Instagram for business: 5 things to consider

Untitled design (1)With the various different social media platforms all over, it’s difficult to discern which are appropriate for your business. If you follow our blogs, you know that we always say to be conservative when it comes to which social media platforms you sign up for. We’ve discussed when to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest and how they would apply to your business. Let’s keep that train going with Instagram.

What is it, how is it applicable for businesses, should I get on it, and all that good stuff.

Many, if not all, of you are vaguely familiar with Instagram whether or not you use it personally. Instagram is similar to Pinterest in that it is a primarily visual platform, but it does have very unique differences. For one, Instagram is mobile. Although you can access Instagram through a computer, you get all of the intended functionalities when you use its mobile feature, specifically the feature for cell phones. There is an app for tablets, but Instagram’s sweet spot is really on the cell phone.  That feature alone makes Instagram an awesome platform for marketing if it makes sense for your business.  Which brings us to the next question: Does it make sense for your business?

Does it make sense for your business?

A common misconception is that your business needs to be glamorous in order to be on any of these visually driving platforms i.e, Instagram, Pinterest, … This is 100% false and here’s why:

Social media allows you the opportunity to connect with and socialize with your target market at their level. An outlet such as Instagram humanizes your brand and acts as an opportunity to genuinely connect. Consider the intimate real estate that is instagram; the pictures that appear in a newsfeed are individually shown. You have the spotlight and the platform to genuinely tell your brand’s story without being salesy.

Consider this scenario: you’re a tire manufacturer. Nothing glamorous about that, but it could certainly be beneficial to be on Instagram. In this scenario, you could paint a picture of the history of the company. Maybe you’d include a photograph of the original founder from 1913 for throwback Thursday, or a picture of the whole family and the family pets just to show that there are humans behind the brand. It’d even be a wonderful idea to show behind the scenes how the tires are made from original design all the way down the production line to the shelves in the store. Instagram has recently adjusted its algorithm on the Explore tab to include a wider variety of pages you don’t currently follow. The Explore tab is now more personalized and tailored to included pages that users may actually be interested when previously it seemed that the pages were chosen at random. It includes content that people you follow have liked and content that is trending in the Instagram community. This expands your possible reach from just the people who follow you to those who they follow, as well. Previously, those featured on the Explore pages appeared to be top posters only. Now, everyone has a fair chance.

Now that I know that, how do I get started?

Well, it’s simple. Just sign up… Just kidding. Here are some actual steps to help get you started:

  1. Check out Instagram’s blog. It details how other businesses are using the platform and offers some tips that may prove helpful to your business.
  2. Do some hashtag research. A cool function of Instagram is that it allows you to search by hashtag and see all of the things posted relevant to that hashtag. With this functionality, you can be sure that you are using targeted hashtags that are reaching the groups you intend to reach.
  3. Sign up for an Iconosquare account. Iconosquare, previously known as Statigram, is a site that provides you with analytics and metrics for your Instagram account. With this, you can track your followers, find new people to follow, and create a marketing strategy. It even tells you whether or not the hashtags you’re using a popular and offers suggestions of hashtags that may be relevant.
  4.  Follow other accounts that are of interest and relevance. As with any social media account, it only works if you have a following and follow others. Follow all types of people, NETWORK! In the tire company example, you may want to follow other tire companies, or car related accounts, if you’re in a small community, it may be beneficial to follow other users within the community. This helps you establish a presence, and also may help you to show up on the Explore tabs of other people within your target market.
  5. ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE.  We always say this! It’s very important to always be engaging, because, well, it’s the whole point of social media. Engagement enables you to connect and network, not to mention it shows that you’re actually human and not a robot broadcaster.

As always, let us know your thoughts. Do you use Instagram for business? What do you think about using it for non-glamorous industries? Tell us about it in a tweet or email! We love chatting!

Why are you on Social Media?

Why Are You on Social Media-

Last week we completed our Content Calendar series and it really got us thinking about a few things… Things about your business, how you use social media and why?

Over the past few weeks we’ve been in the process of discussing our services with some new potential clients and we’re starting to notice a few things… For one, many business owners know that they should establish a Social Media presence, at least that’s what everyone keeps telling them, but they aren’t really sure what to do once they are there. So begin by asking yourself: how should my business be represented on Social Media, and how should we position ourselves to stand out from the rest?  These can be tough questions to answer but are necessary to the development and execution of your strategy.

It is our opinion that the role Social Media plays in your business’ online presence can fall into one of two categories:

Your Social Media drives traffic to your website, playing a key role in lead generation and sales conversion.
or
Your Social Media simply supports and beefs up your online presence.

For example, there are some industries that are just ideal for social media. Fashion, beauty, physical fitness and photography work well because they are rich in visual content. Followers and fans of these industries get the behind the scenes tour for their favorite brands and personalities. Social Media is an opportunity for these brands to have fun and engage with their followers in a way that would not be possible through their websites. Unfortunately, this utilization of Social Media does not lend itself to every industry. For example what are the chances that you will be compelled to  follow an accountant on Facebook, an exterminator on Instagram or the local dry cleaner on Pinterest? Pretty slim to none, right?

Well truth is you just might depending on your interaction with that particular business. This is where category 2 comes into play. As we previously mentioned we have been in talks with two potential clients regarding how we can assist them in developing and sustaining a presence on Social Media, one client operates a young dental practice and the other sells various insurance packages to local businesses. Neither of these businesses would be considered glamorous in the world of Social Media Marketing and neither are rich in a steady flow on exciting visual content. Does this mean they shouldn’t be on Social Media?

Of course is doesn’t! It just means we’ll need to be calculated… We explained to these clients that they will need to shift their view of the role Social Media will be playing in their businesses from category 1 to category 2. For these types of businesses we’re not looking to drive traffic from a platform to a website, but rather we are looking to create a Social Media presences that allows visitors from their websites to get a good sense of what that particular business is about. There are tons of dentist out there, so how will a patient decide between them? Well for one they’re going to ask around, read reviews and visit the offices’ website. But what will be that determining factor that helps seal the deal…. It very well might be their Social Media presence.

We explained to these clients that Social Media is an opportunity for them to share with the world what makes them special and unique. Social Media is a great place to highlight their company culture, explain various policies and  showcase their knowledge in a particular area. It’s also a great way for them to interact with their customers in a more relaxed setting. Everyone likes getting a birthday card in the mail, but imagine receiving a birthday wish from your Dog Groomer via twitter. You’d feel pretty special and a bit tickled for the unique interaction!

There is an opportunity for every industry to utilize social media effectively , it just takes some creativity and a little trial and error. Defining what your intentions are when it comes to creating a Social Media presence will not only save you time but confusion as well. Don’t set out with the intention of  doing what everyone else is doing, take the time to study the social accounts of other businesses in your industry. What are they doing well and what do you feel they could lose? Figure out what works best for you and be prepared to try many different things before settling on the strategies and tactics that are ideal for you!

As always we are most interested in hearing from you! Have a comment you’d like to share, or maybe you have a question you would like answered. Leave us a message below or email us at purelysocialinfo@gmail.com. We can wait to give you the advice or help you desire!

Content Calendar Part 4: Strategy

Creating AContent Calendar

Our Content Calendar series is finally drawing to an end, and we appreciate how you all have responded to the insights we have provided here…

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of creating a framework for your content.

In Part 2, we highlighted the significance of measuring your efforts on social platforms.

And last week in Part 3, we walked you through the development of your content calendar and what it should look like.

Today we’re going to discuss with you creating strategies for implementation that get results.

Let’s begin with a fresh take on things. Social Media Marketing is still immature in the world of business and many small business owners still just don’t get it or know how to effectively use social media for their business. Don’t be stubborn with your marketing and lack the flexibility that social media marketing calls for. Classic marketing attempts to segment “consumers” into demographics. We all are familiar with the concept and most likely do the exact same thing with our own customers. However, defining a customer or followers by a demographic is a little out dated. Demographics are generally used in polls of public opinion and marketing to group individuals based on a variety of socioeconomic points. Until recently, we could all easily be grouped into our appropriate demographic and marketers enjoyed creating messages tailored to appeal to these different demographics.

Thanks to industrialization and globalization it’s becoming harder and harder to define these demographics. The best example of this shift is in luxury brands that have seen their customer pools widen as consumers with lower incomes began to desire and buy luxury goods.

So what does this mean for you as a business owner looking to use social media to grow your bottom line? Well, for one it means your segmenting your customers based on the wrong factors. Grouping people together based on their zip code, annual income or level of education simply doesn’t work…. Why? Probably because people are INDIVIDUALS, who deserve and desire to be treated with a level of respect. Grouping individuals based on “social market” factors turns a person into a number. Today’s consumer is not a number, they’re individuals who make informed purchases that they believe align with who they are on a fundamental level. What you should be looking at instead is your audience’s online intended actions. What will someone do with the information, services and products you provide?

It never ceases to amaze us just how many businesses overlook the treasure trove of information they could simply obtain by surveying their customers. Stop trying to figure out what works and start asking your customers what they like, want and need. A simple survey can help you determine what new products and services to offer, identify trends and highlight customer intentions! There are tons of online survey tools out there such as SurveyMonkey, KwikSurveys and SoGoSurvey, etc. Take the time to learn about your customers and how they feel about your brand. You want to develop a mindset for your organization that is focused on the wants and needs of the customer, to avoid doing damage control as a result of customer dissatisfaction.  Another great tool that can help you determine the intentions of your online audience is the Intent Index. The truth of the matter is that much of the information you seek is actually available within your organization in sales and service reports as well as in client records and inquires. Your online analytics can help as well, telling you what key words people are using to find you and where they are coming from.

Social

Image via iStockphoto

The goal behind focusing on your audiences’ intention is about obtaining more insights with less advertising, it’s about stepping into the customer’s shoes and out of your business bubble. Create a culture in your organization that encourages your team to create content based on the insights and information they have available to them. When creating campaigns for our clients we like to work backwards, in the sense that we like to always have a clear understanding of what their end goal for that particle campaign will be. Ask yourself what actions do you want your customer and followers to take after seeing your campaign, is it clicking a link, opting in, sharing, commenting or maybe you want to inspire them to create their own content around your brand. Whatever it is, you have to have a clear understanding and create a campaign that drives your desired actions.

Your social media strategy is simply a road map or guide lines for your desired intention. Take the time to analyze the appropriate social platforms for your business, as previously mentioned don’t be afraid to grow one platform at a time as you navigate your social media marketing. Determine how you  want to engage and with whom, develop your social voice and create a culture in your organization that empowers your team to be your loudest advocates. Creating a strategy that works should not scare you, in fact this entire content calendar series was roots in helping you to develop a successful strategy.

Take the time to write out your social media strategy, begin by determining what your main objective for using social media will be. Maybe your looking to easily facilitate a conversation between you and your customers, or you wish to support your vendors who have a smaller online presence. You can choose to educate or learn from others, whatever your objective is clearly state it for all in your team to know. Next, define how you intend to utilize each platform and how each platform with support the other’s. You may choose to use each platform to support a different area of your business. We’re firm believes that content and messaging should be tweaked to be unique to any particular platform. Give your audience a reason to follow you on multiple outlets to get a complete story or only on a few to get the information they desire. Either way but measurements in place to assess your efforts and be prepared to make changes when necessary. Most of all have fun!

We appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read this article. Be sure to leave an comments or questions you have below!

Content Calendar Part 3: Drafting a Calendar

Finally, let’s discuss the process of drafting a content calendar!Creating AContent Calendar Part3

If you have not had an opportunity to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this Content Calendar Series, we strongly advice you do.

So, as we previously mentioned,  a Content Calendar is a great way to organize your thoughts and efforts. To successfully leverage social media for your business, your efforts MUST be calculated! And by calculated we mean that everything you do from a marketing standpoint has to be measurable. In part 1 we discussed creating  a framework of content topics as well as the importance of  developing Master Copy Lists to pull from when posting to your preferred social platforms.  We cannot stress to you enough that you DO NOT have to be on every platform all the time, you should get comfortable with one to two platforms at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Social Media is a 24/7 medium and it can be exhausting trying to be present on multiple platforms simultaneously.

Grab all of the information you’ve compiled and pull out a dry erase board, calendar, or notebook; however you best organize your thoughts, go with it! First you’ll want to jot down all of the dates of important events related to your business. These should include your Google+ Hangouts, Networking Events, Blog Releases, Sales, Holidays, Charity Events, and anything that you do of interest related to you business. Word of wise, if you have a less than glamorous product or service you sell, i.e. insurance, gardening tools, computers, rather than littering people’s feeds with sales ads, attempt to share with them your company culture. Show people what makes you and your product unique!

Pencil or type all of these events into a calendar that you can refer to as you build your content calendar. Aim to map out at least a month to a quarter in advance. We advise constructing your content calendar in an automated site such as HootSuite, SproutSocial, Buffer etc. Using the times suggested by your analytics (you should be updating this at least monthly), create posts centered around your events calendar. Make sure that your content is a nice mix of images, videos, quotes, and compelling copy… Sprinkle in some appropriate humor, be genuine and occasionally speak from the heart!

We want to automate the content that is imperative to the marketing of your business, because then that frees you up to truly be social, engaging with your followers and others. If you want to get noticed on social media start noticing and acknowledging others. If the time is taken and  the measures are in place, you will save energy as you begin to understand what’s working and what’s not. The largest hurdle you will have to over come is the limits of your creativity and willingness to create original content. The digital currency of your brand is it’s content. So be prepared to do it yourself or hire some help.

When you review the content in your calendar you should ask yourself a few questions… Is this visually appealing? Is this entertaining or informative in any way? Will this look good on a mobile device? It is projected that by 2020, 80% of all media will be digital with a global media consumption average of 90 hours a week. Don’t get swept away in the sea of content. Invest the time in great content or your just wasting your time!

global-media-consumption-per-week-by-medium (1)

Image via The Brand Builder Blog

 

Your content calendar should be designed to be flexible. If after a month things aren’t working, then begin to tweak your content and try it again. You will have to be patient and play around with things before you figure out what works best for you. But once you do you will just fall into a rhythm. Social Media is not cookie cutter so what works for other businesses might not work for yours.  Be prepared to experiment and have fun!

Set goals to achieve, such as growing your followers, engaging with others, increasing blog views or hangout attendance. Creating a plan to get noticed, reduce your stress, and work smart!

We would love to hear your insights or questions… So please be sure to leave a comment below.

Pinterest: What the Hell is it?

www.PurelySocialMedia.comPretty much everyone has heard the saying: a picture is worth 1000 words, but have you ever stopped to think about why? 1000 words is a lot when you really think about it. Consider writing a thousand word essay and reading it aloud to an audience. It would obviously take you more than a second to read it, and the audience more than a second to absorb the information. Think about that and consider this fact: it only takes your brain 13 milliseconds to interpret images that the eye sees. (This is a really cool article about how the brain processes images.)

Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that people use to collect ideas and discover new things. It is mainly composed of images and could be described as a virtual vision board. 70% of Pinterest users go on Pinterest to find inspiration for a future purchase. That being said, Pinterest is an amazing social media platform for business owners to post original images relevant to their business. Only 20% of content on Pinterest is original, so business owners who create content to go on Pinterest are entering a very small pool and have a high likelihood of being discovered.T O  C R E A T E  A  S O C I A L  M E D

Now that we’ve gotten all of that out the way, let’s discuss what Pinterest means to you and give you some tips on getting started:

  1. Assess whether or not Pinterest is for your business. Every platform is not for every business, so don’t feel pressure to get on a social network just because it’s there. You’re better off being present on a few platforms strongly than all of them weakly. On the other hand, don’t automatically disqualify your business from Pinterest just because you’re unsure. Here’s a great article to help figure out whether or not Pinterest is right for your business.
  2. Share! If and when you do get started on Pinterest, the sharing rule is kind of the same as we previously discussed about Twitter. Diversify your content by repinning things other users post, as well as posting your own original content.
  3. Create multiple boards. Pinterest allows you the unique ability to segment your content via boards. You should take full advantage of this. If you’re a pastry chef, for example, include multiple boards that embody your business i.e, cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, pastries… Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be strictly business. You can also choose to include a few boards that represent things your team likes. We’re actually in the process of creating personal boards on our Pinterest, as well.
  4. Include descriptive key words. Although Pinterest is mainly visual, it does have a place to put descriptions and such. In the description, it is important to use keywords to help pinners find your content and include a link, so people know where to find you.
  5. Always link posts back to your site.  Although bitly links are not currently working for creating pins, you can still use them in the description section to track visitors. This can also help test to see if people are even reading the description.