There is always so much happening in the social media marketing industry that it can be a challenge to keep up with all of the latest news and insights.

From constant changes to the Facebook and Instagram algorithms to the silent growth of LinkedIn and the launch of Instagram’s IGTV, marketers and businesses have their hands full.

That’s why we’ve created what we call “Minisodes” on the Buffer Podcast – The Science of Social Media. Minisodes are 10-15 minute shows where we cover all of the latest social media marketing news that you need to know as a business. Join 16,000+ fellow marketers and business owners each week to stay up to date on the latest news, trends, and insights!

This week, we’re covering a massive study that analyzed more than 750,000 Facebook ads, how one eCommerce brand generated thousands of emails and followers, our favorite new social media tools, and more.

Let’s dive in!

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

Buffer Podcast Episode 104 Social Media News

What you’ll learn in this episode

What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation between Hailley Griffis and Brian Peters. Short on time? No worries! Here are four quick takeaways:

How social media contests can help give your brand the extra boost you’re looking for
The top 5 actionable advertising takeaways from studying more than 750K Facebook ads
New social media tools that you can try today in 2018

Must-read resources from the episode

How One eCommerce Company Generated More Than 41K emails and 10K Social Media Followers – Viper
Results and Insights from Studying More Than 75,000 Facebook Ads – AdEspresso
26 Tools and Apps for Social Media Marketers – Social Media Examiner

How to sell on Instagram [complete podcast transcript]

Brian: Hi everyone! I’m Brian Peters and this is The Science of Social Media, a podcast by Buffer. Your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and learning.

Hailley: Welcome to episode #104! I’m Hailley Griffis and today we’ve got a jam-packed show lined up for you. Really excited for this one. Lots of great articles published in the marketing industry this week and we’re sharing the most important takeaways from all of those.

Brian:  From Facebook Ads, to generating emails and social media followers, to our favorite social media tools on the market, this is one you won’t want to miss.

Let’s kick off the show!

Hailley: One marketing strategy that seems to thrive in so many different industries and is resilient to constant user behavior changes is…. email.

So naturally, one of the best ways to reach your target customers or audience on a consistent basis is to grow your email lists. Which is, of course, easier said than done.

However, we stumbled across a case study from Viper where they featured an eCommerce business that was able to generate more than 41,000 email signups and 10,000 social media followers in one campaign.

Brian: Yes and with a headline like that, how could we not read it!

In diving into this article I thought, alright here we go with another one of those spammy marketing tactics, but I was pleasantly surprise to to find that the case study and tactics used by this eCommerce company were actually very interesting.

And this is something we really haven’t talked about a lot here on the show and that’s contests as a marketing strategy.

Hailley: You’re right, we really haven’t talked about contest too much on the show.

One thing that I thought was interesting is that if you break down the available marketing channels out there for businesses, there’s really only so many things you can do. Content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing.

But there’s a fourth bucket that they mention and that’s growth and viral marketing, which contests would fit under.

Brian: Yeah and growth or viral marketing I think gets a bad rap because we’ve all had some sort of poor experience with a marketing campaign.

But when done right (and ethically), virality can really sky rocket a specific campaign across the board.

So this specific case study focused on the eCommerce company called Brevite. Which is a backpack company created specifically for photographers.

Hailley: What Brevite did is offered two prizes for folks who entered their contest.

The first prize was a Mavic Drone and the second prize was a backpack for photographers.

And we should stop for a second here to talk about the importance of quality prizes when you’re setting up a contest.

Brian: 100% agreed. Always remember, the closer aligned your prize is your target markets’ interests the more successful your contest will be.

You want people to really want to win your prize so they are willing to share the contest, refer others and complete tasks that the brand sets.

Hailley: In this case, a Mavic Drone and backpack are pretty incredible prizes.

Anyways, the eCommerce company asked for an email address, a follow on social media, and the contestants had to share the content – meaning a Retweet, Facebook share, re-gram, etc)

Which actually seems like a lot, particularly for a smaller eCommerce store!

Brian: It feels like a lot for any business!

But I think that goes back to offering a quality prize. So overall, Brevite invested about $3k in the contest for prizes and ads and what not and ran the campaign for 15 days.

In the end, they saw a sign up conversion rate of about ~65%. Which is just great stuff.

Hailley: Yeah, I’d love to have a 65% conversion rate on anything!

After the contest and scrubbing for quality, their email list went from 1,700 to 37,000, which is about 8 cents per email address. And they gained more than 10,000 followers across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Brian: And of course we won’t leave you hanging. Here are the exact steps they took to promote the content.

Like we said before, they selected a really good prize that aligned with their target audience – and they didn’t go cheap.

They shared the contest constantly on social channels & in select social media groups.

They added the contest to their website – so each relevant landing page had this contest prominently featured – which I think was crucial to the success of this.

Hailley: Agreed – that led to hundreds of people seeing the content.

They emailed their list multiple times to remind them of the contest. So for example, they sent an email update on the contest at launch, in the first week showing the top 5 entrants so far, halfway through, then again if they added any bonuses or extras, and so on.

Then when the contest was almost over they sent out emails to create a sense of urgency with 48 hour and 24 hours to go. They saw some great number boosts from that.

Brian: Yeah and then number 5 is that they spent a lot of time and effort crafting great images for the contest to share across networks.

That helped 1) make the contest seem legit and then 2) make contestants feel good about sharing it with their friends.

Some other cool things I thought they did were get a few photographers that they knew to share the contest as sort of a mini influencer strategy. They also ran some social media ads on Facebook and Instagram targeted at photographers.

All really, really strategic and thoughtful promotion of what was a super successful contest.

Hailley: Speaking of a topic that is a bit more general marketing for business focused, rather than just social media, we actually had the chance to catch up with team behind the podcast

They just launched their fifth season where they spent more than three months chatting with and profiling three super successful entrepreneurs.

So if you’re looking for a stellar podcast with some great insights from entrepreneurs that have been through a lot of what we talk about on this show, definitely check out

Brian: I actually just had a chance to check out a few episodes from the new season and was really impressed with how much solid information they get into each episode.

You’ll get the real, first-hand story behind how successful products are built. And the cool thing it they don’t just share the ups, they also talk about business struggles, personal struggles and everything in-between.

Anyways, just a little love for some people doing great things in podcasting.

Hailley: Next up is an interesting study from our friends over at AdEspresso.

In 2015, they analyzed the text from 37,259 Facebook ads from to find out exactly how the best Facebook advertisers are piecing together their ads.

Today – nearly three years later — the study has grown more than 20 times bigger. Today, we’re breaking down the findings from 752,626 ads!

And while some of their original results have remained the same, a LOT has changed.

Brian: Cutting to the chase. Their top 5 findings are as follows:

The length of ad text has increased.
Link descriptions are shorter.
There has been an uptick in brands that link to specific landing pages.
The top five CTAs in 2018 and how brands’ usage of CTAs have increased.
Companies are using a greater variety of Ad types.

Hailley: So for the first one – the length of ad text increasing. What they found was that (and I quote):

A clear, no-nonsense, five-word headline, paired with 20 words of ad text is the recipe for a perfect Sponsored Post.

Yup, there is a science to it. 5 word headline and 20 words of actual ad text or caption as you might know it

Brian: Looking at their second finding that link descriptions have become shorter.

In 2015, the average link description was a whopping 18 words. Three years later, it has been whittled down to 13.

This proves that less is really more when describing your articles. Try to create a sense of urgency in as few of words as possible and be super clear about your offer.

Hailley: Their 3rd finding is that more ads are using specific landing pages is a big one not only for Facebook but for other channels like Instagram and Google Adwords as well.

Including landing pages makes a post more direct and removes the effort of additional research for the viewer.

Brian: Yeah, it’s super frustrating to click on an ad and be led to a generic landing page. It’s a really easy fix for businesses as well.

Hailley: Their fourth finding is a really actionable one, which I love. It’s that the top 5 CTAs are: Learn More, None (so no button), Shop Now, Sign Up, Book Travel.

Brian: So what this one is referring to are the pre-populated buttons that you can choose with each Facebook.

And Facebook created these because choosing the perfect CTA is more difficult than you’d imagine, which is a major reason why this category has seen so many changes over the years.

Marketers have experimented with several different kinds of CTAs (including none at all). At the same time, Facebook constantly rolls out new options to test.

Hailley: What AdEspresso recommends here is to venture out from the generic ones we listed above and try something new.

Facebook also offers CTAs like:

Listen Now
Get Directions
Donate Now
and Send Message
As we always say, you won’t know what works unless you experiment.

Brian: Last but not least, they found that companies are using a greater variety of ad types.

Links and photos still dominate the advertising types, but video ads have soared in popularity.

Of course, this means an opportunity in video ads since their still the minority. When it comes to video ads, many pros suggest to put all of the good stuff into the first 5–10 seconds, work in primary colors (red, blue, yellow), and incorporate scrolling text.

Hailley: Alright , before you go, we’re just over half way through 2018 and so we thought we’d share some awesome social media tools that we’ve come across since our last episode on social tools way back in episode #88.

We’ll go quick fire style on this one and then let you go check them out for yourself.

And Brian, I thought it would be fun to go back and forth and we’ll each name 1 tool plus a quick description. We can even make this a regular segment on our show!

Brian: Love it. Alright I’ll go first!

My first tool is called Handlescout.

Handlescout regularly checks Twitter username availability and notifies you by email when a desired handle becomes available.

Hailley: That sounds awesome. Alright mine is the new Grammarly Keyboard

With Grammarly Keyboard, you can add a native keyboard to your smartphone that helps you check spelling and grammar while you’re on the go.

Brian: Such a good one. I’m going to check that out right after this.

Alright my next one is called SparkScore a new tool from Rand Fishkin’s new company.

SparkScore determines the influence of a Twitter account using a broad range of metrics, like the average engagement with each tweet.

Hailley: So good. What’s your score, Brian, do you know?

Brian: 19.

Hailley: That was quick.

Brian: I just ran it as you were saying your last tool! What’s your score Hailley?

Hailley: 24. I tried it yesterday. Alright, all of our listeners, go check your score now and see if you can beat me or Brian!

My last tool is Let’s Enhance.

Let’s Enhance is a free online tool that scales images up to 4x without visibly degrading the image quality. Which I’ve definitely experienced before!

Brian: Nice – love it!

Thank you for tuning in to the Science of Social Media today. The show notes for this episode are available in either iTunes, Soundcloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll include links to all of the resources we covered into today’s show.

If you ever want to get in touch with me or Hailley, we’re always here for your on social media using the hashtag #bufferpodcast. You can also say hi to us anytime and [email protected]

Hailley: As always, thank you so much for your iTunes reviews! It’s so awesome to read through all your kind comments there – and we actually do read through all of them so thank you.

Don’t miss next week’s episode where we talk about old school social media tactics that still work!

Until next Monday, everyone!

How to say hello to us

We would all love to say hello to you on social media – especially Twitter!

Hailley on Twitter and Hailley’s Website
Brian on Twitter and Brian’s Website

Thanks for listening! Feel free to connect with our team at Buffer on TwitterBuffer on Facebook, our Podcast homepage, 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 Science of Social Media podcast

The Science of Social Media is your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and inspiration. Every Monday (and sometimes more) we share the most cutting-edge social media marketing strategies from brands and influencers in every industry. If you’re a social media team of one, business owner, marketer, or someone simply interested in social media marketing, you’re sure to find something useful in each and every episode.  It’s our hope that you’ll join our 16,000+ weekly iTunes listeners and rock your social media channels as a result!

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.

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