5 Tips For Recording Video From Your Smartphone

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Today, the smartphone right in your pocket can be incredibly helpful when it comes to capturing any moment in action. With a little practice and these tips, you can start recording quick, engaging videos for social media, all from your phone. 

Landscape or Portrait?

When choosing how you'll be filming, you first need to consider where you plan to post the video. If you're posting videos to Snapchat or Instagram 'Stories,' you'll want to record in portrait orientation. This is also common practice when recording yourself and posting on Facebook and Instagram as this format also looks best on mobile (where the majority of people are watching video).

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It's All About The Lighting

Without good lighting, especially on a smartphone, the quality of your video will suffer. With that said, the best source of lighting is your friend, mother nature. But if you're indoors, try to have as many light sources as possible. PRO TIP: Set up your camera so that light comes from behind it to avoid overexposure and lens flare.

Nice and Steady

Keeping your smartphone camera steady is crucial for the best quality video. If you prefer stationary shots, consider using a tripod for the ultimate steady and clear photo. Don't have a tripod? Improvise! Try to find something to support your smartphone on, such as a railing or table. If you're all about mobility and taking quick shots when the moment is right, release the shutter only when your hands are steady. 

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Crop (Don't Zoom)

Our smartphone cameras are equipped with some awesome features at our disposal, but the zoom function is one we shouldn't use. Why? Unfortunately, our phones don't have fancy lenses. Instead, smartphone cameras use a digital zoom that essentially guesses the details of the image and reducing the quality dramatically. Instead of zooming in, move the camera closer, or just crop your enlarged photo later. 

Keep it Short

SQUIRRELL! Whether it's due to a short attention span or not, video needs to get to its point quicker than ever. Studies reveal that videos have just 10 seconds to grab an audience without a dropoff in engagement. Twitter videos are capped at 30 seconds, Instagram at 60-second maximum and Snapchat videos are capped at 10 seconds. So do your best to keep them short, sweet, and to the point.

3 Ways to Use Instagram Stories for Your Business

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Use Links in Stories to Increase Website Traffic

As marketers, links can provide value and context to a story that can benefit you and the viewer. Fortunately, Instagram allows users to embed links to a Stories collection (if you have a business profile with over 10,000 followers). 

If you're promoting products or services, Instagram Stories is a great place to share clickable links to capitalize on the engagement. You can send your followers to a specific landing page, product page, or even a blog post. Make sure to add a call-to-action letting people know to swipe up to drive more traffic to your website.

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Use Polls in Instagram Stories

Instagram Story Polls lets you ask a question and see results from your friends and followers as they vote. The buttons "YES" and "NO" by default, can be customized to anything under 22 to create a fun way to engage with your followers. Maybe you're introducing a new summer line and want quick feedback. With Polls, you can collect insight into what your target audience wants in a product or service prior to launch. You can see your poll results by swiping up to open the viewer's list for that part of your story. And just like Stories, your poll will dissapear after 24 hours.

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Share Live Videos on Instagram Stories

Before a recent update, live videos couldn't be replayed after you were done streaming, meaning followers had to be tuned in to your broadcast to catch it. Now, you can share the replay of your video one you've finished. 

The best part of a live video? They can be as long as they want so you can say even more to get your message across without having to explain it in 10-second clips. It's a great way to give your followers a first look at special events, promotions, or any other important information. Going live alerts your followers so that engagement and interaction are as high as possible. This is a great time to answer questions and comments about your brand, product, or services from users tuning in. 

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The Best Facebook and Instagram Hacks of 2017

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If you're a marketer, keeping up with the latest social media changes can sometimes be overwhelming. That's why we've come up with the best social media hacks that we've tried and tested to keep your content fresh on many social media platforms. 

Facebook

Turn post likes and reactions into fans

Need a quick way to increase your Pages like's and organic reach? This trick can help your page fanbase grow with just a little bit of effort. 

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  1. Click on the likes of a post on your Page
  2. A window will pop-up(like above) where you can individually invite people to like your page that already hasn't

Post at the best times

Find out when more of your fans are online in the Insights areas behind your page. 

  1. Click Posts on the left side of your Page
  2. Then click the When Your Fans Are Online tab
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Search past posts by keyword

Want to see how a previous post performed? Or maybe you just need to see if it has been posted before already. 

  1. On your Business Page, click Publishing Tools
  2. Then click Published Posts on the left side tab and type in any keyword into the search feed
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This is also a great way to compare reach, engagement, and times they've been posted.

Instagram

Hide posts you don't want to be seen

An easy way to clean up and remove posts from your Instagram gallery without completely deleting them is by archiving. The best part, you can retrieve any archived posts at any time. To do this:

  1. Open the photo from your gallery that you want to archive
  2. Click the three dots at the top right of the post
  3. Press archive and voila, it won't be seen until you unarchive it. 

Automatically save all your Instagram stories

Instagram allows you to automatically save your published stories to your camera roll so you can find them and share them later on. To save every story:

  1. Open the Instagram Stories camera
  2. Press the settings button in the top left corner
  3. Swipe the "Auto Save Stories" to on

Post Multiple Images

Stop overwhelming your followers with multiple posts, one photo at a time. Blue dots at the bottom of a photo lets your followers know that they can swipe to see more images or videos. To do this:

  1. Tap the first image you want to add
  2. Tap the Select Multiple icon on the bottom right of the image
  3. Select up to 10 photos and videos from your phone's library
  4. Next, you can crop/edit/filter/reorder your images and videos
  5. Tag an Instagram user or location
  6. Tap share
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5 Social Media Marketing Trends For 2018

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As we draw closer to the end of 2017, it's time to look at what the new year has to bring to the social media marketing landscape.

With the innovation of technology in 2017, we saw trends like AI, chatbots, and augmented reality become new ways for brands to get their message across. We also saw social media platforms continue to exceed expectations, proven by these statistics:

  • 2.56 billion global mobile social media users - with 1 million new active users added every day (Source: We Are Social).
  • More than 50 million small businesses use Facebook Pages to connect with their customers (Source: Facebook).
  • Nearly 71% of the population that benefits from good social media service tend to be evangelists for a brand (Source: Ambassador). 

With that said, here are a few trends to keep an eye on for social media in 2018:

1. More Mobile-Compatible Content

According to comScore's 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report, mobile apps account for 60 percent of all digital media usage, and smartphone apps alone capture more than half of digital media time spent. One can only guess what the top mobile app is. Yes, it's Facebook.

While it's important for an ad to be seen, it's even more critical that it is compatible with mobile and formatted for the best user experience. As such, we'll see more brands creating content specifically for smartphones.

2. Video, Video, Video

In 2017, marketers found out the importance of video content across all channels. While YouTube remains the king of video content, Facebook videos receive 135% more organic views in comparison to photos AND video views are on the rise on Twitter and Instagram -- What's not to like about that!? 

As static visuals continue to decrease in engagement, videos present a better way for brands to tell a story and connect with users, so we expect this trend to continue into 2018. 

3. Influencer Marketing

While the concept isn't that new, social media influencers gained a whole lot of popularity in 2017 to help increase reach and brand reputation. As companies and brands begin to realize the importance of authentic content, this is a strategy we can watch out for in the coming year. 

4. Live Content & Stories

Live streaming and stories were a huge hit in 2017, providing marketers with new content to create for the masses. These features saw upwards of 200 million+ in viewership daily and were included on premier platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. 

Live content showed us it's ability to get followers excited and engaged as more brands leveraged this strategy to do product demonstrations and show videos of real people using them. Expect more brands to add fun and engaging stories and live streams to their content next year. 

5. Augmented Reality

What is Augmented Reality?

AR is a technology that transforms your current environment by adding digital information to your line of sight (think, Pokemon GO & Snapchat hotdog filter). 

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AR has recently gained more popularity as bigger brands like Apple, Snapchat, and Facebook begin to create their own AR products to stay ahead of the game. For social media use, brands like Estée Lauder invites users to try out different shades of lipstick from wherever you are, through LipArtist, a Facebook Messenger bot. Find the shade you like? You can then proceed to the brand's website to make a purchase. 

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What other trends should marketers be thinking about as they prepare for the year ahead? Let us know in the comments below!

 

5 Twitter Chats Marketers Should Follow

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A tweetchat is an organized Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag. Generally, the pre-arranged chat is moderated and focused on a particular topic. It's a great way to build a community, create exposure for your brand, and stay up-to-date with various trends in your industry. Check out 5 Twitter Chats that can be useful for marketers. 

1. #SocialChat

As you would imagine, this discussion is based on best practices and trends in the social media marketing industry. The weekly tweetchat is hosted by Alan K’necht of Digital Always Media and Michelle Stinson Ross of Search Engine Journal every Monday at 9 pm EST.

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2. #BufferChat

Buffer hosts a Twitter chat series every Wednesday at 10 am EST with topics ranging from productivity to branding. You can also find recaps of all past Bufferchats on their website. 

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3. #HootChat

Twitter users can follow along with Hootsuite's #HootChat every Thursday at 3 pm EST. This discussion group is hosted by different experts every week, sharing valuable insights to help boost your social media strategy. This chat is one of the more popular groups, generating thousands of mentions when live.

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4. #EcomChat

This Twitter Chat focuses on e-commerce and digital marketing best practices. Hosted by experienced digital professionals, James Gyrd and Dan Barker, Twitter users can connect with this group every Monday at 6 am EST. People of all levels and interests are welcome, whether contributing or simply listening.

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5. #LinkedInChat

Every Tuesday night at 8 pm EST, Con Patrick Sweney moderates a tweetchat on LinkedIn. This discussion is open to anyone who has questions about LinkedIn, complaints about LinkedIn, and best practices for networking. 

 

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Have you participated in a Twitter chat? How did it help? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions to Ask When Hiring a PR Firm

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Telling the story of your business can sometimes be challenging with the noise that consumers are constantly exposed to. Even with marketing and social media efforts on your own, your brand could become lost in that noise, which would cause minimal reach to potential customers. So, how do you reach people BEYOND these means to tell your story? Enter Public Relations.

PR can take on many forms, but it is most popularly known for acquiring earned media features via storytelling and pitching to journalists. Handling public relations on your own as a business owner or marketer is possible, but also may be very time-consuming and overwhelming. Without the proper tools, connections, knowledge and experience, it may be best to hand over your PR efforts to the pros.

If you’re considering hiring a PR firm, there are several questions that you should consider when selecting the right partner.

Do they have the media connections to make an impact?

If you're a business with local customers only, make sure the PR firm is well-connected within your community. If a PR agency has already made these connections in your town, it should be much easier for them to pitch media features and book those media segments.

If you're a business that serves customers nationally, make sure that the PR firm you choose has the proper tools to reach journalists on a national scale and also has experience pitching within your company’s industry. For example, if you’re launching a new beauty mobile app, you’d most likely want to work with a PR agency that has experience pitching beauty and/or tech brands to journalists nationwide.

What successful PR campaigns have they worked on in the past?

A public relations firm must be able to prove results from past campaigns to prove their past success. When you meet with a potential PR partner, ask about the most recent or successful campaigns they created. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask to see results from those past campaigns.

Additionally, a confident PR firm should also be able to provide you with general ideas for PR campaigns for your own business. For example, if you’re the owner of an upscale men’s hair salon, a potential campaign idea would be to give away a free straight razor shave to men in your community who raise the most money to support cancer awareness during “No-Shave November”.

Are they able to understand your brand?

Communications is a large part of public relations. You'll want to work with a PR firm that completely understands your brand, mission, and values so that they can properly communicate with media and the public when telling your story. Often times, journalists will request information right before the deadline and when that happens, you’ll want to ensure that you’re working with a PR agency that can answer tough questions on the spot and represent your brand in a way that you trust.

How will they measure results?

Even though certain pieces of PR campaigns can be hard to measure, it is important to receive data on as many metrics as possible when working with a PR firm. This data can include article views, new business leads, TV segment views, social media metrics, etc. When choosing a PR firm, be sure to ask how they measure their results and how often you’ll be receiving a report with these data points.

What is your communication process?

When hiring a PR firm, the business owner will most likely be very much involved in decision making and relaying information to the PR team. Hiring a PR agency that is able to communicate often and clearly with you and your team is extremely important.

Working with a smaller PR firm can often result in a more personalized service and could also mean that you’ll be working with a more experienced senior-level team member. However, working with a larger firm could mean having access to more resources and talent, but may also result in you being paired with junior team members, who are less experienced.

Still have questions about public relations or hiring a PR firm? Send us a message to get the conversation started. We’re happy to help!

Basic Photoshop Tools

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Creating images is a huge part of content creation. Whether they be photos or graphics, images help tell a story for brands using social media, PR, email marketing, blog posts, and more.

Photoshop is one of the most used photo-editing software that can be used for most image creation needs, but it can also be a very intimidating program unless you understand some of the basics. Read below to learn the basics of the Photoshop toolbar and its functions. These tools will help you to create your next masterpiece.

Move Tool

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The move tool simply lets you move objects in a given layer around the Photoshop canvas. To use it, click anywhere on the canvas and drag. As you drag, the Photoshop layer will move with your mouse.

Quick Selection Tool

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There are two ways to use the Quick Selection Tool. One is to simply click on different areas of the image just like you would with the Magic Wand. The most common way is to click and drag over the area you need to select as if you were painting with a brush. As you drag, Photoshop does its best to figure out the object that you're trying to select, often with precise results. To remove an area from a selection temporarily, select the "Subtract from selection" option in the Options Bar. You’ll need to remember to switch it back to the "Add to selection" mode when you're done or you’ll lose the tracing that was completed.

Crop Tool

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The crop tool is used to (you guessed it!) crop your pictures. You can specify the exact size and constrain the crop tool to those proportions, or you can just crop to any size.

Paintbrush and Pencil

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The paintbrush is a tool that mimics a paintbrush and the pencil is a tool that mimics a pencil, naturally. The paintbrush; however, can be set to many different kinds of brushes. You can paint with a standard paintbrush and airbrush styles, or even paint with leaves and other shapes as well.

Eraser Tool

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The erase tool is almost identical to the paintbrush, except it erases instead of paints.

Type Tool

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The type tool will allow you to type horizontally. Tools hidden beneath the horizontal type tool will let you type vertically and also create horizontal and vertical text masks.

Try these basic Photoshop tools to get started creating your marketing images.

5 Apps to Improve your Instagram Stories

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We all want our Instagram stories to stand out from the rest, right? These apps can make your stories unique by adding very cool features that will allow you to go beyond just using the Instagram tools already within the app.

Pocket Video

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Pocket Video is a great app for short video editing. The app consists of millions of stickers, GIFs or PNGs to add cool, cute or edgy decoration to your videos. And If have stunning graphics or photos on your phone, you can import those and also use them in your Instagram story videos.

With the Pocket Video app you’ll also have control to adjust the duration of text, titles, and images, so you can cue in anything at any time throughout your story. You can also render the video in HD quality, save it to your camera roll and post to your Instagram story.

Storeo

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Storeo allows you to create Instagram stories without a timer interrupting your videos or photos. Just keep the camera rolling, then let Storeo clip it afterward. When you’re ready, you can load these clips into your Instagram Story for seamless replay.

Hype Type

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Hype Type allows you to add animated text to your photos or video. Film or snap with the handy story-ready cam. The app handles multiple clips, Vine-style (R.I.P) or single photos. The app hosts different animated text styles and color schemes to use. Hype Type also provides easy-to-use editing tools for speeding up, slowing down, flipping, or reversing your videos. This means you’ll have more opportunity for your stories to stand out beyond motion typography.

Fyuse

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Fyuse is a 3D photography app. By combining photography and video, this app allows you to capture moments that one may not have otherwise by recording not one moment in time, but moments stitched together in little moments. This format has not been picked by all devices and platforms yet so the app also has an option to export any published Fyuse's to video, gif, or live photo. 

Adobe Spark Video

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Spark Video helps you create compelling video stories in no time at all. You can add and trim video clips that will stand out on within your Instagram stories. The themes can add cinema-quality animation to your video. No design experience needed and if you’d rather upgrade to the premium version, you can add your company logo to create branded content.

Ready to take your Instagram stories to the next level? Shoot us a message to chat with us about our social media marketing services!

 

4 Holiday Promotions to Increase Engagement

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The holidays are an exciting time when friends and family gather, but they’re also a time where sales can increase measurably for your business as consumers look for the best deals. Use these 4 holiday promotion ideas below to bring more awareness and sales of your product or service during the holiday season!

1. Sweepstakes 

Sweepstakes contests are a great way to give away prizes in exchange for information such as email addresses and phone numbers to build your marketing list. When creating a sweepstakes contest, you’ll want to make sure that the prize is worth it to the entrant to provide their private information. It’s also wise to create a contest with a low barrier to entry, which will make it more enticing for people to enter your sweepstakes.  

A good strategy for a holiday promotion would be to run different sweepstakes each day to create a sense of urgency, which will encourage entrants to fill out the form before the sweepstakes end at the end of each day. Having multiple people participating in daily sweepstakes promotions will increase awareness of your brand, social shares, and mentions, as well as website visits.

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2.  Photo Contest 

Photo contests will not only inform more people of your brand but can also be a clever way to acquire user-generated content. When creating an Instagram photo contest, be sure to set a contest-specific hashtag for all the users participating to use when posting their photos. While generic hashtags, like #holidaycontest or #holidaygiveaway, will widen the reach of your contest, they might also make it difficult for you to keep track of contestants. Be sure to select a hashtag that is specific to your brand or campaign. 

Another great way to get more eyeballs on your photo contest is to include voting as a way to select the contest winner. The photo with the most votes will win, which will encourage users to get others involved increasing engagement, awareness and new followers. Consumers love feeling like they’re a part of the brand so make sure to repost your favorites during the contest period as well!

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3. Video Contest 

Like the photo contest, user-generated content will also be a plus for this type of campaign. Ask your followers and customers to post videos that are unique and creative to receive the most impact. 

The prize offered should be of great value in order to make it worth the effort it takes to make a quality video. Create example videos to give your followers an idea of what you are looking for during the contest.

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4.  Coupons 

Coupons are very popular during the holidays considering most people love a good deal. Create special offers or coupons for your business throughout the holiday season and make them available on all social media platforms as well as on your website. 

Use a different discount code on each so you can track which social media platform works best. Make each coupon post shareable so that your followers will also share these great offers with their family and friends.  

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Any of these contests will be sure to increase engagement and awareness of your brand during this holiday season. Have you planned to launch your own holiday campaigns in 2018? Contact us to let us know what you’ve got in the works!
 

How to Create a Custom and Lookalike Audience on Facebook

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What are Custom and Lookalike Audiences?

Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences are created by the data acquired from your website traffic or engagement with your Facebook and/or Instagram accounts.

Custom audiences will allow you to create audiences from: 

  • Company databases 
  • Email lists 
  • People who have visited certain pages of your website
  • People who have watched particular videos on Facebook or Instagram
  • People who have responded to your Facebook events
  • People who have interacted with your mobile app

Once you've created these audiences you can target these groups with your ads. For example, if you have a newsletter that goes out to an email list every week, you can upload that list to Custom Audiences and then direct your ads to that particular group. 

Lookalike Audiences work hand-in-hand with your Custom Audiences. Once you've created a Custom Audience, Facebook will then find people who look like that Custom Audience and create a new group of Facebook users that have similar interests and demographics. This new audience is called a Lookalike Audience.

How to Create a Custom Audience

In the Ads Manager, you can access Custom Audiences in the Assets tab from the drop-down menu in the upper left-hand corner.

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From here, you'll need to create a new Custom Audience.

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A pop-up window will open and you'll choose which type of audience you want to create depending on your objective. 

For example, if we choose the Customer File option, you can upload your own CSV file, manually enter your data, or import a list from MailChimp. Facebook will now cross-reference your list of customers or subscribers with its own database. Rename your audience list so you can easily access this for later use. 

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How to Create a Lookalike Audience

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To create a Lookalike Audience to use on Facebook or Instagram, start by selecting your desired Custom Audience and location. You can only target one Lookalike Audience in one country at a time. For example, if you are advertising in the United States and want to create a Lookalike Audience from your email list, you will want to select the United States as your country and Email List Custom Audience. Facebook will then generate a new audience from your Custom Audience.

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Once you've created your Lookalike Audiences, you'll then be able to create your ads in Ads Manager using these Lookalike Audiences. But, you'll also need to add other demographic information such as location, interests, age, language, etc., to narrow your audience even further to ensure that you're creating the perfect audience for your ad. 

Would you like to learn more about creating Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences for your businesses? Contact us to schedule a social media marketing training session.