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10 Snapchat Ad tips to increase engagement for holiday shopping season

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As holiday shopping draws near, Snapchat offers helpful tips to help business owners make use of their advertising and branding tools.

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Woman holding phone open to Snapchat chat window, casually dressed with journal and coffee nearby.

The holidays are basically here, and Snapchat wants to make sure you get the most out of your Snap promotions. The company recently released its “Snapchat Ads Best Practices: 10 Tips to Help Increase Ad Engagement” post. With these pointers and advertising best practices, Snap hopes to help companies “build visually appealing ads that drive quality engagement and high return on investment for your business.”

So, let’s get into the tips!

1. Choose the right ad format for your goals
With a lot of advertising options, Snap says you need to select the right ad type that will better align with and help you meet your business goals.

2. Showcase your product front and center in your ad creative
Displaying a fullscreen video or image of your product will encourage a viewer to want to engage more. As a result, it is good to include a ‘hero’ message at the beginning that has all relevant information, such as offers and specials.

For eCommerce purposes, products should be featured “front and center to drive purchase intent.” For apps and games, include the app’s UI, features, and benefits in the ad. Meanwhile, local businesses should highlight the services or products their business specializes in.

And, always remember to make sure your creative meets Snapchat’s ad specs so your ad can be displayed flawlessly.

3. Make your ads feel native to Snapchat
No one likes intrusive ads that scream at your face telling you to buy a certain product or service. To prevent this from happening, Snap says your ads should “mirror the bite-sized and linear storytelling of Snaps” already on the platform. These non-intrusive ads should be kept short at around 5-6 seconds. And, Snap says these more “conversational ads” get viewed more fully than polished ads do.

4. Drive urgency with relevant messaging
Don’t overcomplicate the message. This will just get people to swipe away. Instead, make sure relevant information is at the beginning and is easy to understand. Placing your messaging within the first 2 seconds is preferable.

5. Design for sound on
Despite what you might think, silence isn’t better. Snap says that about 64% of Snapchat ads have the sound turned on. And, an effective way of including sound in your creative is by using a customer testimonial. Spoken testimonials help viewers understand and better relate to the brand or product.

6. Link your ads properly
Make sure users are being directed to where you want them to go. You don’t want them clicking on a broken link. Or worse, someone else’s content. The right link is crucial for impressions and conversions. Here are Snap’s recommended “attachment types depending on advertiser goal.”

  • Drive online sales by using Web View Attachments. These pages instantly load for the user and are available in Snap Ads, Story Ads, and Lenses.
  • Drive app installs by using App Install Attachments. Snapchatters will be able to swipe and download your app. Using ‘Install Now’ or ‘Download’ as a CTA, Snap says you will have strong conversion rates.
  • Drive app engagement/app visits by using Deep Links. These links will bring existing users back to your app. At the same time, any new users will be directed to the app store to install the app. Deep Links can be added to Single Image or Video ads, Story Ads, and Lenses.

7. Test ad creative and try new ad formats
Testing something is a pretty good idea when it comes to anything. Snap emphasizes this, and says testing can give you “insight into what content resonates most with your target audience.” They recommended testing your ad creative for about 2-4 weeks using different formats. After you’ve gathered enough information, you can determine the winning format that is best for you.

8. Use goal-based bidding to bid towards your desired action

  • Goal-based bidding “allows you to optimize towards a specific action that a Snapchatter is most likely to take, such as installing your app, watching a video, or completing a purchase.”
  • Snap has several bidding strategies, and it recommends using Target Cost Bidding.

9. Broaden your targeting
After you’ve been running your ads for at least a couple of weeks, Snap says to consider broadening your target audience. Snapchat has several different targeting options. Some of the categories you can expand on are geo, gender, age ranges, and languages. Expanding your audience will allow you to get more impressions.

10. Understand your audience reach to optimize
Finally, make use of Snap’s Audience Insights. These insights provide Snapchat with data like demographics, interests, locations, and devices overview. By knowing this information, you can better understand your audience and create content that is tailored to them. Content that will ultimately maximize your advertising efforts.

Overall, Snapchat understands that “mobile advertising is a key component to any digital marketing strategy.” By offering us these tips, they are reminding us of some things we already know, and telling us how they can help us achieve our advertising goals.

With the holidays around the corner, Snapchat says they can help you reach a large and engaged audience for just $5 a day with their offerings. So, what do you think of Snapchat’s tips?

Veronica Garcia has a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Science in Radio/TV/Film from The University of Texas at Austin. When she’s not writing, she’s in the kitchen trying to attempt every Nailed It! dessert, or on the hunt trying to find the latest Funko Pop! to add to her collection.

Social Media

Instagram for Kids: Do kids really need social media that young?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram for Kids is a terrible idea that we’ll have to contend in the not-so-distant future as social media becomes more prevalent in our lives.

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Young girl playing phone, exploring Instagram for Kids

As a Facebook company, Instagram is used to pushing the envelope, and not always in a good way. One of their most recent initiatives, dubbed “Instagram for Kids”, offers pre-teens the opportunity to use a parent-controlled Instagram version—but global criticism is already mounting.

Instagram has a 13-and-up policy that restricts pre-teen kids from signing up for the app (in theory), but Instagram for Kids would allow younger users to share and interact with photos without the pressure of ads and inappropriate content (again, in theory). The goal behind a social media app for 12-and-unders is curious, given that acceptable teen social media use already starts at, arguably, a younger age than is responsible.

According to Instagram, though, their motivation for the app is simply to reduce access to harmful aspects of the web without instilling FOMO in younger children: “Kids are already online, and want to connect with their family and friends, have fun, and learn. We want to help them do that in a safe and age-appropriate way, and find practical solutions to the ongoing industry problem of kids lying about their age to access apps.”

Instagram also promises to “consult with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform [the app experience].”

That’s all fine in—and I cannot stress this enough—theory, but several members of the original internal discussion about this version of Instagram acknowledged that existing Instagram users who are under the age of 13 probably won’t switch over to the new platform, making Instagram for Kids obsolete for any illicit users. That leaves only one conclusion: That Instagram for Kids is for a substantially younger audience.

It’s difficult to find a morally upright justification for creating a social media app for, say, 8-year-olds. Parent control or not, the potential for data collection, early technology addiction, and breaches of privacy is very real. Add to that the fact that the children who are likely targeted by this app can’t exactly give informed consent for their information to be shared (not that 13-year-olds can, either, but that’s a different thing), and it starts to look pretty shady.

Instagram is already tangentially responsible for things like false marketing, eating disorders, and mental health decline in otherwise healthy adults. Adding pre-teens to that list is not only irresponsible—it’s morally bankrupt. Please keep your kids off of apps like this.

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Social Media

Reels: Why Instagram can’t compete with TikTok… yet?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The future for Instagram Reels is uncertain, since even Instagram has acknowledge that TikTok is far ahead of them, but what does it mean for their future?

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Phone camera on stand in foreground with two women filming for TikTok or Instagram reels in the background

If you’re a TikTok user, chances are you’ve scoffed at Instagram’s attempt to compete with the hype. Yes, I’m referring to the Reels feature.

In an attempt to step in and absorb all the TikTok user run-off in August, when Trump announced the TikTok ban, Instagram launched Reels. Short, catchy and sharable clips, Reels are almost exactly like TikTok videos – but are they catching on?

In an interview with The Verge’s “Decoder” podcast, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says that he isn’t yet happy with Reels, stating that TikTok is still “way ahead”. While Reels is growing in terms of shared content and consumed content, it’s not nearly where Instagram hoped it would be by this point. Perhaps this is because TikTok is still alive and well. Or perhaps there’s something else to it.

It’s interesting to note that some of the most popular Reels on Instagram are simply reposted TikToks. This poses the question: Is Instagram’s Reels simply a channel where the ‘cream of the crop’ TikTok videos can get posted in a second location and exposed to a new audience, or is it actually a platform for creators?

Mosseri also hints at some sort of consolidation across Instagram’s video features (i.e., IGTV, in-post videos, Reels). Without being entirely sure what that will look like, I’m already skeptical – is this all just another example of Facebook (via Instagram) trying to hold a monopoly on the social media sphere?

My opinion? As long as TikTok is still in operation, it will reign supreme. While the two apps have a ton of overlap, they are simply different cultural spaces. TikTok is a trend-heavy, meta-humor creative space that relies on engagement between users through effect, duets, and other TikTok-exclusive features.

Adversely, Reels is a space for Instagramming millennials and Gen Xers who might be choosing to opt out of TikTok (which has sort of become the cultural epicenter for the younger Gen Zers). The feature might also be used by Insta influencers and creators of all ages who toggle between the two apps (i.e., reposting your viral TikTok on Instagram to gain more traction).

Whatever the reason is for engaging in Reels, I’m fully certain the feature will never amount to the success of TikTok – but I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Instagram has in store for us next.

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Social Media

How this influencer gained 26k followers during the pandemic

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Becoming an influencer on social media can seem appealing, but it’s not easy. Check out this influencer’s journey and her rise during the pandemic.

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Influencer planning her social media posts.

Meet Carey McDermott – a 28-year-old Boston native – more widely known by her Instagram handle @subjectively_hot. Within a few months, since March, McDermott has accrued a whopping 26k following, and has successfully built her brand around activism, cheeky observations of day-to-day bullshit, and her evident hotness.

“It mostly started as a quarantine project.” Said McDermott, who was furloughed from her job at the start of shelter-in-place. “I had a lot of free time and I wanted to do an Instagram for a while so I thought, ‘I might as well take some pictures of myself.’”

To get started McDermott, used a lot of hashtags relevant to her particular niche to get noticed, and would follow other influencers that used similar hashtags.

“I definitely built a little online community of women, and we all still talk to each other a lot.”

Like many popular influencers, McDermott engages with her audience as much as possible. She is sure to like or reply to positive comments on her pictures, which makes followers feel special and seen, and subsequently more likely to follow and continue following her account. She also relies heavily on some of Instagram’s more interactive features.

When asked why she thinks she has been able to build and retain such a large base in just a few months, McDermott explained: “I think people like my [Instagram] Stories because I do a lot of polls and ask fun questions for people to answer, and then I repost them”.

But it’s not just fun and games for @subjectively_hot – Carey wants to use her account to make some substantial bread.

“I’ve gotten a bunch of products gifted to me in exchange for unpaid ads and I’m hoping to expand that so I can get paid ads and sponsorships. But free products are nice!”

Additionally, McDermott was recently signed with the talent agency the btwn – a monumental achievement which she attributes to her influencer status.

“Having a large Instagram following gave me the confidence to reach out to a modeling brand. After they looked at my Instagram, they signed me without asking for any other pictures.”

To aspiring influencers, McDermott offers this advice:

“Find your niche. Find your brand. Find what makes you unique and be yourself – don’t act like what you think an influencer should act like. People respond to you being authentic and sharing your real life. And definitely find other people in similar niches as you and build connections with them.”

But McDermott also warns against diving too unilaterally into your niche, and stresses the importance of a unique, multi-dimensional online persona.

“[@subjectively_hot] is inherently a plus size account. But a lot of plus size Instagrams are just about being plus size, and are only like, “I’m confident and here’s my body”. I don’t want to post only about body positively all day, I want it to be about me and being hot.”

And you definitely can’t paint this girl in broad strokes. I personally find her online personality hilarious, self-aware, and brutally anti-patriarchal (she explicitly caters to all walks of life minus the straight cis men who, to her dismay, frequent her DMs with unsolicited advice, comments, and pictures). Her meme and TikTok curations are typically some of the silliest, most honest content I see that day and, as her handle suggests, her pictures never fail in their hotness value.

For McDermott, right now is about enjoying her newfound COVID-era celebrityhood. Her next steps for @subjectively_hot include getting paid ads and sponsorships, and figuring out the most effective way to monetize her brand. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases threaten her chances of returning to the place of her former employment in the hospitality industry.

With so many influencers on Instagram and other platforms, some might find it hard to cash in on their internet fame. But with a loyal fanbase addicted to her golden, inspiring personality, I think Carey will do just fine.

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