Instagram Marketing Tips

Instagram Marketing Tips

Instagram Marketing Tips

Instagram is not only responsible for people adding filters to images of their car park space / view from the office / colleagues / lunch, but it is also a very cool platform to engage audiences on.

There are more than 130 million active users on Instagram every month, so it’s likely that at least some of your audience is spending time on Instagram.  But unlocking the business opportunity takes a bit of creativity, so here are my top 10 tips for Instagram marketing success:

1) Integrate your content: It is likely that you already have a presence (and an audience) on Facebook, so integrate your content with that of Facebook.  You can easily add a tab within your Facebook page which populates with your Instagram images.  A quick and easy way to get your Facebook audience to engage with you on Instagram.

2) Hashtags: Like in Twitter, hashtags are a great way of connecting to new people and new content.  You should use them, but like Twitter, you should also use them in moderation.

3) Engage your audience: Appreciate that this is an obvious one and it’s easier to say than to do, but competitions are a great way of building engagement on Instagram.  Asking your audience to take photos of them creatively using your product is an excellent way of opening the door to interaction with your customers.

4) Share your follower’s content: You should show your appreciation for your followers by liking or commenting on relevant posts on Instagram, but you can also embed a post onto a website.  So why not create a page on your site that contains the best of Instagram from this month.

5) Use @mentions to drive engagement: This is a really nice feature on Instagram, you can use @mentions to direct people to your posts.  This is a powerful tool, so use it wisely, you don’t want to be accused of spamming.

6) Think outside the box: I know, a cliché, but the more creative you can get, the more likely your image will stand out – and no, that doesn’t mean awful stock images.  Think of different ways that consumer use your product, and have a play with the filters, they are there so utilise them!

7) Show off your brand values: A big chunk of the benefit that you will get on Instagram is in brand awareness and brand value, so your content should very clearly illustrate your brand and the values that your company stands for.

8) Use video: Instagram is not just for images – you can upload up to 15 seconds of video into your Instagram feed, so you can use your Vine content here too!

9) Geo-tag your posts to tag where the image is: Tagging your posts geographically is a great tool regardless of the type of business that you have – it’s useful for large scale businesses for engaging locally, or very local businesses as it makes them very relevant locally.

10) Keep testing: This is a social network, so you should always be testing – post different styles of content, post at different times, use new features, and track your results – it’s the only way you will get better.

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How to avoid social media mistakes

Social Media fails

I saw some research earlier this week which showed that 18-39 year olds are more forgiving of brands, and I wondered if this was a result of social media – after all, it’s very easy to quickly make a mistake on social media, so today’s consumers need to be a little more pragmatic.

However, the same mistakes keep happening on social media.  Here are some of the more popular ones and how to avoid them:

Poorly timed Q&As:

  • Issue: JP Morgan’s ultra-optimistic #askJPM session attracted 8k responses, virtually none of which were constructive – the Twittersphere decided to take JPM to task for its part in the banking crisis of 2008
  • Solution: Ensure you get the timing right – it should follow some good news, not a PR catastrophe (British Gas held a Q&A the day after announcing a 10% price rise).  Also, it needs to be monitored closely by a team of people (not just those answering the questions), and have the relevant stakeholders to hand to answer any curve-balls

Scheduled Problems:

  • Issue: Marketing automation is a great help in social where the tasks can feel overwhelming.  However, Tesco had an issue with a tweet sent in the midst of the horse-meat scandal (“It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay. See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets”).  They took out full page adverts in national papers to apologise.
  • Solution: Check all of your scheduled tweets the morning that they are due to land – in many industries, things can change overnight, so make sure your post is still appropriate

Changing Passwords:

  • Issue: In January 2013, HMV made 190 staff redundant with immediate effect…including someone with access to the Twitter account.  So they live tweeted from the meeting, ending in the legendary “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks!) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?”
  • Solution: It’s a really simple one here – firstly, change your passwords regularly and only share them with the core people who need to know.  And if someone leaves, make sure that you change the password and revoke access to any social media and content management systems.

Keep your views to yourself:

  • Issue: In 2012, Chick-Fil-A got into hot water after the company’s founder spoke out against same-sex marriages – cue the Facebook page being flooded about non-clucking content.  However, what they did next was probably the biggest error of judgement in this article: it was accused of creating a fake Facebook which defended the company’s position.  While Chick-Fil-A deny that they created the account, the damage was done.
  • Solution: You need to really think before you post.  It is easy to react quickly to a critical post, but you should take a deep breath and remember that you are talking to a group of potential customers – treat them as you would in the off-line world.

And if you do have a problem, admit it, hold your hands up and say sorry – mistakes will happen, but trying to cover them up in a world of transparent communications will rarely work.  What are your favourite social media howlers and what can we learn from them?

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Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising

Following on from my post last week about Twitter advertising, I thought that I should also cover advertising on the other major social network, Facebook.

As the world’s largest social network, just over 1.2 billion members at the last count, and with each user having an average of 338 friends, the news feed is a tough place to get your message to stand out – particularly if you only have a small number of likes on your page.

Facebook is a commercial organisation, and it is entitled to start to monetise the network.  That’s why the only way to guarantee that people see your post is to advertise.  If you have people who have liked your page, they will see every post that you make only if they regularly interact with your content (i.e. like, comment or share).  Otherwise, Facebook will ‘filter’ the amount of content that is seen by your fans.

So, what are your options when advertising?  Helpfully, Facebook starts (as all good marketers do) with what results you would like:

Page Post Engagement: if you have a particular post which you think is great and sums up your page, then choose this option – it will promote an individual post, so make the media interesting (e.g. video, infographic, etc.)

Page Likes: a great idea if your audience is relatively small – get your page seen by people who don’t like your page yet – a quick way to get targeted followers (you can target later in the process)

Clicks to Website: these ads appear in the right hand column and will take users directly to the URL of your choice; a handy display advertising tool

Website Conversions: to use this, you will need to add some tracking code to your website to measure the results, but this tool will help you drive people to a particular action

App Installations: this tool will help you to drive the number of people using your Facebook app up…

App Engagement: …and this tool will encourage people to use your app more!
Event Responses: if you have an event already created in Facebook, you can create an advert to support this event – very useful in specific industries

Offer Claims: this has been growing in popularity over the last few months.  If you have an offer that you would like to promote, this will appear in news feeds and show users who in their network has already claimed the offer.  As ever, be careful of over-redemption!

I think that at the moment, many people baulk at the idea of spending money on social media: after all, it’s meant to be free isn’t it?  But I think the sheer size of the networks, the amount of content being shared (i.e. noise) and an improvement in the tools provided by the networks themselves will make social media advertising the norm by the end of 2014.

What do you think?

The Future of Facebook

This week saw the 10th anniversary of the worlds biggest social network, Facebook. It has grown from zero to almost 1.2 billion members, a staggering 17% of the planet’s population. It can claim that it introduced the world to a brand new media, social, or at least an attractive enough proposition for people in their hundreds of millions to get involved.

So, given the huge changes on the world of communication and connection that Facebook has driven, what will the next ten years hold for Facebook?

Will it even exist? I think in 2024 that Facebook will still have a significant presence in social media. The vast number of Facebook accounts may not stay in the billions (unless they can get through the Great Firewall of China before it’s too late), and the demographics of the typical Facebook user may change, but it will still be a player – it feels too big to just disappear (that phrase could well come back to haunt me!).

Who will the audience be? Facebook is already experiencing the trend of an older demographic with large numbers of young users abandoning their accounts, but what about the older audience. I think it will remain attractive because I don’t think they have consciously joined the network the cause younger people have – their friendship group has reached the tipping point where they feel they should join. Facebook often talk about the next 5 billion users, but the future will deliver more specialised networks, grouped by interest or demographic (like SnapChat has done for teens and young adults has done in the last year).

Will the empire grow? Facebook has already proved that it is not afraid to grow the empire, in terms of development of the network but also the acquisition of competitors (e.g. Instagram). If they see a threat, they can act fast with large revenues from advertising. Maybe the time will come when Facebook as a social network is not the biggest part of Facebook Inc’s portfolio…?

Is mobile (still) the future? This may be a little short-term, but the current Facebook mobile experience is pretty depressing – a temperamental app and a separate app for messaging and yet another for managing company pages – this sort of experience will turn people off as they rely more and more on mobile for their content. Mobile should be considered the norm, it will be in some countries by 2015.

How big is the data? Right now, marketers are offered display advertising and that’s pretty much it. But the size and quality if the data that is held by Facebook which could unlock a new chapter. Somehow using the tremendous amounts of big data, from a marketers perspective, opens up personalisation to a level that we would struggle to get our heads round in 2014.

So, in summary, there is a future for Facebook. The people on the network may change their demographic, but there will still be hundreds of millions there. And I think that the future fir Facebook is positive – their first decade was without compare, and if they continue to be flexible enough to adapt and rich enough to afford it, the future of Facebook looks bright.

Social Media Criticism

Social Media Criticism

Social Media Criticism

Social media has been embraced by a large number of organisations over the last few years, and organisations have seen this as an opportunity to engage with their audience. However, the audience may see it slightly differently – they may see social as a communication channel with which to raise issues.

So, how should you respond to criticism or negative feed-back that you receive in such a public environment as social media?

Firstly, you need to understand what type of feed-back it is, as this will determine how you should respond.

Genuine Issue Raised: if the customer is complaining about a genuine issue, then this is certainly one that you should respond to. It may be the case that the issue raised is procedural or subject to a policy which cannot be overturned, but if that is the case, tell the customer that.

Constructive Criticism: if you have ever tried writing one of these posts, you will know how long they can take to write. So, take the time to thank the customer for their thoughts and answer honestly. The feedback may not contain something that the company has not thought of before, but take the time to say thank you.

Trolling: this is where the person complaining is looking to start an argument by posting ‘bait’ to encourage a response. And that is why this is the only type of interaction that you should not respond to. Just ignore it!

And some broader tips to dealing with criticism:

Be prompt: The average time between a customer posting onto social media and the organisation getting back to them is 7 hours – what does that say about how important the customer is?! You should aim to respond as quickly as possible, even if that’s to say that we are trying to get hold of the right person and we will update you later.

Stay positive: There are a number of examples of how quickly things can escalate if your approach to criticism is defensive and confrontational – you need to stay positive, regardless of how angry the customer is.

Accept the feedback: If someone has taken the time to write to your company, then you should accept the feedback in good grace. Let the customer know that steps are being taken, and thank them for letting you know about it.

Be a human: One of the fastest ways to diffuse a situation is to answer the questions like a human being, rather than like a corporate talking head.

2013 Digital Review

2013 in Digital

2013 in Digital

As we are approaching the end of 2013, I thought now would be a good time to review the most significant digital marketing stories of the year.  And what a year it has been, eh?!

Facebook Graph Search is launched:  This relies on people having pretty relaxed privacy settings, as only public info can be shared in search results.  Hmmm….don’t think Google will be losing too much sleep over this yet.

Twitter Vine launched:  Feels like a product with a great fit for the 21st Century – short, visual, lots of feline potential.  I think that in 2014, brands are going to start to see this as an opportunity (there are already some brands and sports teams using it excellently).

Google releases enhanced PPC campaigns:  The best advertising channel in the world just got better.  The level of detail which you can set your ad up with now is fantastic, and it’s tough to think of a business that would not benefit from PPC now and into 2014.

Google hits Interflora…hard:  Following Google algorithm updates, Interflora found itself on the receiving end of a Google penalty.  It sent its product out to bloggers in the hope that they would write about the product and provide a link.  Result – Interflora temporarily disappears.  Expect more updates and penalties in 2014.

Google Glass:  Hipsters of the world unite!  Google Glass is being trialled by a select group of volunteers (and their $1500).  I think it’s too early to tell what impact this is going to have, but with 2014 due to see a rise in 4G coverage, this could be big in 2014.

Facebook hashtags:  As part of Facebook’s plan to encourage its network to interact, the hashtag was released onto Facebook in 2013.  Like Graph Search, this relies on people relaxing their privacy settings, which I think is unlikely right now.

Hummingbird long-tail search:  Google introduces the Hummingbird update, to understand the context which the user is searching with in order to provide more accurate search results.  This encouraged most SEO experts to push the virtues of the long-tail search in response.

Rise of Not Provided:  The same SEO experts were disappointed if not surprised that Google has started to not provide keyword data for SEO keyword referral.  The rise of ‘Not Provided’ was happening throughout 2013, so no shocks – just a hole in the data right now until someone finds a solution!

Facebook loses teens:  Teenagers are switching from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram – after all, what teenager wants to be on a social network where their whole family hang out? This is a key demographic for future growth, so expect Facebook to address this in 2014.

Mobile consumption doubles over last 12 months:  Mobile is becoming more and more important, with consumption doubling over the last 12 months.  This will continue into 2014, with the reduction in smart phone cost and the rise of 4G.

What does 2014 hold?  I’ll let you know on the 20th December, so remember to check back!

Get Your Voice Heard on Facebook

Facebook Logo

Facebook Logo

As the world’s largest social network, Facebook looks like a great opportunity for marketers.  The sheer size of the network (1.1bn people) means that there are people out there who would be interested in your product, and the fact that users share information about themselves, means that you should be able to accurately segment the audience. 

However, Facebook will only share posts from a page that a user likes if that user is likely to engage with the message.  If you have liked a page but not interacted with it (i.e. liked, commented or shared), then Facebook will filter posts sent from the liked page.  So, how can you produce content that that your audience will interact with?  Here are my 5 tips:

  1. Timing is everything: The best time to post your content will be driven by who your audience is, e.g. if they are professionals, then posting in the middle of the day is unlikely to get much interaction, but posting in the evening could be the time they will be on Facebook.  You should also consider your frequency – you need a presence on someone’s timeline, but not to overwhelm it.
  2. Keep it succinct: We have all seen long rambling posts on Facebook, but how many people actually read them all the way through to the end?  Like any copy, the snappier it is, the more likely people will be to read it in the first place.
  3. Ask for interaction: If you want it, don’t be afraid of asking for it – it’s the call to action.  Yes, the user will need to engage with the content, but finishing a post with something like ‘please share this article with your friends’ has been proven to attract more interaction. 
  4. Variety is the spice: Facebook allows you to share a wide range of content with your audience – articles, pictures, videos, polls, etc.  Through Facebook Analytics you will quickly see which content is the most successful for interaction, so do more of that! And regardless of the type of content, always add a picture to your post: it helps your message stand out (see Mashable on Facebook to see it done well).
  5. Bring your brand to life: Increasing your brands relevancy with the user will encourage interaction.  Over the course of a year there will be key dates which you should integrate into your content plan, e.g. key shows / conferences / public holidays.  Making a link between these and your brand will encourage people to share the message with their friends.