Best Practices for Local Businesses on Instagram

We recently revamped our social media strategy and after researching the best ways to reach potential customers, we launched SinglePlatform on Instagram.  Instagram has more than 400 million active users each month and 80 million photos are shared on the platform each day. Instagram users are engaged, generating nearly 3.5 billion likes per day.  If you have considered trying to leverage Instagram as a marketing tool for your business, these are some best practices to keep in mind. 

1. Reach Customers with Hashtags

Hashtags allow for your post to come up in searches on Instagram, allowing your account to be found by more potential customers. Take some time to browse the posts of your competition as well as your customers. Keep a list of the hashtags that they are using. Make sure that you incorporate these hashtags when they are appropriate to your posts so that your content is being found. 

2. Geotagging Shows Customers Your Location

Geotagging allows you to tag your location of your post. Users can click on the geotag and be redirected to a map showing where the post happens. This is a useful tool for small businesses to show users their location. 

3.  React to the Latest Trends

Social media moves fast so make sure your content is topical.  If there is a trending topic that relates to your business, you should post something that makes you a part of the conversation. 

4. Build an Engaged Community

While you want to gain as many followers as possible to expand your reach on Instagram, following your customers and potential customers is a good way to learn more about your audience.  Liking your customers post and interacting with their accounts can make them more engaged with your business. 

5. Run Giveaways and Promotions

Reward your followers by offering them discounts and giveaway. Not only will this keep your followers interested in your account but it also a great way to attract new customers to your account. 

6. Don’t Overlook Video

Instagram began as strictly a photo-sharing app but has expanded into video over the years. The app is currently rolling out longer video lengths to users so this would be a great time to start incorporating video into the content you share on Instagram.

7. Be Consistent

People are drawn to reliable brands and maintaining a regular posting schedule can help you foster a trustworthy reputation as well as helping you to keep your business on your customer’s minds. Make sure your content is consistent too. Everything you post is a reflection of your business’s brand.

8. Measure Your Progress

Like any of your other marketing efforts, you want to make sure that you are seeing success. Keep track of how many followers you have month by month. Set aside some time to look at which posts garner the most likes and comments. Try to pinpoint why these posts are successful and continue to give your audience what they want to see.

If you follow these tips for your Instagram account, you should start to see your followers and engagement grow. Check out SinglePlatform on Instagram to see how we have created a growing social media strategy. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Google’s Changes to Online Ads: What it Means for Your Local Business

As Google continues to make changes to the way people browse the Internet, small businesses are going to have to keep up if they want to continue being discovered on these search engines.

Announcing the latest development last month, Google and its partners have officially changed the way advertisements are seen on the search engine’s results page for any given query. Eliminating text ads displayed on the right sidebar, Google and its partner sites will now show up to four text ads above the organic listings, and up to three below them.

Although this may seem like a small change to the search engine results page, it will have an impact on the way small businesses attract and retain new and existing customers on the Internet.

Any small businesses who rely heavily on Google Adwords, a Pay-Per-Click program designed to generate traffic for the business, should be aware that the placement that they are paying for will be altered. With Google’s new change, these small businesses are going to have to pay more to secure one of the top four spots on the search engine result page. If a business owner is not willing to pay the additional money for a top spot, they will have to decide if a spot at the bottom of the page is worth it or ditch Google Adwords altogether in favor of a more organic approach.

A more organic search approach would include making sure that your business’s information is up-to-date and consistent everywhere it is found on the web. Google pushes reliable content to the top of their searches, making your business easier to find.

To find out how SinglePlatform can help you get discovered and stand out, click here.

The Food Instagram Takeover

It always surprises me that when I look to see if a restaurant has an Instagram handle, there is either nothing there or a picture hasn’t been submitted in over 24 weeks. I mean, come on! If you’re in the restaurant business, you’re one goal needs to be to hashtag ‘food porn‘ and ‘num num’at least once a day! The self-proclaimed foodies of the world are disappointed in you… #SMH!!!
But seriously, every time I browse through the search tool on Instagram and go to the Explore Posts section, I stumble upon either a ridiculously delicious looking burger and fries, a crisp bloody mary or some sort of double chocolate cookie from Insomnia. It seems like there are more and more food handles being made every week.

However, even if these food accounts are clogging up our news feeds, they are benefiting restaurants from a marketing standpoint. The reason? Instagram is taking over and for restaurants all over the country, it is a great way to market their dishes in a unique way in 2016.

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Almost twelve years ago, Facebook was created in a Harvard University dormatory. When Mark Zuckerberg first plotted out his vision of what Facebook would become, he saw a search engine to track friends, classmates and people you heard about through gossip at the lunch table. But it has become much more than that now. Besides taking over the lives of over 70% of the world’s adults, it inspired two Stanford alumni, Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger to create the photo-sharing service, known as Instagram.

Now Instagram, an app that was recently bought out by Zuckerberg in 2012 for $400 million, is used to share photos and videos on a variety of different social media platforms. According to the Pew Research Center this past August, about 28% of the world uses Instagram (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/the-demographics-of-social-media-users/). This statistic alone is a call that restaurants should be utilizing and optimizing Instagram to the best of their ability.

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Here are five steps for Instagram marketing:

1) Use trending #hashtags

Basically every single picture that is posted on Instagram has some sort of trending hashtag. #tbt #nonewfriends #pizza #eatz, whatever – you get the point. But it works! The reason people use these hashtags is to bring awareness to their respective handles. For restaurants, it’s a chance to bring awareness to their business and to the specific dish they are displaying on the picture.

2) Use niche #hashtags

Using a niche hashtag could bring an even more specific audience to your restaurant. If a person were to use one of these hashtags, it would be because they are basically showing the geographical location of the restaurant. Doing something simple like putting a hashtag before the city works too.

3) Photo contests

A contest is a great way to bring awareness to the restaurant. At the end of the day, everyone is on Instagram for the likes, right? By issuing out photo contests, it would bring some fun competition between the customers and it would bring some more awareness and a larger audience to the restaurant.

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By incorporating this, the competitors followers would see their picture, the restaurants followers would see the picture and around and around we go! Also, the winner would get a certain gift from the restaurant and the restaurant would receive some more followers. Win/Win for all.

4) Pictures of the Menu

Because Instagram is constantly being used and browsed every hour of the day, the restaurant followers should have the capability of seeing the meals that are on the menus. It would behoove restaurants to use this opportunity to market their best dishes regularly.

5) Action shots of Employees

By taking photos of your staff using the product or the menu items, it would give followers an interesting perspective of what goes on behind the meal. It could be a chef, hostess, waiter, whatever. But these photos will show that your business values its employees and that they enjoy what they do and that customer service is important to your restaurant.

Don’t Be Scared To Share: The benefits of using social media as a small business owner

According to research done by the Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, Americans spend an average of 3.2 hours a day on Social Media. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, the statistics can’t be ignored. Americans, as a whole, like to spend large amounts of time scrolling through news feeds. Interact with your community through social media: Social outlets don’t appear to be going away any time soon, and they offer small and local businesses an opportunity to interact with customers, get vital feedback, and expand their audience cost-effectively. Unlike larger chains, as a small business owner your store is unique; it’s a little piece of you. Local businesses have the opportunity to cultivate deep relationships with their customers, and with social media that interaction can extend past the time the customer is physically in your business. People have been infatuated by the personal attention and customer relationships they’re able to create with small businesses for years. Social media provides businesses with a new opportunity for the owner-customer relationship to grow even deeper.

How to use social media to your benefit: Social media offers a myriad of opportunities for small businessesFrom general branding purposes to sharing coupons and offers that encourage repeat purchases, social media also provides a platform for customers to promote your business to their extended personal networks. Meaning once you’ve cultivated your specific identity, social media gives you the platform to show it off to a broader audience. Running your own business is no easy task. However, clearly you’re passionate enough about your industry to take on the challenge each and every day. Social media is simply another opportunity to let that passion shine.

Here are a few tips to help with your social media goals:

Use pictures to get more views: Hubspot suggests you share photos, because articles with images get 94% more total views than articles with out images. The post could be about a sale, a store renovation, or even just a friendly hello. Either way, when posting, remember posts with images drive more traffic through the door.

Engage quickly with your “friends”, “followers”, etc: When someone reaches out to you on social media, treat it as if someone were walking in your door. Having an active social media account allows your relationship with your customers to blossom and will keep them coming back again and again. Responding quickly to negative comments can save a customer relationship and demonstrate to future customers that you’re listening and care about customer satisfaction. This can be seen in a recent study published by Texas Tech, which shows that brands that engage in social media see a higher rate of customer loyalty than brands that do not.

Schedule Your Posts: As a small business owner, your wear many hats and adding social media to the pile can be daunting. Instead of trying to remember to post everyday, try scheduling your posts for the entire week or setting alerts to remind yourself it’s time to post. You can post about new shipments, holidays, or any exciting events that may be coming up for your business or industry.

SinglePlatform makes it easy to share with your social networks with our announcements tool. Learn more about all our features here!

Using Social Media to Attract New Customers

As the digital world is becoming increasingly populated with consumers searching for the next best product or service to enhance their daily lives, it is crucial that your business is a step ahead, ready to provide these potential customers with your product when they need it, and where they’re searching for it.

How social media marketing can benefit your business

Let’s put the digital world into perspective: three billion people have Internet access worldwide. In the United States, 86.75% of the total population has Internet access.

Of the 86.75% of Americans with access to the web, 74% of them are using social media sites, and 45% of these users are checking their accounts multiple times a day, according to Pew Research Center.

What these statistics mean for your business

Taking into account these staggering statistics, it is clear to see that your business could be at a huge disadvantage if you are not promoting it across the various social media platforms that consumers are using everyday.

According to a recent article on Business2Community, 63% of consumers who search for products and services online are more likely to use businesses that have their information on social media sites than those who don’t. Simply providing information about the products and services you offer on different social media sites allows your business the ability to satisfy new customers, as well as to keep them coming back.

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Not only does putting information about your business on social media sites entice new customers to try your product or service, it also tends to create loyal customers that can potentially serve as ambassadors for your product in the future. In a recent report by HubSpot, it was reported that 69% or more of the businesses that used social media to attract new customers also found the sites useful in establishing and maintaining a loyal customer base.

Social media that is best for your business

With so many different social media platforms at your disposal, it may be hard to distinguish which ones will be the most successful for your business.

With Facebook announcing that the site has 1.35 billion active users in 2014, and 91% of consumers in the U.S using Facebook to search for local businesses, this social media site is a quick and easy way to begin promoting your business online.

Not only does Facebook increase traffic to your business’ website and support greater awareness of your product, Twitter also plays a huge role in educating consumers about your brand.

In 2015, the average Twitter user followed five or more businesses, and 37% of those users will buy from one of the businesses they follow.

By interacting with potential customers on Twitter and regularly posting updated, relevant information about your brand, you’re not only enabling new customers to find your business, but also increasing the likelihood that these new customers will choose to purchase from you.

Social media: the unpaid employee

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For starters, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are completely cost-free; all they require is your time. According to HubSpot, 95% of business owners who use social media at least 6 hours per week indicated their social media efforts increased exposure for their businesses. Dedicating a few hours a week to update information, post about deals or sales going on, and announce special events happening at your business on social media platforms can ultimately result in increased sales and a continuously growing customer base.

Jumping on the social media bandwagon sooner, rather than later, may also result in greater success for your business. The more you interact with consumers on social media sites, the more likely it is that your business will show up higher in the search results when a customer completes a search query for products or services similar to yours. This is especially important, as many analysts have predicted a 600% increase of information available on the Internet by the year 2020.

By actively engaging with social media sites now, your business will be protected from being lost in a sea of information, ultimately preventing you from losing new customers.

Success and growth potential with social media

As today’s world operates in a digital sphere, getting your business out there on all social media platforms is crucial to the overall success and growth of your business. To find out how SinglePlatform can help you manage your online presence across the web, contact us here.

Social Media Analytics for Small Business

Once you’ve got your social media program up and running and you’re posting content on a regular basis, you may think you’ve got all of the pieces of the social media puzzle in place. Close, but not quite. The last key piece of your social media program is analytics—data you can use to improve what content you post on which channel and when. Each social media platform provides a different set of analytics, and third party social media management programs often provide their own analytics as well. Here are a few basic metrics that you can use to gauge your effectiveness on every social channel.

Followers

If you’re making it easy for people to follow you on social and posting great content, you should see a continual increase in followers on each of your social accounts over time. If you see a decrease in followers, you may want to rethink your content strategy, as people don’t generally unfollow an account unless they’re annoyed or offended by its content.

Likes

While likes go by different names on different social networks, they all mean the same thing: A follower enjoyed the piece of content you posted. For posts that have an especially high number of likes, make sure to look at when the post went live (day of the week and time of day) and what the content was so you can try to post other content that will be similarly engaging.

Comments

Comments can be an indicator of both positive and negative engagement: Usually people only take the time to comment on something they’re really excited about or really upset about. Some followers may also pose questions to you in comments. This makes it important not only to monitor the number of comments you receive, but also what kind of comments they are and what type of posts generate the most comments.

Shares

Shares are an even better indicator of engagement than likes or comments because they require a user to take an additional action. Shares impact the number of overall impressions a post receives, so the more shares you get, the greater your reach will be.

Clicks

If you’re posting links on your social channels, most platforms will provide a count of how many people clicked on them. If you use a URL shortener such as bit.ly to shorten your links, they’ll also provide analytics for you. Lastly, if you’re linking back to your blog or website, you’ll be able to see which visits came from your social media channels using Google Analytics or other website analytics programs you have in place.

Impressions

Impressions are equivalent to the number of eyes that land on your posts. The more your followers share your content, the more impressions you’ll receive. You can also boost your impressions by experimenting with posting times to see when on average you get the most views.

The Bottom Line

There’s a lot of valuable data available about your social media channels, but you have to actually do something with that data to make it count. By looking at a few key metrics, you can continue to optimize your efforts on social media nd make sure that the effort you’re investing in social pays off for your business.

How to Create Great Social Media Content for Your Small Business

Now that you’re done with all of the hard work of planning your programsetting up your profiles, and building your follower base, you’re ready to get started on the fun part of social media marketing: content!
Most businesses adhere to the 80/20 rule: 80% of the content you post on social should be informational or entertaining, and 20% of content should relate to business promotions, events, and updates. This strategy makes sense: If you share valuable content, your followers will be more willing to engage with your business-related posts than if you only sell, sell, sell to them on a regular basis.

The 20% of business-related content will come easy-but what about the rest? How do you create great social media posts that will engage your followers? The answer depends on a variety of factors. Here are a few to consider as you develop your content plan:

Start with Your Audience

What questions do your customers ask about your industry? What problems do they have that you can help solve? What topics of interest do you share in common with them? Thinking about your audience and what will engage them is the best way to come up with relevant content.

Consider Your Messaging

How can you present information to your audience in a way that’s compelling, appropriate, and reinforces your small business’s vision or mission? The way you convey information is just as important as the content you share. For example, if your small business provides financial services, your messaging will be very different than a small business who sells children’s clothing.

Capitalize on Your Blog Content

If you’re already writing articles for your small business’s blog, social media is a great way to promote that content and drive traffic back to your site.

Make the Most of Timely News Stories

People get excited about trending topics, whether they’re local news or national headlines. When it makes sense, feel free to share news articles with your followers and use them to start a conversation.

Share Articles from Relevant Sites and Blogs

Read an article for education? Watch an entertaining video? The content you find valuable will often be of value to your audience as well. If you’re a hair stylist who finds a great how-to article on a fancy up-do, share it! If you’re a restaurateur who reads an interesting piece on dining trends in the local area, share it! While your patrons may not work in your industry, that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in learning more about it.

Bring Your Business to Life with Photos and Videos

Reality shows are evidence that people love behind-the-scenes glimpses into other peoples’ lives. So why not share the inner workings of your business’s life? Photos and videos that give followers a better sense of your staff, your process, and your inspirations are great content to share—especially Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and other visually-oriented social channels.

Showcase Customer Quotes and Accolades

Social networks are the new forum for word-of-mouth recommendations. If you’re getting great customer feedback via email, online review sites, or in person, you can highlight these comments on social media (if your customers aren’t sharing their feedback there already). You can also brag about awards and accolades you receive from other organizations; tagging those organizations in your posts gives you the opportunity to be reshared as well, which can get your business even more exposure.

The Bottom Line

The possibilities for social media content are endless. Just make sure to keep your audience in mind as you create and curate posts, and you’ll see your engagement metrics improve in no time!