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16 Ways to Take Advantage of What Instagram Has to Offer

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Instagram is a visual wonderland, especially for brands. It’s an opportunity to attract more customers — particularly those belonging to the millennial and Gen Z demographics — and showcase the best of what you have to offer. Just take a look at some of the most followed Instagram accounts and you will see why and how the top brands in the world are taking advantage of what this social platform has to offer.

However, something we all know too well about social media, is that Instagram can also be a time suck if it isn’t leveraged correctly. You want the best of both worlds: being able to reap the benefits of Instagram without spending all of your time on it.

We asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council how to best leverage what Instagram has to offer while still staying true to your business.

1. Showcase Beautiful Photos

This seems simple, but it is easily forgotten. Instagram is for photos. Share great ones that are relevant to your brand and ones that your audience will appreciate and want to see. If your industry just isn’t something that can involve relevant photography, focus on another social platform that’s more fitting.

Jeff Cayley, Worldwide Cyclery

2. Use a Tool to Plan Photos in Advance

Use a tool such as Planoly, Plann or Later to batch plan your posts in advance so you can see how they look together visually on the grid. I also use Instagram Stories to show potential clients a peek behind the scenes on real projects so they feel more connected to our team before they start working with us.

Allie Siarto, Allie Siarto & Co. Photography

3. Find a Theme

Make sure your page has a consistent theme. When people land on a brand’s page, they should see content that looks uniform and planned. A person will make an instant decision on whether or not to follow your page based on if the aesthetics are worthwhile to show up in their feed. Use tools like preset Lightroom filters to give each photo a similar feel.

Bobby Palmieri, Lilo Social

4. Embrace Storytelling

Instagram Stories has become a powerful tool for storytelling, and even more so for activating your audience and driving sales. Get a business IG profile and organically earn 10k followers so that you can utilize links in your stories. If you’re creative, thoughtful and provide entertainment and value, you’ll reap the rewards. Don’t forget to make the posts visually stunning and interesting.

Scott Levy, Fuel Online

5. Create Photo-Friendly Spaces

Creating a few standard spaces you can reuse regularly will speed up your Instagram workflow, as well as help establish a brand feeling. You don’t need a professional studio, but a well-lit neutral wall or a corner table set up for product photography will make staging Instagram photos routine.

Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide

6. Be Original

Don’t copy the style and type of content used by other advertisers and influencers. Millennials and Gen Zers can sense when a brand is trying to appear hip and young and they will interpret it as trying too hard. Instead of following current trends, find your brand’s identity and stick to it.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

7. Find Your Target Audience

When building a professional Instagram page, it is paramount that you know who you are targeting, how to find them and what they want to see. Instagram can connect you with clients, potential employees and like-minded people who just want to enjoy your content. Make the decision of what Instagram will do for you and work toward that specific goal with every post.

Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

8. Include Up to 30 Hashtags

Instagram users love using hashtags to discover new content. Get additional visibility for each Instagram post by including up to 30 relevant hashtags on each post. Research these hashtags on a tool like WEBSTAGRAM or Keyhole. Then, once you identify hashtags with high volume and high relevancy, include them on posts to reach your target audience and attract new followers.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

9. Post Frequently

In order to stay relevant on social media, especially on Instagram, brands need to post frequently. One guru in the space who I follow, Gary Vaynerchuk, posts seven to eight times per day. I post at least once per day, but typically more. Also, be consistent with your imagery when posting on Instagram. Make sure to have a consistent look across the board.

Jean Ginzburg, Ginball Digital Marketing

10. Make It a Contest

Photo contests are a great way to engage with users on Instagram. Ask customers to post images, preferably ones using a new or promoted product, and have them tag it with a specific hashtag for the contest. Ask users to vote on their favorites and then pick a winner. A well-planned contest will build brand awareness and help you engage with new customers.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

11. Write Great Captions

Sure, Instagram is a visual platform, but the caption of your post says a lot, too. Also, be consistent when posting — especially because the new algorithm is not chronological anymore. Post more!

Andrew Namminga, Andesign

12. Be Human

Instagram photos that perform best showcase lifestyle stories, not static images. For example, when posting a product, have a smiling woman on a beautiful beach with her friends. Fans are more likely to relate or aspire to that image. That’s because Instagram was originally created to capture people’s lifestyles. It is an artistic platform on which people tend to interact with those who post happy, beautiful images of their daily lives.

Michael Hsu, DeepSky

13. Focus on the Customer Journey

The creative you use has to be based on the stages of the funnel. Is the ad focusing on awareness, consideration or decision? What will resonate most with your audience based on their buying stage? Use creative that resonates most with your audience’s buying stage and psychographics.

Marcela De Vivo, Brilliance

14. Boost Your Content With Ads

While Instagram is one of the best platforms for user engagement, your content may still get lost and not reach its full potential. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the photo or witty the caption if no one sees it. It’s worth investing some money into boosting a post via Instagram Ads to reach a larger audience and ensure relevant users are seeing it.

Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

15. Reach Out to Influencers

It can be a long, time-consuming process building up an engaged audience on Instagram. A quick and easy shortcut is to reach out to social media influencers who did the hard work for you by building up their own following. Finding a natural way to connect your service or product with their brand can be extremely effective and tremendously time saving.

Bryce Welker, Crush The LSAT

16. Showcase Authentic Moments

A reposted inspirational quote, a stock photo that’s been heavily edited and other images that are clearly not from where you live and work should be avoided. We see right through that stuff. Content that does best in terms of engagement is usually produced by you, imperfections and all.

Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

The Future of Social Media and Your Brand

The writing is on the wall. SEO and desktop usage are making their way out the door. Social media and visual content is now king! Take the time to examine each of the expert tips and best practices, while also implementing them into your existing content creation and marketing efforts.

Also be sure to consider your options with automated social media marketing tools and how to start taking advantage of influencer marketing within your niche market. The better you tackle these

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Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Top 10 Tips to Run a Perfect Expert Roundup Post for Your Brand

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Perfect Roundup Post

Roundups are common – it’s been happening for a long time now.

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.

Social Experts

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.

5) Formatting

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.

6) Tweetables

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.

7) Graphics

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.

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15 Unconventional Social Media Tactics That Encourage Engagement

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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.

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.

Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

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.

Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

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.

Bryce Welker, Accounting Institute for Success

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.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

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.

Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

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.

Eng Tan, Simplr

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.

Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva

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.

Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

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.

Fritz Colcol, Simply Thalia

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.

John Rampton, Calendar

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.

Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

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.

Brian Condenanza, Fluo Shoes

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How to Make Them ‘Appy: 4 Top App Trends Rocking the Mobile World

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As the App Store reported having more than 2 million applications available on it in 2018, it’s clear that the app market is a little saturated. However, through a sort of natural selection, app trends keep changing to ensure that users get the most out of their mobile and smart devices.

If you follow what’s happening in apps, you’ll stay ahead of your competitors and build apps that people use.

Here are four trends that are changing the way people use apps this year.

1. Apps For Wearables

Despite a few hiccups with products like the Google Glass, wearable devices are alive and well. The number of people walking around with FitBits and smartwatches is only going to grow in the next few years. Along with these smart devices are the requisite apps to make them more useful.

Smart wearables are a great way to stay healthy for some people. A watch that also watches your heart rate, checks your daily step count, and alerts you of appointments is a great way to stay in check. When you can receive alerts to take medications or to get to the doctor, it creates a personal connection with the device.

Increasingly, companies are integrating productivity applications for wearable devices. While tablets and smartphones started out as devices to perform some leisure activities on, they now have tools to keep you working. This is a welcome change for some while others call it a shame for the way it keeps us tethered.

More products will come with sensors attached to them that are then synchronized with apps. There are lots of connected devices sure to bed developed in the coming years that we can’t even predict yet and each one of them needs an app.

2. IoT and Smart Home Devices

Most estimates suggest that in only a few years, the number of smart devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are going to outnumber people. With these devices connected and listening to our every move and command, they’ll become more integrated with our daily lives. Smart home devices give us a way to be more productive and integrate the technology we’re already using with our home life.

As these items become more useful and more prevalent, they’re becoming more integrated with one another. You can now control smart home devices remotely via apps. You can start heating up your home as soon as you leave the office or unlock your door for visiting guests while you’re out running errands. Many of these smart home applications can be accessed through mobile apps as well.

These devices are collecting more and more data as time goes on. When integrated with weather applications, your heater can warn you that you won’t need it because a warm front is moving in. If there’s a blizzard coming, your fridge application can tell you that you should pick up some milk before you get home since you’re almost out.

There are so many ways that WiFi enabled devices at home can connect with you while you’re away. You can turn off lights that you forgot to hit on your way out or even know whether you left the oven on by checking the app.

3. More Mobile Purchasing

As mobile internet use has passed browsing on desktops and laptops, the number of people shopping has also moved mobile. More devices are now integrating payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Wallet into their interfaces, making mobile devices more accessible. It also means that developers need to get to work on new ways to process transactions.

Making purchases is becoming easier to do without cash. To process payment of any type from any customer that comes your way, you need to have the tools at your disposal. Not having the ability to process a payment sends your customers to your competitors.

Wearable devices are going to get into the purchasing game as well. When they can process payments, you’ll see very people leaving the house with their wallet.

Combine all this with data collection and predictive analytics and you’ll find new ways to engage customer loyalty. If you sell products in a brick and mortar space, your customers can get notified of special promotions as they walk by a business. Get them to buy from a certain retailer by tracking their data and you’ll build customer loyalty through habitual purchasing.

4. All New User Experiences

As devices find new ways to collect and display data, mobile user interfaces are going to change. With smaller spaces come more interesting challenges. The most successful mobile companies are finding new ways to push intuitive design out to their clients.

Interactive interfaces require designers to create apps that allow you to do things you could never do on mobile devices before. With user attention split and constant interruptions, apps need to accommodate these challenges.

App development needs to use content layers and circular design patterns that help people manage their content. With the increased use of augmented technology, there will be new ways for people to explore the space they’re in. If you’re the first company of your type to take up space there, you can lead the way in your industry.

The standards for user interface keep changing, meaning that your designers need to be at the top of their game. As these standards change, so do customer expectations.

App Trends Are Going To Keep Shifting

If you think you’ll ever finish chasing app trends, you’re never going to be happy with this moving target. Once you realize that chasing trends is the way of the world in the app game, you’ll be much happier about the results.

If you want to increase your productivity, check out our latest guide for building projects with better tools.

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