Instagram could be a shopper’s paradise

Good news brand marketers! Instagram has launched ads with “Shop Instagram social media strategy tipsNow,” “Sign Up” and “Install Now” buttons that link outside the app.

It has always been clear that Instagram could be a shopper’s paradise. Users are already sharing product photos with friends, making comments, liking and getting opinions from their network.

Unlike Facebook users, whose primary concern is connecting with family and friends, Instagram has more of a shopping drive. In Iconosquare’s 2015 study, 70% of respondents reported that they have already looked for a brand on Instagram.

To garner engagement and increase awareness, marketers have traditionally used contests and giveaways on social channels. When it comes to Instagram, 62% of users follow the brand simply because they “love” it. Only 41% follow or would follow to take advantage of perks and giveaways.

If you are worried about intruding on a user’s social experience or garnering engagement, don’t! Sixty-five percent of Instagram users report that they feel flattered when a brand likes their post.

So how does it work? Users can easily take action and come back to Instagram after they’ve finished their transaction. Before, brands were forced to use third-party services to take users outside the app to buy the products in the pictures.

In addition to the new buttons, the ad platform has enhanced its abilities and will allow marketers to reach people based on demographics and interests and customer information. On the consumer end, Instagram is improving the feedback mechanisms within Instagram to give people control over the ads they see.

Check out this article on Adweek for examples of what brands are doing on Instagram with this new shopping feature.

Social Media in the News – July

Another month has come and gone! Summer is flying by, and just like the weather, the social media world is also heating up. Here are the top social media headlines you may have missed from July!

Twitter updates security: Twitter released a password protected data dashboard that allows iStock_000033924868_Smallusers to privately manage their account. The dashboard has information about account history, blocked accounts and devices that are authorized to use the account.



Facebook restricts videos: Marketers and content creators now have more control over who watches their videos. Facebook already limits who can view the content based on location and language, and has added filters based on gender and age.





YouTube is bigger than cable: YouTube is officially bigger than any single cable network. Its growth rate shows no signs of slowing down, upping 60% year-over-year.




Send money over Facebook: Facebook’s messenger app now allows its users to send money to one another. Since the messenger app can now also be used without a Facebook account, these new features should equal new opportunities for the social media brand. Are you ready to hand over your bank info to Facebook?


Google removes pop-up “download app” ads on mobile: Google recently found that the ads asking users to download their app instead of viewing a page on a mobile browser will, more times than not, caused the user to abandon the page all together. In response, they have decided to remove the ad format, and recommend that everyone follow their lead.

Top ways that social media influences consumer behavior

Social Media Influences Consumer BehaviorSocial media is about much more than posting pictures and catching up with friends. Consumers are actively engaging with brands as a part of their purchasing decision. It is essential for organizations to get on board because social media is making a big impact in the following ways:

It emphasizes the power of word-of-mouth. Since the beginning of time, word-of-mouth marketing has been essential if brands wanted to be successful. I know it’s hard to imagine, but there was a time where television, radio and the Internet did not exist. Once the Internet became popular, word-of-mouth marketing transformed with the introduction of the online customer review.

Social media really took this idea to the next level by encouraging users to incorporate their “friends” opinions into the purchasing process. The power is now in the hands of the consumer, not the brand. One bad review could be detrimental to the success of any company or organization.

It strengthens the relationship between businesses and consumers. Through social networks including Facebook and Twitter, brands can communicate with consumers on a more frequent and individual level than what was possible before. A lot of organizations are enticing fans that endorse their brand by giving out prizes. Instead of feeling like they are one in a million, consumers have the chance to feel special, encouraging them to become and remain loyal to the brands they love.

It keeps all stakeholders informed. Engagement and connecting with other consumers are great benefits on social media networks, but the community is also a place where brands can release important information including product releases, sales announcements, events, store hours, locations and much more. This convenience is important to consumers who are trying to stay informed and quickly engage with the brand.

It can turn a “want” into a “need.” Social media has the power to grab a consumer’s attention and cause them to take action. According to a study done by Sociable Labs, 75% of shoppers who read social sharing comments about a product have clicked on the link in their friends’ Facebook posts, taking them directly to the product page or a retailer’s website. 53% of those shoppers ended up making a purchase.

2015 Social Media Resolutions



Well, it is that time of year again. Everyone makes resolutions (and then quits them on January 17th – National Ditch Your Resolutions Day). This year, I have decided to make some digital and social media resolutions that I can actually follow through on!

  1. Disconnect: This might seem counterintuitive but I truly believe the more connected we are, the less we appreciate things both on and offline. I resolve to disconnect from my phone and the internet at least once a day so that I can fully appreciate everything that is happening around me.
  2. Post Meaningful Images: Now this is a pretty clear cut resolution, but I want to start posting more meaningful images- specifically on Instagram. This past year I have really struggled in this arena. Looking back on my Instagram photos it’s a lot of my puppy and food (which isn’t a bad thing, but I should branch out a bit). I think it’s time to step up my game.
  3. Become More of a Voice: Because of my role as Social Media Manager I am constantly using the voice of our client’s brands to convey messages. As a result of this I have found that my own social media presence and voice has been lost. This year, I am going to work on building my own brand and voice!
  4. Build My Professional Network: This goes along well with my goal to have more of a voice. I would like to use social media tools to widen my professional network. I want to connect with people who can help me grow both professionally and personally from within the industry.
  5. Try a New Social Media Platform: This year, I will fearlessly dive into a new network that I’ve never tried before. Last year it was SnapChat. What will this year be?

What will your social media resolutions be?

What The Ello?

elloIf you have been on the Internet in the last few weeks then you have probably heard of a new social media site called Ello. This new platform is being referred to by some as the “anti-facebook” because of their aversion to advertisements – naturally I had to check it out.

Ello is currently in Beta, which means you can only join if you are invited ( see below). I was able to obtain an invite from a fellow social media enthusiast (thanks!) I had the opportunity to play around a little- here is what I can tell you.

1.  Ello boasts simplicity, and simple it is. The current features include: friending and following other users, posting pictures, GIFs and text, and liking other people’s posts. That. Is. it. There is nothing up and coming about Ello, in fact most of the appeal is that they are so stripped down. They don’t have a mobile app (although they claim to be developing one). They don’t have cross platform sharing. They don’t have an awesome way to search and catalog topics. You essentially login, post cool stuff, and look at other people’s cool stuff.

2. The layout & design is underwhelming. Like I said, Ello is simple and that can be refreshing. However, the usability is severely lacking. I am used to sites being responsive and intuitive.  I found myself wondering, “how do I even use this site?” Ello is kinda like taking a trip back to 2004, and in 2004 I was wearing bootcut jeans, no one wants to relive that.

3. Ello is not engaging. While exploring this platform I was reminded of why I love social media, because of the community. Social Media is not a new concept -people have been using word of mouth story telling since the beginning of time, the internet just gives us a platform to do this more frequently. But, what happens when none of your peers are there to hear what you have to say? My biggest issue with Ello is that none of peers are on the site. Now granted, this might have to do with it being in Beta and invite only and I am willing to give it another try if it becomes a bigger thing. But, if I am going to take the time to share something I find cool, unique or beautiful, I want to start a conversation about it. You can’t have a conversation with one person.

All in all Ello is a pretty cool concept. If nothing else, they have done a helluva job making a splash on the interwebs these last few weeks. If you want to check out Ello – I have 4 invites left. Let me know if you want to check it out by posting on our Facebook page (ironic I know) or tweeting at us! @CyphersAdAgency – first come first serve.


In the Wake of Tragedy: Where Do Brands Draw the Line?

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 4.35.21 PMIt’s been a rough couple of weeks for social media marketing. If you were on the Internet at all then you are aware of the major backlash brands received for chiming in on 9/11. While social media is an integral part of many marketing campaigns, the events of the last couple of weeks leave me wondering where and when brands should draw the line.

Capitalizing on trending topics is nothing new; in fact it is common practice. As marketers it is our job to search for topics that make our clients relevant to their audience – holidays and events are super easy to plan ahead for. Many times, consumers like seeing their favorite food brand wishing them “Happy Thanksgiving,” and people want to share a cute picture telling them to “Relax on Labor Day.” But, when special events surround tragedy and the people are seeking solace, perhaps it is not a time for brands to chime in.

As a social media manager, I had a really hard time watching the events that unfolded on 9/11 specific to brands tweeting and posting about the attacks. I am in the unique position to see both sides of the story, and from my point of view, it is a lose – lose situation. On one hand, people don’t want to see posts from CVS or AT&T. They want a day to talk freely on social media about how they feel in the aftermath of the worst attack on US soil in recent history. I understand as a user of social media myself; sometimes you just want it to be about people and relationships and not about consumerism. On the other hand however, I understand that brands want to take a stance. They want to be leaders, informers, and a reliable entity for their constituents. Not saying something about 9/11 could potentially make their loyal customers feel as if they don’t care.  The line we walk everyday is incredibly thin, and sometimes, especially in the heat of an incredibly hot topic, that line shatters and we are left do deal with the aftermath of the choices we made.

Here at Cyphers we actively made the choice when we were writing editorial calendars to step back on 9/11. We felt it didn’t behoove any of our clients to chime in. I am happy with that choice, especially now that brands are being chastised for their tweets and posts.

The Evolving Landscape of Facebook Marketing

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 11.01.24 AMAhhh the magical, evolving animal that is Facebook. A couple of months ago, we laid out some changes Facebook made this year that have deeply effected the way we market on this platform. Now, four months later, we are still learning what these algorithm changes mean for us and our clients. Here are some takeaways from a little trial and error over the last few months:

Its Not About Size: Back in the day (less than 5 years ago) Facebook for business was ALL about developing your community base. Its not to say the more followers you had made you a better page (but thats kinda what we’re saying). Having a larger audience made your brand seem legitimate. Now, although audience size is still important, we are really focusing on engagement. Because of the new changes, no matter how large your audience is, your fans just aren’t seeing your posts. If you are paying for ads to attract new likes to your page – consider dropping your budget and putting some of that money towards boosting your posts. This will allow your followers to see the stuff you are posting, and it won’t increase your overall budget.

You Have to Pay to be Seen: This is just the sad, sad truth. But the good news is that although you have to pay, it DOES NOT have to break the bank. When Facebook first introduced post boosting, you had to pay a minimum, and you could only boost for one day at a time. Now, Facebook allows you to boost for as little as $1 and you can choose to boost for 1 to 7 days. There are also more advanced targeting features that allow you to boost to specific, pre-determined audiences. Although this might not seem like great news – we actually believe that this allows your content to be pushed to people who will find it relevant. Keep in mind that although you do have to pay to be seen, organic reach still exists – there is a snowball effect so make sure your audiences is engaging. In short: you can get much better engagement and for just a little money.

Don’t Get Lost: We’ve said it before, but we will say it again. Social media is a saturated market. If you are not careful, you will get totally lost amongst the weeds. It used to be that posting everyday and even more than once a day meant more people would see your content. Now, posting 3-4 times a week and boosting those posts gives you a better chance of being seen. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule (Business Insider posts upwards of 10 times a day on Facebook and they are ALL over my feed, taking over my life- but that is another story). By paring down your editorial calendar and really focusing on the content that matters to you and your brand, you are far more valuable to your followers.

All in all, these Facebook changes have been a learning experience. The landscape is forever changing and we learn something new everyday. The key to social media success is to be open minded. Be willing to try new things (even if it means paying to boost posts) and you will be rewarded.


Facebook Retargeting: A Love Story

Facebook Ad Retargeting

I’ll be honest I am a total marketing nerd. I absolutely love it when I am sitting at my desk perusing the Internet and I am served a perfectly timed ad. One that I can’t even help but click on. It brings me joy knowing that someone, somewhere targeted that ad especially to me. And by clicking on it I am making them squeal with nerdy joy.

Just the other day, I was researching doggie daycares for my furry friend. I wasn’t finding anything that I liked and I was prepared to give up. Well then, as fate would have it, I was surfing Facebook and BOOM, was served to me. It was everything I wanted, in home dog watching, in my area, in my price range. I had died and gone to retargeting heaven. I clicked, called, and booked the same day.

Facebook Retargeting Ads

Retargeting through Facebook, as you can see is very effective. Although some people find it invasive, I personally love the technology that allows brands to reach their exact  audience. You can now create retargeted ads using 3rd party platforms that serve ads when a cookie shows your consumers have looked at it. This takes Facebook advertising to a whole new level and allows you to customize your campaigns.

Social Media Crisis Communication Best Practices

Social Media Crisis Communication

Crisis-communicationsLet’s face it. No one wants to be the one to have to deal with a crisis situation when it comes up. Whether it’s an unruly customer or an internet troll, this kind of community management just isn’t fun. But, there are steps that can be made to help ensure a smooth crisis communication plan. Here are a few tips to get you started:


  1. Post Community Guidelines: Community Guidelines are a critical element to any good crisis communication plan. You want to make sure that your audience clearly knows and understands the rules for your social media platform. That way, if you ever have someone violating them, you can go back and reference those guidelines and make a plan of action moving forward.
  2. Document your FAQs: Every brand or company has pain points or frequently asked questions that they get on their social. If you’re a food brand it is likely questions about your ingredients, if you are a medical facility maybe it is about insurance. Take the time to make a list of these FAQs. As new questions come in, add them to the document. Eventually you will not be surprised with new questions.
  3. Create Pre-Approved Responses: This one goes hand in hand with #3. Once you have the FAQs and pain points, work on developing some pre-written responses to use as guidelines.  Obviously you don’t want to be so generic as to copy and paste these responses each time you get a question or complaint, but this will be a good place for you to start in a time of need.  It also ensures you’ll remain consistent over time and your team will always be on the same page.
  4. Act Fast: Crisis communication is all about putting out the fire before it spreads.  Make sure you act in a timely manner but don’t rush. Be careful and strategically plan out your response so you don’t make the problem worse.
  5. Get a Professional: Social media crisis communication is not for the faint of heart. You want to make sure you have the right team of people on your side when you need it. A good community manager will know how to deal with a crisis when it comes up.

Crisis communication is an important part of your overall social media strategy. Make sure you have the right steps in place to handle any and all issues that might come your way.

Tackling The Myth of Social Media & ROI

Social Media ROI

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We hear this time, and time again. “ I don’t want to put money into social media because there is no proven Return On Investment.” If you learn anything from reading this blog, learn this one thing: Social Media can generate ROI, and you can track it – especially if you are willing to be patient and do some testing.

For years, social media has been the ugly (if not the more fun and free spirited) stepchild of marketing.  Now, I am not here to tell you that social media is the new Pay Per Click, but I can assure you whole-heartedly that you can see results from social media marketing. Not only are there ways to see your ROI, there are ways to track it so you can actually enhance your social media strategy, making it more fun and engaging for your fans. Here are some tips we use to create and track ROI for our clients:

  1. Online Coupons: Ahhhhhh coupons – they are to consumers what candy is to a kid – too sweet to ignore. Coupons are a super easy way to track your social media ROI, especially if you are offering a social only coupon. You can go about this two ways. You can either create a custom Facebook tab that is linked to a 3rd party coupon source like, or you can create an offer right in Facebook. The beauty of both of these options is that you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, if people are redeeming that coupon, they are coming from Facebook.
  2. Google Analytics: Chances are, if you have a website, you are already using Google Analytics to track your online traffic (if you’re not – you need get on that!). From here, you can see your social referrals, or traffic coming directly from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, etc. You can see how much traffic is coming from social, how much time they’re spending on your site, what they’re looking at and you can correlate your efforts with upticks in sales. You can even set up your analytics to track social referrals all the way through to e-commerce sales.
  3. Facebook Advertising: Running ads on Facebook is a great way to drive traffic to your site, but also test to see if your social media marketing is working. Try placing an ad for a specific product or an event. Test it for a set amount of time- if you see an uptick in sales or visits during this period (See item #2 above), you can feel confident that your ads are effective.


While there are lots of ways to show social media marketing ROI, these tried and true methods will help get you started. Having an open mind about social media can prove to be incredibly successful.