At Step Out Buffalo our marketing motto is “evolve or die”. We’re constantly reading up on new innovations in marketing, trying new trends, evaluating (and reevaluating) what’s working/not working, looking inward to what we enjoy as consumers, analyzing data, and experimenting constantly in order to make sure our content and our marketing strategies are always fun and never feel stale.
In the past year alone we adjusted our marketing and content strategies at least four times (thoughts and prayers to our marketing team) to keep up with the evolving landscape. As a result we have significantly increased our brand reach, impressions, followers, and overall engagement.
Looking back at 2022 Team SOB had a lot of great ideas…and some that didn’t quite pan out. Of all the things we experimented with, these are the 6 that worked best for us – and that we’ll continue to lean on in 2023.
Our main takeaways from 2022:
- Vertical Video
- Hopping On Trends
- Thinking Like A Consumer
- Good Writing
- Listen To Your Audience
- Spend A Few Bucks, Gain A Lot Of Followers
1) Vertical Video
Vertical video was by far 2022’s stand out star. Inspired (or jealous of?) TikTok’s massive success, every social media platform was quick to pivot to prioritizing vertical videos this year, specifically short-form ones.
In the third quarter of 2022 we shifted our entire marketing strategy to short-form vertical video-forward. Not only did we get rid of virtually all “static” posts on our social media, we also launched two new verticals, Step Out Buffalo Things To Do and Step Out Buffalo Eat & Drink, which are entirely short-form vertical video-based and we began incorporating vertical videos into our website content – something we’ll be doing much more of in 2023.
Depending on your business or size of your company, you might be thinking “oh, **** no” – but we urge you to think outside your comfort zone for one minute. Instead of overthinking the who-what-where-when-why of switching to a video-forward strategy, start small by taking a video instead of a photo of something (new dish, item in your store, service you’re providing, etc.), post that to Reels or TikTok with music and voila, you’ve done it. Once you’re comfortable with that you can dabble in adding text overlays and using other features – but getting a hang of the basics Is a great start!
As part of our advertising campaigns at Step Out Buffalo we use vertical short-form video to create Instagram Stories and Reels/TikToks to showcase our advertisers in fun, unique ways. The highly engaging, shareable, native content takes the cake for the most popular storytelling tool in our tool belt this year, hands down. Check out our Product Guides to learn more about these and our other advertising offerings!
2) Hopping On Trends
Posting vertical videos is just the beginning – but if you want videos that have maximum success you have to jump on trends in one way or another. This doesn’t mean recreating any and every trend video you see. Jumping on a trend can mean shooting certain angles or transitions, using a sound or song that’s super popular, applying a “joke” to your business or even joining the conversation about a current event.
While some trends only last a few days, others – like the “POV” angle – stand the test of time (marketing time, that is). We saw the most success in our videos that jumped on trends in a timely manner, used styles and sounds we saw all over our own TikTok feeds, and quickly put out relevant content without overthinking it – like this video of our friend’s husband at a Bills game that we posted while the Bills game was taking place.
@stepoutbuffalo Chivalry, Bills Mafia style. 🎥: @vintage_remix_716 . . . . . . . . . #buffalo #bills #billsmafia #buffalobills #gobills #letsgobuffalo #circlethewagons #billsmafia🏈 #buffalony #nfl ♬ Twerkulator – City Girls
Another easy “trend” to hop on? Seasons, holidays, and weather! These can be as simple as showing how your business is decorated for the holidays or posting about a crazy weather trend, like our Creative Marketing Director did during a work from home day in the November snow storm.
In 2023 you’ll be seeing a lot more first-person perspective content from Team SOB, stay tuned!
3) Thinking Like A Consumer
When it comes to creating content, it’s key to do two things: look at your data to see what your followers like the most, and think of yourself as a consumer to realize what you like the most. Thinking like a consumer can help you understand more of what people are actually looking for in your content (along with that good ol’ data). While scrolling on your feeds for fun did you swipe past a video because the intro took too long? Were you confused while watching a video because they didn’t explain what was going on?
One of our favorite content-creation mottos this year was ironically derived from a popular trending song – “can we skip to the good part”. We found when watching both others’ and our own videos burying the lead was not the move, and made us tune out or swipe past content. We began leading with our best most attention-grabbing clips and saw an instant difference in our views and engagement, like in this video we made for our Eat & Drink account highlighting places to get apple cider donuts where we led with a very tasty looking snack.
At Step Out Buffalo we ensure this mindset is applied to all of our partner’s advertising campaigns as well in order to create content that *lands* with our audience. It’s a small step that earns big results in a highly competitive social landscape.
4) Good Writing
A big takeaway from our content experiments in 2022 was that writing, in all forms, is very important. Good visuals typically aren’t enough to coast on – people want to read! A few places we upped our writing game:
- In our captions – Providing more information about what was featured in the videos was a huge shift from the short caption trend of yesteryear. Now with video once people are hooked they want to learn more and take action, and being that source of information positions you as a valuable, helpful resource.
- In our hooks – With so much content flooding the internet how do you stand out? By hooking viewers in the first 1 second. While you can do this with visuals, also writing a catchy hook on your video will ensure that people at least linger long enough to finish reading what you’ve written, and a good hook combined with good visuals is a surefire recipe for success.
- In our closed captions – Something interesting we learned in our research this year is that people, especially younger people, love to read and listen when it comes to consuming content. We incorporated voiceovers into the bulk of the videos on our vertical accounts in the latter part of the third quarter, and quickly realized without captions the great wealth of information we had added via sound was totally moot if someone didn’t have their sound on. Luckily both TikTok and Instagram Reels have autogenerated closed captions that transcribe voiceovers in videos into text, and quickly making sure these were turned on has made our content more accessible to all people while also helping us garner more views. Win-win.
5) Listen To Your Audience
Not only should looking at your data be a crucial part of your marketing and content creation strategies, so should listening to your audience!
There’s lots of ways you can tune in to what they’re truly looking for from your business. From making sure to read (and respond!) to your DMs and comments to checking up on the reviews that customers leave around the internet, both good and bad feedback is the best way to help your business give the people what they want.
Another idea: Ask them! Whether its via a poll on your story or a post on your page, asking them what they want from you – content-wise and in terms of products and services – helps you put your time and effort in places that will actually pay off.
A fun concept we’ve been exploring is asking for suggestions on videos to create and then creating them. On TikTok and Instagram you can easily “reply” to comments by making videos where it places the original comment as a sticker on the new content. This does a few things: makes whoever commented feel valued, gives you a great idea of content to share, and encourages others to interact with your content – which we all know is how the algorithm gets triggered.
6) Spend A Few Bucks, Reach Business Goals
At Step Out Buffalo 97% of our marketing and distribution budget is spent on Facebook. But when we created our new vertical brands – which are exclusively on Instagram – and wanted to grow them, we began boosting our best-performing Reels in order to reach a wider audience. The extended reach allowed the accounts to grow to over 5,000 followers each in less than 4 months just by spending $10-50 on average per video boosted for 5 days at a time.
Why did this work? By looking at the content that performed the best organically we were able to strategically select content to boost that would give us the highest return on investment. Then we selected loose audience parameters similar to our existing demographic of followers (aka people who like our content enough to follow us), which was males and females within 25 miles of Buffalo ages 25-44. We added “follow us for more” as the call to action at the end of each video we created, threw some money towards reaching a larger audience, and voila! The followers grew.
It’s important to note – this is not paying for followers! It’s paying for expanded reach of really good content that resonates with our target audience organically in order to reach more people with similar demos so that they find out about us (or in this case our newly launched accounts). It’s this crazy little thing called advertising, and it works. It’s an investment worth making.
Want to learn more about how Step Out Buffalo can promote your business through our advertising program? Tap here!