In the social media world we’ve moved away from merely bean counting our page likes and followers to getting those people to interact with our brands. It makes sense, right? In the real world your neighbor down the street may like you enough to say hi when they see you, but are they a real friend? Getting a page like or follower means you have acquired an acquaintance. Comments and shares means your acquaintances want to know you better, agreed with you, and hopefully want to tell their friends about you.
Marketers attempt to drive engagement in various ways. They take polls, conduct contests, post quizzes, have giveaways, and of course, provide useful information. They may even share viral content from other sources. There are other methods that work too.
The Great Peanut Butter and Jelly Dilemma
One of the best examples of customer engagement I have personally experienced happened many years ago in the offline space. I was writing and producing a quarterly hardcopy/email newsletter for a client who sold specialty hardware to the theatrical industry. Believe me, you couldn’t pick a more mind numbing subject to write about. The most exciting piece I normally got to create was a comparison of different ropes for various applications.
While preparing one of the issues we decided to throw in a silly item, just for a change. We asked, “How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Peanut butter spread on the bread and jelly on top? Or do you put peanut butter on one slice of bread and jelly on the other?
Within days of mailing out our normal few hundred copies of the newsletter we started getting emails, letters and faxes (!!!) back from our readers. There were a lot of answers that matched our A/B test, but there were also a surprising number of folks who baked or toasted their PB&J sandwiches, added fried bananas or even bacon. By the next quarterly issue we had heard from about 30% of our mailing list. Respondents started agreeing or disagreeing with each other in letters that we printed. And by the third quarterly newsletter had received 15 requests to be added to the mailing list.
It’s called “Pattern Interrupt”
Pattern interrupt is a term first used by hypnotists to define the tool they use to break habits and open the patient up to changing their behaviors. In marketing this is one of the most effective ways of getting the attention of your audience. You break the pattern of what people expect to see on your Facebook page, as an example, and they will likely sit up and notice. After that happens your important promotional message will be presented to an already receptive audience.
How can marketers use pattern interrupt to their advantage? The simplest way is to post something entirely unexpected and outside your normal voice, whether it’s funny, controversial or just plain silly like my peanut butter and jelly example above. Be creative and break whatever patterns you’ve been using to communicate. Keep testing different ways to disrupt your audience’s normal expectations.
A final question
So, how do you make your peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Instagram continues to grow at a fast pace. In a year’s time Instagram has gained over 100 million viewers. Yeah, you read that right – 100 million new followers. I’ve written about Instagram, hosted webinars and participated in social media panels discussing how important Instagram can be in a business’s social media strategy. Over 400 million users is quite the big deal! Still, only about 9% of small businesses use Instagram. So instead of explaining, yet again, how easy it is to use, how to gain followers and how fun the app really is, I’m going to tell you exactly what you want to know: How to get qualified leads and sales from Instagram.
If you are useful, followers will come.
Providing a consistent strategy that is pertinent to the audience you are targeting is paramount to anything else I’m going to tell you. Even before you find leads, you need a following. Gaining a following takes posting content that is appealing, helpful or entertaining on a regular basis. You need to use hashatgs strategically. Above all else, remember to avoid all hard sale tactics. This is not the platform for it and it will decrease your chance of gaining followers greatly.
Along with a consistent, engaging posting strategy remember to stay in tune with your brand’s message and feel. Have a recognizable profile picture that your fans could pick out easily. Create an engaging bio section that is pithy but encompasses your brand.
For the most part your followers will view only your photos in their feed, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t lure them back to your profile page. When you are posting a photo that is sales related, remember to mention “check the link in our bio” and tell them why they will be visiting that link. Many businesses use their bio link to get sign-ups, sell a physical product, promoting a contest or even exclusive content just for their Instagram followers. Exclusive content is generally delivered through a landing page and not on their actual website.
Use trackable links whenever possible. Bit.ly is a site I use regularly for my clients and my own business. Once you create an account, you can create different links for each platform and/or campaign and are able to track each one in one place.
Make followers feel special
As I mentioned previously, offering exclusive content is a great way to get leads. The bio link you have on your profile can take a user to a landing page where they can download a free guide, eBook or any kind of free content. For most people “free” is irresistible. Many are willing to share their email address with those who give them value in return. Giving away free content is a great way to get your audience into your funnel, and once they are on your email list you can upsell with bigger ticket items in the future.
InstaFame through association
Establishing a relationship with an Instagram influencer is a strategy that has gained popularity in the last two years. Before you ink a deal with an influencer, do a little research. Search popular, but relevant to your business, hashtags and search for the top liked photos. Chances are these photos are from popular users. If you think they would be a good fit, reach out to them. Of course this isn’t always the cheapest route, in fact it may cost you thousands of dollars. But if you have money to spend and you’re looking to reach thousands, or even a million new followers this is a great way to do it.
Influencers can be a part of your Instagram plan one of two ways: one when they post your sponsored content on their profile, or when you feature them on your page.
Sometimes just by virtue of your content strategy alone you can attract brand ambassadors. Always check relevant hashtags for your product and people using it. According to Go-Gulf, 78% of consumers make decisions based on what they see on social media so remember to frequently highlight your followers’ positive experiences with your brand. Request to repost their photos to show your other fans what they can expect from your business.
The bottom line
Although I gave many actionable steps towards gaining sales and leads, Instagram is more than just about driving revenue. Brand loyalty, brand perception and lifetime user value are all things your business can’t live without. How you are perceived and the community you foster is of equal importance to the products you sell. Instagram, like any other social platform, is a tool to promote and maintain your brand’s identity. With the right strategy not only will you look good but you’ll make money doing it.
Would you like to learn more about how you can use Instagram to help grow your business? Give us a call at 610.937.5187 or email me at email@example.com. We are here to help!
If you have a Facebook account, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of “new year, new me” status updates. No surprise, right? The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time to reflect, re-evaluate, and restart in your personal life. But have you ever applied this fresh start to your company’s goals, projects and strategies? The new year is a great time for looking to the future, especially when it comes to your company’s social media marketing strategy.
Social media changes a little each day. New apps, new algorithms and new features for reaching the right audience change constantly. For the everyday business owner it can be quite overwhelming trying to keep up with current social media trends, considering they have so much else to do. Nevertheless, if one of your business resolutions is to get your social media under control this year then read on. We’ve outlined actionable steps that will help lay the groundwork for your 2016 social media campaign.
Analyze and Evaluate Your Existing Marketing Strategies
When you’re creating a social media marketing plan it’s just as important to look back as it is to look forward. Remembering your successes and your struggles from 2015 will help guide you to create a more successful plan for 2016. You’ll use strategies that worked out well and ditch the unsuccessful ones. Make time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your goals and plans and how actionable they really are. You don’t want to disappoint yourself midway through the year, so create goals that are optimistic while at the same time are realistic.
Accumulate curated content (some of which is evergreen!)
In articles past, both Rhonda and I have talked about having a healthy mix of informational pieces, sales copy and fun/engaging content. Informational content should be industry specific, especially if one of your goals this year is to become an informational leader.
Creating written content – blog posts, articles, social media posts, etc. – is incredibly time consuming, which is why curated content should be a critical part of your social media marketing strategy. Not only can you post these items on your pages, but some items can also become a part of your master file of resources.
In the new year, review what current content resources you have while keeping your goals in mind. This could be an industry leader’s blog, white papers, Google News, or any reliable source where you’re gleaning information. Reviewing what you’ve already saved will help create your intended strategy and can also lead you to other content that may be helpful in your overall plan. For example, when I visit Social Media Examiner, a premier social media management blog, I will often bookmark many articles that will either inspire me to write something on the topic or schedule it into my editorial calendar. Having resources bookmarked makes creating content a whole lot easier.
I am always on the lookout for evergreen content. Evergreen content is helpful not only immediately but also in a long term plan. Evergreen articles are not too specific on timing, which means the information dispersed is basically universal and remains true no matter when it is read. I have articles bookmarked from over two years ago that I still click back to from time to time. Non-written evergreen content can be things like quotes, tips or photos
Create an editorial calendar!
Every business would benefit from an editorial calendar. These calendars can include all social media postings, campaigns and ongoing projects that need to be worked on.
You’ll first want to start out mapping out the campaigns you typically create every year and how long they’ll last. For example, a Labor Day weekend flash sale or Mother’s Day event. Next, create timelines for each project. When you’re done all that, you will have a rough idea of the content needed for the year.
Next you want to create a specific editorial calendar. This part is up to you, but we have about 2-3 examples of this that we can pick for each month. The easiest way to do this is print out a blank monthly calendar, then write 2-3 post topics for each day. Depending on the industry you’re in, you can lighten up on the schedule on Saturday and Sunday and post 1-2 times.
This is where the “healthy mix of informational pieces, sales copy and fun/engaging content” comes in. Try not to have too much of one type of content in one day, like all sales Saturday (unless you have a campaign going on!). During this time of planning, you’re going to need to start producing content, along with finding relevant curated content for your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or wherever platforms you use.
Now that your overall year is planned out it’s time to fill the calendar with the related content. You may find that some of your recurring graphic memes, i.e. “Tip Tuesday” or “Quote of the Day” can be created en masse and filed or prescheduled for later use. If you have determined that one blog post each week, or two videos per month, is optimal for your business it would pay to have two or three of them done well in advance.
While we do recommend that you stick to your calendar as closely as possible you should also be flexible because “Things Happen”. Your company will very likely experience some unforeseen news items that will need to be shared in a timely way. You may be featured in the press, win an award or snag a new, impressive client that your audience will want to know about.
So much to do; so little time!
If this all sounds like a lot of work doing things you are not accustomed to doing, you’re right. That’s where we come in.
Before our first meeting together we will present you with a detailed proposal. Rhonda and I will research your company and your top competitors. We’ll see what works for them and what doesn’t, and see if there should be any similarities in your strategy. Once you’re on board, we will create a new custom strategy for your business that includes editorial calendars for four social media platforms, graphics, articles and videos.
If you know your business’ social media marketing presence needs to grow and you don’t have the time, don’t worry! #WeAreHereToHelp. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 610.937.5187 to schedule your free consultation.