Social Media

A/B Testing And Your Social Media

abtestingsocialSo when we traditionally think of A/B testing, we usually think of testing a variable while leaving the time period and audience the same. We test the homepage headline during a two week period in August, where half our website visitors see THIS HEADLINE and the others see THAT HEADLINE and we see who clicks through multiple pages or sticks around on the website longer or is more likely to make a purchase. (You have to pick what you care about, since caring about everything is not only exhausting but not possible in a testing sense). If you want more about the basics of A/B Testing and how A/B Testing could work with your website, check out those linked blog posts.

You may ask ‘How can I do A/B testing on social media?’

We can’t show half our Facebook audience Image 1 and half Image 2… so we have to think of social media testing a little differently.

Using Social Media to Test Timing

One thing you’ll notice, in particular with Facebook and other social media sites that work on algorithms, is that most people never see your posts… which means you can repeat stuff with a) little to no chance of the same people seeing your message and b) even if a couple people did see a repeat message, it might not register considering the volume of other messaging they see from everyone else.

Posting the same thing at different times may feel spammy but it can give you a good idea of when a given post is most likely to be seen. It’s not true ‘A/B’ testing but similar in that we’re testing only one variable (in this case, timing versus content) and using data to give us feedback.

Using Social Media to Test Messaging

You have probably noticed those sexy ‘carousel’ ads on Facebook (the ones with multiple images). Here’s kind of a dynamic view of how they work from Quero Media:

Facebook-Carousel-Ads-1

What these kind of ads allows us to do is display different content at the same time to the same users… and see what converts them.

This is a more accurate application of A/B testing since we are showing the same users at the same time multiple content choices and seeing what they react to.

Now you’ll notice with the example above, both the image and text vary in each picture. In the best test, we’d only have one variable be different (the text or the image). Being able to see, for instance, that the Premium Italian Leather image getting more clicks, the company could further test by using the same headline with different images, seeing if indeed it was the photo or text that caused more interest in the messaging.

Like this month’s A/B testing theme? Stay tuned for next week when we talk about A/B testing with email newsletters! Subscribe here.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Get It While It’s Hot (Ideas for Marketing in the Summer)

Happy woman jumping on blossom meadow. Beautiful day on field.For our area, summer is an important time for the local economy. From Memorial Day Weekend to mid-October, the area comes alive with businesses reopening for the season and lots of visitors. As marketers, we tend to have a watchful eye on what different businesses are doing to succeed in the summer market.

Sidewalk Fun. You’ve probably seen posts go by picturing clever sidewalk signs in front of restaurants. We’ve seen some from local businesses like MDI Ice Cream that are witty and well-illustrated. If done well, sidewalk sings/art can have roughly two different effects.

One, it catches the attention of people walking around on foot, and they decide to check your business out.

Two A, you take a picture of your sidewalk creation and share it on social media, where it can reach a wider audience (and puts you on the radar of people who aren’t around to see it IRL). Two B, the aforementioned people walking around town are so entertained by your sidewalk creation that they take a picture and share it on their social media. This has a similar result as Two A, but with an entirely different audience.

Outdoor and Indoor Options. Some people like to sit inside and others prefer outdoor seating, and most places (at least restaurants) have options for both indoor and outdoor seating. And it’s not just an idea for people who sell food or refreshments. I remember being a kid and walking around small coastal towns where my mom would want to go into a store or business that wasn’t really fun for a kid. And since we were walking around, I wanted to park it somewhere. Maybe it’s a bench outside, or places to sit inside, but it’s definitely a nice touch to have something on the outside and something on the inside, ideally a place for people to sit a spell and look around at your fabulous business.

If you really don’t have space, try to put out a dog water bowl. It gives a friendly, laid back touch… and gives dogs walking by a reason to stop and rest.

Directions and Referrals. Every now and then, people stop in to ask us for directions to a certain business, a place that sells/has X, or just recommendations in general. This just requires having a general knowledge of the area. Most people want to know about dog or kid friendly places, good hiking, where to find a lobster meal or ice cream, or want to know what a local would recommend. To handle these requests offline, you could have maps of the area (if there are any available) on hand to give out or refer to. In terms of online requests, you could dedicate a page of your website to “Things to Do” or “Our Favorite Local Places.” You could even get each employee to contribute their top recommendation for visitors.

Have physical copies of business cards or rack cards of your favorite places ready to go… and those businesses may do the same for you.

Online Menus/Information. A lot of travel-savvy people will do some reconnaissance before finding a place to eat, and the first place they’ll look is online, either a website or Facebook. Fortunately these are easy to set up, it just requires a bit of data entry. There are also plenty of free apps that will display your menu and allow for easy updates. I’ve used both MenuTab for Facebook and OpenMenu (which has you build one menu and lets you share everywhere, as opposed to entering the same information 3 times in 3 different places). Think of making frequently asked questions like tour times, services, and more easy to access from your website and social media.

As we head into a holiday weekend, some of these ideas may give you some of your own ideas for marketing in the summertime. At the very least, you’ll want to have the local ice cream places memorized!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

11 Instagram Accounts to Check Out

It’s safe to say that Instagram is my (Kassie’s) favorite social network. It could be that I’m a visual person, or that the platform feels less cluttered than Facebook and less stressful than Twitter to me. This post is, quite simply, a “just for fun” post that shares 10 of my favorite accounts that I follow, accompanied with a sample post from each.

The Good Quote (@thegoodquote)

Follow for: Feel good quotes, inspiration, thought-provocation, and a general mood boost throughout the day.

Follow @thegoodstore.co

A photo posted by Positive & Motivational Quotes (@thegoodquote) on

Mind Body Green (@mindbodygreen)

Follow for: Wellness tips, quotes, yoga poses, and of course, pictures of food (this combination of pineapple and chocolate is one of the best-looking eats I’ve ever seen).

Have the sweetest of weekends! Also, happy early #mothersday ? // ?: @talinegabriel #healthytreat

A photo posted by mindbodygreen (@mindbodygreen) on

Chris Mogg (@livingmovingbeing)

Follow for: 15-20 minute workouts that you can do at home, complete with explanations and 15-ish second video tutorials. Full disclosure: I’ve only ever successfully completed one of these workouts, they aren’t easy!

? 20 minute Ab HIIT! Got time for a quickie? This ab workout will have your core carved in no time! Details: perform each move for 45 seconds of WORK followed by 15 seconds rest. Complete 4 rounds, resting for 60 seconds between rounds! ?? lying oblique v-up (side 1) ? lying oblique v-up (side 2) ?? hollow hold knee tuck crunches ?? out and up heel taps ?? crocodile leg lowers (swap which leg is raised half way through the interval) The LMB eBook training guide + healthy eating guide are a v a i l a b l e NOW! Get your hands on them for fully guided workouts, fitness motivation tips, clean-eating recipes and LOADS more!! ??? www.livingmovingbeing.com.au #LMBfit #getLMBfit @fitness_videos @instafitvideoz @homeworkouts_4u @fit.co @home.exercises @gym_videos @fitgirlsworldwide #fitness_videos #instafitvideoz #homeworkouts_4u #fitfam #fitnessmotivation #workout #training #fitnessblog #fitcoteam #fitnessinstructor #fitlife #fitnesslifestyle #fitnessaddict #gym_videos #getfit #weightloss #homeworkout #getfitathome #hiitworkout #abs #abworkouts @hiitistheshit @ab.videos

A video posted by Chriss Mogg (@livingmovingbeing) on

Bustle (@bustle)

Follow for: Laughs. Bustle is a website for people who are “curious about the world,” covering topics in entertainment, modern life, books, and current events.

??????

A photo posted by Bustle (@bustle) on

Elite Daily (@elitedaily)

Follow for: Current events packaged specifically for millennials. Proof that learning about what’s going on in the world is actually pretty fun. The post below isn’t necessarily related to current events, but it’s a generally relatable struggle.

I'll have what he's having @thrillist

A photo posted by Elite Daily (@elitedaily) on

Downeast Magazine (@downeastmagazine)

Follow for: Beautiful pictures from around our area of the world. It’s pretty fun to see such stunning images and realize that’s what we get to see every day.

Sunrise over Southwest Harbor — Submitted by @wornbrick See more and submit your #Mainelife photos using the link in our profile.

A photo posted by Down East Magazine (@downeastmagazine) on

Run Eat Repeat (@runeatrepeat)

Follow For: Humorous memes covering healthy eating, fitness, and Bravo, with the occasional blog promo.

Just keep swimming!

A photo posted by Run Eat Repeat / Monica Olivas (@runeatrepeat) on

Emilia Clarke (@emilia_clarke)

Follow for: Hilarious posts from one of my favorite actresses, where she makes Game of Thrones related jokes among other things. If I could be any celebrity, it’d be her.

Cleo Wade (@cleowade)

Follow for: Handwritten notes and poems from poet/artist Cleo Wade that have a simple and positive message.

@gloriasteinem says, "a goal is a dream you move towards."

A photo posted by cleo wade (@cleowade) on

Quarter Life Poetry (@quarerlifepoetry)

Follow for: Relatable quatrains about life as a twenty-something year old (i.e. “The young, broke & hangry”). Sometimes I’m not sure if I need to laugh or cry…

Dogs of Instagram (@dogsofinstagram)

Follow for: Well, pictures of dogs…if you’re having a bad day or just generally need a pick-me-up, there’s really no better medicine.

"It's too early mom! Can we go back to bed? ?" writes @lizzie.bear. #dogsofinstagram

A photo posted by Dogs of Instagram (@dogsofinstagram) on

There are many others that I’d like to pay tribute to here, but I’m cutting myself off at 11 (otherwise I’d just keep adding forever until I break the website somehow). If you haven’t already, check some or all of these accounts out-I promise they’re worth it!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Marketing Monday: Sponsorship vs. Advertising

This weekend, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette). She announced her goal for the podcast- to be totally sponsorship free and community supported, which I thought was pretty cool. Right now, this model is in experimental stages, but I think it’s a great idea and seems to be a good direction for this particular podcast.

patreon

I’ve just started branching out in my Podcast world, and have been picking up on the different forms of sponsorships. My first thought was, “How exactly is this any different than advertising?” This is how I’ve come to understand it: paid sponsorships are to advertising what squares are to rectangles. Paid sponsorships are a type of advertisement, but not all advertisements are paid sponsorships.

Unlike radio advertisements or commercials, paid sponsorships are more of a partnership. Brands usually ally themselves with podcasts that have similar target audiences and interests. For instance, a podcast about fitness might be partnered with a granola bar company or outdoor apparel store. This way, the sponsor makes a smart investment (trying to reach people who are actually interested in their product) and the podcaster is making money/sharing potentially useful information with listeners.

Sponsored ads on podcasts tend to cause less of an interruption for listeners. According to EOFire, “The current “Industry Standard” podcast sponsorship is a combo 15-second Pre-Roll and a 60-second Mid-Roll.”  The Pre-Roll is just the time before the podcast actually begins, and usually only happens for the first 15 seconds. The Mid-Roll ad happens during the middle of the podcast, is a little bit longer, and can have the podcaster’s unique artistic twist. For instance, one podcast I listen to does recaps of Bravo shows, and will often do their mid-roll ads imitating the Real Housewives. This freedom in delivery makes the listening experience a bit more fun. The podcaster also has some skin in the game, and aren’t going to botch an ad.

Sponsored ads work for a lot of podcasts, but many also take donations from listeners (like the podcast I mentioned at the beginning of this post). This usually happens through their website, or through crowdfunding sites such as Patreon. There are usually incentives for listener sponsorships, like access to bonus material, the ability to submit questions for interviewees or for the podcaster, and so on.

Personally, I don’t mind sponsored ads in podcasts (although admittedly I’ll fast-forward through them sometimes), especially if it means my favorite podcasts get to keep coming back on air every week. At the same time, I hope the ad-free podcast model proves successful- the great thing about the internet, and creating your own stuff in general, is that you get to call the shots.

For more info, check out our blog post about making money with podcasts.

You may also appreciate we did a Tech Thursday about this.

And Nicole wrote about her real life podcasting experience here.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

How Not to Design a Flyer (Guest Post)

This is a guest post from Jill Lee of Jillybean Designs. She not only designed our awesome greeting card gifts to clients, she also designs lots of other things. 

Due to their short life span, flyers can seem like such a fleeting part of our lives, and it’s easy to brush them aside as trivial pieces of information. But as a very basic and ubiquitous form of informational design, flyers tell a lot about the value the author places on the information presented, their understanding of informational hierarchy, and their sense of aesthetics.

The following are three of the most common flyer design mistakes I see on our bulletin boards around Bar Harbor. Their pervasiveness signals how easy it is to fall into their trap, but also how simple it can be to make yours stand up to the competition just by remembering these tips.

1. Violating the integrity of photos.

Few things betray the unprofessionalism of a flyer more than the presence of unsuitable photos. The two technical criteria that I care about the most in determining the acceptability of photos are resolution and proportion. With commercial printing of any shape, size, or volume, you’re going to come across the number “300 dpi” which sounds a little mystifying at first.

To put it simply, an inch on the screen does not look the same as an inch on paper. In general, images on the screen are shown at 72 pixels per inch while images on paper are printed at 300 dots per inch. That picture that’s 5 inches across on your computer screen (zoomed in to 100%) is actually only 360 pixels across, which means it’s going to be just a little over an inch on paper. Either that or it’ll be a very blurry 5-inch picture. An image needs to be at least 1,500 pixels across to come out acceptably as a 5-inch picture. The best way to ensure that your image is high-enough resolution is to use the original version straight off the camera. If your images are still too low-resolution, your camera settings might have them save as low-resolution to begin with.

There is another branch to preserving the integrity of a photograph—the proportion problem, or what I call, “Don’t place your photo next to a black hole.” When you change the width of your image at a different rate than you change the length, your image gets stretched out of proportion – tires become flat, faces grow longer, or trees become shorter as if they were approaching a black hole. Hold down shift while scaling your image to make sure that it stays in proportion. If scaling is not an option, cropping is your friend.

2. Evenly spreading out information.

This may seem a little counterintuitive, but it is not a good idea to uniformly disperse pieces of information on a page. What do a rock garden, a piece of music, and a good story have in common? They contain emphases and dynamics to appeal to the human brain, and flyers work much the same way. This is what hierarchy of information means to me: It almost doesn’t matter what the most important piece of information is – so long as there’s a focal point and an organic flow of information that follows, I’m ensuring higher likelihood of retention by all readers. Turn your information into dots and see if they lead you through a pleasant curve or if they take you all over the page. Even a just straight line is better than risking loss of interest with the latter.

The Pipers Gathering

Example 1

pipersgathering

Example 2

3. The rainbow throwing up on your flyer.

In the interest of grabbing the attention of passers-by, many flyer designers give into the temptation of splattering all the colors, all the fonts, and all the clip arts in the world on the same page. Not only does this drive people away with its information overload, it interferes with legibility itself. This is the truth of “less is more”: When in doubt, stick to two fonts, two colors, and two images. If you prioritize straightforward communication, all else will follow. Heck, all else will usually end up looking much better that way anyway.

Bonus: When choosing your fonts, avoid Times New Roman, Comic Sans, Arial, Papyrus, Copperplate, and Corsiva. Invest a little bit of time picking a font that truly reflects who you are.

This is a guest post from Jill Lee of Jillybean Designs.

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Once Upon a Brand

One of my favorite parts of Mad Men was when they have their brainstorming sessions for a client. A group of people sit around trying to come up with an idea for a print ad, commercial, or tagline. Without being necessarily overt about it, they go through the questions that marketers today ask: who is this for? What problem do they have, and how does this product/service solve it? And, the big one: How do we show them rather than tell them? It all boils down to determining the best story to tell. Clearly this is a watered down summary of Mad Men and I really need to learn how to separate how real life stuff works vs how they happen in the movies, but it’s what comes to mind whenever I think about brand storytelling.

People love stories, and are more likely to remember a story they’ve heard than a statistic (unless it’s really crazy). Exchanging experiences with others is one of the ways we express empathy, which creates a bond among people.

In marketing, it’s a useful way for brands to connect with customers (past, present, and future). It doesn’t always come in the form of selling a specific product- it’s typically much more subtle than that. In fact, storytelling from brands does something a bit more subtle by carving out a place for themselves in our hearts. With storytelling, it’s important that we show rather than tell, so here are 4 brands that know how to spin a decent yarn:

Cheerios. The all-time best example I can think of as part of Cheerios’ story is the one where the Grandmother is talking to the baby in the high chair who has a bunch of Cheerios in front of her. This story shows a few different things in fell swoop. First, you see the cross-generation component- an elderly woman and a very young child, enjoying the same food. Then there’s the family element, when Gram is mapping out where all the different family members live in relation to each other via Cheerio. There’s also the use of an adorable child clearly getting frustrated that it isn’t actively consuming any of the cereal yet. It all ties in with the narrator at the end saying that Cheerios is “just part of the family.” Yeah, it’s pretty heartwarming.

 

GoPro. One of the interesting parts of GoPro’s story is it’s use of User Generated Content. Most of their marketing simply shares the cool things their users are doing with the product. In doing so, GoPro as a brand mimics what their products do- act as a vessel for people to share their own stories. This also makes their product accessible to a wider variety of people. When I think of people who would frequently use a GoPro, I think of skydivers and mountain climbers- generally adventurous people. Watching the various marketing material from the brand challenges this belief, since they show a high volume of normal, everyday people using the equipment for normal, everyday things. Below is a video from their YouTube Channel of a family enjoying some t-ball in a local park (no stunts or crazy air-born maneuvers):

 

 

Lego. Creating a story using video footage is great, but what about a feature length film? Some would argue that the Lego Movie is an example of brand storytelling (especially this article from The Sales Lion), and I’m inclined to agree. The movie is all in Lego form, but it isn’t an over the top “buy our product” movie. It’s a pretty genius move all around. The movie inspires adults and children alike to reconnect with that imaginative, creative part of ourselves. Legos are all about what we make of them, otherwise, they are just plastic blocks that really hurt when you step on them. Creating a movie that inspires this creation gives the customers an added affinity for the brand, and the product itself.

 

Netflix. I love this commercial because it’s a display of self-awareness on the brand’s part. It flips the whole man running after a woman about to board a plan scene, and people are able to laugh a bit at themselves- Netflix knows that we all share passwords in weird, convoluted ways (like brother’s roommate’s ex-girlfriend stuff), and that we’ll go through great lengths to get a Netflix password but not much else. In other words, it’s a relationship worth fighting for.

 

Whether you sell products or services, or work for a mom and pop store or a giant corporation, there’s always a multitude of stories you can tell. Notice in Mad Men, no one is trying to tell the story of the whole company; they show small vignettes and over time. These messages contribute to the company’s overall story.

Rather than trying to tell a big story about your company, try telling 10 small stories and look for a unifying theme. Ideas:

  • Your most interesting ‘regular’
  • A conversation you overheard in the breakroom
  • An interesting item on the boss’ desk
  • An innovative way you’ve seen a customer use your product
  • The first customer your business ever had

In telling small stories, like all the examples above, you’ll see they actually help show bigger things, like values and ideas, in a more memorable format. 

This month, we’ll be talking a lot about storytelling. If you subscribe to this blog, you’ll get our posts about it.

What’s your story? Take some inspiration from some big brands to think about yours. And here’s hoping some of these blog posts can help along the way!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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