5 Reasons You Must Create Instagram Stories for Your Business | Resourceful Business

5 Reasons You Must Create Instagram Stories for Your Business

Social media content is rapidly evolving.  

Back in August 2016, Instagram launched Stories to compete with Snapchat Stories. Stories were meant to help capture the daily activities of Instagram’s now more than 1 billion users worldwide, and unlike posts, Stories are short-lived–disappearing in 24 hours.

By January 2019, Instagram stories had grown in popularity to over 500 million daily active users (DAU), meaning half of Instagram’s daily users are on Stories every day. With important, interactive features and a less formal type of content, Instagram Stories have become essential for businesses that use Instagram marketing.

Here are 5 reasons you must create Instagram stories for your business:

Instagram Story stickers

Reason 1: Instagram Stories have interactive stickers

With Instagram Stories, you can add a sticker. Unlike Instagram posts, stickers allow users to tap and interact with your Story in creative ways. There are many types of stickers available including:

  • Donation
  • Quiz
  • Countdown
  • Questions
  • Music
  • Poll or Emoji Slider
  • Location
  • Hashtag
  • Current Time or Weather
  • Selfie

As an example, suppose you are thinking about keeping your business open late one evening of the week. You wonder whether your customers would come. You can create an Instagram Story and add an emoji slider with a thumbs up emoji. Ask, “Do you want us to stay open late one evening?” Customers that see your Instagram Story can slide the emoji to the right if they like the idea, and you get feedback directly from your customers.

Reason 2: Instagram Stories are more informal than posts

There is an analogy used by Bella Vasta, a Facebook Group keynote speaker, which she uses to explain the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook Group, and the same analogy applies to Instagram posts and Instagram Stories. Bella equates a Facebook page to the front yard of a house–formal and public. Similarly, Instagram posts have a more formal, curated look and feel.

A home’s backyard is the Facebook group – a gathering of people with something in common, informal, more personal and friendly. Likewise, Instagram Stories are the backyard–informal and personal.

The value of Instagram Stories is they give a business tremendous versatility in how it can present content with some reserved for the more formal Instagram page and other content posted in Stories. Another unique feature of Stories worth mentioning is that unlike posts, you can add to your Stories. So, if your business is attending an event, your followers can watch a Story and see new additions to the Story while you are there.

Instagram Story Highlights

Reason 3: Instagram Story Highlights can help cultivate unique audiences

According to Instagram Business, 80% of Instagram accounts follow a brand. Not surprisingly, Instagram users look for Instagram Stories shared by their favorite brands, and Stories have a feature called Highlights – the circles that appear across the top of an Instagram page. These Highlights can be divided into content-related categories that are relevant for your business, and when Stories are added to Highlights, they do not disappear in 24 hours. One of our favorite Story Highlights categories is “Inspo” because we like to see what people in a company are reading, thinking about or doing for inspiration.

Here are some Highlights examples:

  • A hair salon may highlight different haircut styles
  • A retail store may highlight different seasonal clothing styles
  • A blogger may highlight different blog categories

Businesses should establish relevant Highlights categories so followers can discover new content in their areas of interest. Whereas Instagram pages do not allow partitioning of content by topic, Stories do via Highlights. Using Highlights effectively will allow a brand to cultivate unique subsets of their audience based on their content preferences.

Instagram describes its stories product as a way to promote the sharing of moments that don’t meet the higher bar of a traditional Instagram post. The Verge

Reason 4: Instagram Stories re-enforce the business brand

An Instagram Story can serve as an extension of a brand’s footprint on Instagram. As with websites or social media posts, Instagram Stories should have a hint of the company’s brand guidelines – colors, fonts, tag lines. People that see Instagram Stories should recognize familiar aspects associated with the brand. Whether it’s a cameo of everyone’s favorite furry mascot in the office or a behind-the-scenes look at the setup for an event,  Instagram Stories give people a feel for the soul of the business while subtly reinforcing the brand.

marketing with Instagram Stories

Reason 5: Instagram Stories focus on moments and encourage sharing

An Instagram Story can reflect the little moments that occur throughout the day, and people love to feel part of someone’s journey. Instagram posts, on the other hand, allow businesses to build their brand’s presence in a more systematic way, include thoughtful written copy, tags, and imagery. When it comes to Instagram business pages, viewers expect a carefully curated feed that looks aesthetically pleasing.

Stories, in contrast, are spontaneous and current. The concept behind Stories is that people will want to capture moments and share them. Stories are ephemeral, and Facebook, which owns Instagram, hopes users will actively create content that is personal, relatable and captures the moment.

Great for branding, audience targeting and connecting with your tribe, Instagram Stories are a must for your social media marketing toolkit. If you’re interested in creating an Instagram Story strategy but don’t know where to start, contact us.

Social Media: How Much Do You Actually Know?

Social Media: How Much Do You Actually Know?

Social media marketing can be transformative for a business’ bottom line, but doing it well takes time, perseverance and skill. Sometimes a growing business gets caught off guard when it’s time to hand over the reins and get some assistance with social media.

Answer the following 10 questions in our latest social media quiz and by the end, you’ll know if you’re up to speed in social media or a little agency help is in order.


 
Questions about any of the information in the quiz? Contact us.
social media ads

4 Reasons You Should Be Using Social Media Ads

More than half of online adults (56%) use more than one of the five major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn  Pew Research Center, 2016

In 2015, we wrote about the broad trend away from traditional media to digital marketing, and the data behind the shift is staggering. According to Forrester’s latest forecast, “Investment in paid search, display advertising, social media advertising, online video advertising and email marketing will pace to 46% of all advertising in five years” and approach $120 billion by 2021. As companies turn to digital marketing to reach potential customers, social media ads are a powerful part of their marketing arsenals. A “new media” advertising tool that combines audience targeting, user engagement, and measurability, social media ads are a marketing knockout punch. Here’s why:

1. AUDIENCE TARGETING: Your message gets to the right people

I was once asked to explain Facebook audience targeting, and in particular, why a business should do a Facebook ad as opposed to a traditional ad in the local newspaper. The question came from someone familiar with Facebook as a personal social media platform, but not at all aware of what it could do when marketing a business. I asked her,

“If I offered you the opportunity to market your business with a flyer that only went to people who had an interest in your product, could afford your product, and lived within driving distance of your store, would you do it? And, if I said I could take your flyer and put it on the kitchen counter of only the people you believe would want to see it, what would you say?”

She said, “Of course, I would do it. Who wouldn’t?”

To me, paid social advertising that uses demographic audience targeting is like putting a flyer on the kitchen counter of a potential customer. The range and versatility of targeting options available help digital marketers hone in on a very specific audience. Using filters such as interests, job title, net worth and geo-targeting, marketing dollars can be utilized efficiently, effectively and easily reallocated with the click of a button.

Some examples of custom audiences we have recently created for our clients include audiences that are:

  • local and geo-targeted within a 10 mile radius of numerous cities where the business has stores
  • local and in Manhattan with an interest in buying a new home in the suburbs
  • local, within the tri-state area and Florida
  • international and interested in accessing a locally-based product electronically

The specificity with which marketers can reach and get information to an audience with paid social media ads makes them a cost-effective, versatile marketing tool not constrained by physical distribution channels.

Facebook emojis

2. CONVERSATIONS: Social media ads engage an audience and broaden reach

The power of social media platforms lies in their ability to engage an audience with the brand, and social media ads can turbocharge audience reach. Social media advertising will put content in front of your target audience, and people will interact and react with emojis, comments, likes and shares. Your audience can ask questions, and you can answer them – suddenly your content has prompted a conversation.

Another example of a two-way social media interaction is user-generated reviews. Online reputation management is a growing field and business owners often receive online business reviews on their social media pages. Customers will post a review and a business can acknowledge and answer it – another type of conversation. In contrast, once a print ad is distributed, there is no way to tell how many people have read it, who read it or if it has successfully resonated with anyone in the target audience.

 

If you were offered the opportunity to market your business with a flyer that only went to people who had an interest in your product, could afford your product, and lived within driving distance of your store, would you do it?

3. CONNECTIVITY: Customers can connect with you via social media ad CTAs

According to a Pew Research Center report, “Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world.” The use of smartphones has been a boon to the connectivity afforded by social media and the migration towards social media ads with clickable call to action (CTA) buttons. 

Here are just two examples of how social media ads can be used by a business:

  • A company posts a sponsored Instagram ad, and it includes a button that says, “Learn More.” When people tap the button, they are taken to a landing page where they can request a demo, watch an explainer video or start a free trial.
  • A local business creates a Facebook ad promoting a free consultation for a new service they are offering. People that are interested tap a CTA button that says “Sign Up” and fill in a registration form for the consultation.   

Versatile and engaging, social media ads connect businesses with potential customers and can convert them into viable leads with an array of clever CTAs.

targeted social media ads outpace traditional media

4. MEASURABILITY: You can track, analyze and recalibrate social media ads

Social media ads can be configured to target an audience of choice either demographically, by interest, or geographically. Once an ad is live, marketers can track and analyze an array of social analytics from impressions and click-throughs to the number of reactions, comments or shares. On Facebook, you can even track click-throughs to directions, a phone number or action buttons. If an ad is actively engaging people, marketers can move more dollars to the campaign and use a similar format in future.

Another important aspect to social media ads is they can drive visitors to your website, and you can track this information in your website’s Google Analytics data. There are visitor acquisition metrics, and one of the referral sources you can analyze is social media. An added bonus is the availability of numerous pre-configured dashboards in Google Analytics which put key metrics in an organized, visually appealing dashboard. So, in a way, paid social advertising is even better than putting a flyer on the kitchen counter of a potential customer, because it is backed by data that tells you if the person actually read the flyer!

When it comes to advertising, social media ads are a game changer. They offer audience targeting, conversations, connectivity, and measurability – four powerful reasons to ensure you add them to your marketing bag of tricks in 2017. Interested in learning more about social media ads? Work with us

 

explainer video

5 Simple Reasons Your Business Needs an Explainer Video

What if –

  • You could increase your email click-through rate by 200% to 300%,
  • Raise the understanding of your product or service by 74%, or
  • Condense 1.8 million words of a marketing pitch into 1 minute?

Chances are, you would – and you wouldn’t be alone.

All three of these statistics describe one of the most important mediums around – video. At Resourceful Business (RB), we’re big fans of explainer videos, in particular, videos that cleverly explain or grow the understanding of your product or service. But, don’t let the animations or whimsical drawings of an explainer fool you. They are powerful marketing tools and much in demand.

Here are 5 simple reasons your business needs an explainer video:

1. Explainers work hand in hand with social media

Businesses continue to push into social media, now an essential part of multi-channel marketing. Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social networks with 1.71 billion and 500 million active monthly users, respectively. On Facebook, videos can be up to 120 minutes in length, and Instagram permits videos up to 60 seconds. Explainers often run about one minute, and therefore, work well on both platforms, and the statistics are mind-boggling.  The amount of average daily video views doubled on Facebook from 4 billion to 8 billion between April and November 2015.

2. Videos can amplify your brand and define your value proposition

While a host of facts and figures can make a pretty tedious article, sprinkled into an explainer, they promote a company’s strengths and brand in an engaging and memorable way. Key points can be weaved into the script, and in fact, we believe there are four must-haves in an explainer video script:

  • A clear description of a problem or pain point
  • The value proposition – how your product or service solves the problem
  • Differentiators – strengths which make the product, service or approach unique
  • A compelling call to action

With these components in place, an effective explainer video can get the desired message across, boost a company’s brand recognition, and define the value proposition in a persuasive way.

explainers simplify difficult concepts

3. Explainers can simplify difficult concepts

In any industry, there are complicated ideas, workflows, and products. Explainer videos are an excellent way to help customers visualize what a product or service can do. They can take the viewer from point A to point B without large chunks of text, and explainers have an added benefit – people remember video. According to the Online Publishers Association, 80% of Internet users recall a video ad they watched in the last 30 days.

video increases engagement

(Image Source)

4. Videos give websites an SEO boost

If your business has a website, no doubt you are familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), strategies used to drive visitors to a site. Explainer videos give websites an SEO boost in several different ways. As examples, video increases the amount of time visitors spend on a website, and it also lowers the bounce rate because people often visit other pages beyond the original landing page. Multimedia content such as video can also be viewed by search engines as indicative of content quality, so varying the types of content on a website to include video is a helpful optimization strategy too.

 

Age matters in online video consumption

5. Video has massive audience reach

YouTube has over a billion users, and the demographic profile of video consumption in the US skews towards Millennials and Generation X, peak consumer spending years. The advantage of an explainer video is that in addition to being on a company’s website, it can be hosted on video-sharing sites such as YouTube or Vimeo. Video-sharing sites have an expansive reach and even extend to international audiences; 70% of Vimeo users, for example, are outside of the United States.

So, don’t underestimate explainers; they are powerful digital marketing tools. Video can tell a brand story or simplify complicated concepts, broaden audience reach and help boost website page rank. Engaging to watch, sometimes animated and playful, explainers are nevertheless a must-have digital marketing asset for business.

 

digital marketing tools

10 Go-To Digital Marketing Tools

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”– Michael Jordan

With so many apps and tools at our fingertips, one would think digital marketing has never been easier. Not so. As the freelancing or “gig” economy takes off, remote teams are becoming commonplace; and digital marketing with its many moving parts can pose real logistical challenges. Upwork estimates one-third of American workers are now freelancing, and project work, digital or otherwise, demands that everyone stays talking, collaborating and informed.

It can be frustrating to roll out a collaborative tool only to find it doesn’t have the functionality to facilitate a team or do what is needed. Over the past several years, my team has found that some of the tools we use for our digital marketing projects consistently make the “A” list. So, I thought I would share! Whether you’re a small business mostly managing your own marketing efforts or a large cross-border team, there is something on this list for everyone.

Here is the Resourceful Business list of ten go-to digital marketing tools:

VISUALS

1. Create great visuals in Canva

Graphics are a necessity for online marketing and often need to be created. While Adobe Photoshop is best for more complex projects, Canva is a simple drag-and-drop design platform for creating social posts, documents, banners and other visuals. It is an important tool for our social media team. The canvas size you choose can be customized by social network (e.g., Facebook post, Instagram post, Pinterest graphic), and pictures and watermarks can be maintained in an Uploads library. There is a wide selection of fonts and templates; and in the premium version, designers can create brand folders, save brand colors, and resize images for different social platforms.

Favorite Canva feature: Team stream, which allows different team members to share their work and comment on team submissions

Canva.com

2. Find high resolution, free stock photos on Stock Up

It’s impossible to be in digital marketing and not utilize imagery. According to Hubspot, “Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.” It’s only one of 37 must-read visual marketing stats in a recent Hubspot article. Stock Up is a unique website that aggregates photos from 27 free stock photo sites. There are close to 14,000 pictures, and the number continues to grow. Users can put keywords in a search bar to search for images, and the photo selections are expansive and varied.

Favorite Stock Up feature: If you hover over the photo, the license terms appear.

sitebuilderreport.com/stock-up

SOCIAL MEDIA

3. Schedule Instagram posts with ScheduGram

For any business that has the luxury of beautiful product visuals, Instagram is an essential social platform. As a digital marketing agency creating social media for clients, we prefer not to do things on the fly. ScheduGram is a scheduling platform for Instagram posts, and it is available on desktop. In our view, this feature is mission critical. Posts can be scheduled in advance, and first comments–the preferred location for hashtags–can be as well. ScheduGram allows us to review, edit and see our posts on a desktop prior to posting. Tagging photos, or identifying other people or businesses in the post, through the Schedugram platform is currently in test, and we hope the ability to add location will follow in short order.

Favorite Schedugram feature: First Comments field so that hashtags can be scheduled in the first comment at the same time you schedule the post itself

schedugr.am

4. Manage social media posts with Hootsuite

Social media work for clients should be a collaborative, tag team effort. Content can be written by one part of the team and then edited and hashtagged by another. Creatives can design graphics, and if the client uses paid social campaigns, other team members can manage the ads too. For us, scheduling social media posts is a must because it drives consistency, quality and collaboration. We use Hootsuite for social media; it allows us to schedule posts and use different team members in the creation process. Recently, Hootsuite added an integration with YouTube, so now you can schedule videos too.

Favorite Hootsuite feature: AutoSchedule, which will send scheduled posts at optimal times

hootsuite.com

Twitter hashtag

5. Develop a list of relevant hashtags with Hashtagify

When a “#” is put in front of a word, it creates a hashtag, or clickable link, that directs you to content which also contains that hashtag. Hashtags are an important tool in marketing, because they can drive a person to your content–and ultimately your business–via the hashtag. If a person doesn’t know about your company, (s)he may never find your brand through traditional search. However, hashtags can attract an audience with an interest in your subject matter. The Hashtagify portal allows a user to type in a hashtag and see other related, popular hashtags. Visuals like the size of a circle that surrounds a hashtag and the thickness of connecting lines that extend from the hashtag being analyzed cue the user to a hashtag’s popularity. You can even see Top Influencers and compare performance between hashtags.

Favorite Hashtagify feature: The Hashtag Wall which gives a tiled, visual representation of recent posts for a hashtag

hashtagify.me

spelling

CONTENT CREATION

6. Correct spelling and grammar with Grammarly

Grammarly is a writing app which has a handy Chrome add-on. It highlights grammar, syntax and spelling errors. The interface is incredibly user-friendly. Errors are underlined in red and then upon hover, fixes are suggested in green. It is easy to see errors visually, and Grammarly offers an explanation for the problem. You can take the suggestion or decline it. Although not currently integrated with Google Drive, a quick workaround is to download your Google Doc as a Microsoft Word document and just pick the errors up from there. Another alternative is to copy and paste the copy into Grammarly directly. A Google Drive integration is apparently in the works.

Favorite Grammarly feature: explanation cards for errors which describe the mistake, suggest the correction and offer an “Add to Dictionary” option

grammarly.com

COLLABORATION

7. Collect client input with Google Forms

Whether it is a website information questionnaire or input for a logo design, every business needs client input. The collector must be user-friendly, gathered in an organized way and viewable by the team. Google has a cloud-based solution for survey creation, Google Forms. There are several ways to receive and view the responses. Our favorite is to have the responses automatically populate a Google Sheet, which is accessible by the entire team.

Favorite Google Forms feature: basic customization tools for branding such as a header image for logos and a color palette

google.com/forms

8. Collaborate with Google Drive

Great content begins with a talented writer or creative. Better content is a collaboration of many inputs and viewpoints. Google Drive, a cloud-based file creation and storage service offered by Google, is our go-to tool for team collaboration. Notwithstanding the importance of all of the work being in the cloud for accessibility by the team, the Google Drive interface allows for direct editing, review and comments. A user can see past revisions and which team member has recently worked on the document. In fact, our team will drag and drop almost everything a client sends us into organized Google Drive folders, and the search toolbar functionality is robust. One handy feature is the ability to see Recent items that have been worked on or viewed, which makes finding current work a breeze.

Favorite Google Drive feature: Suggesting mode so team edits are seen as suggestions and only incorporated if accepted

google.com/drive/

to-do list

9. Assign work out to the team with Wrike

As any business grows, so too does its client base, project list and task complexity. Our agency needed an application that would allow the management team to assign out the various moving parts of each project, keep track of progress and deadlines, and allow other members of the team to provide input. We landed on Wrike. As projects come in, they are scheduled on Wrike and assigned out to team members. Tasks can be made recurring, moved around on a calendar, and organized by folder. The team can add comments, upload attachments and mark assignments as complete.

Favorite Wrike feature: Daily To Do emails that show tasks and overdue tasks, each with a link back to the original Wrike task

wrike.com

10. Tackle big projects with Basecamp

There are projects and then there are projects. Large, complicated client engagements, websites for example, have many inputs and require the involvement of multiple parties, possibly even outside freelancers and creatives. Basecamp is one of the most versatile project applications around, and it has a great dashboard–my personal favorite of any of the applications I use. In the various sections on the dashboard, project team members can see documents, the project schedule, team chats in the campfire section, and the running to-do list. It shows team profiles across the top of the dashboard so you always know who is involved, and importantly, it will email or “ping” people to keep them posted on updates and communications.

Favorite Basecamp feature: Link a Google doc, where you can add a document by just linking the URL of a Google Doc

basecamp.com

What makes a digital marketing tool best in class?

No doubt you will have noticed some consistencies in our list of go-to digital marketing tools. They offer user-friendly dashboards and portals, utilize the cloud for accessibility and storage, and facilitate the many inputs and stages of complex project work. Tools that are emerging as best in class facilitate teams collaborating from all corners of the world.

Think of the possibilities!

____________

Please note that on occasion, RB may use an affiliate link in its blog and receive some form of compensation should you purchase a specific product. RB will only use an affiliate link for a tool we actively use ourselves and recommend as a resource.

7 Digital Marketing Strategies Guaranteed to Engage

Imagine two full days with digital marketers sharing their insights, experiences, strategies and blunders. That was ClickZ Live (#CZLNY), a digital marketing conference I recently attended in New York. The amount of resources that companies are investing in digital marketing is vast, and the stakes are high. A Nielsen survey, An Era of Growth: The Cross-Platform Report, confirmed that the average American adult spends 10 hours each day on electronic media, now a primary source of entertainment, shopping, information gathering and socialization. The result is that digital marketing sits on the front lines of the battle for consumer engagement.

The fabulous ClickZ Live event gave too many insights to enumerate, but here are 7 of my favorite digital marketing strategies and insights guaranteed to engage:

1. Create authentic content

Many of the speakers returned to the same core message: create authentic content. The litmus test is to consider what actually makes you or your company an authority on a topic. It sounds simple, but actually it’s not. When creating digital marketing strategies, look harder at the areas where the business excels and the commentary could have weight. At Resourceful Business, our team will have more of these types of conversations with clients and map out areas where they can be authoritative, because those topics will be the basis for authentic, meaningful content.

2. Provide transparency into aspects of your business

At #CZLNY, there were so many incredible examples of companies using digital strategies to give their customers insight into their businesses. We saw a fantastic GE video featuring an original soundtrack by electronic music artist, Matthew Dear, called Drop Science. Dear utilized thousands of audio emission sounds from GE facilities and turned them into a soundtrack. The video included Marquese “Nonstop” Scott, an iconic dancer, performing to the music in a breathtaking GE testing facility in Peebles, OH. The video gave viewers a peek into GE’s testing facilities and the vast array of complex equipment GE engineers are working with every day. It was a great example of giving clients insight into places they normally cannot see or go, yet it still reminds the viewer of the business brand and what the company does.

3. Understand the different types of content

Jinal Shah, of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, a premiere marketing communications company, categorized digital content on a continuum: lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight. It was interesting that lightweight was really a vehicle to push out middleweight and heavyweight content, not necessarily a basis for a marketing strategy in and of itself. In trying to maintain a certain standard when producing digital content, social media was cited as the one medium that presented the most challenges. However, the Oreo Moment, when Oreo put out a tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII blackout saying “YOU CAN STILL DUNK IN THE DARK,” was mentioned as a powerful reminder of the impact lightweight media can have nonetheless. The Oreo Moment achieved 18,000 Facebook likes, 10,000 retweets, and 5,000 shares in the first hour.

Seeing digital marketing content on a continuum is a more constructive way to view content, and it will ensure that a strategy is in place in each of the three categories.

Lightweight Middleweight Heavyweight
Example: Social media

  • Quick
  • Can be curated content
  • Real time
  • A means to push out Middleweight and Heavyweight content
  • Can fill the gap in-between Middleweight and Heavyweight content
  • Often not searchable
  • Can present Middleweight or Heavyweight content to a new audience in a different way
Examples: infographics, blogs,
question and answer (Q&A) series, microburst videos, surveys, email campaigns, cinemagraphs

  • More substantive content
  • Can be time-consuming to produce
  • Can show expertise in a field
  • Does not have to be real time
Examples: webinars, case studies, white papers, e-books, explainer videos, lengthier videos

  • Content which requires time and mindfulness
  • Often expensive to create
  • May need art direction
  • Evergreen, if successful
  • Establishes thought leadership

 

 4. Budget for digital marketing

Every digital marketing strategy must have an ad budget. An ad budget permits a digital strategist to boost key pieces of content with paid social, for example, because organic reach is often not sufficient when you are trying to distribute specific content to a target audience. So, maintain a digital marketing budget for the added flexibility of giving a strategic content piece a push through paid ads.

5. Develop a pop culture calendar

Every business can relate to key holidays, events or songs. These pop culture tie-ins can lead to high levels of engagement, especially if they are current. A landscaping business, for example, could plan a marketing campaign around Earth Day every year. Small businesses should always have a digital marketing campaign around Small Business Saturday. A restaurant could create a featured dish for Superbowl Sunday or March Madness. Pop culture draws engagement, so create a pop culture calendar and develop relevant, timely digital marketing around the different events.

6. Prioritize owned versus borrowed media

At #CZLNY, many of the digital marketers emphasized that the only platform a company truly “owns” is its website. All of the other platforms are “borrowed media.” From a fantastic lesson in optimizing content for mobile by John Shehata of ABC News to discussions on the importance of shareable content on your website, we left #CZLNY with the understanding that a company’s website is the most important digital marketing asset it has, and you really cannot spend too much time or energy on this all important “owned media.”

7. Leverage the brand awareness of others

In this Meghan Trainor video, Lips Are Movin, the popular singer utilizes the brand awareness of several popular stars on Vine, YouTube and Instagram who are well-known content creators and influencers. The video includes:

  • Marcus and Cody Johns – Vine stars
  • Mei Kawajiri – NY nail artist
  • Bri Emery – set designer and used for art direction
  • Barkley the Pom – a Pomeranian with 478,000 Instagram followers

By leveraging the successful brand recognition of other people, partners or even pets, a company can open up new audiences and gain priceless exposure.

At the time of the video, Barkley the Pom had approximately 370,000 Instagram followers. Now with 478,000 followers, it is clear that leveraging someone else’s brand awareness can be a remarkably effective strategy.

Impactful Digital Marketing is Key to Engagement

Great conferences like #CZLNY have a way of crystallizing information that is meaningful and thought-provoking. The innovation in the digital marketing landscape is breathtaking, and any digital marketing strategy will take energy and constant review to keep pace and remain relevant. Hopefully, these seven examples and insights will give your digital marketing some added punch, but if your company’s strategy could still use an overhaul, contact us or call (973) 218-6558.

Why You Must Fix Your Company’s Social Media Imagery and How

When you look at your company Facebook page or Twitter banner, do you feel uninspired? As you scroll down the content, do you see images that convey a totally different feel than what you would like your company’s digital presence to be? Is your content full of free stock images or perhaps lacks images altogether? These problems are just a few signs that it is time to overhaul your company’s social media.

Pictures make a huge difference to the success of your social media strategy. They drive engagement and ultimately referrals back to your website. The problem is that setting up social media accounts is just plain time consuming; and some aspects of it, such as understanding image size requirements, licensing and file types are fairly technical. Social media without great imagery, however, is an opportunity missed. Regardless of the social networks you choose for your business, here’s why you must fix your company’s social media imagery and how.

Images are branding opportunities

Every social media network has different image options and layouts which allow you to customize your company profile page, and these present branding opportunities. There are places for logos, banners and backgrounds, all of which can showcase your brand and great imagery. Pictures can show your company’s products, conjure up thoughts that inspire a consumer to want your services or just be clever and eye-catching. Captivating imagery will reinforce your brand and keep viewers on your page where they can learn more about your company.

For a simple fix, first look up image size requirements for the social network you are using or use a guide such as Hubspot’s Cheat Sheet, and upload custom imagery for your cover photos. Make sure you include your logo in some creative way. If you are not proficient in tools like Photoshop, there are numerous free apps which have social media templates you can use. Hubspot offers a set of  PowerPoint templates, so there is no expensive software required, and you can download your finished cover photo once complete.

Images lead to higher engagement

According to The Social Media Examiner, photos have an 87% engagement rate on Facebook, far more than text posts of any length. Similarly, in What Fuels a Tweet’s Engagement, Media Blog shows that retweets are boosted by 35% when there is a photo attached. Tweets with images take up more visual real estate and are more likely to grab someone’s attention. As the old adage goes, “Pictures are worth a thousand words,” and if your posts lack images, your social media engagement will be lacking too.

social media imagery provokes the imagination

Images provoke the imagination

Powerful marketing utilizes imagery for a reason. Pictures can tease the imagination and make us dream of going somewhere exotic on vacation, winning the lottery or even looking younger. Imagery is far more likely than text to capture someone’s attention and inspire them to click-through to learn more.

As well, colors can affect the decisions we make. For example, blue is often associated with trust, green with wealth and pink with romance. Colors are emotive, and therefore, another powerful tool that can be used with imagery to spark the imagination.

Images drive sales

Not surprisingly, fantastic product pictures can lead to product sales. According to Jeff Bullas, a prominent social media strategist, “In an ecommerce site, 67% of consumers say that the quality of a product image is ‘very important’ in selecting and purchasing a product.” Social media is a perfect platform to post high quality product images and link them directly back to your ecommerce store.

If you are concerned that a product photo shoot is beyond your budget, purchase a portable box kit which includes photo diffusion panels, color backdrops, a camera mount and lights. They are available for around $50 and will give your pictures a professional look.

you can tell stories with social media images

Images can tell a story

People love a good story. Pictures and videos can tell your product, service or company story far more effectively than written content. If you are able to convey a compelling story with images, consumers will want to be a part of it. Plus, pictures are more easily consumed and they are universal, so a critical tool for large global brands.

Not surprisingly, short videos have much higher user engagement than longer ones. In “The optimal length for video marketing content? As short as possible,”  Yoav Hornung explains that the shorter the video, the more likely that someone will hit PLAY. With a number of free editing apps for smartphones and tablets available, it is easy to create and add some product or service videos to your social media.

Free Image Sources

If you’re sold on the leverage that images bring to social media, but not quite sure how to begin, start by bookmarking a few free image websites. Here are three of my favorites: Unsplash, Jay Mantri and Picography. Another option, Google Images, allows you to specify usage restrictions, so you can search for images on the internet that are free to use or share and in the public domain. Also, keep your smartphone with you, and if you see a photo opportunity, take it! Build your own library of images. Then create social media posts with pictures and begin to monitor what types of photos engage your audience best. To customize the pictures, use a simple photo editing app like Canva.

Spending the time and energy adding pictures to your social media will boost engagement and convey your message in a compelling way. If you still need some assistance getting started, the Resourceful Business can help energize your social media with images and guide your social strategy. Contact us.

social media content

5 Shortcuts to Finding and Managing Great Social Media Content

For small business owners, there are never enough hours in the day. They juggle business strategy, production schedules, bookkeeping, payroll, marketing, human resources, content management and social media. It is no surprise that with such a long to-do list, social media marketing can fall by the wayside leading to inconsistent content posts and mundane points. But, there is hope for small business owners in pursuit of a social strategy filled with relevant, noteworthy and interesting topics that will engage their clients. Here are 5 shortcuts to finding and managing great social media content.

Set up News Feeds for Aggregation

Every industry has websites and electronic newsletters covering topics that are worth following. Feedly.com is one service that helps aggregate news feeds of interest, and you can create custom lists to follow. Our company, for example, manages content for multiple clients and we set up a custom list for each client, which collects stories from relevant news feeds in their industry. Another aggregation tool I really like is GetPocket.com. By installing the Chrome extension for Pocket or Feedly on your browser, you can upload any articles you want to read with a mouse click and even tag the articles. If you would like news to come directly to your Inbox, another option is to set up a Google Alert, www.google.com/alerts, a notification system based on keywords. Google Alerts will send you a list of relevant articles based off of your keywords and found in search as they happen, daily or weekly.

Follow Blogs by Industry Thought Leaders

follow blogs by other thought leadersEvery field has thought leaders or individuals who are blogging and of interest to you. It is fun and educational to follow and engage with them. Their blogs also provide relevant social content that you can share. Feedly.com allows you to follow blogs, so it is a great option for both news feeds and blogs. Often bloggers post their blogs on Facebook pages as opposed to WordPress or other blogging platforms. In that case, Liking the Page will do the trick and you can receive notifications of new blog posts. Another easy way to follow a blog is to click the RSS feed button if the blog has one. Typically, you will get an option to choose a Feed Reader service which will show all of the new blogs posted from the website and sometimes an option to receive an email alert. RSS feeds are often a point of real confusion amongst our clients, so here is a brief tutorial should you choose to try the RSS feed route, What is RSS.

Search for Content by Hashtag

hashtagsIn the context of social media, the pound sign is called a hashtag. A tool first used on Twitter, hashtags group topics and allow the reader to search and follow those topics through a clickable link. You can look for what is Trending on Twitter, and then even build some of your own social content around trending topics with high user engagement. You can also identify hashtags and related hashtags on relevant subjects with tools like Hashtagify.me. Once you have identified the hashtags you want to follow, set up a free Tagboard using the hashtag and you will get a fabulous visual of all of the trending content linked to that hashtag. Since all of the major social media platforms are using hashtags, creating great content means learning both how to deploy hashtags in your posts as well as how to use them to search for content.

Manage your Content with a Social Media Management Tool

After finding or creating your social media content, there are a number of tools you can use to schedule and manage it. Two of the most popular social media management tools are Buffer and Hootsuite. These platforms permit a user to post content to several social media accounts simultaneously, see user engagement and respond. User-friendly dashboards display character counts and image previews. Posts can be scheduled by day and time, so content postings can be input in advance. Many of the social media management tools offer news feed links right in the dashboard, so users can follow relevant content and then post it right from the news feed.

Nothing equates in value to original, creative content written by you.

Create Original Content

Most importantly, take the time to write your own content. Nothing equates in value to original, creative content written by you. If you like sharing interesting articles, write headlines yourself and post them on social media. If you blog, write about interesting trends in your industry. Answer common questions in your field of expertise. Summarize an interesting conference that you attended or offer a unique point of view on a controversial subject. Can’t think of a topic? Try the really fun, Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. You simply enter three keywords and then the algorithm will give you a week’s worth of blog topics. In short, although thoughtful social media content takes time to write and develop, it is well worth it because you will slowly establish a following on social media and build a respected online voice.

Hopefully, these shortcuts will save you time and help you find and manage great social media content. If you think there still aren’t enough hours in the day to do your social media marketing, contact us. We can customize and implement a content management strategy for your business that is timely, consistent and engaging!

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.