Archive | December, 2015

Stop Making These Instagram Marketing Mistakes!

28 Dec

If your business isn’t on Instagram, you could be missing out. The mobile social network and photo-sharing platform has more than 400 million users, and if you know what you’re doing (and have a knack for photography), you might just be able to find huge success for your brand. The key is not to make rookie mistakes that will turn away followers, like overselling products and posting poor-quality images and videos.

How can you use Instagram to find Insta-fame? Here are 10 mistakes businesses and brands should avoid making on the platform.

  1. Don’t post unoriginal photos

The biggest mistake businesses or brands can make on Instagram is to only post visuals on their Instagram profile, meaning quote graphics or images that they haven’t created. It makes the profile look less genuine and less legitimate. Also, those businesses can run into copyright issues if the photo isn’t an image they took or isn’t a creative commons image. Brands want to make sure that they’re posting a variety of content on their Instagram profiles, not just graphics or visuals.

  1. Don’t post boring product shots

Product photos on white backgrounds don’t match the Instagram environment, yet we’re still seeing so many brands make that mistake. The brands that are thriving have managed to develop a unique style that tells their brand’s story within a format that is familiar to users and lovers of Instagram.

  1. Don’t forget to interact with others

Brands who post and expect users to come to them are missing a huge opportunity for growth. Instagram, more than any other platform, requires brands to look for opportunities to engage with their audiences. By commenting and favoriting posts and by tracking keywords and hashtags closely, brands get a leg up on the competition in the space — and that often results in a bump in followers.

  1. Don’t post without a strategy

Brands who post to Instagram without a strategy or flow to their content are missing a huge opportunity to engage their audience. When you visit a brand’s Instagram feed, you want the look and feel to be cohesive and have an overall brand style. This comes from the filters you use, the text, and the type of photos you post. For example, if your brand sells multiple products, you don’t want your last three photos to be of the same product. Or only have product shots. Mix it up with a balance of product, lifestyle, events and user-generated content.

  1. Don’t post too often

Another mistake business owners make is posting too often. Once a day is perfect, you can probably get away with two times a day — morning and night —depending on what you’re posting. If it’s pictures of an event, a few pictures from the event is OK, but don’t flood the stream with dozens of pictures.

  1. Don’t oversell

The biggest mistake I see [is] businesses trying to sell product over and over with every post. Instagram (and social media) is not about pushing products to people. It is about building a brand, building advocacy and creating a conversation. The sales come as a result of good content that resonates with the targeted audience.

  1. Don’t post low-quality photos

Another mistake that Instagram marketers frequently make is uploading poor- quality images. Think of Instagram as a place for your brand to showcase its history and promise for the future. It should be a carefully curated gallery that is meant to inspire your followers. Quality and resolution is of the upmost importance.

  1. Don’t make it difficult to find products

Brands that don’t make it easy for people to make purchases based on what they see on Instagram are missing out on a huge opportunity. You’re only halfway there if you’ve got an engaged community, great imagery and copy inspiring people to buy, but you don’t allow them to complete the journey. As a user, there’s nothing worse than falling in love with an item on Instagram, but not being able to find it online. Not having links in posts makes this difficult, but the single link in your bio can be used creatively and sensibly to make sure potential customers are signposted to the sale.

  1. Don’t use the wrong hashtags

One of the biggest mistakes that a brand can make on Instagram is hijacking hashtags. I see it all the time. A brand is just starting out and they’re trying to grow but they’re not able to crack the code. Rather than focusing on tactics that work, like influencer outreach, automated engagement [and] focusing on great content, they use 20 hashtags on a single post with zero relevance. This approach is a one-way street to making Instagram users upset and annoyed. Don’t use hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday to share a photo of the bathing suit you’re selling. Don’t use hashtags like #MCM to share a photo of your cupcakes. Be relevant!

  1. Don’t use too many hashtags

My opinion on hashtags is that you should never use more than five at the most. That’s why it’s absolutely infuriating to see brands posting 20 to 30 hashtags on a single Instagram post. Instead of using every single hashtag that could have the tiniest bit to do with your post [or] brand, use truly relevant ones.

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Why it is Important to Hire the Right Social Media Marketing Professional

21 Dec

Pew Research Center recently published their results comparing Social Media usage over the last 10 years. Their results reveal just how much social networking sites have affected our lives.  In 2005, only 7% of Americans were using social networking, and most of them were youngsters. Ten years later 71% of all Americans with Internet access are active on Facebook.

The number of senior citizens who use Social Media has tripled since 2010. But it is the usage by younger adults that has soared:  90% of young adults (18-29) are active on social media; up almost 800% from 2005; for those 30-49 usage has increased by almost 1,000%.

Cell Phones Make Connections Easier

One reason for this phenomenon is that more than 64% of us own an Internet-connected “smart” phone.  This means that we are no longer “tied” to a home computer or even a Wi-Fi “hot spot.”  We can use our mobile devices anywhere at any time to access the Internet, including websites, social media sites and apps. In fact, for a growing segment of the population, their cell phone is their main access to the Internet.

The Trend Will Continue

According to an article in Growing wireless.com 90% of teens are active on Social Media. Cell phone use by all children is significant with 88% of teenagers 13-17, 56% of children 8-12 and 21% of children under the age of 8 accessing smartphones.  Even more stunning: 38% of children under two years old have used a mobile device for media (e.g. YouTube)

Some Business Owners Are Slow to Adapt

We talk to a lot of business owners. While many of them tell us that they need to think about changing their marketing strategy, they are not sure they want to invest in a formal Social Media Marketing program. They are mired in the old ways of doing things and continue to take a “business as usual” attitude.  They are often misled by aggressive sales people desperate to convince them that print directories (with and without online elements) are still viable. They still pay Yelp to get them more business or pay Angie for more exposure. They don’t understand that old-style SEO, still touted by some, is no longer effective.  They are suspicious of social media sites that started as places for college kids.  They believe that their older, more affluent customers are not there.  (According to the latest Pew research, 78% of those living in the highest-income households use social media.)

Another obstacle is the fact that what was originally vaunted as “free” marketing actually costs money.  Businesses that didn’t bat an eye at paying thousands for Yellow Page ads are unwilling to spend a fraction of that for a good Social Media Marketing campaign.  What they are unwilling to recognize is that there are over 40 million small business pages with more than 2 million businesses advertising on Facebook. They may not be paying attention to the news that more people are searching for products and services on Facebook than on Google.  Competition for the attention of potential customers has grown fierce, but many  are slow to believe that the ability to reach a large and interested audience of well over 1.5 billion makes allocating a reasonable budget for social media marketing worth it.

Social Media Marketing Should be done as Professionally as Traditional Marketing

It is difficult to understand why some business owners, who understand that they need professionals to produce television commercials and print ads, seem to dismiss Social Media Marketing, believing that it can be done by people without  marketing, graphic design or writing experience.

They may misunderstand the difference between “personal” accounts that should be spontaneous and folksy with “business” pages that may look spontaneous, but actually be well organized and planned.

The reality is that Social Media has evolved into a powerful way to reach – and sell to – customers.  Most social sites now offer sophisticated advertising programs.  They are following Google’s lead and have complicated algorithms that curate content, displaying only content that appears credible, appropriate and well executed.

Social Media professionals work with business owners to understand the company’s culture and its customers. They decide on a strategy that is unique to that company.  Appropriate text and images are carefully crafted, sized and posted to the right social sites. The sites are continually monitored, and comments and questions referred to the business owner in a timely manner. Ads are written and targeted to attract interested customers at the lowest cost.  Analytics are reviewed in order to make the adjustments needed to keep the page active and engaging.

Customers haven’t changed, but the way they choose to interact with companies – and make their buying decisions – has changed dramatically, and will probably continue to change.  Agile marketing people who keep up with marketing trends and technology are important to any business interested in improving their bottom line.

Social Media: How to plan your marketing for 2016

14 Dec

A new year brings new social and digital opportunities for marketers at businesses big and small. Specifically, how to up your brand’s digital marketing game in the new year.

To help you prepare and budget, let’s take a look at three trends that you should keep an eye on as well as three classic marketing strategies that you shouldn’t lose sight of in favor of all of the shiny new things. First, the new trends to watch in 2016:

Streaming Social Video — This year saw the rise of streaming social video with Periscope and Meerket allowing users to broadcast videos directly from their Twitter feeds. Midway through the year Facebook launched a limited version of this feature to select influencers.

As 2015 comes to a close, Facebook has expanded access to all users. Look for more streaming video opportunities to crop up for both personal users and brands.

Video is extremely relevant and engaging — key outcomes for brands and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. What real time stories can your brand share?

The Continuing Evolution of Social Advertising — As with the perennial trend of adopting a mobile-first mind-set (you really need to do that, by the way), it’s easy to nod along at the idea of new opportunities for social media advertising.

But this year saw increased access to Instagram advertising, the launch of buyable pins on Pinterest and expanded promotional features from giants Facebook and Twitter. Have you thoroughly reviewed these new opportunities?

How can you amplify your social media message through paid advertising?

More Isn’t Always Better — Social media isn’t going anywhere. Another thing that’s also abundantly clear is that people are consuming more online content than ever before.

Marketers have been quick to answer the call, adopting new social networks and creating content rapidly. Marketers will need to remember, however, that more isn’t always better. Sometimes more is just more.

Instead of creating more “me too” content like everyone else and arbitrarily launching new presences on new social networks, work to get specific by creating better, unique content — even if that ultimately means producing less content.

Now how about those classic marketing strategies you can’t forget?

Strong Brands Still Rule — For starters, don’t throw the brand out with the bathwater. With the previously noted parity problem that many businesses fall prey to online, we have to make sure that we have a clearly defined brand with a bold, memorable voice that comes through in new forms of content and on new social networks.

Take a moment before starting the new year to audit who you are and what you stand for as a brand? Have you communicated this clearly internally?

Email — Yes, I am flagging email on your watchlist for 2016. Yes, I know this is not 2006.

But the numbers don’t lie. Marketers report that email has consistently been delivering the strongest ROI year on year for the past decade. Like the content warning above, as you look to raise your email game don’t just focus on sending more email.

Send better, more relevant email that your customers actually look forward to seeing in their inbox

Wanted: Better Integration — Another annual mainstay on marketers’ wish lists is better integration. It’s no secret that we have more on our plates than ever before.

As such, a continual dilemma is figuring out how all of this fits together. If you’re going to invest your precious marketing resources into a new content or social initiative, it’s paramount that you understand how it fits with the rest of your brand experience.

Digital media evolves more and more rapidly each year. As a smart marketers, you need to keep your eye on what’s ahead while not losing sight of what’s most important to you and your business.

What’s your plan for digital marketing in 2016?

4 Social Media Marketing Trends in 2016 (Predictions)

7 Dec

In the early days of social media marketing, companies did not consider it as a viable strategy to promote awareness or market their products. Now, most of us have become a witness to the fact that social media marketing is indeed a rock-solid platform that offers plenty of opportunities to make our products reach a wider market.

Social Media Marketing Trends in 2016

But the world of social media is changing quickly. Thanks to the dozens of new platforms appearing every year. Existing companies, big or small, are scrambling to stay ahead of their competitors by offering their audiences new features.

So, as a social media marketer, what trends can you expect in 2016?

1. Buy Buttons

Facebook has introduced the “buy” feature for their advertisers and users. It is followed by Pinterest. These two platforms are aggressive in promoting this feature to advertisers. Users of these two social networking sites can now purchase a product directly from these platforms through a sponsored content.

Facebook-owned Instagram is following behind. And more and more platforms are going to follow. That said, when 2016 ends, major social media brands will also be offering a “buy” feature.

2. Live broadcasting

Recently, Facebook has rolled out its live broadcasting feature to non-verified accounts to compete with Periscope, a Twitter-owned company that offers a live video broadcast. Instagram and Snapchat are also offering an on-the-go video update as opposed to the late-game update.

If this trend will continue, scheduling your updates in advance will no longer be advisable. That is if you want to go with the trend.

3. In-App functionality

When it comes to providing users with new functionalities, Facebook is considered the king in this area. Currently, the company is developing a human hybrid assistant and other social media companies are also developing such functionality.

An in-app functionality will prevent users from ever leaving Facebook, Instagram and other social networking apps they are using.

This trend is said to continue in 2016. It will give marketers better opportunities to engage with their audiences using one platform.

4. Publication option

Publishers can publish their full-length articles on a social media site. This is how Instant Articles of Facebook works. With this option, publishers no longer have to provide an external link to their sites.

Social media marketing experts are guessing that, as this trend continues, other social media platforms will offer a more sophisticated form of publishing to some businesses and organizations.

The Project Lighting of Twitter offers a dynamic way of presenting a material to the public. But it still works like the Instant Articles of Facebook. Pretty sure, others will follow.

Will there be fewer smaller platforms to emerge?

There is a dozen of social media platforms that emerged but most of them died a quick death. That said, experts are seeing fewer smaller social media platforms to compete against the big three – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

These trends are just predictions. But some of them will permeate across multiple platforms. Many audiences will use them. Some companies may not adapt to the changes but others will.