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Posted by: David and Shadra Bruce | on August 7, 2017
Are You Missing Insta-Opportunity?
Instagram currently has over 700 million users worldwide. Given its reach, any business focused on staying relevant and fresh in today’s market simply must have a presence on Instagram.
At first glance, Instagram may appear to be more like Snapchat than Facebook and LinkedIn, and, in theory, that comparison is accurate. However, as a business tool, Instagram is much more like Facebook than any other social medium. Using Facebook and Instagram in a united marketing effort works extremely well.
There are core approaches that are key to using Instagram successfully. The following are a few of those core approaches:
Check out Instagram’s own Business Blog
While Instagram’s blog does not address all of the best-practices for business use of Instagram, it is a solid introduction to the most basic issues, especially for businesses that are starting to explore Instagram as a business tool. Of the most prominent social media platforms, this blog is perhaps the best at what it does.
Update Your Profile Regularly
Your Instagram profile should be different than other social media profiles. Traditional profiles are a place to share basic information, and they remain relatively constant for long periods of time. Your Instagram profile, however, contains the only clickable link for your followers, so use it for more than just as a link to your website. You should:
- Change the profile image at least monthly.
- Promote a new product or service.
- Highlight your employees and social causes you support.
- Give people a reason to click on your profile beyond simply linking to your website.
Using hashtags is the most fundamental aspect of Instagram, and not doing so is social media suicide. Hashtags expand your reach in a way that is otherwise impossible. Create your primary hashtag (#yourbrandname), but use it sparingly – so the most-important content does not get lost in a tsunami of less-important messages. Use common industry hashtags (which can be found easily through simple web searches), and the most popular generic hashtags, such as #instagood (used in over 300 million posts), #MondayMotivation, and #tbt (“Throwback Thursday”).
Be Creative and Fun
Focus on solutions, not products. Use short videos extensively – no longer then one minute in duration. Highlight your people, processes, culture, mission, inspiring stories, social awareness, etc. Post competitions and special promotions. Use shifting images and up-tempo music. Take people behind the scenes, and let them see what you do as you create a product or brainstorm a new service. Post videos and pictures from company parties and social events. The idea is to have people talk about what you post or suggest ideas for new material. Instagram is less about sharing information and more about engaging followers on an emotional level.
Follow Your Followers
This is so logical and basic that it gets overlooked by many companies. If a person or organization follows you, then follow them. Nothing else builds appreciation and loyalty faster than this simple action.
Reward Your Followers
Again, this is so logical that it shouldn’t need to be said – but it does need to be said. Provide special discounts or opportunities to your followers. Provide them with advanced access to new products or services. Hold special competitions limited to them. Appreciate them in tangible, practical ways.
Don’t Flood Your Followers
You don’t need to post daily, and you certainly don’t need to post multiple times each day. Establish a schedule in advance that reminds you to post every few days. Post more than once on any given day only when you have an important, unexpected message to share. In those cases, make sure that what you share is exceptionally engaging and immediately relevant. Avoid the same-old, same-old. You must maintain a schedule that keeps you visible, but quality is far more important than simple quantity.
Collaborate with Other Companies and Organizations
Take advantage of official partnerships and collaborative arrangements. Highlight charities and socially-conscious organizations that are not direct competitors, particularly those you support financially or in some other way. Find companies that provide complementary goods or services, then agree to post shout-outs for each other. If you have a bigger social media budget and want to piggyback onto a company with a much larger following, you can employ a paid shout-out, which, in traditional terms, would be called an influencer marketing campaign.
Instagram can be a powerful business tool when you use it correctly. This social media platform has too many active participants, including potential partners and collaborators, to ignore. Any modern business that wants to engage fully with customers and clients should consider an Instagram presence.
Infographic courtesy of Gramlike
Posted by: admin | on July 24, 2017
Is Snap the branding tool you've been missing to reach your market?
Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, can help you increase your sales and grow your markets. And while these platforms are widely used in virtually every industry, Snapchat (now Snap) is another social networking site that is worth considering.
Snapchat may not work for all businesses, but it can be a powerful branding tool with 150 million users worldwide. Not kidding about the younger generations; we’re outside the Snap generation, and it took us a while to figure out just how to make a snap. We’re still learning features (mostly from our millennial and Gen Z kids) and continue to learn new ways to use the application every day. But the branding potential is off the charts for companies wanting to engage with loyal and/or local fans.
Marketing Potential of Snap for Business
Event marketing lets you give your fans access to your events. Essentially, your users will do the advertising for you. This was something the NFL used last season, allowing Snapchat users to compile stories of individual games. The NFL has extended their partnership with Snapchat for several years. Link Snapchat to other social media platforms during live events, and you have a recipe for success.
Snap Ads & Geofilters
10-second ad spots appear between stories and are highly customizable to your audience (think: in-store sales, product highlights, event promotion). Geofilters can cost as little as $5. They are the little graphics that users can add to images. For example, we live in Bath, New York (607 area code). We can snap a picture and add the geofilter for our location; this can be a huge boon for local businesses from restaurants and gyms to hotels and casinos, to sports and entertainment venues. Sky Zone successfully used Snapchat to increase visibility and engagement with Snapchat. Even national parks can get in on the action and promote their location. Sponsored geofilters, which can cost hundreds, are great for national brands that want to increase engagement.
Snapchat Sponsored Lens
Snapchat sponsored lenses allow you to build brand awareness and engage with fans in a fun way. Whether through art graphics by location or an interactive snap, users are paying more attention to your brand while simultaneously advertising to others what they are doing or interested in. There is nothing more authentic than users documenting in the moment, and Snapchat is rolling out new features all the time. Starbucks had success using Snapchat filters, with a Starbucks-themed unicorn filter used to introduce its new flavor (something our daughter and granddaughter enjoyed immensely).
Quick, one-time images
Advertisers traditionally want to share print or digital images that can be seen and referenced repeatedly, so buying into the idea of messages that appear and almost-immediately disappear can be difficult. However, Snapchat users understand that the time to view the images is brief, so they tend to pay more attention when they first see them – and they tend to record the important points more often than on other social media sites. This active involvement with the marketing message may yield higher results for those who are interested in the product or service being marketed.
Once the snap is opened, it cannot be automatically saved. Audio or video can be replayed if necessary, but the “replay” feature is only available once per snap. A screenshot can be easily taken if the user is does so within the 10 seconds of the snap, but unless the user has downloaded a video recorder, the videos are not available to be saved. This goes beyond the ease of social media use, so it is unlikely that a Snapchat user will take the time to record every single video. However, if they choose to do so, users are able to differentiate a picture from a video, as a picture will show in your feed as a red box while a video will show as a purple box. Despite the disadvantage, this is still slotted as a pro due to the “My story” feature within Snapchat. This will place your snaps in the “Stories” tab for 24 hours, able to be replayed by users an unlimited amount of times.
More than any other social medium, Snapchat can take advantage of young consumers’ lack of desire to focus on extended messaging. It replaces the traditional commercial with a quick-hitting video snippet that grabs a user’s attention without making the user stop what he or she is doing for more than a few seconds. In an age of rampant multi-tasking, this can be a powerful plus. This is true, especially, if the video used is unique.
For example, you can use a time-lapse visual that shows creation of a product over time– or one that shows diverse employees describing your services in one-word soundbites – or highlights your social consciousness or compelling company culture – or any other approach that is geared toward consumers who see the world in visual snippets. Even quite savvy traditional ads can risk losing the attention of younger generations; Snapchat solves this issue extremely well.
New Audiences, New Features
From partnering with NBC to do a daily news show to Snap Maps, Snap continues to roll out new features to make it more attractive for marketing. The new Snap maps may prove to revolutionize local marketing, if done well.
A final thought on using Snap for business: authenticity is essential
The majority of Snapchat users are millennials and Gen Z. Marketing directly to these generations on their phones is one of the best ways to reach these tech savvy and cutting-edge consumers. But they, more than any other generations, demand authenticity. And Snap users in general love candid moments that are not produced.
Quick response times and a multitude of snaps are needed to properly establish a fanbase. The implementation and management of Snapchat may require a dedicated marketer to manage oversight, and you’ll want to encourage employees to take part in building your brand’s story, which may require social media policy development and strategy planning. Should CEOs jump on Snap? Maybe not. But marketing teams should consider the platform for engaging with specific markets.
Posted by: David and Shadra Bruce | on May 8, 2017
Can your business benefit from Facebook Live?
We have previously offered suggestions on how to use Facebook effectively as a business tool. Yet, as the platform continues to evolve, so must your implementation strategy likewise expand. Facebook Live can also be employed as part of your marketing plan to increase business and sustain your customer base.
Facebook Live is exactly what it sounds like: Live video presented via Facebook. Facebook Live adds possibilities that are not possible with traditional Facebook itself, including the ability to interact and engage with followers in real time. Because it is live, there is a perception of authenticity that doesn’t exist with static posts. And you can easily monitor engagement and reaction using Facebook Live so that you can improve how and what you deliver.
Viewers are willing to spend three times as long watching live video than traditional, recorded video. For this reason, Facebook Live is a wonderful bonus for savvy business people who use Facebook as part of their marketing plans. But Facebook Live can be used for more than just reaching consumers; imagine replacing costly and time-consuming office meetings with quick and focused Facebook Live updates to your team. We see a number of possibilities for using Facebook Live.
Present Important Information
While live dissemination of information may be less engaging, it can be incredibly efficient and cost effective. What once could be accomplished during press conferences or as part of corporate meetings, conceivably costing companies excessive money for time and travel, can now be done from anywhere to everywhere. From virtual meetings and press conferences to online training sessions, Facebook Live can be an efficient means of information distribution.
Provide Virtual Tours
For organizations that benefit from on-site visits to their traditional land-based locations, virtual tours utilizing walking commentary and Q&A can be highly successful in expanding the number of potential customers who are able to experience those locations “live.” There is no reason now why people who cannot afford to travel to your location can’t instead virtually visit you and tour your facilities.
If you have an important upcoming event or are launching a new product, you can schedule announcements via Facebook Live. This approach allows you to generate interest and excitement in a way that traditional marketing simply can’t do.
Answer Questions and Comments from Customers or Clients
Perhaps the most common usage of Facebook Live is as a vehicle for interactive Q&A session. This is more engaging than merely presenting information, and it is especially effective when you are introducing a new product, discussing a new concept, or dealing with a critical issue of some kind. It also is a great way to solicit input about something you have published on a blog or in marketing materials.
A Technical Note
Facebook Live can be used via mobile devices and with microphones, but it is a good idea to spend a little extra to ensure you are using good, solid, reliable video equipment. Your use does not have to be at a technologically professional level, but low-quality sound and visual appearance will ruin your efforts faster than anything else you can do. If participants have to struggle to see your images or hear the presentations and conversations, they will logoff – and many of them will not give you a second chance.
Using Facebook Live can animate your marketing in unique and exciting ways, and it is particularly effective in reaching and engaging younger generations. These consumers are even larger in number than the Baby Boomers, and they have access to far more money at their age than any previous generations. Appealing to them is something that will distinguish successful businesses from marginal or unsuccessful businesses, so it is important to use the tools with which they are familiar and which they enjoy. Facebook Live is exactly that.
Posted by: David and Shadra Bruce | on April 25, 2017
Are you missing the opportunity to expand your reach?
In our last blog post, we focused on how to use Twitter responsibly. Much of the advice in that post similarly applies to using Facebook, so we recommend that you read it now if you have not done so already.
In this post, we are focusing more specifically on how to effectively use Facebook as a business tool. While the responsible use of all social media is important, Facebook is unique in that it may be used explicitly as a tool to grow your business. The following suggestions relate specifically to that capability.
Create the Proper Page
Dummy accounts are defined as accounts that do not represent real people. These accounts violate Facebook’s terms and conditions. They are illegal. It is that simple. Don’t use them. As well, you should not use a personal account for your business; instead, you should create a separate page. Whether you’re an author, a celebrity, or the CEO of an international corporation, create the right type of page for your needs. Take the time to develop the page properly, using graphics that match your website and incorporate your logo.
Complete the “About” Section
This section appears directly beneath your profile picture. This information is one of the first things people see when they find your account. Be sure to include information most relevant to prospective customers or clients – in practical terms, the Answer segment of a typical Q&A section without the Question segment.
Post with Reasonable Regularity
The adage, “out of sight; out of mind,” applies to Facebook. But for relatively small businesses, interactions per post drop dramatically when there is more than one post per day. Therefore, it is usually best to post no more than once or twice per day. Rather than quantity, focus on quality. Posting low-quality material is even worse than posting too often, so refrain from doing either. For genuine results, especially if you are just getting started and need to build a following, investing in Facebook ads (boosted posts and page ads) can help put your page in front of a targeted audience.
Post at the Right Times of the Day
In general, most Facebook analyses indicate that early afternoon (1:00-4:00 pm) is the best time for business posts to be viewed and shared. If you want to post twice on any given day, it usually is best to post right after lunch (1:00) and right before the end of the standard work day (4:30). If your business is mostly conducted after regular business hours (restaurants, bars, movie theaters, etc.), then the hours of 4:00-5:00 and 7:00-9:00 generally work best. The most effective times for you might vary slightly from the standards, but using these suggested times as your starting point is a good idea.
Use Videos and Multimedia
One of the distinguishing factors in well-regarded Facebook posts is a combination of traditional print and video material. Just as with other marketing efforts, Facebook is most powerful when it appeals to multiple senses. Of particular impact is inspirational video and the use of music, since those forms of media tap into emotion in a direct way. Research estimates put engagement about two to three times higher after the first month when multimedia is employed as opposed to when solely using print in your posts.
Respond within an Hour to Comments
Your social media participants (those who comment on your posts) can be separated into two groups: those who complain and those who don’t. You can’t eliminate all complaints, but you can minimize them with one policy: Respond to comments within an hour. That is the expectation of those who complain, and it will impress those who don’t.
To make sure you are able to do this, activate notifications when people comment. Have the notifications sent to two locations: to an email address that is dedicated to social media responses and to a work computer or mobile device, depending on your availability.
Use Facebook Analytic Tools
It is impossible to improve that which isn’t tracked, studied, and understood. The point of all marketing is continual improvement, so actively using Facebook without taking advantage of its analytic tools is foolish. The data available through these tools is invaluable, so use them to craft an intentional, comprehensive strategy that works for you and your business. Not only will they allow you to do more of what works, but they also will allow you to do less of what doesn’t work.
Along with these foundational suggestions, there are a number of Facebook features that can enhance your effectiveness. It is worth taking some time and looking into each one to see if you can use them in your social media strategy. They include the following:
- Scheduled posts
- Promoted posts
- Stock photography
Facebook still can be a powerful component of social media marketing, if it is implemented correctly. Done well, Facebook can reach customers and potential consumers in a unique way. It should not be used independently of other marketing measures; rather, it should be integrated into your overall marketing plan. There is much more that you can do to maximize Facebook effectively, but the suggestions and components in this post will give you a solid starting point – and they can launch your expanded use into deeper features.