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Thanks to the Instagram algorithm that was implemented in 2016, users see 90 percent of the posts from their friends and family, compared to only 50 percent before the Instagram feed algorithm was introduced. This year, Instagram shared the six key ranking factors publicly. Now that we know these factors, mastering the infamous algorithm has become more manageable.

Included below are a few tips to help you better engage with your audiences and make sure your content is seen. These six main factors determine what users will see in their Instagram feed:

1) Interest

The algorithm predicts how interesting your followers will find your post and ranks it in others’ feed based on this standard.

Tip: Conduct a social media audit and look at your business’ Instagram posts from the past six months. Which posts have had the best engagement? Identify the top 10 to determine key themes and trends. Recognize which content has performed best and replicate it in creative ways to better engage.

2) Timeliness

The algorithm prioritizes 1-2-day old posts, which rank higher in Instagram feeds.

Tip: It still stands true, post when your followers are most active and post regularly. That way you are continually popping up in your followers’ feed!

3) Frequency 

How often someone opens the Instagram app, determines how many posts and which type of posts they will see. The algorithm shows the user the best posts since their last visit.

Tip: Be consistent with your followers and share content that you know they will find engaging, so you can encourage them to open up the app even more! Also, engage through Instagram Stories. With over 300 million daily active users, utilize the platform’s new features to stay relevant with your audiences. Although engagement in Insta Stories does not count towards your post ranking, it is a great way to interact and stay top of mind.

There are also three additional factors that play a role in your rankings:

4) Relationship

The algorithm prioritizes your posts the more you interact with others on the platform.

Tip: In order to gain or attain your follower’s interest, ask a simple question within your caption and have followers answer in the comment section. Hosting quick and easy to execute giveaway’s is another great way to build a relationship. It gets your product in the hands of others and is a fun and interactive way to engage with your followers!

5) Following

The less Instagram profiles people follow, the more likely they are able to see more content from feeds that they care about.

Tip: Here is another tough one to “control” but attaining an engaging community is helpful! Be sure to engage in conversation through comments, likes, and direct messages, and look at who has been utilizing your company hashtag each day. Checking these throughout the day will assure that you maintain an engaging feed.

By the way, do you have a company hashtag? If you don’t, create one now! Be sure that it is strategic, applicable and unique.    

6) Usage

Whether someone prefers to browse Instagram in short spurts or longer sessions may also affect what the algorithm is feeding them.

Tip: The Instagram algorithm is based on user habits and general public habits towards your account. Therefore, focus on keeping followers engaged with quality content!

Like anything, social engagement takes time, dedication and quality content. If you’d like social media strategy and content support, Seed would be happy to further discuss. You can give us a call at 404-996-4041 or shoot us an old-fashioned email at grow@seedatl.com. In the meantime, check us out on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn

We would also like to stress that like all media channels, Instagram and Facebook (same company) should have a paid sponsorship component. We can help budget, set-up, and manage paid social efforts as well.

 

Tips for Working with the Instagram Algorithm

We’ve all been there, working those late hours to get your presentation where you want it before your big account meeting, or creating concepts for new logos for a client. It’s a little scary but worth it.

As videos are becoming more important in storytelling for all aspects of content marketing, our Creative Director, Mark Sorensen, and Videographer, Caleb Hall produced a self-promo to flex our creative muscles and showcase what we can do with our in-house video capabilities… in a matter of 3 weeks! Featuring actors Phillip Covin and Kate Kovich, the short film has been shared by PR Week.

Watch the video here:

Working Late at Seed Factory


Having produced over 30 videos already in 2018, we’d like to share some thoughts on video strategy.
You can effectively add compelling video to your marketing mix if you have a solid strategy for how it will be used. Video plays exceptionally well for both B2B and B2C audiences, opening up opportunities for nearly any industry to entertain and educate with video content. At a high-level, we believe B2C audiences want to be entertained with video and B2B audiences want to be educated (without being bored to death).

We always think of video in three different marketing buckets:

Video as Online Advertising
Many companies spend money on videos and don’t think about allocating a digital media budget to making sure it gets enough eyes on it. Paid media can be put toward targeted YouTube audiences, banner ads, paid social promotion, or even paid industry newsletters for B2B. With a paid media budget, you can either play the video natively or drive people to a landing page where the full video and other videos in a campaign live. Owned brand channels can also act as an “advertising” platform without a media budget. Also, remember to use these video opportunities to shoot photography for other ad or marketing assets.
(If you have the budget for A-level TV commercials, that opens up more considerations and opportunities which we can discuss with you.)

Video for PR
Since even the most traditional industries consume their information digitally, the magazines that we constantly pitch for our clients need digital content, like video, as badly as they need print stories. This creates the perfect opportunity for traditional PR initiatives. Where standard editorial concepts might fall flat or get lost in a sea of pitches, video provides a valuable and ready-to-go asset for editors, keeping their web content dynamic and engaging. Video should be pitched to editors in the same way as customer testimonials, trend stories and educational content.

Just remember, the more of an industry benefit or tip that it might provide, the better chance it has to be covered by magazines and bloggers. Don’t be too self-serving.

Video for Social
Social media is a beast that needs to be fed eye-catching content, but it lets you connect with your audience like never before. Luckily, video catches attention better than anything else on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. The possibilities are wide open for what kind of videos your brand can create for social. Depending on your brand and target audience, social creates an opportunity to have some fun with playful or humorous videos. Keep in mind that short videos work best for the attention-deficit world of Instagram. Longer forms of video will play better on Facebook and LinkedIn, but better yet, create a teaser video “trailer” for videos that are over 2 minutes and drive your audience to YouTube or your website for the full video.

Types of video you should consider producing:
Behind-The-Scenes (BTS)
Customer Testimonial
Manufacturing Plant
Good Cause Initiative
Case Study
Brand Lifestyle
How-To or Education
Product as Hero
Highlight a Promotion
Stop-Motion Animation
Social – Unlimited Possibilities
TV Commercials (we’ll take a deeper dive into these in another email)

Seed Factory not only concepts, storyboards and produces videos in-house and through production companies, but we can help with the strategy of how to use it best for your brand to meet specific business and marketing objectives. Our Creative Director has worked with budgets ranging from $10k – $800k.

Video Marketing Ideas

While a lot of times on our blog we talk about the work we’re proud of, our amazing clients, and our thoughts on the communication industry, we also think it’s important to share some behind-the-scenes insight into our agency culture and processes. Our small yet scrappy team is filled with creative individuals who all bring their diverse background and experiences to the drawing table. Check out some of the things that inspire them to create their best work:

Madison Bledsoe, Account Coordinator

When I write, I love listening to classical music. There’s so much variation in the genre, so I can pick out the exact mood of music that fits how I’m feeling that day. If I need something energizing, I put on Vivaldi. If I need to relax and focus, my go-to is Yiruma. My absolute favorite classical album, and the one I often default to, is called “Flowers From Froso Island” by the composer Wilhelm Peterson-Berger. It’s a single-piano album written entirely about an island off the coast of Sweden. Classical music is a perfect backdrop to creating excellent content because it’s intelligent, creative and it doesn’t have any words to distract you from what you’re trying to articulate!

Caleb Hall, Video and Design

In video production, inspiration can strike anywhere at anytime and must be retained until it can find its natural place to be unleashed. When on set, in terms of lighting and shooting, I’ll often have video essays on the brain. I also like to do research on other filmmakers and the decisions they’ve made and why they made them. This drives me to try and bring out the beauty in any location and shape and bend the light to create an interesting frame for the subject matter.

Once I’m in the editing room the inspiration is purely driven by the story, what story is being told and most importantly how it wants to be told. I begin to experiment and try different things to feel the natural rhythm and pace of the edit. After that I’ll bring in music and start experimenting with color. I’ll sometimes reference other color grades to get a direction of where I think the piece feels most natural versus how far I can push it. During every step of the process the experiment begins again, as I try different things and see what feels best for the piece and drives the story.

All decisions made must work in harmony to tell a compelling story and engage an audience. My main inspiration is the idea of telling that story.

David Kim, Senior Designer

I draw a lot of inspiration from the neighborhood we work in. I walk around the area for thirty minutes most days, which gets me away from the computer and exposes me to different people, colors and visuals that bring new ideas to my work.

Angie Maddox, Partner and PR Director

I am constantly inspired by being exposed to new clients, new challenges and new ways to think of solving a business case. When we started Seed Factory, we never wanted to be a niche agency that only focuses on one industry or category. We love to learn, inquire, explore and understand while challenging our way of thinking and approaching a situation. What we can take from other diverse experiences always gets us to a better place. One of the most fascinating and interesting parts of our time at Seed Factory is uncovering an insight or nugget that we hadn’t thought of before. A different way to approach a business challenge – whether it’s in the non-profit sector or the building products industry. My inspiration personally comes from asking questions, meeting new people, reading non-fiction, exploring and collaborating with different industry veterans. While marketing and channels have greatly evolved over the past two decades, the foundation of what drives someone to learn is still so important and inspirational to me.

Marcella Tabares, Associate Account Executive

Something that keeps my creative juices flowing is being able leave my desk and work from different locations in the office. I find ease in creating a client’s social media calendar at one of the office’s standing desks or sitting on one of our comfy couches when I need to read over a press release. Not only does it increase creativity, but it helps with productivity.

Mark Sorensen, Partner and Creative Director

To me, I don’t consciously take my creative inspiration from anywhere, but I do know that going through life with curiosity about everyday things and truly practicing my observational skills, you will subconsciously use what’s in your library of life learnings. I also know that routine is an enemy of creativity. Being on auto-pilot is not where original thoughts come from, and to me, creativity is simply about having original thoughts. Since I’ve been brought up as a “creative in advertising” it’s all about using creativity to solve problems. Often times the marketing problem or brand positioning is not new or unique, but if you can think of a new, creative way of saying or showing a solution, that’s a win and that’s the power of great creative. Often times I have no idea where my creative inspiration comes from, but you have to put in the time and effort. Even if I can’t consciously get to a creative solution while “I’m putting the time in”, I’ve been doing this long enough that I know my subconscious will solve it at some point in the future (Which is also why it can be hard to put a price and timeline on creativity).

Eddy Hodgson, Brand Strategist

The best way of inspiring creativity in myself is to draw off of the creativity of others. Fortunately for me, I’ve worked in advertising, so I’ve had lots of excellent choices readily available. But not everyone can walk a few feet away to a cubicle to chew the fat with a legendary copywriter or art director. No matter, because everyone does have access to podcasts. Yup. Podcasts. And there are few that I listen to for this very reason…to get me out of a creative glut.

My favorite of these is a podcast called Magic Lessons. In this series, author Elizabeth Gilbert interviews people about how they overcome the fears that are inherent in the creative process, calling up famous creatives to get their input and approach. Very inspirational. Similarly, Being Superhuman is a podcast that interviews people who have achieved ‘superhuman’ performance in their field and explores the strategies they use. It’s a reliable source of insight into the lives of people who live at extremes, providing me inspiration for developing ways to meet the creative challenges I may be facing. Finally , there’s the TED Radio Hour, which as its name suggests, are TED Talks repackaged into the radio format, with talks focusing on the emotions, insights, and discoveries that make us all human…very relevant stuff in my line of work. Listening to one or two episodes gets me out my own routine perspective and helps me realize how the things I look at in my work – and in my own life – can be connected.

Staff Highlight- Our Creative Inspirations

After six years in a beautiful office in west midtown Atlanta, we finally decided we had outgrown the space. We witnessed a lot of growth and change on the west side. We loved the walkability of our neighborhood. We enjoyed having Octane coffee a block away, the Atlanta Humane Society across the street, our favorite TV editing company a stroll away, and more restaurants than we could possibly ever eat lunch at.

Two weeks in, the move has been great. It’s a time to recharge and design inspiring new creative spaces for our team and clients. We’re enjoying new neighborhoods and getting the synapses firing differently in our brains. Change is good. Always. It makes you see and do things differently. Years ago I remember thinking, after four-plus years at BBDO, that if I had to drive in circles up the parking ramp one more time I was going to go insane. Change is good.

We are now in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood on the east side of Atlanta. We’re a block from the famous Virgina-Highland neighborhood, a few blocks from Inman Park, Little Five Points and Old Fourth Ward neighborhoods. We can Bird scoot, Segway or bicycle to a million things including the Beltline, and Ponce City Market. We’ve gone a little more upscale than our old neighborhood, but our team deserves the improved quality of work life and we’re excited for the next chapter at Seed Factory. We hope that you’ll come check us out when you’re looking for assistance with a new project, or need a retainer agency. We promise to take you somewhere delicious for lunch. And of course, whenever our interior is up to our standards, we’ll invite you to the open house. Until then, enjoy our Agency Moving video. We had fun making it.

Atlanta: Moving Our Agency East

If you Google “content strategy”, you’ll find more than 23,000 page results. It’s undoubtedly been a hot topic over the past few years and if you have a marketing role, you are probably asked continuously about the best content strategy and approach. For PR professionals, content strategy isn’t new, but instead another term for planning and executing a brand’s narrative.

There’s a lot of research and compelling reasons why content marketing is essential to the success of your marketing efforts. These benefits should help you understand the importance of a strong content marketing strategy, especially as you plan for 2018.

  1. Build Once, Use Multiple Times: As internal teams get stretched and budgets tighten, marketing departments are constantly being asked to do more with less resources. With a strong content marketing strategy, you can build content that will not only live on your main point of communications (your website as an example), but can also be cross-promoted through other key marketing channels. For example, our kayak manufacturing client recently introduced a product that was cross-promoted using multiple touch points, utilizing consistent visuals and messaging: PR to secure editorial coverage, digital advertising, search, social, print and email marketing.Vibe Kayak Yellowfin 130T Content
  2. Ensures Consistency: By simply going through the motions of content planning, you’ll begin to ensure consistency in your communications. What I’ve found helpful is when my agency develops a master calendar that highlights the content strategy, social calendar, product introductions, and initiatives all in one central location. For this master document, we also highlight the overarching message and proof points that ensure consistency in these marketing activations.
  3. Helps with SEO: A strong content marketing strategy goes hand in hand with improving SEO. After a company has developed positioning that defines what the brand stands for, what its unique differentiator is, what it wants to be known for and what its key messages are, a similar process can be taken with SEO. Identify the language (keywords, or more appropriately key phrases) that people use to research your company’s category, industry, products, services or competitors and then write content relevant to these. The more often you use these keywords on your site, the higher it’ll rank for SEO purposes. Google ranks sites with consistent keywords and fresh keyword content as more relevant sites for their users. Start mapping out your content strategy for the year and drive people to your site, based on these keywords.
  4. Keeps the Discussion Going: Similar to the monthly approach we take to build content calendars for our brands’ social channels, we also broadly map times of year for specific topics to develop content around. If you manage a consumer brand, you can use seasonal moments in time to connect with audiences in relevant ways. If your company is B2B focused, map out the industry and customer events you’ll be participating in and drive the narrative to time with these key events. Remember, the content should be relevant and timely to engage consumers in a way that is appropriate to their current interests or needs.
  5. Helps Target your Audience: In any given week, your team may be talking to a host of different stakeholders and influencers for your organization or brand. From customers to partners to media influencers and brand ambassadors, it’s important to tailor the message and tone to the appropriate person. A targeted content marketing strategy will help that approach and ensure you aren’t leaving anyone out of the conversations.
  6. Builds Credibility and Influence: This may seem like the most obvious reason but it’s worth stating. When a company and/or brand shares their POV on applicable and timely topics, the larger following and credibility they will build. For B2B, focusing on quality, educationally driven content will help position your company as a thought leader or expert in the respective category. For example, we work with the largest ladder manufacturer in the world and we partner with them to consistently build a narrative around our agreed upon key message. From contributed articles to in-person training sessions to national initiatives, this key message is at the beginning, middle and end of every discussion. What makes us successful is the credibility this company has built in their industry and how they keep the conversation going. It’s become an ownable platform they want to be known for and that key attribute comes through in the messaging for the majority of their news coverage.

 

Six Benefits of a Content Marketing Strategy

You’ve probably heard that YouTube and Facebook are selling six second ads with FOX, the first TV network to experiment with the format. So how should marketers think about this new format that will gain steam in 2018? For one, don’t think of it as new. Anyone remember print advertising? Anybody remember Vine? Yep, the platform that Twitter bought and shortly thereafter closed, is now the “new” format for advertisers to embrace. How long do brands have to catch the average consumer’s attention in print? Two seconds. Most of the media buys on YouTube allow users to skip your ad after five seconds of watching. And have you looked at your data analytics on those ads? Not many people continue to watch your commercial in its entirety unless it’s very relevant to the viewer. Maybe YouTube is actually giving advertisers an additional second with this format. Now you get six seconds instead of five! Hopefully the format will force advertisers to again be disciplined about messaging, ideas and storytelling.

Here are some ideas to help marketers think about the new six-second format:

  1. Focus on a moment, not an entire story. There’s no time for a traditional set up, arc and resolution in six seconds. Show how your brand helps or relates to a situation, leaving viewers with a strong connection to a relatable moment.
  2. Think of this new format as you would a great print ad. With only six seconds it can almost be thought of as print with motion. Of course, like with print, more value will need to be put on the simple, pure IDEA for it to get etched into consumers’ minds. If you think about some of the best visual-solution print ads or strong headlines coupled with amazing visuals, it tells a story quickly, succinctly and memorably. On average, consumers spend 2-3 seconds with print ads and decide if the ad is relevant to them within 0.3 seconds. Maybe smaller, independent agencies that were traditionally great at print ads, will shine with the new format.
  3. Create a Brief specifically for this format. Or at least give it clear definition within a campaign brief. It’s not a :30 that’s cut down to a :15, that is now cut down to a :06. That won’t work here. The Creative Brief needs to clearly state the goal and mandatories of a six-second commercial. It needs to have real expectations on what can be communicated. It needs to be signed off on by all internal decision makers, otherwise you will do yourself, the brand and the agency a disservice.
  4. Cut the clutter. The six-second commercial will be great for pure branding and for marketing messages related to a certain event or day of the year. Again like all great advertising, it will need to have one simple message and can’t be cluttered with too many mandatories, explanations or lengthy CTAs.
  5. Contrary to what I say in point one, if you want to tell an entire story in six seconds you should consider using time lapse, hyper-lapse, stop-motion, jump-cuts and fast/slow speed video techniques to tell your story. Many brands are already successfully using these techniques in social media and these formats may not be that different from your social content efforts if you already take these storytelling approaches.
  6. Of course, this format will be best used as part of a larger campaign. It will have definite messaging limitations and it should probably have budgets more on par with social content or print ad creation. In fact, as agencies and marketers begin to experiment with the format, you may realize it aligns more with your social media or print concept efforts but that doesn’t mean the brief and approval process should be handed of to an in-house social media coordinator.
  7. If it doesn’t “give away” the idea, quickly show your logo at the opening of the video. Sony was brilliant with this on all of their Playstation commercials in the past. You can also consider as an option, watermarking your logo on a bottom corner of the video (like a station identifier), although we prefer the opening blip instead of a continued “distraction”. We also believe the blip creates better brand recall with viewers.

Have fun, think differently and be disciplined in your approach. It will take the expertise of creative agencies and disciplined marketers to do it well, but it’s exciting to think about and get ahead of the curve as it may become a part of your media plan in the near future.

Tips for creating six-second commercials

We don’t know of many U.S. advertising and creative agencies that have Highlight Reels. In the U.K. they call them “Showreels”, but I don’t think that’s a familiar term on this side of the pond. Production and post production companies have been using highlight reels for as long as I can remember, but ad agencies seem to go the traditional route with Case Study videos. Sure those work. A case study video gives a potential client all the facts, figures, insights and behind the scenes thinking that factored into the end product. But who wants traditional? Who wants a PBS documentary when they can get an MTV music video!? Well, not Seed Factory. That’s why we just finished a highlight reel that’s a pretty fun watch. No, it doesn’t let you understand our big ideas, strategy and planning capabilities in-depth, but it gives you a feel for what we can produce for you. Maybe we need to start cranking out some traditional case study videos next, but until then let’s go with the rock n’ roll.

Seed Factory Highlight Reel 2017

It might be a total rebrand or it might be considered more of a brand update or refresh. Either way, it’s probably one of the most significant marketing challenges the company will face in a given year and it’s important to get it right. Here are a few tips from our experiences.

  1. Get decision makers involved early and often. This might be the most obvious one, but it’s the most crucial. For example, if we talk with a potential client and a C-level executive isn’t a part of the process in some form–from giving us time for discovery interviews to signing off on direction and potential positioning statements, we’ll pass on the assignment. This isn’t a process a company’s communications group should undertake in isolation.
  2. Define and understand all your potential audiences. What do they like about the current state of the brand? What do they dislike? If it was their brand what would they do differently? What’s sacred cow that the brand shouldn’t touch without audiences taking their loyalty elsewhere? (New Coke anyone? O.com instead of Overstock.com…)
  3. Test multiple directions with your audiences. Internally, you may have drank some of the kool-aide, and the agency may have blinders on from being the “makers” and knowing what the message or creative is supposed to communicate. Most importantly, you need to know if the world is going to see or interpret something completely unexpected, which may not be the intended message at all. Consumer’s can see things a brand and agency may miss. Some audiences may even see something bad, funny or negative in a brand refresh (Airbnb logo anyone?)
  4. Rebranding isn’t just a new logo and tagline, it’s defining your authentic tone and voice. It’s finding a positioning that will resonate with your current audiences and allow for future growth.
  5. A brand is a living entity, therefore it needs updating and adjusting as sentiments and styles change. Going through a brand update and exercise is good to do at least once a decade, even if the adjustments end up seeming minor to you and your external audiences barely notice. The process will at least give you peace of mind that your brand currency is relevant and will (hopefully) continue to be, all other factors aside.
  6. If you partner with multiple agencies, be open to sharing the process with all of them. Not that you need feedback from other agencies, but everyone will need to work with the update and it’s important that they feel it has the legs to work how they need it to.

 

At Seed Factory, we consider ourselves an advertising and PR agency that often starts the process with a branding exercise. We understand brand positioning and real-world applications of branding across advertising, PR, social, digital and of course, design. Let us have a holistic conversation about your brand’s needs even if it’s a small project. Sometimes the “refresh” comes from a website update to keep it current with the ever-changing digital landscape. Take a look at the largest two rebrands we have done: CDC Foundation and Navicent Health

Rebranding, or Brand Refresh, Here Are Some Tips to Consider

When people think about the Outdoor Sports Industry and which cities and states it thrives in, they usually don’t think of Georgia. What comes to your mind? California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon? Probably. But did you know that Georgia is only behind California, Florida and New York for outdoor recreation consumer spending? From what we can gather, that stat includes the Bicycling Industry, Boating Industry and Motorcycle industry, but not hunting, fishing or wildlife.

So perhaps if you’re a Marketing Director looking for an agency to help grow your brand, the fact that we’re located in Atlanta might be better than you think. In fact, we have a lot of great outdoor companies already based here, including Vibe Kayaks (a current client) and past clients — Wahoo Fitness, Olympia Outdoors and BlueWater Ropes. Then there are many others like Mizuno, Tifosi, Triumph Motorcycles, Yamaha Boats, Thomson Bikes and many others all based in Georgia. Nearby in TN, we have American Bicycle Group (Litespeed) and a few others.

Other than our smart thinking and great creative, what are some advantages of working with an Atlanta advertising, PR, design and social firm like Seed Factory? How about great locations for photography and video shoots. Or if you want to stretch the legs after a long client-agency collaboration, we have road bicycling on the Silver Comet trail and mountain biking at Sope Creek 20 minutes from our office. Go 45 minutes out of town and we have a couple of fantastic lakes for water sports, then there’s the Appalachian trail for hiking which is just 1-2 hours north of Atlanta, and the diverse outdoor town of Chattanooga for a great variety of scenic location backdrops and great climbing. As a bonus, the white sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean are a short (5 hour) drive away for SUP, boating and other water sports photography and filming. There is also some of the best mountain biking in the country 3.5 hours away in Brevard, NC with Pisgah Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Bottom line is, we’re passionate about the Outdoor Industry and the Bicycling Industry. Maybe you should give our agency a visit and then take a ride, climb or paddle with us.

Outdoor Industry in Atlanta? Absolutely.