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Alison Battisby

The Rise of the Citizen Influencer

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Avocado Social Consultant, Ambi Mistry explores the rise of the citizen influencer, and asks how effective is this marketing technique compared to using celebrity influencers?

For many years now we’ve become accustomed to seeing celebrities and influencers using social media to promote brands. Whether it’s Kim Kardashian pushing tea, or Cristiano Ronaldo flashing his new ‘gifted’ watch, rarely a day goes by without our Twitter and Instagram feeds presenting us with a celebrity declaring their allegiance to a product, many of which are seemingly random, or unclearly related to the interests and audiences of the influencer in question.

A quick search of the ‘#ad #sp #sponsored #paid hashtags’ on Twitter or Instagram will demonstrate the proliferation of influencer advertising. At the time of writing #ad produced 3,624,741 hits on Instagram alone! It’s not difficult to understand why influencer advertising has seen such a fantastic uptake in recent years; brands want to tap into the colossal reach afforded by large numbers of followers and some of the most influential figures (i.e. those with followings of 1m+) can demand fees of up to $100,000 per post!

For example, Louise Thompson (above) and the rest of the Made in Chelsea crew are regularly seen pushing a plethora of brands to their 100K+ followers on Instagram.

Additionally in their 2015 report on Global Trust in Advertising, Nielsen found that 66% of consumers trust the opinions of others online versus on 42% stating trust in banner ads.  

But in reality, how effective is isolated promoted content by an influencer, who is happy to rave about your brand in a single post (often using copy written by the brand’s comms team, and therefore quite obviously striking a contrived, inauthentic tone of voice), and then never to mention your brand or products again?

In addition to this, the Advertising Standards Agency (and the FSA stateside) require all influencer ads across social media to clearly state that they are paid promotions, or else risk reprimand, which further strips influencer ads of real influence, as audiences grow ever wiser of the paid nature of endorsements.

Throw in a couple of widely documented influencer ad blunders, such as Naomi Campbell posting a picture of her new Adidas trainers on Instagram, and copy and pasting the exact email from their team as the caption, which embarrassingly read: Naomi, so nice to see you in good spirits. Could you put something like…”, and you can see why influencer ads may be becoming less effective.   

Certainly, influencer ads can help brands achieve a boost in reach and awareness, but recent data has shown that in terms of engagement, there is an inverse relationship between the number of followers and the number of likes posts generate. Influencers with less than 1000 followers were likely to see an 8% engagement rate in contrast to influencers with 10million + followers who only receive 1.6% engagement.

Welcome to the stage the citizen influencer, the social media user with a modest number of followers, who could help your brand engage an audience more effectively and efficiently than celebrity influencers with followers in the millions. Unlike celebrity influencers, brands are better placed to engage citizen influencers in a meaningful and authentic way, which need not necessarily rely on payment.

Whilst perhaps more time consuming, a campaign to engage citizen influencers in long term relationships is likely to result in higher engagement and ROI. Ways to do this may include investing in social listening to find the perfect, authentic opportunities to add value, such as by offering free samples or advice to citizen influencers when in need. Check out the great example from Esther, founder of TeaHuggers appealing for brand amabassadors below: 

Could your brand offer citizen influencers the opportunity to attend exclusive product-based events or experiences? Or perhaps seek their input when developing new products?

With celebrity influencer advertising proving increasingly ineffective and a growing emphasis on authenticity in brand activity, it seems the power of the citizen influencer is only set to grow! Power to the people!

>> Are you thinking about using citizen influencers? Looking for some advice and tips? Join our active Facebook Group here for free and let us know how it goes!

>> Check out Avocado Social’s latest social media events here to find out where we are teaching next.

 

What is an Instagram Loop and how does it work?

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Have you heard of an Instagram Loop? Don’t worry, we’re about to explain exactly what this trend is.

An Instagram Loop giveaway is a growth strategy which bloggers and businesses have come up with to beat the Instagram algorithm and gain new followers. Much like the Instagram Pod, which we discussed in this blog, it involves finding a group of similar sized businesses and bloggers to work with as a team.

It works well for those looking to increase brand awareness and gain new followers, as you can team up with others that have a similar target audience to you.

How does it work exactly?

  • A Loop giveaway usually consists of 5-10 businesses or bloggers that pool together to offer one big goody bag or pool of prizes.
  • One engaging image is created by the organiser to advertise the giveaway, which shows all of the prizes. The idea is that each of the participants posts the image, and tags in the next business in the image.
  • This list of who tags who, and in what order is predetermined so that entrants follow the competition around in a loop.

For example: All Businesses involved in the Instagram Loop post the competition photo at 10am GMT on a Saturday. In the photo:

Business 1 tags Business 2
Business 2 tags Business 3
Business 3 tags Business 4
Business 4 tags Business 5
Busines 5 tags Business 1

This information (with Business names and @usernames) is sent around prior to the launch of the giveaway, along with the agreed caption and hashtags.

  • It’s important that everyone posts at the exact same time otherwise you will have a break in the loop. Remember people might be in different time zones, so make sure everyone in clear on the time otherwise it’s frustrating for entrants who can’t follow the loop.
  • The caption area of each photo is used to explain the competition to entrants. The caption should explain what the competition prize is, how long the entrants have to enter, and how they enter.
  • Typically in an Instagram Loop giveaway the entrants are asked in the caption of each photo to enter the competition by following each of the businesses tagged in the images and completing the loop back around to the beginning. Usually, entrants are also asked to ‘like’ each of the images in the loop too to further boost engagement and reach.
  • At the end of the competition length, which is usually a few days to give people a chance to promote

Want to look for examples? Just search for #loopgiveaway on Instagram.

What to consider?

It’s good to think about the other businesses you run the Loop giveaway with. Are their followers the right fit for your business? Is the prize that you have all pooled together appealing for your target audience? The idea with an Instagram Loop giveaway is that you can grow your followers and entice those new followers to become customers.

Is there a theme or holiday you can link your Instagram Loop giveaway with? Mother’s Day, May Bank Holidays or Summer are good ideas, to give the campaign more relevance and make the prizes less random. The prizes should be unique to each business to make them even more exclusive. For example, a best-selling or limited edition product.

The goal is to maintain the new followers you acquire long term, not have them unfollow you right after the giveaway has ended. It is advised to break the loop and to detag the businesses from your images so that it is more difficult for entrants to go through and unfollow if they have not won.

You may also want to consider running a promotion such as free delivery or 20% soon after the giveaway so that you can lure your new followers into becoming customers. If this is not relevant then you must consider how you can maintain their new followers, so make sure you keep posting great content!

>> Are you thinking about hosting an Instagram Loop contest? Are you looking for some advice and tips? Join our active Facebook Group here for free and let us know how it goes!

>> Check out Avocado Social’s latest social media events here to find out where we are teaching next.

New social media classes announced for the Summer in London

By | Business Lessons, Latest Articles, Social Media, Social Media Strategy, Social Media Training, Talks and Events | No Comments

Our founder Alison Battisby has been teaching at General Assembly in London for two years and is expanding her classes this summer to reach all social media abilities. 

The new classes include Social Media for Startups and Picture This! Instagram for Business, as well as bestselling evening courses Social Media Strategy Mapping and Social Media Advertising.

The classes are full of all kinds of strategies and tips for small business owners, marketing executives and freelancers of all abilities.

The classes take place at General Assembly’s gorgeous space in Aldgate, and usually take place in the evening from 6-9pm. You can book your places here.

What are Instagram Pods and how do they work?

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You may have heard of the terms Instagram Pods and Instagram Loops recently, particularly as Instagram picks up pace and gains more active users per month than other networks including Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Tumblr.

We’re all looking for new ways to “beat the algorithm” and ensure our posts get seen in the newsfeed. This is done now by either ensuring there is enough engagement (likes and comments).

Instagram Pods

An Instagram Pod is a group of people who have pre-agreed to like and comment each other’s Instagram content. The members of your pod become your Instagram family and the idea is that you all work to support each other in growing your communities.

These groups are either people that know each other personally, have met online through Instagram, or in other communities such as Facebook Groups.

The benefits of being part of an Instagram Pod is that you quickly gain more likes and comments on your post shortly after posting, therefore your posts will perform better in the algorithm. This could be a great way of growing your followers and finding new customers. 

The way Pods work as usually through an Instagram group DM with your other members, where you post a link to every new piece of Instagram content you create. This also means that you need to like and comments on your other Pod members’ content too. As you can imagine, if you are in a Pod of over 20 members this can get pretty overwhelming very quickly – and might put you off Instagram!

The best way of running Pods is to create a small like-minded Pod of other Instagrammers that complement your audience, such as this example below, Creative Biz Pod.

But, there are two potential issues with Instagram Pods.

This kind of activity becomes mechanical, and less natural. This means your insights into your account will be skewed and you won’t be able to understand which content resonates best with your audience. Your impressions, engagement and follower stats will be less accurate to the truth.

This means you will struggle to optimise your account, and to really understand the ROI of your activity.

Finally, Pods could be shut down at any point by Instagram, if they decide to include them as a clause in their Terms of Service. What Instagram could do here is block Pod users, or mark users as potential rule-breakers, and therefore their engagement received could be downranked.

Overall, we think Instagram Pods can become time-consuming and potentially dangerous quickly as they mean you are not getting the most out of Instagram. There’s no harm in liking and commenting on other business content in your network, or when you discover new accounts – in fact we very much endorse this behaviour as a way to grow!

But as soon as it becomes robotic and prescribed, you are heading into dangerous waters as this is exactly what Instagram is trying to crack down on.

Next week we’ll be looking at Instagram Loops to explain what they are, and to determine whether they are worth your time for growing your followers.

Is Twitter still an important marketing tool in 2017?

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Twitter has had its fair share of bad press over the last year, and one of the questions we regularly get asked at Avocado Social is whether the tool is still an important player in the online marketing mix.

The micro-blogging social network has shown signs of slowing down in growth, as it fails to attract new brand new users to sign up to the service. During the Trump election in the final quarter of 2016, Twitter only grew by two million users whereas Facebook grew by 72 million by comparison.

The service has been plagued in recent years with harassment, abuse, bullying, intimidation and threats – much more so than any other social media network.  So much so that last year a rumour spread online that Twitter was planning on shutting down in 2017 due to its failings in protecting people from abuse.

This doesn’t sound great so far – but Twitter has made a number of changes recently in a bid to combat these issues.

Recently the platform has added new tools that will identify people who have been suspended from Twitter and stop them from creating fake accounts, remove blocked or muted tweets from search results and identify abusive or “low quality” tweets in conversations.

Just last week Twitter launched its new Live video API, allowing companies to hook up professional broadcasting and video editing equipment to the service with more powerful integrations than the existing Periscope Producer feature. Could this lure in more live video creators from Facebook and Snapchat?

So is the tool still important for your marketing strategy? 

Twitter is still an important player in the social media world, boasting over 319 million monthly active users. Twitter’s daily active user base is said to be growing, with many using it as a key news resource so checking the platform a number of times a day.

Reports this month suggested that 9-15% of Twitter active accounts are bots, which explains why your followers tend to go up and down regularly. This is something Twitter needs to work harder on.

There are three key ways we believe Twitter still has a very valuable place in the social media landscape for marketing.

  1. Customer Service: Twitter is still cited as one of the top places for customers to complain, so it’s extremely important to keep on top of any mentions of your brand. According to research, 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour. You don’t want to make a customer even more frustrated by not replying to their message. Positive content also deems a reply as this could spark the beginning of a beautiful relationship with a customer or influencer.
  2. Business Networking: We always suggest that simply tweeting your content out isn’t going to get you followers. We believe more meaningful interactions on the platform are where you can begin to stand out and make Twitter work well for you.  Chatting with other businesses and professionals through Twitter is a great way to meet new contacts, engage in industry trends and events and find potential opportunities. We have met many of our clients and colleagues through Twitter, and have heard countless stories of opportunities arising through recommendations and retweets on the platform.
  3. Research: Utilising Twitter for influencer research is a fantastic way of discovering new bloggers, magazines, and experts to engage with from a business perspective. We are a huge fan of Twitter Lists, the free tool which enables you to keep track of a select group of users around a particular niche. Twitter is also a fab tool to gain research around opinions relating to your products or to find out what your customers really think about a topic or trend.

So we conclude that Twitter still has a valuable place in your marketing mix, particularly in business to business contexts.

We don’t see Twitter will be disappearing anytime soon – and that’s why we’re running a Twitter Success Masterclass on Thursday 6th April 2017. For more information and to book, please visit our Events page.

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter Success Masterclass 2017

By | Avocado Social, Business Lessons, Social Media Platforms, Social Media Training, Talks and Events | No Comments

After our successful LinkedIn for Business 2017 event this month, we are continuing our social media workshop series with a Twitter Success Masterclass. The workshop will take place at the gorgeous Soho Works in the Tea Building, Shoreditch on Thursday 6th April 2017 from 9-1pm.

This half day workshop will cover how to use Twitter as a business or influencer,  including content strategy, for events based marketing and also the advertising side.

We’ll be covering the following:

– How to create a credible Twitter presence, that ranks in search

– A strategy for building your followers

– Content: What to post, how frequently, and how to best engage with customers and influencers such as bloggers and journalists

– Best practice posting: Hashtags, @’s, RT’s, images and video and the best way to use them

– A Guide to Twitter Advertising including budgets, content and tracking ROI

Our founder Alison Battisby will be instructing the course. She has both B2C experience with brands including Nokia, Pringles, Brita and Liberty of London as well as B2B experience with Fellowes, Michelin  Tyres and Microsoft.

The course will cost £149 plus VAT per person. To book your spot, prepayment is required. Please email info@avocadosocial.com. 

Photography & Styling Tips for Social Media

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We’re so excited that Fork and Dram‘s Founder Tara Sura has given us her top five photography and styling tips for Instagram. 

With over 80 million photos uploaded every day on to Instagram, it’s important that our visual content marketing game is stronger than ever! As a stylist and photographer I am often asked how to help create a ‘Visual Content Identity’ for clients; both for those who are just embarking on their social media journey with a new brand as well as those who have just completed a re-brand and are looking for a fresh approach. I thought it would be useful therefore to give you my top five tips for curating and developing a style for shooting still images for your brand’s social and digital channels.

1. Plan Ahead and Select Your Content.
Your brand guidelines will give you direction as to the tone, colours and message to convey in your pictures; these should all be carefully considered when planning what type of still photos you shoot. Your image should not only fit your niche, but fit your audience too so your images need to be relatable and relevant to your audience. Spend a little time figuring out your social media voice and what you want your feed to show. For example, do you want it to show behind the scenes of the day to day of the brand, or perhaps a collection of recipes to match your products or do you want your feed to be community led, populated with user content? This will help the style and overall feel for the brand and channels.

My next few tips are centred around consistency, the key to social media success and this couldn’t apply more to visual content.

2. Framing, Composition and Camera Angles. 
A good photo has a clear point of interest, look for strong colours, shapes and lines when styling your image. The most successful and visually engaging social media accounts use similar if not the same composition and framing techniques. If we’re talking about smartphone photography, the lens is usually curved which can distort imagery depending the camera angle which is why today we see an abundance of overhead photography. Jump on the overhead bandwagon and get creative on your background with graphic patterns and lines or minimalistic styling or event messy styled looks! Flatlays are all the rage at the moment and very versatile whatever your product, have a look at this flatlay fantastic account! When you’re planning your content, it’s important also to understand what the images will be used for bearing in mind cropping and sizing for Facebook backgrounds, profiles and layouts on Instagram.

3. Natural Lighting
Lighting is the single most important styling element that defines a brilliant image. I always say that a poorly lit photo cannot be fixed with any “photoshopping” software no matter how good it is. Whether you use natural lighting or artificial lighting, keep the light source consistent. The key isn’t necessarily where you shoot i.e the location, but more about how much light you capture in the image. This is closely linked to how you edit your images (tip 5), the lighting of an image is key to the mood of the brand and it’s tone and different tones will resonate with different audiences. Have a look at the two following examples of images, how do they make you feel? What do you think each of the brand’s are trying to convey?

4. Backgrounds
When choosing background and props, I always recommend using a maximum of three varieties within the same colour palette. This will keep your images consistent and recognisable for your audience. Some brands just use one particular colour for all of their imagery, being a white marble or a deeply marked wood texture. For example, one of my favourite chocolate photographer and blogger accounts Maja Vase uses the same background for every shot which means her product “pops”. Her chocolate creations are beautifully crafted and extraordinarily colourful and she knows the simplicity of the white background enhances this colour pop effect. This sense of purposeful curation and repetition will help your visual content feel consistent and integrated with your brand.

5. Editing Apps
Choose your editing software and stick to it! I always recommend taking photos outside of the app’s integrated cameras; primarily because you always have that copy of the photo, the resolution is always better and you can take as many as you like! I always use Instagram to edit my imagery or Lightroom Mobile if I am downloading images directly from my DSLR. By using the same editing software, the colouring and therefore tone of your images will remain consistent across your channels, whether your editing high res images or smartphone images. Some apps even let you create presets which means it’s even harder to sway away from your chosen style! Apps I recommend for editing are Instagram, Lightroom Mobile, VSCO Cam and Snapseed.

Fork and Dram is a small creative studio offering photography, web design and branding for food, drink and lifestyle startups. Find out more at www.forkanddram.com.

LinkedIn for Business Workshops 2017

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We will once again be running our  ‘LinkedIn for Business in 2017′ workshop again, taking place at the gorgeous Soho Works in the Tea Building, Shoreditch on Tuesday 16th May 2017 from 9.30am-1pm.

 

“I found the course extremely beneficial and I learned a lot of valuable information that I will be using and applying to both mine and our company profiles” – Dan Herrington, Genuine Solutions

“I found it so interesting! Has definitely kickstarted a new strategy for us” – Isabella Seagrove, Hackett London

“A very insightful LinkedIn workshop” – Roseanna Davies, Mobas Group

This half day workshop will cover both personal profiles, using LinkedIn as a team, and the advertising side.

We’ll be covering the following:

– How to create a killer personal profile (to assist with social-selling) and building your personal network

– Engaging your team to all utilise LinkedIn in a consistent way

– How to develop an engaged company page, including the new 2017 design and features (including content strategy)

– Content: What to post, how frequently, and how to best engage with prospects and build relationships

– Key LinkedIn tools and how they assist with your social selling strategy (Pulse, Groups and CRM Integrations)

– A Guide to LinkedIn Advertising

Our founder Alison Battisby will be instructing the course. She has B2B experience with Fellowes, Michelin  Tyres and Microsoft.

The course will cost £149 plus VAT per person. To book your spot please email info@avocadosocial.com.

Twitter Success Masterclass 2017

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CENTRAL LONDON, 9AM-1PM WORKSHOP, 6th APRIL 2017

Do you need to master Twitter? Always wondered how to grow your followers, and use it to approach influencers?

This half day workshop will cover all of the essentials to help you become a power user, including scheduling tools, hashtag research, and Twitter Advertising. For a full agenda and booking information please follow the link.

£149.00

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Avocado Social Gets #SheMeansBusiness Facebook Accreditation

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Our Founder Alison Battisby recently visited Facebook’s European Headquarters in Dublin to gain official #SheMeansBusiness Accreditation. What does this mean? What did she learn? Find out in our latest blog…

Facebook and Enterprise Nation recently launched the #SheMeansBusiness initiative in the UK, after identifying the need for more women to upskill in areas such as digital marketing in order to start and grow their own businesses.

That’s where I come in, as one of the eight chosen UK experts to offer support and practical training to a large (but achievable) target of 10,000 women over the next year.

In order to do this, I first had to get my official accreditation from Facebook which involved two days in the Dublin office hearing key learnings and trends from the “horse’s mouth” as it were.  Being at Facebook was absolutely fantastic, not just because of the free food, but the atmosphere within the building is very exciting. The position of power Facebook has across the world is amazing, and there are some very clever brains whirring away on inspiring initiatives and projects constantly. It’s certainly an exciting place to be!

Check out the rest of our pictures from our Facebook trip here.

Here are some of the key things we learnt:

    • The Facebook algorithm is completely unpredictable – and it doesn’t necessarily favour the big brands. There is every chance your small business posts are appearing in the newsfeed for your target audience.
    • This all hangs on how relevant you are being. The more relevant your updates to your target audience, the most engagement they will get. You should be looking to tell engaging stories to gain a personal connection with your audience.
    • Setting up your Page correctly (using Audience Optimisation on your Page, utilising the free tools available such as scheduling posts and instant replies).
    • Video and Carousel posts are extremely popular and using this kind of rich media can grab your desired audience’s attention.
    • It doesn’t have to be high budget content – there are plenty of apps and tools available to help you to create incredible graphics within needing to hire an agency or graphic designer.
    • One of the most popular questions I get asked is “How often should I be posting to Facebook?” and the official answer is that it really depends on your customers. Facebook advised to put yourself in your customers shoes and to ask ‘Are you being useful or annoying?’
    • Facebook’s darling brand Instagram was also a key focus of the training – with key advice being to keep it as simple as possible.  Try to avoid text if possible as the majority of users don’t use this – the focus is on amazing authentic “thumb-stopping”.

There are so many other hints and tips I have to share, and so look out for many events over the rest of the year. To start with, I’m presenting an evening on Facebook for Business with Enterprise Nation in London on Thursday 23rd February. Tickets are available here, but be quick as they’re selling fast!