Pins

For brands that already focus on Pinterest, the visual search tool extends the reach of pins to the world wide web. Users no longer have to be on the platform to discover pins. Instead they can use this Chrome extension wherever they are. The beauty is that it drives users back to Pinterest without even being on the platform.

Pro: Optimize product photos for search

Just like SEO is a thing, VSEO (Visual Search Engine Optimization) will become a thing. How can we optimize our photos for visual search? Influencers and brands must consider this when featuring product and lifestyle photos. Be sure to have high-quality images along with relevant details in the description.

Con: Slow adoption for current and new Pinterest users

Although Pinterest has 150 million active monthly users, a potential disadvantage for this new feature is slow adoption of new users. The extension also requires a change in consumer search behavior. With some education and time, we think this will catch on as the feature only presents a more convenient and seamless experience for shoppers.

Con: Requires competitive pricing

This feature creates a new form of shopping for users, and puts pressure on brands to stay competitively priced. Nearly 80% of the entire US population has made an online purchase, and 71% say they shop online to get a better deal. Pinterest’s extension upgrade will force retailers and brands to stay as competitive with pricing as possible.

Pinterest is inherently a search engine. While Facebook and Instagram are doubling down on creating a more relevant content experience for users, Pinterest is investing in optimizing the search experience and creating a seamless experience for social commerce.