Brands are dedicating more of their marketing dollars to influencers every year – in fact, in a recent survey, 57% of businesses said that they were planning to increase their influencer relations budgets in 2020. And the upward trend is more than bandwagon jumping – influencer campaigns are generating results. Some 80% of the marketers we surveyed said that influencer-generated assets performed the same or better than their own branded content, while 61% of 18- to 34-year-olds have, at some point, been swayed in their decision-making by digital influencers.
But brands still want more. They want to know that they’re reaching the right people, they want to test which pieces of content are generating the most engagment. And, of course, they want to see optimal return on their investment, and have the ability to measure business results consistently.
The problem is that while the amount of brands investing in the influencer marketing is increasing, only 18% of marketers say that they’re able to integrate influencer marketing into overall digital marketing ROI calculations.
This is why more marketers should be paying attention to Instagram’s Branded Content tool.
Released last June, the option provides new ways to maximize influencer campaigns, target key segments, and better track performance
The problem is, not many know what it is or how it works. Here’s an overview of the how and why of Insta’s Branded Content ads.
Social advertising evolution
Back in 2017, you might remember that Instagram introduced the Paid Partnership tag.
As shown here, the tag is a marker which influencers add to the top of their Instagram post or Story, in order to provide more transparency over paid collaborations. With influencer partnerships rising on the platform, Instagram introduced the tags to avoid confusion, and clarify the process around disclosure of such processes.
Then last year, Instagram stepped it up a gear. For brands and influencers that were using the Paid Partnership tag, Instagram added a new option called Branded Content ads.
Branded Content Ads enable brands to turn the content created through influencer partnerships into ads, providing a simple way to amplify these posts and Stories beyond a creator’s organic following. And importantly, the option enables brands to promote these influencer-created posts under the influencer’s profile, as opposed to re-sharing from a brand handle. This helps to make the posts feel more native, as opposed to the more clearly signaled brand promotions.
Of course, it still says ‘Sponsored’ on each post, and there is still a ‘Paid Partnership’ tag at the bottom, but the simple fact that the post/Story comes from an influencer handle is significant, and can lead to improved results.
The benefits of Branded Content
So what are the key benefits of Branded Content Ads?
First off, let’s look at reach. When a brand invests in branded content, they, logically, want to reach as many people as possible with their post/s. Branded Content ads can scale a creator’s post to reach a creator’s followers – and then some. While influencer marketing relies on organic reach, Branded Content extends beyond that and can get your brand into the feeds of people who don’t follow that particular influencer.
Then there’s targeting. As a brand, you’ll have your key target audience in mind – their age, their gender, a geographic region, etc. It’s unlikely that any influencer’s following will match each of your key targeting criteria perfectly, which means that your influencer-originated content might only be reaching part of its intended audience, limiting your ability to achieve your goals. Branded Content ads can be targeted with precision, helping you reach more of the people that matter to you.
With this option, brands are free to choose influencers who create the very best content, without being preoccupied by their reach.
Finally, thanks to Shopping Tags, Branded Content ads also enable a frictionless shopping experience.
The rise of mobile and social commerce is changing the way people shop – these days, if a social app user sees something they like, they want to be able to tap and buy straight away, no redirection, no waiting. Branded Content ads give brands the opportunity to turn a browser into a buyer seamlessly.
The majority of influencers can’t make their regular posts shoppable just yet, but Branded Content ads take that same relatable, aspirational content and make it entirely shoppable through the Instagram Ads process.
Make it work for you
While early adopters of this tool are reaping the benefits, some have also found the process to be more manual than other more established ad options.
But there are things you can do to streamline your system:
1. Set a transparent brief
When briefing influencers, be sure to let them know that you intend to use the Paid Partnership and Branded Content options, so that they realize what’s happening from the get-go. This will ensure that crucial steps in the early days of the campaign go smoothly – for example, if you intend to boost Instagram Stories, they’ll need to be free of GIFs and hashtags.
2. Streamline your Ads Manager
Another helpful preparatory step is to upload your influencer list to your Facebook Ads Manager before they create content. That way, when the influencer adds the Paid Partnership tag, you won’t need to manually approve each influencer.
3. Have a clear goal in mind
Branded Content is perfect for driving conversion, whether that’s boosting sales or app downloads. When setting out the objectives for your campaign, think business metrics over vanity metrics (like engagement), so you can measure its impact and ROAS effectively.
4. Learn from organic performance
If you’re running an influencer campaign first, use the influencer’s organic post performance to learn which pieces of content are highest-performing and worthy of boosting. While this is not a foolproof science, as different influencers will have different engagement rates, a high-performing piece of influencer-generated content could hint at what will resonate best in the Branded Content phase.
Essentially, Instagram’s Branded Content Ads enable you to add extra fuel to your influencer campaigns, and reach your target audience, as opposed to relying on their own, established following. That can deliver significantly better results – it takes some extra work, and management to get a clear understanding of best practices and opportunities. But it may well be worth the extra effort.
What You Need to be Doing NOW to Get Your Shop Ready for Black Friday
Did you know that 130 million users use Facebook and Instagram to discover sales and buy products during Black Friday weekend alone?
This means that setting your shop up for success is an excellent way to attract all shopaholics into your business and make serious money. But, with so little time, how can you know what you’re supposed to do?
Well, after talking with Meta experts, I’ve put together an easy-to-follow checklist with everything you need to do AHEAD of Black Friday if you want your Instagram or Facebook Shop to be a huge success this holiday.
So read on, and start planning now!
11 Things you need to do to get your shop Black Friday ready
The key to a successful Black Friday is reaching the right audience with the right products. In years past, this meant a well-placed ad in the local newspaper or a spot on the radio. But today, the best way to reach potential shoppers is through social media. And of all the social media platforms out there, Instagram and Facebook offer the best buying experience.
Facebook and Instagram Shops provide an easy way for businesses to showcase their products and reach a wide audience, and offer a convenient way to browse and purchase items with just a few clicks. Plus, since most users are already using these social media platforms *we’re talking about more than 3 billion*, it has become a natural way to shop.
So if you’re a business owner looking to take advantage of Black Friday, setting up an Instagram or Facebook shop is a must, and here are the best tips to do so:
1. Start planning your holiday strategies if you haven’t already
For many businesses, Black Friday is make-or-break time, when they can either turn a profit or end up in the red. That’s why it’s so important to have a solid plan in place for dealing with traffic.
By mapping out a strategy beforehand, businesses can avoid being overwhelmed by the high demand and ensure that everyone has a positive experience. This means, planning your offer and deals ahead of time, placing your ads budget, doing product inventory, organizing customer service, etc.
Regarding offers, Instagram and Facebook Shops allow businesses to set up coupons and discount codes during checkout, and timely offers to display their deals. Offer parity with your site is key. So be sure to review #7!
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2. Update your Meta Shop banners
In order for retailers to lure customers into their shops, they need to make sure their signage is up-to-date and eye-catching. This is especially true for banners, which are the first thing people see when hunting for good deals and promotions.
A well-designed banner can help to create a sense of urgency and excitement, convincing shoppers that they need to act now in order to get the best deals. These act as hero images from a traditional site, but for your Instagram Shop.
Additionally, they can be used to highlight specific sales or promotions, making it easy for shoppers to find the products they’re looking for. After all, what good is a sale if no one knows about it?
So if you’re looking to make the most of this busy shopping day, don’t forget to update your social shop banners with eye-catching designs. It could make all the difference in attracting customers to purchase in your store.
3. Make your organic media is shoppable
Facebook and Instagram Shops allow you to tag a product every time you post a picture, reel, story, or video. This is especially relevant because it drives users from an organic publication to your shop where they can check all the information about the item they’re interested in.
Plus, tagging can give you clean insights to how they’re interacting with products and creatives.
Hat tip: Did you know that you can tag your products in the description of your feed posts? No more using ‘link in bio’ in your copy for your organic posts. Use the @ symbol and choose ‘products’, once you have found your product select it and BAM, your product is now linkable in your Instagram post’s description!
4. Set your products up for success
Each product description should contain anything and everything a user needs in order to buy. This includes:
- Engaging and informative product descriptions
Standing out from the crowd of sellers can be especially hard during the holidays. However, a great way to do that is to make sure your product descriptions are clear, concise, and compelling.
No matter if you’re selling clothes, accessories, or home decor, a good product description will tell potential customers everything they need to know about a product, including its features, benefits, etc. Plus, it should also be engaging, so that shoppers are tempted to click “add to cart”, so don’t forget about the call to action and use strong and convincing language to urge the buyers to take your deal.
Be sure to exclude urls in your product description because it’s not allowed. Keep your product descriptions centered on benefits and remember, users often have 1-3 seconds to evaluate the efficacy and interest in a product from a product description.
Images that are well-lit and clearly show the product details can be the difference between a customer clicking “add to cart” or moving on to the next item on their list.
For Instagram and Facebook Shops, images need to be at least 500×500 pixels. Additionally, it’s important that you include more than just one image and focus on features.
Extra tip: according to Meta experts, if your product is in the lifestyle category, detailed product images can help you increase your possibilities of making a sale by 6-8%.
Extra extra tip: Include an image of a customer’s selfie with the product. Showcasing real customers using or holding your product makes a big difference with your conversions.
- Include price, availability, and sizes
No one will buy anything from your shop if you don’t have this information! So check your products and make sure that all of them include the deal price, pieces in stock, and sizes (this one applies only for items that are in categories like: Clothing Accessories, Newborn & Baby Fashion Accessories, and Costume Accessories)
Regarding sizes, you can (and should) add a size chart to help users feel confident in the purchase decisions and potentially reduce return rates.
Bear in mind: July 2022, Meta changed the basic information each item showcased in their shops needs to have in order to be displayed, so click here to discover everything your products need to have!
5. Update your catalog
An outdated catalog will make it difficult for them to find what they’re looking for, and they may decide to do their shopping elsewhere.
So, it’s important that you check and update your catalog to display all the products that are on sale to help your customers make important purchase decisions and drive sales.
Taking this into account, your catalog should:
- Have all the products displayed with their variants
- Include product details: complete all data fields (materials, ingredients, multiple images, videos, and size charts where applicable)
- Be maintained: update collections with new items and inventory quantity. Regarding this, you can use Meta Pixel to automatically update your catalog and reduce operational load.
6. Enable checkout on Facebook and Instagram Shops
Redirecting users to your own website or another platform in order to complete a sale is inconvenient and can lead to lost sales. So, it’s HIGHLY recommended that you set up your shop with checkout, if you’re allowed,to help potential customers discover and buy your products on one platform.
**For eligible stores in the US, all fees are waived through the end of 2022 for enabled checkouts.
Onsite checkout can be set up in Commerce Manager and it’s available for US shops only; it will give insights into shopper demographic and full-funnel conversion data which, in return, can help you optimize your campaigns.
7. Offer Parity
An Instagram or Facebook Shop is an extension of your store, but in a more consumable form that doesn’t require users to go from a place to another in order to buy something. This means that both should offer the same data: from prices and deals, to contact information and banners.
Why? Because some people may find your social shop and make their purchase there, meanwhile others would prefer to go to your website to get more information about you, so offer parity is a must if you want to build trust with potential customers. After all, no one wants to find mismatched prices!
8. Enable product reviews
By reading reviews, users can get an idea of what other shoppers thought of a particular item before they make a purchase and it can help them make informed decisions. That’s why they’re a key player when it comes to driving sales during Black Friday.
Regarding this, US shops with onsite checkouts have access to ratings and reviews and can manage them in Commerce Manager, which will allow you to check customer feedback and answer them.
Remember this: you need to have a shop with onsite checkout to enable product reviews and ratings.
Moreover, it’s possible to import reviews from 3rd parties! For now, Yotpo and Bazarro are active, meanwhile, Okendo and Stamped.io will be available with the reviews section in the next quarter.
9. Don’t forget about user-generated content
User-generated content has the added benefit of being more authentic and relatable than traditional marketing materials. It’s this human element that can be critical in helping persuade undecided shoppers to make a purchase. In fact, UGC drives a 9% increase in CTA clicks for buy now or view on the website
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During Black Friday, this type of content can be a valuable tool for helping brands connect with consumers and build trust, so it’s important to include it in your strategy.
For this, you can use images and videos of different customers using, wearing, and loving your products or provide buyers with information like “how to use” or tips that can help them make the most out of an item.
If you go to the UGC section of your commerce account, you can find UGC that’s ready for potential use in your stories and in your Meta Shops. You can find any images that tagged your handle or used one of your branded hashtags. When you find images that you’d like to use, you can send a request to that user’s profile for permission of usage of that media in your store.
It’s really that easy!
10. Leverage Shopping Ads and Catalog Ads
Instagram shopping ads allow businesses to showcase their products directly in the Instagram feed.
By tagging product photos with relevant information, businesses can create ads that include pricing, product descriptions, and a link to purchase the product. These ads are designed to be highly visual and engaging, and they provide a convenient way for users to learn about and purchase products without ever leaving Instagram.
On the other hand, Advantage+ Catalog Ads are a must-try for those businesses that have a large catalog of products and don’t want to be bothered by having to create a different ad per product. Instead, this type of ad helps you to create one campaign for all your products and show it to people that are interested in even one item from your catalog by creating an individual ad.
By integrating Catalog and Shop Ads into your paid media plan for Black Friday, you can attract possible customers and take them through your sales funnel all in one platform.
If you’re not familiar with these types of ads, you should start experimenting and scaling them as you see fit from now on! Also, don’t forget to set up your CPA!
*** Black Friday ad ramp up should begin by September 20th. October 15th is the BIG day when everyone enters the Meta Ads marketplace and auction pressure increase***
11. Prepare your customer support service
Answering questions from possible customers in less than 24 hours increases their possibility to make a purchase by 50%, that’s why it’s important to invest in effective customer service to help users get a clear understanding of your business and build trust.
With Facebook and Instagram Shops, you can get an email every time someone asks specific questions and reply by using the feedback tag on Commerce Manager. These replies become publicly available helping future customers see that social proof to make better buying decisions.
However, this feature is only available if you have enabled checkout and are an admin to the commerce account.
When should you start?
The peak of users eager to get Black Friday deals starts from October 15th to the big date *yes, more than a month before Black Friday*, so it’s crucial that you start optimizing your Instagram and Facebook Shops ASAP.
And, if you feel like this long list may overwhelm you and already give you a headache, at Mongoose Media we have a team of experts that will take this task from you and make the most out of your shop to go from plan to bestselling during the holidays!
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