Not Seeing As Many Instagram Likes? There Is A Reason For That.

Comparing likes on Instagram photos may soon be a thing of the past. During F8 in April, Instagram announced it would be testing the removal of the like count and video views from posts in certain countries.

Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, told Buzzfeed News that these steps were being taken to promote a less “pressurized environment” for those using the platform. With this update, users would be able to see the number of likes or video views their posts had received, but they wouldn’t be able to see the likes or views of other users’ posts. The tests began in May in Canada. On July 17, 2019, Instagram announced they would expand the tests to Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.

Why is Instagram doing this?
Instagram can often feel like a contest. Who has gone on the best vacations? Who has the cutest fall outfit? Who took the best photo of their Starbucks cup? We all know the phrase “Instagram-worthy,” but should this be something posts aspire to?

According to critics, the race for more likes can lead to negative behavior and is seen by some, particularly teens, as a proxy for self worth

In recent years, social media has been accused of helping fuel depression and digital addiction among adolescents. According to critics, the race for more likes can lead to negative behavior and is seen by some, particularly teens, as a proxy for self worth. Especially problematic among girls, social media use can lead to interpersonal stress and cyber-bullying. At F8, Mosseri said, “We don’t want Instagram to feel like a competition.” Instead, they want to make folks “feel comfortable expressing themselves” through the app.

Who will these changes impact?
With the possibility of removing the like and video view counts from posts on the horizon, you might be wondering who will be impacted by the change?

To begin, let’s hope that removing these counts does some good. If individuals, especially teens, are experiencing negative mental health impacts or bullying due to their popularity on Instagram, perhaps this update will remove some of the “competition” between users. If removing likes can allow people to lead better lives, that’s definitely worth it!

Influencers might also see a change, which would in turn impact marketers. So instead of relying on a post’s like and view count to measure engagement, marketers will need to rely on other tactics, such as tracking leads, conversions and sales. This means that influencers are on the hook more than ever to deliver high quality content.

What should marketers focus on instead?
As an online marketer who uses Instagram, it’s important to know that likes on posts are no longer the focus. Instead, focus on other aspects of Instagram, such as:

Comment contests to promote engagement
Wed2Be Instagram

Comment contest on Instagram

If you’re looking to promote engagement on Instagram, then try a comment contest. With a comment contest, you post to Instagram with a contest prompt (e.g. “Comment below with your favorite vacation spot for a chance to win a trip to Mexico!”). To enter, folks post responses to your post in the comment section, then you choose a random winner from the comments.

Lead generation campaigns through landing page links

Landing page used for collecting leads

Instead of focusing on engagement, try collecting leads. Email leads are extremely valuable in moving customers along your sales funnel. To collect leads, run a contest (e.g. a simple giveaway) where you announce the details in an Instagram post, but collect the entries via a form on a landing page. Instagram doesn’t allow you to include links in posts, but you can link to your landing page via your Instagram profile description.

TIP: Create a landing page with ShortStack with a lead collection form. Our giveaway template gets you started with a campaign that is simple to use and easy to enter.

Hashtag contests to collect UGC and raise brand awareness

Instagram Hashtag Contest

Looking to collect UGC? Try a hashtag contest. Hashtag contests encourage folks to post to their own profiles using your contest #hashtag(s) and the @mention of your Instagram Business profile. These contests not only allow you to collect UGC (Instagram images) but also promote brand awareness, as participant’s followers have a good chance of seeing a post that includes your brand.


Instagram is running a test where they remove the like and view counts from Instagram posts to help curb negative use of the platform and encourage a more positive social media environment. Using Instagram for your online marketing? Don’t worry about Instagram post likes, and concentrate on comment contests for engagement and linking to online forms for lead generation instead.

Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Leads With Linkedin

Do you want more warm leads from LinkedIn? Wondering how to use LinkedIn to schedule more calls or meetings with new leads?

In this article, you’ll discover how to use four LinkedIn marketing features to nurture leads.
How to Use LinkedIn to Turn Cold Prospects Into Warm Leads by Josh Turner on Social Media Examiner.

1: Recommend a Group Post for More Exposure to All LinkedIn Group Members

In the past, LinkedIn groups have had a kind of ghost-town feel. Instead of fostering connection, networking, and engagement, they were a den of self-promotion. As part of LinkedIn’s efforts to change this, groups are now part of the main LinkedIn platform instead of a side feature. It’s now easier to access them from the home page, and your group conversations have more visibility in the main feed.

LinkedIn groups used to allow group owners to deliver announcements to all group members via group messaging. Now group members will be informed of group updates and conversations via LinkedIn notifications in the LinkedIn app and on the home page.

Although groups have had their drawbacks, they’re fantastic positioning tools, even if your group doesn’t yet have the engagement you want to see.

As a group owner, it’s easier to stay top of mind because LinkedIn has a feature that lets you control which posts are promoted to your members. To recommend a group post, make sure you’re logged in as an admin to the group. Then navigate to the post you want to promote.

Click the three dots in the upper-right corner of the post. From the drop-down menu, select Recommend This Post.

In the pop-up window, click Recommend to finalize your post recommendation.

You can use this handy feature to create a weekly roundup of interesting group posts, share announcements about important information or events, and highlight interesting or trending conversations. It’s a great tool to keep your group members in the know and stay top of mind.

Remember, familiarity begets trust. The more group members see your name, the better. Now that your recommended posts show up in LinkedIn’s main feed, members will be more aware of what’s happening in the group, and hopefully will visit and participate more often. In other words, this feature can help turn your group into a thriving community.

2: Invite Connections to Follow Your LinkedIn Company Page

A new LinkedIn feature lets you invite your connections to follow your company page, making it an incredibly easy way to grow your following.

To use this feature, navigate to your LinkedIn page. Under the Admin Tools drop-down menu, select Invite Connections.

In the pop-up window, you’ll see a list of all of your connections. Unfortunately, there’s currently no way to filter your contacts.

Select each person you’d like to invite to follow your company page and then click Invite Connections.

3: Share Curated Content From LinkedIn Content Suggestions

Another way to attract prospects on LinkedIn is to regularly post content that they’re interested in. LinkedIn has stepped up their game to help with this by providing a Content Suggestions feature for company pages. It’s a quick and easy way to source new content to share with your followers.

To use this feature, navigate to your LinkedIn page and click the Content Suggestions tab.

In the pop-up window, select your industry and a few simple demographics about your audience (your ideal prospects). Once you’ve filled out the audience information, click View Content Suggestions.

LinkedIn then shows you trending content from the last 15 days based on your selected industry and audience demographics. Not every content suggestion will be a winner so choose what you share wisely. It’s important that the content is relevant to your target audience.

4: Customize LinkedIn Messaging to Build Relationships

Building real relationships with prospects takes time, but LinkedIn’s features make the process a little easier. What’s most important is that you prioritize strategic relationship-building. This is especially critical if you’re promoting a high-end offer (whether it’s a service, bulk product offer, or the like). Typically, the higher the investment (whether time or money), the higher the trust level has to be.

The more that people see you online and come across your name, business, content, and work, the more they’ll begin to trust you. Building relationships can entail all of that, from sending messages and sharing content to emailing prospects—anything that builds authority and trust.

When there’s trust, the entire sales journey is easier and faster. And you often get better clients who are typically happier and more satisfied with your work, and maybe even stay with you longer. It’s a win-win for everyone.

So how do you build trust with your prospects on LinkedIn? LinkedIn Messaging is an ideal way to make connections and build strong relationships with prospects. But to find success, you have to use the right type of messaging with your prospects.

Flooding their inboxes and pushing sales immediately will only turn them off. If you want a response, you need to provide value, approach the relationship naturally, and ask questions. You can provide value by sharing content that helps them solve a problem and ask questions that get them thinking about things that will lead them to the next step, which in most cases, is booking a phone call.

Josh

A one-and-done messaging approach on LinkedIn will most likely fail. We’ve had the most success with a series of (typically 4+) messages before asking about booking a consultation. We call this our multi-touchpoint nurture campaign. You’ll want to test and tweak this approach for your business, but it looks something like this.

Message #3: Request a Phone Call
Hi Bob,

I’m trying to get to know my connections on LinkedIn a little better so we both might benefit from being connected. We’ve been crossing paths on LinkedIn for the past couple of months and I’d love to schedule a quick call.

Would you have a few minutes to chat next week? How does Friday, March 15, in the afternoon sound?

Thanks,

Josh

Message #4: Follow Up
Hey Bob,

A few weeks ago, I sent you a message checking to see if you were open to chatting on the phone. I thought I would check back in with you to see if you were interested. As I mentioned before, I’m just trying to get to know my connections on LinkedIn a little better so we both might benefit from being connected.

I’d like to schedule a call with you. If that’s not possible, I’d love to open up some dialogue with you over email. Please let me know if Tuesday morning, April 8, would work for you. I hope to hear from you soon.

Thanks,

Josh

Be Sure Your LinkedIn Profile Has a Custom URL
Many people overlook this simple tactic: creating a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile. A connection request from Johnny at https://www.linkedin.com/in/5KG4698/ may not be hurting his business outright, but it’s certainly not doing him any favors.

Creating a custom link is a nice detail to ensure consistency and help you look more professional. Your link will be an address that looks like this: www.linkedin.com/in/[yourname].

The good news is that creating this link is simple to do. Start by clicking the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn home page and selecting View Profile.

On your profile page, click Edit Public Profile & URL on the right.

ALT

On the next page, scroll down to Edit Your Custom URL and click the pencil icon. Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box and click Save.

ALT

Remember that you can only have one custom URL per profile and they’re available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you may have to get creative when formulating your custom link.

Conclusion
These LinkedIn features and tactics will help you look more professional, be consistent in your messaging, and stay top of mind so prospects will know whom to turn to when they need your services.

What do you think? Which of these tactics will help you close more business on LinkedIn? What other tips can you suggest? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments below.

More articles on LinkedIn marketing:
Learn how to add clickable downloads, slideshows, and PDFs to your organic LinkedIn posts.
Discover how to create videos people want to watch on LinkedIn.
Find a step-by-step process to help you create a LinkedIn content marketing plan.

Tips to Grow Your Instagram Audience Quickly

Chances are you’ve heard the hype about Instagram and may have even started an Instagram account for your business. And if you’re doing well, you’re regularly posting. But you may be struggling to find your audience. Just like any new account on any social media site, it can take a while to grow a large audience. Here are some tips to grow your Instagram audience quickly.

Promote Your Instagram Account

If no one knows you’re there, how are they going to follow you? Make sure that you’re promoting your Instagram account through a variety of means.

  • Tell your customers you’re on Instagram.
  • Tell your other social media site fans that you’re on Instagram and give them the link to your profile.
  • Include your Instagram URL in your email signature
  • Include your Instagram handle on flyers and business cards
  • Link to your Instagram account in your e-newsletters

Provide Exclusive Content

Exclusive content is so important to growing your Instagram followers. If your fans and customers are already following you on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, why should they follow you on Instagram too? You have to give them a reason!

I always recommend sharing exclusive photos of events or products on Instagram only. You can tease these images by sharing one photo to your other social media accounts and telling those fans that they can view the rest of the photos on Instagram (make sure you give them the link!). This gives your fans a reason to come over to Instagram to see the rest of the photos. Don’t automatically link your Facebook or Twitter accounts to share every Instagram post.

You can also share exclusive discounts or promotions strictly to Instagram followers. Once people know that you offer these promotions, you can be sure your followers will increase.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags are an Instagrammer’s best friend. You can significantly improve the reach of your posts by including relevant hashtags. I recommend using 3-7 hashtags per post for the best results. Hashtags should be related to the post content and/or your industry or niche.

If you want to know which hashtags are the most popular, you can search Google (or any other search engine) for the most popular hashtags on Instagram. They vary slightly but usually stay fairly consistent. I caution you, however, not to use hashtags simply because they’re popular. For example, if your post is of a new piece of jewelry you have in your store, don’t use #sunset or #justinbeiber. Keep the tags relevant – in the jewelry example, you could use #pretty or #fashion. Both of these are popular tags but are also relevant to the post.

Actively Engage with Others

One of the best ways to grow your audience is to actually connect with people. This means being active on others’ profiles by liking and commenting on their posts. Responding to comments on your posts also generates conversation and followers.

Find new people to follow in your industry and start engaging with them. When they begin to recognize you and your profile, they will often follow you back and return the favor with likes and comments.

When people comment on your posts, make sure you @mention them in your response so that they receive a notification and see what you wrote. Answer questions, thank them for their thoughts, or ask them how they’re doing. Keep the conversations going and more people will chime in.

Follow More People

Unless you’re a big brand, no one wants to follow you if you only follow 25 people. You’re here to be active and engaging, so follow more people and get active! While there’s no ideal specific ratio for followers to followings, you should be following as many people as possible.

If you’re looking for great people to follow, try following people that your followers follow (I know, that’s a mouthful!). When you go to your notifications page on Instagram, switch over to the “Following” tab. This will show you all the posts that those you follow are engaging with. Chances are you will have similar interests and like many of the posts and people that those you’re following like. You can click on the posts and go to these other users’ profiles. Scroll through and follow anyone of interest. Instagram is fairly reciprocal and if you like and engage with people, they will often like you back. Just a heads up though, don’t follow someone just to get them to follow you and then unfollow them – it’s rude and not good etiquette. Follow people you have a genuine interest in.

Post More!

We all know that a stagnant or neglected account will sit idle. Instagram is no different. Try to post at least a few times a week, ideally at least once a day. The more often you post, the larger variety of hashtags you use, the more you’re engaging with other Instagramers, the faster your audience will grow. So get to posting!

You’ll notice that nowhere in these tips did I recommend you buy followers. That’s because this is a big no-no! Trust me when I tell you that buying Instagram followers will not help you in the long run. In fact, these fake or bad followers can hinder your opportunity for growth and hurt your chances of reaching the popular page.

As with any social media site, you want more followers. But it’s important to focus on cultivating a great community around the followers you do have. The more you focus and connect with on your existing followers, the more your audience will grow naturally.

15 Reasons to use retargeting

The average Web site conversion rate is a little more than 2 percent. In other words, nearly all of the people who visit a site for the first time leave without some form of desired action.

That’s why many brands have turned to retargeting, which focuses on getting those previous visitors back to your site. Retargeting can be accomplished via display ads, search, e-mail, and now social media, as well as via Facebook’s FBX ad exchange and Twitter’s new retargeting option.

According to research we’ve found from around the Web, there’s no question about it: Retargeted ads can influence conversion.

1. In a study that evaluated various strategies in terms of the average lift in search activity generated for an advertised brand, retargeting represented the highest lift in trademark search behavior at 1,046 percent.

2. Nearly three out of five U.S. online buyers said they notice ads for products they looked up on other sites.452x294_15stats

3. Thirty percent of consumers have a positive or very positive reaction to retargeted ads, vs. 11 percent who feel negatively about them. The greatest percentage, though—59 percent—had a neutral reaction.

4. One in five marketers now has a dedicated budget for retargeting.

5. Among primary site retargeting goals are increasing brand revenue and acquiring new customers (at 33 percent each), with additional focus on increasing both site engagement (16 percent) and increasing brand awareness (12 percent). Significantly, marketers are more likely (+15 percentage points) to use site retargeting to acquire customers.

6. Retargeting can boost ad response up to 400 percent.

7. Forty-six percent of search engine marketing professionals believe retargeting is the most underused online marketing technology.

8. E-mail retargeting CTRs and conversion rates are anywhere from 3 to 5 percent higher with upsells, as compared to standard site retargeting.

9. Online consumers are open to receiving behaviorally retargeting ads. While the majority of consumers (60 percent) remain neutral about the topic of retargeting ads, 25 percent enjoy them because they remind them of what they were looking at previously.

10. Being drawn to products in advertisements is the most commonly noted reason consumers gave for clicking on a retargeted ad (37 percent). Consumers also said retargeted ads are a convenient way to visit a Web site users already intended to visit (28 percent) and for desiring more information on the product in the ad (21 percent).

11. CPG company Kimberly-Clark relies on retargeting, saying it is seeing 50 to 60 percent higher conversion rates among consumers who have been retargeted.

12. The average click-through rate for display ads is 0.07 percent, and the average click-through for retargeted ads is about 0.7 percent.

13. Web site visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70 percent more likely to convert on your Web site.

14. When looking at more than 1 billion impressions from 547 advertisers running retargeting campaigns on FBX’s right-hand side, FBX News Feed, and standard Web retargeting, after just one month FBX News Feed accounted for 15 percent of clicks, despite having just 0.5 percent of the total ad impressions.

15. Click-through conversion rates for retargeted FBX ads were slightly lower at 9 percent under Web retargeting and 16 percent lower than right-hand side conversion rates.

Using Facebook For Business; What you need to know

You probably know that Facebook is the number one social media platform, which most people use.

Apart from the fact that we are using it for chatting with our friends or sharing the things we love such as photos, videos, or even document files, some people especially business owners use it as their number one source of traffic and sales and a spot for branding.

Facebook has become one of the best drivers in terms of conversions and sales for most of my clients. See two examples below:

Facebook marketing client 1: This client approached me to do full social media marketing and management for them. Although Facebook is not the platform that best gives them the most traffic, I’ve found out that the social platform that best gives them conversions such as sign-ups and sales is Facebook.

facebook-marketing-client-2

Facebook marketing client 2: This client approached me to do Facebook marketing only for their new brand. Their goal is to increase sales, branding, and of course following. Since they’ve hired me to do Facebook marketing, it is important to help them achieve their goals.

For most business cases, before you can use Facebook to gain sales and traffic or to produce conversions, you should let the people know that your business exists on Facebook’s platform.

In this list, I will be with you for a tour about the best, engaging, and the most effective Facebook marketing strategies for businesses that anyone can do. So, let’s start rocking and rolling!

Effective Facebook Marketing Strategies for Businesses

1. Leverage the Existing Traffic to Your Site

Remember that it is advisable to have a website for every business since it will function as your sales transaction hub or storefront where people buy your products or learn more about your services.

You can easily leverage the existing traffic on your site by putting social media icons that can be seen and clicked, which are direct links to your Facebook page and/or any other social media account pages you have. Refer to the picture below as an example.

social-icons-plugin

Hot Facebook Marketing Tip:
Most websites put their social media icons above their home page or header since it is the area where these icons could be easily seen; thus, this move provides better click-through rate (CTR) placements.

2. Use Your E-mail Signature to Display Your Fan Page URL

If you’re using e-mail as one of the ways to contact or reach your customers, using your e-mail signature to display your fan page URL will be effective. Having your social media pages URL beneath your e-mail messages or at your signature will make your recipient see it easily and probably click it, which can convert into traffic or a following.

facebook-email-signature

Hot Facebook Marketing Tip:
If you have current events on your social media pages, you might want to include them on your e-mail signature with a call-to-action format.

Example: Want to receive a gift from us? Like us on Facebook!

3. Send Out an E-mail Blast

Letting people know that you are on Facebook is the first goal you should achieve. Sending an e-mail blast is just one of the best ways to do this.

Few of the great e-mail marketing tools are MailChimp and AWeber.

You might want to consider sending an e-mail blast between Monday and Wednesday mornings for most conversions. A study from HubSpot, The Science of Email Marketing 2012, stated that morning e-mails get high CTR.

4. Promote Facebook Page In-store

Do your customers come to your store? Promoting your Facebook page and other social media accounts in-store is just another great way to let your customers know that you are on Facebook.

Remember that if you’re exerting efforts on your Facebook marketing online, you should also do it offline.

facebook-marketing-in-store

Bonus Facebook Marketing Tip:
You might also want to put your social media account pages links on your:

  • business cards
  • front mirror or doors
  • walls
  • packaging
  • … and more!

5. Determine the Best Day to Post

Perhaps my favorite feature that Facebook Pages have is the Insights. By going to your Posts Insights, you will be able to see the average time when your fans are online.

In case you’re planning to schedule three posts, you might want to check the best hours that your fans are online and select those hours on scheduling your post.

You can access your Posts Insights by following the steps below:

  • Go to your Facebook Page.
  • You will see “See Insights” above your Page, click it.
  • You will see your Insights overview from there, find the Posts tab and click it.
  • Hover your mouse on the day you want your post to be scheduled and you will able to see the best hours that your fans are online.

Alternatively, tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social will help you find the data and metrics you need including what type of post you should be using for your social media copies..

6. Create and Schedule Your Status Updates

The average daily active user on Facebook is 757 million, according to a January 2014 report. And a certain percentage from those millions of people could be your next potential customers.

If you want to use Facebook for maximum advantage, you need to post contents for your target audience with consistency. Your goals should be either to educate, to entertain, or to empower them.

There are also some Facebook posting statistics that you might want to consider when creating your status updates:

  • Using emoticons increases comments by 33% and makes posts be shared 33% more often and get liked 57% more often than posts without emoticons (source: AMEX OPEN Forum infographic.)
  • Question posts get more comments (source: HubSpot).

Scheduling Your Facebook Status Updates:

Facebook has a built-in feature that allows you to schedule a post to appear on your page later. If you want to know more about it and the detailed steps on how to use it, refer to this link and continue reading below.

7. Use the Facebook Plugins

Integrating Facebook Plugins on your website will give you more advantages on branding awareness and followers increase on Facebook. For blogs or websites with sidebars, you may want to use the Facebook Like Box or Like Button.

For your website pages and blog posts, it is best to use the Like Button, although you can use them both! You may want to consider doing experiments on what’s the best Facebook plug-in for your website.

8. Use Facebook Ads

You may hate it, but investing on Facebook ads will give your business a lift especially if you’re a start-up or a small business.

Facebook ads aren’t really expensive as you might think; you will love them once you tried to test them to get the best conversion that can impact your followers and your business growth. Consistent testing and experiments are necessary once you use them.

Facebook ads currently help you create your campaign depending on the results you want to gain:

  • Facebook Page Engagement— Ads that boost your posts and increase likes, comments, shares, video plays, and photo views
  • Facebook Page Likes— Ads to build your audience on Facebook
  • Clicks to Website— Ads to encourage people to visit your website
  • Website Conversions— Ads to promote specific actions for people to take on your website; you’ll need a conversion-tracking pixel to measure your results
  • App Installs— Ads to encourage people to install your app
  • App Engagement— Ads that get more activity on your app
  • Event Responses— Ads to promote your event
  • Offer Claims— Ads to promote offers you created; you’ll need to use an offer you’ve created on Facebook or create a new one

The setup for each ad varies depending on what results you want to see. Below are few things you might want to consider when you set up your ads:

  • Target your desired audience (gender, age, locations). If you use Google Analytics display tracking, you can use the data from there and use it for retargeting.
  • Use an engaging picture if you’re planning to use Facebook ads for your page or external pages.
  • Use an easy-to-answer or an engaging ads description, here’s an example.

If you’re selling gift items, you might want to put something like this:
“If you think giving gifts can make someone smile, Like Us today!”

Since the text is easily answerable by Yes or No, those people who most likely say “yes” will be converted as your fans. Trust me, this is so effective.

Note: You can only use 90 characters for your Facebook ads text/description.

9. Think Outside the Box and Create Facebook Contest

A 2013 report stated that 35% of Facebook fans like a page so they can participate in contests.

People love contest and free stuffs. Doing a Facebook contest for your fans will give you higher engagement scores and activity. A simple “caption-this-photo” contest can bring in 5.5 times more connects than regular posts.

If you sell products, you might want to give one of your products as a prize; whereas if you provide services, perhaps a free 1-hour consultation, designs, or any of your service can be used as the prize. Make sure that everybody can join and don’t forget to promote it!

10. Use the “@ feature” in Facebook

Using the @ feature for Facebook will let your fans feel that they are important and are part of your business page. The Facebook @ feature will let you tag people or even other Facebook pages.

Show gratitude and enthusiasm by using Facebook @ feature whenever your fans appreciate or ask something about your business because it can build a fruitful relationship and loyalty between your business and your customers.

11. Develop a Facebook Customized Page Tab or Apps

A custom page tab/app is a great option if you want to offer an exclusive advantage for your fans. It allows new visitors to see details of your events, contest, opt-in forms, or deals, which can help you gain more fans and likes.

According to Socially Stacked, 42% of fans like a page to get a coupon or discount. Anotherstudy by Wildfire Interactive showed that coupon-based campaigns received the highest engagement rates.

An example of customized tab/app for your Facebook page is what I currently use to gain subscribers as well as likes in exchange for exclusive business and marketing tips.
facebook-custom-tab-apps

Bonus Facebook Marketing Tip:
Most businesses that used customized tab for their Facebook pages put exclusive discount coupons or free download such as e-books. My favorite tool for creating a Facebook custom tab is Woobox, which is free.

12. Integrate Social Media Sharing

Using social media plug-ins or integrating social media sharing buttons on your website makes it easy for your visitors and customers to share your website pages.

Once a person shared your content through Facebook and other social media sites, their friends can easily see those links on their Facebook profile and news feed.

You could also gain a share from them, which will make the process repeatable in a sense that it can also be shared by their friends of friends—possibly making it viral. This will also helpincrease your website traffic.

social-media-sharing

My favorite free social media sharing plug-ins are:

  • Digg Digg
    Digg Digg by Buffer displays all popular social sharing buttons with count.
  • Flare
    Although the plug-in isn’t in active development anymore, it features eye-catching and simple social sharing bar that lets your content get shared.
  • Mashshare
    Mashshare sharing plug-in is a high-performance share functionality inspired by Mashable. The beautifully designed big buttons of “Share on Facebook” and “Tweet on Twitter” are my favorite.

For paid social media sharing plug-in, I use Ultimate Social Deux.

On this blog, I use both Ultimate Social Deux and Digg Digg.

13. Engage with Your Facebook Community

Engaging and talking with your community on Facebook could build a strong relationship, trust, and loyalty. The most exciting result about this is that they can also turn as your repeat customers or potential leads.

Facebook can also be used as one of your customer support hub.

14. Engage with Other Facebook Pages

You might want to engage with other Facebook pages using your Facebook page account. Find those Facebook pages where your customers hang out.

Your comment will serve as a link toward your page that can lead to an additional like or following (see below image). You could convert those “likes as fans” into “likes for conversions.”

facebook-link-relationship-building

15. Use Images and Videos for Your Content Updates

People love images and videos; they can also be seen easily on Facebook News Feed, which makes them easy to engage with.

Wishpond’s data says that posts that include photos receive 120% more engagement than the average post, while posts that include photo albums received 180% more engagement.

Hot Facebook Marketing Tip:
You might want to put a call-to-action text with shortened links on each of your photo descriptions toward your website to gain traffic. My favorite resource for this is Bitly.

Why shortened links? Shorter posts get 23% more interaction. Posts with 250 characters can get you 60% more engagement while posts with less than 80 characters can help you gain 66 % more engagement.

facebook-shorter-posts

16. Create or Join Facebook Groups

Facebook groups have three types of privacy: open, closed, and secret. These different types also serve different functionality and ways to use.

  • Open Group
    Anyone can see the group, who’s in it, and what members post.Open groups are mainly used to build awareness, authority, and interest in your brand. This is the best group if you want to establish yourself as an expert and to network with others in your industry. The main focus that you should do on open groups is not selling but rather participation and interactions.
  • Closed Group
    Anyone can see the group and who’s in it. Only members see posts.Closed groups are best to use for customer support purposes. For example, we are using Closed Group for one of my clients current customers who want to share ideas with other users. We also use this for customer support and solve problems.
  • Secret Group
    Only members see the group, who’s in it, and what members post.Secret members-only groups are great for higher-level discussions that need confidentiality. For example, since I manage lots of teams, companies, and businesses, we use secret groups for collaboration and follow-ups.Other companies find the secret group useful as one way to network with their clients or customers especially for those on coaching, training, or consulting industry.

Conclusion

To summarize, here are the most effective Facebook marketing strategies that you can use right now to jump-start your business success on Facebook.

  1. Leverage your existing website traffic by putting social media icon, which redirects to your social media pages.
  2. Use your e-mail signature to display your Facebook Fan Page URL.
  3. Send out an e-mail blast to let your audience know that your business exists on Facebook
  4. Promote your Facebook page in-store.
  5. Determine the best days to post.
  6. Create and schedule status updates.
  7. Use Facebook Plugins to easily grow your followers.
  8. Use Facebook ads to help you achieve the results you want to have for your business.
  9. Think outside the box and create a Facebook contest.
  10. Tag other users and pages by using the @ feature in Facebook
  11. Develop a custom page tab or app for coupon, discounts, and any other exclusive deals. You can also use it for newsletters and other campaign purposes.
  12. Integrate social media sharing buttons on your website pages.
  13. Engage with your fans and current community.
  14. Engage with other Facebook Pages.
  15. Use image and videos on your status updates.
  16. Create or join Facebook groups.

Final Thoughts and Ideas

Facebook marketing and any other social media marketing campaign are just like a courtship in real life. You should do it step-by-step until you build the relationship you wished to have.

There should be more Facebook marketing ideas out there, but I assure you that the above list will give your Facebook business a big lift. If you would like to add more ideas and tips, feel free to comment below or subscribe to my newsletter.

Essential Tips for an Engaging Facebook Business Page

But if you think you can just slap together a Facebook Page and expect the leads and customers to roll right in, you’ve got another thing coming. The chances of actually generating leads and customers from Facebook are pretty slim if you’re not creating a Facebook Page with the potential to get noticed, Liked, and engaged with.

Check out the tips below to make sure you’re creating an engaging page that doesn’t fall flat.

1) Your business page.

To avoid publishing mishaps, give Facebook Business Page administrative and editing rights only to the employees who need it (you can do this under ‘Page Roles‘ in ‘Settings‘), and be sure to provide adequate training so they aren’t confused about where they should be hitting publish, what they should be posting, and who they should be posting it as.

As a page administrator, you can choose to publish, comment, or Like a post on your page as either your personal profile name or your page name under ‘Post Attribution‘ in ‘Settings.’

post-attribution.png

2) Add a recognizable profile picture.

You’ll want to pick a profile picture that will be easy for your potential fans to recognize. This could be anything from a company logo for a big brand to a headshot of yourself if you’re a solopreneur or consultant. Being recognizable is important to getting found and Liked — especially in Facebook Search. Your profile image is pictured at the top of your Facebook Page and is also the thumbnail image that gets displayed next to all your Facebook Page updates, so choose wisely.

When choosing a photo, keep in mind that Facebook requires your profile picture dimensions to be 180 pixels by 180 pixels — even though the image will display as 160 pixels by 160 pixels on desktop computers.

facebook-profile-picture-1.png

3) Choose an engaging cover photo.

Next, you’ll need to pick an attractive cover photo. Since your cover photo takes up the most real estate above the fold on your Facebook Page, make sure you’re choosing one that’s high quality and engaging to your visitors, like this one from Care.com’s Facebook Page:

care-dot-com-cover-photo-example.png

Keep in mind that Facebook cover photo dimensions are 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. To help you create an attractive cover photo optimized for the right dimensions, download our pre-sized Facebook cover photo template here, and read up on some do’s and don’ts for creating engaging cover photos in this blog post.

4) Optimize the descriptions of your profile picture and cover photo by adding links.

Depending on your goals for using Facebook, you may want to consider including links to your website in the descriptions for your profile picture and cover photo. Whether it’s to a blog post, a piece of lead-gen content, or just an “About Us” page, links are opportunities for interested folks to get to know your company better, and the descriptions of your profile picture and cover photo are prime real estate to do it:

If you decide to add links to the descriptions of these two photos, make sure they are shortened links with UTM parameters attached to them — that way, you know if they’re working or not.

hubspot-profile-pic-description.png

5) Bonus: Integrate your profile picture with your cover photo.

If you want to get extra creative and feel confident about your design skills, try coordinating your profile picture and your cover photo in a creative way. For example, check out how Coca-Cola does it on its Facebook Page:

coca-cola-integrated-cover-photo-profile-picture.png

The possibilities are endless!

6) Add a call-to-action (CTA) button to your cover photo.

Back in December 2014, Facebook launched a new feature that allows you to add one of seven pre-made call-to-action buttons to your Facebook Page’s cover photo. Pages can choose from one of the following options — “Sign Up,” “Shop Now,” “Contact Us,” “Book Now,” “Use App,” “Watch Video,” and “Play Game” — and customize it with a destination URL of their choosing.

This is a great way for marketers to drive traffic from their Facebook Business Page back to their website. Check out how Hotel Urbano uses the “Book Now” button on its Facebook Page:

hotel-urbano-book-now-button-1.png

Another smart way to use these calls-to-action is to integrate your Facebook cover photo with your CTA button. Check out how we previously integrated the “Sign Up” button with a cover photo we used on HubSpot’s page to promote HubSpot’s free CRM:

crm-sign-up-button.png

To add a call-to-action button to your cover photo, click the ‘Create Call-to-Action‘ button located on your cover photo. You’ll then be able to choose the button copy you want and specify the URL you want to direct visitors to. To get data on how many people are clicking your button, simply click the drop-down arrow on your button and select ‘View Insights.’

7) Customize your Facebook Page with apps — then organize your tabs.

See those tabs under the cover photo on HubSpot’s Facebook Page, pictured below? Those are apps you can add to your Facebook Page as one way to customize it.

facebook-tabs.png

For example, when a visitor to HubSpot’s page clicks on our ‘Jobs’ tab, HubSpot’s Facebook Page Timeline gets replaced with a listing of jobs available at HubSpot, powered by Jobvite’s Facebook app:

hubspot-jobs.png
To customize your Facebook Page with apps, visit the Facebook App Center and search for apps you want to add to your page. After clicking on the result you want, click the flag icon flag-icon.png to visit the app’s page. Next, click the menu icon dot-menu.png located on the app page’s cover photo, and select ‘Add App to Page.’ To take this one step further, you can even create your very own custom apps with a bit of tech savvy. Learn how to create custom Facebook Page apps here.

Once you’ve added apps, you can also rearrange the order in which they appear at the top of your page. Facebook will automatically show your ‘Timeline‘ and ‘About‘ tabs first, but you can select two more apps to show up primarily in your tabs section. Everything else will fall under the ‘More‘ dropdown. Choose the most engaging or important apps out of all the ones you’ve enabled on your page to appear in the top row. You can do so by clicking the ‘More‘ dropdown, selecting ‘Manage Tabs,’ and then dragging and dropping your apps to rearrange the order of your tabs.

8) Fill out your ‘About’ section with basic information, and add company milestones.

Don’t forget about one of the most important sections of all: your ‘About‘ section. A preview of it lives on the left-hand side of your page beneath your profile picture, and it’s one of the first places people will look when they’re scanning your page. Visitors can also navigate to your full ‘About’ section by clicking on the tab at the top of your page.

Be sure to optimize the ‘About’ section on the left side of your page with brief yet descriptive copy — by doing so, potential fans can get a sense of what your page is about before they decide to Like you. This copy will get pulled from the ‘Short Description‘ you provide within your full ‘About’ tab. To edit your full ‘About’ tab, click on it, hover over the section you’d like to edit, and click the pencil icon.

You should also consider populating the ‘Milestones‘ section of your ‘About’ tab with noteworthy company milestones — for instance, the day/year your company was founded, when you launched popular products, or when you hosted major events. To add milestones, click on the ‘Timeline‘ section of your page, and click the ‘Offer, Event +‘ option in the page update composer near the top of your page.

add-milestone.png

9) Post photos and videos to your Timeline.

Why photos and videos? Because they’re proven to be the most engaging types of content on Facebook, according to a study conducted by Quintly.

The other reason posting these types of updates are important is because you’ll want your ‘Photos‘ and ‘Videos‘ apps — which are apps automatically added to every Facebook Page — to actually be populated with photos and videos.

Maximize your Facebook juice right from the start! Make sure the multimedia content you post is the correct size by checking out this social media dimensions infographic.

10) Post other content types as well.

If you’re only posting photos and videos, you may notice a decline in your Facebook reach and engagement. While photos and videos are proven to be the most engaging content formats on Facebook, too much of a good thing can be bad for your Facebook Page. So try switching up the type of content you share to increase the chance your audience sees them — share links to articles, post offers, etc.

Just be sure the content you share is optimized for Facebook sharing. For example, knowing Facebook will also pull in images associated with the links you share, make sure the images used in the content of the links you’re sharing are optimized for the ideal Facebook dimensions; otherwise, the shared link won’t show up as prominently on your Timeline or in the News Feed.

links-with-images.png

See how the update on the left displays much more prominently that the update on the right? Both are link updates, but the one on the left is associated with an image greater than 600 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. Aim for those minimum image dimensions in your content to be sure links to yout content are optimized when shared on Facebook by you or other Facebook users.

11) Promote lead-gen and non-lead-gen content.

Even if one of your main goals is to generate leads from Facebook, you shouldn’t use everyupdate to promote lead-gen offers like webinars, ebooks, premium downloads, etc. Make sure you have a healthy balance of lead-gen posts and content meant for engagement alone — you’ll get more people interacting with your page (which means you’ll have a better chance of showing up in the News Feed later on), and you’ll have a better chance of growing your Facebook fan base. That way, when you do publish lead-gen content, it’ll get exposed to a much bigger audience.

Bonus tip: For any updates that contain links, be sure to place the link before the end of the fifth line of text — that’s where Facebook will truncate it and add a “see more” tag. This way, your fans won’t have to click “see more” in order to access your call-to-action.

12) Determine the ideal timing and frequency for your posts.

An important consideration in your Facebook content strategy should be how frequently you post, and when. This is important to think about because it will affect how successful your page is in the long run. While posting multiple times a day can be a strategic way to land in the News Feed, you might end up shooting yourself in the foot like this business did:

posting_too_often

Because this particular page published too many updates in short timeframe, Facebook’s algorithm grouped them together, rendering the hidden post near-useless. Prevent this from happening by thinking about when your audience will be on Facebook, experimenting with different posting frequencies and timing, checking the performance of your updates in yourFacebook Insights (which you can navigate to via the tab at the very top of your page), and then tailoring your posting strategy accordingly.

To help you figure out your ideal publishing timing and frequency, we’ve also researched some social media frequency benchmarks in our 2015 Social Media Benchmarks Report.

13) Leverage Facebook’s publishing and targeting tools.

Did you know you could schedule posts on Facebook, either through an external publishing tool like HubSpot’s Social Inbox, or through the Facebook interface itself? Scheduling posts allows you to save time on social media community management and help you balance the types of content you share.

Were you aware you could also set individual posts to expire at certain times? This can be great for time-sensitive posts about things like upcoming events or limited-time offers. Both of these features can be managed via the ‘Publishing Tools‘ tab at the top of your Facebook Page.

Last but not least, don’t forget to leverage Facebook’s targeting abilities for segmenting specific updates to certain audiences. Facebook allows you to segment individual page posts by gender, relationship or educational status, age, location, language, or interests. You can also set an expiration date for your post here as well.

facebook-targeting.png

14) Pin important posts to the top of your page.

When you post new content to your Facebook Page, older posts get pushed farther down your Timeline. But sometimes you may want a specific post to stay at the top of your page for longer — even after you publish new updates. To solve for this, Facebook offers the ability to “pin” one post at a time to the top of your page. You can use pinned posts as a way to promote things like new lead-gen offers, upcoming events, or important product announcements.

To pin a post, click on the drop-down arrow in the top right corner of a post on your page, and click ‘Pin to Top.’ It will then appear at the top of your page, flagged with a little orange bookmark. Just keep in mind that you can only have one pinned post at any given time.

pinned-post.png

15) Decide whether you want Facebook fans to message you privately

If you want your Facebook fans to be able to privately message you directly through your page, definitely enable the messages feature — you can enable and disable messaging capabilities via the ‘Messages‘ tab at the very top of your page, but only if you’re an administrator of the page.

We recommend enabling messaging on your page to make it as easy as possible for your fans to reach out to you — but only do so if you have the time monitor and respond to your messages. If you can’t dedicate resources to checking your message inbox, make it very clear in your ‘About’ snippet what the most direct way to get in touch with you is … and then of course actually respond to those inquiries from your fans.

16) Monitor and respond to comments on your page.

Speaking of monitoring the interactions your fans have with your page, don’t forget about comments. You can monitor and respond to comments via the ‘Notifications‘ tab at the very top of your page. While it may not be necessary to respond to every single comment you receive, you should definitely monitor the conversations happening there (especially to stay on top of potential social media crises), and aim to interact with your Facebook fans on a regular basis.

If you need help figuring out what’s worth responding to in social media, check out this helpful flowchart.

17) Promote your page to generate more followers.

Now that you’ve filled your page with content, it’s time to promote the heck out of it.

Add social media follow buttons to your website and your emails so it’s easy for your website visitors and email recipients to find and connect with you on Facebook. Try embedding a Facebook Like Box in your blog’s sidebar. Consider doing a dedicated sent to your contacts to alert them that you’re on Facebook. Without promotion, it will be much harder for your page to grow.

Here are some other great ways to increase your social reach.

18) Measure the success of your Facebook efforts.

Remember back in tip #4 when we recommended using tracking URLs? Here’s why: In yourmarketing analytics platform, you’ll then be able to track how many clicks those URLs are getting, and thus, how much traffic they’re referring to your website. And if you have closed-loop marketing, you’ll be able to attribute leads and customers to those specific Facebook efforts. Pretty sweet, right?

Besides your bottom-line metrics, you should also dive into your page’s Facebook Insights so you can track Facebook-specific engagement metrics. Here, you’ll be able to analyze things like the demographics of your fans and (if you have more than 30 Likes) the demographics of the people who are actually engaging with your page. You’ll also get insight into how people are interacting with different posts on your page — which you can use to modify your Facebook content strategy to publish more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.

You can access your Facebook Insights via the tab at the top of your page.

19) Try some Facebook advertising to amplify what works.

Now that you know what works for you on Facebook, it might make sense for you to put some additional oomph behind posts you know resonate with your audience.

Putting a little bit of your budget into Facebook ads can go a long way — especially if you’re making data-driven decisions. Learn more about the types of Facebook ads available and what makes a successful Facebook ad in this blog post.

What other tips do you have for setting up top-notch Facebook Pages? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

How To Connect with The Best Bloggers in Your Industry

If you could connect with any blogger in your industry, who would it be? Forget about any limitations for a second, who would you choose? In the last few years we’ve had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of incredible bloggers and I’m going to show you a few techniques that will help you get started.

The biggest reason and the reason that works the best is to reach out to influential bloggers in your industry and purely build relationships with them in a mutually beneficial way. Your business does not exist in a vacuum and nor should it. I believe in surrounding yourself with people who constantly help you grow, challenge you and hold you responsible to your goals.

It’s easy to get distracted though. Many times when we make ourselves too busy, proximity beats quality of people and we lose sight of expanding our circles. But you can use proximity to your advantage.

One of the best ways to do this is to find people that you have something in common with. And they may actually be closer than you think. Literally. One thing I’ve found to work well is to start by discovering influencers right where you are. These are influential people who live near you and for that reason automatically share that in common with you. I use this technique for finding really good subcontractors for marketing projects. Say I’m looking for a copywriter for a project, I Google “copywriters in Nashville” and search Twitter for the same thing. Then I compare the people that I find by looking at their social proof, websites, engagement with their audience and see who not only does good work with who has proved it. That solidifies my decision. Chances are that person’s going to be someone I want to establish a relationship with and use repeatedly as well as help anyway that I can in return.

The other reason to reach out to influencers is for a more specific. And that’s to ask their help in promoting a product or service. This is by far, the most popular reason for reaching out to influential bloggers to tap into their audience to help build your own.

I use this strategy when working with authors during their book launch. We help them identify blogs that share their target audience and would benefit from a guest post from that writer on a topic that’s related to that person’s blog, NOT about the author’s book.

The top reasons to reach out to a blogger

  • Guest Posting
  • Build Relationships
  • Link Exchanges
  • Partnerships
  • Permission to use content
  • Interviews

There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this and it’s all in the execution and intent. I believe that you should enter into every guest posting opportunity and view it as a win-win win. A win for you to make it worth the effort, a win for the blogger to make it worth their time, and a win for their audience that is reading the blog post to build value for them.

How to make sure everyone wins

  • It must be a win/win/win
  • Always personalize your outreach email or any other type of communication
  • Always have a goal before you start. Don’t reach out just because or you’ll just waste people’s valuable time

If you are only just posting to get a link to your blog post or trying to get some free advertising you probably won’t get accepted in the first place and you’re going to have more enemies than friends by the time you’re done.

How do you find influencers online?

Here’s my secret. The most interesting people often aren’t the most popular people. “That’s ridiculous!” you say. Well hear me out…

Just because someone has a huge following doesn’t mean that the quality of the audience is there. Many times a bigger audience just means they are less targeted. I’d rather have 100 super targeted and engaged readers who are known to take action after reading rather than 500 untargeted readers on a blog that specializes in five different things instead of one targeted topic.

One way to quickly start finding influential people in any industry is to let others do the work for you. Here’s what I mean. Head over to Google and type in “top + your industry/location + blogs” For example, “Top marketing blogs” or “top gardening bloggers Nashville”.  Someone else has already done the work to scour Google for great blogs in almost every industry. Why not start with them?

Start making a list of the top influencers in the category you’re looking for. I like to use a spreadsheet for this.

Now that you’re finding more bloggers than you know what to do with, how do you qualify them? Which ones are quality and which are a waste of time?

Questions to ask before reaching out

  • Does the influencer have a history of guest posts? If not, they might be less open to a guest post.
  • What is the consistency of their monthly traffic?
  • Do they engage with their audience through comments and social media?
  • Are they active on other social channels?
  • Do they provide a way to contact them? Do they even want to be contacted?

Social Media and the 2016 Presidential Election

voteSo far, the run up to the 2016 elections has been, at various times, amusing or weird, but mostly interesting, thanks to social media. If not for this ever flexible, we wouldn’t have seen this hilarious Snap of Hillary chillin’, the world wouldn’t be same without those odd Trump-isms on Twitter, or worse, we wouldn’t have known what Scott Walker is eating!

If we are to believe the figures estimated by Borrell Associates, politicians will be allocating over 9 percent of media budget towards digital and social media — this comes to an estimated $1 billion. And don’t we all know for whom is this budget allocated for?

Long story short, the efforts of electoral candidates and their social media agencies seem to be concentrated towards winning affection of millennials (25 to 34 year olds), and although no one can say today which candidate is going to win the elections later this year, one thing is clear: social media is winning the elections today.

The Elections and Social Media

One interesting thing to note here is it’s not only candidates who are showing an affinity towards social media; websites like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snapchat are doing their bit to warm up to politicos too.

Twitter, for instance, shut down two apps that showed tweets that politicians had deleted – if ever a social network pandered to political advantage, this was it. Twitter later formed an agreement with Politwoops. They even hosted a breakfast event in Washington rolling out the proverbial red carpet for election candidates. And they went on to partner with Square so people could tweet their donations to their preferred parties and candidates.

Eric Laurence, Facebook’s head of U.S. Industry for Politics and Government, once cited the benefits of their video advertising saying it was a “great way to reach and mobilize supporters and voters that candidates need to win elections.” He further added that “those voters are on Facebook,” which is not far off the mark, counting the 200 million U.S. citizens actively using Facebook. The company has a dedicated team which meets candidates and offers assistance with Facebook’s advertising services.

Even the fairly new entrants like Snapchat are proffering filters and 10-second video ads catered to political campaigns. The first few candidates to run ads on this platform were John Kasich, Rand Paul and Scott Walker. Snapchat even hired ex-Google leader Rob Saliterman, who led political ad sales during theGeorge W. Bush administration.

Coming to the giant now, Google is a leader when it comes to 2016 elections. From sponsored links in Google searches, YouTube video ads and the new-fangled programmatic display ads on online publishing websites such as New York Times, presidential candidates have a lot of scope to reach out to right audience through Google.

Lee Dunn, who is heading the election campaign management team at Google told Glamour that YouTube will help candidates to target people based on their geographical locations, language, etc.:

2016 will become known for being the campaign of video content. People want authenticity and directness from candidates, and the best platform to provide that without a filter from the media is YouTube.

Clearly, the 2016 election candidates have woken up to social media and the social networks have woken up to the amount of cash at stake.

Now the question isn’t who is using social media, the question is who is using social media most effectively. People are watching candidates with hawk eyes, waiting for one wrong tweet…

What’s worse, candidates are continuously up to odd antics, trying to be “cool” so as to impress millennials. In fact, this might be taking them away from the precious presidential hot seat.

elections1

So the question that President Obama changed from “Can presidential candidates gain from social media?” to “How do presidential candidates gain from social media?” is now more like “How do candidates and parties ride this huge, big wave that has come out of nowhere and has changed the shape of elections and politics?”

Winning Strategies from Social Media Experts

A lot of consultants and agencies seem to be finding the answer and I have rounded up some of these strategies and solutions here.

Erin Lindsay from Precision Strategies, a consulting firm founded by people behind Obama’s campaign, told The Hill:

Authenticity is a big thing in social media. I think the candidates that are the most successful are the ones that are clearly the most comfortable.

I think what Lindsay is trying to say is that you should adjust your tone depending on various platforms: on Reddit, be ready to answer any questions; on Twitter, be ready to handle impromptu debates; on Facebook, show concern and warmth. The dos and don’ts for various social media platforms are endless. But the basic mantra is same – be authentic at all times.

Another gem of advice comes from Jim Walsh, co-founder of DSPolitical:

When Walsh tried to persuade politicians about the effectiveness of targeted reach and precision using digital media in 2012, he had a hard time fighting traditional media like print and TV. Today, his company has expanded to almost double their size with half the need for persuasion, and is serving some of the best political parties.

So do they have a magic wand?

The magic wand that agencies like DSPolitical have is – data and tools. Companies like DSPolitical, CampaignGrid and Targeted Victory use analytics tools to narrow down every one of the 190 million registered voters and target personalized messages at them using their browsing history, real estate and tax records.

Further, data firms like Data Trust, i360 and TargetSmart track, compile and analyze social data which help candidates in their social media campaigns.

When it comes to the agencies helping them out, it is not only big data exchanges such as the above, but also various other social listening and collaboration tools that come in handy. For instance,Quintly can be used for benchmarking competition, monitoring and analyzing campaigns, and finding influencers. The same goes for Wrike, which allows marketing teams to seamlessly collaborate on campaigns while saving major chunks of their time. Since campaigners need to respond quickly and in real time, SaaS tools like these can prove to be very useful.

Guide to Instagram for Business

rookies guide to instagram for business
Instagram can do more than take pictures of your lunch.

Over Thanksgiving 2012 10 million Thanksgiving-themed photos were shared at a rate of 200 photos per second, according to Instagram’s own blog.

But it’s not just individuals who are using Instagram. Check out these key statistics. In October, Simply Measured released stats showing that 54 percent of major brands are using Instagram for their business.

Before You Begin

1. Grabbing the App

instagram app

If you’re going to use Instagram effectively, you need a mobile device because it’s only available as an app from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Once you have the app, add a bio, add a profile photo and include a link to your site.

Before you start using it for business, check it out as a personal user – it’s a good time to play with all the features. Instagram doesn’t have brand pages, so whatever you learn will still be useful when you put your business hat on.

Business Tip

For your profile name, choose an account name that’s the same as the Twitter handle of your business.


2. Enabling Notifications

Instagram Notifications

At the start of your Instagram journey, no-one will be talking to or following you.

Business Tip

A key to good business is responding to your customers, enable notifications so you can see when people share or comment on your photos. This will let you engage with them more quickly – just like a lot of companies do on Twitter. You can also use image based responses to show you are taking their communications with you seriously.


3. Adding Social Networks

Adding Social Networks

Instagram isn’t just about internal photo love; you can also share your uploads on other social networks. Boosting their reach, and improving the likelihood that you’ll get people responding to them.

Go ahead and link Instagram to Twitter and Facebook (as well as Foursquare, Tumblr and Flickr).

Business Tip

If you have already established a business presence on other social networks, leverage this by sharing what’s going on in your office (e.g. sneak peaks of new product features, and company cultural events) across multiple networks.

Getting Started

4. Editing Photos

Editing Instagram Photos

The best way to understand Instagram is to see what it can do.

Open the Instagram app to start up your camera or choose a photo from the gallery.

Then give your image the professional touch by using Instagram’s built-in filters. You can brighten colors, change pictures to sepia, enrich the overall look, rotate, crop and change the image focus.

Once you’re happy with your photo, move onto the next step – sharing photos.

Business Tip

Be innovative. One example might be to brand your photos so they all have your logo attached. A simple way to do this would be to have a small printed out logo to hold up (by hand) in the corner of your shot as you take it. This is the business equivalent of those classic photos where people take photos of their feet in exotic locations. Have you seen anyone else do this? Nope. That’s the point. Don’t rely on your profile to extend your brand, make it a part of everything you produce.


5. Sharing Photos

Sharing Instagram Photos

Add a caption to your photo and upload it. A good tip for business users is to ask questions in your captions to increase the possibilities for engagement.

Learn more about Instagram engagement inTips, Tactics and Best Practices to Improve Your Instagram Life.

Business Tip

As mentioned above, asking questions increases engagement. If you have a brick and mortar business, ask people which locations they’ve visited. If you run an online business, include a URL in the comments that interested viewers copy and paste into their mobile browser. Ideally you’ll want to add a mobile ready landing page for an optimal experience.


6. Using Hashtags

instagram- ashtags

Now that you’ve uploaded your first photo, try it again, but this time, to give your photo more reach – add a hashtag. Hashtags have become part of the social media landscape (not just Twitter).

They are a key tool for organizing your photos and helping Instagram users to find photos on topics that interest them (such as your products). Add hashtags to your captions to see engagement grow. Check out Instagram’s own advice on hashtags for help with this.

Business Tip

Establish a hashtag for your business from the start, so that you can provide consistency and something customers can memorize.


7. Finding Customers

Finding Customers on Instagram

Now that you have a few photos on your Instagram page, find and follow compatible users.

Instagram has a built in tool to help you find people which works particularly well with Facebook.

Business Tip

Again you should rely on hashtags. This time, use them to find people that are discussing/sharing photos relevant to your business. If your Facebook or Twitter followers are busines focused you can search to see if they are on Instagram, broadening your sphere of connectivity with them.


8. Updating out Your Business Profile

Instagram Business Profile

Much to the delight of fans, Instagram recently introduced web profiles.

Yours will be http://instagram.com/[your-username]

Have a look at your profile and see if it represents your brand well, once it does, get sharing this new profile URL.

Business Tip

Add some of your business personality to your profile. This can include having an image of your office or employees, or your logo, rather than personal profiles which often have a photo of the user.

General Tips on Using Instagram

9. Taking Unusual or Cute Photos

unusually cute photo

To make the most of Instagram, avoid generic, posed photos that have zero personality.

Photos that look like they are taken on the fly or those that are a bit wacky tend to do better.

Cute photos of animals or flowers can work well too (but are probably best saved for times when you need to inject some personality into your brand – or if you sell animals =/.

Business Tip

Many companies use different social networks to create different experiences. LinkedIn for business discussions and lead gen, Twitter for content marketing updates and customer conversations, and Facebook for more fun company culture based updates. Instagram is also perfect to help your Facebook account by capturing funny moments on the fly and push them to Facebook to brighten up your presence there.


10. Posting Strategies

liking photos on instagram

Like other social networks, using Instagram successfully means interacting with others.

That means liking other users’ photos (by double tapping in the app), commenting on them, mentioning them by name when you post something interesting (using @ plus the username) and responding to their comments.

Post consistently, but don’t overdo it: thou shalt not spam! Be authentic and engagement will follow.

Business Tip

If you’ve successfully grown your followers based on customers or leads from your other networks, make sure you engage with them regularly, with comments and likes on their photos, to keep you top of mind.


11. How to Use Location Services

instagram location services

As a business, you probably want to take advantage of local traffic and Instagram works well for this.

Take a photo of your business, tap the ‘where’ field, locate your business and upload your photo.

You can also pin photos to maps (shown opposite). For example showing where people are using your products or services.

This will help you to make local connections.

Business Tip

Bring customers to you. If you make updates based on a geographical location, mention that you’ll be there and to come on down for a free prize giveaway – bringing customers directly to your store.

Instagram and Your Business

12. Promoting Your Business on Instagram

redbull on instagram

Because it’s so visual, Instagram is an excellent tool for marketing and promoting your business.

Some of the ways you can do this include:

Business Tip

Show context of use: Instead of just using standard shots of your product, try showing people using it to illustrate the benefits of doing so, and that you have a customer base.


13. Improving Customer Service

Threadless customer service on instagram

Instagram can also help you improve what you offer customers. Consider:

  • Asking customers to post their ownphotos of your product or service and then showcasing them.
  • Showcasing a ‘behind the scenes’ look at your business, including employees, product development and more.

Business Tip

If you make a mistake, issue a different style of apology, perhaps a photo of your CEO holding a piece of paper saying “I’m Sorry”. Then include a comment with more details and a link to a landing page that has a more formal letter.

Extra Credit

Here are some additional ways to make the most of Instagram for business.

14. Status Updates – Visually

instagram status update

Change the way you think about Instagram to see its possibilities. Recent research showed that teenagers use the site to provide visual status updates. So speak to your customers the way they interact with others in their network.

Business Tip

Have a spot on the wall of your office (like a whiteboard) where you can write details of updates that are happening, then take photos of it to share. The consistency will help let customers know that you have an update coming.


15. Researching Your Customers

product search on instagram

Since your customers also use the caption and tagging features in Instagram, it’s easy for you to search and see who’s already using your product or visiting your business. There is a ready-made fan base for you to interact with.

Business Tip

This is the same as finding customers that was mentioned earlier, except that you are searching based on caption and tagging.


16. Monitoring Your Analytics

instagram analytics

As with any social site, you need to know what people are responding to and how so you need analytics. A good option is the free Instagram Analytics report on Simply Measured.

Business Tip

Like any marketing endeavor, you need to know what your goals are. Is it sales, or increased brand awareness. If it’s a tangible goal such as sales then you need to track and report on it to see if this channel is a viable marketing tool for your company.


17. Read the Instagram Blog

instagram-blog

Instagram is constantly updating its offering and also publishes lots of tips and tricks. Check out the Instagram blog to see the latest features you can use in your business.

The Benefits of Collaborating With Influential Bloggers

People are dealing with a lot of content online. And they don’t always know whom they can trust.

According to Technorati, blogs rank among the top five “most trustworthy” sources of information on the internet.

Because bloggers build a following during a long period of time and by producing interesting, quality images or articles, people begin to trust these sources. They relate to them and respect their opinions.

Many brands are now turning to influential bloggers to reach new audiences or to engage them in a different way. They are finding ways to collaborate so their message is told by an authority source people actually pay attention to. We run influencer marketing campaigns at The Shelf and have found that there are a ton of opportunities for brands and bloggers to connect. Consider these 12 tactics if you are looking to pair up with a blogger:

Gifting Goods

Gifting goods to your favorite bloggers is undoubtedly one of the easiest ways to expose your brand to potential customers. The key to success is to identify bloggers who share the same aesthetic as your brand. If they love your gifted goods, they’re more than likely to give you exposure. Whether you’re gifting an all-inclusive resort stay or clothes from your latest collection, you’ll want to work with bloggers that produce high-quality visuals. The goal is to create content featuring your brand’s products or services that are highly shareable.

However, if you’re looking for guaranteed exposure, gifting goods is not the way to go. While most bloggers do accept gifts, they don’t guarantee editorial coverage. Normally, they expect compensation if they’re promoting you on their blog and social channels. To that end, always get in touch with the blogger before sending out gifts. It’s better to agree on specifics first. If the blogger charges for this type of coverage and you really want to work with them, at least you can work out the arrangement beforehand.

Screenshot 2016-02-23 08.36.56Although visual products are great for gifting, they can be effective in other scenarios, too. Case in point: when indie blogging app Desk sponsored a post on John Gruber’s blog, Daring Fireball, the creator of Desk was bombarded by requests for “review copies” from other prominent bloggers in the tech space. These free copies turned into reviews, which propelled Desk to become the 11th most-grossing app in the Mac App Store marketplace.

 

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are easily one of the most popular ways for brands to work with bloggers. Essentially, a sponsored blog post is when a blogger is paid to publish content about the brand on her blog in her own voice. The beauty of sponsored posts is that each blogger can put a unique spin on the content so it appeals to her readers.

Remember: if the blogger is following FTC regulations, she will include a small note somewhere on the post to indicate that the story was sponsored by the brand, but opinions are her own.

Partnering with bloggers on these types of posts can be great for gaining awareness and securing a few valuable links from high authority domains.

Prada used this strategy when it enlisted a group of influential bloggers to promote its new fragrance, Prada Candy Florale. Bloggers were challenged to share their #StopAndSmellTheFlorale moments through their blog and social channels.

Product Reviews

Product reviews from bloggers in your niche are a powerful way to convince potential customers to buy. Since bloggers are known for being trustworthy sources, their readers take note when they have something good to say about a brand. In fact, 84% of consumers research online before making a purchase decision and 7 out of 10 people read online reviews prior to making a purchase. These reviews are also extremely beneficial if there’s an educational component to your product that requires a detailed overview.

If you want to ensure your product gets covered though, don’t just send your product out to the blogger. Get in contact first, and then agree on the specifics. You’ll want to make sure they will cover your product in a positive way. Read through other reviews on the blogger’s site to see if they’re generally receptive to your type of product.

Reviews are wildly popular for products that are hit-or-miss because customers rely on them for making purchasing decisions. Makeup is often reviewed by beauty bloggers for this very reason. On Stuff Parents Need, the author does a great job of outlining all the products that come in the Beauty Box 5 subscription box so readers can see if the subscription is worth your while. If a consumer sees a real person gain success with a product, it’s a very powerful thing. If your brand has a product where people can track their progress — such as weight loss, hair growth, or even teeth whitening — in a series of posts, it could be a perfect fit for a product review collaboration.

Giveaways

Running a giveaway through a blogger is a fantastic way to get your customers excited about your brand. Giveaways can increase engagement and grow your social media following or email newsletter subscriber list.

Always ensure you’re choosing a blogger that aligns with your brand identity and as a result, will appeal to their audience. When choosing a prize, offer something of real value, otherwise readers won’t take the time to enter. The blogger knows her readers far better than you do, so be open to feedback as far as prizing goes.

Since giveaways require participants to do something on their end, tie that action back to your brand’s goals. Do you want to increase your social media following on a specific channel? Ask the participant to follow you or tweet out your giveaway with a branded hashtag. Do you want to increase your email subscriber list? Ask them to sign up before entering the giveaway.Rafflecopter is an excellent platform for running giveaways that tie back to these specific brand goals.

Keep in mind that the blogger will usually charge you for the sponsored post, plus the giveaway component as it requires extra work on their end to set up, promote, and pick a winner.

Forever 21 used this tactic during the holiday season. It partnered with several bloggers to offer $150 gift cards to a blogger’s readers. Each blogger put her own spin on a holiday-inspired Forever 21 outfit, and they encouraged their followers to participate in the giveaway that ran during a one-week period.

Group Giveaways

Group giveaways are when a brand partners with 10 or 20 bloggers who may run sites focused on the same target audience or even different groups.

The sponsored giveaway is posted by all bloggers on the same day, and entries are collected through the same platform. This group scenario allows you multiply the exposure you would normally receive with a single giveaway. And because you are running everythint through one platform, your team is able to save time and money.

Depending on how big the bloggers are, you’ll might find that many are willing to participate without charging. As an added bonus, all bloggers involved get a ton of exposure by cross-promoting each other. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

If you choose to go with a group of smaller bloggers, this won’t do wonders for your SEO but it will be great for generating a lot of shareable user-generated content. This type of content makes for great fodder for your own social media channels and can also spread like wildfire on platforms like Pinterest. Working with smaller bloggers also allows you to be far more focused in terms of your audience. Since smaller bloggers spend far more time nurturing relationships with both brands and their audience, you can see a huge gain from working with them. In fact,72% of bloggers share additional posts about their sponsors for free, outside of their contractual agreement after campaigns are over. You’ll find this is the case far more often with smaller bloggers.

Fashion brand DSW ran a group giveaway with 17 style bloggers. Each blogger offered a $250 gift card, which meant participants had 17 chances to win. Partnering with such a large group of bloggers was a great way to increase exposure for the brand. As an added bonus, each blogger linked to the other bloggers involved, which increased their own followings in the community.

pinterestPinterest Contests

The Pinterest platform is an ideal place to run an image-focused campaign. As Pinterest is very aspirational, the key is to ensure the graphics are high quality and shareable. You can either get the blogger’s readers to pin one of your images to their pin board in exchange for a contest entry, or you can go a step further and have them create an entire board focused on a pre-determined campaign theme. Remember to get participants to mark their entries with a branded hashtag so that you can easily track submissions and campaign impressions. As an added bonus, Pinterest contests are great for generating referral traffic to your website.

Bows-N-Ties ran a Pinterest contest to target people planning their weddings. The contest was a perfect fit for the platform as many people plan their weddings and the surrounding events using pin boards. Bows-N-Ties partnered up with influential wedding blogs, such as Style Me Pretty, to increase participation in the content. Even though these images were created more than a year ago, they’re still circulating among people searching for wedding inspiration.

Sponsored Ad Space

If you want to raise awareness for your brand, sponsored ad space will easily get you in front of more eyeballs within your industry. There are two routes you can take with this option: you can buy ad space via a network or go straight to a blogger. If you choose the ad network route, you will have far less control over the blogs your ad runs on, meaning your message could end up missing the mark. Having said that, ad networks are great if you want to take the stress off finding the right blogs to advertise on.

Going direct to the blogger offers you complete control over what blog you appear on. It can also show you what results you can expect if you were to do a larger-scale collaboration. For brands that are highly visual, like those in the fashion space, getting your ad on the right blog can make a huge difference.

Having direct contact with the blogger might also open your eyes to various other lucrative advertising opportunities, like advertorials and email newsletter ads. Be sure to monitor your analytics to see how well your ad is doing, what you need to change, or whether it’s worth continuing to advertise on the site.

Influencer Competitions

If you want to get creative with your campaigns and generate some serious buzz around your brand, invite influencers to participate in a competition. You can get really creative with this format. Prizes can include exclusive brand collaborations, a chance to travel somewhere on behalf of the brand as an ambassador, or the opportunity to sit on a best-dressed list — to name just a few options. Influencers will need their readers to vote for them in the competition, so it is a great way to reach the readership of bloggers.

Skype recently created a contest called “Your City, Your Passion.” Influencers with in different cities around the world were encouraged to share their passion with the hopes of winning guru sessions with an expert in their field, such as Yvan Rodic of Facehunter and Darren Morenstein of Epic Meal Time.

Guest Posts

Another great way to expose your brand to a blogger’s audience is through guest posting opportunities. This is another way to gain backlinks from high authority sites. Bloggers in various verticals accept guest posts from industry experts so you just have to do some digging. Once you find sites in your particular niche, you should be able to tell pretty quickly whether or not they accept guest posts. Oftentimes, theses sites have a submissions or guest post guidelines page. Always review these before sending a pitch as editors are busy. Keep your email concise, and offer several ideas on the same subject matter so they can choose the angle that best suits their blog.

The benefit to guest posting is that you get the opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader within your industry while also exposing yourself to a new and relevant audience.

When BufferApp first launched, it invested in an aggressive guest posting strategy. As a result, the company acquired more than 100,000 new customers within the first nine months of its launch date. Since the brand did nothing but guest post on other sites in this time frame, Buffer attributes its user acquisition success solely to their guest posting efforts.

Sponsored Social Media Posts

Social media is a science in and of itself for converting customers. Some bloggers are becoming so influential that their Instagram accounts alone can act as viable channels for marketing other businesses. With this in mind, marketers have been experimenting with social media as a stand-alone form of influencer marketing. According to Izea, 52% of companies have a paid social budget for their brand.

While it’s easy to get caught up in follower counts, it’s more important to pay attention to engagement. If you’re collaborating on sponsored social posts, make sure that the blogger has “likes” and comments on her previous posts and is successful at getting followers excited about her updates.

It may take a few views before people start following your account, so do work out a deal where the blogger is promoting you at least a few times during the course of the campaign. Screenshot 2016-02-23 08.39.23

In this Instagram post, style blogger Xander Vintage featured hair rings by Regal Rose. That post alone generated approximately 1,260 “likes” and 20 comments. In the comments, her followers were even tagging their friends to alert them to this unique hair accessory.

Videos

Videos drive awareness, increase engagement, educate readers, inspire action, and are great for SEO. In fact, 70% of the top 100 search listings on Google are video results, and the social sharing of videos can affect organic Google search results.

Develop a creative video concept, collaborate with a highly influential blogger, and invest in promotion. You might just have yourself a viral video.

OPI partnered with Refinery29 to educate viewers on how to create a half-moon manicure with a double-dipped tip. These how-to videos were perfect for the beauty-interested audience, and they were a great way to show off the brand’s product.

Affiliate/Referral Program

Setting up an affiliate program for targeted bloggers can increase conversions for your product and bring you a new audience.  And the best part? Affiliate programs are a win-win situation. If the blogger successfully refers business to you, you can offer a nice payout. The typical rate for affiliates can vary widely, but for startups, it’s generally around 25%. As a rule, it should be whatever makes it worth it to both your brand and the blogger.

Alternatively, you can join an affiliate network instead of running your own program. Every major retailer uses one of these programs because of the volume of leads that they generate. Affiliate networks include rewardStyle,ShopSense, Linksynergy, Skimlinks, LinkShare, CJ Affiliate, and VigLink.

Invest in Influencer Marketing

There is a shift in how marketers are reaching consumers. According to research from Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people — even someone they don’t know — over content created by a brand. That’s why brands need to invest in creating content and partnering with content creators who are trusted resources and can build awareness of the brand and its product. The options are endless, but the key is finding the right partner with the right audience.