In many ways, Instagram is becoming the most important platform for a non-profit, charity or religious organization. Its continually growing membership of 400 million, plus its visual nature, and ability to reach a user’s intended audience makes it easier to reach your target audience than Facebook and Twitter. To be more specific, your followers will see 100% of your content on Instagram as opposed to on Facebook, with an algorithm that favors advertisers. Twitter’s upcoming update will also make it as hard to reach followers without advertising as it is on Facebook. Here are some key elements that a non-profit should incorporate into their Instagram strategy to engage their followers, break into new audiences, and generate more donations and/or volunteers for their cause.
Create an Instagram strategy
When I work with my non-profit clients, I focus their Instagram content strategy around four pillars:
This is the most effective way to evoke emotions in your audience. Positive stories evoke joy, happiness, and proof that your non-profit’s work is impacting the world. Highlighting the struggles of your cause and who it affects can galvanize your base. Profile a distinguished donor, employee or volunteer and how they’ve impacted your organization. Both the positive and “negative” aspects of storytelling can easily make a post go viral. Storytelling doesn’t always mean a novella-length photo caption, in fact sometimes a photo says much more than a caption ever could. Choose your words and photos wisely.
Building awareness for your cause is often implemented through storytelling, but that is not the only way. Many causes have a day, week or month dedicated to raising awareness and donations. Deadlines, both real and manufactured, are also a way to encourage donors to act. Non-profits should take this time to educate their followers about their cause, those who are affected, and how a person can help donate their money or time to this issue.
Engaging donors, past and potential
Success on Instagram means not only a continuously growing following that you can talk to, but a following that talks back. Instagram has engagement levels that are over fifty times as high as Facebook or Twitter, but you must position your content correctly to obtain these elevated levels of engagement. One way to do that is by using popular hashtags. Hashtags will link potential donors to your content easier. Another way to garner more engagement is to tag other Instagram users in your photos. You can either tag them in the photo caption or the photo directly. Users who are tagged can spread your message simply by liking the photo as well. The explore tab is a mixture of trending tags and photos that are relevant to a user. Tagging donors or volunteers can have your content reach hundreds and even thousands of new people.
Still not getting enough feedback? Ask your followers questions. Interact with the people you follow. The more of the human element you put into your page and persona, the more humans will want to interact with your organization.
As a non-profit, you need to approach donation generation just as a business would treat leads and sales generation. This means that, in conjunction with other three pillars of the Instagram strategy, you also have to employ some subtle sales tactics. Soft selling works much better on Instagram than most other social platforms since the majority of the users are Millennials. When creating a new post always mention how the viewer can donate. If you are taking donations online link your website to your profile’s bio section to take the viewer directly to the donation page. If your donations are from texting out a special code, remember to put that in each and every photo caption. You never know how someone might find your content so remember to list any and all donation channels.
Instagram advertising is still relatively new, but this strategy offers a great opportunity to raise donations through Instagram. If you have previously run ads on Facebook you will find that creating an Instagram ad is very similar, and ads can be created in the Facebook platform. There are a variety of goals you can set and methods of ad delivery, so the choice is up to you on how you advertise and how frequently. A word of advice, start slow and try different delivery methods. A “small” budget is really whatever your organization considers one to be, but I often start my clients off with a $25 dollar ad spend. Once you have tested various methods and audiences you should get a good feel of what is working and what isn’t effective. At that point you can invest more in ads for longer periods.
Final word: It’s all about your audience.
Instagram is not the platform to constantly churn out genius-level content on. Although your cause is no doubt a serious one, many users will not react kindly to cold, donation driven content. Sometimes a post you least expect to resonate can go viral. Listen to your audience. Monitor what they like, and then give them content that they will respond to. That is the key to success on Instagram. Happy posting!
Are you part of a non-profit that needs assistance in creating a digital strategy? Are you in search of an integrated marketing plan that can result in a larger audience, more donations and higher public visibility? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.937.5187 for a free consultation and $100 off your set up fees.
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.
How do these things happen? All I wanted to do was get new business cards, and the next thing I knew we were getting new head shots. Then the process somehow morphed into a complete redesign of our company’s corporate image.
We are the kind of people who will redesign a room on a whim. A colorful new pillow will result in completely new paint adventure, which we do so often that I am always fearful that the walls will collapse under the weight of each new coat. And that’s just our winter activities. In the spring and summer I become the Queen of Transplants, reconfiguring every single section of the garden for a totally new look. So I was not in the least surprised when Sara decided that we needed a new logo after only one year in business. Not surprised, but instantly terrified.
Combine two creative people, each with their unique style and perspective – not to mention generational differences – and you have the recipe for disaster. Well, perhaps that’s stretching the point, but getting the two of us on the same page insofar as our new logo design was not pretty. I had to put my foot down when Sara suggested we change the name of the company. Us old folks can only take so much change before our heads explode.
Thank God for Photoshop!
If you grew up playing with Mr. Potato Head, as I did, you know how much fun it is to work with Photoshop. We started with a couple of constraints – the name of the company plus the desire to keep “Creativity” as a multi-colored word. We were able to switch the “+” to an “&”, since the URL has to have “and” in it. The ampersand is tinted and behind the words to create a watermark effect.
Choosing the much-beloved (by me) American Typewriter font for “Content” was practically a no-brainer. It replicates an old typewriter style and perfectly represents the writing aspects of what we do. But while we agreed that “creativity” should be a script font, we couldn’t decide on the one we should use. I Mr. Potato Headed our logo with about 25 different scripts and took three Advil (twice!). Two weeks later we settled on a font named “Channel”.
Up until now our the services we offered only consisted of long-term social media management on a monthly retainer basis and limited time consulting for businesses who wanted to do it on their own but needed help getting started. We realized that this involved sizable commitments of time and money for many companies, as well as us. And for us, a company with a good, albeit short, track record, this still involved a lot of time selling ourselves.
Our solution is to develop a menu of additional services that are smaller and finite. This is what the information marketers call a “sales funnel”. You draw people into your community by giving them something very inexpensive or free, offer more services at a higher cost, and finally selling them on your main product is easier because you have established trust and already delivered good value.
Stay tuned for the introduction of these individual products that include short explainer videos, video extras, SEO and reputation management.
The Nightmare to Come
You might be thinking that with our fresh, new logo and updated business cards on the way that we can claim “Mission Accomplished.” You would be wrong. The next step it to totally revise our website design and copy, a task that has me terrified.
Not only that, but Sara just picked out a new rug for the family room and is looking at paint samples. I am going to need something much stronger than Advil!
Going to trade shoes and industry events are a great way to network and a tried and true method of becoming well known in your industry. But in the digital age it doesn’t need to stop there. Social media provides us with a terrific opportunity to grow our connections and share information. That shared content often comes from an Informational Leader or Influencer. Informational Leaders are considered the best in their field and are either known locally, nationally or even globally. Their content is top quality and is shared throughout the industry community. If you’re looking for a bigger following for your business one of your goals should be to become an informational leader in your field. Here are some actionable steps you can take to becoming your industry’s next authoritative voice.
Don’t be afraid to promote yourself
In the past five years I’ve worked in social media, I have been extremely lucky to have to worked with some influential and experienced individuals in their field. The biggest hurdle for many of my clients has been their hesitation to promote themselves both on social media and offline. Lack of self promotion would hinder the success of even the most well known person in an industry.
Self promotion doesn’t always have to involve “ME! ME! ME!” content, at least overtly speaking. Self promotion can be achieved by offering useful knowledge to your followers and community at large.
Periscope is a new app on the scene that is great for building a large following. Users can create a mini-live webinar where they talk about a certain subject of their choosing and those watching can post comments that will pop up on the screen. Hosting instructional or AMA (Ask Me Anything) Periscope sessions are a great way to interact with followers in real time. The feedback you get is instant and can further guide you in making better-targeted, elite level content. If viewers can’t be there for your live scopes, they have 24 hours to see a replay. This way you can still promote the scope for a day afterwards.
Traditional webinars are another popular choice to post authoritative content. Sites like GoToMeeting, AnyMeeting and even Google+ Hangouts are just some of the popular webinar platforms out there. Webinars can be as short as 15 minutes or a few hours long. My suggestion would be to stay at around 1 hour or less, unless the topic at hand is a little more complex than what can be covered in an hour. As a social media manager I’m constantly learning. I’ve sat in on many, many webinars over the years. In my experience as a webinar attendee, I’ve heard several speakers spend upwards of twenty minutes talking about themselves! Sounds unbearable, and it can be, but the content provided is usually worth it. Webinars are also a premier vehicle to upsell your audience. The way this works is you give a chunk of useful information in the webinar but promise the whole shebang in the eBook or educational series. This is how many informational leaders make a big chunk of their income.
Become an Influencer by connecting with Influencers
You may already know some of the big names in your industry. Find them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Instagram and follow them. Often they will automatically follow you back, but make sure you have some valuable content of your own on those platforms in case they are selective about who they follow. Then check out who they are following and add those people as well.
If you don’t know your industry’s heavy hitters there are several ways to search for them. Google “Top 10 (your industry) Blogs” or “Top (your industry) on Twitter”. Go to LinkedIn Pulse (under Interests) and search for topics and influencers. There are even apps that help you find keywords, articles similar to yours or influencers such as Topsy, FollowerWonk and Buzzsumo.
Once you have identified and followed the influencers in your field, ENGAGE. Like, comment on and share their posts. If you get a response you may even be able to email them your articles in the future.
Create an eBook
When I suggest writing an eBook to my clients they often get a little uneasy. They believe it’s too much work, takes too much time and the results wouldn’t be worth the effort. Nothing could be farther from the truth! An eBook doesn’t have to be novel length and in fact many eBooks I’ve found useful are merely reports that are ten pages or less. If you have great content that would be helpful to others this would be a great place to present it. As mentioned previously, you could easily upsell an eBook through a webinar or even just promote it on your social platforms.
There are endless programs that allow you to publish your eBooks online for cheap or totally free. Lulu, BookTango and Kindle Publishing are popular examples. You can even create an inexpensive published-on-demand hard copy of your book on CreateSpace, which would be a great giveaway at
Publish Through LinkedIn and SlideShare
LinkedIn has a few ways to publish your authoritative content, one by publishing an article right on your home page and videos through SlideShare.
Publishing through LinkedIn has proved to be successful for me. It has helped expose me to larger audiences and got my business’ name out there. I’ve even scored consultations through my LinkedIn posts! LinkedIn has gotten me a ton of views, likes and shares. A post or two have even gone viral. The great thing about posting on LinkedIn is that when I publish content my connections plus anyone who follows my updates gets a notification. That’s a great feature for anyone who’s trying to become an informational leader. Posting directly on LinkedIn will put a face to the name and content is shared easier, faster and with more of a qualified audience. Your headline should be as engaging as the content you’re writing, so be sure you pick something that will catch the eye of your readers. Try using CoSchedule’s Headline Analzyer. It will grade your potential post title and give you suggestions on how to optimize it.
I bet you would like to be a LinkedIn Influencer, right? If you post frequently enough on LinkedIn it could increase your following to LinkedIn Influencer level. LinkedIn Influencer was a title given to about 500 professionals who publish their content on the site. Their articles and videos come up on newsfeeds and are easily searchable through LinkedIn Pulse. To become a LinkedIn Influencer you must be invited by LinkedIn, so it’s not something you should count on. Instead, write like an Influencer. Research a popular Influencer in your field and see what popular content they have. Then elaborate on what they’ve discussed. That could be a response, an “unpopular opinion” write-up, or how that topic as effected your business. You can even link back to their original post.
If your content is visual SlideShare is the place to share it. There are 70 million users per month on the site and it receives 500% more traffic from business owners than all other social platforms. You can upload your content at SlideShare and not only benefit from the traffic on that site but it’s easy to share it everywhere else. And it’s a terrific source for finding leads for your business.
Questions and Answers
Whether it’s on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, asking or answering questions is a great way to increase visibility and engagement. Showing what you know and giving quality input will get you seen by your community. And don’t be afraid to ask a question in industry groups as well. Interacting on social media is a two way street; if you want to be noticed you must engage.
Now you know that to become an informational leader there are three basic steps.
Step 1 – Create useful, engaging content.
Step 2 – Publish it everywhere.
Step 3 – Connect with Influencers
If you are stuck on Step 1 we can help because that’s exactly what we do. Contact me at email@example.com or call 610.937.5187.
If your business doesn’t have a presence on Instagram, it’s time to reconsider your social media strategy. Here are the top ten reasons why Instagram is right for you.
You need a new way to market to Millennials
The majority of users are in the 18-29 age group and chances are your business services Millennials, whether you know it or not. Due to everyone and their mother (in my case, literally my mother) joining Facebook that platform’s popularity has waned for both the Millennials and Generation Z. It’s not uncommon for members of my generation to be exclusively on Instagram, and since Instagram now has 400 million users and counting this trend doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon. So if you don’t have a considerable presence on Instagram you are not effectively reaching the Millennial market.
If you’re looking for more engagement online, visual content is how to get it.
It’s a fact that visual content on any platform receives more likes, comments and shares than plain text. On Instagram visual content, whether it be graphics or video, is paramount. Of course, the caption for the photo or video is very important, but most often a “double tap” happens because the viewer likes what they see.
In need of a digital portfolio? You’re in luck.
Instagram can work for many different types of business’ and industries, whether they offer products or services. For example, many hairdressers and makeup artists use Instagram extensively by posting photos and videos of their work and relevant tips. Ultimately, it turns into an easily accessible, free portfolio for those in the personal services industry. With the help of relevant hashtags you can easily promote yourself and your work and gain not only a following of potential clients but connect with other colleagues around the world.
These Insta-folios are so effective, that it’s even landed someone a job or two.
You want to connect to your audience, but don’t have a lot of time.
With the help of scheduling software like HootSuite it’s become even easier to create a full range of content for your followers to enjoy. Now you can post from a desktop computer, whereas before Instagram was a purely mobile app.
You want to connect with other businesses in your area (and beyond).
Big businesses often team up on Instagram to expand brand awareness and engagement for both companies. (See #BlueApronXZola!). This is something small businesses should take advantage of as well. Contact other complimentary local or national businesses and ask if they’d be interested in cross promoting. The most popular way of cross promoting is a one-day “Account Takeover”. A takeover usually involves the complimentary business creating branded posts for your Instagram page and visa versa. This can be a win-win for both companies because it creates awareness of your brand in a different but relevant audience.
Uninspired? Get insta-spired.
Instagram is full of inspiring quotes in attractive graphics. Whether you catch one on your photo feed or find one in the explore tab, there’s a quote graphic for everyone! If I’m ever experiencing the dreaded creative block I look to Instagram to find content to curate on my account. Apps like Repost are available for both on Apple and Android. Repost allows you to screenshot the original photo and copy the caption. That way you have a steady flow of content but you’re not stealing someone else’s work.
Need quick and real feedback? Instagram can do that.
With the help of relevant hashtags feedback is just a post away. The best way to get feedback on your Instagram posts, your products, or anything else is to simply ask.
It’s the perfect platform to reach niche markets
It is becoming more and more difficult to get your business noticed on Facebook everyday. If you’re looking for a bigger range of exposure you are required to pony up some cash for it. Fortunately that’s not the case with Instagram. Since such a low percentage of small business owners even Instagram, this platform is wide open for promotions and can provide a wealth of opportunities for your brand.
Looking for more leads?
According to Shopify, Instagram has the second largest average order value. Simply put, Instagram users are buying more high ticket items than every other social platform other than Polyvore. So if you are struggling get leads that turn into sales, Instagram would be the platform for you to try. Not only do Instagram users buy more often than almost other platform users, but they spend more money as well.
You can (finally) advertise on Instagram.
Instagram was bought out by Facebook in 2012, but just recently has Instagram started to venture into paid advertisements and posts. Advertising on Instagram is now available for all businesses, no matter what size and budget, through Facebook’s Power Editor. This is a great advantage for businesses who want to advertise on Instagram and Facebook concurrently since you will be able to view the metrics of both ads on the same platform. There are three different types of advertising spots: a carousel ad (multiple photos you can swipe left to see more), a single photo and a 30 second video. Like Facebook’s ads there are different projected goals and budgets to choose from.
So now you know the reasons why Instagram is right for your business. Are you still unsure you have enough time to use it to your business’ full potential? Then it’s time to call Content + Creativity! Our seasoned team will help you craft a clever, cohesive brand message that will span all your social platforms. Call us at 610.937.5178 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss a custom plan to fit your business’ needs.