Posting on Instagram Every Day | Resourceful Business

Social Media: What I Learned By Posting on Instagram Every Day

At the beginning of April, I set myself a challenge. 

For one year, I decided to create a daily post on our company’s Instagram page. The post could be an image, video or carousel, but it had to be custom-created and relevant to our industry–digital marketing. To keep it simple, I decided to focus on only one social media platform, Instagram, but I would also add the post to Facebook. I chose 7 pm each evening as the posting time, and I decided there would be absolutely no social ad spend on the post. Any engagement would be strictly organic.

I have been surprised at what has happened since I began posting daily on Instagram, so I thought I would share. My experience confirms what we all have long suspected or perhaps known. When it comes to social media, consistency is of the utmost importance and posting consistently has ripple effects well beyond social media. 

With five months of daily Instagram posts under my belt, here is what I learned (so far) by posting on Instagram every day

1. I found my voice

When you have to put a post together every day, you stop overthinking the creation process. If you know your trade, there are plenty of topics your audience or clients want to learn. I stopped considering whether my post was interesting enough, creative enough, colorful enough. I found my voice when writing copy each day and just presented something simple, interesting and business-related that I was thinking about or had recently read. 

2. I learned and learned and learned

One of my favorite concepts, pioneered by Gary Vaynerchuk, is “Document, don’t create.” When you are producing a lot of content–as you will when you post every day–you can’t make it up. If you are a practitioner in social media, you are immersed in your field each day. Documenting something interesting or valuable that you are working on or thinking about is not hard. Trying to come up with a creative post when you don’t have the background to talk about the subject matter is hard. 

3. I thought about my business every single day

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that business owners don’t think about their companies each day. Certainly, they do. However, putting a post together about your industry or field each day is a different type of mindfulness. It’s not about whether you ran your payroll. It’s about a challenge you may be facing, a thought-starter that made you pause or something that keeps you up at night. 

client meeting

4. I put myself in my clients’ shoes

Creating a social media post each day made me really think about our clients. I put myself in their shoes. What would they want to know from me as someone who is involved in social media each day? If we were sitting in a meeting, what questions might they ask me or struggles would they tell me about in their day-to-day business? I tried to think about whether my post for the next day would have practical utility and value-add for them. 

5. I learned a new video marketing tool 

One tool that I needed to learn which was on my to-do list was wave.video. Canva had always been my go-to tool, and it offers a simple video creation feature. However, given that I had 365 posts ahead of me when I started in April, I decided to tackle wave.video because it would allow me to create more complex videos for our Instagram feed. The versatility of wave.video was such that I was able to cancel the subscription my company had to a paid stock photo library. Wave.video has its own library of images and stock videos. Plus, it has a user-friendly video editing tool. You can even add music to your videos, and now I have learned it and can tick off that box.  

6. I discovered interesting people and businesses to follow on social media

I love podcasts. I have a full library of regular programs I listen to about digital marketing. Knowing that I had to create a social media post each day, I became more disciplined at listening to a variety of podcasts. After each one, I would follow the person that was featured or interviewed. I discovered so many talented people in my field and thought leaders. Now, I follow these people and learn via my own social media feed as they put up their posts on their feeds. 

posting on Instagram every day

7. People started visiting my LinkedIn profile

In following more people in the digital marketing space on social media plus posting more on Instagram, I noticed that many more people started viewing my LinkedIn profile. Not only that, but the seniority of people in the industry that were looking at my LinkedIn profile went up too. So, both the quality and quantity of LinkedIn profile views went up for me. 

8. My website blogs received more views

Similar to the increased visibility on LinkedIn, our company blog saw more views and engagement on our website. Now, there are more regular comments on the blogs. Even older blogs seem to be getting some renewed attention. The quality of the comments is interesting too. Posting regularly on Instagram attracted a focused audience, and in fact, exactly the type of audience my company would want. 

9. I began to understand the value of Direct Messages (DMs)

It dawned on me that social media opens up an entirely new level of connectivity. In following more people in my field, I had questions on occasion based on a podcast that I had listened to or article I had read. Instagram Direct Messages, or DMs, allow the sender to message another person on Instagram. Think how challenging that task would be before DMs were around. I learned to DM industry thought leaders if I had a question they may be able to answer, and it was neat to be able to ask other professionals for their insights even though we had never met. Plus, they answered me. 

10. I learned about Instagram Stories

Across the many social media platforms my company utilizes for clients, I don’t think there is anything quite like Instagram Stories. The sticker feature, which allows you to interact with people who have seen the Story, is unique. Stories have the right balance of authenticity, brevity and creativity. It’s no wonder they are so popular and fun, and I became facile at using them alongside my daily Instagram posts.

So, now you have 10 things I learned while immersed in my personal challenge of posting on my company’s Instagram page (@resourceful_business) every single day. It’s been 5 months, and I still have 7 more months to go. I am sure I will have 10 more things to share when I am over the finish line. 


search-friendly blog

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly?

It’s no wonder almost everyone seems to be blogging these days. WordPress.com estimates that there are 56 million new blog posts and almost 47 million new comments on those posts hosted on its network every month. The numbers would be larger if they included blogs outside the WordPress.com network. Even more staggering – these blogs are reaching 409 million people every month.

As if writing compelling blog content wasn’t difficult enough, the sheer number of blogs being written have created a monumental challenge – writing a blog people can actually find. In the midst of 56 million other blogs posted each month, businesses are struggling to position their blog so it can reach more people. Luckily, there are a few search marketing tips that can help.

Here are 10 ways to make a blog more search-friendly:

1. Create a blog title that “speaks” to your audience

Bloggers know to craft blog titles which incorporate keywords used in the content. However, voice search is starting to change the rules of search engine optimization (SEO) and may impact the way blog titles are written. A recent Google blog reported, “…mobile voice searches more than doubled in the past year,” and when people use voice search, they typically ask questions as if they are having a conversation. So, keywords are still important in a blog title, but the title should also be conducive to how someone might ask a question and use key prompts such as what, when, where, why and who.

2. Ask a question in the blog title

In the title, if you can capture a question your audience is asking, natural next steps for them are to want the answer to that question and read the blog. For this reason, blog titles with questions get a higher click-through rate than titles without questions. This format also gives the blog practical utility; in other words, it fills an information void for the reader and becomes a must-read blog, not just a nice to read one.

blogs with a number in the title

3. Put a number in your blog title

People are more inclined to click on a blog title with a number. Why? Hubspot suggests three reasons:

  • Readers perceive the content to be more actionable because it has a list of steps, actions, lessons, or tips.
  • The blog is more easily scanned, and readers know they can jump in and read just part of the piece.
  • Numbers in the title also give the reader a clue as to the length of the blog.

4. Keep the blog title length within guidelines

Although it may be tempting to write whatever title suits the blog, ultimately a lengthy title will be truncated in the Google search snippet. When the title is too long, Google algorithms will cut off some of the text and put ellipses, the three dots at the end. Write a short, punchy title that includes your keyword(s), and when possible, leave room for the business name which WordPress will add in for you. Edit your title in your content management system and use a handy tool to help, such as the one offered by Moz. I have amended the title tag for this blog, for example, to show:

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly?

Left unedited, it would appear:

What are 10 Ways to Make a Blog More Search-Friendly? | R…

5. Segment the blog using subheads

Segmenting a blog is essential. It is visually easier to read a blog that is broken into smaller, more consumable pieces. Most people are short on time, so they scan a blog and read the subheads first to see if anything piques their interest. They provide different points that may entice the reader to jump in partway through the blog.

Subheads are also key elements of the blog hierarchy and are searchable. They provide another opportunity to use keywords. So, well-written subheads allow readers and search engines more chances to find essential aspects of your content.

6. Use tags to give the blog content hierarchy

Some content in a blog is more important than others. The blog title is more important than the subhead titles; the subhead titles are more important than the paragraph text below them. Hierarchy is a slightly technical aspect of blogging, but both essential to understand and easily accomplished! Tag the blog title as Heading 1 or H1 if your platform does not automatically do so, and tag subhead titles Heading 2 or H2 in the content management system to denote their importance in the blog. You can find the Heading 1, Heading 2 tags in the Paragraph drop-down menu in WordPress.

7. Add alternative text to your images

Images are an excellent way to break up longform content like a blog. They can also help make the blog search-friendly and optimize SEO. Content management systems have an image field labeled “alt text,” which stands for alternative text, and it allows you to write a few words that describe the image. Alt text is shown if someone viewing the blog utilizes a device which cannot show the image. It is also picked up in search and provides another opportunity to use relevant keywords that bring people back to your blog.

tags and categories in a blog

8. Label a blog with carefully considered categories and tags

Blogs should be assigned relevant categories and tags. Both are organizing systems, or taxonomies, which allow the reader to search for blogs by topic. My favorite explanation of the difference is by Morten Rand-Hendriksen. He describes categories as the broad system that allows the grouping of similar types of content, and there can be hierarchical relationships between categories. Tags, on the other hand, have no relationship to other tags but rather can help identify content areas covered in the blog. An example he uses is a person’s closet. Jackets, pants and skirts are the equivalent of categories. You probably group your clothes in this way in the closet. Information such as dry clean only, 100% cotton, or made in the USA would be tags. People wouldn’t organize their closet by the tags, but tags represent useful information nevertheless.

9. Err on the side of simplicity for the blog writing style

By some estimates, the average reading level in the United States is equivalent to that of a 7th or 8th grader, and it’s a statistic worth keeping in mind when writing a blog. In an interesting article that looked at the effect of complex writing on readership, Shane Snow found that simpler blogs get more reach and argued, “…we should aim to reduce complexity in our writing as much as possible…. Our readers will comprehend and retain our ideas more reliably. And we’ll have a higher likelihood of reaching more people.”

Some SEO plugins include a reading ease score for exactly this reason. Readability is a ranking factor in search, but it is unclear that simplicity just for simplicity’s sake has distinct advantages, especially if the content really is about a complex topic. Therefore, align the writing complexity to the content and err on the side of simplicity for more widespread reach.

10. Use bullet points in your blog

In 2015, Google confirmed that for the first time in the US, more Google searches were done on mobile devices than computers. The shift means that more content will be consumed on mobile devices as well, and that content includes blogs. Bullet points are an important construct in the new mobile paradigm because they:

  • break content into easily consumable bits
  • can be formatted to highlight keywords or concepts
  • are viewed favorably in search algorithms
  • can be easily scanned by the reader
  • are mobile-friendly
  • visually break up paragraph style longform blogs

So, in addition to creating well-written content, take the time to learn how to structure your blog in a way that can be more easily picked up in search. There are beginner’s guides to get you started, and as the WordPress.com statistics show, blogging is well worth the effort and a viable way to reach your audience. Follow our 10 tips for a more search-friendly blog and one that can stand apart in a very crowded field.

If you’re struggling to write a monthly post or have no idea how to optimize it, we can assist you! Contact us at (973) 218-6558 or email team@resourcefulbusiness.com. We can help you with your blogging and make it search-friendly too!

crowded digital marketing space

Stand Out in a Crowded Digital Marketing Space: 3 Ways To Rise Above the Noise of Your Competition

By Chris R. Benjamin, Guest Blogger

Companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated about digital marketing and the need for high-quality communications in the digital space. That means more competition than ever before, in just about every industry.

With your target audience already being reached through sharp content marketing and carefully-cultivated relationships, how can you make room for your messages to be heard? The answer is to make your marketing messages stand out.

Here are 3 strategies that you can employ in order to be heard “above the noise,” even when you can’t seem to get a word in edgewise.

1. Get the timing right

There’s a lot to be said for delivering your marketing messages at the right time. By paying close attention to your target market’s habits—that is, how they use social media, what they do online, and when they search for the solutions you can provide—you can learn the best times to hit “publish” on your blog, or make snappy posts and announcements on social outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

 Some solid research exists on the right time of day to execute content on various platforms:

Belle Beth Cooper of social automation app Buffer reports that the average blog receives the most traffic on Mondays (out of all other days of the week) and at 11am (out of all other times of day. Most comments on blogs are made on Saturdays, and around 9am regardless of day.

Jason Keath, CEO of Social Fresh, reports some interesting data from Shareaholic: Social sharing happens more on Thursday than any other day of the week, followed by Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays. 27% of content sharing happens between 8am and 12pm.

If you’re just starting to form your content strategy, you might start out by making your blog and social media posts around the times suggested above. Later on, once you have a dedicated following, you can look at your own data to discern the optimal times for content publication.

How to stand out: Using the broad statistical data or your own metrics, construct a content schedule you will stick to, testing and refining as you go along. If you get your content out to your audience when they’re most likely to be looking for, engaging with, and sharing it, you will catch many more eyes than your less time-conscious competitors.

2. Segment your market

One of the defining characteristics of successful companies is that they know their market intimately. The more deeply you understand your customers’ specific wishes, fears, and needs, the better you’ll be able to convince them that your solution is the right one.

First, compose a sketch of your audience. Things to consider include age, sex, location, beliefs, education, and personality. With those factors in mind, visit the forums your ideal users frequent and take note of popular discussion topics. Use tools such as the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to see how often relevant words and phrases come up. You’ll then be able to write blogs and social media posts that instantly arouse interest.

Need some more insight? Conduct a survey. Send out an email to your subscribers asking them what their greatest hurdles are, and then construct content around the answers you get.

How to stand out: Get to know your audience and speak to them directly through your content. Answer their questions. Ask them to share their experiences and stories with you. Become intimately familiar with what drives your followers and respond to their deepest needs, and you’ll gain the coveted access to their trust.

3. Infuse Your Messages with Creativity and Novelty

It’s a fact. Humans are fascinated by items that are “out of the ordinary.” Capturing their attention and redirecting it towards a practical solution is exactly how you’ll make a lasting impression.

First, think about your brand. A strong Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is one way you can set yourself apart the moment a new prospective customer encounters it. Consider what your brand says that’s different from anything else out there. What remarkable results can you alone (or, your company alone) deliver? Define your USP succinctly, and then build content around it.

Creativity can also involve providing a new perspective. It can mean:

  • Bringing up a hot-button issue in your industry and offering a unique take on how to solve the problem.
  • Being humorous in a way that’s not too abstract, but that connects your brand with a new sense of how your product can enhance lives.
  • Hosting contests on social media to create excitement and buzz surrounding your brand.

How to stand out: Identify the one (or two) things that your company is in a unique position to accomplish for your target market, and develop or refine your USP around those points. With that as a launching pad, think outside of the box to get your audience to see you, and the rest of their own world, in a new light.

Put all of the above together, and you’ll create a complete experience for your target audience—one in which they see you as a thought-leader who’s immediately responsive to their needs, wherever they happen to be in your sales cycle. Engage with your customers at the right times, in their language, and with interactions that intrigue them, and you’ll have no problem rising above the competition—both today and for the foreseeable future.


Chris R. Benjamin is a New York City-based freelance writer who specializes in the topics of digital marketing, small business development, and applied psychology, among others. See more of his work at BennyTheWriter.com.

Leverage the Inbound Marketing Traffic from your Blog

Motivating companies to organize a blog for their website can be challenging. Often the management of the company do not see the value of it, there is no one who really wants to write it, and the cost of an outside blogger can be expensive. It’s hard. The true marketing power of blogging begins with creative, original content. A great blog can drive visitor traffic back to your website, especially if you understand a little about on-page search engine optimization (SEO) and inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is the ideation, creation and sharing of content with the goal of increasing traffic to your website. Both the content and the target audience should be strategically planned. Inbound marketing only works when you figure out the right content and get it to the right people. There is no better vehicle than a great blog. You wonder whether traditional marketing campaigns can achieve the same results? Not if you know how to leverage the inbound marketing traffic from your blog. Here’s how.

social media

1. Send your blog link out with social media

Use social media to get the word out about your blog. Keep the headline short, around 60 characters. Link the headline to your blog so that people can click-through to your website blog page. If you are using WordPress, make sure to choose a Featured Image for the blog and upload it so that the social media networks populate the picture along with your blog. See our recent blog on the importance of imagery, Why You Must Fix Your Company’s Social Media Imagery and How.

email

2. Add a link to your email signature with your blog

Each time you send an email, take the opportunity to share your blog. Throw in your company name as well and then link it back to the blog on your website. You can place the blog link right below your regular signature.

Name
Title at ABC Company
Contact Details at ABC Company
ABC Company is blogging about Really Neat Topic

 

long tail keywords

3. Include keywords and long tail keywords in your blog

In the main copy of the blog, include keywords or tags, which best describe the important concepts in your blog. Think search. What themes are you talking about and what words might someone use to search for these topic areas? Find long tail keywords, or longer phrases that are specific to your topic, and include those as well as they can attract a more targeted audience. There are several free keyword suggest applications like Wordstream’s Free Keyword Tool, which you can use to research the best keywords and long tail keywords.

4. Use image tags

Images are a powerful tool that can drive engagement for your website. Website pictures have image tags. After choosing great photos for your blog, ensure that you have written alternative text or “Alt Text” for each image used. Alt Text is read by text bots, and image tags identify your picture, which increases the chances of it being displayed in search. The effective use of Alt Text is often overlooked, and it can drive traffic back to your website by optimizing images in search.

5. Segment with Subheadings

Partition the blog into core points or themes and use subheads. Each of those subheads can include keywords and phrases that explain the main points of your blog. The phrases should be identified as Heading 3 or Heading 4, a technical attribute which gives the headline more weight in search. When your blog is shared in social media, the subheadings can be used as talking points and sent out as separate headlines on social media with links back to the blog.

Hopefully, you have been persuaded that a blog is not just a digital platform to put your thoughts in writing. Rather, it is a powerful inbound marketing tool that can leverage traffic back to your website where you can share your expertise. You can educate potential customers on common questions and showcase the services of your business. In the call to action, you can encourage a dialogue and hopefully gain a new customer!

If you are ready to leverage the inbound marketing traffic of your blog but feel you could still use some assistance, email us, or call (973) 218-6558 today.

 

personal brand

Why a Personal Brand has Become a Marketing Must

Small businesses come in all shapes and sizes. Your company might even be just one person – you! Although you may have never really thought about it, you do have a personal brand which can be one of your most important marketing tools. A personal brand is your reputation, your experience, your approach to business and how you conduct yourself when working with clients or colleagues. It determines how you are perceived by others and whether people trust you.

Answering e-mails in a timely fashion, returning phone calls promptly, showing up to meetings on time and even how you dress are all components of a personal brand. It is imperative to convey it thoughtfully and consistently across websites, social media, blogs and personal interactions. Most importantly, your personal brand must reflect who you really are, not what you believe the market demands.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, a personal brand has become a marketing must. If you don’t have one, here are some steps to help you get started.

Compile your past experience and see what strikes you about it

When building your personal brand, start by making a list and make sure to include all of your volunteer work, board positions, outside coursework or hobbies and anything that defines you as an interesting person. Look for patterns in your work, education and activities. If you are always volunteering for a certain charity or work in a particular field, these interests are the start of your personal brand. Pull out two or three and feature them in your marketing strategy. Build a LinkedIn profile while doing it!

Consider how you would like to be perceived by your clients

If you want to be viewed as a thought leader in your field, you should have a professionally branded blog page which frames the key aspects of your experience. Blog and create original, timely content at least once a month. If it is important for you to be looked at as tech savvy, then develop a social media strategy and presence with branded backgrounds, banners and professionally photographed profile pictures to convey your abilities and understanding in this area. Link your social media account to your blog page with stylish icons that further reflect your personal brand.

Develop consistency in your branding

If you are a solopreneur, then don’t be afraid to blog as “I” or present yourself as an individual when building your personal brand. If you are part of a team, then make sure to differentiate your personal brand from that of the team and define areas that highlight your skills as opposed to those of the team. Whether it be in your website copy, social media or blog, stay consistent and remain “I” or “we,” otherwise clients will become confused.

Create an online presence and reference your brand in the domain name

One of the critical components of creating a personal brand is deciding how people will search for you online. If you have developed a business that centers around your expertise in an area and plan to blog, for example, your domain name might be your name, www.yourname.com. Also, if your network of contacts is from business school or college, classmates may search for you by name; or if your business is a consultancy, a blog that uses a domain with your name may be an excellent choice. However, if you plan to operate under a business name, your domain should reflect the business name and then define your personal brand under an About page on the website instead.

blogging builds your personal brand

Create valuable, original content by writing a blog

Whatever your field of interest, take the time to build your personal brand by writing original content and posting it in a blog. Brand the blog and choose a platform like WordPress which can be optimized for search and tailored to reflect your personal style and image. Make sure your blog has a headshot on the page or you have uploaded an avatar (the small profile picture associated with your blogs or comments), so people can associate your face with your name. If possible, tie in the domain name to boost your personal brand.

Market your personal brand on social media

Social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have a wealth of choices to market your personal brand like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. On the other hand, people often start social media accounts and then neglect them, so social media can become a negative aspect of your personal brand. Creating a social media presence that reflects your personal brand takes time and effort, so allocate the time to build it and engage with it or have a content marketing firm do it for you. See my recent blog, Stop Ruining Your Business with Social Media.

Do you need help creating a personal brand?

At Resourceful Business, we can assist you in developing and defining your personal brand, help convey it effectively on your website and social media or even help with blog writing so your personal brand comes through with consistency. Contact us to learn more.