5 Social Networks & Apps Businesses are Getting Creative On (Other Than Facebook, Twitter, G+ & Pinterest)

In 2014, some 73% of online adults use a social networking site of some kind. Facebook remains the platform of choice but according to a study by Pew Research Center, a striking number of users are now also diversifying to other platforms with some 42% of online adults using multiple social networking sites simultaneously.

As a business, you want to be where your customers are. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are obvious social networks you should be using to increase your business reach and impact but there are other popular social networks out there that you are neglecting and that can potentially do your business a lot of good.

1. Tumblr

tumblr-logo

For one, millions of people from all over the world use Tumblr every month to find, follow, and share information. Tumblr is the perfect social network empowering businesses to create content and get it in front of the audience they deserve. By all accounts, Tumblr gives you a means to create a brand identity you can be proud of and tell your story using any number of media including pictures, animation, text, music, video, and more.

Quick stats:

– 125k new users sign up on Tumblr every day

– There are 140M blogs on Tumblr

– With 63B posts

All you have to do to tap into this traffic is sign up on the social networking site (a process that takes under 30 seconds) and you can create content and engage with the very active Tumblr community by being an authentic member.  How you tell your story on Tumblr is entirely up to you. Tumblr also makes it super easy for businesses to syndicate content across the web and other networks.

2. Instagram

Instagram-logo

Instagram is unlike any other platform. The single focus of this social network is captivating imagery and this gives brands an avenue for rich visual storytelling. How you tell the story of your brand is what makes you unique. Instagram, in turn, promises:

– An engaged community; Instagramers are passionate about the platform.

– A visual medium where captivating imagery takes the center stage

– And a beautiful and inspiring environment

Quick stats

– Instagram boasts 200M active monthly users

– With 65% of those users being outside the United States

– 60M photos are shared on the network everyday

– That generate 1.6B likes

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7 Sure Shot Ways to Increase Engagement on Your Facebook Page

Effective communication is never a one-way street. Perhaps this explains the popularity of social media with businesses. Marketing methods used in the past have not been very conducive to back and forth discussions, have they? But social media, that’s a different story. Social media marketing actually thrives on interaction and engagement between a business and its customers. The challenge is to make people feel valued. In social media, you acknowledge the needs and desires of your audience and work towards fulfilling them. More often than not though, getting the conversational ball rolling is easier envisaged than done.

increasing-facebook-engagement

So how can a business increase its Facebook Page engagement?

We’ll get to that in a minute but first, let’s cover how much traffic you can expect from Facebook.

Quick Facts

– Facebook has over 1.5 billion users worldwide

– 699 million people log on Facebook everyday

– 700 billion minutes is spent on Facebook every month

With the right marketing strategy, you can tap into that traffic.

Engagement Tips

1. Posts with Less than 80 Characters Get More Engagement

When it comes to marketing on Facebook, you want your business messages to be short and succinct. Don’t take forever to get to the point and avoid overly long or complex messages. These lessen engagement rates. People don’t want to “read more”.

2. Using Emoticons and Images Increases Comments

Photos and graphic content tend to generate more comments and likes than any other type of content and that includes videos and status updates. So, to increase your Facebook engagement, how about you figure your way around Photoshop and have fun with images. Rather than posting a status update, how about you convert the message into an image or an infographic?

3. Questions Generate More Engagement

Making some of your Facebook posts interactive, for example, by asking a question or posting a “fill in the blank” style post will increase your Facebook engagement. The audience on Facebook reacts extremely well to little quizzes and trivia-type questions. This is a sure-fire way to get people to connect with your business.

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Should You Buy Your Way Around Pinterest | The Pros, The Cons & The Verdict

For prices as low as $25, you can buy Pinterest followers by the hundreds. Clearly, the decision about whether or not you should buy your way around the social network does not depend on your buying threshold. Other factors come into play and today, we’ll talk about these factors and hopefully help you make an informed decision post a discussion of the pros and cons of buying your fame on Pinterest.

pinterest-logo

About Pinterest

Pinterest is a rapidly expanding social network. As of now, it connects over 70 million users across the worldand according to a Pinterest ROI study by Piqora, one Pinterest pin on ecommerce sites generates an average of $0.78, a number that went up 25% since Q4 2012.

So it does not take a genius to figure out that being on Pinterest and engaging with your customers on the social network can grow your social media following and benefit your business in many ways. Comments, likes, repins and clicks on Pinterest can:

  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Increase sales
  • Generate leads
  • And help you increase the reach and impact of your brand

So that covers the question of why you need Pinterest for your business. Now let’s talk about whether or not you should buy your way around the social site in an attempt to build your following.

The Pros

Building a following on Pinterest, nay any social network is not easy, especially if you are not a business with a strong online following, like say, Coca-Cola, Apple or Nike. Ergo, the most obvious reason why businesses buy Pinterest followers is to make it seem like they are popular.

Now this might work for your business in the sense that, eventually, your account might actually become popular, increasing your online visibility and brand exposure. People on Pinterest come across your account and they see the number of followers and repins; the instinctive response is to join the crowd, right? So buying Pinterest followers might actually, in the long run, make you popular in reality and drive traffic to your website.

BUT…

The Cons

Buying Pinterest followers and repins by the hundreds or thousands will probably fool the average Pinterest user and your online connections into thinking that you are this popular authority figure in your industry but it won’t fool Pinterest’s algorithm.

You see, like Facebook, Pinterest’s algorithm works on certain signals that indicate whether or not your content is attracting a lot of attention and engagement. If you post content that Pinterest users love and engage with, your pins will show at the top of the Pinterest search results to popular pinners.

Conversely, if your number of followers increases by the hundreds everyday but no one ever interacts with the content you share, the chances that you will show in the Pinterest search results get progressively slimmer. It indicates that your pins are unimportant.

With that said, buying Pinterest followers and repins is also a violation of Pinterest’s Acceptable Use Policy, which has been recently updated to include subtle changes condemning users who pay others to follow them or re-pin their images.

In simple words, if you buy Pinterest followers, repins, likes or comments, you run the risk of getting your account banned.

Last but not least, by now, we are all aware of the fact that social signals are important ranking factors. But when you buy followers, for example, Pinterest followers, you will see an increase in traffic for 2-3 days but then, the traffic goes away, ALL of it. This may hurt your business’s search results and make you come across as spammy to the search engines.

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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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What You Need To Know About #Hashtags

A hashtag is a keyword phrase used in Twitter conversations that is preceded by a pound (#) symbol and written without any spaces in between, for example,  #ilovefood. The hashtag is used to highlight keywords or topics within a Tweet and can be placed anywhere within a post. In social media, posts that have the same keywords prefixed with the # symbol are grouped together in user searches, bringing a level of order to the often frenzied and messy world of Twitter and now Facebook.

#hashtags

Using Hashtags

The use of hashtags is not just for Twitter, although this is the most popular. Hashtags are also used for other micro-blogging sites including Google+, identi.ca and Instagram. Through the use of hashtags, different social media users from different countries can tie their conversations together; click any particular hashtag in a message and you will see the list of posts using the same hashtag.

In social media today, hashtags also allow an audience to interact live during events such as conferences, TV shows and political events. At any point in time, a comprehensive list of popular hashtags can be found at Hashtags.org. HootSuite is a third-party downloadable app, which also monitors hashtag activity.

Next, let’s talk about how to create a hashtag. First off, what you need to know is that it doesn’t take a genius to apply a hashtag to a message. All you need to do is type your text and then insert the pound (#) symbol at any part of the message and then send. Of course, the hashtag is not just any word. It has to be a carefully thought target keyword that is relatable so that other Twitter users will be inspired to use it as well.

Popular Hashtags of 2013

TV/Entertainment: #dwts, #glee, #idol, #xfactor

General: #news, #love, #photography, #fashion

Business: #jobs, #business, #marketing, #socialmedia, #startup

Tech: #android,#iphone, #iphonegames, #ipadgames, #app

Education: #edtech, #lrnchat, #teachers

Environment: #climate, #solar, #globalwarming, #drought

Social Change: #socialgood, #cause, #4change

Astrology: #gemini, #capricorn, #scorpio, #cancer, #pisces, #leo, #sagittarius,

Hashtag Fails of 2013

While hashtags are indeed a trend that is here to stay, some people and companies have totally failed when trying to make something big. Instead, it backfired…

#AskRKelly

R. Kelly created the hashtag in an attempt to promote his album titled “Black Panties”. However, users soon attacked the hashtag and talked about his dressing habits and sexual activities with minors.

#ArmaniCaptions

After mistakenly naming a female celebrity after a male one (They called Alfre Woodard…Idris Elba… LOL!), a lot of fun was poked at the company. People started using the hashtag and uploaded pictures of black celebrities while captioning them with the names of other celebrities. Okay, I’m guilty of laughing at that one – you’ve got to admit; that’s pretty smart on the trolls’ part!

#ArmaniCaptions

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How To Use Pinterest To Help People Discover Your Business

On November 20, 2013, Pinterest introduced Place Pins. Now, we are going to go deep into this latest addition to the Pinterest arsenal, but before that, let’s look at some updated Pinterest stats that will no doubt reflect the reason why Pinterest is not just another social network. It is, in effect, the fastest-growing social media site of all time and in its 3 years of existence, Pinterest has become a huge traffic referral for businesses.

pinterest-logo

1. The conversion rate of traffic referred from Pinterest is 50% higher than the conversion rate of traffic from other sources.

2. Pinterest users are spenders. They spend more money on more goods more frequently than Facebook, Twitter and Google+ users.

3. Pinterest generates four times more revenue per click than Twitter.

4. Pinterest generates 27% more revenue per click than Facebook.

5. 47% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on a recommendation from Pinterest.

6. 80% of Pinterest pins are repins, which means that, although Facebook is the all-time social sharing champion, Pinterest is not far behind.

With stats like those, it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of businesses are leveraging the Pinterest platform to 1) help people discover them, 2) increase visits to their websites and subsequently 3) generate leads and sales.

And it’s working!

About Place Pins

Last year, right before the holiday season, Pinterest launched a new feature that will potentially benefit local businesses massively in increasing in-store traffic. This new feature is called Place Pins. Basically, Place Pins is a new type of pin. It allows Pinterest users to map their pins to certain locations. Originally, the point of this new feature was to benefit travel planners (Every day people pin about 1.5 million places of which more than 750 million pins are of travel destinations). But now that the feature is rolled out, it’s fairly obvious that it has great application for local businesses as well.

The Significance of Place Pins

In effect, Place Pins combine the beautiful imagery that you would expect of a travel magazine with the practicality of an attached online map that you can share with your friends. These maps can be accessed from anywhere on your Android device or iPhone. This means that, with Place Pins, you can find places and get directions on the go. Imagine how convenient such a tool would be if you were in the middle of nowhere in Spain and you needed somewhere to crash or somewhere to go for a warm meal. Place Pins also include details like an address and phone number right on the Pin.

To create a board of Place Pins, simply select “Add a map” when you create a new board. You can also convert an existing board to a board of Place Pins. You can then map your new and existing Pins on the board.

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The Truth About Some Common Content Marketing Myths

In 2013, we saw content marketing progress from a buzzword to a legitimate and highly valued mainstream marketing strategy. In 2014, this validation is expected to persist and for businesses, this makes content a key component of marketing. With the increased rave about content marketing that’s got marketers all over the web on their toes, everyone has something to say about it; every one has opinions to share. Dozens if not hundreds of articles are written about content marketing everyday, about tips and tricks and, often, conflicting advice. It’s got to the point where you can hardly trust things people write about content marketing anymore. There are so many myths and as a business, you obviously don’t want to get tangled in misconceptions.

Content-Marketing-myths

So let’s talk about some of the most common myths that cloud the concept of content marketing. We should probably start with really understanding what content marketing is all about.

By definition, content marketing is, obviously, a marketing strategy that revolves around producing and publishing information with the aim to build trust and authority among your customers. It is, perhaps, the most remarkable and effective way to build relationships with your target audience and a community, so people feel loyal towards you and your brand. To that end though, you need to structure and manage your content marketing efforts. The key to a successful content marketing strategy is to decide what you want to accomplish before you jump into content production and writing.

3 Things you Need to Know about Content Marketing

1. Long-form Content v/s Short Posts

Up until the Google Hummingbird update happened, there was a general misconception among website owners and marketers that web visitors, because they are time strapped, tend to scan first a page before deciding whether or not they want to actually go through the content. This led to marketers deducing that shorter pages and posts are better than long-form content.

Then Hummingbird came along and made us all re-think about the way we write content. Google figured that short pages and posts lack substance and genuine value. A good content marketing strategy should be designed to be comprehensive and answer the needs of people.

So at the end of the day, you want to create content that resonates with your audience. Forget about length. Every website is different and use a content marketing strategy that you have found to appeal to your audience.

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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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Local Businesses: Benefits of Posting on Your Facebook Page

In this article, we will talk about the benefits local businesses can have by posting on their Facebook page. But before that, let’s address the question: Does it matter? Does it matter if I’m not Starbucks or BMW? You bet it does! Here is why…

facebook

While large corporate pages do have more Likes, Comments and Shares, studies have shown that when calculate the engagement per fan (that is, the number of Likes, Comments and Shares that each fan generates), the level is actually higher for local businesses!

What? How? Why? Well…

To begin with, fans are more likely to actually see a post coming from a local business. Why? Because it’s considered to be more relevant and personal (due to the fact that it’s happening in the same neighbourhood). Also, the posts made by local staff tend to be more relevant as they are able to post very specific timely and relevant things or events that are actually occurring in that particular area.

Also, you are more likely to ‘Like’ a picture of a cashier and someone in the neighbourhood you know, than a random ad with 2 people you don’t know.

These “familiar” feelings also explain the higher engagement per fan.

Now that we’ve seen how what you post will actually be seen and have an impact on people, let’s have a look at the actual benefits of posting on your Facebook page.

More Buzz about Your Business Online and Offline

Put simply, if people see you more often, they will talk and hear about you more often. Even if you don’t drink Red Bull as a habit, you’ve heard about it. And if some day you feel like having an energy drink, chances are, Red Bull will be your beverage of choice, even it’s a bit more expensive than its competing products.

People get the “good feel” of “knowing” a product, service or business, even if they don’t really know about it, just because they’ve seen it, heard about it, or see and hear people talk about it.

More Email Subscribers

For large corps who already have a list in place, they usually send out emails to encourage people to connect to them via social networks.

For small businesses, the other way round is more likely to happen. People are more likely to discover you on Facebook than directly stumble on your website.

So basically, if you don’t post, people will neither see your posts, nor your emails. So how about posting more often so that people can discover your website and sign up for your newsletter?

Some of your posts for example can offer hot tips or tricks that they can discover after subscribing.

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Facebook Marketing Done Right (With Real-Life Examples!)

Let’s be honest. Facebook marketing is not as easy as some marketers would like you to believe. People do not have their credit card in hand, ready to buy, when they are checking out the pictures of their crush or when they are writing on their friends’ walls.

Actually, social conversion rates are less than a third of the rates of email conversions (0.71%, as compared to 3.19%, according to this study).

The thing is, email marketing is getting tricky, and not only because of the introduction of tabs. Even if email tabs are not a ‘universal’ feature (yet), people are already doing selective reading and opening on the go; they can tell who is writing to them, and who is trying to sell them something.

The solution? Dip your feet into social, too. “What? But you just said…”

I know, I know. I said it’s not as easy as people are led to believe, but it can be very effective if you do your marketing right; and that’s what this article is about!

1. Give People a Reason to Join and to Stay

Seriously, if people want to look at what you have to sell, they will check out your website or online store. That’s not what your Facebook page is for! Your page is here to gain fans AND to get them to engage.

Just-Girly-Things-Facebook

This page, Just Girly Things, are doing things right. At this time of writing, 83.4% of their fans are actively talking about them.

Pretty sweet (and rare!). How are they doing it? By posting stuff like this:

mario-image

(Spoiler Alert: For those who don’t want to spend minutes figuring it out, it’s Mario)

Their page is full of pictures. You’ve got to admit; that’s what Facebook is mostly about. Don’t have the time, money, or interest to invest in custom tiles for some engagement? No problem. Maybe you can post pictures like this instead:

status-message-facebook

(This “picture” has 19,728 Likes, 899 shares, and 831 comments so far…)

I think we can all agree that it’s not about the design. As long as you post something that is one or more of the following, you should be able to produce a nice response:

  • Relatable
  • Inspiring
  • Funny
  • Cute
  • Novel

2. Share What’s Interesting, not Necessarily What You’ve Created

Let’s have a look at that Mario picture above. Do you think Just Girly Things did it themselves? In fact, the majority of their shares are taken from other places.

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