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How to Go Live on TikTok + Top Features You Should Use

I fought it for a while but TikTok has me in a chokehold and won’t let me go. At all hours of the day, you can find me singing viral TikTok sounds and saying random phrases from popular videos.

The app has grown considerably since booming in 2020 and its features just keep getting better. While the app has offered a live feature for a while, the short-form video platform recently announced new live features, making it a strong competitor for Instagram and Facebook.

In this article, we’ll dive into the top TikTok LIVE features, the requirements to go live and a few tips to keep in mind before you start your first broadcast.

TikTok LIVE Features

Going live on TikTok allows you to engage with your followers on the platform and build community. The app offers ways to maximize the experience for both creators and viewers when going live.

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Here are some of the top features:

Q&A – Viewers can submit questions live during your broadcast.
Multi-user streams – TikTok’s “Go Live Together” feature allows you to go live with up to three users.
Live events – To build anticipation around your Live, you can schedule and promote your live ahead of time to your followers
Gifts – If you are a part of TikTok’s Creator Next Program, viewers can give you badges that hold monetary value during a live stream if they are enjoying your content. Only non-business accounts and users 18 years of age or older can accept these rewards, unless you live in South Korea where the minimum age requirement is 19 or in Japan where it’s 20.)
Moderators – When going live, you can assign other users to moderate the chatroom to ensure it’s safe and in line with the content you’re sharing.
Keyword filters – Another way to protect your live stream is by automatically removing comments that feature words or phrases you’ve flagged.

How to Go Live on TikTok on an iPhone and on Android

1. Open the app and click on the ‘+’ sign.

2. Slide to the ‘LIVE’ tab.

3. Add a title.

4. Click ‘Go Live.’

After your live, you can access the recording for up to 90 days by going to your “settings and privacy” tab and selecting “LIVE replay.” From there, you can download your live video or delete it.

Why can’t I go live on TikTok?

There are several reasons why you may not see the option to go live on TikTok, such as:

You’re under 16 years old.

You have less than 1,000 followers.
You have recently violated one of TikTok’s policies and are under review or suspension.

If you meet the requirements and still can’t go live, you can report this issue to TikTok.

Tips for Going Live on TikTok

1. Know when your audience is most active on the app.

When you go live, you want to make sure you’re reaching your target audience. This means knowing exactly when most are active on the app.

To find this out, check your “Followers” tab in your Analytics. It will tell you what times and days your followers are most active along with other insights, like videos and sounds that are most popular with your followers.

All of this information will be valuable when planning your live.

2. Set the stage.

There’s nothing that makes me click out of a live quicker than bad lighting.

The first thing you want to do is make sure your lighting is arranged ahead of time. This can mean setting up in front of a window that gets great natural light or investing in artificial lights.

The next thing you’ll need is a quiet room. Make sure there isn’t a ton of background noise as that can distract viewers and make it hard to maintain their attention. You can also invest in an external mic to improve your sound quality.

In addition, consider investing in a tripod. This will allow you to move freely as you are on the live.

Lastly, make sure your wi-fi connection is strong. You can quickly lose viewers if they are struggling to hear or see you on the app.

3. Have a clear goal and outline.

Any time you plan on interacting with your audience, you should have a clear goal. It can be building brand awareness, learning more about your audience, leading users to your website, generating leads, etc.

Once you know what your goal is, outline your broadcast. This will ensure you communicate your key points and meet your end goal.

Here’s an example of a simple outline for a brand that’s announcing a new product:

Welcome audience and shout out specific usernames.
Announce the new product.
Dive into product specifics, such as benefits, features, and initial customer reviews

Share discount code.
Direct viewers to the website for purchase.
Answer questions about the new product.
Direct users to the website and sign off.

4. Have a moderator.

A moderator is a user you assign to make sure the chatroom is a safe and enjoyable space during your broadcast.

Chats are notorious for having bots and trolls that can distract users and keep you from seeing important messages from your audience. The moderator will help you manage the live and allow you to focus on engaging your audience and sharing your message.

Going live on TikTok is a great way to connect your audience and strengthen that brand loyalty. If you’re not yet at 1,000 followers, gather ideas for broadcasts by looking at your competitors and seeing which live strategy will be most effective in meeting your goal.

This way, you’ll be more than ready by the time your account meets the requirements.

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10 New Instagram Features Marketers Should Be Using in 2022

With TikTok on its heels, Instagram is rapidly rolling out new features to benefit both brands and creators alike.

These upgrades come as no surprise — especially considering the competitive nature of social media. But for marketers, the volume of new features can be overwhelming.

Let’s look at these exciting upgrades and how to leverage them in your 2022 Instagram strategy.

10 New Instagram Features Marketers Should Be Using in 2022

1. Partnership Inbox

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Gone are the days of missed opportunities because of a busy inbox. Now, brands and creators can quickly find and manage their communications in one location — partnership messages.

Partnership messages is a sub-folder in the Direct Messages tab. These messages skip the request folder and get priority placement — making it easier than ever to find and manage branded content partnerships.

2. Story Links

Remember when story links were an exclusive feature to those with 10,000+ Instagram followers? Here’s some good news — it’s now available to everyone.

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No matter your follower count, you can use a link sticker to direct users to your website, product pages, blog posts, and more. This is a win for marketers who use the platform to increase traffic.

Here’s how it works — after creating an Instagram story, click on the sticker icon, then tap the “Link” sticker. From here, enter the desired URL and voilà — you have a link in your story.

3. Add Yours

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You’ve likely seen this feature while browsing Instagram stories — but how does it work, exactly?

Add Yours is a new sticker for Instagram stories. It’s fairly simple — someone writes a prompt and shares it to their story. Then other users can respond to the prompt with their own spin. When you click on the sticker, you can view everyone who has contributed to the thread.

For example, if you create an Add Yours sticker with the prompt “Outfit of the Day,” other users can respond to it with a photo or video of their outfit.

This feature adds another layer of interactivity to the platform. Due to its shareability, it’s known to kickstart trends and challenges. But for marketers, it’s especially useful for sparking conversations and showcasing your brand’s creative side.

4. Find Creators

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Instagram is officially playing matchmaker. The platform is testing a new suite of tools to help brands and creators connect.

Let’s start on the creator side — users can add brands to a preferred brand list. Then, when a brand searches for creators to partner with, those who have the brand in their list will appear at the top of search results. This makes it easier for brands to find creators who already show an interest.

Brands can also filter creators by follower count, age, gender, and location — which Instagram believes will help brands “organize shortlists to easily manage multiple campaigns.”

5. Story Auto-Captions

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If you’re like me, you rarely watch Instagram stories with audio — which is why the new caption sticker is a game-changer.

This feature automatically converts what someone says in a video into text so that users can watch without sound. For some users, this feature is also available on Reels, its answer to TikTok.

Now, audiences can engage with your videos — with or without sound. This feature also takes a big step in making Instagram content more accessible.

6. Social Fundraising

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In response to the effect of COVID-19 on the economy, Instagram launched a new social fundraising feature. Users can create fundraisers for their business or a cause that’s important to them. According to Instagram, it’s seen “a large wave of digital activism responding to the global conversation around racial justice.”

This feature aligns with a simple truth about today’s consumers: they’re belief-driven. These days, consumers are looking for brands that take a stand on the issues that matter to them. Now, it’s easier than ever to create fundraisers directly on Instagram that benefit such causes.

Keep in mind that all fundraisers go through a review process. Once approved, you’re ready to start raising money.

7. Collabs

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Instagram is testing a new feature that allows you to co-author content with a fellow Instagram user — meaning, whatever you post will appear on both of your profiles. You share likes, comments, and view counts on these posts.

For brands, the collabs feature opens up a new way to partner with influencers, boost brand awareness, and engage with another community in a meaningful way.

8. Calendar Tool

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Here’s some exciting news if you have a business profile — Instagram is planning to double the data tracking period within Instagram Insights from 30 to 60 days.

Social media marketers can finally ditch the third-party apps that provide a longer tracking period. Instead, this information will be readily available within Insights. This is a great example of Instagram listening to feedback from users who have been requesting such an upgrade for months.

9. Subscriptions

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Instagram launched Subscriptions just this year – a feature that allows creators to charge a monthly subscription fee in return for exclusive content and benefits.

Here’s how it works — creators set a monthly subscription price of their choice, and a “subscribe” button will appear on their profile. They can offer a range of benefits to subscribers — like exclusive livestreams and Stories.

It’s part of a greater effort to help creators make a living on its platform – thus staying active on it. This also enables creators to develop deeper connections with their followers.

This new feature comes shortly-after Twitter recently announced a similar subscription model — Twitter Blue — and we suspect more social media platforms will follow.

10. Visual Replies on Reels

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Instagram recently announced a new way to respond to comments on Reels — with another Reel.

If you create short-form videos on Instagram Reels, you can now make visual replies to comments, which is similar to TikTok’s reply function. It’s a highly engaging and interactive way to engage with both followers and leads, and vice-versa.

Final Thoughts

Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. However, the platform isn’t just growing – it’s also evolving. It only makes sense that your social media marketing strategy also evolves to leverage these new features.

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Virtual, Hybrid, or In-Person: Business Leaders Weigh In on the Future of Events

In 2019, Microsoft hosted their annual Ignite event in Orlando for one week. It was the most successful Ignite they’d ever had, with well over 27,000 attendees.

That is, until the fall of 2021 — when they hosted over 270,000 attendees in a virtual version of the same event.

A couple of years ago, the majority of businesses hosted in-person trade shows and conferences. Virtual conferences were a rarity.

But, post-pandemic, we’re seeing a major shift towards virtual or hybrid events. In fact, HubSpot Blog Research found roughly 40% of marketers plan to increase their investments in virtual events, webinars, and conferences in 2022, followed by 39% who plan to spend the same amount as they did in 2021. A mere 16% plan on decreasing their investment.

Bob Bejan, Microsoft’s Vice President of Global Events, is unsurprised by this shift towards virtual, and believes it was always destined to be the future of events.

He told me, “The pandemic is really just an accelerator of something that was going to be inevitable anyway, but probably would have taken five or six years instead of just two.”

Here, I spoke with experts across industries to learn more about the surprising future of events — and whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid will become the norm. Plus, what it could mean for your business.

Let’s dive in.

The Future of Events, According to Experts

The Case for Virtual

We all remember the challenges of in-person events: Shuffling from conference room to conference room, running to catch the last bus back to your hotel, feeling overstimulated by exhibition spaces full of businesses competing for your attention.

Simply put, in-person events can be incredibly stressful and frustrating experiences for attendees — particularly with larger gatherings.

As Microsoft’s Bejan puts it, “The dirty little secret of in-person events is you’re all competing for the biggest number — but the bigger the number, the worse the experience for the attendees.”

Bejan adds, “The power and effectiveness of virtual events is just so convincing from a data perspective that it’s hard to imagine they’re ever going away. Virtual events at every dimension are so much more effective than in-person events.”

Nowadays, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a business leader who doesn’t recognize the benefits of virtual events.

Among other things, virtual events can:

Lower the price of admission, which can increase attendee count and enable businesses with smaller budgets to take part in your conference and offer unique insights.
Lower the costs your business would typically pay for conference space, on-hand staff, catering, security, and more.
Enable people across the globe to interact without needing to spend money on flights and hotels.
Attract high-demand speakers who might not have the time to attend your event in-person, but are happy to share insights via video call or pre-recorded presentation.
Provide you with the opportunity to create a product (recordings from your conference) that you can repurpose for future lead generation offerings.

And, as we saw in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the pandemic: Sometimes, virtual events are the only option, when unforeseen circumstances makes in-person events impossible.

Virtual events are incredibly powerful opportunities to reach new audiences and increase brand awareness. In fact, 80% of marketers are able to reach wider audiences and increase their ROI by hosting virtual events.

Virtual events have also come a long way since the early days of webinars. Nowadays, brands are upping the game by offering incredibly unique, immersive virtual experiences.

For instance, consider INBOUND 2021, which enabled attendees to network at virtual meetups, interact in real-time with attendees and speakers, and learn from renowned speakers like Oprah and Spike Lee — all from the comfort of their own homes.

For many brands, virtual events will be the only practical option for events well into the future. As Bejan posits, “If you’re a small or medium-sized business and you’re trying to reach people and deliver impressive experiences, our feeling is that there’s no better way to spend your money than in the digital space.”

However, if you’re wary of virtual-only experiences, you’re not alone. Many business leaders are unsure whether it’s a wise idea to take away the in-person component entirely, particularly when so many attendees learn and network best in-person.

Enter: The hybrid event.

Why Hybrid Is a Powerful Alternative

Picture this: You’re sitting on a beanbag chair, an iced coffee at your side, and you’re looking up at a row of huge, circular screens with a variety of sessions happening concurrently.

You put your headphones on and dial into one session, while the person beside you — with whom you connected earlier, at the food station, and traded business cards — sits and listens to a different one.

While it might sound futuristic, it’s not.

Prior to the pandemic, Bejan and his team worked on shifting Microsoft’s event strategy towards one in which the primary offerings were always digital — known as the “digital core”.

“And then,” Bejan told me, “rather than making destinations — which is the way we used to do events — we would distribute that digital core, and simultaneously activate events around that digital core locally and regionally, so that we can deliver those special and unique things that you can only do in-person.”

These spaces, known as ‘hang spaces’, were exactly as described in the example above. People would sit together in a rented conference space, watch Microsoft’s pre-recorded or live digital sessions, and experience the very networking they craved.

If, alternatively, someone wanted to watch from home, they could do that, too.

This is one hybrid example, but there are many in various forms. Consider, for instance, Social Media Marketing World, an annual conference for social media managers.

As of 2022, the conference is now offered in-person at the San Diego Convention Center, or via remote live stream. If you want to attend the three day event in-person, you’ll need to pay upwards of $1,700 (depending on whether you want an extra day and access to live stream, as well). Alternatively, the on-demand conference costs between $597 and $797.

With a hybrid strategy, you’re solving the needs of two different subsets of people — those who actively seek out in-person experiences, and those who’d prefer to learn remotely. Ultimately, a hybrid strategy is a compelling option if you find your audiences’ preferences are split between in-person and remote.

As ON24’s VP of Strategy & Research Cheri Hulse puts it, Hybrid has presented itself as a good midway point for marketers as they try to navigate global and regional regulations, audience preferences, and contractual obligations with venues.”

Hulse adds, “Hybrid allows marketers to feel their bases are covered for delivering an event — no matter what is thrown at them leading up to the big day.”

Penny Elmslie, Xero’s GM for Brand & Community, told me that hybrid is an option that excites her as we enter a new era for events.

Elmslie says, “The beauty of a hybrid model is it allows our events to scale, while enabling us to connect with those who for physical, financial, or medical reasons may not be able to attend in person.”

Elmslie adds, “In creating the right experience, we also purposefully make the hybrid delivery shorter and sharper to what you’d expect live, ensuring we respect our audience’s time in front of screens.”

Elmslie continues, “We’ve found the current environment has changed people’s expectations, challenging us to ensure we’re providing enough flexibility in our model to cater to all audiences. Fortunately, advancements in event technology and production skills have enabled us to continue to surprise and delight our audiences in new ways — even when they can’t physically be with us.”

Sarika Abraham, Media & PR Manager at Hexnode, is working on putting together her first hybrid event this year, Hexcon 22.

For her, the biggest challenges include the project management skills required to combine an in-person and virtual event into one seamless experience.

Abraham told me, “With twice the benefits comes twice the labor. Hybrid events are complex and require intricate management of both a physical platform and a virtual stream. I believe that managing the increased complexity, cost, and risks associated with integrating different platforms, tools, and technologies is the pivot of successfully conducting a hybrid event.”

If you’re interested in planning a hybrid event in 2022, you’re in luck. Hulse shared her tips for marketers looking to plan their first hybrid event.

She told me, “My one tip for marketers planning hybrid events is to remain flexible and listen to feedback. When ON24 planned a hybrid event last year, we offered lots of options for attendees to select how they wanted to consume the experience: in-person or virtually.”

Hulse adds, “This was critical as we saw attendees change their mind as the date neared and their situations changed. Ultimately, the success of the event was based on audiences consuming content and engaging with the experience — and we left it up to them to decide how they would do that.”

Reachdesk’s Global VP of Marketing Christy Steward also shared some key takeaways for marketers looking to plan hybrid events in 2022.

Steward told me, “The one piece of advice that I’d suggest for any business running their first hybrid event would be to make sure that you pay equal amounts of attention to both in-person and remote attendees. Although both groups will technically be at the same event, they’ll be having very different experiences, so keep this in mind when planning.”

Steward adds, “A smart gifting strategy can help create an equally memorable experience for every attendee. For example, if you’re providing snacks and refreshments for in-person attendees, make sure you send virtual attendees a coffee voucher before the event or even better a box of coffee beans and something to nibble on during the event.”

Additionally, to ensure your in-person and remote attendees feel equally included, consider how you might leverage unique tools. 

For instance, Airmeet’s VP of Product, Vikas Reddy, told me, “Plan for opportunities that will make sure your virtual attendees feel heard through polls, bringing them on the stage, etc. Facilitate networking between in-person and virtual attendees through curated sessions like speed networking, breakouts, and 1-1 meetings.”

Reddy adds, “Also, double down on mobile capabilities that will offer your in-person attendees a digital pocket guide, taking care of everything from navigation to networking. Make sure you capture data for both the set of audiences across all the above mentioned touchpoints. This can contribute valuable insights into what matters to each audience segment and thereby lay down the strategy for future hybrid events.”

All of that is well and good … but what about the people who simply crave in-person experiences?

Let’s explore the future of in-person events, next.  

For Some Brands, In-Person is Still Most Effective

Over the next couple years (and depending, of course, on health and public safety regulations), we’ll begin to see some businesses return to hosting fully in-person events. And, for certain industries, in-person will always be the most effective.

Brittani Dinsmore, Head of Marketing at Moz, believes the reason 16% of marketers plan on decreasing their investment in virtual events in 2022 comes down to the need for in-person interactions.

Dinsmore says, “​​I think we’re seeing a shift away from virtual events because there’s a growing demand to return to face-to-face interactions. Zoom fatigue is a real thing. Many individuals are burnt out from conducting professional and personal meetings through a screen.”

Dinsmore adds, “People can’t experience the full scope of some events, like networking or a convention, from their living room. Live events, in particular, have a certain energy that can’t be replicated virtually.”

For instance, while MozCon, Moz’s annual marketing conference, has been held online for the past two years, Dinsmore told me her team is tentatively planning on hosting MozCon 2022 in person again (as long as restrictions subside).

Along with the benefit of face-to-face connection, Dinsmore makes the point that it’s often easier to generate meaningful leads and attract new sponsors in-person compared to virtual.

There’s also real science behind the importance of in-person interactions. Consider, for instance, how 55% of the impact of our communication comes from body language, 38% from tone of voice, and just 7% from the words themselves.

In a virtual world, it can be difficult to pick up on nuances in body language and tone through a computer screen. Which means some meaningful connection will be lost in a world primarily focused on virtual interactions.

“The move back to in-person events will be gradual,” Dinsmore says, “As new COVID variants pop up, companies will continue to hold hybrid events to serve the groups who feel comfortable meeting in-person and those who prefer attending functions from home.”

Dinsmore continues, “But I think companies should consider sponsoring or engaging in smaller networking groups rather than hybrid events to ease back into things. Once the pandemic subsides, I foresee many planning a grand return to in-person events.”

So … What’s right for you?

Ultimately, the choice of in-person, virtual, or hybrid is largely yours. As Hulse points out, “In the future, I expect to see a mix of event types in the B2B space. Between hybrid, physical, and digital events, it will be up to marketing leaders to calibrate the right mix of the three based on audiences needs and preferences, budget, and marketing priorities.”

And if you do lean towards virtual or hybrid events in the future, consider how you might innovate on what’s already been done. There’s unlimited potential in the virtual and hybrid event space — and we’re really just getting started.

As Bejan told me, “We had one big epiphany when we delivered a streaming version of our Las Vegas show, and found that the largest audience of people watching our keynotes watched from their hotel rooms. So that was an insight for us: As long as you make good, interactive television, you’ll find success.”

“And,” Bejan adds, “in my almost 30 years of business … This is the most compelling work I’ve done in my career. It’s really, really fun.”

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8 Data-Backed Recommendations for Social Media Marketers in 2022 [Insights from 300+ Professionals]

The start of the new year is an exciting time for marketers to re-evaluate their social media marketing strategies and take advantage of new opportunities as social platforms evolve.

From new features to algorithm updates and disruptive social apps, keeping up with these changes can be challenging, but also allows you to tap into exciting new possibilities to help your company grow better in 2022.

To help you get the most of your social media strategy in the new year, I recently published findings from the HubSpot Blog’s Social Media Trends Survey, where I collected data from more than 300 B2B and B2C marketers to answer questions like:

Which social media platforms are marketers currently leveraging?
What type of content are marketers posting and which formats do they use most?
Which platforms, content types, and formats have the best ROI?
When is the best time and day of the week to post on social media?
What challenges do social media marketers anticipate in 2022?
What are marketers’ plans and expectations going into 2022?”

I’ve taken a deep dive through our survey data and made a list of some of the key recommendations social media marketers should consider in 2022. Here are just a few suggestions, based on our data.

8 Data-Backed Social Media Marketing Recommendations for 2022

1. Champion your company values

Content that reflects your brand’s values is the most popular type of content among social

media marketers right now and has the 3rd highest ROI of any content type

This will continue growing in 2022 as 95% of those who leverage this type of content plan on increasing or maintaining their investment, and 21% plan to use it for the first time

This aligns with our previous marketing trends survey, where we found that social responsibility will be a top trend in 2022

Additionally, we found that social media marketers who say their social media strategy has been effective in 2021 are 21% more likely to leverage content that reflects their brand’s values than those who reported an ineffective social media strategy last year

2. Embrace funny, interactive, and relatable content.

Funny content has the highest ROI of any content type and is also rated the most effective by social media marketers

The use of funny content will continue to grow in 2022, with 33% planning to invest more in funny content than any other format.

Additionally, 56% of those who don’t use funny content plan to leverage it for the first time in 2022, while 95% of those who already use it will increase or maintain their investment this year

Interactive content is No. 2 when it comes to usage, ROI, and effectiveness, and will also grow significantly in 2022.

49% of those who don’t leverage interactive content plan to use it for the first time in 2022, while 97% of those who already use it plan to invest more or maintain their investment this year

On top of all that, we found that social media marketers who say their social media strategy has been effective in 2021 are 25% more likely to leverage interactive content than those who reported an ineffective social media strategy last year.

Relatable content will see increased investment among current users as well as first-time users.

54% of social media marketers who don’t leverage relatable content are planning to for the first time this year, while 93% of marketers who already leverage it plan to increase their investment or continue investing the same amount in 2022

3. Don’t choose influencers based on follower count.

Followers aren’t everything. Influencer marketers are placing an emphasis on quality of content first, then engagement rates, alignment with values, and aesthetic, followed by follower count at #5 on that list.

Social media marketers who say their social media strategy has been effective in 2021 are 26% more likely to consider the quality of influencers’ content when determining which influencers to partner with on social media than those who reported an ineffective social media strategy last year

Micro-influencers (10k-100k followers) are the most popular type of influencer marketers work with, but it isn’t necessarily because they are cheaper. The graph below shows that the amount companies pay influencers can vary greatly, even when we account for the size of their following. This supports our finding that follower count is not what marketers are prioritizing when looking to partner with influencers.

The quality of the influencer’s content, the rate at which their followers engage, and their alignment with your brand can be much more impactful metrics of how much an influencer partnership is worth.

Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are the most popular platforms marketers leverage when working with influencers.

Facebook has the best ROI for influencer marketing, followed by Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok.

4. Explore new or emerging social media platforms and features.

Social media marketers search for new or emerging social platforms to leverage often, with 86% searching at least once a quarter and many searching monthly (29%), weekly (22%) and 20% searching multiple times a week. Just 1% say they never search for new platforms.

The top new or emerging platforms social media marketers are investing in are Twitter Spaces, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Shops

At the same time, they are pulling their investment in lesser-known live audio platforms (Spoon, Riffr, Discord Stage Channels, Spotify Green Room) as more established ones like Twitter begin to incorporate live audio features.

5. Invest in building social media communities.

64% of marketers are leveraging social media communities, and this number will only keep growing, as 30% of those who don’t use social media communities plan to start in 2022.

Additionally, 96% of those who already leverage social media communities plan to invest more or continue investing the same amount this year.

Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr are the platforms marketers build communities on most.

6. Leverage research and data to reach their target audience.

In our survey, we asked marketers how effective or ineffective their social media strategy has been this year. I then examined our data through these two separate groups, the first being those who said their social media strategy was effective, compared to the second which rated their social media strategy as ineffective.

When trying to find their audience on social media, the effective group is:

21% more likely to use social listening
17% more likely to research the demographics of social media platforms
17% more likely to research relevant online communities
14% more likely to analyze demographic data their company already has

7. To reach younger audiences, create short-form video content that’s funny, trendy, and reflects your brand’s values.

Younger audiences like Gen Z (6-24) and Millennials (25-40) prefer shorter video content that is funny, trendy, and reflects a brand’s values, making platforms with short-form video features like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram ideal for reaching them.

8. To reach older audiences, leverage interactive/educational content on Facebook.

Gen X (41-56) and Baby Boomers (57-75) prefer interactive/educational content, such as interviews/podcasts/expert discussions and live videos, and Facebook is their platform of choice.

More Data-Backed Marketing Insights

Want even more marketing and social media data? Many of the results from the Social Media Trends survey overlapped with the Blog’s recent Marketing Trends survey, including the dominance of short-form video, the power of influencer marketing, the opportunity presented in “Live” video and audio chat rooms, and the top social media platforms.

Check out our detailed Social Media Marketing Report here or our Marketing Trends recommendations post here for more recommendations on these topics.

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10 Best Online Payment Methods for Businesses

Online payment solutions are essential for just about any type of business. Booking and making payments online is convenient for many consumers, so it’s important to make sure your business is keeping up.

Small businesses, startups, and even massive corporations can all benefit by offering online payments to consumers, but how can you securely accept different forms of payments? For global businesses, what if you need to accept multiple currencies?

The solution is to find a trusted, reliable online payment method platform that makes the customer experience seamless while giving you more control over and insight into your income.

For many online businesses, payments can be accepted from credit cards, debit cards, or a direct connection to one’s bank account.

Benefits of Online Payments

Taking payments online can help you reach a wider audience, and many online payment methods will also offer data analysis to give you a better idea of what your consumers are most interested in from your business. Online payments can also offer a layer of security for consumers and businesses alike.

Many online payment solutions will offer post-payment workflows, so your business will automatically send emails to follow-up with clients after their purchases. These methods will keep payments together in one spot, which is easier to manage than stacks and files of receipts in an office.

There are many online payment solutions for business owners these days, but you’ll want to work with ones that fit your business needs. Plus, you should consider options that can scale as your business grows and methods that offer security and great customer service.

1. PHI Network

PHI network allows for private, instant transactions with zero fees. No longer do you have to give up a minimum of 3% of your profits along with all the money one looses on taxes & fees. You can use PHI Networks Advanced Blockchain To Perform Business Transactions and collect all your profits away from prying eyes.

2. DepositFix

DepositFix makes it easy to integrate other business resources, including HubSpot forms, Stripe, and PayPal. That means you can seamlessly accept payments through HubSpot forms, and the payment information will send directly to your business’ Stripe or PayPal accounts. This technology allows you to create workflows following customers’ payments, so they’ll automatically receive follow-up emails, receipts, upsells, or requests for product or service reviews after their purchases.

DepositFix works best for businesses that sell digital products or services. It also allows you to collect donations or send invoices. It offers top-notch security for peace of mind for you and your clients. If you need to get in touch, this platform offers a Help Library for self-service, or you can reach customer service via phone or email.

In one case study, The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation was able to move from offline, over-the-phone payments to a more secure, streamlined system online thanks to DepositFix. Online payments went from about 10% to over 53% and are still growing after the company implemented the online payment solutions from DepositFix.

3. Stripe

A great payment method for small businesses and large corporations alike, Stripe offers payment processing services for businesses. This comprehensive platform allows both online and in-person businesses to accept payments digitally, all while preventing fraud with its Radar protection. Stripe integrates with popular online shopping systems like WooCommerce and Shopify.

Stripe is popular globally, and it supports over 135 currencies and payment methods. It’s easy to start using, too; you can have it ready to go for your business in about 10 minutes. In addition to robust documentation, you can get 24/7 support from their customer service team.

Slack, a major communication platform for businesses, uses Stripe in 15 countries for payments. Even when it saw a surge in use during the pandemic, Stripe offered 100% uptime and boosted company earnings globally by optimizing online payments.

4. One Page Pay

One Page Pay works with several different CRMs, including HubSpot, as well as different payment platforms like Stripe, PayPal, Take Payments, and GoCardless. It creates a dedicated payment form page and sends sale details straight to email or your CRM. This platform offers bank-level security for your consumers’ data, and you can set up your first payment form in under five minutes.

Choose from a single or two-column form, or work with One Page Pay to create a custom payment form that suits your exact needs. You can generate reports based on the transactions, and because this service integrates with HubSpot, it will automatically follow up with consumers with things like surveys or digital product delivery after their purchases. 

5. Square

Square is a popular payment solution and one of the best online payment methods for small businesses. Whether you want to offer appointments, sell physical or digital products, or run a restaurant that takes orders online, Square has you covered. You can send invoices and/or collect payments all from this platform, and it even offers a free eCommerce service to help you get your business up and running.

Square offers everything from hardware for brick-and-mortar retailers to e-gift cards and a dashboard with analytics to track your success. With Square, you can also manage your payroll — from inputting time cards to automatically paying employees — and open a Square checking account without fees for your business. With its online payment solution, you can also easily add shopping cart buttons, purchase links, and QR codes to help direct clients to your products and services.

6. Checkout HQ

Imagine being able to create a searchable database of your products, create personalized payment and quote forms, and access attribution reports to see how your marketing efforts impact revenue. This is all the reality with Checkout HQ, which integrates with HubSpot to make online payments a breeze. 

The platform automatically works with your current HubSpot theme, so it’ll fit into your brand right out of the box. It also integrates with Stripe for payments, and you can customize the checkout experience to boost the customer experience.

7. Collect

Start accepting credit card payments online with Collect, which will work right on your HubSpot pages rather than sending clients to a different window. It’s easy to install, requiring no coding knowledge to set it up, and it makes the client experience seamless from the time they visit your site to when they make the purchase.

Take secure payments right on your website, plus add pricing tables, buy buttons, and payment forms. You can even allow customers to make one-time purchases or subscribe to your products or services.

Collect currently integrates with Stripe but also plans to work with other payment services in the future. There’s no per-transaction fee, so you simply pay for the Collect subscription without the added cost for every sale.

8. Authorize.net

Authorize.net has been in the online payments game since 1996, and it’s trusted by nearly 450,000 merchants. The service helps businesses handle over $149 billion in payments each year. 

This platform allows your business to collect money via credit card, contactless payment, and even electronic checks to better suit your customers’ needs. Authorize.net handles everything from authorizing, capturing, and settling payments securely.

9. PayPal

PayPal has rapidly become one of the top online payment methods, with the platform seeing an annual payment volume of over $930 billion in 2020. Consumers can pay you via their credit or debit cards, their PayPal balance, or their bank accounts. The platform allows customers to pay quickly with one click, and its innovative Store Cash feature helps convert users that have abandoned their carts into sales.

PayPal integrates with many major eCommerce platforms, so it can work with your existing systems. You can also add shopping cart, buy now, or donate buttons easily, or work with PayPal to create a more robust and custom online payment solution.

10. Intuit

Intuit offers a suite of tools for businesses, including flexible payment solutions for companies that want to accept online payments. You can offer credit cards, debit cards, eCheck, or ACH payments both online and in-person, making payments convenient for clients. 

The scheduling tool allows you to schedule automatic, recurring invoices, and the payments are integrated with your Quickbooks account for seamless bookkeeping, quick deposits, receipt capture and organization, bill pay, income, and expense tracking, and more.

Boost Sales By Offering Online Payment Solutions

Offering online payments for consumers makes the shopping experience easier than ever. Plus, when your online payment solution offers extra benefits like automated follow-up emails or scheduled invoicing, you can further boost profits and customer satisfaction.

There are many online payment solutions out there, so find one with robust features that fit your needs, fees that work into your budget, and security and support to give you and your clients peace of mind.

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A Comprehensive Guide to Organizational Development

Imagine it’s 2005, and a small drinkware business opens up in the center of town. Although they have a simple website to provide store information and field online inquiries, their collection of customized mugs, shot glasses, and more continuously grow in popularity due to loyal customers and word of mouth.

Now imagine it is 2015. The small team has done well for itself; however, its online presence is suffering. Underestimating the shift to online shopping, the company cannot handle the influx of questions, feedback, and requests to create an eCommerce platform.

Once they’ve identified this problem, how do they implement changes to field this issue and stop it from happening again?

Successful businesses require systems and processes. If situation A happens, what are the steps in response? Organizational development (OD) enables companies with a systematic approach to identifying issues, implementing changes, and evaluating the success of the process.

What is organizational development?

Organizational development is a systematic process aimed at initiating and implementing changes in the values or operations of an organization to promote long-term growth and efficiency. It equips organizations with the tools to assess themselves and advance their core strategies, processes, and structures in response to internal and external changes.

OD serves to increase communication and productivity, improve products and services, create a workplace culture that embraces advancement and increase profit margins.

Organizational Development and Human Resources

Organizational development and human resource management are both processes centered on people. The two are often confused due to overlap; however, the former is a more holistic approach to organizational change while the latter prioritizes the individual.

Career planning, diversity orientations, and employee assistance programs are all examples of human resource management. While the outcome of HRM affects the overall organizational development of a company, it focuses on managing one individual.

Meanwhile, OD works at all levels within an organization. One person lies at the center of some OD processes, for example, individual interventions and job enrichment, but organizational development functions on individual, group, and organizational levels.

Understanding and explaining the similarities and differences between OD and HRM can be challenging. It helps to understand the following: Human resource management enhances the employee experience and ultimately benefits the organization. Organizational development focuses on aligning employees with the company’s values.

Organizational Development Interventions

OD interventions allow organizations to make successful changes. Interventions are actions taken to improve a situation. Ultimately, these structured processes help enact the changes to advance the values or operations of an organization.

The four organizational development interventions are:

Human Process
Technostructural
Strategic Change
Human Resource Management

Human Process

Human process interventions aim to improve interpersonal relations at the individual, group, and organizational levels. These take place in response to changes that happen within an organization.

Individual interventions provide employees with coaching on interpersonal skills — conflict management, team building, and body language — in the event of new hires or internal transitions.

Similarly, group interventions affect the structure or process of a group that might be necessary for department changes. Large-scale changes, however, like the introduction of new company goals and vision, are examples of organizational interventions.

Technostructural

Technostructural interventions are programmed changes to revitalize a company’s structure and processes. The initiation of this OD intervention should match the fast pace of the tech and job industries. These types of interventions follow an approach based on improving an organization’s technology and structure through job design, system changes, workplace hierarchy, and more.

Strategic Change

Strategic interventions help increase competitive advantage and how an organization can implement changes to its structure, processes, or policies to make it happen. They are especially effective when companies undergo changes to their function, for example, replacing core products or services with something new, or when they experience trans-organizational changes in the form of mergers or acquisitions.

Human Resource Management

Human resource management (HRM) interventions focus on integrating, developing, and supporting individuals within a company. An example of this is the implementation of diversity programs to ensure employees feel represented and included in the workforce regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, and race.

Organizations implement the four OD intervention methods in numerous ways ranging from individual or organizational levels. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Organizational Development Examples

Most organizational development initiatives can fit within one of the four intervention categories mentioned above. Examples of OD include:

Individual Interventions

Individual interventions are an example of human process interventions. They are aimed at behavior modification. This action usually happens in response to issues in the workplace. A well-known example of interventions that we see in pop culture is for alcohol and drug use.

Typically when the use of these addictive substances becomes excessive, the concerned family and friends of the individual confront them with the negative impact of their substance abuse. These interventions often end with a plea to seek treatment. Alternatively, individual interventions in the workplace usually occur in response to situations like lack of communication or workplace errors.

Job Enrichment

Job enrichment enables the management of employees in a way that creates growth opportunities. This techno structural intervention technique involves creating and redesigning jobs that account for the interest and skills of the individual. Its goal at an organizational level is to create a motivating job for employees.

A job enrichment program might include interventions as simple as increasing an employee’s autonomy by allowing them to decide when to take their break. Depending on the industry, another example of job enrichment is job rotation — moving employees from department to department to increase their skill set.

Transformational Change

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Transformational change is literally a transformation of the organization at its core. For example, if IHOP decided to focus on burgers instead of the popular breakfast food pancakes, this would be a transformational change for the company. These changes often occur to keep up with changing consumers.

Performance Management

Performance management is a well-known example of HRM. It is a continuous process between an employee and their supervisor that includes setting expectations and goals, providing feedback, and evaluating performance.

Hence, performance reviews fall under this initiative. Both job enrichment and performance management focus on the individual, but the latter supports the individual more than the organization.

Organizational Development Models

After an organization has identified a problem, it is time to address it. Organizational development models provide step-by-step processes to initiate and guide the changes needed to reach the desired outcome. The European Centre for Research Training and Development UK lists the four organizational development models as:

Lewin’s Three-Stage Model
Action Research Model
Appreciative Inquiry Model
General Model of Planned Change

Lewin’s Three-Stage Model

Proposed by social scientist Kurt Lewin in 1947, the core components of this model are unfreezing, moving, and refreezing. Unfreezing involves loosening the structures around the current system or going against the status quo in preparation for step two.

Moving is when the organization introduces and implements the decided changes. Communication with employees during this stage is especially crucial to facilitate a smooth transition.

During the last step — refreezing — the organization has already integrated the changes. Reinforcement is a significant part of this step. It ensures that the new policies have become the standard among all employees.

Action Research Model

The action research model also credits Kurt Lewin as its creator. According to the social scientist, this model has two purposes — solving problems and generating new knowledge.

The action research model follows a continuous eight-step process: problem identification, consultation with behavioral science experts, data gathering and preliminary diagnosis, feedback to key clients or groups, joint diagnosis of a problem, joint action planning, action, and data gathering. After data gathering, the process returns feedback to key clients or groups and repeats.

Appreciative Inquiry Model

First proposed in 1987, the appreciative inquiry model is also called the ‘positive model.’ Instead of focusing on the negative, it focuses on the successes of the organization. The goal is to equip members with the skills to identify when the organization is running well and optimize these conditions to get better results.

General Model of Planned Change

In 2009, organizational experts and professors Thomas Cummings and Christopher Worley proposed a general model for planned change. The four steps are: entering and contracting, diagnosis and feedback, planning and implementation, evaluation, and institutionalization.

Because organizational change is rarely linear and involves overlap and feedback, the process continues after the final step by returning to a previous one.

Organizational development is a long process.

Organizational development is not a process that happens overnight. It is a long, continuous cycle of initiating, implementing, and evaluating change in an organization.

Whether it is happening at the individual, group, or organizational levels, organizational development has one goal — to promote the long-term growth and productivity of a company.

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5 Open Door Policy Examples

Whether they have an issue they want to be resolved or ideas they think would improve the company or better serve clients, employees just want to be heard.

When you don’t create an open line of communication with your team, they may feel discouraged, leading to poor morale and ultimately lower production. Not to mention that employees who feel undervalued are likely to take their time and talents elsewhere.

But an open-door policy can help employees bring fresh ideas to the table and make you aware of small issues before they become major problems that affect everyone. Here’s what an open-door policy entails, how you can create one yourself, and some examples of open-door policies in action.

This workplace standard should foster communication and trust throughout the company, and employees should not have to fear retaliation should they raise issues with the company or their work with any managers. Instead, they should feel heard and supported through an open door policy.

Benefits of an Open Door Policy

There are several benefits to maintaining an open-door policy in the workplace. First, it fosters better communication across the company. It also helps employees speak their minds about workplace issues as soon as possible, which minimizes conflicts.

An open-door policy can help employees feel more supported and valued by management, which boosts morale and ultimately productivity. It may even lower turnover rates.

In one study on employee voice, researchers found that at a national restaurant chain with over 7,500 employees and 335 general managers, turnover decreased by 32% and saved the company $1.6 million per year by allowing employees to voice their concerns.

Why You Need an Open-Door Policy

Without an open-door policy, your team may experience an increase in workplace conflicts if people don’t feel comfortable raising issues sooner rather than later.

Some employees may begin to isolate themselves if they feel they can’t speak to managers about ideas or concerns. Ultimately, these employees may even leave the company in hopes of finding a workplace culture that is more transparent and communicative.

Plus, without an environment that feels open and supportive, you could be missing out on great ideas that improve the company if employees don’t feel that they can share their ideas with you.

When you’re ready to start implementing an open-door policy in your office, follow these five steps to setting up the standard and following it through.

1. Add It to the Handbook

To make your open-door policy official, you want to add it to the company handbook, so employees are able to review the policy at any time. This also adds more accountability for supervisors to follow the policy.

2. Communicate Expectations

If an open-door policy is new to your employees, you should explain what it is, how it works, and what it will look like for your team.

For example, some companies have a pretty literal open-door policy, meaning when a manager’s door is open, employees can pop in to talk. Discuss how the open door policy works, so employees feel comfortable if they need to use it.

3. Set Boundaries

Creating open and direct lines of communication with management is good, but without boundaries, this can also lead to a loss in productivity. Set boundaries that work for you and your team.

Can employees drop by to discuss issues anytime, or should they email you to set up a meeting? Alternatively, you can share times of the day or week that are the best for employees to stop by your office, rather than leaving yourself open all the time, which can prevent you from doing your work.

Also, consider boundaries on discussion topics. Employees should feel comfortable speaking to management if there’s a conflict with another employee, but this shouldn’t become a way for teammates to gossip about one another or undermine co-workers.

4. Actively Listen to Employees

If an employee comes to you with a problem or idea, make sure you are actively listening to the employee. Otherwise, it can come off as if you don’t care. That means stop typing and sending off emails when they are trying to speak to you. Instead, maintain eye contact, ask thoughtful questions, and end the conversation with a recap of what you discussed.

5. Address Concerns In a Timely Fashion

Some workplaces say they have an open-door policy, but when employees voice their concerns, nothing is actually done. Follow through on your open-door policy by addressing issues as soon as possible after an employee comes to you.

Open-Door Policy Examples

Many companies across different sectors have open-door policies for their teams. Here are some top examples of various companies that use open-door policies to boost transparency, communication, and productivity.

1. IBM

IBM, a massive technology company operating in over 170 countries, has had an open-door policy for several years. It allows employees to access higher management to discuss concerns. As an added level of security, IBM also allows employees to speak confidentially and send reports by phone, email, or even snail mail.

In a study on an IBM subsidiary in France, researchers found that the more the open door policy is communicated to employees, the more confident employees feel in the policy, an example that any workplace should consider as they set up their own open-door policy.

2. HP

HP, another major technology company, has a policy that invites employees to raise concerns quickly and opens communication across all levels of the company. As part of its expectations, HP notes that open communication should be part of day-to-day business practices for all employees.

As far as boundaries go, employees should first bring up their concerns within their own chain of command before taking it to the Ethics and Compliance office. Finally, employees should feel comfortable giving or asking for feedback without any fear of retaliation from management or co-workers.

3. Keka

Keka is an HR payroll software company that prides itself on making employees feel safe, inspired, and fulfilled by their job. So it’s no surprise that the organization has its own open-door policy.

For its own policy, Keka uses open doors literally and figuratively, allowing teams to communicate frequently whether in-person or virtually. This company’s policy applies across various levels and departments of the company, so anyone can raise their concerns to any relevant party.

The policy clearly outlines the expectations and boundaries for the policy, including what types of topics, are considered relevant for discussion and how to have the most effective discussion to resolve issues promptly.

4. Saint Louis University

Open door policies are encouraged at higher education institutions, too. At Saint Louis University, the open-door policy is meant to create a more informal conflict-resolution process that is an add-on to other procedures for employee reviews and staff grievances.

The policy notes that employees can bring up questions, suggestions, or concerns, typically to their immediate supervisor, for assistance. If employees do not receive assistance, the policy directs employees to follow the more formal Staff Grievance Policy.

5. Health Information Alliance, Inc.

The Health Information Alliance, Inc. implements an open-door policy designed to foster a positive work environment. In this open-door policy, there are specific issues outlined that are “open-door issues,” including, “disciplinary action, work assignments, interpretation or application of policies and procedures, transfer and nonsupervisory promotions, or other employment issues.”

Other issues, like evaluations or personal conflicts, are notably not included.

This is more of a hybrid open-door policy that also follows a traditional chain of command, where the employee is encouraged to first speak with their direct supervisor. If their complaint is about their supervisor, then they can go up the chain of command to their supervisor’s manager.

Although considered a more informal route of resolving issues, this policy makes an important note that open-door issues should be thoroughly documented in order to best resolve each concern.

Improve Employee Morale and Trust With an Open-Door Policy

The key to any successful relationship is communication, and that certainly applies to workplace employees. If you want your employees to feel supported, supervisors and executives should consider implementing an open-door policy.

With this workplace standard, employees can raise concerns over company procedures, other employees’ conduct, their pay, or any other work-related issues. It also opens the door for employees to share their ideas, which can benefit the entire company by making things run more efficiently or improving productivity.

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What is a Product Marketing Manager? Job Description and Salary

Your research and development team has been working on a new product for months and putting valuable resources into its design and manufacturing. They’ve carefully researched the market and the problem they intend to solve.

They’ve brainstormed and planned out the best possible product, and then meticulously crafted it before testing its functionality to make sure that it does indeed do what it was meant to do.

You are convinced that this is the best addition to the world since chocolate.

With an amazing product ready to go to market, there’s only one question left in your mind. How are you going to announce your product and get it in front of potential customers, i.e. the people who will actually buy it?

For this step of the process (and ideally since the very beginning of research and development), you’ve got a product marketing manager ready to take the next step with your new creation. Without marketing, your product (no matter how amazing it is), will never be found by the customers whose problem it would solve. This could lead to lackluster sales, a financial failure, and potential customers who are still suffering from their original problem.

From that perspective, you can see how valuable good product marketing managers are. Let’s learn more about this pertinent role.

What is a product marketing manager?

You may be wondering, what is a product marketing manager (PMM) and how essential are they to my product launch? A product marketing manager is an individual who takes ownership of the positioning, messaging, and branding of a product.

To get an even better idea of this role, let’s take a look at this sample product marketing job description.

Product Manager Job Description

A product marketing manager will be responsible for overseeing the creation and distribution of promotional campaigns for key products. This individual will have a keen understanding of the product’s target audience, and in-depth knowledge of relevant product features.

Product Marketing Manager Skills and Qualifications:

Foundational marketing and campaign management experience
Project management skills
Strong organizational and communication skills
The ability to analyze relevant information and make informed decisions
The ability to prioritize tasks and responsibilities across projects

For this role, employers look for a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, ideally in business administration, marketing, or a related field of study. Some employers may seek candidates who hold advanced degrees and have more extensive experience in marketing, sales, or advertising.

While not required, there are certifications available (such as the Certified Product Marketing Manager distinction) that can help better prepare Product Marketing Managers for the responsibilities they are about to take on.

According to PayScale, the base salary for Product Marketing Managers in the U.S. is $92,628 per year though this can vary depending on the company and level of experience.

What does a product marketing manager do?

These individuals are responsible for crafting a story about the product that will entice potential customers to purchase the product, and collecting customer feedback after launch.

When the product is being prepared for launch, the product marketing manager (or team) will be brought into the process to educate the public about the value and benefits of the offering so they can convert potential customers into raving fans.

To do this, the PMM will focus on three levels of the sales funnel:

Acquisition: Bringing awareness to your product through content such as social media, copywriting, and blogs. This requires the product marketing manager to determine what type of campaign needs to be done, create a budget for the marketing endeavors, craft a project plan to map out when this content will be released, and oversee a team who will create the desired content.
Engagement: Building trust and creating conversation with potential customers through events, campaigns, and specific calls to action.
Conversion and Retention: Converting potential customers into paying customers for one-time purchases and keeping existing customers loyal through subscription models or add-on purchases (when appropriate).

It’s worth noting that from one company (or campaign) to the next, the responsibilities and expectations placed on a product marketing manager may differ.

How does a product marketing manager differ from a product manager?

With similar titles, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the different roles available within a company. Many often confuse product marketing managers with product managers, and while there are similarities, the roles carry very different responsibilities.

Both a product marketing manager and a product manager provide a voice for the product. However, the difference is who they are speaking to. A product manager is vocal during the production stage of a product. They speak internally on behalf of the product, communicating with engineers and developers regarding the features and functionality of a product. A product manager is focused on answering the question, “Does this product solve the problem we intend it to solve?”

A product marketing manager, on the other hand, is responsible for speaking to the outside world. They are focused on the question, “How will people know that this product solves their problem?” They will create a launch plan and work with the social media team, the PR team, the marketing team, and the sales team to ensure a successful product launch and to spread the word regarding this new or improved product.

While these individuals will fulfill very different roles, they will find themselves working together at times. Both the product manager and the product marketing manager must have a solid understanding of the buyer persona and will share the research they’ve done to assist the other.

The role of a marketing manager can be confused with a product marketing manager as well. Again, there are similarities and overlap, however, a marketing manager often works on general marketing activities to grow awareness across a company’s user base. They will typically spend less time doing research and developing buyer personas.

Creating a product is only half the battle. In order to succeed with your product launch, make your product wildly profitable, and ensure that it gets into the hands of the individuals you intended to help, you need someone at the marketing helm. When you choose the right product marketing manager, they will lead the right customers to your product.

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Rich Media Ads: 6 Steps to Create Them + Brand Examples

Recently, I was scrolling online and I came across an ad for Narcos. While I can easily ignore most banner ads online, this one stood out. It included interesting videos and animation.

This was a prime example of rich media ads. A rich media ad is an excellent, modern ad format for marketers to consider.

In fact, one 2018 study found that rich media ads outperform standard banner ads by 267%.

With statistics like that, it’s time to consider incorporating these ads into your paid media strategy.

Below, let’s discuss what rich media ads are and how they’re different from other ad formats. Then, we’ll review how to create one for your company and look at some examples to inspire your own ad campaigns.

Rich media ads usually take much more time, effort, and capital to create.

Why? Well, a static ad typically includes only three elements: An image, a CTA, copy. Rich media ads, on the other hand, can incorporate various multimedia elements and allow users to interact in multiple ways.

So, why do brands use rich media ads?

Well, rich media ads are engaging and dynamic in a way that other ad types aren’t. They usually lead to more interaction, increased conversions, and a higher clickthrough rate.

Since many people have banner blindness like me, creating an ad that your audience wants to interact with isn’t easy. Rich media ads are a great way to create a better user experience.

Rich Media Types

1. Banner Ads

There are two main types of banner ads for rich media: in-banner and expanding.

In-banner ads show up as regular banners and have interactive features, such as slide/scroll options. They can also include videos, audio, and animation.

This banner ad from CB2 is a rich media example that displays various products from the brand’s collections.

In-banner ads stay exactly where they are and can be ignored more easily.

Expanding ads, on the other hand, expand when the user has taken a particular action (usually a click). Pushdown ads, multidirectional, and floating ads are all examples of expanding ads that animate across the page for a few seconds.

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A floating ad is a great way to get a user’s attention, without disrupting the user experience.

2. Interstitial Ads

An interstitial ad – think pop-ups and modals – is a full-page ad that covers the publisher’s interface. It’s commonly used on mobile apps, during points of transition in the user flow.

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For instance, it might show up on a video game app when you click “Play Again.” In some cases, the ad may not show an exit button until a few seconds after it initially appeared.

Using this type of ad is tricky, as Google sets strict guidelines on how it can work to avoid disrupting the user experience.

3. Lightbox

Lightbox ads are interactive ads that expand and use a combination of media (images, video, illustrations) to capture the viewer’s attention.

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Similar to a floating ad, they usually start small on the sidebar of a page and expand once a user clicks on it.

From there, users can take multiple actions to interact with the ad. It creates a richer ad-viewing experience and as such, can require a little bit more work to create.

Now, you might be wondering, “How do I go about creating a rich media ad?” Below, let’s discuss how you can get started with rich media ads.

1. Get inspired.

If you’ve never created a rich media ad before, it can be helpful to get inspiration from other brands, including your competitors.

What type of rich media ads are they using? Is it mostly video or a combination of text and animation? What does their copy look like?

You should ask yourself, “How is this particular ad experience?” It’s important to note this, as you’ll want to create an experience that will resonate with your audience.

So, as you navigate through websites, pay closer attention to the ads you see. Then, start compiling your favorite ones in a document to help spark ideas for your own.

2. Decide on the strategy.

Now that you have an idea of what you want to create, it’s time to strategize.

What are your goals for this campaign? This will determine which creative assets you create and which type of rich media ad you use. This process will also help you discover the best way to engage your audience.

During this step, take a look back at previous ad campaigns. What are some trends in your highest- and lowest-performing ads? Getting a refresher on past performance is a good starting point for your next campaign.

3. Plan your creative assets.

Once you know more about your strategy, it’s time to list the creative assets you’ll need to get it done. Whether you’re creating rich media banner, interstitial, or lightbox ads, there are three components to your ad:

Visuals: animations, videos, images, illustrations.
Copy
Call to action (CTA)

Oh, and don’t forget the assets for your landing page. Creating the ad is one thing, your landing page is where users will convert so it needs to be a priority as well.

With all these elements in mind, start big then go small.

Say you choose video as your rich media type, will it be completed in-house or with an outside agency? Or will you use stock footage? Every scenario requires a different set of steps.

Additionally, you might think about how to make the ad interactive. Will users be able to click through to another slide on your ad? What happens if they click on the ad? It’s important to discuss and plan these elements out before you create your ad.

4. Use ad creation tools.

At this point, you’ll have your strategy and assets all done. So, how do you actually build the ad?

If you don’t have a graphic designer on your team, you can use online tools to help you create a rich media ad.

For example, there’s Google’s Rich Media Gallery. On this site, you can create sophisticated rich media ads for free. While there are ready-to-use templates, you can also customize them by using your own creative assets.

However, if you have a graphic designer, you’ll want to meet with them at the beginning of your process so they know what you have in mind and can tell you if it’s doable.

You may also want to rely on video marketing tools such as Idomoo and Wistia to create targeted ads that reach your desired audience.

5. Preview your ad.

Now that you have created your ad, check that everything will run smoothly once it’s live.

The first step is ensuring that your ad meets the guidelines set by your advertising platform, like Google Ads.

Most ad platforms have an approval process before your ad can go live on a publisher’s site. If your ad is rejected, you may have an opportunity to make changes to it and re-submit it for approval.

Then, preview your ad to make sure it’s performing as expected. Some platforms allow you to share the preview with collaborators for feedback.

6. Track and measure your success.

When your ad is created, it’s time to start running it.

You can use rich media ads on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. You can include them on search engines, like Google Ads and Bing Ads.

Once you’ve started to run your ads, don’t forget to monitor their performance and make changes as necessary. If you’ve run static display ads in the past, it will be helpful to compare and see which type offers a higher return on investment.

Now, you might be wondering, “What will this look like?” Let’s review some examples of rich media ads in action below.

6 Examples of Rich Media Ads

1. Discover

This is a great example of a rich media ad that catches your attention and invites you to engage.

When you first see the ad, you immediately notice the logo, the copy, and the CTA on the left-hand side. Once you engage with the ad, the video starts playing and the volume button is displayed.

Why it works: Even without playing the video, you get the key information you need: The brand, the message, the CTA.

2. Reformation

Like many online retailers, Reformation uses retargeting ads to attract web visitors to its website.

In this rich media ad, users can see products from the brand and will be redirected right to the product page after clicking the “Shop It” CTA.

What works well here: Users can not only see top products from the brand but also use the interactive hover feature to shop specific items.

3. GEHA

GEHA’s video ad hits all the key points needed to create an effective rich media ad

The first thing you notice is the high-quality video and visuals. The use of colors, icons, and hierarchy to highlight key messages is definitely effective.

In addition to being eye-catching, it’s to the point. Brands typically have very few seconds to catch a user’s eye as they navigate a page. With this in mind, make sure every frame in your video serves a purpose.

4. Jessica London

In this Jessica London ad example, the brand uses movement to its advantage.

GIF Source

It’s a great but simple way to make a static image more dynamic and engaging. Additionally, moving ads are eye-catching in a way that static images aren’t.

The takeaway: If you can’t invest in visuals other than images, try having multiple slides in your ad with each slide featuring a different image and text.

5. Lincoln Aviator

GIF Source

When Lincoln decided to create an ad for the new Aviator car, they wanted it to be interactive.

When you click on this ad, you’ll be brought to a separate slide. This image is an interactive guide to the features of the car. You can click on different areas of the car to learn more about it.

This is a great example of how rich media ads are engaging and interactive. The audience can click on the ad and learn more about the car without being brought to a new webpage.

6. Netflix

Image Source

This is the rich media ad by Netflix that I was talking about before. This ad includes a unique video from the actors and is presented almost like a trailer.

Then, if you hover over the image, the audience will see moving images that rotate. Additionally, if you click the ad, you can watch the actual trailer for the Netflix show. This is a great rich media ad that includes several media formats to engage the viewer.

Rich media ads are an amazing way to engage and interact with your audience. In an age where audiences have banner blindness, rich media ads are a great way to get your audience’s attention.

The Benefits of Rich Media in Your Advertising Strategy

Using rich media ads is sure to add another dimension to your campaign and help you understand what works best with your audience.

Here are the top benefits of using rich media:

Potential for a higher clickthrough rate – Rich media ads can be more interactive and eye-catching, making users more likely to click on your ad. They can also offer better brand recall if delivered effectively.
Versatility in ads – Diversifying your campaign ads is helpful in discovering what your target audience connects with and which ad types convert best.
Better insights – Because of the multiple layers you can add to your rich media ads, you can gain more insights into your audience. Video watch times, clickthrough rates, pre-interaction engagement rates are all metrics you can use to understand your ad performance.

If you’ve never run a rich media ad, this is your sign. You may find that it outperforms your static ads.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in __ and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Use Porter’s Five Forces to Outmaneuver Your Competition

Porter’s Five Forces is a model that identifies and describes the five economic forces that shape every industry. More specifically, it explains how these forces dictate every industry’s competitive intensity, potential for profitability, and attractiveness.

Porter’s Five Forces has become a fundamental model that most businesses use to grasp the dynamics of their industry and, in turn, drive their business strategy. And it can help you do the same, too.

To help illustrate this, we’ve fleshed out the five fundamental economic forces at play in every market and provided an example analysis in each section, so you can see how each of these forces might play out in your specific industry.

The way you apply this model to your own business is totally dependent on the nature of your industry. Once you understand the forces affecting your industry, you can better extract insights that are relevant to your business.

Let’s break down each economic force and look at a few examples:

Porter’s Five Forces Model

1. Competition in the Industry

Competition plays a huge role in your industry’s profitability — the potential to produce a high return on investment — and, in turn, its ability to attract new entrants.

If there’s a lot of competition in your industry, it’s harder to turn a profit. Customers have a rich pool of options to choose from, so if your prices are too high, they can strike a deal with a supplier who will sell to them at a lower price.

In other words, customers typically wield more power than suppliers in competitive industries. This usually leads to suppliers undercutting each other until their revenue barely exceeds their costs — which, in turn, plummets their profits and discourages new players from entering the market.

If there’s less competition in your industry, it’s easier to turn a profit. Customers have fewer suppliers to choose from, so if they want to buy your market’s product or service, they must accept the higher price.

To help you examine the competition in your own industry, let’s see it in action in the aluminum baseball bat industry.

Competition Example

From little league to college, baseball players all around the country primarily use aluminum baseball bats to train and compete.

Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, Marucci, DeMarini, and AxeBat are the leaders in the high-end of this market. Their target customers are travel or college baseball players who are willing to pay a premium price for the best bats that can perform at a high level and stay durable for multiple seasons.

Easton, Mizuno, and Adidas serve the middle of the market, and Anderson, Combat, and Dirty South serve the low-end of the market. Their target customers are less competitive players who probably just play baseball for fun and friendships.

2. Potential of New Entrants into the Industry

If new players can enter your market quickly and cheaply, they can sell their minimum viable product. This is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers.

The frequency of new players entering your market hinges on your industry’s barriers to entry. If it costs a lot of money and time to build a viable product and cover overhead expenses, startups wouldn’t be able to enter or compete in your market.

To help you examine the potential of new entrants in your own industry, here’s an analysis of the potential of new entrants in the aluminum baseball bat industry.

New Entrants Example

The barriers to entry of the aluminum baseball bat industry are very high. You would have to spend a lot of money on research and development to figure out how to differentiate your product in a saturated market, purchase a bunch of raw materials to manufacture the bats, and build expensive facilities and machines to actually produce them.

This startup would have to charge close to an industry-average price to cover the initial overhead of creating a minimum viable product, crafting an enjoyable brand experience, and generating revenue. You would also need to hire a product, marketing, and sales team to run this startup’s daily business operations.

3. Power of Suppliers

The number of suppliers or competitors in your market directly affects your company’s ability to control prices. When there’s little to no competition, suppliers hold the pricing power. If a consumer doesn’t accept your prices, you and your fellow suppliers can easily find someone else who will.

When there are a lot of suppliers in your industry, each supplier holds less pricing power. Your market’s customers have a rich pool of options to choose from, so if your prices are too high, they can just strike a deal with another supplier.

Power of Suppliers Example

With 11 major suppliers in a massively popular industry — and five or less brands competing in each segment of the market — the suppliers hold a lot of pricing power. Almost every baseball player, from little league to college, needs an aluminum baseball bat to train and compete, so they’re very dependent on these suppliers, which gives them even more pricing power.

4. Power of Customers

The number of customers in your industry directly affects their ability to control prices. If there are only a few customers in your industry, they hold most of the power.

Since suppliers depend on customers to generate revenue, suppliers must adhere to their customers’ pricing demands — or risk customers doing business with other suppliers.

On the flip side, if there are a ton of customers in your industry, the customers hold significantly less power. They must accept the prices suppliers set or else they won’t be able to buy any of the products or services.

Power of Customers Example

Every single baseball player needs an aluminum baseball to train and compete, so each supplier in the aluminum baseball bat industry has a huge potential customer base to market and sell to. Since there are few suppliers and so many customers in this market, the customers don’t hold enough power to drive the prices down.

5. Threat of Substitute Products

Substitutes are products from different industries that consumers can use interchangeably, like coffee and tea, and they can significantly shape your industry.

If your product has cheaper or superior substitutes, you not only have to compete with other players in your industry, but you also have to compete with businesses in other industries

If your product doesn’t have cheaper or superior substitutes, though, the businesses who produce these substitutes don’t pose as much of a threat to you or your direct competitors. This low multi-market competition might only drop your prices and profits slightly.

Threat of Substitute Products Example

Instead of buying aluminum baseball bats, players could buy bats from suppliers who only manufacture wood bats, like Baum Bats, Old Hickory, and Sam Bat. But the odds of this happening are extremely low. Even though individual wood bats cost less than individual aluminum bats, wood bats break much more frequently.

For instance, one $250 aluminum bat can last longer than five $100 wood bats, so replacing aluminum bats with wood bats would actually cost more money. Players can also hit the ball farther with aluminum bats, which makes it the superior product.

Additionally, wood bat manufacturers make the most money by focusing on a specific market of baseball players who only use wood bats, like professional baseball players, summer college league players, and top-flight travel baseball players. In sum, there’s a low threat of substitutes in this industry.

Porter’s Five Forces Analysis

To conduct a Five Forces analysis, start by reflecting on how each force affects your business. Then, identify the strength and direction of each force — which also assesses your competitive position.

To get the ball rolling, ask yourself these questions:

Are there a lot of suppliers in my industry?
Is my buying power high or low?
Is there a substitute for my product or service?
Is it easy or difficult for new competitors to enter my market?
Is competition high or low in my industry?

Next, write down each of the five forces, and note the size and scale of each, using your answers to guide you. You can also do this by downloading our Five Forces Model Template below.

Porter’s Five Forces Model Template

Download this Template for Free

Final Thoughts

Competition is a natural part of business. Analyzing your industry using Porter’s Five Forces can help you identify strategies to improve your competitive position, potential for long-term profitability, and overall attractiveness.