Did you know? Instagram is testing a feature that will allow users to follow hashtags just like they do specific accounts and friends. Users can search industry-related hashtags and follow them to see related top posts and recent stories. There are a lot of reasons why I am particularly excited about this new feature that Instagram is testing. Now I know that these social apps are busting out updates left and right, but this new feature could save a lot of marketers a headache in the future and here’s why.
Using Instagram is more than just posting photos via the mobile app and adding cool filters. If you wish to build your brand’s digital presence using the social media platform, you better be thinking strategically. Follow these tips to ensure you have a successful Instagram marketing strategy.
1. Find A Clear Goal
What are you looking for by starting an Instagram account? Are you wanting to increase brand awareness? Increase your sales? Or are you looking to explore connecting with a new demographic that you haven’t already reached with other digital media platforms? By first addressing what you wish to accomplish, you can better hone in on exactly what to post and your voice will be better heard.
2. Be Consistent
Many brands fall into the trap of not regularly posting. As an Instagram user this is definitely a red-flag to unfollow. Most users are looking to follow accounts who post at least two times a day with relevant and engaging content. Don’t fall victim to the inconsistent posting patterns that a lot of brands do.
Balance is key to creating an Instagram campaign that is engaging and also informational. People who use Instagram are interested in viewing photos that are aesthetically pleasing and shareable. All too often I see brands solely promoting their products rather than trying to tell a story.Instagram is meant to be a more informal social platform where it’s okay to be personable,human, and even funny. Your profile should include a well-represented mix of fun and business related content. Try these examples:
- Create how-to videos of certain products you sell
- Spotlight employees
- Repost fans photos using a Repost app
- Find creative ways to display your products on Instagram
- Participate in iconic hashtag says throughout the week: #ManCrushMonday, #WomenCrushWednesday, #ThrowbackThrusday and #SelfieSunday
4. Branded Hashtag
A branded hashtag is perfect for giving your brand a presence on Instagram. Although it might take some time before your hashtag takes off, don’t ;et this stop you from creating one. Once your account gains more popularity, a branded hashtag will help you connect and engage with followers.
In the end, Instagram isn’t a tool to drive traffic to your website. It’s really hard to do. In fact, Instgram only allows one hyperlinked address and that’s on the profile page of an account. Rather, brands should use it to build an audience using interesting, fun, and entertaining images than are worth sharing.
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The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are only days away and they have been causing a lot of buzz in the social media world. We now know which twitter accounts to follow to stay informed and entertained during the games, how dogecoins paid for the Jamaican Olympic bobsled team to participate in the games and how gay rights activists see insult and opportunity there.
The Olympic games have been tied to anti-gay laws in Russia. Over the last two weeks, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and other big advertisers are having to fend off gay rights activists who have stolen their Olympic promotions on social media, specifically on Twitter using hashtags. “Hashtag hijacking” is taking over a hashtag that a company is promoting and using it in ways that the original tweeter did not intend for it to be used. Hijacked hashtags often remain quiet, but there are cases in which a hashtag takes on a life of its own and spreads like wildfire.
The most recent case of hashtag hijacking involved McDonald’s on January 21 when the company introduced the hashtag, #CheersToSochi. The tweet read:
— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) January 21, 2014
Activists who have been protesting a federal law in Russia against “homosexual propaganda” started using the hashtag for their own purposes.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) January 21, 2014
— Mike Signorile (@MSignorile) January 21, 2014
Brands usually spend millions to promote their hashtags through various channels. The most successful implementations however, are from companies that have made sure to cover all their bases before taking the leap. Here are a few tips to help avoid the worst case scenario, and to keep your hashtag campaign on the right track.
1. Consider What Could Go Wrong
Don’t assume your campaign will bring out the best in humanity. Take some time to consider every single way the hashtag could be twisted into something inappropriate, critical or even damaging. It was probably not apparent to McDonalds that their hashtag would be taken over by LGBT protesters or that the hashtag could be used as sarcasm.
2. Stay Away from Controversial Topics
Politics and hashtags aren’t typically known for functioning peacefully alongside each other, yet they’re still being utilized on a somewhat frequent basis to encourage the public to voice its opinion. It’s best to stay away from those topics.
3. Be Realistic
Sometimes the general public sees a brand differently than the brand sees itself. It’s normal to have an optimistic point of view about your business, but this does not mean everyone shares the same feelings. Companies with an unstable reputation should tread lightly when using a hashtag campaign.
4. Avoid Asking Open Ended Questions
Open-ended questions leave room for contortion and misappropriation. If you eliminate this ambiguity in your campaign, the chance of your hashtag being hijacked drops dramatically.
Asking yourself if the potential ROI outweighs the risk can also help you decide if a hashtag campaign is right for your brand. What is the ultimate goal of the campaign, and is there a safer or more relevant alternative? Want to discuss other classic hashtag hijacks or have tips on how to avoid them? Let me know in the comments section below.
So I was thinking about Batman the other day. And let’s be honest—I think about Batman a lot. For both of you who don’t know about Batman, he’s pretty much a social institution at this point. Batman is a DC Comics superhero who dresses like a bat and fights crime. But he’s more than a comic book, cartoon or movie. To me, the Dark Knight is on par with Citizen Kane or Captain Ahab. He’s a literary blockbuster that children should (and probably will) be studying in school. But as social media managers, we should realize how Batman is just like us.
Wait, What? That’s right, Batman is a perfect inspiration for our brand of marketing. If you want to be at the top of your game on social media, you need to be studying the habits of the Dark Knight. Otherwise, you’re going to look like a joker.
Always on the Job. Batman doesn’t take vacations. He doesn’t take weekends off. Hell, the guy only sleeps about four hours, and usually during the day. Batman is always on the job. As social media professionals, we may take some time off now and then, but we understand still being on the job at 3 AM. Like crime, social media doesn’t sleep, so we can’t either.
Ever-Vigilant. Batman doesn’t really have a secret identity—he has an alter ego known as Bruce Wayne. But the minute Bane or The Joker attacks Gotham, Bruce Wayne leaves the fancy cocktail party and Batman gets to business. The Caped Crusader is always checking for local crime and corruption, even while he’s hosting a charity event or doing push-ups. Social media marketers can understand that—we’re always checking our high-tech gadgets for the latest scoop. Maybe we don’t have an art deco super-computer that scans for crime, but we do have the smartphone charged and ready for the next trending topic or flashy hashtag. Like Batman, we’re always watching.
Iron Will. The Dark Knight is the sort of guy who would spend a slow Saturday night doing sit-ups until he passed out, or seeing how long he can go without sleep in between patrols. You can’t interrogate Batman because he doesn’t respond to intimidation or torture. Nothing short of death will stop him from his war on crime. Perhaps we aren’t immune to pain, but the truth is our jobs aren’t easy. The hours are long and the skills required are varied. In essence, we have to “wear a lot of different masks.” If you want to be a leader in social media marketing, you need a strong will.
And the Lights Fade. One of Batman’s greatest attributes is that he’s unwilling to compromise his ideals. He won’t stop fighting, and he won’t give in to chaos. Social media professionals can take some inspiration from that, because let’s face it: We all need a safe haven from chaos in this field.
Twitter is a great tool for brands’ to use to engage potential customers, but are you using this social media platform to its fullest? Twitter optimization is critical to ensure your tweets are relevant for your audience. Get the word out to a wider audience and make sure that you’re tweets are being seen using some of these quick tips to improve your social media marketing. It’s one thing to use social media, but it’s another thing to do it the right way. What other tips do you have for using Twitter for business?