Social Media and Marketing Strategies
The following excerpt is from an article written by Pam Moore, CEO / Founder of Marketing Nutz, LLC, and published on SocialMediaToday.com. Moore offers a great perspective on how to effectively communicate with your customers and steps you should take to make sure that voice is authentic. Below, you’ll find five of her main points. View the full article for 15 more suggestions that will help you build your brand even further.
Your customers are human. Your partners are human. Your employees are human. Even your social media fans and followers are human.
So answer this question… why are you talking to them like they are a robot who wants to read your corporate speak?
Your audience wants to see you, hear you and understand you. They want you to inspire them to connect and engage with you. They want you to help them achieve their goals and objectives. So tell me, are you doing these things?
Humanizing your brand is a requirement, not an option if you want to survive in business today. Yes, you can put brand humanization on hold. However, every day you lose is a day you could be building relationships, nurturing friendships, establishing and earning the respect of powerful brand evangelists who will shout from a mountain top how wonderful you and your brand are.
Don’t wait. The time is now. Here are several tips to help you humanize your brand starting today:
Have a personality.
Knowing who you are is obviously key to having a brand personality. If you don’t know what your brand personality is then you better figure it out. Who are you? What are you? Are you serious? Are you funny? Are you a combination of both? What is the tone of your conversations? Tone of your educational material.
Social media is going to open everything up for everyone to see. If you have one personality online and another when a customer calls your support center, it is going to become quite apparent. Nail this in the early stages and it will become an asset to you forever.
Speak in your customers language.
Delete the corporate mumbo jumbo speak. Social media is not a billboard for your 1995 corporate collateral. Speak in a tone, words and rhythm your customers, partners and social community can understand. Use language that inspires them and connects them to you and your brand.
Stop the interruption marketing.
Social media is not broadcast entertainment. You audience is going to see your self fulfilling broadcast as an interruption to their discussion. Build the relationships and earn the right to communicate with them.
Share information that brings them value, not just helps you increase your traffic. The best social businesses listen more than they talk. Listen, watch and learn from the conversations you see and hear online. You’ll then know better how to engage in a way that brings value.
Show us your community manager.
If you have a community manager or a team of community managers representing your brand let us know who they are. Show us their faces. Tell us what their personal profiles are if they are online themselves and are comfortable doing such. The more we can connect with the people of your brand the easier it will be to build relationships.
Encourage your audience to be human.
If you only speak in corporate speak your audience will either turn you off or will begin to speak the same way to you. How many times have you seen a brand only speak corporate? When you look at their Twitter or Facebook conversations, they are far from human. Because the brand isn’t sharing their human side, their community isn’t either. Encourage your audience to engage, laugh, be funny. Let them share opinions even if they differ from yours.
Strike an emotional chord.
Emotional brands are the brands that are building real relationships in the social ecosystem. Make me laugh. Make me cry or make me mad. Do something that makes me think different, be different. Inspire me to do more, be more and leverage you, your team or your products and services to do such. The more you can connect with your audience, the better you will be at understanding what emotional chords will work best with them.
Share photos and videos of your team being human.
This is one of the best ways to become a human brand. Share the moments that you are human. If you have a company party or picnic, take some photos and share them. If your team goes on a team building mission or hike, let your audience know ahead of time they are going. Ask them who they think will win the contest. Share the fun and serious moments your team has offline working to help your clients meet their goals. If you have a team meeting, share a couple photos of the team brainstorming at the white board or enjoying themselves with a bag of candy or popcorn. You’ll be amazed at how these simple little shares of your personal side will help build relationship with the people in your community. Try it, it works!
Have a plan.
I can’t write about something as important as humanizing your brand without reminding you how important it is to have a plan. Set goals, objectives and tactics to get there. Know how you are going to measure results. Know what your key performance indicators are and what success looks like to you now, tomorrow, a year from now and three years from now. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Find more advice on humanizing your brand here. How do you maintain a human voice through your marketing? Share your strategies with other college stores in the Comments section.
The following excerpt is from the article Twitter adds language info, ability to filter tweets by ‘importance with new API metadata’ written by Matthew Panzarino and published on The Next Web. To learn more about Twitter’s upcoming changes, view the full article.
Twitter will introduce two new interesting bits of metadata to its Twitter API soon, it recently announced. One will allow developers to identify the language that a tweet was sent in, which will be helpful for filtering and translation.
The other, and more interesting one, will allow developers to identify what Twitter feels are ‘high value’ tweets. Then, apps that work around surfacing important content that a user wants to see, or delivering relevant and high-quality search results, can tap into this rating to surface ‘better’ stuff.
The rating, which only applies to the streaming API, is called ‘filter_level’ and can be set to none, low, medium or high by whatever algorithm Twitter is using to do that. Most likely a combination of shares, views, engagement numbers and so forth.
It’s unclear whether Twitter’s own apps will begin using the filter metadata to only display tweets of a higher ‘filter level’, but it seems tailor-made for the Discover tab at least. Who knows, perhaps one day the default Twitter view will not be a continuous chronological stream, but one ordered by value or importance, packed with rich media for you to peruse.
And, at this point, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that adding the ability to filter tweets at the client (or service) end does add some interesting monetization possibilities. Twitter is, for now, reserving the ‘high’ designation for later. What if the ‘high’ note was reserved for promoted or ‘important according to Twitter’ tweets?
The following is excerpt is from an article written by Ramon Ray, freelance writer and technology evangelist, and published on PCWorld. To read more about the background of Facebook Graph Search how you can protect your privacy within this new feature, view the full article.
What is Graph Search?
Before we can dive into what Facebook Graph Search can do for your small business, it’s important first to understand what it is. While other social media sites encourage users to connect with other users, Facebook has been a closed site. Finding others who share your interests has been impossible, with Facebook’s search limited to people, places, and things. Type the word “restaurant” into the search box, and you’ll receive a list of pages on the site related to restaurants.
But what if you want to find out Mexican restaurants your nearby friends have “liked” on Facebook? To do that under the current system, you have to manually search through each of your friend’s pages and browse through each person’s interests.
However, the new Graph Search will allow you to discover restaurants your friends have visited and liked. This same search will allow Facebookers to find friend-recommended healthcare providers, travel destinations, shops, hotels, and more.
Prepare your business for Graph Search
While consumers have privacy concerns about the new feature, businesses have every reason to be excited. Anything that can broaden visibility of your company’s Facebook Page is welcome.
Want to try Graph Search early? While you’re logged into Facebook, visit this page and sign up for the waiting list. Once you’re in, you can experiment with how your business appears in search results.
While Facebook Graph Search is still in limited beta testing mode, take a look at your company’s page to make sure its content and photos would be easy to find in a search. You never know when that photo of your storefront will lead a local consumer to your Facebook Page.
- Use Graph Search to identify pools of customers who already like you and might buy more from you.
- Use it to identify types of prospective customers who you might want to engage with your sponsored posts.
- Ensure your page is rich in information, so people searching Facebook can find your business. Make sure the “About” section of your Facebook page is filled out, complete with business hours and a full description of your services or products. Include the URL of your website to direct customers there.
- Don’t impede on people’s privacy in your search or try to “sell” them by exploiting any of their personal information from Facebook. Instead, engage them.
- Understand that this is a new service (when launched), so expect changes and evolutions.
The following article was written by Chantal Tode, associate editor, and published on Mobile Commerce Daily and offers an excellent example of how a brand can combine mobile and social to drive in-store traffic.
Doughnut chain Krispy Kreme is leveraging mobile and social to sweeten a Valentine’s Day offer for its heart-shaped donuts, as well as drive in-store traffic.
There is a QR code located on the Valentine’s Day box of donuts that enables users to send a Krispy Kreme Valentine e-card to someone special. The donuts are available now through Feb. 14 at the Krispy Kreme display inside participating mass merchants and grocery stores.
“The QR code is an extension of the cards that are provided in our Valentines Boxes and a way to extend those cards to a larger audience,” said Kelley O’Brien, a spokeswoman for Krispy Kreme, Winston Salem, NC. “This enables our fans share the joy digitally.
“This is a good test for incorporating mobile into more of our efforts,” she said.
In addition to the QR code linking users to a selection of e-cards, inside each box of heart-shaped donuts are six Valentine cards
Users can also visit Krispy Kreme’s Facebook page to customize a Share Your Heart Facebook cover photo.
The effort is the latest example of how marketers are embracing QR codes to enhance the in-store shopping experience with exclusive content.
While there is growing interest in augmented reality for in-store marketing purposes, QR codes continue to be popular with marketers because many consumers now know how to scan a QR code and they are quick and easy to deploy.
For example, Office Depot is using QR codes on products to deliver content designed to help customers get organized in the new year (see story).
Additionally, Budweiser started gearing up this weekend’s Super Bowl game with an in-store promotion that included QR codes shoppers could can to enter a sweepstakes (see story).
Biting into QR codes
QR codes are also helping retailers close sales and amplify their message via social networks.
Research from ScanLife covering the Black Friday holiday shopping period found that mobile bar code scans on Black Friday increased 50 percent. Additionally, during the third quarter, almost 4 million new people scanned mobile bar codes, representing a 45 percent increase over the same period last year.
This is not Krispy Kreme’s first foray into mobile marketing.
In December 2011, the chain launched the Krispy Kreme mobile app to enable users to find the nearest location (see story).
This is the second time Krispy Kreme has used QR codes as part of its wholesale business. It has also used them for retail promotions inside its own stores such as Dozen Days of Doughnuts, Krispy Skremes and the launch of the Hot Light app.
“If the QR codes are incorporated into a campaign over at least two weeks you will have measurable results,” Ms. O’Brien said.
“You receive more scans when the QR codes are integrated into multiple printed pieces and placed where consumers can see them in your shop and at their eye-level,” she said.
Last summer, Facebook began experimenting with running ads in the News Feed devoid of the social connections typical to its Sponsored Story units. Rather than requiring an ad only be shown to fans of a brand’s Facebook Page or their friends, marketers were able to run Page Post ads in the News Feeds of non-fans. Now it appears Facebook is dropping the Page Post inclusion and letting advertisers promote only their pages to non-fans in a sparse News Feed unit called Suggested Page.
“We’re currently testing this feature but have nothing further to share at this time,” emailed a Facebook spokesperson on Friday. Inside Facebook reported on the ad unit a few weeks ago.
The two Suggested Page ads Adweek encountered on Friday (which were found only on Facebook’s desktop site) appear to be targeted using standard Facebook capabilities. In this case, one ad seemed geared toward this writer’s location near San Francisco (as stated on his Facebook profile information) and interests (as indicated by the number of surf brands whose Pages he has liked).
The ads themselves are pretty minimalist, displaying only a thumbnail of the Page’s profile picture and then a gray box with an image and some text describing the brand; in fact they mirror the organic posts that pop up in users’ feeds when a friend likes a brand’s Page. Unlike those posts, however, when users mouse over the brand’s hyperlinked name, a pop-up is displayed resembling a miniaturized version of the top of the brand’s Page, with buttons to like or message the brand.
But Suggested Pages, appended with a “Sponsored” tag, are among the least social units Facebook has on offer. The only social context they feature—confirmed by the “socialContext” tag included in the units’ code—are the number of Facebook users who have liked the advertised Page.
The Suggested Page units are likely part of Facebook’s push to attract advertisers to the News Feed, with execs emphasizing the value of in-feed ads during the company’s earnings call on Wednesday. COO Sheryl Sandberg said that 65 percent of Facebook’s advertisers are now running ads in the News Feed, up from only 50 percent at the end of the third quarter. Facebook has taken a measured approach in rolling out ads to users’ News Feed so as to not compromise the user experience, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during Wednesday’s call that in-feed ads only resulted in a 2 percent reduction in the amounts of likes and comments users made.
What’s your opinion of this feature? Would your store use it? Tell us in the comments section.
With students on the go more than ever, location-based marketing is an easy and effective way for your store to connect. In the following excerpt, from an article written by Jennifer Nedeau, director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, and published on SmartBlog for Social Media, Nedeau provides several reasons how the new updates to the platform are making it even simpler for businesses to communicate with their customers. Read up on her advice and then view the full article for more information.
With more than 25 million people on Foursquare and 3 billion check-ins, Foursquare competes with the likes of Instagram (45 million users) and Path (5 million users) and is one of the few successful mobile-only social networks. Since it launched in 2009, Foursquare has become an increasingly helpful tool for local businesses and national brands trying to connect with consumers on a 1:1 level.
- Foursquare will now display your full name on your profile.
- Businesses on Foursquare will be able to see more of their recent customers’ activity.
Why are these changes important? Connect a name with a face. With these new changes, Foursquare now helps you connect a name with a face, which will help users decide who to accept and who to ignore. For marketers, the use of the full name will allow for a more accurate understanding of customer profiles and the ability to track feedback and make data-driven decisions. Being able to view the check-in data for venues for an entire day instead of just three hours can create a log of data that is invaluable for business owners. It is worth noting that how much a user shares publicly is based on his or her privacy preferences.
How will these changes help your marketing strategy? Make data-driven decisions. If you are a business owner with several franchises, you can now monitor the quality of service through the comments left on Foursquare and make sure you are never letting a customer down. You can even improve the experience of a consumer by sending them a frequent customer coupon or reward based on their check-in behavior. The added access to audience information creates a greater reason to advertise on Foursquare to ensure that updates or deals from your venue show up prominently in user feeds.
How should you use Foursquare for your marketing strategy? Storytelling is still key. When Foursquare re-launched its mobile application this year, it gave more prominence to photos, improved the commenting features and increased the ability to explore businesses and activities around you. This means that the “discovery” feature of Foursquare is more powerful than ever, and it can compete with the likes of Yelp or Google Search. For businesses, this means that it is more important to have your business well-adapted to Foursquare by adding photos and relevant tips to make your Foursquare profile more attractive to users if you want to monetize their Foursquare experience.
Does your store use foursquare? If so, what strategies do you find most successful? If not, why? Tell us more in the comments section.
The following excerpt, from the article, ‘How to Run a Successful Facebook Contest Without Getting Banned,’ was written by Monika Jansen and published on NetworkSolutions.com. The article offers great tips on how to engage with fans on the social network while still remaining within the terms and conditions of the site. View the full article and all of Jansen’s suggestions here.
Before you get started on any planning, it is well worth your time to familiarize yourself with Facebook’s rules for promotions so you don’t get banned.
In summary, here is what you need to know (you can read the full list here):
1. The product or service you are promoting has to be yours, either as an authorized merchant or the manufacturer.
2. You are responsible for ensuring your contest does not break any laws, rules or regulations and you must clearly state the official rules, offer terms, and eligibility requirements.
3. Promotions must use Apps on Facebook and state that Facebook has nothing to do with the contest.
4. You can ask entrants to Like a Page, check in to a Place, or connect to your app when they enter the contest, but that action cannot automatically enter them. You cannot ask them to take any other action on Facebook, like leaving a comment on your wall.
5. The Like button cannot be used for voting.
6. You cannot notify winners through Facebook.
To ensure your Facebook contest is successful, here is a handy checklist to follow:
Have a goal: Whether it’s more Likes, increased brand awareness, new product promotion, better user engagement, etc., have a goal so you can measure whether or not your contest worked.
Make it interactive: A fun, interactive experience will draw more entries and encourage word of mouth and social sharing.
Be creative with contest prizes: Your contest prize can be something with broad appeal – a gift card – or niche appeal – a private souffle baking class. Whatever you decide, make sure it appeals to your target audience.
Choose a third party app that is easy to use: Look for one that is customizable, cost-effective (some are free), and mobile-friendly and that can be embedded on your website.
Make it easy to enter: Ask for the bare minimum amount of information from entrants (like name and email), and make it easy to enter, like answering a trivia question or uploading a photo of a pet.
Follow up: Once the winner is announced, follow up with the entrants by responding to feedback or simply thanking them for becoming a part of your community.
We can all agree that textbooks, from a students’ perspective at least, are not the most exciting product in the world. But, as Holgate points out, that doesn’t mean that your store can’t create an engaging social environment. Although all of his tips may not be applicable to college stores, they provide a solid foundation for the direction of your online presence and offer sound advice on encouraging social interaction. Take a look:
Over the past couple of years we’ve really struggled to identify the place that social media has in our overall business strategy. Common sense dictates that we should have a social objective but as an online supplier of computer consumables and office products it’s been difficult to create that buzz required for a successful interaction with both current and potential customers.
I often look on with envy when I see companies with ‘cool’ products that actively encourage user sharing and discussion. As an example, over the summer my Facebook News Feed was inundated with people who had bought massive boxes of meat online and were actively uploading photo’s showing off the delicious goods they’d received. Although dead animals have never been considered particularly engaging there’s something about a product like this which encourages someone to show it off to their friends.
Unfortunately I’ve come to learn that ink cartridges will never really elicit this desire in our customers; if anything it would take a rather odd person to take a picture of the cartridge they had just received and share it with the world.
The one company that gives me hope that one day we may crack this puzzle and make our boring product socially interesting is the blender manufacturer, Blendtec. At the time of writing this article, their ‘will it blend’ YouTube channel has over 219 million views, they have over half a million subscribers and their Facebook page has 36,500 likes. That’s some extreme social activity for a product which is ordinarily used for making soup. Of course, the CEO doesn’t film himself blending vegetables but rather putting the blender to work chopping up a variety of products from Golf Balls to an Apple iPad.
Until I experience this eureka moment I have knocked together a list of points that are currently serving us well. It is by no means comprehensive but represents my summary of our experience in trying to engage users in an industry that is typically considered boring:
YouTube and alternative Video Sharing Sites
-Attempt to help people in your niche – Your niche doesn’t have to be interesting in order for it to engage the reader. Chances are that whatever your industry, you know more than the layman so use that to your advantage. Self-help videos are a fantastic way of increasing your authority in your industry along with attracting the attention of potential customers. One of our most popular videos (100,000 views in a year) simply explains to the user the buttons they need to press on a specific range of Canon printers after refilling a cartridge in order to resume printing. Although everybody in our industry would consider this common knowledge it would appear this is an inaccurate assumption.
Feel free to also annotate the content of these videos and publish the material on your company blog as both traffic and link bait.
-Review products in your industry as and when they are released – It’s a no brainer really; a customer looking for a review of a product is likely to be on the verge of buying it. If you can get in there with a review then you are within touching distance of converting them in to a sale and potential future customer.
Facebook, Twitter and Google+
-Don’t post the same content on every channel – Your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest accounts should all contain unique posts. Not only will this serve to get users engaged over multiple channels but they will also feel a little less like you’re just spoon feeding them content.
-Post Regularly – Nothing says that a company can’t be bothered like a social media page which hasn’t been updated for several months. Not only does it discourage engagement but it might actively put a potential customer off the idea of buying from you if they check out your page before making the purchase.
-Give away prizes – Although offering the user a chance to ‘like this page to be entered in to a competition’ is prohibited by Facebook’s terms and conditions, social media can be a fantastic way of building up excitement around your competition. Announcing the existence of the competition on social media, providing updates and attempting to generate a buzz with pictures and status updates tend to naturally prompt liking and sharing.
-Don’t automate posting – Although it’s tempting to automate the process of populating social channels very few users will want to subscribe to a feed that simply pings them whenever you update your website. The trick is to make your post genuinely interesting rather than just saying ‘we’ve posted a new entry on our blog – click here to read it’
-Provide Outstanding Service – Social Media can be a fantastic selling tool if users are able to see customers raving about the service you offer. Unfortunately the flipside is that it can just as easily work against you; as recently as last night I was going to buy an item of furniture off a company but decided against it when I found their Facebook page littered with complaints. If you do get a complaint then answer it in full; nothing stinks of a company that doesn’t care more than when a complaint is responded with ‘we’re looking in to this and will contact you by e-mail.’
As mentioned, the above is a summary of my own experience in my particular niche. Although unfortunately there isn’t a comprehensive list of pointers that will work well for all companies and industries, I’d be very much interested in hearing any tips that I may have missed that worked well for your business.
Students in Judy Strauss’ marketing classes at the University of Nevada, Reno are as likely to use Facebook as they are textbooks to complete their assignments.
They use e-portfolios — a collection of the student’s work captured digitally — to grab the attention of potential employers instead of submitting online resumes or paper resumes.
And for their final exam for Strauss’ Internet Marketing class, the students organized a flash mob performance last May at Reno Tahoe International Airport to raise awareness for Rett Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes mental and physical developmental problems.
Welcome to higher education in the tech-savvy 21st century.
It’s a brave new world in which students use interactive platforms for class projects, learn in virtual classrooms and access Massively Open Online Courses that are free for anyone in the world with a computer and a connection to the Internet.
Ever-changing forms of delivering knowledge will play an important role as higher education struggles to educate students who can compete against growing global competition while dealing with state and federal budget cuts, rising tuition and poor graduation rates.
“I think something very remarkable is happening with higher education in the arena of e-learning and technology and innovation,” said Chancellor Dan Klaich, who oversees Nevada’s public higher education system.
“It is clear technology is going to play a very significant role in higher education in the next decade.” he said.
E-learning has been around for almost 20 years but, in most cases, whether to use it along with textbooks, lectures and other traditional forms of instruction is up to the instructors.
“We are going to have to keep an open mind and be open to change,” Klaich said. “I think that is important because higher education, just like many large institutions, doesn’t like change, and sometimes we fear change.”
He said the Nevada System of Higher Education, which comprises the state’s seven academic campuses and a research institute, is is doing a study on the future of e-learning and classroom technology. The final report on how the system can use that technology to increase student success will be presented to the Nevada Board of Regents early next year, Klaich said.
“The fundamental changes we’re talking about and already seeing will change the face of higher education. The administration, the faculty and the students on our campuses have to be open to those changes,” Klaich said.
It’s not just changes in the way academic instruction is delivered that will influence the success of higher education as it evolves in the 21st century, he said.
As technology affects future jobs, Nevada’s campuses will have to graduate students with the skills and knowledge to fill them, Klaich said.
But churning out workers trained to do specific jobs will not be enough to compete globally.
“We need skilled workers, but more than that, I think the concept of turning out students with broad liberal arts degrees is still valued,” Klaich said. “At the rate new knowledge and technology is being produced in the world today, it’s more important than ever that we teach our students to think critically, which will help them react as society and technology changes.”
Kevin Carman, hired in October as UNR’s new provost and executive vice president, has said UNR must engage in online education to survive.
“To stick with the traditional classroom alone is a death sentence for a university,” he said.
“Technology in a variety of manifestations can be used to deliver academic programs, but it should enhance, not replace, the traditional interaction of faculty and students to ensure the sense of campus community,” Carman said.
Class adapts to changing world
Strauss decided to modify the way she taught her classes at UNR because the Internet and social media have revolutionized the marketing industry.
Consumers, instead of passively being bombarded by advertising telling them what products are the best, are writing their own reviews of restaurants on Yelp and posting videos on YouTube of malfunctioning products such as a laptop’s battery catching fire, Strauss said.
“So now businesses are concerned about how to get their websites or messages found online and how they can use the Internet and social media to engage in a dialogue with consumers,” she said.
Ross Martin, 22, graduated last week cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He took several classes from Strauss, including one on the principles of digital marketing.
He said Strauss’ use of the Internet and social media prepared for jobs in his field, and he credits that with helping him land an internship last summer with a major film company in Los Angeles.
“I got an internship with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and worked in their motion picture marketing department in Beverly Hills,” Martin said.
He helped with the marketing distribution of the latest James Bond film “Skyfall” and the upcoming movie “The Hobbit” to markets in Senegal, Bulgaria, Finland and parts of Europe and Africa.
To land the internship, Martin had listed his e-portfolio website along with his semester-long study on introducing products into different countries.
In his final report for one of Strauss’ classes, Martin compared the online presence of two film companies, Lionsgate and Fox Searchlight Pictures, noting how many impressions they were getting, how long visitors stayed on their sites, how many were new visits, and the two companies’ use of Facebook and Twitter.
Martin said he had been trying for a year and a half to get the internship, and he credits finally succeeding to the experience he got from Strauss’ classes.
“I think they definitely helped,” Martin said. “I was offered the internship during my second phone interview, and I was going up against local candidates from USC and UCLA who were able to come in person for their interviews.
“In Judy’s class, you just don’t read something and take a test,” he said.
“I told her I wanted to get into the film industry, and she has her students use e-portfolios and blogs to expand our interests,” said Martin, now an intern at the Glenn Group in Reno.
“That makes us more marketable down the line to employers.”
College stores can help expand students’ experiences in these areas, too. Do you allow student employees to help with social media or marketing for your store? Tell us about your experience in the comments section!
Instagram photo contests are a great way to engage your brand audience and create a memorable experience for your fans; however, maximizing engagement and growing your audience requires some planning. Before you launch your contest on Instagram, give thought to the following five areas and you’ll be better prepared to run a successful campaign:
Choose The Right Hashtag
Your fans need a way to submit photos and picking the right Instagram hashtag to promote as part of your contest is critical. When selecting your contest hashtag, two considerations to keep in mind are:
- is your chosen hashtag brandable/ownable?
- is it easy to remember and simple?
While you can’t really ‘own’ a hashtag on Instagram, or any social network for that matter, take some time to choose a hashtag that is not likely to be used by anyone else. There are lots of tools out there for you to check hashtags ahead of time. Some ideas could include:
- Incorporate your brands’ slogan
- Abbreviate your brand name (if appropriate – i.e., Lululemon becomes #Lulu)
- Incorporate the name of your contest (Fall for Lifetime becomes #FallforLFTM)
- Use dates and places for campaigns at live events (i.e., #CanucksGame6)
Choosing the right hashtag doesn’t have to be overly complicated, just remember that you’re asking fans to type it into their mobile devices each time they snap a photo to participate. Making your hashtags catchy and easy for them to remember will help you maximize the number of photos you receive.
Choose an Appropriate Theme / Challenge
Ok, so you’ve decided to launch a photo contest – great – but what are you asking people to take a picture of? Seems easy, but before you start asking people to snap pictures of the moon at midnight, putting yourself in your audiences shoes can help you think logistically about what you’re asking them to do. While you want your contest to be brand relevant, you also want to consider your current reach, the prize you’re giving away, and the ease or difficulty of participating. Meaning, if you’re Ford and giving away a car you can probably ask fans for slightly more challenging submissions; however, a good rule to remember is that the more difficult it is for a fan to take the type of photo you’re asking them for, the less participation you’ll have in your campaign.
On the other hand, making your contest theme too broad might get a lot of submissions but the content won’t work cohesively in a campaign and may lose its relevancy to your brand. This is especially important if you’re displaying photos in a gallery. The less constraints you put around your photo contests, the more varied the submissions you’ll receive and, generally speaking, the greater number of submissions you’ll receive.
It’s really about what your objectives are as a brand and the goal of your campaign. Finding a balance will be directly tied the brand you’re promoting. For example, Starbucks will have an easier time getting people to snap photos of their Mocha Frappucino’s than a fashion label getting people to snap photos of themselves wearing a specific accessory. Both can be very successful, but something to ask yourself is: Do you want people to have to go out of their way to participate or should the opportunity to participate be present in their daily lives? The point is to consider your audience and how easy or difficult you want to make it for them to be able to snap the type of photo you’re looking for.
Plan Ahead to Share Your Fan Photos
While many brands are beginning to use Instagram for photo contests and campaigns, we’ve seen many campaigns fall short and miss the opportunity to share fan photos through a brands own social networks (Twitter and Facebook). When your audience goes out of their way to snap a photo for your brand, sharing their submissions with your wider audience serves two purposes.
Firstly, it makes your fans feel rewarded for participating and, secondly, it helps promote your campaign and increase participation. Imagine you’ve submitted a photo to Starbucks, and they tweet out a link to your photo to their +3 million followers…..as a consumer you’d be pretty pumped about all the people checking out your photo. Obviously, you can’t and probably don’t want to share every photo but sharing select submissions for the duration of your campaign is a simple way to make your campaign more successful.
Engage Your Audience
Yes, engaging fans seems like it should be obvious by now but while brands seem to have Facebook and Twitter figured out, Instagram has remained a bit of a challenge for many. In addition to sharing fan photos through your brands’ social networks, don’t forget to like and comment on fan submissions through Instagram and even follow users back. The great thing about using a visual platform like Instagram is that it allows you to really personalize and tailor your comments on fan submissions. You can skip the boilerplate “Thanks for participating” message and demonstrate a more genuine approach by customizing your comments to each photo. Your fans will appreciate these more than the copy and paste standardized message.
Give Your Contest A Home
If you want to truly give your fans a memorable brand experience, give your contest a place to live online where fans can view other fan submissions as well as their own. In many cases, brands have been hesitant to aggregate and display contest submissions from Instagram because of the potential for undesirable content to appear in the gallery which could have a negative impact for the brand. With tools like Fanbase that offer photo moderation for aggregating hash-tagged photos, this risk is diminished. Giving your contest/campaign a place to live online (web, mobile, and Facebook) has several benefits including:
- Increases awareness and reach of your campaign
- Increases the opportunity for your audience to share content and increase impressions
- Gives your fans a branded environment to browse photos and engage with your campaign
With over 100 million people that have Instagram installed on their mobile devices, it’s never been easier to engage your audience in participative campaigns; however, maximizing the return on your campaign efforts requires you to think through and plan your execution to create value for your brand as well as your audience.