What’s Cooking: October

It’s hard to let go of the Summer season but we’re trying to embrace it with some delicious summer-into-fall dishes. Here’s a few recipes we’ll be cooking up this month.

tomato salad

Since I’m representing the West Coast side of the #cookitcrew, I’m still all about tomatoes. That said, I know the end is near. This is one heck of a way to celebrate that hard fact. Laurie, CEO + Founder

cinnamon rolls

As soon as the weather changes from Summer to Fall, I start craving warm spices like cinnamon and oh, lots of butter. And when I think about those two things, I instantly think of these sweet and fluffy cinnamon rollsNetanya, Social Media Manager

Now that it’s officially October, I’m welcoming all-things pumpkin spice with open arms. This pumpkin pie cookie dough looks insanely delicious, but I’m also eyeing a slice of Natalie’s vegan pumpkin cake. One can never have too many pumpkin desserts, right? Edie, Account Manager

I’ve never met a squash I didn’t like, but I’m particularly fond of delicata squash (you don’t have to peel it!!). Now that it’s at the market, I’ll be making this recipe from Athena Calderone’s Eye Swoon. It’s simple, but the flavor combination packs a punch. Renae, Senior Brand Strategist

With the cooler weather sweeping through Denver, we’ve been craving a good ol’ bowl of chili! I found a recipe from one of our very own influencers— Oh, Sweet Basil — and it was delicious! The bacon is everything. Jackie, Senior Account Manager

Lately, I’ve been incorporating meatless meals into our weekly rotation, and I’ve honestly felt a lot more energized. I feel like my body is a fan. I try to vary up the recipes, but I’m really fond of this Caramelized Onion Mushroom and Spinach Pizza recipe, even if it is pizza!  Anna, Brand Strategist

Brand Biz: What to Know Now About IGTV

Are you posting content on IGTV yet? Are you watching IGTV? Is IGTV important to your content strategy?

For answers to these and many other questions, we went to lifestyle personality, successful YouTube brand and video authority, Theodore Leaf.

Q: Should influencers be in a hurry to start posting on IGTV if they aren’t there yet?

A: I would recommend only posting content that makes sense versus just putting things up to “be there first”. People say all the time that they are “too late” to a specific social channel. But we’ve all seen newcomers from out of nowhere come in and amass a loyal following in a social instant.

Q: What’s the trick to thinking in a vertical format vs. horizontal?

A: Make sure the journey you take the viewer on is all about that “phone” perspective-—more casual.  Vertical can be more rough around the edges, and that is part of what makes it work. Try a mix of “produced” content and more “on the fly” type things.

Q: Can we edit existing video content?

A: Editing existing content is a great idea, just make sure the edits are clean and the subject remains inside the vertical frame. I’ve  been seeing some poorly repurposed content that leaves the viewer frustrated because things are missing or “off.”

Q: Can we repost content from our channel or IG Stories to IGTV?

A: You can certainly edit Stories content and post it to IGTV; however, I think the better move is more about true long form versus the jumpy short cuts we expect from Stories.

Q: Other than length, what’s the main difference between IG Stories and IGTV video?

A: The difference between Stories and IGTV is really more about watch time than anything else. With Stories you go in expecting to see several snippets that bring movement to the day, everything from behind the scenes to entire dinners being made. The IGTV platform gives you the opportunity to create longer content that has more of a service intention than simply entertainment. For example, as a viewer, would you really want to learn how to make a macaroon on IG Stories with so many cuts and back and forth? Or would you prefer one smooth 10-minute segment?

Q: How do we know how long our videos should be?

A: Time will tell how long viewers want IGTV content to be. My rule of thumb is keep a steady pace in your videos and don’t obsess over the length.

Q: How do you see IGTV changing the video landscape?

A: IGTV will change the video landscape by pushing creators who were not doing any video to finally jump in. YouTube as a platform is not the easiest to understand, so with Instagram creating this platform, it has broken down a lot of the barriers to entry for video.

Q: Any tips on how to lure our followers to our IGTV channel?

A: Promoting your IGTV channel via Stories is a great way to bring viewers over—think of Stories as a trailer to the feature that is housed on IGTV. Also something I am thinking about is creating regular series that the audience can count on seeing every week.

Q: Is it true that 78% of all mobile traffic will be video in less than 3 years?

A: I am unsure of the likelihood of those numbers being accurate but I can say that video in all of its forms is a highly engaging way to communicate your message, and has the potential to build you an incredibly loyal audience.

The Brand Biz: What’s Your Story?

brand biz

At CookIt, we talk about “story” all the time. As consultants working to help you define your brand, crafting your story is our first step. Without that key piece, you are rudderless in a vast ocean of competition.

The good news is that, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you always had the answer. Finding your story is the process of seeing that it was there all along.

Crazy talk, right? Don’t just take our word for it, try it. Follow this road, and let us know how it goes.

Picture your readers.

Who are they? What’s important to them? What’s really hard for them? What keeps them up at night? Once you feel like you know these things about your audience, go to the next step.

How can you help them?

Within your area of expertise, how can you help them? How can you solve a problem for them? What do you have to offer them that others don’t? Answer those questions, and go to the next step.

Why you?

What is it about you that qualifies you to be the authority your reader needs? Is it education? Life experiences? Values? Find that answer, and you will better understand your role in the story we’re writing. And then…

What’s so important?

Once you have a better understanding of who you’re talking to, how you’re helping them, and what it is about you that they trust and value, it’s much easier to grasp the importance of what you do. It may sound simple — it may be that they look to you for inspiration, for the motivation they need to stick to their goals. But that’s big for them. And that’s where you’ll find your story, and your opportunity!

The Brand Biz: Meet Your Reader

gathering
Photo by Ditte Isager

When it comes right down to it, there’s really only one thing you need to know about creating a successful brand: You need to know who you’re doing it for. We like to call this your Target Audience.

Without a strong sense of who your reader is, and what their problems (or “pain points”) are, it’s hard to know who you are. The trick is to understand your value through the lens of your reader, delivering content that both informs and inspires them.

But how do you find your Target Audience? Here’s how we like to do it!

4 TIPS FOR FINDING YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

1. Check out your competitive set

Get to know the brands and blogs that share content similar to yours. Who are their readers, and how are they helping those individuals solve their problems?

  1. Determine what makes you unique

How are you different from the brands in your competitive set? Can you create a niche for yourself and envision an audience that needs you and your unique skills/perspective?

  1. Get to know your current readers

Study, stalk and talk to your loyal fans, the ones who subscribe to your emails and follow you on your social networks. What do they love about you? What do they ask you for more of?

  1. Create a persona

Combining characteristics of your loyal fans with those of your potential readers (those who will appreciate you for what makes you unique!), draw up a profile of your target reader, including the kinds of details that help you identify why she needs you!

The Brand Biz: Mind the Gap

Brand Biz
Belathée Photography, www.belathee.com

We’re not big on marketing speak, but there is one term we use a lot: Gap Analysis. To us, it’s a really useful technique for identifying the gap between your competitive set (basically, those influencers who create content similar to yours and appeal to an audience like yours) and your brand. There is something unique about you, and once you zero on that characteristic, it will help you see the “gap” in the marketplace. And that gap is yours to fill!

But how do you find that unique characteristic, that thing that will become the DNA of your brand? Here are a few tips to put you on that path to discovery:

Analyze your current brand position

  • What are you?

  • Who do you it for?

  • What do you do?

  • Why is it important?

Analyze your competition

  • Who are they?

  • What do they do?

  • Who do they do it for?

  • What are they doing right/wrong?

Identify your opportunity

  • What is unique about you?

  • What can your offer your readers that no one else can?

  • How can your unique characteristic inform your content?

  • How can your unique characteristic help your reader?

The Brand Biz: How to Choose the Best Social Media Management Tool

social media
Photo by Wellness with Edie

Choosing a social media management tool is like choosing which dessert you should grab from your favorite bakery. It’s an important decision! Do you go for the chewy, chocolate chip cookie or the sugary cinnamon bun?

The truth is it depends on what works for you and your social media strategy. It can depend on your budget, your goals, or what organization method you prefer. To help make your decision, we’ve put together the pros and cons of 5 social media management platforms so that the only important decision you’ll have to make today will be the sweet one!

1. Hootsuite

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use web interface making it easier to manage social media profiles in multiple streams from a single dashboard
  • Offers flexibility with regard to pricing, as free plans and premium plans are available
  • Depending on the plan you can manage up to 50 social profiles
  • Can schedule on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, WordPress, Instagram, WordPress and Youtube

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support scheduling on Pinterest
  • When posting new content to Facebook via Hootsuite, those posts do not track the likes, shares, and comments that you received in Facebook’s Insights analytical data for that post. The likes, comments and shares do exist when viewing from the front end Wall and Feeds, but the “credit” for getting them is not recorded in any way by Insights
  • Scheduler Calendar only displays copy in calendar and not full images, so you can’t see clearly how your calendar will look
  • Does not have a format where you can upload photos for your content calendar, making it more difficult to plan and organize your calendar

Plans & Pricing:

Hootsuite offers a 30-day free trial.

  • Free – up to 3 profiles
  • Pro – $19/month up to 10 social profiles (1 user)
  • Team – $99/month per user (1-5 users) up to 20 social profiles + additional features
  • Business – $499/month per user (5-10 users) up to 50 social profiles + additional features
  • Enterprise – 10+ users, contact for pricing

2. Buffer

Pros:

  • It enables you to manage Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and more
  • You get the ability to post content to your social media profiles or pages, without having to individually schedule them
  • Buffer enables you to create your own images (using Pablo) which are the perfect size and format for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
  • Buffer supports RSS feed integration with all its plans
  • Shares your content at the best possible times throughout the day and tracks links so that you can see what content gets the most traction

Cons:

  • All Buffer paid plans are configured for a team of at least five members. So, if you have a team of only three members, you still have to purchase the plan for five members
  • No ability to target Facebook posts
  • Reports are limited
  • No notifications or ability to interact with users
  • Free plan only allows 10 scheduled posts

Plans & Pricing:

  • Individual – $0/per month for 1 social profile per platform
  • Awesome – $10/per month for 10 social profiles
  • Small – $99/per month for 25 social profiles
  • Medium – $199/per month 50 social profiles
  • Large –$399/per month for 150 social profiles

3. Iconosquare

Pros:

  • Informs you of what your followers enjoy the best on your account, which allows you to make decisions on what type of posts you should continue to schedule
  • Shares when your followers are online, which helps you pick the best times and days to post images on your Instagram account
  • Helps you search hashtags that work best for your specific content, and which ones attract the most followers
  • Has a media library where you can load all your assets to make scheduling easier

Cons:

  • Only has plans that go up to 5 social profiles
  • Supports only Instagram and Facebook
  • Does not have a free plan

Plans & Pricing:

Iconosquare has a 14-day free trial.

  • Starter – $9/per month for 1 social profile
  • Pro – $39/per month for 3 social profiles
  • Advanced – $79/per month for 5 social profiles

4. Later

Pros:

  • Can schedule & post on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, & Facebook
  • Pro Instagram Analytics & analytics for all platforms
  • Can plan content calendar with asset library
  • Can easily curate content making it easy to see how your social plan will come together
  • Has a feature that changes the link in bio for you

Cons:

  • Some plans limit the number of posts you can schedule
  • Web interface is more intuitive than the mobile interface
  • Does not schedule for Google+ or LinkedIn

Plans & Pricing:

  • Free – $0/per month for 1 social profile per platform
  • Plus – $9/per month for 1 social profile per platform
  • Premium – $19/per month for 2 social profiles per platform
  • Starter – $29/per month for 3 social profiles per platform
  • Brand – $49/per month for 5 social profiles per platform

5. Sprout

Pros:

  • Allows team members to monitor clients’ social media mentions, engage with brand advocates, schedule content in advance, and utilize reporting tools to inform future strategies
  • Assign and track tasks for team members
  • Compare different profiles and customize date range of social media reports
  • Export reports to PDF or Excel
  • Constantly upgrading and adding new features to enhance experience
  • Discovery feature to find new people to follow or engage with
  • Ability to tag brands

Cons:

  • No free plan and on the pricier side
  • No ability to “save” a particular column to track or monitor a trending topic
  • Can’t like a Facebook post or plus a Google+ comment

Plans & Pricing:

SproutSocial offers a 30-day free trial for all of its plans.

  • Standard– $59/user per month for up to 2 social profiles
  • Premium – $99/user per month for up to 10 social profiles + added features like advanced reporting
  • Corporate – $149/user for up 15 social profiles + added features like advanced permissions and custom branding
  • Enterprise–$249/user for up to 20 social profiles

Finding the right social media management tool is just as important as choosing the right pastry on a Saturday morning. Which one will you choose? Tell us in the comments below which one of these tools you’ve come to love!