VR, AR, AI, Oh my!

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI)… If your head is spinning, you’re not alone. It’s a lot to keep up with, and even more difficult for your business to master.

Customers crave a more transformational experience with brands, products, services, and information. And there’s power in delivering those experiences.

Augmented Reality is defined as “a type of interactive, reality-based display environment that takes the capabilities of computer generated display, sound, text and effects to enhance the user’s real-world experience.” It is predicted Augmented Reality will grow to be a $35 billion industry by 2022! Talk about opportunity knocking!

So, how are brands using AR effectively and strategically to not only increase brand awareness but to create meaningful customer experiences (and loyal fans?) How to do go beyond the gimmick and make AR work for your company? How does AR become your brand differentiator?

Here’s how industries and brands are leveraging AR to do more than simply impress and entertain.

There’s an app for that

Nike is using Augmented Reality to assist shoe buyers to not only find the right shoe for their activity, but the correct SIZE. Their research showed up to 60% of their customers were purchasing the wrong size shoe, which was leading to more returns and more unhappy customers. Their sizing app, Nike Fit, lets buyers scan their feet at home to get their correct size (within a 2mm of accuracy which, we don’t measure things with rulers much these days but we’re pretty sure that’s super close to perfect) The result – a rise in consumer confidence, more brand loyalty, and fewer returns.

How Will I know?

Companies like Ikea, Wayfair, Target, and Amazon are augmenting the purchases of items, especially larger ones like furniture, and allowing buyers to “try before they buy” — you can virtually place the item in the room to see the piece in the real world before buying and potentially assembling (and we all know the joys of assembling an IKEA piece…) The result again is consumer confidence and a higher likelihood the buyer will ultimately make that big-ticket purchase.

Not sure if you’ll love a paint color? Try it out through AR and get it right the first time — companies like Sherwin-Williams are having extreme success with their ventures into Augmented Reality paint selection and it’s reinforcing the brand’s commitment to helping customers get it right the first time.

Don’t Just Tell Me, Show Me

We all know how essential visuals are to a brand. AR is taking this fact to an elevated level (basically, it’s like a picture times a million). Gone are the days of just showing an illustration to explain how something works. Or dropping a logo onto a piece of collateral to brand it as your own. The possibilities are endless when it comes to AR showing, versus telling, about your brand.

Jack Daniels is using AR to bring customers into the whiskey manufacturing world to immerse them in the distillery and makes the brand more relatable. The bottle’s label becomes a virtual pop-up storybook to show consumers the process, the location, and the history of the company. And, frankly, it’s just cool to watch.

Make The World a Better Place

Augmented Reality is being used as assistive technology for the visually impaired. One service “connects blind and low-vision people to highly trained, remotely-located agents.” The goal of this brand is to make information available to everyone regardless of disability, making life more full and enjoyable and further enhance everyday experiences.

Social and Search

Social media platforms have been on board with the utility of AR, and are leading the charge. Snapchat and Instagram have built entire identity on filters, which brands are now monetizing into awareness, relationship building, and just plain fun. The use of AR on social communicates the organic voice that a basic post simply cannot convey.

And of course Google is in on the frontlines of AR. Google maps are interactive with walking navigation and visual overlays. Google searches include AR immersive experiences to feel connected to the content that comes up on your next search — it’s fun to see an 18-foot great white shark floating in your backyard as you help your child research sharks for a school project.

Just Plain Fun

A Snapchat filter for a special event is a small investment to create a memorable impact. (Check out the filter we used for our recent RPS Open House event…)

But, be careful. There still has to be value to be, well, valuable to your base. Otherwise, it’s just a novelty that could hurt your brand more than help. Your AR experience has to have a strong message and clear function, and go beyond the initial “coolness” factor.

If your AR experience doesn’t drive customers to take action (buy that IKEA sofa, it’ll fit perfectly!), make an informed decision (that lipstick is totally your color!), meet a customer’s need (“What does this error message mean, oh wise AR tech support guy?), showcase your capabilities (have your smartphone out next time you’re in the RPS offices for our full AR experience), or directly align with your brand’s message and values it could end up being just a novelty (a moment of silence for QR codes…)

Bottom line: Don’t be Pokemon Go (hot one minute, obsolete the next). Using AR, and any other Experiential Marketing tools, correctly can have a lasting, positive effect on your business and brand. The key word — “correctly”.

Facebook’s Secret Weapon for Businesses

We are all about working smarter, not harder. And marketing is striking a balance between effort and time (and money, of course. But time equals money – round up to the next whole number, take the square root of pi and… sorry, we get nerdy sometimes.)

Where were we?

Oh yes, working smarter. This is why we love using a “secret weapon” within Facebook Insights for Business that is helping marketers and small business owners capitalize on powerful vicinity-specific statistics.If you run a brick-and-mortar business, the information you can glean from Facebook Local Insights can impact your ad strategy, staffing decisions, and more.

Within Business Manager there’s a tab that is often overlooked in the sea of other useful Insights. Even as super creative, right-brained people, we geek out over the metrics in this tab once we began to do a deep dive.

Here’s what we mean:

The Facebook Local Insights section provides super geographic-specific data that shows you what’s the busiest time for Facebook users to be in your set radius and date range, what the top age, gender and home location is of those passing by, and how often your ad was seen by those people (if you’re currently running campaigns.) It’s all privacy protected so it’s showing generalized stats and not specific users information, but there’s power in those summaries that you need to be using as you craft your marketing plans.

How does this help you as a business owner? For the three main categories you see in the screenshot above:

Activity and Peak Hours

Facebook Says:

Use info about when the most people are nearby to make smart decisions about store hours and more.

RPS Says:

We can’t make your operational decisions, but we do use this data to make sure content and ads are going out when you expect people to see it (your current followers AND passers-by alike).

 

Demographic Info

Facebook Says:

Get to know the general ages, genders and distance traveled by people near your business to inform your marketing and services.

RPS Says:

We use this data to get to know people who are not yet customers or clients and craft messages and ads accordingly to draw engagement. Creating custom audiences using this insight increases the likelihood of your ads do not falling victim to the mindless scroll.

 

Ad Performance

Facebook Says:

See if your ads reached people who are near your business.

RPS Says:

Spending money is an important decision for any business owner or decision maker. How powerful to be able to verify your ads are being seen by the people around you.

Now, like any data, it’s only useful if it’s actionable. And to be actionable, you have to understand it. A marketing partner like RPS can analyze the data in your business’ Facebook Local Insights and craft a plan to attract the people most likely to walk in your door, drive by your business, or be online when your ad is running.

We’d love to review Local Insights with you in a Discovery Session. Contact us through our site or give us a call – we promise not to be too nerdy when you come in.

Chips Ahoy! Spreading Positivity on Twitter

Chips Ahoy! are no strangers to making people smile. The crunchy cookies sure bring us a fair amount of joy at RPS! But yesterday, their brand found another way to spread happiness, through the combined powers of Twitter and kindness:

And they did. Hundreds and hundreds of compliments, each one personalized to the recipient. Some were based on recent tweets, others surmised from profile pictures.

This impressive display of commitment on social media reveals just what can happen when a brand puts the direct advertising of the product on hold for the sake of keeping it real. The only immediate benefit for Chips Ahoy! is a touch of brand awareness. In the meantime, we all received some extra good vibes for the end of the week! Even Wendy’s, which is already legendary for its authentic, sassy attitude on Twitter, received a little love:

Whether or not retweets actually start customers on the road to purchasing more cookies is unmeasured, but the activity certainly generated healthy conversation around Chips Ahoy!

Some of the best social media marketing can happen by simply having something relevant to say. In our recent blog post on “Keeping it Real in 2019,” we discussed how brands can grow their awareness by putting calls-to-action (CTAs) on hold to engage with comments, users, and existing conversations without necessarily needing to mention the product.

However, Chips Ahoy! has managed to use a CTA to create massive engagement while still being personable, with a recognizable sense of brand authenticity. It shows that, if today’s brands can carry themselves with real human personality, the response can be awesome!

Edit: Chips Ahoy! was so nice they even tossed us a shoutout for the blog post you’re reading right now.

Keeping it Real in 2019

New social media trends seemingly pop up every week, and some of them will define the way marketing happens online this year, and for years to come –  2019 is a new frontier for the industry, and we could not be more excited to discover what’s next.

In order to help you prepare for what this year has in store, we’ve decided to spend the first month of the year talking about what we see as upcoming movements in social media marketing. We hope you enjoy!

Keeping it Real

It may be surprising to learn that something like keeping it real ever went out of style in the first place. When we think of organic social content, being authentic sounds like it’s almost implied. However, 2018 (and even 2017) tells a different story.

With the popularization of phrases like “fake news” and multiple scandals relating to breaches in trust between Facebook and its users, the common social media user is more cynical towards targeted marketing than ever before. Soley creating engagement with good old-fashioned online advertising is not going to cut it in 2019.

A more “human” approach

As the pendulum swings in an opposite direction, brands that want to stay on the cutting edge of content creation are turning to authenticity as a strategy. With prospective followers and customers at such distrust with brands, recapturing the interest and loyalty of the internet is happening by way of connection that feels, and sometimes even is, more one-on-one.

And this isn’t just a prediction (RPS is a lot of things, but psychic is not one of them). In 2017, Chick-fil-a discontinued its beloved chicken-salad from the menu. However, as a parting gift to fans, they publicized the recipe for free, giving fans the chance to relive their favorite fast food option from home

On Twitter, successful brands have found the perfect forum for taking a more authentic approach, puting personality first. Wendy’s success in this sphere has become the stuff of legend:

 

When it comes to your social game this year, taking the lead from examples like this will be crucial. The initial goals of generating sales from an online brand is simply not going to fly with the aware Facebooker. Giving people something relatable and human is where it’s at in 2019, and, as people who love digital marketing, we’re cool with that.

Authenticity and your brand:

Put your Calls-to-Action on hold.

People know when they’re being sold something. They can see a pitch from a mile away. It makes a lot of social media users uncomfortable and even agitated. Throwing a call to action on top of everything in your feed isn’t helping that awkward feeling. Instead, try a different conversation, one that isn’t all about selling. Adidas has found success in creating content geared towards keeping a positive attitude, creativity, and even social-conscious messaging.

Engage with comments

Your followers will talk about you, and they’ll do it in the comment feed. Don’t make the mistake of being “holier than thou” when it comes to having some back and forth down in the comments section. Answering questions, joining the conversation, and having a little fun shows everyone your company isn’t just a logo with a bottom line. Your brand has as much of a voice as you let it.

Leave clickbait in 2018

Merriam-Webster defines clickbait as “something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.” We define it as an ironically bad strategy for getting engagement online.

We’re not just talking about articles with headlines like “She hired Rock Paper Simple! You’ll never believe what happened next!” Any content posted solely for the purpose of getting engagement runs the risk of disappearing into a cluster of trapdoor links. What your brand says should transcend your statistical goals.

Be honest.

Was there a mistake? Own it. Did you fail to meet expectations? Engage with feedback. Need help planning your next move? Publish a survey. The theme here is to give your followers a sense their thoughts, suggestions, and points of view add value to the evolution of your brand. This requires much more work than a passive advertising approach, but in the long run, when your followers remember who you are alongside what you do, it’s an investment that will pay off.  

How to Add a Facebook Cover Video

Having a great profile image and cover banner have been the two ways businesses and marketers have spiced up their Facebook pages, creating their own unique brand image and engaging users. Facebook has provided yet another way to use this space that may help drive even more engagement and keep visitors interested. Video grabs our attention far more than images do, so now that we have the option to add a Facebook cover video, it’s time to learn how to add yours!

This new feature gives your Facebook page more dimensions and grabs the attention of those browsing your page. It looks awesome too!

 

How to Upload a Cover video

It’s very easy to upload your video. Simply navigate to your Facebook page, making sure you are an admin, and hover over the cover image. You will see the “Change Cover” button with a camera icon. Click the button!

You will then see various options for your cover banner. Select either “Choose From Videos” if you have already uploaded your video or “Upload Photo/Video” if you still need to upload it.

Keep in mind that your video will need to be a minimum of 820 x 312 pixels (although they recommend 820 x 462 for best fit) and be between 20 and 90 seconds long. It will play without sound unless the user prompts otherwise, so be sure your video communicates well even without sound. These are some pretty specific requirements, so you will need to do some video editing to make the video just right.

 

Interview with Mendx about Facebook Cover Banners

I got together with my friend and colleague, Justin Snyder, to do a quick video about the new Facebook Cover Video. Take a look as Justin gives some insights into this new feature.

Loud and Clear- 3 Quick Tips for Uploading Quality Images

In a world of Yelp reviews, Facebook advertising, and 140-character tweets, your online presence has really become your storefront. The online adaptation of business and marketing means that image size and quality are now even more important to your success. While we would all like to believe that consumers don’t judge a book by its cover, outward appearances do matter – whether it’s the sign out on Main Street or your header photo on Twitter.

Have you ever uploaded a crystal clear photo to Facebook only to be disappointed in the fuzzy edges it produces in your image? Whether managing your own page or landing on another’s, there’s nothing more off-putting than poorly sized images and blurry text. Keeping your social media presence consistent and professional is important, even down to the last pixel.

Here are three quick tips to solve the conundrum of poor-quality online images!

 

Ditch Your JPEG for PNG

While JPEGs and PNGs are both standard image file formats, they make a world of difference when it comes to Facebook. JPEGs have what’s known as “lossy” compression, while PNGs are considered “lossless.” In simple terms: JPEGS are more compressed and lose their quality, while PNGs are only compressed when uploaded to sites such as Facebook. So next time you upload a new cover or header photo, opt for a PNG and eliminate those fuzzy edges.

Know Your Dimensions

Each social networking site is different, and it’s important to know what dimensions your photo should be. For example, a Facebook cover photo is 851×315 pixels, while a Twitter header photo is 1,500×421 pixels. Knowing this and sizing your image accordingly will help to produce the best results. Want to know more dimensions? Check out the 2016 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet.

 Stay True to Your Brand

Don’t have brand guidelines?  Maybe it’s time to start developing some. It’s not only important to upload your photo in the correct format, but to also ensure that you’re giving your logo the respect it deserves on the image. This means: don’t distort it to make it fit, cover any part of it with other art, place it on a busy background, or stray from your brand guidelines in any other way. Be consistent and meticulous with your logo across all platforms and you’ll ensure success in displaying it.

 

Want to better understand online imaging or create your brand guidelines? Click here to connect with our team.

 

Google Is Dividing Its Index Between Mobile and Desktop Search!

googlemobileGoogle uses an index to allow for all the searches their users do on a daily basis and this index holds information about your website our website and a whole host of websites. That index is about to be split between mobile and desktop… meaning that the mobile index will actually be populated completely independent of the desktop experience.

Remember “Mobilegeddon”? When Google announced that the mobile versions of our websites would impact our ranking? Well, this is the next step. We are still vague on the details, but it sounds like instead of it just having an impact on our overall rankings, it will now crawl and index and rank the mobile version of our websites and ONLY take the mobile version into consideration when displaying results to mobile searchers. This is a huge change and one we all need to keep an eye on.

We will post again once we know more, but it is definitely time to think about ensuring the mobile version of your site will stack up. The rumbling is this may be implemented in a matter of months.

Psst.. You Should Clear Your Facebook Cache!

Chances are you have a Facebook account and you share content on there consistently. It’s probably why you’re reading this blog (your curiosity got the best of you!). Anyway, thanks to Facebook we can share updates with our fans in a matter of seconds, but have you ever noticed there are times the picture is missing when you share a Web URL? Or the previous title or image is being pulled instead of the latest?

The reason why this happens is because Facebook caches (aka stores data) already shared URLs and pages. It’s easier for Facebook to go look at the cached information stored on their server rather than go to your awesome website and fetch the updated title or picture. This technically speeds up their process, but if the cache isn’t updated, it may cause an issue for you.

Why does Facebook cache information?

When you share a link back to your webpage or another page on the Internet, Facebook downloads the content and uploads it for their users to view. Once a website is shared, Facebook stores a temporary file on its server to save time and resources and eliminates the need to re-download the information.

For example, say you shared the link to your home page a month ago, and since then the home page was updated with new pictures. Facebook will likely pull the previous data since that is what’s being stored rather than the new data. A fan clicking on the shared link won’t see the right content and/or picture because the Facebook cache hasn’t been cleared.

How do I clear my Facebook post’s cache?

Facebook created a tool called Debugger that can be used for any URL. It depicts what will be shown when the link is shared and will automatically update it with the latest title, description, and photo with the click of a button.

Here is the step-by-step process on how to clear your Facebook’s cache:

• Go to Facebook.com and login.
• Access the Debugger tool here.
• Enter a URL and click “Debug.”
• Go back to your Facebook page, type in your content with the updated link to view the updated information.

It’s as simple as that! For more tips on how to make your website and digital marketing awesome, check out some other posts- like this one!

Five Ways to Stay True to Your Brand on Social Media

Today, social media is the fastest way to expose a brand, so it’s essential that it’s represented and communicated accurately. A brand is anchored by its values, and there’s no better place to let those values shine than in the social realm. Whether you’re just getting started in social or have been a pro for years, here are a few ways to ensure that you’re staying true to the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.

 

1. Know Your Social Personality

Before you can stay true to your brand in the social media world, you have to know what your personality is. Social media creates space for your brand to reveal its authenticity and give a great picture of what you’re about. While some brands may default to humor, it’s not the only way to be personal. Maybe your brand is warm and caring, or maybe it’s more direct and serious – whatever it is, be sure that the tone of your posts shows the personality you wish to convey. The best way to establish your personality is to outline your brand’s values and identify your audience.

 

2. Be Creative but Consistent

You can’t have creativity without some consistency. Once you’ve landed on what your brand personality is, ensure that the majority of your content follows that voice and embodies your values in every post. So you’ve decided you want to up your creativity with #WisdomWednesday? Go for it – but make sure the content stays in line with your brand personality and is posted consistently each week.

It may feel constraining, but as with many lessons in marketing, some rules are meant to be broken – as long as they’re executed strategically. Say you have a fairly “serious” voice in the social realm, but every once in a while, you want to infuse a sense of fun with your audience. Feel free to stray from the norm, but make sure it’s executed thoughtfully and is appropriate for your target audience.

 

3. Be Visual

Whether your business is finance or fashion design, the best way to reveal your personality is through imagery. Never has a picture been more worth a thousand words than on social media. Social Media Examiner found that photos are the most engaging type of content on Facebook, with a staggering 87 percent interaction rate from fans. Whenever possible, opt for utilizing photos and videos to communicate your values and showcase your personality.

 

4. Stick to a Story

Every brand has a story – whether it’s the story of how the company was built or the stories of who it impacts on a daily basis. Story matters, and on social media, it can be one of your greatest tools. The strongest connection a consumer, donor, or partner of a brand can make is to hear from someone just like them. Utilize your staff and customers to share their own stories and use them in the social realm.

 

5. Be Responsive

You may have noticed that some Facebook fan pages have started displaying response rates to messages and inquiries if more than 90 percent of them are answered in less than five minutes. More and more, consumers are trying to connect with brands via social media rather than the contact form on their website. Whether through messages or comments, each post gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience directly, so take advantage of it and invest time in responding efficiently.

Along those same lines, take this opportunity to show authenticity with your brand. If someone uses your page to post problems or complaints, respond quickly and graciously. This will show that you’re not only determined to help in any way, but also that you’re paying attention.

 

Want to better understand your unique brand personality? Click here to connect with our team!

The Best and Worst Times to Post, Pin & Tweet [Infographic]

So when do you post that clever Facebook post? When should you send out that awesome new graphic with the inspiring quote? What about the amazing photoshoot you just had? When do you post those pictures? There’s tons of info out there, but HubSpot posted this pretty cool graphic on their blog that helps us mere mortals take one glance at a really pretty infographic and know exactly when to post our social media stuff!

 

Check out the graphic from HubSpot’s blog:

Post-Pin-Tweet-Best-Time-Outreach

Definitely click here to go over and check out the HubSpot post.

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