Content Planner: October

Do you often find yourself stuck for ideas on what to post? Want your business to be socially responsible and to engage in international and national events and days? We have created your content planning calendar for October outlining all the important, relevant and sometimes quirky events happening this month.

Month-long events during October - 

Ocsober

Walktober

Dogtober  

Pink Ribbon Breakfast

Nudefood Day

Girls Night In

Lupus Awareness Month

Download, print and stick the calendar somewhere to inspire you when struggling for content ideas!
Our favourite would definitely have to be Taco Day...

 

 

 

 

Introducing PLANN- a visual planning app for Instagram

PLANN is a powerful social media tool for planning and scheduling your Instagram feed. It seamlessly enables you to curate a beautiful and cohesive instagram feed with their visual drag'n drop feature, and unlike other Instagram schedulers, PLANN won't lock you into monthly payment plans or risk the safety of your Instagram account!

We were lucky enough for the chance to chat with Christy Laurence, the brains behind PLANN, about the app, how it all started and any tips that she had to create a beautiful, cohesive Instagram profile. We hope you enjoy...

1. What was it that pushed you to create the PLANN app?

Ahhh, I'd spent years wanting to create and market my own product, I had been working in marketing in the financial service industry for years and years dreaming of my own product and I FINALLY had my idea! 

PLANN came to me after realising just how important it is to have a visually appealing, and cohesive Instagram feed. 

I was using Instagram to share artwork daily (as part of a rehab program, my first love is illustrating and it became a great outlet) to hold myself accountable to creating something every day, and it didn't take me long to realise that the better my feed looked as a whole, the more money people threw at me and the faster my followers would grow. 

2. What makes PLANN unique? How does it stand out from other scheduling or planning software and apps for Instagram? 

PLANN is definitely unique! 

Instagram schedulers just don't seem to understand the visual user.
Instagram is a visual platform and I felt there there just wasn't a platform that understood that.
Most are complicated, charge monthly fees and restrict monthly activity.

With PLANN, there are no restrictions! 

Basically I designed something I wanted for myself, and for all my friends who are Instagrammers, bloggers and creatives - a beautiful, powerful planning tool with no monthly fees. 

3. What functions of the app are you most excited about? 

The drag and drop function is my most favourite feature as it caused the most pain(!), and is the best part of the whole app to be able to visually plan your instagram feed.

Saving your favourite hashtags is also something I use myself every day, and I'm excited to see where this feature goes with changes already being made.

Haha actually, there is one feature that that only I would rave about because I know JUST how much work went into it, there's no other app that lets you upload multiple images. 
They all cap you at 7 or 10 images to upload, but with PLANN, you can keep uploading up to 120 images at one go. 

4. What would your advice be for someone who wants to create a beautiful, cohesive Instagram profile for their business, blog or personal brand?

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency! 

Choose a colour palette that fits your brand, make sure you're appealing to those you want as customers or followers.
For example, the PLANN brand is bright, light and airy images, it's meant to be a refreshing colour scheme that provides insight of 'easiness' and premium. I try to make it feel like an Instagram resort haha.   

If I was wanting a young female audience, I'd be making sure I had lots of bright colours with pops of pink accents to make my feed stand out to them specifically. Make it easy for people to recognise your images as soon as they see them, and that includes over all channels, email newsletter and your website. Don't make it hard for people, there's so much noise out there!

5. Do you have any tips to share for creating or sourcing quality images and content for their Instagram account?

Yes, invest in your imagery!
You'll notice all the popular instagram accounts, and those that grow (and convert!) quickly, are those with beautiful imagery that understand that Instagram is a 100% visual platform.

Invest in yourself with a new camera, online courses, get acquainted with photoshop or light room, teach yourself what makes your image pop.

If you don't have the time, invest in a photographer. 
One set of images can last you MONTHS once you crop and rotate, use graphic overlays. Remember not everyone see's every image you use, so it's safe to re-use them as you need. 

6. Do you have anything else at all to add?

Think about your Instagram feed as your shop front, in the first 9 images does your feed visually explain what you do?
Ask a friend, (or heck even a stranger!) to give you an un-biased opinion of your feed, or post it in a Facebook group and ask! Don't be afraid, feedback is how you grow. 

Remember, the FOLLOW button is sitting right at the top of your gallery, someone will make a snap decision if your feed is worth following or not - make it easy for them! 


Plann is a powerful Social Media Strategy tool. Visualise, design, plan and schedule Instagram profiles in advance. Android. iOS. iPad.

Find out more and download at www.plannthat.com 

Follow PLANN on Instagram, where it all started here.

We weigh in on Instagram Stories

we weigh in on Instagram stories

The internet has been buzzing since last week and the release of the new Instagram Story function. Personally I have loved following the story and reading all of the discussions within Facebook Groups surrounding the subject. 

Was it a flat out rip-off of Snapchat? Probably, but so what? At first I felt bad for Snapchat, but I quickly remembered that Instagram had to do something drastic to attract users back to the platform and that is exactly what it did. I really like Jack Delosa's take on it, where he refers to the innovation behind the new Instagram feature: 

 

“This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it…. no one looks down at someone for adopting something that is so obviously great for presenting a certain type of information.”

 

Instagram Stories came along at the right time

At the start of 2016 I jumped on the bandwagon and rode the Snapchat wave and loved it! It was so much fun, I really enjoyed sharing a mix of my personal life, family life, business life and tips for social media.

More recently however, before the announcement that Instagram was bringing in "stories", I had began to struggle with keeping up with everyone I was following. I didn't know who people were, where they were from, let alone what their business was. I stopped watching people's stories on Snapchat because some of them were sharing things I had no interest in; because I didn't feel connected with them, I wasn't concerned about the day to day happenings of their life.

This is where I felt a real disconnect with Snapchat, business-wise. I still loved to watch my personal friend's stories, viewing their pets, having a laugh at their children's antics, seeing what they were up to on the weekend. But when it came to business, bloggers and personal brands, I couldn't bring myself to watch all of the in-between stuff to get to the little nuggets of value and insight when they popped up. It was time consuming and a little draining. Hello content overload!

Enter Instagram stories = problem solved?

It is of course early days, but going on what the majority of business connections and commenters have been discussing online, as well as my initial thoughts, I believe Instagram is going to be more strategic and representative of one's business. This is good news; I think it will help us to cut through to the relevant and valuable content and see more of the themes, story and values of the businesses and brands we align with and follow on a daily basis. 

If brands are going to think strategically and use Instagram stories effectively, I really think they need to:

  • Show more of themselves, their teams, their people
  • Share content that aligns perfectly with their brand
  • Be real- the Instagram profile is already curated and edited, the story needs to be raw and authentic. 
  • Be regular- share stories daily when it is possible. 
  • Get straight to the point- be sharp, exciting and to-the-point 
  • Avoid sharing too much- don't go overboard with stories, people are becoming aware of consuming too much content. 
  • Get stories right from the start- make a plan, have guidelines in place, then run with it. To have success and engagement with Instagram stories stay away from sharing irrelevant content right from the start. 
  • Avoid negativity- to attract the right clients, customers and readers, think about remaining positive and share uplifting messages, whilst remaining authentic of course. 

Some Pros of Instagram Stories:

1. You can recognise a brand and put it together with it's story...

Discovering a brand's stories on Instagram is simple- you can connect the brand to their story because of the easy access to their profile. You have access to their website, contact information and even location. 

2. You can easily search, discover and follow...

No more driving users to your Snapchat profile through other networks and requesting for them follow your call to action. People want simplicity and they want things to be quick and easy- asking them to open up another app and type in your username to find you may be one extra step that they would rather not take. 
Discovering new and exciting profiles to follow is near impossible on Snapchat, where as on Instagram you can get lost when exploring the platform. 

3. It is intuitive...

I have had clients, friends and family all struggle with how to use Snapchat. In more than one case, they gave up as it wasn't at all intuitive and they became frustrated. Instagram Stories on the other hand- well they are giving it a go! They already know how to use the platform well, so the extra functionality has been no trouble to pick up, they have found it easy and fun.

4. There is a good chance you already have an established community on Instagram...

If you have been using Instagram to promote your brand for sometime, there is a good chance that you have established a supportive community of followers on the platform. Sharing 10 second videos and behind-the-scenes photos with your following on a regular basis is only going to strengthen your community. By cultivating that community by providing more value, interacting, answering questions etc., you will be doing your established community a world of good. 

 

What others are saying... 

Don't just take our word for it- I have collected some reputable opinions on the topic of Instagram Stories versus Snapchat for you, take a read:

"While I'm not ready to throw Snapchat out the window, there is definitely a place for each of the 'stories'! 
Snapchat enables me to chat with my friends, I've added them, they've added me, and I can show them what I had for dinner and raw (RAW) footage of me having a meltdowns!
Instagram stories are however more discoverable, you don't have to move your audience off platform, and they don't have to add you. Think of Instagram stories as an extension of your aesthetic, a behind the scenes look at your Instagram feed!"

- Christy Laurence Visual Instagram planner + scheduler
www.plannthat.com 


"I'm a big fan of simplicity and time management with marketing, so I'm loving Instagram stories because I can streamline my social media easier. I'll be using Instagram Stories to post daily tips and behind the scenes of my business and I'll keep using Snapchat occasionally, but more of a personal profile rather than business focused."

- Jenna Black
jennaleeblack.com/


"I'm currently experimenting and taking a 'watch and wait' approach. Despite the fact from a business perspective it makes more sense to use Instagram Stories because the views are triple what I'm seeing on Snapchat — with my audience being much more established on IG — it's hard to know whether the data is accurate at this point with the way stories are viewed (rolling into one another). On Snapchat, we tend to keep our follow list tighter than we do on IG, and have sought out people to follow based on the fact we truly WANT to follow them for their video content.. so without the same process on IG, it's hard to gauge at this point. 

*Personally, it's brought to my attention a bunch of accounts on IG I want to cull, so is actually having a negative impact in some ways."

-Rachel MacDonald
www.inspacesbetween.com


"I think entrepreneur Jack Delosa nailed it when he wrote about Instagram 'innovating' rather than 'inventing' Instagram stories, so I truly believe this won't be the first time we see leading social media platforms creating similar channel options. I will continue to use Snapchat for my 'behind the scenes' posts but use Instagram stories as more of a distribution platform for life and business updates. I think there is space for both platforms - we just need to be mindful of our consumption habits!"

- Ellie Swift @elliehswift


"I'm using Instagram Stories (instead of Snapchat, never used that for business) because its a platform that's discoverable. Unlike snapchat where it was difficult to grow an audience and find new accounts to follow (you had to hear of them elsewhere first), Instagram Stories lets you take advantage of Instagram's natural search and discovery functions and supplement your business with additional "unfiltered" content!"

-Kate Hunt
www.theshopfiles.com


"Instagram Stories is an evolutionary update. It catches up with the ephemeral nature of mobile. Stories will encourage people to share more freely without the anxiety of likes. It also gives users a chance to add more context to their gallery images – a backstory to their photos – while also revealing a bit about their personality. The Internet wants real, not fake."

-Wells Baum
www.wellsbaum.com


So where will Social Media Creative be hanging out?

In honour of simplicity and consolidation, during these early stages, I am most probably going to be sharing all things aligned with Social Media Creative over on Instagram. 

In saying that, I still love checking out our Snapchat stories, the new filters and having fun getting creative on the platform with our SC community. So, I will be continuing to share my home life (and maybe a little biz) on Snapchat as I am not ready to give up on it yet (especially that butterfly crown filter). 

Can we hear from you?

I want to hear your thoughts on the new Instagram feature, as well as the content you really enjoy consuming. Do you follow brands for their tips, experiences and insights, or purely for entertainment purposes? Or a mix of both?

Drop your comments below and let's chat about it! 

Our Top Tips on using Instagram for Business

tips on using Instagram for business

Instagram announced that it hit 500 million users this week- which is super exciting for the Facebook-owned application, as well as businesses, as the platform is showing no signs of decline. 

Are you on Instagram for your business? Or considering joining Instagram for your biz? We highly recommend it as a network to compliment your social media presence, or, as a place to grow one!

Below we are sharing our top tips for using Instagram for business, and using it effectively in order to drive sales, gather leads and increase your brand exposure. 

 

1.  Establish a strategy and work with your goals in mind

As you may be aware, you can spend a lot of time getting lost in the imagery on Instagram. If you haven't established some goals and a strategy for your business, blog or personal brand profile you could be spending a lot of time on the platform without necessarily getting a return on investment. We suggest you note down the following points in relation to your own business and keep them in mind next time you log on to Instagram: 

  • Your end goal- what are you hoping to get out of your Instagram presence? (Think customers, growing database, brand awareness, customer relationships etc.) 
  • Who is your ideal follower? Make sure that you know this "person" well, sharing content formulated for them.  
  • Consider how much time you have to dedicate to the network- Instagram can definitely be time consuming. You may wish to develop a schedule in which you publish to the platform, as well as setting aside time dedicated to replying to messages, questions and comments. 
  • Are you hoping to collaborate with social influencers? Consider making a list of potential candidates as you come across them- this will save time when it comes to the stage when you are ready to take on influencer outreach. 

2. Develop a profile theme and stick to it

What does your business offer? What makes it unique? What are your areas of expertise?

You need to work out what your profile will showcase, taking into consideration the Three E's- enrich, educate and entertain. Instagram has become much more than just sharing pretty pictures- you need to work hard on developing your profile story and sharing content strategically. 

Choose 5 words or topics to describe what your business offers and write them down. Each time you go to post to Instagram, make sure that your photo and caption is meeting your theme in more ways than one. Below, I have an example for you. 

Example theme for a healthy lifestyle coach: 

Overall theme for the profile: 

  1. Positivity
  2. Healthy recipes and meal ideas
  3. Tips for getting more movement into your life
  4. Inspirational quotes 
  5. Authenticity- showing the personality behind the brand 

You can go further and write down the vibe (feel) of the profile:

  1. Supportive 
  2. Active 
  3. Happy 
  4. Energetic 
  5. Friendly/welcoming 

Describe how you want your profile to look: 

  1. Vibrant
  2. High quality photos
  3. Branded quotes
  4. Colour palette consistent with branding (blue, green & white) 
  5. Feminine- appealing to the female market

Work on your own profile theme, taking into account your values, culture, target market and branding. For further exploration of this and more, I recommend the Creative Social Media Planner, which you can read more about here

3. Keep your caption purposeful, neat and creative

Whilst Instagram is famous for being a visual platform and a picture does say a thousand words, it is important to make the most of your caption. This is your chance to show consistency with your tone of voice, values and personality. It is also your chance to call your follower to action. 

Calls to action ideas for your caption: 

  • Direct viewers to your bio to visit the clickable link and sign up to your newsletter to receive a discount, promotional code or free resource 
  • Share an excerpt of your latest blog post and ask viewers to visit your blog to read more 
  • Ask a question, engage your audience on a topic of discussion
  • If you made a statement with a quote (in the posted image) then try asking viewers if they agree, or would like to tag a friend to share with them 
  • Use emojis to show your playful side (if it aligns with your brand). 

Other useful tips for your caption: 

  • Always proof read your caption prior to posting. 
  • Try writing your caption in the notes app in your phone, including spaces, paragraphs and any emojis. You can then copy & paste your caption directly into your post to make sure that your caption is well written, spell checked and spacing is correct so that your post is effortless for the viewer to read.
  • Keep the caption for writing your description only- then enter your hashtags in a comment straight after you have published the post. Putting your hashtags in a comment rather than your caption keeps it looking tidy and easy to read. See below for example: (the hashtags are hidden in the comments)  

4. Nourish your Insta-Community

In the busy online world of social media, I believe that people are craving connection. If you can engage your ideal followers and develop a connection with them, then you are able to start building trust and developing a relationship. 

It is simple to implement this strategy on Instagram- think of the words by Danielle LaPorte: "Find your tribe, love them hard".  Find your followers by interacting with existing communities with similar interests to what you or your brand offer. Like and comment on their photos, find those that you believe to be your ideal or target customer. 

I recommend spending at least one hour a week doing this- more if possible. At Social Media Creative, we call this Community Cultivation, and it is one of our specialties. Try to fit this in during a peak time (Sunday evening is a great one) and do it with focus- know who your ideal customer/client and find where they hang out. 

Another form of nourishment is to make sure that you are replying to follower comments. Have they paid your post, product or blog a compliment? Ensure that you are attempting to reply to follower questions and comments where possible- this might make someone's day!

5. Quality content, expert value 

Apart from visual entertainment, is the content that you are sharing on Instagram providing your followers with value? 

As part of your business plan, you would have carved out a niche or segment of the market that you are targeting- are you sharing relevant ideas, expert tips, resources or inspiration to motivate and educate your community? 

Chances are that you generally gain someone's attention with an image or offer that caught their eye. Then they checked out your profile in full, read your bio and if they liked what they saw, they clicked on 'Follow'. Now that you have gained another follower, you need to make sure that you deliver on your promise, what ever the reason that they chose to follow you, it is up to you to ensure that you continue to demand their attention with quality posts. 

instagram tips for business

6. Encourage user-generated content

If you are lucky enough to be at the stage on Instagram where your customers are sharing their purchases with their following, then you are doing very well indeed. Sharing user-generated content does many things for your brand on Instagram and we have listed some benefits below: 

  • Creating hype surrounding a product- giving your followers the impression that the product it is a must have.  
  • Showing followers how the product is used, how it looks in real life and how it can be styled in-situ 
  • Encouraging the trust of your potential customers- if others are buying, it must be good. 
  • Sharing genuine, unique content consistent with your branding. 
  • Building a relationship with the customer

Our tips for using and encouraging user-generated content: 

  • Always credit the creator- tag the original profile that shared the image both in the caption, and on the photo itself. 
  • Implement a unique hashtag for your community to use- ensuring that it has not yet been used and that it aligns with your brand. For a good example of this, see Frank Body who place their creative hashtag #letsbefrank in their bio. 
  • Only select user content that is of quality; pasting a low-quality image that is pixelated or too dark to match the rest of your profile will make it look inconsistent with your look and feel. Use some slight edits to improve the image if need be, but don't go overboard, find another image instead. 
  • If you are working with influencers, ensure that you have provided guidelines for them to follow when they do post- this will aid in ensuring that you are getting the most out of the collaboration and that the post is high quality and can be reused for your own profile. 

7. Review and grow 

Do you ever flick back through your profile to take a look at what your audience responded to? You may be surprised with what content had a stronger response (more likes or comments) than other content that was shared. 

If you want to go further than just checking out likes and comment numbers, we suggest the following tools: 

  • Sprout Social - this is what we use & recommend, amazing Instagram reports 
  • Iconosquare- comes with a free 7 day trial to see if you like it 
  • Instagram- that's right, Instagram has started rolling out Business Profiles for Instagram, where you will be able to view your profile's insights within the app. We have been lucky enough to have changed our profile over to a business account, see below for a sneak peak at the insights you can view: 
instagram business profile insights

Want more? We have listed our favourite go-to resources and tools to optimise your Instagram business profile. From creating graphics, to the best analytical tools out there, get your free list by clicking below.

As we are super passionate about all things Instagram, this post could have gone of for days!

If you have any questions or if you would like us to cover something that we might not have mentioned, feel free to shoot us an email or please drop us a comment below. 

We hope that you picked up something in the post that you can implement today.

For more tips, tricks and inspiration, be sure to follow us on Instagram here.

 

When is it time to outsource your social media?

is it time to outsource your social media managment

As a social media management business we meet with and sign up new clients regularly and they all seem to be at similar stages- ready to take that all important that next step. Once you take note of the signs and growth is on the horizon, it is time to outsource. 

So, what are the signs? 

1. You can no longer get to the bottom of your daily to-do list

Business owners, start ups and entrepreneurs have never ending to-do lists, so it is fair to say that the chance of becoming overwhelmed is real. With a building list and some tasks being more important than others, an effective way to conquer it is to outsource your weaknesses and continue to build your business with your strengths. There are only so many hours in a day and you can only do so much. 

As a business owner, there is a good chance that you are consumed with your day-to-day tasks and you most likely understand that your time is money. This is where outsourcing comes in- effectively gathering the resources you need to grow your business and putting the right team in place so that you can focus on creating, growing and streamlining your organisation. 

2. You feel like you are creatively stretched

Performing well on social media takes more than commitment, it takes creativity- and a lot of it. With ever-changing algorithms and more and more businesses competing for the user's attention, your business needs to stand out. 

If you are busy with the day to day running of your business, as well as marketing, product development, bookkeeping, invoicing etc., then stretching your creativity and resources across multiple social media platforms is not going to come easily- or effectively. 

Having a social media strategy in place takes time to develop, research and implement- do you have the time do work on this? Do you have the time to review, analyse data and make adjustments to ensure that you are getting a return on your investment ? 

If adding social media to your ever-growing list of tasks is becoming a headache, it might be time to get a social media manager on board. 

3. You can not keep up with the constant changes 

As social media experts, we make it our job to be in-the-know and ahead of the game when it comes to the latest developments in social media. We invest in attending workshops and courses so that our clients do not have to- we have the expertise in our industry, because that is our job. 

We are sure that in your industry you do the same- whilst it is our business to know what is going on in the world of online marketing and social media, it is your business to offer your customers and clients with the best products and services possible. 

Social media changes daily, there are new developments and updates happening constantly. This can be exhausting to follow as a small business owner- keeping up with new platforms and working out what to join and what not to join takes time and brain power. 

4. You would rather spend your time on growing your business

If you have big plans for growth and want to expand your services, product line or team, it takes time and commitment. If you happen to be bogged down trying to develop social media plans and online content, can you dedicate enough time to the growth of your business? 

Are you managing a small team of employees or freelancers? This takes time too, and putting the right people in place to work on your business is a very important part of growth. 

5. You are ready to seek professional help when it comes to how your business is presented online

Branding is more than just a logo- knowing what your business values, how it is going to look, communicate and what message it is going to convey online is the most integral part of branding. 

Developing these ideas and then implementing your strategies across social media platforms and other online marketing consistently is the next challenge. 

Because of complex algorithms, being seen on Instagram and Facebook is a challenge in itself, because it is crucial to be consistently delivering quality, valuable content to your audience. Without being creative in what you share online, you risk missing out on organic brand exposure. 


Are you ready to reach out and chat about your social media management needs?

We offer strategy, management, community management, influencer outreach, content development and more. 

Are you wondering about the process of hiring a social media manager or agency to help you take your social media to the next level? Drop us a comment below and we will answer them! 

Read to take the next step and drive your biz to new levels?
Contact us here today.

The Social Media Creative Three E's to Success...

rules for social media success

Something we always preach here at Social Media Creative, is the three E's. These are three elements that we always make sure are infused into our client's social media posts as well as our own content. We wanted to share these with you today as we believe that the key to social media is providing value to your followers, which will in turn encourage engagement and support over time from your community.  

Introducing our Three E's to Success: 


ENRICH:

[en-rich

verb

  1. to add greater value or significance to
  2. to supply with abundance of anything desirable
  3. to make finer in quality, as by supplying desirable elements or ingredients

It is all about value, value, value! If you can provide your community with valuable content, then they are going to keep coming back, checking in, engaging, supporting. Your community is using social media for all sorts of different reasons, and there are more and more individuals, businesses and personal brands utilising social media everyday. To really stand out and cut through the clutter, you need to truly be enriching the lives and experiences of your followers. 

'But, how do you do it?' You might be asking... Consider the following: 

  • What is your area of expertise, what are you good at, what does your business do? 
    • Become the go-to profile for your niche. Share chunks of wisdom on your field, if you are an online fashion retailer, why not share styling or wardrobe-building tips for your market? You could put these tips into branded graphics, or write them in the caption and use a hero image to attract attention. 
    • Write blog posts with step-by-step guides on relevant topics that your followers might find interesting and useful, share these blog posts on your social networks- this is content that will drive traffic to your own website, instead of sharing links to other websites. 
  • Is something exciting, new or entertaining happening in your industry that your community would benefit from reading?
    • Staying on top of industry trends is just as important for a hairdresser as it is for a chef or personal trainer. 
    • There is always something happening, changing or innovating- do your best to be one of the first to share the information with your followers. 
  • Could you create a free resource for your following to download?
    • You may have heard of a free opt-in, but have you tried it? Creating a useful resource for your community to download and put to use can be a powerful way to not only build your database, it is also a great way to have original content to share on social media. 
    • You can add a call to action to your Instagram and Facebook posts, giving your followers a reason to click through to receive the free download. 
    • This will make sure you can increase your leads using social media, then it is up to you to keep in touch with your email database and convert those leads into sales. 

ENTERTAIN:

[en-ter-teyn

verb

  1. to hold the attention of pleasantly or agreeably; divert; amuse.
  2. to provide amusement for (a person or audience)

We believe that sometimes businesses forget why social media started in the first place, social media is just that- social. People jump on to connect and catch up with friends and family, work colleagues and old school friends- they don't actively decide to join up or log on to be sold to by businesses. 

In order to engage your audience, you need to entertain them- add value to their newsfeed, rather than interrupt it with promotions and gimmicks. Before posting on social media, check the following: 

  • Is your post created with the needs and emotions of your ideal client/customer/reader in mind?
  • If you were scrolling through your news feed, would you want to see the post? 
  • Is the post, fun, memorable, tugging on the heart-strings, humorous, valuable? 
  • Are you sharing something that is interesting to read, listen to or watch? 
  • Will you be enhancing your followers experience on social media by sharing the post, or annoying them?
  • Try to work on a 80/20 rule- 80% value, 20% promotional 

Are you looking for ways in which to find this content? Here are some places to try looking: 


EDUCATE:

[ej-oo-keyt] 

verb (mainly transitive)

  1. (also intransitive) to impart knowledge by formal instruction to (a pupil); teach
  2. to improve or develop (a person, judgment, taste, skills, etc)

For this part, you really need to consider why your follower has clicked 'Follow' or 'Like' on your profile in the first place. What is it that you have to offer, how can you help your community? Are they after information on your services, products or venue? Are they following you for inspiration for improving their own business? 

Without over sharing and giving away all of your secrets, there are ways to deliver nuggets of wisdom, which will result in your followers wanting more. The theory behind this is, if you can provide your following with education on your area of expertise as part of your social media content, that when it comes to packaging this information and selling it, that spending their money with you is a no-brainer. 

Whether it be a downloadable, service or physical product, your community values your knowledge and trusts you- this all comes together with the above points and providing your audience with value. It is all about doing so with a grand-plan in mind, being strategic and effective with what you chose to share and how frequently you share with your community. Consider this strategy with regards to Facebook Groups too, as it is important that you are sharing and contributing to these groups with your strategy in mind (otherwise you could be waisting your precious time). 

So, what are some creative ways to educate your audience? 

  • Create infographics on relevant topics, or visit Daily Infographic for ideas
  • Design branded quotes or information snippets and share them with extra tips
  • Write blog posts with in-depth instructions on something that aligns with your business
  • Share your knowledge and experience in Facebook Groups, contribute regularly and become known as the go-to person in your niche. 
  • Share 10 second chunks of wisdom on Snapchat with your followers, leave them wanting more. 
  • Consider putting together a Linked In Pulse article on a chosen topic. 
  • Put together some data or statistics on your field of interest
  • If you have the time, do your research and approach some well-known blogs that align with your values and strategy about doing a guest blog post for them. This is great content to share on your social media platforms and an effective way to increase traffic to your website and grow your own audience. 

In conclusion, it is all about enriching the online experience with your community- this is a big part of our philosophy. Think about social media as a platform not only for finding and engaging with your potential customers, but for being social with them, joining in the fun and providing them with the information they need in order to make a decision to spend the money with you.

People are savvy these days, they do not want to be constantly sold to and they do their research. Stay ahead of the competition by becoming the go-to-resource in your field and carve out your niche by crafting your content with your ideal customer/reader/follower in mind, every time. 


Do you have any questions, comments or anything to add? We would love to hear from you! Drop us a line in the comments section below. 

Do you have a friend or colleague that you think might benefit from this post? Please feel free to share it with them, click on the Share button- thank you in advance for your support. 

5 Reasons why your current social media efforts aren't working.

So you run a small business or a blog that you are pouring your heart and soul into (not to mention blood sweat and tears) but when it comes to promoting it on social media, your hard work isn't paying off. 

You may have grown tired of Facebook's low organic reach, a little concerned over Instagram's new algorithm, or you might be scratching your head when it comes to Snapchat. Keeping on top of everything is starting to overwhelm you. 

I represent a vast variety of clients and work on their social media, content and growing communities daily, so it is safe to say that I spend a solid amount of time surfing the channels, getting to know what works, what doesn't and what can make the biggest impact for your business. These observations do not go to waste, they are noted and worked into my blog, free resources and my latest Ebook for my own community to soak up and put to use in building their own tribe. 

Below, I am suggesting some reasons as to why your current activity might not be working, as well as make some suggestions for you to try- PLUS I have some news on an upcoming freebie, so read on and enjoy! 

social media not working, try this

1. You do not have a clear understanding of your purpose:

No matter what type of business you are, without truly knowing what you value as a business, it is difficult to stand out. Truly knowing your 'why' is super important, as it comes into play every time you log on to your social network, write a blog post, or send an email. 

Once you have laser-clear vision and focus, your path becomes clear, and you are able to communicate effectively on social media. Which brings me to my next point...

2. You haven't developed a style guide for your brand: 

So... what is a style guide? A style guide is some clear direction surrounding the overall look, feel and tone of your brand. It aids in developing your brand's own unique personality, defines how you will communicate with your following and the kind of language you and your team will use. 

Even if your style guide is a simple one, it is really important to have guidelines around your tone of voice, imagery and overall brand theming in place. This not only helps you get your head around what to share online, it also comes in very handy when the time comes to expand your team or you decide to outsource your social media management

If your business has an Instagram profile, it is also a good idea to work on a mood board, which will help shape your overall aesthetic, so when it comes to curating images to post to the platform the look is consistent in look and quality. 

My Creative Social Media Planner goes into this in more depth, and is a great way to start working on your brand's own guide.

3. You aren't sharing content that has been crafted with your ideal customer, reader or client in mind: 

Sure, your friend or partner liked your latest Facebook post, but are they your ideal customer?

Knowing who your customer, reader or client is in as much detail as possible is really effective in ensuring your content is going to deliver results for you. How you speak to one person is not necessarily going to capture the attention of someone else, so having a description of your ideal customer at the forefront of your mind when you write, share and design content is really powerful. 

These days, our social platform newsfeed tends to be cluttered with updates- not only from friendship and family circles, but from personal brands and businesses showing you what they think you want to see. Consider these questions next time you go to share something with your following- is this enriching my ideal customers feed? Is it valuable or entertaining? 

If you can not answer the above questions with a certain yes, there is a good chance that you need to re-evaluate what you are sharing across your networks. 

4. You are not giving back to your community

I truly believe, that in order to grow an authentic tribe of followers, that you need to be giving more that you are taking. If you are expecting your followers to convert to customers, subscribers or even loyal fans, it is all about providing them with value. 

You can not just set and forget when it comes to social media- you need to be really cultivating your community. This means spending the time to nourish your following by responding to questions, comments and messages. It also means sharing messages of value and offering advice when possible- get creative with ways in which to share insights, that will have your followers wanting more. That way, when it comes to spending their money with you- they are only too keen! 

5. You are not keeping regular 

Over the last couple of years, not only the amount of individuals using social media has been on the rise, the amount of businesses using social media has also grown dramatically.  

This has urged both Facebook and now Instagram to implement complex algorithms to ensure that they do not lose the attention of their users, which has resulted in business profiles having to spend money for advertising and boosted posts. It has also urged businesses to become more creative in the way that they post online. 

Without remaining consistent with your social media activities, as a small business, start up or blogger you run the risk of being forgotten. It sounds sad, but it is true- make sure you are remembered by doing the following: 

  • Creating your own content that is in line with your values and branding. This means your design, business values, mission, theming etc. is all cohesive with what you are posting. 
  • If you are designing a graphic to compliment your post, ensure that the colours and fonts are aligned with your branding. 
  • Post on a regular basis- if you can aim for three times a week as a bare minimum on Facebook you are doing well. Take a look at this blog post on increasing your organic Facebook reach for some tips on finding out the best times to post
  • On Instagram, make sure that your images are of a consistent 'look and feel'. Use similar edits and colours and always consider how the individual image is going to look when your follower comes across it when scrolling through their feed, as well as how it is going to look in your profile. 
  • On Instagram do your best to post regularly, once or more a day is really great if you can, if not try to not let a week go by without posting- a week is a really long time in the world of social media. 
  • Develop a social media calendar on a monthly basis to plan ahead- consider upcoming events and promotions you might like to run. Scheduling software is not always required and I believe that the Facebook Pages scheduling tool is much easier to use, (plus it is free). Having a calendar or guide to work from helps in ensuring you have the content to fill the days and that you can remain consistent during the weeks ahead. 

To sum it all up... 

There are many elements that must come together when planning, posting and running your social media. The main thing to remember, is that no one knows your brand like you and you are what makes your brand different. The key is to make sure that this is being translated into your posts and expressed effectively through words, images, blog posts, email newsletters etc. 

How to boost your Google SEO with Social Media

how to boost your seo with social media

Introducing our new guest contributor, Giorgia Martinucci...


Giorgia Martinucci is a freelance digital marketing consultant & strategist. She is based in London, UK and works with lifestyle brands.

You can read more about Giorgia and her work here. 


If you’re having a conversation or reading about SEO, chances are that the term ‘keyword’ will be thrown around a lot.

Keyword stands to SEO as ‘Engagement’ stands to social media, but you never hear ‘SEO stands to Social Media’.

This is because Google, has not yet given clear directives in regards to the subject.

Search engines have now been around for about 20 years, whereas social media only half of that. And the latter are far more changeable entities, so much so that search engines are yet to entirely integrate them into their algorithms. Google and the likes are still trying to find a way to gather data and assign value to the data.

In an ideal world, what bloggers and marketers would like to happen is that to an x amount of likes, followers, shares equals an x ranking on Google. Wouldn’t that be easy?

Here’s how it really works instead:

  1. Create a great web page
  2. Get tons of social shares, especially by high quality accounts
  3. Get lot of traffic to the web page
  4. Get a lot of mentions across other websites
  5. Get a lot of inbound links to your website, especially from high quality websites
  6. Rank on Google’s first page!

As you can see, there are a lot of variables and it’s anything but easy in today’s competitive landscape.

Want to know what works instead? Read our 4 tips below.

1. Start by making the experience consistent

First of all, nail down the focus of your website page and make sure that when shared across social media the messaging and hero image are consistent. You want all social media users to see the same title, description and hero image whether they’re viewing a Facebook post you wrote, a tweet they shared or find a pin on Pinterest.

To achieve that use a handy guide (like this one) and a plugin like Yoast to write the metadata (what you see in Google), the Open Graph tag (what you see on facebook and Pinterest’s Rich Pins) and Twitter Card tag (what you see on Twitter).

2. Don’t let them go away

Getting visitors to your website is hard but it’s even harder to keep them there. If there’s one thing that Google values really highly is how engaged people are once on your site. If a person arrives on your site and leaves within seconds (and this happens regularly), Google then thinks that your website page isn’t relevant for that query and may stop showing your site as a result for a keyword. So make sure that your website page is informative and leads your users to other informative pages on your site. This is especially true for blog pages or editorial pages: insert videos, tools, images and anything that can enrich the blog post. Decreased bounce rate, higher time on site, and more repeat visitors to your website can lead to greater visibility on Google.

3. Keep the conversation going

Repetition of your brand name across the web is really good for SEO. Bonus points if in addition to that you get links to your site! If there’s enough interest about your brand, people will talk and hopefully write blog posts, social media posts and more. Social media are a great vehicle to get traction but it’s your creative ideas that really push your brand forward. Red Bull is just one of hundreds energy drinks but the only one who sent a man to outer space. Think about what you can do to keep people from forgetting about you, you don’t need big budgets: Holstee started out as yet another t-shirt brand on a bootstrap but had a core idea for an awe-inspiring manifesto. Today they have a subscription box, stationery products and have been featured on tens of publications.

4. Get reviewed

If you’re running a local business, have your customers review you on Google+, Yelp and similar websites. As specified above, mentions across the web are key for better visibility on Google. Of course, always strive for positive reviews and making the customers happy!

Overall, never treat SEO as something separate to your strategy or think of it as something only IT peeps can deal with. All the tips above are just best practice for any business owner and entrepreneur and achievable without large budgets.


Do you have any questions, or comments to add?

We would love to hear and chat with you! Drop us a couple of lines in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed our latest blog post, please feel free to pass it on to your friends and colleagues- hit the share button. 

Introducing the Creative Social Media Planner

As a Social Media Manager, I know how important it is to have a crystal clear idea of what your brand really means. This is one of the reasons behind why we have just released Social Media Creative's first e-product, which is now available for purchase in our store

Do you know the answers to the following when it comes to your business?

What does it stand for?

What does it value?

What kind of personality does your brand have?

What type of company culture do you wish to create?

What are your big picture goals for the future?

Can you answer these questions about your business right away, have you thought about them before?

When it comes to crafting posts to share on your social media networks, it is crucial that you are creating them with your ideal customer, reader or follower in mind. Your core values, ethos and theming needs to be reflected in every post, comment, image and message that you put out there on social media. 

This is where the Creative Social Media Planner comes in- it holds your hand as you dive deep into discovering who your ideal customer is and what your brand is all about. It aids in sparking creativity as you investigate ways in which to get your message out there to the world, as well as taking a peek at what others are doing online and drawing some inspiration from that. 

It is also so important to get your overall look and feel right, as well as your tone of voice and profile theming- all of these are closely examined in the Planner. 

Want to peek inside?

Planner-blog-graphic.png

I began work on the ebook last year (2015) in January and spent several months developing the content. I then worked with Nikki from Bliss Inventive (highly recommended) on the design. There is so much involved in putting together an ebook- from the initial idea to the writing and design, it was a long journey from last year to the recent launch. 

Thank you so much to everyone for the overwhelming support so far- and this won't be the last E Product- stay tuned for more valuable resources to come! 

Tips to improve your organic Facebook reach

increase organic facebook reach

If you have a Facebook business Page, chances are that you have noticed a big change in your organic post reach in the last twelve or so months. 

In this blog post I am sharing with you some of the reasons behind Facebook's algorithm, as well as some handy tips & tricks for making sure that your community is being reached. 

**I have also created a check list for you, that covers what is within this post, summarised for you to keep as a reference- click below to get it!

First of all, why does Facebook decide what your fans see and don't see in their feed?

One of the main reasons for this, is the amount of content out there, as well as the fact that the number of Pages that users have "Liked" has increased dramatically over the years. 

To protect the newsfeed and ensure the longevity of the platform, Facebook has developed it's algorithm to provide users with quality content that they are interested in, rather than overloading them with marketing material. 

So how does the algorithm work?

Facebook's algorithm is complex and always shifting to improve the user's experience, according to Techcrunch, it works by assessing the following: 

  • How relevant your post is to your followers
  • Your fan base (follower numbers) in comparison with other known quality pages  
  • How popular your posts have been in the past
  • User's previous interactions with your Page in the past
  • How timely the post is, is it about a recent event?
  • The type of post- as in video, photo, link etc. assessed again the success of those types of posts in the past. 

Tips on increasing your Pages organic reach:

1. Post quality content

A very common theme that you will find social media experts talk about, is the quality of your post. But there are so many variables that can come into developing a post to share with your followers. I have made a few notes below: 

  • How relevant is the piece of content that you are sharing, is it interesting in the eye of your follower?
  • Is it based on a recent event, or is it happening now? 
  • Is the content share-worthy? (Think info-graphics
  • Is the post transparent, does it show something personal, authentic and real?
  • If sharing a link or a post from another party, is the source trusted?
  • If your post contains an image, is the image of good quality and eye-catching?
  • If the post contains a video, are you teaming it with a headline that will make the viewer want to watch it? 
  • Consider- if the post came up in your own feed, would you want to see it? 

2. Strategic posting times

When was the last time you had a look at your Page Post Insights? By viewing these insights on a regular basis and as your audience grows, you are able to determine when the majority of your following is actually online and using Facebook. 

You might be posting whilst you are at your computer or phone during the day, but that doesn't generally mean that your ideal customer or reader is. So take a look at these insights today and adjust your scheduled posts or posting times accordingly.

If you want to go a little further, you could experiment with posting during quieter times- in theory there should be less content being shared by users and the competition. Less clutter in the news feed means that you might stand out- be sure to analyse your post results and take note for next time. 

Post insights can be found in the "Insights" tab, under "Posts". See below: 

Increase your organic facebook reach

*Tip: While you are there, you can scroll down the page to view your "Posts Published" and take a look at the engagement, reach and link clicks that each post received. Are there any patterns you can pick up on? Make notes on what posts were popular- consider the time of those posts and the type of post (video, link share, image etc.) 

3. Consistency  

More posts to Facebook doesn't necessarily equal a greater reach. A Page that posts five times per day isn't necessarily going to gain more exposure than say, a Page that posts three times a week, particularly if the three posts are high in quality. The key here for businesses is trial and error- work out what works for your audience and once you find the magic number, stick to it- consistently. 

  • Be consistent with the quality of your posts
  • Be consistent with the amount of times you post each week
  • Be consistent with your post theming- don't stray off topic, be strategic with the content that you post. 

4. Encourage interaction on your posts

Perhaps an obvious one to some, but being creative in encouraging engagement with your followers can prompt them to take an action that they might not normally do. 

Ask for viewers opinions, get more personal- people tend to like to share what they think about certain topics. Encourage conversation and be sure to join in if your post sparks some interest- responding to comments is very important and a great way to really connect with your community. 

5. Take advantage of Facebook's organic post targeting

A great function of Facebook Pages and also easy to use, the Post Targeting option allows you to narrow down the target audience of your post to location, interests and other demographics.  

If you haven't already done so, you will need to enable Targeted Posts in your Page General Settings, see below: 

increase organic reach on Facebook

You can easily target your audience by clicking on the target icon in the Status Box, see below: 

CLICK ON THE TARGET ICON WHEN YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR POST TOGETHER. 

CLICK ON THE TARGET ICON WHEN YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR POST TOGETHER. 

Then it is just a matter of having a play around to get the right audience, be sure to analyse your results in the Page Post Insights Tab and work on it until you have something that works for your Page. 

Increase organic facebook reach

To sum up, I believe it is all about really knowing your brand and what makes it stand out from the crowd. You also need to know who your customer is and what they enjoy engaging with on Facebook. 

If you haven't already or haven't done so in a while, spend some time on working out who your ideal customer or client is. This will really help you in targeting your posts, as well as being able to aim your posts at the right people- ensuring that you are speaking in the right tone of voice and using appropriate language (for example- how you speak to a 60 year old is definitely going to be different to how you speak to a 21 year old). 

Your turn- I want to hear from you...

Have you experienced a drop in organic reach lately, how have you counteracted it?

Do you have any tips or comments to add? I would love to hear from you, drop me a comment below. 

Do you know others who face the same frustrations? Please use the icon (below right) to share this with your peers. 


WANT MORE?

Then click below to get your FREE cheat sheet! 
Your very own easy check list, with everything you need to create great content for Facebook.
Yours to download in just a couple of easy clicks.

6 Tips For using Snapchat for business

snapchat tips for business

Hooray, you have joined Snapchat- welcome! Your day is about to get just that little bit more fun. If you haven't yet, maybe take a read of my other blog post, which gives you 5 Reasons To Join Snapchat. 

A Comscore.com report shows findings that Snapchat is now the third most-popular social application among millennials (18-34 year olds), so I believe that you have made a wise decision in jumping on board and giving it a go. 

To start out with, the app can be a little confusing, so I wanted to help you out with some simple tips & tricks help you up your Snapchat game. 

1. Choose the right username

Don't find this one out the hard way- once you enter and save your Username, it can not be changed. If you are unhappy with your Username you will need to delete your account and start again, this is for security reasons. Make sure you are pleased with your name as this is what you will be passing on to your community in order to find you on Snapchat. Something simple and easy to spell, as well as relating to your business or personal brand would be favourable. 

2. Drive "Friends" (followers) to your Snapchat profile through other channels

Snapchat is different from other social networks, in the way that there is no real search function so your Friends need to add you by typing in your Username.  This is why it is important to have a user-friendly Username to make this process simple for people to add you. 

You will need to give your community more than one chance to see that firstly you are on Snapchat and secondly, how they can find you. Doing a few posts here and there on your other networks (Instagram & Facebook for example) and including your username is a start. Adding it to your email signature is another idea, along with your social media bios, blog and/or website. 

3. Add videos and images to your 'story' rather than sending it to individuals

Your story is made up of updates you post, over a 24 hour period. They can be 10 second videos or images and posted throughout the day- creating a 'story' of your day to day life. So, each snippet of your day, from morning exercise to the commute to work, then behind the scenes as you launch a product, sign for a delivery, your thoughts on a hot topic etc., are all collated together to form a story that you share with your Friends. 

I believe that this tip is particularly important as a business or personal brand using Snapchat. Building a Story over 24 hours is much more effective than sharing a update that will disappear as soon as the receiver views it (a direct Snap can only be viewed once before it is deleted). 

snapchat tips

 

4. When travelling, use the Geo-Filter 

A fun and engaging way to use Snapchat is to make the most out of the various filters, including the geo filters. Particularly when attending a main event or travelling to a destination, if your location settings are on Snapchat is able to pick up where you are and apply a filter for you to let your audience know where you are in the world. For example of a location filter, see below: 

More recently events such as festivals and conferences or calendar events (think Easter, St Patricks Day etc) will have designed their own geo-filter, so make sure to check when you are snapping away. 

How you do it:

Step 1- Take your photo or video in Snapchat
Step 2- Before posting or adding to your story, swipe the screen left with your finger. Your will go through a few different filters (black and white, vibrancy, speed & time) before coming to the geo-filter. 
Step 3- Select your desired filter and add the post to your story... Easy!

5. Show your followers the real story behind your brand

One of the main things I am loving about Snapchat so far is that it really lifts the curtain and shows you what goes on in the day to day lives of my favourite bloggers, online personalities and businesses. I feel like I have gotten to know the people I follow and respect so much more now, rather than just seeing their edited highlight reel on Instagram. 

Snapchat is raw, unedited, in real time and fun to use- so make sure that is how you approach it. Don't worry too much about how you set the scene, frame your flat lay or what your background looks like. Just jump into it, be authentic in your voice and what you share, but at the same time be strategic. Know why you are on the platform, what you want to get out of it and the type of content that you want to share in order to make the most out of your presence. 

Along with every other network, being on Snapchat takes time, so you need to make sure your time is being well spent. 

6. Don't be shy, ask for feedback 

Another element of Snapchat I am finding is that although I am having my story viewed, commenting or "Snapping back" from my followers doesn't happen as often as it does on Facebook or Instagram. Although that part of it does tend to save time, it is difficult to know whether or not your community is enjoying what you share daily. 

So why not reach out and ask for feedback?  
Ask your online audience: 'Are you enjoying what I am posting? What do you want to see more, or less of?' 

Take their responses on board and have a play around until you find that perfect balance between personal, lifestyle and work life. 


Are you on Snapchat?
Are you loving it, hating it, or not even getting it?
I would love to hear about your experience, feel free to drop a comment below
& be sure to include your Snapchat Username so that we can find you!

You can find me here: chloe_waugh14

 

3 Instagram Hacks to try today

Instagram hacks to try

Instagram is a brilliant way to really connect with your growing community. If you use Instagram for your business, chances are your brand is inspiring followers with behind the scenes images, personality and tips and tricks to help educate your market. 

With a clever strategy and these Hacks, you are on your way to Insta Success! 

1. Take advantage of your Handle & Name

On Instagram, everyone has a handle to be found, it is what you share with your audience in order for them to look you up and follow you. However, you also have an area in your profile that you can edit, which does not effect your handle. This is your opportunity to get creative and add an extra bit of information for viewers to see exactly what you do! 

See below for an example of an account that has utilised their name & handle effectively, sharing their unique hashtag to encourage their audience to join in the fun when travelling: 

Another great example: 

Another reason to try this is as it aids in helping users find you when they search, and it also displays your handle + your chosen name in the search results. This means you can stand out and let viewers know who you are and what you do, before they even click on your profile. See below for an example: 

So, how do you do it? 

Simply view your own profile whilst you are logged into your account, then click on 'Edit Profile'. When you are happy, click 'Done'. It is that easy. 

2. Enter well researched hashtags in the comment section, not the caption

By entering your hashtag list in the comment section once you publish your post, you are allowing your caption to be simple, clean and easy to read. I have some tips below to make the process quick and effective for you: 

  • Perform research on hashtags relevant to your business and industry by searching on Iconosquare or Tags For Likes. Be sure to save hashtags that relate to what you do and the products and services you offer, so that you can be found when potential followers and customers search on Instagram. 
  • Save the selected hashtags on your phone, either in your Notes (iPhone) or an app like Evernote
  • When you are ready to publish a post, you will need to have your hashtag list already copied to your keyboard, so that it is ready to paste as soon as you press 'Post' on Instagram. This is because hashtags are only picked up at the time of the photo being published, not when the hashtags are shared, so you do not want your photo to get lost. This also means that adding hashtags to older images does not bring them to the front of the queue. 
  • Feel free to add hashtags that relate directly to the photo itself, adding to the original list of hashtags for your business. 
  • You can use up to 30 hashtags at once, so go for it!
  • Once you get a comment or two, your hashtag list will be hidden (unless reader clicks 'view comments'). 

3. Find and interact with your potential followers

My last pointer (I am giving away all my secrets here) is probably my favourite. 

Don't rely on good content and hashtag use to grow your following and engagement- get proactive and start finding your followers. By connecting with your ideal clients/customers/readers on Instagram on a more human level (in the form of a comment or like), you are increasing your chances of a follow, whilst increasing engagement.  
I explain below:

  • Note down other similar businesses in your industry (your competitors, brands you are inspired by) and find their profiles on Instagram. 
  • Click on 'FOLLOWERS' at the top of their profile- this will bring up a list of people (Profiles) that follow the brand you are similar to. 
  • Consider this- if these people Follow & Like this brand that is similar to you, why wouldn't they be interested your brand and what it has to offer too? 
  • Now, get their attention by taking a look through their feed, Like a few photos (at least 3) and comment if you can. 
  • If the account interests you and you like what you see- perhaps give them a follow. 
  • I suggest spending at least an hour per week doing this- this is part of a process I call 'Community Cultivation'. 

Do you have any favourite Instagram Hacks that you would like to share? I would love to hear about them, drop a comment below. 


Do you have a friend or colleague that would benefit from reading this post? 
Be sure to share it with them, using the 'Share' button below. 
We really appreciate it!

5 Reasons To Join Snapchat...Now

5 reasons to join Snapchat

I believe that if there is one platform that is going to trend in 2016 for brands, it is Snapchat. 

So, here are a couple of good reasons to pick up your smart phone and join the fun. 

1. It is great fun!

Perhaps the reason why I am enjoying it so much, as well as why according to Snapchat Ads, there are over 100 million active and engaged people that use the app every day. 

The app is user-friendly and doesn't take up much of your time, plus, the only limit to what you Snap away at during your day is your imagination! 

There are fun filters, geo-location graphics and much more that can be added to your Snaps. Brands are getting super creative with the images and videos that they share and users are taking notice. 

2. It's real, raw and un-edited

Once you have your strategy in place,  you can begin to use the app with purpose, snapping away during the day- sharing real images and videos that don't need to be perfectly stunning- unlike Instagram. Share your office quirks and behind the scenes travel stories, visits to industry conferences, events and more. You can really capture the essence and personality of your brand and business, get your team involved and be creative with your snaps. 

Not having to fuss around with edits or filters, means that an upload is as quick as taking a photo or a ten second video, adding it to your story (two clicks) and away you go. Another point to remember, is that once the content has been uploaded, it will disappear after just 24 hours, which leaves followers with a sense of urgency to view what you are sharing that day. 

3. Most businesses and personal brands on Snapchat are new to the platform

Like other platforms, this app won't be for every business or individual, that is for sure. But the brands who are active on it are pioneers- experimenting, learning what works and what doesn't. It will be all about trial and error during these early stages, so why not join in the fun? 

If the predictions of Snapchat being huge for businesses and personal brands in 2016 comes true, I believe that you are better off being one of the first on the platform, building up your audience over time and getting to know the technology, rather than trying to jump on the bandwagon later on in the game. Plus- less businesses on the platform means less competition- it is a win win. 

4. Your market could be hanging out there

According to Snapchat stats, 60% of US 13-34 year olds that use a smartphone are active on Snapchat. If your market is a youthful one, chances are that they are spending time on the platform. 

snapchat stats

5. Show your audience the real you

Video is a popular and effective way to communicate with your audience. For some however, recording a live video can be daunting and difficult and sometimes pushed to the 'someday list'. With Snapchat, you can record snippets of your day in 10 second intervals and not have to worry about studio set up, lighting and sound equipment. Although, professional videos are a great tool for your businesses social media presence and I highly recommend them, a quick Snap is real and authentic, letting your audience get to know the real face and personality behind the brand. 

These 10 second videos can then individually be uploaded to your 'Story'. This Story then becomes your journey over the 24 hour period- get creative in your day-to-day and form a story full of value, insight and even humour.  

Ideas for snippets: 

  • Share a super quick tip (relevant to your industry) with your audience 
  • Share a recipe or how-to guide on something you are passionate about
  • Provide valuable knowledge on something in your field
  • Share a hack- a tip that is super valuable that your followers might not know
  • Upload a travel story- getting to the airport, checking in, having coffee, reading materials etc. 
  • Share snippets of your conference or trade show visit- getting there, highlights, team dinners 
  • For a great example of someone who does Snapchat well- check out @GaryVee by searching for him on the platform.

BONUS TIPS:

  • DO NOT replicate content on this platform! Snapchat content needs to be unique, different from what you are sharing on the other networks. 
  • The only way for followers or 'friends' to find you on Snapchat is either by organic search or paid ads. You will need to make sure you share your Username with your followers on other networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, email newsletter, plus your website and/or blog. 
  • Check out this post for some great tips and hacks for making the most of your Snaps! 

Find me on Snapchat! Search chloejane_smc

 

5 Tips For Building Your Online Brand

5 expert tips on building an online brand

Meet our new contributor, Ellie Russell of The Darling Design Co

Ellie Russell, Darling Design Co

 

Ellie is a freelance graphic designer based in country NSW Australia with a  Bachelor degree in Graphic Design. Ellie work's with small biz rockstars to better brand their businesses to ensure they aren’t another start up-shut down statistic in rural/regional Australia. 


Whether you’re a fresh new start-up or a well-oiled business machine, here are 5 simple tips to help you build a strong, consistent brand…

1.     Know your brand.


Before the logos and the advertising and all the marketing collateral you need to be able to define your brand and clearly verbalise what you’re about.

Have you ever had someone ask you what you do for a living and you’ve been stuck thinking of ways to explain it while feeling all flustered and put on the spot? Yeah, I’ve been there too. Let’s never go through that again.

Take a piece of paper and jot down some words that you might associate with your brand. What do you do? What words/themes/emotions best describe your brand? It may even help to have a mission statement or “tagline” that clearly describes what you do (and refer back to it on the regular!)

2.     Get consistent with your brand.

Have you ever been scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram and seen an image and known instantly which business or brand it came from? THAT is consistent branding. You want people to be able to recognise your marketing material and instantly think of you when they see it. Think about your colour scheme, font choices and layouts. Talk with your graphic designer (that could be me!) about the colour theme you want and how to create layouts for marketing material such as Pinterest posts, blog posts, Facebook adverts etc so as to implement consistency for your brand.

3.     Get social.

So you’ve got this rad business and you know you’ve got the goods when it comes to service and skills you just need some clients to help keep the dream alive – so get out there and share your message! Start by getting social and across platforms you know will reach your target audience.

I’m a firm believer in social media but I disagree when people tell me I need to be EVERYWHERE. I choose to be active on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest only because I feel these are the best social platforms for me to reach my target audience.

Don’t let social media overwhelm you – why not start with Facebook and build on from there?

And if you’re already on social media remember to be an active participant; it’s not called “social” media for nothing!

It really bugs me when I come across an amazing business on Facebook and notice their most recent post was back in 2014. Be a regular poster, aim for at least a couple of times a week on FB initially and grow from there.

4.     Network.

This may sound so formal but networking with other business people (either in your field or just in business in general) is so beneficial to the growth of your own business.
I first started to network after working with my business coach and joining her Facebook community. I’ve met so many great solopreneurs and other creative business people who have the same struggles, triumphs and questions as me! I also get a load of motivation from these people when I’m feeling flat or drained.

Facebook groups have been a great forum for me and my business and it also helps to get my name out there! I’ve been super fortunate to have managed to even find some clients within these groups which is an added bonus! They are definitely worth it.

Two of my favourite Facebook community groups for business growth and inspiration are Creating A Thriving Online Business and Blog + Biz BFFs. Check them out and get networking!

5.     Develop a home on the web.

I recently wrote a blog post about how imperative it was for my business to develop my website. I know it can seem a little daunting at first but finding your own home on the web can be so beneficial in business. Even when I was active on my Facebook page and other social media platforms I still had potential clients asking if I had a website – people like to be able to see more of what you’ve got to offer than just what they can see on Facebook.

If you’re savvy with the interwebs there are a tonne of ways you can get a website up and running without the huge price tag and in no real time at all. And if not, there are a tonne of web designers who create amazing websites without costing the earth if a tight budget is a problem. I highly recommend taking that next step in your business; you might be surprised at the edge it gives you and your brand.

Building a brand doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With a little effort and a lot of heart you can build yourself a strong brand any biz-boss would envy! 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ellie is a freelance graphic designer based in country NSW Australia with a Bachelor degree in Graphic Design.
Ellie grew up in a small town in upper north-west NSW and she has big dreams for helping rural entrepreneurs and solopreneurs grow amazing businesses through better branding. She believes that together we can all put an end to the stigma that country-based businesses are outdated and “behind the times”.

You can find Ellie on Instagram here, and her website here. 


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Do you have any advice to offer, something to add or a question to ask us about
building your online brand? Ask away, our community would love to hear from you. 
Drop a comment below:

Creating An Authentic Instagram Following

Creating an authentic Instagram following

Meet our first blog contributor, Jess of Eclectic Creative.

Jess Viscarde Eclectic Creative

An avid communicator and creative type - Jessica's design journey and experience over the past decade has involved gaining a Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Design, working as a Graphic Designer and Marketing Assistant for IKEA, becoming a qualified Interior designer graduating with the major award from the Design Institute of Australia and winning the Alumni Entrepreneurship grant. Jessica is a design contributor on Houzz sharing tips and ideas about all things interiors and her work is a regular feature on         popular lifestyle and design blogs and social media.


Just Be You.

I set out to use Instagram as a way of tracking my progress, essentially treating it and using it like a working visual diary. I was fresh out of Interior Design school (having been in the Design Industry for close to 10 years) and was eager to explore my style and connect with like-minded people. Slowly but surely I started to meet others and build my community around the content I had created. One of the most powerful things I did was starting the #pocketofmyhome hashtag to connect my small community through the love of our homes, celebrating interiors with personality. From humble beginnings and organic growth it has exploded to over 30K images of high quality, engaged, design loving followers.

Create inspiring (and original) content

If you are a creative, stylist, designer, maker, I recommend creating your own original content to share on Instagram. I really can’t express this enough. Use this visual tool to show your own work, and express authentically who you are and the people (and followers) will come. By posting your work and your original content you will connect with people that understand you and these people will become your network.

Yes, inspirational-only feeds may have thousands of more followers than you. But that’s OK. They are regurgitating content that is not their own. It takes time to create original work and you are showing an authentic expression of your abilities. It is the way I have always chosen to run my instagram and has brought valuable contacts and business relationships as well as fantastic new experiences. Some inspirational feeds are great, and serve their purpose - showing inspiration - but if you want more from you account, I would recommend sharing original content only. Quality not Quantity Don’t become fixated on your follower count. I find this really counter-productive and I see many new businesses and creatives obsessed about their follower numbers. Yes, increasing your follower count helps your brand and business grow through exposure, but only if you are concentrating on growing your numbers with authentic and quality followers. I would much prefer to have 1000 organically grown, engaged, passionate supporters of your cause over 5000 non-existent absent followers, or worse still “bought” followers. Yep, you can actually buy followers to make your brand look popular. How fake is that? 

Remember your WHY

Why are you using Instagram? What is the purpose?

These answers will help you form the base of how you curate your instagram account. For example, I have purposely chose to build my following steadily and authentically, remaining true to my WHY and my purpose, - to show my visual diary of work I create and to connect with like-minded people.

Figure out what you want from your account and ask yourself why am I doing this? Be patient, be consistent, be nice and share your best work. People will find you. 


Jess Viscarde of Eclectic Creative

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Viscarde runs a successful design Studio based in Melbourne, called Eclectic Creative. Jess uses Instagram as her visual diary and networking tool, you can find her on it daily here 
Jess shares her portfolio on Instagram and also uses it as a way to connect with you and other businesses. Jess also started the #pocketofmyhome tag, (it has over 30K images and growing) as a way for celebrating real homes with personality, not just the ones found in glossy magazines.


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4 ways to attract more follower engagement.

4 ways to attract more follower engagment

Having large follower numbers is one thing, but is your audience entertained, connected and interested in what you have to offer? 

How likely is it that your audience is going to spend money with you, or visit your website? 

With an engaged audience, you and your business are likely to experience:

  • Real customer connection
  • Trust
  • Higher conversion rates
  • More comments, shares, Retweets etc. 
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • Improved word-of-mouth referrals

In understanding some of the benefits that can come with an engaged, active audience, let's look at ways to encourage your following to interact with your social media activity on a regular basis: 

  1. Provide Value

It isn't exactly rocket science, but if you are not providing valuable insights, information, entertainment and resources to your audience, what are they going to get out of following you?

In order for your followers to get to know you and what you do before they spend money with you, it is very important that you provide them with valuable content. This way, they can get a taste of what you create and what your business values before they have to put their hands in their pockets to spend money with you. 

After following you for some time and consuming the valuable content that you share, when it does come to an offer or product launch, they will jump on it- that is the aim of the game. 

Providing value can come in many forms- it could be information, links to news articles (relevant to your industry), inspirational quotes, tips on entrepreneurship, discount codes created exclusively for followers and much more. Get creative and think about what your followers might want to read, see and watch during their day. 

2. Trigger emotions

Some of the best marketing campaigns play at your heart-strings, making you feel empathy, inspired, amused, peaceful, cheerful and much more. Triggering emotions in your viewers can leave a lasting impression, leaving them touched in some way by your brand. 

Often, when you leave your follower feeling somewhat attached to your brand, it can lead them to spending money with you. It can also lead to viral activity, such as repeated views of your video clip, sharing your photo with their friends, or Retweeting or posting about what you have shared. This will aid in expanding your audience, reaching more people who will want to learn about your brand, especially seeing as one of their friends and/or family has shared your content. 

An amazing example of an advertisement that triggers happiness, was the little boy who was the UPS truck's biggest fan, who got to become a driver for the day: 

I don't know about you, but this pulls at my heart strings- it makes me feel happy. If this popped up in my feed, I would definitely share the video with my friends and family. 

Another example would be the recent 'Coming Home' campaign that Qantas delivered in 2015- view the videos here. 

Put simply, it is all about bringing that human element to your business and making real connections with consumers, rather than just selling, selling, selling online. When you create, source or develop your next post, consider how it will affect your followers and how you might be able to inject a little more emotion into their reactions.. 

3. Story telling

When you meet someone new, chances are they have a story to tell. Stories are how we can share our experiences and interests with others. If you are telling a story with your brand online in what you consistently post, you are likely to attract people to your story, who will be inclined to want to share your story with those they know. 

Us humans, are natural born story tellers, so why not tap into this and develop a story around your next campaign, post, blog or video? Share the unique story behind your brand- what makes it different, what drives you to deliver your product and/or service? Can people find out why your business exists, your purpose, your why? Share this story with your followers and see what happens. 

Below is a great example of the story behind why one company chooses to use Asana Software for their workplace.

 

4. Communicate and connect

Once your followers start commenting, leaving reviews, asking questions etc. via social media, it is so important to make them feel appreciated by responding in a timely manner. 

Thanking followers for taking the time to write a review on Facebook, Google, Tripadvisor etc. can be a great way to show that you really care, the follower that wrote the review, as well as new visitors that view the review will see this and hopefully acknowledge your efforts. 

Simply writing back to your follower's comments can leave a lasting impression, turning your fans into ambassadors and invested customers. Remember to always put a positive spin on everything, even if it is a negative comment. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Chloe Waugh is the Founder and Managing Director at Social Media Creative. Chloe is passionate about creating and growing authentic, engaged online communities. You can read more about Chloe here. 


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