Instagram Tips for Business Pages

instagram-logoPeople are visual. Most people think and dream in pictures. So how can you tap into that to effectively market your business? Instagram is a phenomenal tool to connect to an audience through visuals alone. Communication through photos is not only simple but it also makes a huge impact. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

At it’s most basic level, Instagram is a fun way to share photos (and now video) instantly with the people who follow you. That being said, there are many ways to maximize Instagram for your business.

  •  For starters, visually promote new services and offers creatively. This can be through a graphic coupon available exclusively to your Instagram followers, or a slick picture promoting an event.  You want to give people a reason to follow you on different social media channels, so take advantage of the visual only aspect of Instagram to creatively communicate.
  • Next, remember that your social media accounts are not about you.  I know that sounds weird, but social media is about communicating with others and actively listening to your followers.  Feature your customers and other businesses as much as possible to gain new followers and inspire loyalty to your existing ones. Celebrities and companies that feature other peoples work not only bring exposure to the person featured, but they also give themselves good exposure as well.
  • Also, share behind the scene photos.  Customers like knowing that they have the inside track on your business and there is no better way to give the people what they want then to share as many work photos as possible.  This gives your customers the transparency and intimacy they crave from businesses. Additionally, it personalizes your company and employees, further encouraging customers to do business with you.
  • You can also use hashtags and understand what tags connect to your customer base.  There are many websites that track trending hashtags and Instagram itself allows you to search posts by tag.  This can be a tremendous help when keeping up with the image of your brand or industry on Instagram.
  • Lastly, run photo based contests to get your fan base sharing and talking about your business.  Again, using hashtags and username tags, your customers can interact with you personally and give you exposure for no cost.  Feature your followers photos and give them a shout out for mentioning your business or product.

Remember, customer engagement is your priority and social media is the key, so get out there and propose to your audience today.


Google+ for Business


When you think of social media for business, Google Plus is often overlooked in favor of other sites.  However, Google Plus reached 100 million users faster than Facebook and Twitter. If this isn’t enough to convince you that your business needs to be on Google+, let’s simplify.

 You increase the odds of getting highly targeted visitors from Google’s organic search results if you have a Google Plus account.

Here are a couple of tips that will show you how you can use Google plus effectively for your business:

  • First, start with the about section. This introductory content will also end up being used by Google as your page’s meta description when it shows up in the search results. You can create links within that content that links back to different pages of your site. A couple of smartly used keywords would be nice, but avoid keyword stuffing.
  • If you have any other social media profiles, add them to the links section of your Google+ profile. What better way to get a little more link juice and authority from Google than to have your social profiles included on their page for your business? Remember sharing is caring for your Google+ network.
  • Finally, now that you’re sharing your own content, re-share quality content to your community. Leave valuable comments on what other people are sharing and “+1” other content.

When used correctly, Google Plus could be the most effective social media marketing tool available, so take advantage of it and start expanding your circles today.

Fighting Fire with Marshmallows

marshmallow campfireYou’ve heard the old saying “Fight Fire with Fire”, but the best practitioners of Public Relations will tell you that’s always your worst response. If you want to win the war, fight fire with marshmallows.

You’ve worked hard to grow your business by putting in so much of yourself in every part. The words, actions and advertisements of your competitors are hard not to take personal. When a competitor takes aim at your business or service it seems like a direct attack on you. It’s not uncommon for me to drop-in on a shop or a vendor and find them upset over the latest “attack”. They are quick to pick up the phone to call a local paper or radio station ready with a defense. The hard truth is the more you allow yourself to be drawn into response marketing the weaker your company message becomes.

In Public Relations, it’s not always about your response, but the action you want the consumer to take.

It’s about using the original words of your competition to your advantage with a communication plan that gives you the best consumer buy-in.

No matter what issue your competition uses to start the fire, your job is to grab the marshmallows and invite the customers to join in a relationship building experience instead of a dog fight. Marshmallows are fun, always draw a crowd, and build a great since of community. The options for this type of marketing are endless for repairers.

For example, let’s say a competitor runs an ad that their shop is better trained and equipped for collision repair. You could fire back with how well trained and equipped your shop is, but let’s be honest at some point you are going to end up spending some money. Maybe you buy a new piece of equipment to use in your ad or you rush your technicians off to more training classes. If you can’t generate a return on the investment then you’ll just lower your cash flow, increase your operation expense, and decrease your profit. The best action is to celebrate and promote what you do have. Who’s your most certified technician? Write a blog, make a video and place their picture on your Facebook page.

Allow the customers to celebrate and connect with a person instead of a position statement from your competitor.


The key is to always remind yourself not to get caught up in a tennis match of response marketing. You always want to be unique and in control of the communications around your company. If you are responding, then your competition is in control of your message. Take a deep breath and develop a communication plan that allows you to use your competition’s efforts to your advantage by building customer connections. These are plans that you will not have at the ready so you’ll need some time to craft the right one for your situation.

 The hardest part of my job is talking a shop owner or marketing manager off that ledge of immediate response.

If you don’t have a Public Relations firm on retainer to talk you down then you will need to control yourself. Take a pause of at least three days and then work with your team to build a communication plan. What mediums will you use? What’s needed for the plan (video, photo)? Be sure to cover all the details and draw out your implementation timeline. In countless situations, this approach has brought companies more loyal customers and increased sales beyond what they ever dreamed possible.

 If you remember to reach for the marshmallows you will have a healthy growing business, while your competition just burns out.

Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Explained

500x_facebook_macro_0You ever wonder if your posts on Facebook are being seen by all of your followers?

Up until recently Facebook has maintained that all of your friends and followers could see every update you chose to share with them.  Most everyone has had an experience that leads us to believe that this was not the case.  Well now Facebook has finally agreed to be more open with the public on the existence of the news feed algorithm and the updates to it from this point forward.  This is great news for companies and brands that have a presence on the social media site because now you can see how much of your content is reaching your audience.

Facebook has said that no major changes will be coming to effect how the new feed operates but they have been

facebook-edgerankmore clear about how posts are ranked. How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted, the number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular, how much you have interacted with this type of post in the past and whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post determine how visible a post is to the user.

Story bumping is one of the minor new additions Facebook is introducing to help with the problem of post decay.

“When users load up Facebook in the morning, a finite number of stories are shown on screen. They can scroll to view additional stories, but inevitably users leave some unread before clicking elsewhere. Story bumping ensures that when the user logs in to Facebook later in the day, some of these unread stories are brought to the top of their news feed alongside whatever has been posted since they last accessed the social network.”

For business pages, this means that after stories are posted sustained engagement must be encouraged.

facebook-fan-engagement1Gaining comments through effective community management will increase the amount of discussion around a story and optimize it for story bumping, thusly increasing visibility.

Another factor effecting ranking is the Last actor signal that takes into account the last 50 interactions that a user has. People and Pages that are within the last 50 interactions will receive a small bump in ranking value.

Again, encouraging repeated user interaction on a regular basis will give your posts a bump and increase the overall audience.

Lastly, Facebook has mentioned a future plan of attack to compete with the real time edge Twitter has. This update seeks to determine the stories by a specific user that are about a real-time event. It then displays these posts in chronological order at the top of the news feed (like Twitter) but leaves the rest of the feed as it is. It’s not clear what effect this will have on business marketing, but the possibilities could open Facebook up to a more instantaneous dialogue between pages and users.

As Facebook evolves, so must the marketing strategy businesses use to reach a core audience.  Keep the algorithm in mind when posting and your visibility and engagement should increase.

You Can’t Market That!

Marketing business salesEver heard someone tell you that an idea is unmarketable?

Pick up a trade magazine or attend a meeting and everyone seems to have a marketing solution for you. From your paint supplier to your software provider everyone seems to have a low cost solution.

Here’s the thing, there is no such thing as the “most effective” way to market anything. It’s like saying one size fits all in bicycle shorts. Right… that’s a mental image you didn’t want on a Monday.

Right now Social Media is the hot topic, but it’s only a piece of the larger puzzle that is your overall marketing strategy. You can’t do one thing without the other and all forms of your business communication must support each other.

So what do you do? How do you sort through the noise and develop a successful marketing campaign.

All marketing plans must first start with your brand.

Brand isn’t a logo or a location. It’s the emotional connection you offer. What makes you special, unique and exclusive to your market/consumers. Every body shop can repair a car. Every body shop can paint a car. Every body shop says they have satisfied customers.

Find what makes you special, your Beacon. Then follow it!

Let’s face it Starbucks does not make the best coffee in the world and it’s not the cheapest? Why do we flock there for a $5.00 cup of Joe? They found their Beacon points and how to make us feel good and social about coffee from 5 am to 11pm 7 days a week.

Next what’s your budget for the year?

Everyone has one. Sometimes it’s only $500 for the year and sometimes it’s larger but set one now and stick to your guns. There is always going to be a shinny offer that promises you big returns, but you’ll need your budget for unexpected expenses that always seem to pop-up for shop owners.

 Now that you know your Beacon points and How Much you have to spend, your ready to Plan!

Before you an start building your communication plan you need to understand there are 3 categories of communication.

  1. Advertising- brief and repeated communication with an audience that may or may not have an interest in your brand (Radio, TV, Newspaper)
  2. Marketing- Direct Information that targets a specific group. They have expressed an interest in your brand and take steps to learn more (Website, Brochure, Video)
  3. Public Relations- Influencing the influencers of a market. The process of turning key people into market megaphones and lead generators (Agent visits, Business Referral Programs).

You need some activity in each of the categories.

I always recommend that you make a chart and fill in the columns. The best part is there are endless low to no cost options for you to add in the categories and some of your ideas will fit all three.

Now Social Media plays an important role in all of the communication categories and that’s what makes it such a powerful tool and why everyone is talking about it. But it doesn’t stand alone in any marketing plan. It also has to work with any other communication mediums you use, which makes it hard to impossible for a 3rd party to manage it for you.

Remember, the only one that will care about your business the way you do is YOU and marketing is your voice to the customer, take it seriously and enjoy the benefits.