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Attributing revenue to social media is a big challenge for businesses, but Purdue University may have cracked the code with their annual fundraising campaign.

In 2017 they raised $28.2 million in single day—$10 million more than their single-day campaign in 2016. They also increased support from international donors by 87 percent.

In this episode of the Hootcast podcast, we chat with Steve Schlenk, who is the director of philanthropic communications for Purdue University’s development office, and Kate Jolly, director of digital fundraising at the Purdue Research Foundation.

In this podcast, Schlenk and Jolly tell us about:

  • The social media strategy behind their fundraising campaign
  • How to get people excited about social media contests
  • How to run an effective Snapchat campaign

Press play to hear the show in its entirety, or if you don’t have a set of earbuds handy, read the transcription of our conversation below.

Q&A with Purdue University

Purdue’s Day of Giving Campaign is a fundraising campaign that you run every year. Where did it come from and what is it about?

Day of Giving started in 2014. It began as an initiative from our vice president. He asked us with coming up with a way to garner new donors for the fiscal year.

We thought ‘why not go big or go home?’. And so we created Purdue Day of Giving, which targets the whole Purdue community on the day.

You’ve had some big year-over-year improvements. Last year you raised $18.3 million and this year you raised $28.2 million, and you had an 87% increase in international donations. What are some big changes on social from 2016 to now?

We’ve added social platforms each year. In our first year we only focused on Facebook. Since then we’ve added Twitter, Instagram, and we do a little bit on LinkedIn as well. But this year we added Snapchat, where we had three days of scavenger hunts for some very desirable prizes. And our primary goal with that was to raise awareness with students, though anyone following Purdue’s Snapchat channel could participate.

We also launched a series of user-generated content challenges in the week leading up to the day where we invited our colleges and schools and programs and other units across campus, as well as individuals, to share Purdue Day of Giving-themed images and videos.

We also continued with our video sharing challenge, which awards bonus dollars to the campus units who have had the most shares of our Purdue Day of Giving video, which is a piece create each year to help promote the day.

Our social team was particularly interested in the Snapchat scavenger hunt and the leader board challenges that you guys did. They thought that was really cool. Do you think you could dive into that a little bit and walk us through what that looked like?

This year we held our very first Snapchat scavenger hunt to promote Purdue Day of Giving. We had multiple opportunities for participants to win throughout a three-day period leading up to the big day, and we learned a lot. We’ve got a few tips and tricks for anyone who wants to try it.

First off, plan ahead, and secure desirable prizes and show them off in a post previewing the scavenger hunt to help drive some interest and participation. Our prizes included Roku devices, Amazon, Echo Dot, Snapchat Spectacles, a pizza party for ten, football suite tickets and lots more.

Second, share a teaser post about five or ten minutes ahead of you clue for the first prize, so that those who want to participate will have a chance to prepare and have a moment to get ready to stand by.

You should always be clear on how someone wins, and as soon as you have a winner, take a picture of them with their prize within Snapchat rather than on the camera roll so that the post looks as good as it can within that Snapchat app.

And finally, before the scavenger hunt begins you can promote it on your other social media channels to let everyone know that if they want to follow you on Snapchat, they can win some really great prizes.

How did experimenting with some new platforms, like Snapchat, and doing new things on Instagram, contribute to success this year?

We feel that Snapchat and Instagram really helped us raise awareness for the day, especially on campus, and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. In fact the scavenger hunt was more popular than we anticipated.

We also had the Snapchat filters available across campus during the Purdue Day of Giving, and we had a huge turnout for the comedy show that we presented to celebrate the day. It was open to the general public, and this year it featured then-Saturday Night Live cast member Vanessa Bayer and Anna Drezen.

Did you find one tactic particularly successful out of all of the campaign pieces?

I wouldn’t say one is more successful than the other; all of them serve a purpose. So the most creative selfie and Instagram video really create great user-generated content, whereas the 50th original tweet is decided on in the first 45 seconds because people are literally posting right at that time. But it helps to get it trending on Twitter, it helps to get the word out.

Can you talk a little bit more about how social has contributed to the fundraising results? Like would you attribute the amazing participation and widespread engagement to the increase in donations that you saw this year?

Absolutely, social is definitely part of it. With annual giving, you’ll have traditional channels (direct mail, phone) and web (email or online giving). Without social media, we wouldn’t be able to reach people outside those channels.

It’s a really important way for reaching young alumni or people in our database that we have their parents’ home address, and we don’t have an active email address because it’s still their that doesn’t exist anymore.

Did you find that increasing the number of challenges to 33 hourly challenges and increasing the number of networks also helped to amplify that reach and contribute to the big bump in the amount that you fundraised?

Absolutely, and we also have a metric for engagement, so we have impressions, and that number of impressions has increased year over year. We had 34 million impressions last year, so getting those units to serve as ambassadors in garnering their own social ambassadors increases that number.

Has your strategy changed a lot from network to network?

Yes and no. Facebook is still the king for us in terms of where we get the biggest bang for our buck, because there are so many of our target audiences on Facebook. You have parents, students, young alumni, old alumni, and grandparents. With other platforms you have more defined audiences. Twitter is mainly just going to be your students and younger alumni. Same with Instagram, and then LinkedIn is a more professional network with maybe a higher base of international alums seeing things.

We have to look at our target audiences and what platforms they’re using and then adjust for that.

Where do you focus most of your resources leading up to and during this campaign?

When we were starting out, we focused on building awareness around the day. Each year we’ve shifted more of those resources away from awareness and education in the weeks leading up to the big day to spending more money on the day itself, so we can let people know that Purdue Day of Giving is here.

Thank you so much for joining us in the podcast today. You’re given us a lot of really great information that our listeners I’m sure will be really excited to hear.

I would also say that all the planning and preparation that goes into Purdue Day of Giving wouldn’t mean a thing if it weren’t for all the wonderful donors who make it possible and set records every year. So we just want to say a big thank you to all of them, and we’re ever grateful to everyone who’s participated.

Well thanks again for joining us today, it was great to have you both on.

Listen to the Full Episode

The post How One University Used Social Media to Raise $28M in a Single Day appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.


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Do you want to sell physical products via the Shopping on Instagram program? Have you seen Instagram shoppable posts? In this article, you’ll discover how shoppable posts on Instagram work and the steps you can take to use them for your business. How Customers Shop With Instagram Shoppable Posts Shoppable posts on Instagram are designated […]

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Want your ads to drive more sales? Interested in the benefits of YouTube pre-roll ads? To explore how to sell products and services with YouTube pre-roll ads, I interview Billy Gene Shaw. 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 […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle


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The Journey, a Social Media Examiner production, is an episodic video documentary that shows you what really happens inside a growing business. // Watch The Journey: Episode 5 Episode 5 of The Journey follows Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, as he continues to pursue what many will see as an impossible goal: to […]

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The holiday season can be one of the most profitable times of a year for businesses. People have their wallets open and they are ready to buy thanks to a combination of end-of-year bonuses, the generous gift-giving spirit, and some of the best sales of the year.

For businesses it is a time of profit, but also competition because everyone knows this is a time when customers are ready to spend.

You can give yourself a competitive advantage with the right social media marketing campaigns, especially when it comes to Facebook advertising. In this post, we’ll go over six tips to create holiday ads that convert on Facebook, setting you apart from the competition.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

1. Have a different ad for each big sales event

Even though each holiday is lumped into the “holiday season,” you want to create ads for each individual event within said season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, for example, should each have their own unique sets of ads.

Even if you’re using the same images and offers, switching up the copy to be event-specific will help you increase conversion rates. “Get three months half off for Black Friday” sounds a lot better than “Get three months half off, just sign up by next week.” It increases urgency, and when users are creating lists of what they want to blow their budget on, you want to be on that list.

When advertising sales after Black Friday, make sure users know they’re still getting a good deal. It’s still the gift-giving season, after all, and the idea of getting just as good of a deal after Black Friday can be intoxicating.

2. Create a sense of urgency

Everyone loves the gift giving season, but the pressure surrounding it… not so much. Still, brands can use this to their advantage by creating a sense of urgency.

Make it clear that you only have a limited number of deals to hand out on Black Friday with ad text like “This deal is so good, we can only offer it to the first 100 customers who convert.” Remind your audience that they don’t want to miss a gift for a single day of Hanukkah and that they’re running out of time with a “Today is the last day to order to guarantee delivery by the start of Hanukkah.”

Urgency always sells, and it can be especially effective around the holidays.

3. Utilize retargeting as much as possible

Retargeting allows you to reach out to customers who you know are already interested in what you have to offer, and that’s a particularly big advantage come the holidays.

One strategy you can use to increase sales is to utilize segmented lists based on purchase history. Show customers the products and services you know that they’re most likely to be interested in.

For example, Verizon’s best bet would be to show apple headphones only to users who had purchased iPhones for example; Android users should be shown something else.

Perhaps the most effective holiday retargeting strategy is to focus on website retargeting, where you create custom audiences based off users who have visited your site within a set time frame. Why? Because it may not be your normal customers buying from you this time of year—it may be their friends or family purchasing them a gift. Retargeting ads to keep showing the product to individuals doing gift research can help you boost sales this time of year.

4. Focus on conversions and traffic to your site

The holiday season is the time to sell, and brand awareness or social engagement campaigns should take a back seat to actually getting sales and traffic to your store—whether it’s online or a physical location. All of your ads should contain links.

Just as importantly, you should be choosing the right ad objectives. Facebook’s algorithms take your objectives into heavy consideration when distributing your ads, and they’ll show the ads to the people they believe most likely to fulfill your stated objective.

The best objectives you can use to drive conversions and traffic are:

  • Conversions
  • Product catalogue sales
  • Traffic
  • Store visits

5. Use holiday-specific copy

When I was worked in a jewelry store several years back, we were told to push these $20 necklaces that people weren’t typically interested in when buying $600 pieces. Then I realized by saying “they’re perfect stocking stuffers,” I went from selling about four a day to nearly 50.

Phrases like “the perfect gift” and “wait until you see their face light up when they open it” will make customers consider your products as gifts, even if they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Make your copy holiday-specific. In a weird way, it’s like giving customers another use case for your product. It isn’t just a new set of headphones; it’s a stocking stuffer. That new watch isn’t just a watch—you’ll wow them when they open this gift under the tree.

6. Keep a close eye on the ads you’re running

It’s easy to forget to check in how your ads are performing, especially if they’re running on a set schedule and you have a million other things to handle before the end of the year. Still, this task must not be overlooked.

Pause any campaigns that aren’t performing well in an ad set, and allocate that budget to a campaign that’s working. This will help increase sales while lowering your cost per click (CPC) and giving you the best possible ROI.

This year I was hired to tackle inconsistent ad campaigns for a client, and we paused the campaigns costing $7.95 a click and moved the budget to the campaign costing just under $1.50 per click. With the increased budget and a few small changes to improve the ad’s targeting, we ended up getting the CPC down to $0.31.

This strategy is particularly powerful during the holidays, when you have a limited time to get results.

You should also keep a close eye on the engagement your ads are getting. Potential customers in a time-crunch may ask a question on your ad, and move on if they don’t get an answer. Address any questions to increase the likelihood of conversions, and to show would-be customers that you’re engaged and attentive to their needs.

The end-of-year sales season is your chance to finish the year strong. Customers are ready to buy and you want to make sure they buy from you.

By creating strong Facebook ad campaigns, you’ll be able to set yourself apart and put your products and services in front of a highly engaged, ready-to-purchase audience.

Get the most out of your Facebook ad budget with AdEspresso by Hootsuite. The powerful tool makes it easy to create, manage, and optimize your Facebook ad campaigns.

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The post 6 Tips for Creating Holiday Facebook Ads that Convert appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.


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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle


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In March 2017, Instagram release the Instagram Story ads feature to all business accounts. Hootsuite’s social marketing team quickly ran a series of tests using the new ad format. In this post we share with you what our team learned so that you’re set up for success when you give it a try.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear. Plus we’ll show you how you can use Hootsuite to grow your own following on Instagram and other platforms.

Running ads on Instagram Stories: 7 lessons from Hootsuite’s social team

1. It’s best to start with existing content

Creating high-performing Instagram content is about trial and error. It can be expensive if you don’t know what your audience wants.

Before you put time and effort into creating Instagram-specific ads, repurpose content that you’ve shared organically so you have an idea of what kind of engagement it will get. Trying running a few tests with different types of repurposed content. Define a set of criteria for each ad so you understand exactly what you’re testing.

We used graphic videos as our first set of ads because we already had that content on hand. After seeing that they weren’t performing, we switched up our strategy—but having that initial test helped us understand what our audience wanted and why.

2. Live action videos convert better than graphic videos

The vast majority of Instagram Stories feature real life scenes (i.e. live action). Graphic videos break up this user experience. It didn’t match the aesthetic of what people were seeing in other Stories, and as result, clearly stood out as an ad.

When you’re creating your story, think about user experience. What would they expect to see? Make sure you create ads that don’t divert too much from that experience.

3. Existing fans are more likely to engage with your ad

Facebook, which owns Instagram, allows you to target people with Instagram ads that have liked your content on either platform.

We saw success when we served our Instagram Story ads to people who already engaged with our content—they liked a Hootsuite video on Facebook or a photo on Instagram, for example. Advertisers can use this engagement data to create custom audiences.

This re-engagement method is super effective because we know we’re engaging people that are already interested in our content.

You can also share and target audiences across Facebook and Instagram. For example, if you have a popular video on Facebook, you can retarget that Facebook audience on Instagram with a Story ad.

4. It’s important to follow the recommended ad specs

Reviewing Instagram Story ad spec requirements is an important (but often overlooked) part of creating ads. Instagram Story ads have different requirements than other ads, so it’s important that you know exactly what the specs are before you create new content.

Important ad specs to keep in mind:

  • Maximum file size
  • Video length
  • Dimensions
  • Supported codecs

If you want to use existing videos, make sure that they meet all the requirements of the ad format before you repurpose them.

5. The Story format offers new brand opportunities

Instagram Stories are shorter (only 15 seconds) than other social video formats. They also tend to be more personalized and intimate.

Take advantage of the Story format by having some fun. Show a side of your brand that your audience hasn’t seen. We recommend taking a brand awareness and storytelling approach to build engagement.

6. UTMs are the easiest way to track performance

Make sure that you have a clear call to action (CTA) that encourages people to swipe up for a link. Include a UTM parameter to track how people are engaging with your content.

We tried arrows, stickers, and action-oriented copy signalling to the viewer that they need to swipe up to get more information—and they’ve all worked really well.

7. Ads designed for mobile perform better

More than 80 percent of social network users access social media on a mobile device.

That’s why every Instagram Story ad should be optimized for a mobile viewing experience.That means thinking about things like vertical ad units, responsiveness, and text size. You should also create ads that are optimized for silent viewing (with captions and the like), so that people can watch without earbuds.

Instagram Story ads are a fun way to reach new audiences on social. With audience targeting features made available by Facebook, along with Instagram’s growing user base, these ads are definitely worth a try. Follow these tips while running your own Instagram Story ads.

Want to take your social advertising skills even further? Sign up for Hootsuite Academy’s Advanced Social Advertising course now and start learning for free.

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The post We Tried Running Ads on Instagram Stories. Here’s What We Learned appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.


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We’re all familiar with the dangers of wasting time on your personal Facebook page, but you might not realize all the ways your business is also wasting time on the network.

To avoid any potential hurdles to your Facebook productivity, we’ve come up with a list of ways you could be mismanaging important social media minutes.

Continue reading to find out:

  • The dangers of republishing without reformatting
  • Why failing to test your ads is a costly mistake
  • How to save time in the future by spending more time now

9 ways your business is wasting time on Facebook

1. Creating overly promotional content

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but it’s worth repeating. Content creation is time-consuming, and you don’t want those hours of hard work to go to waste. If you’ve been wondering about the reason for that drastic dip in your business’s organic reach, you probably haven’t heard our calls to halt the creation of overly promotional content.

Facebook has been encouraging content creators to replace the straight-up promo material with stories that add value or provide more history for your business’s products and services. Facebook’s algorithm favors posts that aren’t overly promotional Helpful and shareable content has a higher likelihood of being seen by bigger audience

2. Republishing content on Facebook without reformatting

Here’s a thought process that might sound familiar: Instagram runs on beautiful images. Images increase engagement on Facebook. Instagram is part of Facebook. So I should repost all my Instagram photos automatically on my Facebook Page, right?

Even if it may seem like a time-saving technique to automatically post the same update to multiple networks, it might cost you reach on both networks. For starters, your brand’s Instagram profile and Facebook Page may be serving different purposes, so content from one may not fit the overall tone of messaging on the other.

Your audiences on different networks may also be drastically different, so what resonates with your Instagram followers may not quite jive with your Facebook fans. If you want to reuse a photo, make sure to provide enough context so that it is actually of value to your audience.

Finally, these posts just don’t look great a lot of the time. When you automatically share a post to Facebook from your Instagram account, your caption and hashtags go along with it. If you’ve tagged anybody by their Instagram handle, this will look odd in a Facebook post as Instagram usernames are not the same as they are on Facebook. If you’ve used a ton of hashtags, these will also look strange on Facebook.

3. Getting in comment wars

As of April 2017, Facebook Messenger has 1.2 billion monthly active users worldwide. With so many Messenger users, there’s a good chance you can engage with any disgruntled customer here instead of the comment section under a post. If a disgruntled customer comments on your Facebook post, reply quickly and reach out to them via Messenger.

It might go without saying, but it’s also a good idea to stay away from any negative Facebook comment threads from competitor brands. It’s important to be aware of these conversations, but participating in them isn’t necessary—especially if none of the negative claims are substantiated. You risk doing more damage to your online reputation if you do get involved in a comment war with your competition—especially if this is done at the expense of your engagement with followers and fans.

4. Liking irresponsibly

Just like any other Facebook user, Facebook Page managers can like other people’s posts and Pages. In a similar fashion, businesses you’ve liked on Facebook show up in a Liked sidebar on your Page, so you must exercise caution when pressing the ‘Like’ button. You don’t want visitors to your Page to see brands you wouldn’t necessarily endorse as a business.

Select a few partners or clients to like, and let your Liked sidebar highlight your professional relationships. Plus, liking a Page authorizes new updates to appear on your News Feed, and you don’t want to create distraction by liking Pages that will share irrelevant content.

5. Not taking advantage of Automated Rules

Constantly monitoring and optimizing your Facebook ads can be time-consuming. With automated rules, “you can create rules in Ads Manager that automatically update or notify you of changes to your campaigns, ad sets, or ads.”

Instead of constantly having to check and optimize your active campaigns, automated rules can do this for you. For example, you can create rules that:

  • Turn off your ad when it doesn’t perform well
  • Increase the budget of your ad when more people click on it
  • Send a notification to your email address when the number of people who view your ad over a certain period of time decreases past a certain number

Automated rules can help you save time optimizing your ad, but it’s still important to keep tabs on the overall performance of your campaign to ensure success.

6. Skipping A/B tests for your Facebook ads

Facebook allows businesses to run split tests on ads to see which one performs better. This means sending out two slightly different versions of an ad to see which one receives more engagement.

Key areas to test include the:

  • Call to action: Try out different ways of asking your audience to engage. For example, you could test whether “buy now” works better than “learn more.”
  • Text: Test the length of your ad copy (number of characters), style (a question versus a statement), use of emoji, punctuation, and tone of voice.
  • Visuals: Test different images and video, text-only posts versus those with images, a regular image versus a GIF, images of people or products versus graphs or infographics, and different video lengths.
  • Format: Test different formats against each other, such as carousel ads, canvas ads, app install ads, video ads, lead ads, collection ads, slideshow ads, and regular photo ads.
  • Hashtags: Find out whether hashtags are helping or hurting your conversion potential. Test out the use of multiple hashtags versus a single hashtag, which industry hashtags result in the best engagement, and hashtag placement within the messaging (at the end, the beginning, or the middle).
  • Target audience: Test your ads against the different audience segments to see what works best for your business objectives.

Try out different variations with each ad you create, and note the winner of that category. Not only will this save you some time—you’ll also increase the ROI of your Facebook ads.

7. Taking too long to create a Facebook update

There’s nothing wrong with taking your time to create quality content for your audience. But busy social media managers often don’t have hours to spend creating a single update. If inspiration doesn’t strike, do some productive social media browsing to find ideas.

Another solution is asking your colleagues for advice. Run existing posts by knowledgeable coworkers to see what improvements can be made, and what suggestions they have for new content.

You can also take a look at posts that have performed well in the past to repurpose this content for a new post. Try looking for content that can be updated with new information, visuals, or a new angle.

If you’re still not satisfied with your Facebook post it might be a good day for some curated content. If you need help with this, the Right Relevance app (available through the Hootsuite App Directory) lets you easily search and share the most authoritative content currently trending on the social web.

8. Reposting videos from external sources

Social media analytics organization Quintly took a look at 6.2 million posts in 2016 and found Facebook native videos performed better than embedded content. Videos uploaded natively on Facebook saw an average of 110 percent more interactions, and 611 percent more shares.

Additionally, the autoplay feature within Facebook’s native video tool encourages your followers to spend more time engaging with the content. This registers with the network’s algorithm and helps your video get seen by your target audience.

9. Not completing your About section

Sometimes it’s best to invest more time upfront so you can save time later. If you don’t include all the necessary information about your company on your Facebook Page, you risk creating confusion among those who turn to that social account for details about your business.

If you want to avoid spending time answering the same questions, provide a detailed description on the About section of your Page. This includes a brief description of your brand mission, list of products and services you provide, link to your official website, and physical address (if your company has one). Think of this as a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section.

Another way you might be wasting time on Facebook? Page management. Hootsuite makes it easy to schedule posts, share video, and monitor conversations so you can spend time on what matters—connecting with your customers.

Learn More

The post 9 Ways Your Brand is Wasting Time on Facebook appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.