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Crafting a Cohesive Brand Message with Instagram

Crafting a Cohesive Brand Message with Instagram

As the premier photoblogging platform, Instagram has grown like wildfire and brands were quick to take notice. Apart from maintaining company websites and separate social media accounts, large and small businesses alike have begun to explore the benefits of brand promotion through Instagram.

In early 2015 Instagram clocked in at 300 million active monthly users, and about 75 million use the social media app each day. According to the Pew Institute 53% of users are in the 18-29 age group while the second largest demographic is ages 30-49, which is 25% of the Instagram population.  If your business caters to these age brackets and has been looking for a new way to reach them, Instagram is the right platform for your business.

If you want your business to be a part of the Instagram success story, follow the tips I’ve outlined below.


Sync up.

Connect your Instagram to your Facebook. This can either be done when you set up your Instagram account or at any point in the settings tab. This way your photos will be on your Facebook newsfeed as well as Instagram and your current base of Facebook followers will know where to find you and like your Instagram page.


Hashtag every photo.

My partner Rhonda has previously written about the use of hashtags and how it can create a successful brand message, and we both recommend that every business should create their own unique hashtag. This will establish a feed of your content and your fans’ relevant photos that is easily searchable and viewed. Content + Creativity’s unique Instagram hashtag is #CCInstaWisdom and we tag any relevant quotes or social tips that may help our followers and the public audience.

Remember to put your lists of hashtags in the comment below your caption to avoid looking spammy. Try to keep it to 10 hashtags or less. You should use any relevant trending hashtags whenever necessary.  I must stress relevant. There’s nothing more desperate looking than a user tagging a photo with every trending tag at the moment.  It will make others unfollow and ignore you completely. Trending topics can be found under the bottom tab that has the looking glass icon.


When your audience speaks, LISTEN.

Whether you have a brick and mortar establishment or are strictly online, any business owner can appreciate a glowing testimonial or a positive exchange with customers.  In days past, when these conversations occurred you probably only told your spouse and kids at the end of the day. Platforms like Instagram now give you a place to share positive experiences with your customers to your audience. With their permission, take a photo of the customer or the email exchange and post it with a quick explanation of the situation.

I’ve written previously about how much of a timesaver curated content can really be.  A great way to gather readymade content and photos is to skim your unique hashtag using the search function in the explore tab.  Once you find a photo you like, contact the owner and ask permission to Regram their content. Regram is a free app that takes a screenshot of a specific Instagram photograph so you can repost it onto your page. It will give the proper credit in the photo which is very important. People don’t like seeing “stolen” content on your page, and will either unfollow or leave a negative comment. Despite the automatic attribution to the source in the photo itself, be sure to include a clickable link to the username in the caption. Some examples of what to post via Regram can be pictures of customers at your store, using your product or even fan art.


Don’t just post, interact.

Sure, a consistent posting strategy is important. I’ve written a piece previously about how to market to Milennials on Instagram and that was one of my most important suggestions. But offering great content will be only half of your strategy for success on Instagram. The other half is interacting with your followers and other brands. You can’t expect high levels of engagement on your posts if you don’t talk back!

Try exploring relevant hashtags in your field of business. Let’s say you own a local bakery and coffee shop in Philadelphia. You see a Seattle based coffee shop post their best cappuccino artwork. If you like the photo, double tap, which shows up as a “like”. Showing your interest in other brands doesn’t take away from yours, and in fact it may cause a user or two to check out or even follow your page.



Instagram is not the platform where you need to constantly churn out genius-level content. In fact, this should be the most lighthearted platform in your 4 social site arsenal. All you need to worry about is finding fun, entertaining and ultimately shareable posts for your followers to enjoy. Sometimes the silliest things can go viral on Instagram, so be on the lookout.  Happy posting!

Me and my #hashtag

Me and my #hashtag

After many years working in marketing and advertising I have learned that the big concepts driving these disciplines have not changed much but a lot of the little details in implementation are totally different. One of my biggest challenges is the smallest detail of them all. Hashtags. I always have to remind myself to use that one character “pound sign”, because when it comes to hashtags I am admittedly a late adapter. If you are humming, “… strolling down the avenue” right now you just may be in the same boat.

So what is a hashtag, and how and when is it used?

A hashtag is used for searching practically anything on most social media platforms. The word(s) that follow the # symbol can be a company name, brand name, event name or identifying abbreviation, a keyword or even a unique term used to start a conversation or promote a product. When using more than one word in your hashtag do not put spaces in between them.

Let’s say you own a shoe store and you sell Nike. Some of the hashtags you might use are #Nike, #NikeSale, #AirJordan, #WeLoveNike, #JustDoIt, #NikeGivaway, #CrossFit #NameOfYourStore and so on. How to use these hashtags really depends upon the platform.


Hashtags were born on Twitter. They gained tremendous popularity as a way to search for information in real time, and from actual witnesses. A good example is the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Traditional news sources may have had trouble reporting due to censorship or the inability to get to the scene, but searching on Twitter for #Egypt resulted in hundreds of observations from folks on the ground.

These days hashtags are a must for businesses, and Twitter makes it much easier for a consumer to find exactly what they are looking for. Putting #Nike in the search bar brings up a page of options that include Live tweets, accounts with the word Nike in them, photos and videos and the most popular, this is retweeted and liked, tweets. For the most part, you won’t see more than three or four hashtags in a tweet, which is probably due to the character limitation on Twitter.

Let me take a detour here for a short discussion about trending topics. Twitter provides a list of the most popular current trends and how many tweets they are receiving. If a topic is relevant to your tweet you should absolutely use it as a hashtag in your tweet. If it is NOT, under no circumstances should you use the #trend – it is considered to be spam, turns people off, and may cost you some followers. You don’t want that, do you? On the other hand, if you can construct a tweet that comfortably incorporates your message with a trending topic by all means use the #trend.


While a bit late to the party, hashtags are now quite popular – and in some cases quite overused – on Facebook. When you see a post with little content but a lot of hashtags you know that person is probably fishing for traffic more than attempting to provide useful content. This is not looked upon favorably.

When you do a search for #Nike on Facebook the first results will be any posts or mentions among the reader’s friends or groups they have joined. Then “Top” public posts appear in order of popularity, almost invariably with a great photo or video. Then you have the option of choosing additional search criteria such as People, Pages, Events, Apps, etc.


On this popular photoblogging site hashtags are used extensively. The most important thing to remember is never use hashtags in the title of your post; always put your hashtags in the first comment below the photo. My partner Sara has a most excellent article on Instagram where you can learn much more.


Hashtags are used minimally on YouTube, both in the video titles and descriptions. A search for #Nike brings up all videos that use the word, with or without the #, and in no particular order that I can discern.


Another site where hashtags are used sparingly by posters is Pinterest. A search for #Nike brings up all references to the brand, whether a hashtag is used or not. The pins that appear seem to in order of most popular, either due to the number of repins or the account itself. Pinterest also allows searches to be refined with choices such as (Nike) Shoes, Clothes, Outfits, etc.


Hashtags are almost nonexistent on LinkedIn. The only people using them are either in marketing and social media, or they’ve copied and pasted a tweet or Facebook post and left the hashtags in. A search for #Nike brings up companies or divisions of companies named Nike, or people whose names have the word NIKE in them. My favorite of those is Nike than Nagula Raja.


If you are looking for additional hashtags related to the one you are using, Google+ provides a list of helpful #suggestions. A search for #Nike results in every post that includes the word, with or without a hashtag, in chronological order.

Every marketer and company dreams of launching a campaign that goes viral and brings in tons of leads and sales as a result. Creating a unique hashtag that takes off is just another tool with which you might be able to achieve that goal. With that in mind, I hereby present my personal hashtag in the hope that I can accurately convey my appreciation to anyone who made it to the end of this article:


Use Facebook to Increase Your In-Store Traffic

Use Facebook to Increase Your In-Store Traffic

Have you noticed how difficult it is to get people to visit your brick-and-mortar store these days? Consumers are really taking to shopping online more and more as evidenced by the fact that internet sales have enjoyed quantum leap increases every year. Plus much of your offline advertising is wasted dollars as print publications continue to decline, and broadcast media is just too expensive.

So what’s a small, independent retailer to do?

Optimally you would sell online, but this can be very costly and time consuming. You would probably need more staff to photograph and write copy for products, a webmaster to make sure everything is working properly all the time, and someone to package and ship. A more practical and economical alternative would be to use Facebook to promote your store and product line.

Grow your audience.

Once your Facebook business page is set up you need to get followers. The simplest way to do this is to advertise on Facebook itself. It’s cheaper and more effective than offline ads and Google AdWords. You can target your audience by age, gender, interests, and most importantly for local businesses, by zip code. Make the ad enticing and you will get more page likes. Offer a discount coupon, notice of a sale, or some incredibly useful – or even controversial – information to pique interest. You can also promote a post from your Facebook page itself for a more detailed description.

Cater to your audience.

Now that you have people viewing your page and posts it’s time to give them what they want. Of course that includes notifications of sales and events, but also new products and trends in your industry. Spice it up. Don’t just present a new product, show that product in use with a video or series of photos. Link to a fashion magazine page where the product appears, or a news article about this product being the best or most sought-after of the year. Also add a little helpful “how to” once in a while.

Make sure that all of your customers have a reason to like your Facebook page. Have cards or flyers in-store promising “Facebook only” deals and discounts. Add the same Facebook blurb to all of your offline advertising and mailings.

Go to the next level.

At some point each day every one of your customers checks their email. Wouldn’t it be great if you could be there in the inbox when they do? Here’s an easy way to set that up. Set up a single page website and offer a substantial discount coupon in exchange for an email address. Then with an autoresponder you can keep in contact with your entire list. This is an inexpensive – and in some cases totally free! – way to remind your customers that you welcome their business.

Move beyond Facebook to other social platforms. If you sell a physical product you absolutely want to be on Instagram and Pinterest. Business-to-business companies always benefit from having a LinkedIn page. Twitter is the best social site for garnering leads. And uploading videos to YouTube is a great way to move your website up in page rankings.

Are you having trouble getting started with social media? In addition to our full service integrated social media services we also offer limited time consulting. We will set up your sites, create content and an editorial calendar, and hold your hand until you are ready to go out on your own. Contact us today: Content+Creativity at or 610.937.5187.

Successful Social Media Strategies for Real Estate Agents

Successful Social Media Strategies for Real Estate Agents

Marketing on social media is the perfect method for realtors to generate leads and interest for their listings. The most successful real estate agents are active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and most see better results than what they would achieve by mere advertising alone.

Here are some tips to get started.

Create a blog and post on a regular basis.

Although showing the houses you have on the market is important, you also want to disseminate useful information about home buying and selling or home owning. Your goal should be to become an authority in your market and a trusted source of information, as well as the realtor people think of first when they are ready to make a move. Followers of your blog will remember how knowledgeable and helpful you have been and reach out.

Your blog can be a page on your company-provided website or you can set up a free and easily maintained personal page at a site such as Wherever you blog its important to remember to post regular update, even if your posts are fun or timely but have nothing to do with real estate. The content on your blog becomes your material for posting on the social sites.

Post Photos

Use Facebook and Instagram as extensions of your blog. For Facebook, you can create a detailed photo album for each listing. Unlike personal pages, your professional realtor Facebook page should be without any privacy restrictions. That way anyone in the general public can view what you have to offer, and your content is much easier to share.

Instagram is purely visual, so you can be creative with this medium. Post a photo collage or a quick video of your listing. Videos can also be used for testimonials, quick house tips or whatever might be helpful to your followers. Don’t forget to post hashtags so all of your photos and videos can get the exposure they deserve! Some of the many popular hashtags for realtors are #realestate, #forsale, #realtor, #househunting and #homesforsale. It would also be wise to create a unique hashtag for yourself that spans all social platforms. That way it will be that much easier to find all of your listings and important information.


Any realtor will tell you that a large part of success in the industry is due to networking. Not everyone is looking for a house right at this moment, but perhaps in the future they will, or they may run across someone else who will. You want your name to be the first that comes to mind when the opportunity presents itself.

LinkedIn is a great social platform to connect with colleagues or people you’ve done business with in a more professional setting. As with the other social platforms discussed, LinkedIn is an extension of your blog. You want to get in on the conversation on LinkedIn. Join relevant and local real estate groups, respond to questions and mingle with other agents. Also publish your complete blog posts, because your articles become part of the LinkedIn feed and will be seen by many people.

Interact directly with leads

Both Facebook and Google+ are great for interacting with potential leads. Google+ has a tool called Hangout where you can host a video conference. This would be a great way to impart real estate wisdom to potential homebuyers with an even more personal connection than your blog. With Google Hangout coffee shop meet-ups is a thing of the past. Also, this is a great way to meet with a larger number of people at once and not feel like you are taking that much time out of the day to do it.

First step for Facebook is that you should make it a point to have your own professional page for your real estate clients and colleagues to follow. As a part of the millennial generation, I can say for sure that most people my age are more likely to check Facebook before even going to Google. This can be because the ease of Facebook’s search engine or just simply we are always on Facebook.

Facebook is another avenue where you can build the accessibility of your brand. You want to be a realtor that others come to for real estate advice and help. Linking back to your blog posts along with posting relevant curated content is how you establish that accessibility. Being a realtor relies on extremely responsive customer service, so you need to be visible and where your customers are.

Amp it up!

After you become comfortable with your social media marketing you may want to add email marketing to the mix. You can develop your mailing list by offering a free report that is of interest to your audience in exchange for an email address. Advertising on the report on Facebook should result in a growing list of subscribers. Your content could be a newsletter, a personalized market report, or just notices of your new listings and sales.


Do you need a clear social media strategy but don’t know where to start?  We can help design and execute a cohesive brand message that will make you stand out from your competitors. Contact us today at info@contentandcreativity or call us at 610.937.5187 and let’s create a custom social media strategy together.