Facebook now has over 1.65 billion monthly active users. And as small business owners and brand managers, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to reach and connect with your target audience through Facebook.
Great! So where should you start? And is there an easy blueprint to follow?
From creating our Facebook Business page to posting several hundred times over the past few years, we’ve experimented a lot with various Facebook marketing tips and have enjoyed figuring out the best way to create and manage our Facebook page here at Buffer. I’d love to share with you how the process has worked so far from start until now!
Since things continue to change regularly with Facebook and its algorithm, consider this A to Z guide as a great jumping off point for creating a Facebook business page and growing your audience. Start here, test what works for your individual business and brand, and make changes as you learn.
Open the following URL to create a business page on Facebook:
Once there, you’ll choose one of the following six categories for your page:
Keep in mind that you can change the category and name later on if needed.
Also, at this stage, it might be helpful to know that a physical address figures prominently in the setup of a local business or place, and the actual Facebook page will appear differently as well.
Here’s the look for a local business:
Here’s the look for a company or brand:
It’s something to think about when choosing a category.
Following the category selection, the next setup screen will ask for a descriptive sentence or two about your page, a URL, a Facebook page URL, and a profile picture. If you’ve selected a local business, you’ll also have the ability to select category tags to further define what your store sells.
About your page – You get 155 characters to describe your page. This description appears prominently near the top of your Facebook page on both desktop and mobile. Be as descriptive and helpful as possible.
URL – The web address for your store, company, or brand.
Facebook URL / username – You may have the option to choose a custom vanity URL for your page, i.e. facebook.com/yourbrandname.
(Facebook will ask that you reach 25 fans first before you can unlock a custom Facebook URL)
Profile picture – Upload a main profile picture/icon for your page. This photo will appear as your icon every time you comment on a post or publish in a news feed. Square dimensions are best. Facebook will force rectangular photos to be cropped to squares.
Profile pictures should be at least 180 pixels wide by 180 pixels tall. Here is a full list of the sizesthat Facebook uses for your profile picture in various places around the site:
The final two steps in the setup process include adding your page to your main Facebook menu (so you can access it quickly and easy each time you log in) and setting up a Facebook ad to promote your new page. These options can be skipped for now.
By this point, your page is live for all the world to visit. Let’s see if we can make it look even snazzier.
First thing, add a cover photo. The cover photo appears across the top of your page and is a great opportunity to deliver a visual element that supports your branding, draws attention, or elicits emotion from your visitors.
A note on ideal Facebook cover photo size and dimensions:
Facebook cover photos appear at 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall on desktop, however, Facebook crops out some of each cover photo on mobile devices. It specifically strips out 144 pixels off the right and left sides of the image.
Therefore, Facebook cover photo dimensions are 851 x 315px, but only the center 563 x 315px portion of the picture appears on mobile.
You can certainly hire a designer to make you something fabulous, or you can go the DIY route. Many photo editing apps like Pic Monkey or BeFunky can help with creating images of just the right dimensions. If you’re a Photoshop user, we’ve created a couple of Facebook cover photo templates that might be helpful. Canva is another super helpful tool for Facebook cover photos as it comes with several premade templates that look great right out of the box.
Here’s an example of a Canva template you could choose. You can upload your own image to use as the background, and you can edit the text to say whatever you’d like. If you’re looking for high-quality image options, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite sources for free social media images.
Once you have created your cover image, upload it to your page by clicking on the “Add a Cover” button.
If you happen to upload an image that isn’t quite the exact dimensions of the Facebook cover, you’ll have a chance to move and edit the image to fit the available window. When you’re happy with the final look, you can click “Save Changes,” and you’ll be set!
Here’s a pro tip: When you upload a cover photo to your page, the photo is added as an update to your timeline. If you edit the description of the photo, you can add a message to the update. Click on the photo to open up the photo viewer, and you’ll notice a link that says “Add a description.”
You can add description, tags, location, and date to your photo. Once you’ve finished, the update to your timeline will be changed to reflect your edits.
Next, you can fill out your profile even more by adding information to your Page Info section. To access this section, click on Settings in the top menu bar on your page, then click Page Info.
Your name and category will be filled in already. Some of the most helpful bits of information to add next might be:
Start Info – You can choose when your company or product was founded, created, started, or launched. This information will appear on the history timeline to the right of your page’s feed and as an update at the very bottom of your main feed.
Address – Enter this if you want people to be able to check in via Facebook when they’re near your place.
Long description & Mission – Add additional details that explain your business or brand even further. This is a great way to go beyond the 155 character description that appears on the main page.
Phone number / Email address – Add additional contact information.
All of these details will appear on the About tab of your Facebook page.
If you plan on sharing your Facebook marketing duties with a team, you’ll want to grant access for various folks and various roles.
Here are the roles that you can choose from:
Admin – Complete and total access to everything (you are an admin by default)
Editor – Can edit the Page, send messages and post as the Page, create Facebook ads, see which admin created a post or comment, and view insights.
Moderator – Can respond to and delete comments on the Page, send messages as the Page, see which admin created a post or comment, create ads, and view insights.
Advertiser – Can see which admin created a post or comment, create ads and view insights.
Analyst – Can see which admin created a post or comment and view insights.
To add collaborators, go to your page settings and the “Page Roles” section. You can type in the name of any Facebook friend or person who has liked your page. Alternately, you can type in an email address associated with a Facebook account.
Add content to your page by publishing a post—a status update, a link, a photo, a video, an event, or a milestone. New, fresh content on your page will make it look all the more enticing once new visitors come over to check it out.
And there you have it!
Your Facebook Business page is up and ready to deliver awesome content to your fans and grow into something wonderful.
Read on to learn more about growing your Facebook page and posting best-practices!
The temptation might be to share your Facebook page right away with all your Facebook friends. Not so fast. Take a moment to think strategically about your plan and to seed your page with content so that it looks inviting and engaging when visitors do stop by.
Publish three to five posts before you invite anyone.
Then try out one of these strategies to get to your first 100 fans.
Facebook has a built-in feature to tell your Facebook friends about your page. Click on the Build Audience link in the top right corner of your page, and choose Invite Friends from the dropdown.
You can then pick and choose which friends you’d like to invite, and you can drill down into specific sections of friends, filtered by location, school, lists, and recent interactions.
Once invited, your friends will receive a direct message with an invitation to your page. You won’t have a chance to edit the message they receive.
One of the best sources of social media promotion for your company could very well be your coworkers. Ask everyone who works with you to like the page and—if willing—to recommend the page to any friends who might be interested.
Facebook offers a full complement of widgets and buttons that you can add to your website to make it easy for website visitors to like your page.
One of the most ubiquitous plugins is the Facebook Page Plugin. With Page Plugin, you can easily embed and promote any Facebook page without visitors ever having to leave your website.
One of the most visible places you might find to promote your page is in your inbox. Edit your email signature to include a call-to-action and link to your Facebook page.
Facebook contests can be huge for gaining likes on your page. Two of the best apps for creating contests are ShortStack & Gleam which help you create custom campaigns to drive Likes to your page (or email capture or fan engagement or any number of different ideas you might have).
In general, there are three main types of posts you’re likely to publish on your Facebook feed:
As mentioned above, posts with photos garner 2.3x more engagement than posts without photos.
As far as the frequency with which to post, Facebook’s algorithm changes have made research into the topic rather difficult. The consensus seems to be to experiment as much as possible. As often as you have fresh, compelling content to share on Facebook, give it a try. Try testing post frequency in week-long intervals so that you can measure the results quickly.
With that, we recommend being consistent with your content. When your content is good, your audience will start to expect it on a regular basis. Even if you’re only producing enough content to post to Facebook once per day, try to stick to that schedule.
Social media scheduling apps like Buffer help make this easy by letting you schedule posts ahead of time. You can add to a queue so that your page always has fresh content being posted automatically on schedule.
Ideal length and timing of Facebook posts are another area you might want to experiment with.
HubSpot collected a ton of research from the folks at CoSchedule and from a variety of sources, including QuickSprout, SurePayroll, The Huffington Post, Buffer, TrackMaven, Fast Company, andKISSmetrics.
As far as ideal length, we partnered with our friends at SumAll to place the data and insights into a fun infographic. What we found was that Facebook posts with 40 characters receive 86% more engagement than those with a higher character count.
After sharing posts, you’re likely to want to know how they did. Your social media management tool would figure to have some built-in analytics that can help you better understand how your posts performed. Here’s a peek at what the Buffer for Business analytics look like:
You can also gain a huge number of stats and numbers from Facebook Insights.
Once you’ve shared several pieces of content to your Facebook page, you’ll see an Insights tab at the top of your Facebook menu, between Activity and Settings.
At the top of the Insights page, you’ll see your Page Likes, Post Reach, and Engagement stats for the week, along with a comparison to the same stats from last week.
Another neat area to check is the demographic information on the people who visit and engage with your page.
Click on People from the Insights menu, and you can drill down into demographic information of your fans, the people reached by your posts, the people who engage with your post, and the check-ins you receive at your physical location.
Here’s an example from Buffer’s page insights about the people reached by our posts.
One of the newest features of Insights is the “Pages to Watch” section at the bottom of the page. You can add other pages that you want to monitor—a great way to grab some competitor research and take inspiration from the way that other pages market themselves.
To add a page, simply click on the Add Pages button at the top of the section.
Search for the name of the page you want to watch, then click to add it to your watch list. Once a page has been added, you can click on the name of the page from your Insights dashboard, and you’ll see an overview of their best posts from the week.
Ever thought of the perfect joke after it was a liiiittle too late to tell it? We've all had a similar feeling when we come up with the perfect Instagram caption once we've already published the post.
The lesson? Don't rush the process. Instead, write a few ideas for captions down, sit on them for a bit, poll coworkers on which one is best, and generally take your time.
You might be asking yourself at this point, "But aren't timeliness and chronology important on Instagram?" They can be, depending on the subject of your post. For example, professional Instagrammer Patrick Janelle says he uses Instagram as a kind of chronological journey of his activities and lifestyle. He likes to post in real time to document what he's doing at a given moment.
But thanks to the impending Instagram feed algorithm change, the level of engagement your posts receive will soon matter more than chronology. Soon, our Instagram feeds will be ordered to show the moments Instagram thinks we'll care about the most. The visibility of your posts in your followers' feeds will depend on the number of Likes and comments a post has, your relationship with the user posting, and other factors.
That's why it's important to take your time constructing a great caption that'll keep your followers around, delight them enough to share with their friends, and encourage them to engage with your content.
The maximum character count for an Instagram caption (2,200 characters) is basically a formality. But the important thing to note is that captions cut off in users' feeds after three to four lines of text.
That doesn't mean you should keep your captions super short so users can see 100% of it without having to click "more." Instead, frontload your captions with the important content or text calls-to-action -- and leave any hashtags, @mentions, or extraneous information for the end.
Here's an example of an enticing, front-loaded caption from coffee-based skincare company Frank Body:
The best way to increase the shareability of your Instagram post and engage your followers is to have some sort of call-to-action in the captions of your photos. That means using action verbs to prompt people to do something, instead of just passively scrolling by.We found that verbs generate more shares on Twitter than nouns and adjectives -- the same can be true for Instagram.
For example, you might say, "double-tap if you find this funny" or "share your story in the comments."
Here are a few other action-based ideas to get you started:
Encourage people to comment with their own experiences. You might be able to draw on these experiences to shape your Instagram strategy moving forward, or to come up with new content ideas. To increase engagement and delight your followers even more, respond to users' answers to make it like a conversation.
H&M: "All you need for a weekend get-away. Where would you go?"
Lorna Jane: "Be you, everyone else is taken. Today's inspo inspired by our leading lady @ljclarkson - how are you finding your BELIEVE today?"
Clickable URLs aren't allowed anywhere except the single "website" box in your bio. That's why optimized Instagram profiles update that URL frequently to point to their latest blog content, YouTube videos, products, or offers -- and then refer to that link in their Instagram captions.
For example, are you running a contest, or want to increase subscribers to your blog? Just change the link, and then post a photo that mentions the new link in its caption.
Pro tip: Use shortened links that include UTM tracking codes so you can see how much of your traffic came from your Instagram page. (Learn how to create UTM codes to track your URLs here.)
To change the link in your bio, go to your profile page and click "Edit Profile."
Then, simply insert the URL of your choosing into the URL box.
Encourage your followers to share your post with friends by inviting them to tag their friends. Here are a few examples of fun, clever ways brands have asked followers to tag friends.
Frooti: "It's scrabble day! Tag some friends you'd like to play with."
H&M: "Planning for a luxe escape with your bestie? Tag your travel partner in crime!"
HubSpot: "Coffee with coworkers make Friday mornings that much brighter. Tag your office coffee buddy - and better yet, take a break!"
Contests are great for increasing engagement and brand exposure on Instagram.
Simply invite people to post their own pictures and tag them in the caption using a hashtag, like BuzzFeed Tasty does below.
Consider including the contest's official rules in your caption for folks who are interested, and even a link in your bio.
On Instagram, a hashtag behaves the same way as it does on Twitter and Facebook: It ties the conversations of different users into one stream. As long as your account is public, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Instagram post. (Read this blog post to learn more about how hashtags work on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.)
Hashtags are great for connecting users who aren't otherwise connected to one another, but who are talking about -- and interested -- in the same topics, events, brands, and so on. They're also a great way to add some fun and coy humor to your posts, like FOMU did below.
Some Instagram users include a string of searchable hashtags as a way to get more followers -- but the fact is, it looks spammy to the followers you do have. If you use a ton of hashtags, people will notice, and they will think it's lame. Limit your hashtags to three or four, tops.
And remember, you don't have to include any at all if you don't want to. You don't need a hashtag to have an awesome Instagram caption. Here's an example of a good caption with no hashtag from Starbucks:
Unless the hashtagged phrase fits naturally into a sentence, don't list any hashtags until the very end of the caption. That way, the part of your caption that's more appealing to humans will come first, making it more user-friendly.
Plus, if your caption is long enough to get cut off, the hashtags that are there to connect people (as opposed to delight people) will be hidden. So the hashtags in this caption:
Will be hidden from folks scrolling by in their Instagram feeds -- which is totally fine, since they're just there for search reasons.
Pro tip: Need inspiration for a hashtag that's already popular? Instagram will suggest hashtags to you based on their popularity when you open up a new post and type out the # symbol followed by an incomplete search. Here's an example of that in action:
Every social network has a different tone that works best. While serious, jargon-heavy copy may work well on LinkedIn, for example, that same copy won't work as well on Instagram. The best Instagram posts tend to have a lighthearted, fun tone, showing off the more authentic, human, and personable side of brands.
That's why you'll want to adapt your brand voice for Instagram's more lighthearted tone. This'll be easier for brands whose brand voices are already lighthearted and fun, like Wistia's.
For others with a more serious brand voice, find a balance between sincerity and relatability.
Being relatively consistent in your Instagram voice can help you build your brand on the channel. For example, think about how long you'll typically want most of your posts to be. Do you want to be a storyteller who writes a paragraph or more?
Or do you need the space to write out instructions, or a recipe?
Or do you favor a minimalist approach with just a few words?
When in doubt, be punny. Cleverness tends to perform quite well on social media, especially Instagram. People love when brands crack a joke or include a play on words. JetBlue, for example, is always an excellent source of puns:
Here's another one from Chobani:
If you're experience caption writer's block, the Wall Street Journal's Elizabeth Holmes suggests playing a word association game or brainstorming with a friend.
Emojis, the cartoon-like emoticons available to most smartphone users, can add some personality to an Instagram caption. That's why a lot of brands use them in their captions -- even the more "serious" brands.
There are a lot of different ways to use emojis in your posts. For example, you can use them at the beginning of post to catch people's eye, like this:
You can also use them in the middle of sentences to replace words, or at the end of a post as a sort of "punchline," like this:
You can also use your caption to cross-promote your other social media accounts. This is a great way to let your followers know where else on social media they can find you -- so that your Instagram followers can become your Twitter followers, your Facebook fans, your Snapchat audience, and so on.
For example, you might promote a campaign that's taking place on another channel, like Coca-Cola did here:
Pro Tip: If you have a Snapchat account, Snapcodes are perfect for cross channel promotion on your other social media profiles. Every Snapchat user has a unique Snapcode, which is an image that looks like the Snapchat logo but with a unique pattern of dots. To follow you on Snapchat, all users will have to do to is open the Snapchat app, take a photo of your Snapcode, and tap their screen.
Here's an example from WeWork:
Depending on your audience, your captions might need to be longer than a few words or a sentence. For example, if you're a food company, you might post entire recipes in your captions -- and that's OK, as long as you're front-loading the caption with the most important information (like the name of the recipe) so it doesn't get cut off.
But if you're not sure what your brand voice is yet, a good rule of thumb is to keep it brief. Some of the best Instagram captions are short punchlines, or in some way make their point quickly and let the visual content do most of the talking.
Coca-Cola: "Goodbye, tan lines. Hello #SpringBreak."
WeWork: "Every day."
BuzzFeed Tasty: "Whip it good."
As you test out different types of posts on Instagram, keep track of how different post types work -- including your captions. Instagram doesn't have a whole lot to offer in terms of analytics, so you'll have to do this manually. Try listing each post on a spreadsheet and keeping track of its URL, the time it was posted, how many Likes and comments it got, and the types of feedback you're getting from your followers.
1. Exercise is great for your brain.
It’s linked to less depression, better memory and quicker learning. Studies also suggest that exercise is, as of now, the best way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a major fear for many Americans.
Scientists don’t know exactly why exercise changes the structure and function of the brain, but it’s an area of active research. So far, they’ve found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells, thanks to the protein BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF triggers the growth of new neurons and helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration. It may also help people focus, according to recent research.
2. You might get happier.
Countless studies show that many types of exercise, from walking to cycling, make people feel better and can even relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain—serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine—that dull pain, lighten mood and relieve stress.
“For years we focused almost exclusively on the physical benefits of exercise and really have ignored the psychological and emotional benefits of being regularly active,” says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise.
3. It might make you age slower.
Exercise has been shown to lengthen lifespan by as much as five years. Asmall new study suggests that moderate-intensity exercise may slow down the aging of cells. As humans get older and their cells divide over and over again, their telomeres—the protective caps on the end of chromosomes—get shorter. To see how exercise affects telomeres, researchers took a muscle biopsy and blood samples from 10 healthy people before and after a 45-minute ride on a stationary bicycle. They found that exercise increased levels of a molecule that protects telomeres, ultimately slowing how quickly they shorten over time. Exercise, then, appears to slow aging at the cellular level.
4. It’ll make your skin look better.
Aerobic exercise revs up blood flow to the skin, delivering oxygen and nutrients that improve skin health and even help wounds heal faster. “That’s why when people have injuries, they should get moving as quickly as possible—not only to make sure the muscle doesn’t atrophy, but to make sure there’s good blood flow to the skin,” says Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Train long enough, and you’ll add more blood vessels and tiny capillaries to the skin, too.
The skin also serves as a release point for heat. (See “Why Does My Face Turn Red When I Exercise?” for more on that.) When you exercise, your muscles generate a lot of heat, which you have to give up to the environment so your body temperature doesn’t get too high, Hackney says. The heat in the muscle transfers to the blood, which shuttles it to the skin; it can then escape into the atmosphere.
5. Amazing things can happen in just a few minutes.
Emerging research suggests that it doesn’t take much movement to get the benefits. “We’ve been interested in the question of, How low can you go?” says Martin Gibala, an exercise physiologist at McMaster University in Ontario. He wanted to test how effective a 10-minute workout could be, compared to the typical 50-minute bout.
The micro-workout he devised consists of three exhausting 20-second intervals of all-out, hard-as-you-can exercise, followed by brief recoveries. In a three-month study, he pitted the short workout against the standard one to see which was better. To his amazement, the workouts resulted in identical improvements in heart function and blood-sugar control, even though one workout was five times longer than the other. “If you’re willing and able to push hard, you can get away with surprisingly little exercise,” Gibala says. (For more on the 1-minute workout read this.)
6. It can help you recover from a major illness.
Even very vigorous exercise—like the interval workouts Gibala is studying—can, in fact, be appropriate for people with different chronic conditions, from Type 2 diabetes to heart failure. That’s new thinking, because for decades, people with certain diseases were advised not to exercise. Now scientists know that far more people can and should exercise. A recent analysis of more than 300 clinical trials discovered that for people recovering from a stroke, exercise was even more effective at helping them rehabilitate.
Dr. Robert Sallis, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in California, has prescribed exercise to his patients since the early 1990s in hopes of doling out less medication. “It really worked amazingly, particularly in my very sickest patients,” he says. “If I could get them to do it on a regular basis—even just walking, anything that got their heart rate up a bit—I would see dramatic improvements in their chronic disease, not to mention all of these other things like depression, anxiety, mood and energy levels.”
7. Your fat cells will shrink.
The body uses both carbohydrates and fats as energy sources. But after consistent aerobic exercise training, the body gets better at burning fat, which requires a lot of oxygen to convert it into energy. “One of the benefits of exercise training is that our cardiovascular system gets stronger and better at delivering oxygen, so we are able to metabolize more fat as an energy source,” Hackney says. As a result, your fat cells—which produce the substances responsible for chronic low-grade inflammation—shrink, and so does inflammation.
Digital advertising doesn't have the best reputation amongst consumers. In fact, earlier in 2016, HubSpot Research dug into how people interact with digital advertising, and it confirmed what many marketers have known for a long time: Consumers are actively avoiding our ads.
Over half of the respondents said they used ad blockers or were planning to install one in the next six months -- certainly not something most brands want to hear, but what's the solution?
For many businesses, the solution is simple: inbound marketing.
But inbound marketing is a long-term play, and building a loyal audience and a constant flow of organic traffic isn't an easy task. Is it so wrong to supplement your inbound strategy with digital advertising? Can digital advertising ever complement your inbound marketing and provide a positive, valuable experience for your prospective customers?
Absolutely, but it's all in the execution. First, we need to understand why people are so turned-off by conventional online ads to ensure we can create better ones.
The report from HubSpot Research on consumers' relationship with advertising uncovered some truths behind why people are avoiding online advertising:
Here are the top three reasons ...
Unsurprisingly, the biggest reason people are turned-off by digital advertising is because they find ads to be annoying and intrusive.
We've all experienced those terrible mobile pop-up ads that cover the main content the second you get there and require multiple attempts to dismiss them. In fact, Google recently announce that it's making a conscious effort to crack down on websites that employ those types of ads (read more on that here).
The second biggest reason is that digital ads are downright disruptive to a user's browsing experience. Auto-playing videos and flashing banners exist to distract people from the content they're actively trying to consume. Whilst auto-playing videos might succeed in doing that, it's for all the wrong reasons. In other words, people are usually only paying attention to these ads because they're scrambling to turn them off.
As for banner ads, it's no secret that 'banner blindness' is real. We've become desensitized to this kind of advertisement because we've learned where it appears, and know when to tune it out. These ads are often poorly targeted and badly designed, meaning we've developed both a conscious and subconscious ability to simply ignore their existence so we can focus on the content we actually want to consume.
The third biggest reason for people disliking digital advertising is the security concerns it brings.
Lots of websites host third party advertisements distributed by ad publishers. In this case, it’s difficult for websites to control the quality of the ads they display or ensure their security. The disconnect in quality and security between the website host and the advertising publisher has caused a lot of tech savvy browsers to use ad blockers.
There's an obvious misalignment between brands utilizing these kind of advertisements and the consumers they're trying to pull in.
For anybody who's familiar with inbound marketing, you'll know that what we've discussed so far doesn't align with the fundamentals of inbound: to market your products and services to people in a more human, more helpful way.
But that doesn't mean digital advertising can't be considered inbound-y. We just have to adjust the way we're thinking about advertising to create a more positive experience for the people on the receiving end. Here's how marketers can start doing that.
In the same HubSpot Research report we mentioned above, we learned that in the eyes of consumers, not all ads are created equal.
Whilst no ads generated an entirely positive experience for respondents, some did receive a more neutral reaction:
In the above chart, there's a commonality between the types of digital ads that received the highest score. They're the types of digital advertisements that fall into one of two categories:
Email newsletters are an opt-in form of communication, in which people can choose to unsubscribe whenever they want to. They tend to be less pushy in nature, and focus more on sharing great content or offers, so it's no surprise to see that people don't react negatively to them.
Sponsored Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts, however, do feel more like traditional online advertising in the sense that users don't opt-in to see them. Yet there are a few things that set them apart from the likes of auto-playing videos and pop-ups, which received a very negative reaction.
For that reason, native advertising on social media platforms can be a much smarter use of your digital advertising spend. It's not as likely to be subconsciously blocked out by your audience, and it allows you to add value by offering something that's relevant to them.
Google AdWords is a common advertising channel that can also be considered 'native' as it's non-disruptive in nature and can be highly targeted based on what a user is searching for.
Because of the amount of data these platforms have collected about their users, you can segment your advertising on a really granular level, allowing you to serve up the most relevant content, to the right people, at the right time.
Your digital advertising is still a form of content, so why aren't you using it as an opportunity to add value to your audience, rather than push them into a purchase?
Nobody loves being advertised to, but not all ads have to feel sales-focused or pushy. Use paid channels to promote your content with the goal of turning the traffic generated by your ads into leads, and you'll be adding far more value to your audience and positioning your brand in a more positive light.
But what does that look like in practice on native advertising platforms? Let's take a look at how digital advertising can be made more inbound-y using Google AdWords.
When I search for interior designers using Google, I'm served four ads from companies trying to promote their services. But if I've never heard of these companies, how do I know which interior design company is right for me?
That’s where content-based pay-per-click (PPC) ads come into the picture. If you’re advertising an ebook titled “How to Find the Best Interior Design Company for Your Project”, it's likely to stand out against the other ads and search results because it directly helps solve a problem. This means your ad is more likely to get the click and the conversion.
Here's an example of a content-led ad for the keyword 'blogging'.
One of the biggest advantages of using digital advertising as opposed to offline advertising is the targeting options available to you. Here are some examples of brands using targeting to ensure they're adding value to their prospective customers with their ads.
This ad from Contently was targeted towards Facebook users that are interested in content marketing according to the data the platform has collected about those users.
Rather than bombarding everyone on Facebook (including those who Contently's post might be irrelevant to), this ad only appeared to the segment of Facebook users who are most likely to find it useful.
This example of digital advertising fits into the realms of inbound marketing as it’s adding value by offering useful content, driving relevant traffic, and turning those visitors into high quality leads.
Similarly to Facebook, Twitter can also be used as a paid channel to promote useful content to a segment of your audience. Twitter offers four main targeting options with its ads.
After I visited this page which showcases Twitter's various advertising targeting options, Twitter used their own platform's advertising capabilities to remarket to me using useful content (see below image).
They knew I'd visited that page and must be interested in Twitter ads, but they didn't serve me a message pushing me to advertise with them. Instead, they targeted me with someuseful content to help me learn more about using video on Twitter to increase engagement, gently moving me through my buyer's journey by adding value.
When a user saw this advertisement in their LinkedIn feed, it was as a result of visiting Bupa'swebsite and entering their details to receive a quote for health insurance. Whilst this ad isn't overly intrusive as it's 'native' to the platform, it's certainly doesn't feel as inbound-y as the other examples. However, this is likely because of the intent this user has already shown by requesting a quote.
Whilst inbound digital advertising is generally content-centric, it's smart to use the targeting capabilities of social media platforms to tailor your ads depending on where someone is in their buyer's journey.
For example, in the example above, it wouldn't make sense to target that user with a piece of content about different types of health cover. They already know they need the overseas visitor cover and have requested a quote, meaning they're probably ready to buy. In this case, it makes much more sense to target them with product-specific messaging that demonstrates the value of Bupa's overseas cover.
We've seen some example of how targeted digital advertising can add value to your audience, rather than putting them off your brand. The final example from Bupa however, demonstrates the importance of getting even more granular with your advertising to make sure you're reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time with your ads.
It's totally possible for your digital advertising to coexist with an inbound marketing strategy. In fact, the two can work alongside each other really effectively to ensure you're providing the best possible experience for your audience, whilst improving your business' bottom line.
Monitoring social media is hard. The person monitoring your social media must have a balance of industry knowledge, customer aptitude, resourcefulness and marketing/diplomacy skills. As a one to one interaction, monitoring can also be a patience game. Monitoring, however, is one of themost important things you can do on social media.
This is especially important, since 70% of Twitter users surveyed by Search Engine Watch expect a brand to respond to a question on Twitter. Of those folks, 53% of those want a response within an hour. Yikes.
There is good news: it IS possible to monitor social media with limited time and resources. I know this from experience here at HubSpot. People are often surprised to hear HubSpot has such a small social media team (right now a team of one!). In this post, I'll give an overview ofwho, what and how we monitor on social media using Social Inbox.
The first major decision to make when monitoring social media is thinking for whom you want to be monitoring. When monitoring social media, I break up our activities into four categories: Customer (or Prospect) Care, Funnel Nurturing, Blue Ocean (attracting new prospects) and Special Projects. Let’s dive into each.
Throughout the funnel and lifecycle of a customer, our aim is to assist people who are speaking about us directly. This is the monitoring activity that takes up the most time and gets the most focus. That’s because it’s the most important; it involves listening and responding to those who are already talking about you, your current advocates. When monitoring for these folks I set up two primary streams in Social Inbox:
”?” without links. This is a stream of people who are mentioning the word “HubSpot” and who use a “?” in their tweet, but do not use links. This is because many of the people who mention “HubSpot” and use a link are actually tweeting one of our articles. This filtering leaves us with the people who are asking a direct question involving us, and if they have a question, we want to be able to answer it as quickly as possible.
This stream is one that I have set up to email me immediately if a tweet matches the criteria. These are the people who are most actively involved with us. The volume of tweets in this stream ranges from about 30-50 on any given day, but it allows me to make sure that whatever I’m doing, I’m able to attend to these questions ASAP. Now you all know how to get my attention!
To set this stream up in Social Inbox, I do everything I need by clicking Social > Monitoring > “+” and using the following criteria:
Replies to HubSpot without links. This is a stream of people who mention “HubSpot” or “Hub Spot” who do not use a link in their tweet. This allows us to filter out the majority of people who are tweeting one of our articles but giving us credit (thanks, guys!). I don’t get any alerts from this stream, but I check it whenever I have free time in the day (at minimum once in the morning, once early afternoon and once before I go home around 6pm).
To set this stream up in Social Inbox, I do everything I need by clicking Social > Monitoring > “+” and using the following criteria:
I also spend time on a few other streams:
Mentions of HubSpot without “Via”. Of course, people tweet important things at us involving links. More often than not these are people tweeting pictures at HubSpot or questions about the software. Since use of links is a lot less common, the previous two streams cover most of the volume, but I set up an email reminder to myself once a day to scan through this stream to make sure there is nothing I’m missing.
In this case I excluded the word “via” from search since that word is the most common indicator of someone sharing a HubSpot article. As much as we appreciate that gesture, it’s too much volume for us to monitor at that time.
Facebook/LinkedIn. These networks are more focused on in-depth content than their dynamic, cousin, Twitter. As such I make sure to log into these platforms to check the comments at least once a day. I also bucket moderating our LinkedIn group here.
Messages. Some [potential] HubSpot users feel most comfortable messaging our social profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) if they feel they have no other avenue. For that reason, I make sure to check the messages for these networks at least once a day (more if I have bandwidth or am expecting a particular message).
BONUS: HubSpot mentions during Twitter Chats. This is one of my favorite streams. It was born out of necessity when we realized we weren’t participating enough in real-time conversation. The goal of this stream is to catch when people mention HubSpot in Twitter chats, so we are able to appear in the chat (potentially to new audiences) and thank users quickly.
To create this stream, I researched the chats related to our industry that were most commonly attended, and the ones in which HubSpot was often mentioned (Buffer, Sprout Social, SEMRush). I set up the stream to email us immediately upon mention of HubSpot with any of these chat hashtags. This was a place where we saw a specific need and created a stream to adapt.
Social media covers the entire lifecycle stage of the customer from prospect through to customer. As such, we make sure to pay attention to users at all stages of the funnel. What we look at each stage is different. At the top of the funnel we look at mentions because it helps us narrow the field and at the bottom it helps to figure out when customers need help. We think a little different at the middle of the funnel.
Just like any nurturing, our aim in the middle of the funnel is to remind prospects we exist, and when necessary, provide them a little extra love. To this end, we keep an eye on two different streams.
Prospect to Lead Nurture and Leads & MQLs. The first is prospects who have had a first conversion event on a prospect form in the previous month, while the second is leads and MQLs who have converted on a lead form in the last 30 days. To do this, we create a list in our list tool of people who have had a first conversion event in the last 30 days, as well as are at a certain lifecycle stage.
We create a stream in Social Inbox of people who are on the list we created (since it’s dynamic, people can get added over time). We then narrow the stream further by only including tweets that mention certain words related to marketing automation or inbound (power of knowing your keywords!).
I check these leads a couple times a week, primarily because I’m not trying to be creepy, but to remind people we are there to help. It’s an important step though as in past HubSpot experiments, we found that lead nurturing via social can improve conversions by up to 11%.
These are the users that are not even in the HubSpot funnel. This is the trickiest area since it is the largest category of users. As such, I spend the least time monitoring for new users.
#swsw [or other relevant hashtag] Rather than monitor uses of a particular word (ex. marketing automation), I limit this kind of monitoring to relevant hashtags. For example, if I see a user mention HubSpot with the hashtag of a particular conference, I will check that hashtag to see if it is a conversation about our industry. If so, I will set up a stream for the rest of the day to monitor that hashtag and show some quick love to users there. If nothing else, it helps us get us on their radar.
This is the most ad-hoc of what we monitor. That’s because it has to do what is happening in the department any given day. Examples of special projects have included events such as webinars we’re hosting, #HubSpotBookClub, April Fools Pranks (#DeskFree, anyone?), CRM launches, partnership deals, Partner Days at HubSpot HQ, etc.
#GrowWithHubSpot [or other relevant event hashtag] - (temp). The way this works is that I keep a close watch on our content calendar (keeping in the loop with the PR and campaigns team helps a lot!) so I know when we have a special event coming up. I will set up a stream for this particular event, typically pulling in tweets that include the relevant event or hashtag and setting up email alerts for 8m & 4pm.
This provides me a few reminders to check this stream since it’s not a part of my everyday routine. I can also share the stream with a specific team if they want to stay on the lookout for that event. The key with this stream is that I label it with(temp) to remind myself when I stop seeing tweets relevant to that event, I can remove the stream. Typically, I catch anything remaining in our regular streams.
This is probably also the place to talk about influencers. When possible, we take time to identify and engage with influencers, but our primary method of this comes from reading our own twitter feeds or twitter lists and finding articles naturally trending. We have experimented with streams of these folks, but find that most engagement comes organically following and engaging in our own streams rather than monitoring for that specifically.
You may notice that there are some things for which I don’t monitor on social media. For example, I do not monitor for product support-related questions (though we get them anyway), Sidekick questions, #INBOUND15 questions (though we will eventually during the event) or questions in foreign languages.
This is because I do have limits! While I get, and answer, many of these questions, the primarily responsibility to monitor them goes to the teams that own those projects (psst- if you’re not following @HubSpotSupport, @Sidekick or @INBOUND you should!)
Now that we’ve discussed WHAT we monitor, I want to take a moment to address HOW we monitor.
Knowing what to monitor is important, but it’s also imperative to know how to monitor effectively.
First, Define a persona. When my team started monitoring from HubSpot, the first thing we did was to come up with a monitoring persona. This was the person we wanted to embody when speaking to people on social media.
To do this we brainstormed a list of traits we wished to embody (helpful, nerdy, witty but not mean were some of them). We then made this list public to remind ourselves who we wanted to be when answering questions. We also reference this when publishing content.
Second, Be helpful, and gracious. One of the most important parts of our persona is to be helpful and gracious. When someone has feedback, accept it, when they love us, love them back and when they have a problem, provide some avenue to resolve it (a trick I learned in support), even if it’s just to contribute to our “ideas” forum.
Direct questions appropriately. I like to jokingly refer that I am like the company “traffic director”. That’s because monitoring is a team sport. Even if I am the one ultimately typing the responses, I am responsible for listening to what people are saying about HubSpot, and responding appropriately. Sometimes this involves notifying an account manager, sending to a sales rep, conferring with support or referring to PR and sending those responses back.
To maximize the conversion potential of your landing page, it’s a common best practice in the industry to use an image. It’s a good suggestion. If nothing else, a wall of text without any visual imagery can make for a pretty boring and poor performing landing page. But why do we actually want to use images for communication?
Neuroscientists at MIT found that humans can process and identify an image in as little as 13 milliseconds, whereas previous research had suggested that the quickest time in which an image could be identified was in 100 milliseconds.
It’s not merely that our brains process images at a lightning speed, we’re also making decisions quickly. Consider that the average visitor is spending less than 15 seconds on a website. More specifically, if your visitors are spending less than 15 seconds on your landing page, then capturing their attention is of paramount importance.
As you work to determine the right image for your landing page, keep the following concepts in mind in order to have your image work to drive conversions, rather than driving your visitors away.
As the old adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” When describing a complex system, process or a brand-new object or idea, a visual representation might explain it best. For example, a diagram is a concise way to describe how a car engine works or an intangible concept such as how cloud computing allows for the transfer of files across the Internet.
Companies continue to create new products and develop things that people didn’t know that they needed or wanted. When you are tasked with promoting the only product of its kind on the market, you might need to show your visitors what it is and why they need it. Can you imagine trying to describe a microwave to a person who was born before humans were able to harness electricity? It would be a bit difficult to describe if you were to communicate solely with words.
When selecting an image for your landing page, use infographics, charts and diagrams when explaining new ideas or complex concepts to your website visitors so that they can swiftly grasp the idea and hopefully, convert on the landing page.
Using arrows on your landing page can allow you to literally direct traffic on your landing page. Having an arrow pointing towards specific areas of your copy or to the form on your landing page can allow your visitors to think less and simply follow instructions.
Another way to use imagery to direct traffic is through visual cues. Whether you use a photo of a person holding a product and looking directly at it or more subtly a person looking in a certain direction. Instinctively, when we see people looking in a certain direction, we want to follow their gaze and see what has their attention.
By using an image of a person looking in the direction of your form on the landing page, provided that it is logical (and relevant) for a person to be in the image, you can subtly place emphasis on different elements of your landing page and direct attention to the form.
Antonio Damasio, a renowned neuroscientist, has been studying the connection between consciousness and emotion for several decades. Damasio’s research shows that emotions play a large role in how we arrive on a decision. How does this help marketers in creating a landing page?
By using images that not only appeal to your visitors but also elicits an emotional response, you may be able to increase your conversion rate. If you are able to bring about a sense of urgency (to act now!) or a feeling of happiness and relief (that a visitor’s issue is being solved), then you might experience higher conversion rates.
Numbers don’t lie. Check out your conversion rates to see how the landing page is performing. An optimized, high performing landing page has a conversion rate of 20% (or higher) of the total number of views converting and filling out the form on the landing page. If the conversion rate is less than stellar, there are many elements that come into play when assessing the overall page. So, the best way to hone in on your image is to do some A/B testing and try different images on your landing page to see which resonates more with your visitors and ultimately converts more visitors into leads.
Nevertheless, you’d probably like to have 2 hours and 15 minutes back in your day, right?
Here’s the action: write short emails. The benefits of writing short emails are limitless. Shortening your emails will not only reduce time spent on email composition, it will increase your communication clarity and reduce the necessity to repeat yourself the next day.
Email is digital words, written on lines and, therefore, has lines to read between. Email is capable of immediacy, its human operators are not. In this post, we’re going to learn how to write shorter emails in four easy steps.
You wouldn’t use a megaphone to shout at your aunt Delores, would you? Of course not. You’re a tactful professional.
Same rule goes for email. Identify its recipient or audience.
Is the recipient a new acquaintance? Are they a superior? A subordinate? A peer?
I’ll share an experience that got me thinking about this. I was replying to a message from someone that is five management levels above me. I handled every syllable like a baby chick and was crystal clear on each detail. I anticipated the superior’s questions. I provided direct answers. I lost four pounds of weight from sweat while writing it. The results were remarkable. I found myself motivated to shed extra words. I didn’t wander or try to fudge answers. I also noticed its brevity.
Warren Buffet says, in as many words, to demonstrate your capability with clarity in words in the SEC “plain English” handbook, and excess is not required:
" Perhaps the most common problem, however, is that a well-intentioned and informed writer simply fails to get the message across to an intelligent, interested reader. In that case, stilted jargon and complex constructions are usually the villains." -- Warren Buffet
When you can identify your audience, you can anticipate their needs. When you can be direct toward those needs, it will be clear you respect their time enough not to blither, and that your words bear authority, reducing their need to ask for a follow-up.
You are emailing or being emailed because you are helpful and needed. Make your answer simple, and shortened emails will follow. The reasons why are numerous.
Put yourself in a recipient's shoes. I imagine they receive innumerable messages a day, just like you and me. What do you typically look for in an email? You want to clearly understand the message but you also want it to be short, to the point and respectful of your time.
Consider some common email questions that you might receive. Here’s one example:
Hey Alex, can we move the call from 3pm to 3:30pm?
Recalling Step 1, identify the audience, I can approach Step 2 with clarity—simplify. It is not always just a matter of producing a response in fewer words since they may be asking more in their message than is revealed. It is up to me to know the whole answer and remove the extra wording.
Visitors won't even make it through to your content if the website does not load fast. And what keeps your website from loading fast? If you have really large files, videos, or images on your website, it can add to the size of the page and greatly affect the load time.
Yottaa, a content delivery network (CDN) platform that helps speed up websites,recently benchmarked the speed of HubSpot's CMS. In this post, we will discuss three ways HubSpot keeps your website fast, and share some of the details of Yottaa's report.
HubSpot utilizes a leading CDN to help ensure all customers websites load quickly. There are numerous benefits to a CDN, such as keeping your website content on a server closest to them. But there are numerous front-end and back-end factors that contribute to the speed of a website loading.
For example: the device type, operating system, and even location can all affect how a website loads and displays. If you have recently browsed the Internet on your smartphone and switched between WiFi and the cellular network, the speed difference was likely clear.
However, unlike the days where text-driven websites ruled supreme, visitors are demanding a rich experience that is relevant. To do this, we've built Smart Content and other capabilities directly into HubSpot to ensure you can easily build an experience for each unique visitor.
But that experience also means that your pages will gain weight, but not necessarily sacrifice speed. According to Yottaa's performance test, the average page weight now exceeds 2MB in size for webpages, which is also close to the page weight from the HubSpot CMS.
Even though the rich features offered in HubSpot's CMS have increased the page weight, you can see in the chart below the time for the page to load is still incredibly fast. To explain this chart:
According to the metric that began this blog post, if your website is not hosted on HubSpot or using a technology to speed-up your website, you could be among the average and possibly losing 40% of visitors.
A fast website means more of the visitors that land on your pages will stay, and improves your overall business experience. Here at HubSpot, we utilize a CDN that hosts servers around the world to ensure you and your customers have a fast experience, wherever they may be.
The speed of the desktop version of your website is important, but it's become even more crucial to also offer a fast mobile experience. Now that mobile searches have surpassed desktop and search results are impacted by mobile-friendly websites, you should offer a fast and rich experience for mobile visitors. But offering that same rich experience on mobile can be difficult because it naturally increases page weight. That's where responsive design comes in.
Responsive design dynamically loads your website based on the screen size of the visitor. For example, open a new browser tab on your desktop or laptop, and take out your smartphone now and visit HubSpot.com from both. You will immediately notice the difference and how images on your smartphone appear to be properly sized, but naturally smaller.
Responsive design is Google's #1 recommended design pattern as it only requires one set of code, and Google's crawler only has to go through your site once. If you have a separate version of your mobile site, such as mobile.example.com, it requires a duplication of all the assets on your homepage to the mobile version which can be costly from bandwidth and maintenance.
Going back to Yottaa's report, you can see the HubSpot CMS still outperforms the average on mobile due to the combination of responsive design and the CDN. This is shown by both the average time to start render, which essentially means that your website design appears on the device, and the time to display until your website is fully loaded and can be interacted with. This speed benefit means more mobile visitors will stick around your website and actually read your content.
Have you ever experienced an image that loads sort of like a window shade? It slowly starts to fill-in from the top to bottom until it's finally done. One of the key reasons this happens is because the file size on the image is likely very large. Your connection can also play a key part, but even on a high-speed connection a large image can still have this effect.
This is why using the HubSpot CMS you can solve this using dynamic image resizing and image compression which are built right in and how your website stays fast on HubSpot.
What is Dynamic Image Resizing? To explain, let's walk through an example. Let's say you upload an image to your website that is 5000 x 5000, but are only displaying the image at 500 x 500. This means that the browser still has to download the larger image and then display it within the smaller size. This can severely affect loading time, especially for any mobile visitors on a cellular connection.
When you are using resizing within HubSpot though it means the browser will only display the image in the dimensions you specify. So in this example, instead of loading that large 5000 x 5000 image, the browser only loads the 500 x 500 image saving precious seconds that it takes your site to load.
Dynamic image resizing will take effect in a few different ways:
Along with the image resizing, we also have taken steps to reduce the overall size of images. With image compression, any new image uploaded into your HubSpot account will have it's file size reduced while retaining image quality. This happens automatically when uploading an image and doesn't require any manual steps, but enhances and accelerates the experience for your visitors.
Note: dynamic image resizing and image compression only affect new images uploaded into your HubSpot portal. Existing images will not be affected, unless you change the dimensions. Also note, the speed benefits from HubSpot only apply to the content you are creating or hosting with HubSpot.
With the CDN that powers all websites using HubSpot, to responsive design, and image resizing and compression your website will consistently stay fast. A fast website helps rank better in search, and retains visitors once they land on your website which naturally helps all of your inbound marketing.