The 3 Biggest Social Media Lessons of 2013

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A lot has shifted in the world of Social Media in 2013. Software is getting smarter, revenue models are actually working and fans are interacting at a higher rate than ever before. If you feel your small business is not up to par on social media platforms, check out these three big social media lessons from 2013.

Tweets have become GLOBAL

AP S&P chartThe overall acceptance of social media is continually growing and is showing no signs of slowing down. Twitter’s IPO in April has already created serious mass-market movement in the financial sector as well as with personal investors. Twitter has the reach now to make the Dow Jones drop 150 points (I.E. when AP’s twitter was hacked).

 Takeaway: Start Tweeting! There’s an audience out there for whatever your business is and they are waiting for interaction. Use hashtags and follow more people!

If you aren’t VISUAL, you are MISSING OUT

 The latest trends all point towards brands using more and more visual tactics to reach their audience. Video has become the new way to reach high traffic audiences with YouTube (and YouTube live), Vine, Snapchat and Instagram. Not to mention Snapchat was offered $3 Billion and turned it down this year…

 Takeaway: Take more pictures! Take more videos! Use your smart phone to create other types of content that your audience might be more apt to listen to. Don’t be afraid to get super close with some of those shots!

What Do Consumers Want To See From Brands on Instagram?

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Instagram allows brands to creatively engage with consumers and build relationships by expressing the brand’s tone through images and videos. Below are some helpful tips for brands in order to make the most of their Instagram presence with a social media content strategy.

Storytelling

The images, videos and captions that a brand posts should help tell a story. Fans need a reason to follow the brand, and they want to be entertained. Brands should post a variety of pictures and videos that portray the brands overall essence, not just product shots. Whole Foods Market often posts photos and videos that represent healthy living and sustainability in addition to products and store events.Whole Foods

Behind-the-Scenes

Followers want to see behind-the-scenes images from the brand that they would not be able to access elsewhere. Giving the fans a look behind the scenes can act as a reward for their interest in the brand. For example, brands like Burberry, post photos and videos of behind the scene looks at photo shoots and fashion shows.

Contests

Hosting a photo contest can help a brand build a strong following and increase engagement. This also helps the brand gain more insight into the type of fans they have and how to engage with them. Dunkin’ Donuts executed a photo competition last Halloween that encouraged fans to post images of coffee cups in costumes for the chance to win a gift card.

Hashtags

The use of hashtags on Instagram can help a brand build a following and encourage brand loyalists. Take Urban Outfitters for example who uses #UOonYou (Urban Outfitters on You) and encourages followers to post pictures of themselves wearing clothing from the retailer using the hashtag.

Have any tips and tricks on how to have a successful presence on Instagram? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Are Instagram Ads Right For Your Business?

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Instagram, the photo and video sharing platform used by more than 150 million members, recently announced they will be incorporating sponsored posts within users’ feeds. The company will begin serving these ads to users based on their interests, who they follow, as well as the activities they perform on Instagram and its parent company, Facebook. Since Instagram aims to be a place where people can connect and get inspired, the goal is to showcase high-quality, aesthetically appealing ads that fit naturally into the platform’s visual landscape.

Michael Kors Promoted PostThe opportunity to advertise has only been presented to a few select brands who have established their presence on Instagram through significant followers and account interaction. These include: adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Burberry, and General Electric. Fashion brand Michael Kors was the first brand to try out the new sponsored posts. While the ad was met with some backlash from users who don’t want to see one of their favorite platforms tarnished with an abundance of advertisements, the results the brand experienced were impressive.  The sponsored post received four times as many likes as their average post and resulted in an increase of nearly 34,000 followers in the 18 hours following its launch. This is nearly 16 times the follower growth the brand experiences on their average non sponsored post.

While these results are promising for brands, there are a few things to consider before deciding to sponsor posts on the platform.

1. Are you active on Instagram? Do you have an established account where you regularly post according to content calendar and interact with consumers? If not, the first step would be creating an account for your brand. It is important to take the time to listen and observe what is happening within the platform. Search your brand as well as related hashtags to see how consumers are interacting with your products on a daily basis. These insights will be helpful when deciding what content to post moving forward.

2. Can you display your products or services in a way that translates naturally on the platform? Users look to Instagram for visually appealing content, so if  you choose to use it as a platform for your business it’s important to keep aesthetics in mind. A few suggestions Instagram shares  for posting include sneak peeks of exclusive content, behind-the-scenes looks and lifestyle photos related to your brand. With time you’ll be able to determine which content your followers find most engaging and adjust your strategy accordingly.

3. What are your goals? Are you looking to gain followers and increase awareness or to drive sales? Since Instagram doesn’t currently allow linking outside of the platform, driving sales (or at least creating a direct correlation) is a bit of a challenge, but if you are looking to increase brand awareness Instagram may be a great fit.

If after reading the above qualifying questions you feel like Instagram makes sense for your business, then experimenting with sponsored posts may be worth a try. Pricing structure is still unclear, but we will keep you updated as more details emerge. Don’t know if ads on Instagram make the most sense for your brand? There are always alternate methods to engaging and growing your fanbase using Instagram without sponsored posts. Be sure to check back to learn more!

Keeping Your Social Media Simple: The iScream Way

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Having trouble reaching your audience on your social platforms? You may be overthinking your content.  Recently, articles surrounding social conversions and engaging with fans have been pointing towards simplifying content. Take for instance Bud Light Platinum, who has seen 50-100% better performance from posts with up-close shots of their bottle. Additionally, they have seen their audience sharing more of their simple posts than their larger promotions or in-depth advertisements.

What Does This Tell Us?

You don’t necessarily need to have an art director or a team of creatives to make engaging content on your social channels. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars creating promotions and sweepstakes to see engagement from your fan base. Simple content is successful. For example, Sperry’s does a great job with up close shots of their shoes. These two photos rank highest for engagement and likes on Instagram for the brand compared to an array of lifestyle and product photos.Sperry Topsider

How Do I Simplify Messaging?

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What would you like to hear from a brand similar to yours? Would you rather sound educational or personal? Asking questions can be one way to help understand your audience and get to the core of what they are looking for.

What Changes Should I Make To My Posts?

Try posting at different times to see what works best. Switch up your image strategy with close-up photos of your product. Try using fan photos to make your audience feel involved and valued by your brand. Look at your most engaging content through Facebook insights and try writing similar posts to see if you get similar results.

What Tools Will Help?

Well, the iScream editorial calendar app of course! Beyond that, look at utilizing Facebook’s algorithm to your advantage. Text posts are able to reach a larger audience while videos and photos find higher engagement rates. Facebook insights are great for researching where your audience is, what time to post, and your page activity.

Have any tips or tricks on how to produce simple content? We would love to hear what you’re doing. Feel free to share your strategies in the comments area below.

Social Media for Religious Groups: Growing Communities and Sharing Messages One Post at a Time

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Whether it be to increase awareness, grow membership or to share a message, social media is a helpful, cost effective tool for religious groups today. Many religious groups have already found success using social media by connecting with their members and keeping them engaged, involved and active religious advocates. So, if your congregation hasn’t already joined Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, it’s time to begin!

Mars Hill Seattle Church, for example, does a great job posting to their Facebook page to engage their audience. They also use Twitter, podcasting, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube for posting sermons, advice and announcements.

Mars Hills Church

 Temple Israel (Memphis) also reaches their congregation through Facebook posts. They post announcements, event photos,weekly updates and stories to grow connections as well as make new ones.

Temple

Mars Hill Seattle and Temple Israel (Memphis) have large congregations and followings, but don’t let that discourage you! It’s easy for any religious organization – big or small – to use social media to join the conversation and increase membership.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Talk to your current audience

Start an open conversation about your audiences’ social media usage and what they would like to get out of your organization’s social media. Ask them what platforms they use the most, what times of day they check them and what information they feel is lacking or wish was more readily available to them on a daily basis. This will give you a great idea of where to begin. If you start off by trying to appeal to your current members, then they are more likely to share and support your social media efforts.