5 Tips for Brands Using Periscope

Posted by Christina Strickland on Oct 1, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Getting acquainted with Periscope and learning what it does was an important first step. Now, however, you have to figure out how to use this innovative new social media tool for your brand. Don’t worry. We have you covered with five tips brands can use to make the most of Periscope:

        1. Promote

Promote your broadcast before, during, and after your event. The more you promote, the more people will actually view your broadcast, and even better, share it. Use all of your social media accounts to let your audience know what you have planned. Shout it from the rooftops while you’re live too, even if this means assigning someone else to promote or schedule posts/tweets in advance. And once your broadcast has ended, it would be a mistake to fall silent. Your broadcast will remain available for 24 hours, so make sure your audience members know they haven’t missed out, even if they couldn’t tune in when you were live.

        2. Vary Content

There’s nothing worse than all promo, all the time. While you do want to promote your awesome products and services some of the time, you don’t want to turn your audience off by trying to sell your brand at every turn. Fortunately, Periscope lends itself to such varied content as educational videos, tutorials, FAQs, announcements, interviews, focus groups, and surveys as well. You can even use it to provide VIP access, customer support, and product demonstrations.

        3. Engage

Just because it’s a different type of social media doesn’t mean all of the best practices you’ve learned fly out the window. Your attention-grabbing broadcast is a great start, but you still need to bring it home by engaging your audience. Post questions on Twitter to get your audience not only thinking about your content but also talking about it. Get involved in discussions about your broadcast and take the time to respond to comments.

        4. Share Reviews

Without question, great reviews can work wonders for your brand. According to a study by Dimensional Research, a whopping 90 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by online reviews. Now, combine that with the appeal of not just video, but live video. Use Periscope to ask your customers for feedback and use it again to share live video reviews—good reviews, of course. You can’t lose!

        5. Build Trust

Consumers are much more likely to buy from and return to brands they trust. Use Periscope to provide a new level of transparency by allowing your customers to see your face (or your employees’ faces) and listen to your voice as you answer questions about your brand and products. And as much as possible, keep it unscripted so that your message comes across as natural and genuine while showing off a bit of your personality.

Periscope isn’t just the latest hot thing. It’s a valuable tool for reaching your target audience, getting its attention, and boosting engagement. Use the above tips to incorporate Periscope into your brand’s marketing plans. 

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Topics: Social Media Marketing

5 Reasons Your Brand Should Be on Periscope

Posted by Christina Strickland on Sep 24, 2015 8:00:00 AM

No brand can afford to rest on its laurels, thinking last year’s, last week’s or yesterday’s marketing is enough to keep its audience interested and engaged. You have to continually market, finding new ways to gain exposure and get the right people paying attention. One exciting new way to do that is with Periscope.

What is Periscope?

In February 2015, Twitter made a bold move by purchasing a live video streaming mobile app called Periscope. Twitter launched the app in late March, and it’s been hot, hot, hot ever since. It’s still a fairly new tool, which lends quite a bit to its hotness, and it’s an excellent way to gain more exposure for your brand.  Fresh out of the gate, Periscope had a cool million users just 10 days post launch. By August, it boasted 10 million active users. And guess what else? It’s still growing.

 Here’s why you need it for your brand:

        1. You Can Reach Your Audience Live

Periscope allows you to use your mobile device to do something fabulous—broadcast live. This means you can allow your audience to join your broadcast, tuning in to your live streaming video and audio from virtually anywhere. And with Periscope, you aren’t limited to just seconds in which to get your message across. You can not only say everything you need to say, but also give your audience a much better experience.

        2. Your Audience Can View It Now and Later

Your audience can view your broadcast message the moment you make it and up to 24 hours later, replaying it and commenting as often as desired. It’s real-time marketing at its best. And as if that’s not enough, you also get access to all kinds of useful data, providing insight into such things as how many viewers watched your broadcast and for how long.

        3. Amazing Communication Options

You’ve probably heard a great deal about FaceTime, and maybe you’ve even used it to communicate one-on-one with your friends and family members. Periscope allows you to communicate directly with a potentially huge audience.  It’s taken an intimate type of communication and transformed it so you can communicate with everyone.

        4. It’s Social

Social media is a critical part of any marketing plan. With nearly 80 percent of Internet users considering social media content when making purchasing decisions, your brand needs to be where your audience gets social. Periscope provides yet another social avenue for reaching your audience and not only makes social sharing through Twitter simple and easy but also helps stimulate discussions and encourage feedback. It even includes location and notification features.

        5. Access to More of Your Target Audience

You know the deal. If a large percentage of your audience is on a particular social media platform, you want to be there too. If your audience goes looking and only finds your competition, don’t expect that to help your bottom line. In fact, Periscope could even provide access to a demographic you haven’t reached before. Keep in mind, too, that Periscope is a new, innovative tool. Those who aren’t there now will likely use it later as more and more people learn what it can do and how to use it.


As a brand, you have to keep up with marketing trends in order to effectively reach your audience. By doing so, you demonstrate that you care about communicating with your audience while dramatically increasing your exposure. Periscope is a fantastic way to do just that.

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Topics: social media

How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck with Content Marketing

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Sep 17, 2015 8:00:00 AM


Everybody wants a magic bullet. And if you're using content marketing to promote your business you may want it more than most. There are so many sites and types of content out there, so how do you find out what really works to you get great performance and return on investment?

The good news is, you don't have to look far to find the answer, because Buzzsumo and Fractl have done it for you, analyzing 220,000 articles over a 6 month period from June to November 2014. The infographic is published on Hubspot. Here are some of the key findings, along with the lessons to learn about your content strategy.

        1. Find the Right Content Type

The study identifies five main types of content: how to, lists, what posts, why posts and videos. Of those types, lists got the most social engagement at 22.45%. Does that mean that you should only publish list posts from now on? Of course not, because the study shows differences depending on the niche. Unsurprisingly, lists work best for travel and entertainment. We're all fascinated by lists of places to visit or weird memes.

If you're in a different niche, then consider whether lists are the right content for you. The lesson is to use the content types as a starting point, but do your research (and check your analytics) to see which performs best for you.

        2. Figure Out Your Engagement Metrics and Timing

Engagement also changes across the board depending on your niche, with some niches having far more active audiences than others.  If you're in the tech business you're likely to get a lot of social shares for any content you publish. That also applies to lifestyle, business, education and finance. On the other hand, if you're in automotive, health and food, you'll see much lower sharing figures.

Timing also affects engagement. That's not just about the time of day you publish, but the time of year. October is a great month for almost all types of posts, but especially for what posts, while the summer months of July and August see lower social sharing figures across the board. Hubspot has a great analysis of this. It's also worth noting, that news and entertainment are high performing sectors for social sharing.

        3. Take a Shortcut with the Most Popular Content Types

The big takeaway from this research is that list posts and why posts get the most consistent engagement, so you should definitely include these in your content strategy. Do this by:

  • Using analytics, social media and customer interaction data to figure out the most common questions so you can answer them with posts.
  • Checking out your competitors' sites for questions their customers ask that you can answer.
  • Collecting helpful resources to form useful lists for your customers.
  • Breaking industry trends or finding an entertaining spin on a key issue.

This will help you create content that is shared over and over again, continuing to promote your business years after the original publication date.

Buzzsumo and Fractl also used the data to produce a social content calendar to guide you as to what content does best in every month. One interesting finding there is that videos did particularly well in August and September.

Related to this, Buzzsumo and Uberflip did additional research on the content people share most. It showed that how to posts remain popular, with an average of 5,200 shares apiece. In addition, quizzes can get millions of shares and image posts get double the number of shares as posts without images.

Putting It Together

So, how do you get more from your content marketing efforts?

  1. Check out the research cited above in detail.
  2. Look at your own customer data and see if it matches up.
  3. Identify a mix of content for your blog and social media (probably how-to and lists for your blog and images for social).
  4. Create, upload and share

What types of content do you find most effective for your audience?

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

Tales From the Crypt: Bringing Your Company Blog Back to Life

Posted by Christina Strickland on Sep 10, 2015 8:00:00 AM

No matter how motivated you were about starting your blog way back when, it’s all too easy to let it slide. It starts with a day of posting missed here or there. Then you start missing weeks, telling yourself it’s no big deal and you’ll get back on track…er…soon. Before you know it, your blog has gasped its laugh breath and you’re faced with deciding whether to bury it or try to perform a modern miracle of resurrection.

Do You Need a Blog?

The first thing to figure out (or remind yourself of) is why you needed a blog in the first place.

Did you need a blog to:

  • Bring traffic to your website
  • Aid lead conversion
  • Improve engagement with your customers/prospects
  • Increase exposure
  • Establish yourself as an expert/authority

Whatever your reason for giving life to a blog, ask yourself if that reason still exists or if you have new reasons to maintain a blog.

If the answer is no (highly unlikely), go ahead and let your blog rest in peace. If the answer is yes (much more likely), move on to figuring out why it kicked the bucket.

What Went Wrong?

There are many reasons a blog may go belly up, and examining them can help you figure out how to avoid the dead zone again.

Did you:

  • Lack a strategy

Blogging without a strategy is like setting off on a cross-country drive without a GPS or, at the very least, a map. Don’t start typing before you’ve settled on everything from your blog’s purpose and who your audience is to what your target keywords are and where you will distribute your content. How to Create a Successful Blog Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide gives you the ins and outs of creating a strategy for your blog.

  • Find it difficult to blog because of your busy schedule

This is a common problem. Crafting high-quality blog posts takes time and energy, and we all run out of both.  If this was the reason your blog went caput, you can delegate the responsibility to someone else in your company who has the time and enthusiasm for it, hire a social media professional to take your blog in hand, or seek the services of a ghostwriter. Be sure to check out How To Get Help When You Don't Have Time To Blog for tips on selecting the right blogger.

  • Lose focus

An editorial calendar is an absolute must for staying on track. A carefully planned calendar will help you plan out your content (so you’re never at a loss for topics), keep your posts in line with your marketing efforts, and hold yourself accountable. Simply put, it’s your ace in a hole for keeping your blog healthy. Check out May the Force be With You: Your Blog Editorial to learn how to use The Force (your editorial calendar) to complete your mission (maintaining an awesome blog).

  • Run out of ideas

This is a true blog killer. Once you run out of ideas, blogging begins to feel like work. Then it begins to feel like torture. You grasp at straws to throw something, anything, up on your blog, but it ends up awful. Then your audience starts to lose interest, because, well, your posts hold little-to-no value for them.  The good news is there are numerous ways to get great post ideas. As mentioned in http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com/blog/4-ways-to-get-your-content-marketing-back-on-track, analyzing your audience and making use of social analytic and social listening tools can give you insight into the types of content your audience wants. Additionally, make use of questions your customers ask you and trending topics in your industry to craft relevant posts.

Keep in mind that there are many types of content you can use to make your blog step lively. Create posts around memes or inspirational photos, create series of posts so that each topic builds or expands on the previous one, give interviews, and invite guest bloggers on board. Have theme days and run giveaways on your blog. Mix it up! Editorial Calendar Continued: 9 Ways to Program Out Blog Content shares great ideas for filling your editorial calendar with compelling content.

How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?

Once you’ve figured out what went wrong with your blog and decided to make the changes to revive it, it’s time to take a look at the simple question of how long to make your posts. Generally, shorter rules when it comes to blogging, but more important than a particular length is whether your posts are tightly focused and if they are easy to scan and absorb. Take a gander at How Long Should a Blog Post Be? to get food for thought on blog length.

It doesn’t matter if your blog was truly dead or merely struggling for its last breath. You can not only revive it but also make it a true content marketing engine. Use the advice above to give your blog a second chance at life.

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

Using Google Docs for Content Collaboration

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Sep 3, 2015 8:00:00 AM


As you get to know me better, you'll learn that I tend to be an early adopter (well, early-ish, anyway).  :) That means I've been using Google Docs pretty much since it came out in February 2007. However, it's only in the last couple of years that I've moved from seeing it as a nice toy to considering it an essential part of doing business online. That's partly because Google keeps adding new features, which means it's not that different from the market leading Microsoft Office equivalents.

There are even some things you can do BETTER in Google Docs. For example, the Crackerjack Marketing team uses it a lot for client collaboration on content marketing campaigns. Here are some of the tips for success I've learned over the years.

1. Organize, Organize, Organize

By default, Google adds every document you create to the main Google Drive folder. While the search features are excellent, as you would expect from Google, it soon gets tiresome navigating down a long list of documents. That's why it makes sense to create separate folders for each client or each project.

Folders can be nested so if you're doing several projects for the same person you can create a client folder, with sub-folders for each project.  I also find it useful to navigate to the folder where I want to store a document before creating a new one. That automatically puts the document in the right folder, though it's easy enough to move if you forget.

Something I've carried over from offline file storage is to add the name or initials of the client to filenames. It's another way to easily find anything that relates to a particular project or client.

2. Share with Care

Google Docs (in fact, all of Google's online apps) have three levels of sharing. Collaborators can view, comment or edit depending on what you select when you hit the big blue "share" button. Do that and you get a shareable link that you can paste into an email. One thing I've noticed is that I often get a pop-up message and have to reconfirm the sharing settings when sending the link by email. You also have the option to share your document in different formats (such as PDF or HTML) and to email it directly to collaborators.


To comment on something in a document, the viewer has to select and highlight text, then right click. Comments will appear next to the appropriate section and people have the option to reply to or resolve comments. Resolved comments disappear from view, but you can still see them by hitting the "comments" button at the top of the screen. The way I use this is to tag specific people (say an editor or someone with approval rights) by using the @ sign to bring up their name. They get an email and know there's something to resolve.

4. Using Live Chat

Multiple people can work on the same document at the same time, and you'll see avatars at the top of the screen that indicate who's there. Each avatar has a different color, which matches the insertion point, making it easy to see which user is making changes in a document. In line chat also lets you have real-time conversations as you work on a document, enabling real-time editing and collaboration.

5. Offline Work

Not everyone likes to work online, and Google Docs now has offline modes for desktop, web and mobile apps. For the mobile version of Google Drive, you have to choose which documents will be available online. Just tap in the appropriate place in the document properties to make this happen. Make a change offline and it's synced back to the document when you're next online.

All these features make Google Docs (and other Google apps) a great way to enable collaboration with customers. Typically, I will share a spreadsheet with customers for tracking content and deliverables, and share individual documents for pieces of content. 

I also advise checking out the wide range of add-ons which make Google Docs a useful alternative to other word processing applications. How do you use Google Docs in your business?

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

Why It's Worth Investing in Content Marketing

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Aug 27, 2015 8:00:00 AM


Many people don't trust advertising any more, especially millennials. That's why you need content marketing. If you create content that speaks directly and personally to your target customers, they are more likely to trust you. And if their friends also recommend your content, you will win their trust and loyalty and they are more likely to buy into your offer.  

Content marketing lets you reach your audience in lots of different ways and helps your search rankings and online authority. But to get the benefits, you have to see content marketing as an investment. Not everyone does, even if they should.

As a writer, blogger and professional content creator, I've noticed that the people who approach me about writing often fall into two camps: those who want to invest in content and those who want content without the investment. Some freelance marketplaces give the impression that good content is cheap, and if you have a limited budget, that can seem appealing. Don't fall for that. Failure to invest adequately in content marketing hurts your business. Here's how.

How Failure to Invest in Content Hurts You

First, you won't get the right writers to work with you. If you pay peanuts you won't attract the kind of writers who will enhance your brand. If you want a professional writer, it will cost you. Good content is simply not available at $10 for 600 words; great content has an even higher price tag. Some of the blogs with the best content pay hundreds of dollars per post.

Second, your writer may not stick around. Consistency and reliability help you connect with customers but underpaid content creators soon move on because they need to earn more and there's no incentive for them to stay. That's bad for your content marketing strategy because you constantly have to onboard new content creators and you will find it difficult to get a consistent voice for your content and a reliable content flow.

So what do you get if you allocate a decent budget for content creation?

The Benefits of Content Marketing Investment

You get content creators who function as partners, actively working to make sure that content meets your needs. And you get experienced professionals who know when to stick to your style guide or when to inject a little personal flair. You get writers with experience of writing, some industry knowledge and the ability to add value to your content (for example, by creating tweets to accompany a piece of content). You get a level of excellence that makes your brand stand out for your target customers. And you get content that it's easy to market.

The other reason it pays to invest in content marketing is because of the results you get. Dig deeper into reads, shares, links and referrals in your analytics and social analytics software and you will see the difference that good content makes.

That's the content part of content marketing, but the marketing element is also important. Once you have nailed content creation, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes activity to ensure that content works for you. For example, the Crackerjack Marketing team ensures that every piece of blog content gets shared multiple times on multiple platforms on a rotating schedule to give as many people as possible the chance to see it. 

A marketing firm will help you create shareable graphics to accompany a blog post, craft social media updates and schedule those regularly after working out the best possible timing so people can see and share your content. And the firm can also help you respond quickly when your social connections share and comment on your content.

The bottom line: investing in content marketing is one of the best ways you can promote your business. Ask how the Crackerjack Marketing team can help you.

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

How to Build Your Brand’s Instagram Following

Posted by Christina Strickland on Aug 20, 2015 8:00:00 AM


Now that you’ve optimized your profile and planned your content, it’s time to start building your following. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have any followers yet. If you’re sharing great images, creating calls to action and being social, the followers will come.  In the meantime, here are a few quick tips to get the ball rolling:

How to Build Your Brand's Instagram Following

Whom Do You Know?

The smartest place to start is with the people who already know you and have some interest in the type of content you share. And who’s that? Your customers and contacts, of course. These people are your warm audience. You don’t have to sell them on following you. All you have to do is let them know you’re there.

Make it easy for your loyal customers to find you on Instagram by announcing your presence there to your email list, website and blog. If you have other social media accounts (and you definitely should), go ahead and make the announcement there too. But don’t stop with these usual suspects. If you have an email newsletter, announce it there, and if you have an office or a store, don’t let another day pass without posting a sign with your Instagram address and logo on it.

Keep in mind that some of your customers and contacts may not know much about Instagram. Though it’s growing in popularity, many people are still more familiar with Facebook and Twitter. Take some time to fill your audience in on what Instagram is and why they should be there. Then provide your Instagram link and ask them to give you a follow.

Use What You Have to Get What You Want

You don’t have to look far for a platform from which to reach your audience. Using your website and blog to get attention to your Instagram account is as simple as posting your Instagram logo. Post it on any other web domains you have as well.

You know how priceless a carefully crafted call to action can be, right? Go ahead and create calls to action to draw people to Instagram, and then post them to your other social media accounts. Yes, Facebook and Twitter can feed your Instagram account.

Don’t forget about user-generated content.  Share your user-generated content to your other social media accounts or use the best of it in your blog posts.

Hashtags: Not Just for Twitter Anymore

Make it easy for your audience to find the types of content that peaks their interest by adding hashtags to your photos.  If your audience is interested in photos of bacon candy and your hashtags are #bacon #chocolate, this helps you in a couple of ways. First, it ensures your audience can find your awesome photos, view them, and share them with others. Second, once you’ve captured their attention, they’re sure to come back for more, especially since you make it so easy to find the photos they want.

Tag your Instagram photos according to location, topic/subject, event, or theme. Just avoid hashtag abuse. Though you can use up to 30, stick to 10 or fewer to avoid the spammy/desperate feel.

Who Doesn’t Love a Giveaway?

If you want them to come, create a contest that will capture your audience’s interest. Then, don’t be shy about it. Promote it not only on Instagram but also on all of your other social media accounts. With the right contest as an enticement, you can bet that some of your audience on other platforms will jump right over to following you on Instagram. Just be careful because, yes, too many promotions can hurt your brand so use this tatic strategically.

  • Don’t forget the value of hashtags. Create a unique hashtag for each Instagram contest you set up.
  • As for the sweepstakes or contests you create, you must have official terms and conditions. Add these before you promote your contest and you’ll stay out of the social media version of hot water. Here’s an example of the types of terms and conditions you might create for your giveaway.

Creating an Instagram account and setting up your profile is only half the battle. And posting attention-grabbing photos is only a piece of the puzzle. If you want your Instagram to be all it can be, apply the above tips! Wait… Are you still reading? Go get busy!

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Topics: Social Media Marketing

10 Instagram Hacks for Brands

Posted by Christina Strickland on Aug 13, 2015 8:00:00 AM


According to Forbes, more than a third of American Internet Users are on Instagram now. You need a presence there too. With more people getting hooked every day, you can’t afford to have your audience go looking for you and not find you there. The question is, how do you get started and make Instagram work for your brand? We have the answers:

10 Instagram Hacks for Brands

Optimize Your Instagram Profile

1.    Choose a Killer Avatar

Your avatar is like the face of your Instagram account, and anyone who follows you or even looks you up will see a lot of it. You want it to be three things: an on-point representation of your brand, eye-catching, and memorable. Many brands use their logos, but photos of a featured product can work well too and help stimulate sales. No matter what you choose, keep in mind that your avatar has to look clear and enticing on all types of devices, including mobile phones and tablets. Check it via your smartphone, tablet and desktop to make sure it’s still clear and visually attractive. Ask friends with other devices to check too.

2.    Don’t Be a Quitter--Complete Your Bio

Often, people get lazy when it comes to their bios. They quickly type something in, almost as a placeholder, and tell themselves they’ll go back and spruce it up later. This is a mistake. You need a good bio right away to give your target audience a reason to bother following you. Instagram gives you 150 characters in which to create bio magic, so make it count.  The 10 Best Instagram Profile Bio Ideas to Inspire You shows off some well-crafted bios. Want to get fancy and really wow your audience? Take PostPlanner’s suggestion and incorporate symbols before you add your bio to your account. 

3.    Go Public

If you want to stay in stealth mode with your personal account, no problem. But your brand account should be set to public so your audience can easily find you and see what you’re posting. Yes, it sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to hear how many people forget and end up posting to absolutely no one.

Your profile is ready to rock, right? Now it’s time to figure out the what and when of posting on Instagram.


Instagram Strategy

4.    You Promised, Now Deliver

You wrote a short but dynamic bio that gave people a reason to follow you. Now it’s time to deliver the goods. Your audience wants content that entertains and informs them, making their lives better in some way. Focus on posting useful content that makes your audience want to pay attention to you. And don’t be tempted to post photos of your plate. Unless your business is food-related, nobody cares.

Sometimes you just need a little help coming up with post idea. No worries; we’ve all been there.  Read Instagram Content Ideas for Brands to get your hands on creative ideas for posting to Instagram. 

5.    What’s Your Story?

While you need to post content that your audience will find appealing, there’s more to it than just that. Your content should also give your audience insight into your brand. Every photo counts, so don’t slack off here. Make sure each photo you post is not only attractive, funny, or fun but also spot-on for your brand’s unique flavor. As far as the blatant marketing is concerned, save it for someplace else. Using Instagram for obvious marketing is like begging your target audience to unfollow you.

6.    Plan for Success

By now you probably know us here at Crackerjack Marketing, and you can probably guess what comes next. That’s right. You need an editorial calendar that has your schedule for posting to Instagram as well as details about the content you will post. It will not only keep you on track and stop you from pulling your hair out because you don’t know what’s up next, but also keep you accountable. Remember, however, that this doesn’t mean you can’t post spontaneously too. Go ahead and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. Just use your calendar to make sure you’re never at a loss for putting out quality content.

7.    Never Stop

When you’re building your presence on Instagram, you have to keep going. This really isn’t a once-a-week type of thing. Since the Instagram feed shows the latest content, you need to post every day. On the other hand, too much posting and you become annoying. Stay on your followers’ good side by posting no more than four times daily. And if you’re thinking of posting some so-so content to get up to four posts, don’t do it. Your followers want quality content. Give them crap and they’ll be quick to drop you.

Now that you have your amazing profile and your awesome content strategy, you’re done, right? Wrong. You still need to go for that all-important audience interaction.


Engage Like a Boss

8.    It’s Social Media! Socialize!

There’s a whole give-and-take thing that goes on with Instagrammers. If you follow them, there’s a pretty good chance that most of them are going to follow you back. Like and comment on other people’s content too. Just be sure your comments are thoughtful and really say something of value. Otherwise, they’ll come off as spammy, and no one likes that. 

9.    Sharing Is Caring

The share is a big part of engaging and interacting via social platforms, but Instagram doesn’t have built-in share capabilities like some other platforms do. Good news, though: there are many, many mobile applications that allow you to share other Instagrammers’ content for absolutely free. Also, don’t forget to repost user-generated content that shows off your products. Just be sure to properly attribute the shared content. Want some fantastic ideas for using user-generated content to tell your brand story? Pop on over to read How User-Generated Content Can Tell Your Brand Story to get the skinny.

10. Call Them to Action

No, you don’t want to go for the big sale in your Instagram content, but that doesn’t mean you should skip out on the calls to action. Include a call to action in each of your posts. For example, it only takes a second to ask your followers to “like” your post if you’ve wowed them or they agree with something you’ve posted. And asking them to tag friends who might be interested can really increase your reach.


Want a pro tip? You can never have too many, right? Here’s one you don’t want to miss, from Chalene Johnson: Tag your own Instagram profile in the comments section and encourage people to follow the link in your profile to sign up for your newsletter or take advantage of a special offer.

Example: Click here ->@InstagramName and sign up to receive more great tips!

Instagram can be a powerful tool in telling your brand’s story, increasing your exposure, and getting your fans to engage. However, it’s only as powerful as the effort you put into it. Use the above tips and strategies to get the most out of Instagram for your brand.

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Topics: Social Media Marketing

Instagram Content Ideas for Brands

Posted by Christina Strickland on Aug 7, 2015 7:00:00 AM

Visual content is king, and Instagram is its court. More than any other social media platform, Instagram provides your audience with a way to visually connect with your brand, taking a virtual look inside your business. Of course, any social media platform is only as good as the content you post on it. To put Instagram to work for your business, post images that are not only creative, beautiful, inspirational, or fun but also accurate representations of your brand and the subject matter you find important. Above all, aim for fun and interesting, taking care to avoid obvious marketing.


Need some help figuring out what to post to reach your audience? Here are 10 Instagram content ideas you can use:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Photos: It may be the everyday grind to you, but your customers want to see what goes on behind the scenes. Show off a little here, giving your audience an insider’s look into how you do things.
  • Photos of Your Business Location: Your audience wants to see where you make the magic that consists of your products and service. Show off the best or most creative images of your business.
  • Photos of the Surrounding Community: The community you do business in can add quite a bit to your brand’s unique flavor. Show off parts of the community that mean something to you, beautiful spaces, and anything that is unique to your area.
  • Images of Events: People love photos of company events, parties, seminars, and the like. Just be sure you share the photos of people smiling and laughing. If it looks like a snooze fest, it’s not a good choice for social media.
  • Photos That Feature Key (and Photogenic) Employees: We all like to put a face to a name. Post attractive photos of your employees that demonstrate their winning personalities and show off their great smiles. Don’t be afraid to post images of them hard at work too. Your audience will enjoy seeing them in the act of producing your company’s products and services.
  • Fun Scenes From the Breakroom, Holiday Parties, and Interesting Employee Cubicles: Let your audience see you and your employees having a great time. These sorts of photos help your customers see you and your employees as real people, and they encourage a connection with your brand.
  • Photographs of Various Parts of the Manufacturing Process or Your Service in Action: Don’t we all want to know how things work? This is your chance to give your audience an insider’s look and help them feel more connected to your brand.
  • Images of Your Product in Use: Post photos of customers using your products. This can work as a visual recommendation, encouraging your audience to give them a try. Likewise, such photos may give your customers ideas on other ways to use your products.
  • Photos of Contest/Giveaway Prizes: A picture is worth a thousand words. When you post photos of contest/giveaway prizes, you generate excitement, stimulate your followers to enter for the chance to win, and encourage sharing.
  • Reposts of Fan-Generated Content: Fan-generated content can be an important part of your social marketing campaign, influencing your prospects’ purchasing decisions, driving engagement, and serving as a complement to your other marketing efforts.


Anyone can create an Instagram account. It takes effort to build a presence that increases exposure, engagement, and even sales. Use the above tips to not only reach your customers and contacts but also to connect with them.


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Topics: social media

How to Decide Which Social Network is Right for Your Business

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Jul 30, 2015 8:00:00 AM


There are already more social networks than we know what to do with. In addition to those trying to fix social networking, like Ello, there are networks for almost every niche. So how do you pick the ones your business should spend time on.

Let's be clear: it's almost impossible to do several social networks well on your own. If you're a small business without an individual or team dedicated to social media, you'll find it hard to handle all the social media marketing tasks for every network. Unless you're planning to hire a marketing agency you have to pick a place to start, whether that's Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn or another network.

Here are some of the questions to ask to help you make the decision.

1. What does the research tell you?

A good starting point is the demographics of each social media site. If you have a breakdown of the age, gender, education, income and interests for the different sites, you can pick the site or sites where the profile best matches your own customer personas. (Google Analytics includes demographic data in its reporting, so it's easy to check for similarities.) You can probably guess that if you're marketing to business, LinkedIn is a good place to start, and if you are trying to attract teens, then Snapchat is a better bet for your marketing focus. Check out research reports like this one from Pew Internet and this recent roundup from Sprout Social to help you decide.

2. Where are your customers?

After doing the research, see if it matches where your customers are. You're probably already collecting data to help with this. Use analytics software to see where people were before they came to your site or blog, and to check out their path through your site.

Pay particular attention to the social media reports which show which social sites bring the most visitors to you and which social sites most of your visitors use to share your content. Sometimes the data might surprise you. For example, I discovered that people were sharing my content on Stumbleupon even though I didn't have a button for it.

Add to your knowledge store by using a social media analytics tool to get detailed information on where your customers are. A dashboard aggregator like SumAll or Cyfe will help you to view this data across multiple platforms.

Between them, these should help you narrow down some social media starting points, but there's another aspect to consider.

3. Where are your competitors?

You already know who your key competitors are, but do you know what they're doing on social media? If you're targeting the same customer base, then it's helpful to know which social media sites they favor, who they are talking to (and who's talking to them), what kind of engagement they are getting and how you can improve on that with your own social media strategy. Check out Swellpath's guide to social media competitive analysis to help with this.

4. What kind of content do you have available?

If you already have content, then you could use that to determine where you're going to make a social media splash. If you're already creating appealing graphics, then Instagram could be good for you. And if you're selling products to a mostly female demographic, putting product images on Pinterest is a good strategy. The research you did in steps 1 and 2 will help you match demographics, online presence and content for the best outcome.  

Taking a Shortcut

Of course, if you want to take a shortcut and start with a single social media site, then that shortcut has to be Facebook. The Pew Internet research linked earlier shows that 71% of adults are active Facebook users. Sure, it might be difficult to advertise there, but if you want to be social and don't mind a crowd, it's a place where you can share videos, images, short updates, long updates, news - almost anything. No matter what you do in creating your social media strategy, you won't escape the lure of the huge Facebook audience, so consider making that your starting point while you do your research and choose your next social media target.

Which social media site did you create a business presence on first?

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Topics: social media