Module 7
Social Media 1hour

In this module, we will cover the importance of setting up and maintaining social media channels. You will learn the specifications of the most popular platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google+.

Social media is a perfect platform to establish a line of communication with your customers. In this chapter, you will learn the techniques to ensure successful customer engagement.

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Your business may have a lot of social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and so on. Although a company’s online presence can be treated as a comparative advantage, it would look even better if you were able to engage your audience with the content you publish. By engagement, I mean likes, comments, link clicks and website clicks. If this aspect of social media accounts is difficult for you, hopefully, you will find several useful tips in this chapter, which, if used together, will be able to boost the social media profiles of your business.

Tip 1. Publish posts of high quality
If you want your audience to engage with you, publishing content of high quality is absolutely a ‘must’. It is better to limit the number of posts but make each of them tailored to your needs and inspiring in some way. Sharing numerous photos or articles which are of poor quality is not a good idea – users will start ignoring them as you don’t have anything interesting to offer.

Tip 2. Ask questions
Asking questions at the end of each post can cause users to naturally answer them and, therefore, increase engagement with your profile. Comments below your posts on Facebook are desired as they directly contribute to the popularity of your post. More precisely, the online friends of the user who commented on the photo may see the picture on their newsfeed. In return, some of them may also engage with your page or post.
What questions to ask? Well, it really can be anything that is associated with the post you published.
“Do you like our new design? | What do think about this offer? | Here, you can find cheap flights. Have you got any vacations planned?”
If no-one answered it doesn’t look bad. In turn, even if one person engages, it is an advantage to your business.

Tip 3. Tag some users
On Instagram or Twitter, you can mention in posts the users which are likely to engage with your content. They will receive a notification about your action and hopefully, they will also tag you in their posts or, at least, they will like or comment on the post in which you tagged them. On Facebook, as long as you have the consent of the users, you could mention the names of customers who were happy with your services. But be careful, because this method does not fit all kinds of businesses. If a restaurant owner interrupts the clients’ dinner in order to ask them for a photo for their FB page, the customers may become angry and not visit again. However, if you offer attractions like bungee jumping, parachuting, paintball, etc., there will be lots of people happy to be included on your business social media account after using your services.

Tip 4. Attract the right audience through ads
If you want your social media audiences to engage with your content, then you should reach the right people. You can directly influence who will display your profile or photos and articles via ads, on practically every social media platform. You don’t have to spend a fortune to gain some likes or comments as long as you are good at targeting the audience who will be the most likely to respond to your posts. Even £1 can bring some results. Nowadays, many businesses use online advertisements as a method of reaching the audience they are interested in.

Tip 5. Get engaged in the content of other users as well
This tip is particularly relevant to Instagram where many people expect that in return for their engagement you will also engage with their posts. It is difficult to get followers if you follow no-one and similarly, it is unlikely you will get numerous likes for a photo if you never like the posts of the accounts you follow. Indeed, leading an account on Instagram (and to some extent on Twitter as well) is connected with exchanging engagement as a form of transaction. The more popular your brand, the less engagement you need, however, at the beginning, I advise you to like/comment posts which are relevant to your industry. the way to increase awareness about your company’s existence.

Tip 6. Organise competitions
People love to receive something for free or for little engagement from them. Therefore, take advantage of this and start organizing competitions for people who will like your post or who will write the best comment below the post. This needs to be carefully planned as the rules of the content must be stated clearly otherwise, you will have to battle with unhappy or irritated users who engaged and didn’t get anything from you. However, if you handle the competition correctly, the effects of this strategy can exceed expectations.

Tip 7. Don’t be unpleasant or unapproachable
Whatever business you lead, never leave the impression that in some way it is not worth engaging with your content. You can create this impression in many ways – by being rude to customers who complained in the comments section, by ignoring users who asked you a question on social media, by posting controversial articles, or not sticking to the topic of your business. Each of these mistakes will give the audience no incentive to contact you. Sometimes a simple thing like adding an emoticon or greeting in the post may create the impression that the account holder is friendly and therefore lead them to react to the content. To engage your social media audiences you have to stay kind, funny and inspiring
and approachable.

I have provided you with seven tips on how to engage your social media audiences. Implementing just one of them can bring some effects but ideally, you would have to implement all of them to really reap the benefits. On social media, the company’s image is being built over a long period of time and it is very easy to undermine all effort just with one bad post. Similarly, engagement with the audience also requires patience, consistency and a lot of work on developing the quality of the posts. Good luck with increasing interest in your posts and, as always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

The world of social media can get wild sometimes. It’s good to know the ways it operates and how to make the most out of them!

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Social media has changed the way we communicate with others and revolutionised the internet. It offers incredible marketing opportunities at a relatively low cost. We believe that social media is extremely important for your brand. It can help you bring new customers, stay in touch with existing ones and perhaps build the personality of your brand. If you follow our articles, then you probably remember that we discussed the importance of establishing an emotional link with your customers.

Remember that every business is different and depending on the industry in which you operate, you should use social media a little differently. We can’t possibly discuss every possible scenario in relation to all business types therefore we aim to provide you with an understanding of the underlying logic so that you can choose the right social media platform to use and tailor your communication with the audience.

The two ‘must have’ tools for every business are Facebook and Twitter. Regardless of your industry  or the size of your company,  you should have your business profile on both Facebook and Twitter.

 

What information to include on the business page?

People who will like the content of your page may become curious about who you are, what you do and where they can find you. Therefore, the most obvious information that the business page should contain includes (if possible- depending on the platform)

ü  business name

ü  A short description (1-3 sentences) of the organisation’s activity or invitation to the page

ü  organisation’s website

ü  organisation’s e-mail address

ü  localities in which the business operates

ü  working hours, if relevant.

Remember that the data you provide must be correct (without spelling mistakes), current and relevant. If you write that your office is open every day from 9 am to 4 pm and a customer visited you could not reach you at the office during this time could become angry and complain about it on your business social media account.

Among this list, the short description may be the most challenging task to complete as in 1-3 sentences the whole business must be summarised in the way that will be interesting and encouraging for the customer. The real-life examples of the descriptions below will help to indicate the characteristics of good business summaries.

  •         Coca-Cola: “Get a taste of happiness in your newsfeed with updates from Coca-Cola. We’ll share with you our latest videos, competitions and promotions.”
  •         Domino’s Pizza: “Domino’s is the recognized world leader in pizza delivery.”
  •         Subaru UK: “Welcome to the official Facebook page for Subaru UK. We’re here to help with any questions or queries, and make sure you give us a ‘Like’ to stay to update with the latest news and exclusive competitions!
  •         Costa: “This is the official Costa Coffee UK Facebook community. If you’re a passionate coffee lover, you are in the right place!”

 

Starting with the description of Coca-Cola, it is clearly encouraging the viewers to engage with its page due to the occurrence of the promotions and competitions. This is a good strategy as fans who know they can gain something are more likely to give a “like”. Instead of simply writing that Coca-Cola sells carbonated drinks, the summary contains an invitation for tasting the happiness. Sounds much better, doesn’t it? In terms of other companies, their descriptions are not as exemplary as Coca-Cola’s, however, still contains valuable elements. Domino’s Pizza highlights its high position within the market, Subaru informs about the competitions on the page and ensures good customer service whereas Costa informs what type of people are the page’s target audience.

Each example includes well-known organizations, therefore, if you are, for instance, a small grocery store from Wales, don’t forget to include information about who you are as the visitors may not have heard about your organization yet. Other tips include paraphrasing what the business does so it will sound more attractive, writing why people should like the page and, finally, highlighting what is so special about the business.

 

To sum up this section, remember to provide relevant basic information regarding your business, so potential customers will know who you are, what you sell, where you operate and how to get in touch with you. Also, use a short description to encourage customers to like your business page.

 

Posting regularly

If your content is valuable and interesting, it is likely that your fans will visit your social media account from time to time to become up-to-date with new posts. Therefore, it is important to share news, articles or photos regularly. Otherwise, fans might either forget about the existence of your business page or think that you no longer update it and, as a result, they can stop liking it. Posting regularly also allows you to reach a wider audience. Now you are probably wondering: ‘what does regularly mean?’ Once a day, once a week or twice a month? Well, it depends on many factors.

 

In general, there is a fine line between being informative and annoying.

 

To fully explain this topic let’s consider two different businesses on Facebook:  company A which specializes in creating photo sessions for businesses and individuals and company B which is the local grocery store. Employees from both companies responsible for social marketing decided to provide fresh content every day. On the business page from company A,  fans can admire new professional and beautiful photos of nature, people, animals, landscapes and cities. On the business page from company B,  fans can find out that milk is now £0.2 cheaper than yesterday, that there is a new delivery of cosmetics this week, that you can buy three tomatoes for the price of two. Which page would you find informative and inspiring and which in your opinion is simply irritating in the long-run?

The answer to this question is that company A not only targets people interested in photography but also presents their business achievements – entertaining and stimulating photos. The posts of company B may be liked by the small target group (e.g. people who struggle financially and try to catch every promotion) but for most people, such content would be very annoying in the long-run. Remember that after all, people seek to relax on Facebook after a few hours in school or work, not necessarily to read about small discounts in all the little shops located nearby. I hope that this example has provided you with the necessary information regarding what can be posted every day. If company B would like to provide fresh content every day, they could share interesting articles about a healthy lifestyle, share yummy photos of fruits and vegetables and write about attractive rebates from time to time.

 

The main conclusion is that posting regularly, i.e. every day can be very beneficial for the company as long as the posts are of high quality and not irritating. If you don’t possess an endless amount of valuable content, try to publish posts at least twice a week. The other way around, don’t post more often than twice a day: even nice posts can be viewed as spam if are seen by fans too often.

You can make an exception to Twitter and post up to 5 times a day, including retweets.

 

What time is the best for publishing posts?

A simple straight-forward answer to this question does not exist, as it again depends on the circumstances. At the beginning, we recommend publishing posts at different times of the day and then measuring the engagement and reach of your posts. This will allow you to understand your audience and tailor your communication. If for some reason you are not willing to experiment, try to think when people are most likely to be browsing the social media platform you are present at. If intuition suggests that it is in the evening and during the lunch time, then yes, you are right.

Remember that almost every social media platform provides insights and statistics which present the data of your audience.

Check information about page views, post engagement, page likes or follows, actions on your page and more. Access to these data does not require any payment.

 

Final tip: observe the competition

Check when your competitors publish posts and try to analyze their strategies. You will notice that some companies don’t have any strategies at all and they update content randomly. In the actions of others, you will observe certain patterns which you may even copy if you consider them to be efficient. When making the analysis, focus mainly on the companies which operate within the same industry.

 

Increasing engagement with fans

The engagement includes receiving page likes or follows, post likes, comments and sharing posts by other users. Can you treat engagement as a measure of the success of your business page? Well, generally yes. As long as people haven’t shared your post because they were angry with it, the high engagement is desirable. Usually, it is a sign of customers’ interest, admiration and the determinant of the popularity of your business on social media. An important issue here is how to actually increase engagement with fans?

 

Ask questions and include a call to action

The simplest psychological trick which enables you to increase engagement is associated with asking questions. To provide an example why it is a good method, imagine that you are the marketer of a sandwich bar. You’ve published the photo of a new panini with a detailed description of its ingredients. If you are not an old stager within the industry with the strong brand recognition, then why people would care about your new product at all? Even if a few visitors have thought “wow, it looks so yummy”, it is likely they will just keep scrolling without leaving any comment. If you will decide to publish the same post with an additional note: “What do you think about our new panini? Would you try it?”, then you increase the chances that people who liked the product will somehow react to this question. It is more natural for them to put a comment just in order to answer you. And that’s how the engagement increases. Skipping the fact that comments themselves are determinants of the engagement, some of the friends and followers of a person who left the opinion about the panini may see your post on their profile, even if they did not like your page yet. Who knows, perhaps someone will visit your account just because of the one comment? By asking you prove that you value the opinions of your customers and that they can directly influence the product you sell. You simply get closer to your audience.

Asking the same questions about the products or customers’ opinion does not seem to be relevant all the time. Hence, try to intersperse questions with different forms of calling to action. Those forms include a request for liking, sharing and commenting your content. Place such requests at the end of your articles – remember that valuable information or photos should be the core of your post. Starting an article with begging for attention may be received as pathetic by many users and they may even not continue to read it.

 

Response to your audience

Coming back to the example of marketing a new panini, imagine that someone writes a comment “yeah, looks nice. What’s the price?”. Leaving this question without an answer would not be good for your business: customers may think that after all, you don’t care about their opinion and that you are a poseur. If you wonder whether big companies reply to people’s comments too, then the answer is that some of them do and others do not. But think, from who is better to learn in this case? Compare the examples below:

 

When people will notice that your company always replies to questions/opinions, they would be more likely to post their opinion too. Also, notice that your comments can increase engagement too! If your message was funny, accurate or informative, customers will like it. H&M is a perfect example of how not replying to comments can leave a bad impression upon the company’s image.

Tailoring posts

The art of tailoring posts is a difficult one but don’t worry as we will provide you with several tips. By applying them in your marketing, you are likely to gain new followers, retain those that you already possess have, in general, your business page will look more professional and specifically directed just to the area of your activity. Many well-recognized brands tailor their posts to meet the expectations of the audience (look at the business page of Converse, Dolce & Gabbana or Nokia). If you don’t know how to start with planning the strategy of tailoring posts, then follow our advice below.

 

Stick to the topic – target your customers

The first advice is to post content which is always, directly or indirectly, connected with your business. It is good to follow actual trends, but remember to always connect a side topic with your activity. Not being consistent can result in reduced interest – especially if you operate within a certain niche, fans may demand posts which are associated with the main topic. For instance, if you run a page for a metal band, then don’t mention all the news about mainstream pop and R&B artists.

Sticking to the topic is also a bit tricky if you are self-employed. Distinguishing what is relevant for publishing on your personal and business accounts is a crucial issue here. For instance, if you are an IT specialist, then expressing support for the particular politicians in the posts on your business page would be completely inadequate. It may discourage potential customers with different political views to buy your services. Privately, you can, of course, be a fan of whoever you want. But, if your personal page acts as your business page as well, then be very careful.

It was mentioned that content can be connected to the topic indirectly. At this point, your imagination is again the only limit. The key skill is to connect trending news with your business, whatever it is. This ability is important in particular when you can quickly run out of the content due to the nature of your business. For instance, if you are the owner of the shop with the bathroom articles, how many fresh and original articles connected to the business area you can actually write? To understand the main point of this advice, analyze our example below:

“Today in our city there is a local cuisine festival. If you will feel tired after trying hundreds of traditional snacks, stay for a night in our hostel to recover”.

This short post which could be published by the accommodation provider proves that smooth transition between the topics is possible. If you have a problem with sticking to the topic, then feel free to outsource the donkey work.

 

Don’t be controversial

Welcome to the 21st Century where everyone is offended. This hyperbole perfectly reflects your potential threat when publishing new posts. Remember that your content should not be discriminatory or concerned with current political disputes. Stating controversial opinions about, for instance, religion can bring a lot of damage to the image of your company. Consider that, even if your customers are likely to have similar views to yours personal, random visitors from different backgrounds may become offended by the content. To avoid unpleasant situations, don’t write controversial posts. Instead, try to create a friendly atmosphere on your business page so that all the visitors will feel welcome.

 

Enhancing customer support via private messages

Besides comments, which are visible to all visitors to the business page, customers are also likely to communicate with the organization by using private messages.

 

A general idea is that by having proper customer support with the use of private messages you can enhance the experience of your clients. Besides quite obvious advice such as don’t be rude or be specific when providing information, there are a few “little things” which also matter.

Answer quickly. Try to answer as soon as possible and do not ignore even irritating messages. Some companies (e.g. FedEx) don’t provide a possibility to contact them through social media. We don’t recommend this approach as it impedes communication between business page and audience.

 

In the case of critique…

At some point, many companies have to face a critique. On Social media, negative opinions or complaints can be delivered by the audience through comments, tweets and separate posts on the business account of either, your business page or the account of a disappointed customer. You can also receive a complaint through a private message. If you think that none of the huge companies struggle with a critique which negatively influences their brand image, then you are wrong. H&M, Pepsi, Starbucks… They all are criticised and possess different approaches on how to handle this problem. In this part of the article, by using case studies, we will explain what options allow minimising a negative effect of the critique on a brand image. Also, we will answer the question how to avoid unnecessary stress when dealing with a critique.

 

H&M, Pepsi and “do nothing approach”

The simplest approach involves simply ignoring all the attacks of your business activities. Whether a customer is mad because his order hasn’t arrived yet or someone blames the organization for being unethical, you continue providing fresh content on your business page like nothing has happened. Is this option beneficial for the companies? Well, definitely not. Analyse examples below on how it looks in the case of H&M, a firm which is regularly criticized for allowing their suppliers to exploit child labour. We also provide a critique of Pepsi. All the comments are written by real people and you can find them on the business pages of those organizations.

 

Pepsi case

You can notice that unanswered complaints create the impression that you actually don’t care about your audience needs and opinions. It puts you in the bad light, as the company may be viewed as a one that does not take the full responsibility for its actions and cannot admit that something within an organization requires control or improvements. Such an approach can quickly make your customers angry with the organization. Regarding Facebook, you can struggle with a massive disliking of your page and with a loss of customers who care about e.g. Corporate Social Responsibility. Similarly, removing inconvenient messages may be viewed as censoring. By using such an approach you will only add fuel to the fire.

Are there actually any circumstances when “do nothing” option is relevant? The answer is yes. When a critique that you’ve received is vulgar, discriminatory (“you shouldn’t employ students because they know nothing”), or too personal (“a stupid blonde that is responsible for helping customers should be fired!”). Although such messages can be found very sporadically, they are the only justification for ignoring the customers. However, the even better decision that “do-nothing approach”, is blocking the user who sent it or reporting the inappropriate content. Then, platform administrators will probably remove such negative opinions and will not allow the user to write again on your page.

 

Answer professionally and encourage discussion

This is the approach I recommend the most. Whether your organization did something wrong or not, a good factual discussion may improve the brand image and convince some outraged customers that you actually have a point. This method of responding to a critique is used by Starbucks. Look at the example below and compare answering the complaints with ignoring them.

 

Notice that Starbucks replies were approved by the part of the audience – a number of likes received indicates the support from some customers. Answering also positively influences engagement on your page which is another reason why you should face angry clients. If you don’t know how to reply, follow the rules provided below.

 

  • Be informative – as in the case of Starbucks, if a customer complains about some changes in the organization’s policies, then explain patiently when and what changes were introduced.
  • If you are right, try to defend your point of view with proper examples – if someone accuses you of e.g. being discriminative, provide a company’s statistics which presents that you employ people of different backgrounds and all of them receive fair wages, independent of the origin or sex. Remember that when defending your organization, you have to give the proper arguments which support your point of the view,
  • If you are wrong, compensate or promise the improvements – there is nothing wrong with telling customers that your organisation screwed up. In the contrary, admitting to a mistake may meet with the approval of the audience. Such a strategy was chosen by Volkswagen during the scandal when it turned out that the company was cheating on the carbon emission tests. Although the company suffered financially for a certain period of time, it quite quickly managed to regain the trust of part of the community.

 

Regarding compensations, unfortunately, your company may have to deal with people who are looking for an opportunity to get compensated even though no damage has been caused to them. Such situations require an ability to analyse what approach will minimise potential losses to an organisation. Some individuals, (although it happens rarely) may be so desperate with trying to devastate your social media reputation, that they will write negative comments under every article you wrote. Probably, it will be difficult to control emotions then, but remember that you must respond professionally. The majority of people will notice that the organisation is attacked by a so called “troll”, a person that by using eristic and off-topic or extraneous messages aims to start an emotional discussion or dispute.

 

To sum up, you don’t have to be a qualified psychologist to handle a critique of your organisation but you should realise what approaches will have what effects on the company’s image. We recommend checking more business pages of well-known companies so you can easily compare the methods used by the organisations.

 

 

 

Social media changed the way we communicate with others and revolutionized the internet. It offers incredible marketing opportunities for relatively low cost. We believe that social media is extremely important for your brand. It can help you bring new customers, stay in touch with existing ones and perhaps most importantly build the personality of your brand. If you follow our articles, then you probably remember that we discussed the importance of establishing an emotional link with your customers (LINK DO ARTYKULU). Such emotional link is crucial to win customers’ loyalty and build your brand.

So as promised, today we bring you our guide to social media. Remember that, every business is different and depending on what it is that you are doing, you should use social media a little bit differently. We can’t possibly talk (or rather write) about every possible scenario in relation to each and every industry. Instead, we aim to provide you with an understanding of the underlying logic so that you will be able to choose the right social media to use and tailor your communication.

The two ‘must haves’ for every business is Facebook and Twitter. No matter what industry you are in, no matter the size of your company you should have your business profile on both Facebook and Twitter.

 

Facebook – the biggest social network and one of the most visited websites. It should be the cornerstone of your social media campaign. In this chapter, you will learn about its characteristics and how to use it effectively.

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Facebook – initially designed for the students of high schools, colleges and universities, now has 1,4 billion active users. The platform was developed in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and its main aim is to provide the users with the possibility to connect with their friends as well as to share photos, news and videos. The well-known function of the Facebook is associated with giving a “like” as a way of expressing the approval for the content. To give a few Facebook statistics, the total number of users from the UK equalled 31 million in February 2015 and the company in December 2016 possessed 17,048 employees. Also, 1 billion users are active on the Facebook every day.

 

When you want to promote your business on social media, Facebook is undeniably a good platform to start irrespectively of the type of the business you have. 1440 million active users, popularity across different age categories, possibility to create customised ads that target specific types of customers – those are just a few reasons why a business should care about its presence on Facebook. Other reasons include the possibility to provide backlinks to your website, increasing brand recognition and staying in touch with potential customers.

If you are still not convinced, the price of setting the business page and managing it equals exactly £0. As long as you are not going to start the ad campaign, you can share the content and increase the chances of getting closer to your customers completely for free. Also, if you want to increase a web traffic but you are a small business which is still during the development stage, you might not be able to afford expensive Adwords campaign on Google. Choose Facebook then as an alternative. It may not be as efficient as Adwords, but as long as you provide backlinks to every post published, results will be visible without large financial contribution.

 

On Facebook, you should create your own business page providing a detailed description of what an organisation is and what it does. Adding the information like location, opening times and contact information is also a good idea. You should also customise your page by setting a profile image and a large cover image that is consistent with your company’s branding strategy.

When your page is up and running, you should invite friends and existing customers to “like” your business and start posting interesting content. Always remember to engage with your audience, don’t simply post stuff, try to organize competitions, answer comments and messages just like you would be talking with your friends.

We can’t tell you what to post, it all depends on the type of your business, but the general rule is simple enough– it needs to be related to your business or your industry and it must be in some way interesting and/or engaging. Videos, pictures, articles, infographics, whatever it is, make sure it is something that your customers are interested in. Also, don’t forget that you need to post regularly.

Use various forms of content

Facebook has an advantage over a few other social media platforms regarding a number of mediums that you can share with your audience. The options include uploading an article, a photo/album/video, a short news or a live video. Depending on your business’s activity, you may instinctively choose the right type of media which suits the activity area. A photo agency is likely to focus on posting photos, a newspaper marketer will share mainly news and so on. However, our advice is to interweave different types of the content, so the diversity of mediums will attract new visitors. Also, join two or more mediums within the same post: for instance, write an article and share some photos as well. Stimulating different senses at one go is a good strategy. Your business page may be attractive then for people who like receiving information in different forms – aim to attract the attention of both, visualizers and audiles.

Often dubbed “Facebook for professionals”, LinkedIn is great for showcasing a more business-oriented side of your company.

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As a professional you should not forget about LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a platform for everybody who wants to create an online CV and portfolio and connect with other professionals. It is a good place to find customers (especially in B2B) as well as to find new people to cooperate with.

We advise you to create your own account on: www.linkedin.com and complete all the sections possible. Do not forget about adding a professional picture.

Along with Facebook, Twitter should be the be the base of your social media strategy. It’s a very specific platform and in this chapter, you will learn how to use them to your advantage.

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Twitter is also one of the major social networking sites and thanks to hashtags (#), you can reach large audiences instantly. Think of Twitter as a place where people have conversations about different topics. Your job is to make your voice heard on the topics that relate to your business. So set up your profile and customize it so that it will be consistent with the rest of your brand. Again, we can’t tell you what to tweet about, but we can give you the recipe that will help you succeed.

 

As always, remember to stay true to your brand. If you want your company to look professional – act professional, if you want it to be fun – then make it fun. Invite reviewers to try your products and ask them to share their thoughts on Twitter, join conversations on popular hashtags related to your business and engage with your audience.

 

Twitter can significantly improve your brand recognition. One of the most significant success stories is Airbnb. If you aren’t familiar with this company, Airbnb helps people to list, find and rent accommodation. At this moment, it operates in more than 190 countries. Twitter helped this organization to significantly expand and increase recognition as Airbnb launched a large scale Twitter campaign. This campaign was associated with posting tweets that were highlighting the benefits of Airbnb’s products and it was a very efficient method of gaining popularity.

Google+ may not be the most important social network, but being present and active there will earn you some extra Google points. And that counts, doesn’t it? In this lesson, you will learn about how Google+ can improve some aspects of your business.

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It seems that only Google employees use Google+. Even though G+ has almost 400 million of users, the vast majority of them are forced to have G+ as it’s  created automatically when you create a Google account.

There might still be people who want to use it and G+ has recently changed it purpose and now serves more as a place to keep collections of information and images rather than being a regular social media platform. Nevertheless G+ is a must have for your business. It creates a linkage with Google Maps and Google for business itself. Thanks to this your website will get some extra points from Google if it comes up in your Search Engine Optimization and you might also be a couple of positions higher in search results. Apart from that, Google will create a really nice badge on the left hand side of search result  that will include information about your business such as opening times, phone number, website address (with a link), images you uploaded and a link to google maps.

With its focus on the visual content, Instagram is a great network to promote your business. In this chapter, you will learn how to use it to create a more personal brand image.

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Share photos with fancy filters, upload videos and use hashtags to describe your content – this is how Instagram’s functionality can be summarised in a few words. The idea is to follow the accounts you like and to be followed by users interested in your posts. If you think that this app is used only by American teenagers, you may be surprised that at this moment it has around 700 million users of which 80% live outside the US. This large worldwide audience is one of the reasons why this social media platform attracts businesses that advertise on it and create their own accounts to build brand recognition.

 

Depending on the nature of the business, for some, it is easy to upload the content which can entertain the audience – for instance, think of a restaurant which shares pictures of delicious food or about a talented artist who publishes photos of his/her paintings. It may seem to be more difficult to successfully manage an Instagram account if you have an accountancy business but, in this guide, we will prove that this platform can fit all industries when properly used. Our tips and tricks can help you to obtain new followers and to increase your brand awareness.

 

A little history

 

Developed by the Burbon company in 2010 and bought by Facebook in 2012 for around billion dollars, Instagram’s initial creators, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger definitely reaped the fruits of their labour. Why did Facebook become so interested in Instagram? The answer is simple – this app was gaining new users at a phenomenal rate. One million people were registered on Insta just 2 months after its release and 10 million users had an account 10 months later. This result can be described as incredible.  Instagram filled a market gap – a lack of a social media app with fancy photo filters.

The value of Instagram is differently estimated by many specialists. Usually, they claim that the app is now worth around $30-40 billion.

 

Creating and using an Instagram business account

Creating an Instagram business account is very easy. Firstly, you have to download an app and make a standard account by providing data such as the username or e-mail. Remember to choose a login that matches the name of your business. Once your profile is set up, in the settings you have an option “switch to business account”, which you should do. And that’s all, now your business is active on this platform and it does not cost you anything. You can also link the Insta profile with your Facebook business fan page.

As Facebook and Instagram are both owned by the same organization, a very useful function for marketers is that you can create an ad on Facebook’s adverts manager and publish it at the same time on both platforms. It ensures you do not duplicate your work and can compare the results easily. However, creating joined ads is not compulsory – if for some reason you want to run your advertisement just on the Insta account, you can publish it only on this platform. To start a new campaign, choose ‘business settings’ and then ‘promotions’. Instagram’s software will carry you through the process which is very intuitive and simple, even for beginners. You may decide to set a daily or lifetime budget, depending on your needs. Targeting the audience you are interested in is also possible.

What is the main difference between personal and business accounts? The answer is that the latter profile allows you to check the “insights”. More precisely, you will be able to obtain information about what was the reach, number of impressions and engagement of every single post. With this knowledge, it is easier for marketers to determine what kinds of photos or tags bring better results. Personal accounts provide only the note about the number of likes and comments.

With the business account, you may also have an advantage of enjoying Instagram’s new functionality quicker than normal users.

 

The rules of Instagram

At the beginning, businesses tended to use Instagram in order to share with customers insights of what is happening inside the company. More precisely, the pictures presented, for example, the office, machinery or employees during their work were very popular. Of course, you can still share with the audience such details about your company – for some people it might be very interesting. For instance, if you are an owner of a Zoo or of a company which specializes in designing innovative technology, many users would be interested in getting insights about running your organization. But notice, that today firms go one step further. They use Instagram not only to present what’s going on inside the organization but they also publish content which is relevant to the industry itself. For a fitness club, it may include posting pictures of healthy food, motivational quotes, ideas for exercising, photos of healthy people and so on.

 

Some of the key rules associated with the successful development of the business Instagram account are actually the same as those which are used on other platforms, for instance, on Facebook or Twitter. Therefore, if you have any experience in leading social media profiles, you probably know that one of the important factors is, for example, consistency.

 

Consistency

Consistency refers to many aspects of leading an online business account. It is associated, firstly, with sticking to a topic – if you are an owner of a pet shop, then posting alternately about politics and products for animals is an extreme example of the lack of consistency. In other words, in your posts try to refer only to those issues which in some way are connected to your business area. A pet shop’s owner is free to post photos of cute dogs, cats and parrots as well as to share pictures encouraging people to take care of their little furry friends. This kind of content is not boring for the user (who doesn’t love little puppies?) but, at the same time, it stays relevant to the topic.

 

Consistency is also associated with posting regularly. It will be quite difficult for your account to be popular if you post something once a month. You don’t have to necessarily share pictures every single day but try to stay consistent and, at the beginning, make a new post e.g. three times a week. If you are able to update new content more often, it is better for you. Ideally, new photos should be shared twice a day. The good news is that you can plan your posts in advance via the Buffer platform. This tool allows you to make a schedule of your content. To plan the posts in advance on Insta, you have to download the Buffer app and link it to your account. Once you have scheduled a post, this app will notify you that you have to publish a ready post. It can save a lot of valuable time and help you to stay consistent with regular posting.

Another important thing is that although it is good to post frequently, you may accidentally go too far and start publishing posts too often. If you add 8 or 12 new images every day, then the audience could consider you as a spammer and you can lose valuable followers. Even in publishing new content, moderation is required.

 

Engagement

On Instagram, a significant part of the audience is narcissistic, which means that some people who seem to be interested in your business profile, are, in reality,  just looking for attention. You may think that Instagram’s community is full of hypocrisy, pretentiousness and artificiality and in fact, there is a grain of truth in that opinion. However, it does not mean that every single user will want something from you in exchange for regularly liking your content, etc. Nevertheless, very few accounts can count on an audience’s loyalty and interest unless they give users something from themselves. Therefore, don’t be surprised when some users will stop following you after two days just because you did not follow them back. Others will like your content only if you also like their posts regularly. Fortunately, if your pictures are valuable and of high quality, it is likely that you will gain a certain amount of fans who will simply admire what you do and they will engage with your account disinterestedly. The stronger is your brand, the more true fans you will have.

 

A remedy for increasing engagement is actually to be engaged with other accounts. In Instagram’s search, find users who are somehow associated with your industry. You can do it by searching for particular tags. A pet shop owner could look up

 

#puppy, #lovepuppies, #kitten, #mypuppy, #iloverabbits, #sweetcat…

 

…and so on. Instagram will inform you how many public posts were published with a particular tag so it will give an idea of the level of popularity of the given phrase. Once you have a list of recent posts shared by the community, try to engage with some of them. You may like them, start to follow the users who posted them or write a few comments like “your puppy is really awesome”. Putting direct ads in the comments like “in my pet store you can find a great collar for your dog” in most cases will be annoying for users who will simply ignore you. But if you write “this is the cutest kitty I’ve ever seen”, it is more likely that a user will feel valued, will look for your account and engage with your content. Such users may also remember the name of your brand and notice that the profile belongs to the Pet Store, which offers a lot of useful items for the pupils.

 

In this way, your own engagement increases the awareness of your brand and may enable you to gain new followers, likes and comments. Similarly, like other social media platforms, don’t ignore users who have already engaged with your content. Answer their questions, say “thank you” for positive comments and follow back part of the users who you consider valuable. And don’t be ashamed of being a bit narcissistic and egoistic too. If an account whose owner seems to be your perfect customer does not respond to your engagement at all, maybe it is not so bad to stop following him/her. It is just the reality of this platform.

 

Balance the number of followers

If you are as popular as Beyonce you can allow yourself to follow 0 accounts and have 103m followers. But if you want to grow your business from the very first step, possessing a certain number of followed accounts may encourage people to follow you back. If users notice that you have 90 followers but you don’t follow anyone, they may not have an incentive to follow you as it is not likely that you will engage with their profile. On the other hand, having 1500 followed accounts and just 100 followers also make you look bad. Many users will think that you are a spammer who is just looking for attention and doesn’t offer anything valuable. Try to find yourself somewhere in between. For instance, having 3000 followers while following 900 accounts is perfect. Also, if you have 400 followers and you follow 500 accounts, it also should be fine as long as your brand has just started building an online recognition. The stronger is the awareness of your brand and its popularity, the higher will be the difference between your followers and people you follow.

 

Quality matters

If you want to gain followers who will be truly interested in your content, you have to realize that the quality of your account is really important. By posting blurred, boring or poorly cropped photos, you decrease your chances of becoming the next Instagram star. The competition on this platform is enormous in almost every industry so try to be creative, think unconventionally and offer users something new. If you are not a visionary person, at least try to upload pictures which are of good resolution and overall high quality. Users who will visit your account will be able to judge the profile within seconds. That’s why consistency in posting valuable content is important – you may lose followers if some of the posts do not reach the standard.

 

As mentioned, Instagram became popular, among other things, because it offered special filters which were able to give photos a charm, fresh look or enhancement of the picture’s colours. Don’t be afraid of using these filters – even if a photo will look a bit unnatural, most users are really “in love” with pimped up content. Below we present a sample of Instagram’s capabilities. Above each shot we include the name of the filter used. As you can see, the photo itself is of high quality but with the use of different filters, you can enhance certain hues or adjust the contrast or the amount of light.

The original photo:

 

Top tips and tricks

 

Post images and videos

On your Insta account try to use both these formats. Although initially, the app was about publishing photos, now it has a much wider functionality (further in the text we explain different available post formats  e.g. Boomerang). Notice that mixing images and videos may help you to increase engagement. You don’t have to necessarily publish equal amounts of pictures and short films but don’t forget about the videos’ existence and try to add one from time to time. On Instagram, there is also an option of sharing a live transmission. Use it if you want to, for instance, present your audience with an important event in real time.

 

Include some text

Add a short description to each post you publish. The caption should include just a few words or sentences. It looks bad when it is too long – after all the idea of Instagram is to share photos, not poems or essays. However, a text which describes what is in the pictures and maybe which encourages users to engage is perfect. For example, “Hello, dear friends. Do you need energy for this morning? Our double espresso will certainly help you survive this day 😉 “. Remember that even every caption should be consistent with the overall strategy of your business. The way you write these texts shows how your business communicates things e.g. in a friendly manner.

 

Add keywords

When posting a picture, you can add proper hashtags which will make it possible for other users to find your e.g. photo in the Instagram’s search. The skillful selection of tags can significantly increase the popularity of your post. Ideally, you should choose 10-20 tags for a photo and each of them has to be relevant to the post. Some of the keywords should be general, others a bit specific and the rest very specific. At this stage, your creativity is very important. The help can come from  Instagram itself that, once you have searched for one hashtag, it suggests others to you. Also, if you don’t know which hashtags fall into which category regarding the extent of specificity, then, as it was mentioned before, when you start typing a tag, Insta software will inform you about the number of public posts published with this tag so far. If your business is associated with selling clothes and you published a photo of a new blue skirt, the following tags could be used (green – overall, yellow – quite specific, red – very specific).

 

#skirt, #clothes, #fashion, #shopping,  #accessories, #popular, #trendy,

#fashionstyle, #fashiongirl, #fashionshop, #photooftheday, #infashion,

#blueskirt, #skirtlover, #skirtday, #niceskirt.

 

Add a ‘call to action’

Call to action is a way of encouraging people to respond to your post. The easiest way to achieve it is to just ask a question. It can be about whatever that’s relevant to the nature of your business. You can include a call to action in the caption of your post. Ask, for instance:

 

Do you like this photo? What do you think about this view? Would you like to try dinner like this one?

 

Some users may naturally respond to the question and by leaving a comment, they increase the engagement of the post. Even if no one responded, don’t worry and keep trying.

 

Sample posts

Very shortly, when creating the posts, it would be best to use your own photos and videos. However, if you are not able to share content that belongs to you, the good news is that on websites such as pexels, pixabay or unsplash, you can use whatever photos that suit your business without giving an attribution to an author. Also, for every photo you can use Canva – this online tool will allow you to add some text as well as various filters and different layouts to the photo. Finally, Instagram also offers different filters which can enhance even the most average shot.

Remember that the business account on Instagram should present the organization’s “human face”. You can allow yourself for some funny, kind, inspiring or motivating content. Try to get closer to your customers and prove that you listen to your audience. Simply share with them the passion for your given industry.

 

Hairdresser

If you have a hairdressing salon, it would be fantastic if you were able to post pictures of your happy customers with their new haircuts (keep in mind that you will need the consent of every person). If not, use mentioned photo collections available on e.g. Pixabay. Below, we present our proposition for the post.

“Dear all! We have a promotion on haircuts for the following week so you can look awesome on your vacation for a better price. Isn’t the above haircut just lovely?

#haircut #lovely #girl #promotion #hair #hairdresser #hairstyles #trendy #hairinspiration #instahair #hairtransformation #hairartist #beautiful #hairdressermagic”

 

Painting & decorating business

The painting and decorating business can inspire users by posting photos of well-designed modern rooms.

“Yes, this is how your living room can look without spending a fortune! Visit our website to find trendy pictures. We are able to refresh the style of every apartment.

#room #decorative #paintings #modern #inspire #inspiring #apartment #freshlook #trendy #trendyroom #modernroom #roomoftheday #roomphoto #roomphotography #apartmentdecor”

 

Local bakery

This one is also not tricky. Bakeries, cafes, bars and restaurants can easily attract followers with the photos and videos of yummy food, drinks or desserts.

“Croissants which arrived today are fresh and yummy as always. If you have time, maybe visit us today at Queen Street 12 – our coffee is as delicious as the pastries.

#croissant #food #yummy #delicious #bakery #ilovecroissants #yummylicious #yummyfood #snacktime #littlesnack #sotasty #goodfood #deliciousness”

 

Web designer

You may wonder, what people who are web designers, accountants or lawyers can actually post on Instagram? The answer is, still something relevant to the business which can inspire or amuse others. As an accountant, try to find, for instance, an inspirational photo and add a text about accuracy or write something funny about the inevitability of taxes. It will work. If you are an owner of a manufacture, remember that you can always show users how working in such a firm looks like.

Regarding a post for a web designer, this is our proposition:

“Design is very important in creating websites. Do you agree with this sentence?

#design #webdesigner #success #website #quoteoftheday #inspirationalquotes #becomebetter #motivationmonday #mottooftheday #values #ourvalues #believeinyourself #inspirational #inspirationalwords”

 

Different post formats

Like every popular app, Instagram develops and introduces new functions from time to time. In this section, we will present different formats of the posts that are available at this moment. You are not forced to use all of them, however, mixing formats may allow you to reach different types of audiences and enhance the chance to gain more followers.

 

Photos

This format you already know. To add a photo from the Instagram app, just click the plus button and fill a part or all of the descriptions. You can specify the location or share a picture also on other platforms like e.g. Facebook or Twitter. Tagging your friends is also possible. Of course, when posting a photo, write a relevant short description and include tags.

 

Gallery

A gallery consists of multiple photos. If you want to choose this format, just select a few photos from your phone instead of just one and that’s it – Instagram will automatically create a gallery for you. You will be able to create an order of the pictures and add filters to each of them if you wish. The caption and tags will remain the same for all the shots.

 

Story

The “story” format is very similar to Snapchat’s main idea. If you don’t want to overpost your audience, choosing stories is a good solution – you simply share photos and videos which appear in the form of a slideshow and then, they disappear after 24 hours. Stories cannot be viewed on the grid alongside your “classic” posts. They also cannot be liked or commented by other users.

 

Boomerang

Boomerang is a format which allows you to make a short video which scrolls back and forth. The only thing you have to do is to just click the “boomerang” button. The app will take 10 photos and combine them into a video for you.

 

Videos & Live videos

A “classic” video can be added just like the photos – simply choose a relevant file from your gallery. If you l decide to make a live transmission the people who follow you will receive a notification about it. Once the transmission is finished, the video will disappear. However, from the beginning to the end of the video recording, you will be able to observe how many people watch it at any given moment. Also, users can comment on the transmission.

 

Summary

 

We hope that this article has given you an idea about Instagram’s reality. Now you should be able to create successful posts with different formats, to tag them correctly and to know how to engage with your audience. Although every account is different and there are no formulas that always work, the provided rules and tips with will certainly enhance the performance of your profile. If you are to stay up to date, consistent and natural and, at the same time, you show interest in your audience’s profiles and posts, it is likely that your business account will gradually develop.

 

Have fun with Instagram filters, experiment with different post formats and hashtags and, also, be kind to your new online friends. The Instagram app is not only able to influence the awareness of your brand but, at the same time, it may actually be entertaining and satisfying to use on a daily basis for you. The most important thing is not to give up if your business account does not have thousands of followers after the first week – being popular on this app usually comes gradually with keeping up the hard work consistently.

In this chapter, you will read about the importance of keeping all social media channels in the same style. Consistency is key!

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Consistency is a keyword in every aspect of business. Starting from manufacturing, through marketing, the finance department to sales store. Consistency means that your business cares about growth. Even such a “trivial” element as posting on Facebook regularly means that you are a living business and you still operate. It is a signal to the customer that you are credible. Imagine your organization as a box full of jigsaw puzzle pieces. Although you should perceive the picture which consists of those many small elements as a whole, notice that lack of even one puzzle will cause the image to be incomplete. Such a missing part would reflect a lack of consistency in a single aspect of business. In other words, you can consider consistency to be the glue which joins pieces together and gives a brand a certain entity. For instance, do you imagine to buy something from a business that looks different on every social media? Let’s say that a t-shirt manufacturer uses a flashy Facebook profile picture and it posts the content which is associated with the company’s aggressive advertising campaign. At the same, on Twitter, this firm has a toned-down logo as a profile picture and it publishes posts connected with another campaign which highlights the value and quality of the t-shirts. Such extreme differences in both profiles would confuse the audience. Therefore, to avoid this mistake, try to use the same background and profile pictures on all your social media accounts. The same content does not have to be posted everywhere but you must be consistent with your main strategy.

Remember that consistency is important in every single aspect of the business. Starting from social media presence and the way a business communicates its message to the audience, through to the way it handles calls or even the uniforms that employees wear. Your business should never give the impression of being messy. Underestimating the value of details may be the reason for your failure as they make the business successful in all areas.

To give an example, if you are an owner of the network of luxury hotels, you have to care about the comfort of your customers, cleanliness of the rooms, the behaviour of the staff, the professionality of your website and promotional materials, the quality of food served in the restaurants and so on. If a customer consumed, for instance, a rotten fish at a 5* hotel, he/she wouldn’t perceive your brand as a luxury anymore. You weren’t consistent with the standard of services and the consequences would be visible.

“Consistency” seems like a magical word which appears in many of our articles. Is it really a key to success in leading social media accounts? The answer is, although other factors cannot be ignored, consistency is absolutely necessary to achieve satisfactory results. In this section, we will prove that this term has many dimensions which should be taken into account when developing a business online presence. Skipping even one aspect of consistency can directly contribute to the failure in gaining new followers, likes or other forms of engagement.

 

 

  • Consistency with quality

 

Regardless of in which industry you work, staying consistent with the quality is a must. Users will usually evaluate the value of your account within a few seconds and if the first post they notice is of poor quality, they will leave your profile. The fact that all other photos/articles are professional will not change anything. You lost potential followers or likes just by publishing one post which destroyed the brand image.

When caring about the posts’ quality, it is good to focus on the following aspects – the quality of the image/video used, the quality of information included in the post*, the quality of language used, the length of the post, etc. Nowadays, it is easy to set up a business and, as a result, companies struggle with enormous competition. That’s why paying attention to even the smallest details can give you a comparative advantage. Of course, improving the quality of the posts is fine – as you gain experience in leading social media accounts, you can develop your profile. What is important is to not take a step back as it will be quickly noticed by your fans.

 

 

  • Consistency with topic

 

You should write only about these things which are, directly or indirectly, associated with your business. By “indirectly associated” we mean, for instance, mentioning about a local food festival and, at the end of the post, recommending your own restaurant.

Remember that in business social media accounts there is no room for sharing political views (even if you are 100% convinced that you are right), economic views or thoughts about controversial social issues. You can do it only then when your business is somehow involved in a given topic. For instance, an LGBT nightclub can express the satisfaction after politicians enacted a new law which allows for same-sex marriage. After all, this nightclub would brand itself as friendly for LGBT community and for this reason they have an incentive to share the news about the new law. However, the ice cream producer has nothing to do with the topic of abortion or a bookstore’s owner should not publish his view on which books should be banned because of being too controversial. The idea is to be consistent with the business topic and to not scare away customers with different opinions or views.

But consistency with the topic is more than that. It is also irrelevant to intertwine posts about your business and some random issues, completely unrelated to your industry.

 

 

  • Consistency with post design

 

It is perfect when all elements of your business are of the same design – website, logo, business card, a package of the product, etc. Your posts on social media also should stick to this rule. Below we put three photos published by a hypothetical cocktail bar – without hesitation, you will be able to determine which one is inconsistent, although there are just three of them.

 

Although all three posts stick to the topic, if you always use the same font and filters like in the case of pic 1 &3, and then you suddenly change the design and share photo 2, some users may not even notice that the content belongs to your business. The human brain likes repetition and order. If you continuously mix colours, fonts, filters, etc., the customers will be not able to recognize your business content at the first glance. Try to find one unique style for your posts and stick to it. You will make the audience automatically associate some elements of the content with your company – that’s also how branding works.

 

 

  • Posting regularly

 

Posting regularly is also a part of consistency. If you want to achieve success in leading social media accounts, you cannot forget about the existence of your accounts for a few months and then return like nothing happened. To obtain good results, you have to share content regularly, ideally, every day. If you are busy and need a lot of time to prepare valuable posts, then you can upload new content once or twice a week. If you often forget about sharing new posts, you can give yourself deadlines and try to stick to them. Alternatively, a better solution would be to find 2-3 hours every week to plan the content in advance for the following 7-10 days (you can schedule posts, for instance, through Buffer or Hootsuite). Also, remember to not become a spammer who shares new posts/articles too often. Especially if the content will be of poor quality, you can quickly lose some of your audience.

 

Consistency in social media is the key to success as it provides you with the overall cohesive strategy of publishing posts. People are simply programmed to like consistency – when sticking to the tips we have provided, your audience will not only know what to expect from your profile but they will also consider it as valuable and useful. Without problems, they would be able to associate the posts with your brand.

 

 

  • Is all information true? Keep in mind that sharing fake news may cause damage to your company.

 

 

Social media takes time and practice – sometimes it might be overwhelming. In this chapter, you will learn about the automation tools and the importance of posting at the right time!

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Social media permeated our lives to the bone. And for a very good reason! It made a lot of things much easier. Think of communication – now you can contact people from the other side of the globe in a matter of seconds. You can follow news from the entire world and at the same time you can find local businesses and see their ratings. Social media brings people together – just like Facebook’s new mission statement says!

However, not only people, but also businesses can benefit massively from social media. Finding audiences, branding and advertising are only some of the major  advantages of social media for businesses.

But sadly, social media can take a lot of time. This is something that needs to be done regularly and on a daily basis – some might find that overwhelming.

The solution comes in a form of social media scheduling tools. With these, you can easily plan social media posting weeks in advance. But is it all great and amazing? While there’s no denying that social media automation can really help you stay on top of your posting schedules, there can be some drawback to that!

 

Let’s focus on the good sides of social media automation first!

 

1. Social media automation can save you time and money

The best part of using scheduling tools is that you can plan your social media posting plan in a huge advance. It also means that you can spend one day and have the entire month of posting sorted. That really cuts out a lot of hassle – you don’t have to be glued to your computer with your finger constantly on the “post” button.

What can you do with the time you saved?

Look at the metrics and improve your social media strategy.

Come up with solutions and strategies for other campaigns.

Or… sit back and chill out!

What is more, social media automation tools make it possible for the job to be done by a single person along with something else. A Copywriter and Social Media Specialist can be a one person gig, which still won’t be overwhelming!

 

 

2. It’s all in one place

If you are conducting a social media strategy, you never do it for a single platform exclusively. You usually focus on several networks.

Now, imagine planning a posting schedule for your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ without any automation tool. Several cards open in your browser and you going back and forth, from one network to another copying and pasting the posts, uploading the same photo several times and slowly getting more confused and lost in all this mess.

Social media automation tools make it possible to do all of the scheduling in one place. It allows you to have an overview of your entire campaign and saves you a lot of hassle!

 

 

3. Social media automation programs offer their own analytic tools

In order to truly succeed at the social media game, you need to constantly improve. The best way to do this? Look at the stats! One of the biggest advantages of social media scheduling tools is the fact that all the statistics and metrics are collected and readily available for you.

Having these data is absolutely crucial for improving your social media strategy. Recognizing areas to improve, measuring the impact of your strategy and overviewing the engagement of your fanbase is practically impossible without these data. Well, unless you want to go to every single network and write down how many comments and likes each of your posts got – ain’t nobody got time for that!

 

 

4. Not all social networks have their own scheduling mechanisms

Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ – contrary to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, they do not have their native scheduling tools. That means you have to actually post everything in real time.

That’s of course unless you’re using social media automation tools!

 

Now, let’s have a look at some drawbacks of social media automation tools

 

 

1. Social media scheduling tools can lower your Facebook reach

Facebook is really strict when it comes to the posting rules. They can cut your reach when you use outside links in your posts. Or when you share several updates within a short period of time. Or when you share content that’s clickbait-y. The list could go on and on.

Facebook can also lower your reach if you’re using the “middle-man” – the social media automation tools.

Sooo, unless Facebook is not central to your social media strategy, you should perhaps consider using their native scheduling system.

 

 

2. You need to be careful not to lose touch with your audiences

Your audiences make your social media strategies. Without them, there would be no point in posting updates, maintaining your networks and constantly improving.

While social media automation tools can make your life much easier and save you a lot of time, you might be at risk of losing touch with your audiences. Scheduling via tools can be done without visiting the actual networks and therefore not being there “in the field”.

Keep in mind that engaging with your audience is vital to creating a positive image of your brand – and that cannot be done with scheduling tools.

Develop a habit of visiting each of your social networks once a day. Scroll down the posts, read the comments, engage with the people. Scheduling tools are great, but they won’t do everything for you!

What is more, by visiting the networks regularly, you will be up to date with any updates on the websites that might impact your posting strategy.

 

 

3. It’s easy to fall into a copy/paste routine

Each network is different and people expect different things from them. Twitter is for short and quick updates, LinkedIn is for professional content and networking, and Instagram is for pictures.

With social media automation tools, it’s easy to simply write a lot of posts and then copy and paste them along all your networks. That’s an easy and quick strategy, but what impression will it leave on your audiences?

It’s a bit like putting too many keywords into your blog articles – it simply looks inauthentic. And there’s nothing more your audiences want than a sense of authenticity, a conviction that there’s an actual person doing the social media and not some posting bot.

Remember when I listed out all the things you can do with the time you saved using scheduling tools? Maybe use it to make sure you sound genuine?

 

When you look at all the drawback I listed, you can notice that all of them can be easily avoided if you change your mindset about posting. Social media automation tools are great at making your strategy quicker and more agile, but make sure you don’t start thinking that they are going to do everything for you!

Should you therefore avoid the scheduling tools? No!

 

Some examples of great social media automation tools

 

There are many different – we picked five of the most popular, which also happen to be our favorites!

 

 

Buffer

A clear and easy to use tool with an amazing, interactive interface. Buffer is perfect for individual users and smaller businesses.

It allows for scheduling posts among the most popular networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Buffer gives you a downloadable overview of your most and least successful posts in several categories.

Pricing: Buffer can be used for free with its most basic individual plan. It also offers four paid plans starting at $10 per month and finishing at $399 per month.

 

 

HootSuite

HootSuite is more suitable to businesses with social media teams.

Everything can be managed from a single dashboard, making it easy to assign posts and tasks to different people. What is more, HootSuite offers great training materials, not only on how to use the platform, but on social media marketing in general.

You can also easily schedule a huge number of posts, make adjustments or fill in the gaps. What is more, by uploading your content as a CSV file, you can upload posts in bulk.

HootSuite comes with a downloadable report of the most important metrics, which you can customize to include various stats. What is more, you can track how your team responded to the data in reports on Facebook and Twitter!

Pricing: HootSuite offers a free trial month for its two most basic plans. The prices for an individual user start at €19 per month. Team-based plans cost €99 and €499, with the third plan being custom-priced.

 

 

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a social media management platform, which allows for handling all engagement in a single place. Similarly to HootSuite, it is a team-oriented tool, with options to customize and distribute the workload.

Sprout Social’s ViralPost tool can help you pick the best time for posting. Team members can submit their copy to be then checked and approved by leaders. You can also view your posting schedule among various channels and campaigns.

When it comes to metrics, Sprout offers highly sophisticated reports. You can track the effectiveness of your campaign as well as of each member. The depth of research allows you to obtain insights even on the level of messages.

Pricing: Sprout offers three pricing plans – each of them with a free trial. They start from $99 per month and end on $249 per month.

 

 

HubPost

HubPost offers a bit more than your usual social media automation tool. Apart from posting and scheduling tool, you can go deep into data and find out, which posts on what networks get you the most sales and leads.

HubPost has separate solutions for marketing and sales as well as a free plan.

It is a highly advanced tool for managing your campaigns along various channels and platforms. It merges social media scheduling with marketing planning in a single platform giving its users a possibility to overview and coordinate everything in a single place.

Pricing: HubPost offers a free CRM plan. Apart from that, there’s a marketing plan, which starts at $0 per month and ends at $2200 per month. The second plan is focused on sales. It also starts as a free plan and can be upgraded to $368 per month.

 

Sendible

Similarly to Buffer, Sendible offers an interactive content calendar, which allows for quick and easy adjustments to your posting plan.

Sendible is a content-oriented tool. It recognizes your highest-grossing posts and either allows for recycling them or suggests similar content that can up the number of your followers.

You can create customizable and in-depth reports. Sendible additionally, offers pre-made report templates.

Pricing: Sendible offers three pricing plans, each with a free trial – Lite (€49 per month), Advanced (€179 per month) and Pro (€449 per month). Each of these costs less per month if billed annually.

Hashtags can really up your social media exposure. In this chapter, you will learn how to use them effectively.

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Let’s go back in time, say 15 years. The “#” symbol was a thing back then, but a rather minor one, used for example for dialing your phone operator or as a board to play a famous game of noughts and crosses. Then, in 2007 Twitter introduced hashtags onto their platform and basically made history! It’s kind of hard to imagine contemporary social media without them. Nowadays basically all channels and platforms more or less have implemented hashtags into their structure. You can hardly find an Instagram photo or a Twitter post without them. They serve different purposes – just think of the #tbt “throwback thursday” used for posting your holiday pictures during cold winter months! Or the #IceBucketChallenge, which appeared on videos of people pouring down ice cold water on themselves to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The variety is incredible!

In this section however, I will tackle the question of how and why  businesses should use hashtags. There are plenty of benefits from a well-curated hashtag strategy and you should definitely start utilizing their potential in your social media campaign.

Why should I use hashtags?

Hashtags may be a tricky issue. They are a bit of a Marmite thing – there are people who love them a bit too much and there are people who rather despise or ridicule them. The facts are however clear – an Instagram post with at least one hashtag is likely to have 12.6% more engagement than a post with no tags. How can that be?

Hashtags are a great way to get your content found by your audience. Let’s suppose you have a business, where you create beautiful, artisan furniture out of oak. Your social media strategy is so far focused on posting pictures of your unique products. It’s great, but it doesn’t really attract many new customers. Now, one day, you begin adding #woodwork #artisanfurniture to your pictures – suddenly your DM starts filling up with congratulations and orders. Why? Every time someone interested in woodwork or artisan furniture looks up a related hashtag, your products are going to be the ones they see. Of course, a lot of other people will probably use the same hashtags, but if your product stands out, then, with a little help of tagging, your business has a chance of gaining a much bigger audience!

The know-how of hashtags

There are three social media platforms, which are the major players when it comes to hashtag use. These are Twitter (obviously!), Instagram and Facebook. The approach of each of these is a bit different, but it all boils down to a single point – to give users more exposure! I am going to briefly outline the main differences in approaches to using hashtags on these three platforms.

 

  1. Twitter

It all started here! The characteristic limitation of 140 signs per post make it obvious that a Twitter post won’t have too many hashtags. And that’s only for the good! Data presented by TrackMaven shows that posts with one or two hashtags get much more engagement than posts with three to eight tags. That is why a successful Twitter campaign has to be very hashtag-specific. If you are promoting your business, tag your posts with relevant words, not the ones that are trending at the moment.

  1. Instagram

Contrary to Twitter, the engagement with an Instagram post rises exponentially with the amount of hashtags you use. The perfect amount of tags is nine, then the engagement rate tends to slightly fall.

Let’s suppose you are a bodybuilder who just started an Instagram account devoted to motivation and promotion of a healthy lifestyle. The easiest way to attract followers to your photos would be to tag them with related words – #motivation #bodybuilding #eatclean. These hashtags will catalogue your photo and give you a ready-made potential audience who might be searching just for what you have to offer – they are referred to as the community hashtags. The second type of hashtag used on Instagram is the branded one. Just like Nike has its #justdoit, a bodybuilder can find a word or a phrase linked specifically to his or her business. This would be used to increase the business’s brand identity, characterise its most prominent feature and create a more devoted social media following. The differentiation between a community and brand hashtag is obviously applicable to Facebook and Twitter as well! Instagram is however a good place to experiment with different keywords or phrases, due to a much bigger volume of hashtags one can use before losing engagement.

  1. Facebook

Facebook has a similar relationship with hashtags as Twitter – the less of them you use and the more focused you are, the better engagement rates you’ll get. Facebook people use hashtags to follow and post about certain causes, events or issues. Hashtag use on Facebook can explode during certain periods of time – for example during an Oscar ceremony or when some social campaign is trending (see: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!). With Facebook, the keywords you are tagging need to be laser-precise or otherwise your posts might be omitted.

A crucial factor while using hashtags is to avoid going on for too long. This refers to both the amount as well as the length. Be specific – use keywords related to the industry your business operates in. Data presented by TrackMaven show precisely that less is more and you should focus on your niche instead of trying to cater to everybody. Instagram might be a bit of an exception, with the most engagement at nine hashtags, but still – don’t go crazy! Instead go small and specific!

 

Summary:

Hashtags are not exactly a novelty on the social media scene and their use for business promotion is acknowledged. This is exactly why you need to implement them in your business’s social media strategy – you will find yourself going backwards if you fail to keep up!

A few things you’ve learnt from this article:

  • Hashtags are a great way to give your business more exposure – they organize all related posts in one space,
  • Each social media platform has a different approach to hashtags,
  • Generally there are two types of hashtags a business can use: community ones and branded ones,
  • Your hashtags should be focused on your niche market – keep them specific and focused so that your audience and potential customers can find you more easily.