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!

NEW FEATURE: Advanced Analytics

SocialLadder is excited to announce a new feature that gives more insight into your ambassador community’s performance — our Advanced Analytics Tool!  

Advanced Analytics is an interactive data reporting tool, offering enhanced insights on ambassador performance. This new tool gives HQ admins a visual representation of the overall value their ambassador community is driving. Now, HQ admins are able to drill down into the metrics most important in measuring the success of their community.

Every ambassador, challenge, and reward has a value. Through these new Advanced Analytics, HQ teams are able to slice and dice data to see which ambassadors are driving the most value and which challenges have the highest rates of completion. HQ teams can also gain insight into key metrics like Earned Media Value, Conversion Value, and Ambassador ROI.

All of this data can be accessed in the Administrative Panel in the Reporting Section under “Ambassador Overview Report” and “Challenge Overview Report”.

 

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Ambassador Overview Report

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Challenge Overview Report

 

For more information on SocialLadder’s new Advanced Analytics, request a free demo

What Does A Successful Ambassador Look Like?

Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 12.44.11 PM.png   “Where do I find ambassadors?” and “Who should my ambassadors be?” are questions nearly every brand asks when setting out to build their community. Having the right process in place is important, but as the significance of having a strong and engaged ambassador community increases, so is having the right people. So, what does a successful ambassador look like, and where do you find them?

1. Identify the people who know and love your brand. 

At SocialLadder, we always say that your best ambassadors are those who already know and love your brand. You might think it’s difficult to find them, but there are plenty of ways to easily recruit your biggest fans. Tap into your email lists, social media followers, or any platform that your fans engage with, and invite them to apply to join your ambassador community! 

Use your application to get some more information on the people who have expressed interest in joining. Why do they want to be an ambassador? What social media channels do they use, and what is their following like? What is their favorite thing about your brand? What is your favorite thing about them? 

2. Don’t forget the real people.

Consider what kind of ambassador works best for your brand’s goals. Influencers with masses of followers are great and have a broad reach  – but don’t forget about the “real” people that live by your brand! They may be promoting on a smaller scale, but micro and nano influencers are an increasingly integral part of ambassador communities. This type of ambassador may have a higher engagement rate, and a more personal, extensive reach to their followers. 

Especially in the wake of influencer fraud, it’s important to identify how legitimate an ambassador’s following is. Look for ambassadors that have organic followers and engagement, and avoid accounts that have unusual activity. 

Learn more about influencer fraud here

3. Trust. 

Word of mouth is the #1 reason people make purchases, so you want an ambassador that puts their money where their mouth is (and gets their friends to, also). An ambassador should be passionate, positive, and most importantly: trustworthy. 

Having people that are naturally motivated to talk about and are familiar with your brand means more authentic promotion, and authenticity fuels trust. Trust is what allows your ambassadors to build better, lasting relationships between consumers and your brand. 

4. Keep it professional. 

A person’s online identity should align with their beliefs and values, and those values should ideally align with your brand’s principles. Identify the ambassadors that share your mission and will promote with positivity and professionalism, putting their best face (or #selfie) forward. 

5. Communication is Key! 

Your ambassadors know your brand best. Keeping the lines of communication open and allowing them to provide you with valuable feedback helps keep your brand and community aligned, highlights areas of improvement, and strengthens the relationship between your brand and your biggest fans. 

At SocialLadder, we understand that communication is key. That’s why we’ve streamlined more ways to better engage your community. With in-app chat features, message boards, and access to brand resources, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Tips to Boost Your Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales

In 2018, more than 174 million Americans shopped from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and spent an average of $335 per person during that five-day period. Thanksgiving Day brought in $3.7 billion in online sales, Black Friday brought in $6.2 billion and Cyber Monday topped out at $7.9 billion. 

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How can you make sure your brand is getting a piece of these whopping sales numbers? Black Friday is a great opportunity for marketers from every business to get out in front of the holiday buying season and maximize profit. 

From eCommerce to concert promoters — brands should engage their ambassador teams to help drive sales and create more organic impressions.

This is the chance to really create buzz around your products and get early bird sales rolling before the end of the year. 

Here are five ways to get the most out of the biggest shopping holidays of the year by utilizing ambassadors:

  1. Harness the power of word of mouth – Referrals work, plain and simple. Get your ambassadors engaged and ready to promote your upcoming deals and products out to their friends.
  2. Save money – Because organic referrals have the lowest cost of acquisition and the highest LTV of any other marketing spend, why not utilize referrals during this time when ad rates are at their highest?
  3. Think different – With brands like LuluLemon – they didn’t use famous athletes, they hired elite local yoga instructors to be ambassadors so the brand could take on a hyper-local neighborhood feel. You don’t have to break the bank to run an ad campaign this time of year, think about your audience, and find a way to reach them.
  4. Find your advocates – These are the “diamond in the rough” consumers. Every brand has them. They will talk about you wherever, whenever, however and to whomever, both online and offline. Utilize your advocates to drive organic content & create the strongest referral sales conversions. 
  5. Amplify your socials – When you have your ambassadors create or engage with content on Instagram or Facebook through SocialLadder, that’s money that stays in your pocket, not the pockets of a tech giant.

 

 

Sources:

Forbes – “Every Result You Need To Know From Black Friday, Cyber Monday And The Holiday 2018 Season So Far”

Washington Post – “Black Friday’s not dead yet: 70 percent of American adults shopped Thanksgiving weekend”

What is an Ambassador?

The word ‘ambassador’ can mean a lot of different things to people. We’re going to break down the different types of ambassadors to help you identify the best strategies to get the most out of your word of mouth marketing strategies. 

What is an ambassador

 

1. Street Team

These are people who are paid to rep your brand in the real world primarily creating physical impressions. They’re doing things like hanging flyers, or passing out samples, or even hosting events. And they live 100% offline to drive awareness, which is why we’re completely integrated with Google Maps so you don’t lose track of your street teamers. 

2. City / College Reps

These are the key opinion leaders who you gain access to their circle of influence in the real world. They have some online presence, but are hyper-local and really help your brand develop a pulse in the real world, with REAL people. Building relationships with your reps is huge because they want to feel like they’re a real part of the team. 

3. Advocates

Your “diamond in the rough”  consumers. Every brand has them, and every brand should be tapping into them. They will talk about you wherever, whenever, however, and to whomever. Both online and offline. They’re your organic content drivers and generate the strongest referral sales conversions. 

4. Influencers

With this group, we start to move into the digital space. From nano to macro, these people have influence over a specific audience. 

5. Affiliates

Living 100% online, your affiliates typically have a broad audience and they use their platform to drive leads and referrals. Often getting paid per click or conversion, their main purpose is driving awareness to your brand.

Looking to boost referrals or simply learn more about the benefits of an ambassador program? Request a demo to see how SocialLadder can help you achieve your goals. 

 

5 Tips for Building a Campus Ambassador Program Without Losing the Human Touch

Looking to tap into the nearly $574B spending power that 21.4M college students have? With school back in session, college students are a great way to expand your brand’s footprint & discover a new crop of brand loyalists–the key to success is building a campus ambassador program.

Whether it’s flyering around the dorms, hosting events on campus, or driving social engagement, college ambassadors can help you increase brand awareness and sales with the target Gen Z audience.

 

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Check out some of our best tips & tricks for activating your brand on campuses.

1. Choose the Right People

Hiring students who are naturally motivated to talk about your brand to their friends is important. Your brand has an identity, so the people who represent it in the real world should share some of its qualities and the brand should seem like it authentically fits into the ambassador’s lifestyle. 

Lululemon, for example, when they built their ambassador team, they wanted the brand to feel like it had a hyperlocal feel, so instead of paying for traditional endorsements with celebrity athletes, the yoga-focused brand built an ambassador program of local influencers, elite athletes & top-notch yoga instructors who create a community, provide feedback on product and partner with the brand for social impact programs. 

By fostering more on a grassroots model the ambassadors feel connected to HQ and therefore take pride in their role. For example, if you have a women’s clothing brand you probably don’t want members of a men’s basketball team representing you on their campus.

2. Clearly Outline a Path for Success

If you don’t have a strategy with a quantitative plan in place — with clear expectations mapped out —  managing hundreds or even thousands of college students will immediately feel like herding cats. Don’t forget — their #1 priority is being in college — so don’t make it complicated for them to spread the word about your brand.

Once you have hired the right people, you should make sure you give them a clear checklist of what they will need to do and give them tips and tricks on how to be successful. By being transparent about the standards and the goals you have for the program your ambassadors will be more likely to stay engaged. Checklists and leaderboards will help you keep everyone on track. 

For example — if your ambassadors are expected to hang 50 door hangs, ask them to submit evidence and then automatically verify via photos and Google Maps that they completed the task.

Once you have your foundation tasks in place, give ambassadors easy ways to unlock more rewards / payment in exchange for creating increased value for your brand. For example — if your #1 goal is new subscribers, increase the compensation model for your ambassadors to get more emails/downloads/sales. 

3. Establish Expectations

Don’t forget that most college students have never been salespeople — in fact, most have probably never had a boss or even a job (other than maybe walking dogs or mowing lawns) — so you need to give them the tools and training they will need to be successful critical thinkers and problem solvers who can — most importantly — meet deadlines, without losing the human touch between you and the ambassador. 

Create an onboarding experience that clearly communicates your expectations so you can get them set up to succeed from the start.  For example, use calendar reminders for important deadlines or create forms for them to fill out that makes it easy for you to collect important information rather than going back and forth via email.

For teams really looking to scale, identify Team Leads and empower them to take ownership of managing the ambassadors on their teams and then compensate the top-performing Team Leads when they deliver great results. The key is to continuously reinforce the ambassadors and what they are contributing to the business so they feel that they have ownership in the process and help to validate that their relationship with you — the brand — is priceless.

4. Streamline Communication

“I don’t want to lose the relationship we have with our ambassadors, our program needs a human touch,” and we agree. But this doesn’t mean that your brand’s full-time employees need to be bogged down with every individual request that comes from an ambassador. Trust us, it’s a slippery slope and it actually means your ambassadors are confused if they keep reaching out with questions.

Use community-focused tools like group chat, message boards, and Team Leads to help keep your ambassadors engaged.

Put everything in one place — like a Google Drive — so they can easily find answers and get back to repping your brand in their voice. By giving them access to things like up to date logos/brand guidelines, knowledge banks / FAQs, articles, receipt folders, event recap forms, templates, and approved sales language, you are empowering your team to quickly discover the resources they need.

This will give ambassadors an easy path to get their questions answered quickly and your brand team time to focus on the overall strategy of the program. 

5. Empower the Team to be Creative

Now that you have your team selected, on-boarded and have clearly communicated expectations — unleash your team and challenge them to tell you what will work on their campus. For example for a Big 10 School, a tailgate for a homecoming football game might provide the perfect backdrop for your brand, but for a Northeast city school a St.Patrick’s Day event might create a bigger impact.

Create event forms for ambassadors to fill out. When approved, set a budget and set them loose. Just remember to make sure you give them the checklist of things you need in your event recap at the end like photos, surveys, etc.

Always remember, campus reps are there to give you feedback about your brand. Listen to them. They know what will work with their friends so trust them to meet your expectations. This way your brand’s persona will match what works on their campus vs trying to give your ambassadors a “one size fits all” list of tasks that work for your brand. Ultimately this will feel more authentic which will result in more conversions & organic impressions.

A college ambassador program can act as a powerful tool for all kinds of businesses– festivals, consumer apps, retail brands, political candidates, privatized campus housing, and more. And the best part is that there is mutual value because college students are hungry to learn and to improve their skills. By giving them a meaningful introduction to the world of business — and more importantly, teaching them the fundamentals of sales process & entrepreneurship– you can develop a network of lifelong brand advocates–and potential new employees after graduation.

Get Familiar with our Custom Feeds Feature

Are you familiar with SocialLadder’s feeds feature? 

Your ambassadors are constantly on social media, spending countless minutes scrolling through various newsfeeds. This is where they’re used to finding the latest trends and the next big event, so it’s a no-brainer that this is where they’ll be looking for more info while in your program. 

Below we’ll share three great ideas for how you can make the most of your feeds and engage with your ambassadors in whole new ways.

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1. Scheduling 

Need volunteers to work an upcoming event? Or maybe you need to track volunteer shifts? With our Google Drive integration, you can upload a link to a shared calendar to the feed and have ambassadors sign up directly through the SocialLadder app. 

2. Segmenting

As your ambassador program grows, knowing the details about each member is increasingly important. You can segment your ambassadors by creating a feed that requires them to input certain information, like their location or college, or even follower count to segment between micro- and macro-influencers. Ambassadors will automatically get tagged with the appropriate information and add them to the right segment, taking one more step off your plate. 

3. Flyering

Physical promo is still one of the best ways to get your brand out there, but coordinating flyer or sticker pick-up can be a logistical nightmare. Now you can create a feed that links to an email that ambassadors can easily click on to request promotional materials. 

Check out more about our custom feeds feature here

Enhanced Instagram Features Perfect for Managing Your Influencers

Ambassadors Can Earn Credit for Photos & Videos Previously Posted to Instagram

We just released a new feature that makes completing Instagram challenges even easier. SocialLadder mobile-app users can now select from their past Instagram Gallery posts & videos to complete their Instagram challenges on SocialLadder.

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SocialLadder allows influencers, ambassadors, & all users to complete Instagram challenge by choosing from Instagram gallery, video, or carousel posts that have already been published to their Instagram page.  

Users no longer need to post their content through the SocialLadder app in order to get credit for their Instagram promotions. This is ideal for influencers who are creating high-quality content and sharing from desktop. 

For example, a brand influencer can post directly to their Instagram account from anywhere & submit their user-generated content to their brand managers via SocialLadder Instagram challenges. SocialLadder will instantly verify the content is posted. This allows the influencer to get credit for their required social posts while the brand manager can easily track the social media tasks & engagement history for content created by their influencer team. 

Check out the new feature here 

Contact us for a free demo to see how your influencer team can benefit from this product enhancement.