social media

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.

Etsy Featured Seller: Amanda Zehner (Living Threads Co)

This month on the blog we are all about Etsy, the online marketplace for “unique goods.” We have a lot of local people who use Etsy as an ecommerce tool, and they’re the best people to talk to about the platform!

We love businesses who love to help others, and that’s exactly what Living Threads Co. is all about. Founded by Amanda Zehner in 2014, Living Threads Co. features handmade textiles from around the world, in an effort to join these communities with the American market. Here’s what she has to say about Etsy as a way to increase online exposure/awareness to products (BEC questions in bold).

What made you decide to use Etsy as a marketplace for your business?   

Access to an already established customer base through a marketplace that attracts a similar demographic as Living Threads Co. is targeting. Access to resources and a network of other similar businesses.

Do you sell your products anywhere else online or in real life?

 Yes, a majority of our business is done outside of Etsy. We primarily use Etsy as a supplemental platform and another way to get our name out, help new customers and businesses find us and then direct them to our e-commerce website. We also sell in seasonal pop-ups and through wholesale B2B relationships to expand our impact on small scale artisans.

LTCo. Nicaragua Family Impact 2015.08.11 from Living Threads Company on Vimeo.

What has contributed to your success on Etsy?  

We view success on Etsy as relationship building and brand exposure but do not have a great deal of success in sales.  Creation of a shop on Etsy does not mean sales and business. You have to prioritize marketing and driving people to your Etsy shop.  That is not our priority as we choose to focus on driving customers to your own commerce site. However, the cost of maintaining inventory on  Etsy is so minimal that it is worth it to us to maintain it.

How do you stand out in this marketplace?  

We are a higher price point product then a majority of products on Etsy and as mentioned above, we strategically focus our energy on driving traffic to our own e-commerce site. However, I do think that our higher end quality product on Etsy helps us to stand out.

From the Living Threads Co. website. One way Living Threads Co. stands out (in our opinion) is their unique story and the fact that their products are not only high quality but have a direct impact on the lives of others.

What’s your advice for anyone considering selling their products on Etsy? 

Make sure that you have a strategy for driving traffic to your shop and standing out, high quality product images and a marketing plan with a focused effort to drive people to your site and convert that to sales.  Whether that is a blog, Instagram, Pinterest, or all of the above.

Tell us about your most interesting Etsy transaction (i.e. weird customer questions/requests, or a purchasing experience).

Have had great experiences purchasing from other vendors and greatly appreciate the ‘small business’  feel. Also being able to interact directly with the owner, have custom work done and have questions answered very quickly.  We have had people reach out about larger orders but have been on completely different pages cost-wise (there seems to be a lack of understanding of the value of hand made artisan products, which is why on our own site we try to tell that story really clearly).

One of our personal favorite items from Living Threads Co is this finger puppets set! There are also sets for other famous children’s books, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Goodnight, Moon.

(Just for fun) If you had $100 to spend anywhere on Etsy, what would you buy?

We would buy more custom handmade cotton tags for out handwoven blankets. I love being a part of the design process of each part of our final product and creating a final product that is hand made from fiber to tagging and supporting small businesses, entrepreneurs, artists and creatives from Guatemala to Maine or Colorado.  So much fun!

Thanks again to Amanda for answering our Etsy questions, and make sure you check out her website! 

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.

Etsy Featured Artist: Dory Smith Graham (Worthy Goods)

 

This month on the blog we are all about Etsy, the online marketplace for “unique goods.” We have a lot of local people who use Etsy as an ecommerce tool, and they’re the best people to talk to about the platform!

Dory Smith Graham, owner of Worthy Goods, has been using Etsy since 2008 to sell her products. She creates bowties, wool felt jewelry, scarves, and much more from organic, sustainable sources. Here’s what she has to say about Etsy (BEC questions in bold).

What made you decide to use Etsy as a marketplace for your business?

Etsy was fairly new back in 2008 when I started out, a handmade selling platform that was just beginning to take off. It had a very low barrier-to-entry, and that was perfect for me. I had a wicked slim product line at that point, four reversible baby slings and very little extra time with a 6 month old, a sewing hobby and working part time as a goldsmith. I was able to get the shop up and online in just a day.

One of Dory’s products, a gum ball felt and velvet choker

Do you sell your products anywhere else online or in real life?

You bet! At SevenArts in Ellsworth, year round, you can find much of worthygoods full lineup of hats, bow ties, linen smock aprons, and more. Other shops that carry worthygoods are Island Artisans in Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor; Salon Naturelles, Bar Harbor; Quench, Belfast; Archipelago, Rockland and Center for Maine Craft at the Gardiner exit. Online there are three venues: my main website, worthy-goods.com with a full product line and I have two Etsy shops as well, worthygoods, and the other is worthygoodstextile where I sell organic cotton fabrics and vintage wooden spools & bobbins from shuttered textile mills. I vend at a handful of vibrant summer and holiday fairs locally on and around MDI as well as in southern Maine. My very favorite events to show at are the IAA Labor Day Fair on the Village Green in Bar Harbor and PICNIC Holiday in Portland.

What has contributed to your success on Etsy?

For the first couple years I received a lot of support as a member of the Etsy Maine Team. Then as a more senior member, I offered support to new members. Etsy also offers webinars and email/pdf type ‘schools’ that help with solid advice in parcels that are usually easy to work through to improve targeted areas like developing voice, branding, Etsy SEO as well as planning for the holiday season.

How do you stand out in this marketplace?

Since worthygoods is dedicated to gear steeped in Maine style, I stand out with my product line and my branding. Both highlight and reflect my love of Maine from The County to the coast. My branding uses a vintage Maine lobster license plate, something that still resonates with me and my customers, especially. I find that the more I accentuate the things that ring true to me as reflecting Maine heritage, the more my customers see worthygoods as authentic Maine gear.

What’s your advice for anyone considering selling their products on Etsy?

If you are just starting out on Etsy, I would suggest you take a long, hard look at your pricing structure. Since Etsy has become a publicly traded company, they have really increased their transactional fees, added a fee-based payment processing platform, incorporated two paid layers of search-based advertising, in addition to the shipping platform. It’s easy to under-price yourself and hard to bump it up later on once you’ve established yourself a bit.

Tell us about your most interesting Etsy transaction (i.e. weird customer questions/requests, or a purchasing experience).

My favorite sale on Etsy for worthygoods was relatively uneventful, but Farrah Fawcett had an employee of hers custom-order and purchase a hat for a relative. I was on cloud 9 thinking that one of my Little Trapper hats was having a brush with fame in California. An interior design service, Homepolish reached out to me via worthygoods textile on Etsy for a variety of vintage wooden spools and bobbins. They purchased a bunch and used them for a pop-up men’s shop, J Hilburn in NYC. Esquire did a feature article on it and there was a decent bit of local press and write-ups on it, too. I still use their styling as inspiration for my own shop photos and decor.

If you had $100 to spend anywhere on Etsy, what would you buy?

Ooh, fun! I would buy myself a bag (or put it towards one, at least!) from roughandtumblebags.Etsy.com. I was in Portland recently and was thrilled to find a second-hand one at a cool consignment shop there. They are hand-made in Portland Maine and have a great lived-in look and casual feel about them.
Thanks again to Dory for answering our Etsy questions, and make sure you check out her website
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.

It’s Not About The Leggings: Strong Online Stances And You (Part Three)

This is the third and final installment in our series “It’s Not About the Leggings: Strong Online Stances and You.” If you missed the first two posts, make sure you check out Aggressive Marketing Tactics and Click Bait

Manners On The Move

Besides aggressive marketing tactics by businesses and more subtle ‘click bait’ approaches to get people to websites, the fast evolution of online manners is something that effects us all.

Social norms move quickly in this online world. Many people, including myself, are still figuring it out. Do I tag my boyfriend in a Facebook post without asking him? Do I post a picture of my friend? Do I invite that new woman in my running group to my online pajama sale this coming Saturday?

Gary Vaynerchuck says ‘content is king but context is God’ and he’s right. Context can briefly be broken down in three different questions, 1) Does it make sense in the context of the social media platform you’re using (i.e. is this an Instagram post or a Twitter post?), 2) Does it interrupt people in a bad way (think pop-up ads that are hard to click out of), and 3) Does this align with how I want to be seen as a person/brand/business? These are the big takeaways, but the article itself is worth a read: https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/content-is-king-but-context-is-god/

However, if you aren’t a brand or a business, those questions may not translate to your personal social media usage. Instead, these questions can help you find your context. Some questions before taking an action:

  1. What things about social media am I comfortable with doing (posting photos, ‘liking’ political figures, etc.)?
  2. How often will I post? What is ‘too much’?
  3. If my information involves other people, do I get their consent? Do I get consent always or just for certain kinds of information? If so, how?
  4. What subjects am I comfortable talking about online? My religion? My struggle with depression? My children? Where I am drinking my beer right now?
  5. If I have a business, what tactics am I comfortable using to promote my business? Do these make other people comfortable?
  6. If someone isn’t comfortable, how will I address it? If people opt out, how will I deal with that?

An example in my own life, I don’t ‘check in’ to a location with someone without their consent. But if I have a really flattering picture of a good friend, I post it but don’t tag it (I let people tag themselves). These are some of my lines but yours will likely be different.

More resources:

https://www.facebook.com/digitalmanners

Manners in a Digital World

After this series, you can probably go back to the beginning offenses and realize that being outraged about someone who is overenthusiastic at Lularoe isn’t really isn’t about the leggings. A lot of the things we’ve brought up fall on individual people and companies to decide whether or not what they’re posting is “appropriate.” While you can’t control what other people choose to share online, perhaps you’ve thought of a few ways to be a bit more mindful of your own posting habits and what your online rules look like.

What we can control is how we react to this behavior. Kindness and a desire to understand go a long way, online and off. So when you feel yourself get irate at a friend’s Instagram post or deciding whether you should tackle a controversial topic in a blog post, keep these things in mind and proceed as best you can. Because that’s all any of us can do.

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.

Sharing is Caring

Leaving a review is one way to show your favorite businesses some online love. Another way is hitting that “Share” button (on Facebook, which translates to retweeting or reposting on other platforms, or just passing along information). As a business, there are ways to make it easy for people to share your stuff, which ultimately spreads your marketing to a greater audience than it otherwise would have.

There are plenty of ways to share on behalf of a business or organization you care about online. Some of the more common methods include:

  • Share as a status update, on a friend’s timeline, or in a private message.
  • Invite friends to an event on social media or share link to event registration.
  • Retweet (Twitter) or Repost (Instagram).
  • Forward a newsletter to a friend and/or tell them how to subscribe if it’s something they’re interested in.

Sharing as an individual is fairly straightforward. But as a business, what can you be doing to make your content more shareable? Besides being generally useful and interesting, here are some things to keep in mind:

On Social Media.

Whether you’re promoting a sale, sharing an event, or just doing general updates, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering “share-ability” of your post. Most shared content on Facebook includes a photo or video. If you have one or the other, consider quality (is it blurry or off-center? Is there unnecessary footage?) as you’re posting- fans want to help you promote your business but might not want to share a ‘meh’ visual. This goes for Instagram, too, since it’s an all visual platform.

If you’re making a flyer for an event, check out our post on How Not to Design a Flyer for tips on this particular type of visual.

Keep in mind that well over half of Facebook users are on their mobile devices, so double check your links (especially those that you share from your own website, if you have one) can be read on mobile. Test it on your own device or ask a friend to help!

On Your Website.

A lot of websites have plugins or extensions for sharing through email, social media, or even text messaging on mobile. Hubspot has an easy to follow guide for adding social buttons for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. This is an easy way to let people share your material on a channel of their choice, not necessarily one that you’re active on. If you aren’t automatically publishing blog posts on your social media accounts, social sharing buttons on your website makes it easy for others to share them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

We’ve talked about this before, but if your website is where all the “big” things happen (sales, registration, donations, etc), having a responsive/mobile-friendly site is something you really want to consider. If someone is getting to your website through Facebook on their phone on the train, they might not remember “Oh when I get home I have to sit down at my computer to follow through with this.”

In Your Newsletter. 

In addition to social sharing buttons at the bottom of your newsletter (example pictured below), you can also add options for “Forward to a Friend.” True, a person can easily hit “Forward” on their own, but the idea is to make sharing easier for people.

In addition to making it easier to share, you can also give followers an incentive to share. Some businesses offer a “Share this post for a chance to win” contest on social media, which is a fairly simple contest to set up. Encourage people to share your content, be interesting, and have fun with it!

 

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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