Recently we’ve written about Instagram and Pinterest – providing you with an understanding of how these popular websites/tools work. Today we’ll look at how you can use Instagram and Pinterest for you business. And consider whether you should use these social media channels for your business.
What Instagram allows you to do is easily and instantly post your photos to multiple photo sites and social media channels including: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, and Foursquare. You can also configure your Instagram account to email people your latest photos.
When it comes to your business, you can use Instagram to share photos of your brand/products/services. Given the social nature of this photo site, those following you will comment on your photos and repost them – enabling the photos to go viral.
But how should you use Instagram? Well your marketing department, can easily manipulate photos with filters to suit a specific mood or theme that they want the photo to convey. You can also use Instragram to track the photos that others are posting about your brand/product/service/company – simply use the Search function to find out what others are posting about your company. The geo-tag feature is super useful to help others locate your company.
Is Instagram right for your company? Well there are lots of companies using Instagram – but to be successful on it, you need to have a savvy marketing plan and a real reason to be posting photos of your brand/products/services. Take a look at these 10 companies who are early adopters of Instagram and how they are using it.
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard site that revolves around people posting links to items/ideas/products that they discover online and find interesting or useful. While you can’t sell product directly through Pinterest, users can click on the photo and will be taken directly to your company website.
Just like other social media channels, links and photos can quickly go viral when they are repinned by potentially thousands of people.
To use Pinterest for your business effectively you need to consider if you have a brand/product/service that fits into the pinning mechanism. Do you have an actual product or service that others can post to a board?
If you do then to use Pinterest for your business, it is key to create boards that relate to your company – savvy consumers will see past a Pinterest account that is created only to post photos of products and brand images. Instead think of your market space and how your brand or product relates to this market space. For example, if you own a lifestyle company, you can could create boards related to your niche such as: Cool Gear, Places To Travel, Stores (these are stores that sell your product), and Pics (these are pictures of people using your product).
To help boost your profile on Pinterest follow others who use your products or brand. Repin photos of your goods and repine photos related to your niche. It also helps to follow media companies related to your company and niche market. It is interesting to know that some companies have reported a 75% click-through rate to their website from photos pinned on Pinterest.
You can also get creative and create boards that provide How To or Tips and Advice on using your product or services. For example, if you sell yoga mats, you might create a board called Loving Your Mat – this includes pins about caring for, cleaning, and storing yoga mats.
Is Pinterest right for your company? It really depends on what you company sells. Do some research and see if others in your market space are using Pinterest and how they are using it. Here is a collection of companies and brands using its social channel.
If you do decide to use on or both of Instagram and Pinterest, here are some overall tips to keep in mind:
Do you have an iPhone or iPod Touch? Do you take photos with your Apple iOS device? Then likely you’ve heard of Instagram. We’re guessing that you’ve heard of it but aren’t actually using it. (Of course we could be wrong – you could be one of the 15 million people who have started using this app since October 2010.) Well, whether you’re a new user, a dabbler, or simply curious about this photography app that is taking the Apple world by storm, read on to learn more about the nuts and bolts of this app.
Instagram bills itself as a “fast, beautiful, fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures”. What this really means is that with the Instagram app, you can apply filters to your digital photos to change the way they look and feel. Yes, similar to the filters that people used to use before the advent of the digital camera.
What has made this free app so compelling and dare we say addictive is the community of Instagram users. Using the Instagram app and instagr.am website, you can share your photos with others.
It is surprisingly simple:
So you’ve likely read articles and heard some buzz about Google+ – when it was first released in beta and then to the public, everyone seemed to be talking about circles and getting connected. Well, this hype has settled a bit and while there are some dedicated Google+ users, it is still not making large inroads into the Facebook space.
Recently Google+ has opened itself up for businesses. What this means is that you can create branded pages on Google+ – another way for you to market yourself and focus on some inbound marketing activities. But with everything that is “new” and “better” – there is lots of discussion out there on the WWW about the pros and cons of using Google+ for business.
We thought it would be a good idea to look at the pros and cons and break them down for you. By the end of this blog post you’ll have a wider understanding of Google+ and why you may or may not want to use it for your business. (As always, if you have any questions or would like some additional advice – don’t hesitate to send us an email and we’ll get together and talk!)
Officially called Google+ Pages (why not simply call it Google+ Business…), Google is touting this recent offering as a way for people to connect with their favorite brands and businesses. The idea is that you can build relationships with the people behind the brands and businesses that you like, frequent and are interested in. This type of relationship building helps consumers build a connection and relationship with a brand, and then when shopping for a Christmas presents for example, hopefully this brand will be the first picked up off of the shelf.
The way this all works with Google+ is that people can recommend your company, brand or products with a +1 and even add you to one of their circles for a long-term connection. Then the sharing and communicating starts – perhaps your constomers will ask questions about your recent product developments or even have an idea for a new product. The key in all of this is that you need to communicate and be active on your Google+ Pages.
Google+ Pages does have a lot of pros and benefits for business and brands. Here is a look at some of the top-rated pros:
If you’re new to Twitter or even if you’ve been around the Twitterverse for some time now, you may have seen rumblings about Klout and Klout scores. There are lots of folks out there just like you who have questions about Klout, Klout scores, and what this all means to your online and social media profile. So in this blog post, we’ll do our best to explain Klout, Klout scores and try to make sense of what this all really means to you.
Now, of course like everything on the Internet and particularly with social media, there are lots of opinions, theories and beliefs on what is really important and crucial to your online and social presence… So before we get into Klout, it is important to remember one very important thing: to be effective you must be active and social with social media – if you are asking questions, responding to comments, following new people, and generally communicating with others – then you are doing it right. So don’t get stressed about your Klout score, your “level of influence”, etc. – what is important is that you’re out there and begin active on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, and writing regular blog posts – do this and the rewards of effective social media marketing will come your way.
What Is Klout?
The slogan on the Klout website reads: The Standard For Influence – so this should tell you that Klout is all about measuring sphere of influence on social networks. According to the website, each time you interact with someone, post a comment, or engage with others, Klout measures and records this activity to determine your “true reach”.
What this all really means – how many people are you affecting and impacting with your activity. As well Klout can measure and tell you in which areas you are most influential. For example if you typically post about vegetarian recipes, cyclocross racing and your pet cat, then likely these are the areas in which you’ll have the biggest sphere of influence and weight.
What Is A Klout Score?
Your Klout score is a number between 1 and 100. Yes, a very big range! And this score can fluctuate based on your activity level on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
Klout believes that “influence is the ability to drive action” – so based on this your Klout score is based on the number of retweets, targeted Twitter messages, and likes and comments on Facebook. The more of these you have – the better for your Klout score. In addition the more people you have following you and engaging with you who have high Klout scores – the higher your score will be.
Just like the mystery behind Facebook algorithms, it is not possible to find out what really drives and controls your Klout score….
Why Does My Klout Score Matter?
Well, this is a big topic up for debate. There are people on both sides of the Klout fence.
If you listen to the folks at Klout, you can use Klout scores to help determine who to follow and engage in. As well, you can track your Klout score to see how you are “performing” on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
Then of course there are those who say that to be effective on social networks you need to simply be active and get engaged. Rather than following a company, brand or person because they have a high Klout score – follow them or engage with them because you like what they’re saying or they represent an ideal you support. In other words, by engaging and socializing with those who have like-minded goals and niches – you will attract the true followers you are looking for. Particularly when it comes to promoting your business on Twitter and Facebook.
So Should I Care About Klout?
Hmm, tough question. The answer is this: yes and no.
Pay attention to your Klout score – it is very interesting to see in which areas you’re considered influential. As well it can be interesting to see how your Klout score fluctuates based on your social network activity. For example, if you’re doing a big online promotion for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is worthwhile tracking your Klout score before and after the promotion to help see if your social network marketing had an impact.
But this being said, don’t live and breathe based on you Klout score. It is not something that you need to check each and every day. Keep doing what you’re doing – engaging, communicating, and being active on social networks. Continue to pay attention to your new followers and who is liking or commenting on your Facebook posts – this real data can tell you more about the effectiveness of your social network marketing campaign.
To learn more about Klout, visit the Klout website.
To read a few different views on Klout, take a look at these links:
We had intended to post about the Facebook changes last week, but well time ran away from us… So better late than never, here is our take on the changes to Facebook and what you need to know.
Subscribe Button: this feature allows you to really narrow down on who you hear from in your news feed. Before the subscribe feature, you essentially had to wade through all of the updates from all of those in your Facebook feed to find the information that you want. Now with Subscribe you can choose to “subscribe” to a person’s status updates – this allows you to guarantee for example that you’ll stay up-to-date with your best friend’s post, the status updates from your favourite coffee company or the latest headlines from a news agency. You can even streamline things further by choosing what you receive from those in your news feed: maybe you only want photo updates from one person and you want all status updates from another – the Subscribe button lets you narrow down and control this. To get the full scoop on the Subscribe button, see the Facebook help.
Timeline: essentially this is a way for you to beef up your profile and keep a log of your life – on Facebook. Your Timeline is just that – a timeline of your activity on Facebook. You can edit and customize it – adding in photos, updating it with key dates and moments. The idea is that because your status update is constantly being updated with the most recent update, the older information gets lost and “squeezed out”. Now with the Timeline, your complete history can be kept up-to-date. Take a look at this article about Timeline to learn more.
News Feed Changes: it used to be that we had two main choice for our news feed: Top News and Most Recent. These options no longer exist. Now instead your news feed is continually updated with the most recent news – so this means there is more traffic but the idea is that you’ll miss less content this way. The idea is that the more popular information will still be at the top of the list – think posts with photos and links. Really, this is a small change that doesn’t take too long to get used to.
Ticker: this is perhaps one of the more controversial changes to Facebook. In the right hand corner of your Facebook screen/window you’ll see a scrolling and constantly updated Ticker of all the most recent activity of everyone of your friends. So you’ll see if your friend John commented on someone’s status or clicked the Like link on a post. Already after only a few days, a lot of folks have a love-hate relationship with the Ticker. The good news is that you can hide the Ticker so that you’re not distracted by the activity of each and everyone in your Facebook. While you can’t close or hide the Ticker via Facebook, there are a few apps and hacks out there that will let you do so…
Lists: if you have a lot of friends on Facebook and follow a wide-range of folks, you might want to create Lists to filter Facebook updates. Facebook comes with a few lists automatically created for you: Close Friends, Acquaintances, and Restricted. Also based on your profile, the Facebook magicians will have created lists for you automatically: for example we had lists created based on our high school, previous employers, and place of residence. You can create as many lists as you want and customize them however you like. In a sense, these lists are very similar to the lists that most of us use on Twitter to keep track of different feeds. The List feature can be a bit complicated and Facebook does a help page devoted to the topic.
This is the quick-hit list of the high profile changes to Facebook. To read more about some of the other changes and to get a feel for what is coming up next, take a look at this article from Mashable.
Is cable television dead? Are the days of sitting down and turning on the television soon to be a thing of the past? Yes, these are heavy questions and ones we’re sure television executives really wish weren’t viable. The reality is that television might actually be on its way out. All thanks to the Internet. Oh and a very popular website called YouTube.
Yes, YouTube. YouTube has only been around for six years – but given its wide-reaching impact and effect, it really feels like longer. YouTube was officially launched on Feb. 15, 2005 when founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim registered the domain. After posting a few short videos on the site, it didn’t take long for retailers, specifically Nike to recognize the potential of online video. On October 21, 2005 the first Nike commercial launched and was viewed on YouTube. The official launch date for YouTube was Dec. 15, 2005 but the website was quickly gaining steam before the “official launch”.
YouTube has now grown to a site that sees in excess of 1 billion visits a day. Yes, 1 billion. Companies, everyday people, advertisers – everyone has embraced YouTube. Basically if you have a way to capture video, you now have a way to access millions – maybe even billions of people. In fact more and more people are turning to online sites such as YouTube for the entertainment and news.
What YouTube did is show us how easy it is to post video on the Internet. It also spawned an entire industry of folks who can now use their creative talents to create compelling digital online video advertising, movies, television shows, and video podcasts. This has wide-spread acceptance of online video has flowed over to mainstream television stations now making their shows available online, providing live streaming of events (recently the World Track and Field Championships), and of companies making video part of their social media strategy.
A couple of weeks ago, the Danny MacAskill video titled Industrial Revolution was posted on YouTube and as of this minute has been viewed 2,116,392 times. And this is for a video of a guy doing some very cool stuff on his bike! Imagine the power of this medium to advertise products, spread messages, make your movie or book a bestseller – yes, pretty much infinite.
And now thanks to various websites, people are even dropping their cable and choosing to download television shows (often free of commercials). The need for the television cable subscription package really may be going the way of the dodo. So what does this mean for your big 50 inch flat panel television? No problems, simply hook your computer up to the television and watch your favourite shows, movies, YouTube videos, Vimeo videos, and live streamed events.
Do we think the days of cable are long gone? No -not yet. But it is up to the cable television stations to really get with the times and recognize that the cable channel subscription package is not really a viable business model. Why pay for 300 channels when you get your entertainment on the Internet and not have to worry about commercials and you can pick and choose what you want – when you want it. All thanks to a small start-up called YouTube.
As a business owner you are approached daily about buying ad space in your local newspaper, trade magazines, flyers and the yellow pages. This traditional print advertising does have its place – but it is very important to weigh the pros and cons of such an advertising campaign. Most consumers these days, throw out the weekly flyers and likely don’t even really notice the full-page colour ads in their favourite magazines.
Yes, there is the a chance that someone might read your ad in a magazine or even look-up your company in the yellow pages, but the thing is you’ll never really know. That’s right, it is pretty much impossible to track the rate of return on print advertising. You don’t know if your customers are coming to you thanks to the latest print advertising campaign that include magazine, newspaper, mail-outs and flyer inserts. There is no way of measuring this.
This is where digital advertising and marketing has the upper hand. Everything we do on the Internet is measurable. For example, we can use analytics to find out if you’re reading this blog post in an RSS reader, through an email subscription or if you searched for some keywords and found our site. Every time someone clicks on a link for Vinyl 21 Communications, we know. This is where the strength of digital advertising lies.
You can find out, measure and understand how and why people are responding to your digital marketing campaign. You can learn for example if people are likely to click on a pop-up ad for your latest product before reading an article on a new site or if they are more likely to click a link to your company that is place within a well-written article.
The additional strength of a digital advertising and marketing campaign is the flexibility and personalization. You can completely tailor your marketing strategy to meet your customer demographic. For example, if you sell rubber boots and umbrellas, you can make sure your ad only appears on rainy days and target very specific websites such as the weather network.
The cost of a digital advertising and marketing campaign is much more reasonable than that of a print campaign as well. And in throw in the fast turn-around time with getting a banner ad created and posted to a website compared with the time it takes to create a full-page ad for a glossy magazine and you can soon see that there are more pros than cons for focusing on a digital advertising and marketing campaign.
Does this mean print advertising is dead? Definitely not! It just means that as a business owner, it is important to look outside of your traditional advertising choices and think about how you can really reach your consumers. Yes people still read magazines and the newspaper – but how will you know that they read your ad and then decided to look up your website and buy your product? With a digital ad – all it takes is one click and your customer is at your site and purchasing your product.
As a business owner or website manager, you might be wondering if a blog can add value to your website presence. Well, in a word – Yes!
This spot on the Internet has started to gain some really good traction and attention. We’re getting great feedback from our clients about the education and tips they’re getting from this blog. This is exactly why we blog – and why you should as well.
A blog gives you the chance to stretch your muscles a bit and add some different flavour and personality to your website. Your blogs can take any format you want:
The value in blogging lies in being able to communicate and show your expertise – particularly within your niche and business market. The reality is that you have competition and you need to determine how to stand apart from this competition. Yes, a solid business plan and a proven product or service helps you stand out – but you need to take one step further. Get engaged and really show that you are an expert in your field.
Don’t stress, your blog posts don’t need to be deep literary pieces of writing – you can use whatever style you want and write as much or as little as you want. Though word of advice – try not to exceed 800 words – anymore than this and you will lose readers.
Should you worry about inserting keywords and terms? While strategically incorporating keywords certainly helps in overall Search Engine Optimization, what is more important is that you blog regularly (2 – 3 times a week is optimum but once a week is fine) and that you provide your blog readers with some useful content.
What keeps people coming back to your blog is the opportunity to learn something new and useful. Your blog post content can be as simple as: How To Pack Allergy-Free Back To School Lunches or How To Fix A Flat Tire On Your Bicycle. Write as though you are speaking to someone- friendly, open and professional. Don’t try to be something or someone you’re not on your blog – this makes the writing stiff and too hard to do.
Blogging brings traffic to your website, gives your clients insights into your expertise and perspective and gives you a really easy way to connect with customers/clients – building a community.
The one downside to blogging is that it can be very time-consuming. We recommend that, like all other social media tools, if you don’t have the time to do it right, then don’t do it at all—or hire us to manage it for you!