Monthly Archives: April 2014

Instagram for the Small Business

instagram-logoBusinesses are flocking to Instagram, but you may be wondering how exactly it can help your business.  We’ve got some more tips on how to use your images and videos to super charge your company’s presence on Instagram.

First, a major misconception about Instagram is that you have to sell something that is visually appealing.  However, selling unsexy products or being a service provider is NOT a reason to avoid Instagram.  Instead, it should be a reason for you to be creative.  The goal is to find valuable, compelling, or entertaining images to share with your audience.  If you are unable to show products, what should you put on Instagram?  The answer is “Your Culture!”

Photos of employees and their customized work areas always rank well on Instagram.  You can also post pictures of your company’s celebrations.  Things like holiday celebrations and company anniversaries show the human side of your business.  It also emphasizes your focus on employees.  If your company participates in any volunteer programs, you can share your involvement in the community with your followers.  By showing this side of your company, you make your business more attractive and instill trust in potential customers.

Now, some of you are thinking – we are a serious business.  We do not mean to distract from the serious work you do, but do not be afraid to use humor.  Everyone knows that running a business requires hard work, dedication, and sweat.  However, it should never be all work and no play.  Instagram is actually the perfect place to display the fun times in the shop or when you are out and about with coworkers.

Sharing your fun images with followers speaks volumes about you and your business.  It suggests that you must be a happy and successful business.  All work and no play will make your brand seem dull.  Integrate images that show your human side to create stronger connections with your followers.

Have you considered how Instagram can work with Facebook to leverage photo contests?  Your business can host a photo contest on Instagram using hashtags to organize submissions and an RSS feed to follow along as new photos are added.

Instagram has tips on hosting a photo campaign as well as other business ideas in their help section.  Go to “help – dot – Instagram – dot – com.  Then choose “Instagram Basics” and then “Instagram for Businesses.”

You may be aware that Facebook purchased Instagram in early 2012.  Since then, Instagram has doubled its user base.  Even more impressive is that the app now has more smartphone users than Twitter!  You can leverage that to help your business.  Together Instagram and Facebook offer some unique promotional opportunities, so take advantage of that.

gty_instagram_video_nt_130624_wgTo reach a wider audience, create an Instagram video and share it on your Facebook page.  Then boost the video into paid media that hits the Facebook news feed.  It’s what you would do to boost any text or photo post on Facebook.  This enables you to reach Facebook’s 818 million monthly active mobile users.  Basically, you are profiting from Instagram without having to advertise on Instagram.  It’s all about capturing and sharing the world’s moments—and paying to distribute them on the world’s largest social network.

Also, you should use industry-related hashtags.  If you are at an event or location that is designated by a hashtag – something like #autorama – be sure to add it to your photos so event coordinators and other attendees can find them.

You can track your hashtags with several services.  One fee-based service – Nitrogram – specifically tracks Instagram hashtags and provides key metrics on hashtags including contributors, content, engagement and context.

Widen your exposure by following related brands on Instagram.  Statigram is a free tool for finding brands and hashtags that relate to your brand.  Simply enter the brand name or hashtag into the search box and click Search.  As an example, we found 50 hashtags for “Autorama.” You can use Statigram to search for businesses and industry-related keywords.  Use this free tool to find, follow and research your competitors on Instagram.  Spend five minutes on the site and you’ll find at least one idea to help spread the word about your business.

Instagram can work wonders for your brand if you know how to use it, so take our advice and start posting today.

The Reach Problem on Facebook

facebook news feedHave you noticed that your Facebook reach has declined over the past few months? Don’t worry. It’s happening to everybody. Every Page on Facebook wants everything they post shown to everyone. But people only read a limited amount of News Feed per day. There simply isn’t room for everything, and the competition for feed space is intensifying.

When it comes down to it, Facebook is optimizing its newsfeed for humans, not businesses.

The amount of time users spend on the site has stayed the same, but the number of liked pages and other connections has increased.  This means that Facebook has to filter it’s newsfeed to keep it’s users seeing the content that they want to see and not be bogged down by stuff they don’t.  There are reportedly 100,000 different variables taken into account when determining newsfeed content. To simplify things, it generally boils down to how engaged your fans are with your content. If your fans have liked your content in the past or respond favorably to your content, you are more likely to show up in their feed.

 But what does this mean for the success of your content?

facebook-edgerankWell because of the nature of the highly individualized algorithm, different people see different things in their feed, even if they like the same pages.  It takes into account what you seem to like and tries to give that to you.  This means that you should be creating content for your customers, not the network.  The majority of your content should provide value to the customer in some way, be it informative blog posts or how to videos with your products.

Your customer profile is probably pretty diverse, so tailor your content to reach different parts of that group.  In order to please as many types of your fans as possible, you should be experimenting with different types of content as well as different times of day. Figure out what your audience wants from you and give it to them. Simple as that. Engage with your fans and always be working to improve your content.  Don’t be afraid to promote posts that are tracking well with your customers in order to gain a larger reach (even if it’s paid and not organic).

The whole point of social media is to provide value to your fan base, so stop worrying so much about how many people see your posts. Focus instead on the quality of your content and how well it does with your existing fans.  If your content is good and people are engaged with it, it shouldn’t have a problem making it into the newsfeed. Good luck and happy posting.

Automation in Social Media

SocialMedia_Robot_NEWAutomation of social media posts is a somewhat controversial topic among marketers and social media managers. It’s true that automating social posts can be risky if you aren’t carefully monitoring your pages. However, this is part of the job. Creating a balance between broadcasting and conversation is how you ensure your brand stays in the forefront of the minds of your customers.

Automating posts using tools like Hootsuite or Sprout allows you to make sure your best ideas are getting out there at the best times.  Facebook even allows you to schedule posts in advance directly on your page. If you find yourself too busy to make a post some days, you can schedule posts ahead of time without worry.  This is especially useful for Twitter, where it’s recommended that you have at least 3 tweets a day to stay in front of your followers.

Coming up with that much content everyday can be difficult, but if you set aside time to program in advance you will find monitoring your content to be a whole lot easier. That being said, there are some definite things you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to automating.

  • Don’t automate direct messages.  Some tools allow you to automatically send a thank you or other note to new followers on Twitter.  Most people can tell an automated response from a genuine message of thanks, so avoid doing this.
  • Don’t schedule posts too far in advance.  This can be the tricky part of automation because you want all your posts to be time relevant.  Posting about events should be monitored in case there are any last minute changes to be made.
  • Do use content curation tools. Google Alerts allows you to set search perimeters around keywords or phrases and it will email you the results as often as you’d like.  This is particularly helpful when trying to find news stories and up to date mentions.
  • Do use your tools to stay consistent.  The benefit of using these management tools is that one person can put out the content daily for multiple brands.  Having a consistent style and voice unifies your brand message across all channels.
  • Do schedule your posts for the best times.  Part of monitoring your social media metrics is knowing when your fans are most active.  Make sure to put your best content in front of your fans at the times of day they want to ensure your engagement is high.

Social-Media-Automation-ToolsThere is a whole lot more to social media management then just putting content out there.  The most important part should be keeping the conversation with your audience going.  Make your fans talk by putting out content that is interesting.  Adding a little bit of humor couldn’t hurt either.

What do you think about automation? Let us know in the comments!

Pinterest for the Skeptic

pinterest-icon_logoYou have probably heard about Pinterest and may wonder why we even mentioned it here at Engage Target Media.  Well, with over 70 million users, it’s worth paying attention to Pinterest.

Right now, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+ … combined.  And contrary to what many believe, that traffic is converting.  The reason?  Many use Pinterest specifically for product and content discovery.  Basically, Pinterest is a powerful tool for any business interested in ecommerce.  If you have been ignoring Pinterest, allow me to explain how you can use it can help grow not only your social media presence but also your business.

Just one example of a small business that succeeded with Pinterest is the “100th Day of School Ideas for Teachers.”  The pin pointed to a sales page for a one-dollar digital download of a worksheet for elementary school teachers to celebrate the 100th day of the school year.  According to the sales page, that simple worksheet image has been pinned more than 10,000 times!

Now, before you say the content is just for women – many businesses are gearing their Pinterest content specifically for women.  The men are coming to the site, but now is the time to grow your followers on Pinterest.  Can you think of a better way to increase your female customer-base?

Here are a few simple steps to drive more Pinterest traffic for your small business.

1.  Create a new page on your website or post to your blog geared specifically to your target audience with a ‘killer’ headline.  Remember to make it female friendly.

2.  With your content and headline in mind, create a visually interesting badge for your post.  This must be something that will catch people’s attention.  Your badge should include an interesting photo or background image — preferably, something that ties into the subject of your web page or post.  Position the headline prominently on the badge in a font that stands out and is easy to read.  Include your website’s domain name in smaller font, at the bottom of the badge.

If you’re not an artist, look for a tutorial on YouTube or other ‘how to’ website for tips.  You don’t have to have an expensive graphics program either.  There are websites that allow you to design images for free.  On website – PicMonkey – allows you to upload your creation directly to Pinterest.  Your badge should really jump out at the reader as soon as your readers land on the post or page.

3. Once you have completed your web page or the blog post, embed the image you created at the top.  This will really stand out over plain text.

4. Now you are ready to tell the world.  Once your content is published, it is time to pin it to your own Pinterest boards.  Use the badge you created for your web page or blog post on all of your social media sites.  The consistency it adds not only confirms visitors have reached the correct page, but it also adds unity to your content.  You should always tie in the artwork from your social media to your website and blog posts.

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 11.48.28 AMWhen adding the badge to Pinterest pull a strong, interesting quotation from your web page or blog post to include it in the pin description.

Also, pin the image to several of your Pinterest boards during peak pinning times.  Early morning and late evening are often best.

You should also consider pinning your badge multiple times.  It is okay to put it on several boards over the course of a day – or several days – to get the attention of as many Pinterest users as possible.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help build your Pinterest following and help drive traffic to your website or blog.  This in turn will help build your customer base.