The Essential Artificial Intelligence Glossary for Marketers

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Thank goodness for live chat. If you’re anything like me, you look back at the days of corded phones and 1-800 numbers with anything but fondness.

But as you’re chatting with a customer service agent on Facebook Messenger to see if you can change the shipping address on your recent order, sometimes it’s tempting to ask, am I really talking to a human? Or is this kind, speedy agent really just a robot in disguise?

Believe it or not, this question is older than you might think. The game of trying to decipher between human and machine goes all the way back to 1950 and a computer scientist named Alan Turing.

In his famous paper, Turing proposed a test (now referred to as the Turing Test) to see if a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior is indistinguishable from that of a human. An interrogator would ask text-based questions to subject A (a computer) and subject B (a person), in hopes of trying to figure out which was which. If the computer successfully fooled the interrogator into thinking it was a human, the computer was said to successfully have artificial intelligence.

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Since the days of Alan Turing, there’s been decades and decades of debate on if his test really is an accurate method for identifying artificial intelligence. However, the sentiment behind the idea remains: As AI gains traction, will we be able to tell the difference between human and machine? And if AI is already transforming the way we want customer service, how else could it change our jobs as marketers?

Why Artificial Intelligence Matters for Marketers

As Turing predicted, the concepts behind AI are often hard to grasp, and sometimes even more difficult recognize in our daily lives. By its very nature, AI is designed to flow seamlessly into the tools you already use to make the tasks you do more accurate or efficient. For example, if you’ve enjoyed Netflix movie suggestions or Spotify’s personalized playlists, you’re already encountering AI.

In fact, in our recent HubSpot Research Report on the adoption of artificial intelligence, we found that 63% of respondents are already using AI without realizing it.

When it comes to marketing, AI is positioned to change nearly every part of marketing — from our personal productivity to our business’s operations — over the next few years. Imagine having a to-do list automatically prioritized based on your work habits, or your content personalized based on your target customer writes on social media. These examples are just the beginning of how AI will affect the way marketers work.

No matter how much AI changes our job, we’re not all called to be expert computer scientists. However, it’s still crucial to have a basic understanding how AI works, if only to get a glimpse of the possibilities with this type of technology and to see how it could make you a more efficient, more data-driven marketer.

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Below we’ll break down the key terms you’ll need to know to be a successful marketer in an AI world. But first, a disclaimer …

This isn’t meant to be the ultimate resource of artificial intelligence by any means, nor should any 1,500-word blog post. There remains a lot of disagreement around what people consider AI to be and what it’s not. But we do hope these basic definitions will make AI and its related concepts a little easier to grasp and excite you to learn more about the future of marketing.

13 Artificial Intelligence Terms Marketers Need to Know

Algorithm

An algorithm is a formula that represents the relationship between variables. Social media marketers are likely familiar, as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all use algorithms to determine what posts you see in a news feed. SEO marketers focus specifically on search engine algorithms to get their content ranking on the first page of search results. Even your Netflix home page uses an algorithm to suggest new shows based on past behavior.

When you’re talking about artificial intelligence, algorithms are what machine learning programs use to make predictions from the data sets they analyze. For example, if a machine learning program were to analyze the performance of a bunch of Facebook posts, it could create an algorithm to determine which blog titles get the most clicks for future posts.

Artificial Intelligence

In the most general of terms, artificial intelligence refers to an area of computer science that makes machines do things that would require intelligence if done by a human. This includes tasks such as learning, seeing, talking, socializing, reasoning, or problem solving.

However, it’s not as simple as copying the way the human brain works, neuron by neuron. It’s building flexible computers that can take creative actions that maximize their chances of success to a specific goal.

Bots

Bots (also known as “chatbots” or “chatterbots”) are text-based programs that humans communicate with to automate specific actions or seek information. Generally, they “live” inside of another messaging application, such as Slack, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Line.

Bots often have a narrow use case because they are programmed to pull from a specific data source, such as a bot that tells you the weather or helps you register to vote. In some cases, they are able to integrate with systems you already use to increase productivity. For example, GrowthBot — a bot for marketing and sales professionals — connects with HubSpot, Google Analytics, and more to deliver information on a company’s top-viewed blog post or the PPC keywords a competitor is buying.

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Some argue that chatbots don’t qualify as AI because they rely heavily on pre-loaded responses or actions and can’t “think” for themselves. However, others see bots’ ability to understand human language as a basic application of AI.

Cognitive Science

Zoom out from artificial intelligence and you’ve got cognitive science. It’s the interdisciplinary study of the mind and its processes, pulling from the foundations of philosophy, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, and neuroscience.

Artificial intelligence is just one application of cognitive science that looks at how the systems of the mind can be simulated in machines.

Computer Vision

Computer vision is an application of deep learning (see below) that can “understand” digital images.

For humans, of course, understanding images is one of our more basic functions. You see a ball thrown at you and you catch it. But for a computer to see an image and then describe it makes simulating the way the human eye and brain work together pretty complicated. For example, imagine how a self-driving car would need to recognize and respond to stop lights, pedestrians, and other obstructions to be allowed on the road.

However, you don’t have to own a Tesla to experience computer vision. You can put Google’s Quick Draw to the test and see if it recognizes your doodles. Because computer vision uses machine learning that improves over time, you’ll actually help teach the program just by playing.

Data Mining

Data mining is the process of computers discovering patterns within large data sets. For example, an ecommerce company like Amazon could use data mining to analyze customer data and give product suggestions through the “customers who bought this item also bought” box. 

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Deep Learning

On the far end of the AI spectrum, deep learning is a highly advanced subset of machine learning. It’s unlikely you’ll need to understand the inner workings of deep learning, but know this: Deep learning can find super complex patterns in data sets by using multiple layers of correlations. In the simplest of terms, it does this by mimicking the way neurons are layered in your own brain. That’s why computer scientists refer to this type of machine learning as a “neural network.”

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Machine Learning

Of all the subdisciplines of AI, some of the most exciting advances have been made within machine learning. In short, machine learning is the ability for a program to absorb huge amounts of data and create predictive algorithms.

If you’ve ever heard that AI allows computers to learn over time, you were likely learning about machine learning. Programs with machine learning discover patterns in data sets that help them achieve a goal. As they analyze more data, they adjust their behavior to reach their goal more efficiently.

That data could be anything: a marketing software full of email open rates or a database of baseball batting averages. Because machine learning gives computers to learn without being explicitly programmed (like most bots), they are often described as being able to learn like a young child does: by experience.

Natural Language Processing

Natural language processing (NLS) can make bots a bit more sophisticated by enabling them to understand text or voice commands. For example, when you talk to Siri, she’s transposing your voice into text, conducting the query via a search engine, and responding back in human syntax.

On a basic level, spell check in a Word document or translation services on Google are both examples of NLS. More advanced applications of NLS can learn to pick up on humor or emotion.

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Semantic Analysis

Semantic analysis is, first and foremost, a linguistics term that deals with process of stringing together phrases, clauses, sentences, and paragraphs into coherent writing. But it also refers to building language in the context of culture.

So, if a machine that has natural language processing capabilities can also use semantic analysis, that likely means it can understand human language and pick up on the contextual cues needed to understand idioms, metaphors, and other figures of speech. As AI-powered marketing applications advance in areas like content automation, you can imagine the usefulness of semantic analysis to craft blog posts and ebooks that are indistinguishable than that of a content marketer.

Supervised Learning

Supervised learning is a type of machine learning in which humans input specific data sets and supervise much of the process, hence the name. In supervised learning, the sample data is labeled and the machine learning program is given a clear outcome to work toward.

Training Data

In machine learning, the training data is the data initially given to the program to “learn” and identify patterns. Afterwards, more test data sets are given to the machine learning program to check the patterns for accuracy. 

Unsupervised Learning

Unsupervised learning is another type of machine learning that uses very little to no human involvement. The machine learning program is left to find patterns and draw conclusions on its own.

Have an artificial intelligence definition to add? Let us know in the comment below.

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Why Design and Coding Academies Need to Get in on Inbound Marketing

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Supermodels may have ruled the world in the 1990s, but today it’s the creatives. Everyone wants in on disruptive, viral, [insert your own buzz word here] intersecting worlds of design and technology. Especially the savvy students who are looking for challenging, fun, and economically rewarding professions.

Design and coding academies are rising to meet these opportunities, but there’s a lot of noise swirling around. If you want your academy’s message to shout out and reach your prospective students, you need to be using inbound and content marketing.

Fortunately, your creative natures and enterprises are great fits to achieve great results with content marketing and inbound.

You’re Already Flush with Content

For a lot of marketing teams, creating quality content on a consistent basis is a big challenge. Not so for design and coding academies. Your faculty and students already create amazing content daily. Student projects, faculty lectures, and documented curricula are all content sources ready to be tapped.

You can video individual lectures from different courses and post clips online. You’re naturals for developing some of the best visual content out there. Take some screenshots of the design or coding tools you teach students to use and add some eye-popping captions as a mini-tutorial. Share your faculty’s expertise by publishing their work paired with a short back story or interview with that teacher.

Getting creative is your jam. Review the wealth of content your community is already creating through the lens of your content strategy to attract new students. You’ll see your opportunities.

Improve Your SEO by Repurposing Your Content

The first step with the inbound methodology is attracting your target audience. This requires an SEO strategy based on relevant keywords and topics. A blog talking about things your personas don’t care about isn’t going to help your academy get found.

After you’ve done some SEO research, freshen up blog posts, newsletter articles, and other content you already have. Let’s say your research tells you that prospective students are curious about mobile UX design best practices. Now you can add new a summary, keywords and tags to a lecture video or presentation you’ve posted on this topic that are more relevant. Instead of captioning it “Introductory Lecture on Mobile Design,” you can change it to “Mobile UX Design: Learning Best Practices for Mobile Apps” (or whatever your research indicates).

Understanding what your SEO research is telling you will also help you select the most useful and on-point content to repurpose. Your academy does have a wealth of content, but that doesn’t mean you want to throw all of it up to see what sticks. You want to make strategic selections of what content to look for, what to create, and how to optimize it for SEO so you make best use of your resources.

Your Content Will Build Your Reputation

The linchpin of finding success with inbound marketing is using your content to build trust with your target personas. Academies and bootcamps don’t have the brand recognition that traditional schools enjoy. The waters are also muddied by the explosion in your direct competition.

The number of coding academies grew by nearly 50% in 2016 and is projected to continue growing rapidly. If you want to carve out a spot on the leader board, then you need to boost your brand recognition and make sure your brand connotes credibility and authority.

Prospective students won’t trust putting their professional training in your hands if they don’t see you as a go-to source on topics related to coding or design. Use your content to build up their confidence that your academy is at the front edge of your field and has the chops to make them employer-magnets after you graduate them.

You can share recent alumni stories that show how easily your graduates transition from students into lucrative careers. Quintupling your salary post-graduation? That’s not a bad haul.

Build your reputation as masters of your field by regularly publishing content that addresses its most pressing issues and trends. Publish your academy’s own insights on everything from your field’s fundamentals to controversial issues. The phrase is cliché, but you need to become a thought leader, not just as an academic institution, but within the professions you’re training students to enter.

Your prospective students are out there, dying for clear guidance and answers to their most pressing questions. If you can be resource that answers them, you’ll be the academy they choose. 

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Why 2017 Is the Year to Take Snapchat Seriously [Infographic]

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Here at HubSpot, we’re not shy about our fondness of Snapchat. Heck, we even devoted an entire day to recruiting via Snapchat. But maybe not everyone is as crazy about the app as we are. Personal feelings aside, it’s time to start taking it seriously.

If nothing else, there’s something to be said for Snapchat’s off-the-charts growth. It’s shown a 12% average year-over-year increase in revenue since 2014, and is estimated to earn just short of $1 billion is 2017. Why is it worth so much? Because people are listening and watching. In fact, content posted to the app gets, in total, 10 million views every dayDownload our free Snapchat guide to learn how to use it for your business. 

So, are you ready to start listening and watching, too? If you’re not on board with Snapchat yet, have a look at this helpful infographic from our friends at WebpageFX. Think about what these figures might mean to your own organization — and start snapping.

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104 Email Marketing Myths, Experiments & Inspiring Tips [Free Guide]

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As the number of email senders fighting for recipients’ attention continues to climb, many marketers are seeing their engagement rates steadily decrease — even if they’re using an approach that worked well a year or two ago. But that’s the problem: If you haven’t shaken up your email program in over a year, your emails are probably getting stale.

Whether you’re an email marketing veteran or are just getting started, you may be operating under certain common misconceptions about email that have been disproved by research. Even worse, your email may be getting dull due to a lack of experimentation or inspiration. Maybe you’re aware that it’s time to switch up your email marketing, but it can still be hard to know where to begin.

HubSpot and SendGrid are here to help. We’ve joined forces to jumpstart your effort to redefine your email program. In doing so, we created a guide with over 100 rigorously-researched tips on how to avoid common misconceptions, figure out what works for your audience, and bring new inspiration to your email program. Inside, you’ll find:

  • Facts to help you push past the newest and most stubborn email marketing myths
  • Test and experiment ideas you can use to optimize your email campaigns
  • Tips and inspiration to help you identify ways to keep your emails fresh and engaging
  • Extra juicy pro tips you can share with your network with one click

Click here to download 104 Email Marketing Myths, Experiments, and Inspiration

104 email marketing myths, experiments, and inspiration  

How Your Agency Can Use Social Media to Attract New Talent

In 2015, GE ran an amusing ad campaign featuring Owen, a newly hired programmer trying to explain to family and friends why they should be excited about his new job. They were baffled that a programmer would work at what they believed was just a manufacturing company, offering only condolences as he tried to outline the innovative nature of a more modern GE.

The spot was a clever way for GE to spread the word about its position as a digital industrial company, and not just a manufacturing one. Simultaneously, it helped boost the recruiting of young, tech-savvy developers into the fold. After the ad campaign aired, GE’s online recruitment site received 66 percent more visits month after month.

With the exception of GE — whose goal was to let people know that it does more than manufacture — the top agencies often offer similar services with little or no variation. Beyond that, what separates the greats is their personalities: their people, their values, their approach to business, and their interactions with their communities.

In today’s culture, who you work with is becoming more important than who you work for, and digital marketing is the best way to show prospective employees who you are as an agency, from the bottom up. By aligning digital marketing with HR, marketing agencies have the potential to create a sense of community that draws potential employees, clients, and market influencers closer than ever before.

Blurring the Lines Between HR and Marketing

Before the “Owen” ads brought more attention to GE, recent trends among other companies were already blurring the lines between HR and digital marketing. For instance, leaders are recognizing that employees are the best influencers, and have started leveraging them on social media channels, where employees can share company posts with their networks.

Certain corporate campuses even have designated areas for Instagram moments, allowing people to take photos with specific corporate campus attributes in the backdrop. The trend has spread all the way to the top, with CEOs like Meg Whitman posting pictures of their workspaces to promote more transparency.

By aligning HR’s and marketing’s methods and goals, you place your agency’s HR personnel in a more strategic position to achieve their recruiting goals. It also forces the creation of a single, consistent brand that accurately portrays your agency’s values and community.

Using Social Media to Attract New Employees

Most consumers today wouldn’t make a large purchase without first researching the brand. Likewise, practical job candidates will likely research multiple agencies’ brands before applying or accepting a job at any of them. In fact, company websites are a top resource for candidates on the job hunt. Keep your agency’s online representation consistent — and therefore more attractive to interested parties — with these five tips:

1) Highlight your agency’s culture on social media.

Every social media platform caters to a different need, and understanding the gains of each will help you use social media to its utmost potential. For instance, use Snapchat to tell quick visual stories that showcase the agency’s inner culture. Use Instagram to share photos of daily office life, and Twitter to showcase your agency’s unique personality and content.

If your agency doesn’t have a strong social media presence in 2017, you not only limit your chances of getting discovered by potential job seekers, you also risk turning off candidates in the process of researching your agency. Job seekers want to be able to get a good sense of what working for your agency is like on a daily basis. Without sharing content on social media that highlights this, they could get the impression that you don’t value transparency.

2) Build employee advocacy.

In addition to using your agency’s social media presence to showcase your teams’s culture, it’s important to build up employee advocacy. Social media isn’t going away, and empowering employees to use it to the agency’s advantage isn’t difficult.

Encourage employees to share their own insights about working for your agency on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other relevant social media platforms. Their extended networks will see their posts and spread awareness of your agency’s brand. By leveraging your employee’s personal and professional networks, your agency has the potential to reach people you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to with your business presence alone.

3) Connect with influencers in your agency’s niche.

Digital marketing also allows your recruiting team to more easily interact with potential candidates, as well as the most influential individuals and companies in your market. Like them on Facebook, interact with their tweets, and follow the trends that research shows are proving the most successful.

4) Network freely.

Networking is at the heart of social media and digital marketing, so use media extensively to connect and network with potential candidates, clients, and companies that you work with. Capital One, for example, offers another idea of how increased networking boosted HR performance. Just this year, Capital One’s CIO attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Technology, specifically promoting Capital One’s digital products and, most importantly, its company culture.

5) Aim to amplify your message.

Connecting and networking with the right influencers also gives you the opportunity to amplify your message to a significantly larger audience. If you build employee advocacy, utilize social platforms to your advantage, and master the art of networking, you’ll see your brand spread exponentially every time someone posts, tweets, or Snapchats something about you. Others will see it, too, including the hundreds of thousands of followers your connections will be able to reach.

When employees share content about their company, those shares receive up to eight times more engagement and are reshared up to 25 times more frequently than the content on the brand’s page. Research shows that such strong engagement and company culture helps companies outperform their peers in “profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction, employee turnover,””and more.

And by participating in social media and mobile apps, companies like Target have been able to attract and retain top talent while demonstrating its success with digital marketing. Because its digital marketing efforts are so extensive, those seeking new jobs already have an idea of what Target’s initiatives are.

GE’s engagement campaign, along with those of many other companies, offer a glimpse into how focusing more on value and results can boost an agency’s image, performance, and recruitment efforts across the board. Follow their example, introduce your agency’s personality to the world, and let top-level talent know who you are and how well they would fit into your agency’s culture.

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Why There’s No Perfect Time to Post on Facebook

There probably isn’t a single best time to share to social media.

There’s a long tradition of studies that have attempted to uncover a ‘best time’ to post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and almost every other social media marketing channel, with each study finding a wide range of results (we’ve even created our own studies here at Buffer).

Here are just some recommendations on the best time to post to Facebook to get you started:

  • Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. [Hubspot]
  • Thursday at 8 p.m.  [TrackMaven]
  • 1–4 p.m. late into the week and on weekends [CoSchedule]
  • Early afternoon during the week and Saturdays [Buffer]
  • Off-peak times are best [Buzzsum0]

All of these studies are based on sound logic and can potentially be helpful to point marketers in the right direction. But almost every study reveals a different ‘best time to post’ and I believe there’s no perfect time to post to Facebook (or any social channel for that matter). 

The best time to post depends on a number of factors that are specific to every business: What’s your industry? What location is audience based? When are they online? Are you sponsoring your post?

I’d love to flip the conversation and say that instead of looking for a universal ‘best time to post’, maybe we should be focusing specifically on when is the best time for your brand to post.

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Why there’s no universal best time to post on Facebook

The content crush is truly upon us. There’s more content shared to Facebook than any of us could ever consume, and as such, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm helps to determine what is shown to us every time we open up Facebook.

On their Business blog, Facebook’s VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland explains:

On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.

As a result, competition in News Feed — the place on Facebook where people view content from their family and friends, as well as businesses — is increasing, and it’s becoming harder for any story to gain exposure in News Feed.

Whenever you post to Facebook, you’re essentially competing against at least 1,500 others post for a place in the News Feed and timing is only one of a number of factors that determines which content appears.

With this in mind, it’s also possible that the best time to post could also be the worst time. Let’s say a study found the best time to publish is 6pm on a Friday, and every brand was to try and push content to their audience at that time, it’s likely that very few of those posts would be seen due to such high competition. The same is true for saying off-peak times are best to publish – if all brands post off-peak then there will be more competition, and so they should go back to posting at peak time.

It’s all very muddled and there’s no clear answer. As such, I’d argue that there’s no specific time that’s best to post to Facebook.

So, when should you post to Facebook? A couple of strategies you can try

If there’s no ‘best’ time to post, how do you decide when to share your content to Facebook?

To answer this question, I feel like there are two approaches we could use:

  1. When your data tells you
  2. When it’s relevant

1. When your data tells you

When it comes to marketing and digital strategy, the best data is always your own. And, thankfully, Facebook has a ton of data available for all page owners and admins. A comprehensive understanding of your own audience on Facebook and how your content is performing will bring more success, than generic insights drawn from studies on a wide variety of Pages from a range of industries and brands.

2. When it’s relevant

This one is a little less scientific. But some content will work best in-the-moment or at a time when it’s most relevant. A great example of this is the content many sports teams share to Facebook to update fans on the scores or breaking news.

For your business, the same can also be true. Some pieces of content will perform best when they’re relevant. For example, the best time to share content related to the launch of your new product tends to be directly following the announcement. Or if you had an advert on a local TV station, it’s best to create and share social content around the same time that it’s broadcast.

How to use Facebook Insights to find your best time to post

If you’re looking to find the best time to post on Facebook, the first best place to start is Facebook Insights.

To see your Page Insights, click Insights at the top of your Page:

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Once you’re in the Page Insights dashboard, there’s a wealth of data available to you. For this post, though, we’re going to dive into a couple of specific areas to help you discover when to post your content.

How to find out when your fans are online

From the Insights dashboard, select Posts in the left-hand column menu. This will take you to a detailed breakdown of the days and time your fans are most active on Facebook: time-online

This chart shows the average times across the week. You can hover over each individual day to see an overlay of how that day looks vs the averages. Here’s an example of how Sunday’s tend to look for our Page (the dark blue line is data for Sunday):

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What does this data tell us?

Here at Buffer, we can see our audience is online 7 days per week and that there’s no specific day where we see a spike. We can also see that from around 9 am in the morning the number of people online is gradually increasing up until around 4 pm where the number begins to decline slightly.

There are plenty of ways to interpret this data. But, to me, this would suggest our best times to post are during the work day between the hours of 9 am – 5 pm when our audience are most active on Facebook. I’d recommend testing a variation of times between those hours to see what works and if there’s a best time at all.

Another experiment we’ve been trying off the back of this data is posting at off-peak times. Brian, our social media manager, has recently been posting when less of our audience is online and we’ve been seeing some success between 3 am – 5 am.

How to find posting times of successful posts

Facebook Insights records reach and engagement figures for every post you share to your Facebook Page. This data can be found in the same place as the data for when your fans are online. Head to your Page Insights, click Posts and below the graph showing times your fans are online, you’ll see ‘All Posts Published’.

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Here, in the ‘Published’ column, you can see the date and time when each post was published to your Facebook Page. With this data you’re looking out for any trends regarding the times. For example, do posts published around a specific time tend to receive more reach or engagement.

Note: If your posts are Sponsored or Boosted (like many of ours in the above screenshot), this could also skew your data a little as these posts are likely to gain significantly more reach than organic posts regardless or the time they’re published.

What does this data tell us?

Personally, I think our data on the Buffer Facebook Page is pretty inconclusive at the moment. It’s clear that posts published between around 10 am – 12 pm seem to do well, as do posts at around 5 pm. But I’d love to test a bunch more variables before making any clear conclusions.

Using Buffer’s Optimal Scheduling tool

Another way to find some potentially great times to post to your Facebook Page is with our Optimal Scheduling tool.

When you optimize your schedule, we look at the past 5,000 interactions (e.g. likes, favorites, clicks, etc.) you’ve had on the Page you’re optimizing as well as similar profiles in the same timezone. We then plot these according to your timezone in a 24 hour period, to see when most interactions have happened.

We also include an ‘experimental’ element, that picks some timeslots outside your top engaged times to find unexplored, new optimal timing areas for you to post.

How to use the Optimal Scheduling tool

Step 1: Connect your Facebook Page to Buffer

To use our Optimal Scheduling tool, you’ll first need to connect a Facebook Page to Buffer. To do this, login to your Buffer and then click on the + icon next to Accounts in the top left of the dashboard. Then, select Facebook Page:

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Step 2: Head over to your Schedule tab

From your Buffer dashboard, select your Facebook Page in the left-hand column and then click on the ‘Schedule’ tab:

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Now, click on the ‘Try our Optimal Timing Tool’ link underneath your schedule. Alternatively, you can also follow this link: https://buffer.com/optimal-scheduling/calculate

Step 3: Select your Page

Next, simply the select the Page you’d like the tool to identify posting times for, how many times you’d like to post each day and click ‘Calculate Times’:

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Step 3: Check your suggested times

The Optimal Scheduling tool will now display some times for your to post based on recent engagement for your Page and other similar Pages in your timezone. If you wish, you can also replace your current Buffer schedule with these times in one click:

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Note: As this tool takes data from your Page and similar profiles in the same timezone, I tend to use the recommended times as a test to see how content performs at each time, rather than a set of ‘best times to post’.

Businesses will win because of the content, not the timing

When one of your Facebook friends gets married, the chances are you’ll see their wedding photos stuck to the top of your News Feed all day, regardless of the time they’re posted. This happens because wedding photos, whether you like them or not, are great content and as soon as they’re posted, a bunch of people rush to like, share and comment on them.

If you want to succeed on Facebook, your content will be the most important factor. Not the time it’s posted. Of course, timing can have an effect on performance if the post is timely or more relevant at set time – such as content aimed at reaching sports fans at the time when games are happening. But largely, your social media success relies on the strength of your content.

Over to you

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic: Do you think there’s a best time to post to Facebook? How do you decide when to publish your posts? Let me know in the comments, I’m excited to join the conversation.

 

A Brief History of Productivity: How Getting Stuff Done Became an Industry

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Anyone who’s ever been a teenager is likely familiar with the question, “Why aren’t you doing something productive?” If only I knew, as an angsty 15-year-old, what I know after conducting the research for this article. If only I could respond to my parents with the brilliant retort, “You know, the idea of productivity actually dates back to before the 1800s.” If only I could ask, “Do you mean ‘productive’ in an economic or modern context?”

Back then, I would have been sent to my room for “acting smart.” But today, I’m a nerdy adult who is curious to know where today’s widespread fascination with productivity comes from. There are endless tools and apps that help us get more done — but where did they begin?  Download our complete guide here for more tips on improving your productivity.

If you ask me, productivity has become a booming business. And it’s not just my not-so-humble opinion — numbers and history support it. Let’s step back in time, and find out how we got here, and how getting stuff done became an industry.

What Is Productivity?

The Economic Context

Dictionary.com defines productivity as “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.” In an economic context, the meaning is similar — it’s essentially a measure of the output of goods and services available for monetary exchange.

How we tend to view productivity today is a bit different. While it remains a measure of getting stuff done, it seems like it’s gone a bit off the rails. It’s not just a measure of output anymore — it’s the idea of squeezing every bit of output that we can from a single day. It’s about getting more done in shrinking amounts of time.

It’s a fundamental concept that seems to exist at every level, including a federal one — the Brookings Institution reports that even the U.S. government, for its part, “is doing more with less” by trying to implement more programs with a decreasing number of experts on the payroll.

The Modern Context

And it’s not just the government. Many employers — and employees — are trying to emulate this approach. For example, CBRE Americas CEO Jim Wilson told Forbes, “Our clients are focused on doing more and producing more with less. Everybody’s focused on what they can do to boost productivity within the context of the workplace.”

It makes sense that someone would view that widespread perspective as an opportunity. There was an unmet need for tools and resources that would solve the omnipresent never-enough-hours-in-the-day problem. And so it was monetized to the point where, today, we have things like $25 notebooks — the Bullet Journal, to be precise — and countless apps that promise to help us accomplish something at any time of day.

But how did we get here? How did the idea of getting stuff done become an industry?

A Brief History of Productivity

Pre-1800s

Productivity and Agriculture

In his article “The Wealth Of Nations Part 2 — The History Of Productivity,” investment strategist Bill Greiner does an excellent job of examining this concept on a purely economic level. In its earliest days, productivity was largely limited to agriculture — that is, the production and consumption of food. Throughout the world around that time, rural populations vastly outnumbered those in urban areas, suggesting that fewer people were dedicated to non-agricultural industry.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 10.29.31 AM.png Source: United Nations Department of International Economic and Social Affairs

On top of that, prior to the 1800s, food preservation was, at most, archaic. After all, refrigeration wasn’t really available until 1834, which meant that crops had to be consumed fast, before they spoiled. There was little room for surplus, and the focus was mainly on survival. The idea of “getting stuff done” didn’t really exist yet, suppressing the idea of productivity.

The Birth of the To-Do List

It was shortly before the 19th century that to-do lists began to surface, as well. In 1791, Benjamin Franklin recorded what was one of the earliest-known forms of it, mostly with the intention of contributing something of value to society each day — the list opened with the question, “What good shall I do this day?”

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 10.29.31 AM.png Source: Daily Dot

The items on Franklin’s list seemed to indicate a shift in focus from survival to completing daily tasks — things like “dine,” “overlook my accounts,” and “work.” It was almost a precursor to the U.S. Industrial Revolution, which is estimated to have begun within the first two decades of the nineteenth century. The New York Stock & Exchange Board was officially established in 1817, for example, signaling big changes to the idea of trade — society was drifting away from the singular goal of survival, to broader aspirations of monetization, convenience, and scale.

1790 – 1914

The Industrial Revolution actually began in Great Britain in the mid-1700s, and began to show signs of existence in the U.S. in 1794, with the invention of the cotton gin — which mechanically removed the seeds from cotton plants. It increased the rate of production so much that cotton eventually became a leading U.S. export and “vastly increased the wealth of this country,” writes Joseph Wickham Roe.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 1.55.09 PM.png Source: Gregory Clark

It was one of the first steps in a societal step toward automation — to require less human labor, which often slowed down production and resulted in smaller output. Notice in the table below that, beginning in 1880, machinery added the greatest value to the U.S. economy. So from the invention of the cotton gin to the 1913 unveiling of Ford’s inaugural assembly line (note that “automotive” was added to the table below in 1920), there was a common goal among the many advances of the Industrial Revolution: To produce more in — you guessed it — less time.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 2.19.12 PM.png Source: Joel Mokyr

1914 – 1970s

Pre-War Production

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 2.25.52 PM.png Source: Joel Mokyr

Advances in technology — and the resulting higher rate of production — meant more employment was becoming available in industrial sectors, reducing the agricultural workforce. But people may have also become busier, leading to the invention and sale of consumable scheduling tools, like paper day planners.

According to the Boston Globe, the rising popularity of daily diaries coincided with industrial progression, with one of the earliest known to-do lists available for purchase — the Wanamaker Diary — debuting in the 1900s. Created by department store owner John Wanamaker, the planner’s pages were interspersed with print ads for the store’s catalogue, achieving two newly commercial goals: Helping an increasingly busier population plan its days, as well as advertising the goods that would help to make life easier.

Wanamaker_Diary_TP2 (1).jpg Source: Boston Globe

World War I

But there was a disruption to productivity in the 1900s, when the U.S. entered World War I, from April 1917 to the war’s end in November 1918. Between 1918 and at least 1920 both industrial production and the labor force shrank, setting the tone for several years of economic instability. The stock market grew quickly after the war, only to crash in 1929 and lead to the 10-year Great Depression. Suddenly, the focus was on survival again, especially with the U.S. entrance into World War II in 1941.

GDP_depression.svg Source: William D. O’Neil

But look closely at the above chart. After 1939, the U.S. GDP actually grew. That’s because there was a revitalized need for production, mostly of war materials. On top of that, the World War II era saw the introduction of women into the workforce in large numbers — in some nations, women comprised 80% of the total addition to the workforce during the war.

World War II and the Evolving Workforce

The growing presence of women in the workforce had major implications for the way productivity is thought of today. Starting no later than 1948 — three years after World War II’s end — the number of women in the workforce only continued to grow, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That suggests larger numbers of women were stepping away from full-time domestic roles, but many still had certain demands at home — by 1975, for example, mothers of children under 18 made up nearly half of the workforce. That created a newly unmet need for convenience — a way to fulfill these demands at work and at home.

Once again, a growing percentage of the population was strapped for time, but had increasing responsibilities. That created a new opportunity for certain industries to present new solutions to what was a nearly 200-year-old problem, but had been reframed for a modern context. And it began with food production.

1970s – 1990s

The 1970s and the Food Industry

With more people — men and women — spending less time at home, there was a greater need for convenience. More time was spent commuting and working, and less time was spent preparing meals, for example.

The food industry, therefore, was one of the first to respond in kind. It recognized that the time available to everyone for certain household chores was beginning to diminish, and began to offer solutions that helped people — say it with us — accomplish more in fewer hours.

Those solutions actually began with packaged foods like cake mixes and canned goods that dated back to the 1950s, when TV dinners also hit the market — 17 years later, microwave ovens became available for about $500 each.

But the 1970s saw an uptick in fast food consumption, with Americans spending roughly $6 billion on it at the start of the decade. As Eric Schlosser writes in Fast Food Nation, “A nation’s diet can be more revealing than its art or literature.” This growing availability and consumption of prepared food revealed that we were becoming obsessed with maximizing our time — and with, in a word, productivity.

The Growth of Time-Saving Technology

Technology became a bigger part of the picture, too. With the invention of the personal computer in the 1970s and the World Wide Web in the 1980s, productivity solutions were becoming more digital. Microsoft, founded in 1975, was one of the first to offer them, with a suite of programs released in the late 1990s to help people stay organized, and integrate their to-do lists with an increasingly online presence.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 9.58.58 AM.png Source: Wayback Machine

It was preceded by a 1992 version of a smartphone called Simon, which included portable scheduling features. That introduced the idea of being able to remotely book meetings and manage a calendar, saving time that would have been spent on such tasks after returning to one’s desk. It paved the way for calendar-ready PDAs, or personal digital assistants, which became available in the late 1990s.

By then, the idea of productivity was no longer on the brink of becoming an industry — it was an industry. It would simply become a bigger one in the decades to follow.

The Early 2000s

The Modern To-Do List

Once digital productivity tools became available in the 1990s, the release of new and improved technologies came at a remarkable rate — especially when compared to the pace of developments in preceding centuries.

In addition to Microsoft, Google is credited as becoming a leader in this space. By the end of 2000, it won two Webby Awards and was cited by PC Magazine for its “uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results.” It was yet another form of time-saving technology, by helping people find the information they were seeking in a way that was more seamless than, say, using a library card catalog.

In April 2006, Google Calendar was unveiled, becoming one of the first technologies that allowed users to share their schedules with others, helping to mitigate the time-consuming exchanges often required of setting up meetings. It wasn’t long before Google also released Google Apps for Your Domain that summer, providing businesses with an all-in-one solution — email, voicemail, calendars, and web development tools, among others.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 6.35.20 AM.png Source: Wayback Machine

During the first 10 years of the century, Apple was experiencing a brand revitalization. The first iPod was released in 2001, followed by the MacBook Pro in 2006 and the iPhone in January 2007 — all of which would have huge implications for the widespread idea of productivity.

2008 – Present

Search Engines That Talk — and Listen

When the iPhone 4S was released in 2011, it came equipped with Siri, “an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.” Google had already implemented voice search technology in 2008, but it didn’t garner quite as much public attention — most likely because it required a separate app download. Siri, conversely, was already installed in the Apple mobile hardware, and users only had to push the iPhone’s home button and ask a question conversationally.

But both offered further time-saving solutions. To hear weather and sports scores, for examples, users no longer had to open a separate app, wait for a televised report, or type in searches. All they had to do was ask.

By 2014, voice search had become commonplace, with multiple brands — including Microsoft and Amazon — offering their own technologies. Here’s how its major pillars look today:

Pillars_of_Voice_Search-2.png

The Latest Generation of Personal Digital Assistants

With the 2014 debut of Amazon Echo, voice activation wasn’t just about searching anymore. It was about full-blown artificial intelligence that could integrate with our day-to-day lives. It was starting to converge with the Internet of Things — the technology that allowed things in the home, for example, to be controlled digitally and remotely — and continued to replace manual, human steps with intelligent machine operation. We were busier than ever, with some reporting 18-hour workdays and, therefore, diminishing time to get anything done outside of our employment.

Here was the latest solution, at least for those who could afford the technology. Users didn’t have to manually look things up, turn on the news, or write down to-do and shopping lists. They could ask a machine to do it with a command as simple as, “Alexa, order more dog food.”

Of course, competition would eventually enter the picture and Amazon would no longer stand alone in the personal assistant technology space. It made sense that Google — who had long since established itself as a leader in the productivity industry — would enter the market with Google Home, released in 2016, and offering much of the same convenience as the Echo.

Of course, neither one has the same exact capabilities as the other — yet. But let’s pause here, and reflect on how far we’ve come.

Where We Are Now…and Beyond

We started this journey in the 1700s with Benjamin Franklin’s to-do list. Now, here we are, over two centuries later, with intelligent machines making those lists and managing our lives for us.

Have a look at the total assets of some leaders in this space (as of the writing of this post, in USD):

Over time — hundreds of years, in fact — technology has made things more convenient for us. But as the above list shows, it’s also earned a lot of money for a lot of people. And those figures leave little doubt that, today, productivity is an industry, and a booming one at that.

How do you view productivity today, and what’s your approach to it? Let us know in the comments.

Productivity Guide

Fact or Fiction: The SEO Edition [Quiz]

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Just when you thought you were up-to-date on the latest SEO best practices, an algorithm change or a new expert post has you questioning yourself. Sound familiar?

It’s true, the world of SEO is spinning faster than ever, and for every new strategy, an old one becomes obsolete. As inbound marketers, it’s our job to stay informed of these changes, while continuously questioning the status quo.

Today, successful inbound marketers turn their attention to a long overdue focus on high-quality content. Marketers and SEO agencies worldwide have halted their obsession with link building and keywords and re-prioritized for this specifically. Stop wasting time on SEO strategies that don't work with the help of this free PDF guide >>

Is your team still focusing on keywords rather than topic clusters? How about meta descriptions – how has Google been treating them differently as of late? See how you and your team fare in the new world of search engine optimization by taking this 10-question quiz.

Fact or Fiction: The SEO Edition

10 of the Best Ads from January: Slo-Mo Dogs, Falling Pianos, and an Epic BBQ

If your New Year’s resolution is to take a more creative approach to advertising, then we’ve got some inspiration to get your 2017 started off right.

While many of us were still adjusting to a normal work schedule again after the holidays, these agencies were producing some of January’s most captivating, hilarious, and admirable work.

This month’s roundup includes standout spots from around the globe, including a particularly existential clothing commercial from the Middle East, and an anti-smoking PSA from the Netherlands that takes on big tobacco with a unique spin. We’ve also included the viral, student-produced spec ad that AdWeek called the “most moving work we’ve seen so far in 2017.”

Check out our recap of January’s best ads below, and get inspired to tackle your own big projects in 2017.

10 of the Best Ads from January

1) Meat & Livestock Australia

What brings people together better than … lamb meat? That’s the premise of this extended spot for Meat & Livestock Australia, which assembles an ambitiously diverse cast of lamb-lovers for one epic beach side barbecue.

Produced by Sydney-based agency The Monkeys, the entertaining ad features Indigenous athletes Cathy Freeman and Greg Inglis, transgender comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, and several boatfuls of colonizers from Europe and Asia — all of whom are super into grilled lamb, apparently.

The inclusive tone seems like an attempt to make up for the company’s ill-received Australia Day ad, which was one of Australia’s most complained about ads of 2016 for its perceived lack of sensitivity to Indigenous people and vegetarians. 

2) Film Academy of Baden-Württemberg (Spec Ad for Adidas)

Get the tissues ready for this one. Students at Germany’s Film Academy of Baden-Württemberg created this poignant and visually stunning spec ad for Adidas, and it went viral on YouTube seemingly overnight. The short film follows an elderly protagonist as he attempts to escape his convalescent home for the simple pleasures of an outdoor run. 

Writer/director Eugen Merher, who created the piece as his second-year project at the Film Academy, told AdWeek the inspiration came from a late relative: “An old man with a very young spirit who used to walk two kilometers every day and bring his wife flowers.”

3) Centrepoint

This ad’s answer to existential dread? Looking great.

Impact BBDO Dubai created this ad for Middle Eastern clothing retailer Centerpoint, and it somehow manages to make life’s potentially fatal uncertainties seem oddly quirky.  You can’t control a fiery piano falling towards you, but you can control what you wear while it happens.

4) No7

If anyone knows a thing or two about defying expectations for their age, it’s ballerina Alessandra Ferri, who appears in No7’s latest campaign for an anti-aging serum. The now 53 year-old Italian dancer was the youngest prima ballerina at London’s Royal Ballet when she was 19, and continues to dance professionally today.

In the ad, which was produced by Mother London, Ferri is shown dancing alongside a ghostly vision of her 19 year-old self. It’s a truly mesmerizing concept that’s especially unique for a skincare ad.

5) Expedia

Promoting a message of global fellowship, this ad for Expedia follows a woman through a lifetime of purposeful travel. From the time she looks over her neighbor’s fence as a child to see the world beyond her own backyard, she’s compelled to immerse herself in new cultures and experiences.

Clocking in at just one minute, the 180LA-produced spot packs in a surprising amount of narrative. “We believe that the more each of us travel and peek over our neighbor’s fence, we learn that we have more in common than we have different,” said Vic Walla, senior director of brand marketing at Expedia, to Adweek.

6) Duracell

Wieden+Kennedy developed a new delightfully offbeat campaign for Duracell, focusing on some of the little (potentially unexpected) ways consumers can trust the brand’s batteries on a daily basis.

“We’re taking a lighthearted look at the real issue of trust,” said Ramon Velutini, Duracell’s vp of marketing. “Because while you do need trustworthy power when you’re climbing K2 — the world’s second-highest mountain — you also need it for your game controller and your kids’ toys.”

7) Stivoro

What if employees at a tobacco company party were completely honest about their industry?

Stivoro, the Netherlands’ Foundation for Smoking and Health, teamed up with Wefilm to shed some light on the dangers of smoking (and the hypocrisy of the tobacco industry) in this darkly comic new PSA. 

8) Planet Fitness

Being judged sucks. Being judged by a CPR dummy you’re attempting to give mouth-to-mouth? Well, that really sucks.

In their ongoing campaign to position their gyms as no-judgment zones, Planet Fitness worked with agency Hill Holliday to develop this wonderfully hammy ad for the New Years’ resolution crowd.

9) New York Lottery

It’s a common icebreaker question: What would you do if you won the lottery?

If you’re like the guy in this ad for the New York Lottery, your answer involves dogs. A lot of dogs.

To promote their Cash4Life game, the state-run lottery teamed up with McCann New York to highlight one of the nonmaterial benefits of winning: having more free time to volunteer. It’s a simple spot with an uplifting message — featuring some hilarious slow-motion closeups of running dogs.

10) Angel Soft

I never thought I’d be tearing up at a toilet paper ad, but this one for Angel Soft from Deutsch is surprisingly heartwarming.

The ad chronicles a single dad raising a daughter on his own, and it does a great job capturing some the little, commonly overlooked moments of growing up — all framed in the context of toilet paper, of course.

social-networks-ads

Snapchat Marketing Strategy 101: Getting Started, Building a Community, and Generating ROI – Carlos Gil [SSM027]

What started as a simple app to send disappearing videos to friends, Snapchat now attracts some of the biggest brands and influencers in the world.

More than 300 million people use the app every month – generating an astounding 10 billion videos views per day!

Which is why Snapchat presents a huge opportunity for businesses and brands to get in on a platform that is growing exponentially by the day.

But how?

Carlos Gil has been helping brands and businesses successfully develop and implement their Snapchat marketing strategy for years. And he’s really, really good at it, too. In 2016, Carlos was listed as one of the world’s top Snapchat marketing influencers by Inc. and a host of other publications.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Carlos all about how marketers can get started with Snapchat and how they can tie their Snapchat marketing efforts into overall business ROI. A huge thank you to Carlos for jam-packing this episode with actionable wisdom and takeaways for social media managers and marketers alike looking to create winning habits and goals that will take their skills to the next level.

How to listen: iTunes | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | RSS

This episode is available on:

In this episode, here’s what you’ll learn:

Carlos Gil shares his expert insights on what it takes to get started on Snapchat and how marketers can use this platform to build a engaged community as well as drive real ROI for their business.

  • Carlos’ story of becoming a Snapchat influencer
  • Answering the question: Is it too late to join Snapchat for brands?
  • How to get started on Snapchat and provide value to your audience
  • Tying Snapchat marketing efforts to business ROI
  • How to run an influencer marketing campaign on Snapchat

3 Key Takeaways for Marketers Looking to Expand and Go All-In on Snapchat in 2017

In Carlos’ words…

1. Be real

I often look to DJ Khaled for inspiration (keys to success) – he’s one of the most watched people online today. They key to DJ Khaled’s success has been just being real and he’s set the model of consistency for every brand marketer should aspire to be. What people really want is to be entertained, engaged, and inspired. Think of Snapchat as product storytelling.

2. Take risks

Snapchat is not Facebook, it’s not LinkedIn, and it’s not YouTube – it’s Snapchat. Take risks and tell short, engaging stories on the platform.

3. Develop a long-term strategy

You’re not going to get on Snapchat and see success overnight. There’s no such thing as overnight on social media, but especially on Snapchat. Really start building your strategy over the next 12-18  months. How are you going to first grow your audience? How are you going to keep them engaged long-term? And then, most importantly, how are you going to take that growth and engagement and convert that into sales?

Mentionable Quotes and Shareable Snippets

Carlos Gil Quote on Snapchat Marketing

“If you do anything at all on Snapchat different from your other social media channels, make the focus around storytelling. And if you want to take it one step further, allow others to tell that story for you.”

– Carlos Gil

Show Notes and Other Memorable Moments

Thanks a million for checking out this episode! Below are the websites and other tidbits that were mentioned in today’s podcast about creating incredible Facebook communities using groups. If you have any questions for us, feel free to drop us a line in the comments and we’ll respond right away!

Awesome People, Things, & Articles Mentioned in the Show

Great Quotes

  • “My perspective of social media is completely different than your textbook version of how these channels work. For me, this was a lifeline for me to grow a business and feed my family.”
  • “It’s definitely not too late to join Snapchat. Even though the train has already left the station, there’s still time for brands and businesses to get on board.”
  • “We see a lot of ‘rinse and repeat’ across social media channels. You have to ask yourself: How is my content going to be different on Snapchat than my other social media channels?”
  • “Reach out to influencers directly if they align with your brand and if everything checks out, run a campaign with them on Snapchat.”

How to Say Hello to Carlos (and us)

Carlos Gil is a fantastic person to follow across social media for daily marketing tips, tricks, and motivation. You can find Carlos on Snapchat here, Twitter hereFacebook here, and read more about Carlos’ journey at carlosgil.biz.

Thanks for listening! We’d love to connect with you at @buffer on Twitter or with the hashtag #bufferpodcast.

Enjoy the show? It’d mean the world to us if you’d be up for giving us a rating and review on iTunes!

About the Show

The Science of Social Media is a podcast for marketers and social media managers looking for inspiration, ideas, and results for their social media strategies. Each week, we interview one of the very best in social media marketing from brands in every industry. You will learn the latest tactics on social media, the best tools to use, the smartest workflows, and the best goal-setting advice. It is our hope that each episode you’ll find one or two gems to use with your social media marketing!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.