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How To Tell Your Brand’s Unique Story With Social Media

Telling your brand’s story is an important to reinforcing what your brand is. Social media is a place where you can tell your brand’s story in entertaining and unique ways. But where should you tell your story exactly?

When it comes to social media, over doing it is a recipe for failure. It’s important to pinpoint those platforms where your target market is. Social Media marketing doesn’t have to mean an automatic default to Facebook and Twitter.

If your business hosts or participates in events that you want to promote, you may need to go off the beaten path. Let’s say you have an event coming up. You might post photos of your team or make a short video clip of what is happening behind the scenes. You can use Instagram videos, or a Snapchat story of the brief moments or special highlights that occur throughout the day of the event. What if you were able to capture the moments right before you went on stage to present or captured an entertainer just before they went on stage? Such images making storytelling interesting.

Let’s take a closer look at two platforms you may want to use.

INSTAGRAM

Businesses embrace Instagram because it lets them showcase their products visually. Visual marketing is powerful, so it makes Instagram an attractive platform.

To be successful on Instagram you need to find new and interesting ways to connect with your audience through visuals. By launching contests, using short video, and even running ads, you’ll build awareness, engagement and grow your community.

SNAPCHAT

If you’d like to reach a younger demographic, especially 18-34 year olds, then Snapchat is an ideal platform. Snapchat is growing fast, and the users are extremely engaged. Snapchat is on pace to grow the number of U.S. active users to a whopping 27% this year, to 58.6 million — topping Twitter and Pinterest for the first time, according to research firm eMarketer. The challenge with Snapchat marketing is figuring out how to best to engage users in a fun way that isn’t so obviously promotional. This is why live events work so well.

SHARE MOMENTS ON INSTAGRAM AND SNAPCHAT

Get people interested in your business or organization by sharing what’s going on at your events. Start from prep and share through the wrap up. Take people behind the scenes as your prepare for the event. Share snippets of each moment as they happen. Using a combination of video and photo will keep it interesting. Make sure you brand your event with geofilters.

TELL A STORY ON SNAPCHAT

Beyond a series of pictures and video that chronicles moments at an event, literally tell a story from beginning to end.  Do you have a great story to literally tell? How an idea came about? How something was created? Map it out and then retell it in a fun interesting way that makes your audience want to follow along.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNTS ON INSTAGRAM AND SNAPCHAT

You can offer discounts and special sales on both Instagram and Snapchat and make them unique to each platform. Because Snapchat stories expire in 24 hours it makes it the perfect place to have flash sales and discounts exclusively on the platform. Give them a reason to follow you on Snapchat for this reason.

Nowadays, younger audiences are pretty socially savvy. So, being authentic is important.Click To Tweet

It’s important to show the “human” side of your brand and let people see the real people behind the logo. Entertain your users and stand out by what makes you unique. That comes from sharing moments and telling stories.

 

social media marketing

How To Spring Clean Your Social Media Marketing

We have had an amazing week of warm weather here in Michigan. Considering that just a few weeks ago we had unusually cold weather with snow flurries, it’s a welcome sight. Since we’re in the full swing of Spring, it got me thinking, am I ready for the midway mark of 2016? More than likely, it’s time for some social media marketing spring cleaning.

Spruce Up Your Social Media

If you conduct a social media  spring cleaning inventory, you might find that there are some things you are missing, should change or needs improvement. Let’s take a look at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to see where you might need to do a little sprucing up.

FACEBOOK

How’s Your Headshot?

If your profile picture is more than a couple of years old, it’s time to upload a new headshot. Make sure it’s head and shoulders and professional.

Update Your Cover Photo

Spring is a good time to give your page a fresh new look with a new cover photo. Maybe you want to have something designed that fits your brand and represents your business. You may also want to make a collage of photos of your products or a collection of photos from events.

Check Your About Section

Make sure the About section accurately portrays what you do. Is it up to date? If applicable, include your hours of business and contact information. Hopefully  you have a vanity URL in place. Secure one if you don’t already. For example, is your business page URL: facebook.com/(a bunch of random numbers and letters) or does your URL include your business name like mine: facebook.com/socialwithsara.

Are you verified?

If you have a brick and mortar business, meaning you have a physical location, you can verify your page. Here’s how to do it.

Next, consider cleaning out your “friends” and “likes.” If your page has fraudulent likes (as the result of “like farms”), it can really skew any paid advertising you do on Facebook. For this reason you’ll want to clean out any fake accounts.

Set Up Authorship

Facebook allows you to set up authorship so that your blog posts are attributed to you when they’re posted on the platform. I discuss how to set up Authorship among other Facebook features in this post.

Try Something New

Ready to shake things up a bit on Facebook? Why not incorporate Facebook Live in your social media marketing? It’s very easy to use and it’s a great way to get in front of your audience in a simple engaging way. Here are some tips from Social Media Examiner on how to do it. 

INSTAGRAM

Optimize Your Bio

How you set up your bio on Instagram is crucial. Make it interesting and easy to look at with spacing, emojis and symbols. This helps break up the text. You’ll want to include keywords around what you do such as: Travel, Photography, Foodie,  LA-based (don’t forget to use a location tag 📍)

Include your contact information and website. This is the only area in Instagram where urls are hyperlinked. So, if you’re promoting something special like an ebook that you want your visitors to land on, you’ll want to put it here in the bio section.

Content Consistency

It helps to use the same filter to give it a balanced look. If you use text images with tips, set up a template with your logo and brand colors so that your images are recognizable with your brand.

Hashtags Are Mandatory

Did you know that according to a Simply Measured Instagram study, posts with at least one Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag? The use of hashtags is a great way to target new audiences on Instagram. It will also help other Instagram users discover, follow, and engage with you.

Use niche specific hashtags that already have an engaging community behind them and use the ones that your audience is already using.

TWITTER

Tidy Up:

  • Add your personal or company website to your bio if you haven’t already.
  • Consider updating your photo, especially if it’s outdated. Always keep it current.
  • If you’ve updated logos or colors, you should also consider changing your header photo and background color to accurately reflect your brand.

Who are you following?

Some people you may want to consider unfollowing: Those who post about things that don’t interest you or those who never post.

For followers, check to make sure they aren’t spam accounts. Spammers can add fake accounts to your list of followers. Find out who’s fake, then delete or block those accounts. A great tool for cleaning up your followers is ManageFlitter.

Create Lists

Consider creating Twitter lists to organize friends or those in your industry. Even make a list of those accounts whose content you want to see for content curation purposes.

Check Permissions

You may also want to check up on your app permissions. See which apps or sites you have given permission to access your profile and remove any that you’re no longer using.

LINKEDIN

I recently wrote a blog post on Creating A Winning LinkedIn Profile. It contains an infographic to illustrate all the keys areas. It’s a great place to start to get your LI profile where it needs to be. Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Your headline is seen more than anything else, so make sure it contains the keywords that you want to be found with.
  • Is your headshot outdated? Always keep your headshot up to date with a current professional headshot.
  • Work on your summary to highlight your best skills and experience.
  • Make sure your contact information is updated so clients and others can get in touch with you.
  • Personalize your profile’s URL with your name or business name.
  • Are there new projects that you’ve done since your last update that showcase your abilities? Add them!
  • Do you need some new recommendations? It’s ok to ask.
  • What about your connections? When you first joined LinkedIn, you probably connected with everyone. I did the same. But once you’ve been on the platform for a while, it makes sense to be strategic with your connections. Make sure they’re relevant to your industry.

Spring cleaning your social media marketing will get you on the road to being ready for the second half of 2016. Don’t forget to check your analytics and insights to see if there are adjustments you can make to your strategy for better results.

 

4 Instagram Updates You Might Have Missed

Instagram has arguably dominated the social media news this Spring. The photo and video social networking platform has made quite a few changes to the platform in 2016, much of them coming in the last few weeks. So if you’ve been caught up in March Madness, presidential campaigns, running your own business, or just life! You could’ve easily missed one of the recent Instagram updates on this wildly popular network. So here’s a little synopsis on what’s new:

ALGORITHM

Some Instagram updates are hard to miss. If you noticed a surge in people asking their followers to turn on their notifications to see their posts (annoyingly so) and wondered why, you might have missed the algorithm on Instagram. I wrote a blog post about the update a few weeks ago detailing what it is, what it means and what it means for businesses.

60 SECOND VIDEO

As a predictable follow up to advertisers being able to extend their videos to 60 seconds, Instagram has given the same ability to everyday Instagram users.

Instagram videos, which have been limited to 15 seconds since 2013, can extend to a full minute.Click To Tweet

Instagram has been gradually transforming its feed from a stream of static images to a more lucrative collection of videos. In the past six months, the time Instagram users spent watching videos has increased 40 percent, according to the company.

Instagram has encouraged that trend by adding view counts to it’s videos. The company also enacted a collection of top videos around a particular subject, event or occasion and promoting them at the top of the feed, much like Snapchat’s live stories.  Another useful addition: the ability to create a video using multiple clips from the camera roll. There are many apps that will piece together your video clips , and you can now do it inside Instagram.

DESKTOP NOTIFICATIONS

I know some of you are almost 100% mobile. That’s not me. I need my QWERTY board! So for those of you who prefer using your computer over your phone, now you can see who followed you, liked your posts, commented on your posts, and mentioned you all from the convenience of your laptop computer. You know, the same place you’re creating visual content on Photoshop, sending email, files, listening to music, etc; etc;. Here’s a look at Instagram on the desktop:

instagram update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you log on via your computer, you’ll notice three icons in the top right corner of your screen. The navigation icon allows you to search and discover across Instagram. The heart icon is your notifications. Use this to view your notifications of who liked you, who followed you, etc;. The head and shoulders icon is your profile. If you’ve been exploring around, this will always get you back to your profile. Clicking on “Instagram” will take you to your feed.

instagram updates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is interesting news because it is more gradual desktop integration from a platform that is so mobile based with increased functionality. I can’t help but think the company had marketers like myself in mind with this change.

 

CREATE ACCOUNTS FROM THE DESKTOP

Another one of the Instagram updates which seems to give a nod to marketers: you can now create accounts from the desktop.

instagram update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I first heard this breaking news a few days ago from my friend and Instagram expert, Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends. If you want to keep up to date with all things Instagram, follow Jenn! Which update do you think will be the most useful to you? Share your feedback with me in the comments below!

 

Instagram

A Closer Look At The Instagram Update

Last week, the social media world got a shake up.

Instagram announced a major update and the world has gone mad! Click To Tweet

Not really, but it was big news. Instagram has announced an update to its news feed algorithm. Posts will no longer appear in chronological order, but instead it will be a more personalized feed, designed for you to see the moments you care about first using a variety of signals such as relationship between poster/user and timeliness. It is meant to be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content it shows you as opposed to a chronological order. So essentially, Instagram will choose what to show and when, not unlike the Facebook newsfeed.

Anytime such a huge change like this is announced, as a marketer, I immediately think about what it means for businesses.  So, I decided to pick the brain of my friend and Instagram expert, Jenn Herman. Not only is her blog, “Jenn’s Trends” a Top 10 Social Media Blog of 2014 & 2015, but she has her own exclusive Instagram marketing community, Jenn’s Friends. Check out what Jenn had to say in this brief Q & A:

Instagram made a HUGE announcement this week that they would be to an algorithm based timeline. What has been the reaction of your online community to this news?

Yes, it was BIG news! Everyone has been talking about it. Surprisingly though, my community has had mixed reactions. Of course, when I posted about this on Instagram, it was chaos. Everyone was freaking out, mad, and begging me to stop it (I wish I had that kind of power!). But when I polled my Twitter audience, I had 30 responses, 33% of whom said it was inevitable, 7% actually said it was a good idea, 37% said they wished it was an option, and only 23% said it was a bad idea. And my Facebook audience seemed somewhat passive and more interested in reminding their audiences to focus on creating better content.

I was kind of surprised by these responses, but when you think about it, it’s actually not that surprising, and completely in line with how those people use Facebook and Twitter. And they probably aren’t the more die-hard Instagrammers.

Why do you believe Instagram made this change?

Instagram is a business. And as a business and social media platform they have seen unprecedented and exponential growth. They are having to adapt and scale to accommodate the growth.

A couple years ago, Instagram users were crazy passionate about the platform. But now there are a ton of casual users who don’t log in every hour and who aren’t super active with likes and comments. We’ve all noticed a decline in engagement (even if it is still significantly more engaging that Twitter and Facebook).

So, Instagram is trying to adapt the platform to get the more casual users more active. And, of course, there is some play towards revenue generation…

What do you think users will notice most about this timeline change good or bad?

This is what we all have to wait and see since none of us really know yet. I could be wrong, but my understanding is that this algorithm will not hide any content. It will simply move certain content up to the top of your feed. So, if you scroll enough, you would still see everything all the accounts you follow post.

And, if you already have a loyal, engaged audience who regularly likes and comments on your posts, chances are this algorithm could actually help you as your content will be more likely to get moved up in their feeds. Worst case, it will have little or no impact on your business.

However, if you do not currently have good engagement and if your audience isn’t interacting with your content, then yes, this could impact you negatively. But, if your content isn’t resonating with them now, is the algorithm really to blame?

What does this change mean for marketers and how do you think they will need to adapt?

First and foremost, do NOT fall into the trap of creating more content. This is the Facebook strategy that too many people fall prey to and it will kill you on Instagram. More crappy content will not solve the problem.

Instead, you want to focus on creating BETTER content. Better images or videos. Better captions. Better calls-to-action that invite engagement to keep your posts looking good to Instagram.

You need to focus on building your community on Instagram. Answering questions, responding to comments, providing quality content and value, and supporting your audience will be paramount in seeing success on Instagram.

And, yes, if you want to start using ads, there’s no time like now, right? 😉 Instagram ads are easy to do, effective when targeted properly, and can drive traffic to your website while getting you new reach and exposure. But again, your content has to be the BEST you can create if you want to see real success.

Do you think this makes a hashtag strategy more or less important and why?

You MUST utilize a powerful hashtag strategy. It is even more important now that you are using the right hashtags to get found in searches by your ideal audience. Do not “hashjack” (piggyback on unrelated popular hashtags). Use industry, business, and content related hashtags that will attract your ideal customer.

I certainly appreciate Jenn’s expertise!

So, bottom line is, when such updates are implemented, it’s a challenge to brands to be BETTER. Use better creativity, better content, better calls to action, better captions. Time to step your game up.

 

 

instagram marketing

Simple Tools To Improve Your Instagram Marketing

My current favorite social media platform is Instagram. Apparently I’m not the only one, it’s extremely popular. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and with the new account switching feature, it’s easier to use than ever. There are many tools that social media marketers use to help them do their jobs more efficiently. With so many tools and apps available to solve many of the same problems, sometimes it can be hard to choose.

Here are a few of the tools I use to make my Instagram Marketing simpler and more efficient.Click To Tweet

LAYOUT

Layout is a photo collage app from Instagram. It accesses your camera photos to allow an easy way to select and create a photo collage. It has a built-in Photo Booth to take spur-of-the-moment shots. Layout gives you a choice of various laid out combinations for you to choose from. Just pick one and edit.

RELIGHT

The Relight app addresses a common photo editing problem: lighting. Relight Instantly correct slighting and exposure to make your photos look exceptional. Relight is realtime HDR with eight modes that correct lighting and exposure issues, add artistic HDR effects and enhance details. In short, Relight lets your camera see closer to what you see. Finally!

ADOBE POST

Adobe Post is a simple and easy way to create Instagram posts from pre-designed templates. You can “remix” these handcrafted templates into the color scheme and text layout of your choice.

REPOST APP

Sometimes on Instagram, you see something great that you just want to share. Sharing is simple with Repost App. You can reshare photos and videos in 3 steps while still giving credit to the original Instagramer. The original caption will also be copied to your clipboard to include.

CROWDFIREAPP

Here’s a tool you can use for both Twitter and Instagram. It helps you manage your followers on either platform. You can manage your Twitter and Instagram accounts far more effectively by:

  • Finding inactive users and your unfollowers – unfollow them if you wish to
  • Finding relevant users to follow using the “Copy Followers” feature
  • Keeping track of how your social media updates affect your follower/unfollower stats
  • Checking the relationship between any two Twitter/Instagram
  • When you’re trying to manage your follower/following ratio

Apps are always evolving, new tools are always emerging. As social platforms change, our needs change. What tools have you discovered that work great for Instagram? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

 

social media consistency

Social Media Marketing: Consistency is key!

Social media marketing is a job. It’s literally my job, but for business owners who’ve decided to dive in head first and build an online presence with social media, it’s probably more like their second job. Most business owners realize the major role social media marketing is playing in their overall marketing strategy. If your customers are there, if that’s where your target market hangs out, that’s where you should be. Social media is where conversations happen. Conversations help build relationships. Relationships help grow your business.

So what stops businesses before they get a good start? Consistency.

DID YOU GO OUT OF BUSINESS?

Sadly, people abandon their social media platforms. They start out with good intentions. They post a couple times on Facebook, send out a few tweets, maybe build a Pinterest board, and then things come to a halt. No posts, no tweets.

Believe me, I know social media marketing is time consuming. But if you don’t have time to maintain your social presence, find someone in your company who can, hire someone or don’t do it. I’m not saying you have to be online all the time. You don’t. But you do have to be consistent. Consistently posting content on the right platforms, staying consistent with your message, engaging with your audience will improve customer relations, give you credibility and get you noticed.

I spoke with a client who had let her Twitter postings fade away. She recently began posting again, when one of her followers was relieved to see her tweets and replied to her. She stated that she liked reading her content and had thought she’d gone out of business. Stopping completely gives your audience that impression.

WHO ARE YOU?

Not only is consistency important but it’s equally important to stay on message. Make sure you are conveying clearly what your company culture is. If the content should be serious, because your service or product is serious, then stay with that. If you’re a little more fun, that’s ok too. Stay consistent with your content strategy and how it is shared.

DON’T BROADCAST. HAVE CONVERSATIONS.

You should be aiming for consistent engagement as well. Your audience is a part of this process. Have conversations. Use the content you share to make connections with your audience. When your audience engages with you, respond and respond timely. Timely and relevant responses are yield happy, loyal customers and ambassadors for your brand. These experiences will generate positive word of mouth experiences that they will share with their networks. That is invaluable.

Have a plan. Carve out time each day to dedicate to your social media marketing efforts. It may be as little as 15 minutes. But these efforts given daily add up. Have a strategy, set goals and plan your content. Stay present and keep posting. Consistency will help keep you relevant and top of mind.