How to Increase Engagement When Using Instagram for Business

The best way to use the world’s most minimalist social platform remains a mystery to many businesses. With such limited functionality your options might seem to be fairly restricted, but in truth, there are a multitude of ways that you can work to increase your Instagram engagement. Here are seven of the most effective:

1. Put a link in your profile

The main aim of your Instagram account is likely to get more people to your website, blog or newsletter. It’s to introduce people to your brand and direct them to where they can enjoy more of your work.

While putting an external link in an Instagram post is a no-no, the platform does allow you to put a link in your profile. In order to drive engagement outside of Instagram, it is crucial that you make use of this function. Once you’ve added the link, you can then put text like “link in profile” on your next post to direct people to your site.

UPDATE: You can also add an external link to your Instagram stories.

2. Use relevant hashtags

According to this study, just a single relevant hashtag can increase engagement on a post by 12.6 percent. Instagram allows you to use up to 30, but if you don’t want to come across spammy 5-10 hashtags makes for a nice middle ground.

3. Call your followers to action

Sometimes people need to be told what to do. A call to action does just that. Include a CTA in the text that comes with your photo – something along the lines of:

  • Double tap the photo if you like it
  • Tag 2 friends that this reminds you of
  • Comment with your favorite…

It may seem a little brash, but requesting that people like or comment on a photo actually works!

4. Use correctly sized images

With the rise in the resolution of smartphone displays, Instagram has recently changed from a standard image size of 612 x 612 pixels to 1080 x 1080 pixels. And while you now have the opportunity to upload images that are portrait or landscape instead of a perfect square, going too far either way will result in an image that is either hard to recognize or is cut off by the app. Do your best to upload high-quality images that are as close to a perfect square as possible. Your followers will thank you.

5. Give your Instagram profile an aesthetic

The most successful Instagram businesses have a uniform aesthetic. This “brand” allows your followers to become comfortable with what you deliver, and begin to love you for it. It could be as simple as committing to the use of one specific filter, or you could focus on uploading images relating to one specific subject. Refinery29 has suggested that the right filter choice can increase exposure by 21 percent and comments by 45 percent!

6. Try out Instagram stories

Instagram’s battle with Snapchat is in full swing, and as such, they’re pushing their version of Snapchat – Instagram Stories – pretty hard. If you upload a story you’ll be placed at the top of your followers’ feeds, highlighted in an eye-catching circle. If you’ve got a lot to say Instagram Stories allows you to say it without clogging up your followers’ news feeds – perfect for when your business hosts a special event.

7. Pay for a sponsored post

Sometimes – perhaps all the time – you have to spend money to make money. Instagram ads allow you to reach a huge amount of eyes for a minimum spend. Because Instagram is a subsidiary of Facebook you’ll need to use Facebook’s Power Editor in order to set up your campaign, but with the ability to reach thousands of fresh eyes for very little cash, it’s more than worth it.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, increasing your engagement on such a basic platform is largely about doing the basics well. But don’t let the minimalism fool you – despite its simplicity, Instagram is well worth the investment of time and resources for your business.

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5 Inspirational Examples of Awesome Social Media Contests

Social media contests are marketing tools which are as effective as they are fun. Giveaways can really spur your audience into action, with engagement and reach far exceeding the results of more standard social marketing tactics.

Looking for inspiration for your next promo? Here are five examples of social media contests done right.

UrDogs

Social media is all about sharing things with your friends, and we all know that nothing is more shareable on social platforms than cute pictures of dogs. Thus a contest centered on such pictures is always going to be a sure fire hit.

UrDogs did exactly that with their cutest dog contest and enjoyed the spoils. With over 2,000 entries, each one more shareable than the last, the reach of the contest was astronomical. While UrDogs is a media company, and thus simply offered up cash prizes, ideally, you’d offer up a product or service that’s more directly related to your business.

Vans Custom Culture

Footwear giant Vans has created the sort of contest that many organizations can only dream of – one that has become an institution in certain circles. 2017 sees the eighth edition of the Vans Custom Culture competition, which pits budding designers against each other to create the finest pair of custom Vans that they can.

The competition is school based, with the first 1,500 art classes to enter receiving 4 pairs of plain Vans to do whatever they want with. Upon completion, photo entries are sent into Vans, who use an array of social media platforms to display the results. The winners – based on public votes – receive $50,000 for their school’s art program. It’s a contest that’s at once wholesome, fun and extremely effective.

SuperHeroStuff.com

Are you finding coming up with a contest idea difficult? Tying into a holiday is always a home run. Whether it’s Christmas, Easter or the summer solstice, holiday-based promotions offer a familiarity that few other promotional themes can match.

SuperHeroStuff.com showed just how simple and effective such a promotion could be with their “What are you thankful for?” contest over Thanksgiving. They asked entrants to answer that question in 25 words or less, with the winner receiving merchandise to the value of $50. One thousand-four hundred and forty-three entries later this super simple promo paid for itself in an astounding way.

Qwertee

T-shirt company Qwertee knows how to run a Facebook contest. From the outset the company saw the value that promotional giveaways offer businesses, so set themselves a goal. They’d give away as many t-shirts as it took to get to 100,000 Facebook likes. In 2013 they were giving away hundreds of t-shirts every month, but within a very short time frame – a matter of just a few months – they’d reached their goal.

Four years later and Qwertee has continued to go from strength to strength, now boasting 400,000 followers who are kept interested by regular contests and promotions. Qwertee knows their market, and have a product which is perfect fodder for social media contests.

O-Cedar

What is the least exciting contest prize you could imagine? A mop and bucket you say? Interesting. That makes O-Cedar’s “Give it a whirl” giveaway all the more impressive.

By offering up nothing more than the chance to win one of 10x EasyWring mop and bucket packs every day for two weeks, O-Cedar managed to collect the details of over 11,000 entrants. The key to their success rested on two main factors:

1. The competition was presented brilliantly, with ultra-professional graphics and a clear message.
2. They offered entrants a real feeling that they could win. 10 prizes per day over a period of 14 days; that’s a lot of opportunities for your name to be drawn out of the hat.

While you may not have a particularly thrilling product or service to offer as a contest prize, O-Cedar’s efforts go to show that you can still have real success in running a contest.

No matter what your organization does or how big your marketing budget is, a social media competition is worth a shot for anyone who seeks to grow their business. And by taking on a little bit of inspiration from the examples above, your contest could well pay big dividends.

The 5 Keys to Providing Great Customer Service on Facebook

The Facebook page of modern day businesses is now just as viable and accepted a communication platform as a phone number or email address. Your customers expect that you’ll see their communiqué and will respond to it in good time. In fact, most customers prefer Facebook, particularly if their message is a negative one, as it publicly airs their grievances for all the world to see. They feel that you’ll be more forced to address the issue than you might in a phone call or via email.

So with great swathes of your customers now choosing Facebook as their preferred customer service channel, it’s up to your business to adapt to this change as quickly and proficiently as possible. And to help you do so, let’s look at the five keys to providing great customer service on Facebook.

1. Use a purpose-built tool

To do any job properly you need to equip yourself with the right set of tools. You can’t fix your broken mug with a hammer, as I’m sure a saying goes.* While using Facebook’s standard features to reply to seems logical, they aren’t optimised for use as customer service tools. Messages, posts, and comments are liable to get lost in the noise, particularly if your page sees a decent amount of action.

It’s wise to use a purpose-built utility instead, which will allow you to manage your customer service efforts far more easily. Some of the best include Hootsuite, Buffer, and SocialFlow.

*I just Googled it and it’s definitely not a saying, but I feel like it should be. I now proclaim this canon.

2. No question goes unanswered

Rule one of the Facebook customer service guidebook is that all queries should be addressed. This shows that you pay attention to your customers – that you care about them, and aren’t aloof. It only takes one ignored complaint gone viral for you to have a real PR disaster on your hands.

The content of the reply should go over and above simply answering the question. You should attempt to foresee subsequent questions, and cut them off at the pass by offering the customer any information that is relevant to their query or complaint. This strategy will save you a lot of time in the long run.

3. Setting response time KPIs

As a customer, what would you deem a reasonable response time to a query or complaint? While instantaneousness is ideal, it’s also impracticable. A reasonable response time for any business is 24 hours – anything over that and it starts to look as though you’re (ironically) phoning your Facebook customer service efforts in.

Set a maximum response time, and work within it religiously.

4. Seeing complaints as opportunities

The attitude that you bring to the table will have a massive effect on how productive your Facebook customer service efforts are. This may sound like vintage middle management talk, but complaints truly are opportunities. The opportunity to solve an issue experienced by a loyal customer. The opportunity to demonstrate excellent customer service. The opportunity to turn a complainant into a brand advocate, and bad PR into good PR.

Adopting a positive attitude – rather than the far more natural defensive attitude – will allow you to mend any relations and bring complaints to a close for more efficiently. You’re also putting out good vibes to your greater Facebook audience who may see the post.

5. Using a consistent voice and a suitable tone

As a customer, I have no doubt that you despise any customer service that appears automated. Whether it’s dialing numbers on your keypad to solve a dispute over the phone, or chatting to one of those website bots that don’t really get the nuances of the English language, automated customer service features tell people that a company cares more about efficiency than it does their customers. We just want to talk to a human for goodness’ sake.

Using a consistent human voice in your Facebook communications is vital. It helps to develop a brand persona, giving your messages a uniform feel and your followers a personality that they can relate to. The tone is also crucial – be somber with complaints, excited with praise and cheery with general queries.

Facebook will only grow as a customer service tool into the future, so by getting your fundamentals right now, you’re setting your company up for success for years to come.

24 Top Tweets about the Gloriousness of Coffee

Money doesn’t make the world go round. No no no. Coffee does.

Without that life-giving shot of caffeine in the morning, it’s fair to say that most of us would be empty shells of ourselves, wandering through life like milk-drunk toddlers who are 2 hours late for their afternoon nap.

The impact of coffee on society hasn’t been lost on Twitter users. Every artist needs their muse, and it seems that inspiration from the bean has allowed many to produce some of their very finest work. So, for your reading pleasure, here are 24 of Twitter’s finest coffee-related tweets.

“Someone in the office keeps making decaf coffee & I’ve narrowed it down to that guy who never gets anything done.”

“I don’t need a husband I just need someone to come over and make me coffee in the morning and then leave.”

 

“Instead of going to Starbucks, I make coffee at home, yell my name out incorrectly, then light a $5 bill on fire.”

 

24 Top Tweets about the Gloriousness of Coffee

Money doesn’t make the world go round. No no no. Coffee does.

Without that life-giving shot of caffeine in the morning, it’s fair to say that most of us would be empty shells of ourselves, wandering through life like milk-drunk toddlers who are 2 hours late for their afternoon nap.

The impact of coffee on society hasn’t been lost on Twitter users. Every artist needs their muse, and it seems that inspiration from the bean has allowed many to produce some of their very finest work. So, for your reading pleasure, here are 24 of Twitter’s finest coffee-related tweets.

“Someone in the office keeps making decaf coffee & I’ve narrowed it down to that guy who never gets anything done.”

“I don’t need a husband I just need someone to come over and make me coffee in the morning and then leave.”

 

“Instead of going to Starbucks, I make coffee at home, yell my name out incorrectly, then light a $5 bill on fire.”

 

Why Should Bars Use Social Media (and Take it Seriously)?

As a bar or pub manager, it’s tempting, I know. You feel obliged to have some sort of social media presence, so you hand the shiny title of Social Media Manager off to the youngest member of staff, who is obviously the Stephen Hawking of Facebook.

But while young Jack might live with his nose in his phone, and may well do a fine job, your social media presence deserves far more. It shouldn’t be seen as an obligation; it should be seen as an opportunity. And a massive one at that.

So what does your bar have to gain from using social media? What are the benefits of jumping aboard the Facebook, Instagram or Twitter train?

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It Offers Large-Scale Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) has long been seen as the most powerful influencer of a consumer’s purchasing decision. It makes sense – who better to listen to than a real life human being who has had a real life human being experience with whatever product or service you’re interested in? They don’t have a stake in the company, they don’t care whether the business succeeds or fails – they’re an entirely impartial third party who will tell it like it is.

While conventional wisdom says that WOMM is most potent when it’s delivered by someone you trust, it turns out it doesn’t really matter who delivers it. A stunning 88 percent of people trust the online reviews of strangers just as much as they trust the recommendations of their personal contacts.

Social media offers an almost unmatched method of generating and displaying these online reviews. Your bar can be given a star rating on its Facebook page, it can be hashtagged on Instagram by a happy punter, or it can be given a Twitter shout-out by the leader of Buck’s show. It generates online discussion about your bar, which can be the most effective form of marketing you can get.

It Offers Some of the Most Cost-Effective Marketing Available

What’s more, the marketing mentioned above can be entirely free. That’s right – the hugely potent marketing that social media can generate needn’t cost you a cent. It really puts the thousands of dollars that you spent on the FM radio campaign into perspective.

And if you do choose to add to your organic social media marketing efforts by supplementing them with a bit of paid advertising, you’re not exactly going to need to take out a second mortgage. With Facebook advertising campaigns starting at as little as $7, your money will go further on social media than it will anywhere else.

It Gives You Direct Access to Almost Everyone

You know who’s not on social media? That pensioner who is somewhat of a long-shot to hit up your bar anyway.

Everyone else is. And with social media, you essentially have direct access to their phones. Rather than tuning out to a radio ad, or blindly driving past a billboard, social media users have no choice but to look at and recognize your social media activity.

With 62 percent or more of Australians being regular users of Facebook – and a far greater percentage of younger, bar-frequenting folk – a social media presence is non-negotiable. By gaining intimate access to all of those eyes, you’re giving your bar the potential to explode.

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It Humanizes Your Bar

Finally, a social media presence allows your followers to develop a meaningful connection to your bar. By telling the behind-the-scenes stories, and offering insights into the lives of your staff, your customers can feel as though they’re invested in your success.

This humanization of your bar can generate the sort of warm and fuzzies that will have patrons choosing your bar as their go-to spot. Perhaps you post a staff profile every week or two, or give followers a glimpse into your family life. These personal touches can be the difference between your bar getting a swathe of regulars, or being yet another pit-stop on a bar crawl.

Why is social media important? Because it’s the future. Compared to traditional methods, it’s a better version of marketing in almost every measurable way.

So seize the bar social accounts from young Jack before he shares a moody selfie that he presumes will make the ladies go wild, and take your social seriously.

How NOT to Use Cross-Promotion as a Social Media Marketing Tool

Cross-promotion can be an incredibly effective marketing tool for your organization. OR it could be an incredibly ineffective or even harmful one. The difference between these outcomes will boil down to how you go about your cross-promotion; the practices and strategies that you choose to use.

While we could explain how to go about it the right way at this point, it’s always for more fun to point out what not to do. So, what does the cross promotion strategy from hell look like? Let’s take a peek.

Partnering up with a competitor

Who better to partner up with than someone who knows your organization’s product or service inside out? It seems like a fair question. But “knowing your product or service inside out” could limit your potential promo partners to those who are in the same industry – i.e. your competitors. If you have any sort of cross-over with a potential cross-promoting partner they should be instantly struck off your list. Potential profits will be quickly eroded if your cross-promotion efforts highlight another option to your customers.

What you should do: Instead, choose an influential individual or organization that has a need for what you offer or who aligns with your brand persona, and cross-promote with them. Investigating potential social media influencers is a great place to start.

Blanket posting content

So you’ve pulled out a smoking hot blog post fresh from the oven and you’re looking to treat your followers to a slice. So let’s pop a headline on that sucker and cross-post it instantly across all of our platforms, shall we? That’ll be the most efficient way to get the content out there, and will ensure that every one of your followers, no matter which platform they follow you on, will gain access to this piece of magnificence at exactly the same time.

But blanket posting your content, while efficient, is incredibly ineffective. The perfectly constructed post differs for each social platform – some rely heavily on hashtags, some have issues with the reach of third party content, and some, like Instagram, don’t even allow you to post links to blogs at all. And then there’s character limit considerations and the times of the day or week that each platform is at its most active.

What you should do: Take the time to learn the best posting practices for every one of your social platforms, and use this knowledge to form unique individual posts for each. While this will be more time consuming it will make each of your posts exponentially more effective.

Treating your audience like idiots

“Buy this company’s product or service – it’s good” shouts your hired Instagram influencer. “Wow”, thinks the viewer, “this person that I trust really seems to think that this product or service is good. I’ll take 10.” While this might be how you try to explain social media cross promotion to a five-year-old, it doesn’t really translate into the real world.

Social media marketing is all about subtlety and nuance. While the image of a middle aged man in a lab coat was all that was needed to convince people that cigarettes were terrific in the 60s, audiences of today are far more aware – and wary – of paid recommendations.

What you should do: Product placement is a tricky science. It’s best to do it in a delicate and subtle way; without being brash about the nature of the promotion. Your audience aren’t idiots – they’ll almost certainly recognize what is happening, and thus they’ll appreciate it if you respect their intelligence.

In the end, your list of what not to do when it comes to social media cross promotion is fairly self-explanatory. By playing it smart and paying attention to those who do it well you’ll soon be enjoying the fruits of your cross-promotional labor.