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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.

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. 

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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Our 7 Social Media Trends and Predictions for 2017

By | Avocado Social, Business Lessons, Social Media, Social Media and Workforce, Social Media News, Social Media Platforms, Social Media Strategy | No Comments

We get asked all the time ‘What’s the next big thing in social media?’ so we thought we’d put together our top predictions for 2017 in a blog post.

Social media is one of the fastest growing and ever changing industries around, with new developments, trends and behaviours coming out every day.

From working with some top brands, speaking to Facebook and listening to the industry commentators, here are our top predictions:

  1. Rise in GIFs

We’ve noticed a huge increase in GIFs this year, which are short looping video clips that usually last between 1-3 seconds. Twitter integrated free GIF provider Giphy into its app in February this year, and Instagram’s standalone GIF app Boomerang soared in popularity over the summer. Brands from Chanel to Subway are using these short form videos to grab the attention of mobile users in the newsfeeds. Who is going to watch a 2-minute video in social media anymore!? (apart from the John Lewis Christmas Ad of course!) In 2017 we will see a rise in smaller brands, and small businesses utilising GIFs to show off products, and of course personality.

2. 360 Video

Zuckerberg is really pushing 360 videos, having just used it to capture his daughter’s first steps. We haven’t seen many examples of brands using 360 videos yet as it requires a specialist camera – but perhaps innovative brands such as Burberry and AirBnB will invest next year. Check out this example from National Geographic! The feature is a fantastic way to tell a story in a more interactive way. If you take a panoramic photograph on your iPhone and upload it to Facebook, it will become a 360 photo – try it, it’s very cool!

3. WhatsApp for Business

Many businesses have tried setting up shop on WhatsApp in a basic form, as a way to engage audiences directly in a private setting. The platform receives over 1 billion users every day, and is apparently used by 1 in 7 people on earth! We love following Battenhall’s WhatsApp broadcast for our daily fix of social media news. We know a personal trainer in South London using it to engage VIP clients with daily motivation and recipes. Gregg’s this year launched a VIP WhatsApp channel for hardcore pasty fans! We wonder what next year will bring, especially with the messaging app apparently looking to release a Business version.

4.Workplace Social Media

A huge amount of businesses are using social media in the workplace to collaborate and communicate with their peers. We are huge fans of Slack, for example. Facebook Workplace has soft launched, and we’re particularly excited to see more businesses adopt it for messaging, live video, forum chats and project management. If you’re interested, signup and take the demo webinar. Obviously, there is a whole host of questions that comes along with it, like house rules, codes of conduct and time spent on it – but could this mean the death to email within a few years?

connect_better2x5. AI and Social Media

A big trend set for 2017 is the use of Artificial Intelligence in social media, particularly when it comes to customer service and also data analysis. The rise of digital assistants, such as Siri and Alexa means we are used to speaking to robots to get things done, and chatbots are set to become mainstream in 2017. This will allow brands to answer commons FAQs automatically, and utilise customer service representatives for more in-depth issues.

6. Algorithm Squeezing

As social media builds in noise, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all set to continue to squeeze their algorithms meaning only a tiny amount of what we post to our business pages will be placed in the newsfeeds. The solution to this is social media advertising, which means you can reach desired audiences which you select by age, interests and location, with paid-for adverts. The winning formula here is to use custom audiences; those that have already engaged with your business in some way before.We are set to see more and more businesses using these tools and only expect more in 2017. If you’re interested in building your knowledge, come to our next workshop.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our predictions and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas! 

OUR ONLINE SOCIAL MEDIA COURSE LAUNCHES!

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We’re so pleased to present our brand new online social media course, The Busy Entrepreneur’s Guide to Social Media. Our online programme is designed for founders and marketers at startups and small businesses who want to quickly expand their social media knowledge and pickup plenty of tips for growing their online communities.

The course is divided into six video modules, covering strategy, content planning and measurement, as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Each video module is around 30 minutes, with a set task to help you put your ideas into practice.

We’ve packed the course with tons of case studies from our favourite small businesses including Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, Pip & Nut, Borrow My Doggy and more. Click on the image below to find out more and sign up!

 

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Avocado Social Instagram Cheat Sheet

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We find ourselves searching for the answers to quite a few of these Instagram related questions often, so we thought it best if we put them all together into one handy cheat sheet.

There are quite a few limitations and tricks to be aware of in the hugely popular social media tool.

It’s important to be aware of them when posting to ensure that you don’t receive any error messages that might hinder your activity.

We’ve also included a few tips into our cheat sheet so that you can make your posts more engaging:

Likes

You can only perform 350 likes per hour (unless you’re very quick not likely you’ll hit this limit!)  This is to prevent spammers and bots, which are software allowing you to buy likes and followers. We don’t advocate these bots as they tend to buy you fake followers, who then get removed by the social media platforms.

Followers

You can’t follow more than 7500 users according to Instagram.

However, some users can follow more than 7,500 users if they did so before I
nstagram imposed the limit. Some Instagram users also claim there’s an hourly limit to the number of users you can follow and unfollow. This is rumoured to be 160 per hour, although Instagram has not confirmed such restrictions.

We like to use the apps Cleaner or Followers + for cleaning out and mass deleting users. They are both free and can help you to work out where to focus your activity.


iOS Profile iPhone 6

Word Count

Whilst the limit on Instagram posts is 2,200 characters, we don’t recommend writing an absolute essay on Instagram! People scroll through quickly, so you want to grab their attention by using succinct sentences that inspire and tell stories in brief.

Your Instagram biography needs to be kept to 150 characters or under. Don’t forget to include a URL link!


Hashtags

Instagram limits you to 30, which we believe to be a good thing. Too many hashtags can be off-putting to your audience and could make you appear a little desperate for engagement! We recommend using somewhere between 5-10 hashtags, whatever feels right. Don’t forget to keep testing different tags, and not to use the same stock group of tags for every photo you upload.

Posts

There’s no limit on how often you post on Instagram, or how many times. If you change your mind after posting, you can delete each post individually but you can’t delete them all. Remember Instagram is your shop window so ensure that everything looks beautiful and relevant.

Filters

Did you know that there are 27 different Instagram filters that you can use to make your photos look beautiful? This infographic from Canva details which are the world’s favourite filters. Can you guess which it is?

It’s a good idea to use the same or similar filters each time for consistency. If you are looking for more, then the app Afterlight has 75 more!

Emojis

If you’re a fan of emojis (which we are massively!) then you’ll be glad to know that you can use them in your Instagram posts. This is a great way to make the posts more engaging and to help you stand out amongst the chatter. Did you know you can also hashtag an emoji!? #💚

That’s it for our Instagram hacks for now, but if you want more then join The Avocado Social Media Hub, our free Group for the latest social media updates, great examples and case studies, and support. 

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LinkedIn’s New Premium Insights

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LinkedIn has launched as new set of tools designed to empower its Premium subscribers to find quicker, richer insights about the companies they want to target and aid them in making informed business decisions.

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Courtesy of LinkedIn & Social Times

The world’s largest professional network, which is soon to be acquired by Microsoft in a historic multi-billion dollar deal, has allowed Business Plus, Sales Navigator and some Talent Solutions subscribers to be able to access a new level of insight into a company’s employees and growth at a glance.

As LinkedIn product leader and strategist Megan Kamil wrote at its launch last week, the uses of Premium Insights ‘‘[…] are limitless. From the market research associate gathering relevant information on key market and competitive landscapes to the investment professional trying to uncover the next ‘hot’ company, this information will be valuable to any business professional”.

Here’s a breakdown of how the new features will help small businesses:

Total employee count

Allows a deeper dive into a company’s growth trends and can be used to identify or qualify investment targets or potential business partners. You can also look at a company’s staff turnover and even where incoming executives are being hired from.

Employee distribution by function

This features allows greater understanding of a company’s structure based on department. You’ll be able to ascertain a company’s stage of growth based on which functions are growing fastest.

New hires

Paints a picture of how fast a company is growing and in which areas, with a focus on the moves of senior management. Uncover breakout companies, new business areas the company is investing in, or gauge seasonal demands based on new hiring trends.

Notable Alumni

Users can see where a company’s former senior talent have been employed, allowing them to identify opportunities with new companies.

Total job openings

Allows users to have a better understanding on how a company plans to grow by function and seniority.

Here at Avocado Social we’re interested to see how the tools develop and the value they add for users. Interested in knowing more about how to successfully use LinkedIn? We’re hosting a FREE webinar on the 14th of July at 1pm where you’ll learn about the opportunities LinkedIn offers for business, explore case studies and the chance to take part in a live Q & A session. Sign up for your free place here.

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