Head Start

Instagram & Influencer Marketing

February 06, 2024 Race Directors HQ Episode 68
Instagram & Influencer Marketing
Head Start
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Head Start
Instagram & Influencer Marketing
Feb 06, 2024 Episode 68
Race Directors HQ

With more than 2 billion monthly active users (MAUs), Instagram has secured a comfortable lead as the social media platform of choice for the vast majority of online-active almost-30s and 30-somethings out there. And with Instagram’s core audience slowly aging to match running’s demographic sweet spot, it’s really important your race gets its Instagram strategy right soon, if you have an Instagram strategy at all.

So, how do you master Instagram’s highly-visual storytelling to reach new audiences on the platform? How do you build a consistent brand voice with all the tools Instagram has to offer? And how do you leverage running influencers, user-generated content, freelance contractors and free-to-use graphical design tools to make the most of the limited time and money you can commit to the platform?

That’s what we’ll be discussing today with returning guest and resident race marketing expert, Andy Reilly. Through his race marketing agency, Eventgrow, Andy has planned and executed online marketing strategies for some of the country’s top running events, including the Buffalo Marathon, Run Catalina and the San Francisco Marathon, and in his past appearances on the podcast has contributed to some of our most popular episodes, most recently a Facebook marketing two-parter that is a must listen if your race is doing anything on Facebook. 

But, today it’s all about Instagram, and with Andy’s help we’re going to be looking at Instagram from the very high level of strategy and using Instagram alongside Facebook and your other marketing channels, all the way down to the nitty-gritty of image selection, contrast plays, picking catchy headlines and even what types of faces work best on an Instagram ad. Not to mention a very practical 101 crash course on using microinfluencers to extend your brand reach.

In this episode:

  • The evolution of Instagram audience demographics over the years
  • Instagram vs Facebook from a user perspective
  • Easy-win content ideas for starting out on Instagram
  • Including (or excluding) Instagram placements on ad manager
  • The most efficient way to pick copy/images for your Instagram ad
  • Writing copy that works and picking the right creatives
  • Picking images that work: leveraging contrast, choosing happy faces, hero images
  • Thinking through your Instagram ad funnel, CTAs
  • Working with freelancers and contract graphic designers
  • Planning your growth path and spending money on marketing
  • The importance of using Instagram filters consistently and aligning your style with your brand
  • Driving engagement through humor
  • Sharing user-generated content
  • Microinfluencers: what are they, where to find them, and what to offer them
  • Using microinfluencers to generate authentic, engaging content for your race
  • Assessing ROI for your microinfluencer spend

Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

Show Notes Transcript

With more than 2 billion monthly active users (MAUs), Instagram has secured a comfortable lead as the social media platform of choice for the vast majority of online-active almost-30s and 30-somethings out there. And with Instagram’s core audience slowly aging to match running’s demographic sweet spot, it’s really important your race gets its Instagram strategy right soon, if you have an Instagram strategy at all.

So, how do you master Instagram’s highly-visual storytelling to reach new audiences on the platform? How do you build a consistent brand voice with all the tools Instagram has to offer? And how do you leverage running influencers, user-generated content, freelance contractors and free-to-use graphical design tools to make the most of the limited time and money you can commit to the platform?

That’s what we’ll be discussing today with returning guest and resident race marketing expert, Andy Reilly. Through his race marketing agency, Eventgrow, Andy has planned and executed online marketing strategies for some of the country’s top running events, including the Buffalo Marathon, Run Catalina and the San Francisco Marathon, and in his past appearances on the podcast has contributed to some of our most popular episodes, most recently a Facebook marketing two-parter that is a must listen if your race is doing anything on Facebook. 

But, today it’s all about Instagram, and with Andy’s help we’re going to be looking at Instagram from the very high level of strategy and using Instagram alongside Facebook and your other marketing channels, all the way down to the nitty-gritty of image selection, contrast plays, picking catchy headlines and even what types of faces work best on an Instagram ad. Not to mention a very practical 101 crash course on using microinfluencers to extend your brand reach.

In this episode:

  • The evolution of Instagram audience demographics over the years
  • Instagram vs Facebook from a user perspective
  • Easy-win content ideas for starting out on Instagram
  • Including (or excluding) Instagram placements on ad manager
  • The most efficient way to pick copy/images for your Instagram ad
  • Writing copy that works and picking the right creatives
  • Picking images that work: leveraging contrast, choosing happy faces, hero images
  • Thinking through your Instagram ad funnel, CTAs
  • Working with freelancers and contract graphic designers
  • Planning your growth path and spending money on marketing
  • The importance of using Instagram filters consistently and aligning your style with your brand
  • Driving engagement through humor
  • Sharing user-generated content
  • Microinfluencers: what are they, where to find them, and what to offer them
  • Using microinfluencers to generate authentic, engaging content for your race
  • Assessing ROI for your microinfluencer spend

Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. If you'd like to learn more about RunSignup's all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events visit runsignup.com.

You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

You can also share your questions about some of the things discussed in today’s episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

Panos:

Hi! Welcome to Head Start, the podcast for race directors and the business of putting on races. With more than 2 billion monthly active users(MAUs), Instagram has secured a comfortable lead as the social media platform of choice for the vast majority of online-active almost-30s and 30-somethings out there. And with Instagram's core audience slowly ageing to match running's demographic sweet spot, it's really important your race gets its Instagram strategy right soon, if you have an Instagram strategy at all. So, how do you muster Instagram's highly visual-storytelling to reach new audiences on the platform? How do you build a consistent brand voice with all the tools Instagram has to offer? And how do you leverage running influencers, user-generated content, freelance contractors and free-to-use graphical design tools to make the most of the limited time and money you can commit to the platform? Well, that's what we'll be discussing today with returning guest and resident race marketing expert, Andy Reilly. Through his race marketing agency Eventgrow, Andy has planned and executed online marketing strategies for some of the country's top running events, including the Buffalo Marathon, Run Catalina and the San Francisco marathon, and in his past appearances on the podcast has contributed to some of our most popular episodes, most recently a Facebook marketing two-parter that is a must listen in your race is doing anything on Facebook. But, today it's all about Instagram, and with Andy's help, we're going to be looking at Instagram from the very high level of strategy and using Instagram alongside Facebook and your other marketing channels, all the way down to the nitty-gritty of image selection, contrast plays, picking catchy headlines and even what types of faces work best on an Instagram ad. Not to mention a very practical 101 crash course on using micro influencers to extend your brand reach. So stay tuned for a super-interesting discussion. Before we get into this amazing episode, I'd like to give a quick shout out to our amazing podcast sponsor, RunSignup, race directors' favourite all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events. More than 28,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. And we'll be hearing a bit more from this great company a little later in the podcast. But, now, let's dive into our discussion on Instagram marketing and micro influencers with Eventgrow's Andy Reilly. Andy, welcome back to the podcast.

Andy:

Thanks so much for having me back.

Panos:

Well, thank you very much for coming back. You're, I think, the guest we've had on the most during the last couple of years on the podcast and people are enjoying your contributions massively. I have to say that some of the episodes we've done - Facebook, the marketing psychology stuff - have been all time favourites of the audience. So thank you very much for coming back on.

Andy:

Well, I'm honoured to hear that. Yeah, if people are finding value, then that's fantastic and I'm doing a few things right. So thanks for having me back. And also, congratulations on the success of the podcast. That seems like kind of one of the number one shows where people can get information to help grow their races and productions and everything in between. So nice work.

Panos:

Thank you very much. Well, some people seem to find it useful. We're not, I think, Rogan or whatever his name is. I think he's safe on the number one spot. We're not going after him anytime soon. But the community seems to like what we do, which is why we do it. So let me ask you for the fourth time over the course of this podcast to introduce yourself, if you don't mind, to our audience. Lots of people by now would know who you are, what you do, but why don't we just hear it from you in terms of the work you do with races and the kinds of roles you have in the industry?

Andy:

Yeah, I'm an event marketing, I guess you could call, expert - an event marketing expert that's been focused on this space for a little over 13 years and helping events grow their participation. I started at the active network. That's really where I got started and saw how marketing works for larger events like Spartan Race and the colour run. And then, right after that, I foray into creating Eventgrow, which was an agency focused on helping customers specifically in the endurance space grow their businesses, and that led from my first client, which was Buffalo Marathon-- we grew them, like, 20% in two years and I said, "Well, I think this might be a thing. I think I might be good at this." So it's been fun to build it out. We have several great clients - San Francisco Marathon, Catalina Island Marathon - mostly all running events. We do have a few triathlons. And yeah, I just love being able to, at the end of the year, grow their bottom line, get more people on the start lines, get more charity money in, and all that good stuff. And so, we've been going strong for five plus years.

Panos:

And it's another tradition of our podcasts together but, when you introduce yourself, you always leave Raceplace out, which I think is a massive part of your contribution to the industry. Do you want to tell people about

Andy:

Yeah, that wasn't by design. I don't know why that? Raceplace just gets kind of put as the background there. Thank you for mentioning that. Yeah, Raceplace actually is a business that's been in my family for a while - something that my mom used to have a big part in managing. And then, I purchased it with a partner and we turned it from a magazine into an online platform where people can find runners, can find races to do, and it's turned into about, I think, 150,000-160,000 people per month that hit the site that are looking for races. And we try to organise races from all over the US and even globally in some cases so that runners can find races to do and it's just really trying to keep its search safe, keep it simple for runners to find events.

Panos:

And it is an awesome race calendar. I would urge people, particularly in the US, if you haven't added your races on Raceplace, absolutely go and do that now. There's tonnes of traffic going through that and a beautiful website for users as well to use. In terms of business, in terms of what you're seeing in the market, you have a particularly unique perspective from the marketing point of view and the amount of ad dollars going from races into advertising. What's happening there? Do you see growth there?

Andy:

I do. I do see growth. Outside of the endurance market, the advertising spending has continued to move towards digital. We've seen that transformation over the last several years. Traditional budgets - budgets that would go towards print magazines, radio, and things of this nature - have been shifting constantly over to things like meta advertising, Google advertising, as we know the two big ones, but even over to things like TikTok and some other channels that we're not maybe necessarily going to get into today. But advertising spending has been healthy. I'd say, for the endurance market specifically, it's taken a little bit longer for a larger portion of the customers to move from traditional media. The customers that I've seen that have moved over to what I call, like, online paid media with Instagram, Facebook, and these other channels have been able to garner better returns as a result of meeting people, what I call, where they are. Folks are constantly online. Half of them are signing up for events from their phone. So the ability to reach people is best in my view done on those types of platforms. And traditional old school media is media I would look at as a testing ground more now than anything because people are less and less utilising that type of media. So it's kind of flipped on its head.

Panos:

I remember one very interesting point you made - I think it was on the Facebook episode - where you said that, basically, the ability of registration platforms, the fact that registration platforms have become more mobile-friendly has accelerated this transition towards digital advertising because, now, people can actually, on their mobile phones, go from awareness to purchase to registering all through their mobile phone, which wasn't previously very practically, from a user experience, very straightforward with mobile registration platforms of a few years back.

Andy:

Yeah, you even think about-- I won't name the names but there are a few registration companies that I'm sure everyone- most people listening - have worked with, the ones that have even just a login. Think about how much that saves runners when they're signing up for a race. When there's a login with their information that all they do is log in, and then click a button and it pre-fills what we know is a super long endurance form, that just increases your conversion rate. Also, it provided a much better customer experience that never used to be the case. And so people just wouldn't really even register for mobile because that whole experience was terrible. Now, Shopify leading the way, you just plug your email in and everything's pretty much done. You're a click away. Amazon's the same way. Registration is going to take a lot longer to get there but, at least, some reg companies have a login to where, if the people sign up there before, their information is saved and oh, wow, our mobile throughput just went way up. It's reasons like that. And also, obviously, their website. The website mobile design has come a long way in terms of being able to resize and tell the story and kind of get them down the funnel. So I think those two things - the reg improvements and also the website improvements have helped drive more transactions from mobile, and we'll continue to see that.

Panos:

And in terms of what the action is, just segueing into our topic today, which is going to be Instagram-- we did do an amazing two-parter on Facebook that I strongly recommend people go back to the podcast catalogue and have a listen to. It's maybe, like, three hours of content on everything you need to know about Facebook advertising. Today we're focusing on Instagram. Instagram is often compared to Facebook. And of course, they're owned by the same company, which when your advertising makes, I guess-- there isn't, like, a clear-cut border between the two. But in terms of what you're seeing, are you seeing some of that ad action, the dollars, the return, and the audiences shifting away from Facebook and perhaps on to Instagram in terms of the relative importance of the two?

Andy:

I don't know if shifting would be the perfect term to describe it. Facebook has continued to-- the user base on Facebook has continued to be a slightly older audience. And so, as Instagram has grown in age, it started to grab a larger and larger user base that's ageing with it. And so, by the nature of you think-- because Instagram has been around not as long as-- I don't think it's been around as long as Facebook. Facebook was before it. But as more and more runners who kind of grew up with Instagram as their first platform versus Facebook as their first platform, they will continue to use that platform moving forward. And so there are more users that are growing into that platform. Facebook's actually, I think, declining, maybe staying steady or even declining in net new users. They might have had a slight uptick. But Instagram is growing. So there's more people hitting that platform. It's always been told that it's a younger user base - it is - but it's not. We're not talking TikTok young. We're talking about a significant portion is 18-to-34, which is a very important demographic for most races. Millennials and Gen Z are using Instagram, and both genders are on there too. And so they've both been great tools, but I would say that it's not like people are jumping full ship from Facebook. The people who use Facebook are still using it. It's just Instagram's growing more users.

Panos:

I should confess that I'm not an Instagram user myself. I am married to an extremely devoted Instagram user but I don't use it myself. So I never actually quite understood the strength of the Instagram USP or the big difference between Instagram and Facebook. Because to me, I see feeds, I see scrolling. There's an image, there's some words. It looks very similar to me. So what is it about Instagram that sets it apart from Facebook as a product, like, as an experience?

Andy:

I'm just surprised that you haven't used Instagram.

Panos:

Well, I haven't.

Andy:

Well, I guess it's good we're going through this. I can kind of walk you through a little bit about what it is and what it does. Yeah, I mean Instagram originally started obviously for photos. And over time, they've been purchased by Facebook and they've evolved into-- Zuckerberg allowed that team to start to build more and more video opportunities into that platform, and that's where we saw the introduction of Instagram stories. We also saw the ability for Instagram to handle longer form videos of a minute plus, which I believe were originally IGTV. And then in addition to that, we saw Instagram Reels which were essentially stories, vertical format, kind of long format that could be longer than 15 seconds or 30 seconds. It could go even past a minute which provided more storytelling. So when Instagram really started to become more, I guess, an impactful platform specifically for advertisers was when they started to integrate video. And Instagram does a much better job in my view of highlighting storytelling through video whereas Facebook does a great job with highlighting all forms of post types from video, photo, carousel, advertorials, quotes. Facebook has so many different post types - it's a great testing ground - and a lot of them work. Whereas Instagram platform-- when you get in there, it's very simplified and it focuses on video. So you end up watching mostly videos if you're on Instagram.

Panos:

Does that mean from a creator point of view, if I'm a race director, and I have a race and I want to be on both of those, does Instagram strength being video-- does that create for me, like, a higher hurdle in terms of participating and creating content? Because lots of people get intimidated, I guess, by the prospect of having to create video content. And obviously, for Instagram, you see all these amazing super polished videos - quite contrary to what you see on TikTok, which is more kind of, like, spur-of-the-moment type stuff. Like, on Instagram, everything looks super polished and super edited and stuff. Does that create a barrier for many race directors in terms of allowing them to join Instagram and create content?

Andy:

I believe it does. In their minds, I believe that if the view is that a video on Instagram has to look like this, has to be polished, has to be extremely professional, then you'll never post a video because you have this paralysis around what it needs to be perfect instead of just kind of getting that first post out, or even mapping out a post that's a little bit more digestible. I'll give you an example of a better way for somebody to start that might be in that place. Instagram stories and Reels are a great place to start for Instagram. However, an Instagram story can be something as simple as a quote post. Let's say you're a running brand, you're a half marathon, and you have a series of quotes that are inspirational for runners, you've already identified this list, you can go online, you can use ChatGPT or any AI to help you produce a list of inspirational quotes. You then take that quote and you create an image within Canva or whatever your graphic design tool is. Canva is the one I like to reference because I think it's the best tool and it's also something that you can teach your mother to use. I've literally done that. I've taught my mom to use it. She's great at it. And you take your quotes and you put them over a background that represents your brand - your brand colours, your brand fonts, your brand vibe and feel. You do that for 10 posts and then you set those aside and get those ready. Okay? And then on each Tuesday, you're going to post an Instagram story with that quote post, and you're just going to do that consistently. And what that's going to do is, 1) you didn't have to create a video, although a story is a video. So to Instagram, it's a video and they're going to leverage that with their algorithm. But it's gonna give you the confidence to step up and say, "Well, I did a video. I did a story." And then you're gonna move to the next thing and say, "Okay, maybe on the next one, I can integrate a short clip from my finish line. And I can overlay something different." Or another cool idea is to go behind the scenes in your business. People and runners actually like to see behind the scenes of your business. So it doesn't have to be a highly produced shot but go behind the scenes and maybe do a quick 30-second employee highlight. "Hi, I'm Jim, I'm the marketing manager at XYZ Race Company and I really like snowboarding." Kind of awkward. Cuts to the next person. Like, little quick behind-the-scenes things. That's storytelling, right? So you kind of start with something simple and then you start to create a little bit more and more and then, all of a sudden, you're a video marketer on Instagram. But it has to start somewhere.

Panos:

So you've seen success with this kind of, like, gradual dipping your toe in the water and then going from there? Because it does sound actually like a good simple way to get started on Instagram for people who are perhaps more used to the Facebook static image or text-only type posts.

Andy:

Yeah, I mean, you can even start from text-only image posts. I think the thing with video to remember is that it does not have to be-- first, stories and reels - they do not have to be perfectly polished. They really don't. They just need to be authentic. The polish and all that type of stuff you can start to work on later, especially since it sounds like I think they know the type of person we're talking about in terms of where they're at in their seasons as a race director. And they might be newer, they might not have an extended team, they might not have all these resources. And so, you start small and you do one or two things, and it starts to provide you that confidence. And then you move to that next thing. It does not have to be perfect, though.

Panos:

So you mentioned there - which I think is something that people are broadly aware of - the age demographic difference between Facebook and Instagram. So that's, I guess, one dimension that separates them. Is there anything else that basically would lead me to think of those two as slightly different tools or tools for different purposes? So one of them is-- Instagram, I can reach a slightly younger audience. Instagram I can do video with or rather is more geared towards promoting videotape content than Facebook. Is it fair to say that as an advertiser or as a DIY race director, I would use them differently, maybe at a different stage of the race cycle or I would be doing different things with them like more maybe top of funnel stuff with one or more kind of getting people to sign up on the latter? Or do you sort of use them interchangeably in that sense? You have one and the other and

Andy:

I think it's important to distinguish. When we're talking you use both? about usage, there's usage in terms of running advertisements, which I believe largely is what we're talking about. And then there's usage in terms of, like, just posting on the platform - just not running an ad but actually just making an individual post. And so, I'll talk about the latter first just real quick. Facebook's going to be much better for things where you have more to say. So Instagram actually has a character limit. Also, Instagram does not allow links to be put in the body of the post. So you have to add and actually send them to click a link in your bio to get to where you want them to go. Contrast that with Facebook is you have a-- I don't even know if they have a character limit. You can write a story inside of a Facebook post. You can have links. Facebook has groups. So there's a lot of different things you can tag people. There are a lot of different things where, with Facebook, if there's a message that has a little bit more content and you need that flexibility, I would use Facebook. With that said, in terms of advertisements, when you run advertisements on these platforms and you run them from the ads manager, which I suggest everyone should do-- they should be running advertisements from the ads manager, not boosting posts and we can get into that later. I think we talked about it on the previous show. But if you're running from ads manager, you don't really need to change your advertisement for each platform because, as long as you have the correct format, the size of the ad, which we can talk about that, then Instagram is going to put it in the place where it's going to sell the most and Facebook's going to do the same, and you don't have to make that decision on your own. You allow the platforms to kind of figure out where it should go and what it should do. But your ad wouldn't really change and you shouldn't be saying well,"I'm going to choose one or the other" unless like the data suggests for you that Instagram is way outperforming. You just need to create the ad in the right format in the ads manager and then disperse it to both platforms.

Panos:

Have you actually ever been tempted, when you're creating an ad through ad manager, to turn off one of the two thinking that maybe Facebook wouldn't be good enough in figuring out this specific ad you're creating, how well it might do on one on the other, and you want to maybe save back on one budget that you think might be wasted? Or do you always trust Facebook to figure these things out much better than you ever could?

Andy:

Today, I typically will rely on Facebook or Meta to figure out which audiences that particular ad budget should go to to drive the desired result for me. So conversions are typically always the desired result. And over time, I'll almost always allow Facebook to figure that out. Now, if we're talking about maybe somebody newer and less seasoned in the platform, I believe and I was in this place, you might have the inkling to want to turn things off on your own. And unless you've had a good 7 to 10 days and at least close to $500 spent on the platform, that data might not even be an indication. There might not be a long enough tail of data for you to really make that decision on your own. Now, if it's a budget issue and you've run out of money, that's obviously a whole different issue. But if it's not, then you're going to be tempted to do that but - I think that's kind of the nature of where your question was - but I would avoid doing that. I would allow the data to prove out over at least a week, maybe a little longer. You take that as a test, and write it down in your notes. I did a test, and here's what I learned, so that later on, you can go back to that and see in your advertising journey, what happened with that campaign, and then I would test it again. And until you have maybe two or three tests where you have an indication after two or three tests and you have enough data, that's when you can maybe start to make those decisions. But Panos, these platforms, Meta is getting really good at ensuring that they're optimising our ads to drive as much as they can to get us back. And so I would trust that over your own internal kind of compass unless you're really experienced.

Panos:

Yeah. I think you got the gist of my question there. I think you may have alluded to the response to this question may have changed over time because, I remember back in the day, maybe, like, six, seven years back, on Facebook, you had all these placements that were in Messenger on some side stuff that no one seems to-- you seem to be sort of, like, have ad-blindness to. So my question was basically on that point when, at least back in the day, when I used to run ads and I saw all those myriads of placements, I was thinking, "Did I ever click on an ad I saw on Messenger?" No. "Did I ever click on an ad I saw on this side panel thing that is, like, a really small image on a desktop?" No. So I used to turn things off. And then, when the Instagram option came around, I was still advertising when that was around. I was thinking, like, I haven't really thought through whether I should turn Instagram on and I've always thought of the content I created as being created for Facebook. So I was thinking, "It's probably not going to do great on Instagram." So I turned that off sort of proactively thinking it might not do well." Is it fair to say that you can create a piece of content for paid ads that may indeed not be suitable because of the theme you have on the image, or the dimensions, or any number of things that may naturally not be suitable for Instagram? Or is it fair to say that whatever you do, Facebook is going to work out what aspect ratio to serve on one and the other and you shouldn't worry about that at all?

Andy:

Largely, I don't believe that you should worry too much about that. What you should probably be focusing on is ensuring that your creative, your video has the correct components of what I call within them to drive the desired result- number one and we can talk about that. Number two is to make sure you have the different formats and sizes, so that Facebook can leverage its internal algorithm to align those videos in different places. For example, if you only upload one format, let's say it's the square one by one, which by the way, is the best format. If you only have one format that you create to upload, it's the one by one because it plays the most real estate on phones and on desktops. Then, you're only giving Facebook the opportunity to put that in areas where it's one by one. However, Facebook wants to do stories or reels which we know is a vertical format. So the top of your video is going to be cut off and the bottom will be cut off. So as a marketer, what you want to do is give Facebook the best creative you can in the most formats and also do the same with copy. Upload three subject lines versus one. Give them more information so that they can then go out and be better at making that decision. But once you post and let's say you've done that, I wouldn't worry about that piece of it. Let them do the work and then you look at the data and come to your conclusions from there.

Panos:

I think we have discussed this in the past, but I think it's so important that I feel we need to double-click on it a little bit - what you just mentioned about the key ingredients of a good piece of content or a good ad on Facebook or Instagram. I think we touched on it a little bit on our marketing psychology episode which is really important, and also on our Facebook episode. Do you want to spend a little bit of time taking us over that one more time in terms of, like, what does good copy, images, content, a good ad, or a good post? What does it look like?

Andy:

Let's start with this. This is really, kind of, off the cuff in terms of my mind. So when we create a marketing campaign in Meta, the first thing that you want to do is lay out the copy. So what's the campaign summary? The campaign summary is a high-level summary of all the bits and pieces of the campaign. For example, we are going to run a conversion campaign that starts on January 1 and ends on January 20 that's targeting runners in, let's say, Great Britain in a specific area. We are going to target our runners that have certain interests like half marathon and 10K. We're going to target our athletes via custom audience, our email list, and maybe one other audience. So we have three audiences there. Okay, our offer is we're offering 10% off until the end of the promotion date. So boom. I just wrote the campaign summary. Next, I'm going to move on to copy. So the pro tip is that the copy is really the kind of the piping under the home that supports water coming to the faucets - everything working in the actual home itself. If you don't write the copy and you try to go to the creative first, it's much more difficult, at least as far as how my mind works and what I've been taught. The copy will lead you to a better creative. So for example, you want to start to write some subject lines - or in Meta, it would be considered a headline - and you want to do two or three variations. And then you want to write your main copy. So figure out your main copy and what you want to say. With Meta, keep it short. So you can write a tonne of copy in an ad but after about 125 or 135 characters, it's being truncated and they have to click the More button to see the extended copy. So if you have something important to say, put your hook at the beginning. All right. So get right to the point and be short and concise and sweet. And if you can, even try to get that coupon code in the copy they see without them having to click more. Or at least if there's a value proposition like a 10% off, at least try to get that 10% off somewhere above the truncated area, if that makes sense. Right? Alright, so now we're there. Okay, great. Now we move to creative. So we move to creative and we want to do a couple of things with creative - we talked about this. Contrast almost always works. Find the contrasting colours with your brand and accentuate those on your creative. So we all know what contrast looks like. You can go to a lot of different websites and see it but leverage what your contrast looks like, play with different things. That's what stands out and gets the click. Contrast gets the click - remember that. The next thing is with endurance. You want to show people what I call their happy zone. So, showing people finishing at the finish line is always a great one. Showing people in moments of joy versus moments of pain is likely going to produce a better ad in terms of clicks. Showing people with the types of faces that would show the tough parts of the course might not drive the desired kind of sale at that moment. So focus on that. And then leverage, like I said, video. Short-form video can start with, like, a series of photos. It is okay to overlay text over that stuff too. A great beginner tool, once again, is Canva and you can use that. Find your top-- what are your top 25 images for your race? I would be using those on my ads. If you don't know what those are, talk with your team. Look at some other websites that have large races on their homepage. Look at that hero image on their homepage. That's probably one of their better- performing images. And then, this is another side thing but, for video, you have to have an archive of video. The way that you produce that is by, at this next event, if you don't have it, at this next event, ensure that you pay to have high-quality video taken because one of the biggest accelerants of growth in my experience in growing Buffalo 20%-- buffalo Marathon, I'll give you an example. We went out and got high-quality video. We paid, for it, a couple thousands of dollars and it is the number one thing that I require working with any clients that I work with is that we put that expense on the sheet and we go capture that video because that is the fuel you can use for years with your ads. And so if you don't have that, then you can create a video with images and do sliders and that type of stuff. But make sure you're capturing video at your events so that when you get to this part of the ad process which is the creative, you have the ammunition to create a cool 10-second clip type of thing. And so I think what we did is we just went from campaign summary, to copy, to creative - what to include? Oh, last thing, always include your call to action. So always ask people what you want them to do. This kind of goes over people's heads sometimes but ask them what you want them to do. You hear this a lot too - the race date. Try to include the race date somewhere in this experience if you can, especially for people who don't know the date. They'll probably see it in your comments of the ad. "When is this event?" You can put that in the headline. You can put that in the overlay of the video. You can put it in the copy text. And then lastly, the call to action should send them to a page that represents the best next experience for them to buy from you. So for example, the ideal scenario would be to create a landing page that does that. Or an easier way might be to really take a hard look at your homepage and think about, if you're a new runner coming to your homepage, do you have the best elements on there to drive a sale from that point? Because if you're running ads to that page, you better hope that that page is congruent with the ad experience. So what they see on the ad they come to the page, they want to see, "Okay, is this the same event? Yeah, okay, good." They want to check those boxes because that's what athletes do. They're going to look at it and go, "Okay, this looks and feels like something that is consistent and good and I can trust it." So that's really the last piece - ensure you're sending them to your homepage. Some people send them directly to the registration sites and that can work well for like coupon code campaigns and people that know you. But if you're running cold audiences, people that maybe are new runners, I would definitely try to run them to your website because it's probably going to do a better job of selling your event versus RunSignup or Active or Race Rosters generic page.

Panos:

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Andy:

The call to action button is lower than-- yeah, it's a little bit lower in the ad itself. And then when you do vertical format videos, it overlays a button at the bottom of that video that says maybe, learn more, or click here, or sign up, whatever you've deemed that call to action copy.

Panos:

So everything you said there I think is super important. And it was great that you reminded us of that journey and all of those key components that go into it. The one thing that I'm really curious about specifically with regards to Instagram is the thing you mentioned about contrast. Instagram, famously has, like, a tonne of filters and that's I guess, where it initially sort of differentiated itself from other platforms. You can take an otherwise mediocre photo and basically spruce it up a little bit with filters and stuff. Because this is a problem lots of people will have if they decide to get started on Instagram and they don't have, like, an archive, as you mentioned, of good quality photographs and videos which people should keep in mind going forward. But assuming I want to start now and I have some ok-sh kind of pictures that I want to get started on Instagram to use with my ads-- and I totally get the point about contrast versus blandness. When we were discussing that, I mentally went through the kinds of posts that grabbed my mind and, obviously, contrast works a lot. How do you inject contrast into, like, your run-of-the-mill running photo that a race director may have? Is there a way to actually increase contrast, bring some more vibrant colours, maybe some brand colours from the logo of the event in that? Like, do you put it in a frame? How do you do that?

Andy:

It's a good question. We've had this challenge before when working with clients that don't have an archive of content. And the way where we would start is we'll take an image - let's say it's a 6 out of 10 image. However, in that image, there's an image of a runner that seems to be relatively decent resolution with a smiling face or something that we could use to kind of sell the race, so to speak, or perhaps it's a bridge that's identifiable in the area that is on the course that is worth talking about or some monument. What we could do is then to create some contrast with that. Let's say the background isn't great but the subject itself is decent. Okay, well, maybe I'll remove the background. And now I have this white background and a subject in the front. Okay, so now I have this white space to play with. I'm gonna go look at my brand colours and I'm going to look and see, "Okay, is there a brand colour I have that could then be used as the background colour to create contrast between that subject and the background? And then I could maybe overlay my logo somewhere in the top, bottom left, bottom right to provide some brand equity with that particular." Now, you don't always have to do that because, remember, with ads, your brand logo is going to show on where the ads are coming from. However, if I'm starting from scratch, then you might want to do that. So that'd be one way. Or I've seen before where you could draw a small outline around the image of the subject with the contrasting colour. And so it's like a little treatment of-- think of, like, a little blur or, like, a pencil that's a little more smooth, not like a pencil writing around the-- a halo around that particular customer. You could create a colour that would stand out with your colour scheme. And you might need to add a colour to your brand palette to do this. It's really up to you to kind of tinker with that and see what looks right. But just know that the end result, if it includes a level of contrast, this could also be with your overlay text. Your overlay text could contrast with the background colour which you absolutely would want to do so it's readable. That could be contrast. The end result is you want to create that level of contrast. And so Canva is really good at this because there's a tool in Canva where you can just press one button and it removes the background, or highlights the subject, or there's AI in there so you could say "Do this," and it'll do it to your image. And then you add some elements around it to create a level of contrast for yourself.

Panos:

Right. So if I get you correctly, I think I've seen these kinds of things and they look real fun. Basically, you're saying, I have a social picture, there's a guy there smiling looking at the camera, hands up in the air across the finish line looking awesome, then you almost sort of crop him out of the rest of the thing, right? Or maybe you put a little bit of a stronger pencil kind of outline to him or something with a contrasting colour and making almost go for a kind of, like, cartoonish kind of collage kind of effect where you have parts of the photo but then you have a coloured background, that kind of thing, right?

Andy:

Exactly. A good thing to do as part of this process for yourself, once again, if we're talking to the race director that's kind of doing everything is to go look at even some brands outside of the space on Instagram and look at their feed or at their wall and identify some of these things. You're going to see it pretty openly. You can also look at some larger races that do a decent job at it and you're going to be able to see. Look for the contrast and then save those as screenshots in a file for yourself so that you can use them as a guide for creating it for yourself later. I always do that. I always screenshot and save ads and images. And so, okay, now my brain is moving, now I see some different creative ways to do this. And then you can take that and go to the drawing board with your brand and do it. And then really the unlock is, and we talked about this before off camera, it's worth it to pay a designer to go create 40 of these for you. The only thing you need to do to do that - well, obviously, have a small budget to do it - is to give them a guide on what you want it to look like. So if you have an understanding of what your contrast will be, you could say,"Create this for these 20 images." And they're going to have a consistent look and feel for that contrast. It's going to represent your version of what contrast is for your brand. And so you could have that consistency that will get you out of trying to figure this all out on your own and it's pretty cost-effective to do it.

Panos:

What's your go-to place for hiring people like that? Because I know these days, you can do it at a relatively reasonable cost to have someone actually do all of that work for you if you don't feel like doing it yourself, which most people wouldn't. Canva is a great tool in terms of hiring people to work on Canva for you and maybe do more professional end products if you like. What would be your go-to place for hiring someone like that?

Andy:

I think one of our shared favourites is Upwork.

Panos:

Absolutely, we use that a lot.

Andy:

So Upwork is very good. And in the process, remote.co is another one. We have people we work with in Latin America and the Philippines through a website called shepherd.com - I believe it is. You can have designers for as cheap as $1,500 a month, $1,000 a month that can create enough content for your social calendar for six months within maybe a month. The great thing about Upwork too is you can do project-based work. They don't have to be on your contract payroll every month. You could create project briefs for them, which I would do if this is your first time doing it. I would create a project brief. What is that? That's kind of all the stuff I talked about when you create a Facebook ad. What's the start date? What's the end date? What do we want this to look like? What's the copy? And you give that to a designer and you ask them to go and let's say the project's $250 because you've estimated it to be X amount of hours and their hourly rate is let's say $60, which is $60 would be a pretty solid designer, pretty good designer. You could have them do that project and provide you with those designs and work with them and see if it's something that is palpable for you. Do they do good work great? If not, move on to somebody else. That probably derisks that operation, that's probably the best way to do it for a designer at the start versus bringing them on as a monthly type of thing. But I would just start there with Upwork honestly. And then if you're looking for more of a full-time person that's not in the United States, which is the most cost-effective option if that's what we're talking about, I would look at remote.co or shepherd to find offshore talent, who speak fluent English and are really, really solid at what they do.

Panos:

I think one of the issues that parts of the industry is facing - I'm thinking of race directors - and I see it very often in our Facebook group. Race directors have lots of questions around that - people who are struggling with growing registrations, and they sort of don't really know where to turn to or what to do. And I suspect that some of this stuff, you start thinking Canva, I need to spend some time on this, I need to hire someone maybe to do a little bit of work, planning everything out and helping me through all of that and it sort of, in their head, starts building up into a budget. And I think many people don't have the confidence to pull the trigger on that and just say, "This is how modern online advertising is done. I need to do that." And they just sort of freeze like deer in headlights kind of thing, and I think they shouldn't, right? It's how the game is played these days. I don't think it's at all possible, to be honest, to think about growing a race in any reasonable size without having to bite the bullet and start doing all of these things. Do

Andy:

I agree. I agree fully. Our company Eventgrow from the you agree? start has been focused on growing the bottom line. I always knew that a way to be a valuable resource to this community is that if I grow bottom lines as part of our business for these races, then we would be a valuable asset for years to come. I knew that if we just charged people, we just created catchy designs and redid their website, and did a few other campaigns that didn't drive growth, we wouldn't last. And so, if growth is truly what you're after, then assigning a budget to growth is what's required to do so. It doesn't have to be a huge budget. You don't have to spend$50,000 on Meta ads at the start. Maybe you start with five, maybe you start with 10. Alright. And what I find with race directors is the best time to do this is, right after the event, planning your growth path. Because what happens is with race directors - and you guys listening might align with this - when you start to get closer to what I call the production schedule, working and ensuring that the event gets off, that the timer is set, that all of the production aspects need to occur, it is very difficult to then start to try to inject marketing into that part of the process. It's very hard to do that. So if you can plan out, "Okay, here's generally what I'd like to spend. Here are the resources I need to be able to deploy that budget and drive the growth." For example, I need to run some Facebook ads. Is that me doing that? If that's me, map out when those ads are going to kind of start and understand that that's going to take time to do. So if that's you, that's okay. Just map that out and make that part of your process. And then, in addition, email marketing is another big one - probably the biggest driver of sales. Who's doing that? Map that out as part of your process, as part of your growth process. And then a great place to outsource the number one thing you should outsource, the first thing you should outsource from a marketing standpoint is your design, your creation of your social graphics, even your creation potentially of your advertisements. If you can get that off of your plate as a race director, then that allows you to focus on other areas of your business and then also allows you to-- when you get into your production schedule, which we know can be very, very time consuming, you have somebody working on the other stuff. But you do because you planned it out in advance those months where there's, let's call, a little bit of downtime. That's when you plan that stuff out so that you have it taken care of later on. Because we all know, once you get to three months out, it is very hard to start to implement some form of a marketing plan. It's too late. It's too late at that point.

Panos:

Right. Well, it's too late because, as you say, you have lots of other things on your plate and it's probably not too early to have started trying to get people through your marketing funnel. I mean, it also takes a few interactions between Instagram and Facebook and email and kind of all your touchpoints for people to get to a stage where you can convert them to register for the event, right?

Andy:

I recall the average is six or seven touchpoints before a sale needs to occur. Six or seven marketing touchpoints need to occur before a sale. So that's on average. It could be more or could be less depending on the audience you're hitting. But yeah, you have to have had a considerable amount of campaigns already running just to get them to a place to where they're making a purchase.

Panos:

I want to circle back to Instagram-specific stuff a little bit. I mentioned filters earlier which is a big thing. Do you recommend people-- do you use filters yourself when you're posting on Instagram? Is this something you would encourage people to do? And if so, because again you can get lost in all the options, is there a particular couple that work well for the kinds of images we all use like the running image, the finish line, or any that you would avoid? Is there a kind of filter that just wouldn't work well either brand-wise or topic-wise in the endurance industry for advertising on Instagram?

Andy:

I go back to what we talked about before in not just the contrast piece but overall. Sometimes photographers, what they'll do is they'll create a LUT, which is essentially a filter for their photos, so that their photos all have a consistent look and feel. Some might be more of, like, a sepia tone or some might like a high-contrast look. You'll look at photographers' Instagram pages and you'll see, "Okay, this is Tyler, this is his style." And you point at it and you say, "Okay, I can see there's alignment in his style." You want to do something similar, at least for kind of the larger portion of your posts and ads around your style. It's kind of maintaining your brand guide and your brand style. And when you create a style, that could be a filter, that could be a specific overlay, maybe you put a slight blue. Let's say your brand colour is navy blue. Maybe you have, like, a slight navy blue overtone over your normal images - just slight, not heavy, slight. Okay, now, that's what you've put your line in the sand of, like, that's kind of what we look like. That's the important thing to start with, I think. is. Do that and then you can say, "That's us. That looks like us. There's, like, alignment on that look." So that's number one. Number two. With Instagram, you can test a lot of things to make your posts fun like using humour. You can incorporate humour into your captions. We find a lot of success with memes. If you want to look at posts to get some of the highest likes and engagement, there are memes. Go on to ChatGPT or Google, search,"Great runner memes" and recreate those. Create 20 or 30 memes and have those posted on a weekly basis, maybe one meme a week. That's a cool way to bring humour to your post and to drive engagement. It's a great engagement driver. It's also light-hearted. It kind of allows your brand to-- it's not a brand or a product post or a sales post. We're talking about kind of creating a different mix. Another thing, interactive polls and quizzes are a great way to create engagement. So what questions can we ask runners that will resonate with runners that will get them to click or interact on a poll? Something like a training question or something like laying out those types of questions where a simple click can get-- rate the top songs on this running playlist, something like that. That's a great thing to do. We talked about behind the scenes content with your brand. That's another opportunity. And then, user-generated content. I think this is something we should talk about but user-generated content is growing very rapidly. And so there's a couple ways you can leverage this. You want to try to identify the people that are already posting about your brand or event and you can do that by monitoring your hashtags. You can monitor your account channels to see who's tagging you in their stories and you can build a list of those influencers, find the best ones, and reshare their posts. This is a great opportunity for you to create something that you didn't really create. You always want to ask for permission. So ask for permission to share posts. And then, you can take that even a step further by adding those people to your "marketing team" where you can pay influencers to post for you on a regular basis. Some influencers that are smaller, with less than 20,000 followers, what I call micro-influencers, can post maybe a couple of posts for$100, $150, and it can be very cost-effective because they're storytelling for your brand and you can share that natively on your feed.

Panos:

Yeah, the whole user-generated side of things and micro-influencers is a really, really interesting development that I think sort of first started out on Instagram, didn't it? I mean, it wasn't a Facebook thing. I think probably Instagram was the one that brought micro-influencing and that kind of interaction to the world as we know it. Is that right?

Andy:

Yeah, Instagram has been really big for that. In fact, that's probably one of the bigger distinctions between what's going on Instagram and Facebook - the influencing piece is happening on Instagram - and this kind of turned into a marketing channel for us. I mean, our paid media budget now has influencers on it. It didn't have that before. So instead of paying maybe Meta or Google as much as we would be, we are now paying influencers to create the content for us and we're then sharing that content natively as part of our marketing schedule. Identify these folks, put them on a list, and start building that list for the future. And then, if you find, you'll find there are a few people who are probably really good at creating engaging content already. It's their job. A lot of them, this is what they do. They get paid to post. You can reach out to them and create a partnership with them where you'll discuss how much they get paid per post. You'll then send them what's called a project brief, which is super simple. It basically says,"Here's our brand, here is what we care about, and here's the type of content that we'd be interested in you posting. Send it over by January 7." And rinse and repeat. You do that. So, over the course of a few months and you get maybe 5, 6, 7, 8 videos, and then, "Send us the video and we'll share it." And so this is a great way to, on your feed and on your page, kind of have that look and feel that looks very, very storytelling, connected with a consumer, less brandy salesy type of thing, if that makes sense. So what kind of content would you tasked them with delivering? So as an example, I just would love it if listeners had a kind of, like, crisper, more precise idea of what that looks like. What kind of content would you ask them to produce for you? And how would you use that? An influencer content or creative brief could include something like, "We want to talk about--" Let's say there's a programme that you're running, maybe it's a community programme, where you're going to give back a certain amount of money for every registration that comes in at a certain time period to a charity or something like that. It could be an initiative thing to where you go to them and say, "Hey, we have this initiative. Can you just create some everyday content like showing part of your training journey? And then at the end, talk about, really quickly, this initiative. And oh, by the way, this half marathon is giving back XYZ to this local awesome community. Check it out. Just click the link in bio or click here to learn more." That could be something. You could also just have, like, training vignettes. So if these influencers are training for your event, which a lot of them are, provide them with a free coupon code and say,"Can you tag can you create a couple of Instagram influencer kind of stories that describe your training journey? A lot of them will do like, "Here's my morning. I woke up." Shows them eating oatmeal. "Here's what I eat for breakfast. Then out for my first run. Gotta do six miles today. Here's my training plan. And then boom, I finished. Here's my shake or whatever. By the way, sign up for this race or check this race out." So like, the whole video is really storytelling. And then at the end, there's an opportunity for them to learn more about the brand. The ads kind of flipped in that sense to where they're not selling anything really until the end and it's more of a soft sale. What's powerful is that it's storytelling and it's not the brand asking for the sale. It's the influencer talking about the brand. That third-party social proof from somebody else is really impactful for, I think, brands because they don't have to do the selling. They let the influencer do the selling for them.

Panos:

Well, and as you say, I mean, it sounds like a lot of

Andy:

Yeah, exactly. Where you could potentially start with this micro-influencer stuff then sort of naturally blurs into something like this is you could start by creating what's called what people would perhaps more traditionally understand as a a UGC campaign. UGC is simply user-generated content, which is race ambassador, right? I mean, these are the same kinds of people that would then-- maybe as part of all of these, influencer content. You could run a campaign that calls out particularly if there are people who as you say, which I think your current user base to see who would be interested in needs to be authentic, they could have been people that took creating content. "Hey, we're building a team of influencers an interest in your race, maybe they're a fan of your race and then you can sort of support each other and then they can that love our brand, that are interested, that love running, I also be race ambassadors for you and go around in other races do should say, that are interested in producing content." And a lot other stuff, as well as doing all these online posting and of these folks are already doing this. This is a business model content creation. for these people. Right? I mean, influencers are everywhere. It's not just the top 100,000 view-type people. The ones that are impactful, I think, in running are the ones that are, like, 2,500, 5,000, followers, 15,000 - that's the micro-influencer kind of category - and run a campaign and say, "We'd like to know if you're interested. Click here to connect with us." And you can go look at their wall and see who's posting regularly about running and then align with those people. And create a package with them where they're going to get a free entry to your race, maybe they're going to get a t-shirt or some other type of free giveaway or value piece and then you agree to have them post through a schedule for you for your marketing. And you can kind of work out what-- if they charge per post, they're gonna let you know that. And if it fits in your budget, you can work that out. And then, you have this list now of people that are working for you. And as time goes on, you evaluate the performers - who's performing well, who's doing well - and you keep working with the performers. And the ones that are not performing, the contents just not working, you continue to try to work with them, maybe identify somebody else. And you could start with just two people, three people doing this and, now, through a campaign you've created, you have a small little team of call it ambassadors or influencers that are connected with your brand that are constantly posting for you. That would be a great place to start - a simple place to start.

Panos:

In terms of where you are now with the races that you work with, where would you say is the split of budgets that you allocate between traditional Instagram ads and micro-influencers? So like, how do you think about splitting that budget? Or how does it end up being split de facto with

Andy:

That's a great question. I'd say 60% of the budget is going to be going towards the big paid media channels, so Meta, which would include Facebook and Instagram. Google ads are in there. Any retargeting platforms, we use ad roll as a couple of other ones, which allows us to do a little bit more display retargeting. And then, the influencer budget what you're doing today? is actually starting to grow on the distribution or the allocation piece. It started with 5%, I think, about a year and a half ago. A couple of our clients now have it up to almost as high as 15% of their total paid budget paying influencers. A good place to start would be 10%, maybe of your total budget would be allocated towards influencer marketing. You mentioned ambassadors before. These two terms are kind of blending because ambassadors are likely already influencers. They're likely creating content already if they're an ambassador, so to speak. So you call this as part of that. I would start at around 10% and then start to increase from there once you start to see performance.

Panos:

And in terms of performance, how do you see the return on investment on that money put into micro-influencers compared to what you get out of just traditional paid ads? Is it a good return you're getting out of that?

Andy:

Yeah, the return-- when looking at conversions, it's actually a little bit difficult to evaluate the return on somebody just posting on social media because those posts aren't necessarily connected to the conversion funnel. For example, when you run an ad, it does tell you how many people signed up from that ad. When you make a post, it doesn't do that. It's hard to do that, at least, in the endurance space. The registration platforms-- it's very difficult to connect the post with the sale. So the way you evaluate a good influencer post would be engagement. Did that post get considerable engagement? That engagement, you'd assume would help increase the amount of eyeballs on your other stuff, which then you'd get them to sign up from at another date. Once you get comfortable and you get influencers that are getting highly engaging content, the move to make would be to then actually have the influencer create an ad for you. So essentially, what we do is we take the influencer posts that do really well and then we add a call to action to sign up at the end and we run that as a Meta ad. You see, that can then be tracked, that can look at, you can see ROI from that. But that usually only happens once you find influencers that-- I would only do that with influencers that are already getting good engagement, clicks, likes, comments, and engagement rates high on their current posts. You say, "Okay, this is something we should elevate and actually put into a paid media campaign and Meta to drive sales."

Panos:

And you said that that would go out of your account or the influencer's account? Which one would be the account actually paying and sponsoring the ad?

Andy:

Your account. You would do that from your ads manager. And there is a little tab in there, I believe, that says, "This is a multi-advertiser ad or partnership ad." And you select that and then you select the partner by selecting their Instagram handle, I believe. And the ad would traffic from your account, not from the influencer's account because that's the only way you could track if it drove a sale. You take the influencer's video ad that you've created with them or they've created and then sent to you, you make sure that has a call to action to register and you run that from your ads manager. Now, an ad'ditional thing to do that would be wise would be to provide a coupon code for each of these influencers. So in addition to Meta providing the conversion metrics, we'd go back to the old tried-and-true form of tracking that we've used for years in the coupon code, which would be an additional metric to give you the information to say, "Okay, Meta is telling me we drove 20 sales. We actually had 24 coupons used. I can make a determination if this was a ROI-positive campaign."

Panos:

And in all this, is it also possible to have that ad that you've created with the influencer content targeted at the influencer's audience as well as other people? Like, is there a way to actually say-- because I'm guessing that would be a warmer audience than just a flat-out cold, random targeted audience. Can you actually run that ad to run and be shown to people who are familiar with the influencer?

Andy:

From your native events advertising account, unless the influencer had a paid media account meaning they were running ads themselves, they could potentially share an audience with you. I'm assuming most influencers or a lot of the micro ones don't have that as the case. And if they don't have that as the case, then it really goes down to your targeting metrics to ensure that you're targeting people that are similar to that person. What I would do is I would make sure that the influencer also posts that ad on their page as well. That way, their audience did see it. Right? Like, that's how you'd get to their audience - making sure that the influencer posted it and it hits their 10,000 followers.

Panos:

That's been super interesting. I'm really glad you brought up the whole micro-influencer thing because it wasn't really on my radar for today. But I think it's a very interesting aspect of the whole Instagram world of advertising. And I'm really glad we got to spend some time on this. That's pretty much everything I had. Do you think there's anything we didn't cover in terms of Instagram and I guess there's one-on-one on micro-influencers that's worth going over?

Andy:

I think we covered a lot of ground. I mean, there's a lot of other things that you could focus on. But one of the takeaways I would say is the content mix. We didn't talk about really the type of content- what's the distribution or the ratio for sharing content that salesy versus value add versus entertaining? And so, I would say, the ratio to try to shoot for would be 1/3 of the content be value add - training, nutrition, things of that nature. 1/3 of the content is engaging content, community building, quizzes, polls, charities, missions, things of this nature. And 1/3 of the content is promotional. So 1/3 value add, 1/3, engaging community building, and 1/3 promotional. That's your ideal mix. If two-thirds of your content is promotional, I can tell you right now, unless you have a huge paid media budget, you're gonna have an issue with engagement rates. The engagement rates are going to be very low. In fact, you could probably look at your posts and you can see, from a posting standpoint, if your Instagram posts are constantly promotional, they'll probably have a pretty low engagement rate.

Panos:

Yeah, that makes sense, as does the thing that you just mentioned and you mentioned before, and I want to comment on which was the whole poll thing. I mean, polls, questions, anything that can generate a response and engagement is always a winner. It had been a winner from the Facebook days. It is a winner on Instagram. It's a great way to get some engagement out of it, as is the very important point you mentioned about grabbing someone's attention. The guest I had in my Tiktok episode, Oli Hills who runs a very successful TikTok agency in London-- they only do TikTok. He has an uncanny ability on LinkedIn, which is not the most exciting of social media to start all of his posts because they too get truncated after, I think, 135 characters or something like that. He has an uncanny ability, just in one sentence, to grab your attention. And when his posts come up, I always click the "Show More" button. So I think circling back, just really quickly back to what you were saying about copy and how to grab attention and basically have a good punch line on the above the fault, so to speak, part of the post. So that's super, yeah. As you said, I think we've covered quite a lot of ground here. I'm really happy. I hope people found it useful. So I want to thank you, Andy, for the fourth or fifth time in a row for taking the time to come on the podcast. As always, it's been super educational for all of us. So thank you very much.

Andy:

Thank you for having me once again.

Panos:

For people who may not be familiar with Eventgrow and yourself, how can they reach out to you?

Andy:

From an email standpoint, marketing@eventgrow.com. I'm answering questions constantly from folks that are looking for answers to specific marketing questions or strategies. And then, eventgrow.com is just a great place to go to kind of figure out what it is that we do, who we work with, and how we help customers. And if you want to look at working with us, you can just go to eventgrow.com and click on the "Let's talk" button. Or somewhere in the upper right hand corner, there'll be a button where you can engage with us and we can take a look and see if it makes sense to partner up and grow your race for next year.

Panos:

Absolutely. And if I remember the last time I came on the website, there' are lots of great case studies on the things you were mentioning about working with Buffalo Marathon and others, so people can you know, get a slight taste behind the scenes on the kinds of things you guys have accomplished for others, which I think is super important. And also, again, we shouldn't forget about Raceplace. I don't know why I keep banging on about Raceplace. I'm a big fan. But if anyone listening in, you're US-based, and you haven't listed your race on Raceplace, absolutely do that now - free traffic, great website, lots of people are going to find your event through that. And with that, I want to thank you very much, again, for taking the time to come on the podcast. I really appreciate it.

Andy:

Well, thanks for having me. And hopefully, let's do it again in the new year and I'll give you a topic now that I think it'd be interesting. I'll just throw it out there in the ether and see if we get to it - leveraging AI to supercharge your marketing efforts as a one-person race director operation.

Panos:

Okay, you heard it here guys. I think, legally, this is called a verbal contract, so you're on the hook now. We're going to be doing this AI episode because you know what? Absolutely just do that. It sounds super fascinating. And I can already see how it can be really, really practical. One of the things that I'm a little bit hesitant to do on the podcast with these kinds of, like, more outer kind of topics is focus on something that means not be practical enough but I know you-- because you must have spent hours and hours on ChatGPT alone, so I know there's practical stuff coming out of that. So we won't put a date on it yet but you're on the hook for that. So we're going to do this episode. People keep an eye out for that. And we are going to be doing the AI episode. So thank you very much, Andy. Much appreciated once again. We'll see you in the next year for this recently announced AI episode. Thank you guys listening in. And we'll see you guys on our next podcast! I hope you enjoyed today's episode on Instagram and influencer marketing with Eventgrow's Andy Reilly. You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com. You can also share your thoughts about some of the things discussed in today's episode or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub. Many thanks again to our awesome podcast sponsor RunSignup for sponsoring today's episode. And if you enjoyed this episode, please don't forget to subscribe on your favourite player, and do check out our podcast back-catalogue for more great content like this. Until our next episode, take care and keep putting on amazing races.