Guest post by Sacha Cohen of Grassfed Media
What’s that you say? You don’t think your business needs to be on Instagram? If you’re an actuary, doctor, or mortician, you could be right. For everyone else, listen up. Instagram has more than 500 million active monthly users who have shared more than 40 billion photos in just over six years! And now that Facebook owns Instagram, for better or worse, growth continues to skyrocket.
So why should you care? An engaged and active audience on Instagram could mean more leads for your business, boosted sales, better brand recognition, new partnership opportunities, and meaningful connections worldwide. In fact, according to Instagram Advertiser statistics, 60 percent of IG users say that they learn about a product or service on the platform and 75 percent take an action, such as visiting a website, after looking at an Instagram advertising post.
Instagram, and any social media platform for that matter, is an extension of your brand. It’s a way to build long-lasting customer and client relationships, and to tell your company’s story through images. As with any communications or marketing channel, you should be consistent with content and visual identity. If your brand identity is casual, fun, and inspirational, your IG account should reflect that. A good example is Play-Doh. Few brands scream fun and creative quite like this one, and its IG feed cleverly reflects its quirky and fun-filled personality.
If your brand is more corporate and conservative, well, don’t go posting photos from that crazy company happy hour or beer pong tournament. Take the time to think about how to tell your organization’s story visually and try to adhere to a [reasonably] consistent visual narrative if possible.
Photos are Everything
I cannot stress this enough: Your photos need to be awesome. Why? Because Instagram is a visually driven channel where the quality of your images can make or break you. Nothing will turn off followers faster than out-of-focus, poorly composed photos or way off-brand images. But you have some options for how to make great photos happen. Either you can work with a pro, learn how to take amazing photos on your own, or leverage stock photography that doesn’t suck.
Want to DIY? Here are some basic Instagram photo tips from the Digital Photography School:
Engage, Engage, Engage
It’s called social media for a reason. Follow other like-minded people and brands that inspire you, comment and like other users’ posts, have a conversation, and repost amazing content once in a while. Take the time to get to know your audience and fans, build meaningful relationships, and perhaps consider whether a dedicated influencer strategy might be right for your business.
Hashtags on Instagram can have a big impact on your levels of engagement and reach. Here are a few basic guidelines to help you get started:
For a deep dive into all things hashtag-related, check out this handy guide from Later.
In Instagram, as in life, timing is everything. Generally speaking you’ll want to post during times when your audience is online and not focused on something else like work. Good times to post include before work, during lunch time and in the evenings. I have personally found that around 9 pm EST works well for my company, but when you post will depend on your audience and what time zone you’re in. Experiment to find out what times work best for you and then stick to a consistent publishing schedule.
Sacha Cohen is the founder of Grassfed Media, a boutique PR and marketing firm that works with companies and nonprofits that do well by doing good.
In April, I’m giving a talk about creating simple graphics for your business with Fuel DC. In the spirit of that, I thought I’d introduce a few things to help you here on the blog.
There are many resources for the entrepreneur who is trying to create simple images for their blog, social media or website. One of my favorites is Canva. Canva makes it incredibly easy for you to create graphics for all your business needs by offering you a variety of pre-sized dimensions, including Facebook cover photo, instagram post, etc. From there, you add text and images to create an appealing design. Canva has a handful of free choices, as well as a variety of designs that cost a very small fee to implement, and is great for someplace with a small budget. Though nothing beats a design eye, Canva is the next best thing to hiring someone to design posts for you.
Infogr.am is a great resource for creating charts, infographics, etc to dress up your website or newsletter. You can choose your type of graph, input your numbers and colors, and viola! A chart that looks so much better than the ones that come out of an excel spreadsheet. For a small fee, you can sign up for a subscription that will allow you to download the graphics as pdfs. For a designer, this means you can bring them into Illustrator as vector art, and manipulate them til your heart’s content.
Font Squirrel is a great resource for downloading fonts that are free for commercial use. What I love about Font Squirrel compared to some other font sites is that they take the guess work out of it for you. All of their fonts are licensed for commercial use, which means while it is still advisable to read the licensing agreement, most of them can be used on any of your professional marketing products.
Unsplash is one of my favorite sites for free stock photos. They upload 10 high quality photos every 10 days, and those photos are free for to use for commercial purposes without permission or attribution. Now, there are a lot of stock photo sites out there, but these are downright beautiful. They may not be a fit for every business, but they are certainly worth a look around.
I hope that we have given you some ideas on how to create simple graphics for your business in a cost effective way. Happy designing! For more information and to continue the discussion, join me at Fuel DC in April!
*Note: All sites above are to be used at your own discretion. Stacy Kleber Design is not affiliated with them in any way, and makes no guarantees about the quality of the information or the licensing.
A commonly asked question is, should I be using social media to promote my business? In today’s digital age, the answer is a resounding yes.
What are the benefits of social media? Well, first and foremost, almost every social media outlet is about building relationships – and building relationships is at the core of every key business transition. By building a relationship with your customers, you enhance loyalty and turn them into brand ambassadors and repeat customers.
Social media is also a great way to increase your visibility. The more you show a consistent outward facing brand, the more likely you are to be top of mind when customers are in a position to buy.
Another benefit is quick, real time feedback from customers. This will allow you to roll out a product or service and quickly pivot if the reaction is not as expected. This could potentially mean saved money on ineffective advertising, and new ideas for product development that will enhance the customer experience.
With more and more customers moving online, I think that asking if you should be on social media is entirely the wrong question. The right question is not whether you should be using it, but rather which outlet is the best in reaching out to customers, and how should you use that outlet…
Pinterest is one of the newer social media platforms, which took the world by force. On Pinterest, you upload or “pin” products from a website to a board that belongs to your profile. Pinterest is especially popular with weddings and foodies, but has become successful in promotion for a range of businesses.
To get started, you need to set up a profile with a picture. The image is 165px by 165px, but any square image larger will work and resize to fit the box.
After you have a profile, you can set up names of boards. You may have one for your products – for example as a designer, I might have one for my design work – but don’t stop there. One of the keys to Pinterest is that you can have related boards. Maybe my design profile would have a “typography” board or a “book cover” board with inspirational pins. By pinning related topics, you will attract others who have similar interests, and can position yourself as an expert. Ideally, you want to have a mix of original content, as well as content shared by others.
When posting original content, you should make sure that it links back to your business site, or to the product page. This is a good way to increase traffic, as every image increases click through traffic.
When pinning content from others, be aware of the site that it came from. Some pins click through to a dead end. This can be frustrating to the user. It is said up to 80% of pins are repins, so take advantage of the already related content to increase your followers.
Pinterest has recently started sending emails to users when prices drop on products they have pinned. If you have a web shop, posting products can be a great promotional tool, as in times of sale, users will get a reminder.
Using Pinterest on your Website
In addition to pinning yourself, you can add a “Pin It!” button on your site so people can easily pin your content. This means they will be pinning to their own boards, not to yours. It is a good way to get exposure. You can keep track of who is pinning by using Pinterest Analytics for Business.
I hope that this will help you get started with the basics of Pinterest for your business. Have any other tips? Comment below!
After a short hiatus this winter, I’d like to do a series of posts on using social media in your business. Not every social media is right for every business, so I encourage you to try them out and see what works for you. See where your followers come from, and where your conversions are happening and focus your time and energy on that.
One of my favorite social media tools, and the focus of this post, is Twitter.
When you first set up your Twitter account, you will want to set up a profile picture and a header image.
The profile picture is what will show up next to all your tweets. This image should be 81px by 81px and depending on your business, this might be a photo of you or a part of your logo. Remember it should be something iconic, as it will be the main thing people interact with.
The header image shows up at the top of your feed. This image should be 520px x 260 px. This needs to be somewhat simple, as there will be text over it.
You also have the option of setting up a background image for your Twitter. Many companies use their logos in this to reinforce the brand.
When you start tweeting, you will need to know a bit about the lingo. Some key terms for Twitter are below:
RT or the retweet: RT is used when want to share someone else’s tweet word for word. An example of this would be, “RT @skleberdesign Today is a very cold day in DC” You can also RT using a button below each tweet.
# or hashtags: Hashtags help users search your tweets and also make it easy to follow a particular conversation. Though hashtags have become increasingly fantastical, they should be used with good sense and care. An example of a hashtag would be “Today is a cold day in DC #DC #weather”
Via: If you change some of the wording in a retweet, you might want to use the words “via” to give the original person credit. An example of this would be “Today is a cold day in DC, via @skleberdesign”
H/T, hat tip or heard through: HT can be used to recognize a user who initially told you about a specific link or piece of information. This is much like via.
MT or modified tweet: A modified tweet indicated that the tweet is not original, but is also different from when it was originally posted by the credited user.
@ or at: You should use @ before a username when referencing a user. This will make the user aware that you have tweeted “at” them or referred to them.
When I recommend Twitter, I always tell people that in order to be successful, you need to interact with users. You can’t set up auto posts and ignore all the responses. And you can’t link it to your Facebook and never log in. Start conversations. Ask questions and respond to the answers. These are all good ways to build a presence.
Following people is also a good way to garner your own followers. Often, when you follow people, they follow you back. There are sites out there that can help you see who you follow, and the last time they tweeted. This will help you weed out those that you follow that are inactive, freeing you up to follow other people.
Another thing that I highly recommend with Twitter is to post more than once a day. Many people follow over a thousand users. If you tweet once a day, that tweet is likely to get lost in a sea of other tweets. Tweet often and respond often – but do so conscientiously and with relevant content.
Hopefully, this post will help you to get a good start on Twitter. Have something to add? Feel free to post in the comments.