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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4 Tips to Communicate Clearly With Emojis

When emojis burst onto the scene, people rejoiced. These colorful characters were fun and broke through language and cultural barriers. In 2015, the Oxford Dictionaries cemented their place in our language by selecting an emoji — the Face with Tears of Joy — as the Word of the Year. Predictions of a future with little to no text were widespread, and businesses (who hadn’t already) started using this popular form of communication. Sounds perfect, right?

Are you communicating clearly with emoji or being misunderstood?

Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 // text & graphics added by author

Not quite. As a recent study discovered, emojis can be misinterpreted just like other form of communication. The first problem is that the same emoji can display differently on different platforms (Apple, Samsung, Google, etc.). In addition, two people can look at the exact same emoji displayed identically and interpret it differently.

Should your brand stay away from all things emoji? No, but you need to exercise caution like you do with any form of communication.

These four tips can leave you smiling with tears of joy instead of face-palming:

  • Plan Ahead: Are you thinking of utilizing emojis in an upcoming campaign? Do some research. View how your selected emojis display on different platforms and look into any popular alternative interpretations to the meaning you’re intending. It’s a lot easier to change your campaign than deal with a PR gaffe.
  • Be Careful Using Emoji that Display Differently: Maybe you have a dire need to use the grinning face with smiling eyes emoji, but be careful. This is one of the emojis that displays differently across platforms and can cause confusion and unintended responses. Try to stick with more universally displaying and understood emojis if possible. 👍
Same Emoji + Different Smartphone Platform = Different Emotion

Graphic courtesy of grouplens

  • Remember Your Brand Voice: Emojis are a part of your brand’s voice, so be consistent when you’re using them. The face with tears of joy emoji wouldn’t work well for a conservative brand or industry. Take your audience into consideration too; they may not use emojis or have any interest in them.
  • Don’t Forget About Hashtags: Trending and popular emoji hashtags, such as #WorldEmojiDay or #emoji can boost your posts and tweets. Remember to check out any hashtags first before jumping in. They could be about something completely unrelated to what you’re thinking, making it inappropriate to participate. Emojis are available as hashtags on Instagram, so use them accordingly to increase your reach.

Warning: Appropriate Hashtag Usage on Instagram Will Result in Major Traffic Increase

 

Emojis can help you break through the information overload and connect with your target audiences — if they use and understand the colorful characters. As with any communication, a little foresight, planning and common sense will help you communicate your message clearly and not get lost in translation.

Does Your Brand Speak Emoji?

What are your favorite emojis? What emojis would you like to see introduced?

Does your brand utilize emojis in its communications? Have you ever had an emoji miscommunication?

Speaking emoji (when appropriate),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about emojis, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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The Dark Side of Social: How to Respond When Things Go Wrong

At CCC, we’re big believers in the power of social media and the value that it can provide to your brand. However, you need to understand the darker side of social so you’re prepared for anything that could go wrong or reflect your brand in a negative light.

Velvet Heart Promoted Tweet

Velvet Heart was trying to promote its new arrivals for spring, not trend with a mass shooting.

Recently I was on Twitter and noticed the name of a nearby town trending (regionally). I clicked on the link to see why it was trending and discovered a mass shooting had occurred at a retirement village. (My thoughts and prayers are with this community during this difficult time.)

While scrolling through the feed, I saw a promoted tweet advertising a retailer’s new spring arrivals. I was included in the audience targeted in this campaign, so the tweet showed up in my feed — no matter what I was viewing at the time. The advertiser had no say where its targeted audience members saw its tweet. (For more on Promoted Tweets, click here.)

Last week, I saw a news story about a guy who blew his lower leg off while shooting a lawn mower packed with explosives. As usual, an ad played prior to the video on the news site where I watched it. AT&T didn’t ask for its ad to play prior to a graphic video, but that’s when I saw the ad and its brand.

“A brand can’t control the message in the way it once did but it can still have influence.” –Jeff Barrett, CEO, Status Creative

These examples both point to why some brands and companies are so afraid of getting social — loss of control. On social media, it’s impossible to control every aspect of the message about your brand.

I’m not trying to discourage you from joining the conversation — just the opposite, in fact. If you’re a part of the conversation, you can help guide its direction and speak directly to your online community.

What if I hadn’t known that advertisers don’t control where Promoted Tweets show up? A user may have tweeted the advertiser expressing her dissatisfaction that the company would try to profit off a tragedy. That’s why you need to be aware of all the possibilities before jumping into something like Promoted Tweets. You can respond to say that you only chose to promote a tweet to a targeted audience, and did not use a trending hashtag or phrase inappropriately. If you’re not active on a social platform where a discussion breaks out about your brand, you can’t help set the record straight.

“While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.”

Don’t worry about controlling every aspect of the conversation about your brand. Be prepared and know what you’re doing before jumping into social media in general, or a specific area, such as Facebook advertising or Promoted Tweets. Have a plan, but be prepared to adjust it as necessary.

Social media may not be easy for brands, but it’s worth it. Getting social can start a conversation that takes your business to new heights!

Are you struggling with your social media strategy, goals or execution? Let’s talk. We’d love to help you join the conversation and shine the spotlight on your brand.

Getting social (day or night),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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How to Provide a Superior Customer Experience on Social

If your brand is on social media, fans expect a conversation, not a one-way broadcast. They’ll use this medium to provide feedback on their customer experience and request assistance when needed. Are you ready to provide a superior customer service experience on social?

"A Conversation" by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

A Conversation by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

“Brands that are still refusing to use social for customer care will really start to look foolish in 2016.”  -David Moth, Econsultancy

Speed Matters But So Do Solutions

Yes, timely replies are appreciated but responding immediately is overrated. People want an answer to their question or a solution to their problem. They don’t care whether you tweet them every few minutes that you’re working on their issue. If a solution is going to take some time, respond to give them a time-frame and then provide an update if that changes.    

Respond in the Right Way

If assisting a customer requires sharing sensitive information, move the communication to a private channel. Facebook helped Page administrators earlier this year by adding a Message option to posts and comments. When choosing this response option, a message opens with the post and/or comment included for easy reference and a note is displayed on the Page letting others know that you responded. Twitter also made private communication easier this year with a number of changes, including the ability to receive and reply to Direct Messages from anyone.

Facebook Pages: Now Open for Communication

Don’t Nix Negativity

It’s a judgement call whether the conversation should be made private. However, don’t do it just because a customer makes a negative comment. Resolving an issue in the open can be a boost for your brand and shows others that you’re transparent and willing to correct a poor experience. No brand is perfect but how you handle a negative situation can be the difference between a disgruntled fan and brand evangelist.

Get Social on Social

If possible, keep your communication on social media. This is the medium that your customer chose to use, so don’t just respond with a stock message to call your general customer service number. Your customer may have already tried other routes, so pushing her back to those failed avenues is frustrating and will lead to an even more negative view of your brand.

Providing a superior customer experience on social requires work, but the pay off is worth it. By keeping the four tips above in mind, you can create evangelists for your brand and fans for life.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Essential Guide To Creating A Memorable Brand For Your Small Business

Branding is all about resonating with your target audience. If you want to cut through the incessant chatter of the online world or make an impact in the offline world, then your brand needs to say a lot about you.

But how do you go about creating a brand that both reflects what you do and that forms a connection with your customers? For small and mid-sized businesses on a budget, it’s a tough job. So we’ve put together this guide to help you find some answers.

Branding by EdgeThreeSixty via CC BY 2.0

Ask yourself who you are

Be honest about your business and who you are. While some companies, such as legal firms and funeral homes, should stick with a serious or solemn image, others can go with a more lighthearted, cheeky or even humorous approach.

This is where small businesses have an advantage. We can position ourselves as local companies who are helping our local economies while battling corporate behemoths who are sending profits far away. This ‘us vs. them’ message can work well; check out the Brew Dog story for inspiration.

“Every brand has a story, and your story is integral to your success.”

Get your target audience right

To create a successful brand, you have to know who you are talking to, so researching your market is an essential part of the process. Find out who your customers are, what they do, and where they live.

Also, look at what they like and what encourages them to respond. What are their fears, hopes and dreams? Once you have learned enough about your target audience(s), you can create a tone of voice that connects with them.


Be consistent

Great branding is consistent. When people see your business, they should know exactly what to expect. So it’s important to reflect the same brand message throughout your organization. Make sure that employees, partners and anyone else spreading your message are using your tone of voice. Look at managed print services that can keep your marketing materials consistent. Give people what they expect, and they will continue to trust and work with you.


Be yourself

As a small business, you face disadvantages when competing against a national or global company. Don’t try to copy their branding and positioning, because you don’t have their resources to achieve the same results.

You have to look for a unique aspect of your business that differentiates you from your competition and let people know what that is. If they beat you on price, then offer value-added services that they can’t possibly match. There will be many things that you can do better than the big players, so figuring those out — and promoting them — is vital to your brand.

Related reading: Mad Men: Master Storytelling in Any Era


Don’t concentrate on winning new customers

Of course, bringing on new customers is always important, but as a small business it’s important to put more energy into retention. Your current clients are the people who buy from you already — and will be likely to buy more in the near future.

If you offer excellent service and forge long-lasting relationships with your current clients, you’ll grow your brand more than spending all of your time chasing potential new customers.

Related reading: Branding is a Feeling, Not a Noun

Do you want to create a memorable brand for your small business? Check out our other branding posts for tips and tricks or get in touch. We’d love to help you tell your brand story.

We give brands a voice,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your brand, the art of branding or otherwise):
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The Best Social Media Sites For Business Marketing

"A Conversation" by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

Social media is one of the best marketing tools for businesses. In fact, it’s not just great for businesses; it’s great for individuals looking to market a blog too.

I could go on and on about the advantages and strengths of social media marketing. Instead, I’m going to talk about some of the best social media sites for business marketing.

Facebook image via CC0 Public Domain

Is your business on the largest social networking site on the planet?

Facebook

Facebook has been around for 11 years now and few would have predicted its success. When it started out, there were a few users who accessed the platform to stay in touch with family and friends. Facebook is currently the most used social networking site of all time and shows no sign of slowing down. Millions of people use Facebook every day for a variety of reasons, and this is why it’s perfect for marketing. In addition to the vast amount of potential customers, the social giant offers resources for businesses to help with your marketing efforts. You can pay to have your Facebook page advertised on people’s News Feeds who fall into your target audience(s). There’s also a local element; you can advertise directly to potential customers in your area and promote your location via check-ins, a map and your profile. It’s a tremendous site for businesses to use and continues to add new features and resources on a regular basis.

Twitter image via CC0 Public Domain

Has your business joined the conversation on Twitter?

Twitter

When I think of Twitter, two words pop into my head: real-time and community. Twitter is the social networking site that people go to for instant updates. With its 140-character limit (for now), the micro-blogging platform encourages a higher volume of posting than other social platforms. Many people now go on Twitter to find out about news stories and learn what’s going on in the world. If you’re a Twitter veteran, you’ve probably noticed that online communities are easily formed there by utilizing lists, hashtags and tagging other users. In a business sense, it’s ideal for marketing. You can zone in on Twitter audiences that are most relevant to your business. Twitter also presents you the opportunity to engage with a lot of people. Some of the best social media marketing strategies include using Twitter to engage with users. Using hashtags gives you the chance to promote your business to people all over the world.

Image via CC0 Public Domain

Is your business utilizing the power of video?

YouTube

Many people forget about YouTube when the discussion turns to social media. It is considered a social networking site because you can create a profile and interact with others. YouTube was purchased by Google in 2006, only a year after its arrival, and is now a serious player in the entertainment business, with billions of people watching videos every day. This is fantastic news from a business marketing perspective. It gives you a chance to upload videos promoting your business, which can be viewed by potential customers around town or around the world. There’s also a chance that your video could go viral, resulting in a significant increase in traffic, attention and customers to your business. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, than a video is worth even more.

While social media is a conversation, what you want to achieve from this game-changing addition to your marketing mix is all about you.

While these three social platforms can be great options for businesses, remember that your business has unique objectives and needs. That’s why it’s crucial to put together a strategy before getting social. If you’d like help putting together your targeted strategy (or just have some questions on the subject), let us know. We love to help brands get social with their targeted audience(s)!

Let’s do social well (and social good),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media for business, social strategies or otherwise):
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Peanutized: How to Encourage Fans to Engage With Your Brand

Have you been Peanutized?

Get Peanutized: The Peanuts Movie's interactive promotionI took the plunge this afternoon. After seeing the fun creations in my Facebook News Feed the past few days, I couldn’t resist anymore. (Ah, the power of social media…)

Get Peanutized is a cool microsite that 20th Century Fox is using to promote the upcoming release of The Peanuts Movie on November 6th. You can turn yourself into a character in the movie by selecting everything from your hair style and color to the shoes on your feet. So 20th Century Fox provided the site and is now sitting back and watching people promote their new movie for them. Genius!

People will share their creations and promote the movie, because it’s fun and engaging. At our core, we want to socialize with others, even brands. How can you encourage fans to engage with your brand?

  • Give out swag: For CCC’s 3rd anniversary, we threw a week-long party and invited our fans to join in the celebration. By engaging with us (and therefore spreading our message) on social, fans were entered to win cool swag with a special retro look. It was a success! In addition to increased engagement on our networks, we developed some new advocates for our brand.

 

  • Hold a contest: Ask people to post photos of your products in action to be entered to win a prize. Remind them to tag you and/or use a special hashtag, so you see the photos and others can too. This is also a great way to share tips or helpful hints about your products. No physical products? No worries! Utilize the aforementioned fun swag and ask fans to post photos of themselves (or others) showing off your promotional products wherever they are — on vacation, at work, etc.
  • Join the conversation: Don’t just respond to messages and comments directed to you; reach out to people when appropriate. Search relevant keywords and hashtags to find conversations you can join and people you can help. The key is to provide helpful information, not to sell. Nobody wants you to bust into their conversation with a sales pitch. But if you have helpful DIY tips, writing advice or relevant experience to share, they may end up becoming a customer down the road.
  • Open all lines of communication: Communicate with your customers where they’re comfortable, whether that’s Facebook Messenger or over the phone. Let people know the myriad of ways they can contact you, and you’re much more likely to hear from them. According to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s Ad Chief, “messaging via Pages has doubled year-over-year-over-year, and some companies have told Facebook that it is now the primary place for them to receive customer service requests.”

However you choose to engage with your fans, put some effort into it. Don’t create an app that doesn’t offer any value. Don’t set up presences on every social network and then forget about them. If you don’t have the bandwidth to be everywhere, choose what fits your company the best and will benefit your customers the most. Consider bringing in outside help to manage what you can’t.

And always keep an eye on the future. You never know when you’ll be able to share your first virtual reality (VR) ad or beam up fans to your event location. How cool would that be?!

Engage With Us on Engagement

How do you encourage fans to engage with your brand?

Do your fans show a preference in how they contact you?

What cool technology would you love to utilize someday for your brand?

Who’s your favorite Peanuts character?

p.s.Looking for some ideas to spice up your marketing? We can help!

Peanutized and lovin’ it,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about engagement, the Peanuts gang 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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