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Category : Digital Strategy

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What is a Hashtag and how do I use it?

In the age of social distancing, we rely more than ever before on social media to connect. Whether it be connecting with brands, the news, friends, or fun animal accounts – we are all looking for a way to feel included in the online community. Hashtags have been around for many years as ways to help algorithms connect conversations and boost discovery. However, as a digital marketer, I often come across hashtags being used ineffectively.

1. A hashtag is a connector
When you place a # before a word, it lets social media algorithms determine that your post is part of a specific conversation. If the post you are producing is important to a specific audience, a hashtag will help individuals identify the content that is relevant. Just like you can follow accounts, you can follow hashtags.

For example, #BlackLivesMatter is a hashtag that helps accumulate important news and information about protests, organization donations, and document police violence. Individuals follow the hashtag to keep in the loop on those specifics.

2. Trending Topics
If enough accounts use a specific hashtag or a recurring one such as #TBT or #ThrowBackThursday, Twitter can determine if it is a trending topic and Instagram places you in the search discoverability. The benefits of using a trending topic hashtag include increased exposure of your content, your followers being told you are posting about that topic, and ensures that you are a part of a larger narrative. However, if the content you are posting does not have any connection to the hashtag being used, it will receive little to no engagement and possibly backlash.

3. A hashtag is not a way to place emphasis
Just because you place a # before a word, it does not make that word more important. Many individuals fall into this trap which then leads to the content being linked to conversations and narratives it was not intended for. This commonly happens when hashtags are placed on adjectives instead of topics.

4. Over hashtagging
One might think that if one hashtag connects the post to one conversation, multiple hashtags will connect the content to multiple conversations.

While in theory that makes sense, in practice, the post loses public appeal and may not apply to all the conversations it has been linked to.

5. Do your research
Before you use a hashtag, do a quick search on what types of content it has been associated with in the past. Innocent sounding words in combination might lead to a conversation you and your brand would rather steer clear from. If you are creating a new hashtag so that you can easily follow content created about your brand, you’ll also want to make sure nobody else has used it before and it’s not associated with a competitor, making it ownable.

6. Best Practices
Each platform is different in terms of character count and functionality. While hashtags initially were only used on Twitter, they are now commonly used across all platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn). Whenever possible, it is always better to incorporate your hashtags into the copy of the content you are creating and hashtagging a word mid-sentence rather than placing a bunch at the end.

Best practice would state to use two hashtags on Twitter or LinkedIn, two-five on Facebook, and up to seven on Instagram.

Hashtags when used properly can increase SEO on your content as well as connect you to new followers. To learn more about creating a hashtag strategy for your social media content, drop us a line.

Abby Radovski is an Account Director with ruckus Digital.

Design and Business in the world of COVID-19

Recently I was able to attend Remote Design week by the Design X community, a community of designers here in Canada and around the world. One of the many talks that had great insight into our current situation was by Adam Fry-Pierce, Director of Customer Experience Programs at Invision. He talked about many great insights from design leaders on design and business during COVID-19. I will be discussing 4 of these insights and what design leaders believe is going on currently and will be happening in the near future.

The first insight from Adam I would like to talk about is that The Digital transformation has accelerated. Digital now has not only been becoming one of the best channels to connect with customers but according to Adam in most cases, Digital is the only place to connect with the customer. Brands that used to be able to connect through in-person customer experiences now have to pivot to connect digitally. B2C brands are turning to digital design teams to quickly help them pivot to the current climate.

The second insight that Adam talks about that is very relevant is that Teams are designing for the “social distance economy”. Businesses within various industries such as restaurants and sports are creating new revenue channels.  Design has never been more important, so this means design teams are now having to really understand the current problems and having to come up with new experiences and solutions.

The COVID-19 has created a climate of empathy and caring is the third insight Adam discussed. Teams are now starting their meetings differently and expressing empathy, for example asking questions like “How are you?”. This climate is having teams come closer together and be more human. Design and business leaders are expressing empathy towards various aspects within their teams such as their families, peers, and the local community.

The last insight which I think is one of the most important ones is that Designers need to know how to communicate their business value. Design leaders and designers need to focus on the importance and urgency of communicating in the business language to be able to really rise.

Invision provides some great free resources for designers which I’m reading now.

Remote work for Design Teams By Ben Goldman, Abby Sinnott, and Greg Storey

 Business Thinking for Design Leaders by Ryan Rumsey

Vanessa Cuartas is an Integrated Media Designer at ruckus Digital.

Need help with your social strategy? Drop us a line.

7 tips for creating social-first content

It’s safe to say that there is no lack of content to be consumed on social media—so how do you create something that stands out and performs well? Here, we’ve rounded up our best tips to help you get started.

1. Keep copy on your creative to a minimum
Less is more when it comes to social content. The nature of platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest is already quite visual, so what you post should be, too. Have a lot to say? Consider transforming a static image into a short video or moving your message to the caption. Keeping a low word count will also ensure you can boost your content should you decide to later on.

2. Create content to spec
One size does not fit all. Help your content look and perform its best by keeping the respective specs of each social platform in mind. For example, your 1200×628 infographic might look stellar on LinkedIn, but it isn’t optimal in an Instagram feed where a square size is best.

3. Format and audience matters
Just as your audience varies across social platforms, so should your content. What you’re posting should resonate with the consumer. For example, a beautiful lifestyle image that performs well on Instagram might not get as many likes as you would’ve hoped for on a platform like Twitter, where users are there to consume news.

Aside from customizing content to a platform, you’ll also want to ensure you create with mobile in mind, as the majority of people consume content through their phones.

4. Add subtitles to your videos
Speaking of creating mobile-first, don’t forget to add subtitles to your videos! Unless you’re posting to TikTok, chances are that your audience—85 per cent of them, to be exact—are watching your videos with the sound off. Adding subtitles will not only ensure that they’re able to enjoy the video as intended, but it will make it accessible as well.

5. Stay true to your brand’s look and feel
This tip might not seem like a big deal… until you experience the difference it makes.

Staying true to your brand—whether it’s colour scheme, typography, animation style, or the type of visuals used most—will help you build a cohesive feed that stands out.

6. Plan your content based on past performance
Ensure your content continues to meet your KPIs by planning based on data. Check social platform backends, run reports and compare how each piece of content performed. The more you do this, the more you will start to notice trends. For example, you might start to realize that your meme content performs better on Instagram compared to Facebook. Based on this, you might decide to run this content only on Instagram moving forward (see tip #3).

7. Don’t be afraid to try new things
Just because you’re sticking with what works, doesn’t mean you can’t experiment. If you’ve been meaning to try out gifs or want to hop on TikTok, do it! Being a marketer is all about testing and being able to pivot your strategy.

Emily Rivas is the Senior Strategist at ruckus Digital.

Need help with your social strategy? Drop us a line.

“Under Promise, Over Deliver”

Also know as “surprise and delight”. Expectation setting is a huge part of being successful not just from a client perspective, but internally in the workplace. Deliver everything on time, and deliver your best work, every time.

Amanda Carreiro is a Senior Digital Content Manager at ruckus Digital.

Need help with your social strategy? Drop us a line.

Using YouTube video to educate modern home buyers

Problem

For our RE/MAX client, it’s important to educate modern home buyers about the value of an agent, especially as digital-only real estate services are expanding within the Canadian market. With Canadian Millennials making up half of the home buyers in the coming years, RE/MAX wanted to experiment with new communications channels to inform, educate and entertain this audience about the value of using a real estate agent.  

For millennials, YouTube was the most used platform, with Canadian Millennials spending 8 hours a week, above watching live TV (4.1 hours), scrolling Facebook (7.3 hours) or binging Netflix (7.4). Millennials grew up with technology and were very aware of advertisements. They want control over their ads, with 69 per cent preferring “skippable” functions. To reach and engage with this audience, we knew we had to do it on the platforms they loved with people they watched and trusted.

Solution

Developed in collaboration with RE/MAX and APEX PR, we created a five-part content series to offer a behind-the-scenes look at real Millennial homebuyers in their very early search process. The series – hosted by YouTuber and social media personality Ashley Bloomfield, launched in October 2019 on RE/MAX Canada’s YouTube channel and was promoted via Facebook and Instagram.

Each episode focused on the beginning of the home-buying journey, as the featured buyers consider liveability factors and weighed them against other variables, such as price. “Liveability” is the satisfaction a homeowner gets within the context of a neighbourhood (such as proximity to public transit and schools) in addition to the home’s features (such as layout or number of bathrooms). Homebuyers featured included a range of narratives including newlyweds, moving close to work, new parents and first time moving in together.

#HomeGoals by RE/MAX depicts inevitable compromises and choices that real Canadians face when looking to begin the process of buying a home. The participants featured in the five-episode series discuss their decisions in the context of the neighbourhood, their budgetary constraints and their liveability goals. It offers advice from RE/MAX to assist on their journey.

Results

To drive video views and audience retention, this campaign leveraged YouTube and TrueView In-Stream Ads to highly target the home buying audience and ensure the right audience was receiving the right message, affordably and quickly. In the past, media channels like TV made it a challenge to reach a specific demographic quickly and cost-effectively. Overall, the #HomeGoals programming was able to reach out to the Millennial segment, earning over one million views (+ 500% of our benchmark) and saw an average watch time of 1:48 per episode.

See the #HomeGoals series here

Katie Boland is an Account Director at ruckus digital.

Read more of our favourite work from 2019.

The Importance of Community Management

Over the years, social media has become people’s primary method of communication, entertainment, and even shopping. It’s a little known fact that social media has changed the way consumers shop, and the way businesses advertise, and while brand recognize the importance of reach and engagement on social media, many marketers seem to be missing the value of dedicating resources to community management on their brand social media channels.

Before social media, when consumers had questions about products and services they went in-store, made calls into customer service lines, or went on websites to use a company’s “live chat” feature. But as consumer behaviour has changed, so has the way consumers look for information.

Individuals now look to social media for answers from companies, but between chatbots who have limited responses and companies who have a slow response time, there is a lot of room for disappointment. Companies need to look at social media as not just an advertising tool, but also as a customer service tool – a line of communication that allows them to speak directly to customers, educate them and engage them – in turn selling to them.

In addition to using social media as a customer service tool, companies should also be using social media as a conversational tool. Companies need to start using the comment sections of their posts as an opportunity to engage with users and tell their own brand stories. While this can be as simple as thanking users for positive comments, there’s also an opportunity to use brand voice as a method of further entertaining and engaging users. (Think Wendy’s famous clap backs for example)

A more recent example of a brand that could have applied good community management to “win” social media, was Tim Horton’s recent tweet offering Megan Markle and Prince Harry free coffee for life. This tweet received a lot of hate. Instead of embracing the hate or using it as an opportunity to open a dialogue with users, Tim Horton’s remained silent.

A brand can manage a crisis with humility and acknowledge their mistake by communicating with their audiences and acknowledging errors or any inaccurate information. Community management is not about pleasing everyone or responding to every message but giving brands the opportunity to converse with consumers and hear their stories.

Amanda Carreiro is the Senior Digital Content Manager at ruckus Digital.

Need help with your social strategy? Drop us a line.

What is TikTok and how is it engaging Generation Z?

If your parents were on Facebook and Instagram, wouldn’t you want an alternative platform to connect with friends? It’s a no-brainer that Generation Z does. Enter the new social platform – TikTok.

To be exact, 41 per cent of TikTok-ers are between the age of 16 and 24 according to Globalwebindex. Many of which likely don’t appreciate the original TikTok song by Kesha as much as I do.

It’s a great reminder that social platforms are made and perfected by their daily users. It’s the users that wanted a new way to share and engage with friends. It’s also these creators that are developing a new community to share, connect, and entertain.

I’m optimistic that the platform will hold on throughout 2020 but the power behind giant companies like Facebook and Google won’t let this little company capture audiences without a fight.

Here are the five things you need to know about the platform:

1. TikTok content should entertain: Content getting the most attention entertains first. With music at the center of the app, TikTok gives users access to the most popular music on the charts, making it easy for individuals to recreate topical content. As users easily scroll through 20-30 videos within five minutes, the content should be creative and attention-grabbing. These users don’t like any content that interrupts their experience or feels like it doesn’t fit.

2. Adapt your content to the community by leveraging what users expect to see. Combine different elements like challenges, trending music and jump transformations to tell a unique story. Stay tuned on the discover page to see what’s trending in the community.

3. TikTok campaigns can drive sales: Users like a good challenge that’s why brands like Chipotle or Kroger took to the platform to challenge fans to join them. Chipotle held a #GuacDance challenge and received over a quarter of a million content submissions and 430 million video plays during its first six days. Kroger held a #TransformUrDorm challenge which asked users to post before and after videos of their dorm makeovers using products from Kroger’s.

4. Influencer exists here too! Check out Influencer Grid to search for the most popular TikTok creators based on followers, video views, topics or engagement rates. In Canada, the most popular users are Eric Struk, Sophia Diamond or Anna McNulty. These influencers can drive crowds of teens like the Beatles or Elvis used to do, as a few influencers recently took to the Eaton Centre to show how to draw a crowd.

5. Organic engagement won’t last long: For many of these platforms, their objectives are driving daily active users and then monetizing them. With an advertising page and a growing Canadian account team, if you want to take part in the early adoption phase of this community, act now.

Katie Boland is an Account Director at ruckus digital. Drafted with notes from APEX PR coordinator and huge TikTok fan, Jesse Cecchetto.

Need help with your social strategy? Drop us a line.

2019 Reflection Blog Post – The Pivot

2019 was the year of podcasting for me. As one of APEX’s in-house podcast producers, one of my favourite projects was producing our very own podcast The Pivot, based on the CMO Lab research we conducted in 2018.

The Pivot is the qualitative aspect of the CMO Lab to further peel the onion on why 53 per cent of Canadian marketers haven’t shifted their strategies in the last few years, even though 98 per cent of CMOs believe that brand and organizational reputation have only become more important.

What a year we’ve had with The Pivot! From growing the producing team from 3 to 7, to chatting with some of Canada’s top marketers about strategy and the shifts along the way, it has certainly been an enriching project. The year ended with a bang – with season 3 wrapping up with a discussion about Canada’s cannabis sector with Andrew Rusk of Canopy Growth.

We had the chance to delve into some great campaigns – Lori Davison of the SickKids foundation walked us through the process of the VS. Limits campaign and the team at Hershey Canada chatted with us about the Oh Henry 4:25 campaign. My personal favourite is our discussion on reputation management with Brad Ross, chief communications officer at the City of Toronto.

Going into this podcast, I hoped for the episodes to be very conversational and insightful, without being too dense or disingenuous. With season 3 now wrapped up, I am happy with how each episode turned out. Each one was indeed conversational and light-hearted, with the guests sharing their own experiences in the industry and offering insights on their own approach to face disruption.

We also have a little fun with our guests – every time a guest says “authentic” or “authenticity” in the conversation, our host Ken Evans will stop and ask them to define it. Why? Because it’s an over-used word that can be very vague!

Looking back, the biggest hurdle in this project was scheduling – I’m sure every podcast has experienced this at least once! Let’s face it – marketers are BUSY! Nailing down a date for a recording can get tricky.

Overall, I’m very proud of this podcast and happy with the outcome. Each episode continues to get more downloads over time, and I’m looking forward to producing season 4 in the new year!

Ashley Villarroel is a Senior Consultant at APEX PR. How do you define authenticity?

Check out more 2019 highlights here!

2019 Reflection: Planet Fitness Awareness Campaign

Back in 2017, ruckus Digital successfully launched the Planet Fitness Canada social channels. While new locations are regularly opening across the nation, as a newer gym in Canada, there is still a level of education and brand awareness required for the Canadian audience.

December and January is a busy time for the fitness industry as Canadians look to join gyms and fulfill fitness New Year’s resolutions. To put Planet Fitness at the forefront of Canadian minds, we needed to create an awareness campaign that would tell social media users who Planet Fitness is and why they should join.

Since Planet Fitness’ brand voice is fun and sassy, we wanted to develop a campaign that not only boasted Planet Fitness membership perks and prices (which are extremely competitive), but that also stayed true to their unique tone. As an added challenge, we wanted to attribute as much of our budget as possible to paid social advertising to maximize reach, which meant we wanted to create assets without the use of production studio.

The result was a “Reactions” campaign – a series of overly and comically expressive stock models in Planet Fitness branded imagery with captions that spoke to Planet Fitness features in relatable, meme-like ways.

There was a moment during the ideation where I found myself feeling genuinely concerned we were going to have a hard time finding a winning idea – but when the idea came, it felt so natural and obvious, and one of those few times where you toot your own horn and think “genius!”

Once the base of the idea was created, the captions came easily, and it’s a campaign I’m very proud of.

The campaign ran from the end of December 2018 until early 2019 and resulted in over 1.75 million impressions and an average engagement rate of 12%, compared to an average engagement rate of 5% on always-on content.

A big takeaway I got from this project is realizing how a simple can idea can have a maximum effect. Despite brainstorming bigger ideas that would be more complex and harder to execute, the winning idea ended up being the one that was simplest to execute – meaning we could put those dollars directly back into media spend, which our team and the client team was very happy about.

Amanda Carreiro is the Senior Digital Content Manager at ruckus Digital.

Check out more 2019 highlights here!

2019: Tasking YouTubers with an Interac $100 Challenge

Problem

Interac is a world-class debit payment system and one of Canada’s leading brands. On average, it is used 16 million times daily and is a market leader in payment technologies. With a concern that new technology platforms and often-enticing credit card reward-programs could encroach as the preferred method of payment for Millennials, the brand wanted to remind their key targets why Interac Flash is the safe, secure and convenient way to pay. 

Roughly 60 per cent of consumers were being influenced by social media, according to Collective Bias, the brand saw this as an opportunity to speak to their targets outside of traditional media. Based on eMarketer research, YouTube was the most used platform, with Canadian Millennials spending 8 hours a week on the platform, above watching live TV (4.1 hours), scrolling Facebook (7.3 hours) or binging Netflix (7.4). Millennials grew up with technology and were very aware of advertisements. They wanted control over their ads, with 69 per preferring “skippable” functions. To reach this audience and show savvy young shoppers that using Interac Debit is the best way to own their financial future, we knew we had to do it on the platforms they loved with the people they watched and trusted.

Solution

Developed in collaboration with KIN Community and APEX PR, we created a six-month content strategy, leveraging YouTube creators to increase consideration for Interac Flash as THE choice payment method among Millennials. We knew that Canadian Millennials were highly engaged with “challenge” content in the lifestyle space, so we created a challenge that would link all YouTuber content so viewers could continue engaging with the brand through multiple videos. To do this, each creator was challenged to complete a task with a $100 budget. Why $100 dollars? Because it aligns perfectly with Interac Flash, reminding people that for under $100 you can touch and go. Every week, this “travelling concept” leveraged the audiences of established creators across their different YouTube channels, and across their social. The creators rose to the challenge!  And they inspired their audiences to #owntheirworld…

Trends were studied each month and we worked with each creator to tailor their content to these trends to remain top of mind and relevant with our target audience. For example, November and December’s research showed that gift guides were in high demand. This was capitalized on and amplified a core value for Interac in the process, supporting local businesses. In a unique twist, the YouTubers and local media experts created local, curated gift guides across the country that showed their viewers their favourite stores and gift ideas. Fans loved it and begged for more local guides! Proving that the Interac content was providing real value and solving a consumer need. 

In addition to organic distribution, we implemented a paid media strategy to target Canadian Millennials with Interac messaging. We ran full-length videos, up to 18 minutes in length, as TrueView to ensure our audience was being exposed to the messaging in a format native to the audience. Knowing that Millennials often choose to skip ads served to them on YouTube, we optimized videos to reduce the odds that viewers would choose to skip through introductions and editing styles that we knew would catch the attention of Canadian Millennials.

Results

To drive video views and audience retention, this campaign leveraged YouTube and their TrueView In Stream Ads to highly target the home buying audience and ensure the right audience was receiving the right message affordably and quickly. in the past, media channels like TV made it a challenge to reach a specific demographic quickly and cost-effectively. Overall, the Interac $100 Challenge delivered 20 million impressions, 7.3 million video views and 124K engagements across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Our colleagues at APEX PR delivered 11.3 million traditional media impressions across 46 stories from highly trusted outlets such as Breakfast Television Montreal, The Global Morning Show and CTV Morning Live Ottawa.

Katie Boland is an Account Director at ruckus digital.

Read more of our favorite work from 2019. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.