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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
#1 YouTube Banner Template: How to Create a Custom Banner for Free
The world’s population watches almost 5 billion YouTube videos every single day. That means YouTube is a massive market that you’re most likely not utilizing.
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But don’t worry, it doesn’t take much to get a professional footprint on YouTube. When you’re getting started, one of the most important features to focus on is your YouTube banner.
We’ll go into everything you need to know about creating a YouTube banner. Towards the end, we’ll recommend a few YouTube banner templates to get you started.
What is a YouTube Banner?
When you click on any given YouTube user’s name, YouTube brings you to that user’s channel. Here you can see all their videos and playlists. At the top of the screen is a banner with the YouTuber’s brand. This is a YouTube banner.
Click around on a few different users you follow to get a good idea about the different banners on the market. See what draws your eye and what you do and do not like.
If you’d like to find more tips on how to effectively create and use your YouTube profile page and videos for branding, be sure to check out these quick tips.
What are the Banner Specifications?
When you’re designing your banner, it’s important you follow the right specifications. People are watching YouTube on their phones, tablets, laptops, and even their TV’s. You need to make sure your banner renders properly on all these different screen sizes. You can make sure you get it right by following the specifications.
According to Google, your banner should meet the following specifications:
- Recommended: 2560 x 1440 px
- Minimum for upload: 2048 x 1152 px
- Minimum “safe area” where text and logos are ensured not to be cut off: 1546 x 423 px
- Maximum width: 2560 x 423 px
- File size: 4MB or smaller
What Should I Include in My Banner?
Your banner is a representation of your brand. It should intrigue viewers, and give them a snapshot of what to expect from your channel. Make sure to include your brand name.
Here are the Best YouTube Banner Templates
There are several places you can get a high-quality YouTube banner template for free. Here are a few of our favorites.
Google has its own template designs for YouTube. Makes sense, after all, they do own YouTube.
Adobe is perhaps the best YouTube banner maker app available on the market. They let you create a design for free in minutes with no previous experience.
Canva offers several different template designs. They have available stock photography you can use, or you can use your own images.
It’s Easy and Vital To Get A Quality YouTube Banner
We’ve covered all the basics you need to know to get a quality YouTube banner. We’ve also listed some of the best places to get a YouTube banner template.
Getting a YouTube banner is an important start in a quality YouTube channel, but it’s only the start. Now you have a professional YouTube appearance!
The banner is vital for a professional appearance. But that alone isn’t enough. Regularly post quality videos to build traction for your YouTube presence.
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Instagram Checkout and the Move Toward Frictionless eCommerce
The number of hurdles standing between online shoppers and completing transactions is dwindling. The path to purchase is getting smoother as retailers move toward frictionless ecommerce. Gone are the days where shoppers must visit an ecommerce website to buy a product, especially if they originally spot the product on a social media platform.
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Nowadays, social shopping is capable of enabling people to reduce the number of steps to checkout by allowing them to buy without exiting social media. Instagram Checkout is the latest feature geared toward making it easier to complete deals. Here’s more on this announcement and its potential impact on the ecommerce industry as a whole.
First, What Is Frictionless Ecommerce?
When you hear the word friction, you probably think of resistance. This force can be useful, like using sandpaper to smooth down rough wood. Or this force can be a hindrance, like trying to slide a piece of heavy furniture across the floor. In ecommerce, friction is undesirable because it means shoppers are meeting resistance when they try to proceed through the sales funnel.
Frictionless ecommerce is something sellers are seeking out because it allows them to “integrate buying opportunities as simply and seamlessly as possible into consumers’ everyday activities and natural environments,” according to BLM Technologies.
One of these natural environments is social media, an activity in which many users are spending a larger chunk of each day. It only makes sense to try to sell to people there, rather than requiring them to visit a separate website each time they want to browse or buy.
The ethos behind frictionless ecommerce tells us reducing the number of steps it takes to buy products online will motivate more people to stick around for as long as it takes to convert. Less hassle translates into more sales and a better customer experience.
Of course, it’s still vitally important to set up a responsive, fully featured online store complete with secure checkout. After all, some people won’t use social shopping. Today, leading platforms like Shopify offer free ecommerce website builders to help retailers run their stores. Branching out into frictionless ecommerce in the form of social shopping will help merchants capture even more sales by offering shoppers flexible options.
Building a Trusted Brand and Following Will Still Apply
As you can imagine, with more than a billion active users on the Instagram platform, it’s going to get quite competitive when it comes to ecommerce advertising. With that being said, this is where traditional authentic and organic followers and engagement will come into play.
We recently talked about the power and effectiveness of using a tool like Kicksta to automate the audience targeting and engagement process. For ecommerce and online stores, this is one of the best ways to put your Instagram marketing efforts on auto-pilot, which also reaching new audiences daily.
This also leads to better paid advertising and remarketing options as well. Once a user starts following your account, you have a clear indication that they are interested in what you have to offer.
Set up a new Instagram ad campaign that targets your existing followers, then compare the results with your outside targeting and default ad campaigns. We are sure the existing follower audience set will perform much better. You can visit their website here and watch the short video on their homepage to see how the process works.
The Rise of Instagram Checkout in Ecommerce
Instagram is a highly visual platform, allowing brands to connect with users through engaging images, videos and captions. If you’re an Instagram user, chances are you know the feeling of seeing something you like and wanting to know more about it — or perhaps even conducting an impulse purchase it on the spot.
Instagram Checkout aims to tap into the marketing prowess of this app by “allowing users to complete product purchases without having to leave the app.” It’s all of the convenience of online window shopping without even having to go into the store, except people can still get their hands on the product. Plus, after Instagram users enter their payment data once, the app saves it for future purchases. Thus, the purchasing journey remains inside a single app — making it more convenient and tempting for mobile shoppers who follow their favorite brands online.
At the moment, Instagram Checkout is a feature in beta testing available to about 20 top brands. An advanced version will be available to more merchants down the line, which means we all need to prepare for the wider acceptance of social shopping. Once this becomes the standard, online users will crave ultra-convenient experiences.
Instagram Checkout is an exciting new development on the horizon for ecommerce brands, and stores must embrace the move toward frictionless ecommerce to stay competitive.
7 Instagram Features Every Business Needs to Use for Marketing
Instagram is a fun platform for sharing pictures and video. However, as far as it pertains to businesses, it’s a lot more than that. For businesses, Instagram is a marketing device and quite an effective one at that.
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Are you interested in using Instagram to market your business? Then read on. We’re going to teach you about 7 Instagram features which will enhance your business marketing campaigns.
Taking Advantage of Instagram Features When Marketing
A great many of Instagram’s features lend themselves to marketing. The best of these features include the following.
Instagram Stories work in the same way as Snapchat Stories, allowing you to post photos and videos for 24 hours before they disappear. Popular among all types of Instagrammers, they are frequently viewed and are great for attracting new followers.
Businesses have two options when it comes to using Instagram Story video: 1. They can post stories on their own Instagram pages, or 2. They can use Instagram Stories Ads. While the first option will provide some exposure for your business, the second option will provide more.
Why? Because it involves placing ads for your business in between the stories of Instagrammers that you don’t even know. As a result, you’ll be reaching customers who are entirely unfamiliar with your brand.
While Stories Ads cost money to post, they often end up bringing in more money than they cost. In other words, they’re usually worth a try.
2. Push Notifications
Another terrific feature for marketing on Instagram is the push notification. These are notifications which automatically send to specific followers upon the publishing of new posts. They work to keep top followers invested in your page.
Note, however, that getting followers to accept push notifications can be challenging. Unless your content is undeniably great, you’re going to have to be a little aggressive in getting followers to accept push notifications for your page.
One of the keys to doing this is to utilize calls to action. Simply telling visitors to enable push notifications for your page can be quite effective.
The other key is to post great content on a consistent basis while keeping non-value content to a minimum. The more valuable the content you post, the more valuable your page becomes, and the more your followers will want to frequent it. This leads to the enabling of push notifications which, in turn, leads to the conversion of more sales.
If you run a brick-and-mortar business, geotagging is a hugely valuable Instagram feature to utilize. By geotagging the photos you post, you make your business more visible on geographical searches. This is a great way to attract Instagram users who live in the geographical proximity of your business.
Note, however, that you must always be cognizant of whether you have geotagging turned on. If you’re not careful, you could accidentally geotag a photo or video that you wished to leave geographically anonymous.
4. Live Video
One of the best ways to build credibility and authenticity with your Instagram followers is by utilizing live video. Live video occurs in real-time, allowing you to communicate directly with your followers through page comments and voice.
Afraid that you might say something embarrassing? It won’t last for long. Instagram live videos disappear as soon as they’re done being broadcasted, ensuring that your faux pas isn’t picked apart by the masses.
You can use Live Video to discuss project updates, to show off new products, to showcase charitable efforts, and more. It’s all about making yourself and your business more familiar to your followers.
5. Photo Filters
A big part of marketing is building a brand. The goal is to evoke a feeling which is representative of your business. In evoking this feeling, you make your business instantly identifiable among the masses. Photo filters are also great for social profile branding. Take a look at these top brands that are doing social media profile branding correctly, then also consider how you can implement these same visuals into your own branding efforts.
There are a number of ways to do this on Instagram, but one of the most effective ways is through the use of photo filters. Using the same photo filters on all of your posts will provide your Instagram page with an overarching theme. This theme will become part of your brand and will help followers to identify your business.
Our advice is to experiment with different filters until you’ve found something you like. Then, once it’s established, you can hit your followers over the head with it.
When it comes to using Instagram for marketing purposes, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of hashtags. Hashtags are not only vital in building a brand, but in attracting non-followers as well.
Dropping trending hashtags into your posts is a great way to bring your Instagram page into the loop. Not only does it show that you’re part of the culture, but that your page might be worth visiting.
There are also many other famous hashtags too like;
In short, hashtags increase exposure for your business. The more exposure your business gets, the more sales it will convert.
7. Emoji Polls
One last Instagram feature you should consider using is Emoji Polls. These allow you to ask questions and receive direct feedback from your many followers, increasing familiarity among potential customers and allowing potential customers to feel as though their thoughts have an impact on the operation of your business.
One way to use Emoji Polls as a business is to ask followers how they feel about a specific product. However, you don’t need to strictly talk about your business. Inquiries about current events could get followers involved as well.
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Find More Marketing Tips
There is no shortage of Instagram features, each of which can help businesses to market their products, services, and brand. While the features reviewed above are the most effective for marketing purposes, they comprise only a handful of what you have available to you.
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