9 Visual Tools to Create Awesome Social Media Images



Source: 9 Visual Tools to Create Awesome Social Media Images

social media toolsDo you want to create professional-grade social media visuals?

Are you looking for budget-friendly tools to help?

Visual content can increase your visibility on social media and support your branding.

In this article, you’ll discover nine free tools to help you create beautiful visual content for your social media profiles.

free professional social image tools

Discover nine free tools to create professional-grade social media images.

#1: Start With a High-Quality, Royalty-Free Image

There are now dozens of free image resources out there. Pexels and Unsplash both offer thousands of high-resolution images for free and without the need for attribution. Unsplash focuses more on landscapes, while Pexels focuses on business and technology collections.

With Pexels, you get access to a massive library of high-resolution images, which are perfect for a blog article, header, slide deck, or social media post. You can download and post any Pexels image for free.

pexels

Download a high-resolution image that’s a bit larger than you need and then crop and resize it in your photo editor.

Pexels is also a compilation site, so they collect free images from other free image providers. This makes it a great one-stop resource.

#2: Discover the Perfect Color Scheme

Adobe Color CC (formerly Adobe Kuler) is Adobe’s free color-scheme finder, which helps you determine complementary colors for your visual content. In other words, Adobe Color CC takes the guesswork out of picking colors.

adobe color cc

Adobe Color CC makes it easy to determine the best colors for your visual content.

To start, paste the hex code of a desired color into one of the five color boxes below the color wheel. Next, select Complementary or Triad from the Color Rule drop-down menu at the upper left to quickly find the colors that will look best with that color.

adobe color cc

Paste the hex code in one of the boxes below the color wheel.

Adobe Color CC also allows you to drop in an image and it will automatically identify its four primary colors. This helps with choosing font colors, contrasting overlays, and icons within your post.

#3: Take Advantage of Pre-made Icons

With Flaticon, you get free access to over 144,130 (and counting) PNG icons.

Looking for an email icon for a Facebook ad or Twitter image? You can choose from over 1,300 email icons and customize both color and size.

flaticon

Flaticon has more than 1,300 icons for “email” alone.

Looking to create an infographic, cartoony advertisement, or Twitter image? Choose from over 1,800 “Avatar” icons.

flaticon

Flaticon’s cartoon icon selection is among the largest free libraries on the web.

Flaticon’s library is most useful when you need to create a visual post dedicated to an upcoming webinar, podcast, conference, and so on.

#4: Reveal Optimal Contrasting Color

ColorZilla is a Google Chrome plugin that allows you to see the hex, RGB code, official name, and gradients for any color within a browser window. Use the Color Picker function to find the best contrasting color for a call-to-action button or to emulate a peer’s designs.

The tool automatically copies the hex code of any “picked” color to your clipboard, making your visual design more efficient.

colorzilla

The ColorZilla Chrome plugin makes copying and reusing colors simple.

Used in conjunction with Flaticon, you can quickly grab your “Brand Blue” and drop it into the color selector, ensuring you’re downloading an icon that’s the same color as your website logo.

#5: Find Perfect Font Combinations

Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert in fonts. With Femmebot, you can access 25 of the top font combinations from font experts and see how these combinations look with graphics and images, as well as formatting.

femmebot

Femmebot showcases 25 visually appealing font combinations.

Femmebot’s font recommendations are a great place to start with visual content. Once you get rolling, you’ll quickly find the font combinations that appeal to you (and your audience) the most.

#6: Put It All Together in a Visual Content Tool

Now that you have your visual tools, you need a platform to actually create the content; one that helps you create something that looks like it came from a professional graphic designer.

Below is a simple example of a great-looking social media post from Buffer.

social image example

A simple Twitter image from Buffer promoting #BufferChat.

Let’s see if we can’t recreate it using free visual content creation platforms: Canva, Google Drawings, and PicMonkey.

Get All of the Help You Need With Canva

Canva was built for creating visual social media content. As such, it’s a tool that gives you a great result fast. You get access to presized social media post templates with easy-to-edit preloaded text.

canva

You can easily download and share the visual content you create with Canva.

Canva has a lot going for it. It offers premade social media image templates, including layouts that make content creation fast and easy.

Note: Investing in Canva’s “Canva for Work” plan ($10/month paid annually) allows you to save your brand colors, logos, and fonts, resize your designs for cross-platform use, create branded templates, and share all of it among your team.

The free version, however, is more than enough for most small business and social media managers. Definitely test it out before diving into the paid version.

Start From Scratch With Google Drawings

Google Drawings is an often-overlooked visual content platform because it’s part of the larger Google Drive suite. Though the learning curve is steeper than other platforms, Google Drawings is actually one of the more powerful tools once you know what you’re doing.

You get access to 500+ fonts and powerful layering and formatting options. The Distribute and Align tools make it easy to create perfectly symmetrical and distributed graphics. The best part is that it’s free.

google drawings

The free Google Drawings is quite powerful.

Note: If you’re using Google Drawings for your social media visuals, you’ll have to set the page size manually. Below, you’ll find a quick social media sizing chart.

Facebook photo sizes:

  • Cover photo – 828 x 464
  • Profile photo – 360 x 360
  • Link image – 1200 x 628
  • Photo post – 940 x 788

Twitter photo sizes:

  • Header photo – 1500 x 500
  • Profile photo – 500 x 500
  • Tweeted photo – 1024 x 500+

Instagram photo sizes:

  • Profile photo – 180 x 180
  • Photo post – 1080 x 1080

Focus on Beautiful Images With PicMonkey

While PicMonkey is focused on image editing, it can also deliver a quality end result for social media visuals. There’s a substantial gap, however, between the free and paid versions.

picmonkey

PicMonkey’s visual content builder is focused on image editing.

PicMonkey allows you to easily match your font or border exactly to one of the colors within your background image. It’s also a powerful image editing tool. The overlay library of icons and images is extensive.

Fonts are limited in the free version and much of the power is reserved for the paid version, which is $4.99 per month.

Here’s an example of a Twitter post with a slightly different style than the one emulated before. This graphic was made using Flaticon, Google Drawings, Femmebot, and ColorZilla.

social image example

The most professional social posts incorporate multiple tools.

You’ll want to find the tools that align best with the visuals you’ll be creating. Canva is a good choice if you’re marketing on several platforms at once and need to create a lot of content. Google Drawing is great for more complicated graphics or if you have a lot of team involvement. PicMonkey is excellent for quote overlays and photo-dominated social media strategies.

Conclusion

Whether you’re working with videos, GIFs, infographics, slide decks, or posts, there’s no question that visual content is an essential part of any social media marketing plan. These free tools can help you boost brand awareness and engagement.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these visual tools? Which tools work best for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Tips on nine tools to create beautiful free social media visuals.

Tips on nine tools to create beautiful free social media visuals.

 

Top 6 Social Media Bad Habits (and How to Break Them)



shutterstock_136413251

Source: Top 6 Social Media Bad Habits (and How to Break Them)

You’re at a dinner party, sitting next to the only couple you hoped you wouldn’t be stuck beside. They’re the type to bring cheap wine to the party, but only drink the good stuff while there. They’ve cornered you in yet another boorish conversation that’s all about them and your eyes begin to gloss over.

Social media should not be like this dinner party.

Post too many boring, repetitive, or overly promotional messages and people will just unfollow your brand and scroll on. A good conversation requires both parties to listen, ask questions, and share equally—no matter where it happens.

We’ve applied this standard conversational etiquette to social media marketing, and have come up with the top six bad habits you should quit doing (and tips on how).

Social media bad habit No. 1: Conversational narcissism

The biggest bad habit out there is conversational narcissism. This is when people (or businesses) always seek to turn the conversation back to themselves. Mastering the art of conversations applies to both in-person conversations and those on social media. Too much self- or brand-promotion isn’t good practice for networking with others—and doesn’t offer incentive for others to want to listen to you. In short, it’s disengaging.

To counter this on social media, try asking your audience questions, participating in comment threads, sharing or weighing-in on industry trends, handing out useful tips and information, or engaging with your follower’s content. We posted about the social media rule of thirds a while back, and we still stand by sharing a combination of:

One-third social content that promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
One-third social content that surfaces ideas and shares stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
One-third social content based on personal interactions and building your brand.

Social media bad habit No. 2: Taking a mile when they gave you an inch

Too much brand promotion, sales pitching, and blatant advertising on social can annoy your audience. Don’t drown them in social sales content with links to buy this or try that (or Retweet and like this!). If you must sell your products and services on social media, offer your audience something in return—and always mix it up with useful content.

Try encouraging your audience to create content for you. For example, if you have a clothing brand, why not launch a photo contest that entices your community to capture creative photos with your products? User-generated content helps soften the blow of hard sales, but still gets your business’ products and services out there, while leveraging fans to market for you. Build a symbiotic and engaging relationship with your audience—if you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours, so to speak.

Social media bad habit No. 3: Always the talker, never the listener

A good conversation is never one sided, but when it comes to social media, many seem to forget this. When all you do is post, you can’t hear if your audience responds. So many businesses share content and ask for likes on the regular, but go silent when someone asks a question or sparks a conversation.

There are many great listening tools out there (obviously, we recommend Hootsuite), that help you easily see all conversations around your brand and give you the opportunity to like or respond to posts from your audience. Try combining your listening efforts with analytics to understand what your audience cares about and join those conversations. Share content posted from your communities and like what they’ve put forth. Listening is a good look for your brand—and could set you apart from your competitors.

Social media bad habit No. 4: Canned responses

Social media came from the need to strengthen personal, human connections online. Yet so many businesses and brands give automated, robotic responses. Your loyal fans and followers took the time to find you, reach out, and make a connection. Next time you hit copy and paste in your compose message box, ask yourself: ‘does this response reflect the personality of my business?’

Remember that every social network attracts a different audience and has its own type of content that resonates most with that audience—and canned responses have no place anywhere. Create an individual engagement plan for each network and audience. Put brand guidelines in place to help answer any questions you may have on tone of voice, personality, humor, content type, and compliance (for regulated businesses). Just remember: canned responses are for robots.

Social media bad habit No. 5: Spamming

Trust is huge on social media—break it and people will retaliate by reporting and blocking you. There’s a wide spectrum of social media spam out there. From least severe to most, here’s a handful of offenses that you want to avoid:

Misusing hashtags
Serial posting
Posting the same content over and over again
Click-baiting your audience (enticing people to click a link, but not delivering)
Promoting your product and services in inappropriate groups, channels, threads, etc.
Spamming comment threads
Fraudulent reviews
Creating fake accounts
Hacking into social media accounts

One of the less severe offenses, serial posting, is often a result of overcompensating for lack of consistent posting. Try creating a content calendar, where you plan out what to post, when, and schedule it ahead-of-time. This will also help you avoid big gaps in posting.

Hashtag misuse may seem silly, but there’s nothing worse than jumping on a sensitive hashtag only to promote yourself (cue the PR nightmare). Do some research on what hashtags work for you before posting them. Only jump on trending hashtags and keywords if you know exactly why they’re trending and it makes absolute sense for your brand.

Social media bad habit No. 6: Feeding the trolls

There’s nothing more cringe-worthy than seeing a social media manager desperately trying to protect his or her brand—or rationality behind sharing something—in the midst of a social media crisis.

If you find yourself under sudden hellfire on social media for sharing the wrong hashtag or posting something you shouldn’t have, here are a few words to live by: always let people say their piece, do not interrupt, and never, never delete the evidence (cue screenshots and the further wrath of the internet). If you plan to respond, focus on acknowledging the mistake and putting out an authentic apology. For more tips on how to come back from a social media fail, check out our blog post on the subject.

That wraps up our top social media bad habits. Just remember that social media is like a great conversation, so always listen, share equally, ask questions, be engaging and trustworthy, and back off if the conversation goes sideways.

 

The post Top 6 Social Media Bad Habits (and How to Break Them) appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

Facebook Instant Articles: What They Are, How They Work and 5 Things You Need to Know



Many people are seeing Instant Articles as the Facebook version of blog posts.  Many are  very excited about this addition to the Facebook group of functionality. Let me know what you think!

Source: Facebook Instant Articles: What They Are, How They Work and 5 Things You Need to Know

Facebook have opened up Instant Articles to publishers of all sizes. In this post, we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of Facebook’s publishing platform and how to get started.

The announcement that Instant Articles were being opened up to all publishers came in February 2016, and they were officially opened for all on April 12, at Facebook’s F8 conference.

A Facebook-native publishing platform has been rumored since the social network changed its News Feed algorithm to favor “quality content” in 2013. Since that update, Facebook has become one of the top referrers of traffic to news sites and blogs of all sizes, and in the summer of 2015, traffic analytics company Parsely revealed that Facebook had even overtaken Google as the number 1 referrer of traffic to news sites.

Before launch over 1,000 publishers were testing the platform and as its rolled out to everyone we’re excited to learn:

How can you get started?
How they work?
How much engagement do they receive?

In this post, I’m happy to cover the ins and outs of Facebook Instant Articles and how to set them up for your blog. Here we go!

pablo (47)

First off: What are Instant Articles?

Instant Articles were built to solve a particular problem—slow loading times on the mobile web.

FB-Instant

The Facebook-native publishing platform includes a whole host of interactive features that help stories come to life on mobile, including auto-play video and tap-to-zoom image galleries.

Josh Roberts, Product Manager at Facebook explained more about the format in a post on the Facebook blog:

Facebook’s goal is to connect people to the stories, posts, videos or photos that matter most to them. Opening up Instant Articles will allow any publisher to tell great stories, that load quickly, to people all over the world. With Instant Articles, they can do this while retaining control over the experience, their ads and their data.

The platform has been in testing with selected partners since May 2015, and the data so far feels encouraging:

Instant Articles received 20% more clicks than mobile web articles from the News Feed
Once someone clicks on an Instant Article, they’re 70% less likely to abandon the article before reading
They are shared 30% more than mobile web articles on average

ia-infographic-final_1xFacebook also discovered that people on slower connections read 20-40% more Instant Articles than mobile web articles on average.

How to create Instant Articles

Step 1: Sign up

The first thing you need to do to get up and running is sign up to join the program. You can do this at instantarticles.fb.com.

Note: To begin publishing, you must have an existing Facebook Page and have Admin or Editor role on the Page.

IA-home

Step 2: Choose your Facebook Page

After signing up you’ll be given the chance to choose which Page you’d like to activate articles for:

choose-page

Step 3: Claim your URL

Once you’ve selected your Facebook Page, you’ll be asked to provide a URL you intend to use for articles. This URL will serve as the basis for the URLs of all your posts (and, in most cases, will be your blog URL, for example, blog.bufferapp.com).

To claim your URL you need to add a meta tag to your HTML’s tag and then add the URL to your settings. All the infotmation you need to do this can be found in the Instant Articles Settings:claim-url

Step 4: Create articles

In testing, Facebook discovered that publishers want a single tool to publish articles to the web, mobile apps, or any other places readers see their content. As such, articles can be published directly from your Content Management System — there’s no need to re-create articles within Facebook.

You can sync your blog with Instant Articles via Facebook’s publishing tools, an RSS feed or by using an API. Here’s a quick rundown of the options available:

Connecting with WordPress

If you use WordPress to power your blog, Facebook has created a plugin to streamline the process of creating Instant Articles. This is likely to be the quickest and easiest way to get set up with Instant Articles.

➤ For a step-by-step guide on connecting your blog using the WordPress plugin check out this article

Publishing tools

Alongside the WordPress plugin, Facebook has teamed up with many publishing platforms to create seamless integration with Instant Articles.

Publishing Tools includes integrations with:

Drupal, Atavist, Medium, Perk Distributed, RebelMouse, ShareThis, Sovrn, Steller, Tempest. Find the full details here.

RSS feed

If you aren’t using WordPress or another CMS supported by Facebook Publishing Tools, you can connect your content to Facebook through an RSS feed.

An RSS feed can integrate seamlessly with Facebook with new posts being automatically syndicated as Instant Articles whenever you hit publish.

To enable publishing from an RSS feed, you must configure your content management system to generate a new RSS feed which contains the full content of each article in Instant Articles markup (you may need a developer to help with formatting the feed). 

➤ A guide to formatting RSS feeds in Instant Articles markup can be found here.

API

The API allows you to create, publish, update and delete Instant Articles directly from your content management system and provides an excellent alternative to connecting via RSS.

➤ A guide to using the Instant Articles API can be found here.

Step 5: Customize styling

Facebook gives you the option to customize the styling of your articles during setup; here you can upload a logo and select which fonts are used throughout your articles. Font choices are currently limited to the Helvetica Neue and Georgia font families.

styling

Step 6: Submit for review

After you’ve completed the above steps you can submit your feed to be reviewed by Facebook to verify that all articles generated from your website are properly formatted.

Facebook currently aims to review all submissions with 24-48 hours.

Useful resources:

➤ Instant Articles developer docs

Instant Articles blog

How to connect your WordPress blog with Instant Articles

5 things you need to know about Instant Articles

1. You can monetize Instant Articles

Publishers can drive revenue from their content. If you sell the ads in your content, Facebook is giving publishers 100% of the revenue and is taking 30% cut if the ads are sold through the Facebook’s Audience Network.

Facebook’s Audience Network offers publishers the opportunity to leverage the power of Facebook ads to monetize their content, and when you get started with Instant Articles you have the opportunity to opt-in to Audience Network ads:

audience-network

If you sell your own ads, you’re able to serve video ads, animated ads and banner ads within articles. More information on integrating your ads can be found in the Facebook Developer Docs.

2. Building an Instant Article doesn’t create a post from your Page

When you publish an Instant Article, it doesn’t automatically create a corresponding Facebook post from your page. What happens is that any time a reader on a mobile device is directed to the article’s URL on Facebook, the link will be displayed as an Instant Article, instead of loading up in a mobile browser.

3. Quicker loading speeds can increase readership

Load speed is incredibly important for any blog, and Instant Articles can load up to 10x faster than mobile web articles. As mentioned a little earlier, the super-fast load speed or instant articles leads to 70% less abandonment and 20% more clicks.

The average attention span is down to just eight seconds online, which means faster loading times are a huge advantage when readers are eager to access content in an instant.

4. You’re in control of which posts are published

Once you get set up with Instant Articles, you’re 100% in control of which articles you share to Facebook. This means you can republish every article from your blog, or just a select few – as more data becomes available it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on strategies here and see what performs best.

You can control which articles you publish to Facebook from your Library. To view your library, click Publishing Tools from the top of your Facebook Page and then select Instant Articles from the menu on the left of the screen.

The Instant Articles library looks like this:

instant-articles-library

From here you can edit articles and choose which of your drafts to publish.

5. You can add email sign up forms to articles

email

Email capture is a vital part of many content marketing strategies, and losing out on potential subscribers is a fear that Facebook have addressed by enabling email capture within articles.

“One of the other things we heard is that publishers want to build a more direct relationship with their readers through Instant Articles, and one way to do that is through more regular contact with those readers.” Facebook said in a statement.

Over to you

As with any publishing platform, the value of Facebook Instant Articles greatly depends on your business model and goals.

At Buffer, we’re excited to test out the platform and see whether articles can increase the reach of our content and also our conversions. Traffic from Facebook is one of our highest converting sources, and I’m curious how Instant Articles may affect conversions going forwards. We’ll be sure to keep you posted. :)

As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear your views on Instant Articles and whether you’ll be using them for your business or blog? 

The post Facebook Instant Articles: What They Are, How They Work and 5 Things You Need to Know appeared first on Social.

6 Tips to Increase Your Social Media Shares



Source: 6 Tips to Increase Your Social Media Shares

social media how toDo you want more people to share your content?

Looking for more reach via social shares?

By making a few adjustments to how you create, publish, and post your content, you can increase the likelihood that others will share it more often.

In this article, you’ll discover six tips to help you maximize your social shares.

maximize social content shares

Discover six tips to increase social media content shares.

#1: Research Trending Topics

It pays to do your research ahead of time. Having a better understanding of what successful content looks like in your industry increases the likelihood of it being shared.

Use a tool like BuzzSumo to help identify top shared content.

buzzsumo search

Identify top shared content quickly with BuzzSumo.

You can search for top shared content pertaining to a topic or keyword, results sorted by overall shares.

buzzsumo search results

Use keywords or topics to search for top shared content.

Alternatively, you can search by domain to view top shared content specific to a website.

buzzsumo domain search

You can also search by specific website.

You get a comprehensive breakdown of shares per social network, which helps you decide where to focus your efforts.

buzzsumo shares by network

Search by shares per social network.

PostReach is another great tool to measure content performance across each social network. Simply enter an article’s URL in PostReach and run a free report.

In addition, you can also run a total share breakdown report.

post reach share breakdown

Share breakdown by network.

For further exploration, you can view detailed Twitter share activity.

post reach twitter share

Twitter’s performance measured in total shares, tweets, retweets, and total reach.

You can plot Twitter activity across a share timeline.

post reach share timeline

A timeline helps you identify how well content did over a period of time.

You can also see which users most retweeted the article and view your overall reach through sharer audience sizes.

post reach sharer audience sizes

See which users retweeted your content most.

Finally, you can zero in on specific sharers and potential influencers with a detailed inventory of sharers provided at the bottom of the report.

post reach sharers

Zero in on specific users and influencers.

Keep in mind, the purpose of this research is not to duplicate existing content, but rather to identify popular topics in your niche and add something new to the conversation.

Make it your goal to go above and beyond top shared content.

#2: Make Sharing Easy for Blog Visitors

Your audience is more likely to share content when it takes minimal effort. If your website already receives regular traffic, take advantage of the potential social shares by designing your most popular content for easy sharing.

An effective approach is to implement social buttons on your website. If you operate a WordPress site, there’s plenty of useful plugins for one-click sharing buttons, including Social Pug.

social pug

Social Pug features easy-to-use social sharing buttons for WordPress.

The way your content reads can also encourage social engagement.

Have a great tip to share in an article? Post a share button directly below your article, as demonstrated by Brian Dean of Backlinko.

backlinko social buttons

Have a tip? Put a share button directly below it.

You can create a unique call to action using ClickToTweet. To start, enter your desired text in the text box and click Generate New Link. Make sure it includes a link back to your post.

clicktotweet

ClickToTweet will track all clicks on the link.

You can embed the code in the appropriate part of your content.

clicktotweet embed code

Embedding these buttons ensures your best content is actionable.

#3: Provide Context in Headlines

There’s a strong chance your content is being snubbed if your headline fails to grab people. It becomes increasingly important to hook your audience with a headline, as online attention spans continue to dwindle.

Social audiences tend to favor snackable content; bite-sized pieces that quickly convey their intent. BuzzFeed articles are essentially engineered to take advantage of this trend: easily consumed and shared. They further entice the audience to read the content by addressing them individually. For example, you’ll encounter dozens of instances of you and your throughout.

What else goes into a headline worth clicking? Conductor analyzed user preferences and found that users tend to gravitate towards numbers, personalization, educational resources, and questions. When shared, a well-crafted headline functions like a status update, in that it will summarize the user’s opinion or awareness of a subject.

Want your best content to receive more shares across social networks? Start thinking about your headlines in a social context.

#4: Capitalize on Visual Interest

Attach images to your posts to help them stand out and benefit your social efforts.

twitter timeline

Photos increase social engagement.

Invest resources in quality images to maximize post visibility. Some stock photo sources are free to use, provided you meet the terms of their licensing agreement.

While stock photos provide an option, you may prefer to create custom images that better showcase your brand. Don’t have a graphic designer on hand? Use tools like Canva to create images to accompany your post. You can choose from premade templates that can easily be customized with text. It’s perfect for adding taglines that complement your attention-grabbing headlines.

You can begin by signing up for a free account. After logging in, click on Create a Design and choose a design. The Social Media Posts section may be a good place to start.

canva create design

Using Canva is great if you don’t have a graphic designer on staff.

Many of the templates are free. Select a template to start work on a custom image.

canva free templates

Canva offers several free templates.

Next, click the text to edit.

canva edit text

In the templates, the text is editable.

It’s easy to craft something that complements your headline whenever possible.

canva tag line

Crafting text that supports your headlines will help promote more shareable content.

#5: Prioritize Your Social Outreach by Network

Audiences vary greatly across social networks and accounting for their unique demographics helps you prioritize those relevant to your business.

  • Facebook has the largest total user base. Users are more likely to share content that affects them personally because their networks typically consist of friends and family.
  • Twitter has the second-largest user base and skews younger. It primarily functions as a news source and a real-time conversation hub for trending topics.
  • LinkedIn consists of working adults and industry professionals seeking networking opportunities. It’s the ideal network to demonstrate thought leadership and provide detailed product information.
  • Pinterest has a large female user base with traffic predominantly attributed to mobile devices. It remains a popular source for more “consumable” shares, including recipes and crafting guides.
  • Google+ still remains active and is considered a hub for tech-savvy individuals, such as frontline developers.

#6: Post During Peak User Hours

Want to give yourself the best chance possible for social shares and engagement? There’s a certain window of time you’ll want to target. Posting during peak hours greatly enhances your ability to attract shares and other meaningful engagement.

hourglass image shutterstock 308536664

Know when your followers are online. Image: Shutterstock.

According to HubSpot research, the ideal windows of engagement are as follows:

  • Post on Facebook on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 1:00 PM, or between 3:00 and 4:00 PM on Wednesdays or 1:00 and 4:00 PM on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Twitter is typically used at work and at home, but mostly during downtimes like long commutes and breaks. Post to Twitter from 12:00 to 3:00 PM Monday through Friday. Also possibly 5:00 to 6:00 PM on Wednesdays.
  • Professionals use LinkedIn, most often during work hours, but not all day. Post to LinkedIn early in the day (7:30 to 8:30 AM), or lunchtime (12:00 PM), and finally near the end of the day (5:00 to 6:00 PM) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
  • Pinterest skews to female users, who are most active in the evening. Post new content to Pinterest between 2:00 and 4:00 AM and evening hours every day. Also, Fridays around 5:00 PM. Finally, the best time to post to Pinterest is Saturdays between 8:00 and 11:00 PM.

It’s important to note that there’s no universal posting window or one-size-fits-all approach. Engagement is shaped by many factors, including social network, region, goals (clicks vs. shares), and how audiences interact with the social network overall. You’ll ultimately want to experiment with your own content to find out what works best for your business.

Conclusion

Winning more social shares for your content means winning over audiences.

You’ll need to put in the effort to create the type of content people want to share. With great material in place, you can leverage creative opportunities to promote it and generate more exposure.

Time to get to work!

What do you think? Can you use these tools to drive more social shares? Please let us know in the comments below!

Hourglass photo from Shutterstock.
Tips on six ways to increase the shares on your social media content.

Tips on six ways to increase the shares on your social media content.

 

26 Tips to Improve Your Pinterest Marketing



Let’s turn to Social Media Examiner again for their thoughts on Pinterest Marketing. If you feel your audience hangs out on Pinterest, have a look through this impressive collection of tips.

Source: 26 Tips to Improve Your Pinterest Marketing

social media how toCould your Pinterest marketing use a jumpstart?

Are you curious about what’s working for other businesses?

Tweaking techniques that have been successful for others can help you drive traffic, connect with your target audience, and increase sales.

In this article, you’ll discover 26 tips to improve your Pinterest marketing.

pinterest marketing techniques

Discover 26 tips you can use to improve your Pinterest marketing.

#1: Share Pin It for Later Links

The Pin It button encourages users to pin content from your site onto their own boards. Engagement is captured even when users aren’t on the platform. The same idea holds true for Pin It for Later links.

You can post Pin It for Later links, along with the prompt “Pin it for Later” across social media.

pinterest save it for later example

Pin It for Later links can drive traffic to your content on and off of Pinterest.

To create a Pin It for Later link, attach the URL of the pin you want users to save, add it to a post on social media after explaining what it is, and attach it to the phrase “Pin it for later!”

This is a great way to drive traffic to Pinterest and build up repins.

#2: Add 20-30 Keywords in Promoted Pins

Keywords are the most important targeting feature you can use with promoted pins. Pinterest recommends that you use 20-30 keywords per promoted pin. That’s just enough to get you noticed, but not so many that you’re showing your content to the wrong people.

Using a large number of keywords can help you cover all of the broad, specific, short, and long keywords you need. You’ll show up better in searches when users are looking for content like yours, and it helps ensure that your pin is placed in the right category.

promoted pins keywords

Using 20-30 keywords per promoted pin better enables you to find and connect with the right audience.

These keywords won’t show up on promoted pins; they work instead like targeting criteria, matching your content with the people looking for it.

Think outside the box. Dollar Shave, for example, recently promoted their razors for Father’s Day gifts, and attached a Father’s Day keyword even though it’s not a direct description of the product.

#3: Feature Multiple Products in Single Pins

Featuring multiple products in your pins can help them to get more engagement. This tactic can add value to a single pin for two reasons: first, you show users how many amazing things you have to offer; and second, you have a better chance of appealing to more users by featuring more options.

multiple products in pinterest pin

This pin features three different meals appealing to three different taste palates and shows the diversity of the product they’re selling.

You can feature multiple complementary products (like an assembled outfit from your collection) or show multiple uses for a single product (like six types of crafts that use mason jars). Not only does this increase the chance of appealing to more users, but it can also lead to larger sales.

#4: Capitalize on Image Height

Pinterest’s pages are full of vibrant, high-quality, colorful images. So how do you make yours stand out? Image size (or image dimension) matters a great deal. While Pinterest automatically scales all images you upload to match the exact width, you choose the height of your images.

pinterest pin image sizes

Images with width to height ratios of 2:3 and 1.3:5 can increase clicks and engagement.

Vertical pins (pins that appear taller) perform better on Pinterest. It’s recommended that you use image dimensions from about 2:3 and 1.3:5 (with the minimum recommended width being 600 pixels).

Note: While you can design pins with the extended dimensions 1.2:8, pins that reach the maximum height don’t perform quite as well.

#5: Include Text Overlay on Images

While descriptions matter, images reign supreme on Pinterest. However, visuals still need a little help sometimes. To catch the attention of users scrolling quickly through feeds, add text overlay directly onto your images to make them stand out and explain why your pin and the content behind it are so valuable.

pinterest pin text in image

Text can explain ambiguous images or let you describe why your pin is so valuable to users.

In most cases, text shouldn’t make up the majority of the pin. It can, however, be helpful to show off step-by-step tutorials, listicles, or a few words telling pinners what the pin is.

Keep the text simple, the phrases short, and all of it easy to read. Bold text can make the description stand out. Plus, make sure the text is strongly contrasting in color from the rest of the image.

#6: Choose Light Over Dark Images

Aside from image dimension and text overlay, the colors in the images we choose are vital for engagement and number of clicks. Research shows that lighter-colored images are consistently repinned more than darker images. Warm colors (reds) are also more likely to be repinned than images with predominantly blue tints, getting an average of twice as many pins.

pinterest pin with light colors

Images with lighter colors are repinned more than those with darker colors, though color contrast can increase visibility.

In addition, if you’re looking for fast attention from your pins, use strongly contrasting colors to draw the eye straight to your content. Just make sure the dominant color is light as much as possible.

#7: Feature Step-by-Step Tutorials

DIY, or do it yourself, content is a staple of the platform. Even though most of us are never quite able to replicate the stunning results we often see there, that doesn’t stop us from trying.

Images that actually show step-by-step tutorials often get a high amount of engagement and clicks on Pinterest.

pinterest pin tutorial

Images with step-by-step tutorials immediately showcase the value they offer pinners.

Use step-by-step tutorials within an image to show users that you actually have content to share with them. When the value is up front in the initial image, you’ll increase the likelihood of users repinning the pin to share or save for themselves later.

It can also help make the tutorial look easy, giving users an “I can do that” feeling that motivates them to save it and maybe even try it out later on.

#8: Create 150-300 Words Descriptions

While the image remains the most important part of a pin, the description still holds its own weight. Descriptions give more information about what the pin is, which will help convince users to click and show them the value of doing so. It’s also an opportunity to add in your desired searchable keywords.

Using between 150-300 words seems to be the sweet spot for Pinterest descriptions.

pinterest pin description

The ideal length of your descriptions may depend on your audience and the type of content you’re trying to promote.

The audience you’re trying to reach and the type of content you’re trying to promote will affect your optimal description length. Test the length of the descriptions you use on your pins and see what resonates for your audience.

It seems like no matter what field you’re in, in the majority of cases you don’t want more than 350 words.

#9: Include Links in Pin and Board Descriptions

This is a simple but effective trick. Adding a link to your pin and/or board descriptions can increase clicks to your site, because users can click on the pin to actually travel to your site. It can also show users where they’re going without clicking on the pin to view it or leaving Pinterest.

You should keep the link as short as possible.

As well as adding links to your descriptions on pins and boards, make sure you always include a link to your website on your main profile page. It’s important to remember because this can send more traffic to your main site.

pinterest board description

Adding links to some of your pins and boards is important, but your profile link is the most important.

#10: Use Calls to Action in Pin Descriptions

Calls to action (or CTAs) are just as important on Pinterest as they are on every other platform. Adding CTAs in your pin description encourages users to take a desired action.

Popular examples of CTAs that often work well include: Repin, Learn More, Enter Our Sweepstakes, and Buy Now.

pinterest pin with cta

While you can prompt users to repin with a CTA, you can also encourage them to take actions off of Pinterest, too.

In the example above, the CTA “bid to win” encourages users to take part in a charitable auction. Telling users exactly what you want them to do, whether on Pinterest or once they get to your site, will give users a specific mission to complete and increases the likelihood that they’ll do so.

CTAs should always be brief, clear, and to the point. This is especially true on Pinterest.

#11: Share Price Points in Your Descriptions

Price tags can quickly grab the attention of a user scrolling by. If you’re promoting a product and trying to sell it, always add a price tag to your description.

Seeing the price of your product can put customers one step closer to considering a purchase. It suddenly feels more like shopping online than browsing a Pinterest feed. While a price tag alone doesn’t have all of the benefits of a full-blown Buyable Pin, it acts as a signal to pinners that it’s for sale and it’s waiting for them.

pinterest pin with price

Adding a price tag to the description on your pins can increase clicks and sales.

Without Buyable Pins, you can add text in the description of a regular pin. Alternatively, you could use rich pins, which are discussed later on. If you’re interested in setting up rich pins for your products now (and don’t want to wait for tip #15), check out the guide on how to set them up.

#12: Pin Consistently and Often

Like most marketing efforts, an important factor in success is the amount of content that you post. And again like all marketing efforts, the key question is how often.

For businesses, a good start is to pin about five times a day. Space these five pins out across the day, and make sure you pin in the afternoon and evening, as those are the best times for pin engagement.

pinterest following

You want to post pins frequently to continue to build followers and engagement, as PetSmart does here.

Spacing out your pins gives you a better chance of reaching more audience members.

#13: Schedule Pins

While you want to pin often, you also want those pins to be spaced out throughout the day. Trying to post multiple times a day, every day, can be exhausting unless you have a scheduling tool.

Unfortunately, Pinterest doesn’t have any features that allow scheduling in advance (at least not yet). Fortunately, there are several third-party tools available to help you.

viraltag schedule

Scheduling tools like Viraltag save you a ton of time and effort by allowing you to schedule pins ahead of time.

Viraltag makes uploading and scheduling pins easy. Use Viraltag to schedule what day and time you want your pins to be uploaded. Viraltag also has some unbelievably useful and smart features.

Scheduling your pins can keep your content on track and consistent.

#14: Explore Pinterest’s Analytics

The analytics and data we have about our content marketing or social media marketing efforts is important. You can find out who your audience is, who you’re missing, and what content is performing well (and what isn’t). Having this data can help us improve our results over time.

Pinterest has an analytics platform available for those with business profiles, which lets you see information about pin performance and general audience.

pinterest analytics

Pinterest’s analytics can give you a basic idea of what’s happening with your pins.

That said, some marketers and businesses want even more detail. Use a tool like Quintly to get access to more analytics features than Pinterest currently has. You can see an analysis of pin or media type distribution, find out the average price of your products, track follower growth, and more.

Plans start at $129 a month, and it includes other platforms, too.

quintly

Some third-party analytics tools for Pinterest offer additional features or enhanced analytics capabilities.

#15: Take Advantage of Rich Pins

Rich pins are a great feature that you can use to make your pins more dynamic. Only business accounts can use rich pins, and you need to set up rich pins separately and link them to your site.

Types of rich pins include app, place, article, product, and recipe pins. Article pins, for example, will display the title of the article, its publisher, the publication date, and the author.

pinterest rich pin

Rich pins can automatically provide additional information on the pin itself.

Product pins in particular can help boost sales by providing product and price information, including product availability and where to buy it.

To use rich pins, you’ll need to add some metadata to your site, validate your site, and then apply for rich pins. You only have to apply once per domain.

You can see how to apply for rich pins here.

#16: Reach Local Visitors With Place Pins

For local businesses, place pins have their purpose in marketing. Businesses looking to increase visits from destination travelers can also benefit from place pins.

pinterest place pin

Place pins provide valuable information about your location, including a map of where you are, a phone number, and an address.

Place pins are a type of rich pin, and include a map of where your business is, an address, and a phone number in the description (if you choose to add them). It shows users exactly where a place is located, and can even be added to the users’ saved places.

With place pins, users can also discover you if they’re checking out a nearby place pin. This feature alone is worth adding place pins to your content when possible.

#17: Collaborate With Influencers on Guest Boards

Did you know that you can open a board to one (or more) specific pinners and allow them to pin to the board with you? This happens often when you create a guest board for your business and invite an influencer to pin to it.

Brands like Etsy and Lowe’s frequently have guest boards created by experts.

pinterest guest board

Guest boards can be a mutually beneficial endeavor for both the brand and the guest pinner.

Guest boards offer an array of benefits, including bringing a new perspective and new content to your site, and adding the authority and expertise of the influencer. It also helps content from your boards to show up in the feeds of the followers of the influencer, which connects you with new members of a target audience.

#18: Tag Influencers in Relevant Pins

Influencers matter on Pinterest just as much as they do elsewhere, and you don’t even need a guest board to interact with them. To get their attention, try tagging an influencer in a pin.

pinterest tag influencer

Tagging influencers in relevant pins can build powerful relationships that can increase engagement and repins.

Share content from different influencers to help build rapport and make sure you have a good reason to tag them in your pin. Note: Tagging influencers when the content isn’t directly tied to them comes across as spam.

Pinning content to your board from different influencers is a good practice, as pinners like to see content that comes from multiple places instead of pure self-promotion. If the influencers reciprocate, they could be sending a huge amount of traffic and repins your way.

#19: Focus on Product Uses

This is one of the biggest mistakes marketers and businesses new to Pinterest make: they focus only on what the product is instead of how it can be used. Pinterest’s audience is much more interested in the use cases of a product, or how it fits into their lifestyle.

You’ll have much better results if you design your pin so users can picture themselves using your product.

pinterest show product

This pin shows a recipe the product can be used in, instead of just showing a picture of the product alone.

Your content will likely perform best if you can demonstrate different use cases in the pin image, instead of just an image of just the product. If you’re selling artisan furniture, show how it fits into the whole room. If you sell sports equipment, show the yoga mat and the silhouette of a yogi out on a mountain or in a studio.

The more people can picture themselves using the product (especially if you can highlight multiple uses, like “Six exercises for your balance ball!”), the more likely they’ll respond.

#20: Put Keywords Everywhere

Keywords are just as important on Pinterest as they are on Google. When people use the search engine, keywords determine what pops up.

Since users can search for pins, boards, and pinners by keywords, you need to put keywords everywhere you can. Every possible description that’s open to you should have at least one keyword on it. Include keywords in the descriptions on your pins, your boards, and even your profile.

pinterest keywords in description

This pin’s entire description is made up of different combinations of keywords, making it easier to locate via Pinterest’s search engine.

Using more than one keyword in a description when possible can increase the likelihood of your pin connecting with the right audience through the search feature. Keep that in mind and use keywords wherever you can without overdoing it.

Note: Adding keywords to the ALT text on your images off of Pinterest can also increase visibility.

#21: Research Related Keywords

Knowing what keywords you want to use in your regular pins and boards can be difficult, but promoted pins can give you some insight. When you add a keyword to your promoted pins (and again, you never have to run the campaign if you don’t want to), you’ll see a list of relevant related keywords that you can choose from.

Pinterest also automatically provides a few keywords to choose from before you even search, based on the pin you’re promoting.

pinterest research keywords

Even if you don’t run the campaign, you can use the promoted pin system to research keywords.

You can add these keywords to the descriptions of regular pins. If you have some similar pins, using combinations of different keywords can increase your overall audience by making all of your pins more diverse.

#22: Use Broad and Specific Keywords

This tip is applicable for regular pins, but is most important for promoted pins. With regular pins, you can add keywords into a description. While you can add multiple invisible keywords to promoted pins, those keywords never even show up in the descriptions. Though invisible, these keywords for promoted pins will help your target audience find you and vice versa, especially through searches.

pinterest add invisible keywords

This banana split cake recipe from Kraft popped up in the search for “Easter Recipes” even though the keyword isn’t visible in the text. We can assume they had the keyword attached in the promoted pins keyword, instead.

Choosing a combination of keyword types is important. You can reach your audience more consistently if you use both broad and specific (and short- and long-tail) keywords.

Pinterest is largely about discovery, but you still want people to be able to find you if they’re specifically looking for you.

#23: Frequently Update Promoted Pin Campaigns

Like with many social media ad platforms, you don’t want to run one campaign forever, even if it’s working now. Over time, your ad will reach its peak amount of engagement and clicks, and your campaign will stagnate, which makes updating your promoted pin campaigns even more important.

pinterest promoted pin

Updating your promoted pin campaigns is important, even if you have to do so before it’s even over.

Change up the image, pin, description, and even keywords you’re using in your promoted pins every few weeks. This can keep engagement up and allow you to connect to or attract new members of your target audience.

Plus, if you notice that one campaign has underwhelming results, you can stop it or update it while it’s running.

#24: Track Your Traffic With Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the most important tools marketers and ecommerce businesses have, regardless of what type of marketing you focus on.

While the promoted pins system tracks conversions, using Google Analytics to track traffic sent to you by both promoted and regular pins can help you see how users are coming to and moving through your site.

This is especially true since regular pins don’t have conversion tracking information (you can just see how many clicks you got).

track pinterest with google analytics

Tracking traffic with Google Analytics gives you a more accurate idea of who’s coming to your site and how long they’re staying.

Use Google Analytics to find out how many users Pinterest is sending to your site each month, and get you an overview of how users move from page to page in your site. You can identify drop-off points and get an idea about how to get more results from the traffic you get to your site from Pinterest.

#25: Let Your Followers Guide Your Content

Unlike Facebook, you can view the profiles of the users who follow you on Pinterest. From Pinterest profiles, you can get a basic idea of your followers’ interests, potential demographics, frequency of activity on Pinterest (including their pins and likes), and most importantly, what other types of content they’re pinning.

pinterest follower profiles

You can locate your followers from your profile page and click on their profiles to see the content they pin.

While it will be difficult to evaluate all of your followers and their content, even getting a snapshot of information from a variety of your followers can give you ideas for the other types of content performing well with your audience.

If your followers pin a lot of DIY content, you can add more to your board. If they share interests, you can create content that appeals to your followers’ interests. If, for example, Sherwin Williams paint store noticed that a large number of their followers also had pins from the category Kids & Parenting, they could have a board with DIY kids’ projects, nursery color schemes, and kid room ideas.

#26: Run a Pinterest Contest

For those looking to boost engagement, number of followers, and new leads off-platform, Pinterest contests are a fantastic marketing tool. When you run a Pin It to Win It contest, for example, you ask users to repin from a selection of pins (though you can’t ask them to repin just the image).

This often results in having a variety of your content being pinned by different users, which can then be saved and repinned organically by other users who come across it.

pinterest contest example

Stating the date the giveaway ends can prevent the contest pin from continuing to cycle on the platform indefinitely.

Because pins can be reposted indefinitely, it’s always a good idea to add a note about the end date for the contest on the pin, particularly in the image when possible. Doing this ensures that users don’t continue to keep contest pins cycling.

Conclusion

There’s a variety of tips and techniques that you can use to get better results when marketing on Pinterest. Whether you’re looking to optimize your pins’ images so they stand out in searches or focus on using Pinterest’s features to connect and engage with your audience, these 26 tips for Pinterest marketing will boost your success and help you get the results you’re looking for.

What do you think? Which tips have you used in your Pinterest marketing efforts? What’s worked for you? Share your thoughts, knowledge, and experience in the comments below!

Tips on 26 ways you can improve your marketing on Pinterest.

Tips on 26 ways you can improve your marketing on Pinterest.

 

Instagram Marketing: Your Complete Guide to Instagram Success



Let’s talk about Instagram Marketing! Who better to discuss this topic than the Social Media Examiner. Always full of great ideas!

Source: Instagram Marketing: Your Complete Guide to Instagram Success

social media how toDo you want to learn how to market yourself and your business on Instagram?

Are you looking for a resource to guide your Instagram marketing efforts?

Whether you’re marketing on Instagram as an individual or as a brand, these expert articles will show you how to establish a presence, use Instagram’s features, encourage follower engagement and run contests.

Each of these articles will help you understand and master a specific part of marketing on the Instagram platform.

guide to instagram

Find a guide to Instagram marketing success.

Get Started on Instagram

4 Ways Your Business Can Get Started on Instagram: Are you wondering how to use Instagram for business? Discover four ways you can use Instagram to promote your products and services.

Instagram Strategy: How to Grow a Loyal Following With Instagram: Find out how Nathan Chan built a massive following on Instagram and discover techniques you can employ right now for your Instagram strategy.

instagram growth nathan chan foundr magazine

Learn how to grow a large and engaged Instagram audience.

Instagram Images: How to Stand Out on Instagram: Explore Instagram marketing ideas that are easy to put to use right away as Peg Fitzpatrick shares tools you can use for your Instagram images.

Instagram Algorithm: How Marketers Should Alter Their Strategy: Sue B. Zimmerman explores the latest Instagram features, and you’ll discover how marketers should respond to the Instagram algorithm changes.

Use Instagram’s Tools

5 Instagram Changes: What Marketers Need to Know: Instagram has rolled out updates to its ad products, video features, and news feed algorithm. Discover how the most recent Instagram changes can affect your marketing.

8 Ways to Use Hyperlapse Video From Instagram: Is there a place for time-lapse video in your marketing? Follow the lead of these businesses using Hyperlapse video to engage Instagram followers with short-form video.

instagram hyperlapse christian karasiewicz

Use hyperlapse video to give tours, products demonstrations and more.

4 Ways to Network With Instagram Direct: Instagram Direct can reinforce your relationship with current followers, while giving you opportunities to meet new fans and influencers. Discover four ways you can create deeper connections with followers and industry influencers, generate leads and get customer feedback using Instagram Direct.

Improve Your Instagram Marketing

6 Holiday Instagram Marketing Tips for Business: Is your business on Instagram? This article shows six tips to boost your Instagram marketing for the holidays.

How to Use Instagram Hashtags to Expand Your Reach: You can make it easier for people who don’t follow you on Instagram to find your content by using hashtags. In this article you’ll discover how hashtags make your Instagram images and video more discoverable.

How to Craft Instagram Posts That Drive Sales: Interested in ways to drive sales with your posts? To have a real impact, your posts need to be carefully crafted and shared with purpose and intent. Discover how to create Instagram posts that increase engagement and drive sales.

How to Drive Traffic with Instagram: Want to direct Instagram followers to your website? Discover tactics to help you generate quality website traffic from Instagram.

5 Ways to Create Infographics for Instagram: Learn how you can introduce infographics into your Instagram marketing campaigns to attract more viewers and set you apart from other companies.

instagram infographic

Learn how to create five types of infographics perfect for the Instagram feed.

How to Get Customers to Post Instagram Pictures: Are you looking for ways to get your customers (and employees) to post Instagram pictures? Find out how you can use your fans’ Instagram pictures to show off products in your store, make videos, create ads and recruit employees.

Run Successful Contests

Instagram Contests: Tools and Tips for Marketers: Want to increase engagement on Instagram? Have you thought about contests? Discover tools and tips to help marketers run a successful Instagram contest.

How to Run an Instagram Contest: Four Easy Steps: Instagram makes it easy to run quick contests that engage your audience and build your fan base. This article shows you four simple steps to host Instagram contests that build buzz for your brand.

instagram contest jim belosic

Tips for running contests for your Instagram followers.

Advertise on Instagram

Creating Instagram Ads in Power Editor: Your One-Stop Guide: Want more control over your Instagram ads? Using Facebook’s Power Editor can allow you to reach a refined Instagram audience.

How to Create Instagram Ads Using Facebook Ads Manager: Discover how easy it is to run Instagram ads with Facebook Ads Manager.

How to Make Instagram Ads That Stand Out: Want to advertise on Instagram? Ready to take your Instagram ads to the next level? Discover four features you can use to create Instagram ads that stand out.

instagram ad tips

Learn how to create Instagram video, image and carousel ads.

Incorporate Third-Party Tools and Apps

14 Instagram Tools for Marketers: Using the right Instagram tools can improve your images, sell products, and save you time. Discover 14 Instagram tools to help busy marketers use Instagram for business.

9 Instagram Tips and Tools for Marketers: Improving your Instagram content and boosting engagement can be as simple as adding a few tactics and tools to your marketing routine. Here are nine tools and tips to help.

6 Tools for Selling Products on Instagram: Discover how to use Inselly, Shopseen, Soldsie, Have2Have.it and LetSell.it for selling your products on Instagram.

instagram sales tools ana gotter

Six tools to help you sell products on Instagram.

6 Instagram Tools to Improve Your Marketing: Adding the right Instagram tools into your marketing flow can help you project a more professional image and give you valuable analytic insights. Discover six tools to improve your Instagram marketing.

3 Instagram Analytics Tools for Marketers: Is your business ready for Instagram’s algorithm? Looking for tools to analyze your Instagram engagement? Discover three tools to track and evaluate how people respond to your content on Instagram.

To find more tips, tactics and strategies, view a complete library of Instagram articles.

What do you think? What articles have helped you develop a successful Instagram marketing presence? Please leave your thoughts and comments below.

complete guide to instagram success

A complete guide to Instagram success.

 

10 New Facebook Features Every Marketer Should Know



Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 9.32.56 AM

Welcome to another great post by Buffer. Another site that shares quality information. Today’s subject matter is the latest news from Facebook. Enjoy!

Source: F8 Update: 10 New Facebook Features Every Marketer Should Know

F8 2016 is in the history books, and there was certainly no shortage of brilliant new Facebook features and ground-breaking announcements from the social media giant.

In his Keynote, Mark Zuckerberg took us through Facebook’s 10 Year Plan with an emphasis on “developing a family of apps to share anything they want with anyone.” And although many of Facebook’s goals sounded highly ambitious, the company has already laid a solid foundation to successfully execute their plan. At the heart of it all, Zuckerberg’s message revolved around the connectivity of the planet and bringing people together one by one.

Now that the speculation of what might be at F8 is no longer, let’s jump into the 10 top announcements and new Facebook features we can all expect moving forward. We’d also love to share what that will mean for you as marketers and for your business.

Let’s go!

pablo (48)

1. Messenger Platform

As was highly anticipated leading up to the conference, Facebook announced at F8 that it has opened up Messenger Platform bots to all businesses. Or, as The Next Web called them, “virtual assistants.”

Messenger bots will give businesses the opportunity to connect with customers in new and unique ways with services from subscription automation to customized communications to e-commerce purchases. “I can guarantee you you’ll spend way more money than you want on this,” joked VP of Products David Marcus. “It’s very addicting.”

Facebook, Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Messenger Bots

What this means for marketers

Messenger bots will open up an entirely new way for users to connect with businesses and brands in avenues that were previously unavailable. Essentially, it’s going to fundamentally change the way we share and interact with social media. And given the 900M monthly users that Messenger currently boasts (that number growing every day), we are seeing a monumental shift from “public” to “private” social media right before our eyes.

Facebook mentioned that all businesses and developers will gain access to documentation and best practices around building their own bots for Messenger. If building bots is outside the scope of your business’ capabilities, Facebook will also be offering a list of “bot partners” along with their sophisticated bot engine.

2. Live API

Leading up to F8, it was no secret that Facebook was placing a huge emphasis on the importance of video on social media. That combined with Facebook’s effort to create immersive experiences for users, the announcement of the new “Facebook Live API” was welcomed by developers with open arms.

Live API offers “a new way for developers and publishers to join forces to build immersive and interactive live video experiences on Facebook.” In other words, businesses can now stream Facebook Live broadcasts from a variety of devices and setups, advancing previous notions of live video from personal phones alone.

Facebook Live, Live API, Drone Live, Mark Zuckerberg

What this means for marketers

Facebook’s video views and engagement are off the charts. In January 2016, Zuckerberg stated that users are watching more than 100 million hours of video per day on Facebook, with that number rising by the day. Marketers can expect Live video to be the #1 priority in the Facebook algorithm.

We’re also going to see some awesome things come from this API. Previously, users had to have a smartphone in order to live stream, but now brands’ options are limitless. Companies that jump on the trend early and figure out new and exciting ways to “go Live” will rise to the top of feeds everywhere.

3. Video Discovery

Just prior to F8 2016, Facebook launched a brand new mobile video browsing hub and video search engine on mobile devices making it easier for users to browse top videos as well as videos from their friends and family. They also integrated Live videos directly into the Facebook Search tab so that users can view Live clips in relation to trending news and topics.

There is an apparent push to be the leader in content discovery and distribution and not simply a channel where users happen to stumble across great content. Video gives users the opportunity to access real, authentic content from anywhere they are with easy-to-use search and share features.

Facebook, Video Hub, Video Search, Facebook Live, Facebook Video

 

What this means for marketers

For Facebook, becoming a content leader and driving people to watch more videos isn’t their only goal. They also are placing a huge emphasis on users sharing more video content as well. As The Information reports, Facebook is struggling to stop a decline in “original” sharing. While users are sharing news stories, they’re posting less and less content from their own lives.

The numbers were particularly true for users under the age of 30. Marketers can expect Facebook to gain a share of users back from Snapchat (the fastest-growing video sharing platform) as Live becomes more and more prevalent on social. We encourage marketers to experiment with Live as soon and as often as possible.

4. Profile Expression Kit

In 2015, Facebook launched profile videos which allow users to take or upload a video of up to 7 seconds to use as your profile video. Profile videos appear at the top your profile just like a profile picture.

Currently in closed Beta, Facebook’s Profile Expression Kit currently supports six apps: Boomerang by Instagram, Lollicam, BeautyPlus, Cinemagraph Pro by Flixel, Lollicam, MSQRD, and Vine.

Facebook Expression Kit, Facebook Profile, Facebook

What this means for marketers

Facebook’s Profile Expression Kit will be a great opportunity for businesses to bring their profile picture to life and show off their personality. Marketers can think of the kit as yet another way to connect with audience members in an authentic way. Those that do will stand out from the rest.

For apps that incorporate the Profile Expression Kit, it will allow users to upload the videos they take using that app directly to their profile picture in a few simple clicks. For those app developers, they will enjoy the attribution in the Facebook news feed… A win-win!

5. Virtual Reality

One announcement that had the crowd excited at F8 was Facebook’s unveiling of their professional-grade 360-degree video camera to film virtual reality (VR) footage. The Surround 360 contains 17 cameras and costs a whopping $30,000 to build.

For personal VR devices, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer gave audience members a live and quite amazing demonstration of Oculus Rift. Facebook is calling this technology “social VR” – connecting two or more people in a virtual world. “Proximity would no longer determine who you spend your time with,” explained Yaser Sheikh, head of Oculus research.

Facebook, Virtual Reality, VR, Oculus Rift

What this means for marketers

Virtual reality is still very much a niche market. Technology is expensive and the computing power needed to create and run full 360 videos is massive. So for the time being, VR is limited to big-budget businesses willing to pay to tap into the VR trend.

Marketers can keep their eye on the development of personal VR devices and production techniques. Creating 360 videos is a top priority for many tech companies, and so we wouldn’t be surprised to see the rapid development of affordable and more efficient devices.

6. Quote sharing

Have you ever had any trouble when trying to share a specific quote from an article or book from a mobile device? I know I have! Facebook’s new Quote Sharing feature aims to make it extremely easy to share quotes and even add your own thoughts or comments before you share to Facebook.

As you may have guessed from the feature name, Quote Sharing will help users share quotes or lines or text directly from an article, book, or app to Facebook. Facebook is again showing an acute focus on user experience within their mobile platforms.

Facebook, Facebook Quote Sharing, Quote Sharing

What this means for marketers

Publishers will now have the access to a tool that lets them build share quote buttons directly into their web pages and apps. Which of course could potentially mean more sharing of their content on Facebook simply because the user experience is much smoother.

It’s a simple feature, but a feature that represents a brand new way for people to snag their favorite pieces from articles and post them to Facebook – All while driving more traffic back to the publishing website.

7. Save button

Imagine the awesome features of Pocket, but specifically for Facebook. Facebook’s new “Save” button is now open for use and allows users to save things they find across the Web – like a new outfit or a Buffer blog post (!) – and save them for viewing later.

Like other platforms that offer this same service, Facebook confirms that you’ll be able to view saved links later from any device. Those familiar with the Facebook “Save” button will be pleasantly surprised that it works seamlessly across the web.

Facebook, Save Button, Facebook Save

What this means for marketers

Although savings links isn’t a revolutionary product feature for marketers, we’ll be keeping an eye on the Facebook “Save” button in terms of engagement, link tracking, and post success. With Facebook moving to a focus on Instant Articles, it will be interesting to see how post analytics are integrated together.

Businesses that measure the amount of “Saved” articles they are receiving on Facebook will get a good idea of what’s working and what’s not. This can help guide strategies and formulate post or content ideas for the future.

8. Account Kit

Account Kit helps developers to grow their apps by giving people a choice to sign in with their phone number or email address without the need for a password.

account-kit

What this means for marketers

People can use Account Kit without sharing any information from their Facebook profile—they don’t even need a Facebook account to use it. By removing these major barriers to entry, Account Kit could help marketers to increase sign-ups and expand your audience.

One early success story for Account Kit is Saavn, a music streaming app, which saw over half a million registered phone number users and a 33% increase in daily new registrants within the first two months after integrating Account Kit phone number login.

9. Instant Articles

Though they have been around since May 2015, Instant Articles were opened up to all publishers of any size on April 12 at F8.

Instant Articles makes the reading experience as much as ten times faster than standard mobile web articles – which Facebook say can take up to 8 seconds to load. Instant Articles provides a whole host of interactive features that help stories come to life on mobile, including auto-play video and tap-to-zoom image galleries.

instant-articles

What this means for marketers

Instant Articles could be an excellent way to extend the reach of your blog content and generate more engagement on Facebook. As a starter, the early stats Facebook released alonsgide the annoucemnet look encouraging:

Instant Articles received 20% more clicks than mobile web articles from the News Feed
Once someone clicks on an Instant Article, they’re 70% less likely to abandon the article before reading
They are shared 30% more than mobile web articles on average

You can check out our complete guide to getting set up with Instant Articles here.

10. Crossposted video

To simplify posting video, Facebook launched a new way for publishers to crosspost videos easily within and across Pages owned by the same Business Manager account. Page owners can now give other Pages in their Business Manager permission to reuse a video and also create new posts with a previously uploaded video without having to re-upload it.

crosspost-video

What this means for marketers

Video has been a huge focus for marketers on Facebook over recent years. And with many brands creating multiple Pages to engage different audiences, often the same videos are reused across different posts and Pages. This feature will simplify the video sharing process for many marketers and also make it easier to track performance across multiple pages.

The post F8 Update: 10 New Facebook Features Every Marketer Should Know appeared first on Social.

11 Reasons Indie Authors Need Social Media (And How to Get It Right!)



Why Social Media?

Today’s post comes from The Book Designer – a site the continuously produces great information for authors – experience as well as the beginner. If you haven’t already subscribed to this blog, please do. For now, sit back and learn!

Source: 11 Reasons Indie Authors Need Social Media (And How to Get It Right!)

You’ve heard it a million times (or at least several hundred times): Indie authors need to use social media as part of their online marketing strategy.

I’m sure you’ve seen lists of reasons why, but let’s look at the most important reasons social media is so important for authors:

It will refer traffic to your blog, website, the landing page for your books, and Amazon.

There is a large community of indie authors who are willing to help you promote your book and form supportive alliances.

You’ll find new readers on social media.

Social media helps you to market your books.

You can get to know professionals who can show you how to improve your book marketing efforts, write better blog posts, tune up your author website, and more efficiently use social media. You’ll can also meet editors, designers, book reviewers and bloggers, and publicists.

Over time, social media will help you to build your community.

You’ll meet readers who can become your “Super Fans” or belong to your “Street Team.”

When you host giveaways and contests, you’ll need social media to spread the word.

With social media, you can inform your followers and readers about new blog posts you write.

Social media will allow you to build relationships with your readers.

Social media allows you You can sell to a worldwide audience.

Now let’s look at the reverse scenario. This is what happens when you don’t use social media:

Friends, colleagues, and family members can still purchase books from you.

You might be able to sell to readers in your local community, and through local bookstores and coffee shops, but the success of your online sales is likely to be limited.

There is no Number 3.

Indie Authors Who Use Social Media Successfully

The Internet abounds with examples of Indie authors who use social media to further their publishing careers. Success can be defined in two ways: Some people publish books to expand their clientele and business; others use it to have successful writing careers. In other words, they get to quit their proverbial day job and focus on their writing.

Let’s look at examples of successful Indie authors:

E.L. James is the author 50 Shades of Grey and the book’s sequels. She’s also a New York Times bestselling author and, has successfully used Facebook and Twitter.

Joanna Penn, thriller and nonfiction author. She loves to use Twitter, where she has 65,300 followers. Joanna is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the U.K.

Bella Andre started with a traditional publisher and then turned to indie publishing. She’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author with 166,000 Twitter followers.

Anne R. Allen is the author of eight comic novels and has a wildly successful blog.

Charles Duhigg is the author of The Power of Habit. He began as an Indie author, joined Goodreads, started a group, was noticed by a publisher, and became a New York Times bestselling author. He’s now the author of two books.

Mark Dawson is a thriller author who has focused on Facebook, where he has 15,547 likes. He has successfully used Facebook advertising to market his books and teaches indie authors how to replicate his success.

Indie Authors Who Could Be Enjoying More Success on Social Media

Unfortunately, examples of unsuccessful Indie authors are commonplace. (Apologies in advance to these authors, whom I selected at random.)

Andrew Melvin is the author of The Mischief of Rats, which he published in 2014. He uses Twitter occasionally. How’s he doing?

His book isn’t ranked on Amazon

No one has reviewed his book even though he published it two years ago.

Henry Martin is the author of Mad Days of Me. He has a Twitter profile but hasn’t tweeted since 2015. How’s Henry doing?

He book is ranked at 5,715,025 on Amazon.
Has nine reviews on Amazon.

How to Get Off to the Right Start on Social Media

Where do most people make mistakes? As soon as they open their social media accounts. Whether they decide to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or another network, it’s important to think about how you want to portray yourself online.

If you don’t upload a professional image of yourself, people may not take you seriously. For example, would you bother to follow this guy?

Robert twitter example

So, if Robert isn’t the guy in the picture, who is he? And what’s his name? If he’s written books, you can’t tell from his bio.

Using a string of numbers or letters in your username makes your “handle” appear spammy. You will also remain incognito on the Internet, especially if you only use your first name. Remember, your user name needs to match your brand and should ideally use the name that appears on your book covers.

In your bio, establish yourself as an author. Here’s a concise author bio that includes two books the author wrote, and leads readers to Amazon. Instead of a link to Amazon, you could include a link to the landing page for your books, or to a call to action to grow your email list.

Robert Lane twitter example

The next step is to add a header image on Twitter or a banner image on other networks. (Note: Pinterest and Goodreads don’t allow this option and on LinkedIn, the banner image is incredibly narrow.)

Here’s an excellent example of a banner image on Facebook made by using the online graphics tool, Canva. A replica is on the author’s Twitter account.

Robert Lane twitter banner

Another mistake that authors make is connecting their Twitter account to a Facebook account. Don’t do this. If you integrate them, your tweets on Facebook will appear spammy.

On LinkedIn, I decided to use an image for my own account that incorporated my brand colors.

Frances Caballo twitter banner example

Stephanie Chandler
, an author and founder of the Nonfiction Authors Association, created a banner publicizing an upcoming conference.

Stephanie Chandler twitter banner example

Social Media No-Nos

You’ve seen what not to do when you open an account. Now let’s look at actions that are considered to be bad behavior on social media. Avoiding these behaviors will go a long way to making your social media experience more enjoyable and more fun:

Don’t repeatedly ask your followers to buy your books.

Don’t send direct messages that ask a follower to read a post, read a book, or look at your stories.

Don’t post several Facebook status updates in a row.

It’s best not to pin several images on Pinterest in a row because you’ll flood your followers’ newsfeeds. Doing this is equivalent to sending ten tweets in a row or five Facebook posts in a row.

Don’t join Goodreads for the sole purpose of promoting your book. Join as a reader who is interested in connecting with other readers about the love of reading and the books you enjoy. Talk about the books you loved and why. Share real reviews.

Don’t randomly start following readers on Goodreads. You only get 5,000 friends on Goodreads so spread your love wisely.

Don’t use the default egghead image as your avatar on Twitter or leave your header image blank.

Don’t use a picture of your dog or cat for your avatar on any social media accounts.

Don’t predominantly post about yourself on social media.

Never fail to connect with authors in your genre and/or other Indie authors

Don’t buy a lot of advertising on social media and ignore engaging with readers

Never ever be rude.

Free Webinar: Join Me to Learn More About Getting Results on Social Media

I spend every day all day helping indie authors get great results on social media. Now I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you.

 

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

The post 11 Reasons Indie Authors Need Social Media (And How to Get It Right!) appeared first on The Book Designer.

Instagram Primer for Indie Authors



Is your audience on Instagram? Do you have an account? Pearls of wisdom from The Book Designer. Enjoy!

Source: Instagram Primer for Indie Authors

According to a report by Digital Marketing Research, as of March 2016, Instagram had 400 million monthly active users and captured the attention of 20% of all Internet users.

Part of its growth might be due to the mother of all social media networks, Facebook. After Facebook purchased the app in 2014, Instagram’s user base soared by 60%. Then again, Instagram grew so quickly just because it’s an image-based app and any social media network based on imagery is bound to succeed these days.

Hard to tell.

There are conflicting reports as to what social media network is the fastest growing. The data seems to change from month to month, or at least, it did in 2015. That year, Adweek, TechCrunch, and Global Web Index each reported different statistics.

It was also in 2015 that Pew Research Center reported that Instagram was the fourth most used social media network, behind Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

If your reader demographic is between the ages of 18 and 49, Instagram can be a strategic application for you to use. If you write:

young adult

new adult

dystopian

teen and young adult romance

and science fiction novels

then you need to spend time connecting with your readers on Instagram.

Some agents are recommending that all authors, including nonfiction writers with an older readership, also use Instagram. Perhaps it’s because of Instagram’s meteoric rise. But if your audience isn’t on Instagram, does it make sense to use it? I’m a huge proponent of saving time on social media by only spending time on those networks where you’ll find your readers and your colleagues. But with Instagram’s popularity, it might make sense for you to follow Jane Friedman’s advice: grab your username anyway. After doing that, play around with Instagram and see whether it’s worthwhile for your genre and readership. If it isn’t, leave Instagram, focus your energy on other websites, and return to it later to test it again.

The beauty of Instagram – and this is why it’s easy to test it – is that it’s effortless to incorporate it into your life. You’ll see why if you keep reading. For now, let’s leave the statistics behind and talk about how to sign up and use this tool.

How to Join Instagram

Profile Image

Joining this network is easy. Sign up by navigating to Instagram.com on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet. It’s best to use your smartphone because Instagram is for the mobile web and you’ll need to be on your mobile (or tablet) to add your profile image. As with other social media websites, don’t use your book cover or image of your favorite pet as your avatar. Use the best picture of yourself that you have.

Every time you add a new network to your marketing arsenal, represent your brand as best you can. What is your brand? You. Some writers become irritated at the mention of the term author brand but denying that it exists doesn’t deny its importance. Everything you do and say online reflects upon you so every step you take online, every post, every image you upload, needs to support your author career in as positive a manner as possible.

Username

When you select your username, use the name on the cover of your books. Build your brand around your author name, whether it’s:

your birth name

a name you predominantly use

or a pen name

Bio

Complete your bio, which Instagram restricts to 150 characters, and add your author website address. Don’t forget to check the box next to Similar Account Suggestions so that Instagram will suggest additional users for you to follow.

Desktop and Laptop Restrictions
You’ll be limited in what you can do from your desktop or laptop whether it’s a PC, Mac, or laptop. You can sign up, complete your bio, follow people, view your news feed, like images, and leave comments.

But you can’t add or change your profile image from your desktop or laptop. Most people carry around their smartphones in their back pockets or purse so start using your mobile when using Instagram. Alternatively, use your tablet if you bring that with you more often. (I haven’t tested Instagram on a Kindle reader, such as Kindle Fire. If you use Instagram on that tablet, please let me know in the comments below.)

As you’re out and about, visiting your favorite café where you write or taking a walk in the woods or a lovely path, snap images with your smartphone. Then, upload them directly to Instagram. Select a filter for your image if the image appears too dark or too bright, and post it.

Now this next step is what makes Instagram simple to use. As you post your image to Instagram, you can also post it to other accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. While I don’t recommend syncing Twitter to Facebook or even Instagram to Twitter (unless you’re selective about what you post), linking Instagram to Facebook is seamless. The comment and hashtags you write for your Instagram post will integrate smoothly with your Facebook profile. This is how to connect your accounts:

Navigate to your Instagram profile on your smartphone.

Tap the gearshift in the top-right corner.

Click Linked Accounts and select the websites you want to sync with.

How Authors Can Use Instagram

Authors have taken to Instagram, expanding their brand, and letting readers learn more about them than what they write or blog about. Check out these examples:

Tyler Knott Gregson

You’ll find Tyler on Instagram where he’s known as Tyler Knott, an #Instapoet on this app. He’s a successful poet who rose to fame by using Instagram. He creates quote images and posts them mostly on Twitter and Instagram.

Here’s one of his poems displayed as an image:

Tyler Knott Gregson image

Here’s another image he took of the sky.

Tyler Knott Gregson image2

Jane Friedman

Jane was excited about the inclusion of an essay she wrote in an anthology and announced its availability with this picture of the cover. Granted, it’s not an exciting cover, but it’s still a good use of Instagram.

Jane Friedman image

Orna Ross

Orna likes to take pictures of her surroundings, which gives her readers and colleagues a sense of the beauty where she lives.

Orna Ross image

Joanna Penn

A nonfiction and dark thriller author who writes under the name J.F. Penn, Joanna a self-described taphophiliac (she loves visiting cemeteries) so it makes sense that she would post this image.

Joanna Penn image

Crissi Langwell

While attending an Indie author event at a library, Crissi took an image of a display of her books.

Crissi Langwell image

Share:

the cover of a new book about to be released

images from your hometown

images of the desk where you write

If you have a favorite café where you like to write, take a picture of the sign or the front of the building.

If you love dogs, take a picture of your dog doing something fun.

When you have a reading, ask someone to snap a picture of you, preferably not when you’re standing behind a podium but during a moment when you’re animated, laughing, or engaging with an attendee.

Most of all, test this app and have fun with it.

When to Post on Instagram

The easiest time to post is right after you take a picture or create one. You can also plan your posts.

According to Latergramme, a scheduling post for Instagram, the best time to post is between 2 am and 5 pm EST, with 5 pm being the most opportune time.

The best day to post is on Wednesdays, but if you start using Instagram, you’ll need to be consistent and post more frequently than once a week.

When you start out, post images when it’s convenient for you. As you gain followers, you’ll figure out when the most engagement occurs and tailor your timing.

Scheduling Apps for Instagram

Once you start using Instagram regularly, you might want the option to schedule images in advance.

Onlypult

With this app, you can upload images and videos from your computer, not just your smartphone. Onlypult also provides analytics. Plans start at $12/month.

Latergramme

This tool enables you to upload images from your computer, iPhone, Tablet, or Android, plan and schedule your posts, upload videos and manage multiple accounts if you have more than one. On a free account, you can upload 30 posts per month.

Schedugram

With this tool, you can organize campaigns or schedule images one-by-one, manage multiple accounts, create content, and add bulk uploads at once. For a single account, the cost is $20/month.

Takeoff

Use this free app to schedule images to Twitter and Instagram simultaneously. You’ll find it on iTunes and at Google Play where it’s called Publish.

Instagram Best Practices

Here are a few best practices to get you started.

Use hashtags here just as you would on Twitter. Although hashtags haven’t taken off on Facebook, you can use them as well.

Don’t be afraid to reveal a bit about your personal life. Images of you take while hiking or cycling or just about on the town add an interesting layer to your brand.

Always be authentic.

Don’t be promotional, unless you’d like to inform users of a contest.

Build your community of readers and colleagues by liking their posts and commenting on them. Be as engaged with them as you’d like them to be with you, what Joanna Penn refers to as social karma.

How do you use Instagram and what apps are your favorites?

Photo: pixabay.com

The post Instagram Primer for Indie Authors appeared first on The Book Designer.

The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Following



Source: The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Following

The post that I’m sharing today comes to us from Jeff Barrett from the Hootsuite blog. Hootsuite for those who are unfamiliar is social media management software. I find their blog to be very informative. Check it out.

There is strength in numbers on social media. Even if you’re not trying to be an influencer, social capital has its value. Whether it’s purely perception or designed for lead generation, the size of your audience matters now.

When I speak, my audience is usually entrepreneurs or aspiring media professionals. The most common question I get from both groups is, “How do I grow a following?”

That’s a tough question. Like with a lot of pursuits, there is no single answer. It can be achieved in a variety of ways. But from someone who has built an audience, I can share what I have learned. And this may surprise you, I would have done some things differently.

Reach beyond your audience

Most of the advice I see for growing a following centers around content. Expecting that better content alone will grow your following is like believing in unicorns. It sounds amazing, but there is no proof. Content is important but it’s only part of the mix. You also have to think beyond your existing audience. Determine how to appeal to other audiences.

For example, I’m in PR. If I only talked about PR and appealed to PR professionals then there would be a cap to my growth. So I slowly, strategically and methodically began to identify and connect with groups one degree separate from my own. I started talking about advertising and entertainment. I created humorous content around pop culture—carefully tying it all back to my PR experience. Because of this, I could talk about pop culture. I began interjecting myself into all trending conversation. This year I have started talking about politics because it is, to an extent, related to PR. Being funny about the political circus got me in the door—now I’m starting to speak intelligently about the Syrian refugee crisis and brokered conventions.

Trust content

No person is just one thing. Share more of yourself, branch out and you’ll be able to grow your audience. There are a million ways to find and connect with new audiences, but you have to make that connection stick. Responding to questions from your audience quickly and honestly, and providing feedback are great ways to engage. Live streaming and podcasts are both great ways to allow people to get to know you. The more people know about you, the deeper they can connect.

People connect with real people over robots. Engaging with your audience in an authentic way is one of the strongest ways to build connections and engage others.

Maximize points of visibility

Look to sources outside of social media to help elevate your following. This is something I didn’t do enough in the beginning. You can spend all day on social media trying to grow your following but one media appearance can achieve months’ worth of work. Create as many points of visibility as you can. Go on local news, guest blog, do whatever you can at first but continue to keep networking up so you can increase opportunities for visibility.

Q&A with Twiends CEO Dave Sumter

I’m only one opinion. So I asked a friend—Dave Sumter, CEO of social directory Twiends—because he works every day with a mass of people looking to build a following.

What are the do’s and don’ts in building a following?

There are a lot of ways to achieve follower growth. Generally the best approach is to be honest in your intentions when connecting with new people, interact well, and add value to everyone’s feed. This may sound like a lot of fluff, so let me give you some real world examples:

Don’ts: Buying followers on any service that quotes you X followers for $ is a big no-no. These are all generally fake accounts created with the sole purpose of following you. Another bad option is resorting to interaction tricks—such as following large groups of people and then unfollowing them after they’ve followed you (known as churning). Both of these approaches will make your follower count go up, but will not add value to you or your followers. And both could land you in hot-water with Twitter.

Do’s: This side of the camp is actually full of great options, such as featured promotion, Twitter ads, contests, targeted content, Twitter chats, and many more. It’s best to try and grow your audience and engagement at the same time. A common approach is using something like Twiends to do broad-based featured promotion, or Twitter ads to do targeted promotion, and then use contests, polls, Twitter chats, visual tweeting, and daily interacting to grow engagement with those new followers. Twiends and Twitter ads provide the reach, and the later options provide the ‘conversion.’ Most people skip the later part and move straight to ‘broadcasting.’ This unfortunately doesn’t work—as in real life you need to take the time to bond with people before they’ll listen to you.

Why is having a large online presence valuable?

There are so many benefits to having a large online presence, most notably being able to get your message out and influence others in line with your goals. Whether it’s getting the word out about a new initiative or asking for feedback about something important, it’s an incredibly useful tool in this new digital world we live in. It’s like being able to walk into a room and ask 100 people what they think about an idea. In the past, companies had to spend thousands of dollars doing customer research, now anyone can do it multiple times a day.

The real power though is that this can be done in a casual and conversational way, continually and forever. You can build real connections with your customers, peers, colleagues, or with anybody who shares your interests. You can provide real-time support to those who need help, build your brand, or even subtly plug your product. But it does take time to build, and it’s not just about adding followers. That’s just the first step, and it should be combined with building a great timeline, building engagement, and of course connecting with people at a slightly deeper level.

 

The post The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Following appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.