Working From Home: Welcome To The New Normal

 

So  you’re working from home now. Welcome to the dark side. We have cookies!

As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forces tens of millions of employees home, people are being pushed unexpectedly (and uncomfortably) into a work environment that can be surprisingly rewarding once you get used to it.

I’ve been working remote from home at least part time for my entire adult life – over 10 years. For the past year and a half, I’ve been working a full time salaried position at a marketing agency from my home office. My workspace has taken a wide variety of shapes – from being curled up on my bed in what was basically a tiny home to currently having my own dedicated office in my 4-bedroom house with a standing desk and 4 monitors (see photo at the top of this post).

I know what works, and what doesn’t.

I’m currently quarantined in my home due to the fact that my entire household is experiencing flu-like symptoms. With no easily accessible testing available yet, I don’t know if I have COVID-19… it is just as likely that we have Flu A, according to my doctor. My instructions have been to stay home and stay isolated.

Fortunately, this doesn’t significantly affect me. This is already my life. Every morning, I wake up, walk down the hall to my office and work at my desk for 8-12 hours before clocking out for the day. It puts a damper on my social life, but that is a luxury that I can afford to go without for a while.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for most people. The majority of people are not prepared to work from home. This new reality is very disruptive to their (your) life, adding stress to an already unpleasant quarantine experience.

Since I am trapped at home and unable to volunteer in any other manner, I will be writing a series of blog articles designed to help people like you transition to a work-from-home lifestyle… and love it. There are many advantages to working from home, and many ways to reduce the impact of the disadvantages.

Without further ado, I am going to jump right in and talk briefly on 7 ways you can make working from home an enjoyable and productive experience. I will be fleshing out each of these points in more details in the coming days.

Please share this article with your friends and on social media to help all of us make this transition an easy one.  Please comment on this article with any questions you may have about working from home, and I will do my best to answer them directly and in my future posts.

How To Enjoy Working From Home:

  1. Create a dedicated workspace. This cannot be understated. It will 100% make the difference between you loving and hating working from home. Even if you enjoy noise and the people you are surrounded by, it will drain your productivity and cause added stress. If you don’t realize that now, you will soon. This does not have to involve an elaborate setup – it just means that you need a separate space where you can isolate yourself from outside sounds and interruptions.
  2. Invest in adequate equipment. You don’t need a $3,000 workstation, but you do need a computer that will allow you to work quickly and efficiently. The most important change you can make to your computer setup will be a second monitor, assuming you don’t already have one. This is one of those things that you won’t realize you need until after you’ve gotten it… and then you won’t understand how you ever existed without it. This is because, unlike an office environment, when working from home, you will need that second monitor to talk to other people. You will be using videoconferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, or Slack – and unless you have a second monitor, you won’t be able to do much else until those calls have concluded. You will be shocked at how much of a difference this makes to your workflow and overall productivity.
  3. Get high speed internet. Satellite internet or DSL will not work. Period. The latency is far too high and speed too low for any kind of video or audio call to work. If you live in the city, you’ll need a cable or fiber connection. If you live in a rural area, look online for a “Fixed Wireless Internet Provider” in your area. These companies are typically small local businesses that provide high speed residential internet in rural areas that is many times faster than satellite. They attach a dish to your roof just like a satellite connection, but it is connecting to a local tower within 10 miles of your house instead of a satellite in space 22,000 miles away. If you don’t know of any high speed providers in your area, try searching on www.broadbandnow.com. In a pinch, comment below with your zip code and I’ll try to find one for you myself (I work in this industry).
  4. Pro Tip: Don’t overpay for internet. In a crisis like this, a lot of internet companies are going to try to sell you expensive “Work from Home” plans that you don’t need. You do not need a 1000Mbps (“Gigabit”) connection. Unless you are uploading and downloading large files all day, you likely won’t notice a difference in any connection over 25Mbps – as long as it is a low latency connection (unlike satellite). Even if you download and upload a lot of files, you don’t really need anything over 50-100Mbps. If you can get unlimited data, go for it… but don’t waste money paying extra for a “high speed” connection that you don’t really need.
  5. Plug into your router. A common misconception is that a high-speed wireless connection is basically the same thing as a wired connection with today’s technology. This is not true. It doesn’t matter how fast or reliable your wireless connection is, you will notice a huge difference in the quality of your video and audio calls if you are able to plug your computer into your router directly. This reduces latency and packet loss, the two biggest causes of video/audio issues on calls. This isn’t always possible, and it isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will make a big difference.
  6. Dress to impress. How you dress has a huge impact on how you think, even if you don’t realize it. Don’t sit around in your PJ’s on your couch all day. Put on clothes just like you are going to work – including your shoes. Just trust me on this one. It will allow your brain to accept the transition and shift into a productive state of mind.
  7. Sit up. Don’t lounge around on your couch or bed. Grab a real chair and work at a desk or table. Not only is this good for your posture, but it will do wonders for your mood and productivity levels. Also, come back to work at the same spot every day. Like the point above, just trust me on this one. These are lessons I’ve had to learn myself through years of trial and error.

That’s all I have for now. I’m going to work on fleshing these out into individual articles soon, and I’ll also be writing on additional topics, including:

  • How to build a home workstation
  • How to create a professional background for your webcam
  • What software do you need to work from home?
  • What kind of computer do you need to work from home?
  • What specific peripherals (mice, webcams, etc) will help you be more productive working from home?
  • How to avoid/eliminate distractions
  • How to be productive
  • And more…

 

What would you like me to talk about? What questions do you have about working from home? Light up that comment section!

 

Can You Run Facebook Video Ads In Sequence? Yes.

Sequenced video ads are an extremely powerful tool for education campaigns and high-dollar conversions, and are an extremely efficient way to run funnels.  You can show people one video ad until they watch it completely, then show them the next video in the sequence and ensure that they never see the first one again. It’s not simple, but it can be done. 

Article Difficulty Level: Advanced (Extremely!)

This post won’t include screenshots or tutorials. In this post, I’ll be explaining the concepts, then fleshing them out in a tutorial later – hopefully within a week or two.

Please note: As with all of my Advanced articles, I assume you have at least an intermediate-level understanding of the Facebook Ads Manager. 

Have you ever wanted to run video ads to an audience in sequence? There are many valuable uses for this. For example, if you’re trying to convert potential customers on a $1,000+ sale, you may want to show them an ordered series of informational posts, followed by FAQs, then some closing pitches. Or, maybe you’re working with a political organization or non-profit that wants to educate the public on an issue and is looking for an efficient way to do so. Or possibly, you’re just looking for a way to streamline your sales funnel and not waste money continuing to advertise to people that watch your main videos but never show any interest past your initial pitch.

Facebook ads are not necessarily designed to work this way, but the existing infrastructure can be manipulated in order to do so. When I say this, I mean that Facebook has not created any system for automating this. My hope is that they eventually will, but no current system exists (at least that I’m aware of).

“But Trey, what about ad sequencing?”

Ad sequencing on Facebook is not what I’m talking about here, let’s be clear. Ad sequencing shows people ads in a specific order. It cannot be tied to engagement or video views. What I’m talking about is showing someone one video after they’ve finished watching the previous video in your sequence.

Showing someone a series of ads doesn’t work. By my rough educated estimate, the average Facebook user sees over 150 ads per day. How many of those do you actually pay attention to? Very few. It is hard, if not difficult, to run an effective ad sequencing campaign that guarantees that people don’t see the following part of the sequence until they have completed viewing and understanding the previous part of the sequence.

I call this technique Manual Video Sequencing (MVS). Using MVS, you can run a video ad to your audience as many times as necessary until they finish watching Video 1, then run Video 2 to them as many times as it takes for them to watch it before running Video 3 to them. At each stage of the process, you can choose to stop running one or any of your previous video sequence ads to them. So, you can keep running them through Video 3, 4, 5, etc while continuing to show them Video 1, or you can ensure that they are never shown a video preceding their current place in your sequence.

As I said, hopefully Facebook will eventually come out with a tool to automate this. If you are reading this and work at Facebook, maybe you’ll pass this along to the right people. Who knows.

Okay, let’s get to work.

If you’ve read this far into this article, I assume you know what Custom Audiences are, and how they work. You can create a Custom Audience based on the amount of one or more of your specific videos that someone has watched. You can then use that Custom Audience to target people by inserting it into an Ad Set, adding it to a Saved Audience, or creating a Lookalike Audience.

To create a video sequence, you’ll need to upload every single video in your sequence into the Ads Manager. Go ahead and create all of your ads, leaving the targeting blank or randomly targeting a country. You’ll need to publish all the ads and immediately turn the campaigns off so they don’t run. This is because you can’t create a Custom Audience off of a video until you actually upload that video (duh). Even if the videos you’re using have already been uploaded, you’ll need to do it fresh, as your existing videos will already have views, causing those people to see them out of sequence once everything is up and running.

This is very important: You MUST create a NEW Ad Set for EACH video ad. This will not work at all if you put all videos in the same ad set, as you will have custom targeting settings for each video.

There are other ways to upload your videos for audience set up, but the above is the one I usually use. I’ll sometimes upload each ad, then create the next audience in the sequence and apply it one by one, but that’s a bit harder to walk you through if you aren’t already very familiar with the concept. Once you’ve done it for a while and gotten used to it, you may find that to be more efficient – and I’ll try to do a follow-up article at some point explaining the method.

Now, you’ll need to create a Custom Audience for each of your videos. You’ll find this in the “Engagement” section if you’ve never used it before. You will be able to choose your percentage of video watched, and the video(s) you want to apply the criteria to. The percentage you use to move people to the next video in the sequence will vary depending on your objectives. I usually set the first video in the sequence at only 25%, to push people into the funnel easier. Once in your sequencing funnel, I usually only move people to the next stage after they’ve  watched 75-95% of the current video. This will obviously depend on your media and objectives. If you don’t have your CTA or critical info until the end of your video, you’ll need to set it at 95%.

Do this for each of your videos. I usually label them [VIDEONAME] – [%%]% vv, or “Video 1 – 75% vv” – “vv” meaning “video views.”

After this, you’ll want to go back into your ad sets that you’ve created. On Video 1, you’ll target your current audience – whoever that may be. No narrowing. On the ad set for Video 2, you’ll add two Custom Audiences. First, include “Video 1 – 25% vv,” if you used my labeling system. Then, EXCLUDE “Video 2 – 95% vv,” or whatever you set it to. This last step makes sure that they’ll stop seeing each video in the sequence after they’ve watched it. For Video 3, you’ll include “Video 2 – 95% vv” and EXCLUDE “Video 3 – 95%” and so on.

The end of your sequence will depend on your overall marketing objectives. In most cases, the setup will be the same, just without the exclusion audience.

Your overall setup will vary widely depending on your specific marketing goals and sales funnel. I highly recommend creating a mindmap and fleshing everything out before beginning – otherwise you’ll be far more error-prone, and the task will take far longer. I prefer the free version of SimpleMind for this.

If you read this and understood it, please leave me a comment with feedback and any questions you have. I’m going to work on creating a more detailed walk through, and it’ll be helpful to know what information I should add.

Thanks, and see you next time.

Disclaimer: You probably expect a sales pitch now. Nah. I’m just a nerd that likes writing. I hope you enjoy it.