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How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-for-small-business-owners/

Getting started with social media can feel overwhelming for small businesses. But you don’t need to rack up millions of followers or have a slick brand campaign to make effective use of these budget-friendly tools.

Social media is one of the best ways to connect with fans and potential customers. If you don’t have a presence on the main networks, you’re missing out on an audience that’s ready and willing to connect with your brand.

Using social media for small business doesn’t have to be scary or expensive. Using these 11 simple social media marketing tips, businesses of any size can reach new markets, build awareness, and drive sales.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

11 essential social media tips for small business
1. Start with a plan

Every good business strategy starts with a good plan. Social media marketing for small business is no different. Since it’s so easy to use and you can get started with organic posts for free, it might be tempting to dive in and just start posting.

But without a plan, you have no way of knowing what you’re trying to achieve with your social media posts, and no way to measure whether you get there. Taking the time to create a social media plan right upfront will ensure that all your social efforts support specific business goals.

As we outline in our guide to creating a social media marketing plan, you need to:

Set social media goals and objectives: Create goals that follow the SMART framework—they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Base your goals on metrics that will have a real impact on your business, like acquiring customers or raising your conversions rate, rather than simply racking up likes.
Research the competition: What is your competition up to on social media? While you don’t want to copy them, learning from what others have done is a great way to reduce your learning curve. A competitive analysis and some social listening strategies can give you insight into what’s working and what’s not for other businesses like yours.
Conduct a social media audit: If you’re already using social media, now’s the time to take a step back and evaluate what you’ve done so far. As part of your audit, you’ll also look for impostor accounts that may be stealing your online thunder. We’ve got a full social media audit template to walk you through the process.
Find inspiration: You’ve had a look at what your competitors are doing online, but what about other businesses? Take inspiration from the success of small business in all industries. Where can you find these success stories? Head to the business section of most social networks and you’ll find useful case studies. It’s also a great idea to ask existing followers what they want to see more of, then give them exactly what they ask for.
Create a social media calendar: A social media calendar helps you post the right content to the right social channels at the right time. It should include a plan for your content mix. Try starting with the 80-20 rule: Use 80 percent of your content to inform, educate, or entertain your audience and 20 percent to promote your brand or sell your products.

2. Decide which platforms are right for you

Don’t make assumptions about where your audience spends their time online. Your instinct might tell you that you should skip Facebook and focus on Instagram and Snapchat if you’re targeting millennials, but the data shows that 82 percent of millennials still use Facebook.

social media for small business

We’ve compiled demographics information for all of the major social networks that can help you gauge where your audience spends their time online.

Keep in mind that you can use different social channels to reach different audiences, or to meet different business goals.

And remember that these demographics are just an overview. It’s important to understand how to reach your specific audience. In order to figure that out, you’ll need to make sure that you really…

3. Know your audience

Using social media for small business let you micro-target your audience—but first you need to understand who your audience is. By compiling data on your current customers and then digging deeper with social media analytics, you can develop a solid picture of who’s buying from you and who’s already interacting with you online. Then you can revisit your social media plan to include ways to reach more people just like them.

For example, Jimmy Beans Wool clearly understood its core market was crafty knitters and crocheters across the United States and Canada. But when the company first started, it had limited access to this huge group. The company had an email subscription list of dedicated fans, but that was not a large enough audience to sustain and grow the company.

When Jimmy Beans launched a first-of-its-kind subscription service for yarn samples and supply kits, they used a Facebook lookalike audience to reach people who shared the same characteristics as their existing dedicated fans. The ads brought in 1,000 subscribers in 36 hours—such a massive response that Jimmy Beans had to pause the ad for a few days so they could catch up with the orders. That’s a sure sign that the company understood its audience well and created an offer that spoke directly to their wants and needs.

social media for small business

Using social media marketing, this small yarn shop has grown into a multi-million-dollar business.

4. Build relationships

The unique benefit of social media compared to other marketing channels is that it allows you to talk directly to customers and followers. You can build relationships over time, rather than asking for a sale right upfront. That’s one reason why 93 percent of people who follow small- and medium-sized business on Twitter plan to purchase from the SMBs they follow, according to a report from Twitter and Research Now.

When people engage with your organic content or ads, you can jump in and reply, helping to build trust and form the early stages of a rewarding customer relationship—like SkinnyMint did here:

How to Use Social Media for Small Business

Facebook Groups are another great way to build community and establish relationships and brand loyalty. Sticking with SkinnyMint, they have a group in which women can show off their weight loss and support each other. The SkinnyMintBabes group has more than 3,300 members who act as brand champions for the product just by showing what they’ve achieved.

How to Use Social Media for Small Business

Using social channels, you can also build connections and relationships with other entrepreneurs and influencers in your niche. Think your business is too small to work with influencers? Consider that microinfluencers (starting with 10,000 followers) can be incredibly effective for establishing brand trust, and they are often not out of budget range for smaller brands.

5. Expand your audience

Once you have dominated your original market niche, you can use social tools to reach out to new audiences.

For example, the nutritional supplements company GoSupps started as a small business in the United Arab Emirates. Its original audience was primarily made up of bodybuilders. In order to grow the business, GoSupps needed to expand its audience to a more general sports and fitness demographic.

Using Facebook targeting options, the company reached out to new potential customers who were interested in health and fitness. The campaign resulted in a four times return on ad spend, and GoSupps has grown its Facebook Page to nearly 97,000 fans.

While the company still has a strong focus on its original bodybuilder audience, it also posts social content that has broader appeal.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.2’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Studies show that following a diet high in calcium is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.know what's…

Posted by GoSupps.com on Thursday, November 9, 2017

You can also use social media to drive new customers to your local business. For example, Hootsuite geo-search streams can help you monitor and respond to local conversations about your business, and build relationships with other local businesses in your area.

6. Share compelling visuals whenever you can

People have come to expect social posts to include a visual component. Twitter’s internal data, for example, shows that people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that have visual elements like a video, photo, infographic, or GIF.

Social images drive real-world action, too. More than half of millennials have made travel plans or visited a restaurant based on an image or video a friend shared on social.

Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, in particular, are visual-first networks. If your content doesn’t look good, no one will stop scrolling to read what you have to say.

The Peach Truck has a business that’s practically made for Instagram. They sell fresh Georgia peaches across the United States, and all those gorgeous peaches are perfect for sharing in social posts. They’ve got a beautiful feed on Instagram and they’re making great use of Pinterest, too.

View this post on Instagram

Who else is immediately craving all their peach treats they canned this summer on the first chilly day of fall? ???? @theurbancanningco

A post shared by The Peach Truck (@thepeachtruck) on Oct 11, 2018 at 7:22am PDT

How to Use Social Media for Small Business

Social media was a critical component of The Peach Truck’s early growth. They started out literally selling their peaches from the back of a truck, and they used social ads to get the word out about where they would be each week. More than half of the people who came out to buy their peaches heard about the company on Facebook.

Even if you’re not selling beautiful fruit, it’s important to use great imagery in your social posts to increase engagement. For service businesses in particular, this can be a bit of a challenge. But every business can tell its story through photos and videos. Maybe you can showcase your company culture with images from inside your office.

We're working hard this week, can you tell? Happy (almost) Friday, everyone! #hootsuitelife #hootdogs ????: @milosraonicthedog pic.twitter.com/F8Nvmn4tCv

— Hootsuite Careers (@HootsuiteLife) October 19, 2018

Or maybe you can use photos of your customers to highlight how they use your service. Square does this really well, highlighting customer success and creating a warm and fuzzy feeling about what is at heart a pretty boring (though important) product.

View this post on Instagram

Yassin’s Falafel House in Knoxville has been recognized by Reader’s Digest as the “Nicest Place in America.” Congratulations, Yassin. It's an honor to be part of your incredible journey. ????

A post shared by Square (@square) on Oct 11, 2018 at 10:11am PDT

Another option is to use stock photos. There are plenty of free, high-quality photos online that you can legitimately use in your social posts. We’ve compiled a list of 21 free stock photo sites you can use to find images for your posts. Just make sure you stick to using appropriately licenced stock photography (like you’ll find on the sites in our list), since using random images you find online is definitely not okay and can get you in some serious trouble.

If it’s GIFs you’re looking for, check out Giphy.

7. Focus on quality over quantity

The sheer number of social media marketing options for small business might seem overwhelming—but you don’t need to do it all. It’s much more important to create quality content on a couple of key channels where you can really connect with your audience than it is to have a presence on every single social network.

Above all, be sure that your social posts offer value. If all you do is pitch and sell, there’s very little motivation for people to follow you. Remember, social marketing is all about building relationships. Be human. Be honest. Provide great content.

This is important, and you can’t fake it. According to a survey from Stackla, 86 percent of consumers say authenticity influences which brands they like and support.

You can’t do it all, and there’s no reason to try. Reach out to your audience in the places where they’re already spending time online. Focus on using one or two social channels really well, at least to start. Once you’ve got those mastered, you can build from what you’ve learned and expand your efforts.

8. Use the right tools

The secret to effective social media use is to take advantage of tools that automate or simplify much of the work. There are loads of tools to help boost your productivity so you can take make great use of social media marketing for your small business without having a full-scale social media team.

Engagement management: Social media is not a broadcasting system—it’s a way to engage with customers and fans. Social media management tools like Hootsuite can help you centralize all mentions and messages directed at your company in one dashboard so you can respond and engage without having to log into each of your individual social media accounts.

Analytics: We linked to information about analytics for all of the social networks above, but getting all of that information in one place can help you get a better picture of your social efforts overall. Brandwatch allows you to create in-depth reports, while Hootsuite Insights provides a great overview of how well you’re capturing the conversation in your niche.
Graphics: If you’re having trouble creating eye-catching for your posts, turn to tools that will help get the job done. VSCO, Piktochart and Canva are some of our favorites. You can find more photo-editing tools in our post on how to edit Instagram photos.
Content curation: It can be a struggle for small businesses to come up with new content to share every day. Content curation—the art of sharing quality posts from others (with credit, of course) can be a great way to provide value for your followers and keep them engaged. Tools like BuzzSumo and Pocket can help you find and organize content to share. You can find more content curation tools in our beginner’s guide to content curation.

9. Monitor and respond to all social media conversations around your business

We’ve already talked about the importance of responding to people who post comments or questions on your social properties. But there’s more to social engagement than that.

You need to be aware of the conversations that are happening about your business elsewhere online and respond where appropriate. This is known as social listening, and we’ve created a whole guide on how to use social listening for your business.

10. Schedule your content to free up more time for engagement

We talked about creating a social content calendar way back at the beginning of this post. Once you have that calendar in place, you can create your social posts in advance and use scheduling tools to post them automatically at the right time.

This allows you to dedicate one block of time per day or per week to creating your social content, rather than having it become an activity that takes you away from other tasks throughout the day.

11. Track and refine your performance

As you implement your social strategy, it’s important to keep track of what works and what doesn’t so you can fine-tune your efforts and improve your results. All of the analytics tools mentioned above give you a great picture of your social efforts and can help you track whichever metrics matter the most to you.

Once you have a baseline picture of how your strategy is working, it’s time to start looking for ways to get even better results. Using A/B testing, you can make small changes to your strategy that boost your success over time.

No matter how small your business, social tools can help you better connect with your audience, reach new potential customers, and increase awareness of your brand. If the possibilities seem overwhelming, start small. Remember: you don’t need to do it all. Take a focused approach—start small with one or two key networks and build your social media marketing efforts over time.

Social media for small business is easy with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule messages, engage your audience, and monitor relevant conversations across multiple social networks. Try it free today.

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The post How to Use Social Media for Small Business: 11 Simple Tips appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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5 Unexpectedly Awesome YouTube Channels and What You Can Learn from Them

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/awesome-youtube-channels/

YouTube has 1.9 billion monthly active users and is the world’s second-biggest search engine. Every day, more and more brands upload content to the platform hoping to generate buzz around their products and services.

Entering this market can be intimidating. If your YouTube presence doesn’t focus on offering value with engaging content, viewers can spot it immediately.

Fortunately, there are a ton of brands on YouTube that you can look to for inspiration—many of them in niches that don’t immediately scream “entertainment.”

Check out these five companies that do YouTube marketing right.

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the exact steps one entrepreneur took to gain more than 23,000,000 views on YouTube with no budget and no expensive gear.

5 unexpectedly awesome YouTube channels from brands
1. Purple

Purple’s YouTube channel is basically a masterclass in YouTube marketing. Who thought videos about mattresses could be so popular?

Purple’s known for its clever and humorous infomercials. Let’s look at one of their most popular examples…

At 44 million views, “Does Your Mattress Pass the Human Egg Drop Test?” is one of Purple’s most successful marketing videos.

It’s basically a wacky lab experiment: a guy with unbroken eggs strapped to his back is dropped onto a mattress, and the eggs remain intact.

Source: Purple on YouTube. Note how they’re liking top comments to foster engagement!

The comments section on this video is overwhelmingly positive. In fact, the Human Egg Drop Test was so popular that it inspired a wave of videos showing people trying Purple’s experiment at home—successfully!—for themselves.

Besides being entertaining and informative, the Human Egg Drop Test includes all the elements of a well-optimized YouTube video:

An interesting, provocative title ✓
A keyword-rich video description with relevant links ✓
A thumbnail with an eye-catching image and text summarizing the video ✓

Source: Purple on YouTube

Cards directing to other videos on Purple’s YouTube channel ✓

Source: Purple on YouTube
Takeaways

Purple’s YouTube marketing is incredibly successful simply because their ads don’t feel like ads.

If you’re planning on using YouTube as a conversion funnel, keep entertainment value front of mind. People aren’t going to subscribe to or share your content nearly as often if every video feels like a hard sell.

Court your demographic and with fun, engaging, informative videos they’ll actually benefit from watching. This is how you build brand loyalty.

2. Ikea

Ikea’s marketing game has always been on point, and their YouTube presence is as well-crafted as their shopping experience. The Swedish furniture company has a knack for jumping on trends and making them their own, without being gimmicky.

ASMR videos

IKEA leaned into the ASMR video trend as part of their “Oddly IKEA” marketing campaign, and the result is incredible:

The autonomous sensory meridian (ASMR) response is a tingly, relaxing feeling triggered by specific sounds and visuals. ASMR videos are huge on YouTube. Over 5.2 million have been uploaded to the platform, and they’re watched all over the world.

IKEA’s marketing team was smart to use ASMR to sell dorm room furniture. What better way to showcase a relaxing bedroom to Generation Z college freshers?

… And cat videos

It might seem a little clichéd now, but IKEA jumped on the cat video trend back when it was at its peak. While the video is no longer on their channel—probably because it’s too old—but I couldn’t resist hunting down this little piece of IKEA marketing history back from 2010:

Takeaways

IKEA’s marketing team consistently finds and adapts viral trends that fit naturally with their brand. So how can you do the same?

When planning YouTube content, consider exploring your subscribers’ favorite channels for inspiration. Watch their videos to better understand your target market and what they want to see.

You don’t need to worry about your own videos going viral; a nod to a popular trend can often be enough. Focus on creating consistently good content and your YouTube channel will grow.

3. Warby Parker

Warby Parker built a name for itself by challenging conventions around shopping for eyewear, and they’ve seamlessly translated this brand onto YouTube.

Working with influencers

A big part of Warby Parker’s marketing strategy involves partnering with influencers and other brands. They’ve teamed up with everyone from Kanye’s creative director Virgil Abloh to luxury department stores like Nordstrom.

Warby Parker’s YouTube channel features video profiles of creative professionals proudly wearing the eyewear brand. Each person has been carefully selected to project the sense of effortless cool the brand is known for.

Check out their “Wearing Warby” playlist. It’s fully in line with the company’s mission and values: “to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”

Takeaways

When you’re marketing your own product on YouTube, partner with influencers or other interesting people who are enthusiastic about your brand and fit your target demographic.

You don’t need to stress about working with huge celebrities, either. In fact, niche influencers might even prove more effective for your brand. Just look at this Google infographic, which shows how YouTube creators foster closer relationships with their fans than traditional celebrities.

Source: ThinkWithGoogle

Another lesson we can learn from Warby Parker is that it’s okay to experiment with your brand, and even misstep occasionally.

Earlier this year, Warby Parker teamed up with Arby’s to form “WArby’s”. Yes, it was an April Fool’s joke—and not everyone got it. Still, the “WArby’s” prank showcases Warby Parker’s willingness to be creative and have fun with their brand, which is never a bad look.

4. Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay’s a huge TV star, but did you know he’s killing it on YouTube too?

His YouTube channel has almost 8 million subscribers and close to 1.3 billion views. On offer is a mix of Ramsay’s trademark restaurant rampages tastefully paired with recipe videos shot in the chef’s home kitchen.

Everything about Gordon Ramsay’s YouTube presence is entertaining, but there’s one especially important point to consider about his channel. Every single video is carefully curated to build a balanced portrait of the famous restaurateur.

We know from TV shows like Hotel Hell that Gordon Ramsay can get a little angry sometimes. But when you watch his YouTube videos, you get to see his softer side.

Gordon Ramsay’s one-on-one recipe videos are surprisingly intimate, with none of the rage you see on Kitchen Nightmares. When he’s teaching you how to make granola, it’s easy to forget that he spends a lot of his time making chefs cry.

This is how you take a personal brand to the next level on YouTube.

Takeaways

Gordon Ramsay leveraged his hotheaded persona to build a multimillion dollar culinary empire. His YouTube channel cultivates a different image, showing there’s more to Gordon Ramsay than his fiery temper.

If you’re hoping to build a personal brand on YouTube, take care to show the various facets of your personality through your content.

Doing this will help you form a deeper connection with your subscribers, who will feel like they’re getting to know you better every time you post a new video.

5. Nintendo

Japanese game company Nintendo is one of the top 10 brands on YouTube, with a subscriber count approaching 5 million. The company started getting serious about YouTube marketing with the launch of the Nintendo Switch, and it’s been central to their most successful marketing campaign in years.

Connect with your fanbase

Nintendo’s YouTube Live events are a huge reason for their success on the platform.

Unlike other big players in their industry, Nintendo generally doesn’t have a huge presence at gaming expos. Instead, the company hosts a short (30–60 minute) YouTube Live event every couple of months known as the Nintendo Direct.

Happening several times throughout the year, Nintendo Directs are extended news events where fans can get an inside look on what’s on the horizon at Nintendo. Following trailers and commentary, fans are invited to tune into a separate livestream, the Nintendo Treehouse, where a panel of hosts play the title together live.

Nintendo Directs are special for their subscribers because everyone gets to experience big reveals simultaneously, without having to schlep to a convention.

This YouTube strategy is (so far) unique to Nintendo, and it’s hugely effective, triggering massive engagement across their social channels following each event (the memes are real).

Takeaways

Nintendo’s built an incredibly strong, unique brand over the years—they’d have a huge following even without YouTube. What’s interesting is how they use YouTube Live events to generate hype and whip their fans into a frenzy.

Nintendo schedules and announces Directs well in advance, so there’s plenty of time for excitement to build. When they happen, fans are provided with huge amounts of information to pore over and dissect on Twitter and Reddit, and the hype train runs at full speed until release day.

Well-timed videos and regularly scheduled content works wonders for fostering an engaged, passionate YouTube audience. Monitor your analytics to see when your subscribers are most active, and plan new video releases around those times.

Make sure the content you’re posting on YouTube offers unique value your subscribers can’t get on your other channels. Build a content calendar and reserve some of your bigger announcements for YouTube. Give people reasons to keep coming back to your page!

Plan and schedule your YouTube content with Hootsuite. It’s easy to quickly publish your videos to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—all from one dashboard. Try it free today.

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The post 5 Unexpectedly Awesome YouTube Channels and What You Can Learn from Them appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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Top 5 Social Media Trends in 2019 (And How Brands Should Adapt)

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-trends/

What will be the most important social media trends in 2019 for brands and businesses?

Hootsuite’s annual report has the answers.

It’s based on a survey of more than 3,000 Hootsuite customers—from large enterprises to small agencies—conducted in late 2018. We’ve also included insights from interviews with dozens of industry analysts, as well as reports and data from Edelman, Gartner, GlobalWebIndex, Forrester, Econsultancy, Kleiner Perkins, We Are Social, and others.

New formats, challenges, and ways of engaging make 2019 an exciting time to work in social media. Here’s our roadmap for navigating and thriving in the year ahead.

Top 5 social media trends for 2019
1. Rebuilding trust
2. Storifying social
3. Closing the ads gap
4. Cracking the commerce code
5. Messaging eats the world

Bonus: Get all the insight and tools you need to inform your social strategy in 2019 with our free social trends toolkit. Find out how successful brands are adapting to each trend, access data from over 3,000 customer surveys, and read the full report.

Trend 1: Rebuilding trust
Brands get human as the circle of trust on social media tightens

social media trends

2018 represented a crisis year for trust on social media.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a Congressional hearing, Facebook faced pressure from users and regulators to improve security, transparency, and accuracy.

Twitter, meanwhile, fought controversies over the large presence of bots on its platform, purging millions of fake accounts.

In recent months, consumers, regulators, and media observers have questioned the privacy, accuracy, and ethics of nearly every social network.

The result: 60 percent of people no longer trust social media companies.

For brands on social media, this shift presents new challenges and opportunities. Users have grown distrustful of many media and celebrity influencers (whose followings, it turns out, are often bought or fake). Trust has reverted back to immediate friends, family, and acquaintances on social media, as well as traditional and trusted journalism outlets.

social media trends edelman reportSource: Edelman 2018 Trust Barometer Special Report: Brands and Social Media

Smart brands are focusing less on maximizing reach and more on generating transparent, quality engagement. Companies like Adidas and The New York Times, for example, are working to develop intimate, meaningful dialogue with smaller, more valuable audience groups. They’re creating communities and sharing insightful and researched content—then getting out of the way and letting passionate users talk to one another.

Hootsuite’s recommendations for this trend
Beginner

Create a branded hashtag for Instagram aligned with community values.

To build conversation around your brand, create a short, easy-to-remember branded hashtag that brings your community together around a common interest. For example, Herschel Supply Co. has a popular branded hashtag, #welltravelled, for people who love to travel. They encourage their customers to share photos of Herschel products while exploring beautiful corners of the world.

Use hashtags to align users around a brand value or noble purpose, rather than just a product offering.

Take part in (or run) Twitter chats.

A Twitter chat is a public discussion on Twitter around a specific hashtag. Twitter chats are a great way to build community by generating lively discussions around your customers’ interests. The chats are held at a specific time, cover one topic or theme, and are led by a moderator.

Hootsuite hosts a monthly #Hootchat on social media marketing and strategy, bringing together a group of engaged participants who want to learn more about social media for business.

Build a Facebook Group around a core audience interest.

If you have a Facebook Business Page, you can easily create a Facebook Group to complement it. While your page will offer more general information, your Facebook Group can address niche interests and target your superfans.

The key for brands is to create a space where customers can talk to one another. Facilitate that engagement and then get out of the way. Avoid heavy-handed pitches or product plugs.

You can choose to make your group public or closed, and you should clearly identify the purpose of the group so people know why it exists.

Advanced

Include micro-influencers in your marketing strategy.

When planning campaigns, consider hiring a micro-influencer to improve the quality of your outreach with more niche audiences. Unlike well-known or celebrity influencers, micro-influencers have smaller, highly engaged social media audiences. They are more affordable for brands, are viewed as more trustworthy by consumers, and often drive better results.

One of the easiest ways to find micro-influencers is through a hashtag search on Twitter or Instagram. This will help you find people that have influence in your industry. To learn more about micro-influencers, check out this overview.

Start a secret group on Facebook.

Public groups on Facebook are open to everyone. Closed groups can be found via search but need admin permission to join.

And then there are secret groups: invisible and unsearchable to the outside world. The only way to join is to get a member to invite you.

For the right brands, secret groups can be an effective way to create an aura of exclusivity or intrigue, especially in the context of launches and special promotions. And members, free from the prying eyes of the outside world, may feel freer to share ideas.

Check out MEL Magazine’s profile of the potato-chip themed Gettin’ Chippy With It Facebook Group.

Run monthly Facebook Live Q&As sessions around commonly asked questions.

To keep customer trust, it’s important to communicate often, address problems proactively, and be as transparent as possible.

Facebook Live Q&As are an excellent place to start. They make your brand feel more human by having someone talk to customers in real time. They’re also easy to manage and budget-friendly to run.

Don’t worry about scripting beforehand—the goal is to be authentic and engaging in an informal setting.

Activate employee advocates.

To share technical info and unique insights, tap into the experts already on your team, from product specialists to your CEO. And encourage employees to reshare branded social content that’s relevant to their unique audiences.

Dedicated social employee advocacy tools can streamline the process of creating and amplifying social content.

Trend 2: Storifying social
Content teams adapt as Stories offer new formats for sharing

social media trends

According to consulting firm Block Party, Stories—the vertical, disappearing videos invented by Snapchat—are now growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing.

Facebook’s own chief product officer Chris Cox shared a chart showing that Stories are set to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends within the next year. And nearly a billion users across WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat already turn to Stories to share.

social media trends tech crunchSource: TechCrunch, “Facebook Stories reveals 150M daily users and here come ads”

Social media is pivoting from text-based platforms originally designed for desktop use (think early Facebook) to truly mobile-only networks that enable users to capture in-the-moment experiences—and Stories embody that pivot.

Stories are overwhelmingly visual and meant to be created and consumed on the fly with nothing more than a smartphone and a creative eye. Because they’re ephemeral—often disappearing after a day—there’s more room for fun and experimentation. Stories feel real, immediate, and intensely personal.

For brands, this social media trend requires a major shift in focus in 2019.

While high-production-value posts are still important, it’s key to balance different content styles. Increasingly, brands are embracing the intimate, multimedia look and feel of Stories. The Guardian and Tictail are finding that less polished, more realistic Stories perform better than heavily edited takes filled with heavy-handed calls to action.

Hootsuite’s recommendations for this trend
Beginner

Start experimenting with Stories.

An estimated four out of five major brands are already on Stories. If you aren’t creating Stories, it’s time to start.

Stories can be as easy to create as you choose, so there’s a low barrier to entry for any team’s skill set. Share content weekly (and at different times of day) to see what works best with your audiences.

Pro tip: Shoot your videos vertically. That’s how people watch them.

Create Story-specific content.

Your content should reflect the unique look and feel of Stories—raw, unedited, and live action.

Our social team at Hootsuite tested both professionally animated and live action Instagram Stories, and found that live action videos performed significantly better because they matched the Story aesthetic people are used to seeing.

Use the Stories Highlight feature.

Despite their off-the-cuff style, Stories can sometimes take a lot of time to create and share.

For brands reluctant to let their efforts simply disappear after 24 hours, there’s Highlights. Display select Stories as long as you want on your profile, along with a cover image. This feature is great for special promotions, campaigns, or longer, high-production videos that deserve extra attention.

Tap your team’s full creative resources.

Stories work best when they integrate video, storytelling, text, images, and more. Expecting a single social media specialist to integrate all these skills is a tall order. Instead, find ways for your video, photography, and graphic design teams to join forces to create something memorable.

Advanced

Get creative with your Story structures.

Stories are easy to create and allow you to produce content quickly, so you should experiment with different structures to find what works best for your brand. For example, you can create tutorials showing people how to use your product, give a behind-the-scenes look at your company culture, host a takeover, or run a Q&A on topics that interest your customers.

Add UTMs to your links to track success.

Business accounts with over 10,000 followers (or verified accounts) can add a “swipe up” feature to their Stories. This lets viewers follow a link to another website or landing page.

By adding UTMs to your Story URLs, you can track where users are going and get a better understanding of what content they like. If you don’t have access to the “swipe up” feature, add a link with a UTM code to your bio.

Get in early with Facebook Stories.

So far, Facebook Stories (which appear on the network’s flagship platform) haven’t really caught on. But CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to get Stories right on Facebook and is investing a lot in the format.

Currently, only around nine percent of major brands post to Facebook Stories, but companies that get in early may enjoy an early adopter advantage. Plus, it’s easy—the tap of a button lets you syndicate Stories straight from Instagram to Facebook.

Experiment with AR and custom GIFs in your Stories

Consider adding augmented reality features and GIFs to your storytelling. AR experiences and GIF stickers are now widely available as features of the Stories cameras on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Use GIFs to enhance your images, grab attention, and direct viewers’ attention to something like a call-to-action or “swipe-up.”

Trend 3: Closing the ads gap
More competition on paid social forces marketers to up their game

social media trends

By now, everyone knows we’re in the pay-to-play era on social.

Accordingly, marketers are increasing social ad budgets (up 32 percent in 2018 alone) and producing more ads than ever before. One of every four Facebook Pages now use paid media. And Facebook already accounts for 23 percent of total U.S. digital ad spending.

But rising costs and fleeting attention are limiting ROI for advertisers.

To counter this, paid social teams are pairing ad money with equal time investment, creativity, and targeting savvy. And they’re paying to boost their best performing organic content.

Spotify and Netflix are leading the way with creative social ads that are at once personalized and entertaining, rather than just bland banner ads squeezed into a news feed. The end goal is to generate user discussion and engagement, rather than simply “broadcast” an ad at an audience.

We’re seeing brands build out their social teams (both in-house and agency) with skilled cross-platform content creators versed in video, motion graphics, design, and more. Enhanced third-party ad targeting tools, which enable easy A/B testing (in some cases with hundreds of variants), are also becoming the norm.

social media trends
Hootsuite’s recommendations for this trend
Beginner

Understand and target the right audience.

Knowing your audience is key to high engagement. Each ad campaign should target a focused group based on interests, jobs, relevant competitors, and previous interaction with your brand.

Social networks have different targeting options depending on the type of ad you want to create. If you don’t know who you’re supposed to target and why, research your customers to understand what their challenges are. Also find out how they interact with your business, brand, products, and services.

Define your goals and metrics.

It’s important to show that social media has a positive bottom-line impact on your business. That’s why every ad campaign should have goals and metrics that tie back to business objectives and that you know how to measure.

Your metrics will depend on the type of campaign you’re running and the audience you’re targeting. Awareness campaigns, for example, might focus on impressions, while conversion campaigns should put more value on click-throughs.

Invest in high-quality content.

With more brands competing for people’s attention on social media, ordinary posts aren’t good enough anymore. You need to create high-quality content that will resonate with your audience.

Create compelling visuals, which are essential for clicks and high conversion rates on social media. Not every brand will have the budget for expensive equipment or a professional crew. But, learning some video basics or even hiring a freelancer can make a big difference.

Advanced

Repurpose concepts from top-performing organic content.

Creating high quality social ads takes time and money. Test your ad concepts as organic posts first to see how they perform. Once you see what’s working, you can adapt and repurpose your top performing organic content for ads.

This strategy will improve ROI because you’re investing resources into something that has already been tested.

Use what you’ve learned from previous campaigns to improve performance.

By running ads and measuring their performance, you can compare results and set benchmarks for future campaigns.

The right analytics tools can help you track results and revenue generated by your social media efforts. Incorporate these insights into your future efforts.

Embrace new ad formats.

The social ad space is one of constant innovation. Newer formats have the advantage of tapping into consumer curiosity, while also avoiding ad fatigue.

Instagram Stories ads, for example, have been around since 2017. But this year Instagram gave brands the ability to use three consecutive photos or videos. Pinterest recently rolled out wide-format promoted videos. And Facebook Messenger ads now allow brands to connect with customers directly via instant messaging.

Split-test for success.

No matter how savvy your ad team is, it’s impossible to predict what users will actually click on. That’s where split-testing (also known as A/B testing) comes into play.

This scientific approach involves running multiple ads with slight variations (different images, different headlines, and so on) and then doubling down on the top performers.

Facebook offers basic split-testing functionality through its dynamic creative ads, but for streamlined testing with lots of options, consider a third-party ad tool.

Trend 4: Cracking the commerce code
Improved social shopping technologies (finally) fuel sales

social media trends

In Asia, social commerce adoption has been swift, with 70 percent of China’s Gen Zers now buying direct from social. But social commerce hasn’t kept pace in North America despite the long-hyped promise of buy buttons.

But new and evolving technologies are changing that—especially for young buyers.

Instagram’s shoppable posts now allow users to go from discovery to checkout without ever leaving the app. And the platform has even added a Shopping tab to its Explore page.

Facebook’s Marketplace is now used in 70 countries by more than 800 million people. And on Pinterest, 55 percent of customers using the site to find and shop for products.
Video, in particular, is proving a critical bridge for social commerce. In a study of 5,500 consumers by video marketing company BrightCove, 74 percent of viewers drew a connection between watching a social video and making a purchase.

And beyond the familiar YouTube, new formats—from in-stream buying plugins for Instagram to livestream shopping on WeChat—have emerged for integrating social video deeper into the buyer’s journey.

So how do you start incorporating social commerce into your marketing strategy? It’s important to remember that what distinguishes social commerce from other channels is the social aspect. Finding ways to make shopping live, interactive, and seamless—even on mobile devices—is key.

Hootsuite’s recommendations for this trend
Beginner

Set up shoppable Instagram posts.

Before you can start selling products on Instagram, you need to have a business profile. Then you can add your product catalog to Facebook with Shopify or BigCommerce, and Instagram will approve your submission. This will allow you to tag products in your posts so your followers can browse and buy.

Pro tip: Tag multiple items in one photo so that people can see how your products look together.

Share your products in action.

High-quality images and videos can help potential customers browse your products and get an idea of look and feel without going in-store. Showcase your products in a variety of different scenarios to add variety and keep your audience engaged.

When creating content, think about your target customers—how they buy, their needs, challenges, etc.

Promote your products with contests.

If you want to get more followers browsing and buying your products, run a contest for products featured in shoppable posts. Make sure you outline contest rules and use an easy-to-remember hashtag so people can find and share the promotion.

Pro tip: Make sure that your contest adheres to Instagram’s promotion guidelines.

Trend 5: Messaging eats the world
Customers demand better 1:1 social experiences

social media trends

The top messaging apps—WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, and Skype—combine for nearly 5 billion monthly active users. That’s more users than the traditional social networks have worldwide.

social media trendsSource: 2018 Q3 Global Digital Statshot

Across the board, users are spending more time on messaging and less time sharing news on social. This shift from public to private spaces is changing consumer expectations.

Nine out of 10 consumers would like to use messaging to communicate with businesses, according to a survey of 6,000 people globally. In the U.S., messaging is the most preferred customer service channel. In a 2018 survey of 8,000 people conducted by Facebook, 69 percent of respondents said that directly messaging with a company helps them feel more confident about the brand.

What’s clear, however, is that consumers don’t want more advertising channels. Smart brands are using messaging apps for more high-value conversations.

So, how do you up your messaging game?

Hootsuite’s recommendations for this trend
Beginner

Enable Facebook Messenger for your Facebook Business Page.

This guide shows you how to enable Facebook Messenger on your business Page.

Once you’ve done that, set up an instant reply for when users send you a message. This can be as simple as a short greeting, or you can provide more information such as typical response times and support hours. You can also share links in your instant replies to direct people to support pages or frequently asked questions.

Add plugins to your website that drive customers to messaging apps.

Show that your brand is available on messaging apps by adding plugins to your website. That way, customers can easily click on the plugin and reach you if they’re already on your website looking for information.

Use DMs and/or messaging apps to streamline customer service queries on social.

When customers reach out to your brand on social, it’s important to move the conversation from a public to private space. That way, you can ask for personal information like phone numbers and address details to resolve the problem faster. This can also preempt the need for time-consuming follow-up phone calls and emails.

If your team isn’t available at all times of day, post your support hours and time zone in your bio so customers know when they’ll get a response.

Advanced

Set up bots and/or in-app assistants for frequently asked questions.

Bots are an important way to scale your customer service efforts and create better experiences on social. While they can’t replace an in-person experience, they’re extremely effective for answering simple questions and helping with more transactional exchanges. This frees up time for you to focus on more complex customer needs.

To get started building your own bot, check out tools like ManyChat, Chatfuel, or Conversable. (Just be sure to keep in mind the dos and don’ts of messaging bots.)

Run campaigns that incorporate messaging apps.

Get creative with your social media campaigns and think beyond the news feed. Contests are a good way to start connecting with your customers because they often include a private messaging element to share contest results. Messaging campaigns often work best on mobile formats, so keep that in mind when creating your campaign.

For example, Coca Cola ran a summer contest using Messenger and chatbots. Aimed at a younger demographic, the entirely mobile campaign encouraged customers to take pictures of their Coke bottles through Messenger to automatically enter to win prizes.

Protip: Always check the latest promotion guidelines for each network before planning your strategy.

Experiment with Facebook Messenger ads.

If your target audience uses Facebook Messenger, it’s worth putting some budget into Messenger ads. With features like automatic placement, Facebook will deliver ads automatically to your followers. (However, if you choose to edit placements, you can only run Messenger ads in coordination with News Feed ads—they’re not available as standalone placements yet.)

Be mindful of when and how you use these ads, as contacting a potential customer by private message is a lot more personal and intimate than publishing a banner or News Feed ad. Make sure your ads are useful, immediate, and actionable. For example, you can share a discount or coupon after someone has made a purchase.

social media trends

Bonus: Get all the insight and tools you need to inform your social strategy in 2019 with our free social trends toolkit. Find out how successful brands are adapting to each trend, access data from over 3,000 customer surveys, and read the full report.

The post Top 5 Social Media Trends in 2019 (And How Brands Should Adapt) appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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7 Great Ways Brands Are Using Instagram’s “Questions” Sticker

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-questions-sticker/

In July 2018, Instagram introduced another entertaining and interactive feature for users to play with. “Questions” is a sticker that can be added to your Stories to allow your followers to submit questions. Each question you receive can be answered publicly in an additional Story.

Audiences love Instagram partly because it’s such an conversational platform. There are a ton of ways to connect with accounts and brands, whether through commenting on their posts, sharing their Stories, messaging privately, or responding to fun features like Questions.

The Questions sticker is pretty simple to use, and elevates your Instagram Stories with added creativity and engagement. In this post, we’ll:

Show you how to use the feature
Provide some tips for using it like an expert
Share some inspiring examples from brands who are winning with Questions

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

How to use Instagram’s “Questions” feature
Step 1. Find the Questions sticker and add it to your Story

Instagram Questions sticker screenshot

Step 2. Compose your question

The default text is “Ask me a question”, but you can change it to anything you like (as long as it’s 50 characters or less!).

Once it’s posted, your followers can respond for as long as your Story is active (24 hours, or whenever you delete it).

Instagram Questions sticker screenshot

Step 3. View your responses

You can see the responses by swiping up on the Story itself, the same way you would to see a list of who has viewed it. The responses will appear in a horizontal stream above the list of views, and you can swipe through them.

Instagram Questions sticker screenshot

You can also see them by checking your notifications tab, where they’ll appear with the list of likes and comments on your Posts.

Step 4. Post responses

Tap the individual replies to open a new Story that will respond to it. You can see who has submitted responses, but they display anonymously when you share them. Only the text of the question will be visible to your followers.

Instagram Questions sticker screenshot

After you respond to a question, it will display as “Replied”, so you can keep track of which ones you’ve answered.

Instagram Questions sticker screenshot

3 tips for using the “Questions” sticker

Adding Questions to your Stories is easy, but with a little planning it can also be useful for your content strategy and your brand reputation. Here are a few things to keep in mind while using Questions.

1. Don’t overdo it.

Every time Instagram rolls out a new feature, it can feel like a tidal wave is crashing over your Stories as every brand scrambles to use it first. The result can be, as one article put it bluntly, a lot of “boring content and pointless answers.”

Don’t give your followers New Feature Fatigue! Use Questions (and all new features) sparingly and deliberately. It’s more important to use it well than use it a lot.

Below are some examples of brands using Questions in a creative and engaging way.

2. Make it count.

You put a lot of effort into the content strategy behind your posts and Stories—making sure they fit with your brand voice and style, and align with your business goals. So take the same approach here.

You should have a goal for what you want to achieve by answering questions, whether that’s gathering product feedback, building trust with customers, or adding momentum to a campaign. Otherwise you’ll waste your efforts, and your audience’s responses.

3. Don’t forget to answer!

This might seem obvious, but if you’re asking your followers to submit questions, you should be ready to answer them. Your followers expect that from you, so don’t let them down.

Dedicate some time to monitoring and replying to all submitted questions. Look at your Instagram analytics, like your typical rate of Story replies, to get a sense of how many to expect.

Depending on your company and your audience, you may get tough questions or even negative feedback, so you should be prepared to field those. If you’re recovering from a social media fail, Questions can help rebuild trust and demonstrate transparency.

7 ways brands are using the “Ask a Question” sticker

This simple sticker is surprisingly versatile! Here are just a few ways brands are using it to make an impact.

1. To answer product questions

You can tell your audience what you think they need to know about your products, or you can let them tell you what they’re wondering. This also provides you with the perfect opportunity to showcase what sets your products apart from the competition.

Knixwear, an innovative intimates line, uses Questions to respond to customer inquiries and share what makes their products special.

Knixwear Instagram stories screenshot

2. To connect with followers over shared values

Not all posts need to be about sales or conversions. Posts that are meant to build connection and community matter too.

Questions, with their conversational format, can be an effective tool for promoting a sense of community and creating discussions around your brand’s values. Outdoor retailer MEC achieved this by using Questions to talk with followers about World Mental Health Day.

MEC Instagram stories screenshot

MEC Instagram stories screenshot

These posts weren’t about driving people to the website or promoting new products.Instead, they reinforced the values of the company and gave followers an opportunity to share self-care tips and feel connected to their brand on a personal level.

3. To run a Q&A

The most straightforward use of this feature? A classic Q&A.

The trick to this is to make sure you’re offering an informative, interesting point of view. Don’t just let anyone answer questions about anything. Instead, connect audiences to an expert who can provide unique insights into a topic.

For instance, the Vancouver Art Gallery did an #AskACurator series, with career tips for budding curators. These type of posts appeal to your followers who are interested in the authentic, behind-the-scenes reality of your business.

Vancouver Art Gallery Instagram stories screenshot

Vancouver Art Gallery Instagram stories screenshot

4. To host an Instagram takeover

A takeover is a fun way to reach new audiences and inject some fun into your regular content, like when your favourite TV shows do crossover episodes. Recently, CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe handed the reins to makeup artist Jen Vanderzalm to share a new perspective with her followers. 

Instagram stories screenshot

Takeovers invigorate your account by expanding your reach to new people who may not be familiar with your brand. Questions are a fun and accessible way for these new audiences to get to know you and why they should follow you!

Learn more about planning a successful takeover.

5. To ask questions of your followers

The Questions sticker isn’t just for getting your followers to ask you questions. You can also use it to pose a question and gather responses. Unlike a Poll, it allows you to pose open-ended questions, rather than limiting your audience to choosing from two options.

For example, Starbucks asked followers about their favourite iced coffee orders. This provided them with content ideas as well as customer insights.

Instagram stories screenshot

Instagram stories screenshot

Used this way, it can be a valuable tool for getting input, feedback or suggestions from your audience. It can also help you plan your content strategy, by asking followers what they’re enjoying or excited about.

6. To support a campaign

During an Instagram campaign, you’re directing a lot of content toward a single objective. Part of the challenge is keeping that content varied and interesting, so that your followers don’t get tired of your campaign messaging.

Questions can be the perfect addition, reinforcing your key message but keeping things fresh.

Montreal-based retailer Frank + Oak ran a campaign to promote their Style Box subscription, using Questions to provide more detail about its features and encourage followers to sign up.

Instagram stories screenshot

Frank & Oak Instagram stories screenshot

7. To curate an FAQ

If you find yourself receiving repeat inquiries about your products, services, or business, the Questions sticker can be a handy way to organize and respond to these.

Use Questions to compile a Frequently Asked Questions section, which you can pin to the top of your profile as a Highlight. You can see this strategy on the University of Toronto’s profile, where their “Ask Me” Highlight includes popular questions from new students.

university of toronto instagram stories

This list isn’t exhaustive. There are plenty of other ways you can include Questions to add an interactive element to your Stories and learn more about your followers. It’s just another one of the growing set of options for making exciting, engaging content on Instagram.

For more inspiration, check out this list of brands who are winning at Instagram Stories.

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish posts, engage the audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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4 Holiday Campaigns to Inspire Your Social Feeds This Year

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/holiday-campaigns-social-feeds/

Oh, the holidays!

While the weather outside is getting frightful, and we’re inside by the fire that is delightful (or sitting on a beach if we’re lucky), most retail brands experience an incredibly high  volume of sales at this time of year. ‘Tis the season for giving.

But the month of December is a great opportunity for brands to increase social ROI, and a holiday campaign is often the best way to do it.

Here are four holiday campaigns from years past to inspire your marketing plans for the season.

1. Air Canada’s “Our Home”

In this heartwarming and tear jerking campaign, Air Canada helps us remember what “home” really is.

“We don’t live at home, home lives in us,” is the message of this emotionally charged video, which was posted on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook during the 2017 holiday season. The ad is beautifully shot, and prompts viewers to reflect on the meaning of home.

But not everyone has the budget to create such a high-quality campaign video to use on social. So what can we learn?

Air Canada does a great job of being non-denominational in this holiday ad.

It’s important to remember that not everyone celebrates the same winter holidays, so making this ad about home—instead of a specific religious holiday—was the right strategy for Air Canada (especially since they’re an airline, and that’s what they do most over the holidays: take people home).

When coming up with campaign ideas for the holidays, make sure your ideas are inclusive of all your current and potential customers.

2. The Starbucks Red Cup design challenge

View this post on Instagram

Just put the finishing touches on my @Starbucks cup. Blank red cups will be available in Starbucks stores this Saturday only. Would love to see what you create with yours! #redcupart #ad

A post shared by Sam Larson (@samlarson) on Dec 15, 2016 at 5:14pm PST

The Starbucks red cup is an iconic winter staple for this global coffee brand.

Every year, customers eagerly await the release of the red cup to see what design Starbucks has dreamed up for the current holiday season, and every year customers are delighted even more than the last.

But in 2016, Starbucks took their campaign a little further. For one day only, they released a very limited run of cups that were plain red and asked customers to create their own designs.

The campaign asked folks to share their own cup creations on social media with the hashtag, #RedCupArt.

Starbucks received thousands of #RedCupArt submissions on Instagram and Twitter, and some artists even created YouTube videos of them working on their Red Cup masterpieces.

User generated content is a great way to increase engagement online, and also to improve brand loyalty.

When coming up with ideas for your Holiday campaign, consider finding a way to engage your audience in the real world, and then bring them back online like Starbucks did.

3. Nordstrom’s social advent calendar

View this post on Instagram

The countdown's begun – but what's behind door number 1? #December, we're ready for you! #fridayfeeling

A post shared by Nordstrom (@nordstrom) on Dec 1, 2017 at 9:28am PST

The holidays are a wonderfully tradition-filled time of year, including family traditions, cultural traditions, and religious traditions.

This diversity is an incredibly beautiful thing to celebrate. However, it’s important for brands not to appropriate culture or tradition when releasing holiday campaigns. (The PR mess that might ensue? Eeep.)

Last year, Nordstrom did a fabulous job of respectfully using a holiday tradition many in the US and Canada (and worldwide) are familiar with—the advent calendar.

They created beautifully illustrated Instagram posts that, when clicked on, “opened up” to reveal a holiday surprise every day in December, usually in the form of a product-focused video.

The biggest surprise? They had Celine Dion in the campaign. We always give bonus points for Celine Dion. (I’m Canadian, and she is a national treasure thank you very much.)

4. Every holiday ad John Lewis has ever made, ever

If you haven’t seen every John Lewis & Partners holiday ad from the past 10 years, do yourself a favor. Go watch them all, right now.

But before you go, grab a box of tissue.

John Lewis & Partners is a chain of high-end department stores that operate in the United Kingdom, famous for their beautiful, story-rich holiday ads. And often, these ads make us well up with emotion.

That emotion often spills over into tears because the ads tell universal stories that we can all relate to.

From the little boy who really loves his toy penguin in 2014, to Elton John singing his heart out in 2018, John Lewis & Partners are experts at capturing the emotion of the holidays in a tight few minutes of video.

Then, they share it on their social media channels so the world can see. 2018’s ad featuring Elton John? Almost 30,000 retweets.

Emotions of every kind run high over the holidays and if you can successfully capture those moments with your audience,  you’ll be able to strengthen your online community and create more loyal followers. The business benefits there will definitely follow.

Not every brand has the budget to create such high-profile content like Nordstrom, Starbucks, John Lewis & Partners, or Air Canada. But the takeaways from these campaigns can be used or scaled by anyone to build successful holiday campaigns on social media.

We hope you found these holiday moments as inspirational as we did.

The holidays are already stressful enough. Use Hootsuite to make the holidays less stressful by planning all your social media content in one place. Try it for free today.

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Everything You Need to Know About LinkedIn Video in 2019

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/linkedin-video/

Since the launch of LinkedIn native video in 2017, LinkedIn has proven that it’s more than just a platform for long-form B2B content.

In one year, LinkedIn video posts generated more than 300 million impressions on the platform. They also earn an average of three times the engagement of text posts. Plus, early findings from LinkedIn’s beta program show that LinkedIn native videos are five times more likely than other content to start a conversation among LinkedIn members.

Impressive engagement stats aside, video marketing has been shown to boost revenue across social platforms. According to Aberdeen Group, brands that use video marketing grow their revenue 49 percent faster than companies that don’t.

Ready to get on board yet? This guide will cover everything you need to know about LinkedIn video, from the basics on how to use LinkedIn native video, to technical specifications.

And if you’re looking for that spark of inspiration, scroll down for a round up of examples and ideas.

Bonus: Want to know how a viral social video creator makes millions of dollars in sales? Download the free guide now.

Types of LinkedIn video
Embedded videos

It’s still common practice for many brands to upload to a video-hosting platform such as YouTube or Vimeo, and then share the link on LinkedIn. This works, but for many reasons, LinkedIn native videos tend to be a more effective strategy.

LinkedIn native video

“Native video” is video that is uploaded directly to LinkedIn or created on the platform itself.

Unlike embedded videos, LinkedIn native video autoplays in-feed, which is more likely to grab attention. Metrics show that Facebook native videos garner 10 times more shares than linked videos, a boost that likely also holds true for LinkedIn native videos.

LinkedIn video ads

LinkedIn video ads are sponsored company videos that appear in the LinkedIn feed. Video ad campaigns have greater potential to increase brand awareness, brand consideration, and lead generation since they are typically served to a larger, more targeted audience.

Unlike LinkedIn native video, which can be a maximum of 10 minutes long, LinkedIn video ads can run for up to 30 minutes.

Company page administrators can set up a video ad campaign using Campaign Manager, or elect to sponsor an existing post.

How to use LinkedIn native video

On desktop or mobile, sharing LinkedIn native video is pretty much a three-step process. Mobile allows you to record and post in-app and add text and stickers, whereas desktop requires a pre-recorded video.

On desktop:
1. From the homepage, click Share an article, photo, video, or idea.
2. Click the video icon.
3. Upload the video you want to share.

On mobile:
1. Look for the share box (iOS) or post button (Android) at the top of the feed.
2. Tap the video icon.
3. Record a video in the app, or upload something you re-recorded.
4. Tap the filters or text button.
5. Add filters and/or text.

linkedin native video

After posting a video you’ll have access to audience insights, including how many views, likes, and comments your post is receiving. You’ll also be able to see the top companies, titles, and locations of viewers. Learn which video metrics matter most.

How to launch a LinkedIn video ad campaign

Here’s a quick guide to setting up a LinkedIn video ad campaign:

1. Log in to Campaign Manager to create your campaign.
2. Select Sponsored Content.
3. Name your campaign.
4. Choose your main objective. Options include: get website visits, collect leads, or get video views.
5. Select video as your ad type format and click Next.
6. Click Create new video.
7. Fill out the form, upload your video, and hit Save.
8. After your video has uploaded, select the video by clicking the checkbox next to it and then hit Next.
9. Choose your target audience criteria and click Next.
10. Set up your bid, budget, the duration for your campaign, and click Launch Campaign.

linkedin video ads

LinkedIn video ads provide richer analytics than LinkedIn native video. Learn more about LinkedIn video ad analytics here.

LinkedIn video specs

Plan and adhere to these technical specifications when creating video for LinkedIn.

These specifications vary between standard native videos and LinkedIn video ads, so make sure to take note of the difference.

LinkedIn Native Video Specs

Minimum video length: 3 seconds
Maximum video length: 10 minutes
Minimum file size: 75KB
Maximum file size: 5 GB
Orientation: Horizontal or vertical. Note: Vertical videos are cropped into a square in the feed.
Aspect ratio: 1:2.4 or 2.4:1
Resolution range: 256×144 to 4096×2304
Frame rates: 10 – 60 frames per second
Bit rates: 192 kbps – 30 Mbps
File formats: ASF, AVI, FLV, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, MKV, QuickTime, WebM, H264/AVC, MP4, VP8, VP9, WMV2, and WMV3.
Formats that are not supported include: ProRes, MPEG-2, Raw Video, VP6, WMV1as.

LinkedIn Video Ad Specs

Minimum video length: 3 seconds
Maximum video length: 30 minutes
Minimum file size: 75KB
Maximum file size: 200MB
Orientation: Only horizontal. Vertical videos are not supported by LinkedIn video ads.
Pixel and aspect ratio:
360p (480 x 360; wide 640 x 360)
480p (640 x 480)
720p (960 x 720; wide 1280 x 720)
1080p (1440 x 1080; wide 1920 x 1080)
File format: MP4
Frame rate: Maximum of 30 frames per second.
Audio format: AAC or MPEG4
Audio size: Less than 64KHz

Planning to serve your video on more than on social network? Check out our complete guide to social media video specs.

10 LinkedIn video best practices
1. Optimize your setup

Before going into selfie mode and hitting the record button, here are a few things you should consider.

Lighting: Choose a well-lighted place. Natural light is often best, but artificial light can work in a pinch—just look out for shadows. Also, make sure subjects aren’t back lit, otherwise they’ll become a silhouette.
Camera position: No one wants to see up your nose. Take a test video, and adjust the tripod or add or remove a few books under the camera setup as needed.
Camera: If recording from your phone, use the rear camera. Most phones have larger apertures and offer higher resolution from the rear cam. Use a tripod or makeshift mount to keep the camera steady.
Background: Avoid a cluttered or distracting background. Also, if you’re shooting in an office environment, make sure confidential materials and other brand logos are tucked away. You don’t want to inadvertently endorse another brand on your company’s behalf.
Body language: In his research, psychologist Albert Mehrabian found that 55 percent of communication is transmitted through body language. Only seven percent is given through words, and 38 percent through tone. Maintain a relaxed presence by rehearsing your script. Look directly at the camera, smile, and breathe naturally.

2. Aim to capture attention from the start

LinkedIn recommends that videos include a hook within the first 1-2 seconds.

3. Put essential information upfront

Attention that wanes after the first few seconds will typically drop off after the 10 second mark, LinkedIn research finds. That’s backed up by Facebook findings, which show 65 percent of people who watch the first three seconds of a Facebook video will watch for at least 10 seconds, while only 45 percent will watch for 30 seconds.

Plan to share your message, or show your audience what you want them to see, early on. That way you increase the likelihood of leaving an impression with more viewers.

4. Design for sound off

Up to 85 percent of social media videos are played with no sound. That means most LinkedIn members will be watching your video as if it’s a silent film. Prepare accordingly by including descriptive images, explanatory infographics, and even expressive body language.

5. Include closed captions

Even if your video isn’t speech heavy, closed captioning will make them more accessible. Plus, since LinkedIn just added a closed captioning feature, there’s no excuse for your videos to not have subtitles.

To add captions:

Click the video icon in the share box on desktop and choose the video you want to share.
When the preview shows up, click the edit icon on the top right to see the video settings and then click select file to attach the associated SubRip Subtitle file.

6. Vary the shot

A single shot video can get boring, and with viewers dropping off by the second, varying the shot is one way to keep them engaged. Even if you’re shooting an interview, borrow a second camera to record from different angles. Or, film some b-roll to use under voiceover.

7. Choose the right video length

According to LinkedIn, the most successful video ads are less than 15 seconds long. But lengths can vary when it comes to LinkedIn native video. Here are a few things to consider:

For brand awareness and brand consideration videos, LinkedIn recommends to keep length under 30 seconds.
Videos that meet upper-funnel marketing goals should stick to a 30-90 second video length.
Opt for longer-form video to tell a brand or product story. A LinkedIn study found that long-form video can drive as many clicks as short-form video if it effective tells a more complex story.
Don’t exceed 10 minutes. LinkedIn considers 10 minutes the informal cut-off point for video.

8. Close with a strong call to action

What do you want viewers to do after they’ve watched the video? Leave them with a clear direction. Here are some tips for writing CTAs.

9. Don’t forget supporting copy

A recent study from Slidely found that 44 percent of video viewers on Facebook read caption text often, and 45 percent of viewers read captions sometimes.

The same likely goes for LinkedIn, so don’t miss this opportunity to describe your video or drive home a message. But keep it short and direct. We recommend 150 characters or fewer.

Adding LinkedIn hashtags and @ mentioning relevant companies or members in your caption is a useful way to increase reach and expose your video to more viewers.

And don’t forget to include a link, especially if the point of the video is to drive visits to your website or product page. As a bonus, LinkedIn finds that posts with links tend to have 45 percent higher engagement than those without one.

10. Use the word “video” for promotions

LinkedIn’s Video Ad Guide notes that promotional posts or emails that include the word video “can vastly increase the click-through rate.” If you’ve put in the effort to create a video, make sure to promote it—and use the keyword.

12 ideas for LinkedIn native video

Typically, most branded video content on LinkedIn falls into four main categories: culture, products and services, news, and events.

If you have a company blog, you can also analyze your best performing content and consider how it could be transformed into a LinkedIn video.

1. Share company news and updates

Changes to the board, new initiatives, acquisitions, partnerships, and more are all fodder for video content.

Example: Coca Cola company news

Bonus: Want to know how a viral social video creator makes millions of dollars in sales? Download the free guide now.

Get the free social video guide now!

2. Announce the launch of a new product or service

Use LinkedIn video to get customers excited with an announcement of things to come.

Example: MyTaxi city launch

3. Take customers behind-the-scenes

Show viewers where the magic happens. This is a great opportunity to impress customers with the skill, craftsmanship, or technology behind your operation. Or, show off your super cool office culture.

Example: Lego Behind the Scenes

4. Offer an explainer

Instructional or educational videos are particularly useful if you’re in an industry that uses complicated jargon or involves complex understanding. See this as an opportunity to teach your audience something new.

Example: The World Bank for the African Green Revolution Forum – AGRF:

5. Preview an upcoming event

Looking to register more attendees for an upcoming conference? Create a video guide or highlight some of the reasons they may want to enrol.

Example: MicroStrategy

6. Provide insider coverage of an industry event

Speaker highlights, product demos, and interviews can form a winning package of an event’s top moments.

Example: Pulse Africa

7. Introduce C-suite members

Position your company as a thought leader with interviews that share the vision of executive team members.

Example WeWork:

Example: Bill Gates

8. Tell a story with a case study

Testimonials are a great way to share how your products or services have helped customers.

Example: Philips

9. Let your customers know what you stand for

Use LinkedIn video to let your clients, employees, and prospective employees know what your company stands for.

Example: Boeing Pride

10. Spotlight inspiring employees

Introduce customers to the people who make things happen.

Example: GE

Example: UN Women

11. Highlight the good you’re doing

Videos about corporate social responsibility initiatives can bring attention to the social good your company is doing, and more importantly, to a good cause.

Example: Cisco

12. Share something fun

If your company gets mentioned on Jeopardy, you kind of have to share the video.

Example: Sephora

Manage your brand’s LinkedIn presence the smart way—use Hootsuite to schedule videos and updates, target posts, engage with followers, and measure the impact of your efforts. Try it free today.

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The post Everything You Need to Know About LinkedIn Video in 2019 appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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Free Instagram Presets to Make Editing Photos a Breeze

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/free-instagram-presets/

There are more photos taken every two minutes now than were taken during the entire span of the 1800s. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that social media managers are looking for ways to make their photos stand out from the crowd.

During a time when using #NoFilter is a rarity, it’s important to know exactly how you should be editing your photos for the best results. Thanks to Instagram presets, this process has become easier than ever.

Continue reading to find out:

What Instagram presets are
Why Instagram presets could be the secret to your photo success
How to use Instagram presets for best results

Plus, as a special thank you to our readers, we’ve included a pack of free professionally-designed Instagram presets so you can instantly boost the look of your photos.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

What are Instagram Presets?

Before you get started editing your photos, you need to know what an Instagram preset is. Instagram presets are essentially pre-made filters you download from the internet and can apply to your photos using an editing program such as Adobe Lightroom.

Each Instagram preset contains a set group of edits and effects that you can apply to any photo or collection of images. You can either download and install (as we’ll show you below) them on your phone or computer or create your own.

Why use Instagram Presets?
Save time

Editing photos is a time consuming task for all social media managers. With Instagram Presets, you can quickly and easily edit your photos with the touch of a button.

There’s no fiddling around trying to get the brightness or clarity just right. Instead, you can simply apply your preset and trust that your photo will look Instagram-ready in an instant.

Photographer Piotr Kulczycki says that using presets speeds up his photo-editing workflow by more than 5 times. The ability to edit large groups of photos at a time, plus the ease of use and automatic nature of presets all enable users to save valuable time when it comes to the previously tedious task of photo editing.

Create a cohesive and consistent look

Not only will your photo editing process be quick, but it will produce a consistent look for your Instagram feed. As mentioned in our guide to using Instagram for business, consistency and familiarity helps your audience recognize who you are and what you represent, which ultimately supports brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Your Instagram profile is like a portfolio for your business, so if there are photos that don’t look like they fit your brand voice and aesthetic they’re going to stand out—and not in a good way.

For example, prominent lifestyle blogger Elsie Larson’s Instagram account shows off her undeniable brand. With a recognizable color palette, Larson also uses a similar editing style for all of her posts.

free instagram presets

By using Instagram presets, you are able to ensure that the look of your Instagram feed remains consistent and aligned with your brand. When your Instagram profile is cohesive, it shows your audience that you’re intentional and mindful of your brand and the content you share.

Improve the quality of your posts

Editing an image with Instagram presets can take any photo from a mediocre shot to something much more elevated. Applying a preset to a photo that is dark, has low contrast, or is generally uninteresting can instantly transform it into a vibrant, high-quality image.

When you enhance a photo with Instagram presets, you’re showing your audience that you care. You aren’t just posting anything to your feed. You are taking the time to create and share carefully-crafted content that actually adds value to their experience. This means you’re worth following.

You always want to make sure the images you share on Instagram a working towards improving your business—not bringing it down.

How to use our free Instagram Presets

There are so many different—and confusing—instructions out there for installing Instagram presets, but we’ve worked hard to simplify the process.

While many of them require you to have Adobe Lightroom on your desktop or laptop computer, our preset pack doesn’t need this step.

1. Before you get started, you’ll need to download Lightroom on your mobile device. If you search “Adobe Lightroom CC” you should be able to find it easily.

free instagram presets

2. Once you have Adobe Lightroom downloaded on your device, download the zip files for each free Instagram preset you want to use onto your computer. Unzip the files to your desktop.

3. Open each folder you have downloaded.

4. Email the .dng files to yourself, and then open up the email on your mobile device.

free instagram presets

5. Open up each image file and save to your phone. If you use an Apple iPhone, click on the arrow and square symbol in the top right hand corner and select ‘Save image.’ You might see an error message stating ‘Unsupported file type’ but this is normal.

free instagram presets

6. Open up Adobe Lightroom and import the image file by clicking the import button in the bottom right hand corner.

7. You should now see the file in your Lightroom photo library. It will have the Hootsuite logo and file title with a blue background.

free instagram presets

8. Select and open the preset you want to use and click on the three little circles in the top right hand corner.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

Get the free checklist right now!

free instagram presets

9. Click on ‘Copy Settings’ and click ‘Ok.’

free instagram presets

10. Now, within Lightroom, open up the image you would like to apply the preset to. Click on ‘Paste Settings.’

Now that you know how to use presets, you’re on your way to not only saving precious time—but instantly improving your Instagram profile.

Our free Instagram preset downloads
Download: Dark (01)

Download: Dark (02)

Download: Light (01)

Download: Light (02)

Download: Sepia

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish your perfectly edited photos directly to Instagram, engage your audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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The post Free Instagram Presets to Make Editing Photos a Breeze appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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Nextdoor App: A Guide to Using the Neighborhood Social Network

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-use-nextdoor/

With the Nextdoor app, users can connect with their neighbors and engage their local community.

Likewise, business owners and organizations can target their local neighborhoods and offer services catered to them. By leveraging the power of word-of-mouth, Nextdoor can become an avenue to increased sales and profit.

Let’s take a look at what the Nextdoor neighborhood app does, how you can use it, and the best tips for you to optimize your presence on the social network.

Table of Contents
What is Nextdoor?
What the neighborhood app is used for
How to use Nextdoor
Key metrics to track
Nail the Nextdoor basics
Nextdoor tips for businesses and organizations

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

What is Nextdoor?

The Nextdoor app is a social networking platform for local communities and neighborhoods. Instead of connecting you to any user across the world, Nextdoor narrows your network to those in your surrounding area.

Its network is made up of more than 180,000 neighborhoods across the globe. According to their website, their mission is to “provide a trusted platform where neighbors work together to build stronger, safer, happier communities, all over the world.”

With the Nextdoor app, users can interact with their neighbors, discuss community news, and recommend local services and businesses that they like. But that’s not all the app can do…

What the neighborhood app is used for

While users can do everything on the app from gossiping about neighbors to commenting on the local wildlife…

nextdoor appWho needs BBC’s Planet Earth when you have the Nextdoor app?

…the Nextdoor app is primarily used for three things:

Selling and buying. Users can use Nextdoor in order to sell or purchase items in the “For Sale or Free” page of the app. Listings will also appear on the neighborhood feed so users can see new items as they appear. The app also has a feature that users can use to look at real estate listings as well.
Organizing events. Do you think your neighborhood could do with a good ol’ fashioned block party? Maybe you want to get a book club going? True to the spirit of the app, users can use Nextdoor to host and organize parties and events.
Get recommendations. With the app, users can look up reviews of local businesses like restaurants to see if they’re worth patronizing. It’s this exact feature that makes it such a boon for entrepreneurs.

At its heart, though, the Nextdoor network is a way for neighbors to engage each other and build a sense of community.

nextdoor appand also this.

How to use Nextdoor in 4 steps

Now that we know what exactly the app is used for, let’s learn how to use your Nextdoor network for your business or organization. Luckily, it’s a pretty intuitive process and takes only four steps.

Step 1: Download the app

nextdoor app

The first step is simple: Head to Apple App Store or Google Play Store and download the latest version of Nextdoor.

It’ll take just a few seconds to download and once it’s done you can move onto…

Step 2: Create a user profile

nextdoor app

Now it’s time to create your user profile. This will allow you to interact with other members of the community and take part in the various features of the Nextdoor app. Also, having a user profile will streamline the process once it’s time for you to put your business onto the app.

To do this, you’re going to want to click on “Find your neighborhood” when you open up Nextdoor for the first time. You’ll be taken to the next page:

nextdoor app

Here you’ll enter your address so Nextdoor can connect you with your local community. This might seem odd. After all, what social network requires you to provide your address? The app recognizes that this level of transparency is uncommon on their website, however, and claim that it’s to accomplish two things:

Create more than just an online community. According to their website, Nextdoor wants to encourage real-life community building by encouraging face to face conversations and meet ups. Rest assured, your information isn’t public and is only visible to the people within your community.
Accountability. If you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face in real life, you shouldn’t say it online either—or at least that’s one reason Nextdoor uses to share your information with the community. “We’ve found that when members keep in mind they’re talking with their real life neighbors,” the site says, “they’re more likely to treat each other with respect.”

Once you’ve entered your address you’ll have to register your email address and a password.

nextdoor app

When you’ve registered your user profile and verified your information, congrats! You’re now a user on the Nextdoor app. It will now take you straight to your neighborhood feed where you can view the latest updates, events, and listings from your community.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Get the free guide right now!

nextdoor app

That’s just the first step for using Nextdoor. We still need to register our business or organization—if you have one.

Step 3: Add your business to Nextdoor

Head to Nextdoor’s “Create a Business” page on their website by following the link here.

nextdoor app

You’ll have two options for your business or organization:

Business. Choose this option if your business has a name (e.g. franchised restaurants, LLCs with multiple employees).
Individual. Choose this option if you’re working under your own name (e.g. entrepreneurs, small business owners).

Pick the option that makes the most sense for your business or organization. Once you do, Nextdoor is going to ask you to enter some very basic information about the page you’re registering (e.g. what kind of business it is, your business address).

nextdoor app

Click on Add your page and your business profile will be registered with Nextdoor! You’ll now be able to view your business’s page, view your metrics (more on that later), and engage with your audience.

how to use nextdoor

However, there is one thing you’ll have to do first to get the ball rolling. What do you notice about the page above?

You need to reach out to neighbors first. In fact, if you don’t take the first step in sharing your Nextdoor business page, your organization won’t even show up in your community feed.

Luckily, it’s simple to do so.

Step 4: Share your profile

To share your profile, scroll to the middle of your business profile where you’ll find options on how to share your page to get recommendations.

how to use nextdoor

Recommendations are essentially reviews left from members of a Nextdoor community recommending a product or service. If you want your business to perform well on the app, then recommendations are how you’re going to get there.

My suggestion: Ask a customer to leave a review after you’ve left them happy.

Are you a tailor who just fixed a tear in a customer’s favorite coat? Ask them for a recommendation!
Did you just tutor someone’s child to earn straight As in school? Send them the recommendation link for Nextdoor.

Here’s a great script you can use when emailing them to get a recommendation too:

“[CUSTOMER NAME],

I’m glad to hear you’re happy with [XYZ service]!
Also, I’d appreciate it if you left a recommendation for me on Nextdoor. Just follow the link below and leave a review. It should take no more than two minutes.

[NEXTDOOR LINK]

Feel free to reach out if you need [XYZ service] again. It was a pleasure working with you.

Best,

[YOUR NAME]”

I used that exact same script for my business and was able to increase my audience from zero neighbors to more than 5,000.

how to use nextdoor appBefore
how to use nextdoorAfter

 

And just like that, I was visible on the Nextdoor app and had the social proof of a member of the community.

Key metrics to track

Like any other social platform, you need to know your key performance indicators (KPIs). For Nextdoor, your KPIs can be broken up into four areas:

Recommendations. These are the number of positive reviews your neighbors have given you. The higher the number of recommendations, the more social proof you’ll have in your community.
Neighborhoods. This is your reach in terms of communities and neighborhoods. The higher this number is, the greater the amount of networks your business can tap into.
Neighbors. These are Nextdoor users who can see your page. The higher this number is, the more Nextdoor users you can connect with.
Comments. These are people actively engaging with your community by leaving comments on your page. These are crucial in providing feedback, addressing concerns, and engaging back with your community.

With those four metrics, you’ll be able to get started tracking and optimizing your presence on the Nextdoor app.

Nail the Nextdoor basics

Now that you’re on Nextdoor, there are a ton of different ways you can engage with your communities from creating and hosting events to selling your items via listings.

Below are some fast tips on how to accomplish the most common Nextdoor goals:

How to post

Posting allows you to solicit advice and recommendations from your neighbors. It functions the same as your Facebook status updates. To make a post simply:

Go to your Newsfeed.
Click on Post a message, event, poll, or urgent alert to neighbors at the top of your feed.
Choose which type of post you’re making.
Craft your post.
Tap Post to post your message.

Your post will now appear on your community feed.

How to create an event

Create an event to gather your neighbors for a birthday party or perhaps a community meeting. To do so, just follow these steps:

Go to your Newsfeed.
Click on Events on the left side.
Click on Add event on the top right corner of the “Events” page.
Fill out your event information and click Next.
Choose a date and time for your event, as well as your event’s privacy, before clicking Next.
Choose a photo for your event.
Post your event.

Your event will appear on the newsfeed for your selected audience.

How to create a group

Groups will allow you to communicate and meet up with like minded neighbors. Start that bookclub you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe find running buddies who will help you train for half-marathon. To create a group, follow these steps:

Go to your Newsfeed.
Click on Browse all groups on the bottom left hand corner.
Click on Create group on the top right hand corner.
Fill out the group information and choose the privacy settings.
Click on Create group.

Your group will now be available for your neighbors to join.

How to sell an item

Declutter your home and make some cash along the way by selling your items on Nextdoor! To do so, follow these steps:

Go to your Newsfeed.
Click on For Sale and Free on the left hand side.
Click on Post an Item on the top right hand corner.
Fill out your listing and add a photo.
Click Post.

Your item will now be listed on your community feed.

4 Nextdoor tips for businesses and organizations

Nextdoor can be a great social network for everyone from users to businesses to organizations. Even local governments can use the app in order to connect with their community. In fact, governments can engage with their citizens and learn about the key issues that impact their community in real time.

Here are a few tips for businesses and governments to leverage Nextdoor for their neighborhoods.

1. Talk to your neighbors

Nextdoor allows organizations the unique opportunity to directly engage their community.

If you’re a local government, this might mean speaking with community leaders, individual citizens, and neighborhood groups. This allows you to listen to them and address their concerns—all the while encouraging civic involvement.

For businesses, this gives you an awesome opportunity to really listen to your clientele. Doing so allows you listen to their struggles and pain points, and craft attractive messaging around those issues.

2. Announce major changes

You’ll now be able to announce major changes that directly impact the community around you.

For example, if a street in your neighborhood is due to be street cleaned, you can now tell your neighbors to move their cars to facilitate that.

If you’re a business, you’ll be able to announce if your location is under construction or if there’s a major change in the hours you’re open.

3. Fight (and prevent) crime

Nextdoor also allows neighbors to help keep their communities safe by way of a digital neighborhood watch. Users can report suspicious activities and be aware of the potential dangers of their neighborhoods.

If you’re a local government, you can use Nextdoor to announce urgent crime notices or give practical advice to help keep your citizens safe. You can also keep an eye on the crime reports to help further prevent crime.

4. Engage your community

With events and groups, local governments and businesses can create a community within your community.

For example, local governments can create volunteer voter drive initiatives or organize town halls to address issues pertinent to your citizens.

If you’re a business, you can gather prospective customers for things like live workshops and meetups.
The Nextdoor app allows you to connect and engage with your community—all the while providing valuable metrics to help your business or organization.

And now we want to turn it over to you: Have you used the Nextdoor app? What has your experience been with using it for your business or organization?

Leave a comment below. I can’t wait to read your responses.

Save time and manage your social media presence with Hootsuite. Schedule and publish posts, engage your audience, and track performance all from the same dashboard. Try it free today.

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The post Nextdoor App: A Guide to Using the Neighborhood Social Network appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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How to Create the Perfect Instagram Ad in 10 Minutes

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/10-minute-instagram-ad/

Instagram ads are a great way to share your content with the platform’s one billion users. They’re invaluable for growing your followers, building your brand, and driving sales.

The key to a successful Instagram ad strategy is experimenting and refining. Rapidly generating and testing ads will help you learn quickly what works best for your brand and your target audience. You don’t need to spend a ton of time on each one—you just need to understand the most essential elements of an awesome ad.

In this post we’ll guide you through creating a perfect Instagram ad in only 10 minutes. We also have a step-by-step breakdown on the art of Instagram ads, if you need a more detailed primer.

Note: To run Instagram ads, you’ll need to set up an Instagram business account and then link to your company’s Facebook Page.

Ready? Let’s go!

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

Minute 1: Set your goal

Decide what action you want people to take when they see your ad. An Instagram ad isn’t like a Swiss army knife: it should have only one purpose.

Are you promoting a new product? Sharing a limited-time offer? Raising awareness about your brand? Choose the objective that best aligns with your advertising goal. It should be clear and simple, to you and your audience.

This objective is the foundation of your ad, so keep it in mind for the next nine minutes.

Minutes 2 + 3: Consider your audience

Next, take a couple of minutes to decide who you want to reach with your ad. Understanding your audience is key to creating ads that catch their attention and make them want to click. If you have them, audience personas can be helpful here too!

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:

Stay focused

If your goal is to reach as many people as possible, it might be tempting to leave your audience filters wide open. But honing in on a specific segment or demographic will provide you with more useful data about your audience’s preferences and interests, and ultimately help you refine your ad strategy.

Want to share an in-store promotion or drive registration for an upcoming event? Narrow your audience by location, like the example above. Trying to reach new customers? Use a lookalike audience to find people who share similarities with your existing customers.

Don’t wear out your welcome

There is one thing that all audiences on Instagram have in common: a short attention span. You don’t want people to get bored of your ad, so set it to expire after a week or two. Then you can take what you’ve learned and put it in action for your next 10 minute ad.

Minutes 4 + 5: Add a compelling image

Now we’re ready for everyone’s favorite part of Instagram: the visuals.

Ads on Instagram can take the form of photos or videos, in the Feed or as Stories. For the purposes of this 10-minute overview, we’re sticking with the OG: a Photo Ad.

Here’s how to choose an excellent photo, fast:

Pick a representative image

Your ad should be aligned with the rest of your brand identity, as well as the landing page that your audience will see when they click (more on that at minute 9!) Think of it as a window display for a shop: it’s a curated look at what’s inside.

To that end, make sure your image aligns with the rest of your brand identity! When someone clicks on your ad, the experience on the other side should mirror the look of your ad.

Stick to high-quality images

Instagram has always been a visuals-first platform, and that rule applies to ads too. No matter how incredible your offer is, if you’re leading with a lackluster photo, your audience will just scroll on to the perfectly-lit brunch post below.

If you need a crash course in Instagram photography, you can learn how to take an excellent photo using only your phone and how to edit to perfection.

The maximum size for an Instagram photo is 1936 x 1936 pixels. Stick to that size to ensure your photo isn’t blurry or grainy, and looks sharp on every screen.

Showcase the offer

If you’re promoting a specific offer and aiming for conversions, it can help to include the offer right in the image. Just make sure you’re not sacrificing quality for directness. Your ad still needs to stand out and appeal to your audience. To paraphrase Tyra Banks: Convert, but make it fashion.

Evoke emotion

Think about your audience again. How do you want them to feel when they see your ad? What will appeal to them and make them want to click?

For instance, you can appeal to their sense of humor by using a cheeky visual or a funny photo.

Or you could create a different kind of mood that reflects your brand or offer. For instance, Flax Sleep is creating a tranquil, cozy vibe that makes you want to crawl into bed—which is perfect, because they’re a bedding company.

Minutes 6 – 8 : Craft your copy

Stunning images may be the foundation of Instagram, but captions are invaluable for driving engagement and showing your brand’s personality.

You don’t need to be a wordsmith to write a killer caption. Just follow a few simple principles.

Stay focused

Remember six minutes ago when you set a goal for your campaign?

Whatever your ad objective is should be reflected in your caption. Use direct, compelling language, so that your audience is clear about what’s waiting beyond that click.

Don’t overthink this! Imagine how you would describe your offer or product in a single sentence to a friend. It doesn’t need to be fancy to achieve results.

A helpful shortcut when writing captions is to borrow wording from your landing page. This consistent messaging will build trust and reinforce your offer.

Use your character count wisely

You can include up to 2,200 characters in an Instagram ad caption. However, unless you’re selling some kind of quantum mechanical time machine, you probably don’t need that much space to explain your offer.

Since only the first few lines will be visible without clicking for more, place the most important details at the beginning of your caption.

Don’t feel like you need to use up every character if you can make your point in less. Your photo is worth a thousand words, so your caption can be brief!

Create urgency

How can you compel people to act now? Encourage audiences to click by emphasizing that your offer is limited in time or quantity. Here’s an effective example from Girlfriend:

Show your personality

Your ads are part of your overall brand identity, and they should reflect your values and character. Don’t get so focused on the details of your offer that you abandon your authentic voice.

Especially if you’re targeting awareness (rather than conversions or engagement), your caption is your opportunity to make a memorable first impression.

Minutes 9 + 10 : Add the finishing touches

You’re almost done! Just a few last steps as you wrap up your ad.

Choose your destination

Where are you sending people when they click your ad? A clear, focused landing page will drive conversions and reinforce your offer.

Wherever your send them, make sure the next step — whether it’s a purchase, subscription, or sign up — is crystal clear!

Add the CTA

Instagram has a menu of CTA buttons, which will appear between your image and caption. Choose the one that aligns with the message in your copy and the goal of your campaign.

Preview your masterpiece

Time to take a moment to check your work and look at the ad as a whole. Don’t race through this step! You still have one whole minute.

Is the most important part of your offer getting cut off? Rearrange your copy. Is your CTA redundant? Edit your caption, or switch up your CTA selection.

This is also your moment to triple-check spelling, grammar and tone. It’s amazing (and embarrassing) how easy it is to miss your own typos. For peace of mind, I always ask someone else to have a glance before I take my ads live.

And that’s it! You nailed the perfect Instagram ad in only 10 minutes. The best part is, this ad cycle will provide you with new insights to inform your social media marketing strategy. Good luck!

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish photos directly to Instagram, engage the audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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The post How to Create the Perfect Instagram Ad in 10 Minutes appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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How to Manage Multiple Instagram Accounts: A Step-by-Step Guide

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/add-manage-multiple-accounts-instagram/

If you manage multiple Instagram accounts as part of your social media marketing strategy, then we have good news: it’s easy to add and switch between Instagram accounts.

And if you’re not using Instagram for your business yet, you might want to think about it. Instagram gives you access to 1 billion potential customers Plus, 71 percent of U.S. businesses already use the platform.

With Instagram, you can manage up to five accounts from the same app. It’s easy to toggle between your work account, personal account, and the Instagram handle you made for your favorite cactus. Just make sure to double-check which account you’re posting to before you post!

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

How to add a second Instagram account (or more)

If you want to manage multiple Instagram accounts from your phone, first you have to add them to your app. Don’t forget to update to the newest version of the app.

Step 1: Launch the app, and then go to your profile by clicking the image in the lower right corner.

add multiple Instagram accounts

Step 2: Open the options menu at the top right and then click on the gear to open your settings.

add multiple instagram accounts 2

Step 3: Scroll all the way to the bottom to Add Account.

add multiple instagram accounts

Step 4: Enter the username and password of the account you’d like to add. Presto! You can add and manage up to five Instagram accounts on a single app using this method.

How to switch between accounts on Instagram

Now that you’ve added all your accounts to your app, it’s easy to switch between your Instagram accounts.

Step 1: Go to your profile and tap your username at the top.

switch between Instagram accounts

Step 2: A pop up menu will appear. Select the account you want to use. That’s it!

How push notifications work with multiple Instagram accounts

Want push notifications for your work account only? It’s easy to customize which notifications you receive for each of your Instagram accounts. Here’s how:

Step 1: Go to your profile and open the options menu in the upper right corner. Then tap the gear icon to open your settings.

Step 2: Scroll down to “Notifications.” You can adjust your push notifications, email, and SMS notifications for this account.

notifications for multiple instagram accounts

Step 3: Do this for each account.

How to remove an Instagram account

Did you green thumb not work out? It’s easy to remove that account you created for your once-favorite cactus (and any account you don’t want to be responsible for any longer).

Step 1: Select the account you want to get rid of and go to your profile page.

Step 2: Open the options menu, then click on the gear to open your settings. Scroll to the bottom.

Step 3: Choose Log Out of [account name].

how to remove an Instagram account

This account still exists, but it will no longer appear in the drop down menu when you toggle between accounts. If you change your mind, you can add it again by following the steps in the “How to add multiple Instagram accounts” section above.

If you feel deep shame for killing your cactus, you can also permanently delete that Instagram account.

How to add and manage multiple Instagram accounts using Hootsuite

Managing multiple Instagram accounts with Hootsuite is a breeze. First, you need to add Instagram to your Hootsuite dashboard.

How to add Instagram to Hootsuite on desktop

Step 1: Click on your profile icon in the launch menu and then select Add a Social Network.

Step 2: In the pop-up window, select Instagram and tap Connect with Instagram. Log in and authorize Hootsuite to access your account.

How to add Instagram to Hootsuite

Step 3: Repeat steps 1-3 for each Instagram account you want to manage from Hootsuite.

Step 4: Once all your accounts are added it’s easy to toggle between them from your Hootsuite dashboard. Just open the options menu at the left and click on Streams. Each of your accounts will appear as a separate tab.

How to add Instagram to Hootsuite

How to add Instagram to Hootsuite on the mobile app

Step 1: Go to your profile and tap Social Networks.

adding Instagram to Hootsuite app

Step 2: Tap Add Social Network.

adding Instagram to Hootsuite app

Step 3: Select Instagram. Then login and authorize Hootsuite to gain access.

adding Instagram to Hootsuite app

Step 4: To add multiple accounts, repeat steps 1-3 for each account you want to add.

When you schedule a new post, just make sure you create it using the right account. Then Hootsuite will automatically publish it as usual.

Boom. That’s it. You’re managing multiple Instagram accounts like a pro.

Want to level up? Check out even more Instagram hacks, or learn how to get the most out of your Instagram analytics tools.

Easily add and manage multiple Instagram accounts using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish posts, engage your audiences, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

Get Started

The post How to Manage Multiple Instagram Accounts: A Step-by-Step Guide appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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How to Define Your Target Market: A Guide to Audience Research

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/target-market/

Defining your target market is one of a marketer’s most important tasks. It’s the foundation of all elements of your marketing strategy, from how you develop and name your products or services right through to the marketing channels you use to promote them.

Here’s a hint before we dig in: Your target audience is not “everyone.” Your task in defining your target group is to identify and understand your particular niche so you can dominate it.

The better you understand your target market, the more closely you’ll be able to focus your ads, so you can pay only to reach the audience most likely to convert into customers. As your depth of audience insight grows, you’ll start to see higher conversion rates and better ROI—key metrics that matter to all marketers (and marketing bosses).

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a simple process that allows you to understand who’s already interacting with your business and your competitors, then use that information to develop a clear target group as you build your brand. It’s all about narrowing your focus while expanding your reach.

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals how to increase social media engagement with better audience research, sharper customer targeting, and Hootsuite’s easy-to-use social media software.

Target market definition

A target market is the specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing message. They are the people who are most likely to buy your products or services, and they are united by some common characteristics, like demographics and behaviors.

The more clearly you define your target group, the better you can understand how and where to reach your best prospects. You can start with broad categories like millennials or single dads, but you need to get much more detailed to achieve the best possible conversion rates.

Don’t be afraid to get highly specific. This is all about targeting your marketing efforts effectively, not stopping people from buying your product. People who are not included in your target market can still buy from you—they’re just not your top focus when it comes to crafting your marketing strategy.

You can’t target everyone, but you can sell to everyone.

Your target market should be based on audience research, not a gut feeling. You need to be willing to learn as you go, adapt on the fly, and go after the people who really want to buy from you, even if they’re not the customers you originally set out to reach.

How to conduct audience research: 7 tips
1. Compile data on your current customers

A great first step in figuring out who most wants to buy from you is to identify who is already using your products or services.

Once you understand the defining characteristics of your existing customer base, you can go after more people who fit the same mold.

Depending on how someone connects with your business, you might have only a little information about them, or a lot. Don’t add a lot of questions to your order or opt-in process just for audience research purposes. This can annoy customers and result in abandoned shopping carts.

But gather whatever information you do have about your existing customers into a database you can use to track trends and averages. Some data points you might want to consider are:

Age: You don’t need to get too specific here. It won’t likely make a difference whether your average customer is 24 or 27. But knowing which decade of life your customers are in, or their generation, can be very useful.  
Location (and time zone): Where in the world do your existing customers live? In addition to understanding which geographic areas to target, this helps you figure out what hours are most important for your customer service and sales reps to be online, and when you should schedule your social ads and posts to ensure best visibility.
Language: Don’t assume your customers speak the same language you do. And don’t assume they speak the dominant language of their (or your) current physical location.
Spending power and patterns: How much money do your current customers have to spend? How do they approach purchases in your price category? Do they have specific financial concerns or preferences you need to address?
Interests: What do your customers like to do, besides using your products or services? What TV shows do they watch? What other businesses do they interact with?
Stage of life: Are your customers likely to be college students? New parents? Parents of teens? Retirees?

If you’re selling B2B products, your categories will look a little different. You might want to collect information about the size of businesses that buy from you, and information about the titles of the people who tend to make the buying decisions. Are you marketing to the CEO? The CTO? The social marketing manager? Understanding who within the company you need to speak to is a critical first step in crafting your brand voice.

2. Look to website and social media analytics

So, where do you get all of this audience research information? Social media analytics can be a great way of filling in the gaps in your customer analysis. They can also help you understand who’s interacting with your social accounts, even if those people are not yet customers.

We’ve got full guides on how to use analytics on all of the major social networks:

Facebook analytics guide
Twitter analytics guide
Pinterest analytics guide
Instagram analytics guide
LinkedIn Analytics guide
YouTube analytics guide
Snapchat analytics guide

We’ve also got a guide on how to use Facebook Audience Insights, which can provide some really in-depth information about your existing Facebook audience, including what other Facebook Pages they like and what kinds of devices they use.

3. Check out the competition

Now that you know who’s already interacting with your business and buying your products or services, it’s time to see who’s engaging with the competition.

Taking a look at what your competitors are up to can help you answer some key questions: Are your competitors going after the same market segments as you are? Are they reaching segments you hadn’t thought to consider? How are they positioning themselves?

We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide on how to do competitor research on social media that walks you through the best ways to use social tools to gather competitor insights.

You won’t be able to get detailed audience research about the people interacting with your competitors, but you’ll be able to get a general sense of the approach they’re taking and whether it’s allowing them to create engagement online. This analysis will help you understand which markets they’re targeting and whether their efforts appear to be effective.

4. Be clear about the value of your product or service

This comes down to the key distinction all marketers must understand between features and benefits. You can list the features of your product all day long, but no one will be convinced to buy from you unless you can explain the benefits.

Features are what your product is or does. The benefits are the results. How does your product make someone’s life easier, or better, or just more interesting?

For example, in this IKEA ad, features of the advertised furniture might be that it is small, inexpensive, and multi-purpose. But the benefit is that it can help you make a small, temporary living space feel like home.

Looking to make your college space feel more like a home? Watch for tips to Solve It In a Snap and click to shop the look. https://t.co/5H1UMRBY8T pic.twitter.com/8YWNz1Qd2i

— IKEA USA (@IKEAUSA) August 15, 2018

Notice how defining the benefits also helps you define your target audience—in this case, college students moving into a new rental home.

If you don’t already have a clear list of the benefits of your product, it’s time to start brainstorming now. As you create your benefit statements, you’ll also automatically be stating some basic information about your target demographic.

For example, if your service helps customers connect with qualified pet-sitters, you can be pretty confident that your audience will mainly be made up of pet owners (and likely ones who travel). If your product allows people to back up their mobile photos remotely, you know you’re targeting people who own mobile devices and use them to take a lot of photos.

If you’re not sure exactly how customers benefit from using your products, why not ask them? You might find that people are getting creative and using your products or services for purposes you haven’t even thought of. That might, in turn, change how you perceive your target audience for future sales. An email customer survey can turn up all kinds of great insights, as can asking a quick question on your social channels.

5. Create a target market statement

Now it’s time to boil everything you’ve discovered so far into one simple statement that defines your target audience. This is actually the first step in creating a brand positioning statement, but that’s a project for another day.

For now, let’s stick to creating a statement that clearly defines your target market.

For example, here’s Zipcar’s brand positioning statement, as cited in the classic marketing text Kellogg on Marketing. We’re interested in the first part of the statement, which defines the target market:

“To urban-dwelling, educated, techno-savvy consumers who worry about the environment that future generations will inherit, Zipcar is the car-sharing service that lets you save money and reduce your carbon footprint, making you feel you’ve made a smart, responsible choice that demonstrates your commitment to protecting the environment.”

Zipcar is not targeting all residents of a particular city. They’re not even targeting all the people in a given city who don’t own a car. They’re specifically targeting people who:

live in an urban area
have a certain degree of education
are comfortable will technology
are concerned about the environment

These are all interests and behaviors that Zipcar can specifically target using social ads. They also help to guide the company’s overall approach to its service, as evidenced by the rest of the positioning statement.

When crafting your target market statement, try to incorporate the most important demographic and behavior characteristics you’ve identified. For example:

Our target market is [gender] aged [age range], who live in [place or type of place], and like to [activity].

Don’t feel like you need to stick to these particular identifiers. Maybe gender is irrelevant for your target customer, but you have three or four key behaviors to incorporate in your statement. The key is boil all of your research down into one simple statement that can guide your marketing efforts.

If you offer multiple products or services, you might need to create a target market statement for each product, or each product category.

6. Test social ads on your target market

Now it’s time to have some fun and see how you can put your target audience research to work.

The first step is to create social ads specifically targeted to the exact market you have just defined. You might already have appropriate ad creative from a previous campaign, or from your organic social posts, but be honest about whether the material is really as precisely targeted as it should be.

Does the language speak exactly to the market you have defined in an appropriate voice? Do the visuals make sense in the context of your target market?

Going back to the Zipcar example, take a look at how the company speaks to the target market it has identified. Remember, Zipcar’s target market is “urban-dwelling, educated, techno-savvy consumers who worry about the environment.”

View this post on Instagram

Leafing for college this weekend? Don’t forget your greens ????#WhatDidYouForget ????: @willbrinkerhoff. . . . #worththetrip #zipcar #travel #wanderlust #travelinspo #explore #roadtrip #travelgram #traveling #getoutside #adventure #city #urban #mobility #backtoschool #plants #dormlife

A post shared by Zipcar (@zipcar) on Aug 24, 2018 at 1:32pm PDT

On Facebook:

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals how to increase social media engagement with better audience research, sharper customer targeting, and Hootsuite’s easy-to-use social media software.

Get the free guide right now!

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.2’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Your local farmer’s market deserves your love—and not just because of those killer apple cider doughnuts. ????

Posted by Zipcar on Sunday, September 30, 2018

On Twitter:

You can leaf your car ownership worries to us. #ZipIntoFall pic.twitter.com/us2819yu4f

— Zipcar (@Zipcar) October 11, 2018

Can you see how Zipcar is speaking to its identified target market across its social channels?

Once you’re happy with your creative, it’s time to start using social tools to reach out to your defined target audience. First, you’ll need to decide which social channels you should use. Take a look at our demographics information for each social network to get a sense of which ones might best allow you to reach the target demographic you’ve identified.

Facebook demographics
Instagram demographics
Twitter demographics
Snapchat demographics
LinkedIn demographics

Once you’ve chosen your platforms, you can get really granular in your ad targeting. Use the characteristics you’ve defined in your target market statement to build an audience for your ad. The process will vary a little for each social network, but all offer extensive targeting options. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our guide to how the ad targeting process works on Facebook.

Track the performance of your ads to see what kind of measurable results you achieve. Once you’ve established a baseline, you can use A/B testing to learn even more about what targeting options work best, and whether you need to tweak your creative approach to speak more directly to your target audience.

7. Revisit your audience research as needed

The results of your test may provide additional insight you didn’t have when you first created your target market statement. Be sure to incorporate any lessons you learn, and revisit your target market statement regularly to make sure it still accurately describes your most valuable potential customers.

Keep in mind that your target market could change over time. For example, way back in the 1980s, Atari marketed its gaming console to kids.

Today, Atari is targeting the same people who played its games back in the 1980s—but those people are now aged 35 and up, and view the Atari brand not as a cutting-edge gaming system, but as a nostalgic part of their childhood.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.2’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

The New Atari VCS pays homage to the original game system we all know and love. Packed full of the games you remember growing up with! Which Atari game was your favorite?

Posted by AtariVCS on Monday, March 19, 2018

Make sure you stay current with your target market definition as your products and services evolve, and as your audience changes over time.

Hootsuite Analytics can help you learn more about your audience on social media. Start determining the best target market for your brand today!

Learn More

The post How to Define Your Target Market: A Guide to Audience Research appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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The Complete Guide to Content Curation: Tools, Tips, Ideas

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/beginners-guide-to-content-curation/

Want to become a content curation pro? You’ve come to the right place.

In this guide we’ll teach you how to source and share great content on social media.

Content that your audience will like, comment on, and share with their followers (exposing your brand to a wider audience).

But, before we get to the whys and hows of content curation…

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

What is content curation?

It’s adding your voice (and value) to a handpicked collection of content. Gathered from a variety of sources, around a specific topic, that you publish and share with your fans. Wherever they may be.

Simple, right?

Yet, many do this without a strategy.

But not you.

After reading this article you’ll be more equipped (and excited) when scrolling through your content feed.

Sharing is caring, right?

6 key benefits of curating content

Because living in the information age demands people manage, organize, and share information with others. Efficiently.

What we know, how we manage what we know, sharing it with others—these are all keys to the info-game.

Let’s get specific…

1. Be recognized as an expert

Perhaps numero uno for curating and sharing content. Others build an impression of your business by what shows before their eyes. So then…

Be deliberate about what you want fans and followers to think of your brand.

Be it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and all the usual suspects. Curation content is one aspect of your stay-on-top-of-mind campaign for being seen as an expert in your field.

2. It’s easier than creating your own

That’s right.

Creating (vs curating) content is a required piece of your content marketing strategy. However, writing blog posts, making YouTube videos, or Snapchatting takes time and energy.

You got the time and budget for that? Yes? Great, do that, too. And…

Share something excellent already created for you.

It keeps the conversation going.

What a relief, too, knowing you can share what you’re already reading on your desktop, tablet, or phone. Maybe even your watch?

3. Show you’re in the game

By showing and sharing what’s important for your business. Every time people see you their feeds and screens, it’s another notch in their yup-she’s-in-the-game.

Also, it gets old when companies post only their own stuff. Comes off as “me, me, me.”

As a social curator, you’re better than that, right? Right?

4. Grow your network

When helping others, others help you.

Sharing and curating content can help you make connections with leaders and influencers in your industry. And, spark conversation with your social media audience in general.

5. Grow your business

If you got something worth saying, created or curated, you’ve got people’s attention.

The more you share, the more eyeballs you attract. Use this as your e-carrot to hook them in to say, your email list.

6. Stay informed

For all the above… it’s about them. But what about you?

Curating and sharing content keeps you on your business-toes.

Spending time finding, sifting, and reading pieces across the web, for your industry, helps you learn more about your business.

Those are some of the whys of content curation. On to the hows…

How to do content curation right

Obviously, you’ll need to determine the topics to share with your fans. Then locate the articles for those topics. There’s tools for this. You’ll see some shortly.

To decide on which posts to share, consider…

Who should I share this with?
Why would this help them?
Is this a trustworthy source?
Is it unique and worthy of sharing?
Will it make the reader grin, snicker or blush?

Once you’re good on these, time to schedule them.

When doing this, also consider the “social media rule of thirds”:

Share a third on personal brand promotion
A third of curated content
A third about the conversations happening on social media

Know your audience

Say you like a post about awesome tips for designing a web page rendered on a mobile device.

Glad you’re so excited about it.

But before hitting the schedule-this button, ask those questions above.

Because this is about them, not you. You’re sharing because you’re caring—caring about how this post will help readers do their job better (as on example).

Share only what matters

Relevant. Timely. Interesting. Useful.

Otherwise, forget about it.

That’s all I’ve got to say about this.

Make it personal

And consistent, too.

Every Monday, I find, share, and schedule 10 articles for the week on LinkedIn.

As I’m scheduling each piece, I write a blurb summarizing a key point or takeaway.

To help the reader identify with my share.

And, to associate this post with my brand.

Whether people read this or not, they still get to see an interesting or quirky or useful snippet in their feed. Twice a day.

Promote yourself

…but just a little.

As mentioned, sharing curated (vs created) content is your opportunity to show some breadth. Others will see how you use the web-o-sphere to be a beast in your space and industry.

Absolutely, share your own content, too. Say at a 1:10 ratio. You’ll look more real, less promotional. A killer for building trust.

Mix it up

Guilty as charged.

Recently, I caught myself sharing too much of the same thing. Topics on writing and designing.

I’ve opened up the share-pipes to productivity, self-help, simple apps, and other human topics to improve how we work each day.

Ultimately, I care about helping people get clear and unwhelmed, organized and efficient, informed and excited. Why? For humans to perform their job better, everyday, and feel great doing it.

Both, the topics I share and the blurbs I write contribute to this.

Same goes for you.

Give credit

Because it’s a nice thing to do.

And it feels good, for you and them.

Add an @mention in a tweet, or tag the content creator in a Facebook post (as two examples) for any content you’re sharing.

Schedule it

…so your curations will be seen over a balanced period, like a week.

Use a social media calendar to map out what you’re going to post. Then use a program like (ahem) Hootsuite to schedule your posts. A set-it-and-forget-it approach, one time, versus posting multiple times a day.

But don’t schedule too far in advance. You still want your posts to be timely.

Listen, socially

…to learn what’s working, what’s not, and what to change.

Learn how in this Hootsuite post about social listening.

And, check out this video from Hootsuite Academy for some content curation best practices.

Got a better idea of why and how to curate and share content? Are you onboard with this all? Is it annoying, me asking so many questions?

Fine. Perfect time then to check out some tools…

10 content curation tools and software

Check out these tools that can help you become a content curation pro.

FOR BEGINNERS
1. Buzzsumo

Want to see what key influencers are sharing? And when?

BuzzSumo helps you find the most shared content on the web, for specific topics, in the last few hours or months. See top 10 influencers for a topic, too, and what they’re sharing.

From $79 to $559 a month. Even cheaper if you pay by the year.

2. Twitter Lists

Twittering can get messy—quickly.

Especially if you don’t organize the accounts you follow.

Use Twitter Lists to share and respond to followers, no matter how many of them you have. Lists will help you categorize and organize your followers, so you can engage with them in segments.

Want some help using Twitter lists? Check out the video below.

3. Pocket

Save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app. From any device.

Better than using a laundry list bookmarks or countless emails sent to yourself with links.

Pocket keeps all your interesting images, articles, and videos in one place. Capturing and collecting information is the first step in sharing your curation.

From free to $4.99 a month.

content curation with Pocket

4. Newsletters

You subscribe to newsletters and blog posts, don’t ya?

I set up Gmail to automatically label my incoming subscriptions.

I now have a repository for sharing loads of useful content. I click on the label and can see all my articles, sorted by date.

Come Monday morning, I browse and pick the items I want to share for the week.

You can do the same. No matter what email program you use.

And it’s free, free, free.

5. Instapaper

See something you like on the web, that you might want to share later on?

Instapaper is waiting for you.

Sign up for a free account, create a folder (e.g. ‘posts to share’), and a bookmarklet, too.

For any article in view from your browser, click the bookmarklet in your browser bar. Instapaper will save the page in that folder. In seconds.

content curation

Do this all week long. Again, come Monday, yet another source of articles for you to share.

Curation made easy.

Bonus, I do the same for blog sites. Where I scan and pick posts from each website. Using two folders, ‘posts to share’ and ‘sites to share.’

FOR INTERMEDIATES
6. Hootsuite

Manage all your social media channels from a single platform.

Or, you could keep: a) logging in to each app, b) move them around just so on your screen and, c) share and reply from each and every window.

¯_(ツ)_/¯

Use Hootsuite to do everything from a single, unified system. Share, schedule, analyze, monitor your social presence using ‘streams’.

Get started for free.

7. Feedly

More for keeping up with your favorite feeds and articles. All in one spot.

Use Feedly also, to keep track of internal information, and when your business is mentioned online. Add sources to Feedly. Browse them later to share with others. Here’s how.

From free to $18 a month.

content curation

8. Scoop it

Collect and curate content—with a Pinterest-like approach.

Use Scoop.it to find things organize topics in a hub page. Then, publish your stuff elsewhere, such as your blog.

From free to $67 a month.

content curation

FOR ADVANCED USERS
9. Curata

Be known by sharing only the most relevant and helpful content.

Curata listens to what you’re interested in. Then, discovers and recommends content for our audiences. Mostly automatically.

Of course, you can (and should) add your touch by fine tuning content sources. Then, review and distribute them, from a single tool. Repurpose curated content, too, across your blog, social, newsletter, and automated marketing platforms.

Cost? Mysterious. Call 617-229-5529 to get a quote.

content curation

10. PublishThis

Like Curata, PublishThis, gathers content relevant for your audience. It’s a big time-saver for daily curation.

PublishThis can collect content from you, your freelancers, your employees and partners. Then, mix it up and share it out across other platforms, like email, web and social sites.

From free to $399 a month.

content curation

Hootsuite can help with your content curation for social media. Find content to share, schedule it to publish on your social channels, and track your success—all from one dashboard.

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The Complete Guide to Using LinkedIn Hashtags

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/linkedin-hastags-guide/

LinkedIn hashtags were introduced in 2018. And while you may already be familiar with Instagram hashtags and Twitter hashtags, LinkedIn’s hashtag terrain is a little different from the other social networks.

Just like Twitter or Instagram, a LinkedIn hashtag is any combination of letters, numbers, or emoji that follow the # symbol. #FunFact: the technical term for a hashtag is octothorp.

Using hashtags on LinkedIn will make your content more discoverable and help you connect with members that may be interested in your company.

But, since LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s important to keep hashtags work appropriate. Hashtags that are trending on other sites aren’t always a good fit for LinkedIn, especially #CareerEndingTwitterTypos, #WhyIQuit, and other memes that are unlikely to fly with your superiors.

This guide will cover hashtag basics, delve into specific tips and tricks for using hashtags on LinkedIn, and highlight some of the most popular hashtags being used on the platform.

Bonus: Download a free guide to discover four time-saving tools to help you grow your LinkedIn network faster. Includes one tool that lets you schedule a week’s worth of LinkedIn updates in just three minutes.

How to use LinkedIn hashtags

Where can you use hashtags on LinkedIn? In your posts (LinkedIn calls these “updates”) and LinkedIn articles.

Adding hashtags to your LinkedIn updates and articles gives them a higher chance of being discovered by LinkedIn members who follow or search for the hashtag you’ve used.

How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn update:

From the homepage, click into a Share an article, photo, video or idea field
Write, upload, or link to your content
Add hashtags using the # symbol

How to add hashtags to your LinkedIn article

From the homepage, click Write an article under the update field.
When you are ready to publish your drafted article, click Publish in the top right corner. A pop-up window will appear.
In the Tell your network what your article is about field, add copy to introduce your article, along with relevant hashtags. This will appear as commentary above your article when you publish it.
Note: You cannot edit or remove hashtags after you’ve hit publish.

You can also add hashtags to your profile Headline and Summary, but these will function the same way non-tagged keywords do. Instagram only just added hashtag link functionality to bios, so maybe LinkedIn will soon follow suit.

16 LinkedIn hashtag tips and tricks
1. Use hashtags with mint copy

Don’t leave your hashtags hanging. Even if you’re sharing an image or video, hashtags are no substitute for stellar copy. Your posts should always include at least one line of descriptive copy and include a call-to-action.

Hashtags can be placed after copy, or embedded within copy—so long as it makes sense to do so.

As a best practice, write your copy and then see if certain keywords can be made into hashtags. #Do #not #hashtag #every #word. Not only will this look like spam, there’s no point in tagging words that aren’t important.

Always remember the goal of your post, and use hashtags to facilitate them, not compete with them.

2. Include punctuation, but in the right places

Like hashtags elsewhere, Linkedin hashtags can only include letters, numbers and emoji. Any spaces or symbols used within the tag will break the link.

That means no apostrophes, commas, exclamation points, or hyphens.

Here are some key punctuation do’s and don’ts:

DON’T add spaces. Multiple word hashtags should be grouped together. For example: #JustDoIt not #Just Do It.
DO capitalize multi-word hashtags. Titlecasing will vastly improve readability and will prevent hashtags from being read incorrectly. (See #nowthatchersdead or #Susanalbumparty)
DON’T use symbols or punctuation marks. Grammarians may cringe over turning I’m into Im or you’re into youre, but hashtags operate under their own rules. Thus, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign slogan “I’m With Her” became #ImWithHer in hashtag format.
DO include punctuation around your hashtag. If your hashtag is in a sentence and should be followed by a comma, end mark, or other form of punctuation, including one will not affect the tag.
DO check your spelling. Hashtags can often be overlooked in proofreads, but a misspelled hashtag is a missed connection.

3. Don’t overdo it

There are no limits to the number of hashtags you can use in a post on LinkedIn. That said, we recommend that you limit each post to a maximum of five hashtags.

Otherwise you’ll end up sounding like this.

Using too many hashtags on LinkedIn could also result in the LinkedIn Algorithm marking your post as spam.

4. Make sure your hashtags are public

If you run a business profile on LinkedIn, your profile and posts most likely already are public. But it never hurts to check.

Simply edit public profile settings settings to Make my public profile visible to everyone. That way your hashtag will be searchable by all of LinkedIn’s 562 million members—not just your personal LinkedIn network.

For individual posts, click Post Settings and select Public + Twitter if you’d like to share your post and hashtags on Twitter as well.

Bonus: Download a free guide to discover four time-saving tools to help you grow your LinkedIn network faster. Includes one tool that lets you schedule a week’s worth of LinkedIn updates in just three minutes.

Get the free guide right now!

5. Find your brand’s niche

There’s a niche community online for every industry and subject, and they often use specific hashtags.

Whether your followers are self-described #avgeeks or #girlswholift, using the right niche hashtag will connect you to an online community that’s passionate about your industry.

Look for industry-specific LinkedIn hashtags here. Make sure to also check Instagram, Twitter, Reddit or other online forums for inspiration.

6. But don’t be afraid to use popular hashtags, too

Not everyone is familiar with niche tags, so strike a balance by using popular general hashtags, too.

7. Consider location-based hashtags

More than 70 percent of LinkedIn users live outside of the United States. If your post or article is about a certain region, or directed at a particular geography, it could be worthwhile to add a destination hashtag.

8. Use LinkedIn’s suggested hashtags

LinkedIn will automatically suggested relevant hashtags when you begin to write a post. If they seem like a good fit, include them. But don’t add them just for the sake of it.

Be deliberate in your hashtag use.

9. Follow hashtags to discover more ideas

Start following hashtags relevant to your brand. Posts with the hashtags you decide to follow will show up in your LinkedIn feed.

You can also pin your favourites to your homepage.

You can start following LinkedIn hashtags in a few ways, but the easiest way is to add it here. A list of the hashtags you follow on LinkedIn can be found from the homepage in the left sidebar under Your communities.

Click each hashtag to get a glimpse of how others are using given hashtags. Look to see if members are using additional hashtags that you could be following and using, too. For further inspiration, click Discover more at the bottom of your hashtag list.

10. Identify your most successful posts

Use LinkedIn Analytics to identify which of your posts and articles have performed the best. What hashtags did you include? If a certain hashtag is frequently found in your top posts, that one may be a keeper.

11. Use event hashtags

Many professionals use LinkedIn to network before, during, and after industry conferences and events. These days most events have hashtags. Use an event hashtag to signal your company’s presence or involvement–whether virtual or in person.

Here’s a #FunFact: The first hashtag ever used (on Twitter) was #barcamp. It was suggested by Chris Messina, the self-described hash godfather for networking at a technology conference series.

12. Make sure your hashtag means what it should

Dodge a LinkedIn Etiquette fail by making sure your hashtag means what you want it to. For instance, Blackberry’s use of #RIMjobs to announce Research in Motion job opportunities might have led to a few awkward job interviews. See also #CLitFest and #hobbitch.

The easiest way to make sure your hashtag is safe to use, search the hashtag in question and carefully examine the results.

13. Create a campaign or company hashtag

Create a hashtag to coincide with a brand campaign or recurring company initiative. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider before you get started:

DO be original. Don’t rip off a competitor’s tag.
DON’T use too many words that typically require punctuation.
DO keep it short and simple. The best campaign hashtags are usually three to four words. Think: #DoUsAFlavour, #ShareACoke, or #HeForShe.
DON’T forget tip #12 and test your hashtag first.

Brands can also use LinkedIn Elevate to create a company hashtag. The company hashtag can be automatically appended to employee posts, which helps to increase the visibility of your company and tag company-related content.

14. Record your LinkedIn hashtags for future use

Whether you use the note app, a Google Doc, or spreadsheet, recording your LinkedIn hashtags is a good idea. You can organize them by category or popularity, and keep track of campaign hashtags or timely hashtags such as #InternationalWomensDay or #EarthDay. Doing this will help you save time in the long run.

15. Know when to @ mention

Don’t use a hashtag where it may be better to @ mention. If you’re trying to tag a company or person, tagging them with the @ symbol followed by their name is a better way to get their attention. Plus, that means you can focus on keyword hashtags instead.

16. Don’t take hashtag literacy for granted

#TFW no one likes your LinkedIn update because they don’t know “TFW” stands for “that feeling when.”

#DYK LinkedIn’s demographics skew slightly older than other social media sites? So don’t assume everyone in your audience will be familiar with hashtag acronyms like #TFW, #DYK (did you know), #ICYMI (in case you missed it), or others.

Stay on tone for your brand and for your audience. #TFW may work on Twitter, but not on LinkedIn’s more professional platform.

Use LinkedIn Analytics to make sure you’re familiar with your audience demographics. If you’re not sure a hashtag acronym will succeed, run it by someone who matches your audience profile.

Popular LinkedIn hashtags

To see how many people are following a LinkedIn hashtag, enter the tag in the header search bar. The results will show how many members are following the tag.

General

#Mindfulness

#Creativity

#Leadership

#Innovation

#Management

#Motivation

#Tips

#Productivity

#Careers

#GettingThingsDone

Social media and marketing

#AdvertisingAndMarketing

#Branding

#KnowYourSocial

#SocialNetworking

#SocialMedia

#SocialMediaMarketing

#SocialMediaAdvertising

#DigitalMarketing

#ContentMarketing

#OnlineAdvertising

#Marketing

#Sales

Small business and entrepreneurship

#Business

#BusinessInteligence

#SmallBusiness

#Entrepreneur

#Entrepreneurship

#SocialEntrpreneurship

Women on LinkedIn

#WomenInBusiness

#WomenOfLinkedIn

#WomenInScience

#ProfessionalWomen

Personal networking tags

#Networking

#LetsWork

#WhatInspiresMe

#ONO = Open to new opportunities

#PersonalDevelopment

#PersonalBranding

Manage your brand’s LinkedIn presence the smart way—use Hootsuite to schedule updates, target posts, engage with followers, and measure the impact of your efforts. Try it free today.

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A Totally Silly (and Sometimes Serious) Wishlist of Instagram Features

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-wishlist/

With over one billion users and 95 million posts shared per day, it’s safe to say that Instagram is an important social platform—for consumers and brands alike.

There are many reasons to love Instagram—from its adaptation of the Stories feature, to its near single-handed revolution of the way we take and share images. But even though it feels like a new feature is released almost every week, we sometimes can’t help but daydream about even more features we’d love to see.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

10 Instagram features that don’t exist, but it would be cool if they did
1. The ability to change your homepage feed to a chronological timeline

It’s no secret that the Instagram algorithm change has been controversial. But allowing users to choose how they want to view their homepage feed—as Facebook does—would give a sense of autonomy back to the user. Seeing how many users choose this option would also give Instagram more insight into how people are using their platform.

2. Editing a story after it’s been published

Everyone has been there. You’ve taken a great story, uploaded it, and then checked to see how many people have viewed it, only to discover that you’ve made a terrible faux pas—a spelling mistake. This small feature could save a lot of blushes!

3. Being notified when someone unfollows you

Ever since the the dawn of social media time users have asked for this feature, but no social platform has yet made it available. Maybe they know something users don’t?

If you really have to know who has unfollowed you and when, there are third-party apps that can do this for you, but it would be cool if Instagram just told you itself. That way, brands could be notified in real time if a bunch of users unfollowed them at once, alerting them to a problem with a recently published post or Story, or perhaps even a broader PR crisis.

4. The ability to add multiple locations

Because sometimes one location just isn’t enough. But in all seriousness, there are reasons why the ability to add multiple locations is helpful to both users and brands.

For instance, if you’re a cafe showing off your latest creation, tagging both your city and street address is helpful. Potential new customers or tourists can find you by looking at posts from the city itself or the location of your cafe. It widens the reach of your content, and where it can be discovered—this would be especially true for brands reliant on tourism, as more and more audiences are using social as a way to research trips and vacations.

5. Live links in captions

Does this one really need more explanation? It would be nice to link to articles and blog posts in captions instead of saying “link in profile” over and over again.

6. Posting from desktop

First and foremost, Instagram was designed to be an app to use on the go and in the moment. But most of us—especially brands—only post high-quality, professional-grade photos and videos to our feeds now. As such, the ability to upload content via desktop would be a welcome feature upgrade. Especially if you don’t keep your content on your phone at all times, or if you use professional editing tools on your photos before posting.

The good news? You CAN upload photos to Instagram from your desktop with Hootsuite (and you can schedule posts too).

7. The ability to repost from other accounts

Both Twitter and Facebook have this feature as part of their core functionality—so why not Instagram too? It has benefits for both users and brands—from giving users a new way to interact with content they love, to brands being able to ‘regram’ user-generated content.

This feature is currently available through third-party apps, but it would obviously be much easier to do it natively with Instagram.

8. Being able to add your own presets natively into the platform

While Instagram offers a wide-range of editing tools that are enough for most users, it still lacks some functionality that many other apps offer—and that power users like influencers and brands would really appreciate. Presets—the filter settings that influencers use on their content to give it a certain look—are booming right now with many influencers selling their presets for fans to use on their own content. Instagram would make a lot of people happy by adding this small feature.

Another cool extension of this would be allowing users to add their own emojis to their Instagram emoji library. You can already do it for GIFs—why not emojis too?

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

Get the free checklist right now!

9. Search functionality in DMs

We know that Instagram isn’t a messaging app, but more and more fans are sliding into their friends’ DMs to chat. Brands also deal with customer service queries via chat. So adding a DM search ability would be a major win for a little cost.

10. Controlling who sees what content

Although Instagram allows limited functionality on who can see what on your profile (e.g. your mum can see your posts but not your Stories), allowing users to entirely control who sees individual posts and Stories would be an interesting feature.

Google+ was arguably the first platform to make this a major feature with “circles.” Facebook and Twitter also made attempts at allowing users to control their privacy in this way.

With brands, it gives the opportunity to test organic content within different groups of their choosing—they can see what content resonates before posting across all their groups or using it in their ads.

For users, it gives them more autonomy and control over their page, allowing for greater privacy—something that all social channels are moving towards.

Some silly, some serious, but these are some features that Instagram could look at implementing to keep the ‘grammers happy. While 10 feels like a long list, Instagram is a platform that continues to push forward and innovate in social media, so we’re not too worried.

Use Hootsuite to manage Instagram alongside all your other social channels. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish posts, engage the audience, monitor relevant conversations, measure performance, run ads, and much more. Try it free today.

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How to Use Snapchat Codes to Market Your Business

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/snapchat-codes/

Looking to make inroads with Snapchat’s 188 million daily active Snapchatters? It may be time to crack the code—Snapchat codes, or Snapcodes, that is.

In this guide we’ll cover the basics of Snapcode marketing, including Snapchat codes for filters, and Snapchat codes to add friends and gain followers.

Plus we’ll look at the savvy ways brands like Pepsi, Burberry, and Disney have used Snapcodes to put a little snap into their digital marketing campaigns.

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the steps to create custom Snapchat geofilters and lenses, plus tips on how to use them to promote your business.

What are Snapchat codes?

Snapcodes are scannable badges that can be read by smartphones. Think QR codes, but with a white ghost, yellow background, and a unique arrangement of black dots. Each Snapchat user has their own individual Snapcode, which doubles as a profile picture and shareable “follow” button.

snapcodes

Snapchat codes allow Snapchatters to add friends and followers quickly, but that’s not all. Special Snapcodes can be created to share branded filters and lenses, unlock exclusive content, link to specific web portals, and more.

For brands, Snapcodes are an ultramodern way to connect with customers where they already are, and engage them with contextually relevant experiences.

Brands that take advantage of Snapchat platform features can level up from merely advertising to entertaining followers with personalized, immersive, and interactive branded content.

8 ways to use Snapchat codes for business
1. Get more followers on Snapchat

The most obvious use of Snapcodes is to promote your presence on Snapchat and gain more followers. Include your company’s Snapcode on any touch point where customers may be with smartphone in hand, which is virtually anywhere, nowadays.

Newsletters, packaging and business cards are all places you may want to add your profile Snapcode too. Some brands even swapped their Facebook and Twitter avatars with Snapcode profile pics, but that trend has dwindled, likely in response to updated branded content policies. However, Snapchat influencer and artist Cyrene Q. still uses her Snapcode as her Twitter avatar.

2. Connect with your customers in stores

Access to more data and behavioral targeting can make it easier to connect with consumers in the virtual world. But while brick-and-mortar environments may be comparatively data barren, in-store engagements are one of the most crucial touchpoints between the consumer and your brand.

In fact, a 2015 study found that in-store communication is more influential than all other communications, including advertising.

To bridge the offline retail experience, many brands have turned to Snapcodes. For the launch of Mr. Burberry in 2016, the luxury fashion brand put QR codes on the tags of its merchandise at select retail stores. When scanned, the Snapcodes connect customers to Burberry’s Snapchat Discover channel. At the time, the channel contained style and grooming tips, as well as a Steve McQueen-directed cut of the Mr. Burberry campaign ad.

The Snapcode campaign didn’t just lift Burberry’s Snapchat follower count. It positioned the high-end retailer as an authority on men’s fashion. Mr. Burberry was no longer just a fragrance and menswear line, but also a personal tailor and sartorial guru.

3. Create a gamified experience

If there’s anything to learn from the success of Pokémon Go! it’s that people love a good scavenger hunt, especially when augmented reality is involved.

Disney, Universal, and Six Flags sprinkled Snapcodes throughout their theme parks in summer 2018. Visitors who scanned the Snapchat codes got special access to Mikey and Minnie Mouse filters, lenses showing Minions puttering around Universal park grounds, and Superman’s heroics.

It’s easy to see the gamification potential of Snapchat codes for franchises or brands that have multiple or regular engagements with customers.

Imagine unlocking a special discount code with Lyft after scanning Snapcodes on five previous rides, for instance.

Or an airline with a leaderboard of frequent flyers who scan Snapcodes at airline lounges.

What about a coffee shop that unlocks secret menu items after a certain number of Snapcode scans?

4. Generate buzz and intrigue

To promote its thriller Girl on the Train, Universal Pictures released a mysterious series of billboards with a large Snapcode and the eerie question: “What happened that night?”

Scanning the Snapcode unlocked a branded filter, available only for one hour.

Cryptic campaigns that ask Snapchatters to “crack the code,” using Snapchat cameras as detective magnifying glasses, taps into our irresistible urge to solve mysteries. Done well, the result can lead to a memorable and rewarding “a-ha moment” or “wow factor.”

Include a call-to-action like “Snap to Unlock” for those users who may be encountering their first Snapcode in the wild.

To drum up some buzz for the Gilmore Girls revival and to celebrate the show’s 16th anniversary, Netflix converted 200 real-world coffee shops into Luke’s Diner, the fictional greasy spoon in Stars Hollow. Customers received coffee cups with Snapcodes that opened Gilmore Girls-branded filters, complete with “Netflix” charred into a piece of toast.

In one day the filter was used more than 880,000 times.

View this post on Instagram

#lukescoffeeday #lukesdiner #latergram

A post shared by Meryl (@merylkwilliams) on Oct 5, 2016 at 2:48pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

Don't forget to unlock the custom snapchat filter & check out the quote! #happybirthdaygilmore #gilmoregirls #lukescoffeeday #gilmoregirlsrevival #solacoffee

A post shared by S O L A C O F F E E C A F E (@solacoffee) on Oct 5, 2016 at 6:14am PDT

5. Turn fans into brand ambassadors

Snapcodes that unlock branded filters and lenses have the power to transform Snapchatters into ambassadors for your brand.

A 2016 KFC campaign featured Snapcodes on posters and packaging with the call-to-action “A quick pic with the colonel.” A scan of the code unlocked a chance to take a selfie with the Kentucky colonel. “By unlocking the secret filter, people can have fun with the Colonel and share the moment with their friends,” said Joshua Benge, KFC’s social media manager in UK and Ireland.

From July to September this year, in one of the largest lens campaigns in Snapchat history, Pepsi Canada printed Snapcodes onto its 20oz bottles, 12 pack cases, and out-of-home ads. More than 20 codes were created, unlocking a variety of branded summer experiences, from campfire cookouts to skydiving. The activation resulted in 70 years worth of total playtime, and a reach of 8 million Snapchatters.

Brands can also encourage Snapchatters to share exclusive lenses with friends to expand the reach of their branded content and increase brand consideration.

6. Let followers “try things on”

In June 2017, Lancôme launched the first-ever bespoke makeup filter on Snapchat. The filter was essentially a makeover à la augmented reality, allowing Snapchatters to try Lancôme’s Monsieur Big mascara and Matte Shaker lipstick shades without the need for makeup remover or travel to a store.

The filter was available for a limited time and then offered exclusively via Snapcodes.

This type of try-before-you-buy activation may not work for all brands, and could backfire if not implemented effectively. But done right, a flattering filter paired with a shoppable Snapchat ad could lead to instant conversions.

7. Offer exclusive content for second-screen engagement

Presenting peeks behind-the-scenes and extras are a great way to appeal to the second-screen impulse many viewers have during programs and live events.

In anticipation of the season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones, an exclusive viewer’s guide was made available via Snapcode. The guide included extras, a who’s who inventory of characters and houses, an interactive map, and histories. Viewers could look at this guide on their phones while watching the episode on TV.

Snap what is yours.
Unlock the #GameofThrones @Snapchat lens to prepare for the #GoTS7 premiere: https://t.co/zOckNP2fK6 pic.twitter.com/BvdOb4wZsG

— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) July 10, 2017

The Seattle Mariners was the first professional sports team to share a Snapcode on a jumbotron, with several other teams quickly following suit. A code on the big screen can offer fans quick access to player and team stats, locker room and practice footage, and more.

Sports games provide brands with a captivated audience of fans. With the right calls to action, they can keep their fan base engaged post game, too.

Of course it makes sense for sports franchises to push Snapchat subscription on their own turf, but nothing is stopping other brands from tapping a captive crowd and getting in on the second-screen sports action, too.

.@PelicansNBA 1st NBA team to display Snapchat 'call to action' on arena jumbotron, per @jdbt (???? @Repo) #SMsports pic.twitter.com/G7BlOIKw83

— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) December 3, 2016

8. Learn about your audience

One of the greatest perks of using Snapcodes is that it provides brands with more user data.

Information about where Snapchatters are scanning codes and engaging with products, which products are being engaged with, and more can be culled from campaign analytics.

Data mining can also be a strategic element of a campaign. For example, Gatorade deployed Snapcodes to offer fans access to exclusive content featuring pro athletes JJ Watts and Karl Anthony Towns. But to unlock the content, Snapchatters were asked to provide their names and email addresses, which could be used by Gatorade to retarget fans on Snapchat and other social platforms.

Snapcodes can also be employed to link to surveys, votes, or questionnaires. Use these as prompts for entry into contests and campaigns. It’s a win-win when your brand can create a compelling experience for followers and collect customer feedback and information at the same time.

If you use Google Analytics and your Snapcode links to a URL, don’t forget to add a Google Analytics tag.

How to access and share your Snapcode

Sign in here to download a high-resolution .PNG and .SVG version of your Snapcode.

To share your Snapcode from Snapchat:
1. Open the Snapchat app
2. Tap your profile icon in the upper left corner
3. Tap the icon again to enlarge. Snapchatters can scan the Snapcode directly from your screen
4. Click Share Snapcode and choose your desired method
6. You can also save your Snapcode to your Camera Roll for future sharing

How to scan a Snapcode
1. Open Snapchat and point your camera at a Snapcode. You can scan Snapcodes from computer screens, phone screens, TVs, jumbotrons, billboards, posters, packages, and more, as long as the resolution is high enough
2. Take a picture
3. A prompt should pop up on your screen

How to create your own Snapcode

To generate a URL Snapcode, simply add the website link of your choice and hit “Make a Snapcode!” You’ll be given the option to add an image to the Snapcode as well.

You can also create Snapcodes in the app with these steps:
1. Open Snapchat and tap on your profile photo
2. Select the Settings icon in the upper right corner
3. Tap Snapcodes
4. Choose Create Snapcode, and add your URL

From the Snapcodes section of the app you will also have access to the Snapcodes you’ve created and their stats, as well as your scan history.

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the steps to create custom Snapchat geofilters and lenses, plus tips on how to use them to promote your business.

The post How to Use Snapchat Codes to Market Your Business appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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Do Instagram Pods Work? The Truth Behind Instagram’s Latest Engagement Hack

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-pods/

Let’s be honest, if there was a trick to instantly boost your Instagram engagement overnight, most of us would be first in line. As such, you’ve probably heard a lot about Instagram engagement pods recently—everyone seems to be in one or talking about one. Usually they’re either raving that pods are the best thing ever, or they’re writing pods off as a useless trend.

So in the name of science (and the Hootsuite blog), I tried a few Instagram pods myself to see if they really work.

Wait, what’s an Instagram engagement pod?

An engagement pod is a group (or ‘pod’) of Instagram users who band together to help increase engagement on each other’s content. This can be done through likes, comments, or follows.

Whether you’re looking for something more general, or even something exclusive, chances are there’s a pod to cater to it.

The amount of people in each pod can vary. There are often pods with over 1,000 active users, and ones that have 50 or fewer active participants.

Each pod has its own rules, but most include these general guidelines:

Respect the time when the pods “drop” (“drop” is pod lingo for a predetermined time when users are allowed to share their content for likes or comments)
Don’t use the chat to chat (this is purely business, no pleasantries allowed)
Most important of all, do not leech (where you reap the benefits of using a pod, but don’t like or comment back)

There are also a few other rules you’ll come across, such as having a certain amount of followers before you can join, what kind of content you post (e.g. wedding photography, baking, lifestyle, etc.), and how much time you have to fulfil your engagement requirements (anything from one to five hours usually from the time that the content is dropped).

Why would I use an Instagram engagement pod?

Instagram changed their algorithm from showing content in the chronological order they were posted, to highlighting posts it believes you’ll care about based on past behavior. The algorithm also prioritizes content from accounts that already have high engagement.

Since this change, users and brands alike have found it harder and harder to build engagement and followings on Instagram

To get around this, pods help users generate engagements and follows. In theory, this should work—the more likes or comments you have on a post right away, the more you signal to Instagram that your content is engaging. So the next time you post, your content should automatically be served up to more of your followers.

It can seem like a daunting task to both increase follower numbers and get engagement on your posts too, so these pods are seen as an attractive way of bumping up your numbers.

How to join an engagement pod

To be honest, I tried, and it’s not easy.

Actually, let me rephrase that, joining a quality pod isn’t easy.

I’ve found that pods can generally be broken down into two distinct groups: the mass pods that have over a 1,000 members and are easy to join, and the small, niche pods that generally have 20 people in them max, and are hard to find.

Facebook and Telegram

There are a multitude of places you can find pods. Facebook and Telegram, an encrypted messaging app similar to Whatsapp, are the most popular. I found googling “Telegram Instagram engagement pods” usually gave me websites that contain a list of the bigger groups that I could join.

Telegram is a good place to find mass-pods of a 1,000 or more users, although there are smaller, more exclusive pods on this platform too.

Facebook also has a lot of groups that you can join. However, unlike Telegram, these are often closed and require an invitation to become a member. Your content is also vetted to ensure you make the grade. They don’t tend to ‘drop’ or exchange their Instagram content on the platform itself either. As Facebook is Instagram’s owner, they don’t want to potentially flag themselves as users who are ‘gaming’ the system.

Reddit

Reddit has a subreddit—IGPods—where you can find pods that are calling for members, or even put a call-out for members if you want to start your own. These pods will often live within Instagram’s messaging system. Members will message the rest of the group to say that their new content is live, and the rest of the pod is required to go through and like and comment.

Instagram

And finally, of course, there are pods that start within Instagram itself. I have come to see these as the ‘White Whale’ of engagement pods, as they’re very difficult to find, and very difficult to get invited to. More often than not, users don’t want to admit that they’re using pods, so it’s a bit of a game of hide-and-seek, and gentle prodding to see if you can get an invite.

How I got banned from an engagement pod

Turns out, it’s very easy to get banned and kicked out of an engagement pod. On my first day of testing out these pods, I overestimated my ability to keep up with my side of the engagement bargain.

Eager to dive into research, I enthusiastically signed up to two ‘drops’ that happened in two different groups at the same time on Telegram. I thought to myself, ‘How hard can it be to go through and like the last posted piece of content of everyone else who also joined that drop?’

That was my first mistake.

Both of these pods had over 2,000 members. That doesn’t mean that each member will be active in every drop, but with that many members the participation number is often very high.

When the drop is over, an automated bot will send you a list of everyone who is participating, with the recommendation to copy and paste all of the handles into an Instagram message to yourself to make it easier to click-through. Both of these pods had the rule that all likes must be done within an hour and a half, otherwise you’d be warned or banned for leeching.

I frantically copied and pasted the lists—a task that took 15 minutes alone to do. Then I went on a big liking spree. I didn’t even finish half of one pod before the allocated hour and a half was up, and I got kicked out of the other.

Luckily for me, the automated admin messaged me and told me that I could buy my way back in for $15. This was an offer I didn’t accept.

What were the results?

The results have been a mixed bag. I tried a variety of different pods—the mass ones as I mentioned above, smaller pods with around 100 members, and finally a couple of small pods that I found via Reddit.

On average I received between 40 and 60 likes on content that I posted. I used hashtags and did a small amount of outreach when I posted to help boost the content’s engagement.

View this post on Instagram

Last of the amazing sunsets before the rain sets in… ????

A post shared by Em (@emmaic) on Sep 25, 2018 at 11:48am PDT

Also, before the experiment, my follower number was sitting around 251, give or take, with comments on my posts being rare as well. I’m not a prolific poster on Instagram. I generally post three to four pieces of content a month if it’s been a good one for photos. But for this experiment I tried to post every day.

Mass-pods

The mass-pod gave me an instant injection of likes. As I mentioned previously, I joined two of the pod drops and ended up with 749 likes—an incredible increase of 1398 percent. But now I had a problem: the number is so abnormally different than what I usually see on my content, so it looks fake. I also didn’t see an uplift in followers, which suggests that my page as a whole wasn’t being looked at either.

View this post on Instagram

Just because I’m not cliché enough on my account. Here’s another of Joffre Lake… ????

A post shared by Em (@emmaic) on Sep 17, 2018 at 2:56pm PDT

I know from my personal experience of trying to get through the list sent to me that I didn’t look beyond the latest post, so I knew that other users wouldn’t be “enjoying” my content either. They were merely getting through the list themselves, or they were using their own bot to do this for them.

Smaller pods

I decided to look for other pods that didn’t have such a big undertaking to be part of them. I found pods that required participants to like and comment on the last five drops, before posting their own content (or some variation of this rule, such as liking and commenting on everything from the last 24 hours).

In theory this should increase both your comment count and like count by and average of five. I found this to be hit and miss though—I did see an increase in the number of comments, but overall likes didn’t change much. Also, checking back into the pod that I dropped in, I could see that there were a few people who posted after me that were definitely leechers.

View this post on Instagram

Throwback to sunny days ????

A post shared by Em (@emmaic) on Sep 18, 2018 at 11:07am PDT

Finally, I joined a couple of smaller pods that I found on Reddit. These were simple to get into, and as soon as I was added I went back as far as I could—commenting, liking, and following all members to show that they had added me in good faith.

Both of these pods were laid back, with no real rules apart from “don’t overpost, and stay active and on top of your engagements.” A lot of the members shared similar content to my own, so I didn’t feel as though I was ‘faking’ my interest in their content in order to boost my own.

I let my posts sit for a while to see if organic engagement would increase as a result of my pod work, but I didn’t see any meaningful results. My follower numbers and comments increased—8.7 percent and 700 percent respectively, but as my average comment number before the experiment was between zero and one, this increase wasn’t dramatic. Similarly, likes haven’t really seen a dramatic increase.

View this post on Instagram

Misty mountains of Vancouver ????

A post shared by Em (@emmaic) on Sep 26, 2018 at 2:24pm PDT

However, it’s important to bear in mind that this experiment was done over a short period of time. I’m currently still active in the two small pods that I found via Reddit—so this could have a long-term impact on my overall engagement.

Should brands use Instagram engagement pods?

Instagram engagement pods are a very alluring way to increase engagement on Instagram, but there are many pitfalls and reasons to stay clear of them:

It’s time-consuming. In my short experiment I spent a lot of time (on average three to four hours per day) just looking for pods to join. Each day I was trying to find new ones that I could become a part of, all while keeping up with the pods I was already active in. It would take at least one dedicated member of your team to keep on top of everything that’s going on in order to get benefits from using a pod—unless you buy or build a bot to deal with this for you of course.
It doesn’t produce meaningful results. This is especially true of the bigger pods. Other people in these pods aren’t interested in you or your content—they’re there for themselves. Brands should be using social as a meaningful way to connect with their audience and build relationships that drive sales and brand loyalty. While pods may increase your reach and engagement, it’s not with the right people, i.e., potential customers. Brands might want to consider Instagram pods when it comes to choosing influencers to work with. If an influencer is using pods to inflate their numbers, this means that you might not get as much (or any) value out of a partnership. Take a close look at their content—did they see a sudden spike in engagement? Is their engagement rate consistent throughout all their posts? Does their comment to follower to like ratio look legit?
The results will look suspicious. Any current or new fans coming to a brand page that’s used a pod will see that it’s been very obviously manipulated. Especially if your follower numbers don’t explain the high level of likes or comments. This could be off-putting to genuine fans of your page or product, as they most likely want to have a transparent relationship with brands they choose to follow within their personal channels.
You have to like and comment on content that’s not relevant to your brand. Unless you’re in a niche pod where the quality of users is higher, you’ll often have to engage with content that’s of low-quality or has nothing to do with your brand. Your interactions can also been seen by your followers, so you have to consider their reaction to the random content you’re engaging with. Although, with the larger engagement pods, you can mask your activity by setting up a fake account to ‘engage with’, but use your real account to have the others from the pod ‘engage on’. But by then you’re at point #1 again (is it worth the time?).
Instagram’s algorithm is probably smart enough to figure out what you’re doing. Instagram (and by extension Facebook) spend a lot of money and time optimizing their algorithms and watching how their users are engaging on the platform. A sudden spike in your engagement is likely to flag in their system, and so it could result in detrimental treatment to any organic content you choose to post in the future.

However, there are a couple of reasons why pods could work for you and your brand:

If you work hard to gain access to a niche pod that’s connected to your brand, this could work in your favour. This is especially true if you’re a small or new brand looking for ways to connect with your audience. You can learn from them what your target audience is looking for, as well as find ways to improve your content.

Much like the niche pods, small pods can also offer a more genuine engagement experience—many of them could be open to giving you tips on your content if you’re in a pod of like-minded social managers.

So there you have it—the real truth behind Instagram’s engagement pods.

Although they can look like an alluring quick-fix to help bump up engagement on your Instagram channel, it’s a good idea to do some research to get the full picture on whether or not they’d be useful for your brand.

And remember: if you’re an influencer, artificially inflating your engagement is probably fraud, similar to buying followers or likes.

Don’t feel like engagement pods are for you or your brand after reading this? We’ve got lots of content to help you organically build your following on Instagram—from simple ways to get more Instagram followers to quick tips to up your Instagram game.

Suffering from a lack of Instagram engagement? Hootsuite makes scheduling and publishing Instagram content—alongside all your other social channels—easy, so you spend more time creating quality content, tracking your performance, and learning about your audience. Try it free today.

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The post Do Instagram Pods Work? The Truth Behind Instagram’s Latest Engagement Hack appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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How to Get Followers on Pinterest: 24 Tips that Really Work

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-get-followers-on-pinterest/

If one of your social media goals involves figuring out how to get followers on Pinterest, you’ll want to Pin this guide.

Pinterest is all about inspiration and discovery. That means it’s not only a great way to connect with current customers; it’s a great place to find new followers—especially since Pinterest passed the 250 million monthly active user mark. More than 70 percent of Pinners find new brands on Pinterest, and 78 percent say they find brand content useful.

Factor in Pinterest’s sales power—it’s the number one shopping platform among millennials—and knowing how to get more Pinterest followers becomes an even greater value proposition. Follow this step-by-step guide to pin your sights on success.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to make money on Pinterest in six easy steps using the tools you already have.

24 real ways to get more followers on Pinterest
1. Know who uses Pinterest

A good appreciation of Pinterest’s user base will help when it comes to crafting content for your profile.

Here are a few stats to start with:

The majority of Pinterest users are women. Only 30% of its users are men, but that figure is growing.
Pinterest reaches 83% of women aged 25-54 in the U.S. That’s more than Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Millennials are Pinterest’s most active age group. One in two U.S. millennials visit Pinterest every month.
Almost half of Pinterest users live in the United States.
Pinterest is the only major social channel in the U.S. with a majority of suburban users.

Find even more Pinterest stats that marketers need to know, as well as more Pinterest demographics.

2. Engage with what’s popular

Take a look at what’s already performing well on Pinterest by browsing the Popular feed. Take notes, evaluate commonalities, and consider how you could apply these ideas to your own content.

When you come across compelling content, consider re-Pinning to one of your boards, following the user, or writing a thoughtful comment. All of these actions will increase your brand’s exposure on Pinterest.

But don’t overdo it. Too many comments may be flagged as spam. Instead, focus on writing a few sincere comments that go beyond one- or two-word remarks like “Cool!” or “That’s awesome.”

3. Join relevant group boards

Search for the top Pinterest boards in your company’s categories and ask to join and contribute. In some cases the board administrator will include instructions on how to join the group’s description. If not, contact the board owner directly by email. You can usually find them by looking for the first person listed under the board’s followers.

4. Post fresh and original content

Pinterest favors originality. Pinners use the site to look for new ideas, inspiration, and products, so make sure your own Pins are super fresh.

Skip standard stock photos and clichés. Instead, Pinterest recommends that you “highlight any elements of novelty or newness to get people excited about your ideas.”

5. Stand out with beautiful visuals

According to Pinterest, the best performing pins have three things in common: They’re beautiful, interesting, and actionable. In that order.

Pinterest is first and foremost a visual platform, so make sure you use eye-catching images.

Here are a few Pinterest picture pointers:

Use high-resolution and high quality images.
Use lifestyle images, which tend to be more alluring than standard product shots, according to Pinterest.
Avoid images that are too busy.
Favour vertically-oriented photos over horizontal ones. A whopping 85% of users search Pinterest on mobile, which means vertical images have much higher impact.
Don’t make images too long, or they’ll be cut off. The ideal aspect ratio is 2:3 (600px wide x 900px high).
Consider showing multiple products in a single Pin. Pinterest finds that Pins with multiple products can appeal to different tastes and spark curiosity. It’s best to maintain a four-product limit per Pin so as not to overwhelm.
Try video! If you have the resources, short videos have the power to stand out among even the best photos. If you don’t, check out Hootsuite’s social video toolkit.

6. Include detailed descriptions

Your beautiful image may have captured attention, but to keep that attention you also need a stimulating caption. Go beyond short, single-sentence descriptions and provide information that would compel users to take a deeper interest in your brand.

Remember, the most effective Pin descriptions are interesting.

7. Add relevant keywords and hashtags

Pinterest is essentially a search engine, so your content should be optimized for discoverability. Make sure your descriptions are keyword-rich and include relevant hashtags so that you appear in relevant searches.

How to find the right keywords and hashtags:

Use guided search. Start by putting a few keywords in Pinterest’s search bar, and take note of the automatic suggestion.
Note the key word bubbles that appear in the search results header.
Look at the hashtag suggestions and usage stats as you add hashtags to your Pin descriptions.
Search a relevant hashtag, and look at the tags and keywords being used by Pinners using that hashtag.
Look at the trending hashtags in your category (only available on the mobile app).
Try these 8 SEO tools for social media marketers.

You can apply this logic to your profile too. For instance, consider adding a description to your name, like Hootsuite (Social Media Management). Your profile is more apt to show up in keyword searches that way. This is especially useful if you’re an entrepreneur and you want to emphasize your areas of expertise.

how to get followers on pinterest

how to get followers on pinterest

8. Name Pinterest boards thoughtfully

Boards can also be optimized for search. Make sure your board names are specific and accurately describe their contents. Use appropriate keywords in the board name and description, and add relevant hashtags to the description, too. If you’re not sure which category to put your board in, look through the categories to see where yours fits in best.

9. Organize with board Sections

Pinterest recently added Sections to help organize boards. For example, if you have an expansive board category like Home Décor, you can now create separate sections for each room.

Doing this can add credibility to your brand and make it easier for prospective followers to navigate your content. Again, be descriptive and use keyword-rich language for your sections. Here’s an example called Seasonal Eatings, and another called Tokyo.

10. Be positive and helpful

Entice followers by describing the benefits associated with your products or services.

“Positive sentiment goes a long way in showing how a Pin from your business can help [Pinners] in their lives,” said Kevin Knight, former head of Agency and Brand Strategy at Pinterest.

Get personal and use “you” or “your” in the copy too so that users know you’re talking to them.

11. Set up Rich Pins

Rich Pins add additional details to your Pin using metadata from your website.

There are four types of Rich Pins you can add to your account, including app, article, product, and recipe Pins. If your brand sells products, Rich Pins will display real-time price and availability details. Article pins are great for publishers or bloggers as they display a headline, author and story description.

12. Post consistently

The reach of content on Pinterest accrues over a longer period than it does on other platforms. Play the long game by publishing content consistently over consecutive months. According to Pinterest, this is the best way to grow an engaged audience.

13. Publish at the right time

Maximize your content’s reach by making sure you Pin at the right time. Most Pinning happens between noon and midnight, with 11:00 pm as the most active hour of the day.

14. Schedule Pins in advance

Since Pinterest is very often used for planning, it’s a good idea to stay ahead of the calendar. Pinterest recommends that brands share seasonal content up to 45 days before a holiday or event. Sometimes Pinners even plan three to four months in advance of events.

Save time by easily scheduling and publishing Pins from Hootsuite’s dashboard.

15. Hop on the holidays

Pinners are known to generate a flurry of activity as they get into the holiday spirit. Mother’s Day attracts more than six million users, pinning upwards of 12 million gift and celebration ideas each year. Christmas, of course, is always a major event, drawing 33 million Pinners and generating 566 million pins every year.

Get in on the holiday action by planning with Pinterest’s Possibilities Planner. Create on-brand holiday content and share it with relevant keywords and hashtags. Pinterest includes popular search terms for each event in the planner.

how to get followers on pinterestImage via Pinterest
16. Use the Follow button

Make following your company easy with the Follow button. Install the button on your website, in newsletters, in email signatures, or really anywhere online that you think you might attract followers.

In other situations, you can also use the Pinterest P icon to promote your brand’s profile. Make sure to also link to Pinterest in the bios of your other social accounts.

17. Add the Save button to your website

You can also make your website visitors aware of your brand’s Pinterest presence with the Save button. With the Save button, visitors can also share any image from your website on Pinterest, making them ambassadors for your brand.

ELLE Germany added the Save button on their web and mobile sites and in just one month found that three times as many Pins were being shared from its site.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to make money on Pinterest in six easy steps using the tools you already have.

Get the free guide right now!

18. Verify your website

To make sure your profile picture shows up alongside the Pins users are saving from your website, you need to claim your site’s authenticity with Pinterest. Doing this will also provide website analytics, allowing you to get a better sense of what visitors are saving from your website.

19. Build a widget

Another way to integrate your Pinterest account with your website is with widgets. In addition to the Save and Follow button, you can embed Pins, showcase your profile, or display a board on your website. Website visitors who have Pinterest accounts will be more compelled to follow you after seeing these previews of your Pinterest content.

20. Connect offline with Pincodes

Much like QR codes, Pincodes are designed to help people find your company on Pinterest while offline. Pincodes can be added to business cards, brochures, print ads, packaging or any other merchandise. A quick scan with the Pinterest camera will bring them directly to your Pinterest profile, board, or pin.

21. Promote your Pins

If you have a social media budget to work with, Promoted Pins are a great way to increase exposure. Choose a Pin that’s already performing well and target it to reach new prospective followers. Your Promoted Pins will appear just like regular pins in the feeds of more Pinners.

22. Find your audience

Pinterest’s ad targeting capabilities allow you to find new audiences based on interests and keywords. It’s a great way to discover users who might be interested in your brand.

Actalike targeting will help find users that reflect the interests and behaviours of your most valuable customers.

Engagement targeting is a good way to connect with Pinners who have already engaged with your brand. Retargeting these users with a follow call-to-action may be what’s needed to forge the bond you’ve already been forming.

Don’t forget to search for pre-existing customer audiences, too. Brands can upload website visitor lists, newsletter subscriber lists and CRM lists to connect with pre-existing customers on the platform.

23. Run a Pinterest contest

Create a contest with a follow on Pinterest as an entry requirement. Consider creating a hashtag and a shareable image so participants can encourage more followers to join. Always make sure your rules of entry of clear and comply with Pinterest’s contest guidelines before getting started.

Here are key Pinterest guidelines to keep in mind:

Don’t require people to save a specific image.
Don’t allow more than one entry per person.
Don’t imply or suggest Pinterest sponsorship or endorsement.
Follow all relevant laws and regulations.

how to get followers on pinterest

how to get followers on pinterest

24. Test, evaluate, adjust, repeat.

Any good social media marketer knows that trial and error is a fundamental part of the job. Pinterest analytics offers several tools and actionable insights that help you see how your audience is engaging with your content.

Whether something is working or not, it’s always good practice to take a step back and evaluate why. After you’ve learned why something works, it will be easier to apply in the future.

Save time managing your Pinterest presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can compose, schedule, and publish Pins, create new boards, Pin to multiple boards at once, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.

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The post How to Get Followers on Pinterest: 24 Tips that Really Work appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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4 Ways Brands Can Be More Authentic On Social Media

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/authentic-social-media/

As the internet continues to get stuffed full of content, brands need to work harder than ever to break through the clutter and connect with people online. You know how to get your message into news feeds through methods like targeting, paid campaigns, boosted posts, or working with influencers. But once you get in front of people, is your message actually having an impact, and creating connections with your audience like you hope?

Influencers and brands alike are getting caught trying too hard online. Influencers are crying in posts and then getting called out for “like-fishing. Celebrities are posting that they’ve never had cereal before. Brands are posting overly photoshopped bodies…

Your followers can spot inauthenticity from a mile away.

We connect most with content that is real, and people are catching on to content that isn’t authentic.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Now, authentic is a word that the kids are throwing around a lot these days. But it’s not just a trendy phrase to use at your next networking event. By definition, authenticity is being real, or genuine. This is definitely what you should be trying for on social.

Even though everyone plays the whole keeping-up-appearances game on social media, authenticity comes naturally to a lot of people on their personal profiles—even if they aren’t being entirely authentic.

That authenticity comes because they’re sharing content that is real life, and even though we curate our feeds, contrive our captions, and share only our best moments, we’re still sharing our real lives.

Brands have an entirely different challenge keeping it real online because they’re not people. They can’t just post a 37-part instagram story of a concert and bam—make you feel like you’re a part of their life.

So, how should brands keep things authentic on social and connect with their audience in real, long-lasting ways? Here are a few tips.

1. Be honest and transparent

This should go without saying, but let’s be honest… (See what I did there? Sorry, I’ll let myself out.) We’ve all come across some pretty phony stuff online. Fake news, photoshopped images, stories that just seem too good to be true…

Fluffed up content is everywhere. People catch on to online trash like this pretty quickly. And although a skim through your own news feed may lead you to believe otherwise, people are smarter than ever. We can all easily spot a brand being fake, and it’s not a good look.

As brands, we need to stay as far away from dishonest content as possible, but this isn’t any sort of groundbreaking advice. So take the honesty and transparency a step further. Get honest and real about your product or service whenever you can. Go behind the scenes and humanize your brand with your social media content.

If you sell a product, share stories about how you make it. Tell people where the materials come from, how you manufacture, or how you design the things you want them to buy.

If you’re a service, share the work that goes into creating your customer experience.

If you’re an influencer, post an unedited photo from your actual phone once in a while.

If you’re looking for a quick lesson in what not to do, look no further than our favorite unfamous famous person, Kylie Jenner. In September 2018, she tweeted that she “had cereal with milk for the first time” and that it was “life changing.”

Come on Kylie… you live in the United States of America where cereal is literally a food group.

This kind of pandering for online attention is incredibly contrived, and can damage your reputation, even as a celebrity. Case in point: mere minutes later Kylie was called out on several blogs and in tweets for posting an instagram of cereal with “probably milk” in 2015. And although it may be entirely possible that it was yogurt (we’re not food identification experts, but we’re also not idiots) it’s just so unlikely she’d never had cereal with milk before the tweet in question.

last night i had cereal with milk for the first time. life changing.

— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) September 19, 2018

2. Skip the calls to action for a second

Fundamentally, the entire point of marketing is to create an opportunity for sales, and your social media marketing strategy shouldn’t be any different. But it’s really easy to get caught up trying to turn every online interaction into a quick sale or a conversion by tossing a “Buy Now” call to action on everything.

When it comes to conversions or sales, try playing the long game with social media every once in a while. Strike a balance between posts that are meant to convert or sell quickly, and posts that are meant to simply connect with your audience.

Creating positive brand moments using interesting content creates connection, and makes people feel like they’re part of your brand. And if people feel like they’re part of your brand, where’s the first place they’re going to go when they need whatever you have on offer?

If you’re doing things right, the answer should be “you.”

3. If you mess up, own it

We’ve all been there. An accidental typo, a reply that wasn’t well-articulated, or a post that just goes over like a lead balloon.

Social media blunders are typically pretty innocuous, but mistakes that can damage a brand’s reputation faster than you can say Cambridge Analytica are entirely possible.

It can happen to anyone, and when it does, your first reaction might be to delete the offending content, and forget about the entire thing. But here’s a little not-so-secret secret: you really can’t delete anything on the internet.

The second you post it, it’s permanently burned into the metaphorical eyes of the web. So, in the unfortunate event that you do have a bit of a fumble, own it. And figure out the best way to fix it.

If your social media flub is serious enough, jump into PR mode and do a little crisis management. Even in pretty serious situations, owning up to the mistake and sincerely apologizing for it can help repair some of damage that’s already done.

Do what you can to fix the issue, and make sure your audience knows what you’ll do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Also, when you get late-night anxiety about the whole situation, keep in mind that social media content moves at a rapid pace. It’s only a matter of time before someone else does something stupid and the world moves on to that.

In less serious situations like a typo or a factual error, simply own it by correcting it. If you can turn the situation around, or even turn it into a joke, give that a go too—especially if it suits your brand personality.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Get the free guide right now!

People love jokes, and a some self-deprecating humor is fun once in a while.

Pretending like things never happened, especially when the blunder is quite serious, can cause a pile of problems later. Owning up to mistakes makes it clear that there are real people behind the curtain, and it humanizes your brand.

4. Clickbaity headlines are a thing of the past, but what happens next will thrill you

We get it. The struggle to prove ROI with social is real and if we don’t, we’re just “doing an Instagram” and we all know, that’s not what social marketing is.

So what do we do? We create content that gets engagement.

There’s no sure-fire way to know if a post will get the engagement that you hope for, but there are a definitely few hacks that have trended. Some of them are fun—like posting a timely meme (perhaps of Lilo dancing in Mykonos, you’re welcome for the idea)—and some of them are just obnoxious. Like clickbait.

Because of these mostly-terrible trends, we’ve gone through several bouts of content pollution. When brands try to hijack these flippant online content storms, it quickly becomes tired and your content just comes off as trying too hard. Have you ever seen a brand try to turn a meme into an ad? Case closed.

If your social content is there just to collect views, clicks, or likes, you should rethink your strategy. You’re better off not posting anything, than posting sub-par content just for the sake of gaining clicks.

Take the time to put together a well-planned social media content calendar, and make sure all your posts will resonate with your audience. Remember each and every post should be worthy of being permanently attributed to your brand. Your social content is deeply ingrained in your overall brand, so make sure it’s great.

Take the time to plan and build an authentic social media presence using Hootsuite. Schedule all of your social media posts in advance, engage with your followers, and track the success of your efforts. Try it free today.

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The post 4 Ways Brands Can Be More Authentic On Social Media appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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Free Social Media Icons (The Ones You’re Actually Allowed to Use)

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-icons/

No website is complete without social media icons. And nowadays everything from email signatures and business cards to posters and video spots benefit from a little “iconography.”

But before slapping icons on every asset your company owns, there are a few things to consider—including legalese. Despite the ubiquity of icons in all shapes, colors and sizes online, social media icons are registered trademarks. They are protected by copyright and enforceable brand guidelines.

social media iconsImage via Fancycrave under CC0

We’ve assembled download links for all the major social network icons, as well as best practice guidelines that will keep your icon use on the level. And we’ll help you steer clear of design blunders with tips on how to tailor icon use for each medium.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Where to source social media icons
Facebook

Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only use the icon in Facebook blue or reversed white and blue. Revert to black and white if facing color limitations. Blue, grey, white and black versions are available for download.
The Facebook icon should always appear in a rounded square-shaped container.
Make sure the icon is reproduced in a legible size. It should be at equal size to all other icons.
Do not animate or represent the logo in the form of physical objects.
Download icons according to your medium. Facebook variations of its icon spec’d for online, print, and TV and film.

Icons for online use (.png)

     

Twitter

Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only use the icon in Twitter blue or white. When limitations with print coloring apply, Twitter will allow the logo to be displayed in black.
Twitter prefers its icon to be represented free of container, but offers square, rounded square, and circular containers if they better suit your needs.
If using the logo over an image, always use the white version.
Do not animate the logo, and do not embellish or accessorize it with word bubbles, or other creatures.
Clear space around the logo should be at least 150% of the width of the icon.
Icons should have a minimum width of 32 pixels.

Icons for online use (.png)

    

Instagram

Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only the icons found in the Assets section of Instagram’s brand resources site may be used to represent Instagram. These icons are available in color and black and white.
Instagram icons should be represented without container. Square, circle, rounded-square, and other container shapes are not available.
Don’t incorporate the icon with your company name, trademark, or other language or symbol.
When using the icon for broadcast, radio, out-of-home advertising or print larger than 8.5 x 11 inches, you need to request permission and include a mock-up of how you your intended use.
Instagram content shouldn’t comprise more than 50% of your design, or more than 50% of the total duration of your content.

Icons for online use (.png)

LinkedIn

Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

LinkedIn prefers its blue and white icon to be displayed on a white background. The icon should always be displayed in color online. When not possible, use the reverse white and blue or black and white icon.
Use the solid white icon on dark-colored backgrounds or photos, and the solid black icon light-colored backgrounds or photos, or in one-color print applications. Make sure the “in” is transparent.
The LinkedIn icon should never be a circle, a square, a triangle, trapezoid, or any shape other than a rounded square.
LinkedIn icons are typically used at two sizes online: 24 pixels and 36 pixels. The minimum size is 21 pixels online, or 0.25 inches (6.35mm) in print. Icons sized for print or larger use should reference the 36-unit grid found here.
Icon bounds should be approximately 50% of the size of the container. The minimum clear space requirement specifies that padding the size of two LinkedIn “i’s” be used around the icon.
Use in television, film, or other video productions requires a request for permission.
If using call-to-actions such as “Follow us,” “Join our group,” or “View my LinkedIn Profile,” in conjunction with the icon, use a different font and color—preferably black.

Icons for online use (.png)

     

Pinterest

Download the icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Pinterest’s “P” icon should always be displayed in Pinterest Red, in print or on screen and unaltered in any way.
To use Pinterest in video, television or film, companies need to submit a written request to their partner manager at Pinterest.
Always include a call-to-action after showing the Pinterest icon. Make sure the icon size is proportionate to the call-to-action text.
Acceptable call-to-action phrases include: Popular on Pinterest, Find us on Pinterest, Follow us on Pinterest, Visit us, Find more ideas on Pinterest, Get inspired on Pinterest. Do not use the phrases Trending on Pinterest or Trending Pins.
Always display or hyperlink your Pinterest URL when using the icon.

Icons for online use (.png)

  

YouTube

Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

The YouTube icon is available in YouTube red, monochromatic near-black, and white monochrome.
If a background does not work with the YouTube red icon, or color can’t be used for technical reasons, go monochrome. The almost-black icon should be used for light multi-colored images. The white icon should be used on dark multi-colored images with a transparent play-button triangle.
YouTube icons should be a minimum of 24 dp in height online and 0.125 inches (3.1mm) in print.
The clear space requirement for the YouTube icon should be half of the icon’s width.
The YouTube icon can only be used when it links to a YouTube channel.

Icons for online use (.png)

  

Snapchat

Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only show the Snapchat icon in black, white and yellow.
Don’t surround the logo with other characters or creatures.
The minimum size if the Ghost icon is 18 pixels online and .25 inches in print.
The icon is available without container in black in white, or with a yellow rounded square.
Clear space around the logo should be at least 150% of the width of the logo. In other words, padding should be the same size as half of the Ghost.

Icons for online use (.png)

WhatsApp

Download the full suite of icons.

Key brand guidelines:

Only show the WhatsApp icon in green, white (on green backgrounds), and black and white (in materials that are primarily black and white).
Make sure to spell WhatsApp as a single word with proper capitalization
Only use the green square icon when referencing the iOS app.

Icons for online use (.png)

     

What are social media icons and why should you use them?

Add social media icons to your website, business cards, and other digital and physical marketing materials to grow your social media following and connect with customers on different channels.

Not to be confused with share buttons or wordmarks, social media icons are shorthand symbols that link to your company profile on different networks (or, in the case of print materials, simply let people know that your business is on those networks).

Most often, social media icons use the first-letter or symbol logo of the social media company. Think Facebook F, Twitter bird, or Instagram camera.

Some logos are available in “containers.” Containers are shapes enclosing the letter or symbol. Very often the icons are coloured with the company’s official hues, but they are sometimes also available in monochrome.

Thanks to their widespread use by businesses, most customers expect companies to have icon links on their websites and are savvy enough to know where to look for them. Neat and uniform in style, icons are a tidy alternative to annoying “follow me” pop-ups.

How to use social media icons in your marketing materials (legally)

Whether online or offline, social media icons can provide a link to your company’s social channels. Here are a few tips and tricks for using them effectively on different mediums.

Websites

Often brands will place social media icons in the header and/or footer of their website. But they can also be placed on a floating left or right sidebar for greater prominence.

As a general rule, icons placed above the fold have a better chance of being seen.

social media iconsImage via Lenny.com homepage
Emails and newsletters

Having social media icons in your email signature or newsletters offers additional ways to connect with recipients. If networking is important and your company permits, you can also add a public profile LinkedIn badge.

Follow these steps to add icons to your email signature:

Outlook signature

1. In Outlook, from the Home tab, select New Email.
2. On the Message tab, in the Include group, select Signature, then Signatures.
3. From the E-mail Signature tab, in the Edit signature box, select the signature you want to edit.
4. In the Edit signature text box, add a new line beneath the current signature.
5. Choose Picture, then go to the folder where you downloaded icons, and select the icon you’d like to include.
6. Highlight the image and select Insert then Hyperlink.
7. In the Address box, enter the web address for your corresponding company profile.
8. Select OK to finish modifying the new signature.
9. On the Message tab, in the Include group, choose Signature, and then choose your newly modified signature.

Gmail signature

1. Open Gmail.
2. Click the settings glyph in the top right corner.
3. In the Signatures section click the Insert Image symbol to add your downloaded icon.
4. Highlight the image and click the Link symbol.
5. Add the web address for your company profile.
6. Scroll to the bottom and select Save Changes.

Newsletters

Most publishers place social media icons in the newsletter footer, because often the goal of newsletters is to promote website products, services, or content. .

Gmail can sometimes clip long messages, so if gaining social followers is one of your newsletter goals, put the icons in the header or above the fold and consider using a call-to-action. Alternately, if the goal of your newsletter is to promote content, you may want to consider including share icons, and placing follow icons in the footer.

social media iconsImage via Sephora e-newsletter
Print

Social media icons are space savers in print collateral such as brochures, print ads, or business cards. But don’t forget that you can’t hyperlink on paper.

A good workaround for offline icons is to use just the domain name and the direct link to your company’s page. Or, skip the domain name altogether.

Option 1: (F) facebook.com/Hootsuite
(T) twitter.com/Hootsuite
Option 2: (F) Hootsuite
(T) @Hootsuite
Option 3: (F) (T) @Hootsuite

On business cards, if you don’t plan to include a URL or handle , then you may not want to include the icon—especially if the handle is not obvious. But if your company has a high profile and is easy to find on social media, standalone iconscan be an elegant way to signal your brand’s presence on social media in print ads and brochures.

social media iconsDavid’s Tea print ad, via Escapism magazine
social media iconsOne More Bake by Elizabeth Novianti Susanto on Behance.
social media iconsThe Cado by Cristie Stevens on Behance.
TV and video

Like print, if you’re using video on a medium that doesn’t allow viewers to click on an icon, then you should include the URL. On YouTube, you can include clickable icons using the annotations feature. Most often “follow” call-to-actions come at the end of a brand video. Make sure to allot enough time for viewers to read the URL.

Many social media brands require permission requests and sometimes mock-ups before allowing companies to use their icons.

Best practices for using social media icons

Thanks to widespread use of reshaped and revised icons and third-party sites like Iconmonstr or Iconfinder, many brands and social media managers don’t realize that use of altered icons is strictly forbidden.

Here are some common guidelines you should be familiar with before adding social media icons to your marketing materials.

Download from the source

When in search of social media icons, try getting them from the social network websites first. We’ve also assembled the download links for the most popular social media icons below.

No alterations

All social media logos and icons are trademarked. That means rotating, outlining, recolouring, animating, or edits of any kind are not permitted.

Size uniformly

Display all social media icons at equal size, height, and resolution if possible. Don’t display social media icons larger than your own logo or wordmark. And don’t display any of the network icons larger than another network icon (e.g., making the Facebook icon larger than the Instagram icon).

Space evenly

Make sure icons are spaced in a way that meets the “clear space” requirements of each social media company.

Choose three to five

Very often icons are used as call-to-actions, and if you use too many, you risk overwhelming visitors with decision fatigue. Not to mention the clutter that too many icons create on business cards or assets with limited space. Determine the top three to five channels that are most important for your brand and audience. A full list can be included in the contact section of a website or in the website footer.

Order by priority

If LinkedIn is a more strategic network for your brand than Instagram, for example, make sure LinkedIn appears first in your icon list.

Use the latest version

Social media companies require that brands using their icons ensure they keep them up to date. But also, using old logos will stick out and could signal that your company is “behind the times.”

Don’t use the wordmark

Most social media companies explicitly state that you should never use the wordmark in place of the icon. Wordmarks are typically for corporate use only, and represent the company, as opposed to your company’s presence on the network.

Make your brand the focus

Featuring icons too prominently could wrongly imply sponsorship, partnership, or endorsement, and potentially land your company in legal trouble. Plus, your brand should be the focus of your marketing materials anyway.

Link to your company profile

This may seem obvious, but don’t link to a product page, personal profile, or the generic homepage of the site. It’s commonly understood, expected, and in some cases required, that these icons link to your company profile page on the specified network.

Request permission

As a general rule, if you plan to use the icons in a way not specified in the brand guidelines, it’s best to double check. Some brands may forbid use of icons on manufactured products, such as T-shirts or other memorabilia. In other cases, you may be required to send a mock-up of intended use.

Now that you know how to legally advertise your brand’s presence on all the major social networks, easily manage all your social channels from one dashboard using Hootsuite. Schedule and publish posts, reply to followers, track your performance, and more. Try it free today.

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The post Free Social Media Icons (The Ones You’re Actually Allowed to Use) appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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Writing for Social Media: 7 Tips and Tools

Originally at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/writing-for-social-media/

There’s loads of great articles about writing, including writing for social media.

Maybe this will become one of them. Whatever.

However, this piece is different.

You’ll see.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

7 writing tips for social media

…and for any kind of persuasive writing.

Sure, great writing may take talent and innate creativity. And hey, you’ve got something to say, right? No matter your current level of experience or skills. With a little gusto in your writing step, you can make the reader feel something, take an action, or be more informed than before.

A few tips below to show you how.

Suggestion: let loose, try some (or all) of these, and repeat them for a few of your posts. Build those new writing-muscles.

You’ll be amazed at how clear you’ll write, and how you’ll zero-in on your voice.

1. Barf it out

Writers block is a myth. if you wanna balst past it just write out anything in your head, without leaving teh keybord. just keep your fingers typing, looking at the keyboard not the screen, so your brain engages. forget about sentence structure, spelling, punctuation… just keep your fingers moving and p[ower through any blockages. do this for an articel, tech-doc, and kind of writing thingie. Even for a paragraph or three. whenever your stuck just typw. editing will come later. This is a brain excercise, not a make-it-look-just-right process. Editing comes later, but don’t mix the two. It’s never write the first time. but push stuff that’s in your head onto the page, then mnake your 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 edits…. LATER.

Okay, I’m back.

Whenever, I’m ‘stuck’, for any kind of writing… I just type. Every time, something useful appears before my writing-eyes-and-brain.

The same will happen to you, too.

Punch the so-called “writer’s block” right in the gut. It’s bunk.

2. Write to an 8th grader

Not because they are dumb. Because it forces you to write clearly. And to ditch the jargon and terms that eyeballs just gloss over.

“Drive innovation.”

“Become a disruptor.”

And my absolute non-favorite, “Transform your business…”.

Oh please. Some of the most over-used, under-effective statements of all time.

Companies and their writers hide behind these terms every day, all across the web. Statistically speaking, probably you, too. I’m just sayin’.

I don’t know if this intentional or not. But here’s the thing…

Terms and jargon say little, while making you and your biz appear as a commodity. Like many others. Better to do the heavy lifting for the reader. Because they certainly won’t. They’ll stop and leave, versus stay and scroll.

Do the work. Say something real. Practice on your kid, mom, or any outsider to tell your important and useful message.

Your readers will appreciate it. It makes good business sense.

3. Write to the reader

Because no one cares about what you (or I) do. Readers only care what they can get from what you (or I) do.

So then, write from the readers’ perspective. Make them the hero.

A list of features? B-o-r-i-n-g.

Words that paint a picture for how the reader’s life will improve, that’s the ticket.

Sometimes, “standing out” is nothing more than writing from the reader’s point of view. Because most of your competitors don’t.

4. Write with a purpose

And write that purpose at the top of your draft piece.

To keep your mind on the target while you write.

For an email, blog post, white paper, and of course for any social media post—be clear on the purpose.

What action do you want the reader to take?

Click the buy, call, or contact us button?

Or maybe you just want them to feel a certain way. Empathy? Bliss? Informed?

Too often, we humans write to write. Not a problem.

Unless you want to sell your stuff.

Social posts are usually a top-of-mind selling approach. And an opportunity to build, show, and share your brand.

And still, write with a purpose to raise your signal, lessen your noise.

Hey, don’t forget to delete the purpose reminder at the top of your draft.

5. Write to make the reader feel successful

Which is hard to do when reading long paragraphs, without breaks—like single lines and bolded lines.

Lead your reader down the page by breaking up your message.

Short paragraphs. Short sentences. Transition lines. Bullets. Some bolded items, too. Like this one…

Allowing your readers to skim and scan your message is nice.

It helps them feel a series of successes as they move down the page.

The more they read, the more they understand.

Good for everyone, right?

Oh yeah, and questions are good too. They encourage the reader to ‘lean in’, with interest.

What are you doing to help your readers scroll down the page?

Maybe I’ve overdone the short paragraphs in this post. Maybe not. Part of the just-try-it-and-see-for-yourself model. Better ‘too much’ than ‘too little’. You can dial it down later.

6. Write with a hyper-focus

…and with a tomato.

What the…?

Stay with me.

Too often, we look at a piece of work and think, ‘Ah man, I need a bunch of time to do this post.’

There’s a better way.

By defining and going after a small section or piece of your post, document or whatever you’re writing. Right now. Say, in the 15 minutes before your next meeting.

Define a small portion to write (I’m doing this right now for this single section)
Set a tomato timer, that you can hear going tick-tock-tick-tock
Barf it out (like we talked about above)
Make your edits
Finí
Go to your meeting

Progress made. Feels good.

I wrote this section in 17 minutes. You can, too. String a bunch more of these together to complete your writing, iteratively. Without feeling like you have to set aside a load of time in one or two sittings.

I love the Pomodoro Technique for getting anything done with a hyper-focus.

7. Use pictures to enhance the words

I’m not going to say much about this.

Of course, pictures enhance the words.

This piece is about the words.

I don’t want to leave you hanging though. Here’s one of a thousand good reads about adding pictures to your work.

7 writing tools for social media

Opinion: writing for social media is fun. Those writing tips and tricks help me enjoy the process. And so do these writing tools.

1. Session buddy (Chrome extension)

Good for: Reducing browser clutter by restoring windows and tabs for your writing project. In seconds.
Cost: Free.

writing for social media

When writing, I usually do web searches to find related content or topics. These often become input into my writing piece. I arrange browser instances and tabs within each instance. Then, place them carefully on the screen to move around as needed.

Now, say I need to work on something else. Fine:

Click on the session buddy icon, in the Chrome toolbar
Name and save the session
Close the all the windows

Now you’re ready for action on a new task. Distraction free. Without any browser clutter.

Then, when it’s time to resume that project:

Click on the session buddy icon
Select and open the named session
Everything like before, instantly

Here’s a list of alternatives. Try and use what works for you.

2. Hemingway app

Good for: Writing anything succinctly and clearly.
Cost: Free online, $19.99 for the desktop app.

writing for social media

Hemingway app will make you a better writer. Period.

That whole jargon thing I complain about, it all goes away when you write like Ernest did.

Same for long sentences, unnecessary adverbs, superlative adjectives, and passive phrases. And, with hints for alternatives.

Write what you write
Paste it into Hemingway app
Visually see what works, what doesn’t
Make your changes, to do more of what does work
Paste back into your writing piece

Use Hemingway app often to build your writing skills. After a bit you’ll need it less. Though I still use it often to keep me in check. An amazing tool.

3. Markdown

Good for: Writing an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to HTML.
Cost: Depends. There’s a load of editors to write your markdown. Some are free, others cost. But not much.

Markdown allows you to write plain text for nearly all your writing projects. Find and choose a Markdown editor, for Windows, Mac or web.

Word, Google Docs, and the others of that same ilk? Oh please.

Feature bloat, complex to use, and limited to a tool. No thanks.

Markdown just works. With a simple WYSIWYG editor for headers, bolding, italics, bullets, highlight, horizontal dividers, and quotes.

Who needs more than that?

And, instantly convert your work to HTML to post on any platform, using their already-in-place CSS formatting.

In other words… you write text, export as HTML, publish anywhere.

Not sold?

Fine, try it out on your next writing piece. Easy to learn, even easier to use.

Markdown is the only way I write nowadays. Be careful, the same might happen to you. If you’re lucky.

4. ZenPen

Good for: Distraction free writing.
Cost: Free.

writing for social media

There’s plenty of clutter in life. ZenPen is one small corner of the distraction-free-universe to help you write without outside interference.

Go to zenpen.io
Type and write
Copy and paste, or download (via markdown, plain text, or html)
Do something beautiful with your new Pulitzer-prize-like content

5. Grammarly

Good for: Making your writing clear, effective, and correct.
Cost: Free online

writing for social media

Grammarly promises to keep your social posts on point. It will flag everything from contextual spelling errors to poor word choices. And, the tool integrates with lots of online platforms, including Twitter, Gmail, and Tumblr.

I make up words all the time, and misspell others. Not always a bad thing for getting people’s attention. As long as one is intentional about it.

Use Grammarly to convert the unintentional to the intentional.

6. Pomodoro Technique

Good for: Staying focused, for writing or anything else.
Cost: Depends on the specific timer tool you choose. Loads of free ones.

writing for social media

I know, I already mentioned this.

It’s worth another mention.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It uses a timer to break down work into 25 minute intervals (usually), separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a pomodoro (Italian for tomato).

Cute, huh?

But Pomodoro is more than cute for getting s&$% done.

I use it all over the place, especially when writing:

Define a section or two to write
Set the timer (for 25 minutes)
Work until it rings (and only on that task)
Put down a checkmark on a piece of paper
Take a short break
Lather, rinse, repeat

Works as a good tracker, too. For instance, four checkmarks = about two hours for the completed effort.

I use an online Pomodoro timer that makes an obvious tick-tock (a kitchen timer works great, too). My wife knows not to interrupt me when in this highly-focused state.

As long as I follow up with her about the ever growing to-do list she came to me for.

7. Dropbox Paper

Good for: Writing and collaborating with others.
Cost: Free for the individual or small business. It costs for the enterprise.

Dropbox paper is my main writing, editing, and collaboration tool. Clients dig it, too. I teach them how to use it in one minute.

It looks and reads beautiful
Super-duper easy to write, distraction free (with a simple toolbar that pops up only when text is highlighted)
Works as web content editor, versus a document editor (who needs line breaks anymore?)
Write together with others, real-time
Alert your mates, immediately, with comments off to the side
Export and download in the common formats to publish elsewhere

Not much more to say. Try it yourself. I dare you.

Compose, schedule, and publish your expertly written posts to all the major social media channels—including Instagram—from one dashboard using Hootsuite. Try it free today. 

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