4 Content Marketing Fundamentals You Could Revisit With Nifty Hacks

4 Content Marketing Fundamentals You Could Revisit With Nifty Hacks

To succeed at content marketing, there is a basic set of skills that you must possess.

This blog is a summary of the four most basic content marketing ideas with new-age hacks to help execute them.

While most senior marketers are aware of and experienced in these requirements, individuals who are new to the field are likely to struggle with the volumes of guides out there.

Newbies can use this write-up to avert the obstacles they are likely to face, and more seasoned content marketers can check off their agendas the fundamentals that they’re covering while discovering time-saver methods of implementing them.

Let’s begin.

1. Understand goals and create a focused mission statement

A content marketing plan begins with the goals you set. Without clarity of what you want to accomplish, you cannot create content with powerful underlying intent, which is the basis of effective content marketing.

Before you proceed to actual creation of content follow these 4 steps to define your goals.

Step 1: Survey your environment

Like battles involve surveillance of the terrain and the other army (and you would crash and burn if you didn’t do this), you need to do the same with content marketing. Identify your competitors, the channels at your disposal and your audience.

This involves some research – surveys of your own, and borrowed from data farming firms. Search tools help. The right Google searches, and setting keyword alerts on Google and social monitoring tools like Social Mention help to some extent. Try tools like SurveyMonkey, they save a lot of time.

Step 2: Develop a Buyer Persona (or multiple ones)

You require a description of the person who would be interested in and purchase your products or services (the more detailed the description, the better). Interests, concerns, behavior are key. Use specific questions to survey your audience and social media polling apps to save time.

Step 3: Monitor your competitors

Observe what they implement. Adapt the ones that make sense, figure out how to break areas that the big players are dominating. Try Google alerts, Spy Fu, Topsy, these tools can help.

Step 4: Research social platforms and technology

Where is your audience present? Where do they spend the most time? What are the latest features of social platforms and how can you use them? Which applications can help cut down time investments and make your job easier. Figure these out.

Next, outline clear and well-defined goals. It could be anything as specific as overcoming a certain perception attached to your type of services or creating stories with user-cases for your product. Keep them that specific and document them.

With goals done, write a mission statement. Ask yourself these questions before you do that.

What do we want to accomplish?

How do we do it?

Who are we targeting?

What value are we adding?

2. Create and share content in audience-friendly packages

Every step of content marketing requires planning. Cutting straight to the chase may make you feel like you are getting stuff done, but doing so can get you stuck.

Here are a few things you can do to create and share audience-friendly content.

Generate a content bucket and a content calendar

If you kick start each month with a bucket of 50 ideas, your month is more likely to go smoothly and leave you time to “React” which is extremely important on social media.

List down 10 reasons why your audience should choose your brand over others (specific user cases), 20 blog topics, 10 ideas for simple contests/discussions. The idea is to keep a running stock of ideas. Add to it as you come across them. Hubspot’s got a fun topics generator you could try for blog topics.

Make divisions based on themes of content and place your ideas across your content calendar. Ensure to take account of all important days (for your brand and otherwise).

Image 1

DrumUp has an interesting feature that lets you view scheduled social media content in calendar form. So when you are curating content, you can still be sure that you are following your decided theme or pattern for content.

Use engaging formats

Content that is engaging for your audience. Remember who they are and decide your formats based on that information. For instance, foodies might want to see their content more than read about it.

But visuals are non-negotiable for social media. Use photographs, graphs, infographics, videos, whatever you can in context with the content you’re sharing.

Match the tone of your content to your audience and the platform your are sharing on.

Curate powerful content

Content curation is powerful. If you can make available useful information to your audience, there’s nothing like it. Curate content and tag or @mention the source, you’d be giving credit, building valuable relationships and generating more shares all in one go.

image 2

Use a good app to filter stuff for you. For fresh content DrumUp is great, you could also use Feedly or Storyful for some interesting stuff to share.

Finally, set up tests on your shares – share them at different time intervals and measure engagement. Identify your most successful blog posts (landing pages) and referral links from Google Analytics and re-structure your content to include more of what’s working.

3. Develop a relevant and powerful content hub

A content hub (pages attached to your website with content about set topics) is a must. That’s home to your original content and means to build authority, visibility and encourage revisits.

Set your topics: Explore your scope for what to include (technical how to’s for your niche) and document what you intend to talk about. Pick topics that can help improve your revenues over time (attract your target audience).

Build the hub: The technical aspects may not concern you, but it is important to have your tech team incorporate share plug ins and SEO elements (meta descriptions, page titles and keywords). Your Content Management System should also be easy to use to update content and add the basic types of media – images, videos and the lot. WordPress is easy to implement and use, and comes with SEO and other useful extensions.

Promote it: Promoting a hub is extra effective when you involve people.

  • Reach out to established firms you could partner with for content.
  • Do trade offs. Offer content in return for visibility on external websites.
  • Create content with people so you can share the task of marketing (content also has added value when you have an added perspective.)
  • Craft interesting and short descriptions and invite people to your hub from social media.
  • Use multiple formats of content for promotions (visuals could go on Pinterest, Tumblr). Remember to craft your content to speak to your Audience Personas.

Image 3

Consistently monitor Key Performance Indicators: Use tools like Brand24 to monitor social mentions, engagement and sentiments and Google Analytics to fill in the dots (track time spent on a page, visits to a page). Use the insights to add more content that is popular to your hub.

4. Increase exposure for content that you create

For maximum exposure your content has to be discoverable to your target group.

Ensure that you’re following the basic laws of SEO.

  • Create content that genuinely helps your audience (and is directed at them with keywords they’re likely to look for)
  • Write long posts at least 1000+ words and if possible 2000+ words
  • Provide backlinks to your site everywhere you post content
  • Use the right keyword tags for your posts for search engine indexing
  • Never duplicate content (copyright and search engines penalize duplicated content)

Exposure also requires the participation of people (they’ve got to share your content).

Here are 5 ways to creatively get them to do so.

#1. Involve them in the content you create (expert interviews and audience generated content)

image 4

#2. Use interactive elements on your blogs

image 5

#3. Create contests that require sharing

Image 6

#4. Share their content occasionally as well

#5. Ask them to. Simple requests for re-tweets and shares work

Participate in communities like Quora, Google Plus communities and groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Create Twitter lists to better organize and reach out to the community that you build.

Wrap

Interacting with the community is absolutely necessary with social media. Don”t make a task out of interaction and push it down the priority list because there’s no substitute. Each of the steps discussed save more time when planned out than when not. So use this write-up as a plan to get yourself started, you should see positive results on implementation.

Guest Author: Jessica Davis is a Content Strategist at Godot Media, a leading content marketing firm. She works with businesses and individuals creating targeted content for various requirements. She also manages a team of article writers at Godot. Other areas of interest include technology, science and fashion.

The post 4 Content Marketing Fundamentals You Could Revisit With Nifty Hacks appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.

How One Company Used Automation To Sell Smarter (And More!)

This is the story of a once-failing Boston appliance company, and how it used marketing automation and other digital marketing tools to radically alter its course.

Not too long ago, Boston’s Yale Appliance was losing money. The economy was in the midst of a recession, and, “I’d read somewhere that people will buy some things anyway during a recession—and one of those things was refrigerators,” said CEO Steve Sheinkopf.

He pumped more money into radio and newspaper advertising, thinking it would help boost sales. But it didn’t.

So Steve, who had taken over the family lighting and appliance store founded by his grandfather, refocused and tried something seemingly radical.

He doubled down on a digital marketing strategy that included social media, blogging, reputation management, and email marketing components. And he invested in people, technology, and processes that would ensure their success (more on that in a minute).

Eventually, Steve’s focus on a content-based marketing program allowed him to almost zero out his advertising budget.

Today, Yale Appliance is healthy, profitable, and growing, with more than 140 employees.

Top-line revenue was around $80 million last year. And the company recently opened a state-of-the-art showroom outside Boston—only its second store after almost a century in business.

So how did Steve do it?

And what broader lessons can we steal from his approach, from a content and marketing automation point-of-view?

 

1. Be a resource, not just a vendor

When Steve first started blogging, in 2007, he was getting some traction, mostly through organic search results. But things really ignited when he dug a little deeper into digital marketing basics.

Steve credits digital marketing leader Marcus Sheridan (www.thesaleslion.com) with teaching him things like how to write a meta-tag, how to write a headline, and how to write a call to action that turns prospects into customers.

Steve also figured out what kind of posts would be most useful to his would-be customers by studying how his customers reacted. It turns out that trend pieces and very specific posts comparing, say, a Thermador to a Viking cooktop, got the most traffic.

Recommendation posts like “The 5 Best Counter Depth Refrigerators” also do well, cementing Yale’s role as a buyer resource, not just a retailer.

Learning to create customer-centric content is a process that takes time, Steve said. But creating content is a valuable exercise for two reasons: (1) because it helps Steve understand what motivates his customers; and (2) writing about what his store sells helps him know his stock inside and out.

Yale Appliance content has also become the biggest driver of new business. Those who visit the blog and download buyer’s guides convert into buyers at a much higher rate. That’s why Steve personally reviews all the content his blog publishes.

I told him I was surprised that the CEO of a company personally managed the blog, and he laughed: “There’s no better business development effort. So why wouldn’t I?”

 

Focus on smarts before sales.

 

2. Focus on smarts before sales

It might be a cliché to say that educating your prospects is the best way to turn them into buyers. But it’s true. Yale focuses on educating their customers, first. It focuses on sales, second.

Yale Appliance has more than 20 buying guides covering everything from how to buy under-cabinet lighting to what to look for in a dishwasher. Many of those started out as internal, vendor-agnostic training resources for new employees who needed education on how to sell the appliances Yale carries.

“We already had a 10-page guide on an induction oven,” Steve said. It wasn’t a far leap to turn it into a customer-centric buying guide that could be used in nurturing campaigns managed by its marketing automation program.

So, for example, a customer who downloads a guide to buying a sub-zero fridge opts in to a series of nurturing emails designed to deliver more information about sub-zeros. Those emails have a much higher engagement rate—35% versus the 5-10% for other emails Yale sends (mainly, newsletters and promotion “deal of the day” messages).

“We focus on making our customer smarter about sub-zeros, not because we try to sell them one,” said Steve.

Focus on making your customers smarter, not just on getting a sale.

“People want to be informed, they don’t want to be sold to anymore—if they ever did,” Steve said.

 

3. Start somewhere

Steve has been blogging since 2007. He embraced content before a lot of other businesses caught on. Does he think others could duplicate his efforts now, or is his success truly linked to a first-mover advantage?

“Good, original information is still good, original information,” he said. “Good content is still good content.”

He added: “I’m not an outlier. There are still millions of industries and countless opportunities in underserved markets. You just have to refuse to do business like everyone else.”

The post How One Company Used Automation To Sell Smarter (And More!) appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

What Is Purpose Driven Marketing?

“There are two types of entrepreneurs in the community,” says Ari Kalfayan, founder of the Startup & Tech Mixer. “One, they just want to get rich… and that’s fine and we’re totally okay with that. And the other side is people who actually want to enact change in the world.” This second type of business is known as a purpose-driven business, aka a profit-earning enterprise with a conscience.

While not a new term, purpose-driven businesses have become increasingly popular these days. The reason? Customers support and recommend brands that have a purpose. In fact, 91% of Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause. Furthermore, 6 out of 10 Millennials said a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer.

On top of that, having a purpose-driven brand is beneficial because:

  • It aligns leaders and team members around a common purpose, mission, and culture.
  • Attracts the right type of customers, employees, partners, and investors who believe in your values.
  • Motivates you and your team to be more productive.

In short, having a purpose is an essential component of your business – even if your purpose is simply making the lives of people easier by providing a useful product or service.

What is purpose-driven marketing? We know what purpose-driven brands are. But, what exactly is purpose-driven marketing? Ann Gwynn has a clean description for the Content Marketing Institute:

Purpose-driven content marketing is a way for a business or brand to bond with a target audience based on their shared needs and interests – including interest in supporting a worthy cause. But while most organizations recognize the importance of, ‘giving back,’ they aren’t always accustomed to creating content around their efforts in a way that will both engage their audience and drive them to participate. Success in this arena is all about developing the right strategy and executing it in an authentic, organic way that brings mutual benefit to everyone involved.

Now that we have a better understanding on what purpose-driven marketing is, here are a few ideas to create a purpose-driven marketing campaign:

 

Identify your niche

The first part of purpose-driven marketing is being aware of your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as knowing your competitors. You also need to answer this important question; “Why would my customers pay a premium for my services or product, and is there a way to do it that differentiates me from others?”

Zappos, for example, has become known for outstanding customer service that consistently goes beyond expectations. That’s what sets them apart from their competitors and has built such a large and loyal following. It’s not the products they offer. It’s not the prices that they charge. It’s the fact that their purpose is delivering happiness to their customers.

Another example is Toms Shoes. Their purpose has been to donate one pair of shoes to someone in need whenever a pair is purchased by a customer. This one-for-one business model has been effective in attracting customers and even influencing companies like Warby Parker to follow a similar model. Again, Millennials are far more likely to buy from a business that’s doing something for someone else, even if they have to pay more. In my personal opinion, Millennials seem to believe in philanthropy more – by far – than any other previous generation.

 

Communicate your brand’s purpose

How do you share your brand’s purpose with the rest of the world? That may sound challenging, but it’s not as difficult as you may think if you try the following techniques:

  • Support causes that your audience would be interested. This is a tried and true technique where brand’s donate a portion of their proceeds to a nonprofit or charity.
  • Partner with other brands. Another popular tactic where two different organizations team-up. Uber has done this partnering several times. The company has partnered with Spotify so customers can listen to their playlists. Uber has also worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving where riders were offered a discount code that would also make a dollar donation to MADD when redeemed.
  • Make your content valuable. No matter what industry you’re involved in or who your target is, your audience wants content that’s valuable. Home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes have both created instructional videos that show how to complete DIY projects or home improvement hacks, so that people can love where they live.
  • Be timely and reactive. “When news agencies reported that the GoDaddy CEO had killed an elephant on a hunt in Africa, Namecheap capitalized on it,” says Pawan Deshpande, Founder and CEO, Curata. “The company provided discount codes for anyone who wanted to switch from GoDaddy, with part of the proceeds going to an elephant conservation organization.”
  • Humanize your brand. Customers want to support people. Not a faceless, nameless organization. Humanize your brand by showing behind-the-scenes images or videos of people in your business, letting team members interact with customers by showing their personality, and by having a little self-deprecating funny stuff from time-to-time.
  • Have fun. I’m still a big fan of the “Dumb Ways To Die” campaign by Australia’s Metro Trains. It took a serious subject and made it into fun and memorable pieces of content.
  • Volunteer. Have you and your team go out into the community and make a difference. Lowe’s, for example, has employees volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Again, that fits into the company wanting to help with making it possible for people to, “love where they live.”
  • Stay committed. It’s one thing to talk-the-talk. It’s another to actually walk-the-walk, and do what you say you will do. Once you have found your company’s purpose, make sure that you make a commitment to it. For example, Liberty Mutual has had a longstanding partnership with the U.S. Olympics and Paralympic Teams.

 

measure

 

Measuring results and driving sales

Success will vary from business to business. But, the best way to determine how successful any of your marketing campaigns have been, is by establishing goals and analyzing the metrics. Here are some of the most popular goals and metrics for businesses:

 

Increase leads and sales

You’d want to track the number of visitors, subscribers, customer inquires, and closed deals during a certain period of time.

 

Build awareness and trust

You’d track the amount of visitors, as well as the visitor-to-customer conversion rate. You also want to measure engagement for every piece of your content (shares and comments) and track your sales cycle length – how long it took from the initial contact to close the deal.

 

Increase loyalty and advocacy

Here you want to analyze the following:

  • The number of return visitors to your site
  • The number of customers who came from referrals
  • The amount of positive brand mentions online
  • Measure your customer satisfaction score
  • Measure your customer retention rate

You can use tools like Google Analytics and Infusionsoft to find this information out.

 

Back to you

What do you think about my first blog post for GetResponse? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

The post What Is Purpose Driven Marketing? appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

11 Ways to Jumpstart Your Instagram Branding

Starting your Instagram branding from scratch can seem like a tall order task. Far too often we see brands on Instagram turn their channels into graveyards. Typically you see about 15 photos, 150 followers and zero updates in the last couple of months.

If you’re reading this and know you fall into this category–that’s fine–we’re here to help. Integrating Instagram into your marketing and branding strategy is essential for any business trying to grow their audience.

But Instagram branding isn’t an easy task. Gaining the trust, engagement and attention of Instagram users is no a walk in the park either. In fact, eMarketer discovered less than 50% of brands are actively on Instagram. While the agency expects that number to increase to roughly 71% by 2017, there’s still a lot businesses can learn about the social network.

emarketer instagram activity graph

Benefits of Increasing Instagram Branding

With a half-a-billion active users on Instagram, there are massive opportunities to get seen. Pew Research found 35% of Instagram users visited the network multiple times a day in 2015. And nearly 60% of Instagram users admit to checking their feed at least once a day.

Think about how much you’d pay (or have paid) for advertising promising the same amount of viewership? While you’re likely not going to see 60% of Instagram users on your account, you have the chance to tap into this audience and build a name for your brand on the space.

You Build Trust

When you successfully craft your Instagram branding strategy, you gain a large amount of trust from your followers. Additional data from eMarketer showed 35% of social media users trust brands and are influenced by retailers.

While that number might seem low, influencing one-third of your social media followers through channels like Instagram can have serious payoffs. Instagram is the perfect place to showcase your branding, creativeness and visual aspect of your product or service.

With captivating images and videos, you show the true beauty in your products. Even businesses that don’t necessarily consider themselves “visually appealing” can provide insights into their trade.

For example, the packaging and tape manufacturer 3M does a fantastic job creating interesting visuals. This goes against the grain that “boring content” comes from “boring industries.” Instead, 3M posts content daily and receives approximately 200 engagements (such as likes, comments, views or shares) for each post.

You Drive Real Traffic to Your Site

Even though Instagram still only permits one link in your bio, that bridge to your site can mean everything. Your bio link should be updated regularly, especially if you want to drive users to specific landing pages.

As for your content, setting up well-planned and thought-out call-to-action phrases in your Instagram captions can make all the difference. Use actionable voices that don’t seem to salesy or over the top.

Track Your Most Valuable Instagram Analytics

With some of Instagram’s newest features, you now have the opportunity to check link clicks in the native platform. However, there’s no way to track, collaborate or view all of your Instagram analytics in one setting.

instagram integrations collaboration

This is why so many people trust Sprout Social as their go-to Instagram management tool. With Sprout you can easily view your overall Instagram engagement, hashtags mentioned with your name or trending hashtags in your industry.

Also, managing comments makes life easier for marketers and social media managers wanting to take their engagement even further. We’ll discuss the benefits of engagement on Instagram further down, but first let’s take a look at how Instagram branding can work for you.

Here are 11 ways to improve your Instagram branding efforts:

1. Focus on Getting Real Followers

According to a study performed by four Italian computer analysts, data showed approximately 8% of Instagram accounts act like spam bots. Additionally, after pulling data on more than 10.2 million Instagram accounts, roughly 30% were completely inactive or posted only once a day.

This means the rise in fake Instagrammers can harm the value of your marketing efforts when building an engaged audience. I’m looking at you, Instafollower_86.

However, don’t let these in-active, spammy bots deter you from building a real audience. You simply have to focus on getting real followers that are interested in your product or who are already customers.

vans engagement instagram

Don’t add followers just to have them, instead try to build relationships with users by acknowledging them in comments, posting user-generated content or responding to real questions.

Don’t Deceive Your Audience

With followers who comment, share and like, you have a valuable source of social media ROI. On the other hand, a brand account with 100,000 users and no interaction screams you got your followers unethically. This can be deceiving and ultimately hurt your brand.

Don’t risk it. Build your followers slowly and steadily. Try to post once and interact with at least 3 users a day. This will build loyalty, brand awareness and show other users you respond and care about customers.

While this might sound demanding, using Sprout Social’s Instagram management tools can easily help social teams respond to customers, track conversations and collaborate on engagement.

2. Place Your Emphasis on Beautiful Content

Beautiful, eye-catching content works on Instagram. This social network is all about visuals and using blank images with quotes will only take you so far. As a brand, you have the chance to truly engage with users. In fact, a Forrester report stated engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook and 84 times more than Twitter.

Your kind of nightlight. Cabela’s West Wind Tent. ⛺ 📷@sgknut

A photo posted by Cabela’s (@cabelas) on Jun 3, 2016 at 9:04am PDT

Follow Basic Photography Tips

Visuals simply engage users. And when they’re great, they get people to click and engage even more. If you’re not a professional photographer, that’s fine. But you have to learn some of the basics of photography to enhance photos:

  • Light is your best friend: One of the most challenging parts of photography is lighting. For your Instagram, try to add as much natural light as possible. Don’t use overhead lights because it creates shadows. Light from the side and add plenty of it. Bright images tend to “pop” and ultimately get more engagement.
  • Put your subject in the center: Your eyes always tend to gravitate to the point of interest in the middle. Make sure you focus your product or model in the center to take better photos. This helps structure the foreground and lead eyes toward the subject.
  • Think of how it will look on Instagram: Beautiful images use up all the space on a photo. However, you have to think of how images will look on Instagram and in others’ feeds. Work with your “square” and try to implement the rule of threes to make use of your image shape. Simply divide your image into nine smaller squares to see how each section makes up the entire image.
  • Find truly bold colors and defined shapes: This might seem easier said than done, but try to find colors that truly stand out. Bright blues, encapsulating reds, and enticing yellows will make you stand out among the rest. Additionally, look for unique shapes and standout lines to actually shape your image. These three things can make all the difference.
  • Get photo editing tools: If you can’t hire a design team to edit photos, try third party apps like Afterlight, VSCO and even Instagram’s native platform to make edits. Remember to not go too overboard with filters or editing settings. You’re trying to engage–not win first prize in a photography contest.

3. Post Content Your Audience Actually Likes

Now that we see how beautiful content engages users, you need to post images and videos that your audience actually likes. According to the Q3 Sprout Social Index, 86% of users want to (and actually do) follow brands on social media.

sprout q3 2016 index follow graph

As for your Instagram audience, they’re there to gain insights on products or services, get deals, or at the very least, be entertained by your visual content. This is why brands have to post content that caters to what their audience wants. But how do you find out what they’re into?

Get More Audience Insights

One of the fastest ways to get insights is to simply ask questions. Ask what kind of content your followers want and they’ll more than likely tell you. If you don’t want to ask, try using social media analytics tools to track engagement over each post.

engagement report

You can gain a ton of insights into social media content performance and see what your audience engages with more per post. For example, Champion drives more engagement because they know people like their vintage- and retro-style content.

Some looks never go out of style. 📸 @boyofftheting

A photo posted by Champion (@champion) on Apr 12, 2016 at 11:01am PDT

In fact, you can clearly see that when they post this type of content, it gains more traction and engagement. As you start your Instagram branding, dive deep into what your users want, and give it to them.

4. Create Your Own Style (Be Recognizable)

Increasing your visibility through Instagram branding needs a bit of creativity. This is why it’s critical to create your own style on the platform so people recognize you. If you look at any major Instagram brand account, you’ll notice something right away–there’s a clear concept or characteristic you can find right away.

anthropology example

For example, the apparel and home goods store Anthropologie has its own style on Instagram. The images all heavily rely on natural light. Even the dark image of the banquet hall uses natural light to draw attention. It’s not a coincidence it has the most engagement of any photo above.

harley-davidson instagram example

Another great brand on Instagram is Harley-Davidson. The iconic motorcycle company uses several wood, metal and other earthy tones. This draws attention to the engine and the mechanical characteristics of their bikes.

taco bell instagram example

Lastly, Taco Bell has made a name for itself in the marketing world due to its strong social presence. Taco Bell’s bright and vibrant colors often brand itself to younger consumers. Instagram is just one network where you’ll see this brand shine.

Before you start your Instagram branding strategy, look at some competitors in your industry and see how they fair on the network. Try to find your own style that speaks to your brand and audience. But remember originality is key, so just use other accounts for brainstorming.

5. Start a Hashtag Campaign

Hashtags make your brand searchable to build a bigger audience. And on Instagram, hashtags get people talking about your brand as you market your product or service. According to Simply Measured, of the most popular hashtags on Instagram, 70% are branded.

Most brands use about two hashtags per post and some are as simple as the brand name itself. For example, the burger chain Shake Shack uses #shakeshack in numerous posts on Instagram. Through these hashtags, the company promotes their brand and gains massive audience participation.

Stack ‘em up! Photo by @tinaaeats. #shakeshack #shackburger #chicknshack

A photo posted by SHAKE SHACK (@shakeshack) on Aug 25, 2016 at 7:00am PDT

Even though Shake Shack has only 303,000 followers, the hashtag #shakeshack is included in almost 500,000 posts. This is why it’s smart to start a hashtag campaign. Whether you’re simply trying to get more people familiar with your brand name or you’re running a campaign, hashtags help.

Hashtags are a great way to get people involved with your business. And it’s one of the best ways to build your Instagram brand from scratch. Need help tracking these hashtags? Try using Sprout Social’s Instagram analytics tools and reports to see what hashtags are being used the most across the platform.

sprout social instagram hashtag reporting

6. Avoid Hard-Selling Language

Instagram’s biggest age range is 18 to 29 year olds. On top of that, this age group is typically the most cynical and hesitant to brands on social media. According to research from Initiative, 30% of millennials in the US (40% in UK) are hesitant or skeptical of the way marketers brand to them.

This means the majority of users can smell crummy used-car salesmen marketing tactics a mile away. Don’t try to pull a fast one on your biggest audience. Instead, try to speak with honest, open and frank captions. The more you try to sell, the likelier you’ll push away buyers.

Two words, Cold Brew.

A video posted by Intelligentsia Coffee (@intelligentsiacoffee) on Aug 9, 2016 at 4:31am PDT

As we mentioned earlier, great images or videos allow users to decide on your product or service themselves. But a great Instagram caption can push users to learn more. Don’t skip your captions because with the new Instagram algorithm, getting seen is a bit harder.

On the other hand, your captions should get to the point and have the most important details toward the front. Just because you have 2,220 characters to use, doesn’t mean you should use all or even a fraction of that. Practice brevity and use great calls to action that get to the point and drive users to read more.

  • Pro Tip: Spark users’ interests with content you know works. Look at your most successful and engaged posts and then think of the language that drives that content. There’s a reason those posts work. Pique users’ curiosity with well-written and straight-to-the-point text.

7. Cross Promote Your Instagram

For many marketers, Instagram is likely your second or third social media channel to tackle. If you’ve already built a nice-sized audience on another channel, use it to promote your Instagram.

It’s hard to find ads these days that don’t include at least a business Twitter handle or Facebook link. Instagram is getting more popular to share across networks because it can break up the style of content you typically push on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Looking for some home design inspiration? Check us out on Instagram: https://t.co/R1TNh3i6Vi pic.twitter.com/vlcQPVBq42

— Zoopla (@Zoopla) August 26, 2016

Use your other social media channels to cross promote and build your Instagram brand. Even though some naysayers believe cross promoting your social channels hurts traffic, there’s a lot more benefits than negatives.

In fact, cross promoting your accounts helps you drive customers further down the funnel. By cross promoting, you provide a social media outlet for whichever one your audience likes the most.

Not only does cross promotion funnel customers, it provides you with different sources to market content. As we’ve discussed, there are several benefits to Instagram branding, but some will argue having one link in the bio makes it hard to funnel customers further.

Bring the velvet trend home. Click link in bio to shop! #homedecor #blue #velvet

A photo posted by Crate and Barrel (@crateandbarrel) on Aug 23, 2016 at 4:43pm PDT

That’s why it’s great to cross promote your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to build bigger audiences and ultimately give customers a choice on where to view your content.

8. Showcase User-Generated Content

User-generated content on Instagram is big business for brands. A Bazaarvoice study on UGC and millennials discovered 84% of the age group are at least somewhat influenced by this type of content while making a purchasing decision.

Like we mentioned before, only 35% of social media users trust bands. This means 65% have hesitations and UGC can help break down that wall while building your brand on Instagram. UGC on Instagram can include:

  • Account takeovers
  • Contest winners
  • Celebrity content
  • Influencer reviews
  • Everyday users with your brand or service

It’s important to be cautious with UGC. You want to ask users before using their content on your site to avoid any legal trouble. Secondly, account takeovers can actually drive your audience away if you’re not cautious about who’s posting (and how much) on your feed.

As you begin your Instagram branding process, try to think of ways that can get more people to your site. Just remember to avoid irrelevant contests that award random prizes. You don’t want to seem needy for followers. Instead, build trust by sharing posts, joining conversation and all-around engaging.

9. Make Sure Everything is Cohesive

Brands put a lot of emphasis on cohesive advertising. You don’t want to market to the wrong demographic or seem inconsistent with other advertisements. The same sentiment applies to social media as well.

On Instagram, your brand should be cohesive across all posts. If you use any text or logos on your images and videos, make sure it meets your own brand guidelines. Don’t discredit your brand guidelines on Instagram and make sure your colors, fonts and overall aesthetic match everything else in your company branding.

freshii instagram example

Freshii’s Instagram consistently pushes the idea of “green” eating. It’s relative across nearly all their posts. Themes like this truly work to build an aesthetic for your Instagram branding.

When you’re getting started on Instagram, don’t rush or hurry your posts. Make sure you have others approve your content so everyone agrees it’s on brand and coherent. Being off brand in the beginning could really slow down your Instagram branding strategy.

10. Test Everything

As you begin your journey on Instagram, you should always be testing to improve your content. For example, on this network alone, you could test:

  • Bio links
  • Hashtags
  • Post captions
  • Instagram filters
  • Call to actions
  • Types of content (video or images)
  • Post apps (Boomerang, Hyperlapse, etc.)

While it might seem like too much work, finding the right balance of content could push you from 10,000 to 100,000 followers. Instagram trends are constantly changing, which means you have to be ready to see if the “new” thing works for your brand.

instagram analytics report

By using Sprout Social, you can track audience engagement, hashtags and comments that revolve around your Instagram. Find out what works best and continue to shape your brand on Instagram.

11. Engage, Engage, Engage!

We can’t recommend this enough, but monitoring your Instagram can set your brand apart on the social network. Responding to customer comments, questions or concerns shows your audience you’re human and helpful.

In fact, the 2016 Q2 Sprout Social Index discovered almost 35% of customers prefer to reach out to brands via social media. This beats out 1-800 numbers, email and the dreaded customer service phone calls.

Take advantage of Sprout Social’s Instagram tracking and monitoring tools to manage multiple accounts in a single inbox. See where your customers are tagging and track conversations for future discussions or concerns.

The conversation is moving more toward social media each day. With the rise of Instagram, make sure your brand is there and ready to communicate. Your payoff could be tremendous by following a few simple Instagram branding tips.

Have any recommendations? Feel free to comment below!

This post 11 Ways to Jumpstart Your Instagram Branding originally appeared on Sprout Social.

25 Tools for Social Media Marketers

ms-social-media-tools-600

Want to simplify your daily social media marketing tasks? Looking for a list of helpful apps and tools? The right apps can make a world of difference in the life of a busy social media marketer. In this article, you’ll discover 25 of the top tools and apps shared on the Social Media Marketing podcast. […]

This post 25 Tools for Social Media Marketers first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

9 Ways to Work Celebrations Into Your Social Media Marketing

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Looking for a new way to connect with your audience? Wondering how to publish posts that generate strong engagement? Most marketers plan to post on national holidays, but forget to include some unique and fun days that might appeal more directly to their followers. In this article, you’ll discover nine holidays and observances to add […]

This post 9 Ways to Work Celebrations Into Your Social Media Marketing first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

8 Big Changes To LinkedIn Groups That Will Enhance Your Social

6 Big Changes To LinkedIn Groups That Will Enhance Your Social

It’s no secret that LinkedIn is the number one social networking site for B2B Marketers.

Given the network’s user base of over 380 million and the fact that it’s a source of 80% of B2B social media leads, LinkedIn’s prominence in the B2B industry will not change any time soon.

So if and when LinkedIn makes a necessary change it is important that organizations make a note.

LinkedIn has made more than 2 million discussion groups private, a major step in the social network’s efforts towards improving the quality and professional nature of membership groups.

The move here was based on feedback of LinkedIn groups who craved real connections with peers and industry leaders helping them learn and grow.

Along with making the groups private, LinkedIn has also introduced several other changes that warrant a closer look for any brand making strides and gaining social presence on the network.

Here are the eight changes to LinkedIn groups that B2B marketers need to be aware of.

1. Groups have been designed with new features and fresh looks

new feature and look for groups for changes to Linkedin groups

LinkedIn members now can add images to their posts and mention other users they have in the group. Organizations believe that these changes can easily cut down on clutter, spam and promotional content within groups.

The navigation panel is simple and LinkedIn has significantly increased the amount of open space on the pages. The changes shown are among the most notable tweaks of LinkedIn groups.

2. Privacy of groups mean they won’t be indexed by search engines
privacy of groups for changes to Linkedin groups

The information that is generally shared on LinkedIn groups won’t be sharable via Google or any other search engine.

This exclusivity will increase the value of conversations held in different groups, followed by the fact that new ideas and strategies shared among members will be known to the ones who are a part of the group.

This major change will help B2B marketers establish thought leadership, showcasing knowledge that can lead prospective clients and customers to come back and check their company page, employee profiles and marketing collateral.

3. Group members will now be vetted

group members are now vetted for changes to Linkedin groups

In order to join any LinkedIn group you need to make sure that your credentials are updated.

Having a professional image is a must, as well as having a fully fleshed out profile so that group administrators can assess how well they fit into their community. This generally works out positive for marketers who have spent deliberate time in optimizing their company profiles.

4. Changes for open groups

As an admin of a formerly open group, remember that your discussions can be seen on the web and shared among other social networking sites.

You need to have a bit of control on whoever has joined the group and what posts have been published.

Here are the changes for open groups:

  • If your group has a sub group, then they are no longer considered to be the subgroups but regular groups. You will likely have to rename your subgroups along with the links to the old subgroups in the about us section of your LinkedIn group.
  • Conversations won’t be public and are now no longer searchable, which will again mean that more people will want to post and comment since they feel safer. On the other hand you will get far less eyes on the discussions compared to before since the comments and discussions were the only thing that were first visible to the group.

5. New app available for LinkedIn groups

new app available for LinkedIn group for changes to Linkedin groups

LinkedIn has released a stand alone group app, just for iOS with the android version in the pipeline.

Searching for various groups will not be possible through the app, but you can participate in discussions through the app followed by a new algorithm suggesting new groups just for you based on your profile and past interactions.

The new app will appeal to users who constantly engage in discussions whether on the go or in office. Leveraging the convenience of this mobile app and staying ahead of your engagement opportunities as a part of your social monitoring approach.

6. You can now recruit talent without distracting a group

groups help to recruit talent without distracting groups for changes to Linkedin groups

There is a new tab made available within LinkedIn groups for various discussions related to job opportunities. The job seekers can approach hiring managers and other relevant individuals about job opportunities they are having separately, without distracting the quality and focus of the other individuals in the groups.

Having the job conversations being moved away from pure discussions, your insightful and influential messages will continue to compete less with the personal interests of some other group members.

7. Spammers will be put into the naughty corner spammers in naughty box for for changes to Linkedin groups

From now onwards anyone who is perceived to be spamming the group will be relegated to a penalty box, or indeed booted out of the group altogether.

This privilege of acting against spammers not only extends to the group manager but to all the other group members as well.

Yes that’s right, any group member will now have the power to report or remove conversations that they believe don’t meet the guidelines of LinkedIn, and can even block the person who makes these comments.

8. Discussions are now called conversations

conversations for changes to Linkedin groups

Every conversation that you have on LinkedIn will now be published automatically without any approval from the manager of the group. However the manager of a LinkedIn group can still remove the post, marking specific people as required in moderation. 

Wrap

There have been issues with LinkedIn groups for quite a long time now. And these changes will be exciting only for those marketers who are already leveraging LinkedIn’s power in the social landscape.

Now is the time for you to revisit your LinkedIn strategy using these new features and enhance your brands social presence.

What are your experiences with these changes made to LinkedIn groups? Better, worse or the same?

Guest Author: Jenni is VP from Ampliz who focused on business solutions. She writes more about current Marketing trends also she helps entrepreneurs to manage their sales and marketing through Email verification services.

The post 8 Big Changes To LinkedIn Groups That Will Enhance Your Social appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.