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How To Make an Instagram Reels Cover That Pops [Templates]

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Looking to create an Instagram Reels cover that really pops? You’re in the right place! Crafting the perfect cover for your Reel is essential to drawing in viewers and keeping them engaged with your content. Not only will a great cover help your Reels stand out, but it will also give your followers an idea of what to expect from your videos.

The best part? You don’t need to be a professional designer to create an amazing Instagram Reels cover. Let’s explore how to change your Instagram Reel covers, some templates to get you started, and how to make sure your covers look great on your feed.

Bonus: Download the free 10-Day Reels Challenge, a daily workbook of creative prompts that will help you get started with Instagram Reels, track your growth, and see results across your entire Instagram profile.

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How to add an Instagram Reels cover

By default, Instagram will display the first frame of your Reel as your cover image. But, if you plan on sharing your Reels on your Instagram profile grid, you’ll want to add a cover that’s eye-catching and relevant to the video. Plus, something that fits into the overall vibe of your profile.

To choose a cover image for a new Instagram Reel:

1. Tap on the + sign and choose Reel to begin creating.

create new reel on instagram

2. Select the video you want to upload or record a new one.

new instagram reel video in creator

3. Add audio, effects, and filters as desired.

filters and effects in instagram reels builder

4. When you’re ready to add a cover, tap on the Edit cover button, shown in the preview of your new Reel.

edit cover button shown in instagram reel upload

5. Choose the image you want to use as your cover. You can use an existing still from your Reel or select a custom Instagram Reel cover from your camera roll.

still frame and custom cover photo options shown in instagram reel upload

6. Tap on Done when finished to upload your Reel.

To edit the cover photo of an existing Reel:

1. Choose the Reel you want to edit from your profile. Then, click the three dots in the top right corner of the Reel and click Edit.

edit existing instagram reel cover image

See also  Social Media Marketing Tools: The Complete 2022 Guide

2. Select the Cover button shown on the preview of your Reel.edit cover button on existing instagram reel

3. Here, you can choose to use an existing still from your Reel or select a new Instagram reel cover from your camera roll.

options for choosing still frame cover for instagram reel or custom cover

4. Tap on Done twice and review the Reel on your Instagram feed.

Be sure to experiment with different cover photos until you find the perfect one for your Reel and feed.

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How do you make an Instagram reel cover?

Try creating a custom reel cover photo to add a little personality to your Instagram Reels. Custom Reel cover photos show your audience that you’re creative and willing to put in the extra effort to make your content stand out.

modernmillie instagram feed showing custom instagram reel covers

If you want to design your own Instagram Reel cover, you can use a template (like the ones we made – found below) or create one from scratch.

Canva is a great option for creating custom Instagram Reel covers. With Canva, you can select from a variety of templates or create your own design. You can also use tools like Adobe Express, Storyluxe, or Easil to create your own Reel covers.

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If you need help designing your Instagram Reels themselves, check out these handy Reel templates to get started.

When creating a custom Instagram Reel cover, be sure to consider the following:

  • Your cover photo should represent your brand, personality, and the content of your Reel.
  • Use bright colors and bold fonts to make your cover photo stand out.
  • If using text in your cover photo, use a legible font and make it large enough to be easily seen.
  • Avoid using too much text or complex graphics.

Make sure you use high-quality images and video in your Instagram Reel cover photo. Remember, this is the first thing people will see when they come across your Reel, so you want to make a good impression.

hootsuite instagram feed showing custom instagram reel covers

See also  Instagram Analytics Explained (Plus 5 Tools for 2023)

Instagram Reels cover sizes and dimensions

All Instagram Reels are shown in a 9:16 aspect ratio (or 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels). Instagram Reel cover photos, on the other hand, will vary depending on how they’re being viewed.

  • In your profile grid, Reel cover photos will be cropped to 1:1
  • On the main Instagram feed, or in someone else’s profile, your Reel cover photo will be 4:5
  • On the dedicated Instagram Reels tab, your cover photo will be shown in full 9:16

This means that you’ll need to design your cover photo accordingly, keeping in mind that it will be cropped in different ways depending on where it’s shown.

instagram reel cover shown in full aspect ratio

The main thing to remember is that your cover photo should be recognizable and attention-grabbing even when it’s cropped. Make sure the most important elements of your design are placed within the center of the image, where they won’t be cut off.

instagram reel cover shown on instagram feed

If this seems tricky, don’t sweat it. We’re sharing some pre-built templates below to make your Instagram Reels cover stand out.

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Free Instagram reels cover templates

Don’t feel like starting from scratch? We’ve created these handy Reels cover templates to help you design wow-worthy Instagram Reels.

Download our free Instagram Reels cover templates.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Click the Use template button to copy the templates to your personal Canva account.
  2. Choose from five professionally designed themes and swap in your content.
  3. That’s it! Download your custom cover and add it to your Reel.

Frequently asked questions about Instagram Reels covers

Can you put a cover on Instagram Reels?

Yes, you can add custom covers to your Instagram Reels or choose to show a still frame from your existing video. The benefit of using a custom Instagram Reel cover is that you can design it to match your brand. Custom covers also help build your brand’s overall look and feel on Instagram. Creating a cohesive design for your Reels covers can bring an added aesthetic edge to your Instagram profile.

The benefit of a still frame is that it gives direct insight into what your audience can expect from your Reel. Plus, you won’t have to spend time creating a custom cover.

See also  How To Search on TikTok for Just About Anything

Why did Instagram remove my Reel cover?

In some cases, Instagram may remove your Reel cover if it violates the platform’s guidelines. This could include using copyrighted material or images that are NSFW.

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If your Reel cover is removed, you’ll need to upload a new one that complies with Instagram’s guidelines. If you feel the removal was in error, you can also appeal the decision using the appeal form.

Do I need a Reel cover?

Yes, every Instagram Reel has a Reel cover. If you don’t choose one, Instagram will automatically select a thumbnail from your video. Keep in mind, Instagram picks at random. This means your cover could be a great shot or a not-so-great one.

Creating a Reel cover gives you complete control over how your video appears in the feed. And, since it’s the first thing people see, it’s worth taking the time to create a Reel cover that accurately reflects the content of your video.

How do I change my Reel cover after posting?

You can now change your Instagram Reel cover photo after posting. Simply navigate to your Reel, click on the three dots to edit, and select the Cover button. You’ll be prompted to choose an existing still frame or upload your cover image.

What size is the best Instagram reel cover size?

Your Instagram Reel cover will be shown in a 1:1 aspect ratio in your profile grid and 4:5 on the main feed. However, when someone is viewing your Reel on the dedicated Instagram Reels tab, they’ll see your cover photo in full 9:16.

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To make sure your Instagram Reel cover looks great no matter where it’s being viewed, we recommend using an image that’s 1080×1920 pixels and keeping any important details within the central 4:5 area.

Hootsuite makes it easy to plan, build, and schedule Instagram Reels from one simple dashboard. Try it for free today.

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TikTok SEO in 5 Steps: How To Make Sure Your Videos Show Up in Search

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What if I told you that TikTok SEO can help your content reach more people and even make your videos go viral?

If you’ve been sleeping on your social media SEO strategy, this blog is for you. We’ll walk you through all the juicy details about TikTok SEO specifically, how it works, and how you can optimize your video content to get the most out of it.

Stick with us, and you’ll be on the For You page in no time.

Bonus: Get a free TikTok Growth Checklist from famous TikTok creator Tiffy Chen that shows you how to gain 1.6 million followers with only 3 studio lights and iMovie.

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What is TikTok SEO?

TikTok SEO is the practice of optimizing your videos on TikTok to rank higher in search. Just as you would use keywords and analytics to optimize the content on your website, you can also use these tactics to help your TikTok videos show up in more search results–this includes results on TikTok, as well as Google.

But wait. TikTok isn’t a search engine, right? Maybe not technically, but it still has its own search bar, making SEO an important part of the platform. In fact, Google’s own data found that 40% of young people primarily use TikTok and Instagram for search.

And, although social media posts on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and the like were not indexed by Google in the past, they now show up in the SERPs. Fancy that!

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google search result for restaurants in vancouver showing tiktok videos

Your TikTok SEO strategy should include both SEO for Google and SEO for TikTok search. That way, you’re giving your content a fighting chance in all of the biggest online search arenas.

TikTok SEO ranking factors

To understand TikTok SEO, you first need to understand what TikTok looks for when ranking content. There are several core ranking factors for the TikTok algorithm. These are:

User interactions

User interactions can include anything from videos you’ve liked, videos you’ve hidden, videos you’ve added to your favorites, and videos you watch all the way to the end. TikTok takes note of all of this data and uses it to determine which videos to show you.

Video information

All of the information contained in a video can affect its ranking on TikTok. This includes captions, hashtags, sound effects, and music. TikTok looks for videos that contain relevant keywords in their titles and descriptions, as well as videos that cover trending topics.

Devices and account settings

These are settings TikTok uses to optimize performance. They include language preference, country setting (you may be more likely to see content from people in your own country), type of mobile device, and categories of interest you selected as a new user.

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Note that while account settings do factor into your TikTok SEO ranking, they receive a lower weight than video info and user interactions.

What’s not included?

You’ll be happy to hear that TikTok does not factor follower count into its SEO ranking algorithm (though, if you do want to get more followers, we have you covered). This means that if you create great content that speaks directly to your target audience, you have as much chance of landing on their For You page as the biggest TikTok stars.

This is what sets TikTok apart from other platforms like Instagram. And honestly? We’re here for it.

See also  Social Media in Government: Benefits, Challenges, and Tactics

Google SEO ranking factors

Anyone who knows anything about SEO knows that Google’s ranking factors aren’t exactly the most transparent topic. That aside, there are a couple of things we know for sure. And, *spoiler alert*, these ranking factors are also going to be a big part of your TikTok SEO tips.

Here’s what Google looks for when ranking search results.

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Keywords

These are the words and phrases that users type into a search engine when looking for answers. For example, someone looking for advice on keeping their hair healthy might search for “hair care.”

Expertise

Google doesn’t just give anyone the top search spot. To earn it, you have to be an authority on the topic.

How do they know you’re an authority? This part is a bit tricky. But, in essence, Google looks at how many other pages link to your page (this acts as a reference and shows what you’re saying is true) and how popular those pages are. This basically means a link from Apple is going to be worth way more than a link from your brother’s local pizza parlor. Sorry, Antonio.

The good news for TikTok’ers is that social media platforms (Instagram, TikTok, Facebook) are some of the most “authoritative” sites in this world. So having a presence on these platforms, and having your content show up in Google search, can really help boost your discoverability.

Relevance

A piece of content must be related to what users are searching for in order to get a good rank. No one wants to see a page on WWII history when they’re looking for makeup brush cleaning tips.

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Freshness

Google generally prefers new content to old, though there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, Google says, “The freshness of the content plays a bigger role in answering queries about current news topics than it does about dictionary definitions.”

How to do TikTok SEO in 5 steps

Now that we know what TikTok and Google’s search engines look for, here are our top TikTok SEO tips.

1. Start with your audience

One of the most important aspects of TikTok SEO is understanding your audience. Knowing who they are and what they’re looking for can help you create content that resonates with them.

If you’re already active on TikTok, you may have a good idea of what your audience likes. If not, consider taking some time to get to know them better. Look at the videos they’re engaging with and the hashtags they’re using. As well, look at the comments and messages they’re sending you. This can help you get an idea of their interests so that you can create content tailored to them.

@skyemareewheatley

You asked for it 🥰😍❤️✌️ #haitcare #haircareroutine #healthyhair

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♬ Storytelling – Adriel

Why does this matter for SEO? Well, understanding your audience can help you craft better titles and descriptions for videos, making them easier to find in TikTok searches. Similarly, you want to create content that your audience wants to see. Or the content they are already searching for. This can give you a leg up when it comes to being discovered by new audiences, too.

@madeleinewould

You asked for a pt 2 and u got a pt 2 🥰 just like last time…these products are just what worked or didnt work for my hair specifically! #hairtok #hairproducts #sephora

♬ Beat Goes On – The All Seeing I

2. Do keyword research

Keyword research is an essential part of traditional SEO, so it makes sense to use it on TikTok, too. Find out what words or phrases your target audience is using when searching for content like yours.

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Remember to consider different ways of phrasing a topic, as well as related keywords. You can do this through tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and more.

Keep in mind these tools are scraping data from Google itself–not TikTok. Because SEO in TikTok is so new, there aren’t currently any TikTok SEO tools that can tell you what people are searching for on TikTok.

But don’t get discouraged. The best way to figure out what people are searching for on TikTok is to use the TikTik platform directly. Simply go to TikTok, open the search bar, and enter any keywords you’ve pulled from your TikTok keyword research.

TikTok will automatically auto-populate the search bar with the most popular keywords related to your query. Look through what it shows you, and select any keywords that match up with your content.

If you want to see even more keyword ideas, try typing in your keyword followed by a single letter. TikTok will then show you all the related keywords that begin with your query and the letter you entered.

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For example:

Hair care “A.”

Hair care “B.”

Hair care “C.”

You can keep repeating this process until you have a list of relevant hashtags and keywords to use in your TikTok SEO strategy.

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3. Add keywords to your content

Once you have your TikTok keyword research completed, start adding them to your content in the titles, descriptions, and captions of your videos. This includes any on-screen text, such as lyrics or explanations.

@skinbyhelen

It would’ve saved my hair from all the damage over the years 🫣 #haircaretips #haircare #iwishiknewthisearlier

♬ Chillest in the Room – L.Dre

Also, be sure to say the keywords out loud! That’s right, TikTok’s algorithms prioritize videos where the keywords are actually spoken.

You’ll also want to include your keywords in any hashtags you use, as this will help people find your posts more easily. Use both your main keyword and any variations of your keyword that make sense. But don’t overdo it. Make sure you know the optimal number of hashtags to use on each platform.

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Finally, add your most relevant target keywords to your TikTok profile. This will ensure that your profile is more visible when people search for these keywords. It also gives potential followers an idea of what kind of content you post and whether they should follow you.

4. Add your TikTok to a microblog

This is the exciting part, where we get to mash everything we know about traditional SEO with everything we’re learning about TikTok SEO!

Blogging is a big part of ranking in Google search. Remember when we talked about Google prioritizing content that is relevant and fresh? Well, that’s pretty much why blogs exist. What better way to keep your content fresh than to publish consistently?

To leverage this technique for your TikTok SEO, create a microblog post that discusses a particular topic related to your TikTok video. Be sure to include your main keyword in the title and your secondary or long-tail keywords in the subheadings and content of the post. Also, don’t forget to embed your TikTok video in the blog, too!

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5. Track your progress

Every savvy SEO marketing strategy requires continuous monitoring and tweaking. Sure, you put all the best practices in place, but how will you know if your efforts are successful?

Tracking your TikTok analytics is the best way to see if your SEO strategy is paying off. This will give you insights into which videos are performing well, what kind of engagement they’re getting, and more. It can also help you identify areas where you can improve, such as topics or keywords that don’t seem to be resonating with your audience.

Hootsuite Analytics can show you exactly how many views are coming from search, as opposed to the For You page or from existing followers.

Hootsuite TikTok analytics

Be sure to track this progress over time, as well as the progress of your competitors. This will give you a better understanding of what works best in terms of TikTok SEO and can help you refine your strategy accordingly.

Frequently asked questions about TikTok SEO

What is SEO on TikTok?

SEO on TikTok is the process of optimizing your TikTok content to make it more discoverable on the platform, increasing views, likes and followers. This is done by researching hashtags, targeting certain keywords, and leveraging popular trends on the platform.

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TikTok videos also have the ability to rank in Google search, so optimizing your content for SEO can help you gain even more reach and visibility.

How do you increase SEO on TikTok?

Increasing SEO on TikTok starts with keyword research. This involves researching and identifying popular keywords related to your content, so you can include those keywords in your captions and in the audio of your video.

You should also be aware of popular trends on the platform and use relevant hashtags related to your content. This will make your video more visible in TikTok’s search results and maximize its chances of getting seen.

How do keywords work on TikTok?

Keywords on TikTok are the same as those for any other platform–-words and phrases commonly used to search for content. Popular keywords in your niche can help TikTok’s algorithm boost your video and make it visible to more potential viewers.

How is TikTok a search engine?

TikTok is not technically a search engine, but it does have its own algorithm that can be used to find content. The algorithm takes into account the number of views, likes, and comments a video gets, as well as what other users are searching for. This helps TikTok serve up relevant content to each user based on their interests and past interactions with the app.

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Grow your TikTok presence alongside your other social channels using Hootsuite. Schedule and publish posts for the best times, engage your audience, and measure performance — all from one easy-to-use dashboard. Try it free today.

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Schedule posts, learn from analytics, and respond to comments all in one place.

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How To Create a Strong Social Media Advocacy Program

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There’s nothing more convincing than a friend’s endorsement — especially on social media. That’s why a social media advocacy program is the best way to show the benefits of your products instead of telling your customers why they should care.

Brand advocates help you connect with potential customers and cut through the noise online. They can boost your visibility by:

  • Showing off your products on social media
  • Leaving positive reviews on your website
  • Driving more traffic to your products

In short, an engaged community leads to better sales outcomes. Keep reading for our guide to building a strong social media advocacy program.

Bonus: Download a free employee advocacy toolkit that shows you how to plan, launch, and grow a successful employee advocacy program for your organization.

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Social media advocacy is a way to leverage the social networks of the people who like you and/or are invested in your continued success: your customers, employees, business partners, influencers, and more.

According to Nielsen’s 2021 Trust in Advertising study, a whopping 89% of respondents trust recommendations from people they know. These recommendations are almost twice as likely to generate action, too.

A social media advocacy strategy turns your biggest fans into brand advocates. A brand advocate is someone who loves your brand so much that they choose to voluntarily promote your products or services on their own social media channels.

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While influencers are paid to create sponsored content for your brand, brand advocates are motivated by their enthusiasm for your product or service. They opt into your advocacy program voluntarily. Savvy customers are great at spotting paid influencer content, but organic endorsements still carry serious weight.

By leveraging your company’s biggest cheerleaders, you gain access to their social networks. The trust-based customer relationships you’ll build are worth their weight in gold.

What can brand advocates do for you?

Social media is now a top channel for online brand research, second only to search engines. Customers rely on social at every stage of the purchasing journey. A brand advocate’s positive post can really help you stand out from the crowd.

Here are a few ways in which brand advocates can help you build your business:

They leave positive reviews

Reviews from real users provide useful information for potential customers. In fact, reviews are the third-most important factor when shoppers are contemplating an online purchase:

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chart showing reasons driving online purchases

Source: Hootsuite Digital 2022 report

Encourage your brand advocates to leave positive reviews on your website — and make it easy for them to do so. You can even generate a link to leave a review on Google and include it in your post-purchase emails to all customers.

See also  TikTok Ecommerce 101: Why Your Business Should Be on TikTok

Customers find a mix of positive and negative reviews more trustworthy. Responding to reviews shows that your brand is open to feedback. Make sure to engage with or respond to all reviews, good or bad.

They create user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is original, brand-specific content created by customers and published on social media or other channels. UGC acts as a trust signal, taking your brand authenticity to the next level. It’s incredibly influential in the final stages of the buyer’s journey.

Brands like Starbucks leverage UGC to break up the flow of traditional marketing posts in their social media streams:

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Starbucks Instagram user-generated content

Source: instagram.com/Starbucks

Only four of these 12 recent posts on the Starbucks Instagram feed are brand marketing posts. The other eight posts are user-generated content. In these examples, UGC creates a sense of FOMO that drives customers to stop in for the latest seasonal treat.

They bring in new users or customers

Seeing someone else’s success can help new customers visualize their own. That’s why success stories are invaluable when recruiting potential customers or users.

Airbnb, a giant in the short-term homestay space, builds brand advocacy with the Superhost Ambassador program.

Superhosts are experienced users who have completed at least 10 stays in the past year, maintain a 4.8+ rating, and have a 90% response rate within 24 hours. They enjoy perks and special recognition for earning Superhost status.

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Superhost Ambassadors share positive experiences to help new users see the benefits of hosting. They provide mentorship and tools to help new hosts succeed, all while earning rewards for bringing new hosts to Airbnb.

Airbnb Superhost Ambassadors

Source: airbnb.ca/askasuperhost

With the “Ask a Superhost” function, Ambassadors become de facto customer service representatives. They answer questions from newbies and help them create successful Airbnb listings. In exchange for their support, Ambassadors earn cash rewards and enjoy exclusive features and tools.

The key to building a strong social media advocacy program lies in leveraging your existing communities. But before you reach out to potential advocates, make sure you’ve got a plan in place.

Here’s how to start building your own social media advocacy program.

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1. Start with your goals

Consider what you’re trying to achieve with your social media advocacy program. What kinds of brand advocates are you looking to build your community with? What kind of ROI are you aiming for?

See also  How to Download Instagram Videos: We Rank the Best Apps

Use the S.M.A.R.T goal-setting program to develop a set of effective goals. That means setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals.

Here’s an example of a S.M.A.R.T goal:

Create a brand advocacy program to grow my Instagram following by 15 percent over the next 90 days.

Now that you’ve got an actionable goal in mind, you can figure out the tactics you’ll need to follow to achieve it.

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2. Identify potential brand advocates

After setting your goals, you need to find your brand advocates, recruit them to your cause, and grow excitement among them about your company, campaign, or initiative.

Be sure to develop your program around valuable opportunities and rewards for the participants. Show them how taking part in the program will benefit them. Three core things to focus on to drive the program, including your search for the perfect participants, are:

  • Effective communication
  • Clear program architecture
  • Professional integration

To find the best brand advocates for your social media advocacy program, you need to understand who you want to target, and ask yourself some key questions:

  • What are their pain points?
  • What incentives would be valuable to them?
  • What are their interests?
  • Who do they engage with on social media?

Deciding to develop a brand advocacy program doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. If your brand is active on social media, then there’s a good chance your customers and fans are as well. This community is likely already talking about (and to) your brand.

Look at your social media followers and newsletter subscriber lists. Who’s liking your posts and clicking your newsletter links? These engaged fans are prime candidates for your advocacy program.

3. Don’t forget about employee advocates

Employees can also be fantastic advocates for your brand and business. An employee advocacy program amplifies company messaging and broadens your social media reach.

When recruiting employee brand advocates, make it clear that the program is optional. Internal advocates usually see the value in incentives, but they don’t want to be bribed or coerced into participating!

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Here are a few tips to incentivize your employee brand advocates:

  • Follow employees from your company accounts to boost their network
  • Use the company accounts to share creative messaging created by employees
  • Create a contest where everyone who shares a piece of marketing content is entered to win a prize
  • Keep track of employees who share content consistently and share this information with their managers
  • Acknowledge frequent sharers in company meetings or newsletters
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Hootsuite Amplify helps you take the guesswork out of employee social media advocacy. Amplify allows your employees to access pre-approved content to share on their social feeds — all queued up and ready to go.

When done right, employee advocacy is one of the most effective ways to boost your public image and employee engagement.

4. Reward your advocates

Once you’ve got brand advocates, hang onto them! Make sure your social media advocacy program includes valuable opportunities and rewards for the participants. Show them how taking part in the program will benefit them.

Try the following tips to get the ball rolling:

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  • Follow users that follow you and engage with the content they share
  • Highlight community members who contribute positively to your online discussions
  • Reward the people who stand out in your community
  • Send them swag or discount codes

Keep brand advocates engaged

For your advocacy program to be effective, you need to build a strong connection with your advocates. Best case scenario: you’ll have hundreds, or even thousands, of engaged brand advocates championing your brand. These advocates need to feel valued!

Your social media advocacy strategy needs to be scalable. Put someone in charge of answering advocate questions and keeping them on track. Consider appointing a program lead to take on the engagement task as the program grows.

Add value to the experience

You can keep members engaged by adding value to their experience:

  • Create programming or education for your brand advocates
  • Offer discounts on educational opportunities
  • Add value with exclusive experiences, such as in-person meetups
  • Incentivize or even gamify your program by running contests or fun challenges

A relationship with a good brand advocate is mutually beneficial, so keep up with your end of the bargain.

Review your advocacy program on a regular basis

Review your brand advocacy program every few months to see how your progress is tracking against the goals you established at the start. If something isn’t working, make adjustments to get things back on track. Social media is constantly evolving, and so should your advocacy program.

Tap into the power of employee advocacy with Hootsuite Amplify. Increase reach, keep employees engaged, and measure results—safely and securely. Learn how Amplify can help grow your organization today.

Request a demo of Hootsuite Amplify

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Hootsuite Amplify makes it easy for your employees to safely share your content with their followers—boosting your reach on social media. Book a personalized, no-pressure demo to see it in action.

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Customer Experience Management Explained [11 Top Tips]

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Have you ever been so excited to receive an online order, only to open up the delivery to find a broken product? If the customer care team goes above and beyond to resolve the issue, your frustrating experience can be morphed into a positive one. That’s why customer experience management is a quick way to win people’s hearts.

In this article, we’ll walk through what you need to know about customer experience management and how it can improve your business, including the top customer experience tools and tactics you can try yourself.

Bonus: Get our free, fully customizable Customer Experience Strategy Template that will help you understand your customers and reach your business goals.

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What is customer experience management?

Customer experience management (CEM or CXM) is the process of managing and improving the way customers interact with your business. CEM uses data gathered at every interaction to improve customers’ perception of your company.

At its core, customer experience management is all about understanding and improving how customers interact with your business. This means everything from how your customers discover you online to the interactions they have with your employees in-store.

Examining your customer journey from start to finish allows you to identify areas of friction and areas of opportunity.

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Why is customer experience management important?

Customer experience management can help businesses to foster a positive image in their customers’ eyes. And it can help build stronger relationships with your customers. Companies that provide a great customer experience will always have a competitive edge.

You can create loyal brand advocates when your customer experience management is on point. A loyal customer’s lifetime value is much, much higher than a one-off purchaser. Bad customer experiences can cost you your reputation. But even just a meh customer experience is detrimental to your success.

What is the difference between CEM and CRM?

Customer experience management (CEM) and customer relationship management (CRM) are different perspectives on the same relationship. But while CRM focuses on the company’s view of a customer, CEM looks at the customer’s view of the company.

Think of it like this: CRM looks at your sales funnel. Where can you as a company meet your customer? CEM, on the other hand, considers your customer touchpoints. Where do your customers interact with your company?

CRM is about improving internal processes, while CEM looks at your company holistically.

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What is client experience management?

Is customer experience the same thing as client experience? Well, not really. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, they’re not synonymous.

That’s because a customer may have a single transactional purchase with an organization. Clients, on the other hand, generally engage over longer periods of time centered around long-term services.

11 ways customer experience management can improve your business

By investing in your customer experience management, you can improve the health of your business. You’ll see real results, like increased revenue and profitability. Plus, you’ll build a strong base of loyal, happy customers, which means even more revenue down the road.

Here are 11 ways a strong customer experience management strategy can improve your business.

1. Helps you understand customer’s wants and needs

Creating a customer experience strategy means putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. It’s like psychology — you need to know their wants, needs, fears, and desires inside and out. Then, you can understand how to better deliver.

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To do this, you can use customer experience tools to collect data on your audience. For example, Hootsuite’s social listening features can show you what (and how) your customers talk about you online.

Hootsuite Insights (powered by Brandwatch) makes it easy to track brand sentiment with intuitive word clouds and meters that gauge your sentiment and brand awareness against the competition.

Request a demo of Hootsuite Insights

You can also use customer experience tools like customer surveys to gain insight into their experience with your brand. These deep insights will help you to deliver on their wants proactively. And what’s better than someone giving you something you want before you even ask for it?

2. Build emotional connections with customers

At their core, these strategies are about better serving your customers, which will help you build stronger emotional connections with them. To do that, you need to provide a personalized service and seamless journey.

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Finding out what your customers want and giving it to them is a start. But you will also want to anticipate their needs to reach them on an emotional level. It’s not enough anymore to just make things easy. In the customer journey, look for opportunities where you can delight your customers.

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Take dog food suppliers Chewy, for example. When a customer called to ask about returns, Chewy learned her pup had passed over the rainbow bridge. They sent the grieving family flowers with a card signed by their customer care team member.

I contacted @Chewy last week to see if I could return an unopened bag of my dog’s food after he died. They 1) gave me a full refund, 2) told me to donate the food to the shelter, and 3) had flowers delivered today with the gift note signed by the person I talked to?? 😭🥹

— Anna Brose, MSc (@alcesanna) June 15, 2022

3. Capture negative feedback before it goes live

One of the great advantages of having customer support chat built into your strategy is that you can capture issues before they turn into bad reviews. But if you can’t offer 24-hour live chat support, a chatbot can be a lifesaver.

Tools like customer service chatbots offer a golden opportunity to fix problems before they get bigger.

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Attitude customer service chatbot

Source: Heyday

Customers who have their problems fixed are usually pretty receptive to giving your company another shot. Mistakes happen; we’re only human. (Except for the chatbots, of course. They’re just beautiful pieces of customer experience management software.)

4. Decrease customer churn

Your churn rate, or the rate at which customers stop using your business, is an important measure of overall customer happiness. It’s pretty simple math: Happy customers equal less churn.

When people feel seen and cared for by your brand, they’re less likely to take their business elsewhere.

That’s why making sure your existing customers are happy can lead to significant savings for your business. It costs a lot less to keep an existing customer than it does to acquire a new one.

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5. Boost customer loyalty

Loyal customers mean more than just reduced customer churn. When customers have a good experience with your business, they are more likely to recommend you to others. This boost in loyalty can act as word-of-mouth marketing and increase your Net Promoter Score (NPS).

NPS is used to measure your customer experience and satisfaction. It’s calculated on a 0-10 scale, bucketed into three cohorts: detractors (0-6), passives (7-8), and promoters (8-10). When your customer is a promoter, they’re essentially a brand advocate.

6. Lower support costs

Customers who have a good experience with your business are less likely to need support.

There are fewer complaints which means less stress on your customer service team. This results in lower support costs, fewer dissatisfied customers, and a happier customer service team.

7. Increase sales

If you’ve made it easy for customers to complete their purchase, they’re more likely to buy from you again in the future.

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Plus, satisfied customers are also more likely to refer others to your business.

8. Enhance brand reputation

A positive customer experience improves how people perceive your brand. When you’re mapping out your customer experience strategy, keep your ideal brand perception in mind.

Do you, like Coca-Cola, want to be known for happiness? Then you could take a page out of their book and add joyful touchpoints to your customer’s day. How fun was it to find a Coke bottle with your name on it?

Coca-Cola bottles with names

Source: Coca-Cola

9. Improve employee satisfaction

If you work for a company that is beloved by customers, you’re going to like your job a little bit more. Interacting with happy people who have a great customer experience may raise internal employee morale.

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When your employees are happy, there is less turnover. Turnover, estimated by LinkedIn, can cost a company 1.5-2 times the employee’s salary. This number may seem high, but it includes intangible losses like the employee’s company knowledge and strain placed on the remaining team.

10. Create a competitive advantage

Businesses that excel at customer experience management have a leg up on their competition. This competitive advantage can help you attract more customers and grow your business.

Trader Joe’s, for example, has an almost cult-like following. And yes, in part it’s due to their off-beat and delightful product offerings. But that on its own isn’t enough.

Trader Joe’s also invests heavily in customer service and understanding the friction points of traditional grocery shopping. You only have to browse the Trader Joe’s freezer aisle, where they’ve removed the cumbersome, annoying freezer doors, to see their strategy in action.

11. Generate social media buzz

If something happens and it’s not posted on social media, did it actually happen?

When people experience something notable, they post about it. Dedicate your customer experience strategy to creating a delightful experience for your customers. Some of them will likely share that story, possibly on their Story. (See what we did there?)

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User-generated content (UGC) is great for your own social content. When people turn into online advocates for your brand or share a positive experience, they create social proof that your brand is legit. Then, that positive brand experience sits in front of all their followers. You, my friend, have just gained some free, effective advertising.

Top customer experience management tactics to try

There are a ton of tactics you can use today to get your customer experience management off the ground. We’ll walk you through a few easy wins to get you started.

Use a chatbot to engage with your customers

Chatbots are a very easy win for your customer experience management. Install one anywhere your customers may reach out to you. That includes your website, your social media accounts, and your apps.

Chatbots have a ton of advantages when it comes to engaging your customers. You can empower them with answers to your frequently asked questions. This allows customers to get instant feedback on their FAQs. People don’t like waiting around for answers, especially simple ones.

Just make sure you choose a chatbot that will deliver on your customers’ wants. You may need a multilingual chatbot if your consumer base is multinational. Or, maybe your customers always want to track their orders; an ecommerce chatbot could be a good choice.

Jack & Jones men's style virtual assistant

Source: Heyday

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Something else to consider is your chatbot’s personality. You’ll want to make sure you can program the chatbot to speak in your brand voice. If you can, giving your chatbot a likable avatar is an easy way to improve the customer experience. And choose a chatbot that has natural language processing skills to better relate to your customers.

DeSerres virtual assistant

Source: Heyday

Hootsuite’s number one chatbot is Heyday. Heyday is an AI-powered chatbot that turns conversations into customers. It can do all the above and more.

Request a Heyday Demo

Build a customer journey map

A customer journey map allows you to visualize the steps a customer takes when interacting with your business. It can give you real insights into your customers’ needs, fears, desires, and goals. You’ll be left with a better understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and pain points.

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Customer journey maps are particularly useful in highlighting areas for improvement and opportunities.

For example, you may notice your customers have to physically call your store or team when an issue arises. This can provide a point of friction; some people *cough cough, millennials* hate talking on the phone. Or, in the case of Deaf or hard-of-hearing folks, will find it inaccessible. A chatbot on your website can make it easier for people to get in touch.

By identifying each customer touchpoint and mapping out the steps involved, you will gain a better understanding of the overall customer experience. This, in turn, can help you to identify ways to improve the journey and make it more efficient and delightful for your customers.

Create a customer experience strategy

A customer experience strategy clearly defines the steps and tactics you’ll take to improve your customer experience. An effective strategy defines your goals and the actions you’ll take to achieve them. Then, it considers how to measure and optimize your efforts.

Your goal could be, for example, to reduce customer churn (low customer churn is a great indication of a solid customer experience) by 10% in a quarter. Part of your strategy is to determine what is causing customer churn, which can be achieved by customer journey mapping and customer surveys. Then, fix the issues you uncover.

Here’s a simple way to measure your customer churn. At the end of the quarter, subtract your number of current customers from the number of customers you had at the start of the quarter. Then, divide that total by the number of customers you started with.

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Let’s say you had 500 customers at the start of Q1 and 450 at the end. You can calculate your churn rate like so: (500 – 450) / 500 = 10%

After creating a customer experience strategy, you will have a plan in hand for reaching your customer experience goals.

Use data to understand demographics

The right chatbot gathers information each time it interacts with one of your consumers. Chatbot analytics isn’t something you should be sleeping on. If you’ve implemented a chatbot, then take a deep dive into the data it’s gathered. This is an excellent tool for understanding your customer demographics.

The better you know a group of people, the better you can tailor the experience you offer to what they want.

Engage with customers through social listening

You’ll want to know what customers are saying about your brand: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Keep an ear to the ground with social listening.

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hootsuite insights mention volume over time

Hootsuite Insights helps you make sense of millions of customer conversations happening in real time, so you can stay on top of trends and set strategies with confidence.

Request a demo of Hootsuite Insights

Customers also like to feel heard. When they post about your brand or a topic that relates to you, responding is a great way to build relationships and foster a connection.

You can keep your finger on the pulse by tracking brand mentions, customer feedback, and industry trends. And you’ll stay relevant within the communities you’re a part of.

Plus, if you’ve got a cheeky brand voice, responding to people with humor is the perfect way to surprise, delight, and foster a positive customer experience.

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*Frosty https://t.co/h3bWxo8xxy

— Wendy’s 🇨🇦 (@WendysCanada) October 18, 2022

Ask them what they want

You won’t know if you don’t ask. After they’ve interacted with you, ask your customers what went well and where you can improve.

There are tons of different types of surveys you can send out that will help you understand and improve your customer experience.

One of those is the Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey, which uses specific questions like “How satisfied were you with your experience at the ABC Cafe?” to get granular, reliable data.

Top customer experience management software

These days, brands need a stacked toolbox to stay competitive. There’s a lot of customer experience management software out there, but it can be overwhelming to choose between them. So, to avoid being paralyzed by choice, we’ve put together a list of tried and tested tools.

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Heyday for customer service

Heyday is our choice chatbot for customer service. There is a lot that chatbots can do for your business, including improving your customer response rates.

Heyday automates customer support requests like answers to FAQs and product recommendations. And it can offer in-store appointment bookings. Heyday uses conversational AI to converse naturally with your customers. The results are a smooth, organic conversation.

Request a Heyday Demo

Hootsuite for social listening, engagement, and surveys

Hootsuite has a ton of helpful features to help improve your customer experience. Insights, the social listening tool we mentioned above, is one surefire win.

But if you don’t need a social listening tool that’s quite as robust, you can also use Hootsuite Streams to engage with your customers on whatever social media channel they prefer.

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Source: Hootsuite

You can use Streams (custom feeds that show up in your Hootsuite dashboard) to track all the important conversations in your field. You can even set up filters to monitor conversations by keyword, hashtag, and location. It’s a great way to stay on top of your own business—and one step ahead of the competition.

Hootsuite also integrates with tools like Sparkcentral, so you can easily send out and collect surveys.

Shopify for ecommerce

Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms. It is extremely easy to get set up on and operate, making it a beloved piece of software by beginners and experts alike.

If you’re using Shopify to host your ecommerce store, don’t forget to take advantage of the chatbot integration from Heyday by Hootsuite.

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Salesforce for your CRM needs

Salesforce is a powerful tool for managing all your company’s relationships with customers. The goal of using CRM software like Sales Cloud is to streamline your processes and improve your profitability. You’ll be able to track:

  • contracts,
  • outstanding orders, and
  • manage customer relationships across their entire lifecycle.

Salesforce is a useful customer experience management platform because of its ability to take care of all your CRM needs.

Engage with shoppers on social media and turn customer conversations into sales with Heyday, our dedicated conversational AI chatbot for social commerce retailers. Deliver 5-star customer experiences — at scale.

Start Your Free Heyday Demo

Turn customer service conversations into sales with Heyday. Improve response times and sell more products. See it in action.

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