5 Instagram Tips You Can Glean From the Pros

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5 Instagram Tips You Can Glean From the Pros

With over 500 million active users per month, it’s clear that Instagram is no small player in the world of social media. There is plenty of potential for brands to leverage and broaden their outreach. But how do you cut through the noise and navigate a platform with such vast scope? You learn from the pros, of course. Here are seven Instagram tips that your competitors are already following right now. By taking these on board, you will be well on your way to mastering Instagram for your own brand.

5 Instagram Tips You Can Glean From the Pros

Are you on the lookout for content marketing advice to improve your overall strategy? Check out our previous post.

Show what your online business does in a creative way

Show what your online business does in a creative way

credit: fedex

Instagram is the perfect social channel for you to showcase the visual element of your brand. No matter what you do, there will be a creative way for you to document and showcase it. Consistent, visual storytelling cuts through the mediocre noise on Instagram. To grab people’s attention and build an audience that anticipates your next post, you need to get creative with how you share your ideas and tell your brand’s story.

Take FedEx, for example. This brand successfully uses images of their delivery service and combines it with posts of happy customers receiving parcels and flowers. This tactic not only makes an otherwise rather functional and unglamorous service look attractive, but it also serves to tell the brand’s story by giving it a human face.

Brainstorm the different processes your business is involved in, and how they affect your customers. With this information, you can create stories and come up with ways to creatively show how your brand’s day-to-day operations work.

The most successful brand storytelling involves bitesize micro-stories that tie into your brand’s values, mission and customer experience. You want to develop a strong brand presence on your Instagram feed that represents your overall brand image. Check out this post for more examples of visual storytelling.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with Instagram stories

Instagram Stories are a new function, recently rolled out across the social network, which allow you to use a slideshow of videos and images that remain accessible for 24 hours. This feature is in direct competition with Snapchat’s stories, but has the additional benefit of being linked to Instagram profiles. This means that with an Instagram profile for your brand, you have the opportunity to not only bedeck your feed with visual marketing, but to get creative with film and a story to really engage your audience.

Here are some things that you should know about Instagram stories:

  • Stories are displayed at the very top of your follower’s timelines
  • They can be used to display your behind-the-scenes content. This is often less staged and lower quality than the permanent posts on your profile
  • The story function really enables you to experiment with different types of content and see which gets the most engagement. Photos, short videos, Boomerangs, Rewind videos, and live videos are all available for you to get creative
  • The additional functionality of face filters, text and stickers allow you to really customize your posts and make your mark. It’s very easy to edit your posts on the go

Your posts will autoplay in the chronological sequence they were added, and you can post an unlimited number of times. This feature only works on the mobile app. Check out these unique brands to see how other people are making innovative use of Instagram Stories.

Take your audience behind the scenes of your business

As mentioned, brand storytelling is a really great way to interest your audience and add an extra dimension to your image. The more story you can provide, the more you open your brand up to engagement and conversation.

Some customers are naturally curious about where their products come from, and this is the perfect opportunity for you to answer their questions with your Instagram feed. For example, if you are a Fairtrade company, you could show your customers where you source your raw materials from.

Take your audience behind the scenes of your business

credit: fairtrade USA

The Fair Trade USA instagram does this to great effect. This non-profit organization shows exactly who crafts or handpicks the raw materials that go into fairtrade certified products. By doing this, their target audience can buy these products, safe in the knowledge that they are cruelty free. This kind of story is what evokes empathy from audiences and encourages them to buy products.

If you have an interesting brand story, don’t be afraid to show it off. Perhaps you started off as a hobby crafting jeweler to help keep food on the table? Let your audience know about your story and why you started your brand. Any kind of shareable information that connects you to your audience is very useful for social media. 

The power of micro-influencer collaboration

The power of micro-influencer collaboration

credit: mary orton

Another really great way to broaden your outreach on instagram is to harness the power of collaboration and employ an influencer. Micro-influencer collaboration aligns your brand with their values and mission. This often works more effectively than using hashtags, as the act of following hashtags is often more manual for the user. Banana Republic promoted its clothes to audiences that are defined by their sense of style and interest in fashion. The micro-influencers selected were fashion and lifestyle focused, and this helped Banana Republic to reach a large, but targeted, audience of consumers.

Micro-influencer marketing might be the biggest thing this side of 2017, but don’t worry – you don’t necessarily have to part with a large sum of money to hire their services. Consider offering them some free products to sample, and perhaps they will post to their Instagram feed or story without payment.

If you want to integrate micro-influencers into your marketing strategy, there are a few things you should know first:

  • You should consider whether your chosen micro-influencers fit in with your brand and values. Ultimately, you want to piggyback from their established presence and gain access to their following. You need to be sure that their demographic is the right one for you to gain maximum ROI
  • If you are a local or smaller business, consider finding micro-influencers from your local area, with a local audience. This would allow you to be hyper-targeted with your outreach
  • When searching for the right micro-influencers to work with, you should aim for followers with a similar amount of followers to you, otherwise, you may risk not being taken seriously

 For more tips on how to collaborate on Instagram, this article is for you. Once you’ve decided which influencers to target, it’s time to make contact. Consider emailing them directly, rather than direct messaging them on Instagram. Emails tend to get higher response rates, as direct messages are often overlooked.

Analyze the performance of your posts and build on them

As with any marketing strategy, it’s really important for you to analyze the performance of your Instagram posts to make sure that you’re barking up the right tree. You need to make sure that you are spending your money in the right way, broadcasting the right kind of content, and targeting the right audience.

There are many apps and subscription services that allow you to track hashtags, engagement levels and mentions of your brand on social media. Keyhole tracks all of these, and even integrates seamlessly with online store creators like Shopify. This means that Keyhole can access all of your ecommerce business’ data in real-time, and give you the most up-to-date reports. Trackmaven is another great product that puts you in the driver’s seat of your social feeds.

Whether you choose to go down the micro-influencer route, or have a go with Instagram’s new story function (or perhaps all of these ideas!) – don’t forget to consistently analyze your engagement levels. The truth will be in your metrics, and data is essential to constantly improve on your marketing strategy and make sure you’re investing your budget in the right areas.

Which of these tips will you take onboard? Let us know in the comments.

Guest Blogger: Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.

Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing consultant and freelance writer, working with large brands to grow their reach. She loves sharing her expertise with other entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them reach success.


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2017 Trends for Online Privacy

With the latest move to dismantle internet privacy protection guidelines, online privacy continues to remain exposed. Consumer advocates seem to have a tougher journey ahead as they need to create a stronger framework to debate it out. As much the telecommunication companies hold the consumer in their grip, internet companies equally enjoy the custody of consumer data which is highly sensitive.

Research by the SANS Institute found that 80 percent of data breaches originate from third parties. This doesn’t mean the entire chunk is neglectful towards internet privacy but signals the lack of confidence in the measures they take to maintain online privacy.

While it’s difficult to fight the telecom entities in terms of information required by them, we can certainly be more vigilant with our online behavior by deploying safer internet practices like incorporating data protection tools and private search engines.

The infographic below beautifully depicts the current trends and measures towards online privacy. Take a look –

J.R. Atkins Privacy Trends & Measures 2017


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Facts about Content Marketing That Every Business Owner Should Know

J.R. Atkins content marketingContent marketing grows in popularity with each year. But what is it, a working technology or another trend that will soon come to naught? To competently answer this question, let’s dig deeper along with Lucy Adams.

Let’s face it: content marketing is not suitable for everyone and requires time (up to a few years!) to give results. Like any other trend, content marketing is surrounded by myths and omissions. To confidently decide whether to invest in this tool, let’s consider the facts that we already know about content marketing.

#1 Content Marketing Strategy Should Be Documented

According to Content Marketing Institute, about 42% of companies in b2b operate according to the pre-written content strategy.

On average, successful companies use 15 tools while inefficient – no more than 10. Successful companies allocate about 40% of their budget on content marketing while inefficient – about 15%.

#2 Content Director Will Soon Become One of the Most Demanding Professions in Marketing

More and more top managers will treat content marketing as a necessary tool requiring marketing costs. This means that companies will need not only favorable climate and corporate culture but also responsible managers to create and implement content strategies. Companies that do not assign responsibility for the creation and distribution of content to special people or units will lose the battle!

#3 Content Marketing Attracts More Customers at a Lower Cost

According to polls, in about 60% of cases, content marketing increases both the quantity and quality of incoming potential customers. Moreover, the price per 1 client reduces by 38%! In other words, good content marketing has a tangible commercial effect, increasing the flow of customers and reducing the price of a single lead.

J.R. Atkins contenet marketing model#4 Large Information Articles, Videos, and White Papers Have the Greatest Return on Investment from All Content Marketing Tools

According to a study conducted by copypress.com, the three greatest tools in terms of ROI are feature articles, video materials, and white papers (manuals, reviews, and mini-books that help to choose this or that product or solution).

In conditions of time and budget shortage, you can start your content marketing strategy with posting the materials that give the maximum effect and require minimum efforts. Most likely, employees of your company must have valuable experience to share. Start with it.

You can never know which article will become viral and cause noise. Often the material that takes a week goes unnoticed, and vice versa. That’s why you should prepare at least a dozen of different publications to test the interest of the audience.

#5 Your Subscriber Base Is Your Main Asset

Remember that you can’t make the first impression twice! Be sure to provide visitors with valuable information from the very first try. As soon as you get emails, things will go easier.

There are many pieces of evidence of the effectiveness of proper email marketing. According to icontact.com, those customers who received emailing spend 83% more money on online purchases and make purchases 28% more often. Every dollar invested in email marketing receives the return of $44!

#6 Adjusting the Content Strategy to the Sales Funnel Increases the Conversion

According to Aberdeen Group, adjusting the content strategy to the sales funnel increases the conversion by 73%. Almost all successful companies have internal databases containing articles, presentations, reviews, cases, videos, interviews, checklists, recommendations, etc. along with instructions for managers. It is called lead nurturing.

Prepare useful and interesting materials for clients, which will help them to understand your opportunities and advantages better. Teach sales managers to use these materials, taking into account the degree of customers’ readiness for making a purchase.

#7 People Won’t Read Everything You Wrote

According to Nielsen, only about 25% of the text is covered by an average visitor while 17% of visitors spend less than 4 seconds per page (apparently, these are those who immediately realized that they are in the wrong place).

First of all, make the visitor sure that he will find what he’s looking for. Secondly, make the page convenient for quick scanning, the so-called diagonal reading. Thirdly, provide bright, contrasting and understandable calls to action: these buttons must vividly stand out in the background of the page!

J.R. Atkins email marketing content#8 Content Marketing is not Suitable for Everyone

It requires transparency, both in relation to customers and within the organization. One of the main tasks of content marketing is to get the trust of the market. Customers want to work with competent, enthusiastic, afflicted people who won’t quit in a difficult situation.

#9 You Must Have Your Own Content Marketing Platform

Make sure that you post materials on the platform created for your tasks and that you completely control. All the other platforms are the leased territory. They can disappear one day, and you will not do anything about it. Although you need links, you must have your personal platform!

Given the excessive attention to social networks, there is another danger: your competitors can target advertising exclusively to the communities that you lead in social networks, thereby taking away your potential customers.

When it comes to monetizing contacts and customer bases, one targeted subscriber from an emailing base brings the same amount of money as about 15 followers in social networks. That is, the point is to focus on collecting a base of loyal subscribers, considering the audience in social networks as a useful addition to it.

#10 Content Marketing is about a Team, not a Single Person

Depending on your tasks and scales, you will need a person or team that will embody your content marketing strategy. Where can you get a good content marketer? Well, it’s all about your budget. One of the options is to find the best you can afford and train it.

If you can afford only one specialist, must have the skills of writing, editing, getting information from your employees and authoritative sources, as well as preparing the full range of marketing materials, from blog posts to emailing and brochures that sales managers will send out to potential customers.

If your budget is small, don’t worry. Just as morning exercises are beneficial to the body, even one strong article in a couple of weeks can be of great importance if such articles are regularly issued!

 

Guest Blogger:

Lucy Adams is a blogger and buzzessay writer. She’s interested in education, writing, books, and a few more niches. Simply put, Lucy is a generalist who’s able to bring to life a huge variety of ideas. Feel free to share your suggestions; be sure, you’ll get a grounded response to your each and every request.


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9 Ways to Validate Your Startup Ideas

Having your own business might be something that you envisioned for a long time. Now that you have an idea on what business to pursue, should you jump in right away and get started? No matter how excited you are and how good you think that idea is, it’s still best to pause and validate if your business idea.

Validating your startup idea doesn’t necessarily eliminate the risk of failure. However, this will tell you if it has a bigger chance of succeeding. Plus, it will help determine if you are on the right track when it comes to your plans.

One of the things to ask yourself is what problem you are trying to solve or eliminate? Your product or service must be useful for your target audience. It should be the solution for their specific issues or it must make their lives easier.

Know your market. Decide on which group of consumers you will be focusing on. Do your research to find out about their needs, wants, and expectations and see if your idea meets them.

There are more ways on how to validate your idea for a startup business. We compiled them in an infographic to make the process more convenient for you. Find out if your idea is something that is worth pursuing or not with our gorgeous and informative illustration below:

9 Ways to Validate Your Startup Ideas

Guest Blogger: Scott D. is with Start Blogging online: www.startbloggingonline.com

 


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5 Ways Your Website Could Be Hurting Sales

website conversion helpIf you’re in the business of selling products or services online, your website can make or break your brand. While most companies stay on top of the marketing techniques that can help to drive more traffic to their site, they often forget to make improvements to the site itself. Here are five ways that your site might be hurting sales and how you can fix it.

1. You Have Unresolved Glitches

This sounds like a simple problem that any web administrator with an ounce of sense would avoid. However, many site admins don’t realize that their e-retail platform has a glitch because they don’t regularly check the platform for user friendliness. If customers run into a glitch, they’ll oftentimes abandon the purchase rather than contacting the administrator about the problem. Hence, it’s crucial that you’re regularly checking the site for any glitches or issues.

2. There’s Never Any Rush To Buy

If your site isn’t regularly running promotions that feature a deadline, such as “product X is 25% off until this Friday,” then you’re not creating time-sensitive reasons for customers to make purchases. Companies attach deadlines to their promo codes and sales for good reason; it gives the customer a reason to buy now instead of later. Don’t think of these promotions as sleazy. They’re actually quite common and a completely moral sales tactic.

3. The Tech Is Fine, But The Site Itself Is Hideous

Sure, any e-retailer needs to have a glitch-free storefront that runs smoothly and processes data and promo codes without error. But don’t think that design doesn’t matter. Customers like to be welcomed by a web design and graphics that are pleasing to the eyes. Good visuals can compel customers who are on the fence to finally make that purchase.

4. Zero Social Media Presence

As social media becomes more and more of an integral part of how our society communicates, retailers can’t afford not to have a strong social media presence. It’s common for consumers to look at a brand’s Twitter or Instagram before deciding to make a purchase. If your site doesn’t have any sort of social media presence, customers may actually find that to be odd and somewhat suspicious. Social media isn’t just good from a marketing perspective. Rather, it’s a good way to cement your brand as trustworthy and give a legitimacy to your brand’s entire presence online.

5. Contacting Customer Service Is A Nightmare

No one wants to receive a barrage of petty customer complaints or unnecessary questions. For this reason, many sites tend to bury their customer service contact form or information, theorizing that only customers with legitimate questions will take the time to seek out the contact info. While this idea is okay in theory, it can kill potential sales. When customers have a question that they need to ask before they feel confident making a purchase, they want to be able to contact customer service quickly and simply. This is why a customer service contact should always be plainly visible on your site.

If you stay on top of these five potential mishaps, you can create a site that is user-friendly and conducive to consistent sales.

Guest Blogger: Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who has worked in eCommerce for the last five years. She currently writes for Rakuten Super Logistics and recommends them for all your fulfillment


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Ecommerce Traffic Woes – Infographic full of Techniques

Redirecting the traffic on your site is hard, especially when competition is consistently on the rise. Retaining traffic is even more challenging. Success comes only if you are thorough with your marketing strategies.

Having a well-designed site with great loading speed is awesome, but optimizations are also needed, as they push the site further up the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ladder. Refining and updating your content as well as tuning the SEO parameters, gradually paves the way for more visibility.

Presenting yourself on social media is something you can’t afford to ignore if you want to target a wide segment of audience. Guest blogging on other sites, building links with the influencers, sending personalized emails to your customers etc. are some of the tested techniques that could be adopted for retaining a long term relationship and trust.

Non-internet users too can be targeted through offline promotions. Distributing merchandise with your brand logo or announcing online offers with print media can help in drive traffic to your website.

Simply put, It’s all about how effectively can you create a brand awareness for your site. The more people find you, the more traffic you generate.

The following infographic focuses on tips to ease you out of your ecommerce traffic woes –

E commerce infographic

Divya Dube pictureGuest Blogger: Divya Dube is an e-commerce subject writer at mofluid.com. She loves to do research and is an avid reader of technology, psychology, and fiction. She is also a gadget freak, a traveler, loves chocolates & music and has an immense passion for writing.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mofluid

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mofluid


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Mobile Road Map to Success by J.R. Atkins

J.R. Atkins Mobile Road Map to SuccessHow do you get a mobile app for your big idea or business? The solutions to this question is addressed in Mobile Road Map to Success by J.R. Atkins, MBA. “When I first developed this material I was working closely with entrepreneurs developing mobile apps and companies seeking to add mobile apps to their business lines. As I reflect on this content, a few years later, it’s still sound thinking and applicable today.”

One example of continued relevance is the dominance of iOS and Android operating systems over Blackberry, Microsoft, and Symbian.  Microsoft still is active on their platform but it just never took off with independent developers who dominate the mobile app development field.

Another example of relevant content is the mobile app development process represented by the flow chart below. I still run across people who say they have an idea for a mobile app but have not taken step one, which is creating a written description.

stepps to building a mobile app

A third example of continued relevance is the basic cost associated with mobile app development. I would have guessed that this would have changed but, since they are general categories, the price points still hold true.

How much money to build a mobile app

New log for SDC llcEven though time has passed and application development has improved, these are still reasonable guidelines to use in early planning. For more details and the rest of the story on Mobile Road Map to Success, check out the book on Amazon.

I look forward to seeing your comments and questions.


J.R. Atkins has been speaking, teaching and consulting on Social Media since 2008. He has a BA in Marketing from Texas A&M University, an MBA from The University of Phoenix, Dallas Campus and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He has published 3 books: Success Simplified, Social Media 2.0 and Mobile Road Map to Success. His company, Something Different Companies, works with churches, individuals and companies to implement effective online communication strategies.


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6 Best Practices for Promoting Events

A well planned, well communicated and well attended event can help an organization thrive and a business grow. Yet, I receive event notifications on a regular basis that are missing information, poorly timed, and offer too many reminders. Why is it so hard to get it right? Let’s take a look at a few best practices for promoting an event.

1._Create an event fact sheet. This should include all of the relevant facts such as date, time and location, as well as who should attend, where to J.R. Atkins talks about event communicationpark and who to call or email with questions. This list can be used to develop a press release and other forms of marketing communications as well as sharing with people and sponsors you are recruiting.

2. Develop a marketing communication plan at least 90 days out from the event. Your event may require more or less time depending on the J.R. Atkins on event planningevent, but 90 days is a rule of thumb as it allows time for event publication by relevant resources and printed materials. For best results, once you have confirmed the venue, develop your marketing communication plan. It is easier to deal with plenty of time than not enough time.

3. Send out a “save the date notice” in plenty of time. The bigger the event, the more notice people will need. For a major fund raiser or “annual J.R. Atkins says send out save the date noticesevent” publish the date on your website 12-14 months in advance and send out save the date notices several months in advance. As an example, an annual charity event may announce the date 12 months out but not release the theme, entertainment and other details until just the right moment to generate excitement.

4. Use “reasonable” frequency. One organization I belong to sent me 5 or more emails about the same event during the 30 days leading up J.R. Atkins warns of too many emailto it and they were the same email. Yuck! First, once a week is sometimes too often and second, the message needs to be different in every email. I wonder why I do not receive an invitation on Facebook or other mediums? Over communication often leads people to tune out and unsubscribe. By using multiple communication channels you can stay in front of people without driving them crazy. Use your website, email, social media, print and mail for really big events.

5. A picture is worth 1000 words. Make sure to use images that tell the story of the written content. This will create the best a picture is worth 1000 wordsimpact. For an even better impact, use a short video, less than 60 seconds, to promote the event. People will share your pictures and videos if they are done well and are relevant. PDF formats are often used to share event information, but remember they are an image and the details in the image are not searchable and someone cannot cut and paste the details into their calendar.

6. Use a professional online registration tool. It is common practice to offer registrations on your website or through an event registration tool. J.R. Atkins recommends eventbriteThese tools will increase your revenue and help manage the details. If your members like a hands on approach, you can still take their information over the phone or in person then enter it into the online tool. I have used cvent and Eventbrite, or check out the list by Capterra.

I could list more but I think these are the big ones I see being missed by well-meaning organizations. I welcome your comments, suggestions and success stores.

Good luck with your next event.


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Social Media Webinar @Rio Texas Conference of UMC

The Rio Texas Conference has hosted several webinars since February 2016. On April 30, 2016, Rev. Will Rice hosted a social media webinar with J.R. Atkins, author of Social Media 2.0.

 


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4 Trends to Capitalize on in 2016

To help your business grow in 2016, consider these trends and how well you execute in each area. I’d love to help you.

  1. social-media-buy-buttons-300x270Social Selling aka “The Buy Button” – In case you have not seen a “click to buy now” option on Pinterest or Twitter, get ready for them to appear on every social media platform. It just makes sense when you think about it; you see a picture of something you like, one click and you are able to buy it.

http://time.com/4075560/buy-button-facebook-youtube-pinterest/

  1. your design mattersDesign Still Matters – The look and feel, the ease of use, ease of navigation, online and in person, it’s all about the experience. The phrase “Customer Service” is so dated; it’s all about the “User Experience.” Millennial shopping habits are shaping the buying experience for all.

https://designschool.canva.com/blog/design-at-work/

  1. brand trustBuilding Trust – To build trust you must stand by your products and services, as well as communicate clearly and honestly about your brand. Your effectiveness in building trust is directly related to your online reviews and how you share and answer messages on social media.

https://agenda.weforum.org/2015/01/why-trust-matters-in-business/

  1. global and localBe Local and Global – Once you have a good online presence with your website and social media, you are ready to expand beyond your local market. With good online communication, competitive pricing and global shipping, you can do business anywhere you desire. You are only limited by your decisions.

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8211-expand-business-internationally.html

Update from Something Different Companies – 2015 has been a good year, expanding our business in London, ENG, Atlanta, GA, Fort Collins, CO, Cheyenne, WO, Dallas, TX, Killeen, TX, Copperas Cove, TX and Belton, TX. 2016 brings hopes of growing business in Mexico, Israel and Palestine. Cheers!


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