So how can you build your brand in an innovative way that generates meaningful consumer interest and industry buzz? From infographics and Q&A opportunities to live streaming and novel advertising solutions, there are several lesser-known ways you can expand the reach of your brand.
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Below, 12 entrepreneurs from YEC discuss some of the more non-traditional media channels any business can use to strengthen their brand and appeal to a larger audience.
Quora is an amazing question-and-answer site where you can provide advice to entrepreneurs (and the rest of the world, too). Find questions that you have unique insight on and write detailed answers. If your responses are well-received, they’ll be “voted up” and your brand will earn a lot of attention.
There is so much information thrown at us each day and there’s only so much text we can read and retain — enter the infographic. An infographic is eye-catching, interesting and useful. Once you create it, you can add it to your blog articles, post it on social media, and contact journalists and bloggers within your industry who may find it interesting for some free promotion.
3. Dynamic Signs
Utilizing a truly unique approach when creating a sign or an ad has a strong influence on the top-of-mind effect of the ad. There are many great examples of ads that have gone above and beyond when it comes to outdoor signs. Integrate them with the landscape of the local city and the environment.
Whisper is a dark social media site that is now using advertising and allows businesses to have accounts. It certainly gets to an audience that is no longer using traditional social media sites and gives you an interesting way to build your brand with somewhat anonymous posts. Your brand could be included in the graphic element while the text on top of it provides a benefit.
I have obtained nearly one million views using SlideShare. It integrates through LinkedIn and gives you the ability to share your professional ideas with an intimate audience of followers. Followers can comment and expand on your ideas and the editing is free. If you remove your attachment to the idea and view the SlideShare as free editing by your audience, you are able to amplify exposure.
6. Live Broadcasting
Lately, I have been testing out live broadcasting like Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and even Instagram Live. These are such powerful tools for building your brand that not enough people are using. You can’t get any more authentic than a raw, unedited, live video broadcast. Show viewers what your brand is really about and stand out from the crowd through these new features on social media.
Go on podcasts, especially podcasts in your industry. Podcasters are constantly on the hunt for compelling guests, and everyone likes an underdog. So if you’ve got a great story to tell, you can do so via podcasts. You’ll be surprised how many influencers listen to podcasts and you’ll be able to cite them as proof of why you’re a thought leader.
8. Toll-Free Phone Number
Too many of us are obsessed with how our brands look visually, be it on our websites or on social media. But when was the last time you considered the impact you could have by getting a toll-free phone number for your business. It’s cheap and you only pay when people call you. The subtle message to your customers is that you want to speak with them — and you’ll even pay for the call.
Medium is a great place to deliver the content you want to get out to a large audience that is now using the platform to get information on a wide range of topics. It’s a place to build your thought leadership position.
– Angela Ruth, Calendar
10. Local Media
So many entrepreneurs focus on the big picture and sometimes forgot about the opportunities right in their backyard. If you are an entrepreneur from a smaller city, like myself (Pittsburgh), reach out to local media outlets and become a hometown hero. You can build a ton of credibility by being the go-to in your industry in your local area.
11. Cheddar TV
Cheddar TV is a live streaming online media platform. It covers finances, entrepreneurship, business and other topics. Its content is also syndicated to other major news channels and can help with getting one’s foot in the door to more traditional TV appearances.
12. Industry-Specific News Outlets
We saw the amount of traffic coming to our blog skyrocket when Ruby Weekly picked up one of the blog posts that our senior developer published. Since then we’ve started submitting blog posts to highly targeted technology newsletters that cover related subjects. DevOps, AWS, etc. — they all have their audience. It positioned our brand as a thought leader in technology.
How to Build a Successful Brand through Content and Social Media
If you want to build a successful personal brand or even one for your business, it’s all about the content you provide and how you engage with your audience. It’s way too easy to throw up a website or blog and think you are going to make a difference with your content and message. This in itself won’t be as effective as you think. There are currently more than a billion active websites and blogs on the internet today — and that’s a lot of content you need to compete with! In addition to creating your own content and platform, you also need to get active on the various media outlets, engagement groups and Q&A sites mentioned above. There are billions of users spread across them and they are just waiting to hear what you have to say!
Attract More Instagram Followers with Kicksta
With its incredible reach and unparalleled level of user engagement, Instagram has quickly become the social media platform of choice for brands, agencies and influencers alike. But because of this remarkable popularity, it can prove challenging to get noticed and to gain a substantial following, especially if you feel like you’ve hit a plateau. How can you reach new audiences and convert them into a loyal fan following?
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If you’re interested in getting real followers who will actually engage with your content, you might want to give Kicksta a look. It’s an automated platform that will free up hours of your time, so you can focus on creating awesome content, curating real relationships, and converting your newfound connections “into more gigs, paid partnerships and sales.”
What Does Kicksta Do?
Instagram, like all other social media platforms, is predicated on two main tasks. First, you need to create the kind of content that users actually like and engage with. This is true whether you are a brand hoping to attract new customers or an influencer looking to extend your influence (and land more branded content deals). There’s certainly no shortage of resources online that can help you achieve just the right Instagram look.
The second part puts the “social” in “social media.” It’s all about engagement. It’s not enough to treat Instagram as a means of broadcasting your message to the masses; you need to engage with actual people too. And if you want to grow your following, you need to engage with users who are not already following you. That can be very time-consuming to do manually, because you want to seek out individuals who align with what your Instagram account is all about.
What Kicksta does is zero in on these potential followers, “liking” one or two posts from each of these users. The goal is to get their attention. When they see that you’ve liked their post, they may come around to check out your page. And when they see that you have the content they’d like to see, they might start following you. Organically. This automated process repeats at scale, so you can continue to grow and attract real followers each and every day.
You Are Not Buying Followers
There are at least a few key factors that differentiate Kicksta from seemingly similar services. You’re not playing the follow-unfollow game. Kicksta will not go around following accounts on your behalf and then unfollowing them if they don’t follow back. This is a practice that’s questionable on a number of grounds. Similarly, Kicksta is not going around posting canned comments on random posts (i.e., “Great post! Check out my account for similar content!”), because that can easily be interpreted as spam. You’re also not “buying” followers, which is against the Instagram TOS.
Instead, the objective is to appear as organic and natural as possible. When you first get set up with Kicksta, you enter your own Instagram credentials. Then, you provide information about the audience you’re trying to attract. With the “Creative” plan, you can target up to 10 accounts whose followers might be interested in following you. For instance, if you’re a food blogger, you might target other food bloggers.
If you upgrade to the “Professional” plan, you can target up to 40 accounts; you can also target based on gender, location, and hashtag. The “likes” appear organic, leading to “real” Instagram growth, because the targeted users are following you of their own free accord. This automated service frees up several hours from your week to focus on other efforts.
Navigating the Dashboard
Getting around the user interface with Kicksta is a relatively simple affair. You can connect and manage multiple Instagram accounts if you’d like too, but each will need its own monthly plan.
After connecting and selecting your account, you’re shown a general overview where you can review the engagement on your most recent post, your best performing post and your worst performing post. From the main navigation, you can also click to see all your posts to see how many likes and comments they received. More importantly in the context of Kicksta, though, is adding your targets for the tool to decide what posts to “like” on your behalf.
Clicking on “targets” shows your current targets, and then adding a target is as straightforward as adding the username of the account whose followers you’d like Kicksta to engage with. Once targets are added, you can toggle them on and off. You can also see the performance in terms of conversion rate and overall quality of the target. With these two features, you can experiment with what targets work best and only enable those.
There is also a section with analytics where you can review followers gained for a defined date range, as well as your net followers gained day-to-day.
But Does It Actually Work?
It’s important to note that Kicksta cannot guarantee any specific number of followers, because users are real people and they’re choosing to follow you on their own. What they can guarantee is that they’ll consistently keep up with liking one or two posts per user; you need to have the quality content they desire if you want them to follow you. In other words, your mileage may vary.
Kicksta shares a number of case studies on their website to illustrate some of their notable success stories. These include a bridal company that generates 50% of their revenue through Instagram, an e-commerce giant that drives 15% of their online sales from the platform, and an influencer who grew from 2,000 followers to over 12,000 followers in two months using Kicksta.
Really, the only way you’ll know whether it works is to try it out yourself.
How Much Does It Cost?
As mentioned above, Kicksta offers two monthly pricing plans, depending on the level of growth you desire.
The $49 Creative plan promises “moderate” growth with smart filters and up to 10 targets. The $99 Professional plan (discounted from $149) increases the target count to 40, adding in gender targeting, hashtag targeting, location targeting, blacklisting, premium email support, and live chat support. There’s a 14 day money-back guarantee on both plans, no questions asked, and you can cancel at any time.
Top 10 Tips to Run a Perfect Expert Roundup Post for Your Brand
Roundups are common – it’s been happening for a long time now.
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However, running one isn’t that simple.
It requires the right ingredients – Good Topic Selection, Outreach, Presentation and Sharing.
But that is just the basics. What makes a roundup success isn’t an easy to cook recipe. It will need a lot of dedicated effort, several weeks of emails and follow-ups – too much editing and coding and finally a lot of sharing.
Here’s a small guide on how we run roundups and receive several thousand social shares – once it goes live.
1) Topic Selection:
Roundups end up getting several thousand social shares on an average but much of that depends on the topic that you have selected. Spend enough time to thoroughly research titles that generates a lot of attention. This title must be related to the site where you are going to post the roundup – else there will be little benefit of it.
Think of what your target audience wants to hear, for example for a finance blog – “43 Millionaires Share their Tips on How to grow your Money Quickly” – In short, relevant, catchy and actionable.
Do note that you have to find enough willing influencers on the niche to justify the roundup.
2) Email out Reach
Once the topic is decided, start the outreach process. Look for list of sites related to your niche and send them an email.
Use Google and search for terms related to your roundup, see what sites comes up. Look up their email ids and contact details and send them a basic pitch email.
This is the first pitch and it should be small and catchy. People hardly have enough time to read more than a few words – no point sending them huge paragraphs. Simply email them a small line about yourself, tell them that you are hosting a roundup where you need their participation. Let them know that your past roundups have received several thousand social shares and that should be enough for the first pitch.
When they reply back send them all the details. Keep the email small and mention everything in points – for example, where the post will be published, names of a few huge influencers who will participate, the question and the deadline.
3) Social Media Outreach
Outreach shouldn’t be limited to emails only. There are facebook groups, LinkedIn groups etc. which are very active and have good discussions. Use those places, post a small update and ask people to participate in an upcoming roundup. You will receive several replies from these groups and these are excellent places for promoting the roundup too.
These are the same people who will share your roundup once it goes live and these groups will send you so many social shares too.
To learn more about what’s working for other big name sites and branding that have completed their own roundups, and have seen massive results with social sharing, check out these 21 examples.
4) Using Lists
If you are someone like us who likes to carry out these roundups regularly then it is best that you use an email service like Mailerlite, Aweber, MailChimp etc. and start making a list of people who likes to participate in roundups.
Send an email and ask for participation when you are carrying out the roundup.
Every time someone sends you their roundup entry, make sure to ask them to sign up for the roundup list – that way they won’t ever miss out on the next roundup you will be doing.
5) Direct Submission
People like to participate in places where they find entries from other familiar people. If they see a word document with some entries from people they know, they would want to add their own entry as well.
For this you can use the G Suite or use Guest Crew status updates like we do. This way, when you add a status update people will both participate and tweet it out as well – which results in more participation.
How you present your roundup is totally up to you. Here are a few quick tips to format a roundup for success.
At the top of the roundup before you get into the expert answers – make a small list of clickable names, that way people can quickly reach the expert that they want to read. This hashtag navigation is very important.
Once you start formatting the roundup make sure to include a small image of the expert and next to the image – post a tweetable answer. Post the longer answer below it, that way it becomes more readable.
Do note that many people prefers small roundups where less than 15 people participate like this one published at MYUKMailBox – just make sure to keep the formatting in the same style.
People like to share content and making catchy tweetables make the process simpler. When you pitch your question to an expert, always ask for a smaller answer which will be added to the tweetable. Most people will send their small answer but some won’t. This is where you need to edit out a small sentence from the longer answer and make a tweetable out of it.
While making the tweetable, include your own username – so that when someone tweets it out, you will get a notification too.
Canva is the best option here – or you can use a graphic tool if you are blessed with more talent.
Try to make a graphic for every entry you have received. Simply include the image of the expert, their tweetable answer as a quote in the image and mention some details of the site where the roundup is published and the name and website of the expert on the graphic.
Place the graphic below the tweetable and chances are that most people will use the graphic for sharing the answers.
While Canva is great for creating visuals, it’s also easy to create animated white board and explainer videos as well. A perfect tool for this is mysimpleshow.
Through their drag and drop video creation tool, it’s quite easy to take the information provided by your experts, add in a photo of the expert, and then have an animation video created with all of the information already presented in your roundup. The great thing about this is that it can greatly improve the overall branding and reach of your content, while also making it easier for the experts to share with their social audiences as well.
If putting in the time and effort to create your own video isn’t something you are interested in, you can also refer to their full service site at simpleshow. Through this premium service, their brand can create completely customized and professional videos to match the look and feel you are going after.
This is the ideal solution for bigger brands that want exposure from their expert roundups. The build it your own solution at mysimpleshow is also ideal for freelancers that might be doing all of the expert roundup outreach and work, then looking to upsell a premium package even further.
8) Sharing it out
At this point the entire roundup is ready. This is where you need to start sharing the roundup.
While sharing, make sure to carefully tag the experts on every social site where you will share the roundup. You will receive many social shares if you tag carefully. Don’t limit the sharing to only social profiles, share it on the groups that are related to the roundup, share it further on forums where it is relevant. Ask your friends to share it further.
When it comes to running a successful expert roundup and promotion campaign, there are many tools to use to your advantage. Outside of the traditional WordPress plugins and social sharing methods we are all accustomed to, you can also look for other working methods — such as outreach tools, Facebook Groups, email finder tools, and also automation follow-up tools.
9) Outreach and Letting them know
Finally, send the experts who have participated – an email with all the details of where the post is published and a few quick links where they can share the roundup further.
Don’t be pushy while asking for shares – simply give them the links to make the sharing process easier.
10) Keep sharing further
This is your roundup and you should be the one to keep the sharing going – everyday after the roundup is published and socialized.
Do note that most people are busy and they can only share when they have enough time on their hands. This is where you need to fit in. Use the tweetables you have created and start tweeting it out – at least 10 tweets a day. This will take several days to complete and your roundup will keep getting social shares in the coming weeks.
Roundups are so far our best marketing method, it does takes time – most roundups take a full month of time to get it ready and published but they are always worth their time and effort.
15 Unconventional Social Media Tactics That Encourage Engagement
Just about every brand is on social media nowadays, but not all of them know how to use it effectively. It’s not enough to have a profile on multiple platforms and post content regularly. You need to provide the right kinds of content and posts that will make your followers want to react, share and comment.
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To find out what works, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members for their favorite lesser-known strategy for boosting a brand’s social media engagement. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Hold Contests and Giveaways
A great way to drive engagement and social growth is via contests and giveaways. “Tag and win” contests are a great way to drive action and at a relatively low cost. We use these to gain new followers and build brand awareness. It is a good idea to make it as easy as possible to enter and share with friends, as this will drive the viral nature of the post and go much further.
2. Promote User-Generated Content
User-generated content is a great way to encourage social media engagement. If you come off as being too promotional or professional, you give off the impression that you’re only there to do business. Encouraging customers to develop their own content allows businesses to show off their products from a more personalized point of view will increase engagement by highlighting your customers first.
3. Create and Share Useful Infographics
A great way to drive up engagement for image-based social networks, especially if your business is based on written content like mine, is to post infographics. If they contain interesting information presented in an aesthetically pleasing manner, readers will be inclined to reblog or retweet your posts. Small businesses can easily find freelance designers to help make them on sites like Fiverr.
4. Offer Exclusive Group Access
To entice our audience to engage with our Facebook Messenger bot, we entice them to join by giving them exclusive access to a free Facebook group that only our Messenger subscribers will have access. It includes exclusive training and Facebook live speed coaching that can’t be found anywhere else. By creating a unique “club,” it keeps the right people in our group and increases engagement.
5. Jack the News
Newsjacking is not “stealing the news.” Instead, it’s a valuable way for you to use a breaking story to shine a light on something you are doing at your business. While people are searching for the topic, new viewers will stumble upon what you are saying about the topic. It is a simple, cost-effective way for small business to generate tons of media coverage and social media engagement. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
6. Have a Virtual Party
Who said parties can only be offline? You can take your party online as well. We like to invite our customers, prospects and partners to join us for a virtual party. This is the easiest way to get discovered because when people share their voice, their audience sees what they are sharing as well.
7. Add Facebook Messenger to Your Website Homepage
It’s really easy (and free) to install the Facebook Messenger widget on your company’s homepage. As live chat becomes the No. 1 communication preference for online customers, bringing Facebook’s chat capabilities directly to your site encourages more interaction with customers. Plus, it’s a clever way to draw them into your social ecosystem.
8. Thank Your Customers Using Video
We love to use video on social media to thank our customers. A short, 15-second post identifying a great customer by name can create an amazing ripple effect. That person will likely share it on social, which will then create positive brand awareness. A small business can do this with an iPhone — just dedicate five to 10 minutes a day to these posts and watch the shares stream in.
9. Say Hello to Your Neighbors
As a physical location business, I love using Instagram’s geo-location feature. We can say hello to all the neighbors, to potential clients and to anyone who’s tagged themselves in or near our location. For example, I can see who’s nearby our massage studio based on who’s tagged themselves at the local gym, yoga studio or juice bar, and then “Like” and comment on their posts so they know we exist. – Rachel Beider, Massage Outpost
10. Focus on Image-Based Content
Several of my clients who are startup founders post images that are not necessarily about the product or service they sell but it talks about the industry they serve. For example, a pregnancy care app used to post images about newly born babies, which made them very popular. A picture is better than a thousand words — people always respond to something that is visually appealing.
11. Join a Relevant Group
Creating and joining engagement pods or groups with a similar niche is one of the underutilized methods to gain more engagement within your social media platforms. It’s essentially creating a community of loyal supporters to follow, like and comment on every content that you post. This will work for both personal and business brands.
12. Integrate Offline Promotions
If you have a store or retail related market, you can introduce items and posters within your store that will encourage people to engage with you via social media. It’s important to have a strategy in mind when you’re using social. How much promotion will you do? Discount offers? Value-driven content? Contests? Let people know you intend to provide this via social with in-person marketing items. Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting
13. Reach Out to Them First
I go through my followers’ followers and reach out to them on their pages. This means asking questions, commenting and retweeting their posts. I find that they then take the time to see who I am and discover what I do. This has significantly raised our followers in an organic way.
14 Take Advantage of Polls
Using polls in your Instagram stories is a great way to simultaneously encourage engagement and tap into valuable customer feedback. Pose questions in a fun and light-hearted way. This is a great way to take the temperature of your community. Are they willing to take two seconds to engage with you? If not, it may be time to re-think your overall approach to social media.
15. Share On-Brand Memes
Especially to the younger generations, memes are unique to our times and there is nothing like it in terms of engagement. Business owners sometimes have problems to not only understand memes but also to use them in successful campaigns. You need to have someone in the team that keeps up with pop culture and creates memes according to your brand, but you won’t regret it.
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