Author Archives: NIMDA

How to Use Snapchat Codes to Market Your Business

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Looking to make inroads with Snapchat’s 188 million daily active Snapchatters? It may be time to crack the code—Snapchat codes, or Snapcodes, that is.

In this guide we’ll cover the basics of Snapcode marketing, including Snapchat codes for filters, and Snapchat codes to add friends and gain followers.

Plus we’ll look at the savvy ways brands like Pepsi, Burberry, and Disney have used Snapcodes to put a little snap into their digital marketing campaigns.

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the steps to create custom Snapchat geofilters and lenses, plus tips on how to use them to promote your business.

What are Snapchat codes?

Snapcodes are scannable badges that can be read by smartphones. Think QR codes, but with a white ghost, yellow background, and a unique arrangement of black dots. Each Snapchat user has their own individual Snapcode, which doubles as a profile picture and shareable “follow” button.


Snapchat codes allow Snapchatters to add friends and followers quickly, but that’s not all. Special Snapcodes can be created to share branded filters and lenses, unlock exclusive content, link to specific web portals, and more.

For brands, Snapcodes are an ultramodern way to connect with customers where they already are, and engage them with contextually relevant experiences.

Brands that take advantage of Snapchat platform features can level up from merely advertising to entertaining followers with personalized, immersive, and interactive branded content.

8 ways to use Snapchat codes for business
1. Get more followers on Snapchat

The most obvious use of Snapcodes is to promote your presence on Snapchat and gain more followers. Include your company’s Snapcode on any touch point where customers may be with smartphone in hand, which is virtually anywhere, nowadays.

Newsletters, packaging and business cards are all places you may want to add your profile Snapcode too. Some brands even swapped their Facebook and Twitter avatars with Snapcode profile pics, but that trend has dwindled, likely in response to updated branded content policies. However, Snapchat influencer and artist Cyrene Q. still uses her Snapcode as her Twitter avatar.

2. Connect with your customers in stores

Access to more data and behavioral targeting can make it easier to connect with consumers in the virtual world. But while brick-and-mortar environments may be comparatively data barren, in-store engagements are one of the most crucial touchpoints between the consumer and your brand.

In fact, a 2015 study found that in-store communication is more influential than all other communications, including advertising.

To bridge the offline retail experience, many brands have turned to Snapcodes. For the launch of Mr. Burberry in 2016, the luxury fashion brand put QR codes on the tags of its merchandise at select retail stores. When scanned, the Snapcodes connect customers to Burberry’s Snapchat Discover channel. At the time, the channel contained style and grooming tips, as well as a Steve McQueen-directed cut of the Mr. Burberry campaign ad.

The Snapcode campaign didn’t just lift Burberry’s Snapchat follower count. It positioned the high-end retailer as an authority on men’s fashion. Mr. Burberry was no longer just a fragrance and menswear line, but also a personal tailor and sartorial guru.

3. Create a gamified experience

If there’s anything to learn from the success of Pokémon Go! it’s that people love a good scavenger hunt, especially when augmented reality is involved.

Disney, Universal, and Six Flags sprinkled Snapcodes throughout their theme parks in summer 2018. Visitors who scanned the Snapchat codes got special access to Mikey and Minnie Mouse filters, lenses showing Minions puttering around Universal park grounds, and Superman’s heroics.

It’s easy to see the gamification potential of Snapchat codes for franchises or brands that have multiple or regular engagements with customers.

Imagine unlocking a special discount code with Lyft after scanning Snapcodes on five previous rides, for instance.

Or an airline with a leaderboard of frequent flyers who scan Snapcodes at airline lounges.

What about a coffee shop that unlocks secret menu items after a certain number of Snapcode scans?

4. Generate buzz and intrigue

To promote its thriller Girl on the Train, Universal Pictures released a mysterious series of billboards with a large Snapcode and the eerie question: “What happened that night?”

Scanning the Snapcode unlocked a branded filter, available only for one hour.

Cryptic campaigns that ask Snapchatters to “crack the code,” using Snapchat cameras as detective magnifying glasses, taps into our irresistible urge to solve mysteries. Done well, the result can lead to a memorable and rewarding “a-ha moment” or “wow factor.”

Include a call-to-action like “Snap to Unlock” for those users who may be encountering their first Snapcode in the wild.

To drum up some buzz for the Gilmore Girls revival and to celebrate the show’s 16th anniversary, Netflix converted 200 real-world coffee shops into Luke’s Diner, the fictional greasy spoon in Stars Hollow. Customers received coffee cups with Snapcodes that opened Gilmore Girls-branded filters, complete with “Netflix” charred into a piece of toast.

In one day the filter was used more than 880,000 times.

View this post on Instagram

#lukescoffeeday #lukesdiner #latergram

A post shared by Meryl (@merylkwilliams) on Oct 5, 2016 at 2:48pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

Don't forget to unlock the custom snapchat filter & check out the quote! #happybirthdaygilmore #gilmoregirls #lukescoffeeday #gilmoregirlsrevival #solacoffee

A post shared by S O L A C O F F E E C A F E (@solacoffee) on Oct 5, 2016 at 6:14am PDT

5. Turn fans into brand ambassadors

Snapcodes that unlock branded filters and lenses have the power to transform Snapchatters into ambassadors for your brand.

A 2016 KFC campaign featured Snapcodes on posters and packaging with the call-to-action “A quick pic with the colonel.” A scan of the code unlocked a chance to take a selfie with the Kentucky colonel. “By unlocking the secret filter, people can have fun with the Colonel and share the moment with their friends,” said Joshua Benge, KFC’s social media manager in UK and Ireland.

From July to September this year, in one of the largest lens campaigns in Snapchat history, Pepsi Canada printed Snapcodes onto its 20oz bottles, 12 pack cases, and out-of-home ads. More than 20 codes were created, unlocking a variety of branded summer experiences, from campfire cookouts to skydiving. The activation resulted in 70 years worth of total playtime, and a reach of 8 million Snapchatters.

Brands can also encourage Snapchatters to share exclusive lenses with friends to expand the reach of their branded content and increase brand consideration.

6. Let followers “try things on”

In June 2017, Lancôme launched the first-ever bespoke makeup filter on Snapchat. The filter was essentially a makeover à la augmented reality, allowing Snapchatters to try Lancôme’s Monsieur Big mascara and Matte Shaker lipstick shades without the need for makeup remover or travel to a store.

The filter was available for a limited time and then offered exclusively via Snapcodes.

This type of try-before-you-buy activation may not work for all brands, and could backfire if not implemented effectively. But done right, a flattering filter paired with a shoppable Snapchat ad could lead to instant conversions.

7. Offer exclusive content for second-screen engagement

Presenting peeks behind-the-scenes and extras are a great way to appeal to the second-screen impulse many viewers have during programs and live events.

In anticipation of the season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones, an exclusive viewer’s guide was made available via Snapcode. The guide included extras, a who’s who inventory of characters and houses, an interactive map, and histories. Viewers could look at this guide on their phones while watching the episode on TV.

Snap what is yours.
Unlock the #GameofThrones @Snapchat lens to prepare for the #GoTS7 premiere:

— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) July 10, 2017

The Seattle Mariners was the first professional sports team to share a Snapcode on a jumbotron, with several other teams quickly following suit. A code on the big screen can offer fans quick access to player and team stats, locker room and practice footage, and more.

Sports games provide brands with a captivated audience of fans. With the right calls to action, they can keep their fan base engaged post game, too.

Of course it makes sense for sports franchises to push Snapchat subscription on their own turf, but nothing is stopping other brands from tapping a captive crowd and getting in on the second-screen sports action, too.

.@PelicansNBA 1st NBA team to display Snapchat 'call to action' on arena jumbotron, per @jdbt (???? @Repo) #SMsports

— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) December 3, 2016

8. Learn about your audience

One of the greatest perks of using Snapcodes is that it provides brands with more user data.

Information about where Snapchatters are scanning codes and engaging with products, which products are being engaged with, and more can be culled from campaign analytics.

Data mining can also be a strategic element of a campaign. For example, Gatorade deployed Snapcodes to offer fans access to exclusive content featuring pro athletes JJ Watts and Karl Anthony Towns. But to unlock the content, Snapchatters were asked to provide their names and email addresses, which could be used by Gatorade to retarget fans on Snapchat and other social platforms.

Snapcodes can also be employed to link to surveys, votes, or questionnaires. Use these as prompts for entry into contests and campaigns. It’s a win-win when your brand can create a compelling experience for followers and collect customer feedback and information at the same time.

If you use Google Analytics and your Snapcode links to a URL, don’t forget to add a Google Analytics tag.

How to access and share your Snapcode

Sign in here to download a high-resolution .PNG and .SVG version of your Snapcode.

To share your Snapcode from Snapchat:
1. Open the Snapchat app
2. Tap your profile icon in the upper left corner
3. Tap the icon again to enlarge. Snapchatters can scan the Snapcode directly from your screen
4. Click Share Snapcode and choose your desired method
6. You can also save your Snapcode to your Camera Roll for future sharing

How to scan a Snapcode
1. Open Snapchat and point your camera at a Snapcode. You can scan Snapcodes from computer screens, phone screens, TVs, jumbotrons, billboards, posters, packages, and more, as long as the resolution is high enough
2. Take a picture
3. A prompt should pop up on your screen

How to create your own Snapcode

To generate a URL Snapcode, simply add the website link of your choice and hit “Make a Snapcode!” You’ll be given the option to add an image to the Snapcode as well.

You can also create Snapcodes in the app with these steps:
1. Open Snapchat and tap on your profile photo
2. Select the Settings icon in the upper right corner
3. Tap Snapcodes
4. Choose Create Snapcode, and add your URL

From the Snapcodes section of the app you will also have access to the Snapcodes you’ve created and their stats, as well as your scan history.

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the steps to create custom Snapchat geofilters and lenses, plus tips on how to use them to promote your business.

The post How to Use Snapchat Codes to Market Your Business appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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Do Instagram Pods Work? The Truth Behind Instagram’s Latest Engagement Hack

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Let’s be honest, if there was a trick to instantly boost your Instagram engagement overnight, most of us would be first in line. As such, you’ve probably heard a lot about Instagram engagement pods recently—everyone seems to be in one or talking about one. Usually they’re either raving that pods are the best thing ever, or they’re writing pods off as a useless trend.

So in the name of science (and the Hootsuite blog), I tried a few Instagram pods myself to see if they really work.

Wait, what’s an Instagram engagement pod?

An engagement pod is a group (or ‘pod’) of Instagram users who band together to help increase engagement on each other’s content. This can be done through likes, comments, or follows.

Whether you’re looking for something more general, or even something exclusive, chances are there’s a pod to cater to it.

The amount of people in each pod can vary. There are often pods with over 1,000 active users, and ones that have 50 or fewer active participants.

Each pod has its own rules, but most include these general guidelines:

Respect the time when the pods “drop” (“drop” is pod lingo for a predetermined time when users are allowed to share their content for likes or comments)
Don’t use the chat to chat (this is purely business, no pleasantries allowed)
Most important of all, do not leech (where you reap the benefits of using a pod, but don’t like or comment back)

There are also a few other rules you’ll come across, such as having a certain amount of followers before you can join, what kind of content you post (e.g. wedding photography, baking, lifestyle, etc.), and how much time you have to fulfil your engagement requirements (anything from one to five hours usually from the time that the content is dropped).

Why would I use an Instagram engagement pod?

Instagram changed their algorithm from showing content in the chronological order they were posted, to highlighting posts it believes you’ll care about based on past behavior. The algorithm also prioritizes content from accounts that already have high engagement.

Since this change, users and brands alike have found it harder and harder to build engagement and followings on Instagram

To get around this, pods help users generate engagements and follows. In theory, this should work—the more likes or comments you have on a post right away, the more you signal to Instagram that your content is engaging. So the next time you post, your content should automatically be served up to more of your followers.

It can seem like a daunting task to both increase follower numbers and get engagement on your posts too, so these pods are seen as an attractive way of bumping up your numbers.

How to join an engagement pod

To be honest, I tried, and it’s not easy.

Actually, let me rephrase that, joining a quality pod isn’t easy.

I’ve found that pods can generally be broken down into two distinct groups: the mass pods that have over a 1,000 members and are easy to join, and the small, niche pods that generally have 20 people in them max, and are hard to find.

Facebook and Telegram

There are a multitude of places you can find pods. Facebook and Telegram, an encrypted messaging app similar to Whatsapp, are the most popular. I found googling “Telegram Instagram engagement pods” usually gave me websites that contain a list of the bigger groups that I could join.

Telegram is a good place to find mass-pods of a 1,000 or more users, although there are smaller, more exclusive pods on this platform too.

Facebook also has a lot of groups that you can join. However, unlike Telegram, these are often closed and require an invitation to become a member. Your content is also vetted to ensure you make the grade. They don’t tend to ‘drop’ or exchange their Instagram content on the platform itself either. As Facebook is Instagram’s owner, they don’t want to potentially flag themselves as users who are ‘gaming’ the system.


Reddit has a subreddit—IGPods—where you can find pods that are calling for members, or even put a call-out for members if you want to start your own. These pods will often live within Instagram’s messaging system. Members will message the rest of the group to say that their new content is live, and the rest of the pod is required to go through and like and comment.


And finally, of course, there are pods that start within Instagram itself. I have come to see these as the ‘White Whale’ of engagement pods, as they’re very difficult to find, and very difficult to get invited to. More often than not, users don’t want to admit that they’re using pods, so it’s a bit of a game of hide-and-seek, and gentle prodding to see if you can get an invite.

How I got banned from an engagement pod

Turns out, it’s very easy to get banned and kicked out of an engagement pod. On my first day of testing out these pods, I overestimated my ability to keep up with my side of the engagement bargain.

Eager to dive into research, I enthusiastically signed up to two ‘drops’ that happened in two different groups at the same time on Telegram. I thought to myself, ‘How hard can it be to go through and like the last posted piece of content of everyone else who also joined that drop?’

That was my first mistake.

Both of these pods had over 2,000 members. That doesn’t mean that each member will be active in every drop, but with that many members the participation number is often very high.

When the drop is over, an automated bot will send you a list of everyone who is participating, with the recommendation to copy and paste all of the handles into an Instagram message to yourself to make it easier to click-through. Both of these pods had the rule that all likes must be done within an hour and a half, otherwise you’d be warned or banned for leeching.

I frantically copied and pasted the lists—a task that took 15 minutes alone to do. Then I went on a big liking spree. I didn’t even finish half of one pod before the allocated hour and a half was up, and I got kicked out of the other.

Luckily for me, the automated admin messaged me and told me that I could buy my way back in for $15. This was an offer I didn’t accept.

What were the results?

The results have been a mixed bag. I tried a variety of different pods—the mass ones as I mentioned above, smaller pods with around 100 members, and finally a couple of small pods that I found via Reddit.

On average I received between 40 and 60 likes on content that I posted. I used hashtags and did a small amount of outreach when I posted to help boost the content’s engagement.

View this post on Instagram

Last of the amazing sunsets before the rain sets in… ????

A post shared by Em (@emmaic) on Sep 25, 2018 at 11:48am PDT

Also, before the experiment, my follower number was sitting around 251, give or take, with comments on my posts being rare as well. I’m not a prolific poster on Instagram. I generally post three to four pieces of content a month if it’s been a good one for photos. But for this experiment I tried to post every day.


The mass-pod gave me an instant injection of likes. As I mentioned previously, I joined two of the pod drops and ended up with 749 likes—an incredible increase of 1398 percent. But now I had a problem: the number is so abnormally different than what I usually see on my content, so it looks fake. I also didn’t see an uplift in followers, which suggests that my page as a whole wasn’t being looked at either.

View this post on Instagram

Just because I’m not cliché enough on my account. Here’s another of Joffre Lake… ????

A post shared by Em (@emmaic) on Sep 17, 2018 at 2:56pm PDT

I know from my personal experience of trying to get through the list sent to me that I didn’t look beyond the latest post, so I knew that other users wouldn’t be “enjoying” my content either. They were merely getting through the list themselves, or they were using their own bot to do this for them.

Smaller pods

I decided to look for other pods that didn’t have such a big undertaking to be part of them. I found pods that required participants to like and comment on the last five drops, before posting their own content (or some variation of this rule, such as liking and commenting on everything from the last 24 hours).

In theory this should increase both your comment count and like count by and average of five. I found this to be hit and miss though—I did see an increase in the number of comments, but overall likes didn’t change much. Also, checking back into the pod that I dropped in, I could see that there were a few people who posted after me that were definitely leechers.

View this post on Instagram

Throwback to sunny days ????

A post shared by Em (@emmaic) on Sep 18, 2018 at 11:07am PDT

Finally, I joined a couple of smaller pods that I found on Reddit. These were simple to get into, and as soon as I was added I went back as far as I could—commenting, liking, and following all members to show that they had added me in good faith.

Both of these pods were laid back, with no real rules apart from “don’t overpost, and stay active and on top of your engagements.” A lot of the members shared similar content to my own, so I didn’t feel as though I was ‘faking’ my interest in their content in order to boost my own.

I let my posts sit for a while to see if organic engagement would increase as a result of my pod work, but I didn’t see any meaningful results. My follower numbers and comments increased—8.7 percent and 700 percent respectively, but as my average comment number before the experiment was between zero and one, this increase wasn’t dramatic. Similarly, likes haven’t really seen a dramatic increase.

View this post on Instagram

Misty mountains of Vancouver ????

A post shared by Em (@emmaic) on Sep 26, 2018 at 2:24pm PDT

However, it’s important to bear in mind that this experiment was done over a short period of time. I’m currently still active in the two small pods that I found via Reddit—so this could have a long-term impact on my overall engagement.

Should brands use Instagram engagement pods?

Instagram engagement pods are a very alluring way to increase engagement on Instagram, but there are many pitfalls and reasons to stay clear of them:

It’s time-consuming. In my short experiment I spent a lot of time (on average three to four hours per day) just looking for pods to join. Each day I was trying to find new ones that I could become a part of, all while keeping up with the pods I was already active in. It would take at least one dedicated member of your team to keep on top of everything that’s going on in order to get benefits from using a pod—unless you buy or build a bot to deal with this for you of course.
It doesn’t produce meaningful results. This is especially true of the bigger pods. Other people in these pods aren’t interested in you or your content—they’re there for themselves. Brands should be using social as a meaningful way to connect with their audience and build relationships that drive sales and brand loyalty. While pods may increase your reach and engagement, it’s not with the right people, i.e., potential customers. Brands might want to consider Instagram pods when it comes to choosing influencers to work with. If an influencer is using pods to inflate their numbers, this means that you might not get as much (or any) value out of a partnership. Take a close look at their content—did they see a sudden spike in engagement? Is their engagement rate consistent throughout all their posts? Does their comment to follower to like ratio look legit?
The results will look suspicious. Any current or new fans coming to a brand page that’s used a pod will see that it’s been very obviously manipulated. Especially if your follower numbers don’t explain the high level of likes or comments. This could be off-putting to genuine fans of your page or product, as they most likely want to have a transparent relationship with brands they choose to follow within their personal channels.
You have to like and comment on content that’s not relevant to your brand. Unless you’re in a niche pod where the quality of users is higher, you’ll often have to engage with content that’s of low-quality or has nothing to do with your brand. Your interactions can also been seen by your followers, so you have to consider their reaction to the random content you’re engaging with. Although, with the larger engagement pods, you can mask your activity by setting up a fake account to ‘engage with’, but use your real account to have the others from the pod ‘engage on’. But by then you’re at point #1 again (is it worth the time?).
Instagram’s algorithm is probably smart enough to figure out what you’re doing. Instagram (and by extension Facebook) spend a lot of money and time optimizing their algorithms and watching how their users are engaging on the platform. A sudden spike in your engagement is likely to flag in their system, and so it could result in detrimental treatment to any organic content you choose to post in the future.

However, there are a couple of reasons why pods could work for you and your brand:

If you work hard to gain access to a niche pod that’s connected to your brand, this could work in your favour. This is especially true if you’re a small or new brand looking for ways to connect with your audience. You can learn from them what your target audience is looking for, as well as find ways to improve your content.

Much like the niche pods, small pods can also offer a more genuine engagement experience—many of them could be open to giving you tips on your content if you’re in a pod of like-minded social managers.

So there you have it—the real truth behind Instagram’s engagement pods.

Although they can look like an alluring quick-fix to help bump up engagement on your Instagram channel, it’s a good idea to do some research to get the full picture on whether or not they’d be useful for your brand.

And remember: if you’re an influencer, artificially inflating your engagement is probably fraud, similar to buying followers or likes.

Don’t feel like engagement pods are for you or your brand after reading this? We’ve got lots of content to help you organically build your following on Instagram—from simple ways to get more Instagram followers to quick tips to up your Instagram game.

Suffering from a lack of Instagram engagement? Hootsuite makes scheduling and publishing Instagram content—alongside all your other social channels—easy, so you spend more time creating quality content, tracking your performance, and learning about your audience. Try it free today.

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The post Do Instagram Pods Work? The Truth Behind Instagram’s Latest Engagement Hack appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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How to Get Followers on Pinterest: 24 Tips that Really Work

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If one of your social media goals involves figuring out how to get followers on Pinterest, you’ll want to Pin this guide.

Pinterest is all about inspiration and discovery. That means it’s not only a great way to connect with current customers; it’s a great place to find new followers—especially since Pinterest passed the 250 million monthly active user mark. More than 70 percent of Pinners find new brands on Pinterest, and 78 percent say they find brand content useful.

Factor in Pinterest’s sales power—it’s the number one shopping platform among millennials—and knowing how to get more Pinterest followers becomes an even greater value proposition. Follow this step-by-step guide to pin your sights on success.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to make money on Pinterest in six easy steps using the tools you already have.

24 real ways to get more followers on Pinterest
1. Know who uses Pinterest

A good appreciation of Pinterest’s user base will help when it comes to crafting content for your profile.

Here are a few stats to start with:

The majority of Pinterest users are women. Only 30% of its users are men, but that figure is growing.
Pinterest reaches 83% of women aged 25-54 in the U.S. That’s more than Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Millennials are Pinterest’s most active age group. One in two U.S. millennials visit Pinterest every month.
Almost half of Pinterest users live in the United States.
Pinterest is the only major social channel in the U.S. with a majority of suburban users.

Find even more Pinterest stats that marketers need to know, as well as more Pinterest demographics.

2. Engage with what’s popular

Take a look at what’s already performing well on Pinterest by browsing the Popular feed. Take notes, evaluate commonalities, and consider how you could apply these ideas to your own content.

When you come across compelling content, consider re-Pinning to one of your boards, following the user, or writing a thoughtful comment. All of these actions will increase your brand’s exposure on Pinterest.

But don’t overdo it. Too many comments may be flagged as spam. Instead, focus on writing a few sincere comments that go beyond one- or two-word remarks like “Cool!” or “That’s awesome.”

3. Join relevant group boards

Search for the top Pinterest boards in your company’s categories and ask to join and contribute. In some cases the board administrator will include instructions on how to join the group’s description. If not, contact the board owner directly by email. You can usually find them by looking for the first person listed under the board’s followers.

4. Post fresh and original content

Pinterest favors originality. Pinners use the site to look for new ideas, inspiration, and products, so make sure your own Pins are super fresh.

Skip standard stock photos and clichés. Instead, Pinterest recommends that you “highlight any elements of novelty or newness to get people excited about your ideas.”

5. Stand out with beautiful visuals

According to Pinterest, the best performing pins have three things in common: They’re beautiful, interesting, and actionable. In that order.

Pinterest is first and foremost a visual platform, so make sure you use eye-catching images.

Here are a few Pinterest picture pointers:

Use high-resolution and high quality images.
Use lifestyle images, which tend to be more alluring than standard product shots, according to Pinterest.
Avoid images that are too busy.
Favour vertically-oriented photos over horizontal ones. A whopping 85% of users search Pinterest on mobile, which means vertical images have much higher impact.
Don’t make images too long, or they’ll be cut off. The ideal aspect ratio is 2:3 (600px wide x 900px high).
Consider showing multiple products in a single Pin. Pinterest finds that Pins with multiple products can appeal to different tastes and spark curiosity. It’s best to maintain a four-product limit per Pin so as not to overwhelm.
Try video! If you have the resources, short videos have the power to stand out among even the best photos. If you don’t, check out Hootsuite’s social video toolkit.

6. Include detailed descriptions

Your beautiful image may have captured attention, but to keep that attention you also need a stimulating caption. Go beyond short, single-sentence descriptions and provide information that would compel users to take a deeper interest in your brand.

Remember, the most effective Pin descriptions are interesting.

7. Add relevant keywords and hashtags

Pinterest is essentially a search engine, so your content should be optimized for discoverability. Make sure your descriptions are keyword-rich and include relevant hashtags so that you appear in relevant searches.

How to find the right keywords and hashtags:

Use guided search. Start by putting a few keywords in Pinterest’s search bar, and take note of the automatic suggestion.
Note the key word bubbles that appear in the search results header.
Look at the hashtag suggestions and usage stats as you add hashtags to your Pin descriptions.
Search a relevant hashtag, and look at the tags and keywords being used by Pinners using that hashtag.
Look at the trending hashtags in your category (only available on the mobile app).
Try these 8 SEO tools for social media marketers.

You can apply this logic to your profile too. For instance, consider adding a description to your name, like Hootsuite (Social Media Management). Your profile is more apt to show up in keyword searches that way. This is especially useful if you’re an entrepreneur and you want to emphasize your areas of expertise.

how to get followers on pinterest

how to get followers on pinterest

8. Name Pinterest boards thoughtfully

Boards can also be optimized for search. Make sure your board names are specific and accurately describe their contents. Use appropriate keywords in the board name and description, and add relevant hashtags to the description, too. If you’re not sure which category to put your board in, look through the categories to see where yours fits in best.

9. Organize with board Sections

Pinterest recently added Sections to help organize boards. For example, if you have an expansive board category like Home Décor, you can now create separate sections for each room.

Doing this can add credibility to your brand and make it easier for prospective followers to navigate your content. Again, be descriptive and use keyword-rich language for your sections. Here’s an example called Seasonal Eatings, and another called Tokyo.

10. Be positive and helpful

Entice followers by describing the benefits associated with your products or services.

“Positive sentiment goes a long way in showing how a Pin from your business can help [Pinners] in their lives,” said Kevin Knight, former head of Agency and Brand Strategy at Pinterest.

Get personal and use “you” or “your” in the copy too so that users know you’re talking to them.

11. Set up Rich Pins

Rich Pins add additional details to your Pin using metadata from your website.

There are four types of Rich Pins you can add to your account, including app, article, product, and recipe Pins. If your brand sells products, Rich Pins will display real-time price and availability details. Article pins are great for publishers or bloggers as they display a headline, author and story description.

12. Post consistently

The reach of content on Pinterest accrues over a longer period than it does on other platforms. Play the long game by publishing content consistently over consecutive months. According to Pinterest, this is the best way to grow an engaged audience.

13. Publish at the right time

Maximize your content’s reach by making sure you Pin at the right time. Most Pinning happens between noon and midnight, with 11:00 pm as the most active hour of the day.

14. Schedule Pins in advance

Since Pinterest is very often used for planning, it’s a good idea to stay ahead of the calendar. Pinterest recommends that brands share seasonal content up to 45 days before a holiday or event. Sometimes Pinners even plan three to four months in advance of events.

Save time by easily scheduling and publishing Pins from Hootsuite’s dashboard.

15. Hop on the holidays

Pinners are known to generate a flurry of activity as they get into the holiday spirit. Mother’s Day attracts more than six million users, pinning upwards of 12 million gift and celebration ideas each year. Christmas, of course, is always a major event, drawing 33 million Pinners and generating 566 million pins every year.

Get in on the holiday action by planning with Pinterest’s Possibilities Planner. Create on-brand holiday content and share it with relevant keywords and hashtags. Pinterest includes popular search terms for each event in the planner.

how to get followers on pinterestImage via Pinterest
16. Use the Follow button

Make following your company easy with the Follow button. Install the button on your website, in newsletters, in email signatures, or really anywhere online that you think you might attract followers.

In other situations, you can also use the Pinterest P icon to promote your brand’s profile. Make sure to also link to Pinterest in the bios of your other social accounts.

17. Add the Save button to your website

You can also make your website visitors aware of your brand’s Pinterest presence with the Save button. With the Save button, visitors can also share any image from your website on Pinterest, making them ambassadors for your brand.

ELLE Germany added the Save button on their web and mobile sites and in just one month found that three times as many Pins were being shared from its site.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to make money on Pinterest in six easy steps using the tools you already have.

Get the free guide right now!

18. Verify your website

To make sure your profile picture shows up alongside the Pins users are saving from your website, you need to claim your site’s authenticity with Pinterest. Doing this will also provide website analytics, allowing you to get a better sense of what visitors are saving from your website.

19. Build a widget

Another way to integrate your Pinterest account with your website is with widgets. In addition to the Save and Follow button, you can embed Pins, showcase your profile, or display a board on your website. Website visitors who have Pinterest accounts will be more compelled to follow you after seeing these previews of your Pinterest content.

20. Connect offline with Pincodes

Much like QR codes, Pincodes are designed to help people find your company on Pinterest while offline. Pincodes can be added to business cards, brochures, print ads, packaging or any other merchandise. A quick scan with the Pinterest camera will bring them directly to your Pinterest profile, board, or pin.

21. Promote your Pins

If you have a social media budget to work with, Promoted Pins are a great way to increase exposure. Choose a Pin that’s already performing well and target it to reach new prospective followers. Your Promoted Pins will appear just like regular pins in the feeds of more Pinners.

22. Find your audience

Pinterest’s ad targeting capabilities allow you to find new audiences based on interests and keywords. It’s a great way to discover users who might be interested in your brand.

Actalike targeting will help find users that reflect the interests and behaviours of your most valuable customers.

Engagement targeting is a good way to connect with Pinners who have already engaged with your brand. Retargeting these users with a follow call-to-action may be what’s needed to forge the bond you’ve already been forming.

Don’t forget to search for pre-existing customer audiences, too. Brands can upload website visitor lists, newsletter subscriber lists and CRM lists to connect with pre-existing customers on the platform.

23. Run a Pinterest contest

Create a contest with a follow on Pinterest as an entry requirement. Consider creating a hashtag and a shareable image so participants can encourage more followers to join. Always make sure your rules of entry of clear and comply with Pinterest’s contest guidelines before getting started.

Here are key Pinterest guidelines to keep in mind:

Don’t require people to save a specific image.
Don’t allow more than one entry per person.
Don’t imply or suggest Pinterest sponsorship or endorsement.
Follow all relevant laws and regulations.

how to get followers on pinterest

how to get followers on pinterest

24. Test, evaluate, adjust, repeat.

Any good social media marketer knows that trial and error is a fundamental part of the job. Pinterest analytics offers several tools and actionable insights that help you see how your audience is engaging with your content.

Whether something is working or not, it’s always good practice to take a step back and evaluate why. After you’ve learned why something works, it will be easier to apply in the future.

Save time managing your Pinterest presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can compose, schedule, and publish Pins, create new boards, Pin to multiple boards at once, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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The post How to Get Followers on Pinterest: 24 Tips that Really Work appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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4 Ways Brands Can Be More Authentic On Social Media

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As the internet continues to get stuffed full of content, brands need to work harder than ever to break through the clutter and connect with people online. You know how to get your message into news feeds through methods like targeting, paid campaigns, boosted posts, or working with influencers. But once you get in front of people, is your message actually having an impact, and creating connections with your audience like you hope?

Influencers and brands alike are getting caught trying too hard online. Influencers are crying in posts and then getting called out for “like-fishing. Celebrities are posting that they’ve never had cereal before. Brands are posting overly photoshopped bodies…

Your followers can spot inauthenticity from a mile away.

We connect most with content that is real, and people are catching on to content that isn’t authentic.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Now, authentic is a word that the kids are throwing around a lot these days. But it’s not just a trendy phrase to use at your next networking event. By definition, authenticity is being real, or genuine. This is definitely what you should be trying for on social.

Even though everyone plays the whole keeping-up-appearances game on social media, authenticity comes naturally to a lot of people on their personal profiles—even if they aren’t being entirely authentic.

That authenticity comes because they’re sharing content that is real life, and even though we curate our feeds, contrive our captions, and share only our best moments, we’re still sharing our real lives.

Brands have an entirely different challenge keeping it real online because they’re not people. They can’t just post a 37-part instagram story of a concert and bam—make you feel like you’re a part of their life.

So, how should brands keep things authentic on social and connect with their audience in real, long-lasting ways? Here are a few tips.

1. Be honest and transparent

This should go without saying, but let’s be honest… (See what I did there? Sorry, I’ll let myself out.) We’ve all come across some pretty phony stuff online. Fake news, photoshopped images, stories that just seem too good to be true…

Fluffed up content is everywhere. People catch on to online trash like this pretty quickly. And although a skim through your own news feed may lead you to believe otherwise, people are smarter than ever. We can all easily spot a brand being fake, and it’s not a good look.

As brands, we need to stay as far away from dishonest content as possible, but this isn’t any sort of groundbreaking advice. So take the honesty and transparency a step further. Get honest and real about your product or service whenever you can. Go behind the scenes and humanize your brand with your social media content.

If you sell a product, share stories about how you make it. Tell people where the materials come from, how you manufacture, or how you design the things you want them to buy.

If you’re a service, share the work that goes into creating your customer experience.

If you’re an influencer, post an unedited photo from your actual phone once in a while.

If you’re looking for a quick lesson in what not to do, look no further than our favorite unfamous famous person, Kylie Jenner. In September 2018, she tweeted that she “had cereal with milk for the first time” and that it was “life changing.”

Come on Kylie… you live in the United States of America where cereal is literally a food group.

This kind of pandering for online attention is incredibly contrived, and can damage your reputation, even as a celebrity. Case in point: mere minutes later Kylie was called out on several blogs and in tweets for posting an instagram of cereal with “probably milk” in 2015. And although it may be entirely possible that it was yogurt (we’re not food identification experts, but we’re also not idiots) it’s just so unlikely she’d never had cereal with milk before the tweet in question.

last night i had cereal with milk for the first time. life changing.

— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) September 19, 2018

2. Skip the calls to action for a second

Fundamentally, the entire point of marketing is to create an opportunity for sales, and your social media marketing strategy shouldn’t be any different. But it’s really easy to get caught up trying to turn every online interaction into a quick sale or a conversion by tossing a “Buy Now” call to action on everything.

When it comes to conversions or sales, try playing the long game with social media every once in a while. Strike a balance between posts that are meant to convert or sell quickly, and posts that are meant to simply connect with your audience.

Creating positive brand moments using interesting content creates connection, and makes people feel like they’re part of your brand. And if people feel like they’re part of your brand, where’s the first place they’re going to go when they need whatever you have on offer?

If you’re doing things right, the answer should be “you.”

3. If you mess up, own it

We’ve all been there. An accidental typo, a reply that wasn’t well-articulated, or a post that just goes over like a lead balloon.

Social media blunders are typically pretty innocuous, but mistakes that can damage a brand’s reputation faster than you can say Cambridge Analytica are entirely possible.

It can happen to anyone, and when it does, your first reaction might be to delete the offending content, and forget about the entire thing. But here’s a little not-so-secret secret: you really can’t delete anything on the internet.

The second you post it, it’s permanently burned into the metaphorical eyes of the web. So, in the unfortunate event that you do have a bit of a fumble, own it. And figure out the best way to fix it.

If your social media flub is serious enough, jump into PR mode and do a little crisis management. Even in pretty serious situations, owning up to the mistake and sincerely apologizing for it can help repair some of damage that’s already done.

Do what you can to fix the issue, and make sure your audience knows what you’ll do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Also, when you get late-night anxiety about the whole situation, keep in mind that social media content moves at a rapid pace. It’s only a matter of time before someone else does something stupid and the world moves on to that.

In less serious situations like a typo or a factual error, simply own it by correcting it. If you can turn the situation around, or even turn it into a joke, give that a go too—especially if it suits your brand personality.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Get the free guide right now!

People love jokes, and a some self-deprecating humor is fun once in a while.

Pretending like things never happened, especially when the blunder is quite serious, can cause a pile of problems later. Owning up to mistakes makes it clear that there are real people behind the curtain, and it humanizes your brand.

4. Clickbaity headlines are a thing of the past, but what happens next will thrill you

We get it. The struggle to prove ROI with social is real and if we don’t, we’re just “doing an Instagram” and we all know, that’s not what social marketing is.

So what do we do? We create content that gets engagement.

There’s no sure-fire way to know if a post will get the engagement that you hope for, but there are a definitely few hacks that have trended. Some of them are fun—like posting a timely meme (perhaps of Lilo dancing in Mykonos, you’re welcome for the idea)—and some of them are just obnoxious. Like clickbait.

Because of these mostly-terrible trends, we’ve gone through several bouts of content pollution. When brands try to hijack these flippant online content storms, it quickly becomes tired and your content just comes off as trying too hard. Have you ever seen a brand try to turn a meme into an ad? Case closed.

If your social content is there just to collect views, clicks, or likes, you should rethink your strategy. You’re better off not posting anything, than posting sub-par content just for the sake of gaining clicks.

Take the time to put together a well-planned social media content calendar, and make sure all your posts will resonate with your audience. Remember each and every post should be worthy of being permanently attributed to your brand. Your social content is deeply ingrained in your overall brand, so make sure it’s great.

Take the time to plan and build an authentic social media presence using Hootsuite. Schedule all of your social media posts in advance, engage with your followers, and track the success of your efforts. Try it free today.

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Free Social Media Icons (The Ones You’re Actually Allowed to Use)

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No website is complete without social media icons. And nowadays everything from email signatures and business cards to posters and video spots benefit from a little “iconography.”

But before slapping icons on every asset your company owns, there are a few things to consider—including legalese. Despite the ubiquity of icons in all shapes, colors and sizes online, social media icons are registered trademarks. They are protected by copyright and enforceable brand guidelines.

social media iconsImage via Fancycrave under CC0

We’ve assembled download links for all the major social network icons, as well as best practice guidelines that will keep your icon use on the level. And we’ll help you steer clear of design blunders with tips on how to tailor icon use for each medium.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Where to source social media icons

Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only use the icon in Facebook blue or reversed white and blue. Revert to black and white if facing color limitations. Blue, grey, white and black versions are available for download.
The Facebook icon should always appear in a rounded square-shaped container.
Make sure the icon is reproduced in a legible size. It should be at equal size to all other icons.
Do not animate or represent the logo in the form of physical objects.
Download icons according to your medium. Facebook variations of its icon spec’d for online, print, and TV and film.

Icons for online use (.png)



Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only use the icon in Twitter blue or white. When limitations with print coloring apply, Twitter will allow the logo to be displayed in black.
Twitter prefers its icon to be represented free of container, but offers square, rounded square, and circular containers if they better suit your needs.
If using the logo over an image, always use the white version.
Do not animate the logo, and do not embellish or accessorize it with word bubbles, or other creatures.
Clear space around the logo should be at least 150% of the width of the icon.
Icons should have a minimum width of 32 pixels.

Icons for online use (.png)



Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only the icons found in the Assets section of Instagram’s brand resources site may be used to represent Instagram. These icons are available in color and black and white.
Instagram icons should be represented without container. Square, circle, rounded-square, and other container shapes are not available.
Don’t incorporate the icon with your company name, trademark, or other language or symbol.
When using the icon for broadcast, radio, out-of-home advertising or print larger than 8.5 x 11 inches, you need to request permission and include a mock-up of how you your intended use.
Instagram content shouldn’t comprise more than 50% of your design, or more than 50% of the total duration of your content.

Icons for online use (.png)


Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

LinkedIn prefers its blue and white icon to be displayed on a white background. The icon should always be displayed in color online. When not possible, use the reverse white and blue or black and white icon.
Use the solid white icon on dark-colored backgrounds or photos, and the solid black icon light-colored backgrounds or photos, or in one-color print applications. Make sure the “in” is transparent.
The LinkedIn icon should never be a circle, a square, a triangle, trapezoid, or any shape other than a rounded square.
LinkedIn icons are typically used at two sizes online: 24 pixels and 36 pixels. The minimum size is 21 pixels online, or 0.25 inches (6.35mm) in print. Icons sized for print or larger use should reference the 36-unit grid found here.
Icon bounds should be approximately 50% of the size of the container. The minimum clear space requirement specifies that padding the size of two LinkedIn “i’s” be used around the icon.
Use in television, film, or other video productions requires a request for permission.
If using call-to-actions such as “Follow us,” “Join our group,” or “View my LinkedIn Profile,” in conjunction with the icon, use a different font and color—preferably black.

Icons for online use (.png)



Download the icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Pinterest’s “P” icon should always be displayed in Pinterest Red, in print or on screen and unaltered in any way.
To use Pinterest in video, television or film, companies need to submit a written request to their partner manager at Pinterest.
Always include a call-to-action after showing the Pinterest icon. Make sure the icon size is proportionate to the call-to-action text.
Acceptable call-to-action phrases include: Popular on Pinterest, Find us on Pinterest, Follow us on Pinterest, Visit us, Find more ideas on Pinterest, Get inspired on Pinterest. Do not use the phrases Trending on Pinterest or Trending Pins.
Always display or hyperlink your Pinterest URL when using the icon.

Icons for online use (.png)



Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

The YouTube icon is available in YouTube red, monochromatic near-black, and white monochrome.
If a background does not work with the YouTube red icon, or color can’t be used for technical reasons, go monochrome. The almost-black icon should be used for light multi-colored images. The white icon should be used on dark multi-colored images with a transparent play-button triangle.
YouTube icons should be a minimum of 24 dp in height online and 0.125 inches (3.1mm) in print.
The clear space requirement for the YouTube icon should be half of the icon’s width.
The YouTube icon can only be used when it links to a YouTube channel.

Icons for online use (.png)



Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only show the Snapchat icon in black, white and yellow.
Don’t surround the logo with other characters or creatures.
The minimum size if the Ghost icon is 18 pixels online and .25 inches in print.
The icon is available without container in black in white, or with a yellow rounded square.
Clear space around the logo should be at least 150% of the width of the logo. In other words, padding should be the same size as half of the Ghost.

Icons for online use (.png)


Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only show the WhatsApp icon in green, white (on green backgrounds), and black and white (in materials that are primarily black and white).
Make sure to spell WhatsApp as a single word with proper capitalization
Only use the green square icon when referencing the iOS app.

Icons for online use (.png)


What are social media icons and why should you use them?

Add social media icons to your website, business cards, and other digital and physical marketing materials to grow your social media following and connect with customers on different channels.

Not to be confused with share buttons or wordmarks, social media icons are shorthand symbols that link to your company profile on different networks (or, in the case of print materials, simply let people know that your business is on those networks).

Most often, social media icons use the first-letter or symbol logo of the social media company. Think Facebook F, Twitter bird, or Instagram camera.

Some logos are available in “containers.” Containers are shapes enclosing the letter or symbol. Very often the icons are coloured with the company’s official hues, but they are sometimes also available in monochrome.

Thanks to their widespread use by businesses, most customers expect companies to have icon links on their websites and are savvy enough to know where to look for them. Neat and uniform in style, icons are a tidy alternative to annoying “follow me” pop-ups.

How to use social media icons in your marketing materials (legally)

Whether online or offline, social media icons can provide a link to your company’s social channels. Here are a few tips and tricks for using them effectively on different mediums.


Often brands will place social media icons in the header and/or footer of their website. But they can also be placed on a floating left or right sidebar for greater prominence.

As a general rule, icons placed above the fold have a better chance of being seen.

social media iconsImage via homepage
Emails and newsletters

Having social media icons in your email signature or newsletters offers additional ways to connect with recipients. If networking is important and your company permits, you can also add a public profile LinkedIn badge.

Follow these steps to add icons to your email signature:

Outlook signature

1. In Outlook, from the Home tab, select New Email.
2. On the Message tab, in the Include group, select Signature, then Signatures.
3. From the E-mail Signature tab, in the Edit signature box, select the signature you want to edit.
4. In the Edit signature text box, add a new line beneath the current signature.
5. Choose Picture, then go to the folder where you downloaded icons, and select the icon you’d like to include.
6. Highlight the image and select Insert then Hyperlink.
7. In the Address box, enter the web address for your corresponding company profile.
8. Select OK to finish modifying the new signature.
9. On the Message tab, in the Include group, choose Signature, and then choose your newly modified signature.

Gmail signature

1. Open Gmail.
2. Click the settings glyph in the top right corner.
3. In the Signatures section click the Insert Image symbol to add your downloaded icon.
4. Highlight the image and click the Link symbol.
5. Add the web address for your company profile.
6. Scroll to the bottom and select Save Changes.


Most publishers place social media icons in the newsletter footer, because often the goal of newsletters is to promote website products, services, or content. .

Gmail can sometimes clip long messages, so if gaining social followers is one of your newsletter goals, put the icons in the header or above the fold and consider using a call-to-action. Alternately, if the goal of your newsletter is to promote content, you may want to consider including share icons, and placing follow icons in the footer.

social media iconsImage via Sephora e-newsletter

Social media icons are space savers in print collateral such as brochures, print ads, or business cards. But don’t forget that you can’t hyperlink on paper.

A good workaround for offline icons is to use just the domain name and the direct link to your company’s page. Or, skip the domain name altogether.

Option 1: (F)
Option 2: (F) Hootsuite
(T) @Hootsuite
Option 3: (F) (T) @Hootsuite

On business cards, if you don’t plan to include a URL or handle , then you may not want to include the icon—especially if the handle is not obvious. But if your company has a high profile and is easy to find on social media, standalone iconscan be an elegant way to signal your brand’s presence on social media in print ads and brochures.

social media iconsDavid’s Tea print ad, via Escapism magazine
social media iconsOne More Bake by Elizabeth Novianti Susanto on Behance.
social media iconsThe Cado by Cristie Stevens on Behance.
TV and video

Like print, if you’re using video on a medium that doesn’t allow viewers to click on an icon, then you should include the URL. On YouTube, you can include clickable icons using the annotations feature. Most often “follow” call-to-actions come at the end of a brand video. Make sure to allot enough time for viewers to read the URL.

Many social media brands require permission requests and sometimes mock-ups before allowing companies to use their icons.

Best practices for using social media icons

Thanks to widespread use of reshaped and revised icons and third-party sites like Iconmonstr or Iconfinder, many brands and social media managers don’t realize that use of altered icons is strictly forbidden.

Here are some common guidelines you should be familiar with before adding social media icons to your marketing materials.

Download from the source

When in search of social media icons, try getting them from the social network websites first. We’ve also assembled the download links for the most popular social media icons below.

No alterations

All social media logos and icons are trademarked. That means rotating, outlining, recolouring, animating, or edits of any kind are not permitted.

Size uniformly

Display all social media icons at equal size, height, and resolution if possible. Don’t display social media icons larger than your own logo or wordmark. And don’t display any of the network icons larger than another network icon (e.g., making the Facebook icon larger than the Instagram icon).

Space evenly

Make sure icons are spaced in a way that meets the “clear space” requirements of each social media company.

Choose three to five

Very often icons are used as call-to-actions, and if you use too many, you risk overwhelming visitors with decision fatigue. Not to mention the clutter that too many icons create on business cards or assets with limited space. Determine the top three to five channels that are most important for your brand and audience. A full list can be included in the contact section of a website or in the website footer.

Order by priority

If LinkedIn is a more strategic network for your brand than Instagram, for example, make sure LinkedIn appears first in your icon list.

Use the latest version

Social media companies require that brands using their icons ensure they keep them up to date. But also, using old logos will stick out and could signal that your company is “behind the times.”

Don’t use the wordmark

Most social media companies explicitly state that you should never use the wordmark in place of the icon. Wordmarks are typically for corporate use only, and represent the company, as opposed to your company’s presence on the network.

Make your brand the focus

Featuring icons too prominently could wrongly imply sponsorship, partnership, or endorsement, and potentially land your company in legal trouble. Plus, your brand should be the focus of your marketing materials anyway.

Link to your company profile

This may seem obvious, but don’t link to a product page, personal profile, or the generic homepage of the site. It’s commonly understood, expected, and in some cases required, that these icons link to your company profile page on the specified network.

Request permission

As a general rule, if you plan to use the icons in a way not specified in the brand guidelines, it’s best to double check. Some brands may forbid use of icons on manufactured products, such as T-shirts or other memorabilia. In other cases, you may be required to send a mock-up of intended use.

Now that you know how to legally advertise your brand’s presence on all the major social networks, easily manage all your social channels from one dashboard using Hootsuite. Schedule and publish posts, reply to followers, track your performance, and more. Try it free today.

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The post Free Social Media Icons (The Ones You’re Actually Allowed to Use) appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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Writing for Social Media: 7 Tips and Tools

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There’s loads of great articles about writing, including writing for social media.

Maybe this will become one of them. Whatever.

However, this piece is different.

You’ll see.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

7 writing tips for social media

…and for any kind of persuasive writing.

Sure, great writing may take talent and innate creativity. And hey, you’ve got something to say, right? No matter your current level of experience or skills. With a little gusto in your writing step, you can make the reader feel something, take an action, or be more informed than before.

A few tips below to show you how.

Suggestion: let loose, try some (or all) of these, and repeat them for a few of your posts. Build those new writing-muscles.

You’ll be amazed at how clear you’ll write, and how you’ll zero-in on your voice.

1. Barf it out

Writers block is a myth. if you wanna balst past it just write out anything in your head, without leaving teh keybord. just keep your fingers typing, looking at the keyboard not the screen, so your brain engages. forget about sentence structure, spelling, punctuation… just keep your fingers moving and p[ower through any blockages. do this for an articel, tech-doc, and kind of writing thingie. Even for a paragraph or three. whenever your stuck just typw. editing will come later. This is a brain excercise, not a make-it-look-just-right process. Editing comes later, but don’t mix the two. It’s never write the first time. but push stuff that’s in your head onto the page, then mnake your 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 edits…. LATER.

Okay, I’m back.

Whenever, I’m ‘stuck’, for any kind of writing… I just type. Every time, something useful appears before my writing-eyes-and-brain.

The same will happen to you, too.

Punch the so-called “writer’s block” right in the gut. It’s bunk.

2. Write to an 8th grader

Not because they are dumb. Because it forces you to write clearly. And to ditch the jargon and terms that eyeballs just gloss over.

“Drive innovation.”

“Become a disruptor.”

And my absolute non-favorite, “Transform your business…”.

Oh please. Some of the most over-used, under-effective statements of all time.

Companies and their writers hide behind these terms every day, all across the web. Statistically speaking, probably you, too. I’m just sayin’.

I don’t know if this intentional or not. But here’s the thing…

Terms and jargon say little, while making you and your biz appear as a commodity. Like many others. Better to do the heavy lifting for the reader. Because they certainly won’t. They’ll stop and leave, versus stay and scroll.

Do the work. Say something real. Practice on your kid, mom, or any outsider to tell your important and useful message.

Your readers will appreciate it. It makes good business sense.

3. Write to the reader

Because no one cares about what you (or I) do. Readers only care what they can get from what you (or I) do.

So then, write from the readers’ perspective. Make them the hero.

A list of features? B-o-r-i-n-g.

Words that paint a picture for how the reader’s life will improve, that’s the ticket.

Sometimes, “standing out” is nothing more than writing from the reader’s point of view. Because most of your competitors don’t.

4. Write with a purpose

And write that purpose at the top of your draft piece.

To keep your mind on the target while you write.

For an email, blog post, white paper, and of course for any social media post—be clear on the purpose.

What action do you want the reader to take?

Click the buy, call, or contact us button?

Or maybe you just want them to feel a certain way. Empathy? Bliss? Informed?

Too often, we humans write to write. Not a problem.

Unless you want to sell your stuff.

Social posts are usually a top-of-mind selling approach. And an opportunity to build, show, and share your brand.

And still, write with a purpose to raise your signal, lessen your noise.

Hey, don’t forget to delete the purpose reminder at the top of your draft.

5. Write to make the reader feel successful

Which is hard to do when reading long paragraphs, without breaks—like single lines and bolded lines.

Lead your reader down the page by breaking up your message.

Short paragraphs. Short sentences. Transition lines. Bullets. Some bolded items, too. Like this one…

Allowing your readers to skim and scan your message is nice.

It helps them feel a series of successes as they move down the page.

The more they read, the more they understand.

Good for everyone, right?

Oh yeah, and questions are good too. They encourage the reader to ‘lean in’, with interest.

What are you doing to help your readers scroll down the page?

Maybe I’ve overdone the short paragraphs in this post. Maybe not. Part of the just-try-it-and-see-for-yourself model. Better ‘too much’ than ‘too little’. You can dial it down later.

6. Write with a hyper-focus

…and with a tomato.

What the…?

Stay with me.

Too often, we look at a piece of work and think, ‘Ah man, I need a bunch of time to do this post.’

There’s a better way.

By defining and going after a small section or piece of your post, document or whatever you’re writing. Right now. Say, in the 15 minutes before your next meeting.

Define a small portion to write (I’m doing this right now for this single section)
Set a tomato timer, that you can hear going tick-tock-tick-tock
Barf it out (like we talked about above)
Make your edits
Go to your meeting

Progress made. Feels good.

I wrote this section in 17 minutes. You can, too. String a bunch more of these together to complete your writing, iteratively. Without feeling like you have to set aside a load of time in one or two sittings.

I love the Pomodoro Technique for getting anything done with a hyper-focus.

7. Use pictures to enhance the words

I’m not going to say much about this.

Of course, pictures enhance the words.

This piece is about the words.

I don’t want to leave you hanging though. Here’s one of a thousand good reads about adding pictures to your work.

7 writing tools for social media

Opinion: writing for social media is fun. Those writing tips and tricks help me enjoy the process. And so do these writing tools.

1. Session buddy (Chrome extension)

Good for: Reducing browser clutter by restoring windows and tabs for your writing project. In seconds.
Cost: Free.

writing for social media

When writing, I usually do web searches to find related content or topics. These often become input into my writing piece. I arrange browser instances and tabs within each instance. Then, place them carefully on the screen to move around as needed.

Now, say I need to work on something else. Fine:

Click on the session buddy icon, in the Chrome toolbar
Name and save the session
Close the all the windows

Now you’re ready for action on a new task. Distraction free. Without any browser clutter.

Then, when it’s time to resume that project:

Click on the session buddy icon
Select and open the named session
Everything like before, instantly

Here’s a list of alternatives. Try and use what works for you.

2. Hemingway app

Good for: Writing anything succinctly and clearly.
Cost: Free online, $19.99 for the desktop app.

writing for social media

Hemingway app will make you a better writer. Period.

That whole jargon thing I complain about, it all goes away when you write like Ernest did.

Same for long sentences, unnecessary adverbs, superlative adjectives, and passive phrases. And, with hints for alternatives.

Write what you write
Paste it into Hemingway app
Visually see what works, what doesn’t
Make your changes, to do more of what does work
Paste back into your writing piece

Use Hemingway app often to build your writing skills. After a bit you’ll need it less. Though I still use it often to keep me in check. An amazing tool.

3. Markdown

Good for: Writing an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to HTML.
Cost: Depends. There’s a load of editors to write your markdown. Some are free, others cost. But not much.

Markdown allows you to write plain text for nearly all your writing projects. Find and choose a Markdown editor, for Windows, Mac or web.

Word, Google Docs, and the others of that same ilk? Oh please.

Feature bloat, complex to use, and limited to a tool. No thanks.

Markdown just works. With a simple WYSIWYG editor for headers, bolding, italics, bullets, highlight, horizontal dividers, and quotes.

Who needs more than that?

And, instantly convert your work to HTML to post on any platform, using their already-in-place CSS formatting.

In other words… you write text, export as HTML, publish anywhere.

Not sold?

Fine, try it out on your next writing piece. Easy to learn, even easier to use.

Markdown is the only way I write nowadays. Be careful, the same might happen to you. If you’re lucky.

4. ZenPen

Good for: Distraction free writing.
Cost: Free.

writing for social media

There’s plenty of clutter in life. ZenPen is one small corner of the distraction-free-universe to help you write without outside interference.

Go to
Type and write
Copy and paste, or download (via markdown, plain text, or html)
Do something beautiful with your new Pulitzer-prize-like content

5. Grammarly

Good for: Making your writing clear, effective, and correct.
Cost: Free online

writing for social media

Grammarly promises to keep your social posts on point. It will flag everything from contextual spelling errors to poor word choices. And, the tool integrates with lots of online platforms, including Twitter, Gmail, and Tumblr.

I make up words all the time, and misspell others. Not always a bad thing for getting people’s attention. As long as one is intentional about it.

Use Grammarly to convert the unintentional to the intentional.

6. Pomodoro Technique

Good for: Staying focused, for writing or anything else.
Cost: Depends on the specific timer tool you choose. Loads of free ones.

writing for social media

I know, I already mentioned this.

It’s worth another mention.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It uses a timer to break down work into 25 minute intervals (usually), separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a pomodoro (Italian for tomato).

Cute, huh?

But Pomodoro is more than cute for getting s&$% done.

I use it all over the place, especially when writing:

Define a section or two to write
Set the timer (for 25 minutes)
Work until it rings (and only on that task)
Put down a checkmark on a piece of paper
Take a short break
Lather, rinse, repeat

Works as a good tracker, too. For instance, four checkmarks = about two hours for the completed effort.

I use an online Pomodoro timer that makes an obvious tick-tock (a kitchen timer works great, too). My wife knows not to interrupt me when in this highly-focused state.

As long as I follow up with her about the ever growing to-do list she came to me for.

7. Dropbox Paper

Good for: Writing and collaborating with others.
Cost: Free for the individual or small business. It costs for the enterprise.

Dropbox paper is my main writing, editing, and collaboration tool. Clients dig it, too. I teach them how to use it in one minute.

It looks and reads beautiful
Super-duper easy to write, distraction free (with a simple toolbar that pops up only when text is highlighted)
Works as web content editor, versus a document editor (who needs line breaks anymore?)
Write together with others, real-time
Alert your mates, immediately, with comments off to the side
Export and download in the common formats to publish elsewhere

Not much more to say. Try it yourself. I dare you.

Compose, schedule, and publish your expertly written posts to all the major social media channels—including Instagram—from one dashboard using Hootsuite. Try it free today. 

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What You Can Learn from 7 of the Best Brands on Instagram Stories

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With 400 million people watching watching Instagram Stories daily, brands are increasingly taking advantage of the format to engage audiences and share content.

But not all Stories are created equal! Some brands are truly killing it with creative, interesting, or unexpected content.

In this post, we’ll share seven of the best brands on Instagram Stories and what you can can learn from them to inform your own Instagram stories strategy.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

7 of the best brands on Instagram Stories
1. Everlane

Everlane is a digital-first apparel brand that built a strong Snapchat following before Instagram Stories even existed. This gave them an edge in mastering the format.

They’ve long been known for featuring the type of authentic, behind-the-scenes content that their customers love.

Everlane uses Stories to reinforce their core value: transparency. They consistently share honest, detailed information about how each of their products are made. In their Stories, they go even deeper into the origins of each product, which builds trust with their customers and reinforces their brand.

Everlane’s Stories also show off the quality and stylishness of their products. They’re not just FAQs; they serve as lookbooks that promote new offerings and show off their products.

Instagram is transforming how users shop, so showcasing your products to drive sales is essential.

How to make this work for your brand

What makes your brand special? Whether it’s the range of your products, or the quality of your service, Instagram Stories is the perfect place to share what sets your company apart.

The disappearing format means you can dive deep into a particular topic without taking up a ton of valuable real estate on your main Instagram feed.

Tip: If you have a Story that really resonates with your customers, save it to your Story Highlights! Story Highlights live at the top of your feed and don’t expire. You can use them to create a series or organize your content by theme, like Everlane:

2. Glossier

Glossier built their brand on social media, acquiring a massive Instagram following before they even launched their first product. So, it’s only natural that they’re ace at Stories.

Glossier’s niche is skincare and beauty products for a millennial audience, and their fun, breezy Stories demonstrate how well they understand their customers.

Their Stories regularly feature product Q+As and tutorials, polls, and original content like music playlists and quizzes. Stories often link to longer videos or articles, taking interested customers to more in-depth content on their website. The tone is warm and casual, like a friend who’s just offering great advice.

They alternate these user-driven Stories with others that feature products or pop-up shops. This provides a mix of content that builds loyalty and brand awareness at the same time.

As a result of their Stories, Glossier has a very engaged audience who also provide a ton of valuable customer insights. They reach out to their audience on Stories when developing new products, polling them on desired features or favorite competitors. This means each new product is launched with a precise understanding of their market.

How to make this work for your brand

Connecting with your followers and starting conversations takes effort, but yields huge rewards — namely, more visibility for your posts. Glossier is exceptional at listening to their followers on social media and offering them a ton of ways to share their thoughts, whether that’s through Polls, the new Questions tool, or replying to Stories.

By encouraging your followers to share their feedback with you through Stories, you can develop strong relationships and gain a ton of insights to inform your business strategy.

3. Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit is best known for their monthly magazine of delicious recipes and restaurant reviews, but they also share original and exciting content on social media.

Their Instagram Stories feature food tours, tutorials, recipes, interviews, and more. This content mirrors the high-quality, editorial look of their magazine, which reinforces their brand.

What’s more, they post Stories daily, providing tons of fresh content and encouraging their audience to check in often to see what’s new.

Bon Appetit’s Instagram Stories often complement their monthly print editorial themes and Instagram Feed posts, encouraging their followers to engage with them on multiple platforms.

Bon Appetit’s account highlights the fact that while Instagram Stories is a more spontaneous, casual place than the Feed, users are coming to expect high-quality content. If your brand is refined and polished, your audience will expect that from your Stories too.

How to make this work for your brand

Keeping your Stories active with original, exciting content is an awesome way to engage your audiences and keep them coming back for more.

Use Stories to complement the content you’re generating on other platforms, providing additional value for your followers and encouraging them to visit your other channels.

4. Article

Article is a direct-to-consumer furniture company that relies on digital platforms to reach customers.

Article is great at using Instagram Stories to reproduce the traditional product and service information you’d find on their website, but in a more appealing format.

For instance, Story Highlights include product FAQs and an overview of shipping options. Just because they’re informational, doesn’t mean they’re boring: they feature quality visuals, humor, and the occasional cute dog cameo. Visual consistency is a key part of building your brand on Instagram, and that goes for Stories too!

How to make this work for your brand

Do you use social media to share information with your customers? Instagram Stories can be a valuable tool for sharing the kind of details you might find in an About or FAQ page, packaged to be fun and engaging.

These Stories can raise awareness about your products and services, while also building trust and credibility. And if you throw in a cute dog now and then, they can also entertain!

5. Google Maps

I know what you’re thinking: Google Maps? That utilitarian app that offers nothing in the way of visual excitement, unless you get a thrill out of urban grids?

Surprisingly, they have a gorgeous Instagram Feed filled with incredible photos. There isn’t a map screenshot in sight (though you can find those on the strangely enjoyable Sad Topographies).

In their Stories, Google Maps shares curated user-submitted shots of stunning locations tagged with #OnGoogleMaps. Followers can swipe up to save locations to their own Google Maps account, providing abundant inspiration for avid travelers.

How to make this work for your brand

Even brands that don’t create photogenic products or exciting experiences can curate an outstanding feed. Look for opportunities to create or showcase high quality images, even if they don’t explicitly feature your product or service in action.

This type of creative thinking proves that Instagram is a platform where any brand can excel if they can find and share amazing visuals. There’s no excuse for sharing boring or lackluster Stories; just think outside the box.

6. The New York Times

The Gray Lady is unexpectedly innovative when it comes to using Instagram Stories. They complement their news articles with visually dynamic Stories. The Stories provide an introduction to the longer-form article, with an invitation to swipe up and read the full piece.

These Stories take advantage of the high-quality photography produced for the paper, but they also pair each Story with text that hooks the viewer and makes them want to read more. In this example, the copy is doing as much heavy lifting as the imagery.

New York Times Instagram Story

How to make this work for your brand

For brands that produce written content or invest in their blog strategy, Stories can be used to extend the life and reach of your content. Consider how you can pull out interesting ledes or attention-grabbing excerpts that will make your followers want to swipe up for more.

A social media content calendar can help you plan how Instagram Stories can amplify the reach of your blog posts or other content.

7. Aritzia

Aritzia is a brand that excels at Instagram, with impeccable editorial content that showcases their in-house fashion lines.

Fashion companies have an edge on Instagram, given that they’re in the business of making things (and people) look good, but Aritzia stands out from their peers when it comes to using one of Instagram’s newest features: Shoppable Stories.

Their Stories mirror the sleek and polished look of their feed, and feature lookbooks, as-seen-on celebrity photos, and seasonal inspirations. They understand that their audience is following them to see the latest new products, and they make it easy to move from Stories to purchases in just a few clicks.

Aritzia Instagram Story

How to make this work for your brand

Shoppable Stories are poised to be the next retail revolution on Instagram. Mastering the format now means you can make it as seamless and easy for your customers to discover and purchase new products (only physical items can be sold through Instagram shopping). You can get set up for Instagram Shopping by following our step-by-step guide.

Now that you have a wealth of examples for using Instagram Stories to creatively and effectively engage your followers, you can apply these tactics to your own strategy. Happy posting!

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish photos directly to Instagram, engage the audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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The Top 12 Pinterest Tools for Marketers

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More than any other social platform, Pinterest’s users are shoppers. 93 percent of Pinterest’s 250 million users use the platform to plan purchases, and 78 percent think content from brands is useful to their decision-making.

To reach potential customers here, where they’re actively looking to discover and be inspired, your Pinterest marketing strategy has to be on-point. Here’s a list of best-in-class Pinterest tools—from Pinterest schedulers to image enhancers to content curators and more—that will help you tap into the platform’s potential.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to make money on Pinterest in six easy steps using the tools you already have.

12 Pinterest marketing tools for scheduling and beyond
Pinterest schedulers

You’ve heard it before: consistency is crucial.

Your marketing calendar should incorporate multiple daily Pins (a.k.a ‘posts’ in Pinterest-speak). Pinterest’s own data shows that evenings and weekends are peak engagement times for US-based brands. Use a scheduler to prepare posts ahead of time and think longer-term.

Speaking of long-term, Pinners are planners. These folks are looking for ideas for big seasonal events—everything from Mother’s Day to Fashion Week to Black Friday. Pinterest’s seasonal planner is a great place to start building out your calendar with inspiring looks.

With all that on your plate, a Pinterest scheduler is the only way to keep organized and save time (no more pushing SEND 25 times a day).

1. Hootsuite

Incorporating your Pinterest strategy into your overall social media calendar is a lot easier using Hootsuite’s integrated dashboard.

You can compose new Pins, schedule them for later, create new boards, and Pin to multiple boards at once. Enterprise users can view their scheduled Pins in the content planner, alongside the rest of their social media campaigns.

Check it out:

2. Tailwind

As a scheduler, Tailwind is limited to Pinterest and Instagram. However, it offers several features tailored specifically for Pinterest that make it worth considering.

Tailwind can measure your audience engagement and suggest the best times to post, as well as sync posts with Instagram, and Pin directly from a browser extension.

Pinterest tools for images

Compelling visuals are the first and last word in Pinterest engagement. Each Pin is comprised of an image, text, and a link, but you have to catch eyes if you want to get your text read (let alone get that link clicked).

Pinterest’s own best practices advise using vertical images (ideally with a 2:3 aspect ratio), which may possibly include your tasteful logo, and/or a text overlay to provide context.

If your marketing objectives are action-oriented, like increasing online sales, consider that click-throughs and checkout rates improve with lifestyle images. That’s not to say you ought to ditch your product shots in favour of generic beach sunsets and friendly campfires. Instead, consider using images that clearly feature your product in everyday life.

Even if you’re a Photoshop pro, feeding a steady pipeline of images to your calendar is going to take some doing. Here are some tools that can help.

3. Canva

Canva is a drag-and-drop interface with thousands of ready-to-use Pinterest graphic templates.

You can browse their image library or upload your own shots. Even if you have a perfectly-sized image on-hand already, Canva will allow you to easily compose your catchy text overlay, or place your logo. Customization options allow you to fiddle with text, font, background images, colour palettes, and other design elements to your heart’s content.

pinterest scheduler Canva

4. Piktochart

If you’re starting with a block of text rather than an image, this is the tool for you. Piktochart will help you build professional-grade infographics to tell stories with visual impact. It’s very useful for marketers looking to build awareness and/or repurpose complex content.

pinterest scheduler Piktochart

5. Hootsuite Compose

Edit your photos directly using the Hootsuite Composer’s advanced photo editing tools. Automatically select the best dimensions for each social media network, including Pinterest, using resizing and cropping templates.

Of course, you can also filter images and add text overlays or logos. Editing directly in Hootsuite means that you can then share the edited image to your Pinterest board (and multiple social networks) immediately, or schedule them for later.

Pinterest tools for content curation

Not every Pin is made equal, and wading through low-quality or spammy Pins to find a rare gem for your audience can be a lot of work. Here are some tools that can help you with your curatorial mission.

6. Pinterest Browser button

Keep your boards overflowing with great content by adding a Pinterest browser button to your preferred web browser. This way, even if a website doesn’t have Pinterest save buttons enabled on their images, you can still easily Pin it.

7. Tailwind Tribes

If you’re already using Tailwind, check out its Tribes feature, where like-minded marketers can join forces to support each other’s growth. The idea here is that tribe members get new sources of relevant Pins to share to their own boards, and can rest assured that their own Pins will be amplified by other tribe members in turn. The dual function—quality content, and expanded reach to your target audience—is worth a look.

8. Mentionlytics

This social listening tool will comb your feeds for keywords and present them as a stream in your Hootsuite dashboard. It’s typically used for customer service and brand maintenance (it flags your mentions whether you’re tagged or not), as well as competitor intelligence (it flags their mentions).

But with the right keywords in place, Mentionlytics is an effective content curation tool that’ll supply you with a steady flow of relevant new posts from across all the major social networks.

pinterest scheduler

Pinterest tools for engagement

Ensure all your hard work doesn’t fall on blind eyes. Here are some tools to help you emphasize the social in this social network.

9. Pinterest Save Button

Make it easy for your audience to share the love. The Save button is one of the easiest ways to passively grow your Pinterest influence and engagement. Install it on your website to allow people to save any image they find there to their own Pinterest boards, while linking back to you. As impressions grow, so will clicks.

You can choose automatic buttons (where every image will have the little red pin in the corner) or hover buttons (which only appear when a user mouses over the image.) Check out the Pinterest widget builder to set it up.

pinterest scheduler

10. PinGroupie

Group Pinterest boards are a great way to get your Pins seen by more eyes, as they often have more followers than individual boards. PinGroupie will help you search for the right boards for your brand, either by category or description. It can also help you evaluate whether to join, by showing you information on how many Pins, collaborators and followers a Group board has.

11. Woobox’s Pinterest tab

Leverage your Facebook Page’s existing following by adding a static Pinterest tab using Woobox. This tab can feature one or more boards, and it’s a great way to get additional views for your curated content. Users can follow your Pinterest account using a follow button on the tab.

12. Pinterest’s buyable pins

If you’re already earning clicks on your Pins, it might make sense to take advantage of the attention and direct your audience straight to buying. Buyable Pins are free (Pinterest doesn’t take a cut), and customers don’t have to leave Pinterest. Given that 85 percent of all Pinterest searches happen on mobile, that kind of seamlessness is crucial to preventing customer drop-off in the purchasing pipeline.

Buyable Pins are also a good choice for promotion, if you’re taking steps towards promoting your Pins with Pinterest ads.

pinterest schedulerImage via Pinterest
What next?

With these additional tools supporting your Pinterest marketing strategy, you’ll want to measure your success. Quantify your ROI using our complete guide to Pinterest Analytics for business.

Save time managing your Pinterest presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can compose, schedule, and publish Pins, create new boards, Pin to multiple boards at once, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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Check-in: Were We Right About Our 2018 Social Trends?

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Anyone can make predictions about what the future holds. But actually being right about these predictions? Not so easy.

Last year we produced our third annual Social trends report. This labor of love (and research—a lot of research) took a look at five big trends we predicted would take off in 2018, and what these meant for businesses around the globe.

As we start looking towards 2019, we thought it would be a great time to check-in on how our predictions from last year panned out. Continue reading to discover:

The trends that made a difference to brands in 2018
Social media events and developments even we couldn’t have predicted
The big changes top social media platforms made

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Trend 1: The evolution of social ROI
Were we right? Very.

As we looked towards 2018, our research indicated a sharp focus on social ROI. Finding metrics to track wasn’t exactly the problem—it was tying these numbers back to your business outcomes that proved challenging.

This was such a big issue that 56 percent of respondents to our Hootsuite 2018 social trends survey said that “not being able to prove ROI makes it difficult for them to be successful on social.”

To address this discrepancy, we predicted that 2018 would see networks and businesses learning to measure beyond content performance metrics, and start to focus on the metrics connected to the entire customer journey.

On May 1, 2018, Facebook announced the launch of a new product: Journeys by Facebook Analytics. Noting—as we mentioned in our prediction—that businesses were finding it difficult to attribute conversions to particular actions on different websites and apps. Facebook explained: “With Journeys from Facebook Analytics, you see the paths to conversion that were visible to Facebook and made on your websites, apps, Messenger bot, and Facebook Page in a single report. Journeys tells you how long it takes people to convert, and which channels they start on.”

With Journeys by Facebook Analytics, businesses can also see insights such as whether “people who convert on desktop typically browse your mobile app first. Or if the people who interact with your Messenger bot ultimately convert in your mobile app, and spend more.”

While this is just one (major) example of platforms focusing on the customer journey and ROI, a simple Google search shows that there’s no turning back on this trend.

Trend 2: Mobile fuels the growth of social TV
Were we right? Yes.

The percentage of internet users who use social media to watch video has been steadily rising since 2015. With this growth—due to mobile usage, shorter attention spans, and the thrill of novelty—we predicted that in 2018 social networks will encourage brands to become broadcasters.

The biggest development in this space arrived from Instagram on June 20, 2018—IGTV. Instagram’s TV feature differentiates itself from standard social media video.

“First, it’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full screen and vertical,” Instagram explained at launch. “Also, unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long.” IGTV has channels like traditional TV, but the owners of each channel are creators, brands, and other Instagram users.

The increased usage of mobile devices also indicated a boost in digital ad spend compared to television advertising spending. We predicted that in 2018 we’d see internet advertising spend outpace TV, a prognosis that ultimately proved true. On May 1, 2018, AdWeek reported that for the first time ever, digital ad revenue surpassed the combined total of TV, broadcast and cable advertising.

As AdWeek explains, “Much of that growth was driven by mobile, which accounted for $49.9 billion in digital revenue—or around 57 percent of the total for the year. Social media also sped up the pace of its growth, increasing 36 percent to now account for about a quarter of all online ad revenue.”

With mobile use in the United States expected to surpass television use in 2019, there is no doubt that our prediction has proven true. However, it remains to be seen whether mobile users will ever completely abandon their television sets in favor of their phones.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Get the free guide right now!

Trend 3: Trust declines, while peer influence rises
Were we right? Kind of.

When we looked towards 2018 in late 2017, we predicted that trust in micro-influencers, real customers, and regular “people like you” would increase as trust in institutions such as the mainstream media, CEOs, and government would reach historical lows.

According to Edelman’s 2018 Global Trust Barometer, trust in institutions declined 23 points in the U.S.—meaning we weren’t wrong about this part of the equation. However, media—which includes social networks—is now the least trusted institution. Trust in the social networks themselves declined two points while trust in journalists actually went up five percent.

The survey defines “the media” as social media networks, search platforms, news apps, influencers, journalists, and brands.

The polarization of trust was another thing we didn’t see coming. While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton voters were pretty much on par when it came to trust in NGOs, businesses, and the government, only 27 percent of Trump voters had trust in the media, compared to 61 percent of Clinton voters.

Seven out of 10 people globally say they worry about false information and fake news being used as a weapon. Edelman found that 63 percent of respondents feel they do not know how to tell good journalism from rumor and falsehoods.

The issue around false news is one we didn’t expect at this scale. Following the discovery that foreign organizations used social networks to spread misinformation during the United States presidential election in 2016, Facebook has “promised to eradicate the issue over time.”

According to Techspot, “Facebook has already taken the first steps towards accomplishing their goal by partnering with several third-party fact-checkers. These individuals review and rate the accuracy of various pieces of content, including captioned images, and videos.”

Businesses need to be prepared for the declining trust in the media—and the stricter regulations that come along with the effort combat misinformation.

As we explain in our blog post Social media in 2020: 10 data-backed predictions, “It’s the end of the wild west. Social platforms will be regulated. Governments and consumers will look to better guard personal data. And rather than being impressed by data journalism or clever personalization, tech companies will be seen in a darker light by the public.”

Trend 4: Humans, meet AI
Were we right? Yes

From chatbots and social media ads optimization to self-driving cars and drones, the rise of artificial intelligence is one trend that brand’s (still) can’t ignore. We predicted that by 2020, more than 85 percent of all customer service interactions will be powered by AI bots.

In 2018, the growth of AI has been undeniable. According to the International Data Centre, worldwide spending on robotics and AI solutions will reach $103 billion in 2018—an increase of more than 22.1 percent compared to 2017. And, according to CB Insights, funding for AI startups reached $15.2-billion—growth of 141 percent in just one year.

While our 2018 report briefly addressed the potential issue of businesses losing focus on their customers in the face of AI, organizations need to be wary of the negative impact poorly-executed technological developments could have. In her talk at the 2018 Artificial Intelligence Conference, New York University research scientist Meredith Whittaker spoke about the prevalent biases in the AI world, and how the focus on the human is more important than ever.

“AI systems are currently designed by a very small, very privileged subset of the population. In the western context these are mainly white, mainly men, mainly affluent and mostly located in the Bay Area. Many of them care about these issues, but this doesn’t mean their worldviews and assumptions aren’t encoded into the technologies they make, which leads to facial recognition systems that are over 30 percent less accurate for dark skinned women than white men. To machine translation systems that encode gender bias, changing ‘doctor’ to ‘him’—even when translating from a language with gender-neutral pronouns, to a voice recognition system that doesn’t hear women, and on and on and on.”

While these are big issues any business needs to be aware of as they implement AI into their organization, when it comes to immediate next steps things are a bit simpler.

As we’ve said previously, a great place to start is Simon Kemp’s AI workshop. It’s also a good idea to explore tools that use AI, such as MarketMuse and Conversable.

Trend 5: The promise (and reality) of social data
Were we right? Kind of.

In our 2018 report, we predicted that while collecting data might be easy, a big focus for businesses will be trying to “extract usable insights from mountains of data.”

While we knew social media data would be a big story in 2018, we couldn’t have predicted just how big.

In March 2018, news broke that data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica allegedly “used personal information harvested from more than 50 million Facebook profiles [later increased to 87 million] without permission to build a system that could target US voters with personalised political advertisements based on their psychological profile.”

We can’t talk about Cambridge Analytica without also mentioning Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR.) Along with numerous other rights enacted to citizens, the introduction of a revised GDPR in 2018 meant that “individuals will find themselves with more power to demand companies reveal or delete the personal data they hold.”

In other words, citizens must consent to their data being used by companies—or see these companies face substantial fines and repercussions

If the Cambridge Analytica scandal had happened post-GDPR, Facebook’s fine could have been up to €1.4 billion (or USD $1.63-billion.)

One of the other top data-related stories of 2018 was Facebook’s algorithm changes. The metrics that marketing managers used to measure their success by were put in jeopardy when Facebook announced that their algorithm will prioritize “meaningful interactions” from users’ friends and family over branded content.

“As we make these updates, [Business] Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease,” Facebook explained. However, many are still wondering exactly how to measure “meaningful interactions.”

When asked about this, Facebook’s Adam Mosseri explained, “Conversations between friends tend to be more meaningful than conversations between strangers. Facebook is still looking at key metrics it has always looked at — things like “Likes,” comments and shares — to shape its definition of “meaningful,” but it’s not black and white.”

As we can see, there isn’t much that actually is “black and white” when it comes to the prediction of social media trends. There are so many global and cultural pieces to the puzzle, that it would be impossible to defiantly declare the future. As we look towards 2019, we’re sure there will be some surprises. However, our proven research methods and expert data mean your business will never be completely blindsided.

Stay tuned for our 2019 social trends report, where we break down the most important changes your brand should be prepared for in the near future. Meanwhile, make sure you’re up to date by reviewing last year’s report.

The post Check-in: Were We Right About Our 2018 Social Trends? appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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The Complete Guide to Using Facebook Messenger Bots for Business

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You’ve heard the buzz. Chatbots will replace mobile apps. Chatbots will replace email marketing. Chatbots will replace customer care agents. Chatbots will cut your costs and increase your revenue. And they’re gonna do it all while you sleep.

There’s a lot of hype floating around right now about chatbots in general, and Facebook Messenger bots in particular. It’s no surprise that, according to a survey by Oracle, 80 percent of businesses want a chatbot in place by 2020.

Can bots really do everything they promise? It’s still early days. In the meantime, here are some real world examples and best practices to give you a firm footing in this new landscape.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

What are Facebook Messenger bots (a.k.a Facebook chatbots)?

Basically, a chatbot is a piece of automated messaging software that uses AI to converse with people.

Bots are programmed to understand questions, provide answers, and execute tasks. From a customer’s perspective, they’re a friendly and accessible time-saver. Rather than opening an app (let alone downloading one), making a phone call (ew), running a search, or loading a webpage, your customer can just type a message, like they would to a friend.

Chatbots have been around in some form for decades, and currently they exist on webpages, in apps, on social media—you name it.

A Facebook Messenger bot is a chatbot that lives in Facebook Messenger, meaning it converses with some of the 1.3 billion people who use Facebook Messenger every month.

If you’re on Facebook, you probably already have a Facebook Messenger strategy. A Facebook Messenger bot is how you scale that strategy.

As of the 2018 F8 conference, Facebook has 300,000 active Messenger bots. That’s three times as many as the year prior.

Why use Facebook Messenger bots for business?

There are two major advantages to using a Facebook Messenger bot.

First, there’s a low barrier to entry for both you and your target audience. Facebook Messenger is the third most-used app in the world, used by 68 percent of app users.

And it’s not just for group chats among friends and family. A recent Nielsen survey found that people think messaging is the second-best way to talk to a business. People exchange 2 billion messages with businesses over Facebook Messenger every month.

Compare this to the rest of the mobile app market, where 71 percent of users delete an app within 90 days.

If you want to communicate with your customers, building a Facebook Messenger bot is a lot cheaper than building a mobile app.

The second advantage is that the field is still wide open. While Facebook has 6 million advertisers, there are only 300,000 chatbots. That’s a lot less competition.

Meanwhile, marketing email click-through rates (3.1 percent, on average) haven’t improved in years, and only 30 percent of marketing emails are even opened. Chatbots can help you bypass inbox competition too.

So that’s the context. Let’s break down exactly what a Messenger chatbot can help you do:

1. Reach your audience directly

Headliner Labs found that people are 3.5 times more likely to open a Facebook Message than a marketing email. And since customers can respond (usually by pressing a CTA button—they don’t even need to type), they’re likely to move further down your marketing funnel.

On top of that, Facebook Messenger has sponsored ads, which can be sent to anyone who has previously been in touch with your Page. Yes, this means that you already have a subscriber list. You can use these ads in tandem with your chatbot to target high-intent customers.

2. Save time and money on customer care

Customers expect 24/7 availability, but they hate waiting on hold. They also ask many of the same questions over and over (and over) again.

If you’re spending a lot of time helping people track deliveries, check your return policy, or book appointments, a little automation will go a long way. Free up your focus for the tasks that a Messenger chatbot can’t do.

3. Identify leads

As your bot greets potential customers, it can identify their needs, ask basic questions, (i.e., “What’s your budget?”) and immediately direct high-quality leads to your human sales team.

4. Handle e-commerce transactions

With the right script, bots can do the selling, too. And because everything happens without leaving the comfort of Facebook Messenger, drop-off rates are lower than in a traditional ad-to-webpage pipeline.

Also, conversational commerce leaves room for personalized upselling as the bot makes suggestions. Everything from “Seems your flight won’t be leaving until 4PM. Would you prefer a late check-out?” to “Fries with that?”

5. Re-engage customers

Bots are capable of retaining information, and you can use those details to go the extra mile.

Rather than paying for a barrage of advertising, a Facebook Messenger bot can reach out personally, offering relevant content at the right time. Remind a customer about those cycling shorts still sitting in her cart, or that she sent her mother-in-law birthday flowers this time last year.

How are businesses using Facebook Messenger bots?

Each bot is as unique as the business it serves.

They can help with common customer service questions, like delivery tracking and appointment booking. But they can also drive discovery—suggesting the perfect pair of jeans, booking a direct flight to London, or ordering dinner.

They can upsell by suggesting a t-shirt to go with those jeans, or a bottle of kombucha with that dragon bowl.

They can remind you that you forgot to click purchase on those sneakers.

They can track your delivery, and then check in to see how those jeans fit once they’ve arrived.

They can notify you about an offer they think you’d like, and they’ll remember your size or time zone or nut allergy.

They might even tell you a joke while you’re at it.

Here are a few best-in-class chatbot examples to inspire you.

Marriott Rewards

Marriott’s focus on stellar customer service means that they’ve been at the forefront of the chatbot boom. They created their first Facebook Messenger chatbot in 2016 to help guests link their Marriott and Starwood rewards accounts after the companies merged.

The bot was so popular that Marriott transitioned it into a booking bot: guests can enter their dates in a city, and receive hotel suggestions. This bot also highlights content from Marriott’s magazine, Traveller, integrating useful local information and news for the guest’s upcoming visit.

Separately, last year Marriott created a careers chatbot to target millennial job seekers. “MC” helps prospective candidates find the right job in the right city, and simultaneously provides education on Marriott values and history. This makes a lot of sense coming from a brand that aims to treat its employees as well as its customers.


The cosmetics retailer’s Reservation Assistant bot is simple but brilliant.

Sephora offers free makeovers in their stores, and this bot eliminates five steps from the booking process. Implementing it led to an 11 percent higher booking rate. (And a lot more folks buying a purple eyeliner they didn’t know they needed til they saw it in the mirror—customers spent an average of $50 once in-store.)

Bud Light

During the 2017 NFL season, Bud Light promoted its team-branded cans by creating a chatbot that could order and deliver a case of beer in under an hour on game days.

The genius here is a blend of personalization (customers get to pick their favourite team), hyper-locality (geo-targeting allowed the bot to select the best delivery partner for the area), and timeliness (the bot reminded users each game day that it was time to stock the fridge.) This bot saw an 83 percent engagement rate.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

Get the free guide right now!

Whole Foods

This bot acts as an extension of Whole Foods’ content marketing strategy by acting as a concierge that drives discovery of recipes based on ingredients. The bot can also help you narrow down ideas by dish type or dietary restriction.

And yes, you can search by emoji.


UNICEF’s U-report bot is built to gather opinions and data from young people around the world on issues that matter to them, with the goal of amplifying their voices to create real policy change. The bot has engaged over 2 million subscribers.

If you’ve ever tried to collect feedback from your customers, take note: chatbots don’t just chat, they can listen, too.

Tools for building Facebook Messenger bots

If all of this has you inspired to create your own chatbot, here are a few solutions to check out, in order from easy to expert.


ManyChat’s interface is one of the least intimidating out there. However, it may be better suited to those making simpler bots—message management can get cumbersome as the conversation gets complex.

On the plus side, ManyChat has plenty of tools that will help you promote your bot and evaluate user analytics. It’s free at first, but after you hit a certain number of subscribers you’ll need to start paying for a Pro account.


As the largest self-serve platform for building Facebook Messenger bots, Chatfuel has an impressive client list: everyone from TechCrunch to Netflix to the Cincinnati Bengals.

They have an intuitive visual interface for those without a coding background, but developers will like the editable front-end and customization options. While you can build a bot for free, a lot of the more complex (and interesting) tools are only available with Chatfuel Pro accounts.


Conversable is the enterprise-class, SaaS platform that will build your bot with you. They work with a lot of Fortune 500 companies (they’re behind the Whole Foods, Pizza Hut, 7-11, and Dunkin Donuts bots, among others). They go beyond Facebook Messenger, and will make sure your conversations are happening across all channels, including voice-based ones (like, for instance, OnStar).

Facebook Messenger for Developers

If you’re up for coding your own Messenger bot, Facebook provides a multitude of resources. And they are always working with their developer community to come up with new ideas to improve the user experience. Sephora and Nike, for instance, are currently testing augmented reality camera effects for their customers.

Facebook Messenger bot best practices

Here are some hard-earned tips from the experts, aimed at those of you who are ready to build your own Facebook Messenger bot.

Set your expectations

No bot can do everything—yet. When you’re designing your first campaign, select one goal or use case for the bot to handle. Popular ideas include customer service, lead identification, product promotion, or discovery.

Keep it simple, and walk before you run.

Set your customer’s expectations

This works the other way, too: often, your bot will be teaching the user how to interact with it as it goes. Alas, utopian-minded people who expect your appointment-booking bot to pass the Turing test may be disappointed. And folks who have no idea what a bot is could be equally frustrated.

Clearly define the chatbot’s role in initial interactions to keep everyone on the same page. Then, throughout the interaction, program the chatbot to take the lead in guiding the user through the experience.

Invite personalization

Segmenting your customers and getting to know them drives engagement. Bots that invite a person to identify their preferences and narrow down options have much higher click-through rates. Build a bot that people genuinely want to interact with.

Get to the point

Bots are still pretty novel, but ultimately the goal here is to save users time. According to Jonathan Schriftman of Snaps (the bot-builder behind Bud Light, Gatorade Edge, and others), there’s a significant drop in users when a bot takes more than five clicks to get to point-of-sale.

Always have a human on-hand

A bot’s success depends on its ability to recognize when a human being is needed. Automated conversations are fabulously speedy and responsive, but they can’t replace human connection.

Customers should have the option, at any point in the conversation, to connect with a person.

Be transparent

While a bot’s ability to store and remember information is one of its most attractive features (everyone wants to feel like a regular!) be up front with users about data retention. What data will be stored? How will it be used? How can a person opt out?

Give your users power over their private information.

Keep learning

Once you’ve built it, integrate your bot into your marketing calendar and your overall Facebook strategy. Your Facebook Messenger bot isn’t replacing email, customer service agents, or apps yet, but it offers features of all three, which means it must be treated like the unique beast it is.

As you test strengths and measure performance, keep an eye on the way chatbots continue to evolve in the marketplace. After all, this is AI we’re talking about. Have we even scratched the surface?

Manage your Facebook presence—alongside all your other social networks—from one dashboard using Hootsuite. Schedule and publish posts, engage your audience, and measure your performance. Try it free today.

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The post The Complete Guide to Using Facebook Messenger Bots for Business appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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How to Conduct a Social Media Audit (Includes a Free Template)

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Conducting a social media audit is a key part of developing—or updating—an effective social media marketing plan. Before you can think strategically about your social media use, you need to document and evaluate your existing efforts.

This allows you to determine what’s working and what’s not, while also identifying impostor accounts, outdated profiles, and new opportunities for social engagement.

Put all that learning together and you’ll be well equipped to make the most of your social budget and maximize ROI. We’ve laid the process out for you step-by-step, complete with a template to make sure you keep track of all the important details.

Table of contents
What is a social media audit?
How to conduct a social media audit
Free social media audit template

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

What is a social media audit?

“Audit” can be a scary word, but it doesn’t have to be. In this case, it’s simply the process of hunting down all of your company’s social channels, as well as any impostor accounts, and compiling key information about each account, all in one place.

As you build your audit document (or fill in our social media audit template), you’ll think about your goals for each account, and evaluate whether your existing strategy is working. This allows you to see how each social account functions as a building block in your social strategy.

Once you’ve identified the blocks, it’s time to play Jenga—removing the unnecessary pieces and adding new ones that will help take your social efforts to new heights.

Or, maybe you just need to make some simple tweaks to get your social strategy on track.

No matter where you currently stand with social media, a social media audit will present a clear picture of your current efforts and help you think clearly about the best way forward. It will also leave you with a single strategy document that lists all of your social accounts, the goals for each, who’s responsible for each channel, and other key information that’s important to have at your fingertips.

How to conduct a social media audit in 9 easy steps
1. Create a document for your audit (or use our template below)

An audit begins with some detective work, and it’s important to have somewhere to put your findings.

The best way to keep track of all the information you’ll uncover during your audit is to use a spreadsheet.

We’ve created a social media audit template for you, which you will find at the end of this post. If you’d prefer to create your own spreadsheet, you can do so using a program like Excel or Google Docs. For each social account, you’ll want to record:

the link to your profile (for example,
your social handle (for example, @hootsuite)
the internal person or team responsible for managing the account (also known as the “owner”—for example, the social marketing team)
the mission statement for the account (for example, to promote company culture using employee photos, or to provide customer service during office hours)
the top three posts in terms of engagement
three important metrics
key demographic information

You should also include a column for any relevant notes about the account.

2. Track down all your social media accounts

Now that you’ve got a document to track your accounts, it’s time to go on the hunt. Start by listing all of the accounts that you and your team use regularly. But don’t assume that covers all your bases.

For example, there might be old profiles created before your company had a social strategy. Maybe these were abandoned at some point. It’s time to bring them back into the fold.

Or maybe various departments within your company are using social media, but there’s no unified system or list of accounts.

This is also a good time to identify networks where you don’t yet have a social presence, so you can start thinking about whether you should add them to your social strategy, or at least create profiles to reserve your handle for the future.

Search the web

Google your company name and the name of your products to see what social accounts come up. If you find accounts you don’t recognize, do some investigating to determine whether they’re actually connected to your company, or if they’re impostor accounts run by someone not affiliated with your brand.

Search social networks

After your Google search, it’s worth visiting each of the main social networks and searching directly for your brand and product names to see if you uncover any unexpected accounts.

Once you’re sure you’ve tracked down all the relevant accounts, set up a social media monitoring program to keep an eye out for any new impostor accounts that might pop up in the future.

Log your findings

Record all the relevant accounts you find in your audit document. Use the notes column to indicate any accounts that require further research—for instance, if you can’t tell whether the account was created by someone at your company or by an impostor.

Use the “Unowned accounts” tab to record imposter accounts and make notes about the steps taken to have these accounts shut down. Start by contacting each account holder directly, since it could be a simple misunderstanding or a case of a passionate fan taking things too far. But be prepared to escalate matters to the social networks for help if you can’t resolve things yourself.

3. Make sure each account is complete and on brand

Once you’ve logged all of your accounts, take the time to look at each one thoroughly to make sure it’s consistent with your current brand image and standards. In general, you should check the following:

Profile and cover images

Make sure these incorporate your current brand logo and imagery.

Profile/bio text

You have limited space to work with when creating a social media bio, so it’s important to make the most of it. Make sure all fields are filled in completely and accurately with current brand messaging.


Are you using the same handle across all social channels? In general, it’s a good idea to do so if you can.

Of course, you might need different handles if your accounts serve different purposes. (For example, Hootsuite has Twitter accounts @Hootsuite and @Hootsuite_Help.) Take a look at your handles and record in the notes if you want to make changes for consistency across social platforms.


Make sure you link to your homepage, an appropriate landing page, or a current campaign.

Pinned posts

Evaluate your pinned posts to ensure they’re still appropriate.

Feel a little overwhelmed? This video summarizes what you should look for when analyzing your accounts to make sure they’re optimized and on brand:

4. Identify your best posts

For each social account, look for the three posts that had the most engagement. Record links to these top-performing posts in your spreadsheet.

Once you’ve recorded all of these posts, go through all of them and look for patterns. Do you tend to get the most response when you post photos? Videos? Do people respond to the same kinds of posts on your Facebook Page as they do on your Instagram account?

Use the notes column of your spreadsheet to record your thoughts about any patterns you find here. If you think you’ve identified a winning type of post for a particular account, try using that format more often. As you go, be sure to test your theories and record your results.

5. Evaluate performance

For this step, you’ll use analytics to gather some key insights about each social account. Not sure how to use analytics? Check out our beginners guide to social media analytics for an overview of the tools you’ll need.

If you haven’t yet created a mission statement for each social account, now is the time to do so. After all, it’s impossible to evaluate your performance when you don’t know what kind of performance you’re trying to achieve. For example, you could not use the same criteria to evaluate the performance of a Twitter account used primarily for customer service and an Instagram account aiming to drive follower engagement.

Your mission statement should help you identify the key metrics to evaluate for each social channel. If you’re trying to foster engagement, you’ll want to track likes and comments. If you want to drive traffic, you’ll track website visits.

Our guide to social media metrics will help you identify the most important metrics to track for each business goal, and how to track them. Choose one or two key metrics for each account and make notes about their performance in your audit spreadsheet.

As part of your evaluation, you might find that some of your social accounts are much more effective than others. For the accounts that don’t perform as well, you need to decide whether to adjust your strategy, invest more time and resources, or discontinue the account. We’ll talk about how to make that decision in step 7.

6. Understand the audience for each network

As you evaluate how each social account helps support your brand, it’s important to understand who you can reach through each channel.

Audience demographics are a good starting point. For example, Snapchat users tend to be much younger than Facebook users, and LinkedIn users tend to have relatively high incomes. We’ve compiled all the top statistics you need to know about who uses each social network in a series of demographics guides:

Facebook demographics
Twitter demographics
Instagram demographics
LinkedIn demographics
Snapchat demographics
Pinterest demographics
YouTube demographics

You can also dive deeper to learn more about the demographics of your specific followers on social media using analytics and tools like Facebook Audience Insights.

You can incorporate your findings about who you’re reaching with each network into your mission statement, in a separate column, or in the notes field.

7. Decide which channels are right for you

You’ve gathered enough information now to make some strategic decisions about where to focus your social media marketing efforts.

Looking at how each channel is currently performing, along with who you can each through each platform, look for ways to tie each social account back to your social media marketing strategy. If you can’t see a clear connection, or if it looks like the results do not justify your investment of time and resources, you may want to consider pulling back on certain channels so you can focus your energy on the ones that provide the best return on investment.

These decisions don’t have to be forever. For example, you might decide to focus more of your energy on Facebook for a while, but you can always look at picking up your Twitter efforts again the next time you go through the social media audit process. The important thing is to make these decisions based on research about which channels best serve your business.

8. Centralize channel ownership and passwords

Each social account should be “owned” by one person, or maybe a team, within your company. That person is responsible for ensuring the account is on brand, up-to-date and performing well.

This person will also be in charge of necessary approvals on the account, and will guide its strategic direction. They’ll decide who should have access to the account and what level of access each person should have.

Rather than giving various team members the password to your social accounts, it’s important to centralize the passwords in one place. This means you don’t need to change the password every time someone leaves your team or moves to a new role, and it helps protect the security of your social accounts. Tools like LastPass and Hootsuite are great for ensuring only the right people have the right access.

On your social audit spreadsheet, indicate the channel owners, and whether you’ve set each account up using a tool to control passwords. Work towards having all accounts set up with centralized password control by the time you do your next social audit.

9. Do it all again

On that note, it’s important to say that a social audit is not a one-off process. You should conduct regular audits to ensure everything is on track, and look for changes in the way your accounts are performing.

A quarterly social audit is a great way to keep your social accounts producing the best ROI, and ensures you regularly circle back to compare the work you do day-to-day with the goals outlined in your social media strategy.

Free Social Media Audit Spreadsheet Template

To use the template, simply click File in the upper left-hand corner,
then select Make a copy from the drop-down menu.

Use the information you’ve discovered through your social media marketing audit to build a more robust social media strategy. Then, put it to work using Hootsuite to schedule posts, engage with followers, and monitor your efforts. 

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The post How to Conduct a Social Media Audit (Includes a Free Template) appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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All About AdWords Quality Score—And How to Improve It Fast

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AdWords is one of the best places to advertise and get your share of the PPC game. The average advertiser can expect to double their return on the platform. But for many, that’s not the case.

How can you make sure that your PPC campaign is cost-effective? How can you estimate the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages to lower your cost per conversion and gain better ad positions?

Having a good AdWords quality score is the answer.

You can target the right keywords, create great ads and have a supreme call to action, but if you don’t have high quality scores you’ll be paying through the roof for terms that shouldn’t be that expensive.

Low-quality scores can destroy your bottom line and produce subpar performances, while high AdWords quality score will set yourself up for a higher return on investment (ROI).

Here’s everything you need to know about quality scores (yes, plural, because there are four different values) and how you can improve them fast to see better, cheaper results for your next campaign.

Bonus: Download a free guide that shows you how to get the most out of your Facebook ad budget. Learn the tricks and tactics that will stretch your advertising dollars and improve ROI.

What Is AdWords’ Quality Score and Why Does It Matter?

Quality scores are often touted as one of the biggest things to fix on your AdWords account.

You’ve probably heard it all: “You need to fix those quality scores,” and “What are your quality scores?”

First of all, what even are quality scores?

Knowing how to improve them fast requires in-depth knowledge of the top factors that make up a quality score rating.

When hovering over the quality score column in AdWords, Google defines it like so:

Quality Score is an estimate of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing pages are to a person who sees your ad. Higher Quality Scores typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions.”

adwords quality score

From this, we can gather that three main factors are taken into account when assessing a quality score for a given account:

Landing pages

These three factors are all analyzed for relevance, and a score is then generated.

According to a study by AdAlysis, the top two factors of the quality score are your landing page experience and expected CTR:

adwords quality score(Image Source)

Meaning a better landing page or increases in your CTR above the average could have seriously large impacts on improving your quality score.

So, why does this all matter? What benefits do you get from a quality score that’s 8/10 instead of 6/10?

Quality score is a big portion of how Google determines your Ad Rank, otherwise known as what position you hold on paid search results.

Simply bidding more than someone doesn’t necessarily mean you will rank first. If they have a better quality score, they could be outranking you for half the price that you pay on clicks. And that’s simply not sustainable.

Just like AdWords, Facebook contains a relevance score that assesses the same factors, assigning a score from 1 to 10.

In an in-depth AdEspresso study, the findings of how relevance score impact CTR and CPC were astounding:

Let me summarize it for you:

The higher your relevance/quality score, the better your click-through rate and the cheaper your cost per click.

Meaning you will get more traffic and pay less for that traffic if you can produce a better relevance/quality score.

A study on Search Engine Journal backs this up, showing that higher AdWords quality scores lead to lower costs per conversion:

adwords quality score factors(Image Source)

Quality scores are critical to both ranking first in paid search results and decreasing the costs of your clicks, leads, and conversions.

They can help you raise the number of clicks you get in relation to your impressions and are a vital portion of successful campaigns.

Plus, when you’ve got a higher quality score it’s almost always an indication that the user experience is well-optimized.

It doesn’t mean that you’re always the fastest, most user-friendly site, but it means that the expectations are addressed and met from keyword search to landing page conversion.

Now that you know the ins and outs of quality scores and how they work (and the benefits), here are a few actionable ways that you can raise AdWords quality score today.

Utilize Message Match From Keyword to Ad To Landing Page

Quality scores are dependent on your landing page experience and expected CTR.

And nothing gets people to click faster and convert faster on your landing page than being explicitly clear as to what they are getting.

For example, let’s say you search for “blue track jacket” and you find the following ad:

So far so good, right? It tells you exactly what you were expecting to see.

You searched directly for a blue track jacket. So any ad that doesn’t explicitly say it, you probably won’t click it.

Now you click through to the landing page and find this:

Excellent! A full page showing blue track jackets and even highlighting the exact keyword phrase that was searched in the beginning.

If you are looking to buy a blue track jacket, chances are, this process was as smooth as can be.

Throughout the entire journey, there wasn’t a single step that made you think you weren’t getting what you were looking for.

And that’s message match. According to Unbounce, message match is defined as:

A measure of how well your landing page copy matches the phrasing of the ad or link that brought the visitor there. For PPC marketers, this means matching your ad copy to your landing page headline. Strong message match increases conversions because it reassures people they’ve come to the right place.”

And it makes sense.

Imagine searching for a blue track jacket and landing on a generic page of track jackets that aren’t blue.

Meaning you have to do multiple extra steps even to see what you searched for in the first place.

That’s if you haven’t bounced yet, which you likely would have.

Adding in more steps or not delivering on the specific search is a huge downfall in quality score. If the landing page experience is bad, your quality scores won’t be anything to write home about.

Message match is the key ingredient to ensuring that doesn’t happen.

It works to perfectly tie in your keywords, ads, and landing pages to create an experience that lives up to searcher expectations with perfect relevancy.

Message match can produce conversion rate lifts of over 212 percent. Years ago for a client, I was tasked with redoing their landing pages and website.

They were big spenders on AdWords with lots of room to work with in terms of improving conversion rates, costs, and quality scores.

By utilizing the concept of message match and creating individual landing pages for each ad group and each keyword, conversions increased by over 212 percent.

Quality scores skyrocketed, and costs dropped by 69.39 percent. Why? Specificity. The experience from keyword to conversion nailed all aspects of the quality score.

Specificity of the ad relevance was easily met by creating ads for every keyword. Expected CTR was subsequently massive due to the specificity. And landing page experiences were met with the same messaging and promises of the ads, leading to smooth conversions.

Message match is a great tool in your PPC arsenal for just about everything you do on the search network.

People are searching for specific items or services, so give it to them and make it abundantly clear that they are getting what they asked for!

To get message match right, it all stems from your keywords and ad groups…

Bonus: Download a free guide that shows you how to get the most out of your Facebook ad budget. Learn the tricks and tactics that will stretch your advertising dollars and improve ROI.

Get the free guide right now!

Use SKAGs to Improve AdWords Quality Scores Fast

When setting up new campaigns on AdWords, Google gives potentially budget-sinking advice:

Really, Google? Still? 10-20 keywords in a single ad group?

That’s a recipe for disaster.

Google literally sets you up to fail from the start.

Let me explain why this is a problem.

Let’s say you run a clothing company and are looking to boost sales. You head to AdWords and fire up your account. You use the keyword planner and start to scout potential keywords to target.

AdWords tells you to “start with 10-20 keywords per ad group.” So, naturally, you do just that.

And you’re left with a list like this:

Men’s t-shirt
Men’s black t-shirt
Men’s long sleeve shirt
Men’s henley
Men’s short sleeve shirt
Black t-shirt for men
Red striped shirt for women
Women’s black coat
Women’s long sleeve

Are you starting to see the issue?

If quality scores are heavily dependent on (1) expected CTR (2) ad relevance and (3) landing page experience, which they are, it’s impossible to nail any of those in a single ad group.

You simply can’t write ads that specifically target all of those different keywords and expect a large CTR.

Someone searching for a men’s henley isn’t going to click on a generic ad for clothing. They want an ad that says “men’s henley.”

And on the off chance that they click on your landing page, it’s impossible to have all of those different products on a single page and remain relevant.

It’s not specific enough.

(Image Source)

Boring, generic, non-search term specific ads won’t lead to CTRs that outperform the average.

To combat this, there is a relatively simple fix: Single keyword ad groups.

These can be structured a few different ways depending on who you ask.

For example, it could be using three different match types:

[Red women’s dress]

Red women’s dress

“Red women’s dress”

Or it could use a single match type:

“Red women’s dress”

Each one performs very well.

CRO experts at CXL conducted a study on SKAGs, finding that CTRs on their ads increased by 28.1 percent in two months. Subsequently, quality scores increased from 5.5 to almost 8.

adwords relevance score(Image Source)

SKAGs help you zero in on terms and create specific experiences that directly correlate to the searcher’s expectations. This in turn nails all three portions of the QS, improving your performance and decreasing costs.

Use Expanded Text Ads and 5 Ads Per Ad Group

Standard AdWords ad lengths are pretty limited in space. Writing them can quickly become a headache.

Especially when trying to improve your relevancy and quality scores (ad relevance).

Trying to fit keywords in naturally into a short headline is next to impossible.

Currently, the character length limits for AdWords are now fully updated as expanded text ads:

Headline 1: 30 character limit

Headline 2: 30 character limit

Description: 80 character limit

But if you haven’t taken the time to edit ads or still have old ones running, you likely aren’t running fully-expanded text ads.

Meaning you’re limited to nearly half the amount of text that you could be using.

For example, maybe you’ve got old ads that are still performing well, but you’re nervous to update them to the new format and mess up performance.

But with the new updates to AdWords, now is the time.

First, do a quick audit of your ad groups. How many ads do you have in each ad group? Are any of them expanded text ads?

If you have less than three ads in each ad group, create up to five and run them equally. Having more high-quality ads can generate up to 15 percent more clicks and conversions than ad groups with just one.

After a few weeks, you can determine if your new expanded text ads produce better results. From there, keep testing. Keep writing new ads weekly to see if you can increase CTR.

This will allow you to create minor A/B tests in just a few minutes to help increase your quality score by improving CTR.

With expanded text, you will have more room to work.

If you’re struggling to write ads, here is a super easy, simple format to follow that nails all of the perfect aspects of message match and ad relevance:

adwords quality score(Image Source)

Keep it simple and specific, and you’ll be improving quality scores fast.


Quality scores are critical to success on AdWords. They can both raise your rankings and reduce your costs. Magic!

But achieving a high-quality score isn’t easy, and most people don’t live up to their quality score potential.

Meaning wasted positions and dollars are left on the table.

To start, utilize message match from keywords to ads to landing pages. Every step of the user-journey should involve their original keyword search to provide relevancy and keep the user around.

Implement SKAGs in your ad groups to create specificity, a key ingredient for good quality scores. If you are targeting generic ads to dozens of keywords, your CTR will be very low, negatively impacting your quality score.

Lastly, use expanded text ads. These are a great way to provide more detail and improve your CTR, a big function of the quality score.

Put these three tactics together and you’ll be developing high Google AdWords quality score for years to come.

Bonus: Download a free guide that shows you how to get the most out of your Facebook ad budget. Learn the tricks and tactics that will stretch your advertising dollars and improve ROI.

The post All About AdWords Quality Score—And How to Improve It Fast appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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How to Take Good Instagram Photos on Your Phone: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Remember the first mobile phone cameras? And the grainy, blurry, low-quality photos they produced?

Well, these days phone photography is capable of some pretty impressive feats. Plus, unlike that bulky DSLR that you haul out for vacations, it’s always at hand.

Learning how to take incredible shots using only your phone is the best way to stand out and build a strong presence on Instagram.

In this post, you’ll learn how to take good Instagram photos using only your phone, and some Instagram picture ideas to inspire your feed.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

How to take good Instagram photos on your phone

Learning how to take good photos on your phone requires understanding some basic principles of composition and lighting, and honing your own instincts as a photographer. You just need to follow a few simple rules.

Step 1: Use natural light

Lighting is the foundation of a good photo. Understanding how to use light is the first and most important rule of getting great photos using only your phone.

Avoid using your flash in favor of natural light, which creates photos that are richer and brighter.

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ooooooh, shiiiiiiiiny. ✨

A post shared by LIZ (@really_really_lizzy) on Jul 28, 2018 at 6:31am PDT

A flash can flatten out your photo and wash out your subject. If you can’t shoot outdoors,  take photos near windows or in well-lit rooms. Even at night, it’s preferable to find sources of ambient light, like street lamps and store windows.

Step 2: Don’t overexpose your images

You can brighten up a photo that’s too dark with editing tools, but there’s nothing that can fix a photo that’s overexposed.

Prevent overexposure by adjusting the lighting on your screen: tap and slide your finger up or down to adjust exposure.

how to take good instagram photos, overexposed

Another way to prevent overexposure is by tapping your finger on the brightest part of the frame (in the case above, it would be the windows) to adjust the lighting before snapping your photo.

Step 3: Shoot at the right time

There’s a reason photographers love golden hour. This time of day, when the sun is low on the horizon, makes every photo more beautiful. It’s nature’s Instagram filter.

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I’m still stunned by the gorgeous colours of Cinque Terre. What is your favourite colour? #CinqueTerre @italiait #ilikeitaly #Best_Italiansites #ig_italia #whpcolorpalette ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Shot with @olympus_au E-M1 Mark II #olympusinspired

A post shared by Peter Yan (@yantastic) on Sep 1, 2018 at 4:03am PDT

If you’re shooting at midday, clouds are your friend. It’s hard to get a good shot under direct sunlight, which can be harsh in photos.

Clouds diffuse the light from the sun and create a softer, more flattering effect.

Step 4: Follow the rule of thirds

Composition refers to the arrangement of a photo: the shapes, textures, colors and other elements that make up your images.

The rule of thirds is one of the most well-known composition principles, and refers to a simple method of balancing your image. It divides an image into a 3×3 grid, and aligns the subjects or objects in a photo along the grid lines to create balance.

For instance, you can center your photo:

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Anybody hangin around in sqaumish tomorrow? We are !! @squamishfarmersmarket 10-3pm come say hello maybe grab a flower or two ! Most excited to see you at our first farmers market ????

A post shared by Valley Buds Flower Farm (@valleybudsflowerfarm) on Aug 17, 2018 at 10:32pm PDT

But you can also achieve a pleasing effect with “balanced asymmetry”, where the subject is off-center but balanced out by another object. In this case, the flowers are arranged in the lower-right area of the photo, and are balanced by the sun in the top-left corner.

View this post on Instagram

Dahlias dahlias dahlias !! Sooo this will be week 1 of our dahlias for days CSA share which we are pretty excited for . We do have a couple more spots left and so many dahlia varieties growing it’s going to be a really nice time ! Go check out our website or just stop in @antisocialshop for more information and thank you !????????✨

A post shared by Valley Buds Flower Farm (@valleybudsflowerfarm) on Aug 7, 2018 at 10:46pm PDT

Pro tip: Turn on the gridlines for your phone camera in settings, and use them to practice aligning your photos.

how to take good instagram photos on your phone

Step 5: Consider your viewpoint

When you take a photo on your phone, you probably hold it up around eye level and snap, right? That’s what everyone else does, too. Resist this natural tendency if you want to take interesting, unexpected photos.

Taking photos from a different vantage point will provide fresh perspectives, even when it comes to a familiar place or subject. Try shooting from above or below, crouching low to the ground, or scaling a wall (if you’re feeling ambitious).

Don’t break your leg in pursuit of the perfect shot, but challenge yourself to see things from a new perspective.

View this post on Instagram

a beautiful orange grove at the huntington library

A post shared by demi adejuyigbe (@electrolemon) on Feb 20, 2018 at 11:17am PST

Step 6: Frame your subject

Leaving space around the focal point of your photo can add more visual interest than zooming in. Sometimes you get a surprising detail that makes the photo even better, like the moon high in the sky of this photo:

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Summer in Vancouver is the absolute worst ????????

A post shared by nicole wong 〰 (@tokyo_to) on Jul 25, 2018 at 9:02pm PDT

Unlike a camera with an adjustable lens, your phone camera “zooms in” by shrinking your field of view. In effect, you are just pre-cropping your image. This can limit your options for editing later, and you might miss interesting details, so avoid doing it.

Instead, just tap your photo subject or focal point to focus the camera.

If you want to give yourself even more options, you can buy an external lens that fits on to your phone.

Step 7: Draw the viewer’s eye

In photography, “leading lines” are lines that run through your image that draw the eye and add depth. These might be roads, buildings, or natural elements like trees and waves.

Keep an eye out for leading lines and use them to add motion or purpose to your photo.

You can use leading lines to direct the viewer’s gaze to your subject, as in this shot:

View this post on Instagram

. J o f f r e L a k e s .

A post shared by DAIICII (@daiicii) on Aug 18, 2018 at 8:14pm PDT

Step 8: Add depth

It’s easy to focus solely on the subject of your photo, whether that’s a person or a handsome slice of pizza. But photos that include layers, with patterns or objects in the background as well as the foreground, are naturally interesting because they offer more depth.

This photo, rather than just cropping tightly on the flowers, also includes the railing behind them, a tree beyond that, and then a sunset and horizon. Each layer of the photo offers something to look at, drawing you in.

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glowing ???? of paradise

A post shared by ALICE GAO (@alice_gao) on Aug 28, 2018 at 1:06pm PDT

Step 9: Don’t forget to get creative

Some photos on Instagram are so popular that they become cliches, inspiring an entire Instagram account dedicated to repeat images. Don’t get so caught up in Instagram photo trends that you lose your creativity.

You want to stand out from other brands on Instagram, so always challenge yourself to find a fresh angle on a common subject. This will also help you establish a distinctive and memorable brand identity.

10 Instagram Picture Ideas

Now that you understand the principles of photography, let’s talk about subjects.

There are certain subjects and themes that perform well on Instagram because they offer wide appeal and tons of visual interest. Take note, because posting engaging content boosts your visibility on Instagram.

Here are a few Instagram photography ideas to consider:

1. Symmetry

Symmetry is pleasing to the eye, whether it appears in nature (Chris Hemsworth’s face) or the man-made world (the Royal Hawaiian Hotel). Symmetrical composition often enhances a subject that might not be exciting otherwise.

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summah living

A post shared by ALICE GAO (@alice_gao) on Jul 15, 2018 at 4:16am PDT

You can also break up your symmetry to add interest. In this photo, the bridge creates vertical symmetry while the trees and sunlight break it up.

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Take me where the light leads. __________________________________ #socality #awesome_earthpix #explorebc #explorecanada #awesomeearth #roamtheplanet #earthpix #vlog #visualsoflife #thevisualscollective #stayandwander #earthfocus @beautifuldestinations @roamtheplanet #beautifuldestinations #visualsofearth @artofvisuals #ourplanetdaily #artofvisuals #thatpnwlife #themountainiscalling #createtoexplore #alifealive #northwestcreatives #thisismycommunity #Photographyislifee @earthfocus #quietthechaos #bleachmyfilm

A post shared by scottcbakken (@scottcbakken) on Aug 30, 2018 at 9:45pm PDT

2. Patterns

Our brains also love patterns. Some Instagram accounts have even amassed huge followings by documenting beautiful patterns, like I Have This Thing With Floors.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

Get the free checklist right now!

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???????????? #ihavethisthingwithfloors by @wightonspecial #sorrento #italy #paintedtiles #yellow

A post shared by I Have This Thing With Floors (@ihavethisthingwithfloors) on Jul 27, 2018 at 2:28am PDT

Our universal love of patterns also explains the viral appeal of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s mirror rooms, which create infinitely repeating patterns of simple shapes and colors:

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Yayoi Kusama’s "Infinity Mirrors" exhibit will be on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art, July 7-Sept. 30 . . . . . #usatodaytravel #cleveland #ohio #artexhibit #art #clevelandmuseumofart #museum #summer #exhibit #yayoikusama #infinitymirrors #reflection #color #japaneseart #upcomingexhibit #summertravel #linkinbio ???? Cathy Carver, Smithsonian Institution

A post shared by USA TODAY Travel (@usatodaytravel) on Jun 4, 2018 at 9:07am PDT

Look around yourself for inspiration. Architecture, design and nature are all sources of mesmerizing patterns.

3. Vibrant colors

Minimalism and neutrals are trendy, but sometimes you just crave a pop of color. Bright, rich colors make us happy and give us energy. And when it comes to Instagram photography, they make a big impact on a small screen.

They can even make a plain high-rise building look beautiful:

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we’re open today on this long weekend Monday but just for a bit ????

A post shared by Zebraclub Vancouver (@zebraclubvan) on Aug 6, 2018 at 10:28am PDT

4. Humor

If you want to be depressed about the state of the world, go to Twitter.

Instagram is a happy place, which means humor plays well here. Especially in contrast to the perfectly composed and edited photos that proliferate on the platform. Funny photos are a breath of fresh air for your audience, and they show that you don’t take this whole thing too seriously.

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Living my best life @colorfactoryco

A post shared by Caroline Cala Donofrio (@carolinecala) on Aug 15, 2018 at 10:08am PDT

5. Candid action

Capturing your subject in motion is tough, which is what makes it so impressive. A compelling action shot is exciting and arresting. It turns even an ordinary subject into something lovely:

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it's the end of the world as we know it

A post shared by stella blackmon (@stella.blackmon) on May 7, 2017 at 5:41pm PDT

You don’t always need to strive for perfection either. Sometimes a little blurred movement adds an artistic, dreamy touch:

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We forgot one of us is also a photographer. A little Sunday afternoon on a Tuesday evening for you.

A post shared by Valley Buds Flower Farm (@valleybudsflowerfarm) on Jun 5, 2018 at 8:53pm PDT

When taking action photos, take multiple options to increase your odds of an amazing shot. You can use burst mode (by holding down your camera button) to capture 10 photos per second.

6. Detail shots

A sharp focus on an unexpected or interesting detail can be attention-grabbing, especially in a feed full of busy, dynamic photos. It’s like a palate cleanser, offering a sense of stillness and calm.

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Pre-ceremony sash-tying ???? featuring Jordan's delicate lacy straps gently hugging this beautiful bride. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Image courtesy of @bretthickmanphoto

A post shared by Truvelle (@truvellebridal) on Jul 24, 2018 at 8:36am PDT

Using Instagram editing tools like vignette (dimming the edges of your photo) or tile shift (which creates a soft blur around your focal point) can enhance detail photos.

Take your photo from a close distance to preserve quality. Shooting from far away and cropping lowers the image resolution, leading to grainy, lackluster photos that damage your brand. Make sure you’re uploading images that are sized for Instagram.

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Practice love until you remember that you are love. — Swami Sai Premananda ✨ (Téodora, the plant who lives in my corner, as photographed by the marvelous @belathee)

A post shared by Caroline Cala Donofrio (@carolinecala) on Mar 28, 2018 at 3:16pm PDT

7. Captivating backgrounds

This is a simple technique, but it works: take advantage of an awesome background! It’s the reason you always want to take a selfie in a restaurant bathroom with killer wallpaper. People curate good photo walls for a reason.

The more creative your background, the better. As in this example, a gorgeous background can be the perfect complement to a product post.

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Arriving online this weekend. Beautiful bags and homewares by

A post shared by Charlie & Lee (@charlieandlee) on May 25, 2018 at 2:18pm PDT

8. Animals

Some things are true, even if we don’t really understand why. Yawning is contagious. Light is both a particle and a wave. Instagram photos are better if there’s a cute animal in them.

It would be fair to say this is the cheapest trick in the book. But if you have an adorable pup at your disposable (or, just putting this out into the universe, a miniature pony) it would be a mistake not to use them.

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High five for Netflix because a home with dogs is constantly dirty anyway! Tryna vacuum but then the dogs ran in from the rain and got dirt all over again… but I did swallow up 3 flies! ???? anyway… watching The Office while they finally rest. Are you productive today?

A post shared by Kaia the Corgi (@whereskaia) on Sep 1, 2018 at 10:30am PDT

9. Food

Did your mom ever tell you that your eyes were bigger than your stomach? Nowhere is that more true than Instagram, where we can’t get enough of food photography.

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Breakfast of weekend champions – Ricotta Hotcakes with Honeycomb butter.. Matcha by @tenzotea #monthofmatcha

A post shared by Great White (@greatwhitevenice) on Sep 1, 2018 at 9:25am PDT

The secret to an excellent food photo? Shoot from above, take advantage of photogenic surroundings, and use natural light. The last one is especially important, because the people eating next to you definitely don’t want to be blinded by your flash.

10. People

Research has found that people love looking at faces on Instagram (hello once again to Chris Hemsworth). In fact, photos with people get up to 38% more likes than photos without.

To take a stunning portrait, follow the principles above: use natural light, choose an appealing background, and explore shooting from different angles to capture a more interesting shot. Some phones even include a portrait mode, which will optimize lighting and focus.

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@jus_vera for c u r r e n t ✨ • • • • #photographer @brigitte_sire #artdirector @missdaniellemoore #stylist @stephashmore #hair @bobbyeliot #makeup @palomamua #setdesign @tripleppp #TidalCurrent

A post shared by Tidal Magazine (@tidalmag) on Sep 10, 2018 at 3:17pm PDT

Now that you know how to take amazing photos using your phone, learn how to edit them using our step-by-step guide. Master the techniques for producing incredible content for your brand account using a few inexpensive and easy-to-learn tools.

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish photos directly to Instagram, engage the audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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5 Brands Doing Cool Things on Social and What You Can Learn From Them

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That’s the sound of the brands that push the envelope when it comes to social media marketing. While great campaigns deserve recognition, they likewise teach us a little bit more about innovation and creativity in the digital world.

Bonus: Download a free guide to discover how to get more sales and conversions with social media monitoring on Hootsuite—no tricks or boring tips.

1. Spotify uses location data to create hyper relevant ads

Social media analytics tools can offer great audience insights—telling you what your followers are interested in and what they’re looking for—making it easier for you to curate and tailor content to their liking.

Spotify took this concept to the next level in their “Thanks 2016, it’s been weird,” social media campaign. The streaming service examined search data for specific locations, and used those insights to create hyper-relevant and localized ads.

5 Brands Doing Cool Things on Social and What You Can Learn From Them | Hootsuite BlogImage via Spotify.

The witty campaign put specific members of Spotify’s audience into the spotlight.

What you can learn: Using data in creative ways. While data is incredibly useful for building a sound social media strategy—it can also be used to channel the interests and quirks of your followers. Catering to your audience is one thing, but finding a playful way to engage them is even better.

2. Dove lives up to its commitment and gives back to the community

Dove is a soap and personal care brand that’s been churning out remarkable social media content for quite some time. Their campaigns promote body positivity, building self-esteem, and embracing “real beauty.” Dove has been praised for its groundbreaking messaging by the New York Times and others.

The Dove Real Beauty campaign is now over a decade old, so how does the brand stay relevant on social? With sticking to its commitment.

.@ShondaRhimes and @RebeccaSugar are working with the @Dove Self-Esteem Project to build a confident new generation of creative young women. #HourWithHer

— Dove (@Dove) July 19, 2018

The #NoLikesNeeded campaign is part of The Dove Self-Esteem Project that helps fund self-esteem building workshops and leadership development activities for young women. The campaign also provides research and articles for teachers, parents, and youth leaders to help those affected by body issues around the world.

What you can learn: If you talk the talk, do the walk. Inspire your audience and show that you really care by giving back in a way that matters to them.

3. Harry’s challenges masculinity through content marketing

Harry’s is a men’s shaving and grooming brand that sells online and in select retailers. The brand takes a unique approach to the personal grooming industry and has amped up its content marketing to match that approach.

The personal care brand aims to make shaving a more relatable experience for everyone, and at redefining masculinity. Harry’s describes traditional understandings of masculinity as being physically strong, unemotional, and unable to ask for help.

Harry’s’ articles are educational in nature, like detailed advice on lathering your face before a shave or using a post-shave mist. However, unless you’re looking up YouTube tutorials or reading a lifestyle blog, articles like Respect the Technique: Pre-Shaving and How To Talk To Your Barber make Harry’s content feel more intimate—like an older relative sharing personal grooming tips.

And instead of positioning shaving as a male experience, Harry’s interviews all kinds of people who are using its products—people like Angelica Ross, a trans person and activist in the LGBQT+ community.

What you can learn: Tell your brand story with thoughtful and compelling content. In a study by Demand Metric, it shows that 70 percent of consumers feel closer to a company as a result of compelling content. We’ve seen success with this in Wealthsimple’s #InvestingForHumans campaign.

4. Barbie appeals to millennials by becoming a “real life” influencer on Instagram

The world’s most famous doll is on social media just like the rest of us.

Instead of marketing to its typical fanbase of parents, children, and collectors through commercials and magazines, Barbie uses Instagram to cater specifically to the millennial parent. Mattel, the makers of Barbie, have been upfront with their new marketing strategy of targeting millennials.

Mattel researchers have discovered that millennials want to give their children toys that have purpose and meaning—and that’s reflected in Barbie’s social media presence. Through carefully crafted posts, Barbie discusses body positivity, marriage equality, female empowerment, and other topics millennials are engaged with. Barbie’s feed even features doll versions of popular social influencers.

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MODERN CAREERS | @barbiestyle x @heyokreal featuring Female Founders Fund with @AnuDuggal and @sutiandong​ _____ Women supporting other women is a pillar of female success. With Female Founders Fund, Founding Partner @AnuDuggal and Partner @SutianDong are doing just that with a venture capital fund that focuses purely on female-led startups. Having raised over $400M in venture funding to date, Anu and Sutian talk about the importance of female mentorship, the CEOs that inspire them and why investing in female talent is so important in tech and beyond. Read the full interview by @heyokreal with the link in bio and see more in Stories! ???? #barbie #barbiestyle

A post shared by Barbie® (@barbiestyle) on Aug 21, 2017 at 9:59am PDT

All images on Instagram are shot to scale to position Barbie in the real-world. With this setup, Barbie becomes a true Instagram influencer that enjoys arts and culture, is up-to-date in real world events, even rubbing elbows with VIPs.

Bonus: Download a free guide to discover how to get more sales and conversions with social media monitoring on Hootsuite—no tricks or boring tips.

Get the free guide right now!

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My LA friend and one of my main Insta-inspirations is Aimee Song of @songofstyle! It’s easy to sing her praises with all that she has accomplished! A @NYTimes Best-Selling author, @Forbes 30 Under 30, and of course, one of the original and most fashionable, followed social superstars! She’s truly one-of-a-kind! ⭐️ #barbie #barbiestyle

A post shared by Barbie® (@barbiestyle) on Nov 20, 2017 at 10:44am PST

What you can learn: Arts, culture, and socially-conscious content appeals to millennials in a big way. This is just one of the steps the Barbie brand has taken to evolve over the years. By tailoring content to the millennial consumer, Barbie opens itself up to a new target audience that makes up 76.6 millions users on social media.

5. Shiseido shares extremely short, mesmerizing videos on Instagram

Shiseido is a Japanese cosmetic company that sells high-quality skincare and makeup. The beauty brand describes itself as “driving innovation while respecting Japanese beauty principles of the past.”

Shiseido lives up to this description. The makeup brand features stunning high-quality photos of its products in its Instagram feed. For example, pots of eyeshadow next to hand-drawn illustrations—giving its feed a distinctly cool look.

View this post on Instagram

Did you know that Mountain Day or "Yama-no-hi" was added to the Japanese public holiday calendar in 2016? It is set to be celebrated annually on every 11th of August. Happy Mountain Day! #summer #mountainday #japan #japanesebeauty #japaneseculture #山の日 #nature #naturebeauty

A post shared by SHISEIDO (@shiseido) on Aug 10, 2018 at 6:41pm PDT

Shiseido stands out from the crowd by mixing both static images and very short videos on its feed—we’re talking five seconds max. These short videos show a small movement, like a finger dipping into a pot of face cream. Or a simple visual effect, like multiple shades of lipstick glistening.

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Vivid color meets lasting hydration in VisionAiry Gel Lipstick. A revolutionary combo of agar, clay, and copolymer gels allows 15% water to converge with intense pigment for lasting comfort. #beautyreimagined #japanesebeauty #jbeauty

A post shared by SHISEIDO (@shiseido) on Aug 7, 2018 at 7:09am PDT

They’re short but satisfying.

What you can learn: Try short videos with simple visual effects to keep things interesting. Just because you have 60 seconds, doesn’t mean you have to make a 60-second long video. Like Shiseido, you can do a curious closeup or a 5-second scintillating visual effect that makes a product pop. Short videos add variety, but still stand out in a feed of static images.

Whatever you’re posting on social media, Hootsuite makes it even easier. Schedule posts, engage with followers, and measure the success of your efforts. Try it free today.

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How to Use Facebook Custom Audiences: A Step-by-Step Guide

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With 1.47 billion daily active users, Facebook offers a huge potential audience for advertisers. So huge, in fact, that it’s important to laser-target your ads to make sure you reach the Facebook users who are most likely to be interested in your business. This allows you to minimize your ad spend and maximize ROI.

Facebook Custom Audiences offer some of the best targeting available. They are highly defined groups of people who already have a relationship with your business, such as past customers, people who have visited your website, or people who have installed your app.

Even better, Custom Audiences can be used to create lookalike audiences—new potential fans, followers, and customers who share key characteristics with your existing customers and fans.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

Types of Custom Audiences
Custom Audiences from customer lists

Customer lists offer a way for you to let Facebook know about existing relationships you have with customers that cannot be mapped through Facebook engagement or the Facebook pixel.

For example, you might have a list of newsletter subscribers or past customers. These are people who have clearly expressed an interest in your business, but Facebook has no way to identify them unless you upload a list. When you upload the information, Facebook uses a process called “hashing” to keep specific customer data private while still allowing it to find matches with Facebook user profiles.

Keep in mind that you can only upload data from customers who have given you permission to market to them. You can’t use a purchased customer list, for example, or data you’ve gathered from other websites—and if someone opts out of your email list, you need to remove them from your Custom Audience, too.

You should also know that customers can see which companies have uploaded customer lists that include their information. If you want to check which advertisers have uploaded lists that include you, log into your Facebook account and click Settings. Then click Ads in the left column, and select Advertisers you’ve interacted with.

advertisers you've interacted with screen

It’s a good idea to check out Facebook’s Custom Audiences terms of service to make sure you’re following the current rules.

Custom Audiences from your website

Once you install the Facebook pixel on your website, Facebook can match your website visitors to their Facebook profiles.

You can use this information to create Custom Audiences that target all website visitors, or to remarket to people who have visited a specific product page or product category. You set the timeframe for how far back you want to go, so you can choose to target only your most recent website visitors, or people who visited up to six months ago.

If you haven’t installed the Facebook pixel yet, you’re missing out on this rich source of data. Check out our full guide to using the Facebook pixel to get it set up on your site.

Custom Audiences from your mobile app

After you register your app and set up the SDK on the Facebook for Developers site, you can create a Custom Audience of people who have interacted with your app.

(If this sounds like Greek to you, talk to your developer and ask them to help you with these preliminary steps.)

This type of Custom Audience can be a great basis for app engagement campaigns, since you can target people who have downloaded your app but may not be using it yet, people who have made in-app purchases, or people who have achieved a certain level in your game.

Engagement Custom Audiences

An engagement Custom Audience allows you to target people who have already interacted with your brand on Facebook or Instagram.

How to create Facebook Custom Audiences

For all Custom Audience types, you’ll start by opening your Facebook audiences page in Ads Manager and clicking Create a Custom Audience.

Custom Audience creation screen

From here, the process depends on what kind of Custom Audience you want to create.

How to create a customer list Custom Audience

1. Click Customer File and then choose whether to add customer information or import a list from MailChimp.

Importing from MailChimp menu
Since not everyone uses MailChimp, we’ll look here at how to import your own customer data. If you do use MailChimp, you’ll enter your MailChimp login credentials and follow a few simple steps. For everyone else…

2. Before moving on, you’ll need to accept the Custom Audience terms of service. Essentially, you must acknowledge that you have permission from the people on your list to use and share their data. Once you’ve read and understood the terms, click I Accept.

3. Prepare your customer list. Be sure to follow Facebook’s data formatting best practices to get the most matches on your list. You should read the best practices in full to make sure you get the best matches, but here are three key tips:

Include separate columns for first and last names
Always include the country code on phone numbers (even if all phone numbers are from the same country). Don’t include a leading zero in the country code. For example, if your customer are in the United States or Canada, the country code is 1.
Always include a country column (again, even if all your customers are form the same country)

4. Upload your customer data file in .CSV or .TXT format, or copy and paste it into the box provided. Give your audience a name that clearly defines who appears on this list (for example, email subscribers), then click Next.

naming your audience screen

5. Wait. Facebook will prepare your Custom Audience, which should be ready in about half an hour.

How to create a website visitors Custom Audience

Before you can use website visitors Custom Audiences, you need to install the Facebook Pixel. If you haven’t already done so, check out our full guide to using the Facebook Pixel on your website.

1. Click Website Traffic, then choose the pixel you want to use to build your audience.

Choose your pixel screen

2. Choose who to target: all website visitors, people who visited specific pages, or people who spent a specific amount of time on your site. Then set your desire timeframe, from 30 to 180 days. You can further define your audience using rules, which allow you to specify the number of times someone has visited your website and the specific device that they use.

3. Give your audience a name you will remember and click Create Audience.

4. Wait. Facebook will prepare your Custom Audience, which should be ready in about half an hour.

How to create a mobile app Custom Audience

1. Click App Activity and choose the events you want to target from the drop-down menu.

2. Choose the timeframe you want to target: from 30 to 180 days.

3. Further define your audience using details like in-app purchases and which device people use.

4. Give your audience a name you will remember and click Create Audience. You can use your audience right away, but it may take up to an hour to be fully populated with past app users.

How to create an engagement Custom Audience

1. Click Engagement. A new pop-up will open asking you to choose whether you want to create your engagement audience based on interactions with your videos, lead forms, Facebook Page, Instagram business profile, or event, or people who have opened your collection or Canvas Facebook ad. Click on the option you prefer.

2. Choose the appropriate options:

For video, choose how much of your video people have watched: from a minimum of 3 seconds to at least 95% of the video.
For lead forms, choose whether you want people to have submitted the form, or just opened it.
For your Facebook Page or Instagram profile, choose which kinds of interactions you want to target: visits, messaging, clicks, and so on.
For your event, choose whether you want to target people who have indicated interest, those who have actually purchased tickets, and so on.

3. Choose the timeframe you want to target, up to 365 days.

4. Give your audience a name you will remember and click Create Audience.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

Get the free guide right now!

How to use your Custom Audience

Once you’ve set up one of more Custom Audiences, they’re very easy to use.

1. Open Facebook Ads Manager and click Create Ad.

2. Follow the steps to set up your ad. If you’re new to Facebook advertising, follow the steps in our complete guide to Facebook ads.

3. Set the ad to target your selected Custom Audience.

4. Refine your targeting options. For example, if you’re running a campaign to offer a discount to new customers, be sure to exclude existing customers from your Custom Audience targeting for that particular ad.

5. Set your budget and timing as usual and you’re ready to go.

But that’s just the technical side of using Facebook Custom Audiences. You also need to think about how to use Facebook Custom Audiences strategically. Here are some ideas:

Use Facebook Custom Audiences for remarketing

Remarketing is an effective way to remind people about products they’re interested ins—or have even abandoned in a shopping carts—encouraging them to take the final step of making a purchase.

For example, Jolly, an art and writing supplies company from Austria, used Custom Audiences to target ads to people who had recently visited its website. Combined with lookalike audiences (more on those below), this strategy allowed Jolly to increase website conversions by 1.65 times, with a 1.7 times return on Facebook ad spend.

Use Facebook Custom Audiences to reach your most likely repeat customers

Existing customers already know and trust your brand—so marketing to them can produce much higher conversion rates than trying to reach people who have not bought from you before. It’s much easier to convince a satisfied customer to make a second purchase than it is to acquire a new customer in the first place.

This doesn’t only apply to online purchases. Using a Custom Audience from a customer list, you can invite past customers to return to your retail store, send special offers for repeat clients, or let people know when you release a new version of a product they already own.

For example, the tour operator TUI Belgium used a Custom Audience of people who had previously booked tours with the company as the target for a collection ad campaign promoting holiday packages.

Use Custom Audiences to increase app engagement

If you’re running an ad to increase app engagement, there’s no point showing the ad to people who have yet to download your app. With a Custom Audience of people who already have your app downloaded, you can target your ad effectively, helping you to get the maximum impact for your budget.

Use Custom Audiences to grow your Facebook following

People who are already interacting with your business would make great Facebook Page followers. Some of them are likely following your Page already, but many of them might not know you have a Facebook Page, or just might never have thought to seek you out on social media.

Use a Facebook ad with a Custom Audience based on website visitors or a customer list to promote your Facebook Page to this highly targeted group. Just make sure to exclude people who have already liked your Page, so you don’t pay to reach existing Facebook fans.

Use lookalike audiences

You can use lookalike audiences to target people who are similar to people who already interact with your business—meaning they are likely to be interested in the products and services you offer.

Even if you don’t have a large enough list yet to create a Custom Audience from your customer list (you need a minimum of 1,000 contacts), you can create lookalike audiences based on a Custom Audience of people who have visited your website or who already like your Facebook Page.

For example, Shopify used this strategy to achieve a two times lower cost per lead when they used a lookalike audience of people based on a Custom Audience of website visitors. Paessler IG used a lookalike audience based on a Custom Audience of people who had previously completed lead forms to reach relevant IT professionals who were not aware of its products and achieved a 63 percent decrease in CPM, 51 percent decrease in cost per lead, and 64 percent decrease in cost per click.

How to expand your Custom Audience

There’s value in trying to expand your Custom Audiences, since they put your ad in front of more targeted potential fans, followers, and customers.

Here are some ways to expand your list.

Use Facebook Ad types effectively

When you’re trying to build your Custom Audience, you want to get your Facebook ads in front of a large number of people, targeted appropriately. Use the Awareness campaign objectives to make sure your ads reach a large number of people in your targeted group.

Increasing your advertising bid slightly can help reach even more people and build your Custom Audience more quickly.

Test and tweak your ads for maximum conversion

In order to grow your Custom Audience, you need people to engage with your ads. The more effective your ad, the more quickly you will build your Custom Audience.

We’ve got a whole blog post on how to test and refine social media ads, but here are some key ad elements to test:

Ad text
Link preview text
Call to action
Image or video
Ad format

Use Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook Audience Insights can give you valuable information about the demographics of any of your Custom Audiences. You can then use that information to target ads to new potential Facebook connections. If any of those new people engage with your ads or your Facebook Page, they will become part of your engagement Custom Audience.

See how Hootsuite Ads can maximize your social ad spend (and performance!) with its special features and optimization services.

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The post How to Use Facebook Custom Audiences: A Step-by-Step Guide appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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5 Industries That Have Strange and Specific Rules for Social Media

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Social media can be a great space for boundary-pushing brands to experiment with innovative messaging. But there’s a reason you haven’t seen Family Guy’s bong-toting Brian the dog pop up in your feeds in a sponsored weed-vertisement.

In highly regulated industries, like marijuana, alcohol, and others, marketers need to understand special rules apply to their campaigns. Though some may seem strange (like who wouldn’t allow an ad featuring a canna-smoking canine?) platform operators have been known to crack down on users and brands who violate law or platform policies. In some cases, rule-breaking can mean getting banned, fined—and even sent to jail.

You’ll want to become familiar with guidelines for what is currently acceptable on social media channels. Rules vary across industries, and those rules often change. Below are some examples of what you can and can’t do, with highlights to help keep you out of trouble.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

1. Marijuana: Don’t say what you’re selling.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, advertising and marketing rules in the sin-dustries (tobacco, alcohol, and gambling) are strict—and the rules regarding marijuana marketing are as well.

In Canada, Bill C-45 the Cannabis Act includes strict proposed advertising rules that prohibit brands from promoting:

Information about cannabis price or distribution;
in a way that appeals to minors;
using celebrity testimonials or endorsements;
featuring cartoons or other real or fictional characters;
by associating the brand with “a positive or negative emotion;”
by associating the brand with “a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.”

In the U.S., where marijuana is legal in some form (medical, recreational, or both) in 30 states and in the District of Columbia, advertising regulations differ from state to state. Similarly, Canadian provinces may soon follow suit with their own additional ad regulations.

A central difference between promoting beer and boosting bud relates to the use of imagery: marijuana marketers can use very little, despite the efforts of advocates who lobbied for laws regulating its promotion like those applying to alcohol instead of tobacco.  Penalties for breaking these laws are heavy, ranging between $1,000 to $5 million fines, and six month to three-year jail terms.

Taking their cue from regulators, operators banned ads on Google and Twitter. On Facebook and Instagram, marijuana advocacy is allowed (or so Facebook claims), but not the sale or use of the drug. There, guidelines state ads are prohibited:

that “promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs;”
that depict bongs, rolling papers, vapes and anything else implying recreational and medical marijuana use.

In response, crafty-preneurs are now busy perfecting the art of marketing their brand without actually showcasing their product.

Producer MedReleaf launched its own beer line to advertise its brand while cannabis rules were being finalized. Available in Ontario, their “cannabis-inspired” San Rafael ’71 4:20 Pale Ale contains 4.20 percent alcohol content but no cannabis. The beer brand uses cheeky taglines including “grassfed” and “here today, bong tomorrow” that speaks to the company’s roots and aims.

Similarly, you won’t find any toking in Tweed’s “Hi” campaign, which can be found online, on video and out-of-home. The company launched the tongue in cheek promotion to introduce and entice new audiences to its brand—and eventually, its product.

Tweed Facebook ad

Some cannabis activists link Health Canada’s regulations to a seeming shift in YouTube’s approach to marijuana-related materials. The platform recently made headlines for clamping down on canna-content. Videos were removed and channels of prominent marijuana vloggers and content creators were shuttered—some of whom had spent years building up a loyal cadre of followers, millions of views, and hundreds of hours of video.

The platform’s community guidelines have been less than helpful for those trying to figure out why content was flagged. The sections on “child safety” and “harmful and dangerous content” may have been the basis, particularly since the  latter guide against videos that depict “hard drug use, or other acts where serious injury may result.” But the guidelines also state that videos may be allowed if videos are intended to be “educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic” and aren’t “gratuitously graphic.” – leaving some perplexed.

As a result of YouTube’s enhanced policing, many cannabis content creators have moved their content to friendlier video-sharing platforms like Vimeo—and the recently launched WeedTube.

Puff, puff, press play.

2. Alcohol: All about age-gating

For many people, drinking and socializing go hand-in- hand. So, it makes sense alcohol brands are spending billions to engage their customers on their favorite social networks. And studies show that they’re gaining traction.

The main issue with digital marketing for alcohol brands is ensuring it reaches the right age groups—industry oversight bodies have specified that at least 71.6 percent of the targeted audience should be of legal drinking age in the U.S. and at least 70 percent in Canada.

In the past, such  restrictions led alcohol brands away from marketing on digital platforms; now more sophisticated age-gating tools exist on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, allowing them a way in.

The gates work a little differently on each platform:

Twitter restricts access to content based on the birth date provided when a user signs up.

Twitter age gate

Similarly, Google bases its YouTube restrictions on the age users enter on their Google Plus profile.

On Instagram age-gating is optional. Brands can activate it by contacting platform representatives. Despite these permissive guidelines, beer and spirit brands still have legal obligations to follow, which means many do activate.

Owned by Facebook, Instagram users are able to connect their account with their Facebook account. Facebook requires a birth date when users first set up their accounts. If a user isn’t logged in or connected to their Facebook account, an age gate will appear.

Instagram age gate

On Facebook you can add age restrictions to your Page so that only visitors that meet the requirements can view it.

In addition to age-gating features, most brands on social media include additional disclaimers in their profiles discouraging under aged users from following or viewing their content, even though this means using up precious few characters available for profile bios.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Get the free guide right now!

3. Cryptocurrency: Scammers beware

The frenzy around Bitcoin and blockchain-based currencies led to the creation of super strange coinage (RIP Fonziecoin and Pizzacoin) and a rush of advertising on social media designed to drive consumer interest in Initial Coin Offerings. Some suspect ICOs relied on celebrity endorsements (including by Floyd Mayfield, Evander Holyfield and Paris Hilton), and were later tagged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as scams.

Boxing legend and Hall of Famer Evander Holyfield has officially endorsed @AriseBank @BitShares Join the biggest fight in history. #arisebank $BTS #BTS

— Evander Holyfield (@holyfield) January 5, 2018

In an effort to curtail manipulative ads for fraudulent ICOs, Facebook, Twitter, and Google banned all cryptocurrency advertising. Twitter also cracked down on cryptocurrency scammers by banning bots and fake accounts.

For instance, using lookalike accounts (ex. @elonmuskik and @VitalikButerjm), scammers impersonating tech star Elon Musk and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, attempted to deceive users by asking them to trade small amounts of Ether for larger amounts they would never receive—prompting Buterin to tweet out his real social media account links.

Here is a VCR (Vitalik Curated Registry) of all of my active social media accounts:

There may be a few smaller ones but nothing mainstream. Everything else I either don't use or is a scam.

— Vitalik Non-giver of Ether (@VitalikButerin) July 5, 2018

Six months after it initially banned ads, crypto marketers rejoiced when Facebook (sort of) backpedalled on its initial ban. The company released a new policy. Potential advertisers would now have to fill out a “cryptocurrency products and services onboarding request” to get ads approved. Whether that’ll be enough to discourage crypto scammers remains to be seen.

Otherwise, trying to generate legit buzz and attract positive press is a challenge in an increasingly crowded market of crypto startups. Some more credible ways startups are promoting projects include:

Sharing their stories on Medium and Steemit (a blogging platform for crypto enthusiasts)
Paying influencers on platforms like YouTube
Incentivizing users on Telegram (a messaging app for the crypto community).

4. Olympics: Avoid the “O” word

Not just anyone can launch a gold-winning social media campaign during the Olympic Games. Non-sponsoring businesses and brands have to tread carefully to avoid getting sued. Together with the International Olympic Committee, local organizing committees in each host country, control the Olympic brand in their jurisdictions.

The Olympic brand includes words, phrases, logos and designs related to the Olympic Movement. WIthout appropriate consent, don’t even think of trying to use:

The symbol of five interlocking rings (no, not even with onion rings)

And in the run up to each Olympics, using turns of phrase that reference the Games, like “the big event,” “let the games begin,” or “go for the gold” can be problematic. Even cute coinings, like “Snow-lympics,” are out too.

Non-sponsoring brands can’t use related branded hashtags like:


In fact, seemingly innocuous gestures like cheering on athletes, posting results, sharing photos from the Games or social media posts from official Olympics accounts (including retweeting) could also result in a first-place headache. Instead, you can leverage on timing—sharing posts and tweeting about an Olympic sporting event when it’s happening is fine. Users can also share and engage with social media posts by Olympic sponsors.

The IOC is aggressive, keeping up with their guidelines is an Olympic-sized challenge—particularly for smaller brands with limited budgets who may be tempted to go rogue. But bending the rules and engaging in ambush marketing is not only frowned upon by IOC, it may also result in the wrong kind of publicity.

Vancouver yoga brand Lululemon Athletica quickly found that out when, ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, it launched a limited clothing line called “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 & 2011 Edition”. The name not only upset the local organizing committee, but also generated bad press for Lululemon’s allegedly unsportsmanlike marketing efforts.

But athletes themselves have also pushed back against the IOC’s marketing restrictions. Following a Twitter campaign launched by frustrated athletes during the 2012 London Olympics, the IOC relaxed a rule which precluded them from being featured in any kind of advertising by non-official sponsors—including even simple “congratulatory” social media posts—during the Olympic window. Now, these brands can apply for an advance exception, permitting pre-approved advertising during that period.

Gatorade, for example, was able to produce videos featuring tennis star Serena Williams and sprinter Usain Bolt, even though it wasn’t an official Olympic sponsor at the time.

5. Gambling: Know when to fold ‘em

It’s illegal for private companies to host or operate an online gambling business in the U.S. and Canada—and, don’t even think of advertising one.

In 2007, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, then the three largest Internet companies, settled with the U.S. Justice Department for a whopping $31.5 million for accepting illegal online gambling ads between 1997 and 2007.

Canada has similar regulations, but their enforcement is another matter. Though the Criminal Code includes sections prohibiting gambling promotion, enforcing gambling ad standards has largely been left up to provincial efforts. Yet, unlicensed online sports and poker sites reportedly contribute “significant” advertising revenues to Canadian sports broadcasts and online.

In an effort to curtail illegal gambling adverts, the B.C. government recently proposed filing a multi-province complaint against the industry’s self-regulator, The Advertising Standards Council.

Platform rules for advertising on social media are not much clearer. Gambling-related advertising is treated as restricted content: ad policies outlined on Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram state they’ll allow it on a case by case basis. Interested operators must obtain advanced “written permission” or be “certified.” Authorized ads must then only target audiences of legal age residing in approved countries.

In short, it’s a confusing landscape for gambling ad sales.

Still, there are plenty of ways for legal gambling operators to engage audiences on social media. Licensed casino operators are becoming savvier in attracting customers using traditional digital marketing techniques such as video marketing campaigns on YouTube, and providing customer service through Twitter.

Social games are also increasingly popular marketing vehicles. Found on social networking sites like Facebook, they do not involve the gambling of real money, but do allow in-game purchases of tokens and other playing benefits. For gambling operations, developing social games on Facebook not only helps bring in customers but also provides an alternate revenue stream. Worldwide revenues for the social casino market reportedly hit $4.2 billion in 2016.

International Game Technology (IGT) is a major investor in social games. If you’ve ever played a slot-based game or video poker in Canada or the U.S. it was likely created by IGT. It’s app DoubleDown Casino is the world’s largest free-to-play social casino and a top-ranking app on Facebook. The Vegas-style game operates with virtual chips, and provides players with loyalty rewards within the flow of the game; its associated fan page (currently, 7.6 million fans) helps create dialogue to engage customers.Conclusion

As laws and codes regulating regulated industries shift and evolve, social platform operators adapt their own policies in effort to keep up. Brands and social media managers should be prepared to consult guidelines—and in certain cases, legal counsel—before investing in significant campaigns, as rules can vary depending on the country, province or state. Incomplete, or altogether ignored due diligence efforts can be a high stakes gamble.

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How Big Brands are Using Facebook 3D Posts

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Forget your 3D movie glasses at the theatre, Facebook is bringing 3D posts straight to your computer screen.

The world’s most widely-used social network brings AR and VR together with this new feature. Audiences can interact with and explore visual details of 3D images, objects, and videos directly in their News Feeds.

How does it work? Both brands and Facebook users can drag and drop 3D objects and images into their News Feeds by uploading an industry standard glTF 2.0 image (sometimes called the “the JPEG of 3D”) from a 3D camera or a 3D app used by developers. See a demo in the video below.

Facebook 3D posts were first announced at the Facebook F8 Conference in May 2018, with a full rollout expected in Summer 2018. Right now, they’re only available for organic posting, but it’s an exciting step for the use of 3D in advertising.

In this post, we’ll cover how your brand might benefit from using Facebook 3D posts as part of your Facebook marketing strategy. We’ll also show some cool examples of how brands are using them now.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

Why Facebook 3D posts?

With features like “textures, lighting, and realistic rendering techniques—from rough to shiny, metallic to soft,” Facebook 3D posts could be an opportunity for your brand to get noticed on social.

In a 2016 study by the Content Marketing Institute, 81 percent of survey respondents say that interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content. As we know, the Facebook algorithm also prioritizes content that encourages active and meaningful interaction among users, rather than passive scrolling.

3D posts are more interactive than other types of Facebook content because users can play and engage with these objects in their feeds. Some brands—like the ones we feature below—are even allowing users to add 3D images into their posts. Creating opportunities for users to generate their own content is always a win, and one of the easiest ways to get users engaged with your brand.

3 brands doing cool things with Facebook 3D posts
1. Wayfair shows you how a product fits into your space

Wayfair “brings furniture to life” in their Facebook 3D posts. The online homewares retailer lets users zoom in, zoom out, and “walk around” a home decor piece in a virtual room:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ‘’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Now, you can view your favorite furniture up-close and easily interact with Wayfair items before you buy! How? We’re…

Posted by Wayfair on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

This might be the purest use of a 3D post. Showcasing your product in detail and up-close is the next best thing to seeing it in person. This use of a 3D post fulfils the step in the buying journey where a customer is deciding how a product or service will fit into their life.

Wayfair’s use of Facebook 3D posts is great for online retailers who don’t have brick-and-mortar storefronts. As e-commerce continues to grow, digital brands should see how they can bring their customers closer to their products and fill a gap in the online customer buying journey.

Key takeaway: For potential customers, seeing a product online in 3D is the next best thing to seeing it in real life.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

Get the free guide right now!

2. Jurassic World makes popular characters shareable

Jurassic World combines 3D posting with AR so that fans can easily create user-generated content (UGC). Not to be confused with virtual reality (VR), AR is when content is “placed into” the real world using a device like a camera on your smartphone. Think Snapchat’s augmented reality lenses.

Using 3D posts, Jurassic World lets their fans get up close and personal with one of Hollywood’s most famous raptors named Blue:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ‘’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Get a closer look at Blue — in 3D. Add her to your photo or video with #JurassicWorld effect on your Facebook camera here:

Posted by Jurassic World on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

In this example, Jurassic World lets users add 3D Blue into their own videos and images through Facebook camera. Blue can be spun around, made to roar, and even makes sound—which makes it even more fun for audiences to create user-generated content (UGC) with Blue.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ‘’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Posted by Austin Jackson on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

User-generated content comes with many benefits for brands. For one, it’s 35 percent more memorable than other media and 50 percent more trusted by audiences. When a user shares UGC on their feed, brands are then reaching and increasing brand awareness to that specific audience. People who include Blue in their own posts are essentially promoting the movie to their friends and family on Facebook—for free.

UGC is also shareable by both users and your brand. This means less brainstorming for new ideas and instead, including some room to repurpose the best UGC in your social media content calendar.

Getting audiences to create UGC with their favorite characters—from movies to TV shows to video games—is a relatively easy thing to do that can pay off big for your brand’s Facebook presence.

Key takeaway: Take advantage of the playful aspect of Facebook 3D posts and provide your audience with the tools to create user-generated content.

3. Coach brings audiences behind-the-scenes

Coach uses Facebook 3D posts to present a behind-the-scenes look into Fashion Week with an immersive 360 degree video experience.

Showing the inner-workings of your business in detail, like Coach, can bring people closer to your brand and make them feel special. It shows the relatable human side of your brand, whereas people typically only see the polished, presentable version you’ve worked so hard to create.

A 3D post can take your behind-the-scenes content to the next level with its immersive and virtual reality format. Audiences can feel one step closer to actually being there with you. They can enjoy an experience they wouldn’t get through a static photo gallery on Facebook.

Brands can use this type of 3D video for other interactive settings like an event, showroom tour, demo, or product reveal. It’s especially valuable for connecting with customers who may not be able to attend these events in person.

Key takeaway: Bring your audience behind-the-scenes with an intimate, immersive 3D video experience.

Use Hootsuite to promote your organic content (or boost it with ad dollars) on Facebook. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish posts, engage audiences, monitor conversations, and more. Try it free today.

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How to Edit Instagram Photos Like a Pro: A Step-by-Step Guide

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If you scroll through your Instagram feed, you’ll probably notice that all your favorite accounts have something in common: captivating images that catch your attention. So it’s no surprise that quality photos are the most important piece of any Instagram strategy.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to produce stunning images for Instagram.

All you need is your smartphone camera, a few editing tools, and a little practice.

In this post, you’ll learn how to edit Instagram photos to grow your audience and establish a compelling brand aesthetic. You’ll also get a breakdown of some of the best photo-editing apps that can take your images (and engagement) to new heights.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

How to edit Instagram photos in 6 easy steps
1. Start with a quality shot

The ultimate shortcut to crafting a great Instagram post is to begin with a quality photo. Try shooting in natural light, and take a bunch of shots. That way you have choices.

The HDR mode on your smartphone camera is your friend when shooting in dim light, close up, or outdoor portraits.

If you’re strapped for time or inspiration, try customizing stock photography. There’s a whole wide world of free, quality stock photography out there to choose from. Going this route can be a smart choice for brands who don’t have physical products ready for release, or smaller companies who don’t have a budget for professional photos.

Pro tip: Start with a photo that’s sized for Instagram. If your photo is too small, it may appear blurry or grainy, no matter how much you edit it. Photos that are 1080 pixels wide will look best. Instagram will crop your photo as a square by default, but you can adjust it to its full width or height if you prefer.

2. Choose your filter

Filters are like ice cream flavors: tastes vary by person, but some are more popular than others. And when it comes to figuring out your own preferences, the tried-and-true method is to sample widely.

According to a U.S.-wide study, the best Instagram filter is Clarendon. It offers brightening and highlighting effects that flatter most pictures, contributing to its universal appeal. (The fact that it’s the first one on the list might also have something to do with it!)

Instagram filters app

Runner-up favorites include Gingham, Juno, and Lark.

Some filters add a vintage flavor with vignette or fading effects.Others enhance brightness or warmth.

Explore the range of options to find a filter that complements your brand aesthetic. Or, keep it simple and go with the one that catches your eye.

Pro tip: You can adjust the intensity of any filter by tapping it a second time and adjusting the sliding scale from 0 (no effect) to 100 (full effect).

instagram filters app

Once you’ve found your favorite filter, use it on all of your posts to establish a distinctive look for your feed (like celebrities do). This can help build and reinforce your brand identity. Sixty percent of top brands use the same filter on each post for that reason.

Another tip: Reorder your Instagram filters (or remove ones you never use) by scrolling to the end of the list and clicking “Manage.” Then simply drag the filters to your preferred order.

instagram filters app

3. Adjust the Lux setting

Once you’ve applied your filter, you can adjust the Lux setting by clicking on the sun icon above your photo.

Lux adjusts the contrast and exposure of photos, adding dimension and making the features of the photo pop. It’s sort of like contour, but for your pictures instead of your face. This can be particularly helpful for enhancing underexposed photos.

best instagram filter

Adjust the Lux by sliding the scale. Moving it to the right increases contrast and intensity, and moving to the left decreases them.

Above, you can see the effect of Lux on this beach photo: brighter colors and sharper contrast.

4. Adjust your other settings

Next, tap the edit button on the bottom-right to adjust other settings.

I always check the alignment, and if you’re the kind of person who is driven crazy by a crooked painting on a wall, you should too.

best instagram filter

The edit options allow you to create a sort of custom filter. You can:

Add a vignette effect for a Polaroid-like photo
Adjust the structure setting to increase contrast and sharpness (two effects that evoke film photography)
Scale up saturation for vivid colors, or tone it down to create a faded effect

screenshot of editing a photo on instagram

Before you get carried away, remember Coco Chanel’s timeless advice to take one accessory off before leaving the house.

You don’t need to pile on every effect. You just want to enhance what’s already eye-catching about your photo.

5. Tweak individual photos in a multi-image post

If you’re sharing multiple photos in a single post, you can edit each one separately. Tap the Venn diagram icon in the bottom-right corner of the photo to bring up individual editing options.

If you don’t do this, Instagram will apply your edits to every photo the same way. If your photos were taken in different conditions, or feature different subjects, editing them individually is worthwhile.

6. Post to Instagram now, or save for later

Not ready to post your picture yet? Click ahead to the next screen where you would write your caption, then click back to your edited photo, and press the back arrow again. Instagram will ask if you want to save your image, including all your edits, as a draft.

saving a draft of an instagram post

The next time you go to make a post, your draft will be waiting there for you. This option makes it easy to pre-edit multiple photos and post them as you’re ready.

managing instagram post drafts

8 of the best Instagram photo editing tools

Now that you know how to edit Instagram photos in the app itself, you’re ready for the next level of photo editing precision—using specialized apps designed for editing Instagram photos.

Luckily, there are a lot of options out there. Having a few of these Instagram photo editing apps in rotation can help you craft exceptional photos and develop a signature look for your feed.

Below are a few of our favorite tools.


Ask a popular Instagrammer what photo editing apps they swear by, and chances are VSCO will be at the top of their list. This app is well-loved by expert photographers, and for good reason.

VSCO (pronounced “visco”) is best known for its filters, several of which are included for free when you download the app. If you want to explore beyond the basics and pay, you get access to a huge range of filters—many of which emulate the look of film photography, adding character and depth to your images.

VSCO screenshot

There’s also an in-app camera, enabling you to capture photos with an added degree of precision. Use it to adjust qualities like white balance, aperture, shutter speed, and focus. These features help you take high-quality photos, especially if you’re comfortable with DSLR cameras. But even if you’re new to the concept of an ISO setting, they’re easy to play with.

On top of these features, VSCO enables users to make very subtle adjustments and changes using their editing tools, such as clarity, exposure, white balance, skin tone, and more.

Pro tip: It’s both a tool and a social site: you can save and share your photos with other VSCO users in the app, and explore other users feeds.

A Color Story

A Color Story is an easy-to-use editing app, focused on making the whites and colors in your photos pop. It also comes with a selection of effects like light leaks, lens flares, and bokeh.

Compared to some advanced photo editing tools, A Color Story is easy to get started with. It feels intuitive if you’re used to the Instagram editor, with a similar interface. It also adds a nice curves tool for adjusting the brightness and darkness of your photo, similar to Photoshop.

The basic app is free, though you can pay for additional special effect and filter packs. Other add-ons are free, or available upon subscribing. But even the basics are great for improving your photos.

Unlike many of the filters available on VSCO or Instagram, which lend vintage flair to photos, A Color Story’s filters makes your images more vibrant and sharp. You can see the impact of their Palm Springs filter on my photo below:

A Color Story editing screenshot

You can even layer filters to get a really customized effect, and create custom filters by saving your edits as you go along.

Pro tip: you can save your favorite filters by pressing the heart icon, creating in-app shortcuts.

Afterlight 2

Afterlight 2 is the newer version of the popular Afterlight app, another stalwart in the world of photo-editing apps.

Unlike VSCO, this app isn’t free.It costs $2.99USD to download. But unlike many other paid tools, there are no in-app purchases or subscription fees. And Afterlight 2 adds new features each month, which means avid users will get a ton of value from it.

Like VSCO, Afterlight 2 boasts a wide selection of filters, adding vibrancy or retro appeal to your photos. It also has dust, light leak, and grain effects that create texture and drama. There is a full suite of editing tools so you can adjust tones and curves to create striking images.

If you want to get really creative, you can layer images for a double-exposure effect, use their color shift tool to create a cool look, or add text and graphic overlays.

There are infinite options with this tool, which is why it’s a go-to for pros. Afterlight 2 offers an expert level of customization options with a beginner-friendly interface.


Snapseed was created by a little company called Google, and it’s just as brilliant as you would expect. Many Instagram photographers call Snapseed their number-one pick for best photo-editing app.

That’s because it offers tons of editing tools that allow users to tweak their photos to perfection. Their tone tool includes all the standard editing features you’re familiar with, and a flattering set of one-tap filters.

Beyond that, they’ve got a wide range of editing options and some unique additions too. These include a Face Pose tool, which allows you to adjust the focal distance (you know, the reason your nose looks so weird when you take a selfie close-up), and a bevy of flattering portrait filters.

The Stacks brush allows you to apply edits selectively to the image. If you just want to brighten or saturate one area of the photo, the Stacks brush is your friend. A nice feature of Snapseed is that every edit is a separate image layer, which means you can remove one without undoing all the edits you made after it.

snapseed screenshot

Snapseed can take awhile to master, but there are plenty of tutorials to help you get the hang of it. Once you learn how the editing brushes work (swipe up and down to cycle through them, then left and right to adjust the intensity of the effect), it becomes pretty intuitive.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express is a powerful editing app that’s surprisingly easy to use. It offers tons of features and one-tap filters, plus tools like blemish removal, red eye correction, text overlay, and stickers. That makes this tool something of a Swiss army knife—whether you want to make subtle, refined edits or bold, graphic changes.

You can also use Photoshop Express to make unique photo collages, using single or multiple images. Helpfully, it also allows you to export these collages in the correct sizes for different platforms and purposes, like Facebook Events or YouTube thumbnails.

instagram filters app

Photoshop Express is free, though you need to create an Adobe account to use it. If you already have one, it allows you to sync up with your other Adobe tools. It’s the perfect choice for users who are already using Adobe programs.


TouchRetouch is a single-purpose editing app that removes blemishes and unwanted objects from your photos. It’s not free, but the price tag is easy to swallow ($1.99 USD) and it’s simple to use.

If you’ve got some wall graffiti or a piece of windblown trash distracting you from an otherwise perfect shot, this tool is your friend. It’s a nice one to have in your arsenal for touching up a photo before editing it with a more general-purpose app, like Snapseed or VSCO.

Lens Distortions

Lens Distortions is another app that focuses on doing one task well. In this case, that’s adding light and weather effects to your photos.

Create visual interest and appeal with light leaks, fog, rain, snow, and shimmer. These subtle, natural enhancements add a dreamy quality to your outdoor shots.

Below, I’ve used Lens Distortion to intensify my beach sunset.

instagram filters app

Enlight Photofox

Photofox is a departure from the apps above, aimed at making more artistic images than ones that appear seamlessly, naturally edited. It’s free to download with paid add-on features.

Photofox lets you layer images, adjusting the opacity to create a double-exposure effect. You can also add backgrounds and effects to transform your images into everything from watercolor paintings to typographic posters. The erase and restore brushes also let you selectively apply effects and filters.

instagram filters app

The app comes with step-by-step and video tutorials that walk you through applying and adjusting the effects. In no time, you’ll be creating unique and dreamy Insta-art.

You can also skip the tutorials and just play around. It’s a fun one to explore!

These are just a few of the Instagram photo editing tools out there. There are plenty more Instagram apps—for editing or otherwise—to discover.

Now that you know how to edit Instagram photos, the key is to find a few apps that work for you and use them regularly to refine and enhance your posts. From there, you can build an inspiring and engaging Instagram presence, one stunning photo at a time. Trust us—your followers will notice.

Schedule and publish your expertly edited Instagram photos directly from the Hootsuite dashboard. Save time, grow your audience, and measure your performance alongside all your other social channels. Try it free today.

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5 Brands Doing Great Long-Form Social Videos

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“As short as possible” has been the constant refrain of social video creators in recent years. But what if we told you long-form video is slowly making a comeback? Longer videos are being favored by Facebook, and a study by video platform Wochit reports that, in 2017, longer videos received 79 percent more shares and 74 percent more views than all short videos.

But what counts as long-form? There are a few ways to define it. According to Google, a long-form video is a video longer than 10 minutes. But the Shorty Awards consider a video to be long-form at the two minute mark. Think With Google also considers a video around the two minute mark to be “long-cut video advertising.”

For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at videos from brands that are longer than two minutes and examine what made them unique.

But first…

Bonus: Want to know how a viral social video creator makes millions of dollars in sales? Download the free guide now.

Benefits of long-form vs. short-form social video

Luckily, you don’t have to choose one form of social video over the other. We talked to Hootsuite’s own social video expert, social media marketing specialist Christine Colling, about the benefits of each type and how they can complement each other.

Based on Hootsuite data, here’s what we can tell you.

Benefits of short-form video:

Good for short attention spans (we see high completion rates on our shorter videos—that’s the percentage of your video the average viewer watches)
Good for teasing content (e.g., at Hootsuite, we use it to promote a small portion of a new blog post so that readers are enticed to read the full article)
Good for announcements (i.e., a shorter video gets the message across quickly)
Easier to remember (re: short attention spans)

Benefits of long-form video:

More room to tell a story, which has a better chance of creating an emotional connection with your audience (In a Google video ad experiment, in-depth storytelling creates “a more meaningful connection to the brand.” Instead of just creating brand awareness, a longer story “may be necessary to persuade people to change how they think.” That is, creating an emotional connection through storytelling has a better chance of changing how your audience thinks about your brand.
Good for educating your audience—which is useful at different points in the customer journey, like before and after they’ve bought a product (e.g. in-person interviews, product review, or demo).

Based on what we know about attention spans from a study by Locowise (they’re decreasing rapidly, and as of 2017 are as short as 10 seconds), our social team uses short-form videos for most networks.

However, our social team regularly tests longer videos on Facebook. Our data shows audiences have longer attention spans on Facebook, and as previously mentioned, its algorithm also favors valuable content that people talk about and come back to, which can often mean longer and more substantial content, as opposed to short, snackable video content.

1. Hyundai

Hyundai pulls at heartstrings in its Summer 2018 campaign, “Brilliant Moments with Hyundai.” Instead of an overly product-focused ad (the product doesn’t appear until the 1:30 mark), the company created a series of long-form videos on how people can get attached to things in their life. For this campaign, it’s the sentimental value of keeping a Hyundai over the years.

The video is a recreation of customer moments with Hyundai. It’s a celebration of the last 20 years of Hyundai customer experiences in India—a thank-you for customer loyalty. To accurately reflect the unique experiences of their consumers, the campaign even asks real customers to share their own “brilliant moment with Hyundai” for a chance to win a prize.

What we can learn: If you’re going to make a long-form video for your brand, focus on channelling human emotion. A Harvard Business Review study shows that an emotional connection matters more than customer satisfaction when it comes to building brand loyalty.

For Hyundai, these videos are all about nostalgia and that feeling is captured in a series of customer stories. Long-form works well for showcasing these stories, as it allows more space for in-depth storytelling. That means more time to connect with the characters, build tension, and reveal a full story arc.

2. Patagonia

Patagonia created a series of long-form videos on YouTube for their Worn Wear used clothing program. The videos feature people who wear Patagonia, and discuss who they are and how Patagonia fits into their lives.

Not only do the videos show off a community of Patagonia patrons, they’re meant to speak to the company’s mission to protect the environment. Patagonia encourages customers to hang onto their clothing as long as possible, or to pass it onto others.

Long-form video is well-suited for this type of content (following a customer story) and for the Patagonia brand itself, as it features stunning shots of the outdoors. The Worn Wear video series has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times since first published in 2013.

What we can learn: Create a long-form story around your brand ethos, purpose, or mission. When your customers are buying your product or service, they’re buying into your brand values as well. Putting your brand ethos on film is a reminder to your customers that they’re part of a community that shares the same values. Taking time to explore that sense of belonging in a long-form video can clearly pay off.

Bonus: Want to know how a viral social video creator makes millions of dollars in sales? Download the free guide now.

Get the free social video guide now!

3. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club challenges the idea of keeping razor blades for as long as possible (what people are accustomed to with expensive razor brands). The brand’s video campaign, “The Dull Life,” reminds members to regularly change their blades for a better shave in a very unique way.

Each video is an hour-long feature of a “dull” activity: counting jelly beans, watching a snail cross the road, ice melting, and more. The message is that these activities are dull, so your blades shouldn’t be.

Even though these videos were lengthy, the Shorty Awards reports that “The Dull Life” videos were viewed for an average of 250 percent more than Dollar Shave Club’s usual videos and 600 percent more than industry benchmarks.

What we can learn: Get to brainstorming and develop a creative concept that shows off your product—even if it isn’t “real.” Long-form videos don’t always have to be customer stories or based on your work culture. They can be pure fiction.

4. Buzzfeed

Known for their short, fun, and shareable videos (like the ones on their Tasty channel), one of Buzzfeed’s long-form videos received impressive results.

“The Power to Live and Forgive” is a 14-minute video about how Eva Mozes Kor survived the Holocaust. In it, Mozes Kor describes how she and her twin sister were used as medical experiments at the Auschwitz concentration camp. The video has over 7 million views on YouTube and 189 million views on Facebook.

What we can learn: Don’t be afraid to test different video types. You might be doing really well in one format, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also see great results on another.

5. Airbnb

In its #HostWithPride campaign, Airbnb aims to “help create a world where all love is not only accepted, but welcomed.” The video campaign demonstrates Airbnb’s sponsored support in San Francisco Pride week (the city Airbnb was founded in) and its commitment to diversity and inclusion as a company.

The “Love is Welcome Here: Our #HostWithPride Film” is compiled of personal interviews from LGBQT+ couples around the world: their stories, experiences, and struggles with feeling safe while traveling. Long-form lends itself to “Love is Welcome Here”, as the length gives time to weave between the stories of several ‘characters’ in the video. The audience gets to know several couples, not just a 10 second snap of one. The stories are also interesting, educational, and emotional, keeping the audience’s attention despite their length.

What we can learn: Take long-form as an opportunity to not only emotionally connect with your audience, but educate them. AirBnB used this video to educate us about their values, but also about the struggles LGTBQ+ customers face while traveling. People are likely to keep watching if they’re learning something and invested in the content. Talk about the causes your brand supports. People who support a cause will be more inclined to support a brand whose values align with their own.

Easily manage your Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter videos from one dashboard using Hootsuite’s video tools. Try it free today.

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Facebook Ad Sizes Cheat Sheet for 2018

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When it comes to online advertising, Facebook is king. One out of every five digital ad dollars is spent on Facebook—for good reason. The platform’s roughly 2 billion monthly users spend an average of 53 minutes a day on the site—more than Snapchat (33 minutes) and Instagram (32 minutes). If you want to reach eyeballs online, Facebook is the place to do it.

There’s just one problem: Facebook frequently introduces new ad formats and constantly updates the dimensions and specs of its existing image and video ad offerings. How are you supposed to design gorgeous, eye-catching ads when the specs keep changing all the time?

Well now you can, with this handy cheat sheet!

Table of contents
Facebook photo ads
Facebook video ads
Facebook carousel ads
Facebook Collections and Canvas ads
Facebook Lead ads
Facebook offer ads
Facebook event response ads
Facebook page likes ads
Facebook post engagement ads

Bonus: Download a free guide that shows you how to get the most out of your Facebook ad budget. Learn the tricks and tactics that will stretch your advertising dollars and improve ROI.

Facebook photo ads sizes

There’s a well-worn adage in advertising that your customers want to see what they’re buying before they buy it. If you want to get your audience’s attention on Facebook, you need to include images in your ads, preferably ones that showcase your product or brand in a unique, eye-catching way.

But designing image ads for Facebook can be tricky. Different ad destinations (newsfeed, Messenger, the right column) and display formats (mobile, desktop) sometimes call for different ad sizes. Facebook’s Ads Manager now even lets you upload different images for different display formats, and preview the way an ad looks before it goes live.

For best results, stick to the following specs for image ads:

Facebook timeline image ads

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels, 9:16 to 16:9 aspect ratio

For all image ads, Facebook recommends that you upload “the highest resolution image available” in either .JPG or .PNG format, cropped to a supported aspect ratio. Also remember that images and video that “consist of more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery,” as per Facebook’s text in images rules.

Facebook right column image ads

Recommended: at least 1,200 pixels by 628 pixels, 9:16 to 16:9 aspect ratio

Remember that right column ads are a desktop-only format, but that they “may appear in other areas of the site” too.

Facebook instant articles image ads

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels, 9:16 to 16:9 aspect ratio

Facebook Marketplace image ads

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels, 9:16 to 16:9 aspect ratio

Facebook panorama or 360 photo ads

Recommended: at least 600 by 600 pixels

Facebook automatically recognizes and processes these images based on “camera-specific metadata found in photos taken using 360-ready devices.”

Facebook sponsored message image ads

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels

Facebook Audience Network image ads

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels

Instagram image ads

Recommended: width of 1,080 pixels, height between 566 and 1350 pixels, aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 4:5

Instagram stories image ads

Recommended: at least 1,080 pixels wide, 1,920 pixels tall

Instagram recommends leaving roughly “14% (250 pixels) of the top and bottom of the image free from text and logos” to prevent them from being covered.

Facebook video ads

When it comes to video, Facebook has one key recommendation to its advertisers: design for mobile first.

Facebook recommends uploading video with square (1:1) or vertical (4:5, 2:3 and 9:16) aspect ratios, to maximize compatibility on both desktop and mobile screens. The platform also recommends keeping videos short (15 seconds or less) and designing videos that work with and without sound (by enabling captions).

For best results, stick to the following specs for video ads:

Facebook timeline video ads

Recommended: at least 1,280 by 720 pixels

For all video ad types, Facebook recommends uploading the “highest resolution source video available without letter or pillar boxing.” Facebook provides an exhaustive list of aspect ratios and features available for each ad type.

Landscape videos should be a minimum of 600 by 315 pixels (1.9:1 aspect ratio), while square ads should be a minimum 600 by 600 pixels (1:1 aspect ratio). Use .MP4 or .MOV format, with a maximum file size of 4GB, maximum length 240 min, and maximum frame rate of 30fps.

Facebook Messenger video ads

Recommended: at least 1,280 by 720 pixels (16:9 to 1.91:1 aspect ratio)

Videos can be up to 240 minutes long, up to 4GB large, and have a maximum frame rate of 30fps.

Facebook slideshow video ads

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 720 pixels

Slideshow ads are designed for audiences with slower internet access. They let you transform a series of 3-10 images and a sound file (supported formats: WAV, MP3, M4A, FLAC and OGG) into a video ad.

For best results, Facebook suggests using the highest quality images possible. They should all be the same dimensions (ideally 1,280 x 720 pixels or an image ratio of 16:9, 1:1 or 2:3). If you use different sizes, the slideshow will be cropped to be square.

Instagram in-feed video ads

Recommended: 600 by 600 pixels (1:1 aspect ratio)

Horizontal video should be minimum 600 by 315 pixels (1.9:1 aspect ratio), vertical video should be minimum 600 by 750 pixels (4:5 aspect ratio).

Instagram has the same recommendations for video as Facebook:

Upload the highest resolution video possible that fits file size and ratio limits
Use .MP4 or .MOV format
Maximum file size 4GB
Maximum length 60 seconds
Maximum frame rate 30fps
H.264 compression, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan, and stereo AAC audio compression at 128kbps+

Instagram stories video ads


At least 1,080 by 1,920 pixels
.MP4 or .MOV format
Maximum length 15 seconds
Maximum file size 4GB
Supported aspect ratios: 16:9 to 4:5 and 9:16

These videos appear between Instagram user stories for up to 15 seconds (or until dismissed) and take up the whole screen. Upload the highest resolution video possible, and consider leaving the top and bottom 14 percent (roughly 250 pixels) empty, so that it isn’t obscured by the profile icon or call to action.

Bonus: Download a free guide that shows you how to get the most out of your Facebook ad budget. Learn the tricks and tactics that will stretch your advertising dollars and improve ROI.

Get the free guide right now!

Facebook carousel ads

Carousels let you showcase up to 10 images or videos in one ad, without having the user navigate to a new page. Carousels can appear in six different places on Facebook—the main Facebook feed, the right column, instant articles, Facebook Marketplace, the Facebook Audience Network, and Facebook Messenger. But all carousel formats use similar image and video specs.

Facebook carousel images

Recommended: at least 600 by 600 pixels

Facebook carousel videos


1,080 by 1,080 pixels (1:1 aspect ratio)
.MP4 or .MOV format
Maximum file size of 4GB
Maximum length 120 min
Maximum frame rate of 30fps

Landscape videos should be a minimum of 600 by 315 pixels (1.9:1 aspect ratio). Square videos should be a minimum 600 by 600 pixels (1:1 aspect ratio).

Instagram carousel video ads


at least 1,080 by 1,080 pixels
.MP4 or .MOV format
Maximum length 60 seconds
Maximum frame rate 30fps

Like Facebook carousels, Instagram carousels let you showcase at least two and up to 10 images or videos in one side-scrolling ad.

Facebook Collections and Canvas ads

Collections are an ad type that makes it easier for users to browse and purchase products directly in the Facebook feed. A Collection usually includes a cover image or video followed by several product images.

You can choose to have your video autoplay when a user scrolls over your collection. Clicking the video will open Canvas, a full-screen experience designed to drive traffic directly to your product pages. You can add buttons, carousels, photos, text and video to Canvas. Video and audio will automatically play when you scroll past them in the app.

Facebook Collection and Canvas images

Recommended: at least 600 by 600 pixels

Facebook Collection cover video

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels

Facebook Canvas video ads


At least 1,200 by 628 pixels
.MP4 or .MOV format
Maximum frame rate of 30fps

Keep total length of all videos in canvas under 2 minutes

Facebook Lead ads

Lead ads make it easy for users to fill in forms, in turn making it easier for advertisers to collect lead info. Lead ads are made up of an ad unit and a lead form, with similar guidelines to regular link ads.

Facebook Lead ads images

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels

Facebook Lead ads videos


As large as you can
Image ratio of 9:16 to 16:9
.MP4 format
H.264 video compression, high profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan

Facebook offers ads

Offers let you share online and in-store discounts and promotions with customers on Facebook. They can appear as an image, video or carousel. Users who bookmark offers to view them later will be reminded of the offer up to 3 times, depending on their notification settings.

Facebook offers ads images

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels

Facebook offers ads videos

Recommended: at least 1,280 by 720 pixels

Keep in mind that only Facebook pages with more than 400 likes can create offers ads.

Facebook event response ads

Event response ads let you advertise your Facebook page events to a highly targeted audience based on things like geography, age, interests and more. They can appear as an image or a video. The call to action on your event response ad can be set to ‘Interested’ or ‘Get Tickets,’ depending on your promotion goals.

Facebook event response ads images

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels

Facebook event response ads videos

Recommended: at least 1,280 by 720 pixels

Facebook page likes ads

Page likes ads—also known as a ‘business page promotion‘—are designed to drive users to like your Facebook page. They can appear either as an image or video.

If you link your Instagram account to your Facebook Page, you can also run your Facebook page likes ad campaign on Instagram.

Facebook page like ads images

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels

Facebook page like ads videos

Recommended: at least 1,280 by 720 pixels

Facebook post engagement ads

In addition to page likes ads, Facebook page admins can also drive users to specific page posts they make. Post engagement ads extend beyond your page, and can be a great way of learning more about the kind of content your audience would like to see more of.

Facebook post engagement ads images

Recommended: at least 1,200 by 628 pixels

Facebook post engagement ads videos

Recommended: at least 1,280 by 720 pixels

More Facebook advertising resources

The art of Facebook advertising is more than just sizes and specs. Here’s what you’ll need to know to create a truly successful campaign:

How to advertise on Facebook
How to use Facebook Audience Insights
What to do with $100 on Facebook ads
How to create a Facebook ad in 10 minutes
How to improve your Facebook ad conversions
How to use the Facebook Boost post button

Get the most out of your Facebook ad budget with AdEspresso by Hootsuite or Hootsuite Ads. Both are powerful options that make it easy to create, manage, and optimize campaigns.

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