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Instagram – Is It Right For My Business?

6 Nov

It should be no surprise to any business owner that social media is the latest and greatest tool for connecting with existing and potential customers. Although there are a multitude of platforms, one of the most effective and popular ones is Instagram. Read on to determine whether this social media platform is right for your business.

What is Instagram?

Instagram allows users to share photos and videos along with captions and a link with their followers. This platform has a total of 800 million users around the world, 500 million of which use it every single day.

If you do not utilize Instagram to market your business, you’re in the minority, as 91% of all of the world’s biggest brands utilize this platform for business purposes. These include Nike, Adidas, Michael Kors and Gucci.

Is Instagram Right For Your Business?

While Instagram may be the fastest growing social media platform, it is not the right solution for every single business. Marketing on a platform requires a time and financial commitment, and business owners should pick the platform or platforms that are most suited to their business needs rather than spread themselves thin advertising on a multitude of platforms. Answer these questions to see if Instagram is right for your business needs.

Can You Share Captivating Images or Videos?

Although Instagram is a great marketing tool, it may not be the right solution for all businesses. Instagram users crave creative, original and quality images and videos to capture their attention. It is best suited for businesses that offer food and products that can be captured via images.

Businesses that offer services, such as accounting or cleaning, may not be able to come up with enough images or videos for this visual platform, and, therefore, should focus their marketing efforts on other platforms which are not as image-based.

Is Your Customer Target Base on Instagram?

Depending on your offerings and the demographics of your clientele, Instagram may not be the right solution for you. It is important to truly know your customer base; based on that information, you can determine if marketing on Instagram would be advantageous for you.

Sixty-eight percent of Instagram users are female, with 59% of them being between the ages of 18 and 29 years old and 33% are 30-49 years old. Less than a third of American women and less than a fourth of American men are active Instagram users; 80% of users are located outside the United States.

These demographics allow business owners to determine whether Instagram is the right place to target their customers. This visual platform is a definite must for companies that target younger females, such as hair salons, restaurants, makeup brands and clothing stores. However, businesses that target older males, such as accounting firms or body shops, should consider other platforms for more efficient marketing strategies.

Are Your Competitors on Instagram?

A third question to ask yourself is whether your competitors have an Instagram presence. Search this platform for your competitors by name, as well as hashtags that are relevant to your brand to see what is currently being shared on Instagram.

If you notice a lot of competition, it may be worthwhile to build up your own Instagram presence so that your competitors do not grab the entire market share in your industry.

Instagram requires a careful strategy, consistent posting and well-shot, unique images and videos to distinguish your company from the clutter.

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How Social Media Nurturing Gets You More Results

31 Oct

Social media nurturing has to be a requirement for all businesses. Businesses have turned social media automation into something that seems to resemble broadcast radio by posting large volumes of tweets and updates occurs fast with automation tools. Now imagine every business, regardless of their industry, doing the exact same thing.

Automated postings have inundated social communities to a point that no one is listening anymore.

Unfortunately, businesses have over-used social media automation tools to be the end of their marketing efforts. They are seeking efficient (not necessarily effective) ways of getting their message out as fast and as low cost as possible. Low cost to these businesses includes low to no labor. These quick tactics are not effective and do more harm than good.

The question we have to ask ourselves is how effective is broadcasting your message in bulk? How effective is it to wait for people to come to you? With every business broadcasting to the social communities, how likely is it for someone to listen on the other end? It is more likely people have become numb to the broadcasts.

4 DON’Ts of Social Media Automation

The reliance on social media automation tools can put a business at risk of ruining their social community presence. First, we must recognize social media marketing to be about relationship marketing. If the audience doesn’t recognize there is a real human being behind the business account, they are not likely to stay engaged.

  1. Don’t make auto Direct Messages part of your social media strategy.
  2. Don’t treat scheduled messages as a one size fits all tactic.
  3. Don’t forget to analyze your scheduled messages for results.
  4. Don’t forget to read the articles you’re sharing for quality.

Over-reliance on marketing automation tools will create the opposite effect over time. Consider balance between using marketing automation tools and your time.

Getting Past The Noise

Nurturing your social media activities does not mean you need to drop your social media automation. Rather, nurturing is about augmenting the automation with real relationship marketing.

There are two simple points to understand when it comes to nurturing your social media marketing activities.

  1. Pick one quality post and nurture that post for one week and only one week. This one post will be more effective than 10 broadcasts from social automation.
  2. Nurturing is about bringing people in your conversations. Waiting for someone to maybe like or comment on your post is not going to do the trick. The difference is active social media marketing versus passive social media marketing.

The nurturing process is about spending 15 minutes or less each day. Imagine putting on a reporter hat on and interviewing those who you have selected to bring into your conversation. You are soliciting for their help, opinion, knowledge, experience, and expertise. You’ll see how much people would like to share their thoughts. This process does need you to keep asking questions to keep the conversation alive.

Your Social Nurturing Activities

The list of activities to nurture your social media marketing is not that long and completed in 15 minutes. The activities below are best suited for LinkedIn. The concepts are similar in other social communities:

  1. Select a post you would like to nurture on a Monday.
  2. Add a comment to your post followed by a question and tag three people in your connected network.
  3. Tagging means you are going to add their First and Last name to the post. In LinkedIn, as you type a name, the people in your network will appear in a pop-up menu for easy selection.
  4. The people you have tagged will receive an email telling them to visit your post to include their comments.
  5. Come back to your nurtured post in 24 hours.
  6. If no one has responded, don’t give up. Add another comment and tag three different people.
  7. If you received a response, Like that person’s response and comment about what they said to keep the conversation going.
  8. In your next comment add three more people.
  9. You can like your own comments and your post to give it added exposure.
  10. The more activity on this post they more likely that others will see the post and join the conversation.

Does it help to know your network? Yes. Start with people you know will engage with you. Later start tagging people who have a high volume of connections. Each time others comment on your post, their entire network sees their activity. This means they see your post too. This is how viral marketing gets going.

Depending upon the success of a post you may decide to sponsor the post for even more exposure. Planning this up front will be helpful since you need to start this type of conversation from your company page.

In LinkedIn, you may wish to start a post and nurture the conversation in the Pulse Post section. This opens the conversation up to the entire LinkedIn network. In Pulse Posts other people can see your posts without a connection to you. Since the Pulse Posts are open to the public, Google will see your activity, too. This improves your chances of showing in search results.

Social Relationships Take Time

Nurturing your social media activities is helpful to present your knowledge and authority on a subject to your network. I would recommend visiting the profiles of those who have commented on your posts. You can then Like their activities along with commenting on one of their posts without solicitation by them.

You are now showing respect for their efforts and your relationship marketing is well underway. This has a much better possibility to become real revenue generating business!

4 Social-Media Mistakes Your Business Can’t Afford to Make

17 Oct

Social media marketing is something you need to be doing. It’s too effective when it comes to growing your business to ignore it. As more businesses make it a larger component of its marketing strategies, I see more mistakes being made.

Here are four mistakes you don’t want to make on social media.

1. You’re not interacting with followers.

Guess what the number one line of communication is for customer service? Social media.

The majority of consumers are constantly plugged into social media, which is the reason social media is a major customer support tool. I see a lot of businesses that understand this, but its social media feed is just a long list of support replies.

Since your followers are plugged in around the clock, use it as an opportunity to create raving fans of your business. Every business is going to have a different audience and target market, so you need to think of content that your followers would be likely to engage with.

For example, if your audience is millennials, memes might be a good play. Memes spark engagement, like comments and social shares, generating buzz about your business. Remember, your social media posts don’t have to be traditional advertisements to convert followers into customers.

2. You’re overly promotional.

Continuing where the previous point left off, don’t post ad after ad, and expect your followers to stick around.

An offer here and there is fine, but if your followers feel that all of your posts are glorified advertisements, they will find other accounts to follow and leave you behind. They don’t need you. You need them.

3. You don’t include calls-to-action (CTAs).

Collecting followers alone isn’t going to magically translate into increased sales and revenue. Every social media profile gives you a place to put your website link, yet so many businesses miss out on an opportunity to collect leads, or push traffic directly to an offer because it simply puts its website’s homepage URL in these sections.

Don’t do that. Instead, put a link to your newsletter offer, downloadable whitepaper or a direct-to-purchase offer. Most clicks originating from social media and hitting your homepage are wasted clicks. Nobody has time to try to find offers. Send them directly to your offers, and this will greatly increase your conversion rates.

You should also mix in some CTAs in your posts. CTAs don’t have to be promotional.

Let’s assume you created a very informative infographic for your blog and want to drive traffic to it. Most businesses would just post the URL on social media and hope people will check it out. By including a strong CTA, such as, “You have to check out this cool infographic we just did — especially point No. 3,” will drive significantly more traffic than just listing the post title and a link.

4. You spread yourself too thin.

You have to accept the fact that you more than likely can’t be active on all social media channels, unless you have a dedicated social media team or outsource your social media to a digital agency.

It will benefit you much more if you are great on three social media outlets, rather than mediocre on more. Pick the social networks that your business thrives on, and focus on making your impact even bigger.

With just a small handful of social networks to worry about, it makes answering messages and engaging with your followers much more manageable. The faster you can reply and the more you can engage, the stronger that connection will become. Social media is a great tool to build relationships that create life-long brand supporters.

Instagram Marketing: How to Build a Large Instagram Following!

10 Oct

As we all know, Instagram is a social platform where you get to showcase your pictures and your videos publicly or privately to your followers. But is this all you can do on Instagram?

Of course not.

Thousands of successful Instagram entrepreneurs are springing up every day after they discovered the power of Instagram marketing. Instagram marketing has proven to be a great way to engage and build a massive audience for your products or services.

But, how long does it take to build a large Instagram follower base?

The answer depends on your level of commitment to marketing your brand on Instagram.

These are some of the tips you can use to build your follower base:

#1. Creating a worthwhile profile

Instagram gives you the chance to tell your followers about yourself, who you are and what you do. If you want them to know other things you do on your website, then share them the link to your website.

You have to briefly describe what you want them to see on the site when they visit there. You keep them excited and eager to visit your page with a short brief summary of what you want them to see. Ensure you are specific and brief about your profile.

#2. Use pictures and videos to engage your audience

Mixing videos and pictures when telling your stories will make you feed more interesting and engaging. Upload clear pictures and videos with high visual quality to boost your followers’ interest in what you are presenting to them.

Research shows that images and videos with clearer views have more people looking at your profile.

There are certain settings on your phone that help you get a square picture to upload or you download apps that gives square images so you don’t crop out and loose the quality of the image or video.

#3.Use relevant hashtags

There are several hashtags such as #fashion for posts based on fashion, #sports for posts based on sports, #writing tips, #freelancer etc. depending on the kind of business you are engaged in.

You have to make use of catchy and trending hashtags such as #just fun, #beverage or you specify the product or brand name such as #hp, #Nike, #adidas.

When people search for these hashtags, your post comes up with lots of other posts with the hashtag which is more reason why you need a high quality visual for your posts to remain catchy to users that go through the posts with that hashtag.

Most artists tag top celebrities whenever they post their services on their Instagram page so they can help them in reposting. The rule of thumb is to add hashtags after your first comment but not before.

You can get people to invite their friends to like your post; you can make it a tag and win affair so you can build a massive followership through that.

You can create an online contest on Instagram such as reposting your videos and the one with the highest number of likes wins a prize. You can also make them feel special by appreciating them in every form, with bonuses or uploading their picture.

Apps that help you make the most of Instagram

12 Sep

Instagram is more than just a photo gallery. It’s a marketing tool and opportunity. For community building, there’s nothing as effective as pictures, hashtags and videos.

The social network boasts more than 60 million photos and over a billion likes daily.

However, just posting and interacting with people isn’t enough. Use the right tools, and Instagram becomes an amazing part of any marketing campaign.

BestBuddies

Every marketing decision made must be based on something, whether it’s past experience, surveys or good practices. You can’t market a product in the dark. It would be like driving somewhere without a map — you’ll move, but it won’t be toward anywhere specific.

BestBuddies is a tool that tells you who gives your photos the most likes. All you need to do is log into the site, and it will give you your top 10 list, along with how many posts they’ve liked. While it seems simple, you can do a lot with this information.

For example, you can use this tool to figure out if your pictures appeal to a specific gender. It will also tell you if you have any influencers enjoying your content, which can help you plan future campaigns.

Minter.io

Minter.io is a gateway to a wealth of information. It tells you when posts are engaged with likes or comments or which of your many hashtags gets the most attention.

It also allows you to examine your community by finding which posts get the most interaction and who contributes the most to the discussion.

It even lets you figure out some of these analytics in real time or export all relevant data to a PDF to send to colleagues or bosses.

SocialRank

For marketers and businesses who want a multi-purpose tool, SocialRank is a good application that works for both Twitter and Instagram.

It comes with many useful features. For example, you can sort followers according to various traits, from who has the most influence according to engagement levels. You can use that information to target further campaigns by appealing to that group’s sensibilities.

SocialRank also allows you to sort followers by location and can help you figure out which of your users are on both Twitter and Instagram.

Yotpo

Many Instagram tools revolve around getting enough information to mount a focused campaign, but Yotpo is designed to help you interact with your community better. Think of it this way: Minter.io and SocialRank help you plan campaigns, and Yotpo helps you execute those campaigns.

For example, it offers a content curation service. Content curation is powerful on its own;  many online personalities have built their reputations on having good taste and sharing their thoughts with people.

Yotpo takes it a step further by giving you the tools to search for images related to your company and upon your order will send a message to the poster asking for permission to use those images. Those images can then be used in your campaigns.

A content curation tool actually does a lot for your campaigns. The average user is suspicious of any branded or company-originated content. Using content from your community lends your advertisements and slideshows the kind of trust you can only get from testimonials.

Buffer or Hootsuite

Online marketers probably know Buffer or Hootsuite from their use in other platforms like Facebook and Twitter. They’ll be happy to know that it’s now on Instagram, ready to make things easier.

The problem with many online marketing campaigns is timing and coordination. There’s so much going on that getting posts out on time can be difficult. This can drastically affect your marketing campaign’s performance.

Instagram doesn’t allow you to upload photos with outside apps, so Buffer and Hootsuite decided to approach the problem differently. You pre-write and arrange your post ahead of time, and then it will remind you with a notification that it’s time to post. Tap the button and it will load your photo into Instagram, using your clipboard to bypass Instagram’s third-party block.

Granted, you won’t need all of these tools. For some companies, Buffer or Hootsuite will be more than enough as businesses can get analytics elsewhere. Other marketers may need two or more tools due to lack of information.

Figure out what works for you. Many of these apps are free or offer free trials, so you can test them and see if they’re a good fit.

How to Make the Most of Instagram Marketing

5 Sep

Instagram has become the go-to tool for those who want to take their visual and social marketing to a new level. One of the fastest growing social networks on the web, it now has  500 million monthly active users, an increase of 100 million since just a year ago.

Instagram marketing is growing exponentially. About 30 percent of mid-sized or larger U.S. companies are using the platform to advertise these days. The number is expected to rise to 70.7 percent in 2017.

The smart marketer knows that they need to strike while the iron is hot, building their brand now before the crowd gets too heavy to see through. But you can’t do it through creativity alone.

Mastering the right techniques will go a long way towards allowing you to craft an innovative and effective Instagram marketing campaign. These techniques are critical, and each touches on different aspects of the process. Keep a handful of them on hand if you want to make your Instagram goals.

Instagram Marketing Tips

Use Instagram Photos as Customer Reviews

Curating social media testimonials is the most authentic way to show your happy customers and convert visitors into buyers. Social media reviews and testimonials are easy to verify and thus look legit.

Instagram takes social media reviews to the next step turning words into pictures that, as we know very well, are worth a thousand words.

Tools like Yotpo make curating and publicizing reviews on Instagram a breeze. Search Instagram right inside the tool and publish selected updates to your assets with one click.

You can then display selected photos on your product pages to trigger more sales as well as engage more customers into leaving Instagram reviews. Yotpo lets you create a nice-looking widget with all curated Instagram updates and also encourage more reviews by displaying your hashtag.

Improve Your Strategy Using Instagram Analytics

Analytics have been a little slow to make it onto Instagram. While there are several platforms, they tend to leave a lot to be desired. Minter.io is one that has aimed to get it right.

It monitors your account identifying best time to post to Instagram, your followers’ demographics and more. It has a solid hashtag analytics feature: if photos are the lifeblood of Instagram, hashtags are the veins. Their pricing is a little steep, but worth the cost if you are serious about marketing on IG.

Create Instagram an Editorial Calendar

We all know the importance of editorial calendars for content on blogs. So why aren’t be utilizing the same idea for visual content? Options like Later offer planning, scheduling and publishing that gives you more control over what you post.

The best feature of Later is the collaborative sharing: You can engage your whole team into contributing content to your corporate Instagram account, then review their contributions and put into the schedule.

It is also a storage app, so you can organize and keep your visuals in one place. That is quite handy for your team. They have a decent free plan, but their pro plans are cheap.

Use Instagram to Promote Your Videos

Few marketers consider Instagram as a powerful video making tool. You can record, edit and filter right from the app, then share it with the hundreds of millions of regular visitors to the site.

Instagram is the perfect place to make your directing debut. The only downside is the length limitations. You only have a handful of seconds, so you have to really make them count. Here are quite a few methods of creating and editing micro videos for Instagram.

Sell Using Hashtags

An ambitious system, Boost has changed social marketing in a real and intense way. It is an end to end transaction feature that works entirely through hashtags. The customer uses hashtags to purchase an item, it is verified, and the customer is automatically charged, and the item sent out.

The system is compatible with both Magento and Shopify, so you can turn it into a whole eCommerce shopping cart solution, if you choose. Or just use it through your account as a one off transaction system.

Do you have a tip to innovate your Instagram marketing? Let us know in the comments!

Unparalleled Benefits of Social Media Marketing for Businesses

1 Aug

Social media entered the scene very quickly and as such some people might still believe that it is a marketing tool that will quickly pass in interest or importance. To some businesses, social media marketing is a waste of time with no practical benefits, while others see the immense marketing value that it can bring to a business.

When carried out correctly, social media marketing has been proven to be incredibly profitable, bringing in more traffic to a website and turning visitors into leads. Provided you tailor each post with care and precision, you can truly experience its many benefits.

These include:

Improved Brand Recognition

Having a number of active social media platforms is a great opportunity to project your brand’s voice and content. Having a solid social media presence therefore makes you familiar to current clients while increasing your accessibility to new clients. A new client who just happens to stumble upon your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram page (& take an interest in it), might feel more strongly affiliated with your brand which in turn could inspire them to invest in your brand.

Improved Brand Loyalty

Brands that are present on social media have also been proven to enjoy higher brand loyalty from their customers, as those customers are better connected to the brand on a more personal level. For instance, a brand that regularly posts a variety of content, from images of the office to inspiring videos and quotes, will be more likely to remain in the minds of current and potential clients which could easily evoke into a sale.

Better Conversion Opportunities

Everything you post on your social media platforms, from images, links to blog posts and videos, is your chance to reach out to someone and inspire them to visit your website, which could ultimate lead to a conversion. Using social media is a great opportunity to encourage more conversions.

Higher Inbound Traffic

Every social media platform you add to your current repertoire is another opportunity to increase inbound traffic to your site.

Without having a social media presence, your inbound traffic is restricted to those who are already familiar with your brand or those who are searching for keywords you already rank for. Alternatively, a social media presence allows you to reach out a different market segment and provide a fantastic opportunity for new people to visit your site.

Lower Marketing Costs

Social media marketing need not occupy a great deal of your time. Just one hour per day spent on crafting posts can bring you improved results, and this is not a lot to ask for something as powerful as social media!

As you can see, social media marketing has the power to bring countless benefits to your business, including more customers, stronger traffic and higher conversions. Does your brand have a strong social media presence?