You send casual videos instead of text messages, and you have a series of BombBomb videos you deploy when new leads come in. You’re a video expert compared to most agents, but that doesn’t mean you should quit now! Here are three quick challenges that will keep you ahead of the curve.

Not an expert yet? Check out our beginner and intermediate video challenges.


Challenge one: Livestream via Facebook Live

This election season, Facebook Live is really taking off as candidates hit the campaign trail. Now agents can take advantage of the same technology to share “behind-the-scenes” live streams with their friends and clients.

Start by recording a livestream on Facebook. Here are some ideas for what to broadcast:

  1. Offer a live “Market Report” based on whatever data (RPR, Market Snapshot, etc.) you are currently using. Stand outside a closing where you represented the seller and mention that you closed for 10% over the market average.
  1. Invite people to your open house by:
  • Recording a snippet of the home’s exterior: “Check out this curb appeal! Come check out 123 Oak Lawn Blvd from 2-4pm today.”
  • Showing off the panoramic view from a deck or patio: “Look at the amazing view at my newest listing on 123 Oak Lawn Blvd! Located at the top of Oak Hill, you can see the entire city of Rock Creek from the balcony. Come check it out from 2pm – 4pm today.”
  • Showing off your local flare! Stream your thoughts on a local Chamber of Commerce meeting as you’re exiting the building.
  1. Not ready to make it about you? Stream a song from a local “Concert in the park.”

Start in selfie cam mode, saying “This is what I love about living in Rock Creek! Tonight, there’s an orchestra playing in the park down the street from me. Check out how talented my neighbors are!” and then flip the cam to the concert in progress. Alternatively, just record the orchestra and add the above script as your caption.


How do you do it?

FBLiveButtonOpen Facebook on your mobile device. If you’re using your Profile page, go to the top of your newsfeed where you would to update your status. Look for this “Go live” button and follow the prompts to get started.


On a business page, you’ll go to “Publish” and look for the same icon to begin following the prompts.  


Challenge two: Record and edit a market update video broadcast

For this more advanced video tactic, you’ll want a screen-recording tool (like Camtasia) and you may need a better microphone than what your laptop came with (try the Blue Snowball). Fire up your favorite market update tools, whether it be RPR, your local association or MLS, or Market Snapshot. Navigate through some of the more useful data points (days on market, list to close price) onscreen as you narrate why they are important.

Try a few different cuts and shots, and use Camtasia to piece the footage together into a quick, informative video. Make it a goal to record this monthly, and promote it via your email list, Facebook and Twitter channels and more.


Challenge three: Start snapping!

Start by setting up your Snapchat profile using Katie Lance’s best practices. Once you’ve added friends, send a quick snap video to someone you know. Pick someone you feel comfortable with and send them a snap video of:

  • you enjoying your morning coffee: “Haven’t seen you in forever. Let’s have coffee soon!”
  • waiting on your kids outside soccer practice: “Carpool time. Wish your kiddo was still on the team!”
  • You admitting Snapchat confuses you: “I have no idea what I’m doing on Snapchat but, cheers! It’s margarita time!”


Bonus points: Create a Snap story

Not sure you are ready to send a snap to one specific person? Create a snap story, which is available for anyone who follows you to watch. Read more about what a Snapchat story is.

In your story, you could:

  • Create a “day in the life of Joe Agent.” Take a photo or video of all the different places you go each day to show how hard you work!
  • Snap some of the highlights from your open house so people know where to find you


All finished?

Congrats — you’re an advanced video user! What do you plan to do next? Tell us in the comments and we’ll be sure to feature you in future Tech Savvy Agent video content!

The most compelling CTA in marketing today may be the “play” button. Whether you’ve just completed our beginner challenge, or are naturally an intermediate video user, it’s time to test out some tools and apps that will bring your video game to the next level.


Quick review of best practices
Here’s what BombBomb’s Steve Pacinelli recommends:


  • Don’t shoot from below! Test out your angles and find out what’s most flattering.
  • Look at the lens, not at yourself.
  • Make sure your light source is coming from behind the camera (or at the very least, not behind you)
  • Write a bullet-point outline and run through it 2x max before hitting record.
  • Or, simply think of recording a video like leaving a voicemail. You are just moving the phone from your ear to in front of you.
  • If any words or phrases trip you up, consider changing them out for more casual language. (Example: say “use” instead of “utilize”, etc.)


Challenge one: Download and use Hyperlapse

Hyperlapse is an app from Instagram, and most people know it for its mind-bending sped up videos. But you can also use Hyperlapse to stabilize your video, and you can set it to play at any speed (including regular speed).

Download Hyperlapse for your iPhone

Download Hyperlapse for your Android phone


Record a quick intro video using Hyperlapse.

Here’s a sample script:

Hi, I’m Joe Agent, a local real estate expert in Lincoln County. I live and work in the Bay Valley area. In fact, I moved here after college and quickly realized it was the ONLY place I wanted to raise a family — and I’ve spent the last 10 years helping other families achieve the same dream. I would love to get to know you, your family and your buying or selling needs. I’m always available at: [PHONE] or [EMAIL]. I look forward to hearing from you!


Once the video is recorded, feel free to send it as an email attachment or via text message. For a more robust email send, consider challenge #2: setting up a BombBomb free trial!


Challenge two: Test out BombBomb’s free trial

BombBomb is the best casual video tool out there for real estate agents. Once downloaded, you can create and store videos to use in specific responses (e.g. response to an online lead, response to someone wanting to know their home value, etc.).

Once set up, you can always access these videos from your phone through the BombBomb app. Once you’ve signed up for the 14-day free trial (no credit card needed!), try:

  • Uploading your Hyperlapse bio video to BombBomb
  • Record other videos, including:
    • CMA response. “Hi there. At your request, I just sent you an automated home value estimate based on local home prices in your neighborhood. But, it’s likely that your home’s condition — or any upgrades you’ve made to it — mean that your home could be worth even more than my initial estimate. I’d love to come visit your home in person and give you a personal, expert opinion on your property value. Call or text back if you’d like me to stop by this week.”
    • Online lead response, based on certain neighborhoods or areas: “Hi, I see you’re looking for a home in the Valleywood subdivision. I love that neighborhood, and I’ve helped 10 clients just this year find the right homes for their families in Valleywood. I’d be honored to help you, too. Call, email or text back if you’d like to talk further.”

The next time you have an opportunity to send a text or email to a new lead, try using your BombBomb videos instead!


Challenge three: Set up your Snapchat profile

If you haven’t already downloaded Snapchat to your iPhone or Android, do it now. Then, follow Katie Lance’s tips for setting up your Snapchat profile — including finding friends and blasting your “snap code” out on social media. (Consider changing your twitter profile pic to your snap profile pic, which doubles as your snapcode.)

Feeling brave? Feel free to send a snap to a friend or past client. Whether it’s a selfie video saying “hi” or a panoramic video of your favorite hiking view, people will love to hear from you!


Ready to move to the next level? Check out tips for sending snaps and getting serious about video in our advanced video challenge.


52% of marketers worldwide name video as the content with the best ROI1, and by 2017, videos will become nearly 70% of consumer traffic2. And, Mark Zuckerberg said on 7/27/2016 after Facebook released its second-quarter earnings, “We’re going to become video first.”

But even as videos become more and more popular, many agents and marketers steer clear, assuming the barrier to enter is high.

That’s where this three-part video challenge for beginners comes in. Starting today, we’ll help you bust past your fears and reservations and confidently record and leverage your first video.


Are you an intermediate or expert video user? Start here:


Beginner tips from BombBomb

Here’s what BombBomb’s CMO, Steve Pacinelli, recommends for beginners:


  • Don’t buy expensive equipment just yet! Anyone with a smartphone can record and send “good-enough” video.
  • Set your camera at or above eye level. Don’t record from below!
  • Using a smartphone? Look directly into the camera lens, not at yourself
  • Make sure the light is coming from behind the camera (or at least, not from behind you). Window light is often better than overhead lighting.
  • You don’t need a full script! Write a few bullets and practice or memorize the flow so you sound confident and natural.

Challenge one: Send a quick video

Let’s do this! First, let’s get into the habit of using videos rather than text. To begin, start by either:

    • Starting a thread by sending a video instead of a text
    • Replying to a text with a video

The idea is to take 9 seconds to show someone you care by taking this step vs. the 2-3 seconds it takes to respond to a text with text. Just try it with your family or a couple friends! Then try it with a prospect or two. If you are a broker, try sending a new recruit a video vs. a text.


Quick how-to:

How to record and send a video via text on an iPhone

How to record and send a video via text on an Android phone


Challenge two: Stop fearing Snapchat

No, it’s not just for teenagers and college students! Snapchat is the fastest growing social media channel and you can’t afford to ignore it. Let’s take a beginner step, a baby step. Just download Snapchat. That’s it.

Download Snapchat to your iPhone

Download Snapchat to your Android


Don’t you dare walk away!

65% of video viewers watch more than three-quarters of a video3. If you’re hoping to increase engagement or to convert more of your leads, you HAVE to try something different. Even if you only send a video text to a friend with a “no-judgment” disclaimer, it’s important that you get started today.


Want to keep going? Take our intermediate video challenge.



  3. ReelnReel

In a bold move to encourage its users to create and share more content on the platform, Instagram has announced Instagram Stories, a feature that lets users post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours.

The feature feels much like Snapchat Stories, a Snapchat feature that was introduced in 2013 and a pivotal part of the company’s growth. And like Snapchat, the photos and videos shared in your Instagram Story are ephemeral and can’t be viewed once 24hrs has elapsed. Content shared to stories also won’t appear on your profile grid or in the main Instagram feed.

How Instagram Stories Work

Stories are rolling out globally on iOS and Android over the next few weeks. And while some users may have the feature available right now, others may have to wait a little longer to get up and running.

Instagram Stories appear in a bar at the top of your feed — and all Instagram accounts will be able to share stories, from your best friends to your favorite popular accounts. When there’s something new to see, their profile photo will have a colorful ring around it.

To view someone’s story, you simply need to tap on their profile photo, and their story will appear full-screen, showing you all of the content they’ve posted in the last 24hrs, the content will play in chronological order from oldest to newest.

Once you’re viewing a story, you can tap to go back and forward or swipe to jump to another person’s story. Unlike regular posts, there are no likes or public comments.


How to Create a Story

To create a story on Instagram, you have to tap a new stylized “+” icon at the top left-hand corner of the screen, The Verge reported. Or you can reveal the story camera by simply swiping left.

Your story follows the privacy settings of your account. If you set your account to private, your story is visible only to your followers. However, you can also easily hide your entire story from anyone you don’t want to see it, even if they follow you. When watching your own story, swipe up to check out who’s seen each photo and video. You can even choose to feature a particular part of your story by posting it on your profile.


A Couple of Ways This Stories Could Benefit Instagram

1. An Attempt to Increase sharing

When Instagram first jumped onto the scene in 2010, its defining feature was the ability to turn average- looking smartphone photos into professional feeling images using a range of clever filters and editing tools.

What made Instagram stand out, could be somewhat of a hindrance for the company now, though, as the bar for content on Instagram has grown increasing high and many of the platform’s 300 million daily users, see the Instagram feed as a precious place for only the best content.

Speaking to The Verge, Instagram co-founder, Kevin Systrom explained: “If Instagram is built around highlights, we’re filling in the space in between — and becoming more about visual expression in general. We’re capturing all the world’s moments, not just the best ones.”

How often people share on Instagram

The average number of Instagram posts per user declined between 2013 and 2015, according to a study reported in The Information. And at the same time video alone on Snapchat have hit over 10 billion views per day and saw a 25 percent increase in just three months between February and April 2016.

Union Metrics put together data on brands and Instagram (note: data came before the change to an algorithm), finding that most brands post 1 to 2 times a day on Instagram (the actual average was right in the middle, 1.5).

Stories provide a way for brands, and individuals, to post more without overwhelming people’s feeds. As the company explained on their blog:

“With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want.”

2. A New Focus on Messaging

We’ve seen a huge rise in messaging platforms over recent years, from Facebook-owned Messenger and Whatsapp (Facebook also owns Instagram) growing to over 1billion users a piece, and Snapchat becoming a dominant platform for 1:1 photo and video sharing, and messaging amongst teenagers.

With this update, it feels like Instagram could be about to make a move into the messaging space and become a place to not only share our best moments but discuss our every moment. If you want to comment on something you see in someone’s story, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct.

If Instagram can crack messaging, then the app will become about much more than our finest moments, and with an array of in-the-moment stories and conversations with those closest to us to boot, it could become a truly social network.

5 Ways Brands Could Brands Use Instagram Stories

Brands aren’t strangers to Instagram, and we could see a large number jump in and start testing stories over the next couple of weeks. Here’s our best estimate and what we may see from those first movers:

1. Behind the scenes content

If the Instagram feed has become a place for only the most polished, pre-produced photos and video, then stories could be a way to add some authenticity the content that appears in the feed. With stories, brands have a chance to take their followers on a journey and tell the story behind the posts in their feed.

Imagine seeing a brand new post from Nike featuring a well-known athlete pop up in your Instagram feed, and then being able to go behind the scenes with that athlete directly afterward or even see some exclusive footage of the shoot in their story.

This technique could be used by brands of all sizes and industries too. For example, a restaurant could post a picture to their feed on a new dish and then create a story with a well-known food blogger reviewing it. Or a real estate company could take you on a tour around a property they’ve just posted about. The possibilities here are endless.

2. A potential way to beat the algorithm

Instagram recently added a Facebook-like algorithm to filter its feed and show users the posts it determines they’ll be most interested in at the top of their feed.

We’re still unsure whether Instagram will show all stories in chronological order or if they’ll follow the algorithm, but stories could provide a way for brands to stay top-of-mind on the platform even if their content isn’t always at the top of the feed. Experimentation with stories, and being a stand-out early adopter, could help brands to get their followers paying more attention to the posts within their feeds and boost their engagement across the platform.

3. Takeovers

Takeovers have become a big thing for brands on Snapchat. If you’re not familiar with how it works, essentially, one brand will take over another’s Snapchat account for a period and share content.

With Instagram stories, brands could begin to collaborate more with other brands or influencers. For example, at Buffer we regularly feature members of our community within our Instagram feed. Once stories open up globally, we could share a photo from one of our community and then allow them to jump on our story and share a little more context about the photo or video in our feed.

4. A rise in 1:1 communication

When social media first hit the mainstream, there was a lot of buzz and excitement about being able to talk directly with your favorite celebrities and brands. Stories give brands the chance to get back to the roots of social media and engage with their followers on a 1:1 basis.

For example, we could see brands running Q&A sessions via stories with people sending questions via Instagram Direct and the brand answering them within their story. We could also see stories being used to send 1:1 video messages to followers.

5. Live, timely content

There’s a lot of excitement around live video content at the moment. And Instagram stories could give brands a way to produce live video content on the platform.

Live video is extremely engaging, and though Instagram stories won’t allow for a long, un-interrupted broadcast like Facebook Live or Periscope, it could allow brands to make their Instagram accounts the place to go for live, interactive content.

Benefit Cosmetics have used Facebook to broadcast makeup tutorials, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York used Facebook to share the opening of a new exhibit. And there’s no reason Instagram stories couldn’t be used in a similar way to these broadcasts and take users deeper into a live event as it takes place.

Over to you

This is certainly a big move for Instagram and one that could shift the platform a great deal. Snapchat has proven there’s a huge market for sharing fleeting, everyday moments of our lives and if Instagram can make stories work alongside its current offering, then this could be one of its most important updates to date.

What are your thoughts on Instagram’s Snapchat competitor? Are you excited to test out stories? How do you think we’ll see brands using the feature?Share your thoughts in the comments and I’d be excited to join the conversation.

Share your thoughts in the comments and I’d be excited to join the conversation.

Quick quiz for social media marketers:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been asked, “So, you get paid to go on Facebook?”

Probably quite a few of us, right? People get social media. But it seems many are still bewildered by social media marketing.

So how can you explain the value of what you do, to those who matter most to you?

To be sure, social media marketing is an incredibly new (and ever-changing) industry, unlike finance, engineering, sales, law, medicine, and more established fields. Plus most people use social media for fun, so social media’s place in business can seem suspicious.

Nevertheless, there’s a way to get your value across and explain social media marketing to stakeholders, bosses, friends, and family in a way that they’ll get. Keep reading for some tips on how to have these important conversations, and we’d love to hear any tips or stories you have to share in the comments!

What people think I do vs. What I actually do

Sometimes, when talking to different people about social media jobs, it can feel a little like the “What People Think I Do/What I Really Do” meme:


These general guidelines can help.

3 Guidelines for Talking to Anyone About Social Media

  1. Be patient with those who might not know as much about social media as you do
  2. Remember your audience and customize your message accordingly
  3. Use stories to engage the other person and help them relate to you

1. Be patient

You’re constantly using, discussing, experimenting with, or reading about social media.

Others aren’t.

It can require some patience to remember there are plenty of people out there who don’t know Twitter recently changed its 140-character rules (and even if they did know, might not be too interested). So, if you try to explain social media marketing to someone and they’re not getting it, don’t get frustrated. Be patient with the other person, and be grateful — it’s actually pretty awesome you get to be an (unofficial) ambassador of social media.

2. Remember your audience

It’s tempting to come up with one “silver bullet” explanation and use it with every person who says, “So, tell me what you do.” But you’ll be more successful if you account for each person’s background and reasons for asking.

For example, a stranger at a party is probably making conversation, while your mentor probably wants to know how social media marketing can help her department.

3. When in doubt, use stories

As Leo has previously explained, our brains light up whenever we hear a story. Why? They’re engaging! In addition, they make complex ideas feel simple and easy to grasp.

whenever we hear a story, we want to relate it to one of our existing experiences. That’s why metaphors work so well with us. Whilst we are busy searching for a similar experience in our brains, we activate a part called insula, which helps us relate to that same experience of pain, joy, disgust or else.

This graphic from the New York Times illustrates it well:


If, during the course of explaining your social media marketing job, you notice the other person’s eyes glazing over, stop and say, “Let me explain with a story.” Then, share a situation that exemplifies the value of your job:

  • That time you helped a customer resolve an issue
  • The day you generated a ton of leads for the sales team
  • The campaign that brought in 100 new attendees for a company event

Now that we’ve got the basics down, check out how to discuss social media with these 8 types of people in your life.

8 Ways to Explain Social Media Marketing to Bosses, Clients, Family, and More

 1. How to Explain to Your CEO

Give your CEO numbers that tie into goals

If you ask your CEO, “Is it important for the company to be on social media?” they’re almost guaranteed to say yes. After all, 96% of businesses invest in social media marketing—so somewhere down the line, your budget got their approval.

But that doesn’t mean your CEO is totally sold on or even completely understands the concept. You can help them see the value of social media marketing by drawing clear connections between the organization’s high-level goals and your own responsibilities and results.

Let’s say one of your company’s biggest priorities right now is generating better leads. You could tell your CEO, “After looking at the data, my team realized our most qualified prospects were coming from LinkedIn. So, we started focusing our energy on LinkedIn and dialed it back on Twitter and Facebook—and now, the number of MQLs we’re shooting over to sales has gone up by 30%.”

(Here’s a guide to KPIs, if it helps.)

Brand Connections’ useful guide to goals <> KPIs might come in handy, too.


Of course, you’ll want to adjust your approach depending on how fluent your CEO is in social media. Some executives will be crystal-clear on, say, the differences between Meerkat, Periscope, and Snapchat, while others might say, “Meer-what?”

If your CEO is closer to the second, make sure that you provide simple, quick explanations for every new concept you introduce. To give you an idea, you might say, “We’ve been getting 20% more event attendees ever since we started filming ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos with Periscope, a tool for live broadcasting.”

  • Periscope might equal “behind-the-scenes videos”
  • Facebook Live might equal “streaming video feeds”
  • Snapchat might equal “in-the-moment entertainment”

Bonus: Here’re some tips on how to convince your CEO about social media’s value, using data!

2. Your CTO

Help your CTO evangelize on social media for your company

Social media marketers can be a huge help to their CTOs.

As digital and content strategist Zane Razane explains,

The CTO serves as the public face of technology for a company, so my job is to support their social platform engagement with the audience both online and offline—conferences, events, etc.

When you’re explaining your function to the CTO, Razane recommends saying something like:

Together, we’ll come up with a strategy for your online presence that aligns with the company’s brand, vision, and values. With that locked down, we can create content for social media, our blog, third-party blogs, and more. By establishing you as credible and trustworthy—not to mention a valuable source of information— we’ll support the business goals and online reputation of the company.

3. Your Coworker

Explain what you do in context with what they do

New coworkers will always ask, “Oh, what team are you on?” However, even when you’re talking to people who have known you for years, it’s helpful to have a job description you can whip out during meetings and random conversations.

The key? Customize your explanation to the person’s own role.

To give you an idea, let’s say you’re talking to someone on their first day.

You: Welcome to the coolest company ever! What team are you joining?

Them: Thank you! I’m a support engineer. What do you do?

You: Oh, awesome. I run our blog—so actually, I spend a lot of time with the support team, since your interactions tell me so much about how our users think and what type of content they’ll like.

Now, here’s how that interaction might play out if they were, say, in HR.

Them: I’m a PeopleOps associate. What about you?

You: Nice! I’m a social media coordinator, so I figure out what to post to our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. In fact, our customers love seeing candid pictures from our internal events—hackathons, company celebrations, speaker lunches, etc.—so I’m sure we’ll get a chance to work together as you plan out the lineup.

Describing how your role fits into the other person’s role makes it easier for for them to relate to (and later remember). Plus, it’s a nice way to lay the groundwork for future collaboration.

Teams like Typeform make it a bit smoother to see where new hires fit within the structure of the organization. Their Trello-based org chart helps you see who works where and on what — making the social media marketer’s explaining a bit easier.

typeform org chart trello

4. A Potential Contact (Who’s Not in Marketing)

Ask them about their favorite brands — and use that info to frame your answer

It’s always challenging to explain your job when you’re networking: You want to be interesting and memorable, yet accurate. And when the person you’re talking to is from a different industry, it’s even more challenging — now you also have to describe your role in a way they’ll appreciate.

The best solution I’ve found? Ask about their favorite brand, then use that brand as your example.

Here’s how that might play out:

Them: I manage HR for Capstone. What do you do?

You: Oh, cool! I’ve heard great things about you guys. And I work in social media marketing—actually, it might be easier with an example. What’s a company you like?

Them: Hmm. I love Shake Shack.

You: Ahh, me too. Well, if I worked for Shake Shack, I’d be the one posting those drool-worthy pictures to Instagram, writing food-themed posts for our blog, working with Marketing to make sure our latest restaurant openings will be covered on social… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

5. A Potential Contact (Who Is in Marketing)

Solicit their advice on a social media marketing challenge

Let’s face it, answering the “what do you do” question is much easier when it’s coming from a fellow marketer. You can just say, “I’m a community manager,” or “I manage our digital media efforts,” without giving any follow-up details or definitions.

However, while there’s nothing wrong with simply providing your job title, you’ll be missing an awesome opportunity. Surface-level answers are huge road-blocks in the conversation when you’re talking to someone new—the more in-depth or specific you go, the more you and the other person will have to discuss.

With that in mind, consider asking for advice on a challenge you’re currently facing.

You: I’m a social media coordinator for Owl Insights. Actually—I’d love to get your expertise on an issue we’re currently struggling with.

Them: Oh, sure!

You: So, I’m in charge of our Instagram page, and I’m really struggling to come up content ideas that our audience will be interested in. I’ve been posting “behind-the-scenes” pictures, but they’re not driving much engagement.

Them: Well, I love how Granular—who’s also B2B—has started a UCG campaign…

Not only will your reply spark a strong (and potentially productive!) conversation, you’ll make the other person feel great by asking for their help.

Worried that your coworkers wouldn’t want you sharing so much info? You can still use this technique: just describe a problem you encountered in the past, then ask how they would’ve handled it.

You: I’m a social media coordinator for Owl Insights. Actually—I’d love to get your expertise on an issue we recently dealt with. I’m not sure our approach was the best one.

Them: Sure.

You: So, I’m in charge of our Instagram page, and…

And hypothetical situations are always an option as well. Here’s some inspiration from a list of what social media managers are working on today.

what social media managers are working on today

6. A Hiring Manager

Share your specific social media results. Mention data plus strategy.

In order to get a job, you need to convince the hiring manager of one major thing: You will make their organization more successful. Everything else — from your previous experience and education to your skill-set and certifications — only matters because it indicates whether or not you can do a good job in this role.

So when you’re talking to an interviewer, focus on your results.

And get specific.

For instance, “I grew our Medium followers by 200% in three months,” is only meaningful if you add, “… by bringing in some of the most well-known writers in our space to guest-post, publishing one high-quality piece per week rather than three average ones, and incorporating custom graphics.”

Sharing more details is even better. To give you an idea, you could add:

“I decided to reduce how often we posted per week after running a short experiment. I compared our engagement for a week with three medium-researched, 700-word posts to a week with one highly-researched, 3,000-word post. We gained twice as many followers the second week and got four times as many comments and likes—in part because the longer piece was recommended by several key influencers.”

This level of detail shows you’re analytical and thoughtful. It also tells the interviewer that you didn’t get those results through luck.

7. Your Friends

Figure out the last time they interacted with a social media manager (whether they knew it or not)

Although they might not realize it, your friends probably interact with social media marketers on an hourly basis. You can demonstrate the value of your work by finding some of those interactions.

For example, you could ask a friend to show you the last 10 photos he liked on Instagram. There’s a strong chance at least one will belong to a business or brand.

Once you spot one, explain, “This company’s social media team posted this picture to increase engagement with users just like you. They know seeing this picture makes you more loyal and engaged.”

Next, connect the dots by saying, “I use a similar approach at my job. My company posts [X type of content] on [platform 1] to build relationship with [these types of customers]. We also post [Y type of content] on [platform 2] to build relationships with [different/related types of customers].

Nate Hill, a web and social media strategist for the University of Michigan’s career center, advises ending with:

I look for new ways to get people to interact, consume, or share the content we’re putting out for them.

8. Strangers

Have a story ready

From random people in the grocery store to friendly strangers on the street, you never know when you’ll meet a total stranger who will ask what you do. In these cases, you don’t have the background knowledge necessary to tailor your explanation. That’s why it’s extremely handy to have a universally relatable example up your sleeve.

Florina Gobel, who handles social media strategy for the non-profit New Organ, uses this one:

“I’m like a chef. I cook up stories. I want people to like my food, talk about my food, and get their friends to come over and recommend it to their friends. So I plan the menus carefully: what story will be served, how, and when. I design strategic menus of stories. Bite-sized appetizer stories, individual courses, dessert, etc to be served at the right times, the right places. I analyze customers’ response to inform future menu decisions. And I also respond directly to both positive and negative feedback. A job well done means building a thriving, loyal community driven to take actions that support the restaurant’s business goals and growth.”


9. Your Grandparents

Make your role feel relatable

The number of older people on social media has tripled since 2010, with roughly one in three people over 65 using at least one platform.


That’s good news when you’re trying to explain your job in social media to your grandparents. But even if they’re familiar with the ins and outs of Facebook, you might still need to outline how your activity (on all the channels) contributes to your company’s success.

Start by providing an illustration of marketing they’ll be familiar with.

For instance, you might say:

“You know how you’ll be flipping through a magazine, and you’ll see an ad for a new car model? And then maybe you turn on the TV, and you see an ad for that car again. Next thing you know, you’re listening to the radio, and you hear a broadcast for that same car. If you’re going to buy a new car in the near future, that brand—if not that exact model—will be on your mind.”

Now link your example to social media, like so:

“You’ve probably noticed how much time people spend online. Well, I put information about my company and our products online, where potential customers can find it. I also try to keep them satisfied after they’re….”

Over to you

Do you have any awesome ways of describing your job to the people in your life?

I’d love to hear your stories of what worked—and what hasn’t worked—in the comments!

If you could travel back in time to when Facebook or Instagram first started grabbing mainstream attention, knowing what you do now about the opportunity they hold for brands, you’d jump aboard, right?

Well, that opportunity is now on Snapchat.

Snapchat, a platform built on short ephemeral messages, seems destined to become a long-lasting social media powerhouse.

This future seems all the more realistic with the addition of Snapchat Memories — a way to share photos and videos captured outside of Snapchat to your Story. I’ve done some thinking about what this new addition means to Snapchat content and the future of the social network. My conclusion: All good things!

Keep reading to see what Memories is all about and how Snapchat is evolving into a must-have social media channel.

My teammate Brian recently shared his thoughts about Snapchat Memories in this video commentary. Would love to have you take a look!

What Are Snapchat Memories? Here’s an Overview

With Snapchat Memories, you can now, for the first time, share photos and videos captured outside of Snapchat to your Story.

That’s one of the key features of Memories – an update that fundamentally shifts Snapchat, taking the platform that has become famous for its disappearing content and moving it in a new direction.

Alongside the ability to share content from outside the app, Memories also enables users to save Snaps to a smart, searchable camera roll and enables re-sharing (and embellishing) of previously sent snaps.

Here’s the video that Snapchat put together for their announcement:


I’d love to show you more about how each of these new Memories features work.

1. Share any photo or video — from within the app or from anywhere else

Memories enable Snapchat users to tell bigger stories that incorporate more than just in-the-moment photos and video. Instead of purely spontaneous content, Snapchat can now be used to share much more thoughtfully — similar to the approach you’d take with platforms like Instagram and Facebook, where the content you post doesn’t disappear.

With the flexibility to share any photo or video you want through Snapchat — not just those you took within the app — the company has opened up a whole new way to create content.


Users can access Memories by swiping up from the camera section of the app.

Saved photos and videos that are uploaded as Stories or Snaps have a timestamp to show when they were originally taken.

2. Save Snaps to a searchable camera roll

As Snapchat explains:

You can use Memories to create new Stories from Snaps you’ve taken, or even combine different Stories into a longer narrative. It’s fun to celebrate an anniversary or birthday by finding a few old Snaps and stringing them together into a new Story.

All saved photo and video Snaps plus your Stories appear in the main Memories tab, where you can also import all of your previously saved Snaps. From the Memories tab (which serves as an in-app camera roll), it’s super easy to find the Snap or Story you’re looking for in just a few seconds by typing keywords like “dog” or “Hawaii.”


That’s the ins and outs of Snapchat Memories covered. Now, what does this mean? And how will it affect the way brands create content on Snapchat?

On the future of Snapchat: How Memories will affect Snapchat’s content

1. Memories raise the bar for quality Snaps

Political news site, The Hill, uses Snapchat to live-snap key political events and the larger world of politics and life in DC. They also have some recurring Snapchat series’. One, called Capitol Cribs, for instance, offers Snapchat tours of lawmaker offices.

Speaking to Nieman LabTaylor Lorenz, The Hill director of emerging platforms explained that Memories could lead to higher production qualities on Snapchat:

Memories will make producing this type of content easier in the sense that it doesn’t have to all be done in real time, but harder in that I think it will raise the bar for repackaged content. Now that we have a longer lead time on creating these evergreen-type stories, the quality of what we put out on our channel should improve.

Lifting the limit on content creation from what can only be created within the app has a huge upside when it comes to creating engaging stories for Snapchat.  Allowing people to upload pre-existing content also opens up the door for .

2. Memories make a longer shelf life for content

These days, content on social media has a very low shelf life.

None more so than Snapchat, where content disappears after 24 hours.

With the new features in Snapchat Memories (saving, reusing), this will make it easier for brands to justify budgets and invest in high-end creative for their Stories. Any photos or videos created for Snapchat can now be re-used, and content from other networks can also be re-published on the platform.

3. Memories may help Snapchat expand to a wider audience

In order to continue its impressive growth, it’s increasingly important for Snapchat to attract a broader (and older) audience. Currently, Snapchat dominates attention for 18 to 34-year-olds. Forty-one percent of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States use the app on any given day.


And the company is also making strides with older generations. According to numbers from comScore, 14% of smartphone users aged 35 and older use Snapchat, too.

This comes as no surprise, as Snapchat has put a lot of focus on becoming a more mainstream product and moving away from the stigma that it’s only for teenagers.

In 2015, Snapchat Discover made the network a media destination by providing publishers with a mobile-first way to share editorial content. And now, Memories is another strong move to help Snapchat become a complete distribution channel for individuals and brands alike.

Snapchat has huge, multi-billion dollar revenue potential, and as reported by TechCrunch, the company is looking to be making and as much as $1 billion in revenue during 2017.

Hitting this revenue target will rely greatly on Snapchat’s ability to spread its wings and continue to grow beyond its early adopters and increase its market share for the 35+ age range (and into the early majority). Much like when Facebook expanded from college students to parents (and now grandparents), Snapchat’s future growth and revenues could rely on its ability to pivot and engage the older generation and mass market.


4. Memories can feed the evolution of Snapchat’s ad product

While Snapchat has reportedly achieved 150 million global daily active users (overtaking Twitter), the company is still a ways off Facebook’s 1 billion-plus user base.

And ads only work if there are users to engage with them.

With Memories, Snapchat now has a legitimate claim to be the go-to camera app for capturing and saving moments. Users in the early and late majority may also appreciate the ability to take a photo and video and worry about sharing later.

This shift could be seen as more user-friendly and easier to understand for the less digitally-native population and should help the company to build its user base, and in turn, boost its revenues.

The fact that Snapchat can now store photos and videos as Memories could also give it more insight into its user interests than before and more data should help Snapchat to improve its ad-targeting. Something that Facebook mastered on its way to becoming a dominant mobile advertising network.

Just last month (June 2016), Snapchat announced an advertising API – its biggest move yet towards becoming a pay-to-play network for large brands. The API will allow selected partners to sell Snapchat’s video ad inventory via an automated, auction-based system.

With the API roll-out and launch of Memories, Snapchat is getting serious about growth and revenue. And I don’t think it’ll be too long before we see a Facebook-style ‘ads-for-all’ platform, enabling brands of all sizes to capitalize on Snapchat’s highly-engaged audience.

Only time will tell how Snapchat’s ad product will evolve, but one thing’s for sure when it comes to revenue, Snapchat is just getting started…

Why now is the time to go all-in on Snapchat

At Buffer, we believe there are two key periods of opportunity for brands on social platforms:

  1. Organic
  2. Paid

We call it the law of the double-peak:

Right now, Snapchat is growing towards the mainstream and there’s still a ton of opportunity to stand out and build an audience organically. Meaning you don’t need ads or paid distribution to grab attention.

Think of it as Instagram in 2014-2015 or Facebook in 2009-2010.

Great content works on Snapchat, and you don’t need a huge budget.

In a year or so, things may be different. Snapchat is rumored to be working on a Facebook-like algorithm that would curate Stories and show users content it feels they’ll enjoy most at the top of their feed, rather than displaying each Story in chronological orders as the app does now. This, coupled with more brands and individuals vying for attention on the platform could make it harder to break through and get people to open your Snaps.

I’m confident when I say Snapchat will be around for the long haul. The ephemeral messaging app loved by teenagers could have been a short-lived fad, but what Snapchat is building has far, far more longevity and opportunity for brands of all sizes.

Your thoughts

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Snapchat Memories and the future of the platform.

How do you see Memories affecting your use of Snapchat? And how do you feel ads will affect the platform?

It’d be great to hear from you in the comments.

One of our cultural values at Buffer, is to live smarter, not harder.

We like to think this extends into our workflows as well.

This is why marketing spreadsheets have been such a boon for us, helping us to track important social media metrics, see our blog growth, and get more work done in less time.

That being said, spreadsheets are not always easy. Finding or building the right ones and figuring out how best to use them can be time-consuming tasks. We’d love to help.

To give you a hand with managing spreadsheets in Excel and Google Sheets (and hopefully save a great deal of time), we’ve pulled together a list of essential spreadsheets, templates, formulas, and shortcuts that are handy for every marketer to have in their locker.

Let’s jump in…

10 Ready-made Marketing Spreadsheets to Boost Your Productivity

For many of the free spreadsheets linked below, you can download as an .xls file to use and customize in Excel or Google Docs. Google Doc users can also go to “File > Make a Copy …” to add the spreadsheet to their account, then edit.

1. A weekly social media report

Track your social media marketing with week-over-week data

Social Media report card spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

This social media report is built in Google Sheets, and it works off of a data export from Buffer (though you can rig it to work with exports from other social media analytics tools as well).

The report will help you keep tabs on your engagement, top posts, and much more.

2. Waterfall chart

Monitor your progress to see if you’re on track

Waterfall template

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

The waterfall spreadsheet template is extremely versatile for keeping pace with your goals. We use it to track many of our OKRs here at Buffer. (Thanks to the HubSpot team for turning us onto waterfalls.)

Here’s an example of it in use to keep tabs on the number of comments we received per post throughout Q2:


This spreadsheet can be used to track your progress on most any metric. Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Follower growth on social media
  • Newsletter subscribers
  • Traffic growth
  • Clicks from your social accounts

3. Blog post traffic tracker

Know which posts are seeing the most traffic, and when

Blog post traffic spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

This is one of my favorite spreadsheets we use at Buffer and I’m excited to share it with you. The blog post traffic spreadsheet enables us to keep an eye on which pieces of content are hitting our traffic goals and it’s also really great to keep an eye on what topics are performing best, too.

4. Social media marketing baselines

Know right away which social media posts are on track and which are taking off

Social Media Baselines spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

How can you tell if a certain number of clicks, reshares, or reach is good?

It can be a bit of a puzzle to see your social media results in context. That’s why we’ve gone about trying to set benchmarks and baselines for our social media marketing, using the above spreadsheet as our starting point.

Simply enter your social media data into the spreadsheet (it works natively with a Buffer data export).

Then the formulas do the rest, highlighting any update that goes above and beyond your average.

5. Social media audit spreadsheet

Easily track all your social profiles in one place

Social media audit spreadsheet template

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

Performing a social media audit on a monthly basis can be a good habit. Once you get in a good flow, it might only take 15 minutes or less, and you’ll gain tons of benefits with branding, consistency, and perspective.

Here are some of the things we track in the audit spreadsheet:

  • Profiles on all social networks
  • Active / dormant
  • Posting frequency
  • Followers and growth
  • Engagement and growth

6. Moz’s One Metric

See at-a-glance which pieces of content are performing best

Moz One Metric spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

We’ve used the Moz One Metric spreadsheet to track the performance of our blog posts and even re-engineered it to work with social media updates.

It’s a powerfully simple way to measure performance. Here is Moz’s explanation for why they built it:

We need a way to quickly sift through the noise and figure out which pieces of content were really successful, and which didn’t go over nearly as well.

It works by weighing three different points of data and standardizing to make a single score. The data points can be anything you choose. By default, they’re:

  1. Google Analytics traffic data
  2. On-page data (comments, thumbs up)
  3. Social shares

7. Google Analytics heatmap

Find out when your readers visit your site (so you know when to publish/promote)

Google Analytics heatmap spreadsheet via Seer

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

The folks at Seer Interactive set about to recreate a Google Analytics mobile dashboard look from a desktop spreadsheet. The results are pretty nifty: You can see the times when your site receives its most organic traffic, which might help you plan when to publish new posts or promote content.

To get started, Seer published step-by-step instructions for setting up the spreadsheet with your own Google Analytics data.

8. Social media calendar

Manage and plan your social media marketing content weeks in advance

Social media calendar template

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

We were grateful to partner with HubSpot in creating the above calendar template. One of our favorite features: It includes a sheet to store your best evergreen content and updates so that you can quickly grab something to share in a pinch.

9. Social media metrics dashboard

Visualize (and share) all your social media marketing growth from one place

Social media metrics spreadsheet

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

This is the spreadsheet we use at Buffer to track the performance of our social media marketing. It allows us to chart week-over-week growth and month-over-month growth, with sheets for the snapshot overview and each month’s performance.

10. Quotes to share

Easy-to-grab, inspiring quotes to share on social media

Social media quotes

Grab a copy of this spreadsheet here >>

Some of our most highly engaged social media content is quotes. And when we’re looking for some fresh inspiration, we often turn to this spreadsheet. (Likewise, when we find some quotable inspiration, we add it to the sheet.)

These quotes work great as images also. You can build an image quote in 30 seconds or less using Pablo or other image-creation tools.

5 incredibly handy spreadsheet formulas

1. Tidy up spacing

Have you ever started working on a spreadsheet with some odd spacing going on? A few rogue spaces throughout a sheet can make it difficult to work with the data. Thankfully, there’s a nice, simple formula to help you remove unwanted spaces.

The Trim function works across both Google Sheets and Excel. To use it, simply type the following formula into the Formula Bar:

=TRIM("Your Text Here")

Here’s an example, to remove the unwanted spaces before a name in our spreadsheet. For this, we used the formula: TRIM(“Kevan Lee”)

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 11.42.33

2. Spilt

The following formula can help you to split values within your Google Sheets spreadsheet based on any given character (or delimiter) within the cell. In the below example we used the character ” ” (space) to split first names and surnames from the values listed in Column A.


The formula you need to do this is:

=split(string, delimiter)

And in the above example, we used  “A2″ as the string and ” ” (space) as the delimiter, making our formula:

=split(A2, " ")

If you’re using Excel, this handy guide from Microsoft will help you achieve the same outcome.

3. Percentage difference between two numbers

Back at the start of Q2 2016, we set a goal to boost the traffic to our new posts by 30% in the first 30 days after publishing. To measure this, I created a spreadsheet, and in one column had the target traffic for each post with the actual traffic in another and the percantage difference between the two figures displayed in a third column. This formula helped to me see whether we hit the goal on not at a glance, and how far over or under we were.

Here’s a snippet of the spreadsheet (you can see the % difference in the green / red figures in the furthest right column):


To work out the percetage difference you need to use the following formula:
=(-1) * (Cell 1-Cell 2)/Cell 2

For example, if we have a target of 3,315 page views and achieve 4,147 page views, this forumlua will tell you that you were 25.10% over your target:


Note: Ensure the cells you’re using this formula for are formatted as percentages to ensure this one works.

4. Autosum

Autosum can be a really neat time saver in Excel. To use it, simply select an empty cell to the right or below the cells you want to sum, and type Alt + = (or Command + Shift + T on Mac). Excel will then estimate the range of cells you’re trying to combine and in one step give you the total.


Note: If Excel’s estimation is a little off, you can edit the range of cells include in the sum within the formula bar.

In Google Sheets, Autosum works a little differently. First, you need to select the range of cells you wish to add up, then click the Functions button and select the SUM option. Google Sheets will then automatically add the sum of your selected cells directly in the cell below (or to the right if you’re combining data from rows).

Here’s that workflow in action:


5. Add up the sum of cells matching certain criteria

If you wanted to discover the page views on your blog generated by posts written a certain author or count only data from users in a specifc cohort, it could take a while to figure these out manually. This is where the SUMIF function comes into play.

SUMIF allows you to add up cells that meet a certain criteria. Here’s how a SUMIF works:

=SUMIF (range, criteria, [sum_range])

  • =SUMIF: tells the formula it’ll be summing only cells that match the specified critera
  • Range: the range of cells you’re going to add up
  • Criteria: the criteria used to determine which cells to add
  • Sum Range: The cells to add together

Here’s an example showing how we can breakdown page views generated by post type on the Buffer Social blog using a SUMIF:

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 14.16.10

In order to calculate the number of page views ‘News’ posts generated we used the formula:

This formula sums the amounts in column D (range) when a value in column B (sum range) contains “News” (critera).

More on the SUMIF function:

Bonus: 9 Time-Saving Shortcuts and Tips Used by Spreadsheet Masters

1. Add borders to cells

When I work with spreadsheets, I love to use borders to help me break up the data and make a sheet easier to understand. Both Excel and Google Sheets have a button to add borders, but they also have some super-handy shortcuts:

Google Sheets: 

  • Apply top border: PC: Alt + Shift + 1 | Mac: Option + Shift + 1
  • Apply right border: PC: Alt + Shift + 2 | Mac: Option + Shift + 2
  • Apply bottom border: PC: Alt + Shift + 3 | Mac: Option + Shift + 3
  • Apply left border: PC: Alt + Shift + 4 | Mac: Option + Shift + 4
  • Remove borders: PC: Alt + Shift + 6 | Mac: Option + Shift + 6
  • Apply outer border: PC: Alt + Shift + 7 | Mac: Option + Shift + 7


PC and Mac (substitute Alt for the Option key on Mac):


2. Format numbers as currency

If you have same data you’d like to quickly turn into currency, there’s a super quick solution to help you out. This shortcut can be particularly useful when you’re working with budgets, revenues or even salaries.


To use this trick, simply highlight the cells you wish to update and press Control + Shift + 4. Thankfully, this shortcut is universal across Excel, Google Sheets, Mac and PC.

3. Format as a percentage

Much like formatting numbers as currency you can also format numbers as a percentage using a neat shortcut. To do this, simply select the cells you’d like to show as percentages and press Control + Shift + 5.

4. Copy formatting

Formatting spreadsheets to your liking can take quite some time. To help speed this process up, you can use the Paint Format button to copy and paste formatting from one bunch or cells to another.

To do this, highlight the formatting you’d like to copy, then click on the paint brush icon (on both Excel and Google Sheets) and then select the area you’d like to apply the formatting to and click the paint brush again. Your styling will now be applied to those cells.


5. Start a new line in the same cell

Adding multiple lines of text within the same cell is often a puzzle for spreadsheet users. I can’t even recall how many times I experimented and tried to figure this out before someone was gracious enough to teach me this amazingly simple keyboard command.

Here’s the answer, to add a new line of text in the same cell holding Alt + Enter on PC or Control + Option + Return on Mac, will add a new line inside a cell on both Google Sheets and Excel.


6. Insert date and time

Almost every spreadsheet will have a column for the date or time and the following shortcuts work across Excel, Google Sheets, Mac and PC:

To add the date, use Control + ;

To enter the current time, use Control + Shift +

7. Fill down / Fill right

These shortcuts allow you to quickly copy data from the cell above or the cell to the left, without having to copy and paste. In Excel, to copy a value from the cell above, use Control + D. To copy data from the cell to the left, use Control + R.

Google Sheets works a little differently here, but you can still use a shortcut to fill cells to the right and below. To do this on Google Sheets:

  • Highlight the cells you’d like to fill with the top or furthest left cell being the one you’d like to copy
  • Press Command + D

8. Show formulas

Occasionally, it can be useful to see all the formulas within your sheet, and what’s even better is being able to do this without having to manually click on each cell to see the formula behind the data. By holding Control + ‘ (on both Mac and PC and Google Sheets and Excel), you can display all formulas within your spreadsheet at once.

This shortcut is particularly useful to help ensure you’re using consistent formulas throughout your sheet.

9. Insert rows and columns

To insert a row above or column into a spreadsheet, you first need to select an entire row or column. The, on Excel, use Control + Shift and + (on Mac: Control + I) to insert a row or column (columns will be added to the right of the selected column).

On Google Sheets, the command is a little different:

Here are the shortcuts for Mac:


And on PC:



Over to you: What are your spreadsheet tips?

Thanks for reading! I hope you picked up one or two new tips and tricks for your spreadsheets here. Now, I’d love to open the floor up to you and ask for your favorite spreadsheet hacks.

What formulas do you use regularly? Any shortcuts you couldn’t be without? Feel free to leave a comment below. I’m excited to join the conversation and learn from you too.

Further reading: 

Have you ever wondered why people love eating at buffets?

It’s not because all-you-can-eat options are better for your wallet; in fact, economists have proved ordering traditional dishes is actually cheaper.

Humans crave variety. With a buffet ticket, you can try the dumplings, the salad, the spare ribs, brussels sprouts, and the pasta—and that variety makes you feel good.

This principle of variety definitely applies to social media content: It’s easier to surprise and delight your followers when you’re not always serving up the same things. By continually introducing new content types into your social media lineup, you’ll keep your audience members on their toes and engaged.

If you’re eager to explore, but not sure where to start, check out this list of seven awesome types of social media content you can be creating right now.

1. Custom GIFs

Create your own animated GIFs to boost engagement and tell a story

A great GIF is worth a thousand words. Along with driving massive engagement, GIFs help you explain difficult ideas, add some visual variety to your feed, and have some fun with your audience.

There are tons of awesome GIFs already floating around (in fact, we’ve got a stocked moodboard you’re welcome to pull from). However, creating your own guarantees you’ll have unique, eye-catching content. And good news: You can whip up a GIF in mere minutes.

A few of our favorite GIF-making tools include:

If you need inspiration, check out NASA’s Twitter. NASA’s content is already visually compelling; after all, it doesn’t get more beautiful than the solar system. However, the agency takes things to the next level by animating things like shuttle take-offs, planets in rotation, and shots from space.

NASA also makes GIFs for its recurring social features. Its monthly “What’s Up” post, which showcases the coolest things happening in the night sky, gets a custom GIF for Twitter promotion. You can check out the June version below.

What’s up in the sky this month? Saturn, plus good views of Mars, Jupiter & Jupiter’s moons:

— NASA (@NASA) June 11, 2016

InVision, a wireframing and prototyping tool, has an admirable GIF strategy as well. For every 10 blog posts the company shares on social media, one or two will have accompanying GIFs that illustrate a concept from the post. Not only are the snippets semi-mesmerizing, but they allow InVision’s followers to get value without having to click on the link.

(Here’s a complete tutorial of exactly how Invision makes its GIFs, using a combination of ScreenFlow and Photoshop.)

“The details are what separate the good UX designers from the great.” by @realjoet

— InVision (@InVisionApp) June 15, 2016

Finally, GIFs are a handy way to quickly educate your followers. Take a look at Trello‘s tweet (explaining its email-to-board option) to see this idea in action.

Did you know you can send emails directly to Trello boards? We’ll show you how:

— Trello (@trello) June 16, 2016

To take things to the next level …

Make cinemagraphs.

A cinemagraph has the same file format as a GIF; however, rather than a series of images playing in a loop, it’s a static image with movement in one part of the frame. Cinemagraphs are, as designer Jason Winter puts it, “scroll-stoppers.” 

They’re also really effective: this one from Coke got 80,000 notes on Tumblr in 14 days.


These types of GIFs require a bit more Photoshop skill to create; here’s a good guide on getting started.

2. Snapchat Stories

Use captions, filters, stickers to build stories that stand out

Snapchat’s stratospheric engagement stats (to the tune of 100 million users spending a half hour on the platform per day) make it compelling for any brand.

Nonetheless, many companies still aren’t biting—err, snapping. According to research firm L2, only 40% of B2C businesses have accounts, compared to 93% for Instagram. Even fewer B2B companies are on Snapchat.

It’s normal to feel a little intimidated by the app’s unfiltered format, yet that authenticity and spontaneity actually make Snapchat a prime marketing opportunity. You can invite your audience into your world and even get a peek into theirs.

To see how a brand (and a B2B one, no less) can fully optimize this platform, follow DocuSign (@docusigninc). Every week, the company posts a literal story, usually riffing on a well-known children’s book or movie. A couple weeks ago, for example, Mary Poppins discovered the magic of electronic signatures. The week after that, the Lorax learned how DocuSign can save trees.

The stories are a blend of drawings, emojis, and captions. Not only are they creative, but they feel totally unlike any other promotional materials out there.


Shopify (@shopify) uses all sorts of creative Snapchat features to make their stories stand out. The snap below uses captions, filters, and stickers in a unique and eye-catching way.

snapchat story


The Shopify team was generous to write about some of their best Snapchat tips. Their list includes:

  • Creating title cards for longer Snapchat stories
  • Doing Snapchat takeovers with celebrities or partners
  • Using shortened URLs for links
  • Adding music over your snaps

Anthropologie (@anthropologie) is a strong example of a company doing Snapchat well in the B2C sphere. The brand mostly uses Snapchat to provide behind-the-scenes access to its photoshoots, future products, and employee life. Plus, Snapchat just launched shoppable snaps—now it’s even easier for consumers to buy the products they see featured.

Check out our post on everything you need to know about Snapchat, and of course, follow us at buffersnaps!

To take things to the next level …

Create on-demand geo-filters.

Whenever I’m in a new place, I love taking Snapchat photos and adding a custom geo-filter so people can see where I am.

And I’m definitely not the only user who loves using these location-based overlays. As Brian shares in his handy guide to on-demand geo-filters, you can generate tens of thousands of impressions for under $50.

Here’s an example of some that Gary Vaynerchuck has created:

snapchat geofilters

This feature is still only a couple months old—so if you get in on the action now, you’ll have a major competitive advantage.

3. User-Generated Content (UGC)

Drive engagement with outstanding content from others (works great on Instagram!)

Okay, so technically your users are the ones creating the content. But you’ll still need to collect, curate, optimize, and publish what they’ve produced.

Even though it might be easier to, say, upload your own photo to Instagram rather than finding one from a customer, UGC has some incredible and unique benefits.

  1. You make your customers the heroes of your story—exactly as it should be.
  2. You can give your posts some (usually much-needed) variety.
  3. You’ll help your followers trust you: research shows millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than other media.

Starbucks definitely uses UGC to rack up loyalty points with its followers. Roughly one-third of its Instagram photos are regrams from other accounts, which lets Starbucks show how different people are enjoying its drinks around the world.

Some of the corporation’s most-favorited posts come from users. Even better, people are motivated to upload shots of their orders to Instagram, in the hopes they’ll be shared.

Instagram Photo

Using the same strategy, the Buffer Instagram account shares user-generated content once or twice every week, averaging nearly 200 likes and comments on each photo (at the upper-end of the benchmark for Buffer Instagram engagement).

And getting started was quite smooth: Reach out to community members 1:1 whenever you spot a great image, mention the users when you share the post, repeat. You may even notice users sending content your way all on their own!

Some weeks, the UGC content can be 50 percent of what’s posted to Buffer Instagram:

User generated content on Instagram

To take things to the next level …

Run social media contests.

Waiting for your users to spontaneously upload photos is fine—but with a contest, you can capture a ton of content in a short time frame. Even better, contests are fun for everyone involved: the participants, your audience, and of course, the winner.

National Geographic and, for example, partnered on a fantastic UGC contest to promote travel to Switzerland. To enter, people posted their favorite shots of the country to Instagram with the hashtag #LoveSwitzerlandContest. The winner received a 10-day National Geographic Expedition to Switzerland.

Love Switzerland

The contest was a big success, generating almost 9,400 posts. Plus, 70% of the visitors to the contest hub page clicked the CTA for more trips.

4. Infographics

Pictures + text = 25% better comprehension

If you count early cave paintings as infographics, then humans have been making and consuming this type of content for the past 32,000 years. And for good reason: adding pictures to text makes your message 25% more comprehensible, not to mention far more engaging and persuasive.

There’s an infographic—or five—for every topic you can think of. But the ones that get the most mileage tie back to their brand’s product or space. Real estate app Movoto, for example, created this infographic pairing famous cities with their font personalities.

It’s humorous and unexpected, which shows you Movoto isn’t your typical real estate company.

What Font Is Your City?

If the thought of building your own infographic seems like a bit much, there are some neat tools that can help make the process easier, particularly for non-designers.

To take things to the next level …

Make your infographics come to life.

Animated infographics (a.k.a. gifographics) have been around for a couple years, but they’re still relatively rare—which means they’re a fantastic option if you want your content to stand out.

Neil Patel was one of the early adopters of gifographics. His primer on Google proves the attention-grabbing power of animation.

How Google Works

5. Concept Visualizations

Self-explanatory visuals, charts, and graphs spread far

Infographics are one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s kit. But designing a great one is hard work; plus, you need enough data to tell a story.

Here’s where concept visualizations come in. Because visualizations typically illustrate a single idea—rather than multiple stats and facts—they’re much smaller and more digestible than infographics. And they’re also quicker to create, meaning you could potentially pump one or two out for every blog post.

Here’s an example from Wistia:

The longer a viewer sticks around, the more likely they are to be a strong lead:

— WISTIA (@wistia) June 15, 2016

As you can see, the team took an interesting concept from one of their blog posts and turned it into a simple graph. Then, they used it to promote the post.

Having an embedded graphic that’s useful on its own makes Wistia’s tweet highly shareable. In addition, it really drives home why time-on-site is an important metric.

Along similar lines, data visualization app Visme produced the chart below to go along with a job search article.


This chart is both interesting and easy to read. Note that Visme got the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics—even if your company doesn’t have unique data, you can always visualize information from another source (just remember to give them credit!).

If you want more inspiration, head on over to Information Is Beautiful or Flowing Data.

And when it comes to creating these visualizations yourself, one of the fastest ways is with a simple Google Sheets chart. You can enter the data into a spreadsheet, build whatever style chart feels best, and take a quick screenshot of the result:

medium reads chart

To take things to the next level …

Use your own data.

While this move can stretch out the creation process a bit, it gives you the opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader.

You can visualize data you already possess; for instance, Boomerang analyzed more than 40 million emails its users had sent to find out the optimal message length, then turned the results into a cool graphic:

Boomerang Email Length

Alternatively, get data from a survey. SurveyMonkey, Wufoo, or Twitter polls are all solid options for gathering audience insights.

The final option? Conduct your own research. This New York Times visualization is an excellent example: it uses simple photography and copy to show the impact each piece of produce has on California’s drought crisis.

NYT Drought

6. Shareable Quotes

Easy to curate and create; just as much (or more) engagement

There’s something about a great quote that sticks in your mind for days, weeks, months, or even years. As marketers, we have the opportunity to share the best ones with our audience—and simultaneously inspire them and boost our brand.

Teachable, a platform for creating online courses, has made quotes a cornerstone of its social media strategy.

When you look at its six most recent Instagram posts, half are quotes. These visuals get just as much (and often more) engagement than the traditional images.

Teachable Instagram

General Assembly has its own quote strategy. Like Teachable, GA uses a specific hashtag for its quote visuals. It also uses a consistent format and style to make sure its followers link the inspiration to the source.

Instagram Photo

If you don’t want to design your own template, take advantage of Buffer’s Pablo image creator. You can pick out the perfect background photo and add your text in a minute or less; plus, you can download different sizes for the various networks.

To take things to the next level …

Combine concept visualizations and quotes. Once you’ve started making both separately, it’s only a short step to putting them together.

This example from demonstrates how cool the results can be. The quotes and the pie charts play off of each other quite nicely, each providing separate but related information. The juxtaposition of text and charts is also well-done.

Quote Concept Visualization

7. Facebook Live

Live videos are watched 3x longer and shown more in News Feed

Facebook’s live video streaming service is still in its infancy, but it’s already one of the top ways to form real connections with your audience. Live is informal—and by definition, unscripted—which means viewers feel like they’re getting a more intimate experience. You can see the effect on engagement: according to Facebook, people spend 3x longer on real-time video.

Facebook has even decided to push up Live videos in user News Feeds. That means when you’re broadcasting, you’ll get an organic traffic boost.

Benefit Cosmetics is taking full advantage of this new medium. Every Thursday, the brand live-streams an episode of “Tipsy Tricks with Benefit!” The hosts sip on wine, exchange playful banter, and answer beauty questions from their audience. The last installment received 29,000 views, 655 reactions, and 100-plus comments.

To take things to the next level …

Create multi-channel live campaigns.

Facebook Live is great, but it’s not the only live-streaming platform in town—to maximize your live content, distribute it across multiple apps.

For instance, Land Rover and The Brooks Brothers have joined forces on #LiveTestDrive, a Periscope and Facebook Live campaign. Every Friday, the team puts the car through its paces in on-road and off-road environments. Viewers get an up-close-and-personal look at how the Land Rover drives; plus, they can participate in live Q&As by using the hashtag #LiveTestDrive.

Since Facebook and Twitter have different demographics, broadcasting on both extends the campaign’s reach.

Over to you

Exploring new types of content can be challenging—but also really fun (especially when it pays off).

What do you think of these seven ideas? And which content types would you add to the list?

It’d be great to hear your ideas in the comments!

Image sources: Pablo, WOCinTech

A few months ago, Leo and I decided that we really wanted to step up our Medium game to truly understand how the platform worked and how we can provide the best value to our audience there. Truthfully, I was pretty clueless to begin with, and logging into the Buffer account was likely my second time on Medium but I was super excited to take on the challenge and learn everything I could.

Everything was started from scratch, with researching, creating spreadsheets, and experimenting at a rapid rate. I spent my time studying other brands on Medium and looking for posts that detailed what strategies and tactics worked for getting more traction.

The start of every day for me was Medium, I would import a story from the Buffer blog and edit it before publishing and then spending some time updating all of the tracking spreadsheets with the latest numbers, hoping for an indicator of what was working and what content should be posted tomorrow.

What follows are the 10 biggest experiments and how each one went. I hope it gives you some inspiration and ideas for what you might try next on Medium!

Our Best Medium Marketing Tips: Here’s Everything We Tried

I’ll go into great detail further on in the post about each of these strategies. Off the top, here’s a quick list of what we tried, what worked, and what didn’t.

Our top three Medium strategies were:

  1. Repost older, evergreen content
  2. Send Medium letters
  3. Experiment biweekly

These three strategies felt like positive changes, though we weren’t able to tie them to a direct impact on reads, views, or followers:

  1. Tie a custom domain to your Medium publication
  2. Design your Medium publication’s layout for maximum impact
  3. Experiment with finding the best publication title

And this list of strategies didn’t perform the way we were expecting:

  1. Posting on weekends
  2. Sharing to Buffer’s main social media accounts
  3. Writing thoughtful responses to other articles
  4. Publishing content from an individual person, rather than a brand/business

I’d love to share more on each of these. First off, here are the Medium marketing strategies that led the biggest results for us.

1. Repost olderevergreen content from your blog archives

Result: A 1,000% increase in views!

With our initial Medium strategy last fall, we focused on republishing our latest articles onto Medium, like many other companies and brands. We would wait about two weeks after the original piece was published on our Buffer blog, then republish it to our Medium publication.

And it worked okay — we didn’t quite see hypergrowth, though we were able to build a solid foundation of followers and reads.

What might’ve held us back?

One theory was that we were hitting the same people twice with the same content. Since a lot of Medium followers are usually similar to Twitter followers, it’s possible that two weeks after the blog post has been published, people had already read it on the Buffer blog or seen it promoted a few times on our Twitter account.

We switched to republishing Buffer pieces from a few years ago — articles that our Twitter audience had potentially never read or at least not read in a little while —  hoping the audience was more likely to read it.

And this is what happened:


That big spike in the chart above shows our views jumping from 528 one day, to 12,226 two days later — a 1,215% increase!

The only thing I changed was posting older, evergreen content. I didn’t change the day of the week or the frequency, just the content. And we were amazed at the results!

How can you implement this?

We’re lucky at Buffer to have been writing lots of high-quality content for a few years now, so it’s easy to dig back into the archives and pull out old popular pieces. If you also have older, evergreen content you can get from your archives, that’s perfect!

To find this content, you can:

  1. Dive deep into the pagination of your blog and look for evergreen content. For most WordPress blogs, you can navigate to a specific page by entering a URL like
  2. Filter your Google Analytics results to show your top posts from a year ago. Go to Behavior > Site Content and change your date filter to see a full year (for instance, July 2014 to July 2015). Here’s a look at ours:

google analytics results

If you’re republishing from a newer blog, I think part of the lesson here is that people might not want the same content from your blog on Medium again so soon, especially if they are already reading your blog and following you on Twitter.

One idea could be to try publishing different content on Medium than on your blog, at least for the first little while, to make sure you’re not hitting your audience with the same content so regularly.

2. Send Medium letters to your followers

Result: A 3x increase in views

I remember the day I figured out you could send newsletter-style emails to all of your publication readers, I was so excited to see what would happen when I pushed the magical button that put the post I wrote into everyone’s inbox.

The results? Hmm, not very many people read my first ever Medium letter.


And yet, the conversion rate of those that did open and read it was awesome at 83%:


So while it wasn’t a terribly large spike in reads or recommends to either the letter or the post I was promoting, it was an intriguing start, and it definitely showed enough value for us to try it again.

Here’s what happened when I sent my second Medium letter:


We say our daily views triple on the day we sent the letter and quintuple (5x!) the day after.

A couple of things I changed from Letter No. 1 to Letter No. 2:

  • Added a lot more visuals
  • Included links to more than one post
  • Added a personal touch with my name

And then my third letter kept the momentum going: Another spike in traffic on the day that we sent it.
Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 7.26.57 AM

Sending regular Medium letters is a powerful strategy for us. Like any newsletter, it’s best to be consistent to keep your audience engaged, and seeing these results from our early experiments with letters has encouraged us to make letters a weekly habit for our Medium strategy.

How can you implement this?

If you’re thinking of sending a Medium letter, these are the letter themes we’ve tried out so far

  1. Changes to our Medium publication and trending articles (did really well)
  2. Top articles to read
  3. Publishing a new post (did not go so well)

I’m going to keep sending roundup-style posts via Medium letters to give readers a couple of post options and see what they’re most interested in.

Some people have regular newsletters that express opinions or share updates that readers can only get by email. You can get very creative with Letters as well, check out this beautiful example by Bright:


To send a Medium letter:

  1. Visit your Medium publication
  2. Click the Manage button at the top
  3. Choose “Letters” from the drop-down list
  4. Start writing, and hit Send when you’re done!

3. Run weekly or biweekly experiments (here’s a list to get you started)

Results: 10% monthly growth in reads

medium reads chart

When I first got started with growth experiments, Leo sent me this talk called “Growth Machine” by Brian Balfour that models a lot of how we look at marketing experiments at Buffer.

Based on this framework, I ran one Medium experiment every two weeks and tracked all of my stats in a spreadsheet.

Here’s a list of the 15 growth experiments and hypotheses I used. You’re totally welcome to steal to get yourself started to see what works for you on Medium.

  1. If we post to Medium on Saturday and Sunday, then we will rise to the top of the recommends list more quickly because there are less posts to compete with (less people post on weekends).
  2. If we post to only publications with more followers than us, then our posts will get more reads and recommends due to the larger reach (top 11 publications on Medium here).
  3. If we put a CTA in the post asking readers to recommend our post, we’ll get additional recommends because we’ve asked for them.
  4. If we ask our CEO to tweet our Medium articles, we’ll get increased reads because he reaches a large audience.
  5. If we ask the whole team to recommend our Medium posts right after they go live, we’ll get more reads and recommends because we’ll be featured more prominently on the Medium front page.
  6. If we promote our Medium posts across our social media channels, we’ll get additional reads because the Buffer social channels reach a wider audience than the Medium channel.
  7. If we send out Medium subscribers a newsletter to let them know we have new posts, we’ll get increased reads and recommends because we’re taking subscribers directly to our posts.
  8. If we post evergreen content from the blog that hasn’t been on Medium before, we’ll get more reads from people who follow the blog and are already caught up there, so we’ll get reads from a different audience because it’s varied content.
  9. If we post only pieces that are a 7 minute read, we’ll get increased reads and recommends, because that’s one of the optimal lengths for Medium.
  10. If we post only articles that touch on self-improvement, we’ll get increased reads and recommends, because that’s what a lot of the most popular content is on Medium.
  11. If we go back to posting three times a week, we’ll increase reads and recommends, because the lifespan for content on Medium is quite long.
  12. If we post a piece about Medium to our blog, we’ll increase followers, because of the link back.
  13. If we write really thoughtful responses to top performing articles, we’ll increase followers because we’ll show right at the bottom of these high-performing stories.
  14. If we post new stories from the author (rather than from our brand), we’ll increase reads and followers because Medium shares author stories with the authors’ followings and we’ve observed other publications getting good results from sharing content written by a person (rather than a brand).
  15. If we mix up our posting and post to both our own publication, as well as publications with a different audience, we’ll get more reads because we’re posting more often and reaching more people.

How can you implement this?

Everything that works for us might not necessarily work for you. I think the first two tips I’ve shared above (evergreen content, Medium letters) are absolutely actionable for everyone, but it’s essential to find out what your audience wants.

Every audience is likely to be slightly different. We wouldn’t have found out what doesn’t work until we tried it. Some of the things that didn’t work for us (listed further below) might work for you.

If you’re interested in implementing some of the experiments here, the best thing to do is go for it! Here’s a sample spreadsheet to get you started and make it easy to track results.

And if you’re looking for more inspiration, these posts have been helpful as we got started with the brainstorming process:

Which experiments didn’t quite work out for us?

1. Posting on weekends

Here’s the hypothesis I thought up: If we post to Medium on Saturday and Sunday, then we will rise to the top of the recommends list more quickly because there are fewer posts to compete with (less people post on weekends).

For us, our posts on average had far fewer reads and recommends on weekends — presumably because people aren’t on Medium on weekends! So we went back to weekdays only.

2. Sharing Medium articles on Buffer’s Twitter account

The initial hypothesis was that if we promote our Buffer medium posts across Buffer social media channels, we’ll get additional reads because the Buffer social channels reach a wider audience than the Medium channel. 

Yet these posts ended up having less reads than the ones we didn’t promote at all. Sharing on Buffer’s social profiles didn’t seem to have much of an impact on the posts themselves. What I’m thinking here is that a lot of our Twitter followers were potentially our Medium followers and had already seen the post, or were most interested in recent content (since these were still evergreen pieces.)

3. Write really thoughtful responses to trending articles

This one is based on a common content marketing practice, whereby you comment on top pieces to get noticed. Here’s what our results looked like:


In theory, we should show up right at the bottom of these top-performing posts on Medium to gain some traction there. It looks like though, the only way that your response is easily seen is

  1. If the person reading the article already follows you; and
  2. If the author recommends your response.

I’ve read a few posts about Medium being unhappy about people leaving too many responses that feel like comments. While mine were all pretty lengthy and I put a lot of thought in them, they still weren’t their own stories so I felt this might not be the best strategy given Medium’s changes.

4. Sharing articles from the original author

This is one we’ve seen lots of other successful brands on Medium do. The brands specifically post from the original authors (like the image below) instead of posting from “Buffer”.

original author posting

Other than the aesthetic part of this, our theory was that when we do this, the posts will get a larger reach because the author’s followers will also see the content.

We tried this with three posts, and here were the results:


(One thing to note is that within your publication you don’t directly have access to the stats for these authors , you have to ask them to share the stats with you.) 

These posts were very social media focused, which usually does pretty well with our audience. On average, these posts had about 64 reads whereas the average for all of June was 292, so these posts performed 78% less well than the other posts from that month.

Quick Wins To Get Your Publication Looking Sharp

When I first took over our Buffer Medium publication, I made a couple of tweaks to start pulling things together, while I’m not sure if they directly led to any increased following or reads, these simple tricks can help make your publication look like the real deal:

1. Get a custom Medium URL 

We migrated from a longer URL to, which felt a lot more clean.

Medium makes this whole process really simple. To start, kick off a ticket requesting to set up a custom Medium domain. After that, there’s a bit of technical know-how required to get everything set up properly (we grabbed an engineer to help with the A records, CNAME, and DNS).

2. Change up the design

I hadn’t realized how flexible and beautiful the Medium design really is!

There is tons you can do there. Here are a few things we changed up:

We added a larger, centered logo and larger publication title right at the top of the publication. We also added tags to our homepage to make navigation easier.


The tags were totally inspired by Slack’s beautiful Medium account:


We also changed up the articles so that they would appear as images in big blocks.


No need to do exactly as we did here, Medium offers a ton of flexibility for you to organize and showcase your posts in a way that looks great for you. Moving things around to see what kinds of design tweaks feel best for your publication can go a long way.

3. Play around with the publication title 

In efforts to get more creative and unique on Medium, we went from Social Media Tips → The Queue → Stories by Buffer. 

I love Slack’s Several People are Typing, and Basecamp’s Signal v. Noise

Over To You

Are you on Medium? If so I’d love to know any of the Marketing tactics you’re using! What’s working and what have you learned? 😄

Excited to hear from you in the comments.

Image sources: Unsplash, Pablo

If you’re anything like me, there are only a handful of things more exciting for a social media marketer than when a Tweet “goes viral.”

Tina Fey sums up the feeling nicely:

Tina Fey excited, viral tweet, successful tweets

And so I set about with the audacious goal for this post of trying to unravel the great social media mystery of virality: Figuring out the formula for Twitter’s most successful tweets.

Better yet, I hoped to determine the formula for Buffer’s most successful tweets so that I could repeat the process and share what I’ve learned with marketers everywhere.

Now that info would make for a great tweet!

I didn’t quite find the holy grail for tweeting, though I did discover several elements that lead to successful tweets. I’d love to share all my findings with you and how you can replicate their success by understanding the psychology behind why they work.

The 10 best Buffer tweets top tweets for your brand and others

To gather the data for this article, I used MyTopTweet to pull together Buffer’s 10 most successful tweets and attempted to create a best-practices guide on why our top tweets worked and how marketers can repeat our success.

First, I’d love to run through the key elements of each tweet and then I’ll go into a bit more detail about each element and how you can utilize them in your own Twitter strategy.

After looking at the different types of Buffer tweets and also researching a variety of tweets from top brands, I found that there is no magic formula for virality, but there are elements to successful tweets. In other words, recurring themes continually appeared in many of the tweets that I studied.

Here are the top 10 Buffer tweets and the elements that made them great:


— Buffer (@buffer) January 15, 2014

Key Tweet elements

  • Self-explanatory image
  • “Ah-ha” moment
  • Relatable and insightful topic
  • “Wow” factor


In celebration of 500K followers on Twitter, we’re giving away a Buffer Water Bottle! Retweet this to enter! 🎉😄❤️

— Buffer (@buffer) March 14, 2016

Key Tweet elements

  • Giveaway promotion with a branded prize
  • Easy-to-follow CTA
  • Self-explanatory image
  • Asking for engagement


— Buffer (@buffer) November 2, 2015

Key Tweet elements

  • Giveaway promotion with a branded prize
  • Easy-to-follow CTA
  • Self-explanatory image
  • Asking for engagement


— Buffer (@buffer) May 23, 2016

Key Tweet elements

  • Relatable and insightful topic
  • Curated content
  • Self-explanatory image


— Buffer (@buffer) July 23, 2014

Key Tweet elements

  • Self-explanatory image
  • “Wow” factor
  • Relatable and insightful content


— Buffer (@buffer) June 18, 2016

Key Tweet elements

  • “Wow” factor
  • Self-explanatory image
  • Curated content


— Buffer (@buffer) May 16, 2016

Key Tweet elements

  • Timely, trending news
  • “Wow” factor
  • Curated content


— Buffer (@buffer) August 9, 2014

Key Tweet elements

  • Relatable and insightful content
  • Curated content
  • Self-explanatory image
  • “Aha” moment


— Buffer (@buffer) September 7, 2014

Key Tweet elements

  • Self-explanatory image
  • “Wow” factor
  • Relatable and insightful content


— Buffer (@buffer) May 4, 2016

Key Tweet elements

  • Self-explanatory image
  • Curated content
  • Timely, trending news

Let’s dive in to each individual element a bit further so that we may be able to get closer and closer to a successful tweet formula.

Did you notice any trends throughout that were different than what we’ve identified? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

6 Key Psychological Elements in the Most Successful Tweets

Analyzing our most successful tweets was a great exercise because it reminded me that many times great Twitter marketing is all about the basics.

I often get caught up in over-thinking the exact wording of a tweet, what image to use, or how many hashtags are appropriate, and I forget to put our audience first.

If there’s one thing that marketers can take away from all of this is that audiences are looking for value in what they choose to share on Twitter. That can be anything from educational value to humorous value to good ol’ plain fun.

Like this Tweet from Ellen DeGeneres, the most popular tweet of all time:

— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014

1. Use self-explanatory images so your message is easily understood

Using imagery to communicate messages and stories dates back to 35,000 B.C. when our pre-historic ancestors were drawing pictures on cave walls. We’ve been communicating with visuals 10x longer than we have with words.

Visual communication is wired into our DNA, as this infographic from Mammoth shows:

Visual History of Learning, Successful Tweet, Tweeting, Twitter

When it comes to successful tweets, a picture is worth 140 characters in quickly capturing the attention of your audience.

For that matter, you can get even more mileage with a picture that tells a complete story.

That’s where self-explanatory images enter. These are images that can stand on their own to completely explain a concept or idea, without the person needing to read any additional text.

explanatory vs abstract

For self-explanatory images, users don’t have to click any links, read any captions, or visit another Twitter page to digest the information in the Tweet. This is one of the reasons that made it highly shareable. People respond well to the passing and sharing of information with no barriers.

Many times a quality stock photo will suffice (as those often tell a story as well), but other times images that include data, facts, quotes, etc. help to drive home the message in a much quicker and effective way.

Try asking these three questions:

  1. Would this image make sense with no caption at all?
  2. Does this image contain relevant or insightful content?
  3. Would I share this content myself on Twitter?

If the answer to at least 2 of the 3 questions is yes, you’re in a great place.

2. Choose a relatable and insightful topic that your audience will naturally share

No matter how good your images may be, if the topic isn’t something that people want to share then it’s going to be a tough sell for your audience.

But your audience wants to like it and they want to share it with their friends.

There’s only one catch … They have so much content to choose from.

This eye-opening study from Excelacom shows just how much online content there really is. To give you an idea, here’s how much content is produced on social media every single minute:

What Happens in a Social Media Minute

So how, in all of this content, do you produce successful tweets on a consistent basis?

You get inside your audience’s head. You make your content so compelling and so unique that they want to be the first to share it among their friends and family.

There are several key psychological reasons behind why people share great content, but let’s explore two of the most important reasons so that you can experiment in your next campaign. 

1. People share to entertain friends and family

According to a 2016 study from Fractl, the number one reason people share content on social media is to entertain. Of the 2,000 people that were surveyed, an overwhelming 43% of people share content that they “think their friends will find entertaining.” 

Sharing content that aims to entertain serves two key purposes.

  1. It helps people to build and nurture relationships with those that are close to us
  2. It helps people to connect with those they may not otherwise stay in touch with

Creating content with the ultimate goal of entertainment can be an extremely powerful lever in your social media strategy.

2. People share to express personal feelings or beliefs

We’ve all been here.

We see something that we like or that we personally believe in and feel compelled to share. Though most of us don’t end up sharing anything at all, an incredible study back in 1966 by the Harvard Business Review found that 64% of sharing is about the sharer themselves. 

We share content that helps to define who we are.

Supporting a cause, getting involved, and defining ourselves are all behaviors in expressing personal feelings or beliefs and are important to consider when creating content for social media. 

3. Piggyback on timely or trending news (that is already on people’s minds)

Publishing timely or trending news is something we’ve been experimenting with a lot here at Buffer in the last few months. We’ve experimented with writing about trending stories like F8, Snapchat 2.0, and Instagram Business Tools along with a handful of other timely topics.  

Three out of 10 of our most successful tweets are tweets in which we leveraged trending news. 

Being the “first to the scene” works extremely well in terms of traffic and shares when we seem to have found the perfect angle on the topic. If you’re able to find that angle it is much more likely to get shared by your audience on social media. 

Usability with trending news and updates can be a key factor in sharing.

Trending news on social media

Remember that the goal is to create content that people believe will entertain their friends or content that fits within their belief system. That’s a bit tougher to do when writing about a timely or trending topic because several other publishers are talking about the same thing. 

And so the key is to find a unique angle that no other brand or publisher is talking about. 

Here are some examples of angles that we took on trending stories using compelling headlines to help us stand out from the crowd.

F8 Conference

  • The Verge: “F8 conference 2016: the biggest news from Facebook’s developer event”
  • Buffer: “F8 Update: 10 New Facebook Features Every Marketer Should Know”

Snapchat Geofilters

  • MarketingLand: “Up close: How the new Snapchat On-Demand Geofilters work”
  • Buffer: “Everything You Need to Know About Snapchat Geofilters (And How to Build Your Own)”

It’s important to point out that all of these headlines worked well in terms of shares and so there’s no “right or wrong” here. However, ours performed alongside top publishers because of the added value we provided.

4. Run social media giveaways because people love free things

Turns out that, when faced with several choices, we gravitate towards the item that is free, regardless of its economic value.

In Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Duke professor Dan Ariely writes:

Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE! we forget the downside. FREE! gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.

And so when looking at our 10 most successful tweets, it’s no surprise that No. 2 and No. 3 were giveaways on Twitter. Giveaways offer brands an inexpensive way to drive shares on social media while also giving back to a loyal community.

Before starting a Twitter giveaway, consider what you would like to achieve with your promotion. Is it more traffic to your website? More followers to your Twitter account? Or is it simply an opportunity to give back?

Prismologie Twitter Giveaway

Social Media Examiner has an awesome 4-step checklist for running successful Twitter contests, which we’ve used several times to guide our strategy. Overall, remember these common elements before starting yours:

  • Schedule contest teaser tweets in advance to build interest.
  • Include an image or visual to attract attention and increase engagement.
  • Choose a single, clear call to action for best results.
  • Post clear terms and conditions.
  • Announce the winners and thank everyone for taking the time to enter when the contest ends.

5. Add a “Wow” factor to stimulate the brain

There are only a few things that get people to share quicker than lighting up their brain with instant stimulation. When people see something that is particularly incredible or shocking, their brain immediately thinks “share.”

Just like you as marketers can create a “wow factor” with audiences through excellent customer service, you can create that same “wow factor” with information and content.

When’s the last time you were scrolling through your feed on Twitter and saw something that made you stop in your tracks?

That is the sort of content you can aim to create or curate in your most successful tweets. 

One surefire way to deliver the “wow factor” to your audience is through statistics and data which is both visual and interesting. Take these two graphics for example that each garnered more than 300 shares on Twitter:

Active Users by Social Platform (4)

Startup Marketing, Marketing Channels, startups, marketing

Each one took about 20-30 minutes to create but paid huge dividends in terms of social media ROI.

Always be on the lookout for areas in which you can uncover interesting or useful data and turn it into social media content.

6. Curate content

A whopping 6/10 of our most successful tweets are made up of curated content.

Which begs the question: why? 

There are two key factors at play here which I think make a huge difference in the shareability of a brand’s content.

  1. It’s a huge challenge to create amazing content on a consistent basis.

    Curating content allows marketers to take the best content from around the web and use it to develop their brand as an industry thought leader while building relationships with the original publisher.

    Over time your audience will begin to go to you for quality information about industry news and insights.

  2. The psychological principle of Mere Exposure Theory.

    This principle states that, “the more we are exposed to something, the more we like it.”

    The more quality content that you are able to produce on social media the better. Curating quality content will not only increase your exposure to new audiences, but it will increase your frequency of success.

Content Curation Importance

In a study conducted by Content Marketing Institute, 77% of the participants said they would curate more content in 2016 than they did in 2015 – signaling the fact that brands are seeing results from content curation.

Over to you! 

What psychological elements make up your most successful Tweets? 

Are you seeing success with giveaways? How about curated content?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments about your secret Twitter sauce and how you’ve found success in the past.