The devil works hard, but the Instagram development team works harder… It seems like every week there is a new feature to try.

Honestly, it can be a lot… even for us, and we work in Social Media. But as always, we’ve got your back… so we put together a handy list of new features you may want to utilize! Here they are:

“Add Yours” Sticker

Chances are you’ve already seen at least one person share the new “Add Yours” sticker to their Story. The sticker is exactly how it sounds: you add a photo that matches whatever the prompt is.

The “Add Yours” sticker is set up to be a chain reaction that starts with the poster’s followers and then spreads to any user on Instagram. It’s a huge opportunity for reaching a new audience and driving engagement.

How to:

  1. Tap to add a new Story
  2. Tap the Sticker icon
  3. Choose Add Yours Sticker
  4. Type a theme or choose from the available questions/topics
  5. Post the Story

Link In Stories For Everyone

FINALLY—everyone has the ability to add links in their Instagram Story— now via Stickers. (Yes, even those with less than 10K followers!)

Instagram has officially retired the Swipe Up link in Stories that was exclusive to those with 10k+ followers. Now Link Stickers appear on screen just like any other Instagram Stories sticker — but with the addition of a link icon!

What makes this great news even better is that now viewers can react and reply to a Story that includes a link, which allows for more engagement. Previously, Stories with links could not be replied to.

“Collab” On Feed & Reels

Collabs allow users to be able to co-create & co-post Instagram feed posts and Reels – allowing both accounts to potentially reach new audiences through each other.

How to:

Once you upload your post, go to the Share screen like you normally do, but then tap “Tag People.”

There will be a choice in the bottom right to “Invite Collaborator.” Tap that & search to find the user you want to collab with.

Upload Photos And Videos From Desktop

Users can now post Feed images or videos from the desktop app on their computer!

How to:

Log in to Instagram on a PC or Mac and click “+” at the top of the screen.

Then drag and drop a photo or video from your computer, edit your visual, write your caption, add your hashtags, and then post!

Text-To-Speech Feature On Instagram Reels

Yep, this popular TikTok feature is now available on Instagram Reels!

This new feature is great for story telling. It’s a robotic voice-over that sounds a little like Siri (or Alexa for you Android users).

How to:

First, use the regular text tool and type out what you’d like to say onto your Story.

Then, tap on the text button at the bottom of the screen until the “hidden” menu pops up, then select “Text-to-Speech.”

“Limits” To Hide Abusive Messages

Instagram is finally working hard to protect its users from abusive or bullying comments and DMs.

“Limits” now allows users to limit or hide comments/messages coming from users who are not following or who have just followed.

This option is available globally for all Instagram users using the app.

How to:

  1. Got to Settings
  2. Then Privacy
  3. Then Limits
  4. Choose what group you would like to limit and for how long
  5. Click Turn On

Hidden Words

Like “Limits,” another feature that Instagram hopes will protect users and have a positive impact on mental health is the option to hide certain words in comments or direct messages.

This feature allows users to filter certain words, phrases, and emojis that they find offensive. Any message or comment that includes a hidden word will be redirected to a separate “hidden” folder.

How to:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Then Privacy
  3. Then Hidden Words
  4. Choose what words you want to filter

Instagram Reels Play Bonuses

Facebook (Err… Meta) recently announced that they are committed to investing over $1 Billion in programs for creators through 2022.

To sum it up: creators make money based on the number of plays their Reels get.

As long as you have a business or creator account (and access to the program) all you have to do is share a Reel to Facebook or Instagram. Instagram will pay out on Reels that get at least 1,000 views over a 30-day period.

Final Thoughts

Whew! You made it through the list. Like we always say… don’t feel like you have to do it all or keep up with those pesky Joneses… But did you see a few you’d like to try? We hope so!

If after reading all of this you’re just DONE trying to go this alone, we would love to help with a social media strategy session or even full social media account management. Let’s chat!

For decades, “experts” in marketing have touted the idea of hiding your pricing and highly discouraged clearly publishing prices online. The thought behind this— you want to be able to engage with as many potential customers as possible and by getting them to reach out and ask for your pricing, you have more potential leads.

Seems logical, right? Who doesn’t want more calls? But in 2021, we believe there are other more important factors to consider.

The Death of the Phone Call

In short, most people simply don’t want to have to call and ask questions in 2021. We’re sure you’ve seen plenty of memes about how much people hate talking on the phone. This alone can tell you the current climate of our society, which bleeds over into business as well.

According to research conducted in 2017, 88% of consumers will price shop and compare products online before engaging directly with a business or making a purchase. People want to visit a website and get all the information they need in one place to make an informed decision. No one wants to experience the awkwardness of admitting they can’t afford a service after asking for the price over the phone.

The bottom line is, if your website says “Call for Price,” you are immediately losing out on a ton of potential customers who will just hop over to a competitor’s website that offers more information.

Not to mention, today’s consumer has a very short attention span… so even if they are willing to call for price, there’s a high chance that they’ll get distracted by an incoming text or email before they ever get to the actual phone part of their phone. Needless to say, the chances that they’ll remember to call after that are even slimmer.

The “Unaffordability” Assumption

You may be nervous to put your pricing on the website for fear of losing potential leads, but we happen to think you may lose a lot of potential customers by NOT adding it.

Did you know that when you don’t publish your price/range on your website, that will automatically cause many potential customers to believe that you’re out of their budget? Yep. It’s a real thing— fear of the unknown.

When people can’t find the price, they often assume the worst. They often think your services must be targeting wealthier people who don’t consider price as highly in the purchasing process. Hiding your prices may be scaring away more potential buyers than providing it upfront.

Don’t Waste Your Time

A new lead comes in! After going back and forth over several emails, coordinating a time, holding a discovery call, and preparing a proposal… you find out they were never going to be a potential client for you. You were always going to be way out of their budget. Sound familiar?

The truth is, not everyone is in your target market. Some people will want the service cheaper than you offer, while others need something more complex and expensive.

So instead of spending time filtering through incoming “leads” that will never fit in your range of services, spend your time more productively. There’s not a single business owner that doesn’t need more time!

Putting a price (or at least a price range) right on your website saves you the hassle of hours of work that only ends up frustrating you in the long run.

When people see your prices and know they can’t afford your services or products, they will likely never request a meeting or discovery call. You didn’t lose a good lead, you saved yourself a lot of hours and frustration.

Build Trust with Your Audience

Upfront pricing also builds brand trust, so be confident in your pricing! Learn your target market like the back of your hand so you can more easily find them, or better yet, help them find you.

Who are they? What do they do? What’s their budget range? If you’re the cheapest around, the complex high-end client may not be in your target audience. Or if you’re the most expensive, budget shoppers won’t bite. Remember— not everyone is going to be your target audience, and that is okay.

But by giving a price range upfront, you build trust with your target audience because they can self-qualify that they are in your target market before they ever contact you the first time.

How to Handle Custom Services or Products

Sometimes you can’t list your prices, because your services are fully custom and each person gets a customized quote based on what they need from you. We totally get that, because that is how our agency works, too. In this case, we recommend providing a price range or a “Starting at…” on your website.

You don’t have to put all your price customizations, but just give a general range or starting point. You can even include the caveat that the prices are subject to change based on the amount of customizations/work/client allowing yourself room to negotiate a fair price for each service or product.

For example, on our site, we state that our fully custom and SEO optimized websites start at $4500. However, depending on the client’s needs and customizations, it could get much higher than that. That said, if someone is just starting a business and is looking for a $500 Squarespace site or the equivalent, they already know that we would not be a good fit. And that’s okay!

That saves us time and energy to put into the businesses who do want and need what we have to offer.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is most potential customers want to know your pricing up front, or to at least get a ballpark figure, by visiting your website.

You don’t really want to spend time convincing people on the phone to work with you when they really can’t afford to or don’t see the value in what you offer! Trying to convince anyone to become a client is something you can choose to avoid by being open with our price range on your website.

Here’s our advice— Own your value and add your price or price range to your website. The right clients will come along.

Remember back in 2020 when basically every ad was some big corporation telling you they are here for you or trying to make you cry in the middle of a Tuesday? We definitely do. But if you’re one of those people who have blocked 2020 from your memory, just watch this Amazon ad for reference—

Whew…

But for real, we just all collectively went through a year of extreme uncertainty and fear. And we don’t know about you, but we are more than ready for everything to feel settled again!

In fact, Summer 2021 turned out to reflect a desire for community, fun, and freedom for most people—and well, getting back to some sort of semblance of normalcy. But was that also vibe in the advertising world?

With Summer winding down, we’re looking back on a few brands with advertising campaigns that made us even more excited for “Hot Girl Summer.” ????  You tell us if they passed the Summer 2021 vibe check:

Adidas

Alright kids… long before the age of social media and television ads (when people walked to school uphill barefoot in the snow), there were these things called billboards. In fact, billboards have been used since the 1830’s… And well, Adidas just came along and changed the whole game.

In an effort to announce the debut of their recent inclusive swimwear collection, Adidas installed the world’s first liquid billboard.

That’s right. Adidas installed a swimming pool holding 11,500 gallons of water on a popular beach in Dubai. The purpose of the ad was to reinforce that all women should be able to be confident in their swimwear no matter their appearance, and all the women in the vicinity were invited to take a very public dive into the pool.

The goal of this campaign is to encourage women of all shapes and sizes to feel powerful and comfortable in their swimwear. Senior Brand Director at Adidas Amrith Gopinath said, “Our belief is that nobody should be prevented from enjoying the benefits of being in and around the water, hence the recent launch of our diversified product offering for all women and our burkini collection.”

Budweiser

We wouldn’t expect any less from the brand that brought us the culture changing “WASSUP” commercials. In late June, Budweiser released a commercial called “Go Fourth, America” that featured actor Bill Pullman reprising his famous presidential role from “Independence Day” for the first time in 25 years. In his speech, he celebrates how America has rallied together to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and encourages the country to look towards a brighter future. “Go Fourth, America” also highlights a donation from Budweiser to Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization focused on enabling vaccine access in the U.S. and globally.

While it’s certainly not super cheeky like the beloved WASSUP frogs of old (AKA: the 90’s), this commercial gave us nostalgia, made us laugh, and almost made us cry. In a time with so much division, Budweiser found a way to connect with so many people with different backgrounds. No matter your political stance, it’s hard to watch this ad and not catch feelings. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, check it out here—

Snickers

This one might just be our favorite because Snickers really said, “I see you and I understand you,” to the working middle class. Snickers’ summer campaign is a series of videos showing people on vacation that just can’t quite relax. The only solution? A Snicker’s ice cream bar.

Picture this. You’re sitting on a beach with your bestie sunbathing and reading a nice book. Just then, a plane flies overhead… and trailing behind it is a message from work that ruins the whole vibe. If you’re triggered, you’re not alone. The plane is definitely a metaphor for how our phones have made us accessible at all times. It’s a call-out to our current culture which doesn’t really allow us to ever truly disconnect.????  Yikes… We’re pretty sure we can all relate to this one.

Oh, and here’s a little bit of insider info—This ad actually utilizes weather-based triggers for ads on Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, and other mediums whenever the temperature rises past certain points depending on the market. That’s right, Snickers knows when you’re starting to sweat, and they’re using it!

Final Thoughts

These campaigns are all great examples of how much the advertising industry changes depending on current events. And listen, marketers have their work cut out for them, because the average consumer has gotten a lot smarter (looking at you!) and a lot more in tune to when they’re being manipulated or over-advertised to.

With the overload of campaigns and advertisements in our current climate, companies have no other choice but to think of new, creative ways to stand out. We’ve found that the biggest change in the last year is that consumers are more motivated by social justice movements than ever before. Equality is now ranked the number one biggest motivator, and diversity went up more than six places in ranking in one year. For the most part, consumers are basically saying, either get woke or get left behind.

We’ll keep watching to see how long this type of advertising is trending, and we’ll be on the lookout for what’s coming next!

Press release pet peeves, press release pet peeves, press release pet peeves… try saying that out loud 3 times fast. For most people, writing a successful and poignant press release can be… well, even harder than saying “press release pet peeves” 3 times fast.

But that’s why we’re here! We’re going to tell you some concrete and easy (although we may be using that word lightly here…) ways to make your press release more effective.

If you’ve been stumped trying to get your big event, grand opening, or new product noticed by your local press, a lot of people can relate. It’s kind of a whole thing.

Thankfully over the years, we’ve learned (the hard way a few times) how to write a killer press release that gets your business noticed and, well, doesn’t peeve the people you’re sending it to.

So, here are the top five biggest press release mistakes (according to us) and what to do instead to catch that journalist’s eye:

1. Not Prioritizing the Title of Your Press Release

It’s easy to discount the importance of a title when you feel the press release speaks for itself, but journalists sift through hundreds of press releases every single day. So it’s SUPER important to grab their attention as soon as possible to avoid being tossed in the “not-newsworthy” pile. Basically, you want to click-bait them, without the click-baity-ness. (Is that a word????? )

The goal of your title should be to make it immediately obvious what audience you’re wanting to reach and why they need this information. PRO TIP: it can be extremely beneficial to update your title depending on the news outlet or audience you’re reaching out to. Your information might be useful to people of all ages, but the title needs to cater to the type of outlet that you’re hoping will share your story.

2. Including the Wrong Amount or Wrong Type of Links

Alright, this is where it gets tricky. You don’t want too many links… or not enough links… or links that don’t further your narrative. (How many times can we say, “links”?) Links are where a lot of people seem to either take it too far or just not put any at all. We’re here to save you from this blunder!

In 2021, press releases should no longer be written as though they’re going to be read off a sheet of printed paper. They’re going to be read digitally, so make them interactive! A great press release will be an interactive experience where the reader can move between reliable links embedded in the document, along with photos and videos that help in educating them.

We suggest using 2-4 links depending on the length and subject matter of your press release. Any more than that, and your hard work begins to look like spam, and your readers no longer take the time to follow any of the links. ????????‍♀️ It’s also important to be intentional when choosing your links. Before adding any link, make sure it’s relevant to your topic and your target audience, and that it adds value to your story.

When used correctly, links will boost audience engagement AND push more people to your website. (Yay!)

3. Only Using a Distribution Service

There’s definitely value in distribution services. Basically, distribution services work to distribute your press release for you. They allow your press release to end up in the inbox of hundreds of journalists and can lead to tons of backlinks for your website.

BUT

Distribution services are becoming less beneficial for small brands because they can get buried in a sea of PR from huge companies.

Instead, try to build relationships with journalists! Send personalized messages to offer product samples, interview quotes, and attached photos with your press release. Journalists love when you give them a story and all the elements they’d need to run with it right away. Try to make their job as easy as possible, and we promise it’ll pay off.

4. Lack of Focus

People often feel rushed when working on a press release, because as we all know, “time is money.” But in reality, a rushed, unfocused press release can be a huge waste of your time because it’s unlikely to ever gain any traction.

Many business owners can struggle to be direct and stay focused on the main goal of the press release. We get it. You’re not a writer, you’re a business owner! That’s ok. Here’s what we suggest: start with an outline that creates a story. The business, product, or event you’re promoting should be secondary to the main goal of creating something that people want to read. You need to have one subject, one idea, and one goal that you’re striving for with every sentence.

If there are multiple aspects that you need to promote, we suggest writing different press releases for optimal results.

5. Not Making it Topical

Is it NEWSWORTHY? Ask yourself this question at every stage of the writing process, because that is the question every journalist is trying to answer before they invest their time. The goal is to step back and look at it from the readers’ eyes. If you weren’t involved in the project or company, what would make you want to read about this topic? What do you think will get people really talking? Your press release must be valuable beyond just your own interests, because if it’s not, you risk damaging your reputation and even blacklisting yourself to journalists. (???? ) This might sound harsh, but they may not ever spend their time reading any of your future press releases as well once you’ve let them down.

So, our best advice is to spend some time reading topical news and try to find a new angle that people aren’t talking about yet. This automatically puts you a few steps ahead of the other 100 press releases in the journalist’s inbox. If you aren’t able to do this, show how a popular industry trend is related (even in a small way) to what you’re doing. There are lots of ways to make something mundane become newsworthy—celebrity endorsement, human interest, novelty/rarity, proximity, and more.

For example, the event at your business might not be newsworthy, so why not give a percentage of proceeds to an organization to a local organization with a great cause? Voilà! NOW people want to learn more about what you’re doing. Plus, you get to help people in the process.

Pro tip: Make sure to give to an organization you genuinely care about and want to support.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, our BIGGEST pet peeve is a press release that goes out before it’s ready. A good press release takes tons of time and energy, but when done correctly, they’re more than worth it!

And hey, if this is way over your head or if you need to stay focused on big picture business decisions, we can always help with PR for your next big adventure.

It seems crazy that it’s been an entire year since the pandemic started. Just think, a year ago we were all either binge-watching Tiger King in quarantine, learning a TikTok dance, baking bread, or becoming first-time plant parents. ????

Does anyone else miss in-person networking or big conferences? ✋????

Over the past year, virtual events have increased significantly, for obvious reasons. According to a survey by wirke.com, only 42% of organizations were holding virtual events before the pandemic, but now that number has doubled to 84%.

Those statistics are pretty hard to ignore. So what’s the big deal about virtual events and will they stick around post-pandemic? We happen to think they will, so we’re going to share a few insider tips & tricks to help you host a great one…

What Is A Virtual Event?

A virtual event is simply an event that’s hosted online through either pre-recorded videos or live streaming. Social media platforms have all upped their live streaming abilities in recent years, projecting the importance of virtual connection well before the pandemic. (Wait….. No let’s not go there.) TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook are all great places to go LIVE for a virtual event, and each platform has its own pros & cons as well as its own target audience.

Why Host A Virtual Event?

Even though the pandemic has put virtual events in the spotlight (mostly because no other type of events were allowed ???? ), virtual events have always had benefits independent of social distancing, and they will continue to in the future. Hosting a virtual event can benefit your business because it can reach an audience that normally wouldn’t be able to attend an in-person event due to busy schedules, financial restraints, or physical disabilities.

As a small business, virtual events are a great way to talk to your audience without breaking the bank. They’re much more cost effective than in-person events because there’s not a physical space to rent out and well, wine and charcuterie are expensive… ????????‍♀️

Virtual events are often used for:

So, Now That You Know What A Virtual Event Is, How Do You Plan One?

Step 1: Create A Detailed Game Plan

Even if your event is in-person, it still takes planning! Having a schedule for the event will keep your team organized and ready to perform. (Pro-tip: If segments become too long, audience members may hop off the Live Event. Keep the event interesting by having a list of commonly asked questions to answer during a demo.)

It’s important to give your team specific roles for the event. The amount of people working an event will vary, but here are some examples:

1. A Camera Person – They should understand what angles are best for the event and to make sure the Live is running smoothly.
2. A Comment Monitor – It’s important to have eyes on the comment section so the audience can ask the questions and feel like they are participating.
3. A Director – This is one of the most critical positions during a Live because they make sure everything stays on schedule, they can give (silent) direction to keep things moving, and they can signal to the MC or host to give more energy.
4. An MC – This is your star! Whoever is the most comfortable giving energy, but also knowledgeable enough to answer questions about your business should be your go-to MC. (Pro Tip: Virtual Events require even more energy than in-person events. If you feel ridiculous, you’re probably giving enough energy for a virtual event.)

Step 2: Pick The Right Day And Time For The Event

Analytics and insights are your best friend. If most of your audience is working during the day and time you choose, the event won’t do as well! So checking your social media analytics will help you choose the best time for your specific target audience.

Step 3: Promote, Promote, PROMOTE!

Alright, this is the fun part. Promoting the event at least 2-3 weeks before is generally the best practice for a virtual event. If you promote too early, your audience may forget, but if you promote it last minute, they may not be able to make time to attend.

There are a lot of great ways to promote virtual events— Social media posts, email marketing campaigns, posting in local groups, and using interactive Stories are all great ways to promote for free! We happen to think promotion of virtual events should be done holistically, meaning use every channel you have to reach the most people.

Step 4: Make It Fun, Engaging, And Inclusive!

Since your audience isn’t in-person, it’s even more important to remember to include viewers in the conversation! Encouraging your audience to ask questions and holding small giveaways throughout the event will keep your them interested and most importantly, will keep them from X-ing out of the event to get back to scrolling their feed. Who doesn’t love free stuff? ????

Final Thoughts

One of the most critical pieces of advice we can give you is: have a practice run-through. During the run-through, you can get an idea of what needs to be changed before the event. Remember tripods for the cameras, make sure all batteries are charged, print out the schedules, secure a laptop & a phone to monitor how the event is going, and grab lots of coffee to excite your speakers. (Caffeine is a good idea, always. ☕️)

Problems are bound to happen, but you’ve got this!

We encourage you to consider adding virtual events to your marketing strategy to increase your brand awareness on a lower budget, reach new target markets, and overall to freshen up your marketing game.

Does this help? Let us know!

It’s our favorite time of year! That’s right, the 2021 Web Design Trends round-up is here. We’re breaking down our very favorite web trends, but this year we especially want to share trends that our small business clients can actually utilize.

Chances are, small business owners aren’t going to have the budget to overhaul their website with every new passing web design trend. So, let’s look at the trends that have either had staying power in the last few years, or we project will stick around in the coming years.

1. Retro Elements & Fonts

We’ve seen things come back in style that we never… I mean never thought we’d see. (Lookin’ at you, mom jeans.)

Right now, throwback typography and design are having a moment. Remember when retro meant the 70’s? Well get ready to feel old. Retro now means the 90’s. Yep. We’re starting to see a fun trend of reimagining of classic 90’s fonts, designs, and logos… And it’s being called “retro.” We’ll just go sit and think about that while we reconsider our skinny jeans and side parts. ????

2. Horizontal Scrolling

Previously thought of as a faux-pas, horizontal scrolling is a fun surprise to make your website stand out.

We’re seeing more web designers experimenting with horizontal scroll. Those who do it best don’t do it just for the sake of being different, but also as a practical way to share information in a good user flow, such as Goodfight’s current website. Their use of horizontal scroll causes visitors to see more of their products in the order they want them to before they leave the page. Horizontal scroll is also a good way to make yourself stand out if you’re in the creative field, like zerocodegirl.

3. Multimedia

With faster internet speeds becoming more accessible (???? ), multimedia web experiences are becoming a more popular choice in web design. Putting together a mix of text, imagery, video, and audio creates a captivating and highly engaging user experience for any website homepage. And let’s face it, nothing can sell a business online like a well-done video.

4. Gaussian Blur

We love a good design evolution. Bright & bold gradients have been on trend in recent years, but this year we’re seeing gradients evolve into a soft Gaussian blur. These soft swirl and soft focus gradients provide a calm and cool aesthetic that doesn’t try too hard.

5. Surrealism Illustration

Illustration, and specifically Surrealism, isn’t going anywhere this year. Surrealism often uses dream-like scenes, symbolic images, as well as unexpected, and illogical juxtapositions. We have loved seeing all of the super fun turns in illustration styles over the past few years, and we see illustrations continuing to replace photography-only design, at least in the near future. Here are some we like, and check out the Gaussian Blur on the Analytica Alimentaria website. Bonus points for using 2 trends!

6. Dark Mode Design

Dark mode is becoming even more prevalent in 2021, so more designers & brands are embracing the dark mode aesthetic. It’s just the reality, and we’re thinking if brands don’t adapt design to work with dark mode, they may fall behind. But hey, have fun with it! Black is the perfect dark backdrop to create designs with colors that pop.

Plus your eyes and your frown lines will definitely be thankful for this trend. ????

 

Final Thoughts

We hope this list helped! Did you have any favorite website design trends? Are there any you see matching your brand aesthetic? As a small business with a small budget, you can still have a modern, of-the-moment, but classic site… one that will give you the most bang for your buck! We’d love to help.

If you’ve been in a #MOOD ever since Instagram took away the Recent Hashtags tab in November during the election and stayed there through what we’ll lovingly call the “December Drop” in engagement, we’re here for you. (Isn’t that what businesses are supposed to say now-a-days? ????) But for real… we are.

Every year in December, Instagram rolls out shiny, new changes to everyone’s favorite thing: the algorithm. Add in the distraction of holidays, and this leads to an annual period of low engagement across the board.

Is There Something Wrong With Me If My Engagement Is Down?

This is really annoying, but it’s nothing new, so trust us… there’s nothing wrong with you if your engagement has been down, and it will level out eventually. But in the meantime, we have some tips that may help you boost your engagement, and maybe even get it higher than it was before the recent slump!

Before we get to our #tips for boosting engagement, let’s bust some algorithm myths we’ve seen circulating the interwebs. Is it too soon to say #fakenews? Got it. Let’s get to the list.

The Current Top 3 Instagram Algorithm Myths:

Myth #1 — Instagram Will Punish You If You Edit Your Published Posts

There’s a rumor out there that Instagram will punish you if you edit a post after it is published. There’s even a popular post with what we’re guessing is just anecdotal evidence showing two posts with drastically different engagement, one of which was edited. Here’s the thing. Instagram will not punish you for using a feature they provided to help you. There is tons of evidence showing that editing posts doesn’t hurt engagement. And at the end of the day, if Instagram didn’t want people to edit their posts, they would have never added an edit button. Looking at you, Twitter.

Myth #2 — Instagram Will Punish You If You Use Too Many Hashtags

Here’s another case of “why would Instagram punish you for using a feature they provided?” Instagram currently allows accounts to use up to 30 hashtags per post. If they wanted you to use 10 hashtags, that would be the max. So our advice is to maximize reach by using as many hashtags as you can.

Myth #3 — Instagram Will Punish You If You Use A Partner App To Schedule Posts

Different rumor, same answer. Instagram allows a few official partner apps to schedule and auto-publish posts to their app. Official Partner is code for $$$. Considering Instagram is making money through these apps, it’s highly unlikely that they would punish the apps on their platform. That’s just bad business.

The Current Top 3 Instagram Algorithm Boosting Tips

Tip #1 — Be Consistent

It’s no secret that the algorithm encourages posting as much as you can. But if you don’t have the margin to post quality content every day twice a day (because literally who does?), the next best thing to posting all the time is to be consistent over time. Our advice is to post consistently at the same time over a long period of time, post 3x per week on the same days each week, or posting every other day. Do this for a while and see if anything changes!

Tip #2 — Use Reels

Specifics about the algorithm are usually debated, but one that is agreed upon across the board is that Instagram Reels are currently boosted and favored in the algorithm. If you’re not posting Reels, the algorithm is going to punish all your posts. If you post Reels, the algorithm will reward you with engagement across all of your posts, not just Reels. So if you have the margin, get your creativity on.

Tip #3 — Use #AllOfTheFeatures

Instagram likes when you use all of the things, and we mean all of the things. Feed posts, Stories, Reels, IGTV, Shoppable posts, lions, tigers, and bears… oh my, that was a dad joke. Sorry. Anyway, this includes special features on Stories like the “I Voted” sticker, polls, sliders, etc, etc. So buy in… do all the things… make a deal with the Devi— Okay too far. I think we may be in a #mood, too.

Final Thoughts

We know this seems like a lot. If you can’t do it all, don’t go crazy trying to keep up with the Algorithm Joneses. Just do what you can when you can. Try some of these tips. A little change is better than nothing. And as always, if you’ve thought about outsourcing social media for your own sanity and to maximize your ROI, we’d love to help!

Business owner, if you’re not utilizing email marketing, you may be missing out on a ton of new and even recurring business. In fact, according to a recent study, email marketing produces more conversions than social media, and email campaigns result in 28.5% higher ROI compared to direct mail.

While weekly or monthly emails are one of the most common ways for companies to update and connect with their audience, they can be difficult to pull off really well. You have to not only create compelling copy, but also use clear CTAs, design eye-catching templates that work across multiple devices, and more.

If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry. We’re breaking down the dos and don’ts of email marketing below—

The Top Four Do’s of Email Marketing

1. Use Eye Catching Design – Eye catching graphics are what pull the reader’s eye to your important email content. So, make sure your images and other graphics are bold and draw your readers attention to the content you want them to read.

2. Make it Mobile Friendly – Designing your email for mobile-first viewing is crucial in today’s world. It’s important to create an email design with a width of 600px to ensure it appears correctly on any screen size.

3. Provide Clear CTAs – Great content and design are super important, but they won’t ultimately close business. To drive conversions, your readers should immediately know what action to take next and how to take it through clear Call To Action buttons. The CTA button should be front and center and have straightforward expectations, such as “Read more,” “Download now,” or “Email Us.”

4. Send a Test Email – Always always always send a test email. Then go through it and double check every element of your email including grammar, typos, and links!

The Top Three Don’ts of Email Marketing

1. Write a Vague Subject Line – A great subject line often makes the difference between an open and a “Move to Trash.” You want to develop a subject line that’s both catchy and concise, with 9 words or fewer. The average modern consumer has an extremely short attention span, so your subject line needs to not only grab their attention, but also entice them to take the time to open your email and see what it contains.

2. Forget about Accessibility – Over 2.2 billion people live with a form of vision impairment, so accessibility online is super important. You want to make sure you don’t alienate members of your target audience, while also missing out on potential business. To learn more about online accessibility, you can read our Online Accessibility Blog!

3. Ignore the Metrics – Repeat after me: metrics are your best friend. Most email platforms provide free full analytics reports that can really benefit you. Checking your delivery rate, bounce rate, open rate, click-through rate, website visits, and more can help you see where you may need to improve your campaign!

Also, if you want to take a deep dive into analytics and really improve your campaigns, consider A/B testing your emails to determine the most effective subject lines, CTAs, time to send, and more.

Conclusion

Email marketing is a proven marketing tactic that can have a great ROI. But running a successful email campaign isn’t as easy as writing content and hitting “send.” Need some additional ideas for your next email campaign? We’d love to help!

Maybe you’ve been wondering how to effectively use Instagram Stories for a while, and now you’re overwhelmed with the newest Instagram feature, Reels. ????

Maybe you have no idea what types of content are better suited for each different feature on the platform. Why should your brand care about them? And, most important, how can you take advantage of these features to grow your business?

You’re definitely not alone! And we’re here to help. Let’s start from the beginning…

What Is an Instagram Story?

A Story is mobile content shared in vertical orientation that’s only visible for 24 hours once posted (unless it’s made into a Highlight). Stories formats include: photo, video, boomerang, text, GIFs, and livestream. You can then add filters, polls, sliders, stickers, GIFs, and text to make your Story stand out!

Why Use Stories?

The biggest positives of using Stories are:

  1. They’re given the highest priority spot when a user opens Instagram. Before a user ever scrolls, they have the option to view Stories, and many users watch Stories before ever scrolling down their feed.
  2. Stories are a full-screen format which allows for a distraction-free viewing experience. It’s a chance for your brand to take up a user’s entire screen, which is rare on social media.

F8 is an annual conference held by Facebook, intended for developers and entrepreneurs who build products and services around the website. According to a presentation from Facebook at F82019:

What Makes a Great Instagram Story?

Here are some tips for making great Stories directly from Facebook also shared at F8 2019:

  1. Get Creative – creativity can make or break your Stories.
  2. Use high-resolution Visuals – 56% of a brand’s sales lift can be attributed to the quality of the creative.
  3. Feel the Need for Speed – Capitalizing on quick, dynamic content allows brands to meet users’ expectations and sustain their attention. Think “burst mode” rather than “long take.”
  4. Keep it Vertical – Creating your content in a vertical format makes the most of the screen real estate you have available.
  5. Use Clear CTAs – As much as possible, give a Call to Action. The more clear it is, the higher the chance that you get the response you want.
  6. Test and Learn – Stories are a great chance for a free focus group. If you’re not yet seeing the results you expect, it’s definitely worth trying different things and switching it up to understand which stimuli your audience best responds to. Use Story Polls and Question Boxes to ask them what they want to see more of!

What are Reels?

Reels is Instagram’s latest feature that launched at the start of August 2020 to compete with the highly popular TikTok app. Instagram users can now create bite-sized videos sharing tips, inspiration, or light-hearted content.
What Should You Share in Reels?

Your Reels content doesn’t have to be brand new. You can use existing content from your blog, podcast, and social channels and simply adjust it to work well on Reels.

  1. Educational Content – Do you share informational or educational content in the captions of your main Instagram feed posts? Great. And if you’re not, you definitely should!???? Just take those points, condense them into bullets, and share them on a fun video!
  2. Behind-The-Scenes – Is your team working on a fun project? Doing a team-building exercise? Watering your office plants? These are all fun things to share in short BTS videos.
  3. Your Brand Differentiators – What makes your company unique? What sets you apart? Share that with your following in an engaging video!

Conclusion

Stories are tested and here to stay, while Reels are super fresh. The jury’s out on whether or not Reels are around for the long haul, but brands that invest in this trend will definitely reap the rewards in the algorithm! ????

But hey, don’t feel like you have to do it all. If the only time you can commit to Instagram is by posting regularly in your main feed, do that and do it well! If you have 3 minutes to film a quick “Hello!” on your Stories weekly or snap a pic of some new products when they come in, that’s great, too!

However, if you know you want to utilize these features to grow your brand awareness and your bottom line, but you don’t have the time to commit to it, a social media marketing company or freelancer can be a great asset for you!

Stuck pouring money into traditional advertising channels only to get zero leads? We get it. We love figuring out creative strategies for our clients, because no two businesses are alike. So why advertise them all the same way? And especially for small business owners who don’t have big ad budgets, every single dollar matters.

So we’ve put together a list of a few “outside of the box” and more budget-friendly advertising ideas that usually have a pretty good ROI, if done the right way. Shall we?

Micro-Influencers

If you’re aiming at acquiring and retaining new, local customers, the most effective form of marketing is hands down word-of-mouth. Influencer marketing is essentially word-of-mouth online, albeit a bit less organic.

Simply put, an influencer is someone who either gets paid to promote a product or service on their own social media channels, or someone who trades free goods/services for the same promotion. A micro-influencer is a niche influencer with fewer than 100,000 followers and usually a large local following. And for a small business owner, that’s really what you want! Choosing a reliable and professional micro-influencer is so important, and in fact, we wrote a whole blog on micro-influencers last year if you want to go check it out!

If you don’t want to read a whole blog, here are the cliffs notes:

1. Make Sure They’re Legit— Do the influencer’s followers seem legit? Are they local? Real people? Are they regularly engaged on their posts? It’s a good idea to make sure their following is genuine and actually engages with their content, that way you know they’ll see it and be interested when that person posts about you!
2. Set Clear Expectations— Have an agreement ahead of time for how often you want the micro-influencer to post about your brand on social media, what platforms the posts should be on, and what they should include.
3. Use a Contract— Have them agree to the partnership – this can be done with a verbal agreement, software forms and tracking, or a formal contract committing them to meet the established expectations.

Brand Ambassador Programs

Brand ambassadors are pretty similar to micro-influencers, but there are a few key differences. While an influencer will only work with a brand initially through a formal relationship, brand ambassadors are often people who already engage with your brand naturally… they’re your biggest online or word-of-mouth advocates. What sets them apart is they love having genuine one-on-one conversations with people who are interested in your brand and products, rather than sticking to a script, like some influencers. Brand ambassadors are people who love your brand, who want to see your brand succeed, and who actively use your products in real life.

A brand ambassador program simply makes your relationship with those people who already love your brand official, and brings them on board with promotions. You can even incentivize them with discounts or points towards products/services for everyone who uses their referral or even a code to shop.

Podcast Ads

Podcasts are increasingly becoming a more and more popular media, because of their on-demand and accessible nature. Listeners can fine tune their interests (there’s a podcast for everything) and they can listen whenever it’s convenient…whether it’s on a morning commute, a mid-day walk, or an evening jog. All these combined have turned into 73 million American podcast listeners, and according to recent data, that audience is projected to grow 81% by 2022.

Needless to say, podcast ads are a multi-million dollar industry at this point… but do podcast sponsorships deliver a solid return on investment? The answer is definitely yes, if done right. So why do they offer so much potential?

According to a recent report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 67% of listeners could recall products and brands featured in ads. Even better, 61% actually paid for a product or service they learned about on podcasts.

It’s important to note if your target audience is listening to podcasts. If they are, you may want to seriously consider this form of advertising, instead of continuing to dump dollars where there is no name recognition or conversion whatsoever!

Blip (Billboard Ads)

Blip billboards are no minimum contract digital billboards that allow small and medium-sized businesses to advertise at their budget level. The good thing about Blip billboard ads is, you can get started on any budget. They’re very similar to social media ad campaigns in that you can choose what level of visibility you want based on what you want to pay, and they’re capped when you hit your budget limit.

A blip is anywhere from 7.5 to 10 seconds on a rotating billboard. The cost depends on the location(s) and time(s) you choose.

Conclusion

When you’re a small business with a small budget, it’s so important to get the best ROI for your advertising dollars. You don’t just have to keep dumping money into Google Adwords or other marketing strategies that aren’t getting you conversions.

Maybe it’s time to get creative and look outside the traditional advertising box to reach new audiences…

As always, if you want help with strategy or even execution, we’re here to help.