How to Lower Your Facebook Ad Spend

social media how toDo you want to reduce your Facebook ad costs? Wondering how to spend less to convert cold audiences?

In this article, you’ll find four tips for reducing the cost of acquiring and converting new customers with Facebook ads.

How to Lower Your Facebook Ad Spend by Brad Smith on Social Media Examiner.
How to Lower Your Facebook Ad Spend by Brad Smith on Social Media Examiner.

#1: Use Relevance Score to Optimize for Message Match

AdWords has a quality score to control ad performance. A higher-quality score results in a better ad position with a lower CPC (cost per click). As far back as 2016, analysis from Jacob Baadsgaard showed that a 1-point quality score increase can drop your cost per conversion by 13%.

Similarly, Facebook has a relevance score that performs largely the same function. And, in 2017, AdEspresso found strikingly similar results, where a higher relevance score meant a lower CPC.

So how do you work toward a good relevance score?

First, create a Facebook sales funnel with top-of-funnel (TOFU), middle-of-funnel (MOFU), and bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) campaigns. It’s the same inbound marketing playbook but applied to ad campaigns.

Second, build audiences around each of these three goals. We’ll dive deep into audiences in the next section, but suffice it to say that retargeting campaigns will make up your MOFU and BOFU campaigns, while lookalikes should make up your TOFU campaigns.

Option to create a Custom Audience, a Lookalike Audience, or Saved Audience in Facebook.

Third, organize individual Facebook campaigns around message match so that the audience, creative, and offer align perfectly.

Pulling these three items together can drastically reduce your content promotion costs.

The image below shows the difference between targeting a generic, saved, cold audience (on the right), and a lookalike audience created specifically for the campaign (on the left).

Example comparison of Facebook ad results between a generic, saved, cold audience and a lookalike audience.

The CPC for the cold audience was $0.477 (which actually isn’t terrible) but it dropped to only $0.125 for the lookalike. That’s a 74% cost decrease! If your budget is $1,000, that means you’re getting almost 4X as many visits.

Learn how to improve your Facebook ads relevance score.

Choose Ad Content Carefully

Better content will perform better—it’s as simple as that. Content engagement will be better on-site, and promotional costs will be less off-site.

As evidence, below are the results from three Facebook TOFU content campaigns targeted to similar audiences, with similar ad creatives and placements, yet CPC differs significantly among the three campaigns. It’s $0.17 per click on the low end and $0.82 on the high end.

Example of CPC results from several TOFU Facebook ad campaigns.

So yes, you should follow the suggestions above but don’t lose sight of the fact that better content will be the underlying force that drives results, more than split testing a few creatives or placements.

The three campaigns above consisted of a long-tail keyword post (B2B Marketing Ideas), an in-depth case study (Content Writing Services), and a first-person contrarian post. Guess which campaign won? The first-person one that recounted painful lessons with a contrarian angle.

The other two are good for different things. They can help you drive search traffic over the long-term and emphasize your value to new leads who are on the fence.

#2: Base Top-of-Funnel Cold Audience Outreach on Current Customer Details

Big brands or high-volume sites can easily create lookalikes from past visitors or customers. Smaller, boutique sites don’t have the same luxury.

So instead, grab an email list of all of your decent leads and clients, and upload it to Facebook. Then create a lookalike of 1% based on this list, plus a few more lookalikes for site visits and Facebook post engagements. That will give you a good-sized TOFU audience.

Option to create a 1% Lookalike audience for your Facebook ads.

To take this a step further, run Facebook video ads and then build a video view audience for a few cents per view.

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Option to create a Facebook ad custom audience of people who watched a portion of your video.

Now reaching enough leads isn’t the problem; qualifying them is. You’re trying to reach a bunch of targeted yet random people in hopes of sparking interest. In short, you’ll spend a lot on TOFU content distribution but it’ll pay off in the next section.

Learn four ways to build Facebook lookalike audiences to expand your targeting.

#3: Split Test Ad Creative to Reduce CPC

Facebook ad campaign performance will likely start sliding after a few weeks due to simple ad fatigue. Frequency begins creeping up so your ads stop cutting through the noise. This is especially true if you’re running evergreen content campaigns over and over again.

Fortunately, the fix is pretty easy: You have to spend time creating images. I’ve found that when you’re promoting stuff on social media, simple images get higher click-through rates (CTRs). Two years ago, I would have put text and a CTA on the image, but now I tend to do the opposite. The simpler the image, the better it performs.

And there’s no single winner for ad creative, either. So instead of chasing some mythical best practice, get in the habit of routinely split testing many variations. No, not A/B tests. Those often don’t work. Test big changes.

For example, we tested a custom image, regular featured image, and a video commercial for the same post. The results varied widely. The custom image performed best with a $0.571 CPC, while the featured blog post image (which almost everyone uses as their default social image) performed worst at over $1.00 per click.

Example Facebook ad results of a split test between a custom image, a featured image, and a video commercial for a post.

We repeated the test with another campaign, and this time, the video outperformed the custom image by about $0.30.

What’s the point? Big changes lead to big improvements in performance or decreases in cost.

Learn how to use Facebook’s Dynamic Creative feature to reveal the optimal ad for your audience.

#4: Split Test Ad Placements to Optimize for CPC

The news feed and right column ad placements on desktop devices are prime real estate for us. They convert well, which makes them great for our MOFU and BOFU campaigns and terrible for TOFU ones. But you’ll need to test Facebook ad placements for yourself to see what works best for your business.

I know these placements work for us because I have the data. I ran the same content ad creative on mobile vs. desktop, and got about a $1 per click difference, which is massive. And these results were basically repeated in every test we ran. Mobile-based placements all generated low CPC.

Comparison between Facebook ad results between placement on Mobile + Messenger Home vs. Desktop Feed + Right Column.

The best part is that mobile placements work perfectly for TOFU content-based promotion. Remember, the goal here is to build retargeting audiences of people who engage with your ads and click over to your website. You don’t necessarily care about exit or opt-in rates at this point. That will come later. For now, you’re just trying to maximize results for ad spend with real prospects.

Learn how to run Facebook split tests that identify which ad placements give you the best results.


A Facebook sales funnel means you’re using multiple campaigns to drive those first few initial micro-conversions (e.g., opt-ins and form fills).

Unbounce recently tweeted a Facebook CPC benchmark stat from Veronica Romney:

Unbounce tweet from August 28, 2018 noting Average CPC on Facebook is $1.72, per @VRomney at #CTAConf.

With a $1.72 average CPC, your ability to consistently drive new leads will eventually hit a budget cap. Fortunately, you don’t have to be stuck with those CPCs. If you use the tips above to build real, engaged audiences, it will pay dividends lower in the funnel.

This is also where you can get more aggressive, focusing on mobile lead ads, or news feed and right column placements. In general, these will cost you more but better audience targeting throughout this entire process means your CPCs shouldn’t increase too drastically.

What do you think? Which of these tactics for lowering Facebook ad spend will you try first? Do you have any tips to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

More articles on Facebook advertising:

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Find four tips for reducing the cost of acquiring and converting new customers with Facebook ads.

Instagram and LinkedIn Rising: How Social Media Marketing Changed in 2018

social media researchWelcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media.

Join us for this special “year in review” episode of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, where we explore the major Instagram and LinkedIn marketing news of 2018.

Our special guests this week include Tyler J. McCall discussing IGTV, Instagram shopping tools, and new Stories features. Viveka von Rosen and AJ Wilcox examine this year’s updates from LinkedIn.

Watch the Social Media Marketing Talk Show

If you’re new to the show, click on the green “Watch replay” button below and sign in or register to watch our latest episode from Friday, December 21, 2018. You can also listen to the show as an audio podcast, found on iTunes/Apple Podcast, Android, Google Play, Stitcher, and RSS.

For this week’s top stories, you’ll find timestamps below that allow you to fast-forward in the replay above.

Instagram Introduced IGTV: On the June 22 and September 7 broadcasts of the show, we discussed the rollout and expansion of IGTV, a new Instagram app designed for watching long-form, full-screen vertical videos from your favorite creators. (4:30)

It’s a big day for Instagram. We’re launching IGTV — a new app designed for watching and creating video on your phone. The experience is native to mobile, with full-screen vertical videos, and the videos can be longer, not just short clips. It’s built on Instagram, so you’re already connected with your friends and favorite Instagram stars from the start. We also announced today that Instagram has reached 1 billion people. There are few products this widely used — congrats Kevin, team, and the whole community who use Instagram every day to inspire, educate and entertain each other. I’m excited to see the new ways all of you will use IGTV.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Two months later, TechCrunch reported that the long-form video hub experienced a slow start and was difficult to adopt when compared to other features like Stories. According to TechCrunch, six of the feature’s launch partner creators’ “recent feed videos are getting roughly 6.8X as many views as their IGTV posts.”

For IGTV, Instagram needs slow to mean steady by

— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) August 25, 2018

Instagram Rolled Out More Robust Shopping Features: On the September 21 broadcast of the show, we explored two new ways Instagram is making it easier to shop directly from the app. These include expanding Shopping in Stories and testing a new shopping channel in Explore. Instagram began testing Shopping in Stories in June 2018 and began rolling it out globally to 46 countries earlier this year. (10:39)

Instagram began testing Shopping in Stories in June 2018 and is now rolling it out globally to 46 countries.

The new Shopping channel in Explore features content that’s specifically tailored to a user’s style, tastes, and interests. It will feature brands users already follow and brands they might like. At the time, Instagram announced that the Shopping channel in Explore was being tested and expected to roll out globally over the “coming weeks.”

The new Shopping Channel in Explore will feature content that's specifically tailored to a user's style, tastes, and interests.

Instagram Shared Algorithm: In June 2018, Instagram shared which factors are weighed by its algorithm to decide which posts appear in a user’s personal feed. On the June 8 broadcast of the show, we examined the three main considerations used by the platform for determining what to surface in the Instagram feed. These include interest, recency, and relationship. Instagram also addressed several “myths” about how it ranks content. (14:27)

How Instagram’s algorithm works by

— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) June 1, 2018

Instagram Tests Exclusive Creator Accounts: Instagram is testing exclusive creator accounts with a “small group” of high-profile influencers. The tools are tailored just for influencers and include growth insights such as data around follows and unfollows, direct messaging tools that allow users to filter notes from brand partners and friends, and flexible labels that allow users to designate how they want to be contacted. (17:56)

Exclusive: @instagram testing creator accounts with direct message filters, growth insights

— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 11, 2018

Instagram Rolls Out Interactive Countdown Clock Sticker for Stories: Instagram introduced a new interactive countdown clock sticker for Stories. Users have the option to select the date and time for their countdown clock and the ability to customize the message and color of the sticker. Their followers can then opt to receive reminders about the countdown or share it with their own audience on Instagram Stories. (22:08)

I love the new Countdown sticker on @instagram – can think of so many fun ways to use it for brands.

— Geoff D. 😎 (@Geoffdx) December 13, 2018

Instagram Expands Question Stickers: Instagram added more versatility to its question stickers for Stories. Instagram Stories users can now respond to questions with music. Question stickers are also coming to Instagram Live videos to help better organize Q&As and streamline the conversation on-screen. (23:58)

Instagram Stories’ question stickers can now be used to share music

— The Verge (@verge) December 19, 2018

LinkedIn Updated Personal Profiles and Company Pages: On the April 13 broadcast of the show, we reviewed LinkedIn’s new look for personal profiles with our guest, Viveka von Rosen. LinkedIn added more details and connection information to the headers of members’ personal profiles. Some of the updates included a shift in the profile image placement that may affect the background image, a new Contact menu to the right, an extended Summary section, and more. (39:55)

LinkedIn added more details and connection information to the headers on members' personal profiles.

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In November, LinkedIn announced it rebuilt company pages “from the ground up” and began rolling out the new experience in the U.S., with plans to expand globally in the following weeks. On the November 16 broadcast of the show, we explored each of the new tools and features now available on LinkedIn’s company pages. These include the Content Suggestions tool for page admins, a suite of tools that help businesses better engage employees on the platform, and more advanced analytics.

LinkedIn Relaunched Groups: On the August 24 and September 28 broadcasts of the show, we discussed the newly rebuilt LinkedIn Groups, which now offers more dynamic conversations with embeddable videos; multiple images; and other rich media in posts, alerts, and much more. The new LinkedIn Groups experience was released across mobile and desktop in September. LinkedIn stated that all groups should have been migrated to the new experience. (42:44)

LinkedIn rebuilt LinkedIn Groups from the group up and began re-releasing it across mobile and desktop earlier this month.

LinkedIn Introduces Video Captions, Articles Quotes, Translations, and More: On the July 20 broadcast of the show, we broke down each of the several new improvements LinkedIn rolled out to help members start conversations on the platform. These new features included the option to add closed captioning to videos posted from the desktop, as well as the ability to easily highlight and share quotes from LinkedIn articles and save drafts of posts to edit and complete later on mobile. (48:01)

LinkedIn members now have the option to add closed captioning to their videos uploaded to the platform.

LinkedIn also rolled out a new Me tab, which offers a “quick and easy” shortcut to all of the content members have shared, written, or recorded for the site.

Linked is also rolling out a quick and easy shortcut for users to access all of the content they have shared, written, or recorded on the site with the new Me tab.

On the November 30 broadcast, we noted that LinkedIn is currently in the process of rolling out a revamped Share box, with completion expected in the coming weeks. The new Share box makes it easier for users to select the audience for each of their posts: public, connections only, or to specific groups.

LinkedIn Rolled Out Several New Updates to LinkedIn Messaging: In addition to improvements to LinkedIn’s news feed posts, the company also debuted several new features to LinkedIn Messaging on mobile. On the July 20 broadcast of the show, we also covered the platform’s new expandable message Compose box, and the ability to send attachments and start a group chat on LinkedIn Messaging. (48:16)

LinkedIn rolls out updates to LinkedIn Messaging.

LinkedIn also added the option to include emojis in messages sent from the desktop, @mention people, and seamlessly copy and paste images from screenshots or the web into your LinkedIn messages.

This past April, LinkedIn partnered with Google-owned Tenor to integrate GIFs directly into LinkedIn’s Messaging platform. On the April 13 broadcast, we discussed how members can quickly and easily search for GIFs within the messaging text field and send them on the spot. The GIFs feature in LinkedIn Messaging began rolling out to all users several months ago and should now be available globally.

LinkedIn and Google-owned Tenor partnered to integrate GIFs directly into LinkedIn's Messaging platform.

LinkedIn added the ability to share a location to meet up with 1st-degree connections directly in LinkedIn Messaging. This new feature began rolling out to all mobile users on both the iOS or Android at the end of November 2018.

LinkedIn announced a new addition to its messaging functionality which enables users to share their location, or a location nearby, to meet up.

LinkedIn Began Testing Events Tool for Offline Meetups: On the November 16 broadcast of the show, we shared that LinkedIn is experimenting with a new Events feature that works very similarly to Facebook Events. With LinkedIn Events, members will be able to seamlessly create and join professional events, invite their connections, have conversations with other attendees, and stay in touch online after the event ends. LinkedIn is currently testing this new feature as part of a pilot program with 500 event organizers in New York and San Francisco. (51:29)

LinkedIn Overhauls Campaign Manager and Introduced Several New Ad Products: In July 2018, LinkedIn released a newly redesigned Campaign Manager interface and reporting experience that makes it “easier to understand how your campaigns are performing and quickly optimize for better results.” On the August 3rd broadcast of the show, we explored the major enhancements to this update, which include new fresh navigation tools, faster-loading data, improved search capabilities, and much more. (53:30)

LinkedIn overhauls Campaign Manager for marketers managing high-volume accounts by @AmyGesenhues

— Marketing Land (@Marketingland) July 26, 2018

On the September 28th broadcast, we explored two new ad products for the platform, LinkedIn dynamic ads and automated bidding for Sponsored Content. Earlier in the year, LinkedIn also introduced native video ads, carousel ads, and lead gen forms for Sponsored Content.

LinkedIn Dynamic Ads are now available in Campaign Manger.

In early November, the company announced the beta release of objective-based advertising optimization and pricing in the Campaign Manager. According to LinkedIn, this new campaign creation experience will “make it easier to create campaigns and measure their impact” and expected to be available to all LinkedIn advertisers sometime in mid-2019.

Other News Mentioned

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How to Make Better Marketing Decisions: Unthinkable Wisdom

Do you need to make better strategic decisions? Wondering how to change your decision-making process?

To explore how to make better marketing decisions, I interview Jay Acunzo.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode, I interview Jay Acunzo. Jay is the founder of Unthinkable Media and an expert on the production of docuseries and video marketing for B2B businesses. He’s also a keynote speaker and the author of Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work.

You’ll discover common causes for bad decisions and learn four questions that can result in better decisions.

Jay also explains why relying on best practices for guidance might not be in your best interest.

How to Make Better Marketing Decisions: Unthinkable Wisdom featuring insights from Jay Acunzo on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.
How to Make Better Marketing Decisions: Unthinkable Wisdom featuring insights from Jay Acunzo on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

Share your feedback, read the show notes, and get the links mentioned in this episode below.

Listen Now

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Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Making Better Decisions

Jay’s Story

Jay says that even though he’s always wanted to tell stories, he started out as a sports journalist for print publications in Connecticut. In 2008, he joined the in-house PR and communications department at ESPN. Working at ESPN showed him he could use his writing skills and creativity in a business context.

His next career move would’ve been to become a print columnist but he didn’t think building a career in print was the safest move. So he left ESPN and moved to a digital media strategist position at Google.

He enjoyed the customer interactions and the culture at Google but still wasn’t entirely happy there.

Jay recalls the moment when he realized he wanted to do something different.

He had hyped a particular video to a group of friends and was trying to show them the video, but first he had to get through a particularly frustrating pre-roll ad. The experience annoyed him quite a bit.

Jay then realized that he was part of the machine perpetuating that same experience for other viewers. He knew he didn’t want to “be the ad,” he wanted to be the content behind the ad.

So he left Google and led content teams for several startups including HubSpot and Venture Capital. During that time, he launched a podcast for the firm and the power of serialized content made a deep impression on him.

After 3 years, Jay branched out as a full-time speaker and maker of shows.

Screenshot of the Unithinkable website.

Now, 2 1/2 years later, he spends half of his time on the road speaking, and the other half creating podcasts and video documentaries with B2B clients.

Listen to the show to find out who one of Jay’s first customers was.

When Should You Stay the Course or Try Something New?

Often, people look to the best practices of others in their industry to guide their own efforts. Unfortunately, finding best practices shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be to find the best approach for you and your business—a path and a strategy that works well for you.

To expand on this, Jay shares a recent psychological study from New York University.

The study revealed that in stressful situations, people will often continue on with what they know has worked for others (purported best practices) instead of branching out on a unique path. Unfortunately, what worked for someone else might not work for you.

Jay says that to make better decisions, it’s imperative to understand the context of your unique situation. Once you’ve outlined the context of your situation, you begin to view ideas, precedents, or best practices as possibilities rather than absolute answers or blueprints. You can then vet those possibilities against what you know to be true about your situation.Break The Wheel by Jay Acunzo

Jay wrote his book, Break the Wheel, to help people navigate this process by answering six questions.

Listen to the show to hear why Jay thinks it’s more important to be an investigator rather than an expert.

The Three Ways Marketers Make Bad Decisions

Once you’ve done some research and found that something definitely needs to be changed with your marketing strategies, the first step is to identify what’s been driving you to make poor marketing choices. This could be anything from a lack of data to being intimidated by new platforms or strategies.

There are three main ways marketers make bad decisions, or danger routes as Jay calls them.

Relying on Conventional Wisdom (a.k.a. Best Practices): It’s common for people to make decisions based on conventional wisdom. In the same way, marketers often trust tried-and-true strategies that have been proven to work for others, hoping for similar results in their own marketing. Making decisions based on these best practices can be dangerous because it focuses on what’s worked for others in a general sense. Each business and audience is different, and general best practices don’t take the unique variables of your own situation into account.

Relying on New Trends: These decisions still focus on adopting a touted best practice. Instead of choosing a tried-and-true practice, though, you adopt the latest marketing trend or hack that others say will change the world of marketing. Sometimes the newest trend isn’t nearly as effective as it may have seemed at first. The new tactic might work in general, but you don’t operate in generalities. New doesn’t always mean right, and right doesn’t always mean right for you.

Relying on Reactions: Marketers most often make this type of reactionary decision when they’re stressed and tackling a lot. For example, a marketing blog you read says Facebook is dead so you decide to stop all of your Facebook marketing. As Jay explains, it’s a decision-making process based on tactic over strategy, and it rarely yields good results. You bounce from action to action. As you continue to see repeated failures, you’re more likely to feel powerless and continue to make reactive decisions. This behavior is known as pike syndrome.

Cultural fluency or relying on the status quo can interfere with decision making.Jay goes on to explain how cultural fluency can also contribute to making poor decisions. Cultural fluency refers to behavior in which we go with the flow, we fall back on the way things have always been done.

Cultural fluency comes into play when you’re in a routine that makes it easy to make mindless decisions because things unfold as you’ve come to expect. Things are comfortable, so you take the easy route rather than taking new context or information into account.

But if even one detail changes—say a deadline shifts or a new goal is introduced—your brain snaps out of that mindless rut. Suddenly, you’re presented with an opportunity to make a critically informed decision.

To assess whether cultural fluency is adversely affecting your decisions, ask yourself these questions:

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  • “What are my constraints? What’s keeping me from doing things differently or reaching new levels of success?” In many cases, introducing a new constraint can actually benefit marketers and require them to approach things differently.
  • “Can I expand?” This is crucial to assessing whether you have the resources and support to try something new.

Jay cautions that you don’t need to automatically throw out the playbook of best practices. You can use them as a starting guide if you think certain strategies could work for your audience, but the key is to make adjustments as needed until you discover how to make those practices work best for you and your audience.

Listen to the show to learn more about pike syndrome and cultural fluency.

How to Make Better Decisions

Jay says the secret to making better decisions is to ask better questions.

Understanding how to ask the right questions of yourself and your teams means you won’t make a decision based on what someone else is recommending or doing. You’ll make a decision based on the evidence gleaned from your own situation.

Ask investigative questions to make better decisions.Jay shares two questions that will help you recover from or avoid pike syndrome.

What is the principal insight about my customer?

Answering this question reveals what your customer is looking for when they complete a purchase.

Imagine you’re a marketer and your job is to sell pillows. Most marketers will build the following messaging: “We sell pillows. We sell a better pillow than anyone else. Here are the features of that pillow.”

But when a customer buys a pillow, what they really want is a better night’s sleep. That’s your principal insight.

To find what your customer wants, talk to them directly.

Who are my true believers?

Answering this question identifies a small number of people who react to your brand or product in a big, positive way.

All too often, marketers get caught up in chasing big reach numbers. The trick to modern marketing, Jay says, is to focus on resonance first. Create resonance and reach will follow.

When you test new marketing tactics or strategies, you shouldn’t measure performance against what you’ve done in the past. Instead, look to see if what you’re doing is producing passionate responses from excited audience members.

If you can’t identify true believers, you likely aren’t on the right path and should consider new approaches.

Listen to the show to hear Jay share a study done by a psychologist at DePaul University illustrating cultural fluency.

Putting It All Together With Aspirational Anchors

At this point, you’ve asked the right questions to clearly understand yourself and your team, your customer and your audience, your resources and constraints. You can use this as a decision-making filter to discern whether any idea, best practice, or new trend is right for you.

But no one incorporates change without a reason. Change is introduced to help you reach a goal or aspirational anchor.

Use aspirational anchors to create successful change.Most marketers focus on setting specific, measurable SMART goals. These might include goals like “Increase Facebook followers by 15% within the next 3 months.”

While goals can be helpful to assess progress, they can be limiting if they intimidate you into staying the course and shying away from change.

It’s important to combine your goals with aspirational anchors. Aspirational anchors outline the goal you want to accomplish and the behavior that needs to change to accomplish it. You can’t expect new results with the same strategies, after all, and aspirational anchors will help you focus on the how.

When Lisa Schneider joined Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as the chief digital officer, the company was automating their Twitter account with two tweets a day. In the morning, a tweet would share the word of the day, and in the evening, a quiz would be tweeted but no one knew why the team was relying on this process. Hello, cultural fluency.

Even though the internal team was funny and witty, the tweets were bland and predictable. This realization provided context that urged Lisa to try something new.

Rather than setting a traditional goal to grow followers or engagement by a certain date, she decided to launch a new campaign to show the world how fun and engaging the people at the company were.

They famously created content around topics the staff was passionate about; for instance, a Memorial Day post that asked (and answered) whether hotdogs can be classified as sandwiches. The content was entertaining, relevant to the audience, and played to her team’s strengths.

Have a great #MemorialDayWeekend. The hot dog is a sandwich.

— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) May 27, 2016

When Schneider first came to the team, they were relying on a best practice to regularly post on social media. By taking advantage of the fact that the team was hilarious and witty, and focusing on the aspiration of sharing that wit, the team grew their following by 6,000% and their press mentions by around 7,000%.

Listen to the show to hear more about aspirational anchors.

Discovery of the Week

This week’s discovery is an emoji builder by @phlntn.

Use the phlntn emojibuilder to create custom emoji.

You can customize everything from the face to the accessories to create a distinct emoji you can use for your marketing campaigns.

This tool creates a PNG file of your design so it’s not a true graphic emoji, but it can still be used in your marketing messages. For example, the image can be overlaid onto other images with tools like Photoshop.

The emoji builder is a free, web-based tool.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how emoji builder by @phlntn works for you.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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If you enjoyed this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast, please head over to iTunes, leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe. And if you listen on Stitcher, please click here to rate and review this show.

What do you think? What are your thoughts on making decisions? Please share your comments below.

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Discover common causes of bad marketing decisions and learn four questions that can result in better decisions.

How to Measure Your Facebook Return on Ad Spend

social media how toAre your Facebook ad campaigns working? Wondering how to accurately report on Facebook ad performance?

In this article, you’ll discover how to measure your return on ad spend (ROAS) for Facebook ad campaigns.

How to Measure Your Facebook Return on Ad Spend by Charlie Lawrance on Social Media Examiner.
How to Measure Your Facebook Return on Ad Spend by Charlie Lawrance on Social Media Examiner.

What Is Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)?

Return on ad spend (ROAS) is the online advertising equivalent of return on investment (ROI). It’s the cornerstone metric that measures your Facebook advertising success, and whether your marketing dollars are producing positive results for your business or just burning a hole in your bank account.

The 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report found that only 10% of respondents strongly agree that they can measure the ROI of their organic social media efforts, with 56% citing they’re uncertain or disagree with that assertion.

However, unlike organic marketing efforts, measuring the ROAS of your Facebook ads is directly linked to your Facebook pixel and conversion tracking. When installed correctly and depending on your business, you get direct, hard data so you know exactly how well your ads are performing and the overall impact of your Facebook advertising on your business.

ROAS is simply the total revenue generated from your Facebook ads (your return) divided by your total ad spend. For instance, suppose you spend $50,000 dollars in a month on Facebook ads and they generate $150,000 in new sales for your business. That’s a 3X ROAS ($150,000/$50,000).

Visual representation of the ROAS formula as Ad Revenue and Ad Spend.

There is less ambiguity with Facebook advertising compared to organic social media marketing, which is why it’s such a powerful marketing channel. You can track your ROAS down to the penny by measuring how much you put in (ad spend) and how much you get out (new revenue).

Measuring ROAS for Your Business Type

The businesses that advertise on Facebook can be divided into two main categories:

  • Businesses that sell a product or service online that customers pay for immediately on their website
  • Service providers that generate leads and convert potential customers off of Facebook via phone or email communication channels

If your business is in the first bucket, measuring your ROAS is easier because it will be tracked directly by your Facebook pixel and the purchase conversion event. However, if you’re a service-based business generating leads and converting off of Facebook, it’s harder to measure your ROAS due to a tracking gap. You have to track the leads that convert and manually cross-match them with your Facebook data.

Now let’s look at how to measure ROAS for both types of businesses, as well as address some of the wider issues with ROAS measurement.

#1: Set Up Facebook Pixel and Conversion Tracking

Before you can measure your ROAS, you need to set up and install the Facebook pixel on your website, as well as any relevant conversion events.

Options of events you'd like to track with your Facebook Pixel.

If you’re an eCommerce business using Facebook to generate product sales, you need to have the eCommerce event actions set up which include add to cart, initiate checkout, and purchase. However, if you’re a service business generating leads, you want to have the lead event action installed.

To install the Facebook pixel and other relevant conversion events, check out this step-by-step guide. Once you’ve installed the pixel on your website and your events, check that they’re firing correctly. The easiest way to do this is to navigate to your pixel dashboard via the Ads Manager main menu.

Facebook pixel dashboard in Ads Manager.

Next, select your pixel and open the full dashboard. Under the graph view, you’ll see the event actions that are firing, along with the status of each event and the number of events received. If they’ve been installed correctly, the status column should say Active and when the event was last received.

See which Facebook pixel events are firing in the graph view of the pixel dashboard in Facebook Ads Manager.

For any events that aren’t firing correctly and show Inactive in the status column, click the diagnostics option above the graph view to see any issues with your pixel and event installation.

Ensure the Purchase Value Is Being Tracked by Your Pixel

If your business uses the purchase event to track sales, measuring ROAS effectively requires you to track the value of the purchases from Facebook, not just the volume of purchases.

To check that the value of orders is being sent via the pixel to your ad account, click View Details under the Purchase event action.

Then in the pop-out window under Parameter, look for the value parameter and number of items parameter, along with content IDs and currency.

Example of the details under a Facebook purchase event action including value, number of items, content ID, and currency.

#2: Create a Custom Reporting Column in Facebook Ads Manager

Once the pixel and event actions are set up, you want to create a custom reporting column that displays key metrics including the number of purchases, the conversion value of those purchases, and the return on ad spend.

To do this, navigate to your Ads Manager dashboard. Then click the Columns: Performance drop-down menu and select Customize Columns.

Select Customize Columns from the Columns: Performance drop-down menu in Ads Manager.

The reporting creation window then appears. It consists of three columns. On the far left are the metrics categories, in the middle are all of the metrics you can report, and on the far right are the specific metrics in your custom reporting column.

Example of Facebook Ads Manager reporting creation window.

First, you want to remove the unwanted metrics that are currently in the reporting column. In the far-right column, remove all but these 11 core metrics:

  • Campaign Name
  • Delivery
  • Ad Set Name
  • Bid Strategy
  • Budget
  • Last Significant Edit
  • Results
  • Reach
  • Cost per Result
  • Amount Spent
  • Ends

Example of desired core metrics for the reporting column of the reporting creation window in Facebook Ads Manager.

Next, you’re going to add in the purchases, conversion value, and ROAS metrics. In the categories section in the left column, select Standard Events under Conversions.

In the middle column, you’ll see a row for each of the standard event actions. Scroll down to the Purchase ROAS row and select the Total checkbox. Then in the Purchases row, select the checkboxes for Total, Cost, and Value.

Example of desired core metrics for the standard event actions of the reporting creation window in Facebook Ads Manager.

When you select these metrics, Ads Manager adds them to your custom reporting column on the far right. Scroll down to the bottom of that column to edit the segments. In the total purchase field, you’ll see a breakdown of these metrics by purchase type such as mobile app, website, and offline (which are all selected).

If you’re only tracking purchases from your website and not from a mobile app, offline, or through a Facebook store, deselect all of the boxes that are ticked including website purchases. This may seem counterintuitive, but you just want the total purchase value, not the segmented data.

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Do the same for the purchases conversion value metric and the purchase ROAS metric. You should be left with a custom reporting column that includes:

  • Campaign Name
  • Delivery
  • Ad Set Name
  • Bid Strategy
  • Budget
  • Last Significant Edit
  • Results
  • Reach
  • Cost per Result
  • Amount Spent
  • Ends
  • Website Purchases (no segmenting)
  • Cost per Purchase
  • Purchases Conversion Value (no segmenting)
  • Website Purchase ROAS (no segmenting)

Example of desired metrics for the third column of the reporting creation window in Facebook Ads Manager.

Finally, you want to set your reporting window. The attribution window of 28-day click and 1-day view is selected by default. However, to get a true picture of how your campaigns and ads are performing, you want to add the 28-day view window as well.

Select Window Comparison in the bottom-right corner of the custom reporting creation window. Then select the checkbox next to 28 Days under the View column.

Option to compare attribution windows, set to 28 days.

The last thing to do is to click Save as Preset in the lower-left corner, give your custom reporting column a name (such as “ROAS”), and click Apply.

#3: Determine Your Facebook ROAS for Purchases

Now you want to analyze the Purchase and ROAS metrics in your new reporting column. You’ll see two columns for each metric. The first column shows the results for the default attribution window: 28-day click and 1-day view. The second shows the 28-day view results.

With ROAS analysis, you first want to get a broader measure of how your overall Facebook advertising is performing and what return you’re seeing. To analyze this, set your date range via the date picker in the top-right corner. What date range you set depends on how deep into Facebook advertising you are.

Option to set the date range for your Purchase and ROAS Facebook Ads Manager report.

If you’re just starting out, select Lifetime. But if you’re already spending five or six figures per month on Facebook, choose Last Month to do a monthly ROAS analysis.

Next, look at your totals row and add together your two ROAS figures to get your total ROAS across both data views. Your ROAS will be expressed as a decimal such as 3.7. That means that across all of your campaigns in your given time period you generated a 3.7X return on your ad spend.

If you’re a bit of a data nerd like me, you can also work it out by adding the totals of your purchase conversion value together to get the total revenue generated. Then divide that by your ad spend to get your ROAS.

Example of Facebook Ads Manager report data for your Purchase and ROAS report.

#4: Measure Facebook ROAS for Lead Generation

If your business falls into the second bucket mentioned earlier and you’re using Facebook to generate leads, measuring your ROAS isn’t as easy. It starts the same way as the method above—you need the pixel installed on your website, as well as standard events set up.

Instead of purchase and eCommerce events, you want to set up the lead conversion event for contact points on your website such as your contact form confirmation and any lead magnets you’re using to get people on your email list.

Using the same method of building a custom reporting column detailed in step 2 above, create a reporting column with the lead event action and any custom conversions you created for steps along your lead funnel.

Example of a Facebook Ads Manager custom report for Lead Event Actions and custom conversions.

Now for each of your leads that has successfully become a new customer or client, trace what marketing channel that new customer came through and how much they’re worth to your business.

To do this, first look at your CRM or email marketing software to see when they were added to your list. Then cross-reference that with your Facebook advertising at the time by looking at the lead custom reporting column you just created.

Analyze Specific Facebook Campaign Performance

After you’ve analyzed the overall impact of your Facebook advertising, you can then look at the ROAS of your individual campaigns.

Click the first ROAS column to sort your campaigns by the highest ROAS. This makes it easy to highlight both your most effective and weakest campaigns.

Example of Facebook Ads Manager report data for your Purchase and ROAS report, sorted by ROAS.

With the highest-generating ROAS campaigns, you can look to scale the ad set budgets to generate more purchases.

It’s worth noting, however, that when you scale your ad spend, your cost per purchase will increase. Additionally, your immediate ROAS will decrease as you start to reach more people in your target audience who aren’t hyper-responsive or the low-hanging fruit that Facebook will have shown your ads to when you started with lower budgets.

For campaigns that aren’t ROAS-positive (meaning your total ROAS is less than 1), you can dive deeper into your ad sets and ads by analyzing the cost, relevance, frequency, and CPM metrics.

When you do this, you can identify why they’re not delivering results and what changes you need to make to get their performance back on track such as improving your audience targeting.


The biggest issue with how you can currently measure your return on ad spend on Facebook (using the Purchase ROAS metric) is that it reports only the immediate purchase value at that specific moment in time when you assess the data.

The key to accurately measuring the real impact of your Facebook advertising (and any marketing channel for that matter) is to look at your customer lifetime value, which goes far beyond their first purchase. I call it true ROAS and it’s usually a much higher level of return due to the higher customer lifetime value.

For example, suppose you spend $10,000 in a month on Facebook ads with an average purchase value of $60 and a cost per purchase of $20. Those ads generate 500 purchases (new customers) with a total purchase value of $30,000. That’s a 3X ROAS. Not bad.

However, if your customers spend on average an additional $80 in the next 12 months, the purchase value increases from $60 to $140. When you measure your true ROAS, those 500 new customers were actually worth $70,000 to your business because they each spent $140. Therefore, spending $10,000 to acquire them makes your true ROAS 7X.

When it comes to making ad spend decisions and planning your ad campaigns, don’t just look at your immediate ROAS; instead, calculate your true ROAS. To help you better understand the conversions that happen in your business and how they can be attributed to Facebook as a marketing channel, Facebook has introduced the Attribution tool. Check this guide on how to set up and use the Attribution tool to better understand your data.

Measuring Facebook ROAS isn’t as straightforward as it might appear. But by using the purchase ROAS method or the lead method (depending on your business), you can assess the immediate return that your Facebook advertising is generating for your business.

If you use the Attribution tool alongside these methods and factor in your customer lifetime value, you can fully understand the true long-term impact of your Facebook advertising on your business.

What do you think? Have you used this method of measuring Facebook ROAS to assess the effectiveness of your campaigns? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

More articles on Facebook ads:

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Discover how to measure your return on ad spend (ROAS) and performance for Facebook ad campaigns.

Using Emotions to Sell: The Journey: Season 2, Episode 14

social media how toWant more customers from a shrinking audience? Then watch the Journey, Social Media Examiner’s episodic video documentary that shows you what really happens inside a growing business.

Watch The Journey

This episode of the Journey explores how Social Media Examiner improves their conversion rate by using emotional messaging. Watch as they interview customers, hire an optimization expert, and begin working on a Messenger bot.

The show opens with Michael Stelzner (founder of Social Media Examiner) and the marketing team reviewing conference promotion results. Rather than improving on last year’s numbers, sales are falling below last year. Mike’s not giving up and he wants his team to prepare for the difficult path ahead of them.

Messaging continues to be a weakness, so Mike has hired conversion rate expert Talia Wolf, from Get Uplift. Talia specializes in emotional and psychological messaging.

During a call with Mike, Talia explains that her process involves getting to know the customer in a personal way. She will start by surveying both past attendees and people who are on the site.

Mike calls in marketing team members Jennifer Ballard and Saidah Murphy to let them know Talia is about to email a survey to all of last year’s attendees. When he suggests the surveys may also provide source material for the case studies and testimonials the marketing team has wanted to collect, everyone agrees.

Later, Saidah and Jennifer interview past attendee Meg Brunson.

Meg shares that she was initially concerned about the cost of the conference. After attending for the first time, she realized the value in the conference isn’t related to the cost. The value is related to how much knowledge you take from the conference.

Saidah is very pleased with the result of the interview.

Next, it’s back to the conference table.

When marketing manager Kim Reynolds brings forward the idea that emotional messaging may create a disconnect for people who aren’t emotional decision makers, Mike partially agrees.

He believes the past month’s greatest issue centered on the objection emails the team was sending. The reason? Prospective customers aren’t yet facing objections. Essentially, the objection messaging was timed incorrectly.

What are prospective customers concerned about right now?

They are uncertain. They’ve seen Social Media Examiner cancel Facebook video – a medium we were all in last year. They’ve seen organic reach drop. They’ve seen return on ad spend go down while they’ve seen cost per acquisition go up.

Mike says they don’t care about the number of sessions at the conference or which expert will be there. They want to know someone can help them solve their problem.

Next, the team tackles the decreased email deliverability which Mike believes could explain away much of the issues the team is facing. Jen agrees and says email campaigns are getting less than half the clicks and sales they used to.

Mike tells the team he’s hopeful the new Messenger bot can help solve the problem.

Later, Mike’s on a call with Kyle Willis and Natasha Takahashi from School of Bots. They discuss Mike’s goal for the company’s first messenger bot, and begin to develop an editorial bot strategy.

Back in the conference room, Mike says unified messaging also affected campaigns adversely. The same messaging was used in the email newsletter, the marketing email blast, and Facebook ads.

Kim says everyone she’s talked to believes unified messaging is the way to go. When she says the issue might be in the message itself rather than the delivery, Mike says she’s right.

The past month’s campaign was unified around improperly timed experimental messaging. When the experimental objection messaging failed, the unified messaging failed.

The takeaway? Messaging needs to be tested before it goes into unified messaging.

Finally, Mike drops into Jen’s office to let her know he’s just hired YouTube ads expert Tom Breeze to help the company develop a strong YouTube strategy.

Mike is hopeful his recent new hires (Natasha Takahashi,Talia Wolf, Ilana Wechsler, Tom Breeze) will help the marketing team reach their goals.

The show closes with a bleary-eyed Mike staring at his computer screen. What is Mike staring at?

What are your thoughts on Messenger bots? Like them or not? Let us know in the comments below.

Key Mentions:

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Learn how Social Media Examiner improves conversion rates w/ emotional messaging. Watch as they interview customers, hire an optimization expert, and begin working on a Messenger bot.

How to Style Your Instagram Grid Layout: 4 Planning Tools

social media toolsDo you want an easier way to curate a stylish and cohesive Instagram profile? Wondering how to see what new images will look like in your profile before you publish?

In this article, you’ll discover four Instagram grid layout planning tools that will help you create a visually attractive profile grid.

How to Style Your Instagram Grid Layout: 4 Planning Tools by Megan Andrew on Social Media Examiner.
How to Style Your Instagram Grid Layout: 4 Planning Tools by Megan Andrew on Social Media Examiner.

Why Use an Instagram Grid Layout Tool?

Instagram has always been a visual-first platform. Unlike Facebook, Instagram users are probably more likely to follow your account if they see a curated grid than if it’s a seemingly disconnected assortment of jumbled images.

It’s crucial to tell a story and give your profile a visual voice so people know what to expect from your content. It also helps send a clear message of what you’re trying to achieve with your Instagram such as selling products or services, sending traffic to your blog or website, driving foot traffic to your store, building a community of like-minded individuals, or simply building authority in a certain category or field.

The other benefit of a curated grid is that a consistent color theme or palette can be the thread that connects your posts, even if the content is completely unrelated. By linking your posts with a color theme or palette, you can cover multiple content types and topics, yet still have a grid that remains connected through visual cues.

Pro Tip: Try something different by splitting images across a number of tiles to create impact with your profile. Play with color, tone, and style. Splitting an image into nine tiles can make a strong visual impact, which is ideal for new product launches or highlighting an important announcement.

Example of the Estee Lauder Instagram feed showing several split images in their grid.

Whether you want to use a grid splitting tool or not, the following grid planning tools will help you map out your individual posts and create a cohesive Instagram profile for optimal impact. You can use these tools to ensure that your split images will mesh with the rest of your content or simply check that an individual post blends seamlessly with the rest of your content.

#1: Planoly

Planoly (iOS and Android) is one of the most popular Instagram grid planning tools due to its intuitive app layout and ease of use. It’s also conveniently available on both mobile and desktop if you need to upload or write copy from either device.

This tool lets you manage and create your hashtags, plan and schedule posts and stories, and access analytics data for your account. The free version has very basic data but as the plan price increases, the data becomes more detailed and comprehensive.

It also has a fantastic feature that allows you to split posts directly so no other tools are necessary. You can then schedule straight from the app and won’t need to worry about the order of the posts. Note that the “schedule” function won’t schedule automatically; rather, it sends a posting reminder to your phone at the time of posting.

The Planoly app will send you a reminder when it is time to post.

On desktop, Planoly has a handy calendar tool that helps you plan new posts.

One downside is that the mobile app can be a little slow to upload, and you can only upload 30 images a month with the free version.

Cost: Free. For extra features, upgrade to one of the paid plans, which start at $9/month. Paid plans let you add multiple users, access more analytics data, and upload more than 30 images per month.

To use this tool, first download the app from the App Store or the Google Play Store. Create an account and connect your Instagram account. When you log in initially, you’ll see your normal Instagram profile displayed in the grid format.

To start adding posts, tap the + symbol at the bottom of the app and select your image.

Tap the plus symbol to add images to your Instagram feed with the Planoly app.

Next, you’re taken to the upload screen.

What’s great about Planoly is that you can split your image into multiple posts directly. To do this, tap the grid icon at the bottom right of the image you’re uploading.

Tapping the Planoly grid icon will allow you to split your image into multiple posts.

From the pop-up menu, choose which format you’d like the posts split into. Then tap Split at the bottom of the screen.

Selection of the Planoly split options for your Instagram image.

If the split preview looks okay, tap Upload to add the image (now multiple posts) to your account.

Once split, tap upload to load your posts to your Planoly account.

Continue adding images until you’re happy with how the layout looks. If you need to delete an image, tap the post and then tap the trash icon at the top right.

Tap the trash icon to delete a post from your Planoly account.

If you want to move a post, tap and hold the image and drag it to swap places with another image.

When you’re happy with your grid, you can schedule your post. Tap your post, add your caption, and tap the Schedule option. In the calendar, select a date and time and tap OK.

To schedule your post through Planoly, tap the option to schedule, and select a date and time.

If everything looks okay, tap Save. You’ll notice that the post is now marked as scheduled, and it has a date and time attributed. It will also be marked with an “S” on your grid back on the main screen.

A scheduled post in Planoly will have a date and time shown.

If you choose to schedule posts through the app, the order of your posts will change on the grid in Planoly until you schedule all of the other posts.

For example, one post is scheduled below (marked with an “S”) but not the others, so the order has changed accordingly:

Example of a Planoly feed showing a scheduled image, another with others needing to be scheduled.

Pro Tip: Create an alternative (non-branded) account to test content before you post it on your main account page. If you only have a few hundred followers, it may be easier to spot trends and patterns when testing content. Once tested, post the same (or similar) content according to what performed the best in your testing.

#2: Preview App

Preview App (iOS and Android) is another popular grid planning tool. Like Planoly, it has an intuitive interface and allows you to switch and rearrange planned posts with the click of a button. It also has a built-in editing tool that’s great for simple edits, particularly if you feel the tone of an image is slightly different from the other content and want to modify it.

What’s great about Preview is that it lets you upload an unlimited number of images for free, so if you’re working with a large number of images, it’s the perfect tool. The free version contains basic analytics, and you can purchase additional filter packages or upgrade to paid versions of the app.

Cost: Free with no limit on uploads; the paid plans start at $7.99/month for full analytics, hashtag analytics, and full filter packs.

To get started, first download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store. Log in and connect your Instagram account. Once you log in, your grid will appear. To start adding images, tap the + symbol at the top-right corner of the screen.

Inside the Preview app, tap the plus icon to add images.

Now select and upload as many images as you like.

To change the order of the images, click the two images you’d like to swap. They should appear white when you select them (as shown below). At the bottom of the screen, tap the icon with the two arrows and the images will swap places.

Swap the place of two images in the Preview app using the double arrow icon.

To edit an image, tap the image to select it (again, it should turn white as before) and then tap the wheel icon at the bottom of the screen. Select whichever filter you prefer and drag the slider at the bottom to increase or decrease the effect. Then tap Save to save your changes.

In Preview, tap the wheel icon to edit the image, and use the slider to increase or decrease the effect of a filter.

At the top of the screen, tap the settings bar to open more advanced editing settings, should you need to edit, crop, add overlays, or remove blemishes. The editing function is a key reason why the Preview app is such a strong grid layout tool.

In the Preview app, tap the top settings button to access advanced settings.

When you’re finished editing the image, tap Done and then tap Save (both options are at the top right). If you haven’t edited the image beyond simply adding a filter, you can go straight to the Save function.

From here, you can add a caption and schedule the post to your Instagram account. To add a caption, simply tap on the image and tap the speech bubble icon at the bottom.

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Use the speech bubble icon to add a caption to to your post in Preview.

A helpful extra function with this app is the ability to search for hashtags. Tap Find Hashtags on the scheduling screen to perform a search. Scroll through the suggestions and find a set of hashtags that fits your post. Then click off the screen to go back to scheduling your post.

The Preview app helps you find relevant hashtags to add to your post.

To add groups of hashtags you’ve previously saved, tap Groups and make your selection.

Once you’ve selected your hashtags, tap Schedule Post at the bottom of the screen. Add your preferred date and time and tap OK. Then tap Done.

Preview, like Planoly, will send you a reminder to post rather than automatically posting to your account.

The Preview app allows you the option to schedule your post.

If you go to your calendar (tap the icon at the top left of the main grid screen), you can see the post scheduled in the calendar.

Tap the calendar icon in Preview app to see scheduled posts.

#3: UNUM

UNUM (iOS and Android) gained in popularity before Instagram created the archive feature because it allows users to “hide” posts and see what the grid would look like if certain posts were deleted. It’s still a helpful app though, with its simple drag-and-drop feature and the ability to toggle posts to see how they fit with your other content. You can also perform basic edits or cropping.

It can be a little slow, particularly when uploading, and the schedule function is also a little clunky. But on the plus side, it’s simple to use. If you’re not using the app for scheduling, it’s a great option. And unlike the other apps on this list, UNUM lets you upload 500 images per month for free (with 18 tile planning spaces).

Cost: Free; the paid plans start at $4.99/month and offer more total grids, deeper analytics, and unlimited uploads.

To get started, download the app from the App Store or the Google Play Store. Log in and connect your Instagram account.

To upload one or multiple images at once, scroll up, select the squarewhere you want to add your image, choose your image, and then tap Done.

In UNUM, select the square in your grid where you would like to upload an image.

Once you’ve uploaded all of your images to the app, you can rearrange them by swapping two images at a time. To do this, select two images and then tap the double arrow icon at the bottom to swap them.

Use the double arrow icon in UNUM to swap images around.

To use the editing function, select an image and tap the edit icon at the bottom center of the screen. This allows you to do basic edits.

In UNUM, tap the edit button to adjust your image.

If you have other posts that you want to keep on hold for future use, there’s plenty of space at the top. Simply upload them to the planning space for future use.

Upload images to the planning space in UNUM to use them later.

To set a posting reminder, tap the hourglass symbol at the top right of the screen.

In UNUM, tap the hourglass icon to set a posting reminder.

Then tap Custom Post at the bottom of the screen. Tap to select one of your planned posts and choose your preferred date and time. Tap Save when you’re done.

Tap Custom Post in UNUM, and then select the day and time you want to post it to your feed.

The clunky part lies in adding the caption. You have to go back to the main grid, tap on your post, and tap the feather tool at the bottom right. Then add your caption and tap Save.

Tap the feather tool in UNUM to add a caption to your post, prior to publish.

#4: Plann

Plann (iOS and Android) is similar to Planoly. It features a limited number of uploads per month (30) and basic editing capabilities, and allows you to plan your grid, curate your grid, and schedule posts with a push notification.

Cost: Free; if you upgrade to the most basic paid version (currently $4/month), you get plenty of extra features such as analytics and a “strategy” plan, which lets you map out the different styles of posts you want to add and even add color-coded placeholders.

Use color coded placeholders in Plann to help plan your Instagram feed content.

For a small cost, you get an all-in-one tool with a little more guidance. You can find out the best time to post and view your color palette, which is helpful for identifying ongoing or future themes. It has a helpful goal-setting function where you can track trends and add a weekly focus.

In terms of analytics, the $4/month version shows your top posts, best times to post, follower growth, and best-performing hashtags. Like some of the other apps, you can also save sets of hashtags and plan, save, and schedule stories.

On the flipside, Plann is not as intuitive as some of the other apps and it’s not as easy to move images around. There’s also no calendar function outside of the grid.

To use Plann, first download the app from the App Store or the Google Play Store. Then log in and connect your Instagram account. Tap Continue to enter the main grid screen.

To upload an image, tap the + symbol at the top-right corner of the screen.

In Plann, tap the plus symbol to add a new image.

On the Add Media screen, tap Device and select the images you want to upload.

To rearrange the images you’ve added, click and hold an image, and drag left or right to move it.

To create a post, tap the image and add a caption. Tap the leftmost icon at the bottom of the screen to access editing tools.

In Plann, tap the edit icon to access editing tools.

To set a posting reminder, tap the clock symbol and add your date and time, or tap the Instagram icon topost directly. Your caption will be saved to post directly to your profile or Stories.

Bonus Tool: Split Your Image

Pine Tools Split Image on desktop is an easy tool to split an image for Instagram. You can split tiles into 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, or 9 images.

Keep in mind that posting 4, 6, or 8 images in a 2 x 2, 2 x 3, or 2 x 4 format means you need to coordinate with your other content (whatever will make up the images in the third column) and post it all at the same time, which can be difficult and time-consuming. Some users also have smaller screens, so a 2 x 4 post may not have the same effect because the image may run past the size of their screen.

I recommend that you plan split posts far in advance, and if you schedule them, monitor your split posts closely when they’re due to go live.

To use this tool, go to the tool’s home page and click Choose File. Then select the image you want to upload.

Use Pine Tools Split Image to divide your image for posting to your Instagram feed.

From here, decide how you’d like to split your image: vertically, horizontally, or both ways. For maximum impact, split both ways.

Then choose the number of rows and columns you’d like, select the file type you need, and click Split. The images will be downloaded into separate files with each image labeled in order for posting.

Before you upload the images to Instagram, make sure you look at each image individually. Watch for split text on one image spelling out a word you didn’t intend, or split images that create a strange look individually.


It’s important to have a clear vision for your Instagram content. Choose one theme or filter from the start and stick with it. Is your palette warm and sunny? Dark and moody? Woody and masculine? Tropical? Does it have a vintage feel, or is it more modern? Changing styles and filters too much creates a messy and inconsistent look, which may be confusing to potential followers.

Use a balanced mix of images consistent in theme, color, style, and subject. For example, if your Instagram account represents a swimwear brand, use images of people mixed in with location shots of beaches, close-ups of products, and photos of models wearing your swimwear pieces. Post a combination of close-ups, extreme close-ups and larger, more detailed scenes to ensure that not every image is busy.

If you follow these suggestions, you should be well on your way to developing a cohesive and consistent visual aesthetic on this visual-first platform.

What do you think? Which of these Instagram tools will you try first? Have you experimented with splitting images in your Instagram posts? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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How to Implement Social Listening for Your Business: 4 Tools

social media toolsDo you need to do more than monitor and respond to mentions on social media? Looking for tools that also reveal strategic insights from those conversations?

In this article, you’ll discover four social listening tools that deliver information you can use to make smart marketing decisions.

How to Implement Social Listening for Your Business: 4 Tools by Lilach Bullock on Social Media Examiner.
How to Implement Social Listening for Your Business: 4 Tools by Lilach Bullock on Social Media Examiner.

What Is Social Listening?

Social listening is the process of listening to and analyzing conversations happening online about specific topics and keywords.

While social media monitoring is about monitoring conversations happening on social media about your brand (or other topics), social listening allows you to dig much deeper. The scope is larger (you can “listen” across social media, blogs, forums, news sites, and more), and there’s a big focus on analyzing the data and extracting important insights that can help you improve your strategies.

In fact, social listening isn’t just a social media tool, it’s also:

  • A content marketing tool
  • A lead generation tool
  • A market research tool for businesses
  • An influencer discovery tool
  • A customer service tool
  • A competitive analysis and monitoring tool

Now that you understand what social listening is, here’s a look at four social listening tools and how you can leverage them for your business.

#1: Awario

Awario is a pro social listening tool with a few extra features thrown in such as social selling (and lead generation) and social media management. It’s built for businesses of any size but it has a lot of enterprise-ready features including sentiment analysis, influencer discovery, white-label reports, and mention maps, among others. Plans start at $29/month.

Click the More Options button in Awario to access the boolean search feature.

When you set up a search query, Awario lets you use Boolean search operators to make sure your results will be highly targeted. To access this functionality when you set up an alert, click More Options in the alert setup window, as shown above.

Then click Switch to Boolean Search at the bottom of the advanced search window.

Click the Switch to Boolean search button in Awario to access the boolean search feature.

Now type in your search query to set up your alert.

Example of an Awario search query identifying sources, key words, date range, and email notification settings.

Boolean search is one of the features that shows the difference between basic monitoring and pro social listening. It lets you define the terms of your search in great detail:

  • What specific keywords you want to track. You can add as many as needed.
  • What keywords you want to avoid tracking. Any mentions that include those keywords will be removed from your results.
  • What sources you want to focus your search on, if applicable.

To further refine your keyword search, allow mentions that include your keywords even if the keywords are separated by other words; for example, “looking for help with my marketing strategy, particularly for social media.” In this case, the keywords “social media marketing” are the main words being tracked.

With this level of detail, you can make sure your searches are highly accurate and avoid unnecessary mentions that might influence your insights.

Once your search is complete, use the platform to monitor your results in real time, discover relevant conversations happening in your industry, and set alerts so you’ll know as soon as an important mention requires your attention.

Example of an Awario dashboard showing results for the search term Todoist.

As mentioned earlier, one way to leverage social listening tools is for social selling and lead generation. By closely monitoring conversations happening online, you can find opportunities to sell. To help with this, Awario introduced Awario Leads, a new module to their tool that helps you discover social media leads automatically.

To use it, you first need to create your Leads project. In the Create a Project window, enter the brand name, enter relevant keywords for the product description, and then name your main competitors to get started.

Example of an Awario Leads project for fitbit including product description and competitor keywords.

Awario will then pull any relevant social media posts; for instance, any customers who are complaining about one of your competitors or people who are looking for product recommendations (products similar to what you’re selling).

Example of an Awario Leads project dashboard showing 380 new leads.

Perfect for: social listening, social selling, reputation monitoring and management, influencer discovery, market research

#2: Brandwatch

While Awario stands out for its powerful lead generation and social selling features, Brandwatch is the perfect solution if you’re more interested in the analytics and insights you can get for a search. This makes it an excellent tool for market research, as well as for generating more detailed audience and customer insights to improve your marketing strategies. Pricing information is available upon request.

If you’re not sure where to start, Brandwatch offers Insights Central, a hub where you can find a plethora of pre-built projects for various sectors and industries. You can either use them as inspiration or copy the ones you need directly to your account.

Sample selection of pre-built Projects in the Insights Central section of Brandwatch.

You also have the option to create your own search from scratch. As with Awario, use Boolean search if you want to filter your results. You can create multiple searches and track each one with its own dashboard.

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Example of multiple Brandwatch search dashboards.

Brandwatch offers dozens of filtering options to further refine your search results. Plus, you can segment your data into different lists (such as by location or author) and create any kind of category you want (such as for grouping conversations based on customer profiles).

In terms of insights, you get access to very detailed data. Brandwatch lets you add the components you want to build your own dashboard. Another feature that makes it stand out is image insights, which is “social media for images.” It will catch any images mentioning your brand (i.e., your brand’s logo) so you can act accordingly. Note that this is a separate module with different pricing.

Perfect for: social listening, social and customer insights, market research, sentiment analysis, reputation monitoring and management, image analysis

Sample selection of components you can add to your Brandwatch dashboard.

#3: Talkwalker

Talkwalker is social listening, social media analytics, and influencer marketing software that’s perfect for companies that operate at a global level and want to ensure their brand’s image is protected all over the world. Another way to use it is to monitor your social media KPIs and measure your social media success. Pricing starts at $9,600 yearly.

The tool can monitor the entire web (or about 150 million websites) in real time, in 187 countries. And like Brandwatch, it even helps you monitor visual content so you can find any images with your brand logo. Talkwalker’s biggest selling points, however, are the powerful features for monitoring and managing your brand reputation at a truly global level:

  • Create a customized crisis dashboard where you can listen in real time and catch any mentions that need your attention.
  • Immediately detect issues based on smart spike analysis. Whenever there’s a spike happening that you need to know about, the tool will immediately let you know about it.
  • Analyze sentiment of mentions in 25 languages.
  • Create customized instant alerts so you’re immediately notified of any mentions, spikes, or trends that require your attention.

Another feature that makes Talkwalker stand out is the focus on social media analytics, KPIs, and ROI. Use it to closely monitor your campaigns and hashtags, analyze the sentiment surrounding your brand and campaigns, and integrate it with Google Analytics to track your social media ROI.

Example of two Talkwalker graphs showing revenue earned from social mentions.

As you can see above, Talkwalker can even tell you the ROI you’re getting from social media (compared to your target sum or spending on sponsored content), as well as the revenue you’re generating.

To help you manage the incredible amount of data it’s generating, Talkwalker lets you create several dashboards depending on your needs, such as:

  • Crisis management
  • Social media performance monitoring
  • Monitoring and handling customer service issues
  • Monitoring specific social networks or channels
  • Identifying and monitoring social influencers

Perfect for: reputation monitoring and management, social media analytics and ROI, visual social listening, identifying trends, influencer discovery

#4: Keyhole

Keyhole is a social listening tool but it’s actually quite different from the other tools mentioned in this list. It focuses on monitoring marketing campaigns and hashtags across the web, but with an emphasis on social media channels. This makes it an excellent solution if you want to use social listening primarily for monitoring your marketing campaigns. Pricing starts at $199/month.

With Keyhole, you can track social media campaigns in real time with in-depth analytics. What’s more, the tool uses machine learning to help predict your campaign’s performance in the next day, week, or month. Based on past performance, Keyhole predicts the number of posts, users, engagement, reach, and impressions you can expect from your marketing campaigns.

Example of a Keyhole graph demonstrating current post performance and prediction of future engagement.

You can also use Keyhole to track your brand (or your competitors’) in real time across social media channels, news sites, blogs, and forums. It uses machine learning to help you manage your brand’s reputation.

The algorithm can tell if there’s a sudden (or predicted) spike in the monitored activity, if someone complains about your brand, if an influencer you need to know about joins the conversation, or if a post starts going viral so you can catch it at the start.

Another interesting feature is the event monitoring tool. Keyhole will catch and collect any mentions of your event in real time, as well as point out the most influential users talking about your event.

Plus, you can even encourage event attendees to connect with other attendeesand share content from the event (live-streaming videos, social media posts, and so on) with a Media Wall. Once the event is over (or even during the event), you’ll get access to your event stats and customizable reports. You can share these with anyone on your team, a manager, or your sponsors.

Perfect for: event management and analysis, marketing campaign and hashtag tracking, online reputation management, market research


At first glance, social listening may seem like it’s mostly a tool for monitoring brand mentions in real time. However, the truth is that it can help you achieve several goals, as mentioned above. But most importantly, it can provide in-depth insights about your industry and audience, and your own digital marketing strategies.

In other words, social listening unlocks important insights and data. Leverage this data so you can ultimately improve your marketing results.

What do you think? Do you use any of these social listening tools? Which ones will you try first? Please share your thoughts below.

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Discover four social listening tools that let you monitor and respond to mentions, and reveal strategic insights you can use to make smart marketing decisions.

How to Use the Instagram Close Friends List for Business

social media how toWant to send Instagram stories to a segmented list of followers? Have you heard of Instagram’s Close Friends feature?

In this article, you’ll discover five ways to use your Instagram close friends list for your business.

How to Use the Instagram Close Friends List for Business by Jenn Herman on Social Media Examiner.
How to Use the Instagram Close Friends List for Business by Jenn Herman on Social Media Examiner.

What Is the Instagram Close Friends List?

While most users have long enjoyed the simplicity of Instagram’s interface, one of the features that users have long wanted is a segmented list option. We’re able to create lists on nearly every other social media platform, but not on Instagram. And, realistically, most people follow hundreds of other accounts, maybe even thousands, making it difficult to share select content with specific people.

Instagram’s solution was to test a new feature over the last year that allowed users to select a group of people for a specific list. After a variety of tests and beta features, Instagram has released Close Friends, which allows you to share Instagram stories with only a select group of people from those you follow. Here’s how to start using this feature for your business.

#1: Set Up Your Instagram Close Friends List

Only you can set up your list of close friends. People can’t request to join your list, or see if you’ve added or removed them. As with most features, Instagram wants to ensure you know this tool is there and can access it from multiple locations.

From Your Profile Settings

To set up your close friends list from your profile settings, go to your profile on Instagram and tap on the three-line button in the top-right corner. From the menu, select Close Friends.

Option for Close Friends from an Instagram profile.

The close friends list will open, providing you with recommended users to add. You can also use the search field to find specific users to add to the list. Simply tap the green Add buttonto move that user to your close friends list.

Option to click Add to add a friend to your Close Friends list on Instagram.

To remove someone from your list, tap Remove next to that user.

Option to click Remove to remove a friend to your Close Friends list on Instagram.

From Your Story Post

Important: This method of adding people to your close friends list will work only if your list is empty.

Begin uploading an Instagram story as usual and tap the green star icon at the bottom of the screen to add people to your close friends list. If there’s no one currently on your list, a pop-up will open, allowing you to add people to the list. Once you’ve added people to the list, that story post will be shared with them.

Option to add people to your Close Friends list from your Instagram Story post.

Things to Know About Adding Friends to Your List

  • You can add or remove users from your close friends list at any time.
  • Users won’t receive any notifications of being added or removed.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a limit on how many people can be on your list (I added more than 100 people without issue).

#2: Send Instagram Stories to Your Close Friends List

For now, Instagram only allows stories to be shared with those on the close friends list. Regular posts in your feed will remain public.

To send a story to your list of close friends (once your list is complete with those you want included), simply create a story just as you would any other. Upload an image or video, add stickers or text, and select filters for your story.

Instagram has slightly altered the layout for sharing stories to accommodate the new Close Friends option. Now, at the bottom of the story upload screen, you have the option to send your story to your close friends.

Option to send your Instagram story post to your close friends.

When you tap the Send To button on the story upload screen, you see a list of sharing options including your story and your close friends list. You can also search for individual users or groups. Tap the Share button next to Close Friends.

Tap the Share button to share your Instagram story with your Close Friends list.

Once you’ve shared a story with your close friends list, you’ll notice that the colored circle around your profile photo turns green, versus the normal multi-colored ring.

Green circle indicator for your Instagram profile picture when you've shared a story to your Close Friends list.

When you view your current Instagram stories, any stories you’ve sent to your close friends will be denoted as such with the green notification at the top of the screen. Those stories will appear in sequence with any other stories you’ve shared with your entire audience.

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Examples of story post shared with a Close Friends list, as indicated by the green Close Friends indicator on your Instagram stories post.

Additionally, anyone who’s on your close friends list will see that the posts you’ve shared with them are because of their presence on your list. They’ll see the green circle around your account in the Stories feed, and the green Close Friends notification on the post itself. When they view your stories, they’ll see all of them—both regular and close friends posts—in sequence of how they were uploaded.

People who aren’t on your close friends list will only see the public posts in sequence.

Examples of green circle indicator and Close Friends indicator on your Instagram stories post for your audience.

Important: The Instagram story posts that you share with your close friends list won’t appear in the Insights for your business account. They’re considered separate content that isn’t publicly available so there won’t be any data on them. You will, however, be able to see how many people have viewed the post (and who they are) while the story is still live on your account for the 24 hours after upload.

#3: Use a Close Friends List for Business

While the Close Friends tool sounds fun for the average user, businesses can take advantage of this feature, too. Here’s a variety of ways you may consider incorporating this new tool.

Remember: To add someone to your close friends list, you have to be following them. This means you may have to follow customers or people you wouldn’t normally follow as your business.

Deliver Rewards to Your Top Followers

Inevitably, you’ll have followers who frequently, if not always, like your content or comment on your posts and followers who post about your products or tout your services to their friends. Consider adding these dedicated followers to your close friends list and share exclusive coupon codes, bonus features, or early access to new releases.

Send Exclusive Content and Offers to VIP or Group Members

stock art showing VIP seal

If you offer a VIP membership or private group to your customers, you could put those users on your close friends list for added incentive to both join the group and get more rewards. Similar to rewarding your top followers, you could offer exclusive discount codes, early access to products or features, special messages, personalized video messages, and more.

If you’re a coach of any sort (business coach, fitness coach, nutritionist, etc.), this would be a great way to put all of your paying clients into one group on Instagram where they get exclusive content as paying customers. The rest of your audience still gets your educational and valuable free content, but they won’t see the high-value tips and motivation you’re giving your paying members.

Collaborate With Influencers

If you regularly work with specific influencers or brand ambassadors to promote your business, you can add these people to your close friends list to share new features, products, or updatesthat they can use to help promote your brand more effectively. This gives them early access and opportunities to ask you questions before details are shared publicly with your audience.

Share Private or Behind-the-Scenes Content With Mastermind Connections

Using Instagram stories to show behind-the-scenes content is a popular tactic. But sometimes you don’t want everyone to see that side of your business. You could select specific people to whom you’re more comfortable showing those vulnerabilities or who you know would find more value in those unique perspectives on your brand.

Show Gratitude to Loyal Customers With a Video Thank You

We’re so programmed to do things online that we cherish receiving handwritten notes. While Instagram stories won’t be as personal as a handwritten note, you could share a thank-you video or a video of you writing a note to thank your dedicated customers. And instead of having to DM each one, you could put them all in your close friends list and hit them all at once. This is just one more way you can get creative with the close friends list.

All of the tips listed above show fun ways to reward and connect with your audience on Instagram. This new feature is one more way you can capitalize on Instagram to create real relationships with the followers and customers on your Instagram profile. Taking that extra step to offer them something special will help validate their presence and build that loyalty with your brand.


Instagram users have long desired a segmented list feature. One workaround that evolved over time was a trend called “Finstagrams” where users would create new Instagram accounts exclusively for their closest friends or a small group of people to share exclusive content to those accounts, ensuring it wasn’t seen elsewhere. Of course, this is tedious and requires the management of multiple accounts, which is definitely not practical for businesses.

Another workaround that evolved was the group messaging option on Instagram where you can send direct messages to a specific group to share messages, posts, and stories. The downside is that you have to assume people will check their direct messages and see that post. In the case of stories, which disappear after 24 hours, people often won’t see the DM in time to view the story. Furthermore, there are limits to how many people you can add to a DM group.

Instagram built the close friends list for personal users, but as more brands find strategic ways to implement the tool, we can hope to see more features like this for business accounts in the future. As we know from other platforms, the ability to put people into lists and target messages specifically to them can have big impacts on our results on social media.

What do you think? Are you excited to try out this new feature? Or are you already using some of these tactics for your business? Please share your thoughts or tips in the comments below.

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Discover five ways to use your Instagram Close Friends list to send Instagram stories to a segmented list of followers.

Facebook and Twitter Upheaval: How Social Media Marketing Changed in 2018

social media researchWelcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media.

Join us for this special “year in review” episode of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, where we explore the major Facebook and Twitter marketing news of 2018. Our special guests this week include Michael Stelzner and Amanda Bond discussing Facebook’s news feed changes.

Listen now or find the Social Media Marketing Talk Show podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcast, Android, Google Play, Stitcher, and RSS.


Watch the Social Media Marketing Talk Show

To watch our latest episode from Friday, December 14, 2018, click on the green “Watch replay” button below and sign in or register.

For this week’s top stories, you’ll find timestamps below that allow you to fast-forward in the replay above.

Facebook Announces Updates to Organic Reach for Pages: On the January 12 and January 19 broadcasts of the show, we discussed major changes to the way Facebook organically serves page posts from businesses and publishers. In a statement on the Facebook Media site in January 2018, the company announced its plans to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people… [and] posts from friends and family over public content.” (9:55)

Facebook Pages End of Days??

BREAKING NEWS: Facebook Zero? Is this the end of the Facebook News Feed for pages?

Posted by Social Media Examiner on Thursday, January 11, 2018

While many marketers and business page owners took this to mean the end of their Facebook content reach or the effectiveness of their Facebook ads, industry experts reassured page owners that this change would merely require an adjustment to their Facebook strategies and may actually benefit those using their Facebook presence to authentically engage and interact with their community.

One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.

We built…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, January 11, 2018

Social Media Examiner Revisits Decision to Remove Three Weekly Shows From Facebook: Earlier this year, Social Media Examiner canceled three weekly video shows on Facebook, including The Journey. Michael Stelzner joined us on the October 19 broadcast to explain the reasoning behind this decision in light of the viewing habits of typical Facebook users and our own analytics. We shared the results of this dramatic pivot and discussed what types of video have been working on Facebook since then. (17:43)

Why we are stopping Facebook video…

We just canceled three of our weekly video shows on Facebook (including The Journey). Watch as I explain why. – Mike

Posted by Social Media Examiner on Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Facebook Adds More Video Ad Buying Options: Also discussed on the October 19 broadcast, Facebook introduced two new ways to buy and deliver video ad campaigns on its platform. These include In-Stream Reserve, which will allow advertisers to reach people watching video from a selection of “the most engaging, highest quality publishers and creators,” and ThruPlay, which “allows advertisers to optimize and pay only for ads that are watched to completion or for at least 15 seconds.” (23:35)

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Facebook Users Change Social Media Habits Amid Privacy and Security Concerns: On the September 7 broadcast, we reviewed the results of a Pew Research Center survey that showed many Facebook users have changed how they interact with the site amid growing privacy and security concerns over the past year. The study revealed that more than half of those surveyed don’t understand how the news feed works and reported major shifts in usage over the polling period. (25:58)

44% of Facebook users ages 18 to 29 say they have deleted the Facebook app from their phone in the past year

— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) September 5, 2018

Twitter Officially Cuts Access to Third-Party Apps: On the August 24 broadcast, we explored the impact of Twitter shutting down API access to third-party apps that “mimic the core Twitter experience.” At the time, the company cited “technical and business constraints” and “operational necessity” as the reasons behind this decision. It also promoted users to switch to their owned and operated TweetDeck, Twitter for iOS and Android apps, and desktop and mobile for managing their presence on the platform. (38:35)

I shared the following message with our Twitter team this morning

— Rob Johnson (@robjohnson) August 16, 2018

Twitter Cracks Down on Automation and Bot Usage: On the February 23 broadcast, we explained a new set of Twitter guidelines that prohibited developers from using the Twitter API to simultaneously post identical or “substantially similar” content to multiple accounts and prohibited perform actions such as likes, retweets, or follows from multiple accounts. The guidelines also prevented users from using any form of automation such as scheduling tweets to multiple cards through either third-party platforms or the company’s own TweetDeck. (42:47)

Today, we’re clarifying our rules on automation using multiple accounts, as well as removing any possible ambiguity created by our own implementations. Please read, and note the March 23, 2018 deadline.

— Twitter API (@TwitterAPI) February 21, 2018

Twitter Expands Verification to All Users: On the March 16 broadcast, we covered Twitter’s plans to scale its blue checkmark verification process to all users and plans. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explained that Twitter’s blue checkmark was initially intended to designate celebrities, athletes, and public figures from would-be imposters on Twitter, but it was eventually expanded to any users who applied and could justify needing verification. At the time, Business Insider reported that by making verification more accessible, Twitter intended “to shift the focus of the designation away from any presumption of endorsement and emphasize proof of identity.” (44:50)

Twitter is considering verifying all of its users by

— Business Insider (@businessinsider) March 9, 2018

Other News Mentioned

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YouTube Ads: What Marketers Need to Know

Do you want to diversify your social media advertising? Wondering how to make YouTube ads work for your business?

To explore how to reach more customers with YouTube ads, I interview Tom Breeze.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode, I interview Tom Breeze, YouTube ads expert and founder of YouTube ad agency Viewbility. His book is titled Viewability: Harness the Power of YouTube Ads and Be There for Your Customer When It Really Counts and his course is YouTube Ads Workshop.

Tom explains how user intent on Facebook and YouTube differs and why intent matters to advertisers.

You’ll also discover a seven-step framework to create YouTube ads that sell.

YouTube Ads: What Marketers Need to Know featuring insights from Tom Breeze on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.
YouTube Ads: What Marketers Need to Know featuring insights from Tom Breeze on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

Listen Now

Listen now: Play in new window | Download

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

YouTube Ads

Tom’s Story

Tom’s journey with YouTube was heavily impacted by his university studies. He graduated with a master’s degree in psychology, and at around age 23, he began working with businesspeople who had anxiety about public speaking.

In 2008, he started doing workshops on the subject and used Google ads to grow the business by driving traffic to his site.

Then, at a 2-day presentation workshop, a few people asked for help using video to present their businesses. Oddly, Tom had just created his own video and was already seeing results; conversions on the site had increased from 7% to 22% almost instantly.

As more people requested the video training rather than the public speaking training, Tom rapidly transitioned into YouTube video.

He wanted to help his clients get more views, and by extension, more business. He learned how to optimize video titles, tags, and descriptions, and dove into learning more about SEO strategies.

When Tom teamed up with a business partner to learn how videos could rank well in all search engines—not just YouTube—they established an entire agency around SEO. But as SEO evolved and got more complicated, Tom noticed their results started to drop.

To better serve his clients, Tom decided to use his experience with Google AdWords to test ads for YouTube video.

Screenshot of the website for Viewability, a YouTube ads agency.

He chose a video that had been created for SEO purposes and plugged it into Google AdWords. He targeted a few simple keywords and ran the video as a YouTube ad. The results were incredible.

From there, the SEO business evolved into an agency that focuses exclusively on YouTube ads.

Listen to the show to learn what kind of results Tom saw from his first YouTube ad.

Why YouTube Ads Matter

Next, I ask Tom why marketers should consider advertising on YouTube. First, Tom says, YouTube has a lot of ad inventory available so it’s easier for marketers and businesses to get placements.

Second, YouTube users are highly engaged on the platform. In 2015, users in the 18-49 age range spent 4% less time watching TV than the year before, while time watching YouTube video rose by 74%. This year, YouTube reported its 1.9 million active users are collectively watching more than one billion minutes of video daily.

YouTube has an engaged user base of 1.9 million people.

These people are actively using YouTube as a search engine, the average viewing session is clocking in at 40 minutes, and the potential to connect with the right audience is very high. Imagine an engaged user is looking for help and finds your YouTube content. You immediately have an opportunity to create a great first brand experience.

Finally, despite all these positives, only 1 in 10 brands has actually used YouTube ads. So while the ad inventory is a lot bigger, the competition is a little lower.

Listen to the show to find out why many brands haven’t tried YouTube ads.

How YouTube Viewers Differ From Facebook Viewers

When I ask Tom why advertising on YouTube is different than advertising on Facebook, Tom says it has a lot to do with key differences in how people use Facebook and YouTube.

When you’re on Facebook, he explains, you’re in a certain mindset. You pick up the phone, look at your notifications, and maybe scroll through the feed. You’re there to socialize and see what’s going on, not to buy or learn something. Ads are, for the most part, disruptive to the experience.

YouTube users, he points out, aren’t typically on the platform to socialize. About 53% of users are there to look up things they’re passionate about like a hobby or a favorite video. The balance of users come to YouTube to learn something, do something, or buy something.

YouTube users are high-intent viewers.

They’re typically looking for something specific, and are ready to sit down and invest time into it, making them high-intent viewers. If your targeting is right, Tom says, you can show them content they’re already searching for.

Listen to the show to learn more about the difference between YouTube and Facebook users.

Two Types of YouTube Ads

Next, Tom and I discuss the difference between the two types (or formats) of YouTube TrueView ads.

YouTube discovery ads show up at the top of search results when users search for a keyword that’s included in the targeting. Advertisers pay for this type of ad as soon as someone clicks on it, even if they click away almost immediately.

While Tom says these ads typically don’t deliver the same results as other types of video ads, he believes they can reinforce branding if you use them to remarket to website visitors.

YouTube in-stream ads, on the other hand, play before the content a user initially clicked on.

Example of a YouTube TrueView in-stream ad.

In-stream ad campaigns offer huge potential reach, and you only pay for them when users have clicked through on the ad or watched 30 seconds of your ad — or for the duration of your ad, if it’s less than 30 seconds long.

Listen to the show to learn how you can improve delivery for TrueView ads.

How to Reach Your Target Audience With YouTube Ads

Tom believes a strong YouTube targeting strategy starts with understanding what your customers will type into search. This allows you to target search phrases your audience is using to find content similar to yours.

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He recommends creating a list of all of the keywords gathered from different locations on your site, and says Google Analytics can help you locate the keywords and search phrases that people are using to find your site. This research will also show you what content resonates most with your audience.

Bear in mind, though, he cautions, that YouTube users are unlikely to use the same search phrases they do when using Google’s search engine.

People typically search specific, long-tail keywords on Google.

On YouTube, though, users often search a generic keyword, view the suggestions that appear, and then click on the video that interests them.

Even if they do search for a specific phrase, they’re unlikely to head back to the search bar, and instead will continue to watch other recommended videos.

Example of a YouTube auto-fill search results.To adapt to this user behavior, Tom encourages marketers to create a list of key phrases they think their audience is using and then enter them into the search bar to see what pops up in the auto-fill suggestions.

You can use these results to shape the list of keywords you’d like to target. If the suggestions aren’t a full sentence or grammatically correct, that’s ok; if it’s an auto-fill suggestion, people are clicking on it. These results offer you another chance for ad placement.

Listen to the show to learn what types of content the three types of YouTube users are looking for.

How to Create YouTube Ads That Convert

Finally, Tom shares the seven-step process he uses to consistently produce high-converting video ads. The goal of his system is both to inform and sell at the same time, creating a video ad that’s educational. He uses the acronym ADUCATE to outline his process.

1. Aim: Focus on the viewer’s aim by understanding what they want so you can create content that’s as relevant to them as possible. Ideally, you should be able to identify a customer’s motivation and ensure their need is addressed in the first 5 seconds of the video. If you know what their search term is, for example, try to include it within the first part of the video ad.

2. Difficulty: We know that people are searching for content on YouTube because they need help with something. If you search for “how to change a car tire,” it’s because you don’t know how to change a tire on your own. Address what’s difficult for the viewer or solve their problem in a way that makes sense to them, and you can create a bond with them. Use your customer’s pain points and struggles here, and don’t be afraid to make a mountain out of a molehill when addressing their concerns.

3. Understanding: Here, you want to focus on emotional understanding and show viewers that you know exactly how they feel. If their pain point makes them feel anxious, excited, scared, or angry, let them know you understand why they feel that way. Expressing empathy can create a bond between you and the viewer, establishing trust.

Tom says, you should aim to cover these first three points within the first 15 seconds of your video ad

Use the first 15 seconds of your ad carefully.

4. Credibility: At this stage, show people that you’ve not only been where they are, but that you’re in a position to offer a solution. Even just a sentence or two explaining why you’re an authority and why they can trust you, while letting them know how you can help them will suffice.

5. Action Plan: Use this part of the video to highlight the valuable information users were looking for in their search. Present them with actionable information in a simple, easily digestible way. Ideally, break things down into small chunks and make the task of tackling the information seem easy. To illustrate, instead of presenting a full 27-step solution, divide those 27 steps into 3 overarching chunks.

6. Teach: Now, take 30 seconds to give your viewer something helpful they won’t find in other videos; isolate something valuable from one step of your three-step plan and share it. This gives your viewer a reason to get in touch for more details about the other steps in the plan.

7. Exit: Ideally, everything you’ve done so far leads up to this part of your video. Include a CTA that tells your viewer what the next step is. You can direct them to a longer YouTube video, comprehensive content on your site, or ask them to fill out a quick lead generation form on a landing page. Walk them through what the next steps will look like and explain how the action will benefit them.

That’s it. The ADUCATE system in action. While Tom recommends timing each video ad to 90 seconds or less, he says he’s created ads that encompass every part of the system in less than 20 seconds.

Listen to the show to learn more about using the ADUCATE process in your own marketing.

Discovery of the Week

Planable is a mockup tool that allows you to see what your social media posts will look like on their native platforms before you actually publish them.

The Planable app website.

The beauty of this app is that it doesn’t just let you see what a post looks like in a single platform; it allows you to preview the post on all social channels via both desktop and mobile.

It’s a good fit for businesses or marketers that create a variety of content for multiple platforms and need to get fast approval from other social teammates or a key decision-maker. If edits are needed, you can go in and edit the content or it can be approved directly.

Planable has three pricing tiers after a 14-day free trial. The starter plan costs $24 for one workspace, three user accounts, and unlimited posts. You can learn more here.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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Learn how user intent on Facebook and YouTube differs and why intent matters to advertisers. You'll also discover a 7-step process to sell with YouTube ads.