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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Facebook Is An Enigma To Marketers But Its Still #1 (Most of the Time)

Social Media Examiner recently released its highly anticipated Social Media Marketing Industry Report. If you want to know how 3,700 fellow marketers are using social media to grow their businesses, then you’re in the right place. We’ll discuss a few key findings and surprises over the next few weeks that you can incorporate into your own plans.

Planet Facebook or Planet Earth?

“Planet Facebook or Planet Earth? by Paul Butler” via Duncan Hill via CC BY 2.0

Key Findings, Facebook Edition

Facebook, the ultimate enigma, at least for marketers. “While 93% of marketers are using Facebook, 68% want to learn more about it and 62% plan on increasing Facebook activities. Only 45% of marketers think that their Facebook efforts are effective,” however 52% would stick with the social behemoth if only allowed to utilize one platform. So you use it and are planning on increasing efforts but aren’t confident your current efforts are effective. Got it.

These conflicting findings aren’t surprising given the overall size of the platform and marketers’ struggles with connecting to their audiences on it. You realize the potential in Facebook but have yet to see your substantial efforts pay off. It is interesting to see that marketers are planning on increasing their activities despite the number of “I’m quitting Facebook” articles making the rounds.

If you’re frustrated with Facebook (which we all are from time to time), take a step back and look at the big picture. What are you trying to accomplish? What type of content is your audience most receptive to in this environment? While general tips are helpful to get started, you need to utilize Insights or 3rd party analytics to build your own knowledge base. Your audience is unique, so what works best for another page may not be music to your audience’s ears.

Check out these new resources for Facebook marketers and get ready for some exciting updates coming in the near future, such as Facebook Messenger now being its own platform — and open for business. This is a game-changer for small businesses, especially the upcoming payment feature. If you haven’t heard, Facebook is adding a feature to Messenger that will allow you to send payments to other users, including businesses, for free.

Discover more helpful tips and tricks for succeeding on Facebook by checking out our blog posts on the subject. Or message us (here or on Facebook), so we can discuss your current status and how to get where you want to go.

SMM Industry Report: Facebook Edition Feedback

What’s your favorite way to use Facebook for business?

What feature is it missing?

What’s one tip that you would share with others using Facebook for business?

p.s. You can download a free copy of the Social Media Marketing Industry Report here.

Facebook fan and foe,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about the SMM Industry Report, Facebook 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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Twitter’s ‘Retweet With Comment’ Feature Changes The Conversation

Last night, it hit me: Twitter’s retweet with comment feature is a game-changer. I was excited about it before, even though it didn’t make our Q1 social media updates a few weeks ago. (Ed. Note: It has been added!) But I didn’t grasp how much of an effect it would have.

Last night, I was watching my favorite show, Mad Men, while following the #MadMen hashtag. Talking to people all over the world and experiencing a show from other peoples’ points of view while it’s airing takes your experience to another level. (It deepens your emotional connection with the characters and encourages you to watch the show live, but that’s another blog post.) I enjoyed reading others’ tweets and gained a new perspective on some of the characters’ actions and scenes.

And that’s when it hit me. I loved seeing people add their own insight to others’ thoughts and contributing to the conversation. While browsing the hashtag stream, I could instantly view a conversation instead of only seeing a reply or straight retweet (because there usually wasn’t room to comment on a retweet before). Previously, you would have to click to view the conversation, interrupting your stream (and experience). Now it’s all right in front of you waiting to be viewed and shared.

What’s the big deal? Engagement. As brands (and people), we all want other people to engage with us. That’s why this update is so big. Retweeting a tweet with an added comment increases impressions and engagement, including followers. Check out the analytics on two tweets I retweeted and added a comment to during the show. My reach and engagement is much higher than if I had simply retweeted these tweets, because I was able to add information for my audience.

Retweets with comments drive engagement!

Retweets with comments drive impressions and engagement over straight retweets.

I’m not suggesting you only retweet on Twitter, but this phenomenon makes sense. Social media is all about getting social with others no matter how hard we try to prove otherwise. Twitter’s retweet with comment feature allows us to engage with others while adding our own insight. It combines the best of both worlds: engagement and original content.

This update is almost as epic as Peggy’s entrance into her new employer last night — drunk, donning shades indoors and enjoying a smoke. Yet another way to change the conversation….

Join the Conversation on the Retweet with Comment Feature

Have you used the retweet with comment feature?

Will this feature encourage you to retweet more?

Are you on Twitter more, less or the same as you were a year ago?

p.s. We’d love to hear from you on Twitter! Tweet us @jaimeshine with your thoughts on this update, Twitter in general or anything else you have on your mind.

CCC’s Tweeting Queen,
Jaime

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Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

“Everyone has a story to tell. It only goes in one direction: forward.”                                                                         -Don Draper

And Mad Men, the popular drama about the advertising world (and life) in the 1960s from AMC, has told its story well. In its own way, with some detours of course. But isn’t that life?

Sorry, CCC will be out of the office on Sunday evening -- watching Mad Men!

As an advertising major (and disciple), I love this show because of its attention to detail. Everything — the ads they create, the most minor set props (Tab, anyone?) and the lifestyles depicted are true to the time period the show is set in. (Just ask real-life Mad Woman Jane Maas.)

Even AMC’s social media marketing is on point. Take the above out of office that you can create on the Mad Men Facebook page. Pick your favorite character, decide what you’ll be doing (brainstorming a new ad, meeting with the creative team or going on a date) and fill in your name to let your connections know that you’ll be tied up on Sunday evenings. Genius.

Furthermore, the Mad Men voice is consistent wherever you hear it. Watch the show, scroll through its tweets or check out pictures on its Facebook page. AMC remembers that the brand is set in the 60s and acts accordingly, even down to the words it chooses. Want to rub elbows with Don and Peggy? Don’t sign up for the show’s newsletter; join the Mad Men Social Club. Looking to enjoy the next episode with friends? Check out the Cocktail Guide. Still not enough? Get the Mad Men Birchbox, male or female version.

AMC has stayed true to the brand it created while taking advantage of more modern marketing options, like social media, brand partnerships and email marketing. That’s why it’s so important to understand your brand’s voice, so you can present a consistent presence across platforms, marketing vehicles and generations.

Now make yourself a martini, put your feet up and enjoy storytelling at its finest.

Tell Your Story

What brand is your favorite storyteller?

Would you work at Sterling, Cooper & Pryce?

Who’s your favorite Mad Men character?

Editor’s Note: Different bat time, same bat channel. The CCC blog will now publish on Mondays and Thursdays. Don’t want to miss a post? Click on the subscribe button to the right of this post’s title. Thanks for reading!

A Mad Woman at heart,
Jaime

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Brands: Is Looking Stupid Ever A Good Thing?

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”                                                                      -Brendan Behan, Irish writer

Even in the constant onslaught of social media, some things stop you mid-scroll.

Here’s the kicker (no wrong sport pun intended): Hostess did this on purpose.

“The ‘Touchdown’ line was intentional; it’s fun and aimed at young audiences who are in on the running joke – which, of course, is the goalllll.” -Ellen Copaken, senior director of marketing at Hostess Brands

Huh?

As a company who helps brands with social media, we love to secure increased exposure for clients, along with achieving their other objectives. Positive exposure, we should point out. We can’t ever imagine making a brand look stupid in order to gain engagement and attention. How does that help with the big picture?

“For a few hours, Hostess achieved the all-consuming goal of social media managers everywhere: cut through the noise. Even though it had to act like an idiot to do it.” -Mashable

Along the same lines, there was a mixed reaction to JCPenney’s #TweetingWithMittens Super Bowl stunt last year. If you missed it, the retailer sent out a series of tweets filled with mistakes and typos. Most Twitter users thought that the people manning the account were intoxicated, or the account had been hacked. It turned out the company was “tweeting with mittens” to promote its status as the official supplier of Team USA’s mittens.

The company planned this strategy because Super Bowl XLVIII was held outdoors in New Jersey, and freezing temperatures were expected. Unfortunately for JCP, temps were much higher for the game, so wearing mittens didn’t make sense. However, JCPenney’s engagement went through the roof (both positive and negative), and its week-over-week mitten sales doubled.

So, here’s our question –> Does the end always justify the means?

If your brand’s engagement soars (even negative mentions), is it worth it?

Would you use a stunt that may reflect poorly on your brand in order to gain publicity?

This is a hot topic; Mashable even wrote about it. We’d love to hear your take!

Cheers,
Jaime

Tag, tweet, mention or pin us –> Join the conversation:  
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Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Business

Spring is in the air! Maybe it’s the rising temperatures or longer days, but optimism abounds this time of year.

Spring is in the air! CCC can add a breath of fresh air to your communications.

Spring cleaning? Don’t forget your business! CCC would love to help you freshen up your communications.

If spring cleaning is on your to-do list, don’t forget about your business! How can you spring clean your business? Try these tips:

  • Get Organized — Go through your paper and electronic files and form a system. The point is for you to be able to find what you’re looking for quickly and efficiently. Try alphabetizing file folders or creating sub-folders to further corral all of your pictures and electronic documents. Don’t forget to back up your electronic files!
  • Review Your Online Home — Take a fresh look at your website or blog, or ask an unbiased third party to help out. What catches your eye? Is your site easy to navigate? Does the look and feel still work or is it time for a change? If you don’t have a blog, now’s a great time to start one.

Related reading: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide to SEO // Do You Mow Your Blog? // To Blog, or Not To Blog: That Is the Question

  • Get Social with a Strategy — Review your social media presences. Do you like what you see? Be honest — are you providing your community with value? Are your efforts producing the results you want? If not, step back and think about what you want to accomplish.
  • The Right Fit — While we all want to grow our businesses, sometimes downsizing can help spur growth. Are you stretched too thin on social media? All platforms aren’t the right fit for all businesses. Choose your platforms wisely to get the highest return on investment. Remember, social media isn’t free!
  • First Impressions Matter on Social Too — Your profile, profile picture and cover photo are often the first impressions that a visitor — potential customer? — has of you on social media. Make a favorable first impression! Refresh any profiles, profile pics or cover photos that need it. Note that some platforms have changed dimensions for 2015.

Related reading: Have you found your social media voice? // Should You Slim Down (on Social Media)? // What’s in a social media profile? Everything.

  • Revisit Your Customers — Take a fresh look at your customers. Are you providing the right products or services to help them achieve their objectives? Do plans or strategies need a fresh look? Is your customer still a good fit for your business? Companies and brands change, so you need to be fluid too.
  • Look in the Mirror — Look at your brand: your logo, colors, font(s), name, reason for being… everything that makes you who you are. Does it still fit? Has your brand evolved but your look and feel stayed the same? It may be time to rebrand or just refresh.
  • Freshen up Your Communications — Has your message grown stale? Are you having trouble reaching your target audience(s)? Are you sending out the same emails, newsletters and blog posts? Freshen up your content to re-energize your brand and re-engage with your customers, prospects and employees.

Related reading: Why You Should Think Like The B.A.U. // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun // The Power of the (Red) Pen

We hope that you enjoy the related reading links, which should help you tackle some of the aforementioned business spring cleaning tasks. Or you can search the CCC blog in 3 ways: search box (upper right-hand corner), Categories and Tags (scroll down the right-hand sidebar). If you have a question about your particular project or a subject in general, just ask! We’re here to help. Not sure how we can help you? Check out a sampling of the marketing, writing and social media services we offer.

“I always find something I’ve lost when I do my spring cleaning. This year it was my mind.”  -Maxine, Hallmark character

What part of your business are you going to spring clean?

Whistling while I work,
Jaime

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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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Social Media: Sales or Marketing Tool?

Social Media: Sales or Marketing?

The big discussion on social media revolves around selling. Is it for hard selling? Creating and maintaining relationships? Building a community?

Social media creates opportunities. It’s up to you to close them.

Social media is one tool in your marketing mix. The confusion lies in the merging of sales and marketing — two separate functions (that need to work together). Marketing, including social media, should bring you opportunities, but it’s up to sales to convert them. Does that make sense?

If you’re receiving (qualified) leads, then social media and your other marketing tools are doing their job. If you’re not, adjust your marketing methods that aren’t working.

If social media isn’t working for you, ask yourself:

  • Am I on the correct social media platforms?
  • Is my strategy designed to bring in qualified leads?
  • What are my calls-to-action (CTAs) asking?

If you’re bringing in qualified leads but not closing them, that’s a sales issue. Perhaps your website isn’t user-friendly, your pricing doesn’t work for people, or they’re not buying the value of your products or services. Regardless, not converting your opportunities isn’t a marketing or social media issue. It’s not about pointing the finger. It’s about achieving results.

That’s my take; I’d love to hear yours!

What’s your take on the sales and marketing conundrum?

Is social media a sales or marketing tool?

Cheers,
Jaime

Sales or marketing: join our conversation! 
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Are LinkedIn Groups Working For You?

The past week we’ve focused on LinkedIn, the largest professional networking site on the planet. It tends to be a platform that most people aren’t utilizing effectively, because they’ve either posted a profile years ago and haven’t been back, or they share every tweet, which is a little overboard. So far, we’ve covered general tips in LinkedIn: Are You Connected? and focused on the foundation of the site in LinkedIn: The Essence of a Profile. (Feel free to catch up on those posts if you missed them. I’ll grab a macchiato… )

Are LinkedIn groups working for you?

original photo via Esther Vargas’ photostream by CC BY-SA 2.0 // edited by CCC

Now we’re moving on to the power of groups. Are you taking advantage of this feature on LinkedIn?

Participating in groups can:

  • Increase traffic to your profile. Group participants (not just members) receive four times the number of profile views, typically from people who are interested in what you do.
  • Showcase your expertise in key industries/subjects. In our current age of information, business professionals want to be ‘thought leaders’ or experts in what they do. By commenting intelligently in group discussions, you can build your credibility and even win new business opportunities.
  • Warm up a potential customer. When you’re active in groups, you’ll begin to get to know other active members of the group: potential customers, employers, business partners, vendors, etc. You never know where this type of conversation might lead, and it makes pursuing a business relationship with these individuals a little easier.

Creating a group can:

  • Grow your business. Give customers and prospects a place to ask questions, discuss their needs and stay up-to-date on the latest news in your field. An active group is a great place to promote your business by offering value — and value brings in referrals. (If you have a company page, don’t forget to feature your group!)
  • Connect you to your audience in a safe, professional environment. Tired of Facebook’s pay-to-play movement? Not a blogger? Hosting a LinkedIn group gives you a professional forum to discuss key issues and take the pulse of your customers and prospects. What are their biggest struggles? How can you solve them? Plus, you can close the group in order to have more control over who joins (like your competitor posing as a buyer).
  • Provide content for your marketing efforts. By taking the pulse of your customers, prospects and industry professionals, you can come across some thought-provoking content ideas. Ask your audience for their opinion on a subject, take a vote and gain real insight into what your connections and followers are looking for. Providing value = more business.

Comment on This Discussion

Are you active on LinkedIn?

Which groups are your favorite? (Feel free to tell us about your own group!)

Have you secured a new client, job or business opportunity on LinkedIn?

Thanks for reading,
Jaime

Connect with CCC! We’d love to be a part of your professional network.
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