The Intrigue of the Instagram Influencer – COM0011

It is certainly one of the most intriguing social media concepts to me both personally and professionally. An Instagram influencer. What in the world is that? Do people actually make a living off of promoting products you likely don’t need and boasting lavish lifestyles you likely can’t afford? Well, yes. Yes, they do. This week I’m diving into why brands are increasingly using Instagram influencers to market their products and what it takes to become a successful influencer (besides a brief stint on the Bachelor or Bachelorette franchise).

First off on your influencer journey, you have to have followers. Not only do you have to have followers, but you have to have engaged followers. Unlike celebrities, who brands often turn to, to promote a product, these influencers seem far more relatable and reachable. They must be real-life consumers who are trusted by their followers and who has an opinion the follower trusts. This trust can be leveraged by the brand they are advocating for. Developing this kind of loyal following takes time, patience, and engagement.

Next step – create intriguing and visually appealing content. No one will be influenced to buy a bottle of Rose or Sugar Bear hair vitamins by an unkept looking person in a dark picture in a messy apartment. Bright, visually appealing promotion posts are essential to becoming an influencer that brands want to promote their products.

Are brands really focusing their time and investing their marketing dollars into influencers? Absolutely. In fact, 80% of marketers agree that influencer marketing is effective and 71% of them agree that the traffic garnered from these influencers is of superior quality. While working with an Instagram influencer is something that I have not professionally pursued in my current role, there is no denying that it is a fast growing trend that gets results. https://shanebarker.com/blog/rise-of-influencer-marketing/

Would you ever use an Instagram influencer to promote your brand? Why or why not? Are there any influencers that you are personally a fan of? Below is a list of the top influencers currently on social media. Any of your favourites make the list? https://influencermarketinghub.com/top-25-instagram-influencers/

Facebook Post: Thinking of becoming an Instagram influencer? Better read this post about what it takes and why brands are increasingly using influencers to promote their products. https://bit.ly/2ZB4Jf

Twitter Post: Are Instagram influencers the future of brand promotion? Learn more here: https://bit.ly/2ZB4Jf #Instagram #influencers #socialmedia

The power of influencer marketing: your low cost marketing alternative

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole on social media. It identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers. “ – Wikipedia

What’s in it for both parties?

Influencers crave the limelight and love to be able to give their loyal following discount codes while trying new activities, but brands definitely benefit equally.
Can you imagine having an entire influencer’s reach with just the cost of sending your product, not to mention having that user generated content and positive, authentic word of mouth buzz? I follow a few influencers in my area because I find them fascinating but I can see the followers join to take part in cross promotional giveaways and stay to follow along with their adventures.

92% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends & family above all advertising” – Nielsen


Microinfluencers

From Barette Wissman’s 2018 article “Micro Influencers: The Marketing Force of The Future”, a micro influencer is “Someone who has anywhere between 10,000 and 500,000 followers on social media channels. It’s not necessarily the number of followers as much as how engaged that audience is. Micro-influencers have specific niche audiences and are deeply connected to them.” which makes their influence so powerful.

Even I have witnessed the influencer effect with my 600 fans through the use of Instagram stories. For my 15th work anniversary I did 15 fun outings; one of which was trying acrobatic yoga at Ottawa Circus School. In response to my recap of the experience in a short video and a couple images, I had several friends and random followers message me asking for details and saying they wanted to go too. Imagine I was sponsored by the school and also had a discount code – how many of my followers would have jumped on it. (pun intended!)


Where to find influencers?

Are you a brand looking for someone to shout from the roof tops about your brand? A great place to start is with hashtags. Follow relevant hashtags, see what kind of audience a potential influencer has and if their following is your target demographic.
It’s easy to vet if they’d be a good fit by sending one product and measuring the success of those mentions. It’s also a great way for both parties to benefit from the cross promotion and reach of each other’s audience.

The value of digital marketing has blown traditional advertising out of the water, and at such an affordable cost, making it easier for smaller businesses to take advantage as well.

If you weren’t familiar with influencer marketing before, how do you think influencers help build brands, and as a company would this be an approach to marketing you would try?

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Facebook: The Power of Influencer marketing, your low cost marketing alternative that you probably haven’t tried yet: https://algonquincollegesocialmedia.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/influencer-marketing/

Twitter: influencer marketing; your affordable untapped opportunity to reach your target market https://bit.ly/2V9TCHQ #influencer #socialmediamarketing

Reports of the death of QR codes are greatly exaggerated!

Some readers will recognize this quote as paraphrasing Mark Twain’s humorous retort after newspapers falsely reported his death.  The quote could be equally applied to QR codes in the North America and Europe today.

QR (Quick Response) codes were first created by Toyota as a two-dimensional black and white bar codes for inventory tracking. They are now widely used in various contexts in China and Japan and apparently enabled $1.65 trillion in mobile payments in 2016.

barcode cellphone close up coded

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Codes come in various shapes and colours and represent text and numbers, including website URLs.  A QR code is read by a scanner downloaded to a smart phone, which either triggers an action or leads to a destination site.  As a consumer, you might make a purchase or SMS donation, go to a social network or access additional information or a video.  All with no internet connection.

For businesses, QR codes can be used on a variety of real-world items such as clothing, signage and packaging.    Business contemplating adopting QR codes should make it easy for customers to undertake actions without excessive reading or typing.  And a QR code at an airport, subway station or theatre makes more sense than a billboard on the highway, as smart phone users in the case of the former can easily and safely pull out their phones and scan the code.

apple applications apps cell phone

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

For various reasons, QR codes were not widely adopted in the West and many observers predicated their total demise in recent years.  But there are strong indications that this is changing.  In 2017, industry leading Apple installed an active QR code e-reader in the camera app of its phones.  WhatsApp allows users to confirm a contact’s identity with a QR code.  And 34% of US smart phone users have scanned a QR code.  Juniper Research predicts that 5.3 billion QR coupon will be redeemed by mobile by 2022. 

And QR codes will also benefit consumers, non-profits and small businesses still using email in the immediate future (or as long as the tool is in use.  Some analysts have predicted that social media will prevail.)  Codes for sending emails will help read and monitor newsletters, email marketing and emails’ performance rates.  And consumers can scan a coupon and redeem in-store or on-line.

Get your own QR Code!

Have you ever scanned a QR code in the airport or to redeem a coupon?  What was your experience like?  Does your phone have an active QR code reader?   Can you see other applications for QR codes?  If you are interested in getting our own QR code, click here!

Twitter  QR codes are back.  Or were they ever absent? https://bit.ly/2njp8Un

Facebook  QR codes are back.  How you can maximize business and other opportunities    https://bit.ly/2njp8Un

COMM0015-Blog 3: The Future

Post-Secondary schooling is the most important thing – or so we tell our current generation. But what is a piece of paper without the valuable life skills to support it? At the age of 22, I now have a double major and am working on two certificates. Although the education has gotten me to where I am, it’s the job experience that gives me the confidence to succeed in today’s market.

Photo by Author

To further extend my opportunities to succeed, I hold two part-time jobs at my university. These jobs are both directly related to my field of interest and have allowed me to make connections with others in the marketing industry. As I end my schooling in April I aspire to continue making connects at the university with other job opportunities. I will be applying for a leadership position in one of my current departments, which is a one-year contract with the school. *Fingers Crossed*

Moving into the virtual world, my online presence is also strong due to skills I have established when volunteering for NASCAR related positions. Through writing for NASCAR, tracks and micro level sports blogs, I have had the privilege to connect with tons of people. I aspire to continue this in 2018 during the new NASCAR season by writing for a blog and contributing race photographs online.

Although these are all aspirations I wish to carry forward, my current responsibilities are my focus. Aside from work and school, I volunteer with 3 high profile organizations/clubs on a weekly basis. Whether it be online with Michigan International Speedway, or in person with our local radio station or program society, these volunteer opportunities have given me more than just a piece of paper come April.

6-12 months may be a long time, but I am excited about what the future holds.

COM0015 – Blog #4 Out of the Box

As a photographer, I am an avid Instagram user. I have been on Instagram since 2010 and have posted over 2000 times. I have always used the app as a way to share my photos that I like taking. I never quiet realized how people and companies use it as a marketing tool until very recently.

As an experiment, I started to market myself on Instagram and see what happened. I started by making my account no longer private, then I began following more people. I found a local business or two and started following all of their followers. I also would use locations on my pictures. I’ve always been against using lots of hash tags as I find them to be annoying. I ended up boosting my followers by a couple hundred. I then started to un-follow people to see what would happen, and my followers went down significantly.

One thing I noticed when I began to follow more people is how many companies and lifestyle bloggers use Instagram to sell their products.  Some people try to make it more subtle than others by masking their products behind pretty pictures and meaningful sayings, where others just flash their product or service in your face. At the end of the day, Instagram has moved away from an image sharing app to a marketing app and has been very successful in doing so.

COM0015: Assignment 5 – Event Participation

Location, location, location!!

So many of the social media events that I truly wish to be at are usually hundreds of kilometers away. BlogHer, for example, is an exceptional gathering hosted in Toronto. Ottawa, however, has had the Ottawa Social Capital Conference which I had the pleasure of attending a few years ago, but, sadly, only ran for a few years.

When perusing online for some heavy-hitting-awesomeness that is hosted online, the price figure attached is mindboggling. I wasn’t sure what, or how, to continue.

I happened across the thought of when I’d hosted our Condo Corporation’s AGM at our local library to search through other workshops that might be available through their boardrooms. Success!!

Ass 5 image of link of workshop

And, best of all…if you have a library card? It’s FREE. J

This particular workshop was hosted by Lara Wellman, of Lara Wellman – Digital Marketing. I’d had the opportunity to meet her in one of my previous attendances at the Social Capital Conference and her speaking abilities resonate both with those people who are just beginning in social media, to those who have already established themselves and are looking for new techniques and/or tips to broaden their success online.

“I specialize in helping small businesses increase their visibility and grow their customer base using online tools. Through an array of services such as workshops, coaching and strategic planning, I make clients comfortable with social media and other web tools and teaches them how to optimize their use.”

Event WorkshopSome of the attendees were small business owners who were just starting out in the world of adding social media to their business tool kits. I was one of two bloggers and was able to relate how social media has assisted my health advocacy across multiple social media platforms. I was able to learn how to define the key messages of my blogging: two general and two personal. One such message I determined to be: “Choices empower you to be a better patient.” It was nice to get back to some of the most often overlooked basics. I was able to briefly network with a Nutritionist student and relate some of my experiences in the online health communities.

 

Lara’s validation of the manner in which I promote myself across various platforms was summed up in her statement, “Even if you want to reach an entire country, how to market to each [platform] will vary.” It made me refocus on the nature of language and storytelling to best relate to which audiences are using which media platforms.

One key idea that Lara presented was the benefit of email marketing. This may be something for me to look into in the future in order to provide more of the resource information that my followers seek, but enjoy the blog itself for its value of providing insight into the journey itself. Another idea for me to look into, which terrifies me to no end, is the opportunity to monetize my blog. Thus far, I’ve resisted simply because some of the major websites my blog is listed on will not accept monetized blogs. Something challenging to consider as I move it forward, for sure.

I would highly recommend looking into attending a workshop like this in the future. I think the availability and location adds a distinct ease of attendance. I certainly appreciate the time that Lara offered, free of charge, for those who need a little bit of focus and direction as to where to take their online, social media journey to success.

Have you had a successful experience at a local professional networking event?

COM0015 – Post #4 – Out of the Box

Google Logo

I know Google is a vast empire and suspect that it will eventually take over the universe. What I didn’t know until recently, is that there is so much more depth to Google than I could have imagined. I’m not talking only about Google search, which makes me bow down to the keyword gods when I write blog posts for my clients. I’m also not talking about Google+ as a social media platform. What I’ve discovered is mega amounts of information and apps that Google provides for free to help businesses with their online marketing and communications both internally and externally.
Entry Symbol to Google Tools

If you have a Google account, and you should in order to take advantage of all the free stuff, click on your suite of tools in the upper right corner (that little array of 9 squares) and be prepared to have your mind blown by the sheer number of tools available. I’m sure most of you are familiar with apps like Gmail, Calendar and YouTube.

But have you ever used:

  • Google Drive: Improve your productivity with cloud based office software similar to MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Store up to 15 GB of files in your account for free. Use your space for additional backup and feel more secure. Work on documents from any location on any device. Working from home? Edit documents with your colleagues in real time. Never email a document back to yourself again! Collaborate and streamline your workflow in ways you might not have imagined.
  • Google My Business: Get your business listed to show up on Google maps. List your website address, hours of operation and phone number. Ask your customers for a review.
  • Google Hangouts: An alternative to FaceTime and Skype. Chat, send messages, make a call or join conversations on air. Schedule and hold your own live Google Hangout, record it and post it on YouTube. Write a “How To’ script to showcase your services. The possibilities for marketing activities are endless!
  • Google Trends: Get found online by Google’s search engines. Research keyword trends that are relevant to your business and work them into your web pages and blog to improve search engine optimization. See charts and graphs of trending search terms. Get ideas for variations and rising search terms.
  • Google Forms: Build your own survey and find out what your target audience is interested in.

I’ve used Survey Monkey, but I’ve never used Google Forms. As an experiment, I just created a survey to find out more about one of my target audiences – small and medium businesses (SMBs). The interface in Forms is very simple and I was done in about 15 minutes. I’d love for you to get involved, so please complete the survey!

 

These are all FREE tools and I’ve barely scratched the surface here. You can get virtually lost inside Google’s platform learning and taking advantage of online marketing tools, business apps and documents.

Have fun learning and please let me know which Google apps you tried for the first time. I’d like to know if they were useful to you or your business.

 

COM0014 – Personal Reflection

Reflecting on the concepts presented in this course

I think the most important aspect of this course was that communicators should not forget the research phase. Listen to what people are saying online and discover their needs before beginning to write. Describing the target audience is an extremely important part of research and must come before developing key messages. Communications styles must be considered first. Then the story can start to form around these pillars.

Storytelling: Its importance in creating great digital content

Everyone loves a story. They look for details or incidents that are familiar to them. They love to say “did that, been there”. My goal is to tell a story that allows the reader to relate so they nod their heads in understanding, and keep reading to find out what’s coming next.

My content guided by storytelling

Since I’ve been working in marketing for many years, thinking about everyday life experiences in business should be easy. The challenge will be finding situations that others can relate to and finding a way to weave a story around them. I intend to use experiences from my past work at different marketing agencies and tell stories that provide lessons for readers in this field. I plan to develop stories  around real cases consisting of what worked, what didn’t work, and why.

The kind of stories I want to tell

I want to tell stories that make people want to hire me as a writer or digital marketer and showcase my skills in project management, organization, idea generation. I particularly enjoyed the last lesson of this course which told the legend of the Golden Spruce. There was great symbolism providing a lesson about always looking forward, and not looking back in case of being frozen in the past. This inspired me in writing my last post in which I discussed some of my disappointments and how I handled them. After finishing this course, I plan to write stories that:

  • Use humour
  • Create anticipation. People love the “Aha! moment”.
  • Inspire my target audience to take action
  • Reiterate legends that provide lessons in business and life in general
  • Relate to marketing and communications, using possible case studies

Hopefully, I’ll be able to incorporate the human element into each of them and draw readers in who connect to me and recognize that they need a personable and competent digital marketer and writer.

COM0014 – Personal Brand

SG BA 2005 cropped

Hi, I’m Sheila. Nice to meet you. I’m here to help you grow your business using a detail-oriented, well-managed approach and digital marketing and communications. I hope you’ll allow me to add remarkable and distinctive value to your business through blogging, social media, workshop events, writing for your website and email marketing. I’m nerd chic in several departments and proud of it!

Here’s a sample of what I’m all about:

Foreseer of Needs

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I became a digital packrat. That is, I developed a knack for collecting data about stuff. Any stuff would do. The number of hours we spent monthly on something, the price of stuff this year and last year and the year before that, the ideas everyone came up with but didn’t have the time or money to execute. You name it, I collected it. Usually on Excel spreadsheets so I could play with the data in ways that made me smile. This might seem like a waste of time until one day when you ask me something like this:

“Sheila, do you know how many jiggity-jiggets we made in April 2011?”

I give you the answer within two minutes and apologize for being so slow.

Error Sleuth / Assassin

How do you spend your time during an evening of eating, drinking and making merry? Know anyone who enjoys finding errors on restaurant menus when out for a night of fun? If you said no, then you’ve obviously never been out to dinner with me. Just ask my family members who somehow tolerate the game I call “Magic, The Gathering . . . of Proofreaders”:

Sheila: “Did you see this?”

Family: “WHAT?” (anticipating some sickeningly bizarre food item).

Sheila: “Look how they spelled ESCARGOT! Jeeeezzz!”

Family: “Uh yeah” (rolling eyes), “that’s just awful. Have you decided what you’re ordering?”

When this pastime of mine is used in business, the errors have no chance. They’re hiding. And I guarantee you, they are there. I will find them and chop their heads off before they have a chance to go out in public. They are dead meat when I’m proofing or editing your stuff.

Chaos Tamer

For a Chaos Tamer, this is where business gets really fun:

Your business is a zoo and someone has to control the critters with the big claws. Are you the CEO of a small company or not-for-profit and have more ideas than staff to execute them? Do you switch gears every five minutes because you just can’t NOT do something every time a thought pops into your head? Do you use nouns like “planning – schmlanning”? If yes, then you need me. I will tame the crazy-factor and force you (temporarily) to stop being a visionary while we decide how to execute the last ten ideas you had in the same number of hours. Some people think organizing and planning is a waste of  time because there’s work to do. Those people went out of business. Don’t be one of them.

Mistress of Ideas / Content Creator

I’m a writer. I have no idea where these ideas come from. They just keep popping into my head. Sometimes my fingers hurt because I can’t type as fast as I think them up. It’d be such a shame to waste all this great stuff. Let’s use these cool ideas to tell the stories you want your customers or donors to know. Whatever they need – information, training, entertainment, a call to action – you name it. I’ll cast my spells while we develop a relationship with them and keep them returning for more. They’re going to be your biggest fans.

And now, a little game for all you copywriters and proofreaders out there. Let’s play Spot the Typo! Somewhere in this post is a teensy-weensy error. Tell me in the comments if you find it!