COM0011: 7 Best Practices for Marketing on Instagram

COM0011: 7 Best Practices for Marketing on Instagram

This week in Introduction to Social Media, we learned about how to create and write for social platforms such as Blogs, Facebooks, and Twitter. Instagram being my personal favourite platform to use, I was curious about what makes a great Instagram post. Instagram is a photo-sharing social media network for personal and professional use. Instagram is an extremely effective tool for capturing audiences through the use of pictures; after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Like facebook, Instagram can be used to share pictures of your everyday life, or for businesses to gain a following to ultimately sell a product or service. According to Business Instagram, there are 400 million users who use Instagram every day, and of those 400 million users, 80% of them follow a business. Here is what I believe to be the best practices for marketing on Instagram:

1. Posting Great Photos

Since Instagram is a photo sharing platform, taking great pictures is critical. With those statistics I shared above, it’s important for your image (or video!) to stand out. Using a professional camera, rather than your iphone will create a higher quality image. Creating an image that will captivate users, will ultimately lead them to either like, comment, tag their friends, follow you, or buy the product you’re selling.

2. Timing

Like Facebook and Twitter, choosing the right time to publish can increase your chances of people viewing your post. The goal is to publish your post when users are most active. According to CoSchedule, the best time to post is generally during off work hours. You can also use tools like HootSuite to schedule and automate your posts.

Infographic

  (image: CoSchedule)

3. Theme

Creating a common theme will produce an attractive look and feel for your profile. Posting pictures using similar colours and the same ‘filter’ will make your profile look more appealing. Doing this will also keep your brand consistent. One of my favourite Instagram accounts is Lauren Conrad. Notice the similar colours and photos?

Lauren Conrad

4. Branding Your Profile

Like with any social media platform, making sure your profile is complete and aligned with your brand is crucial. Using your logo as your profile picture will allow users to find and recognize your business. Ensuring your website link is included in your profile will drive people to your site. You should also include a description of your product/service for people who don’t know your business. Many businesses will also create their own hashtag for a social media campaign and for people to use when sharing a picture of your product.

North Face

5. Hashtags and Geolocation

Within Instagram, you can search via Hashtag. Hashtags are words with a pound sign (i.e. #socialmedia). People use hashtags to search a specific topic or category. You can use hashtags on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. By using hashtags you can increase your reach and make your account more discoverable. Remember to use hashtags that relate to your product. As mentioned in tip #4, businesses also use their own hashtag to help brand and see the content users are sharing.
With Geotagging you can tag your location where the picture was taken. This is another way for people to discover your photos/videos. It will also allow users to geotag when they are at your place of business, resulting in more exposure.

6. Connecting With Your Followers

There are several ways you can communicate with your followers on Instagram. Doing this will create a trusted and reliable brand. Many businesses will reply to their comments when a question is asked. You can also like your follower’s comments. Many companies will do ‘shoutouts’ or ‘repost’ their fans photos. This will encourage followers to post pictures of your product. Personally, I love it when companies respond to a question or concern I have on Social Media. It saves me time trying to find the answer and it shows that they care enough to answer me directly.

7. Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights is a built-in tool used to help you analyze your followers and drive your strategy. Using this tool will allow you to gain insights about your follower’s activities and demographics. This is a powerful tool that can help you tweak your posts to cater to your followers, or show you areas that you can improve (ie. Posting at times your followers are online). Other companies such as Sprout offer a similar service.

instagram insights

(Image: http://www.fstoppers.com)

Instagram can assist in building your brand and engaging with your followers. Do you have anything to add to these top tips? Do you use Instagram? If so, why, and do you follow businesses or just your friends?

 

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Post 4 – COM0015 – Out of the Box

Cartoon - Thinking outside the box

Being unaware of emerging trends can leave you in the dark.

What grabs your attention today may barely get a glance tomorrow. The need to stay fresh and interesting has always been important in marketing, regardless if you are selling a new cookbook, or promoting a non profit organization. With the exponential growth in new technology and information the demand for an innovative way of getting your message across comes fast and furious.

I would consider myself to be an avid consumer of Social Media. While I am inundated with images and videos all the time a few recent trends have grabbed my attention. Two applications and an emerging content trend:

Facebook Live – This application is very new. While it was released by Facebook in August of 2015 it wasn’t available to the average user until December of that year. It has had some very successful campaigns as well as some flops. The first time I was captivated by this application was when a local Ottawa DJ live-streamed his experiences with his Leukemia treatment. He explained what it was like going through an MRI machine with the assistance of a lego man, he took his fans through his hair loss, took questions about his cancer and even promoted National Nurses week and donations for the Fort McMurray Fire. Stuntman Stu is back at work at Majic 100, but continues to serve his community. Facebook Live was a new way for him to tell his story.

360 Video – This application is also quite new and very exciting. The first time I saw this was when a friend interviewed Paula Deen as she was supporting troops in Fort Hood, Texas. I had no idea what I was looking at and couldn’t figure out why the interviewer was pointing the camera at the table! 360 video has come a long way since that interview. The video has become immersive and beautiful. It is a great way to showcase the amazing and awe-inspiring. From Ballet, to Roller Coasters, to War. This media immerses you in the moment. Watch the Dutch National Ballet.

Link to ‘back to the basics’ – While this is not an application tool, this is an interesting movement in marketing today.  As our baby boomers have more disposable income and focus more on their health they are making a move to healthier choices. There has been an significant observable increase in marketing towards ‘Organic’, ‘Non-GMO’, ‘No-Hormones’, and even a back to basic Farming movement. Companies such as KFC Canada and Chipolte are using imagery of farming to bolster their brands. Chipolte has had a disastrous year with multiple health scares across the US and have used a beautiful back-to-basics sustainable farming video to indicate that they are starting fresh.

Summary – Marketing has always been on the hunt for a fresh way to tell the story. Social Media is just another tool in the toolbox, but with emerging technologies a successful marketer must stay abreast of the next best thing to grab and keep peoples attention.

 

 

 

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Social Media Trends for 2016

As we head into a new year, social media will continue to evolve. New trends will pop up: some will hit and other may fizzle out. Here are a few that are expected to take hold.

Monitoring

Businesses will spend much more time listening and monitoring their social media in the upcoming year. While many businesses have the “talking” part down, more and more will be keeping an eye on their monitoring tools. This is key to the success of a B2C company.

Reading

Facebook’s Instant Articles will have a huge effect on how people consume their news. Instant Articles are available through the Facebook smart phone app and make it much easier and faster to access articles than traditional links to news sites. Already, hundreds of publishers have signed on to Instant Articles, including the Economist and the Washington Post.

Shopping

Social shopping will take off. Users will be able to make purchases online without leaving their feeds. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram have all installed in-line buy buttons to provide the convenience of online shopping for their users. Social media shopping will find its feet and social commerce will slowly become a reality.

 

What social media trends do you predict for 2016?

How to Stay on Top of What’s Trending

Trends are some of the key ingredients to social media and promoting business, ideas, awareness and campaigns.  How do we capitalize on current trends and keep track of social media feeds when it all changes so rapidly?

There are some strategies and tips to help you monitor social media and use trends. Social Media the Next Generation 5 Steps to Keep Up

These aren’t rocket science.  It’s about staying connected, online, offline, to your business, and community.  Listening to your audience and what they’re saying.  Learning to follow the right people and seeing what their tweeting about.  Connecting to people in meetings and outside of meetings.  Oh… and of course… talking to “young people”!

7 Ways Ad Agency Pros Stay on Top of Social Media Trends

Of the 7 ways to stay on top of social media trends, the tip I found most useful was the use of an RSS reader (like Google Reader).  I really enjoy reading blog posts but sometimes there isn’t time!  This site has suggested Google Reader can help in following 300+ blog sites by organizing them into categories.  I’m not sure I’m about to go following hundreds of blogs, but I always enjoy tools to help organize and sort through to optimize my time.  Check out How To: Get the most out of Google Reader for more tips.

There’s more tools than just Google Reader!  How about the 5 best apps to staying on top of social media trends that are bound to help!

Do you have any apps you use to follow trends?  Organize your social media feeds?

Once you start to see what’s trending on social is when you can start joining your campaign and capitalizing on media.

Like today, my social media is filled with Robin Williams comments, movies, thoughts, pictures.  It’s no wonder with the sudden news of his death that mental health awareness campaigns will spread their message together with the trending news.

View image on Twitter

 Williams’ death brings mental health issues to the fore

How do you use trends in your business?

 

http://www.receptional.com/blog/social-media-5-ways-to-keep-on-top-of-changing-trends
http://ernestbarbaric.com/strategy-apps-trends/

COM0011 #5 – #signalboost

The internet cause campaign is the new trend of spreading a cause like wildfire across internet platforms in the hopes of creating awareness to the cause. Such topics include LGBTQ rights, Joseph Kony, and most recently, the kidnapping of over 200 school girls in Nigeria by terrorist group Boko Haram. This awareness is generated on many different platforms, but is most commonly spread through use of a hashtag (which if you were unaware, is this little sign here #).

Two years ago, the popular trending awareness hashtag going around was #KONY2012, which was used to call attention to the child soldier crimes and numerous other offences committed by Ugandan rebel leader, Joseph Kony. This campaign began with a video started by a group called Invisible Children. It began with a very effective video campaign uploaded to Invisible Children‘s Youtube channel, and ended up soaring across the internet, gaining tons of momentum.

 

It was effective in garnering attention, no doubt about it. Everyone knew Joseph Kony’s name. But how effective was it really?

The year is now 2014, and Joseph Kony is still at large.

Social Media is a very effective tool in connecting, creating, and sharing content and information. Creating awareness over world issues is something that certainly needs to happen. People need to know about what’s going on in the world, in order for peace to hopefully be achieved one day. But how effective is it really to sit at a computer and type a simple hashtag?

What I’m getting at here is that people need to learn to both spread that awareness, and also be proactive about the cause. You can’t just sit by idly on your computer and expect results because you retweeted something with #InsertCauseHere. People need to actually get up and do something about the problem. Anything they can. Whether it be something as little as a $1 donation, or even a simple signature on a government petition. That’s the sort of thing that achieves results at the end of the day.

My question is this: Are these internet campaigns really worth it? Do you see it progressing into something a little more productive in the future? Personally, I think there’s potential in it. The right person to utilize that potential just has yet to come along.

COM0011: Will Larry fly away? Plus, thoughts on the future…

. COM011 BLOG POST #5

Just at the beginning of the course, we had a discussion about Facebook’s doom when that MIT research group applied epidemiological stats projections. What about Twitter? I suppose news always needs some kind of hook, so I noticed more talk about Twitter’s fate after its 8th birthday on March 21. Taking a look at the charts provided by The Atlantic

  • retweeting is up, replying is down
  • 50+% of tweets are from a mobile device, and less and less from desktop
  • Over 30% of accounts are inactive

Twitter just bought Cover.  Cover is a company that focuses on customizing the lock-screen of Android devices.  It sounds strange at first but the Twitterverse is investing in the future and it wants to keep expanding; Larry does not want to fly away!  Larry is the blue bird of Twitter.  With those charts reflecting a dwindling user base, Twitter must have felt pressure to innovate – to be part of what’s next. So, Cover hopes to optimize user experience and accessibility by providing a management solution to all the apps one could have… and it will be “brought to you by Twitter”.

Facebook installed Home on HTC and Samsung Galaxy S3s as the main launcher for the phone.  Home essentially brings your newsfeed as the first thing you see upon activating your phone.  It also recently bought Oculus – an up and comer for virtual reality technology.

“We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.”

                                                                  –   Mark Zuckerberg on acquiring Oculus

The future seems to be going towards Twitter-centric, Facebook-centric, or Platform-centric devices.  It won’t just be competition between types of devices and their hardware, but to which platform they’re associated with, and how well does the combination fare to the user’s love for efficient novelty.  Exciting!  I already want one. Whatever it is. But I also think of the interactive hovercraft society in Wall-E…

Wall-E

Order your breakfast while travelling at 100 kmh – courtesy of SnapChat?

 

 

Sources

“How Twitter has changed over the years in 12 charts” – The Atlantic
“Twitter shares first tweets with users on eighth birthday” – The Toronto Star
“What does Twitter want with Cover’s Android lock screen? A smarter smartphone, duh” – Engadget
“Twitter may just have bought its own answer to Facebook Home” – BGR

COM0015: Blog Post 4 – Get Out of the Box!

shutterstock_123899473Social media is the latest and greatest way to reach people. This may be on a personal level, giving you access to photos and information on family and friends but can also be used as part of a marketing strategy. Over the course of the last year, I have made a real shift to the see the value on the business side of things. I have always used social media as a personal tool but did not completely understand the true value of it in a business setting. I have seen a slow implementation at my place of employment as we begin to incorporate social media into our plan for online marketing.

Looking externally, I was surprised to see how active the government and politicians are on social media. This summer I stumbled upon this very interesting article that discusses “7 weird and wonderful ways that governments around the world are using social media.” I was shocked. Social media is helping to keep our streets cleaner and to detect earthquakes before they happen? Wow! I hadn’t thought about it that way. The police are also using social media to help solve crimes. The information that they can gain from someone’s Twitter-feed or Facebook page is substantial. Although I do not know the legalities around using that information, once again, pretty cool stuff.

On a more personal note, I recently noticed Facebook really ramping up their advertising. Now, when you visit the login screen, you will see a wonderful ad for a dating website. Although these ads are consistently changing, add it to the list of things that make me go hmmm. A dating website, really? I hope these ads are customized for my account because my 16 year old cousin does not need to see that.

Bottom line, the world is changing, the shock factor is a huge strategy right not as it is assumed the greater the shock, the greater the impact. Expected  is boring, unexpected is interesting and gets people talking. A lot has changed in such a short amount of time and I can’t wait to see what new applications and online marketing strategies the future will bring. Never a dull moment when it comes to social media, that’s for sure!

* Image care of: www.assembledchaos.com

COM0015- Tools & Sources- My Picks

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

In a world where information is not only at our finger tips, but available 24/7, it is sometimes difficult to sort through the “crap” and get to the good stuff.  It is my personal belief that anyone using social media, especially professionally must have a strategy. As discussed, a large part of this strategy is listening and monitoring.

How do you know what is making an impact? You have to monitor. My favourite monitoring tool has to be Google Alerts. I work in communications and this is huge for me. I do not have to search out the daily mentions of the organization that I work for; they come to me in a neat, tidy, customized email. Since I work for a Holding Company and manage communications for 4 organizations, this is a life saver. It is simple and meets my current need for tracking. The topper is that you can even generate an RSS feed and import the alerts into your dashboard tool, giving an overall display. In addition, this feeds nicely into Google Analytics which allows me to monitor the traffic each of our websites is getting and break it down into detail. I have not found another tool that is a) free and b) this effective in both instances.

Another preferred tool that I use for monitoring is Twitter. Hash tags are amazing, period. It allows tracking of an event, product, topic, location etc., just about anything under the sun. At any point in time I can go in and do a search on one of our products to see what people are saying about it. I recently got married and an upcoming trend is that couple are setting up a hash tag for their wedding so they everyone’s photos are linked together and easily viewed by attendees. On a professional basis, it allows my organization to monitor tweets that are linked to the company and respond in a timely manner. It is now part of my work day to receive several email notifications from Twitter. They are doing my work for me, who doesn’t love that?

When looking at news, each morning I get my local dose through therecord.com. In result of my line of work (communications and community relations), it is important that I am connected to the community in which my company does business. I need to be aware of the local trends and developments and this site allows me to have up to date knowledge when having conversations with clients or prospects professionally. I also read the headlines of the Toronto Star and New York Times out of personal interest and to see if anything catches my eye.

Secondly, I look to the Huffington Post quite frequently but if I am being completely honest, after I go local, I go to Twitter. Twitter provides me with the most up to date headlines and articles. Most papers online or print do not function in real time like Twitter does. When major things happen, such as the Ottawa bus/train collision, I can get the most current information and join in on the discussion on Twitter. This also helps from a business standpoint as in the past I have looked to Twitter for up to date weather conditions. When the roads were flooded, I needed to know where and if it would affect our clients. I am able to get an uncensored, general public view of what is occurring specifically at that moment and it doesn’t cost a dime.

In summary, there is A LOT to listen to. Find the right tool for you and don’t be afraid to try out new sources of news or new monitoring tools. Things are changing and the best tool today, may no longer be the best tool tomorrow.

*Image sourced from: http://www.projecteve.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/socialmedia1.jpg