Instagram Analytics: Using Iconosquare to Track Performance

So you’ve created your Instagram account and populated it with incredible visual content. Now what? Like any other social media platform, in order track your growth and determine a return on your efforts, it is necessary to monitor and understand the analytics on your Instagram account.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram doesn’t provide its own analytics through the app. Iconosquare, formerly known as Statigram, is a trusty Instagram analytics platform that I have been using for the past couple years. The tool is easy to use and provides you with all the useful reports you need to manage a successful Instagram account. Here is a brief overview of how to use Iconosqaure analytics for your Instagram campaigns.

Getting Started

To get started on Iconosqure, simply visit iconosquare.com, log in with your Instagram credentials and authorize your account. Once your account is authorized, Iconosqure will sync with your Instagram data in a matter of minutes. From there, Iconosqaure will give you an updated summary and you are ready to start analyzing your Instagram performance.

Iconosquare Instagram Analytics Platform - Getting Started

Statistics Tab

Here on the Statistics tab you are able to view an overview summary of your Instagram account. This summary of your Instagram analytics includes: a grand total of likes and comments received, your number of followers, people you are following, new followers, lost followers and the total growth within the last seven days.

Iconosquare Instagram Analytics - Statistics Tab

 

A neat feature of the Iconosquare summary page is the Scores section. Here you can see your Love, Talk and Spread Rate — or in other words, your engagement rates. In the Scores section, the percentage on your last photo is the larger number and your average rate is the number below in each box.

  • The Love Rate is a calculation of your follower engagement and how many people like your content.
  • Talk Rate is the average engagement in terms of comments on your photos.
  • And Spread Rate computes your likes received from people outside of your followers.

Iconosquare Instagram Analytics Platform - Scortes and Love Rate

These engagement rates are very similar to what you would see on Facebook Insights. The Scores section is great for gauging your engagement on Instagram.

Content Section

The Content section on Iconosquare is jam-packed with data analysis of all of your content ever posted on Instagram. It breaks down the density of posts according to each day of the week, the times you post the most, filters used most and ones never used, your hashtag usage and a percentage of time you use the geo-location feature on content. I like to use the Content section for looking at the filters I never use and then trying to incorporate them into my photos. I also like to see the filter I always use and try to give that one a break for a while.

Iconosquare Instagram Analytics Platform - Density

Engagement Section

In the engagement section, you will find a break down of your most liked media and most commented media. Iconosquare also provides a graph for each to show your likes and comments growth history.

Iconosquare Instagram Analytics Platform - Engagement

Optimization Section

The Optimization page is probably one of my favorite sections. Here, Iconosquare helps you optimize your account in accordance to your Instagram community. They provide you with hints on the best time to post in order to increase engagement, the impact your filters have when it comes to acquiring likes and comments, the impact of tags, and the average media lifespan. Using this page is extremely important. Since Instagram has only offered paid advertising to certain brands at this stage, all engagement is organic only. The Optimization section will help you capture and capitalize on the habits of your Instagram community in order to maximize engagement.

icono (6Iconosquare Instagram Analytics Platform - Times to Post

Community Section

Last but not least is the Community section, where you can find more information about thek typology of your followers, your account growth and accounts you like the most according to likes given.

As you can see Iconosquare is a goldmine for all types of Instagram analytics data. For anyone running an Instagram account or campaign, I recommend using this tool for brand community management and performance optimization on Instagram. Not only is Iconosquare easy to use, but it is also free (for now)! Take advantage of this opportunity and sign in with your Instagram account today.

No Time Like the Right Time: A Guide to Social Media Posting

If your social media campaign goals involve wanting your organic posts to be seen by the largest possible audience, then timing is everything. So what are the dead zones and prime times for posting to social media profiles?

Social Posting Times StrataBlue

Below is a general guide to the best social media posting times for optimum reach, along with dead zones to avoid when getting your content out through various social media platforms. Note: This information applies to the time of day for your audience, assuming the majority of your audience is in the same timezone as you.

Facebook

Prime Times: 6 to 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., 3 to 9 p.m.

Dead Zone: 10 p.m.-4 a.m.

Note:

  • Here you are sure to catch the early birds, lunchtime crowds and the night owls.
  • The worst time to post is on weekends before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

Twitter

Prime Times: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Dead Zones:  8 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Note:

  • Avoid posting after 4 p.m. on Friday—many people have already checked out for the weekend.
  • Interestingly, according to Dan Zarrella’s research, Twitter engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends. So while you may not receive a lot of engagement on a Friday night, be sure to schedule posts to go out on Saturday and Sunday to see how your audience responds.

Pinterest

Prime Times: 2 to 4 p.m., 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Dead Zones:  1 a.m. to 7 a.m., 5 to 7 p.m.

Note:

  • Peak time is Saturday mornings.
  • Weekends are the best days to post.

LinkedIn

Prime Times: 7 to 9 a.m., 5-6 p.m.

Dead Zones: 10 p.m. to  6 a.m.

Note:

  • Keep in mind LinkedIn is a professional network, so it is acceptable for your audience to be active on the network during business hours.
  • Best days include: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Instagram

Prime Times: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Dead Zones:  6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Note:

  • Sunday is the best day to post.

Google+

Prime Time: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Dead Zones: 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Note:

  • Unlike other platforms, avoid posting in the evening.
  • The peak time is during work hours.

Keep in Mind

When it comes down to it, knowing when your brands’ fans and followers are most active on social media is key. You can learn what these times are through Facebook Insights or most social media analytics programs. You can also get a feel for what is the best time to post for your brand depending on when you get the most engagement on posts. When narrowing down your optimal times for posting, also keep in mind the demographics of your audience.

As a last piece of advice, think of what your audiences’ “downtimes” are and play off of that. Get their attention in the morning on their way to work and while they are checking their emails. Catch them during lunch time, and of course, anything after rush hour is fair game.

What times have you found work best for your social media accounts? What advice do you have for posting times? Leave your comments below!

5 Tips on How to Market Your Business on Instagram

Instagram has certainly made significant strides within the past year, but the most common question people have is do I really need an Instagram account for my business?… And what the heck do I even post?

Instagram is a unique way to connect and engage with your audience using visual images. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is a more visual experience for users. Here below, I have complied a list of five tips if you’re looking to market your business on Instagram.

  1. Connect your Instagram account with your other social media platforms.

When first setting up your Instagram account—or if you already have one—be sure to connect your account to your other social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and Flickr. By connecting to your other accounts, you can post simultaneously to all platforms and therefore syndicate your visual content.

Connecting your social accounts to cross-promote your content is also a great way to gain more followers across all social media platforms. If someone follows you on Facebook and sees you are also on Instagram, they will most likely connect immediately.

  1. Use Hashtags

The hashtag feature on Instagram is very similar to the Twitter hashtag. I recommend almost every post include a hashtag, especially when you are new to Instagram. Just like on Twitter, when clicking on a hashtag you are able to explore similar posts. This is a great way for your brand to get noticed.

When using the Instagram hashtag, it is important to understand the popular, daily hashtags:

  • Monday: #MCM (Man Crush Monday)
  • Tuesday: #TransformationTuesday
  • Wednesday: #WCW (Women Crush Wednesday)
  • Thursday: #tbt (Throwback Thursday)
  • Friday: #FlashblackFriday
  • Saturday: Hashtags have the day off
  • Sunday: #SelfieSunday

These hashtags may or may not be appropriate for your brand, but using them in a playful way is great for engaging and gaining followers.

If you are feeling really brave, I recommend you create your very own hashtag. A great example of this is an Arkansas boutique, Riffraff. They’ve done an excellent job of engaging their customers on Instagram by establishing the hashtag #riffrafflove. When purchasing from their store they encourage you to use #riffrafflove on an Instagram post with you wearing their product. With the hashtag they are able to connect with customers. Just look—there are 8,565 posts using their homemade hashtag!

photo 1photo 2

 

For simpler hashtag recommendations, stick with three things: location (#Indy), product (#cupcakes), or industry (#bakery).

  1. Engage, Engage, Engage

Instagram is the most informal social media platform out there. Followers are looking to your account to tell your story. One of the best lessons I learned in my college sales internship is, “People love to buy, but they hate to be sold.” Instagram isn’t the place to post your latest ad, but rather post that “ad” in a unique, visually pleasing way.

  • Encourage your followers to post their own photos using your hashtag
  • Follow your followers
  • Like followers’ photos
  • Comment on followers’ photos
  • Ask questions
  • Run Instagram contests
  • Be sure to give call to action!

 

  1. Be creative with your content.

As I’ve already mentioned, Instagram is extremely informal—so your content should be also. Determine how you would like your brand represented and run with it. Here are a few content ideas:

  • Include behind-the-scenes images
  • Showcase employees
  • Play into the fun National Holidays
  • Show off your product in creative ways
  • Celebrate milestones
  • Use the video feature

Another one of my favorite brands to follow on Instagram is Jars by Dani. She sells homemade jars with all different kinds of cake flavors. What I enjoy most about dani_beckerman is how she creatively highlights her jars in posts. She makes her product visually pleasing, and her images can make anyone’s mouth water!

photo 3photo 4

 

Here are a few additional content tips:

  • Be sure your posts are creative, playful, and not mundane.
  • Don’t get caught up in using the same filters, shake things up every now and then to spark interest.
  • Your content should inspire customers and potential customers.
  1. Master the Caption

Being able to post awesome pictures is one thing, but being able to master your caption will take your post to the next level. Clever captions that make your followers look at your posts longer are essential to creating a successful Instagram campaign.

 

Is your brand is directed toward millennials? Then you better have an Instagram account. Figuring out what works for your business on Instagram may take time, but once you create your persona and get the hang of posting you can become an Instagram master in no time. However, if you don’t feel you have the time to dedicate to creating a successful Instagram profile, I recommend reaching out to a digital marketing firm to take care of your needs.

How Ben and Jerry’s Increased Brand Awareness by 17%

Love them or hate them (and by the look of it, people hate them) Instagram ads are here to stay. As of now, the ads are only available to a select group of advertisers and Instagram has yet to reveal any pricing structure. That being said, these few ads have been looking very favorable from the companies.

Levi’s had a nine-day campaign which it was specifically targeting to 18-34 year olds. In that time frame, they were able to reach 7.4 million users. As of today, the ad has over 93,000 likes and almost 2,000 comments. The photo Levi posted before the ad had a total of 2,748 likes and 14 comments, and the photo posted after had only 3148 likes and 15 comments.

levi

“Not only were we able to reach a larger audience with our ads on Instagram, but the metrics clearly show we engaged with them in a memorable and authentic way. We’re pleased with these results.”  –Julie Channing, Director of Digital, Levis

In another instance, the popular ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s promoted four different ads. The first one was an ice cream cone right under a cloud, making it look like ice cream. This ad received 386,546 likes and over 5,700 comments. The next three ads they posted had an average of just over 290,000 likes before dropping back down to the 25-30,000 range. The photo they posted right before the ads had only 20,000 and 324 comments.

One of the ads had the benefit of being associated with the extremely popular viral campaign for the movie “Anchorman 2.” For the movie tie-in, they introduced their new flavor “Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch.” Their ad received over 250,000 likes and over 6,000 comments while reaching 9.8 million people. Because of the sponsored ad, 17% more people became aware of the new flavor.

4photos

“Since its launch, Instagram has provided us with an amazing platform to connect with our fans and tell our story visually. Ads on Instagram let us reach and engage with more fans about our flavors, fun and values.”  –Mike Hayes, Digital Marketing Manager, Ben and Jerry’s

One of the reasons these companies achieved success is because ads on Instagram are a novelty as of now. But it’s not all roses and sunshine when it comes to these ads appearing on a person’s timeline. There is a lot of hatred and with most cases regarding social media, people are not afraid to express how they really feel.

With the success of the ads from these companies you can be sure Instagram ads are here to stay. What are your opinions on these ads? Do they bother you or do you even notice them right away?

 

What’s in Store for Social Media in 2014

Does your brand have New Year’s resolutions for 2014? Do you know what will be trending next year? Here are a few marketing trends you can expect in 2014:

  • A budget for social media will be a must these days. Yes, it is free to create and manage social media accounts but with a lot of these social media companies going public, they will need to start making money to keep their shareholders happy. Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Management Association recently did a study and found that in August 2013, social marketing spending accounted for an average of about 6.6% of marketer budgets.In 2014, that share is expected to rise to 9.1%, and in the next five years, marketers expected social to account for 15.8% of spending.
  • Start paying closer attention to your analytics. Check what’s trending each day and engage in conversations about topics that are relevant to your company. Be cautious on straying too far from trending topics that have little to do with what your company represents. Engagement should be natural and commenting on a random topic will come off as forced or a publicity stunt.
  • Content marketing is critical. Google’s new search algorithm, Hummingbird, uses “conversational search” which brings up better results based on the way we speak. Simply put, you will need to have quality content that is published frequently. The steady rise of platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ will make pictures matter more than text. Your content is much more valuable when it is shared and according to Kissmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than posts that only have text.
  • While photos are easily the most shared content, micro video is becoming very dominant in visual storytelling. With Vine only allowing 6 seconds of video and Instagram allowing 15, it will take some creativity to correctly get your message across. But with Instagram being owned by Facebook and Vine owned by Twitter, these marketing tools will only increase in popularity.
  • User-generated content is a great way to get your fans to be a part of your company. One example of this is having your customersupload photos to Instagram with a relevant hashtag so that other people can see them using your product. Having your fans take an active role in your marketing is a cost-effective strategy.

2014 will surely be a visual year for social media marketing. What other trends are you predicting?  Feel free to leave me a comment or connect with me on Twitter.

Using Instagram Direct For Your Brand

We watched as Instagram single-handedly made the Vine app obsolete a few months ago; did the social platform just push Snapchat out of the way, too?

Unveiled on Thursday, Instagram Direct is the photo-sharing network’s answer to direct messaging. The Instagram community now has over 150 million members using it as a means of visual communication. Instead of posting a photo or video to your Instagram Feed, you can pick out specific people to receive your post. Simply select the names of the people you want to see your photo or video, type in a caption and hit send. You’ll be able to see who has viewed your message, who has liked it and view comments in real time.

So how can you use Instagram Direct for your business? 

Gap was the first brand to take advantage of this new marketing tool by messaging the first 15 commenters on an Instagram post with a limited edition Gap product. As we have discussed previously in our blog, people follow brands on social media for a number of reasons, including offers/discounts, insider information, entertaining content, brand/product news, practical help, product information and to give feedback. So let’s use those facts to utilize Instagram Direct:

  • Ask for feedback on a product or service that you post as a picture on Instagram. The first 10 people to comment on it will get an Instagram Direct message with an exclusive discount code for the product or service that they commented on.
  • Let your brand ambassadors get inside information before you announce it to the world. You can use Instagram Direct to message a sneak peek of a product or an event teaser to your loyal fans. This lets your brand ambassadors know that you appreciate them and are willing to reward them for sticking by you!
  • Instagram Direct can be utilized as a visual customer service platform. If customers have a question about your product, you can respond to them with a personalized how-to video. Your customers will know that you care and appreciate that you are using social media to connect with them. Remember, it’s all about being social!
  • Host a scavenger hunt. Send a direct message to users who guess the correct answer to a clue with their next clue. Every time a user guesses the answer, you send them their next clue. Continue until all clues have been solved and the user wins a prize at the final destination.

Has your brand used Instagram Direct to communicate with customers? How did it go? Let us know in the comments section!

 

Putting Your Business in Front of the Camera

Your business has a Facebook page and Twitter account, but does it have an Instagram account? You might be asking yourself, “Why do I need an Instagram account too?”

If you have read my previous blog about the power of video, then you will know the future in social media marketing lies in video and pictures. A study done by Brainshark shows that video equals higher viewer retention; the information retained in one minute of online video is equal to about 1.8 million written words.

If you think video isn’t the future of marketing, ask yourself, “Why would one of the most popular apps decide to add it to their repertoire?”  According to a study done by Eloqua, about 46% of people say they’d be more likely to seek out information about a product or service after seeing it in an online video. Don’t get overwhelmed, you don’t need to post videos all day long. Rather think of this as a creative marketing tool for your company’s social media presence.

Getting started is quite easy; all you have to do is download the Instagram app, switch over to video and start recording! Here’s the most important part: to record you have to hold down the button the whole time. Releasing the button will stop the recording, which is how you edit video to add different angles to the video. The best way to figure this out is by recording a few test videos. The great thing about using this video tool is that the maximum time you can record is 15 seconds. You might think that’s a short time but stop what you’re doing right now and count to 15. 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississppi…you will see how much time you have to work with.

Some great examples of how to take full advantage of this service are:

  1. How-to videos are great! Whether you are demonstrating how to tie a tie or fix a flat tire, these types of videos tend to get lots of views. Use the #HowTo hashtag to gain even more exposure.
  2. Give your viewers a  behind-the-scenes video of your business that shows people the inner workings of how you work. Ben and Jerry’s did a really good job at this.
  3. Have some fun and make a stop-motion video.
  4. Involve your fans! Create a unique hashtag and have your fans make their own Instagram videos. Fans can submit their own videos using your unique hashtag for a contest.
  5. Promote an event. Are you having a sale or hosting an event? Give sneak previews of what is in store, which also serve as free advertising for your event.
  6. Customer testimonials. Get some of your customers in front of the camera and have them tell the world what they love about your business. It’s nice to see real people using your services or products, and you can even tag them on Instagram to gain the trust of your viewers.

The possibilities of your videos go as far as your creativity can go. If you need some inspiration, go to the Explore tab and look at some videos. Are you already using Instagram video for your business? Connect with me on Instagram and show me some of your creative videos.

Paid Promotion & Social Media Strategy

If you know a musician, say the phrase “pay to play” to them. I guarantee they will groan, complain or roll their eyes. Pay to play means that an artist is paying the club or venue to perform, and the performer will (hopefully) earn their money back if enough fans come to see them. Of course, if no one shows up…

Last week, Instagram dropped the news that users will be seeing “an occasional ad” in their feeds. Their CEO has promised that these videos will be tasteful and light, and that they’ll only be coming from brands that have a lasting relationship with Instagram. It has been pointed out that Instagram’s video capabilities will offer advertisers commercials on 150 million screens—whether those viewers want them or not.

In a similar blog statement, Foursquare has opened up a self-service advertising platform for smaller businesses. This just seems to be the newest platform for Foursquare to try to jump into the pay to play market. Foursquare’s pitch is that small business owners will be able to tell if a customer “actually walks into their store” with simple analytics. I’m not sure how simple this approach will be, though.

Is the world of social media going to a paid promotion format? It’s no secret that promoting Facebook ads with cash helps. It gets your brand in front of more people, and even targets different demographics. It works. So, logically promoting your business with Foursquare or even Instagram (eventually) will help as well, right?

Paid Promotion is a tool. It’s just like scheduled Facebook posts and Google Analytics. Clients will come to you, frantically waving their smartphones and asking why you aren’t promoting their Foursquare presence. Keep it cool; you really need to do your homework before jumping right into pay to play. Ask yourself some questions.

  • What do I know about this? Have you researched paid promotion in the past? Have you dug into how it will help that particular brand? If not, you shouldn’t start spending money yet.
  • What am I trying to achieve with this? Paid promotions are great for getting your name in front of a lot of people. However, it won’t help you engage with your current fan-base. If you’re trying to get more engagement, consider another option.
  • How much should I pay for this? Facebook allows you to boost your posts at a variety of levels with different dollar commitments. These different levels are very important based on your fan following and size.

Make sure you also know if your client is even ready for paid ads. Are they, quite frankly, punching at that level? Theoretically, a boosted Facebook post or two could help a business at the beginning of their social media life. But once the initial flash is over, it’s time to get down to the real work of engaging with your new found followers. That means interesting, appropriate content aimed at the right people. Content marketing is heavily discussed and analyzed for a reason.

So what does this all mean?

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom wants to see his app “on every platform, on every kind of phone and tablet and wearable…” I don’t know if all the marketing content on there will be paid for or organically created. In a world where you can see ads through your watch, it will be quite important that those ads are engaging and well-crafted either way.

Selfie: Branding on Instagram

I’ll be honest. There are plenty of articles on Instagram out there. If you’re curious about how many times you can take a picture of your dog before someone wants to throttle you, you’re set. Google it and you’ll have the basics of Instagram etiquette. The problem is that no one explains how a business should behave on Instagram. And trust me, your business needs to be on Instagram.

What is Instagram?

Let’s back up a minute. Instagram is a social media tool. It’s a free app you can use on Android and iPhone platforms at the moment. Unlike other social media, it’s less about words and more about pictures. People typically post snapshots of their lives and share them with friends and followers. Others can like those pictures and leave comments on them. If you’re familiar with Twitter (using hashtags and following interesting people), you’ll be comfortable with Instagram.

How is it good for business?

So what does this have to do with your business? Well, you should already have a general understanding of the benefits of Instagram, but let’s review. Instagram has more than 15 million active users on it right now. Those users aren’t just looking at each other’s cat pictures; they’re researching. Does a trip to Paris actually look fun? How does that water filter look in a real house? Is the food at the local Greek restaurant appetizing? With the world at their fingertips, consumers are doing a lot more research at this point. So, you need to wow them before they even get near your store. And more importantly, you need to let them see your branding quickly and easily.

Step One: Have a theme

Before you start converting those followers into customers, you need to know the basic protocol here. When you start an Instagram account, try your best to tie it into your other social media. If you’re Bob’s Jerky Shack on Facebook, then you are BobsJerkyShack on Instagram. Don’t make people hunt for you. Since you’re Bob’s Jerky Shop, you should probably focus your Instagram theme on jerky. Get a picture of your shop and use it for your profile picture. Follow people who are also in the jerky business. When someone visits your Instagram profile, they shouldn’t be confused by a lot of dog pictures.

Step Two: Picture do’s and don’ts

Speaking of dog pictures, don’t do that. Unless you have dog as a store mascot, keep your greyhound out of your pictures. This is about your business—you can get a personal account. Also, avoid using stock photos or screen caps. People don’t want to see a picture off of the website, they can get that on any other social media. Even worse, do not “borrow” (i.e. steal) other people’s pictures. It is the height of bad taste.

What should you be taking pictures of? Your business, but not just shots of what you’re selling and prices for them. People are on Instagram to see interesting, striking shots. They can get a marketing picture of beef jerky anywhere. Show them pictures of your store, your staff and interesting things around your shop. Do you have a big moose statue in the middle of your sales floor? Take a picture of it and explain why it’s there. And then tag it, so people know where they can see this crazy moose. If the businesses around yours have interesting qualities, that’s more photos you can capture. Then you can find out if those businesses have Instagram accounts and you can tag them, hopefully leading to some cross-promotion between you and your neighbors.

And this should go without saying, but I will say it: keep it professional. Also, do not spam people. This can take many forms—from liking every picture you see to begging for likes and follows. It will have the opposite effect you want, I promise you. People will like you if you’re interesting, so just be yourself! See, mom was right.

Step Three: Be social

While you’re being yourself, also be social. This is social media, after all. Follow leaders in your brand and engage with them. If they have a really sweet picture of a beef jerky waterfall, like the picture and comment on it. Find people that might be interested in your brand, start following them and engage with them as much as possible, but keep it honest. If people or brand leaders don’t follow you back, don’t sweat it. After you gain some momentum on Instagram, they’ll come back. If someone is starting to spam you—or connect your brand with uncomfortable topics—then you have my permission to unfollow.

In closing, follow the competition and learn. Take some risks. Maybe every picture won’t be directly about your store, and that’s okay. People that see you as a satisfying and original source of content will reward you with follows and comments. And that is worth a thousand marketing words. Next week, I’ll be talking about hashtags, and how to use trending topics to help your brand.

Grammar: There, Their or They’re?

grammar

It seems like such a simple thing, but there are a plethora of people in the world that just plain hate grammar. The rules are ridiculous, they say—outdated, contradictory and confusing. I’m not going to argue. English is a language based on stealing words from other languages and sort of shoving them into the vocabulary like stacking one more chair onto a crowded moving truck.

I studied English in college. I went as high as you can possibly go in terms of diagramming sentences. I helped other people with their papers. I was the editor of the paper. Let me tell you, some people will think you’re a wizard if you’re good with grammar.

But why do we care? This is a whole new world (cue Aladdin song)—full of Twittering and internet short-hand. Who would worry about proper grammar? Well, your clients, for starters. Even if they are super high-tech masters of the internet (and they’re probably not), they’re going to want their copy (read: content) to look good. That involves proper word use, punctuation and sentence structure. Webpage design and blogging should be where you really try to shine. Make sure you know the difference between “its” and “it’s” (Just in case you were curious: “its” is possessive, while “it’s” is short for “it is”). “Then” and “than” should be monitored closely. “Further” and “farther” are also important, although used less frequently.  And of course, there’s the deadly “there,” “their” and “they’re” (location, possession and contraction, respectively).

None of this is magic, by the way. Doing a Google search will solve most problems. The site Grammar Book is great for your basic needs. For those in a hurry, start following @quickdirtytips or @GrammarMonkeys on Twitter.  Subscribe to a blog like Grammar Gang. So instead of just fixing problems as they come, you can start learning something every day. That is probably the most useful advice I can give you, by the way: learn, don’t fix. If you learn the rules, you don’t have to worry so much about fixing anything.

Speaking of fixing things, if people hate anything more than grammar, it’s proofreading. I cannot tell you the amount of things I’ve proofread before (legally, I shouldn’t even mention some of them). People think that only full-on grammar wizards can proofread anything.  That’s completely untrue. The key to proofreading is a fresh perspective. After you complete your first draft of anything, take a walk. Get a drink. Go to the bathroom. Come back with new eyes. Another trick—if you’re handcuffed to a desk or something—is to read your draft BACKWARDS. What you’re trying to do is trick your brain into thinking it is reading something completely new. Why? Because if you don’t, that lazy, traitorous brain of yours will fill in all the gaps for you, making you skip the mistakes that are actually there.

So, you’ve fixed your mistakes. You Googled how to spell “conscience” correctly (that one is for how you feel morally, not whether you’re still awake while trying to read this). You’ve walked away from the draft, and come back to it to find even more mistakes. You’ve cursed my name a few times. Now you’re ready to post or print it, right? Wrong. Now it’s time to hand it over to someone else. Someone else can be as easy as the guy in your office that is actually a full-on grammar wizard (thank you, thank you), your superior, a friendly English teacher on Facebook, or an actual, honest to goodness proofreader that might want money for their services. Always think about your content before paying anyone. How important is the piece you’re writing? How many people are going to see it, and for how long? Who are they—people on Twitter or your boss’s boss? These are important considerations when handing out money to someone.

Conclusions? Grammar is very important when you are creating copy for websites and blogs—things people are going to be staring at a lot. It’s better to learn about grammar than to just try to fix mistakes on the spot. Remember to always proofread your own drafts—after a break, of course. And after you’ve looked at it once (or twice, or three times…), give your work to someone else to look at. If you follow these steps, I promise other people will start thinking you have magical powers. In my next blog, I’ll be talking about etiquette and yes, grammar, when using social media like Twitter and Instagram.