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…
For anyone who’s not an expert in this field, marketing strategies, SEO or social media can be like a maze. If that’s the case, navigating through it can get super difficult sometimes. However, that’s okay! Marketing agencies exist exactly for that reason — to help business owners and entrepreneurs efficiently use their business’s potential in the name of marketing. Naturally, you want your business to grow. You decided that it’s time for you or your firm to start working with a marketing agency. Good for you! But where do you start? How can you make sure that you choose the right one? There are so many questions that might seem tricky, but this list of things you should avoid will answer the most crucial ones.
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:
There are over 7,000 marketing tools you can use today. And I'm going to name them all. No, just kidding, Scott Brinker already did. Actually, he updates the database every single year, so I don't have to. ;)
If you are new to marketing and want to learn about the 10 most useful tools for small businesses, keep reading!
Instagram, one of the most famous social media platforms based mainly on visuals, is currently used by more than one billion users and the number is only growing. That, needless to say, represents a great opportunity to reach the audience you haven't reached yet. One of your marketing goals might be to generate quality leads and Instagram may be the channel you want to use. Now the key question is how to effectively leverage this platform so that you generate valuable leads at a reasonable cost. There are ways.
First of all, you need to consider if Instagram is a channel for you and your type of business. If you can't think of a way to showcase your products or services, show your personal story or share something from “behind the scenes” in a VISUAL way, Instagram may not be a good fit for you. Similarly, if your audience is not present on Instagram, consider other channels for your communication mix. Try to look deeper into LinkedIn or Facebook which represent opportunities to generate leads too.
On the other hand, if you figure out a way to leverage its visual style, Instagram is a great fit for connecting your potential customers with your brand. 62% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories. That's just one placement. If you effectively leverage all of what Instagram offers, people will love you (and your brand).
Let's finally jump straight into ways to effectively generate more quality leads through Instagram!
Have you already come across social media posts tagged with “Sponsored”? Do you wonder what they mean and on which principle they work? Good question! An even better one would be, how can these posts help you reach way more people than you do with your organic posts – the ones that you publish on your social media timeline? In today's post, we will uncover not just that, but also concrete steps to get started!
Truth be told, you can use these types of posts to reach many more people than you do today…
But before we jump into what a sponsored post means, let's look at what it doesn't. Say that you run an Instagram profile and add posts to your profile. So do we. This is what it looks like:
These posts are the ones that appear on your social media profile and most importantly, on the feed of your followers and friends. The ratio between the number of people you reached with your posts and the total number of followers is your ORGANIC REACH. The more people who follow your profile, the more people you can reach with every one of your social media posts. Therefore, it is important to build your audience.
But what if you want to reach more people? What if you want to expand your reach to someone who hasn't liked your page yet? Both answers will be clarified, go ahead and continue reading...
In regards to the organic reach, we have to tell you the cruel truth. The organic reach is constantly decreasing. What that means for you, is that you no longer reach the same number of people as you did before.
We have covered this topic more thoroughly in this article, but to point out the importance of this decrease, see the graph below:
From 2012 to 2016, the organic reach on Facebook has sunk to almost zero…
Let's do some math to understand it perfectly. Say your page or profile has 10,000 followers. Due to the organic reach decline, your organic posts may reach between 300 and 800 people based on its performance – making your organic reach between 3% to 8%. Now the chance that some of these 300 to 800 people interact with your content is way lower than if you reached 3,000 to 8,000 people (call me captain obvious). It may sound logical and totally clear, but ignoring this fact and relying solely on your organic reach may cost you your share of voice or market share. In other words, you may lose your followers, fans and customers if you don't act.
Now that we've come through what organic posts mean, let's finally clarify what these “sponsored” posts are that serve you targeted content on your social media feed…
Refresh your Facebook or Instagram feed and scroll for a few seconds… Stop, there it is! A post that looks like any other one with one small difference. It is tagged with “Sponsored” in the upper part. Can you see it?
You will find plenty of these on your feed. And most of them will be perfectly targeted at you – based on your interests and preferences. Now the key is to leverage this feature for you and your business, isn't it?
Let's dive into how this sponsored content works. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tik Tok and other social media platforms allow you to run ads through their advertising interfaces. You sign up, learn how the platforms work and jump straight into promoting your content. These interfaces – let's call them the Campaign Manager Accounts for now – remain unknown to “ordinary” users. It's all the magic that “happens in the background”.
Let's take Facebook as an example. Say I want to promote our post that has been (organically) published on our timeline:
Organically we didn't reach as many people as we'd like to. Let's promote the post then…
Either in Facebook Business Manager or tools like our own app, you can follow a few steps and create your campaign – sponsor a post. By defining your goal, marketing persona, budget and message, you can expand your reach and speak to people that have never heard of your business before or show your content to followers you'd not have been able to reach organically.
Going back to our example, let's say that we want to target small business owners in California. According to data from Facebook, we could reach 290,000 people, respectively 277 to 800 people a day for less than $10 a day.
Yes, promoted posts are about investing something into expanding your reach. But as you see, you don't have to sit on millions of dollars in marketing budget to speak to more potential customers than you probably do today. You don't even have to sit on hundreds of dollars to achieve your goal of reaching more people…
Not to say that when they purchase from you, your investment is back – with interests (or margin:)
This is what the set up would look like...
With only a few clicks – in case you use tools that simplify this process – you are able to start your campaign (sponsored post).
The best thing is, that you target your posts solely at people who are relevant to your business. In other words, you tailor your content to people that can become your customers, followers or fans.
Say you run an eshop with accessories. You sell watches, necklaces, small pieces of clothes, rings and other goods. You have two types of products: those made for men and those made for women.
You manage your Instagram profile and post content about your customers’ satisfaction (reviews), newest pieces of clothes and inspiration as to how they fit with other outfits. This content can be interesting for both men and women. But what if you want to run a campaign targeted solely at men with the goal of selling all the men's watches that have been sitting in stock for a long time? That's when the sponsored post comes into play…
The process has already been described: you define your goal (sell more watches), marketing persona (men in California between 25 and 45 years old, interested in fashion), choose which channel you want this post to appear on (Instagram), set your budget and campaign length ($5 a day for 7 days) and finally, create your great content – the ad that your potential customer sees on his feed. Say your post looks something like this:
Thanks to this campaign (while using the setting in the brackets), you are able to reach more than 7,000 people. And you've invested $35 in total. Awesome, isn't it?
Is this the only option to increase your organic reach, you may ask? It's definitely not. Marketing is all about synergy. You may want to combine more tactics to achieve the best results.
Let's go through some tips & tricks that can work perfectly with (or without) promoting your posts.
Again, this may sound obvious, but is not always completely understood. Creating super engaging content comes first, along with understanding your audience! If you don't know who you're talking to, your speech can never really resonate, right?
It's like in life. Imagine you go on a date with a pretty and intelligent woman who is into fashion and yoga. You spend the whole time speaking about the Super Bowl! How would that date end? You probably know the answer...
The same applies to your social media profiles and any content that you publish. If you create something that no one's interested in, you decrease not just your reach, but also engagement.
Start with defining your marketing persona and create content that they find interesting, educating, funny or shocking – anything that goes with your brand.
If you do so, your followers will like, comment, share and recommend your content and products. Thus, you can leverage the real power of social media: the snowball effect that happens once people share your content.
Let me share one secret with you. Your followers are not only on Facebook or Instagram. They also use other platforms like Youtube, Pinterest, LInkedIn or Tik Tok. In fact, an average American Internet user has more than 7 social media accounts. That being said, you should definitely leverage the potential to reach your audience where they are (and where your competitors probably aren't… yet).
Platforms like LinkedIn or Tik Tok have a much higher organic reach now. They are where Facebook was a few years ago. That may change as they grow and decide to monetize their audience, but till then, you can build your follower base and successfully grow your business! Go for it...
Are you also suffering from a continuous decrease in organic reach? Do you reach less people than you'd like to? Try some of these tactics and let us know how it has helped :)