social media marketing

5 Ideas for Instagram Marketing

Instagram, like any good social media platform, has in the past 6 months-year added a few new features, which most businesses approach with caution at first. As businesses/people have gotten more comfortable with marketing on Instagram, I’ve noticed a few interesting ways that people are using Instagram to connect with followers and current/prospective customers.

Here are the five different things I’ve seen on Instagram lately:

  1. The Instagram Takeover. A “takeover” is giving someone else control of the business’s Instagram account, usually for a day but it can also be a weekend. An Instagram takeover usually happens with someone who is sort of related to your business/industry. For instance, Wyman’s Blueberry allowed a food blogger to take over their Instagram page for a whole week. What I noticed in this takeover was that @holly_tasteandsee stuck to on-brand recipes (meaning she integrated Wyman’s products into her takeover posts). It gave Wymans followers something new to look at, and it gave both @holly_tasteandsee’s and Wymans exposure to new audiences.

If you want to try a takeover for your business, find someone who is relevant to what you do (i.e. food company and food blogger, business letting an employee takeover posts, etc), and create parameters with that person if necessary (this could be called common sense, but may still be a helpful conversation to have).

2) Featuring another person. In March (Women’s History Month), Rustic Arrow Maine had “Women Wednesdays” where they featured a local female entrepreneur on their Instagram. It featured a photo of the woman, a caption that included her Instagram handle, and a brief description of her work/business. This type of feature gives you more control than a Takeover, while including other people in your post. This gets attention for their business, too, while creating something new and fun for your Instagram page. Following general rules of social media etiquette, remember to ask a person before you feature them on your Instagram page.

3) Multiple picture post. This Instagram update is great news for those who want to create larger updates like new products/meals etc, but don’t want to overwhelm followers with several different posts. The catch is that all must be in square shape and will receive the same filter. People will be able to see that there are multiple photos in a post, so you don’t have to worry about them “missing out” on the other images in your post.

Garnier and many other Instagram sponsored ads will use this technique as it gives you more bang for your advertising buck. This product image was actually the last in the post- the preceding images were all happy looking women with different hair colors/textures.

4) Use of a specific hashtag to promote a contest (and sharing participant’s photos that came out well). Downeast Magazine is well known (at least, to me) for doing this sort of thing. They request that users tag them and use a specific hashtag, and share some of the content on their own page (after asking permission and using correct attribution). This is a tool called “User Generated Content,” which has become a buzzword in marketing over the past couple years. The idea is to encourage users to share something- in this case, a photo that represents #Mainelife.

Downeast Magazine has quite a few contests/user engagement ideas if you go to their Instagram page. Right now, they are in the process of sharing 40 items from “The Great Maine Scavenger Hunt,” featured in the print magazine. Another thing that is worth pointing out- in the caption for the post below, they say “See our website for more info about entering the hunt,” so if increasing website traffic in an organic, natural matter is something you’re trying to do, promoting content on Instagram is a clever way to do that.

 

5) Unique use of Bookmarks. Seabags Maine, a company that makes bags out of recycled sails. They recently used the new bookmark feature in Instagram (similar to Facebook’s ‘save for later’) to create a contest. They created a “puzzle” and posted one piece at a time (out of order, of course) and gave specific instructions about how to enter the contest. They also accepted the first 5 to respond as winners, which could have encouraged more participation (people may see this and think “I have a shot!” vs. “there’s no way I’ll be the first person to respond so why bother”).

Have you seen any interesting things go by on Instagram that could be useful for businesses (or is just cool in general)? Let us know! 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Marketing Monday: Vancil Vision Care

Every now and then, you meet a healthcare provider that you would follow to a new location…or perhaps on social media.

Vancil Vision Care is, for me, one of those places. Not only am I a fan of their services as a patient, but as a marketer I definitely admire their online presence.

A few years ago, I needed some new contacts, but didn’t want to drive all the way to Bangor for an eye doctor appointment, so naturally I turned to the internet for some help with researching a new optometrist. Thanks to Google, I discovered that the optometrist my dad used to see in Bangor had moved to Bucksport.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am not typically a fan of talking on the phone. Online scheduling is a dream come true for me, but websites often trick me with “Make a Reservation” buttons that simply lead to a phone number. When I saw this “Request Appointment” button, I was skeptical. However, I’m pleased to say that you are actually redirected to a contact form that lets you fill out your contact information, top three appointment choices, and what the nature of your appointment is.

Also, in the red banner area, they tell you exactly where to go for storm closing information: Facebook. This indicates consistency in where they have chosen to post, and that they are on top of communicating with their patients.

The follow up also came via email (I guess they assume that if you’re initiating contact online, that’s your preferred method of communication). However, they will call a couple days before your appointment to confirm.

In their website’s footer, they’ve included three content areas: Services, Make an Appointment, and Online Forms. The Online Forms was another selling point for me- all those forms that they usually make you fill out at the beginning of an appointment with a new doctor are available to fill out online, which cuts down on the time you have to spend in the waiting area. If you’re wary about sending sensitive information online (which, let’s face it, you should be), the “Online Forms” section will take you to a secure third party website which encrypts your information with 256-bit encryption keys (found on the fine print at the bottom of the page). If you still aren’t comfortable, you can just print out the forms and bring them in when you come for your appointment.

Their email marketing is also well constructed. I will usually only hear from them a handful of times throughout the year, there is always a purpose behind them, such as a limited discount, a reminder, etc. The image below came from one of these messages. Their main call to action is above the email signature, “Review Us,” but there are other actions below that you can choose as well.

 

However, their follow-up after an appointment template is a little bit different. Instead of “Review Us,” they have “Provide Feedback,” which is a quick survey about the overall experience. People are more likely to “Provide Feedback” following an appointment, so this is probably the best placement for that call to action.

 

In addition to smart and thoughtful email marketing, Vancil Vision Care has a pretty amazing Facebook presence as well. Not only do they post storm closing information, they have interesting/useful eye facts, featured products (like lenses), and a lot of fun posts like this one below.

Initially, you may not think of vision care or optometry as an industry that can thrive in social media or online marketing. However, Vancil Vision Care has proven that if you’re thoughtful about your customer and have a sense of humor, there’s no reason why you can’t rock your online presence.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Where Have All the Millennials Gone? The Year In Social Media

Snapchat took them, every one.

If CNet is to be believed, we are going to be living with Snapchat for a long, long time. The image messaging app and social media platform continued to dominate one very important market in 2016. Snapchat, which filed for its IPO in 2016 and turns 5 in next year, is still the go-to hub for the all-important millennials.

Snapchat (now “Snap”) claims 200 million active users — 60 percent of whom are under 25 — watching 10 BILLION videos every day.

So what is driving Snap’s popularity? Is it its mobile-first attitude? Yes, there’s that. Plus, for years we were taught that what gets posted online stays online forever. And then comes along Snapchat’s message-destruct feature, giving folks a platform where they can post first and think later.

If you’re a company looking to target millennials in 2017, it looks like Snapchat is still the way to go. But let’s not discount Facebook, especially if you’re aiming for a more, ahem, seasoned demographic. Pew tells us that Facebook is still the most popular social media platform.

Facebook’s number of users continued to grow in 2016 to the point where 79 percent of American adults who use the Internet use Facebook. That’s an increase of 7 percent over 2015, something Pew attributes to the fact that more older adults have joined that community.

Twitter was in the news a lot in 2016, mainly for its use in the Presidential campaign. And yet, it’s only fifth in popularity, trailing far behind Instagram, the second-most popular platform. Once an online hub for the before-it-was-cool-Williamsburg-hipster-vegan, Facebook-owned Instagram is now used by 32 percent of online adults.

Instagram was followed closely by Pinterest and LinkedIn, with 31 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

Compare that to Twitter, used by only 24 percent of online adults.

One of the bigger surprises in 2016 was that while Vine withered and died, Google+ still clung to life. Although not mentioned in the Pew article, good ol’ G+ still has 2.2 billion users, thanks in part (I’m guessing) to the integration with the wildly popular Gmail.

Yet, it’s important to note that only 9 percent of G+ users actually bother to publicly post content. And so Google+ continues to orbit the social media sphere like an abandoned space station. You can still see G+ in the night sky, only no one’s onboard.

So what’s going to big in 2017? Video sharing may be a bigger driving force, based in part on the fact that Snap entered the oft-derided wearable arena with Spectacles. Augmented reality may continue to be big, considering Pokemon Go’s continued popularity.

One thing that won’t likely change in 2017 — the challenges many local, small businesses and nonprofits face in trying to navigate the ever-changing social media landscape. Lucky for you, companies like BEC will be there in 2017, too.

A/B Testing And Your Social Media

abtestingsocialSo when we traditionally think of A/B testing, we usually think of testing a variable while leaving the time period and audience the same. We test the homepage headline during a two week period in August, where half our website visitors see THIS HEADLINE and the others see THAT HEADLINE and we see who clicks through multiple pages or sticks around on the website longer or is more likely to make a purchase. (You have to pick what you care about, since caring about everything is not only exhausting but not possible in a testing sense). If you want more about the basics of A/B Testing and how A/B Testing could work with your website, check out those linked blog posts.

You may ask ‘How can I do A/B testing on social media?’

We can’t show half our Facebook audience Image 1 and half Image 2… so we have to think of social media testing a little differently.

Using Social Media to Test Timing

One thing you’ll notice, in particular with Facebook and other social media sites that work on algorithms, is that most people never see your posts… which means you can repeat stuff with a) little to no chance of the same people seeing your message and b) even if a couple people did see a repeat message, it might not register considering the volume of other messaging they see from everyone else.

Posting the same thing at different times may feel spammy but it can give you a good idea of when a given post is most likely to be seen. It’s not true ‘A/B’ testing but similar in that we’re testing only one variable (in this case, timing versus content) and using data to give us feedback.

Using Social Media to Test Messaging

You have probably noticed those sexy ‘carousel’ ads on Facebook (the ones with multiple images). Here’s kind of a dynamic view of how they work from Quero Media:

Facebook-Carousel-Ads-1

What these kind of ads allows us to do is display different content at the same time to the same users… and see what converts them.

This is a more accurate application of A/B testing since we are showing the same users at the same time multiple content choices and seeing what they react to.

Now you’ll notice with the example above, both the image and text vary in each picture. In the best test, we’d only have one variable be different (the text or the image). Being able to see, for instance, that the Premium Italian Leather image getting more clicks, the company could further test by using the same headline with different images, seeing if indeed it was the photo or text that caused more interest in the messaging.

Like this month’s A/B testing theme? Stay tuned for next week when we talk about A/B testing with email newsletters! Subscribe here.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

How Not to Design a Flyer (Guest Post)

This is a guest post from Jill Lee of Jillybean Designs. She not only designed our awesome greeting card gifts to clients, she also designs lots of other things. 

Due to their short life span, flyers can seem like such a fleeting part of our lives, and it’s easy to brush them aside as trivial pieces of information. But as a very basic and ubiquitous form of informational design, flyers tell a lot about the value the author places on the information presented, their understanding of informational hierarchy, and their sense of aesthetics.

The following are three of the most common flyer design mistakes I see on our bulletin boards around Bar Harbor. Their pervasiveness signals how easy it is to fall into their trap, but also how simple it can be to make yours stand up to the competition just by remembering these tips.

1. Violating the integrity of photos.

Few things betray the unprofessionalism of a flyer more than the presence of unsuitable photos. The two technical criteria that I care about the most in determining the acceptability of photos are resolution and proportion. With commercial printing of any shape, size, or volume, you’re going to come across the number “300 dpi” which sounds a little mystifying at first.

To put it simply, an inch on the screen does not look the same as an inch on paper. In general, images on the screen are shown at 72 pixels per inch while images on paper are printed at 300 dots per inch. That picture that’s 5 inches across on your computer screen (zoomed in to 100%) is actually only 360 pixels across, which means it’s going to be just a little over an inch on paper. Either that or it’ll be a very blurry 5-inch picture. An image needs to be at least 1,500 pixels across to come out acceptably as a 5-inch picture. The best way to ensure that your image is high-enough resolution is to use the original version straight off the camera. If your images are still too low-resolution, your camera settings might have them save as low-resolution to begin with.

There is another branch to preserving the integrity of a photograph—the proportion problem, or what I call, “Don’t place your photo next to a black hole.” When you change the width of your image at a different rate than you change the length, your image gets stretched out of proportion – tires become flat, faces grow longer, or trees become shorter as if they were approaching a black hole. Hold down shift while scaling your image to make sure that it stays in proportion. If scaling is not an option, cropping is your friend.

2. Evenly spreading out information.

This may seem a little counterintuitive, but it is not a good idea to uniformly disperse pieces of information on a page. What do a rock garden, a piece of music, and a good story have in common? They contain emphases and dynamics to appeal to the human brain, and flyers work much the same way. This is what hierarchy of information means to me: It almost doesn’t matter what the most important piece of information is – so long as there’s a focal point and an organic flow of information that follows, I’m ensuring higher likelihood of retention by all readers. Turn your information into dots and see if they lead you through a pleasant curve or if they take you all over the page. Even a just straight line is better than risking loss of interest with the latter.

The Pipers Gathering

Example 1

pipersgathering

Example 2

3. The rainbow throwing up on your flyer.

In the interest of grabbing the attention of passers-by, many flyer designers give into the temptation of splattering all the colors, all the fonts, and all the clip arts in the world on the same page. Not only does this drive people away with its information overload, it interferes with legibility itself. This is the truth of “less is more”: When in doubt, stick to two fonts, two colors, and two images. If you prioritize straightforward communication, all else will follow. Heck, all else will usually end up looking much better that way anyway.

Bonus: When choosing your fonts, avoid Times New Roman, Comic Sans, Arial, Papyrus, Copperplate, and Corsiva. Invest a little bit of time picking a font that truly reflects who you are.

This is a guest post from Jill Lee of Jillybean Designs.

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Marketing Monday: Acadia National Park

One of the best parts about living and working where we do is having Acadia National Park right in our backyard. Actually, it really is our backyard. There’s hiking for all skill levels, swimming opportunities, it’s dog friendly, and-this might be a bit surprising- but their social media marketing is pretty incredible. True, they have great source material in terms of being photogenic, but that’s not why it’s one of my favorite local pages to follow. They are one of the only pages that consistently and successfully uses humor in their marketing, and they’re up to date with current events and online trends. It’s pretty impressive how they go above and beyond the typical sort of marketing we’d expect from a national park. Here are a few of the ways ANP is making it happen on social media:

Use of hashtags… One reason that I love following ANP’s Facebook is that they’re pretty current when it comes to the latest memes and hashtags. If something is trending, you can bet that it’ll be incorporated in their marketing (if it hasn’t already). They’ve used #tbt to share educational tidbits about the park and it’s founders, a clever way to merge historical information with present-day methods. They also pay attention to holidays and events on a larger scale. For example, during the month of March, they had a series called #WomensWednesday to celebrate Women’s History Month. Each week, a new woman was featured along with her contributions to the park. Below, they used National Puppy Day and altered the “Find Your Park” slogan- in other words, double points!

Bonus points for using puppies in marketing.

Triple points for using puppies in marketing.

…and memes. I’ll admit, when these cartoons came out on Facebook, I was vaguely annoyed by them. But, as I mentioned before, when something starts trending, ANP picks it up and runs with it. And their adaptation utilizing George Dorr’s face was pretty clever, if you ask me.

Original post here: http://bit.ly/1XcbPz4

Parodies. I’ve always been a sucker for a good parody. ANP alters the lyrics of popular songs to deliver occasional updates, like the conditions of trails. It’d probably be easier to just write “Be careful, the trails are slippery,” but it’s more fun to read the same message in the form of a Vanilla Ice parody. Not only did I receive valuable information, I got a few laughs as well. Part of me wonders how long it takes to write each one of these parodies. Is it a group effort? Do they pick a song first and then change the lyrics, or vice versa? Whatever their method- it’s definitely working.

niceice

Encouraging User Generated Content. As a page with a lot of seasonal followers, one of the unique challenges is maintaining year-round engagement for people who aren’t around. It’s a balance of keeping locals informed about park updates and conditions, while getting non-locals excited about returning for a summer trip. Every now and then, they ask questions or write posts that encourage followers to share their park stories/memories, or ask what they’re excited about doing in the upcoming season. Everyone has a story about a time they’ve spent in the park, it seems, and they’re willing to share. Below is an example from February, leading up to Valentines Day.

hearts

Thanks Acadia National Park for continuing to keep me amused! If you aren’t already following them on Facebook, make sure you check them out here

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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