7 Best Practices for Instagram Marketing

From Mercedes-Benz and Levi’s® to Taco Bell and Ben & Jerry’s, Instagram – a community of over 300 million, is being used by brands and businesses to reach an engaged audience, build awareness, deliver captivating imagery for rich visual storytelling and publish content in a creative environment. After all, every brand has a point of view and Instagram lets you share yours.

Instagram-logo

The social networking service has the following benefits:

1. Instagram is home to an engaged community. Instagrammers are passionate about the platform and are open to new perspectives.

2. The singular focus of the platform is captivating imagery. This is a fact demonstrated to best effect by Instagram’s simple design that ultimately allows captivating imagery to take center stage.

3. Instagram is a beautiful and high-quality environment to tell your brand’s story.

Additionally, the statistics for Instagram are baffling. The photo-sharing and video-sharing social networking service has:

1. 300 million monthly active users
2. The service is home to over 30 billion photos
3. Everyday, 70 million photos are added
4. Instagram photos generate 2.5 billion likes daily

Clearly, if you ignore Instagram’s potential as a marketing channel, you do so at your own peril. Equally important, if you want Instagram to fit into your overall marketing strategy and in turn increase awareness for your brand, shift perception and/or reach a new audience, you need to be aware of tactics for success.

In truth, as more and more people and brands jump onto Instagram, the noise level for individual users increases and for your content to really stand out from the crowd, it needs to be remarkable, interesting and add value. The content also needs to be optimized to make sure it is seen.

7 tactics for Marketing Success on Instagram

1. Cross-promote for Discoverability

One of the easiest ways to juice up your Instagram engagement and maximize your Instagram impact is to mention your Instagram account on other social media channels, your website and any printed materials. This will promote traffic and expand your reach to new or existing communities. In particular, be sure to capitalize on Facebook’s integration of Instagram to reach wider audiences.

2. Follow the Top Trends

As a social media marketer on Instagram, you need to be constantly aware of the top trends on the network so you can participate in those conversations when it’s relevant for your industry. The idea is that you want to match your content to the current season, holiday or event so you can hit your audience when they are already thinking about these things.

3. Engage your Community

Next up, the thing you need to understand about Instagram is that it is not a one-way channel for promoting your brand. As mentioned above, Instagram is an engaged community and to belong, you need to like and comment on other people’s photos and content. Interact with your followers and reciprocate their passion for your brand. Read more

How to Promote Your YouTube Videos for Maximum Reach & Impact

As it stands now, YouTube has over 1 billion users.

  • Everyday people spend hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube
  • Every year, the number of hours people spend on the website increases by 50%
  • Every minute, 300 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube
  • The video-sharing website is available in 61 different languages and localized in 75 countries

With stats like these, it makes sense why many businesses and marketers are jumping on the YouTube bandwagon in an attempt to harness some of the benefits of having a presence on a platform, which is as much a community site as a search engine. And while each channel on YouTube has its own approach to publishing, some of the most important actions when uploading a video on the website can be grouped into a simple checklist.

YouTube-logo

After all, making a video and uploading it to YouTube is only half the battle. The real challenge lies in optimizing the content and engaging with the community to make sure your video reaches the widest audience possible.

The checklist to upload a video on YouTube and successfully promote it is as follows:

1. Upload

This includes proper formatting, writing the metadata and creating an eye-catching and more importantly, a high-resolution thumbnail.

2. Publish

Any video you upload on YouTube should be properly annotated with a subscribe button, community CTAs and/or links to related content. Consider adding the video to a relevant playlist.

3. Engage & Outreach

To increase the reach and impact of your content, post it on Google+. You can also reach out to relevant blogs and/or online communities or you can engage with people in the comments section of social media sites and other online spaces.

Optimizing and Promoting a Video for Maximum Reach & Impact

So you created a video that’s creative, insightful and spot-on in terms of what your YouTube audience wants. Now what? The inclination is to sit back with some popcorn and watch the view count rise. If you do that, you will end up sorely disappointed because creating a great video is only half the battle. YouTube is home to a ton of great content. To really get your video out there, you need to optimize it. To that end:

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A Primer on Mobile Social Media Marketing

Let’s start this post with a question!

What do you do on your smartphone most often?

– Email clients?

– Check the news apps?

– SMS/Text messaging?

– Take pictures and/or record videos?

– Gaming?

For those of us who are completely honest, there is no shame in admitting that, for the most part, our time is spent on the social networking apps behaving like “stalkers.” We observe and obsess over people, places and things that are meaningful to us.

Mobile-Social-MediaOn any given day, how many times do you honestly check your social apps to see what your friends are eating for lunch or whom they are hanging out with?

According to Adobe’s 2013 Mobile Consumer Survey, in 2012, there was a 31% and 180% increase over 2011 in smartphone and tablet users respectively in the United States. Consumers today are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to connect with brands through mobile-optimized websites and mobile apps.

Key findings of the 2013 mobile survey:

1. For consumers who have access to both a smartphone and a tablet, the device of choice remains the smartphone although tablets are rapidly rising in popularity.

2. Facebook is the dominant social network. It is accessed via mobile at 85%.

3. Twitter follows this number at 35% and Google+ at 21%.

4. The most popular social activity on mobile is to read status updates. Consumers are also using smartphones and tablets alike to view pages of their favorite brands.

In this era of emerging mobile-specific technologies, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity for brand differentiation.

Understand Your Audience Before you Address Them

Social media users fall under 3 different categories of people:

1. Thinkers

2. Questers

3. Leapers

For social media success, you need to have a cursory understanding of your target audience before you start talking to them.

– Thinkers

Thinkers use social media when they are contemplating whether or not to make a purchase. These are laid back people and are slow to act. 48% of Pinterest purchasers are thinkers that will favorite an item that they may or may not buy at a later date.

– Questers

Questers are people actively researching a potential purchase. They are information gatherers looking for feedback on items they are interested in.

– Leapers

Leapers are people who get inspired by social media to make a purchase. You may think of this category of people as impulse buyers. They take action quickly when they see something of interest.

These customer profiles are key to developing a successful mobile social media presence.

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How to Use Visuals to Market Your Business on Social Media

Humans are wired to respond to visual stimulation. As historically recorded, thousands of years ago, people narrated their lives in cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs. Today, art, books and various multimedia platforms have created a new narrative landscape populated by brands in many shapes and forms.

visual-branding

Everyday, the average person is exposed to hundreds of different advertising messages from hundreds of different brands. Of those, people tend to be most attracted to brands with authentic narratives and compelling imaging.

In the current digital era, social media is no doubt a great tool to increase your online presence. The problem lies in the fact that as more brands jump on the Internet bandwagon, marketing clutter can make it harder for your brand to stand out and compete.

Effective Visual Branding on Social Media

1. Build a Brand Narrative

– In the following video titled ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’, author Simon Sinek explains his simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership. Addressing the question of why Apple always seems to surpass other computer brands, Sinek postulates that Apple’s success as a brand can be attributed to the fact that Apple believes in challenging the status quo and thinking differently. And did you notice the high quality and neatness of their photography?

The take-away: Determine why your brand is great and the kind of narrative you want to share with the world will emerge. Invest in high-quality photography, digital imaging and graphics.

2. Make Your Brand Memorable

Did it ever happen to you that you are spending an amazing day at the beach and suddenly, bursting out of the ocean, you feel like a Coke?

It’s not a coincidence!

Coke uses ‘red’ to associate excitement with their product.

Big brands have realized a long time ago that colors can impact how they appeal to their target audience. Color is more than just a hue. It makes a statement.

But you do need to be consistent with your use of colors. Social media includes virtually anything you post online. This includes but is not limited to tweets, Facebook posts, shares and web content. A brand’s authenticity relies on consistency.

Here is an excerpt from KISSmetrics’s infographic that gives some general guidelines on how colors affect American online shoppers:

colors-affecting-purchases

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How to Inspire and Engage Your Audience on Instagram

Nike on Instagram

On Instagram, in addition to its primary @nike account, Nike runs other accounts including @nikebasketball, @nikefootballand @nikewomen.

nike-instagram

The question is: Why? Why the extra accounts and the extra work?

You see, the reason why @nike is so successful on Instagram lies in its understanding that being passionate about a sport means being part of a community. And Nike built communities on Instagram defined by, not country borders, but by passion; the passion of fans and athletes from around the world.

@nikerunning is, for example, perhaps one of the most successful Instagram accounts. The way it brings together everything running related and the global running community is extraordinary and gives them a reason to feel that they are part of something bigger with hashtags like #werundirty. And all of this is brought to life on Instagram, with photos and videos.

General Electric on Instagram

General Electric is an American multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut. Now if you were ask to picture what the Instagram account of General Electric looks like, first off, you would probably wonder: Does it have an Instagram account? And secondarily, you will probably visualize photos of light bulbs or videos of how a refrigerator works.

Now let’s see how wrong you are.

general-electric-instagram

The team behind @generalelectric is not here to promote appliances. Instead they are selling a bigger story; A story of powering, moving and curing the world.

Before Instagram, people didn’t know what General Electric stood for but in Instagram, the company saw the opportunity to develop an understanding for what GE does. In addition to successfully building awareness for its innovative technology, General Electric has managed to become one the most esteemed contributors to the Instagram community.

How they did it? It’s all about getting your messaging priorities to align with your business objectives and thereafter committing to a high bar for content for images posted typically once a day.

Ben & Jerry’s on Instagram

@benandjerrys is another Instagram account that deserves a special mention for the sheer way that it brings its ice cream brand to life on the social service. Focusing on things like key flavors, fun and the brand values, Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first brands to join Instagram in February 2011 and is now, one of the most successful accounts.

ben-and-jerrys-instagram

@benandjerrys is, in effect, a visual storytelling platform that connects people from all over the world.  In fact, at least half the photos that Ben & Jerry’s shares on Instagram today are from community members.

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Twitter Advertising 101 | Getting Your Tweets and Account in Front of More People

Twitter is the micro-blogging Godzilla. With 500 million Tweets a day and 230 million active users on the social site, everyday, people all over the world turn to Twitter to bring them closer to the things they care about, whether we are talking about world news or businesses down the block.

twitter-logoWith numbers like these, Twitter can help your business in many ways.

1. Connecting your Business to What People are Talking About

One of the things unique to Twitter is that people take to this micro-blogging site to talk about things they care about and that could include your business. This gives you a powerful window to connect your business messages to what people are talking about at any point in time. Real-time engagement with Twitter users can help build your business.

2. Listening and Learning

Twitter is a very useful platform to gather valuable industry data, insights and intelligence. In real time, you can see what your competitors are tweeting about and you can get insights into how businesses are using Twitter to drive traffic, increase engagement and grow.

3. Growing your Business

Twitter is also a very good place to promote your business and increase its reach and impact. For example, if you want to grow your business, you can use Twitter as a platform to run promotions and to engage with your customers. To amplify your results, you can also turn to Twitter Ads.

About Twitter Ads – Advertising Tools to Get your Business in Front of More People

Twitter has three ad products.

  • Promoted Accounts
  • Promoted Tweets
  • And Promoted Trends

Through these advertising tools, Twitter allows you to target the right people; In essence, your ads show for Twitter users who are most likely to be interested in your content, products and/or services.

Promoted Accounts

twitter-promoted-accounts

The quickest way to build an active community on Twitter is to promote your account, the rationale being that the more Twitter followers you have, the more people there are to spread your message and engage with your content.

Promoted Accounts can help you:

1. Reach more followers (who are interested in what you have to say)

2. Build a community of Twitter users who will vouch for you

With Promoted Accounts, instantly, your business gets exposed to the right people…and plenty of them. And using Twitter’s targeting option, you can get your Twitter account in front of more people who are like your current followers in terms of say geography or specific interests.

With Promoted Accounts, you can also track your results in real time. For more information about analytics, click here.

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How to Convert Websites Visitors into Facebook Likes with Facebook’s Social Plugins

The Facebook Like button is perhaps the most widely used website widget across the web. It is used on millions of websites around the world and it’s become integrated into the way we browse the web and share interesting content we come across with our friends and contacts. Because of how actions figure in Facebook’s Open Graph, it’s become more important now to use the Facebook Like button across your website than it was before.

like-us-on-facebook-button

Facebook’s Like Button

Facebook’s Like button is the quickest way for people to share content with their social contacts. A single click of the button will ‘like’ pieces of content on the web and share them on Facebook.

How to get the code for your Like button

Go to https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/like-button/

To get the code for your Like button, fill in the following:

  • URL to Like
  • Layout of the button
  • Width and
  • Action type

The Facebook Like button comes in 4 different layouts: standard, box count, button count and button. Facebook also allows two action type options for the Like button: Like or Recommend.

Next you need to check or uncheck the following two boxes:

  • Show Friends’ Faces
  • Include Share Button

With all the above information specified, click Get Code.

In addition to the settings above, you can also change other things about your Like button. We’ll discuss three.

  • colorscheme: The color scheme used by the plugin can be light or dark. The default is light.
  • href: This is the absolute URL of the page that will be liked.
  • kid-directed-site: If your website is directed to children under 13, you must enable this. The default is false.

A Quick Q&A

Is it better to display the Like button on its own or use the Like and Share buttons together?

The difference between the two options will probably answer this question for you. The Facebook Like button lets people post links to Facebook with a single click. The Share button on the other hand allows users to add a personal message and customize what they are sharing before posting. In most cases, it’s better to include both buttons on your website and allow people to decide how they want to share your content.

Can you display the Share button without the Like button?

Of course you can. To do so, follow this link https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/share-button/ instead of the one above.

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YouTube Advertising Crash Course

YouTube videos get more than 1 billion views per day. Undeniably, more and more people are turning to YouTube everyday; whether it’s for entertainment, news or even makeup tips. Smart Internet marketers identified this opportunity some time back and now even Fortune 500 companies, who earlier would have stuck to conventional modes of advertising, have started taking YouTube ads seriously.

guide-to-youtube-advertising

People aren’t going to stop watching YouTube videos anytime soon and any marketer that ignores this medium of advertising is doing himself and his clients a huge disfavor in the long run. Starting to panic that you’re still not in that game? Worry not, we’ll smooth out your initiation and discuss virtually everything you need to know about starting a YouTube advertising campaign.

To start with there are 2 kind of ad campaigns that you can run on YouTube. Regular ads and Video ads.

Regular ads are simply banner and rich media ads, something like AdWords. These are the ads that you see towards the right of a video or in the form of an overlay banner on top of the video. This form of advertising is very prevalent but not so effective. No one likes banners on top of their video and YouTube gives the viewer an option to close the overlay ad whenever they want. As for the sidebar ad, unless your rich-media content is really interesting, the ad is very likely to go un-noticed. Let’s not forget that the viewer’s prime intention is to watch their video and they are less likely to focus on any other elements of the page.

youtube-display-ads

In-video ad and banner ad to the right

The second kind of ads and by far the more popular ones are the video ads. As a YouTube advertiser you have the option of four kinds of video ads.

– TrueView In-stream

These are very much like TV ads that play before a show starts. YouTube shows the visitor 5 seconds of your ad after which they have an option to skip it. You only pay for it if the viewer watches your whole ad or at least 30 seconds of it, whichever is less. If they skip the video after 5 seconds then you don’t pay a dime.

YouTube-TrueView-ads

– TrueView In-Slate

In Slate ads appear only on videos that are 10 minutes or longer. YouTube gives the visitors 2 options- Either watch one of three ads in the beginning or go through regular commercial breaks during their video. You only pay for this when the viewer chooses to watch your video ad.

youtube-in-slate-ads

– TrueView In-Search

They are exactly like AdWords ads that we see on Google search result pages and appear above or towards the right of YouTube search results. Much like AdWords, you only pay for this if the viewer clicks on your ad.

youtube-insearch-ads

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Enough With All The Social Buttons! Select The Most Relevant Ones And Drop The Rest

Social buttons, strategically placed on your website and at the top of any content you share with your audience, makes your website more social. They help spread content organically and aid general search engine optimization. The question is: How many social buttons are enough?

social-buttons

Too few may limit the reach and impact of your business.

Too many may dilute your impact on the most important social sites.

What to do?

Pick the most valuable social buttons and drop the rest.

1. Facebook

Facebook has over 1.1 billion users. It is by far the most widespread social network and it is the platform that receives the highest levels of engagement. If you have to pick ONE social button to include on your website and at the top of your posts on your blog, it’s a no-brainer that a Facebook “Like” button would be the obvious choice.  Traffic on Facebook is too heavy for marketers to pass on it.

2. Twitter

Second to Facebook in popularity is Twitter. Twitter has over 500 million users although, statistically, only 200 million of the users are actually active. However, Twitter is a much more open channel of communication as compared to Facebook: users can ‘follow’ whomever they please. This makes Twitter ideal for sharing content. The Twitter button is valuable.

3. Google+

Although nowhere as popular as Facebook, the social network by Google offer the unique advantage that it is by..well Google. It does not matter how many users are actually active on Google+ or what the level of engagement is like on the social network, the Google ‘+1’ button is valuable for the simple reason that it is helpful from an SEO perspective. It is no secret that social signals are now important ranking factors.  Social shares are important to Google, especially Google +1s.

4. LinkedIn

Predominantly a business-oriented social network, whether or not you should include a LinkedIn social button on your website and blog is something you will have to assess for yourself. LinkedIn is not a platform people use for entertainment . In fact, most people sign up on LinkedIn for the purposes of recruiting employees, looking for a job or staying in the loop with business networks.

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Branding For Small Businesses | What The Branding Giants Do And How You Can Copy Off Them

If you run a small-scale business, you may not have the following or fan base like a company such as Coca-Cola but there is no much you can learn about branding from the way the big players do it. To help you get started, below is a list of companies that have built their brands through engagement efforts.

small-business

Each of these companies have done something special with their social media marketing and as a small business, you have something to learn from each one of them. So buckle up people and pay attention because you are about to enthralled.

How the Branding Giants Do it

1. Ask Users for Content

Everyone’s heard of Expedia, the online travel company. What you might not know about is the ruse used by this company to get people to share content. Expedia encourages users to share their travel experiences via Expedia’s social media apps including videos, photos and content. For example, one video might be of a father and son at Disneyland Paris with the caption “The best trip ever” Another might be a narration of a trip to Phuket. “ Just got back from a trip to Phuket, Thailand and we’ve had the most wonderful experience ever. Everything was booked and paid for via Expedia including our car rental. Expedia is no doubt the best online travel company.”

The take-away: In addition to the content you create for your fans and followers on the social sites, you can also ask them for content including photos, videos and written content. You do not need a following like Expedia’s to be able to do that. Just ask for photos, videos or short stories relating a certain subject. This will promote your brand and simultaneously motivate people to pay attention to your company.

2. Hold Contests

When RadioShack, the undisputed authority in the wireless market, held a contest via social media to promote a new product, Verizon phones, the result was spectacular with Twitter users. Tweets were sent using the hashtag #itskindofabigdeal. The tweets were sent directly to one of several Verizon phones. These phones were placed on a table and set to vibrate. Whenever a tweet was received, the phone would vibrate and move. The person responsible for making the phone drop would then win the phone.

The take-away: To promote engagement with your brand on the social sites, you can try to make a game out of your product or service. This can be easily achieved by adding a competitive element to your request. This will promote engagement and perhaps benefit you two-fold if people start following you or liking you on the social sites because word-of-mouth is, you are offering an incentive. Whether your end goal is to attract new fans and followers or to promote engagement for your brand, contests always work great.

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