Creative Ways To Build Value For Your Community

It’s important to reach your community wherever they are. Right now, more people are online than ever, with users spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day multi-networking across an average of 8 social networks. As more brands turn to social platforms to build community digitally, it’s time to get creative in the ways your brand is engaging your biggest fans online to build greater value for your brand community. 

Your biggest fans want to feel close to your brand and gain a greater sense of belonging within your community. We’ve come up with a few ideas to help build value and strengthen relationships with your community, digitally. 

Host A Virtual Event 

Maximizing your media outlets is crucial. The number of virtual gatherings has grown by 1,130% within the past year, with nearly all events now happening online. Brands are focusing on creating virtual experiences and events to build community digitally, and better reach new and existing customers where they are. Through platforms like Instagram Live, YouTube, and Twitch, brands and artists alike are sharing powerful virtual experiences and making themselves more accessible to their audience. 

Your community craves greater access to your brand, and hosting a virtual event through some or all of these outlets is one of the strongest ways to maximize quality time with them. Hosting a buzz worthy event on social media is also a great way to broaden your reach and drive traffic to your official pages. 

Here are a few ideas based on your brand’s industry for virtual events you can host for your community: 

  1. Fitness or Athleisure: Host a free workout class on Instagram Live! Your community can tune in, get their endorphins pumping, and leave their workout feeling a stronger tie to your brand. 
  2. Music and Live Entertainment: Time to get streaming! There are so many ways to share music with your biggest fans. Host a virtual listening party for a new release, share exclusive content,  or even a virtual “tour” in unexpected locations.  
  3. Beauty or Fashion: Invite your ambassadors and influencers to do a takeover showing off their favorite looks, or even host a virtual trunk show / consultation.     

Hosting a virtual event for your community is a great way to boost engagement and reach organically, while creating a space for your community to connect with your brand and with each other. 

Engage & Incentivize 

Invite your brand’s fans to be active contributors. When you make your community feel like part of your team, they feel closer to your brand — building loyalty will make engaging more enticing for your brand fans. 

Invite your brand fans to participate in starting conversations about your brand online, creating content for social media, and getting their friends involved. Having your brand fans like, comment, share, and create their own content will boost your reach organically, and give you plenty of authentic User Generated Content (UGC) to implement into your own content strategy. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative in the way you challenge your community to get involved, but remember that having an incentive is important. An incentive doesn’t have to break your budget — simply sharing content that a brand fan created can make them feel important and valued by your brand. 

Listen to Your Community’s Voice

Your community is your best source for honest, constructive feedback. Inviting your brand fans to tell you what they love, hate, or want to see more of will help you better adapt to serve your customers’ needs. Whether you push out a quiz, survey, or an open forum on social media, your community will appreciate being given a voice and will ultimately feel more connected to your brand. Feedback from your brand fans can also help drive product creation and enhancements, along with insight to help you build more effective, targeted marketing strategies. 

Bring Your Community Together

Ultimately, reaching your community where they are — online — is the best method for building value for your entire community. Whether you host a virtual event, or hold a contest that allows your brand fans to get creative, you’re building value for both your community and your brand. When you invite your community to be active contributors to your brand’s mission, you’re building and strengthening positive relationships and loyalty, while driving awareness and feedback organically. 

Creator Accounts for Brand Ambassadors

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 11.18.35 AMGET CREATIVE. CONNECT WITH YOUR COMMUNITY. GET REWARDED.

cre·a·tor /krēˈādər/ noun

  1. A person or thing that brings something into existence.
  2. A person who invents, produces, or makes things.

What is an Instagram Creator?

A creator is someone who contributes information and content around the things they are passionate about. Content creators are individuals who provide digital media assets including videos, graphics, blog posts, and other materials that are often hired by brands to help contribute to help them achieve marketing and sales goals. 

In 2018, Instagram rolled out an account type called “Creators” so that high-profile users are able to have features more similar to business accounts that enable them to have better access to:

  • Growth tools 
  • Advanced audience insights
  • Simplify & filter DMs
  • Post scheduling on desktop
  • Shoppable posts
  • And more

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While there are pros and cons to switching to a Creator account on Instagram, for users looking to monetize their content and strengthen their partnerships with brands, changing your account will put you in a position to greatly increase your opportunities — especially because Instagram seems to be expanding the capabilities for Creators rapidly

Why?

According to Ad Age, Creators account for nearly $2B in annual paid media spending in North America. Creators are generally more relatable to their following than a brand’s page, so it is not surprising that brands want to keep putting dollars into content marketing.

Think about it. How many times have you purchased something because of a friend’s recommendation or because you saw your favorite influencer repping the product?

You are surrounded by creators! Join the community. Become a creator. 

Why should I become a Creator?

Why should I become a creator_

Connect with other like-minded people

If you are a super fan, a brand affiliate, or micro-influencers, you can use your social media platform to build relationships with your favorites brands. Creators can offer brands their support by sharing product reviews, spotlighting announcements, and boosting organic reach with Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing. 

Earn cash & rewards

Being a creator for a brand provides opportunities to earn cash, rewards, and exclusive offers. From commission payouts to free products, content creators are able to offer authentic marketing, referrals, and promotional assets to brands in exchange for compensation & rewards for their support. 

Share your creativity with the world

Creators are able to build a creative and open community around their passions and the brands they love. Creators can look to their communities as an outlet to collaborate and communicate about their connections, affinities, and experiences. 

How To Become A Creator 

Creator accounts on Instagram & Facebook offer specialized tools for every day users with medium to large-scale networks to better manage their profiles. When you switch your account from a personal account to a creator account, you will gain access to insights on your audience, engagements, & more detailed analytics that will give you more control over your account. 

In the past, social media influencers & creators used Business accounts to optimize their social media networks which didn’t cater to the specific needs like tracking following growth, filtered messaging & audience insights. Those days are over. Creators & influencers now have an account type made just for them.  

Instagram spokesperson mentioned, “Existing tools around business profiles make it difficult to track creator follower growth and engagement over time and that existing business tools weren’t designed with them in mind.”

Check out the steps to upgrading to a creator account below. 

How to Set Up Your Socials

Here is a step by step guide to getting set up on Facebook and Instagram. Build your personal community, connect with people who have the same interests as you, and get creative.  Be sure to switch your Instagram account to a creator account to get the most in-depth insights on your community. 

Don’t forget to connect your Facebook and Instagram account to unlock insights from both platforms. Need help? Check out the video here.

3steps

Tips For Creators

Tips for creators

Continue growing!

Utilize the tools available to you for growth. By switching to a creator profile, influencers and creators get access to flexible profile controls, simplified messaging, & publishing tools. Creators can easily crosspost content to IG & FB, schedule posts for the future, & more. Check out the new tools waiting for you. 

Get to know your audience

Review your activity and audience insights on your creator profile to see who your community is and how they are engaging with your content. Check out the demographic information on your audience like age, location, and more to get to know who your social media followers are. Leverage the insights found in the Creator studio to connect with your audience and optimize the content you’re sharing with your followers. 

Check out Shoppable Posts 

Help your favorite brands and friends by using Shoppable Posts on Instagram. Shoppable posts allow creators, businesses, and influencers to tag brands in their posts and share their favorite products to followers – creating a new way for users to shop directly from Instagram. This helps creators drive attention to their brand partnerships and opens opportunities for supporting their favorite brands.

Be Open & Authentic

Be open and be authentic. It is important for creators to be open with their audience to understand their interests, needs, and other affinities. This helps creators to produce authentic and empathetic content that speaks more deeply to their community. It also helps creators find their voice and begin to talk about ideas or issues beyond their own.

SocialLadder Ambassadors Value Community

Building community is the heart of what we do here at SocialLadder. And at the foundation of every community are people full of passion, positivity, and purpose — the ambassadors.

We had a chance to interview Dylan, Erin, and Christian — a few of SocialLadder’s top performing ambassadors — to gain some insight into their experience as ambassadors and the role that community plays in their lives. 

What is your favorite part about being an ambassador? 

D: My favorite part about being an ambassador is I get to share with other people information about things they might like. I will only be an ambassador for things I’m personally interested in and when I share those interests to other people who find it interesting like me, we connect. You will grow lots of friendships and connections from being an ambassador for a product or event. And the best part is you get rewarded for what you love doing.

E: My favorite part about being an ambassador is connecting people to events they want to be a part of. The music community has brought some of the best friendships into my life and I want to help people find their happy place and best friends too! 

C: As a naturally quiet person, being an ambassador encourages me to make new connections around something I’m passionate about.

What does community mean to you?

D:  Community to me is a group of likeminded people who interact and share similar thoughts and express them communally. Community to me allows me to work together with other people, as community is essential for forward progress

E: Community represents a group of people that bring unity, love and opportunity in my life. To me, the music community is lifetime friendships, memories, and endless art to connect with and appreciate. It’s such a beautiful thing to be a part of! 

C: To me, community is defined as anywhere, virtual or physical, in which you’re connected to others that share the same interest.

How do you stay connected to the communities you’re closest to?

D: Typically when you’re involved in communities you will naturally be connected. As a serious trance fan for example, I stay connected to that community by groups, pages, forums, friends, festivals, and more. 

E: I stay connected with my people through social media and community events. I aim to be mindful about checking in with the people and organizations closest to me, even if just to express my continued love and support to them.

C: While it may sound very millennial, I mainly stay connected to my communities through my phone. Messaging apps allow me to stay connected to my friends even when apart. Social media provides an outlet to connect with larger communities like those centered on my favorite artists or sports teams.

What do you love about SocialLadder?  

D:  Personally what I’ve always loved about Social Ladder is their community platform for compensation and rewards. I’ve used multiple ambassador programs before and Social Ladder is by far the best one. A) You’ll work hard for those juicy rewards. B) It’s very simple to sell and promote using Social Ladder. C) They have a great team that is willing to work with you and they constantly improve their program based on feedback from the ambassadors. 

E: SocialLadder is a closely knit organization that I’m so grateful to be a part of. I love the positivity that we contribute as a team to the community. We came for the music, and we stay for the friendships we find in each other! 

C: SocialLadder was my first experience in being an ambassador for a music festival. As a marketing professional, it gave me a better understanding of another aspect of the live event industry. While I already enjoyed sharing my passion for festivals with others, being able to claim unique experiences is a welcomed bonus.

Thank you Dylan, Erin, and Christian! Ready to build your community?

Q&A With Cotopaxi’s Paisley Wildman

Founded in 2014, Cotopaxi is an outdoor apparel and equipment start-up focused on creating Gear for Good. At the heart of their mission is supporting the spirit of adventure in a structure that seamlessly blends product and philanthropy. With over 250 brand ambassadors, Cotopaxi has built an active, engaged community of fans that help propel the brand’s mission. We had a chance to interview Cotopaxi’s Social Media Manager, Paisley Wildman, on the brand’s approach to cultivating a community focused on adventure and making the world a better place.

Dometic_Does_Baja_DrewMartin_LowRes_817 copyWhat is your role at Cotopaxi and what does your day-to-day look like?

I’m the Social Media Manager at Cotopaxi. My main responsibility is to represent the Cotopaxi brand on social media channels, including campaign creation and management, responding to messages, and leading our ambassador program. I also curate user-generated content for use in email and website displays, and coordinate PR and strategic product placement opportunities.

How have you had to adjust your organic marketing strategies and what new challenges are you facing now?

The most immediate shift we had to face with COVID-19 was in our messaging around adventure. Prior to the pandemic, much of our organic marketing incorporated adventure travel around the globe. We’d meshed seasonal marketing campaigns for product lines with immersive travel experiences; For example, last fall we went to Colombia to shoot our new products, and earlier this spring we were in beautiful Argentina. Quickly, around-the-globe adventures became a no-go, so that meant adjusting our approach. Fortunately, adventure can be found in many ways. Through a community engagement campaign around our repurposed Del Da line, an at-home version of our Questival Adventure Race, our #OneUtah campaign to help those locally on the front lines of the pandemic and a few other initiatives, we were able to shift our course and accommodate the “new normal”. Moving forward, we will certainly continue to be challenged by the shifting status quo. 

Can you give some insight into the ambassador program at Cotopaxi and how you’ve been able to build and maintain such strong relationships with them?

Currently, we have over 250 ambassadors ranging from influencers with millions of followers to micro-influencers, or “advocates” with only hundreds. No matter how big or small their audience, each one of our ambassadors plays an important role in our program. I feel extremely fortunate to have built relationships with all of them, and to feel a genuine connection between them and our brand. At the end of the day, what perpetuates the success of this program is our mission. Cotopaxi’s commitment towards creating sustainable products, alleviating poverty, and inspiring adventure is what unites people from all walks of life around the Cotopaxi brand, and that authenticity is what enables our ambassadorships to resonate with wider audiences. 

How does the Cotopaxi mission affect the way you think about and interact with your community? 

We believe in the power of adventure to make the world a better place. Everything we do as a company boils down to that mission, and our community knows to expect that. It’s easy to throw around a catchphrase like “Do Good”, but we feel a great responsibility to walk the walk. From our supply chain to our company culture and giving model, we see business as an opportunity to make a positive impact. Through our interactions with consumers, we aim to convey that same level of responsibility and optimism. Simply selling products isn’t good enough anymore, and we’re lucky to have a community of conscious citizens that recognize that there’s better ways of doing business than what was once accepted. 

Our team has been really inspired by the content Cotopaxi has been driving — what has been your favorite community engagement initiative in the last few months and how did it come together?

My favorite campaign I’ve led over the last few months is our Día By Día Challenge, an initiative encouraging our audience to share creative ways to use Del Dia packs. The idea was designed to engage our community around an uplifting initiative and make people smile amidst a time of chaos. We asked for fun, quirky and unique submissions with rewards offered to the top submissions as voted on by our whole team. The content they delivered was epic. From a DIY home-gym setup to a toilet paper holder to a homemade Chinchilla-sized fanny pack, their challenge submissions were highly memorable. Not only did we succeed in bringing our audience together around the challenge, the Cotopaxi team had a great time judging the submissions. It brought us a sense of togetherness in an otherwise isolating time and was a happy reminder just how incredible and dedicated our community is.

What are some trends you’re seeing now in building customer relationships that you think will last?

I’m seeing more and more brands push towards transparency, which I think is so important right now and always. Behind-the-scenes content, employee spotlights, (a lot of) Instagram Lives, AMAs: brands are embracing their humanity in a time when it’s more appreciated than ever and our human desire to connect is at an all time high. I think this focus on authenticity will stick around as the polished facade of traditional marketing becomes increasingly unrelatable.

Thank you Paisley! 

Q&A With Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO of LIVELY

2016.3.16_Lively_Headshots6892_color (1)LIVELY, one of the fastest growing lingerie startups, built their brand on the foundation of community. With over 100,000 brand ambassadors, LIVELY is home to a thriving community of women that have helped shape the brand’s approach to everything from the content they create to the products they launch. 

We had a chance to get to know more about LIVELY’s approach to community, COVID, and the future with their CEO & Founder, Michelle Cordeiro Grant.

What is your role at LIVELY and what does your day-to-day look like?

Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO at LIVELY.  

There’s no typical “day-to-day,” at a startup, but I’m still trying to keep the same routines now as I did prior to COVID-19. I still wake up every morning at 6:30 a.m. to have a coffee and fit a quick workout in, which is what I did when I was going into the office. The only difference is I’ve turned my commute time into time to do an activity with my kids, which looks different every day – it can be baking, doing projects or even just sitting down and chatting with them. That’s been really special for us and it helps keep our environment calm, normal and exciting. After that, I’ll sign on for the day to see where LIVELY is at – checking our sales data, catching up with the team on marketing initiatives, and checking in on production and inventory, to name a few things. I’ve also continued my “walk and talk” routine on days when I have a lot of calls. This method helps me to be more present, and it gives my mind and creativity the boost it needs to help keep me going throughout the day.

How important is empathy and purpose in your approach to connecting with your brand’s community?

LIVELY’s M.O. is empowering women to live life passionately, purposefully, and confidently. To that end, we are always reaching out to our community to understand where their interests and passions lie so we can ensure we’re always serving up content, products, and experiences that speak to them. Our 100K+ Ambassadors are core to everything we do, and this community is a two-way street. Because of their enthusiasm about what we’re doing, we can really amplify social media and word-of-mouth efforts beyond our own marketing channels to reach women all over the U.S. 

Can you give some insight into how the ambassador community started at LIVELY and how you’ve been able to grow it to over 100,000 ambassadors?

Before even having a product or a brand, LIVELY focused on building a community. Prior to launch, we hosted Airbnb focus groups to understand what women were looking for in the lingerie category, and we also began creating a movement on social media featuring inspirational quotes and images, which generated a flood of DMs and comments from women asking how they could be a part of what we were building. Although we’ve evolved to accommodate the incredible growth in our network, we’ve remained committed to connecting with our community on their terms, through Instagram, events, and other mediums.

With such a large community of ambassadors, how are you keeping them engaged and connected not only to the LIVELY brand, but also to each other? 

We regularly reach out to them directly to ask them what they want to see in upcoming product launches, events, content, etc. We also feature them in our emails and social media, as well as give them a platform to share their own passions and interests. You’ll see our Ambassadors hosting events in our stores (when they were open), and also leading workshops and tutorials on our Instagram content series called “#LivingLIVELY At Home.” We also have a Facebook group where they can interact, and we’re constantly thinking up new ways to connect them with one another. 

 How has your strategy shifted to adapt to the current climate? Do you see these trends lasting in the long run?

As customers began spending all of their time at home, we immediately switched all of our content, messaging, and marketing to focus on comfort and being at home. With that, we pivoted from a brand that would right now be focused on our swimwear category into one that is all about lounge and comfy bras and bralettes. By putting ourselves in the mindset of the consumer we were able to completely switch our messaging and lean into loungewear to accommodate their needs.

Additionally, we’ve introduced a new bundles feature on our website. Keeping our customer top-of-mind, one thing we’re pushing to innovate is convenience: as customers are spending more and more time on their phones, we wanted to figure out how we could make that shopping experience even more seamless. Up until this point, we’ve offered bundles where customers could buy 2 bras for $60, and 3 for $80, but shoppers would have to separately add products to their cart in order for the promotion to activate. To help make the experience as easy and accessible as possible, we’ve moved bundles to the forefront of the site, creating packs that customers can easily add in one go. Since introducing it we’ve seen a significant positive shift in the business – it’s a small tweak but it goes a long way.

Lastly, we quickly transformed what would have been our in-store events to engaging social media content through “#LivingLIVELY At Home”, our IG series where we’re creating content each week ranging from female founder chats and skincare routines to cooking tutorials and workouts, to keep our community engaged and serve as an underlying point of positivity for them. We also recently launched the second season of LIVELY’s podcast No Makeup Needed, where we’re bringing the mentor coffee date straight to your headphones by sitting down with empowered women we know our community will look up to. We also launched our virtual styling sessions to replace in-store fit sessions, where customers can connect with LIVELY fit experts through 30-minute virtual sessions to get product recommendations and figure out what sizes and styles are best for them based on their personal needs. 

What do you think is in store for the future of word-of-mouth marketing?

Consumers are going to be very intentional with their purchases and will go back to brands they felt prioritized them during this time. Other brands will need to lean into the idea of being flexible, agile and community-first if they weren’t already – it’s not about changing your core products or your core values, it’s about what you’re leaning into and your messaging and tone.

 
Thank you, Michelle! To learn more about LIVELY, visit them at wearlively.com or on Instagram.

Brands Embracing Community Through The Pandemic

The past few months have been an undeniably stressful period for our global community. Throughout this time of social distancing we’ve faced a natural disaster, economic downturn, and heard the phrase “uncertain times” more times than we can count. While we still may not know when this will all be behind us, we do know that this pandemic has brought people together in new, inspiring ways that truly display the resiliency of the human spirit. 

Below we’re highlighting some of the brands — big and small — that are doing their part to bring people together, encourage community, and provide good news in a time when there simply isn’t enough of it. 

La Colombe 

La Colombe was created with a simple vision, “to make the world better through coffee”, and since 1994 they have done so through their advocacy for National Parks, providing children with school lunches, and supporting Haitian coffee farmers. While La Calombe continues to support these issues, they’ve also been engaging their community virtually through their “Brewing at Home with La Colombe” series, & inviting their fans to show off how they’re brewing their coffee at home. 

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Throughout this pandemic, small, mission-driven businesses have certainly been hit hard, and it’s essential that we continue to support them through this uncertain time. That’s why coffee brewers La Colombe have started the #STANDWITHSMALL campaign, which encourages consumers to vote with their wallet and support small businesses that have always been there to support others in their times of need. For many business owners, a united front is going to be the key to making it through this pandemic, as maintaining a strong and healthy community of small businesses is essential to our nation’s economy.

Allbirds

Allbirds, who specialize in comfortable sneakers made from naturally sourced and recycled materials, have been donating their products to those who need support the most right now: healthcare workers. Allbirds has donated $500,000 worth of shoes to the healthcare community, and are continuing these donations through their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program, which aims to provide as many healthcare workers as possible with a new pair of Wool Runners, and encourage their online community to contribute however they can. Allbirds are certainly stepping up to the plate and making a positive change in a supportive and sustainable way.

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Chipotle

While Chipotle typically keeps us busy on our lunch breaks, they’ve now been doing their part to keep us busy online! Through their “Chipotle Together” online video sessions on Zoom, Chipotle has been staying socially engaged with their fans throughout social distancing. These video sessions connect fans with celebrities and influencers, such as Colton from The Bachelor and former NFL Star Rob Gronkowski, and allows them to interact in a way that’s never quite been done before. It’s essential that we stay connected and engaged through times like these, as maintaining a strong community is going to be the key to getting through this together, and Chipotle is doing just that!

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Glossier 

As many of us know, scrubbing and sanitizing your hands incessantly can often lead to dry skin. No one is doing this on a more consistent basis then healthcare workers, so Glossier has stepped up to provide their services! Over the past month they’ve donated thousands of Glosser balms, face mists, and moisturizers to try and help provide comfort to these healthcare workers. In addition to this, they’ve announced their first line of Hand Creams, set to release on April 23rd, and will be launching it by giving away the first 10,000 units to healthcare workers in need! Gestures such as these show that no matter what field we’re in, there’s something that we’re capable of providing to those within our community who need it in times such as these.

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Sarah Flint

Sarah Flint is a brand that has been particularly affected by the pandemic, as the majority of their manufacturing factories are located in Italy. Nonetheless, as this issue hits incredibly close to home for Sarah Flint, they’ve decided to launch the #StandInSupport campaign, which aims to provide women who are working on the front lines of fighting this virus with a brand new pair of Sarah Flint shoes. Be it medical workers, janitors, pharmacists, grocery store workers, anyone who has to put themselves out there during this irregular time, Sarah Flint wants to thank them, sharing, “We are so appreciative, and in awe, of the work being done”. Although it may be some time before these gifts are able to be put to use, this act of kindness is a genuine display of how brands are able to build and encourage community, while contributing what they can to a great cause. 

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Marriott

As the largest hotel chain in the world, Marriott has dedicated their resources to provide assistance in areas hit particularly hard by the virus, such as New York, Detroit, and New Orleans. Marriott has provided $10,000,000 in hotel stays to members of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association, as well as discounted rooms for any other first responders / healthcares that need to stay close by to a hospital, all throughout the U.S. Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America. In addition to this, they’ve used their food and supplies storages to pack lunches and provide equipment such as masks, wipes, and other cleaning supplies to hospitals in need. It’s so great to see those with the resources available to make a difference, truly put their best foot forward in doing so. 

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Although we still have a way to go in this odd and confusing journey towards retaining some form of normalcy, it’s incredibly encouraging to see all the different ways that brands are supporting and building up their communities. It’s important for us to come together, support each other, and do everything we can to help those in need, especially in times like these when they need it most. 

 

How To Make Your Brand Stand Out On Instagram

Social distancing has caused the world to interact with social media in a different way. With 66% of social media users anticipating their use of platforms like Instagram to increase during the pandemic, media consumption is continuously rising. However, with people and brands posting increasing amounts of content to social media platforms, feeds are being oversaturated which has caused a negative impact on engagement. 

What brands need to do right now is create content that breaks through the clutter and captures the attention of their followers. This is a time to think outside of the box and get creative with the way we create, consume, and interact with content. With a captive audience, brands can use Instagram as a means to engage and deepen relationships with their community of brand fans and followers. Here are a few tips for brands who are looking to stand out on Instagram as we continue through this crisis: 

Be Real

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People are paying attention to how brands are reacting to this global pandemic — so much so that brands’ response will impact 65% of consumers’ future purchasing decisions. It’s important for brands to communicate to their followers with empathy, understanding, and support. For some brands, this means adjusting messaging and considering how the crisis affects your mission & goals. For others, this is business as usual. Regardless, this is a time for brands to give their messaging a more human touch to build trust and strengthen relationships with consumers. 

Be real, and people will take notice. 

Go Live

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80% of people would rather watch a live stream than read a blog, so creating more dynamic, interactive content is crucial. Post content that allows your brand’s fans to see how your brand and team are living at home. Host instagram live events to let your followers get to know the real & authentic you. This is also a great opportunity for your brand to use a live platform to share information, keep your followers in the loop, and share resources. Having more interactive content like this allows you to build and deepen trust between you and your followers in a more engaging way. 

 

Get Creative

 

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Don’t be afraid to get creative with your grid! Feel free to play with color to brighten up your brand fans’ feeds, or post something thought provoking. Now can be a great time to test new looks, new types of content, or post things you might not normally have and involve your virtual brand community. Posting content that is different or more interactive than what your brand might typically post will turn more heads and turn into increased engagement. 

Challenge Your Followers

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It’s important to keep your community active and involved virtually. Challenge your brand fans to hold a DIY fashion show in their favorite outfit from your brand, or suggest a new color or flavor they’d like to see. Creating exciting challenges for your followers is a direct invitation for them to become more involved with your brand. It also offers your brand an opportunity to understand more about your brand community and build relationships with your biggest fans. Giving your community a voice and encouraging them to share will make them feel closer to and more inclined to engage with your brand. 

Boost Earned Media

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98% of millennials are going to interact with a friend’s post over a brand post. By challenging your followers to get involved and create posts involving your brand, you’re amplifying user generated content and building increased trust in your brand. Essentially, your brand is creating a content factory that will boost your earned media value and offer tons of reposting potential. Gaining access to this kind of content will not only help you enhance your social media strategy and boost earned media, but give you insight into what your brand fans want to see more of.    

Stand Out 

Standing out on Instagram can be difficult, but these tips will make it easy for your brand to break through peoples’ feeds and build stronger relationships with your audience. Sharing content that is real, interactive, and involves your community results in a more engaged audience, deeper ties to your community, and tons of content to use in your social media strategy. 

 

5 Ways To Boost Earned Media Value (EMV)

How can your brand reach a wider audience organically? With new brands emerging every day, it can be difficult to stand out in a world where everyone is competing for a share of a similar target market. Consumers are exposed to more information than they can fully digest, so they are looking to their friends, family, and followers for opinions on whether they should trust a brand or avoid it at all costs. Focusing only on branded or paid media is not the most effective strategy when you’re competing with a mass amount of content.

Your brand should be focusing on Earned media to generate more word of mouth referrals and enhance your content strategy organically. When compared to Owned and Paid media, Earned media is gained largely through your customers’ voices without direct influence from you as a brand. Although it is voluntarily shared by customers, there are many ways to steer the content that is being created and use it to boost your earned media value organically. 

Have a good strategy

As with any marketing campaign, having a good strategy is the only way to separate yourself from your competition. Narrow down your target audience! The more specific and segmented it is, the easier it will be to relate to. Customize your messaging based on your ideal customer profile and the social network or media outlet you will be posting your content to. Remember, your goal is to communicate the right message to the right customer at the right time. 

Increase the amount of content on your official accounts

If you want your customers to talk about you, give them something to talk about. Invest in creating more content & media across different social platforms. However, make sure that as you increase your output of content, that you’re creating content that is engaging. Try to start a meaningful conversation that will inspire others to interact with your brand and other fans. 

Create interactive instagram stories, challenge your brand fans to show off your products on their own feeds, and ask them what they want to see more of. Creating more quality content will encourage members of your community to share information and media across their own networks, which will drive more awareness and encourage brand building.

Be an expert in what you do

Being a reliable source of information will help you create the reputation of “expert” within your industry. Providing interesting and relevant statistics or data will build deeper trust in your existing community. Strong and effective research is essential to giving your brand credibility, and it should be an ultimate goal to be an expert in what you do well. This, in turn, will make it easier for your customers to build trust in and advocate for your brand.

Recruit brand ambassadors

In addition to creating more quality content, recruiting more people that want to talk about your brand will increase your market share and allow you to steer the content that is being created around your brand. Through ambassadors, you will be able to engage and interact with a broader pool of potential customers, while guiding their brand experience and gaining insight into what your brand fans want to see more of. 

By recruiting more people to advocate for your brand, you’re creating a stronger and honest bond with your customer base. Having supporters that people can trust is the key to boosting word of mouth and earned media value organically.

Do something remarkable

Now more than ever, customers know that actions speak louder than words. Doing something worth talking about will help you generate an organic and natural buzz around your brand. Discover and invest in new ways to influence or have an impact on the world around you. By doing something remarkable and newsworthy, you will further strengthen the connection between you and your community. Your customers will feel that they are not only supporting you, but also the good causes for which you advocate. 

Right now, it’s time to be creative and discover new ways to connect with people. Traditional campaigns aren’t working as well as they used to, so investing in new ways to drive brand awareness will help you separate your brand from the rest. Tapping into your community and boosting Earned media is one of the most valuable ways to drive more awareness, engagement, and growth for your brand — organically.

5 Ways To Stay Connected With Your Community While Social Distancing

Social distancing doesn’t mean social disconnect. Now more than ever, humans are craving connection. Brands are now inspired to work harder and be more creative to ensure their community they are there for them during a time of isolation and uncertainty. At a time when being physically present isn’t possible, it’s important to keep communities active and involved virtually. We’re here to share a few creative ways to engage your community and stay connected:  

Check-in with your community

Communication is more important than ever before. No matter how big your brand is, it’s necessary to stay in touch with your community and understand how they are being affected. Taking steps to ensure that everyone is safe and feels supported instills greater confidence in your brand. Now is the time to show extra love to those who need it the most right now and nurture existing relationships with your fans, followers, ambassadors, and more.  

Whether it’s through an Instagram story or an email blast, keeping the lines of communication open and asking a simple question about someone’s day can give more information on the wellbeing of your community than you might have thought. Asking questions is one of the best ways to check-in, and creates a greater bond of trust with your brand. 

Maximize your time online 

The best way to ask questions in the time of social distancing is to reach out through online platforms. Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools, allowing brands to share content that aligns with their ideals and values. With a majority of people receiving their information online, your digital presence is more important than ever. Maximizing your time spent online will build and strengthen relationships with the people in your community. 

For some brands, it can be difficult to move all communication to online platforms. However, there are many different ways to create discussions through your content. Take this time to ask questions and learn more about the people who love your brand and the reasons why they love it. This will help you push out the most relevant content to keep your audience engaged.  

Get creative with content

Social distancing has led to many people endlessly scrolling and consuming a large amount of content all at once. This can make it difficult to find content that is not only relevant, but interesting. You have to get creative with the way you engage your community. Look at the organic content being created around your brand to see what’s working and trending, so you can double down on and make your content strategy more effective. It’s a perfect time for you to experiment with eye-catching content and different ways to communicate your brand values. 

Use different online platforms to create content that inspires your community to get involved.  Some easy but interactive suggestions are to host fun online events or virtual hangouts. Maybe it’s finally time to hold a contest that will encourage customers to interact with you and with each other. Creating an environment where people can enjoy each other’s company is the key. Remember, your goal is to keep people active and involved with your brand.

Ask for feedback

What separates successful brands from the rest of the world? They can adapt to the current situation and the different needs of their community. Listening and changing is truly challenging, so it might require a lot of effort on the brand side. The best way is to start to learn more about what your community loves and hates. Do we share the same values? How can we modify our brand image to serve those needs?

Don’t be afraid to ask your community about the content and activations they want to see and experience more often. The simplest way to get this information is to ask them directly! Invite your community to complete quizzes or surveys across your online platforms. Not only you will be able to use that information to strategize more targeted and effective marketing campaigns, but you will also give your community a voice.

Stay present

Listen to your community. It is important to create an environment where your community feels welcome. Pay attention to the ways your community is interacting with you, and with each other. Ask yourself if there is anything else you can do to make their interaction with your brand better and more personal. 

With change, comes fear and uncertainty. But no matter what you decide to do to stay connected with your community, remember that building brand loyalty should be your priority. Don’t forget to love the customers who already love your brand!

What’s the Difference? Understanding Word of Mouth Marketing

john-schnobrich-2FPjlAyMQTA-unsplashIn a world where the digital connection is essential for growing businesses, word of mouth marketing is becoming more reliable than traditional advertising. But over the years, word of mouth marketing has evolved, and it now takes multiple forms — all of which are similar but apply different approaches to customer acquisition.

Word of mouth marketing is essential in today’s culture of viral content, as its ability to generate buzz far beyond its initial point of contact is immensely efficient. Below are some of the basics to navigating word of mouth marketing in 2020 and beyond so your brand can take advantage of reducing your digital media spend and increasing your lowest CAC channel — organic marketing.

Referral Marketing VS Affiliate Marketing

Referral marketing is a way for brands to incentivize passionate customers in exchange for spreading their love of your brand to their friends and family. This is often done by offering rewards or discounts in exchange for a referral to their friends and family. 

This form of marketing creates a win-win because it greatly benefits both the passionate customer as well as the brand — the customer provides the extra traffic, and the brand provides the customer with types of rewards that drive brand loyalty.

Affiliate marketing relies on third-party brand advocates (who may or may not be customers) — often publishers with a large reach or distribution — to drive customers to you. An affiliate marketer earns a percentage-based commission in accordance with the number of leads, sales, or transactions they are able to generate through link sharing and promotion. No leads or sales = no payment. This form of marketing works as an effective and reliable way to drive extra leads, sales, and data, beyond the brand’s initial marketing research.  

Unlike a customer referral — affiliates must indicate to their following or reader that they have a paid partnership with the brand.

Influencer Marketing VS Partner Marketing

Influencer marketing is similar to affiliate marketing in concept but very different in practice. While affiliate marketing practices use multiple volunteer affiliates with varying followings to generate as much attention as they can within their limited networks, influencer marketing consists of a brand seeking out a singular figurehead with a large social media following to promote the brand to their massive network, typically on a pay-per-post basis. 

It is important to remember that influencer marketing can be incredibly effective if your brand is able to identify relevant influencers that have built an authentic and truly engaged audience. A little advice, be on the lookout for influencer fraud, because it is an issue that must be accounted for.

Partner Marketing, similar to referrals, is all about capitalizing on communities of potential customers that you wouldn’t typically have access to, by utilizing an access point that they already have a relationship with. With Partner Marketing, that access point is another business, and they will be receiving access to your customer base as well. By partnering with another business to run cross-promotions, brands are able to build lasting and mutually beneficial relationships, while boosting their awareness between similar customer bases. 

Traditional advertising has become less and less reliable over the past decade. As consumers become more informed and skeptical of traditional advertising methods, it’s essential for brands to still build more authentic relationships with the consumers they are trying to reach. The strongest way to do that is utilizing word of mouth marketing to capitalize on the extreme interconnectivity that dominates our day to day life. 

Now more than ever, it is essential for brands to cultivate a community effectively, and utilize word of mouth marketing to increase trust and loyalty, while building an authentic relationship with customers.