I know, I have been there too… You are about to create a piece of content — a nicely done cappuccino in your café or a beautifully pictured house that you want to sell. But how the heck do you begin? With no professional equipment or experience — you want to produce the best content for your social media profiles, business website or email campaign, right?
Well, how do you go about it? The key is you don’t have to be perfect, in fact, that’s part of the magic of this medium! Be natural, be spontaneous, and be active. Your new audience will expect funny, educational, engaging and UNPROFESSIONAL content. In a world where marketing aims for the ideal, your audience wants someone or something that they can relate to. A picturesque cappuccino is nice to look at, but what about a customer savouring their morning drink, only to burst out laughing because they have foam on their upper lip? Capture it and share it! Sometimes less is more. And something is always better than nothing…
In this article, I will show you how you to use a (relatively new) medium that not only allows you to share your unprofessional and spontaneous content, but REQUIRES IT! This medium is called Instagram Stories aka Instastories. As the name says, it can be used on your Instagram profile (both personal and professional). Below see an example of what an Instastory looks like:
Let us first clarify what Instastories are. They are vertically shared pictures, videos, animations that were originally used by Snapchat. After some period of time, Instagram and Facebook implemented them and extended their platforms. Instastories disappear after 24 hours which makes them an instant, spontaneous and engaging piece of content.
But why should you actually care about them? How are they relevant to your business? As we regularly discuss in other articles, webinars and private Facebook groups, ask yourself a question before you get started: Can I reach my audience on this channel? Instagram is used daily by one billion users and Instastories by more than 500 million people. That truly means 500.000.000 people. Every. Single. Day.
Going back to where we began. You are probably asking yourself: “Do I need professional equipment, a best-of-breed creative studio with the best of the best?” Not at all. Be natural, be spontaneous, and certainly, go ahead, and be unprofessional! This platform requires it. Your audience expects you to be natural. They expect to see what’s going on behind the scenes and what your daily updates are — share with them the best moments that can describe you or your business. Tell STORIES! Because that is what this platform is about.
Let’s break the stereotype: You do NOT need to be a professional to create great, engaging content for Instastories.
Let’s get practical. How do you really begin?
You know how to get started. Get inspired before you jump into the content creation. See a series that shows some examples of really nice — BUT STILL UNPROFESSIONAL — Instastories which you can do within a few seconds.
There are plenty of cool features that you can use to make your content visually more appealing. Amongst them, there are live streams (even shared streams with other coworkers, partners, and followers), galleries of Gifs, options such as slow motion or boomerang effects, coloured backgrounds, many text fonts, polls, quizzes and questionnaires (ways to engage with your audience), chat windows and tons of emojis. Again, choose what correlates with your business image (branding). I may be repeating myself, but less is sometimes more…
AI, Chatbots, Blockchain, self-driving cars, cloud-computing... You have probably heard of all of those, right? Do these terms represent trend or a hype? What is the actual difference between those two words? And are they important for you, as an entrepreneur who's just getting started? These are probably the questions that jump to your mind when hearing these buzzwords.
There is a HUGE difference between what stays and what doesn't. In other words, not everything will stick and change our behaviour. This is how we can define our keyword, trend: as a change in the behaviour, habits or ways in which things work. It is a constant change. Let me explain trend in a graph, as I am a visual learner and a numbers freak…
On the contrary, hype is something that simply occurs and fades away… without any lasting impact. If I spoke in graphs, hype would look like this:
When the terms are clarified, let us look at the history and point out some of the trends and hypes we, as humans on this earth, have been through…
Presented by Diner's Club, the very first universal credit card came to use and was accepted by some establishments. Had it been just a hype, no one would be using credit cards today… Non-cash payment instruments play a huge role in our lives today – this trend changed our behaviour for good.
Now, imagine a bank not issuing a credit or debit card after opening an account – a business that did not catch the trend. This bank would for sure not survive in today's world…
… and changed the way we travel, transport ourselves and purchase goods. Startups like AirBnB or Uber have shown us there is a new way of ordering a taxi or renting a flat for a few nights. Have classic taxi companies had to react to this change? You bet they have!
You can probably guess where this is heading. There are a plethora of examples of trends that have changed our lives. These are real changes that – if businesses ignored them – could be very harmful...
Here we go. 2019 and podcasts, home voice assistants, voice search, voice order and – you nailed it – everything that has something to do with voice is slowly changing the way we behave. Is this something you should keep an eye on? I believe so. Is this something that is about to change / threaten / boost your business? That truly depends on your business industry and approach.
On the contrary, hype can calmly be ignored (or shortly leveraged). Do you remember the Bitcoin bubble in late 2017?
If not, let me briefly explain. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that was invented in January 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Its price has been slowly rising since then, and in 2017, one Bitcoin was worth around 20,000 USD. With no real value behind it! In other words, so much money was invested in this currency that the price rose rapidly. An easy economic rule: when the demand rises (while the offer is limited), the price goes up. But what is crucial, is the value behind it. There was no value at all. And in January 2018...BOOM!
Identifying hype and trend can be crucial for the survival of your business. But no one really tells you how to get started. Well… saying that there is a manual would mean there is a way to predict the future.
But there are some ways to prepare yourself. As Gartner puts it: “Three key factors will ultimately enable you to identify the potential impact of a particular technology trend on people, business, IT and the technology market:
Yes, you have to know your business and industry perfectly in order to answer those questions. If you decide to simply ignore everything that goes around you, you may get kicked out of business soon… But if you learn, build on your knowledge and keep an eye on the current trends & hypes (as you may not recognize them at the beginning), your chances will rise.
Build on your knowledge. Do not pay attention to what does not affect your business, but be aware of something that does…
We at groost.com are leveraging online advertising for small businesses, which has shown to be a strong trend that is here to change many industries. In 2018, for the very first time, 50 % of the world's population was online. Never before has the percentage of people with access to the internet been so high. And guess what… The number is rising. Is this a trend or a hype? You are now able to answer the question for yourself.
Are you up to date with what's on trend for 2019? Check the Gartner's research here: https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/5-trends-appear-on-the-gartner-hype-cycle-for-emerging-technologies-2019
If you run a social media profile, you've probably thought of what to put on your content calendar. You want to create and publish something that truly brings value to your audience and resonates within them, right? User generated content can help you not just fill your content calendar, but truly bring something that gives a new perspective to your business.
User generated content, as the name suggests, is content that is voluntarily created by your best customers – brand advocates – and shared so that their audience can see it. It is basically the best thing your customers can do for you – refer their friends to you/ share your product(s) or speak about your service(s)!
Imagine you are an owner of a gym that is visited by dozens of customers daily. What if some of them posted a photo to their social profile, exercising in your gym and saying something nice about your place. Wouldn't that be great? Could that bring you new customers? Absolutely.
79% of users say user generated content has a high impact on their purchasing behaviour. That simply underlines what we've stated earlier.
In 2014, Starbucks came up with a White Cup Contest which, guess what, is focused on user generated content… You can read more about the contest here. The only thing we will say is that they collected over 4,000 pieces of content! That just goes to show the true power of brand advocates. Your business can do that too – probably on a smaller scale, but you can. Remember that every one of your best customers can bring you another one. Your brand advocates grow as your business grows…
If you say your product is the best, some people might believe you straightaway. But isn't that statement much stronger when made by someone who is already a loyal customer and has no other interest in regards to promoting your brand? User generated content brings true authenticity into your content and, thus, gives others another perspective of your business.
People love seeing the product they aim to buy has great reviews! It gives them proof that their purchase won't be a mistake. Social proof – proof by someone other than the business itself – is a strong weapon and we encourage you to use it in your content calendar. Look at Amazon. Their products have thousands of reviews, which makes it far more valuable and far more worth it to buy for new customers.
Let us look at some other examples of great user generated content shared mainly on Instagram:
Get your audience on board. Talk to your best customers and motivate them to create a good product review, unboxing video or simply a happy picture while using your product or being at your cosy place (café, gym, etc…). Those who love your product will happily help you get it in front of other customers, trust me.
The use of influencers is a trend that has been here for some period of time. Brands work with people who gather an audience that fits their plan. Simple as that. They often collaborate with celebrities who are followed and trusted by millions of people, experts in a given industry, or gamers that record their gaming sessions. If you can find someone who has your target audience, team up!
The fact is that you don't have to work with widely known influencers, pop stars or famous athletes. Find so-called micro influencers who help you reach a smaller audience, but with higher precision. The cooperation won't cost you a fortune and results will follow, as well!
Micro influencers, in most cases, generate higher engagement with their audience and are more passionate about increasing their audience. If you start cooperating with them at the beginning of their journey, your business relationship can grow into something that constantly helps you achieve your business goals and to build a wider (and more relevant) audience.
The best collaborations, nonetheless, are the ones that are natural and not “too obvious”. Give some micro influencers in your surroundings your product, let them play with it and tell you whether they like it or not. Those who do are your best fit. They will happily (and naturally) promote your product within their audience.
In this post we've stressed the strength of your customer base and your audience – motivate them to tell the world about your stuff and let them bring you new business. Find new alliances with micro influencers, let them fall in love with your product and enjoy the fruits of your (hard) work!
Have you been wondering which format is the best to use for promoting your business news on Facebook? This article will briefly explain the difference between the main Facebook formats and what to use each of them for. You will find out how to create them, as well as, handy info to stay relevant and entertaining for your customers.
Weird. Your page likes or followers remain the same, but you no longer reach as many of them as you did in the past, right? The reason is obvious – algorithms change as does the business strategy of social media networks. Let me explain what I mean by that.
In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would reduce the organic reach of branded content and will focus more on “meaningful connections”. What is a meaningful connection you may wonder… Facebook no longer aims to keep you on their feed as long as it can, but instead focuses on quality time. Thus, users should be much more in touch with their friends, communities and groups than they are part of and, most importantly, truly interested in when it comes to content.
What is the result of this change? A 34% decline in organic reach on average. But that hasn't been the first time we faced such a drop in organic reach...
In other words, those who were building their community and follower base on Facebook in the “early days” of Facebook leveraged the opportunity to reach almost everyone for free. Today it's totally different.
This strategy applies for more platforms, of course. Instagram (being owned by Facebook) follow the same rules. So do the others… And it makes (economically) completely sense for them.
How to get out of it?
It looks like a huge problem, right? But what if you can use this to your advantage? Focus on great content, optimize according to the data that you get and leverage the latest Facebook formats and you may overcome your competitor pretty soon… Not everyone is able to follow the trend and change the processes accordingly.
Here are some tips to follow to increase your reach:
Marketing strategy is probably the most abused word in the marketing industry. Everyone talks about strategies, but few know what it really represents. It has nothing to do with curating your presence on Facebook nor developing a Chatbot for your website. Trust me, strategy is something completely different.
Being an entrepreneur who is running a small business is already tough itself. Marketing, in most cases, is a process that slows you down as you have to learn it, hire people to execute your vision or deal with an agency (and their high fees). Luckily, with tools like groost life gets a bit better. Prepare a good strategy and automate your marketing efforts. Let's find out how.
Luckily, some tools can guide and educate you without you having to learn. Automation platforms are built to cover the majority of your marketing tasks. Having said this, they search for ways to guide you through the process of a successful onboarding in a simple way.
Before we get started, let's clarify what a marketing strategy means.
A strategy sets a target of where it is we want to be within a certain period of time. Now we are at point A, so where is the point B we want to reach. Marketing strategy, to narrow it down, answers these three core questions:
First, we need to clarify who we're aiming for – our target audience. Our target audience represents our potential customers. Getting to know them as thoroughly as possible will be crucial for the next steps. Secondly, we must focus on positioning – the way our customer sees us, what he thinks of us, what jumps to her mind immediately after the name of our brand or product is pronounced. If you think of Volvo, what jumps to your mind? Is it safety? This is not by mistake. Volvo wants to be considered the safest car, and they do everything they can to be perceived this way. That's positioning. Lastly, we ask ourselves, what goals we want to achieve. Knowing where you want to go and being able to quantify it helps you stay on track at all times!
Of course, you may want to conduct in-depth research on both internal and external factors (SWOT analysis works for internal factors, PESTLE for external) to find out how your business gets both positively and negatively influenced. While analysing, keep an eye on your competitors to know how well they do (and why). These points are, nonetheless, tied to your overall business, not solely marketing. Let's just focus on marketing for now.
Did you answer the three core questions? Great! Now see how automation tools can guide you to not just create, but also execute your strategy – complete the tactical steps.
1. They encourage you to focus on your customer
All tools from the most complicated to the easiest ones focus on a customer. Look at how Hubspot does it – they offer you a CRM to store all your customer data, track the website activity of your customers and segment them for email marketing and social ads. Customers are at the very center of their product features. So that should be the case in all of your marketing activities. In our latest post, we've covered the importance of being where your customers are – be customer-centric. Marketing automation platforms guide you without your assistance, so you can use your energy elsewhere.
We've built a tool for an easy and efficient campaign management. It is so easy that non-marketers run their campaign within minutes. We focus, needless to say, on a customer- first approach. We encourage you to create your marketing persona and center your campaign around this. See how we do this below:
2. They offer you many ways to create content
Content – be it emails, social media ads, website forms or blog posts – is what should give a real value to your customer. There are many types of content (educational, comedic, aesthetically pleasing…), but all of it should be easily recognisable. What I mean by that is that every piece of content shows it's YOU and your business, and does not belong to anybody else. Using your logo in the header of an email or a social media creative helps easily identify your business. Your claim in headlines shows it's you, your brand colors signify it's you, the tone that plays at the beginning of each of your podcasts says it's you… With every piece of content you build the complete picture that pops into a customer's head when someone says the name of your brand or product. Presenting your unique attributes over your competitors and repeatedly identifying yourself with a certain market category helps your target audience discover who you really are – and what makes you unique. Automation platforms not only allow you to create content you need for your business to be successfully present online, but also guide you through these steps, so that you don't do it wrong.
3. They encourage you to analyze results
I can not emphasize this any more – if you can't measure something, you can't improve it. Tools like Keap, Hubspot or Mailchimp give you an in-depth analysis of your campaigns and efforts. They truly show you what's important to track and what isn't. When it comes to measuring results, things can get pretty complicated. Don't look at hundreds of metrics, unless it makes sense to you and you see the dependencies between them. If you run campaigns for 200 USD a month, focus on a few things (key metrics) that are tied to your goal and nothing else. Make sure to update your dashboard and, ideally, let the tools send you regular emails with the metrics you are most interested in. It'll save you a bit of time.
To codify the results of any campaign, it is crucial to tie them to your goals. Any campaign needs to be set up with goal(s). Say you want to increase the engagement for your Facebook post and lead people to your website. The number of people reached and the number of people that interacted with your content is what you'll be looking for –the click through rate will show you the difference between those two (number of people who interacted / number of people reached). Simply put, this metric shows how good and juicy your content is. Did you get a 5% click through rate? Good job! Do you think 5% is too low? I suggest you check the (industry) standards and judge this afterwards. Some metrics seem to be low, but if you dig deeper, you may realize that your campaign rocks.
To wrap it up, focus on three important questions, choose the right tools to help you execute your strategy and always measure your efforts. Being a small business owner is tough itself, don't put in more work. Let automation platforms help you get rid of the routine tasks and, thus, deliver better results. We've mentioned some of the tools here, so make sure to check it out.
How do you catch potential customers that are near you? How do you target people according to their location?
Do you have a house to sell and you want to find a buyer in your area? Or do you run a small hot dog stand and want to sell more of your delicious repast? Try to target the people that are near your business!
Is your stock full of T-shirts that say, “I ♥ Boston” and you want to sell them? Target the real Bostonians!
Facebook simply allows you to target people according to their geographic locations. You can sort your audience broadly or very specifically. That means you can target the whole country, state or region, city, zip/postal code, and if you have a store, you can use the option for your very own business address that is to be set on your Business Manager page.