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How Social Media Marketing Can Adjust to Meet Waning User Trust

14 May

There is always a learning curve for society when it comes to new technology.

This has always been true, even long before the Internet or social media came onto the scene. But while there’s always been a slight, resistant tension between people and the tech that’s pulling them into the future, we have largely gone along with the development of social media as it has grown over the past 15 or so years. We’ve created accounts and shared personal information; we’ve posted terabytes of photos and written memoirs in status updates. Digital marketers know what this trade-off entails—a fun, convenient service in exchange for personal data—but it’s also easy to forget that ordinary users without a marketing background don’t readily understand the scale of how their social data is used.

And while platforms like Facebook have made middling attempts to explain their platform to their users, they’ve continued to pull them along—and it seems the tension may have finally snapped.

While watching the Facebook hearings a couple weeks ago—an exercise that taught us less about how social media works and more about how much the government has also been left behind by the rapid development—I found myself thinking about how crazy the past year has been for social platforms. While Facebook takes heat for data security and giving access to third parties, Twitter continues to update their account banning policies in an effort to keep up with complaints of unsavory content and bots, and Reddit also struggles to prune back tides of fake or automated accounts.

Social media as a whole is undergoing an intense stress test that, hopefully, will translate into systematic improvements to the platforms we know and love to use. But the stress test has come at a cost, and platforms are paying for that cost by expending audience trust.

How a Leak Turns Into to a Flood

Users are rapidly losing trust in many of the social platforms they love to use. Today, Facebook is the clearest example, having struggled to maintain a younger audience last year only to then lose more users and approximately $70 billion in light of the Cambridge Analytica data leaks. Twitter has had a less dramatic struggle in recent months, touting their first profitable quarter in nearly 12 years—largely driven by international growth while their US audience declined by a million users.

When this shift in trust is examined on a larger scale, the issue only becomes more pronounced. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer—a massive, global study conducted every year to measure public sentiment towards major institutions—rightly subtitled this year’s report “The Battle for Truth.” In it, they found that the world as a whole has become more distrustful over the past year, with the US leading the charge, dropping 23 places in global ranking for the informed public’s trust in media outlets.

Specifically, where social media is concerned, trust in social platforms continued to decline as it has since 2016, nearly bringing us to an even 50-50 split between trusting and distrusting audiences using social media. An interesting note, however, is that journalistic outlets have seen a significant increase in the percentage of the population that trusts them, jumping by 5 percent since last year to nearly 60 percent. And in this, there may be lessons for marketers to take note of.

Speaking to Distrust

Brands that want to maintain effective social media marketing during this tumultuous time need to fundamentally reorient how they approach social media.

To date, social media marketers have by and large taken a “hear no evil, see no evil” approach to social media management. We offer content and conversation on our pages only to also run promotional social advertisements that we just simply don’t speak to. We use demographic targeting and audience insights to boost posts or plan for distributions, but work to ensure every step of our audience interaction comes off as solely organic. We exist on platforms embroiled in technological, political, and societal turmoil, but work to prune those conversations out of our comments and conversations.

This approach has worked for a long time because users were willing to engage with this fantasy—they also did not want to see, hear, or engage with the fact that the platform they used was collecting their data. But the coin has flipped, and now users are in a place where they more readily associate silence on social media matters with complicity rather than comfort.

Brands need to begin taking a more active role in earning audience trust if they hope to maintain it.

Embrace Transparency

As users become more comfortable understanding and talking about the ways in which their data is used, transparency into brands’ practices becomes a highly sought-after commodity. Rather than disengaging or ignoring conversations about how your brand interacts with user privacy and data, try to proactively explain your processes and how you protect your audience.

Be Idealistic

One of the primary drivers of distrust recently has been a disconnect between spoken ideals and active ideals practiced by brands (for instance, Facebook promoting the idea of building community, but then selling inordinate amounts of data to third parties). This offers an opportunity for brands that are willing to speak openly about their ideals and back it up with content and action. Brands are seeing success with this tactic in even the most extreme, politicized scenarios, which formerly would have been considered PR suicide.

Respond Promptly to Criticism

Even if your brand comes under scrutiny during this time, this doesn’t mean you should back away from hard conversations with your audience. Rather, take steps to engage your audience to understand what they would consider to be a solution, and implement it publicly to earn trust rather than defeat. You don’t have to take this as far as Elon Musk did and completely delete your Facebook presence, but listening and reacting will always go a long way.

Marketers are working at a unique time in history when society is contending with what privacy and big data can mean for them on a personal level. While the Facebook hearings may be done, these conversations are far from over, and it remains unclear how these conversations will shape the platforms we use, or how users interact with those platforms in general. What is clear, however, is that trust remains a consistently valued commodity throughout time, regardless of how our means of communication change. Brands that seek to be accessible, communicative, and responsive to the needs of their audiences will always find marketing success. But during times when trust is held at such a high premium, brands might also be able to turn success into even greater opportunity for growth.

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6 Social Media Trends That Will Dominate Summer 2018 Marketing

7 May

Keeping up with social media seems like an impossible task some days. No sooner do you perfect your marketing on a platform than a new one springs up or begins to rise in popularity.

On top of that, the makeup of your Internet audience is constantly changing and shifting.

The best way to figure out how to plan your summer social media marketing campaign is to look at upcoming trends.

1. Event Tie-Ins

One way to up the presence of your brand on social media is to figure out which summer events you can relate to your industry.

One of the easiest ways to tie into summer activities is to first look at major holidays — Memorial Day and Fourth of July, for example. Next, look at major national and global events, such as the Summer Olympics or big festivals.

Then, you can piggyback off the marketing for these events by tying into a hashtag or running specials of your own during the same timeframe. Expect to see summer marketing tie into various summer events, both in the specials offered and hashtags used. For example, the brand Omeka uses hashtags such as #summer2018 on their Instagram page along with images of sandals and baseball caps to pull in new customers.

2. Local Trends

In recent years, businesses have come to recognize the value of local SEO. Tie into local events to gain more traffic to your site.

For example, if there is a popular festival in your area, can you rent a small booth and then share images on social media of the event? Perhaps there is a famous artist headed to your area for a concert, and you name a sandwich in your restaurant after him. Figure out how to reach people on a local level and drive them to your brick-and-mortar stores.

Summer equals beautiful weather, and people are excited to get outdoors and experience life. For summer 2018, this means a lot of different events. As a business owner, take advantage of local events by creating a Snapchat geofilter and including your snaps at events to engage current customers and connect new ones. One example of this is Churchill Downs adding snaps to their Snapchat story about the Kentucky Derby. Anyone who searches for the word “derby” sees these snaps.

3. Strong Images

Even though big, beautiful images are not a new trend, they are worth mentioning because they are such a vital part of any social media marketing campaign.

Across the board, social media posts with images tend to get shared more often than other types of posts without images. On Twitter, a post with an image is about 150% more likely to be retweeted.

Because summer is about cooking outdoors and hanging out with friends, expect to see more food images in the summer of 2018. For example, Food Lion shares recipes on their website and then uploads similar posts with strong images on their Instagram account.

4. GIFs and Emoji 

Millennials, in particular, prefer emoji, GIFs, and stickers over words and relate to them better. If you want to reach people in this age range, expressing yourself on social media with these icons is a smart move.

Expect to see brands tie images into their posts in new ways. Instead of lengthy posts, you might just see a happy-face emoji combined with a symbol for money to symbolize a store that’s having a flash sale, for example.

Summer means the kids are out of school and looking for engaging brands in the summer of 2018, and brands are looking to engage them. Vodafone clearly sees generation Z and millennials as key to growing their mobile carrier service globally, as evidenced by their Instagram posts including plenty of GIFs.

5. Social Causes

Some companies have jumped onto social causes and are engaging in marketing strategies with a cause. For example, Adidas used Lean In to help promote gender pay equality with their #20PercentCounts campaign.

The campaign encourages employers to look at pay levels within their companies and to close the gap so pay is equal based on experience rather than gender. Summer brings time with family and awareness of the struggles family members face, so expect to see more companies adopting causes in the summer of 2018 and beyond. Marks and Spencer adopted the cause of breast cancer, and they share similar images on their Instagram account along with pink-themed photos.

6. Lightheartedness

There are a lot of serious issues in the world, but when summer hits, people want to have fun and enjoy the warmer weather. Lightheartedness seems to be well received on most social media platforms and was trending in the first quarter of 2018, which can be expected to continue into summer. After all, summer is about cooking out in your backyard or going on a boating adventure with friends. Summer equals fun, so expect to see fun posts from brands in the summer of 2018. Budweiser taps into this trend with their Snapchat posts that feature elements such as festival food and a bottle of their beer.

Social media trends for summer 2018

Each new season brings new challenges and new trends in social media marketing.

These six trends are an excellent source of ideas for your social media marketing calendar, but don’t overlook the value of staying up to date on current hashtags and trending topics online.

The key to a successful social marketing season is looking at the big picture and not being afraid to try new ideas.

3 Basic Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

15 Jan

Most companies have social media marketing teams, strategies, and eventual goals. Yet, many don’t understand how these best tie in to existing business goals.

Any company that uses the Internet to drive business will engage in social media marketing. However, many businesses incorporated social media after their businesses reputation and goals were established. This can force a business to reconsider their overall business strategy.

Avoid this in 2018 by dodging these three basic social media marketing mistakes.

1. Social Media Should be a Marketing Focus, not an Add-on

According to Emarketer, almost 90% of U.S. companies are using social media marketing in their business strategies. Despite that, most companies use social media platforms as an add-on to existing marketing strategies. Instead of crafting a strategy for social media marketing in general and for each platform individually, companies often use social media merely as a new medium to spread an existing marketing message.

Many companies then work in reverse to link relevant social strategies to business strategies. This allows them to prove the ROI of the marketing plan with greater clarity.

Nevertheless, a CMO survey shows that nearly half of these businesses’ marketing teams are incapable of detailing the specific returns of their social media marketing investment.

Another way marketers lose focus is by getting trapped in the social-media gratification loop. On a given platform, marketers look to gather large numbers of likes, comments, followers, and shares. These numbers look great during presentations, but what do they actually mean? If you can’t quantify the value of a high number of followers, chances are your social media goals aren’t correlating to specific business goals. In order to understand the ROI of every social media marketing strategy, you have to be sure to connect overarching business strategies to social media marketing strategies from the very beginning.

2. Your Business Needs the Right Tools to Manage and Apply Social Media

Depending on the size and scale of your business, it’s important to create a social media presence across the entire company. These days, each department will need to be aware of social media and its ability to expand the scope of any sector. In order to keep standards across departments, you might even need a dedicated social media management team.

As we’ve included in pretty much every digital marketing post we’ve ever made, you must use a robust analytics platform to gauge, study, and improve your marketing strategies. Google Analytics, for example, can give you web traffic numbers broken down by age and geographical demographics, time of day, conversion statistics, bounce rate, and types of devices used to access your page.

This information gives you the ability to see what’s working and what’s not. It will tell you what domains and social media platforms are bringing you the most intention–a telltale sign of where you need to invest more time and effort.

3. Don’t Just Focus on the top Social Media Platforms

Another common mistake social media marketers make is limiting the brand’s social media real estate to only the most widely used platforms. While having a presence on many social media platforms increases authority, perception of authority, and overall marketing success, only two-thirds of the top companies are using YouTube. The numbers are even lower for fast-growing platforms like Instagram (under 50%). These numbers are from 2016, but from the chart below you can see that not much has changed since then.

Failing to represent your company on every available social media platform could potentially cause you to miss out on business opportunities. Consider this: if your business wants to increase its marketing reach to the Millennial generation, but it’s not using Snapchat, it’s missing the mark.

What social media marketing strategies has your business implemented? Have you ever had to restart a marketing campaign to better understand ROI?

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.

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.