How to Incorporate Instagram Into Your Social Media Marketing Plan – Part 2

On nearly every social media platform, photos are the most popular kind of content. This is why platforms, such as the Instagram app, that are centered on photos are becoming an important part of marketing plans.

There are millions of users on Instagram and more companies are starting Instagram campaigns to take advantage of this huge customer pool. Brands can get quick messages and photos to their audience in creative and engaging ways. In my previous post, I began advice about incorporating Instagram into your marketing plan. In this post I will finish up, covering hashtags, geo-tagging, profiles, and expanding your brand.

Via Flickr VisitElPaso

Via Flickr VisitElPaso

Use hashtags specific to your brand

Popular hashtags on Instagram are not the same as they are on Twitter. On Instagram, they change so often that they do not do much good. Instead, it is better to make your hashtags specific to your brand, photo, and promotion instead of clutter-y looking popular hashtags. There are many benefits to creating, using, promoting, and monitoring your own hashtags:

  • It is easier for people to find photos related to the brand
  • It makes it easier to figure out who is devoted to the brand beyond likes and comments
  • Encouraging followers to use your own hashtags makes it easier for them to share photos and spread awareness across multiple platforms, like Facebook
  • Hashtags can give you ROI relative to the users engaged in a certain campaign

You can also use group and contest hashtags to get more recognition.

See-ming Lee

See-ming Lee

Geo-tag photos

The geo-tag feature on Instagram is amazing, especially now that users can transfer location information to other platforms including Facebook, FourSquare, Twitter, and Flickr. Since it incorporates multiple platforms, it gets all of your communities involved on a bigger level.

  • Geo-tag helps you promote your participation at events
  • Restaurants and retailers can use geo-tag to promote their location and products
  • Customers can take pictures in your store or of your products and geo-tag them

A photo map of all your Instagram snapshots appears on your profile as well.

Via Flickr Tatiana12

Via Flickr Tatiana12

Use profiles

Use the newer profiles, established in 2012, to tell the story of your company. Instagram photos look great in a collage and give great insight into your brand. Your profile is another great way to give your followers a behind the scenes look at your business. Make sure to balance fun images with business images. Have a call to action on your pictures directing people to your website and other platforms as appropriate with the photo.

Via Flickr Jason Howie

Via Flickr Jason Howie

Don’t only use Instagram

Instagram is great for your social media marketing plan, but it should not be the only platform you use. Instagram works best for marketing when used with other social media sites, especially visual-based sites such as Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook. Your Instagram posts can be shared on these sites to spur more discussion, comments, shares, and brand awareness.

Which brands do you feel use Instagram effectively with their other social media profiles? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

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How to Incorporate Instagram into Your Social Media Marketing Plan – Part 1

On nearly every social media platform, photos are the most popular kind of content. This is why platforms, such as the Instagram app, that are centered on photos are becoming an important part of marketing plans.

There are millions of users on Instagram and more companies are starting Instagram campaigns to take advantage of this huge customer pool. Brands can get quick messages and photos to their audience in creative and engaging ways. There are a few things you can do to incorporate Instagram into your marketing plan.

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Involve the Community

Start getting involved in the Instagram community by liking and commenting on other people’s photos, especially if they mention your brand in some way. You can also involve the community by creating contests where they take pictures with your product or brand, host scavenger hunts, or offer Instagram-exclusive promotions to get your brand more awareness.

Via Flickr by Robert Scoble

Via Flickr by Robert Scoble

Give a Behind the Scenes Look

This is a great way to give your brand authenticity. People love behind the scenes looks at what is going on. It makes your brand seem more human and involved in providing an excellent customer experience.

Employees should be following the brand and commenting on photos. You should also encourage them to submit their own photos at work and tag them on Instagram. This will help spread brand awareness and give your business a positive image since your employees like work and support the brand. Make sure there are certain rules about posting, but don’t be so restrictive that employees can’t be creative.

Via Flickr by ragesoss

Via Flickr by ragesoss

Get Creative with Your Photos

  • Use editing and enhancement tools, such as Picstitch, Photoshop Express, Picfx, Diptic, Lenslight, and Slow Shutter
  • Experiment with your photos to foster creativity
  • You don’t have to fill the whole box; 4:3 photos with white on the empty spaces will stand out in a feed while still looking good on Instagram’s layout
  • Text only photos can stand out, but should be used sparingly

Look for Part 2 released next Saturday! In the meantime, like this post and let me know what you think in the comments.

Which Blog is Right for You?

Blogs are an important part of today’s business marketing scheme. They are a great way to help your business stay current, communicate with customers, and increase your SEO rankings. There are many blog hosting platforms to help you make your blog, but it can be difficult deciding which one is best for you.

Via Flickr by Sean MacEntee

Normal websites have a few pages which only allow a limited number of indexed searches. Every blog post you create, however, has its own URL. Therefore your blog can be indexed as many times as you create blog posts. This increases your website’s visibility and makes you an authority in your market niche. Here are four of the most popular blog hosts, along with the pros and cons about each one, to help you make your decision.

Via Flickr by Heisenburg Media

Via Flickr by Heisenburg Media

WordPress

  • About: WordPress is a free blogging platform with costs to upgrade. WordPress.org costs $5 a month for hosting. It is also the most popular blogging platform with one of every six websites using it to host. WordPress offers a free publishing tools and content management systems for self-hosting. They have a huge library of tools for the casual and expert blogger, however it is recommended for professional bloggers and media companies that need a stable blog.
  • Pros: WordPress is very flexible, allowing many different markets to use it to their advantage. It is over ten years old and have gone through multiple updates to perfect the platform. It has an open source developer community which provides users with hundreds of plug-ins. There is also a huge theme library for many customizable options.
  • Cons: WordPress is difficult for beginners to understand. There are many courses online that offer help for those who have trouble. Full control of WordPress is only allowed when it is hosted on the user’s server, meaning overhead costs increase with hosting, domain, and CDN name. Customizing requires code knowledge.

Via Flickr by > ange <

Blogger

  • About: Blogger is a free platform owned by Google and is one of the oldest platforms that helped make blogging popular. It is also known as BlogSpot. It is best for causal bloggers and businesses who want a simple blog for internal uses.
  • Pros: Blogger is highly stable because of its age. All issues and problems are eliminated. Making money from Blogger is easy with Google AdSense modules. It is very easy to set up and maintain and you cannot hurt your blog by messing with the code.
  • Cons: Blogger does not let you customize the site when messing with backend code. It is difficult to get your own domain name. There are limited themes and design styles and there is not many plug-ins or community support.

Via Flickr by joshwept

Tumblr

  • About: Tumblr is a free blog that is growing in popularity for business use, so much so that Yahoo! bought it in a billion dollar deal. Tumblr encourages users to share photos, infographics, videos, quotes, links, and more instead of complete content posts. This is best for casual bloggers who want something in between Twitter and WordPress and businesses who want to visually expand their content.
  • Pros: Tumblr is easy to use; users choose the type of post, add specific content, and press Publish. The Control Panel makes it easy to manage multiple blogs. There is a huge variety of themes and a mobile-friendly interface that is constantly being updated for improvements. Posts can be published through SMS, email, or audio message.
  • Cons: Tumblr’s design is highly visual, meaning it is not good for text posts. There is no comprehensive CDN, caching, or anti-virus plugging. The emphasis placed on sharing tends to devalue original content and text-based content.

Via Flickr by SATOSHI TOMIYAMA

SquareSpace

  • About: SquareSpace is a paid blogging platform that starts at $8 a month. It is made for professional bloggers, businesses, and media outlets. The best feature is the LayoutEngine technology which allows instant customization with a drag and drop interface.
  • Pros: There is a huge range of beautiful themes on SquareSpace. Mobile apps are available for publishing. Blogs created on other platforms can be incorporated into SquareSpace. It is less susceptible to viruses and hacking.
  • Cons: SquareSpace is expensive, especially for eCommerce businesses. There is not much flexibility because of a missing developer community. Users have to depend on SquareSpace for all features and designs. There is no way to modify the backend code.

Personally, I have this blog on WordPress and a wedding planning advice blog on Blogger. I think WordPress has more options for customization and it is a much sleeker, professional blog platform. However, I feel like Blogger has more tools for measuring analytics thanks to its integration with Google. My Tumblr is just for fun!

Which blog platform is your favorite and why? Let me know in comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

2 Things You Need to Do to Raise Brand Awareness on Instagram

Instagram has often been called Twitter for those who can’t read. While this sounds negative, it is actually innovative. Instagram took the popularity of Twitter and made it more creative and user friendly. Users can take a photo with their smart phone, apply beautiful effects to it, and share it online. This makes it a perfect tool for a business social media plan.

Via Flickr by AleksGrynis

Via Flickr by AleksGrynis

Brands are being pulled into Instagram without trying, since many of its users are taking photos either of or with their brands. Name brands like Starbucks using Instagram’s love of their brand to their advantage. Other businesses can begin to incorporate Instagram into their social media marketing to see higher engagement from their customers.

In order for a marketer to successfully raise brand awareness, there are two things they need to do on Instagram:

Via Flickr by suendercafe

Brand their Instagram content

  • All content shared needs to be authentic. It should be of real people and real things, giving users a unique look at your brand or company. This helps give your brand personality that Instagram users can connect to.
  • Build a calendar around content streams. It should include behind the scenes images, business events, and unique views of your product in a realistic environment. Never put up stock product photos; show the product in its natural setting or how it is used. Mix in the moment content with planned content.
  • All content needs to be interesting, engaging, attractive, emotional, and memorable. Every post should have a purpose to create a certain response in the Instagram user.
  • Consistently post this content. This will help your brand have a strong word of mouth reputation and will keep followers interested in your content.
  • Use hashtags that are relevant to your brand or post. Allow the hashtags to provide a context to your posts. Carefully choose a few staple hashtags that are unique to your brand.

Via Flickr by Photos by Mavis

Build user engagement with the brand

  • Build a relationship with users. Search for users, engage them, and thank them for sharing positive images associated with your brand.
  • Ask users before sharing their positive content with your brand’s media channels. This will make them feel valued by your business.
  • Use a unique hashtag on all of your posts. Over time, users will use this hashtag when posting their own content related to your brand. Encourage users to use your hashtag by holding an Instagram photo contest.
  • Engage users who are sharing negative feedback about your brand. Solve their problem or grievance for them. Always answer questions and supply customer service over Instagram as it comes up.

Via Flickr by suendercafe

Whenever you are on Instagram for your brand campaign, always remember to:

  • Involve your customers so they do the work of sharing your brand for you
  • Give your customers content they can connect with that also aligns with your brand
  • Focus on the experience or emotion your photo project; keep marketing minimal or subtle
  • Share photos that capture the spirit of your brand

What are other ways businesses can get creative with marketing their brand on Instagram? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

5 Main Strategies for Twitter Marketing (And Other General Tips)

Twitter is one of the most popular social media tools. Most businesses integrate a Twitter account with their marketing plan, but many do not have the best strategies of how to use it. Developing a comprehensive Twitter strategy will allow you to extend your outreach, increase engagement, and increase lead generation.

Via Flickr by Garrett Heath

To extend outreach, businesses need to do five main things:

  1. Use hashtags. Utilizing effective hashtags is the first thing you need to do get the attention of followers. If you come up with a creative hashtag that relates to your company while being fun, you can show up in the top Tweets list. For example, if you sell pizza, you could start a hashtag campaign of #funnypizzadelivery where Twitter users can tell stories of funny pizza deliveries they have ordered or received.
  2. Register in directories. Directories will help you find new followers in your city, other leaders in your industry, and anyone who shares the company’s hobbies and ideas. Registering your business Twitter in these directories will help you get more followers.
  3. Build an attractive profile. Your profile needs to be customized with your company’s colors in the design. You should also have a picture of the logo as the profile picture.
  4. Follow relevant people. Find and follow people who are experts in your industry so you can retweet their content and gain new followers. You can also follow customers who Tweet to you or retweet you.
  5. Be consistent with your posts. Figure out the best format for your Tweets and follow it every time you compose one. This will help make your profile look uniform and make people become fond of retweeting your content.

Increasing fan engagement depends entirely on the kind of content you produce. It should be creative and non-promotional. Try to make Tweets that are emotional, such as being funny, controversial, or moving. Tweets need to be genuine and relevant as well. Consider creating and running fun contests that engage users and cause more to follow you. For example, a sketch artist once offered to create a sketch of his first 200,000 followers. This campaign helped him gain hundreds of thousands of new followers and got them engaged and interested in his art.

Via Flickr by eldh

To get more lead generation on Twitter, you need to follow certain guidelines.

  • Practice active monitoring in order to respond quickly to followers and be helpful.
  • Let the customer’s needs guide you to figure out what kind of content to Tweet.
  • Keep monitoring feedback from customers, competitors, and employees and make timely adjustments to products, services, and campaigns.
  • Mix paid campaigns with grassroots campaigns in order to get more brand awareness and seem more authentic to your customers.

Via Flickr by Brood_wich

You should also utilize Twitter Analytics to see the results of your efforts. Analytics can help you understand how followers grow, how the quality of the content engages internal and external influencers, and how effective the campaign is in driving sales and lead generation. Twitter Analytics provides businesses with:

  • An understanding of how effectively Twitter integrates on their website.
  • Understand how much your website content is being shared on Twitter.
  • See the amount of traffic you get to your website that is directed from Twitter.

Lastly, you need to follow through with your Twitter campaigns and communication from followers. If you have a contest or campaign that requires participation from followers, make sure when it is over you give the winning followers their prize. If you have a small number of followers asking questions, answer them. If there are a large number of followers, pick and choose a few to answer so users know you are engaged and reading their Tweets. This helps them feel loyal to the brand.

Do you have any special Twitter tips that helped your marketing strategy? Let me know in comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!