Why Your Brand Needs Instagram Stories

Photo from Canva

Photo from Canva

If you have tried Instagram, then you are most likely familiar with Instagram stories. It allows users to upload pictures and videos for a 24 hours period. After the 24 hours are complete, the story or video disappears. The social media platform SnapChat first introduced SnapChat stories in 2013. Instagram stories were introduced shortly after it and have been popular ever since. (Read, 2016)

Instagram stories are a fun way to interact with your followers. Most people use them to post funny pictures or videos, but did you know they can help increase your brand? Let’s learn how these simple stories can grow your brand, direct people to your website and help grow the relationship with your readers. Does your brand use Instagram Stories?

Photo from Canva

Photo from Canva

The first thing we need to do is understand a little more about where you find the stories and how you upload to them.

  1. You will need a profile that is set up and with your camera and microphone enabled. In the top left corner, you will see your profile photo in a circle with a blue plus sign on it. (Phillips, 2017) Click on the circle.
  2. Select the appropriate post type. The types are as follows;
  • Type – Mainly text and graphics added to a colour background
  • Live – live video where Instagrammers can watch and chat
  • Normal – upload photos from your phone
  • Boomerang – record quick video that is played on a loop
  • Superzoom – creates a short video zooming in on a picture with different zoom options.
  • Focus – It will center a face in the video. The background will move but the face will stay center.
  • Rewind – Allow you to record a video and plays it backwards.
  • Hands Free – Allow you to take video with different graphics over the video. (Phillips, 2017)
  1. Record or upload your photo or video. (Phillips, 2017)
  2. Edit your video or photo with the options provided. You can change the filter, text, pictures, stickers, and mention other Instagrams (links to them). Instagram is constantly adding new options to change and layer on your photo or video. (Phillips, 2017)
  3. Save the photo and post it. (Phillips, 2017)

What’s your favourite type of Instagram Story type? Let’s look at ways to use them.

Photo from Canva

Photo from Canva

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 6.49.49 PM

Photo Screenshot Instagram Stories by user Vals.world

Question and Answers

It’s very important for brands to interact with their followers to form a genuine relationship. People have questions and it’s important to answer their questions in a timely manner. Going live on Instagram Stories is a great way for your followers to be able to ask and receive a response in real time. This also makes your brand seem more approachable. This is especially helpful if someone like the company president answers the questions. People feel like the company is really listening to them and they like being able to talk to someone with some authority over the company.

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Photo from Canva

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 6.49.32 PM

Photo Screenshot Instagram Stories by user Sportschek


Your followers may be following thousands of people and sometimes it’s hard to get them to see your post. Since the algorithm doesn’t show posts by date anymore, it’s very possible your follower could not see your post at all. When you post an Instagram Stories it appears at the top of their screen. It’s a way of taking your ad out of the crowd and put it right in front of your target market. The reader still has to click on the Instagram Story to see it, but you have increased your chances of them seeing and responding to your ad.

Photo from Canva

Photo from Canva

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 6.50.07 PM

Photo Screenshot Instagram Stories by user Disney Food Blog

Linking to your blog

This ability is currently available to Instagrams with more than 10,000 followers. I love this function on Instagram stories and if you have a blog you should want this too. This gives the ability to post a photo and have a “swipe up” link to your website. For example, if you run a cooking website. You post an Instagram story saying you have a new recipe just posted on your site. You can enable the swipe up function, and if they follower swipes up on the screen with their finger, they will be brought to your website. Without this option, the follower would have to go to your Instagram profile, click the link, arrive on your main blog page, search for the new recipe, and click on it. Both will get your potential client to the same place but one is more convenient for the reader. Your followers want the easiest path from point A to point B.

Photo from Canva

Photo from Canva

Showing Personality

Instagram stories are a great place to show your brand’s personality. Since the stories only last 24 hours, it’s a great way to post things your brand is doing and topical items you don’t want on your regular page. For example, a company carefully cultivates their Instagram feed, but it’s Mothers day and they want to wish all the Mothers a happy Mother’s day. They don’t want to disrupt their Instagram page image, so they can post it on their Instagram stories and it will be there for 24 hours. The audience will know the brand cares about them, and the brand doesn’t have to post something different than their regular posting strategy.

Untitled design

Photo Screenshot Instagram Stories by user Earsjohnny

You can also run polls and directly ask questions to your audience. Getting direct and quick feedback can be incredibly helpful to a brand. Instagram Stories have the option to ask yes or not questions, ask open ended questions and have sliding polls. Your audience will love being heard and participating in them.

Instagram stories are a quick and easy way to engage with your followers, increase your brand awareness and help ensure your message is getting in front of the right people. Your brand needs to use this tool. Instagram is an incredibly popular social media and Instagram stories are a free tool available to you on it.

Do you think Instagram stories could help your brand? We would love to know in the comments.

twitterLearn how Instagram Stories are a must use tool for any brand. https://bit.ly/2BQ41ko #brandigstories

9034450384_4498736680_m 4 reasons why Instagram Stories are helpful to brands. https://bit.ly/2BQ41ko #brandigstories


Phillips, K. W. (2017). Ultimate Guide to Instagram for Business.Irvine: Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

Read, A. (2016). Instagram Stories: The Complete Guide to Using Stories. Retrieved from http://www.buffer.com: https://buffer.com/library/instagram-stories




This is why your brand needs a Facebook Group

Stockton Ink & Quill


When you start a website, it feels like there are a million things you need to do. You need to pick a domain name, you need to decide what you are going to write about, and almost as important, you need to start your websites social media pages.

I did all those things. I started my Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest pages and spent some time learning how to grow them. With a mixture of hard work and engaging with my audience, they are slowly growing.

Facebook felt different to me. It has seemed like an entity all to itself. It has its own rules and growth strategy. I hear all the time it was easier before to grow a following on it. I hear how hard it is to do nowadays. I see these pages with 100,000 followers and think I want to achieve that too. I hear so many “social media specialists’ say it’s impossible to grow anymore on the platform. I place social media specialists in quotation marks because when it comes to experts it’s hard to know sometimes who is an actual expert and who is trying to make a dollar. It seems like everyone has a “free” course they want you to buy into at the end. I think we have all listened to at least one. They spend 45 minutes telling you about how exciting the tips they are about to give you are, and 15 minutes selling you a course. Then they only spend about 5 minutes giving you some really general social media tips.

I have a Facebook Page that is growing very slowly but still growing. I do not have a Facebook Group and keep hearing people talk about how brands should have one. I thought it would be interesting to look at Facebook Groups and see how it can help a brand grow engagement, gain followers and grow brand awareness.


“Create a Facebook page for your brand or business.

Create a Facebook group for your cause or passion.” (Patel, 2017)


Before we start we need to briefly explain Facebook Pages. Facebook Pages are different than Facebook Groups. A Facebook Page is used to directly advertise your brand.  A page basically tells people what your brand is all about. It’s not about a community sharing information, but more about your brand telling your readers what you are selling and doing. Every brand should have a Facebook Page so people can ask questions and find information about your brand. It is not a place for the readers to necessarily engage with each other. That’s where Facebook Groups come in.

In this blog post will discuss what Facebook Groups are, how to set one up and how we can use them to help our brands grow.

Screenshot from NaNoWriMo Support & Engagement Facebook Group

Screenshot from NaNoWriMo Support & Engagement Facebook Group

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What is a Facebook Group?

The easiest way to think about it is Facebook Groups and communities center around a general idea or a theme. The group isn’t selling anything directly but just trying to encourage a certain community to communicate and find like-minded people. (Patel, 2017) For example, people who like pink cake. I haven’t checked but I’m sure that’s a group on there. I’m sure you could find a Facebook Group for people who support wearing caps only on Tuesdays while eating pink cake.

There are 28 different categories of groups: Home & Garden, Friends, Local, Identity & Relationships, Funny, Buy and Sell, Spiritual & Inspirational, News & Politics, Food, Cars & Motorcycles, Arts & Culture, Health & Fitness, Support & Comfort, Travel & Places, Style, Sports, Animal & Pets, Science & Tech, Parenting, Outdoor Activities, Photography, Neighborhood & Community, Professional Networking, Business, School & Education, Hobby & Leisure, Trending and Games. (Patel, 2017)

Most Facebook Groups can either be open to everyone or closed. If they are open, you simply decide if you want to join and join. With closed groups, you have to request to join. This is usually done through answering a few questions the admin has previously set up. You can also be invited to the groups by the admin or existing members as well. There is one more type of group called a Secret group and with this group only members can see that the group exists. If you are trying to spread brand awareness a secret group is probably not the best option for you.

Screenshot From Ottawa Nanowrimo writing group. Part of their guideline.

Screenshot From Ottawa Nanowrimo writing Facebook group. Part of their guideline.

Most groups will have guidelines. (Patel, 2017) These help the groups run smoothly. Especially when it comes to blogging groups, with no rules people tend to leave the link of their newest blog post and leave. It’s a take but not give way of being in the group. This doesn’t help the group grow and generally doesn’t bring much engagement. If everyone is just simply dropping links and leaving, then no one is interacting. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Groups that have well-set guidelines run much more smoothly. These guidelines will give the group member the information they need to know what they are allowed to promote, what they aren’t allowed to promote, how to treat each other, and what is expected of them. (Patel, 2017) Many of the rules are simply common sense. People need to be nice to each other, don’t swear, no hate speech, and be kind. The admins of most groups will usually make new group members read the rules before they join, will have group members comment they agree to the rules and some will pin the guidelines at the top of the page to ensure group members see them. (Patel, 2017)

What’s your favourite Facebook group? Let us know in the comments.

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How do you start a Facebook Group?

  1. Click the menu button on Facebook. It’s the drop-down button on the top left if you are using the desktop version of Facebook. (Patel, 2017)
  2. Click Create Group.
  3. Choose if you are making a Business and Brand Page or a Community and Public Figure page.
  4. Follow the instructions to name your group, add some people to the group and decide if you want to have a closed group, an open group or a secret group. I would recommend setting it as a closed group to help screen our bots and spam accounts that will try to join. (Patel, 2017) I would also recommend waiting to add people until you have completely set up your group. You do not want people joining an empty group. You want the first time they see the group, for it to be full things that will interest them. You do have to add one person to create the group though so I would add your partner or a friend. The name of the group you pick should be “creative, but also clear” (Patel, 2017)  because you want people to think your group is different but still know what the group is about.  Now click the create button to create the group.
  5. Now you need to spruce the page up a bit. You need to upload a cover photo, and add a description to the group to tell people what the group is all about. You want to add tags to help people find your group. Lastly, you want to create content for people to see when they get to the page. (Patel, 2017). You can write a post, share some posts from other pages or groups, and write those rules we spoke about earlier.
  6. Once the group is created, make sure you post regular and engaging content. (Lozano, 2018)

Do you run a Facebook group? How has it been for you? Do you enjoy it?

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How can you use Facebook groups to help grow your brand?


“Research from Facebook shows that groups are seeing a lot more engagement than Pages. This is because Facebook groups enable members to start conversations more seamlessly than a Facebook Page does…” (Lozano, 2018)


One of the reasons I think Facebook Groups can connect you more with your clients is it’s more of a two-way conversation. (Lozano, 2018) Sometimes Facebook Pages can feel, as the reader, that you are being talked too and not a conversation. Yes, the reader can message you any questions they may have but it’s not designed for a flowing conversation. That is especially true when you talk about conversations between people who follow your page. For example, if you run a website selling teeshirts, on a Page you would post a picture of your new product and a few people may click the like button. On a Facebook Group, you can post that same link to your new product and people might discuss how great it is. Followers will see others loving the teeshirt and will think if others like it, then they should too. They will then purchase it. You weren’t directly selling the product but have made a sale you might not have made on just a Facebook Page for your brand.

People love being part of groups. They love to feel special and love having “a sense of exclusiveness” (Lozano, 2018). Having a closed Facebook Group gives people that feeling. They feel like they belong to something. When people are loyal to a group, they can be more loyal to your associated brand as well. They will be more likely to share your content and tell people about your products.

It is said that Facebook Groups can see a higher level of engagement than Facebook Pages (Lozano, 2018). If your posts are getting higher engagement levels the Facebook Algorithm may move the post higher in people’s newsfeeds. (Lozano, 2018) This will help more people see the post and encourage more engagement. You can engage with your followers by doing polls, question and answers, and tutorials. (Cannon, 2017) It’s also a fantastic way to help you find out what your followers are looking for. If someone has joined your group, they are already interested in what you are talking about. Ask them questions, talk to them, they are a willing focus group to improve your brand.

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When you create your own group, it will help you establish authority over your market or niche. (Cannon, 2017) If your group grows and has numerous followers, new people will see the size of the group and think if all these people joined and stayed in the group, they must trust this brand.

Someone times people wonder how they can have a group about a general topic but still be focused on their brand. Let’s assume you have a Hawaiian Tee-shirt company, and you sell Hawaiian Shirts. You have create a group called “Hawaiian Shirt Lovers!” and people join on the basis they too love the vibrant prints of the style. You can post lots of different Hawaiian shirts and especially include your own. You can post article about things that make certain shirts better than other. Specifically showcasing things that your shirts have. If your shirts are relatively inexpensive, you can post articles about why people shouldn’t pay a lot for them. If your shirts are high end, you can post articles about why it’s worth to pay more for your clothing. Sometimes on brand pages it feels like the brand is just trying to sell you something. They are of course but it shouldn’t feel like that. With Facebook Groups, you can creatively recommend products and services to your followers instead of the hard sell to them. Help them know why they need the product or service in general and set up the ground work for them buying shirts (in the above example) like yours. You just happen to also know a great place for them to do just that and have exactly what they are looking for.

People need to see that your brand is part of their community. It doesn’t matter what community it is, they want to feel like you care about them. You are another fan who geeks out on what they geek out on. They do not want to feel like your brand thinks they are a dollar sign and Facebook Groups can really help with forming good relationships. It lets the readers and clients know you are part of their community by engaging with them on the topic they love. It’s a great way for you to organically show your readers things that are happening in the industry that favour your brand, it gives the readers a sense of community they love, and it makes your brand look way more approachable. Your brand needs a Facebook Group and there a plenty of potential and existing clients ready to join it.

Do you like Facebook Groups? Do you think they can help a brand? What’s some great examples of Facebook Groups you know of? What do you think makes a great group? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.


img_0036-3 Do you know why you brand needs a Facebook Page? Find out at https://bit.ly/2SHpg2p #engagefbgroup #acsocialmedia

image Do you want more awareness for your brand? Find out why your brand needs a Facebook group at https://bit.ly/2SHpg2p #engagefbgroup #acsocialmedia




Cannon, T. (2017, 07 2017). How to Use Facebook Groups for Business: A Guide for Marketers. Retrieved from Socail Media Examiner: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-groups-for-business-how-to-guide-for-marketers/

Lozano, D. (2018, 09 30). How to Use Facebook Groups for Your Brand or Business. Retrieved from Social Media Today: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/how-to-use-facebook-groups-for-your-brand-or-business/538437/

Patel, N. (2017). How to Create an 11,284-Member Facebook Group When You Have No Followers. Retrieved from Neil Patel: https://neilpatel.com/blog/how-to-create-a-facebook-group/

So you want to create an Instagram Contest?

So you want to create and Instagram contest?

Photo from Canva.com

“Getting your community involved in a contest is an effective way to build your market and brand message”. (Phillips, 2017)

As soon as I read that quote, I knew I wanted to run a contest on my brands Instagram. I see contests run all the time, but I have never really run one for myself. They look like so much fun. If people are already following you on social media, then they are already interested in your brand and content. It’s great to reward them for following you.

Contests are great because they can be so cheap to run on social media. (Phillips, 2017) People also love free stuff. Think about it. If someone offered you a tee-shirt for one dollar you would probably say no. You don’t need another shirt in your closest. Yet, if someone offered you a free tee-shirt, you’d probably take it. It could be the total wrong style and color. You never know when you might need it. You probably would have done something for it too. Sing a song? Sure. Do a little jig? Ok. It’s the power of the free stuff.

I thought it would be fun to talk about how to run a contest on Instagram. First, we need to speak about the types of contest generally run, and then we will discuss how to actually run one.

Types of Instagram Contests

Photo by Canva

Different types of Instagram contests


The reader has to press like on a certain picture and usually follow your Instagram too. Readers love this type of contest because it only takes a second to enter and they don’t have to share anything or do any real work. It’s super easy to set up and doesn’t cost anything besides the prize, which is always a great thing. (Phillips, 2017)

  1. Hashtag

People who wish to enter this type of contest have to place a pre-decided hashtag in the caption of an specific image type. (Phillips, 2017) For example, the #smithstravelcontest on travel photos.

This type of contest helps associate your brand with a visual image. Even people who have no idea your contest is happening will see the hashtag on other people’s posts. It could lead to new followers on your page. It can really increase your follower count. (Phillips, 2017)

The con is some people will find it troublesome to upload a picture to their page and place the hashtag in the caption. Some people will not want to do the work and participation may be lower. (Phillips, 2017)

  1. Requesting emails

This type of contest has people click on your website link in the profile bio and sign up on your sites email list. (Phillips, 2017) This is great because it also gives page views on your site. When a site is new, many bloggers or site managers are looking trying to figure out how to get more people on the actual site. This is a great way to do it. They might take the time to look around the site after first entering their email address.

The con to this is the prize really has to be worth it. Not too many people are going to through all the steps unless it’s a really good prize. (Phillips, 2017)  Especially since people know once a blog has your email, they will start sending emails to it. Some sites will be responsible with them and others will not be. Some people will make an email address just for entering contests because of this situation.

Instagram Contests Get Much More Engagement Than Regular Posts

Photo from Neil Patel https://bit.ly/2GoyrOo

  1. Tagging

This is a super popular Instagram contest because it’s easy to set up. It doesn’t require the reader to do very much. All they have to do is tag a friend or family member in the comment section. For every person they tag, they get an entry into the contest. Every person that someone tags is a new potential follower for you. Hopefully, they check out your page and love it as much as the person that tagged them in the post. (Patel, 2017) This is probably the most common type of contest I see on Instagram. It’s usually combined with having to follow the page or pages running the contest. (Patel, 2017)

  1. Selfies

Depending on what type of account you have this might be a great contest for you. This contest would work really well if your brand or product is something they can hold or wear. (Patel, 2017)

People will post a selfie holding your product and tag you and your hashtag in the photo. It’s very important if they tag you in the photo that the photo needs to be related to you. Instagram does not like people tagging people in unrelated photos. (Patel, 2017)

This contest is great because their followers will see them using the product. People are more willing to try a product if they see their peers are using it. (Patel, 2017)

  1. Voting

This can be done in a couple different way. The first is you can have people upload a photo with a certain hashtag. The photo that receives the most “likes” wins. (Patel, 2017)

Or you can create a poll in your Instagram stories and have people vote on a certain topic. You will then pick a winner from the people who voted. You can do this a couple ways. There are websites and programs you enter all the usernames of people who voted in. The program will randomly select a name. Some people will use a random number generator and if the number is a 6, the 6thperson that voted wins the prize. If there is only a few entries, some Instagramers will write the names and put them in a hat. They can even do the draw over Instagram stories to make it a little more fun.

Both types are fun to enter because people love being heard. One is much quicker and easier for the person to enter though. So, you will have to gauge your audience’s interest level. (Patel, 2017)

There are numerous other contest types and variations of these. The most important thing is to have fun with it.

So now that you have decided what type of contest you want to run, you have to actually do it.

Instagram Promotion Guidelines

Photo by Canva

First, let’s discuss Instagram’s official promotion guidelines for the contest. Make sure you absolutely follow them.

  1. You have to clearly state the rules. They need to be very clear. We are talking your little sister needs to able to understand them and she is in grade six clear. (Patel, 2017)
  2. You have to list the terms and eligibility requirements. This means it needs to clearly state who can enter. For example, the ages and residency restrictions. If only Canadians can enter, you have to state it. (Patel, 2017)
  3. “Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered.” (Patel, 2017)
  4. You cannot encourage people to tag themselves or other people in photos if they are not actually in or related to the photo. It has to be an accurate tag. (Patel, 2017)
  5. You must include a line in the contest that releases Instagram by each entrant or participant. And you must also make it very clear that the promotion is in no way endorsed, administrated by, sponsored by or had anything to do by Instagram. You need to make that very clear. (Patel, 2017)

Instagram also makes it clear they will not assist you with any part of the promotion. They state they will not answer any questions regarding any part of the promotion too. You also agree that if you use Instagram, you do so at your own risk. (Patel, 2017)

Creating the Contest

Photo by Canva

Now that we know the types of Instagram contests and the official rules for running one, let’s get into what you need to set one up.

  1. When do you want to start and finish the promotion?

The first thing you have to do is choose a start and end date. If you don’t decide a start date then it’s easy to say you will start it “tomorrow” and we all know “tomorrow” never comes. Decide on a start date to give yourself the incentive to actually start the promotion. (Phillips, 2017)

You need to pick an end date to ensure people will enter right away. You also don’t want them putting off entering. Readers are seeing so much information on Instagram, it’s easy for them to forget about your contest. (Phillips, 2017) Those cute puppy pictures really grab someone’s attention on there.

  1. What’s the goal?

You have to figure out what you are trying to get from the contest. Do you want more followers, more engagement, are you trying to build an email list? You need to know what you want, to be able to get that result. If you aren’t clear, neither will be the reader. Take a moment to write down your goals. The more you see them, the more you can keep moving in a direction that leads to them. You are putting your time and money into this contest so make sure you get a great result. (Phillips, 2017)

  1. What is your contest hashtag?

With hashtags being so important in social media, it’s important to create a custom hashtag for your contest. Take some time to really figure out your hashtag. You don’t want one someone else has used, it should be unique to your brand. (Phillips, 2017)

  1. Is Instagram the best place?

“Ninety percent of those who use this platform are under 35 years old, with most users falling within the ages of 25 to 34, followed by those 18 to 24 years old.” (Phillips, 2017)

You have to consider if your target market is even on Instagram. You need to tailor any contest to the people you are promoting it too.

If you have a business Instagram, which you should if you are using it for business, you can look at the Insights tab and see what demographics most frequently look at your posts. Your contest should be geared towards that demographic. If it says 18-24 years old, a new hearing aid gift certificate for $50 will not be an appropriate prize to win. If it says they are based in a surfing destination maybe a surfing package might be nice. Especially if your brand is a surfing company. They are your target market. They are also most likely to have friends and family with a similar interest in surfing. (Phillips, 2017)

You always want your contest to be a success, so aim it at the people who are most likely to make it one.

  1. Theme it up!

The best contests tend to have a theme because they get people excited. It could be based on a holiday coming up, or groups like single dads. The more people can relate or are interested in the theme, the more they will be likely to enter your contest. (Phillips, 2017)

91% of Instagram Posts with 1,000+ Comments are Contests

Photo from Neil Patel https://bit.ly/2GoyrOo

  1. What’s the prize?

What are you going to give as a prize? Just like we mentioned earlier, the prize needs to be something your readers want. It has to be geared towards them. If you want them to like, comment, etc, you have to give them a prize they want.

If you are a tee-shirt company, give away a free tee-shirt, if you are a spa, give away a free facial and massage. It has to be worth the reader’s time to enter. (Phillips, 2017)

  1. What are the rules?

Like we talked about before, Instagram says you have to clearly state your contest rules. Take some time to decide on them. They need to be very clear and easy to follow. These should include eligibility requirements, how many winners there will be, what are the prizes and what they have to do to enter. (Phillips, 2017)

  1. What’s your contests title?

Keeping with the theme you have already made up, you have to think of a super great title for your post. (Phillips, 2017)

  1. Create the actual post.

Now create your gorgeous post. It should look professional and include all the promotion rules, and information we spoke of earlier. It’s best to show the prize in the post too. Use websites like Canva to easily and quickly create a beautiful promotional post. And don’t forget those fun hashtag you thought of before.

  1. Promote

Promote your contest on all your social media. If you have a newsletter, include it in there too. Tell your friends and family about it and especially your readers. (Phillips, 2017) They can’t enter if you don’t tell them you are having a contest.

Instagram Contest Picture

Photo from Instagram user @dmariept and canvas.com

  1. Who won it?

Depending on what kind of contest you are holding, don’t forget to announce the winner or/and thank the people who entered. (Phillips, 2017)

If people vote, thank them for voting. If they liked a picture, thank them for the like. If they entered through email, send them a great thank you for it. They were nice enough to enter, so be nice enough to say thank you. (Phillips, 2017)

This all seems like a lot of steps to running a simple contest, but they are all important steps. The shorter version is making sure you are creating a contest people want to enter, the rules need to be clear, the prize great, the post relevant to your brand and more importantly have fun with it. It’s a contest, and it’s supposed to be fun. Go out there and help someone win one of your great products. You know they are great, so go let one of your followers try them out too.

Have you hosted an Instagram contest? Have you entered any? What do you think is the best kind of contest to run on Instagram?


footerTwitter Did you know Instagram contests can boost your engagement levels? Check out https://bit.ly/2UTIyhk to find out how you can host an awesome Instagram contest. #instacontest #acsocialmedia

footerFacebook Are you looking to host an amazing Instagram contest? Check out https://bit.ly/2UTIyhk to find out what you need to do. #instacontest #acsocialmedia


Patel, N. (2017).7 Instagram Contest Ideas to Grow Brand Awarness. Retrieved from Neil Patel: https://www.neilpatel.com/blog/best-instagram-contest-ideas/

Phillips, K. W. (2017). Ultimate Guide to Instagram for Business.Irvine: Entrepreneur Media, Inc. .


What surprised these 8 bloggers about social media?

What surprised these 8 Bloggers about social media?

Photo from Canva

When you start a blog there is a sense of adventure that comes with it. You get excited about all the topics you can cover and things you can teach people. You think this is going to be fun.

It’s only when you run the blog that you realize there is so much more to blogging and social media than just writing about your favorite trips, double rainbows or how cute your dog Mr. Snuggles sleeps. Oh, there is so much more.

I know when I started blogging I was surprised by so many things. I was surprised that you don’t publish your first Instagram post and magically receive 300 followers. I was surprised that people aren’t as excited about the picture of my egg sandwich as I was. Did they see the cool flag toothpick? It was pretty fancy. I was really about surprised about how much hard work social media was.

I belong to many Facebook blogger groups and Instagram engagement groups. Groups that encourage other bloggers, and help promote each others work. They are networking clubs. So I knew I wasn’t the only one who was surprised by how much work social media could be.

I decided to post the same simple question on a Facebook and an Instagram group to see what people would say. I thought these two groups would be good because they were similar. They were all family blogs mainly blogging about travel. What was the question you ask? I’m getting there everyone, there has to be some kind of buildup.

“As someone who runs a blog, what do you think is the hardest thing about the social media aspect of running it, or what was the most surprising?”

Ok technically that was two questions but they go together. Here’s what I learned.

Each social media is unique

Photo from Canva.com

Each social media is unique

Each social media has their own personality. Like people, we may all be human beings but we are far from being the same person. Social media is just like that.

For example, with Twitter, you only have 280 characters to express yourself but with Facebook, you can show your love for cats with as many words as you would like. You can even meow a few times if you want too. Meow.

Disney Twitter Tweet

Photo from Disney Twitter

People tend to also use abbreviations on Twitter that they might not use on Facebook. Someone may say “4get about it” while tweeting on Twitter but will say “Forget about it” on Facebook. A very slight difference but when trying to have a consistent writing style across a platform, it makes a big difference. Especially since most companies develop their own style guide for each social media.

“I think it is surprising how much there is to learn – every platform is a little different –  … and most platforms reward consistency making sure that I am posting regularly to all of the above.”
Jennifer from Mouse and the Magic

When I first started to operate a social media on behalf of a brand, I was surprised at how different social media can be. I thought you made one post in a program like Canva and the posted it across the board. Bam, you were done for the day. Easy and quick, but that’s not what happens. Like Jennifer, Mouse and the Magic, said you have to take time to learn about each one and there sure is a lot to learn.

Disney Eats Instagram

Screenshot from Disney Eats Instagram

The simplest example would be hashtags. Using the number sign in front of a custom word can include your tweet in a larger conversation. All major social media include hashtags in their programming but they are not received the same in my experience. On Twitter, readers are used to them and they are fully expected. Instagram uses them but people tend to hide them in their posts. Usually, they will write their caption and will place spacers in the text before putting the hashtags. Bloggers and companies know they are important to help new readers find them, but since Instagram is such a visual program, they try to hide the hashtags. On Facebook, I have heard from many blogger and companies that hashtags are not alway well received. They say readers sometimes find it takes away from the credibility of the posts. It is perceived as just a ploy for more followers. These three are just a simple example of why it’s important to know the differences between social media.

“Time management is the hardest for me. There are so many different types of social media, and they all have different “rules” and it’s hard to keep track of all of them.”
Beth from Paper Angels
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Where does your audience live?

Photo from Canva.com

Where does your audience live?

Something that surprised me about social media is how different the audiences can be from platform to platform. Initially, I assumed most readers would have all the larger social media. I figured someone who used Facebook would also use Twitter but that’s just not true. In my experience, very different readers live on each platform. Of course, there will also be readers who have all, but they use them differently.

“I think the most challenging aspect for me is finding the right balance of time to manage all my social media networks… and more importantly, which ones to focus on for my niche and audience.”
Keri from Flip Flop Weekend
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

When I first started blogging I didn’t realize you had to write for the specific social media you are posting on. If you are a high-tech company posting cat pictures on Instagram it will not be the best to promote your brand but retweeting articles from reputable news organizations on Twitter is perfect for your audience.

Like Kerri said from Flip Flop Weekend, it can be challenging to find out where your audience is. It’s really a trial and error thing because you have to try a few different kinds of posts to see what your readers like and share. If you post the same photo on Twitter and Facebook, and one gets no shares and the other gets 100, you get a solid idea what kind of posts does well on each specific platform.

“It’s about pushing the traffic constantly”
Amanda from Disney Fam Vacation

You have to know your audience and write something they want, but first, you have to figure out where they are. If your audience is in zone A, but you only post in zone B, then your audience won’t see your hard work. You spend a lot of time creating these posts, make sure your niche is seeing them. More importantly loving them.

“I think it’s easy to get caught up in trying to do all of them and all of them well… but I find that it then takes too much time away from the actual work of the blog… So I try to focus on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook since those seem to be where my audience is… but even three is a lot to manage… I think finding the right networks, learning how to balance your time on them… and find your audience…”
Keri from Flip Flop Weekend
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Fulfilling the expectations

Photo from Canva.com

Fulfilling the expectations

Like numerous bloggers I spoke with, I was surprised how much work social media would end up being. I didn’t realize how much time it would take to respond to comments, questions and thank readers for follows.

“I would say the hardest part about social media aspect of it is feeling obligated to always be available to answer any questions readers may have “in a timely manner”.
Alyssa from WDWBound

Readers want you to answer their questions and want to feel a connection with you or your company. If they ask you a question and you don’t answer, they remember that. They reward loyalty. They want to feel like they know you, and you know them. They want a connection.

“Just the lack of traffic there unless I’m actively pursuing it.”
Stress-Free Mickey

What the writer from Stress Free Mickey is implying is delivering on your promises with your audience. If you promise to post daily, then you have to keep up with it or the audience will leave. This was a lesson I learned when I start blogging. When I made a post saying I’ll post every day on Instagram and then I didn’t, I lost followers every single time. Yet, if I promised something and delivered, I usually gained followers and almost always gained engagement levels. You want engagement because social media engagement is what drives traffic to your blog or website. That is the true goal after all.

“Sometimes that’s hard when you have a family and a plethora of other responsibilities.”
Alyssa from WDWBound

Your marriage with the reader

Photo from Canva.com

Your marriage with the readers

Relationships take work. This is a point that not too many people would argue. You need to carefully nurture them and care for them every day.

Many new bloggers do not understand this. They are under the impression, if you put the content out there on social media then people will flock to you. That is not true though.

“It’s hard for me to manage my time. I know you have to put the time to grow it, but I’m a busy mom! It’s hard to put my all into something when I’m putting “my all” into so many things.”
Taryn from Lau Family Travels

Just like any relationship, it can be more work than you expected. Blogger after blogger told me how hard the balance between blog life and real life can be to find. Many mentioned about having a hard time finding the balance between them at all.

“… my biggest challenge is time – working, kids and blog can be a lot – … time to make the blog content, but then there is all the rest of it – make a Canva for the post – post it to the FB – add it to stories … , pin it to Pinterest, etc. ”
Jennifer from Mouse and the Magic
Facebook – Instagram

Jennifer’s observation is something I hadn’t expected either. It may sound silly, but I didn’t expect how many detailed steps were involved to make your reader happy and have them continue following you. To make an attractive and professional looking picture, you have to set the scene for the photo, arrange the setting on the camera, take the picture, edit the photo, write a captivating caption for the photo, make sure it includes hashtags and a “call to action” so the reader has a question to answer. All that work to just have the reader see the post, and click the “like” button. Lots of time for you, and two seconds for the reader. Many bloggers when they start don’t consider this, but you have to schedule the time if you want to be successful at social media.

Disney Family of the Week

Photo and Screenshot from Disney Family Facebook Page

The reader has thousands of sites to choose from and you need to convince them to stick with you. It’s like a marriage. There are millions of people in the world and you are asking someone to stay with you. Social media can be a high maintenance relationship, but like all relationships, it’s worth it in the long run. The bond between reader and blogger is a precious one that needs to be treated with love. Just like any marriage or relationships, I don’t think a lot of bloggers expect that when they get into blogging. At least the ones I spoke with sure didn’t. Just like a relationship, everything is easy and fun at the beginning, but if you want it to work, you have to put in the effort. More new bloggers need to be told this from the start. That way they will be able to consider if they have that kind dedication to what they are writing about. It’s also why it’s important to pick a topic you love for your blog. You and that topic are going to be spending a lot of quality time together.

Think about a time a blogger or website made you feel special. Did that make you feel more connected to the site? We’d love to hear about it in the comments if you would like to share.

So what does this mean for the new bloggers out there?

Photo from Canva

What does this all mean for you, the new blogger, reading this all full of adventure and hope? Learn from these 8 bloggers and remember a few things before you start.

  1. Each social media has a different personality and should be treated as so. Learn their language and you will make your audience happy. Learn this early on and it will save you a lot of work.
  2. Just like each social media is different, so is each reader. Take the time to learn which type of reader uses which type of social media. It will save you a lot of time by not promoting your post in the wrong space.
  3. The readers are going to want your attention and you need to provide it to them in a timely manner. If you promise something and don’t follow up on that promise, the reader will go somewhere else. You want to keep them happy and reading your stuff.
  4. You and the reader are entering into a relationship that you will have to cultivate carefully. You will have to find a balance between the blog and your real life. Your day to day is busy but so is the readers. If they are taking the time to read and comment on your social media then you need to take the time to thank them for it.

“Social Media is a juggling game. Either I am engaging well with others, and then falling behind on posting, or posting, but not engaging. It take much more time than you think…”
Nicole from I am a Honey Bee
Facebook – Twitter – Instagram

Social media is a lot of work, yes, but it really is as much fun as new bloggers think it is. There is just a lot of time and work to put into it too. The great thing about social media is there is an audience for everyone. Just because one group didn’t like my egg salad sandwich photo, doesn’t mean there isn’t a group of egg salad enthusiasts out there. Once you find them, treat them with all the love you can give them. Maybe even have a contest to give out some little cute sandwich flags.

Are you a blogger and can relate to some of the above? Are you about to start your first blog and find some of these tips useful? Let us know in the comments! We would love to hear what you have to say. We are one big blogging family after all.


  1. Algonquin College Centre for Continuing & Online Learning. Introduction to Social Media – COM0011 Course Content. Lesson One and Lesson Two.

img_0036-2 Starting a new blog? Blogging for years but want a “I’ve been there” head nod? Check out What surprised these 8 bloggers about social media?  #socialmediasurprises #acsocialmedia

img_0035-2 Are you starting a new blog and want to be as prepared as possible? Check out What surprised these 8 bloggers about social media? to help yourself be as ready as possible for your new blogging adventure. #socialmediasurprises #acsocialmedia