InstaStrategy: How to Thrive on the ‘New’ Instagram

Instagram's new look across its family of brands

What a year it’s been for Instagram! The fast-growing social platform is implementing numerous changes to celebrate its sixth year. People tend to resist change, so it’s no wonder that some of these changes have been met with consternation.

What do you think about @instagram's new look? 📷 @Regrann from @instagram – Today we’re introducing a new look. You’ll see an updated icon and app design for Instagram. Inspired by the previous app icon, the new one represents a simpler camera and the rainbow lives on in gradient form. You’ll also see updated icons for our other creative apps: Layout, Boomerang and Hyperlapse. We’ve made improvements to how the Instagram app looks on the inside as well. The simpler design puts more focus on your photos and videos without changing how you navigate the app. The Instagram community has evolved over the past five years from a place to share filtered photos to so much more — a global community of interests sharing more than 80 million photos and videos every day. Our updated look reflects how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become. Thank you for giving this community its life and color. You make Instagram a place to discover the wonder in the world. Every photo and video — from the littlest things to the most epic — opens a window for people to broaden their experiences and connect in new ways. #Regrann

A post shared by Jaime Shine (@jaimeshine) on

 

The Dreaded Algorithm: We all knew this moment was coming but dreaded its arrival nonetheless. When the social app announced that users’ feeds would be controlled by an algorithm, the internet exploded. My feed was flooded with posts urging me to turn on notifications from everyone or I would never see their posts again. (I hope you didn’t post one of these pleas, but if you did, please spare us when the algorithm actually goes into effect, which will be soon.)

This change should be good for both users and brands alike. I don’t think we’ll see the drastic drop in organic reach like we did on Facebook, and Instagram users are more likely to engage with posts. Make sure that you go for quality content over quantity, which is a reminder we all need from time to time (myself included).

Your devoted fans will still seek out your posts, and appropriate hashtags will continue to help bring in new traffic. Remind fans of your presence on your marketing communications and other platforms, and use data to better target your audience.

Instagram’s New Insights: A new (free) in-app analytics dashboard is on its way! While you have been able to view analytics through a third party platform, such as Iconosquare, Instagram is finally debuting an in-house dashboard to help businesses gain a better understanding of their audiences.

Dig into the data to discover the best times to post and to learn more about your audience. Where are your audience members located? What type of content do they engage with the most? Does a certain type of content extend your reach while another draws more engagement (or website visits)? You can use this information to help shape your future content and strategy while also deciding whether to promote a hot post.

Instagram Embraces Brands: In addition to Insights, the social app is rolling out Business Profiles and promoted posts after previously opening up advertising to all brands and introducing video Carousel ads.

Take advantage of the Business Profile, once available, so you can make it easier for customers to contact (and locate) you while gaining access to Insights and promoted posts. Observe how the algorithm affects your posts once it’s implemented. It may be beneficial to promote a post from time to time, such as a special offer or contest.

Instagram’s New Look: Don’t sweat it. Whether you’re a fan of the new look or not, the updated layout will better showcase your photos and videos. Just make sure to update the branding anywhere you may use it, such as marketing materials, your website or blog.

While 2016 is the year of change for Instagram, it’s still the popular social platform that we know and love. Take a deep breath and see how the algorithm affects you before panicking (or asking your community to turn on notifications). Many of these changes should help brands who are dedicated to growing and building long-term relationships with their Instagram communities.

InstaFeedback

Are you on Instagram? Leave your handle in the comments, so we can connect!

What’s your favorite (and least favorite) Instagram change?

Where does Instagram fall in your preferred list of social media platforms?

Instalik(ing) these changes,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Instagram, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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What’s in the Power of a (Re)Brand? Everything

Photo by Melissa Olson for Kent State Magazine

Rebranding is all over the news these days as brands deal with changing audiences, shifting priorities and, in some cases, dramatically altered landscapes. I was reading a story in Kent State Magazine about my alma mater’s rebranding, when a quote caught my eye.

“A brand articulates our aspirations and elevates us to where we want to be — a distinguished and thriving research university, full of remarkable scholars, students and staff.” -Kent State President Beverly Warren

The first part of President Warren’s quote nails what a brand is, but there’s also a second part to the equation. A brand’s customers, or target audiences, have to buy in to those aspirations. Brands live in the real world, not a vacuum. If your customers (or potential new customers) don’t buy what you’re selling, so to speak, your aspirations and where you want to be don’t mean much.

Let’s look at two high profile examples. Budweiser tried to boost its summer sales by temporarily renaming its beer, America. That’s right, the popular beer manufacturer ditched its memorable ad campaigns and iconic Clydesdales to put our country’s name on its label for the summer. Who’s up for an ice cold America?

Budweiser becomes America temporarily.

Image courtesy of Fast Company Design

While this odd move probably won’t hurt the company’s sales (summer is beer-drinking season), it’s been met by mockery online and seen as an attention grab by the press. Even worse, it’s brought the company’s Belgium ownership into the conversation, which is not something that a brand marketed on patriotism and American ideals wants to discuss.

Budweiser, err America, isn’t the only well-known brand to freshen up its look lately. Instagram felt its logo was outdated, so the company unveiled its new, modern look this week. While the previous logo represented a camera, the fast-growing social platform “wanted to create a look that would represent the community’s full range of expression — past, present, and future.” (Read more on the rebrand here.)

More on branding: The True Power of Brand // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

That makes sense. Why hasn’t the Instagram community (and world) embraced it? The company is right that most people (outside of professional photographers) don’t use stand-alone cameras to take the pictures they post on its platform today, and you can now post videos too. But Instagram is still a visually-inspired platform, which is what the camera icon represented to so many people.

Instagram unveils its new logo

Image courtesy of Adweek

Sometimes brands are so focused on short term sales or attention, they forget the essence of who they are or why consumers love them. As KSU President Warren notes, “Our brand is not a tagline, logo or glitzy website. Rather, it is what people think and feel when they hear the name “Kent State.” It is about the big idea. In essence, it is about defining and sharing the heart of Kent State.”

I’m proud that my alma mater has handled its rebranding process so well and that brands everywhere, from beer manufacturers to social platforms, could learn a thing or two from a university where I learned so much.

A Lesson on (Re)Branding

What do you think about Budweiser’s temporary name change or Instagram’s new look?

What other brand has handled the rebranding process well?

What brand needs to rebrand?

A proud KSU alumna (and fan of great branding everywhere),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about branding, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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4 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016

I know, I know; 2015 isn’t even over yet, and we’re already talking about 2016. Digital marketing trends move fast, so you always have to look at what’s next to stay ahead of the game and start adapting your strategy early. If you can pinpoint the major marketing trends of the next twelve months, you can begin budgeting for the change, and subtly change direction now. Take a look at these four new trends, and think about how you can move towards them.

United Nations of smartphone operating systems by Jon Fingas via CC BY-ND 2.0

1) Mobile and location-based marketing

Mobile growth had an important year in 2015. At the start of the year, mobile browsing finally overtook desktop and laptop browsing. More people are using mobile devices to get online than any other technology, a trend that is expected to continue to grow in 2016. We’ll also start to see wearable technology find its feet and establish itself, which means coming up with unique location-based marketing strategies. How can your company harness your customer’s location to its benefit? Finally, it’s time to start thinking seriously about developing an app.

2) Long-term relationship building

Until now, digital marketing has focused on short-term success. It’s been all about hitting certain numbers of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, and making quick, easy sales online. After all, the Internet provides a forum for real-time conversations with customers and prospects 24/7. The most successful marketers are slowly realizing that a more traditional approach might actually be more cost effective. By nurturing customers for longer, they can double or even triple their sales over time. Start thinking about a way to retain customers, and make the second, third, and fourth sale.

3) SEO is more important than ever

It’s no secret that Google is always updating its algorithm. Every year, the search giant introduces a new change, and every year, it gets smarter. That means your SEO strategy needs to change and adapt alongside it. We asked the experts at Pay On Performance about what SEO will look like in 2016, and here’s what they told us. First, we’ll need to be more careful and targeted with our keywords. Don’t add redundant or unrelated keywords to pages and posts, and focus on long-tail keywords for more traffic. We’ll also need more organic and natural back links to bring more visitors to our sites and blogs. Finally, we’ll need to focus even more on producing quality content and new metrics like ‘time-on-site’ and engagement. That’s what Google is looking for in 2016.

4) Social media is expanding

If 2015 proves anything, it’s that social media isn’t going anywhere. Many predicted that Facebook’s bubble would eventually burst, but it shows no signs of slowing down (although Twitter has hit a stumbling block). In 2016, Facebook will integrate itself even further into our lives, but it doesn’t end there. Instagram and Pinterest have posted enormous growth figures in 2015. Statistics also show they have much higher rates of engagement and drive more sales. These two platforms will be critical for you next year, so start building a strategy now.

Taking note of these trends now will help you get a head start on next year! Where do you think digital marketing is heading? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Are you thinking about adding new platforms into your social media mix? Does your digital marketing strategy need an overhaul? Let’s talk, so we can put together a plan for you.

p.s. Wednesday, October 21st is ‘Back to the Future’ Day. What technology from the 80s blockbuster do you wish we had today?

Riding my hoverboard to 2016,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about digital marketing, flying cars or otherwise):
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Does Your Brand Speak Emoji? 😎 💬 💻

Emoji. Those cute little characters that you add to your texts and tweets are all grown up — or at least getting there. In fact, the “picture letters” have moved into the business world.

Take the above example: Chevy used emoji to launch its 2016 Cruze, and the popular auto manufacturer isn’t alone. Brands continue to get into the emoji game, tapping into the characters’ popularity and universal appeal.

With today, July 17th, being World Emoji Day, brands across the globe, large and small, are getting into the act.

Brands utilizing emoji took a big step forward when Instagram announced that you can use emoji in your hashtags. This is a great move, expanding brands’ reach and allowing them to connect with people across time zones and languages. Considering that we live in a global world today, that’s good business.

As more people and companies use emoji, the demand for a wider variety of characters grows. According to Yahoo News, 38 new emoji are set to debut in 2016. We’re excited to see new business characters, such as a handshake and clinking glasses. The latter seems so much more appropriate to celebrate a business deal than clinking beer mugs.

Our goal in the short-term is to work on incorporating more emoji into our social media, including hashtags on Instagram. We recommend that you do the same. Just remember to use appropriate emoji for what you’re trying to convey and don’t go crazy. Even these cute little characters can make your audience want to face palm, and that character isn’t available until next year.

Emoji Talk

Are you planning on incorporating emoji into your brand’s social strategy?

CCC would love to see an emoji representing a brand. What would you suggest?

What brand does a great job of utilizing emoji?

p.s. Did you know that you can use emoji on Facebook via desktop too?

Majoring in emoji,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on emoji, branding or otherwise): 
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Marketers: Don’t Forget About Desktop

Mobile offices, mobile apps, Mobilegeddon: The age of mobile has arrived. We can tap into Wi-Fi at 35,000 feet and conduct business from almost anywhere in the world.

Desktops (and laptops) are still worth paying attention to, marketers.

Desktop access to the Internet has risen 37% over the past four years. Source: comScore

But don’t forget about desktop, marketers. It hasn’t gone the way of 8 tracks and parachute pants just yet — and is still worth your attention.

While browsing trends in social media marketing for 2015, one in particular caught our eye. While mobile access to the Internet has quadrupled over the past four years, desktop access has also risen 37%.^

“Mobile’s new domination of social media activity did not sap numbers and minutes from desktop digital time, however. Instead, digital time seeped into Americans’ off-hours, as they brought their smartphones and tablets to television time, waiting rooms, Starbucks’ lines and bed.”  –Social Media Examiner

Despite its impressive growth, mobile is still not the primary device used to access the top digital properties either, including Facebook.

Furthermore, Instagram recently released web profiles, making it easier to browse and share images on the Web. Despite being the fastest growing social network in 2014*, Instagram still heard loud and clear from users who wanted a better desktop experience. So the popular platform, launched in 2010 as a mobile app, expanded its web presence to make its users happy.

So yes, we live in the age of mobile but the desktop era hasn’t gone the way of dinosaurs just yet. Keep your customers happy (and prospects interested) by spreading your presence across the mobile/desktop divide.

(Irony: We just realized that we’re writing this as a movie about dinosaurs is breaking box office records around the world!)

Mobile/Desktop Feedback

Have you cut into your desktop/laptop time with mobile? Or cut into other activities with mobile?

How do you access social media (approx. mobile/desktop %)?

Are you surprised that mobile is not cutting into desktop’s overall numbers yet?

Sources: ^comScore | *Pew Research Center | Social Media Examiner

Blogging on a desktop,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on mobile, desktop or otherwise): 
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5 Ways To Showcase Services (& Boring Products) on Instagram

You’ve probably heard that visual marketing is all the rage these days, driving more interaction and traffic than text alone. Pair that trend with Instagram being the fastest-growing major social network in 2014*, and you’ve got a love affair — or so we thought. However, we were surprised at the lack of marketers, especially B2B, on Instagram.

5 Ways To Showcase Services (& Boring Products) on Instagram

Report Findings

Statistics on the popular visual social platform in Social Media Examiner’s recently released Social Media Marketing Industry Report were underwhelming, at least to CCC.

Instagram was the 7th most popular social platform for marketers in 2014, with 36% utilizing the site. Platform use did rise significantly from the previous year, with an eight percent increase. However, the disparity came to light when we looked at business-to-consumer (B2C) use vs. business-to-business (B2B) use, as the following chart indicates.

B2C vs. B2B social platform use chart

Social platform use differs significantly between B2C and B2B marketers, especially on LinkedIn.
Source: Social Media Marketing Industry Report

OK, so B2B marketers are a little slow to adapt to this platform. That might make sense until you look at future plans. Again, B2C marketers outpace their B2B counterparts with 60% likely to increase Instagram activities (compared to 40% of B2B marketers). What’s making B2B marketers hesitant to devote resources to Instagram?

Two Reasons Why B2B Marketers Aren’t on Instagram

We can think of two reasons to start. One, some B2B marketers feel like a platform or vehicle isn’t worth their time until they can advertise on it. With Instagram opening up advertising to all companies, that should draw more B2B companies to the platform. New ad formats, including a buy button, and enhanced targeting should help as well.

Two, several B2B companies sell services, and they may be having trouble understanding how to utilize the platform to promote what they do. (Even if they sell products, they may be considered ‘boring’ products, such as ink cartridges, paper, industrial cleaners, etc.)

Five Ways To Showcase Services (and Boring Products) on Instagram 

How do you showcase services (or ‘boring’ products) on Instagram?

  • Sell benefits, not features. Show how your products or services impact people or companies. For example, a picture of a sales letter may not be enticing, but a picture of my client’s happiness after making a sale using that letter conveys human emotion.

Photos with faces get 38% more likes and 32% more comments on Instagram.^

  • Utilize picture editing tools. Tools such as Pic Monkey and Square InstaPic, among others, allow you to create professional images to showcase your work. A picture of my blog post on a modern marketer’s tools may not generate much interest, but this picture of the items mentioned in the post was a hit.
  • Share behind the scenes videos. Instagram’s the perfect place to ease into video production due to the 15-second maximum timeframe and built-in editing tools. Introduce employees, share an office tradition (bean bag toss break on Fridays!) or record brief tips on what you do. For example, share a marketing tip every Monday or a social media tidbit on Saturdays.

Seventy two percent of marketers plan to increase their use of video in the future.`

  • Be creative with built-in filters and editing tools. We’re not telling you to filter every picture you post, but the built-in editing tools that Instagram provides do appeal to users if used appropriately.

Organic Instagram-style photos can increase click-through rates from 2.35% to 8% and drive conversion rates by 25% over traditional photos.^^

  • Encourage followers, customers and other users to join your campaign by tagging their photos with a unique hashtag (i.e. #CCCgetssocial) and tagging your account in order to enter a contest or showcase how they use your products or services. User-generated content is powerful because other people are telling your story for you. Plus, Instagram stores photos that tag you in your profile so others can easily see them.

Top brands’ Instagram posts generated 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.**

So what’s a B2B marketer to do? Get visual on Instagram! But remember to put together a strategy first, just like you would with any other marketing initiative. Your customers (and potential customers) will like what they see.

What’s your favorite Instagram account to follow?

Where does Instagram rank in your favorite social platforms?

Do you utilize the Instagram website at all or only the mobile app?

Intimidated by Instagram? Have no fear! We’d love to answer your questions or help you put together an approach to put your best face forward on this popular visual platform. Contact us or leave a comment below to join the conversation!

Sources:
*Pew Research Internet Project | ^Georgia Institute of Technology & Yahoo Labs
`Social Media Marketing Industry Report | ^^Laundry Service | **Forrester

Have an Instagram-worthy weekend!
Jaime

Let’s chat (on Instagram, the SMM Industry Report or otherwise): 
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How To Test Your Way To Success As a Small Business

As a small business, you have an advantage over larger competitors: agility. It’s harder for larger, more established companies to be agile. You can, and here’s how to use that to your benefit.

How To Test Your Way To Success As a Small Business

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…

Test, test and test some more. Try things out. You may have noticed that the CCC blog publishing schedule has been a little off lately. That’s because we’ve been testing different publishing days and posts per week. We apologize if we’ve thrown off your reading schedule, but things should be settling down now. After studying our data, we’ve decided on a Tuesday and Friday publishing schedule (for now).

Related reading: Social Media Marketing: Try Stuff. Test. Repeat.

In addition to testing out publishing schedules, we also like to test our content in different formats and on different social platforms. For example, we usually tweet each CCC blog post twice within a few days to a week after publishing: once with the title & featured photo and once with a quote or a question that is discussed in the post.

On May 4, we tweeted the above tweet to promote a recent post, Twitter’s Retweet with Comment Feature Changes The Conversation. This tweet with the title and photo racked up 413 impressions and 16 engagements, which are fantastic for us. Then on May 7, we tweeted a quote from the post along with the social media hashtag. That tweet fared much worse, gaining 159 impressions and 1 engagement. Lesson learned: always tweet with pictures. Not so fast!

On May 8, we sent a title and photo tweet promoting a post, Inside/Out: Brands, Take Your Message To The People. It garnered only 94 impressions and 0 engagements. (The irony is that this same picture was a hit on Instagram, racking up 31 likes and 12 comments.) So on May 11, we sent a text-only tweet (shown above) that was viewed 311 times and engaged with 4 times.

Finally, we posted the picture shown below on Instagram on April 13th showing our love of all things Mad Men. (If you missed it, check out Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era, and you’ll understand at least part of our love affair.) It’s still pulling in traffic, currently at 69 likes and 25 comments. We also posted this picture on Twitter with fantastic results (5/17/15: 556 impressions and 19 engagements) and Facebook with less fantastic results (4/14/15: 11 people reached, 1 engagement).


Can anyone hear us?

Here’s our point: keep testing and trying things so you can stay in front of your audience, who is always moving. You’ll read so many posts that tell you to publish blog posts on Tuesdays at 10am and Facebook posts on Wednesdays at 3pm and LinkedIn posts on Thursday mornings at 7:30am. Those are general suggestions that can help you as you accumulate your own data to study and test. Your audience is unique, so they’ll set their own best practices. The hard part is breaking through all of the noise and clutter to hear, see and follow them.

Your Feedback

As a small business, we love your feedback! So let us hear it.

What suggestions do you have for the CCC blog?

What suggestions do you have for small business owners?

How has testing led you to success?

Enjoy your long weekend, but remember what Memorial Day represents. THANK YOU to everyone who has given the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our country and freedom. And please, stay safe and be smart; don’t put a first responder in harm’s way.

Always testing, always learning,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on testing, small business or otherwise):
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Get Your Ducks In A Row: Your 1st Quarter Social Media Updates

Social media is an ever-evolving world. One of our most popular posts last year was Social Media 2014: Traveling At The Speed of Light (And A Look Ahead!), so we thought that a quick first quarter review of social media updates would help you stay up-to-date. Here goes!

Your Q1 social media updates brought to you by CCC (and Webster)!

Social media’s like a day at the ballpark. You never know what you’re going to find! A duck wearing shades?!

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

LinkedIn


Get Social

What important updates did we miss?

What’s your favorite social media update thus far in 2015?

What’s your favorite social network right now?

Remember, we’re ready to help you navigate the always evolving, real-time social media world to achieve your specific objectives. Want to talk?

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
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Social Media 2014: Traveling At The Speed of Light (And A Look Ahead!)

Social media. This ever-changing, real-time world is unbelievable — both in the marketing opportunity it presents and in trying to stay on top of the constant changes. Are you utilizing the new features that popped up in 2014? Let’s take a quick look back…

Social media travels at the speed of light

Facebook

Twitter

  • Start a conversation: share a tweet through direct messages (read more)
  • Tag people in a photo / add multiple photos to one tweet (read more)
  • Twitter offers you more control over your feed (read more)
  • Would you sell directly in Twitter? (read more)
  • What’s next? Ask the head tweeters.
From rags to riches: Brian Acton

Facebook didn’t turn him down this time. Brian Acton, co-founder of Instagram, became a multi-billionaire in 2014.

Instagram

Pinterest

LinkedIn

  • Customize your background to paint a better picture of you (read more)
  • New homepage design lets you stay connected (read more)
  • LinkedIn Publishing stepped up its game (read more)
  • Who’s viewed your profile? New ways to engage (read more)
  • What’s next? Big ideas in 2015

Post, Tweet & Pin

What major social media changes in 2014 did I miss?

What 2015 update are you anticipating the most?

What’s your favorite social network now and 3 years ago?

What a year in the social media world!

Cheers,
Jaime

Stay up-to-date on the crazy social media world. Join the discussion:
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