Instagram isn’t just fun photos!

I will admit that I have been using an “old phone” for a while now that did not allow me to get to many social media sites easily.  The phone was out of date and it ran very slowly so using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. was extremely frustrating.  That said, I recently moved back to an iPhone and I can’t express the amount of joy that has come over me.  I was able to download and start using all of my social media accounts again from my mobile phone!  The most important, Instagram.

Now Instagram is currently a mobile only social media platform for consumers and businesses.  One misunderstood fact about Instagram is it is more than just the fun photos you see.  Brands can use Instagram to increase its customer base and effectively promote its brand.  One may wonder how a brand could promote its business with a social network that is photo based.  According to an article by Herman, one can use 5 effective marketing tactics in its Instagram account to be effective and efficient.

First, a brand will want to make sure it has added the information needed to promote its business.  Meaning, it will want to make sure that it has linked its website (or any site related to the business) to its profile page.  This will allow consumers to easily visit its business page and learn more about the business as a whole.  To make the link even better, the brand can use a track-able link, instead of simply its website URL so that the traffic from Instagram can be tracked.

The second and third tactic I believe is quite obvious.  Brands will want to make sure to use text overlay on images and also feature it products.  Using effective photos for Instagram is important and at times that requires adding some text overlaying the photo to convey the message.  This text overlay may include a message, pricing, product information, etc.

Lastly, brands want to make sure to use calls to action and hashtags.  Like Twitter, hashtags can help in making posts available for searches.  The use of hashtags and calls to action can truly help in the effectiveness of a brand’s post.  Some brands may include too many hashtags in a post, overwhelming the consumer and making the message a bit messy.  Using three to five hashtags will easily get the message across clearly while also giving the brand a better chance of building brand recognition and extending business reach.  Even using popular hashtags along with brand-related hashtags may help in increasing the reach.

In the end, Instagram is a great tool that marketers should use in its social media strategy.  It gives the consumer a great way to visualize the brand and become more familiar with it as well.  Using these five tactics can really help a brand improve its Instagram account and overall social media strategy.

The Power of Pinterest

Have you ever cut out pieces of a magazine or book and placed them upon a corkboard, white board or even just the wall of your room? I’m talking about the inspirations you find all around you. Maybe it is your inspiration to lose weight, new fashion trends, or home décor ideas. No matter what your inspiration collage contains, it is a way for you to place all of your interests and ideas in one organized placed. This is what Pinterest has done for the new digital world. All of your inspiration boards can be located in one place. You can create your personality through Pinterest just by pinning what inspires you.  The question is, how to brands use this great social media platform for its consumers?

Brands need to use Pinterest in almost the exact same way a consumer would. It needs to create a personality through its pins and boards for the consumer. It can also use Pinterest to tell a story to the consumer through the creation of pins and boards on its page. A brand could use Pinterest to create authority by giving educational information and ideas to the consumer. It does not need to simply be the brand’s products on Pinterest; brands can use pins and boards from other places to inspire the consumer. For example, a home décor store may use color palette ideas and inspirational room photos from other pins (not created by the brand) to inspire the consumer to look deeper into the brand’s products. Meaning, brands don’t always need to create all the pins it has on its Pinterest page. Pins can come from other locations as long as it compliments the brand’s overall story.

Pinterest is becoming one of the most popular social media platforms used by brands. As it continues to grow, brands will need to increase its knowledge on how to successfully run a Pinterest page. Social Media Examiner has a great article brands can use in learning the best practices for Pinterest. That said, just like all other social media, Pinterest will continue to grow and make changes so brands will need to keep in touch with how to best use Pinterest for its business.

From Subscribers to Fans

I was recently asked how a brand can turn its email subscribers into social media likes and followers.  It made me start thinking about how this could be possible and why brands should absolutely do this.  I think the first step in getting your email subscribers to follow or like your social media pages is to make them aware.  Some customers may not even know you have those social media pages.  This can be done by sending an email to your customers and letting them know they can follow or like your pages.  You can send separate emails or combine all of the information in one.  Letting the email subscribers know that they can find you on different social media pages helps in creating the awareness.  Brands could even create a contest to help increase the likes or followers.  Offering an incentive to customers always helps when one is trying to increase awareness.

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Another way that brands can increase its social media awareness is to add social media opt-ins when consumers sign up to receive emails.  This can be part of a confirmation email or a confirmation page.  When customers sign up for emails, the brand can create a confirmation page or “pop up” that will allow the customer to also like or follow the brand’s social pages.  This will give the consumer a chance to like the pages right away without having to actually visit the social pages.  All they would need to do is hit “Like” or “Follow” for the different platforms and it will automatically add them to the social page.  If a brand were to send a confirmation email, it could create the automated email to have the social buttons appear within so that the consumer can automatically like or follow the page as well.

With the ever growing use of social platforms, brands will want to consider using different tactics to have its email customers be a part of its social pages as well.  Email is still a large part of promoting to consumers but social media is growing each day.  By having the consumer follow the brand through different platforms, it has a better chance of reaching the consumer.  Taking on different forms of promotion and interaction with consumers is the best way for brands to increase its awareness and overall customer base.

What in the world is a hashtag?

Being a marketing consultant, I often get asked what hashtags are. Whether you are new to Twitter and Facebook or have been using it for some time, you are going to come across hashtags in different posts. Instagram is another social platform that uses hashtags in posts. One might ask, what is a hashtag and how can I effectively use it? I have a love/hate relationship with hashtags because I feel that consumers don’t use them correctly, and some businesses really aren’t sure what they are! I currently work with small business owners and they are not always as tech savvy as others may be so explaining hashtags isn’t always easy. So, how do I explain it? I simply tell my customers that hashtags are going to make the post searchable. When consumers are looking for similar topic, events, etc. they can search hashtags in order to find any post that incorporates that hashtag. Some common hashtags you may see recently are #thanksgiving, #BlackFriday, #SmallBusinessSaturday. These hashtags may talk about events or sales going on for that day. Many consumers will look for this information so that they do not have to waste the time looking at each individual brand he or she has in mind. By searching hashtags, consumers can find all common posts in one place.

Facebook recently incorporated hashtags as well. Whether or not this has been effective is still up to debate. In my opinion, consumers and brands are not using hashtags as effectively and efficiently as they do on Twitter and Instagram. Many consumers who use Facebook are not in tune with how hashtags work so seeing them on Facebook doesn’t resonate with them as much as it does on Twitter or Instagram. Hashtags can greatly help a brand catch the attention of the consumer while also getting its posts found and recognized by the consumer. The use of hashtags can help a brand’s event or sale be found when a consumer searches certain keywords/hashtags. It allows the brand to reach more consumers, not just its followers. In the end, I think that hashtags can greatly help brands get the news out about events, sales, etc. but they must be used effectively.

What do you think of hashtags? Do you use them or have you searched them to find information?

What do you think of hashtags? Do you use them or have you searched them to find information?

To blog or not to blog…that is the question!

Starting my first blog got me thinking, would a blog work for every vertical and business?  In researching information and looking at different brands that have blogs, the answer is yes!  Blogs are a great way for brands to talk about different events coming up, changes in products, location, etc.  Blogs can even be used for tips to its consumers.  One blog that I currently follow is Mina Rose Beauty.  This brand is an on-the-go make up service for weddings, parties, or just going out on the town.  The two owners, Amanda Hildabrand and Shannon Morrissey, write for the blog.  I love the different tips they give to consumers about different products to use, skin care, etc.  There was even recently an inspirational post about inner beauty.  I’m using this example because the blog doesn’t just talk about its services or being promotional, it is giving the consumer more value and advice.  That said, I think that any vertical can take a blog and turn it in to a place where its consumers can go, read and learn.

So, what if you do not have a blog?  There are plenty of reasons but some of the top reasons include increasing SEO, creating free PR, building brand confidence and even building sales.  Brands can also look at a blog as a way to create a two way conversation with its consumers, just as social media platforms do.  Just as brands need to respond and monitor comments and posts on social media, monitoring comments on blogs is also important.  Brands need to make sure to monitor and even respond to certain comments on its blog.  This is where the conversation is created between brand and consumer.  Bloggers can also track just how consumers are clicking, viewing, and navigating through its blog with blog analytics.  According to an article I was reading, “Blog analytics allow you to track readers, click-throughs, popular topics, shares and comments. You can even tell what day of the week your visitors prefer to stop by.”

In the end, I believe that no matter what vertical your business is in, it should/could have a blog.  The advantages outweigh any disadvantages for brands.  Blogs can be another media outlet for a brand to reach its consumers on a more personal level.  Just like social media is a place where brands can easily interact and create conversations with its consumers, blogs can and will do the same.

Do you think that all verticals can have a blog or are there some you think should not?

The reviews are in!

When trying to build your business and create awareness, how do you get people to find you?  In my opinion, hearing of brands and store via word of mouth is always a great way to gain more consumer awareness and loyalty.  Consumers look to friends, family members, maybe even a stranger on the street to find the best brand for what they are looking for.  Referrals are a large part of what builds a brand’s consumer awareness.  Just think of the amount of times that you have heard about a brand or been referred by a friend to purchase a product or service.

Reviews from brands are another great way for consumers to learn about a brand.  This gives the consumer a chance to read about the brand, and see what others think.  It is a great advantage for consumers to get the chance to see just what others think of the brand before purchasing.  Facebook is one emerging media that allows brands to receive reviews from consumers.  These reviews can help in developing brand awareness and loyalty.  Although there is always the chance of getting a negative review, brands should take this risk being that word of mouth and referrals is the best way to gain business and overall awareness.

The reviews on Facebook are through Edgerank, which is the algorithm that determines if and where stories show up on a consumer’s news feed.  This algorithm has changed over time in order to display stories that are being interacted with more.  The consumer may see stories out of order or a story may continue to be at the top of his or her newsfeed due to high interaction.  This algorithm has caused marketers to change how they are talking to consumers time and time again.  It is important for the brand’s content to show on a consumer’s newsfeed so it must determine what the best way is to reach the consumer and gain the interaction it needs.

The reviews on Facebook work along with the algorithm set in place.  According to an article from Social Media Examiner, EdgeRank is calculated with “affinity,” “weight” and “time decay.” Affinity measures the interaction between a Facebook user and a brand, while weight is the importance of that action. Star ratings factor into both. Put simply: overall organic reach and brand visibility are directly impacted by EdgeRank, which is influenced in part by star ratings.

In the end, reviews on Facebook or any other site can help a brand and influence consumers.  With reviews comes positive and negative feedback.  The consumer is looking for the opinions of others when looking at a brand or determining between brands.  I, personally, have not written a review via Facebook or any other site.  It’s not that I do not use them; it’s just not something I have done before.  I do read reviews when looking at brands and comparing which one is the best.  But it does make me wonder, how many of you have actually written a review through Facebook or any other site?  Was it positive or negative?

Facebook Rooms – Bringing Back the Chat!

Recently, Facebook released its new app called Rooms. This app allows consumers to create a chat room(s) according to his or her interests and invite others to join. These chat rooms are a new way for consumers to chat together about a common topic. I think that there are both positive and negative sides to this new app. The positive is that it gives consumers a way to chat among others with the same interests (even anonymously). Users do not have to display their name; rather they can just have a screen name. This brings me back to the AOL chat days where you would chat with friends through your screen name but I disgress.

A negative for this app would be how it is monitored. Though Facebook claims that it is monitoring its Rooms to see if there are any negative chats, threats, etc., is it truly safe? Consumers may have the possibility to create rooms that attract the wrong type of person. There could also be groups created that are controversial. Either could create a mess if it were to go in a negative direction with the chats. Facebook will need to make sure that it is monitoring its rooms successfully. That said, it brings up the question of privacy. If Facebook is monitoring everything that the consumers are saying in a group, is that invading the privacy of those consumers? Should the brand be allowed to monitor everything? If it didn’t, how would it keep track should a chat room take a negative turn.

The biggest issue that Facebook is seeing is that is it being said that it ripped off the idea from another brand. A man named Rottemberg claims that Facebook stole his idea and created the app exactly as he did. According to an article, small features are different within the two apps but the description and overall concept are the same. This brings me to ask the question, is it really an issue? Competing brands are creating similar products all the time in order to keep up in the industry. When you look around at the products out there, there is so many that are almost exactly the same. If brands didn’t create similar products with minor feature differences, then there wouldn’t be any competition at all. In my opinion, Rottemberg has a right to be upset, but to say that the brand ripped off his idea is absurd. What do you think? Do you think that his claim is legitimate or is he overreacting?

The Outbreak is Real!

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WARNING! There has been an outbreak…of emerging media!

When I think of emerging media, I think of a virus that is spreading and taking over!  I’m using virus in a positive tone in that emerging media has become viral and has had viral effects on the consumer.  More and more consumers each day are using different types of emerging media throughout his or her day.  Think about the amount of time you spend looking at videos, ads, social media, etc.  We are all becoming more connected to emerging media and it is influencing our behavior.

Everyone has caught the emerging media “bug” and it keeps spreading!  With blogs, social media sites, the use of mobile devices, etc. consumers are becoming more and more reliant on digital media.  This outbreak continues to spread and evolve over time.  Emerging media, like any other viral outbreak will continue to grow and evolve over time.  Marketers will need to take the time to evolve and learn with this outbreak, just as doctors must adapt medications and care plans in order to keep the “patient” healthy.  I think the future of marketing is going to take finding the right medicine and adjusting according to how the virus evolves.  Will emerging media ever hit a stopping point?  In my opinion, I think that it is going to continue to evolve and change.  This evolution is going to be influenced by both the consumer and the brands that use it.

Marketers cannot continue to market how they have been for years and years.  Emerging media is going to change how a brand markets its products to the consumer.  With each change, a brand must adapt and evolve its message and digital media approach to keep up.  Consumers and businesses alike need to keep up with the ever-changing digital world.  Consumers are constantly seeing updates, new products, etc. when it comes to tools used to access the emerging media while businesses need to track those updates and be innovative when it comes to using them successfully.

Most, if not all consumers expect brands to use emerging media and use it effectively.  I can’t tell you how many times I have researched a brand’s social media page before even visiting the website.  This can hold true for many consumers and for others, they may visit the site first and social media later.  Regardless of how consumers are searching, the key point is that they are searching! The statistics on how consumer’s search shows just how important is it for brands to evolve and grow with all emerging media.  Brands need to study consumer behavior while also keeping mind this outbreak is something it must deal with in order to reach the consumer.  If a brand doesn’t “diagnose” what it needs to do for emerging media, then it is going to be behind.  Diagnosing how to best treat the outbreak of emerging media is what will make and keep a brand successful.

In the end, the future of emerging and digital media is bright.  With this outbreak, the future diagnosis should be amazing!  Below is a video I was able to find showing just how emerging media may evolve in the future.