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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

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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2020 Trends in Marketing: 9 Digital Strategies to Look Out For

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Do you run a business? If so, you can’t ignore the benefits of advertising your company online.

Businesses everywhere are starting to increase their digital presence. Reports show that 95% plan to increase their ad spend this year.

You need to stay up to date with what’s going on if you want to compete online today. Below are nine 2020 trends in digital marketing that deserve your attention.

1. Increase in Chatbots

Are you having trouble keeping your customer support staff on track? If so, you may have an easier time in the coming years.

Chatbots are starting to become commonplace on the front lines of customer services. Businesses are using them for the initial point of contact when people start a support chat.

A chatbot can determine what someone needs help with, direct them to the right location, and solve some of the more straightforward issues. As time goes on, their roles are going to grow more.

2. More Augmented Reality

It’s hard for customers to go to a store and imagine what a product will look like when they take it home. This problem leads to bad purchasing decisions and returns. The good news is, augmented reality will help.

Instead of window shopping at a physical store, customers will download an app to their smartphone to do their shopping. Shopping applications will allow people to use their phone cameras to look at their desired products in their homes.

This will give them a good idea about what something will look like when they bring it home. Once your customer finishes shopping, they can order straight from their phone or pick up their product at the store.

3. Increase in Video Consumption

The internet used to be primarily text and image-based. But as internet speeds have increased, so has video production.

Believe it or not, there are 300 hours of video content uploaded every minute on YouTube alone. That number isn’t likely to go down.

You can use this to your advantage by creating video content of your own. Create content that the people in your industry want to see. As you grow your following, you can start driving more traffic to your site to bring in more sales.

4. Localized Advertising

It’s hard for local businesses to target the people they need to online. Sure, you can put in some demographic data. But it’s hard to get in front of people at the right time.

Geofencing has changed the game for local advertisers. Instead of focusing on the usual demographics, you can focus your ads on people who are near your store.

Doing this allows you to target people who are out in about. If someone is near your store, they are more likely to stop in to buy your products.

Find out more geofencing tips so you can take advantage of it today.

5. Private Messaging Apps

People don’t use text messaging as much anymore. We now have Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to take its place. The good news is you can also use it for your business.

Many businesses are now using these messaging apps to promote their business and perform customer service.

Messaging applications are also starting to incorporate eCommerce straight into their products. Soon, you’ll be able to sell your products right from your messages. Your customers won’t need to leave to go to your website or application to buy what they want anymore.

6. More Targeted Advertising

Data makes the world go round these days. Consumers are giving up more of their personal information than ever. You can make use of this information to create more targeted advertising. Using a web scraping tool makes the data collection process easy and effective by collecting big data to enhance your decisions.

In the past, you had to put your advertisements on websites and hope that your target audience saw them. The sites you advertised on might have had no people interested in your products.

Since data collection has now become the norm, you can start targeting your ads more effectively. Create a customer persona that is most likely to buy your products. Target their demographics and tailor your advertisements to target these people.

7. More Voice Search

Voice-powered devices are on the rise. Not only can they perform simple tasks, but they can also perform searches for you. This trend will lead to a new list of keywords you can target with your website.

People don’t ask questions out loud the same way they type them in a search engine. If you can figure out how people are asking questions, you can perform SEO on your website to target these new search terms.

If you can get ahead of this trend, you can start ranking for more organic search results than your competition.

8. Social Media Shopping

Influencer marketing has been around for a few years now. The problem is, it’s hard to track results and get people to your website. Your betting that an influencer’s followers will know how to get back to your site.

That will be changing in the coming years. Social media sites are beginning to integrate shopping options straight in their activity feeds. For example, not every social platform is different. Instagram will be better for others, while Facebook or Twitter might be a better option for other ecommerce and retail brands.

Now when an influencer promotes your product, their audience can buy straight from the post. You’ll be able to gather better data and make more sales.

9. Focus on Customer Engagement

The online world has countless businesses trying to get the attention of potential customers. You can’t stand out from the crowd if you don’t provide content that engages your audience.

Expect businesses to focus on creating online experiences that keep people engaged with their brands. If you can create an enjoyable experience, you’ll be more likely to get attention when you launch new products and deals.

Don’t Ignore These 2020 Trends in Digital Marketing

You can’t afford to fall behind in digital marketing. Make sure to keep track of these 2020 trends and make use of them where it makes sense. If you can take advantage of these new methods before your competitors, you may be able to get a competitive advantage.

Of course, you don’t always need to use the latest and greatest to have a successful marketing campaign. Head back to our blog to read our guides on the tried and true online marketing methods.

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7 Lifestyle Bloggers to Follow on Instagram

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You can find accounts to follow on Instagram about nearly any topic that interests you. A simple search will probably give you a wealth of choices. So many options can be overwhelming. The lifestyle category of influencers is a wide one that covers such areas as fashion, home decor, food and travel. It’s also one of the most popular genres around. 

To get you started on finding quality lifestyle bloggers to follow on Instagram, check out this list. These accounts are attracting tons of followers and offering a great deal of value. They may have started their accounts by enlisting the help of opting to buy Instagram likes for every post, but their content has kept people flocking to them for more. 

  1. @fullyrawkristina

Kristina bills herself as a “healthy lifestyle advocate.” With over a million followers to date, she’s shown that people are responding positively to her messages. They’re probably also in awe of her gorgeous photos of tropical locales and delectable, healthy foods. She’s a popular YouTuber, as well, and offers her fans challenges such as the 21-Day New Year Challenge. Clearly, she’s an inspiration to many. If you’re looking to eat better and enjoy a more adventurous life, why not give her a follow? 

  1. @brunchboys

If you love food from across the globe, the Brunch Boys are the account you want to follow. They have over 470,000 followers. That’s a lot of people waiting to see what these boys are having for brunch! You can browse their latest posts or check out the Instagram Stories Highlights at the top of their page to see Stories from specific cities and locations. They also invite you to check out their YouTube channel for more in-depth views of their fabulous food finds. 

  1. @louisnicolasdarbon

Let’s switch gears and check out a popular fashion blogger, specially men’s fashion. Based out of London, this luxury jet-setter offers a glamorous look at his fashionable lifestyle in his Instagram feed. You can view him poolside in a tux in the Hollywood Hills or bundled up in a sweater and parka in Stockholm. This guy always looks good. On top of it all, he’s an accomplished artist who’s happy to show off his works and other fine art he appreciates. 

  1. @aina.simon

Another fashionable traveler to watch is Aina Simon. She’s based out of Barcelona and is the founder of her own fashion collection. That’s pretty impressive, as is her following of over 166,000. If you’re into women’s casual women’s fashion, she’s one to watch. Just browsing her afeed is a pleasure, and you’ll get a glimpse of her travels wearing the cutest outfits. Of course, you’ll find her hanging out in her home city of Barcelona. But Aina also travels extensively, and you can peruse some of her specific destination choices at the top of her page through her marked Instagram Stories Highlights. Prepare to spend a lot of time here. 

  1. @amanda_stantonn

If you want to find a stylish mom to follow on Instagram, Amanda Stanton is a good one to choose. She has over a million followers and has established herself as a key influencer in her niche. She and her family are adorable. They travel together to a wide variety of locations. It’s tempting to be a bit jealous of her grand lifestyle, but then you see how genuine she comes across sharing personal details of her life in quirky ways, such as one with she and her daughter using a cute animal filter overlay. Not many fashionistas are willing to portray themselves in such silly, spontaneous ways!

  1. @hudabeauty

Hudabeauty is the Instagram account of Huda Kattan, the woman you want to know if you’re into all thing’s beauty. This woman has rightfully established an incredible cult following of 31.6 million followers. That’s right, million, not thousand. That huge number is almost too difficult to comprehend when it comes to social media audiences. 

But she’s earned it. When it comes to makeup and beauty tips, she knows it all and is up on all the trends. She’s also a lot of fun. Huda doesn’t hesitate to add lots of adorableness to her feed by dropping in posts that include her adorable baby or a humorous video of her applying makeup to a very handsome sleeping man. Please visit her page. Makeup lovers need this in their lives. 

  1. @muradosmann

If travel photography is your thing, take a look at the Instagram account of Murad Osmann. He and his wife will take you on amazing journeys through the lens of their camera. With 4.2 million followers and awards like Forbes Top 3 Travel Influencer under his belt, you can bet you’ll find nothing but breathtakingly beautiful images here. 

Their destinations are simply exotic and exciting. Find the latest lineup of travel locales at the top of their feed. This couple documents their journey to everywhere from Mykonos to Egypt to Cannes and closer to their home in Moscow. This is definitely a feed you can get lost in for hours. Better grab a cup of tea. 

Using Video to Attract More Engagement on Instagram

Hopefully, you’ll find these seven lifestyle bloggers enjoyable to follow. You’ll surely learn something new and discover ways influencers are presenting Instagram accounts that get noticed. However, what you will notice about some of them is that they like to focus more on their video content versus just using visual images and photos.

With more people using their mobile devices and social applications to view content on the internet, video is now in demand more than every. This can also be backed up by statements from simpleshow, where they write about how video continues to outperform on social. From both the content creator and the end user perspective, its a win-win situation.

Businesses and bloggers alike can benefit from taking a look at what these popular folks have to offer and the various ways they’re making an impact on the social media world.

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YouTube vs Blogging: How to Determine Which One is Best For You

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Content marketing of all types is only continuing to grow in popularity, and if you haven’t started jumping on the content bandwagon yet, it’s time. The major issue that most people have is where to start making their content. 

When it comes to starting your content marketing efforts, there are two major mediums you should look into using when you are starting off: blogs and videos. These are the two easiest places to start that show the highest engagement, but which one do you choose? 

Let’s take a look at the differences with video content and blogging, to figure out which one you should jump into first. 

Video Content on YouTube

Making video content is a great place to start your content creation, but there is a catch. Making high-quality video can be expensive and time-consuming. Most of the expense comes upfront in the form of buying a quality camera and editing software. If you already have those, congratulations, the bar of entry just dropped. Video is a great way to connect with your viewers in one of the most personal formats available online. On top of that, video is one of those mediums that keeps growing year after year. 

However, if the idea of getting in front of the camera and being the face and sound of your brand, there are plenty of other alternatives as well. For example, explainer videos works extremely well on both YouTube, social media, and as blog content. And what’s even better, is that there are plenty of low cost and reliable drag and drop solutions out there for creating your own short black and white videos in just a few minutes time.

No matter what type of videos you want to create, the growth of video keeps going up because of the rise in smartphone use. These little devices make it easier for people to connect with the internet because the access is in their pocket. 

When you start making videos, you want to create a video production timeline. This includes everything from finding the right people to the video storyboard and production to final edits. 

Formatting Your Video Content

There is a great format that big agencies and companies use to create their videos, and if you plan to make video content, you should use this format too.

The best video format looks like this:

  • The Hook (10 seconds of something later in the video to interest viewers)
    • This can also be replaced with an introduction.
  • An Intro (A recurring introduction you use for all your videos)
  • Pose a Problem (show a general problem that many people have that your product or services fixes)
  • Show the Solution (show how your product or service takes care of the problem)
  • Ask for Action (tell them how to take the next steps in case they are already sold)
  • Destroy Doubt with Testimonials (take the time to fill in holes that people might see in the pitch. This can be done with testimonials, footage of the item being used in different ways, or explaining further detail about the potential you are offering)
  • Sign of by Asking for More Action (again tell them where to go or what to do)

If you format your videos in the manner, you are more likely to develop an interest in engagement from your customer. If your goal is to create one of the most viewed YouTube videos this year, you should really look into this format. Think about it, if you have ever seen an infomercial, you have seen this format, and it’s proven to work with the test of time.

Blogging

Blogging is another great place to start, and it has one major advantage over video, the cost of entry. If you can write, you can blog. All it takes is a place to showcase those blogs, and that is ultimately cheaper than any camera you can buy for video production. 

The only major downside to blogging is not having the knowledge or knowhow to make those posts rank organically. The biggest things you can learn to help your blogging succeed are keyword research, blog style, keeping it simple. 

Keyword Research

There are specific keywords that relate to your post that will give your blog more potential to pull organic traffic. Basically, if the term is highly searched and you use it in your post, you have the opportunity to rank for that term as the search engine bots index your page. This can also be done for your video titles. 

Blog Style

Style is important when you are trying to set up a successful blog post. If you just write a block of content and post it online, it might be hard for search engine bots to determine it’s meaning and value. You want to break up your content with headings that describe the sections readers are about to read.

If you are wondering what that looks like, you can look at this post. If you really want to know what it takes to have the best setup possible for a post, you want to look into something like HubSpot’s inbound marketing course. This course will take you through the requirements and styles of great content, and it gives you a great framework to build your blog posts with. The best part of this course is the price: free.

Keeping it Simple

Remember, you are being ranked by robots, and although they can do some amazing things with the information they are given, robots perform better with simple tasks. That means keeping your writing simple will help the bots rank your content easier. If you can explain the topic the best with the easiest to understand terminology, you are likely to rank higher than using complex sentence structures and words. The rule of thumb you should shoot for is writing at a 5th-grade level when possible. 

If You Can, Do Both YouTube and Blog Content

If you are wondering which is better than the other, there is no right answer when it comes to creating quality content for your audience.

The only truly right answer is that doing both together will create a better user experience than one or the other. When you put the power of video with the organic rankings of keywords in blog content, you get a more developed piece of content that has a higher potential to net you rankings in the search engine results.

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