An Instagram Approach for Your Brand for the Holidays

An Instagram Approach for Your Brand for the Holidays

The holidays are an important time for any business to get a big boost in their sales and start to get new customers interested in their brand through seasonal marketing strategies. Your marketing approach on social media is especially crucial because it can help drive a lot of traffic to your site and generate more online sales. Instagram offers an easy way to showcase your products visually and create more engagement with your brand through comments and likes.

To get the most out of your Instagram during the holidays it is a good idea to develop a plan for how you want to reach people and market your products as potential gifts. Using holiday themes and posts can help people associate your brand with the season and they will think of you when they are coming up with their shopping list. You can also come up with ways to get people more engaged with your posts throughout the holidays and build up your brand’s presence online.

Visual Holiday Themed Profile and Posts

People love to engage with visual content online and Instagram is one of the best resources for visually appealing posts. You can start getting ready for the holidays by updating your profile with a holiday themed bio and photo and maybe even updating the link to a holiday landing page. Your bio is important especially for mobile users to get directly to your website.

It is a good idea to make as many holiday-related posts as you can but make sure to keep them varied and unique so that they don’t seem repetitive. You can frame some of your posts as advice and provide gift ideas so that people feel that they are getting useful information from you. Make sure that you take the time and effort to craft your images by experimenting with angles, lighting and filters especially when you are posting photos of your products.

People always appreciate great images and content that tells a story. Your posts can introduce holiday crafting or gift wrapping tips and other DIY ideas that can get them involved with your profile. You use your content to showcase your products in a way that really connects with your audience and will keep them interested.

Encourage Engagement with Interactive Posts

Throughout the holidays people are viewing a lot of advertisements on different platforms and it can be hard for your business to stand out. To stay competitive with other brands you can generate more interest in your company by boosting engagement. Create posts that are designed to get people talking and interacting with you in a meaningful way.

A popular type of interactive post is the “this vs. that” photo comparing two different items and asking your audience their opinion on which they prefer. These types of posts that tend to stir up controversy can get people to engage by commenting and getting involved in discussions with you and other followers. If you create these posts with holiday themes such as “egg nog vs. hot chocolate” people will be thinking about your brand more during the holidays.

An easy way to get people to engage more with a post is to ask an open ended question that gets people to talk about themselves in a conversational way. You can keep questions short, simple and specific but with the intention of creating deeper engagement with your customers. You can ask about their holiday traditions and post an appealing holiday themed photo to get people in the spirit.

Getting people involved through contests is also a good strategy during the holidays especially when it incorporates your products. Brands tend to benefit a lot from user generated content and a contest asking followers to post a photo with your product along with a hashtag can get people more familiar with your brand and spread the word about a new product you want to advertise. Create an incentive for people to get involved in the contest with a giveaway for the best photo.

Promote Holiday Sales

An Instagram Approach for Your Brand for the HolidaysEngagement is necessary but what you want most out of your holiday Instagram campaigns is to convert customers to purchase your products as gifts. Make sure to use Instagram to promote any holiday sales and discounts that you are offering throughout the season. You can create short video ads providing information about the sale and include a link to your website or a landing page for the discounted products.

If you offer people good prices as well as fun, engaging posts then you can benefit enormously from holiday content. Stay creative and keep things light so that you aren’t selling your products too hard and are maintaining positive interactions with fans. The more you promote your brand during the holidays the more people will turn to your products for their holiday shopping.

8 Tips to Market Your Products for the Holidays

8 Tips to Market Your Products for the Holidays

The holidays are always a major boost in sales for most businesses, and getting a head start on marketing will help you get the most out of this time of year. Starting your holiday marketing plan early can ensure that you are prepared to for what the holidays might bring and also allow you to meet your sales goals. Here are some ideas on how to market your products for the upcoming holiday season.

  1. Think of Ways to Market Products as a Gift

Certain products may lend themselves to being sold as gifts but others may need a different approach so that consumers think of your products as options for their holiday shopping. Gift certificates and gift cards are always an easy way to get customers to think of you during the holidays. Even obscure products can work for the holidays if you come up with right angle and market it as a great gift idea through social media and your website.

  1. Use Repetition and Remarketing

People decide to do their holiday shopping at different times throughout the season, so marketing and remarketing often can get people to think of your product when they finally reach the buying stage. You can send multiple emails, direct mailers or holiday cards announcing sales so that your ads aren’t overlooked.

  1. Offer Great Deals or Discounts

People are spending more during the holidays than they do the rest of the year and they will appreciate discounts wherever they can find them. If you can bundle your products or services into a deal customers will be more inclined to choose you for their holiday shopping. Create a gift pack of several products that they can buy for family or friends at a good price.

Offering discounts on different days throughout the season can help you target people based on when they tend to shop for their gifts. You can reach people who are last minute shoppers and need to find a good deal right before Christmas.

  1. Create Seasonal Ad Word Campaigns

If you are working on an online campaign for your products you can add in holiday related search terms for your ad campaigns on Google. If you create a campaign to target holiday shoppers you can add in terms like “gift” or “holiday” and also create specific landing pages that offer incentives to shop at your store such as free shipping or free gift wrapping. Make sure the copy you use in your ads and landing pages is seasonal and festive to get people in a holiday shopping mood.

  1. Use Holiday Themes on Social Media

During the holidays, make sure to add lots of seasonal posts and incorporate certain festive touches here and there so that people associate your products with the season. You can even include a holiday giveaway on social media to get people involved on your site. Make sure to ask for engagement as part of the giveway such as comments, shares or likes to boost your posts.

  1. Incorporate Holiday Email Marketing

Using holiday themes in your email marketing campaigns is just as important as social media themes. Fun, seasonal emails can entice shoppers to read your message especially if they are looking for holiday deals or gift ideas. Make sure to include seasons words in your email subject line to catch the reader’s eye and also include any holiday discounts in the subject as well.

  1. Have a Black Friday or Cyber Monday SaleHave a Black Friday or Cyber Monday Sale

The biggest shopping day of the year is Black Friday and many people get a good percentage of their holiday shopping done on the day after Thanksgiving. Many businesses are beginning to extend their Black Friday sales over the whole weekend to get an even bigger boost in sales and incorporate an online sale on Cyber Monday. Make sure to promote every sale online and through email so that people know in advance what to expect.

  1. Tailor and Personalize Your Campaigns

Marketing campaigns during the holidays can be more effective if you create segmented campaigns that target a person’s specific interest. Make use of any user data you have to set up more personalized holiday marketing tactics by advertising to people who have expressed interest in certain products or services. Always use ad copy that is relevant to the user’s interest so that they will be more likely to engage.

Marketing during the holidays can be one of the best opportunities to reach new customers, get bigger sales numbers and expand your following. Incorporating holiday themes and promoting discounts and sales are some of the most effective ways to get people to buy your products throughout the season. Holiday marketing helps people associate your company with Christmas shopping and they may even end up being a returning customer next year.

4 Common Social Media Marketing Myths

4 Common Social Media Marketing Myths

The way that people use social media and the way that businesses market on different platforms continues to evolve and change every year. Brands that are new to social media marketing may have trouble figuring out what their best strategy or approach should be. There are a number of myths and misconceptions that can hinder your ability to be successful on social media.

Understanding these common marketing myths can help you learn more about how to use social media to your advantage.

  1. You Need to Market on Every Social Media Platform

There are social media apps that come and go with their popularity but businesses might feel pressure that they need to be using every new platform available. Some companies might make the extra effort to engage with people on as many social networks as they can but in a lot of cases it may not be necessary. Expending extra energy on a platform that doesn’t suit your brand or where your target audience doesn’t hang out won’t make sense in the long run.

Instead of spreading yourself too thin and diluting your presence online it is a better strategy to focus on platforms where you will get the best results. Even if you are only on a few major platforms it won’t matter as long as you are able to target your audience and reach them directly through those networks. You can also think about which options help to showcase what your brand is about and represent your product or service most effectively.

As long as you focus your attention on a few platforms and are able to generate the results that you want from them there is no reason to add new social media sites to your marketing strategy.

  1. Your Audience Will Come Naturally

Some companies may feel frustrated when they aren’t able to get the type of results they want simply from posting high quality content. People in marketing may believe that as long as you are creating the right material that people want to see then the audience will naturally follow. Unfortunately this is not always the case especially for startups or lesser known brands that are struggling to find their audience.

Even with good content you might need the initially push from paid ads and promotional campaigns to get people to see your brand. Once people are more aware of your company you might see more organic growth through sharing among the audience members. The best strategy however is to start out with some sponsored ads until you see the kind of results you are looking for from social media.

  1. You Need a lot of Followers to Be Successful

While it is always good to have a large amount of followers, it doesn’t always mean that you are getting the kind of interaction that you want from them. Many of your followers may not even be reading your posts or engaging with them which makes the number less meaningful. For smaller companies, the goal is not always just to increase the number of followers but rather to increase engagement.

The number of followers you have can be a good metric for knowing how many people know about your brand and like you enough to subscribe to your posts. When it comes to the audience members that actually are making purchases and getting involved with your brand, that usually is based on engagement. Your success on social media can be determined by how many meaningful interactions you have with your audience and not just the size of the audience itself.

You can start to measure the impact that your ads or regular posts have on social media by looking at engagement data such as likes, comments and shares. Keeping track of these can give you a better idea of your success on social media.

  1. Social Media Strategy is Separate from Other Marketing

Although in some ways social media marketing can stand on its own as an independent strategy, it actually works best when it is used in conjunction with other tactics. It is a good idea to connect your social media strategy with your content marketing, SEO, influencer marketing and personal branding. Even if you have figured how to target your audience and know the best times to post you also need the right kind of content to encourage engagement

Your other marketing strategies draw support and power from your efforts on social media and vice versa. Even if your social media strategy is going well you will need to continue your other marketing efforts and combine them for the best results.

Once you break through these myths about social media marketing you might have a better idea of how to make the most out of all of your advertising and promotional strategies online.

Using Vine for Video Marketing

Vine is an app (acquired by Twitter) that helps you create, post and share 6 second embeddable video clips. Forget about video production crews, video rendering and other technical edits. If you like animated-GIFs, you can think of these short videos as a fun way to use different content in your current social media campaigns. Here are some some things to remember if you’re thinking about using Vine for your business:

Simplicity: Keeping it simple is always a good rule of thumb. But this matters even more when you’re dealing with 6 seconds of video! Whether you’re doing a quick product demo, office/staff intro, event announcement etc. make sure that your video showcases and achieves one main purpose.

Brand awareness: Vine is an awesome way for a business of any size to strengthen their online branding on social media. Whether it means showing your logo in a creative way or just literally showing your best products,

Shareability: The popularity of Vine videos are growing, even off Twitter where brands can now embed their videos on their website or blog. The flexibility of sharing these videos makes it appealing for businesses who want to grow their social media presence.

Personality: Even when using these short videos, it’s an easy and quick way to showcase the personality of your brand and employees and to give potential customers a brief look inside your company. Remember, you can also utilize the sound function to add music or quick voice-overs.

Read more about “The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Vine for Marketing” here and let us know what you think of Vine if you’ve tried it. Comment or contact us for any questions about video marketing.

4 Visual Networks for Social Sharing

look at me

Are you tired of Pinterest yet? If you’re looking for other sites for visual sharing, you’ve come to the right place. Take a look at these 4 picks and you’ll see why you can benefit from other, niche social networks:

1) Behance – This is a great place to showcase your online portfolio and organize collections. Use popular categories as you grow your profile for some awesome link juice. This site is an excellent, profession forum to review peers, show off and have some fun.

2) Snapguide – This site is like eHow (or similiar tutorial sites) …BUT it’s more visual appealing as pictures are front and center. Instead of relying on text that can be confusing/boring, you create guides using with chunks of text and easy to follow visuals. From “How to Get More Followers on Instagram” to “How to Keep Bananas Fresh Longer”, you’re sure to find a relevant category that you can contribute to.

3) Jux – When you visit Jux, the pictures literally take up your whole screen. Join to immerse yourself and share pictures, articles, slideshows, block quotes, videos and top 10 lists. This may seem like a lot but all these categories are based on big,beautiful pictures. Whereas sites like Pinterest can be overwhelming with endless pictures and thumbnails, Jux zeroes in by allowing you to only focus on one piece at a time.

4) Story Wheel – Instagram pictures, stories and nostalgia. What more is there to want? This site allows you to curate stories into neat little slideshows using your own pictures. Sometimes, words just aren’t necessary.

Whether you’re looking for more external link building resources, social media advertising inspiration, or just a place to connect online with peers, these sites are sure to be helpful. Let us know if you have any other favorite sites for sharing visuals!

Microsoft Gets So.Cl

microsoft so.cl

If you heard that Microsoft has launched a social networking site, the first idea that comes into mind that it’s a competitor to Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus. Wrong. In their own words, Microsoft So.cl is an “experimental research project” and the goal is to help users search for, express and share ideas through collages.

So.Cl’s Quiet Unveiling
So.cl actually launched in December of last year and was aimed at students. No surprise here – So.cl is powered by Bing, which pulls visual content that can be added as a story to the community. Like visual and viral trends seen on Twitter and Pinterest, So.cl is meant to be a place where the stories are amplified and classified by specific interests. Of course, this social community isn’t for just any user and it’s completely self-aware of the fact as it still clearly touts a “Microsoft Research” banner under the logo.

The Power of Visuals
Looking through the site, you’ll see a common theme of discussion, sharing and discovering. Instead of the me-centric attitudes of other social networking sites, So.cl is interest-based. And it’s not just about finding and sharing pictures, you can also post news articles and video. Speaking of, another interesting feature is Video Party where you can group chat with your others while watching YouTube videos. Again, these video parties are based on a specific topic, so you’ll be watching and commenting in real time. (Kinda reminds you of the early, good-ole AOL chatroom days, doesn’t it?)

What’s Your Impression?
While I appreciate So.cl’s subtle introduction and differentiation from other social networks, it’s not really clear if this site can hold it’s all against the giants. But then again, So.cl doesn’t claim to be a game changer. I guess we can only wait and see what direction it takes on next. Like with many social media sites, privacy is a concern. Did you know what your friends are able to view your search history? Be wary of your questionable searches! Besides that, nothing else really stands out in my mind. What do you think of So.cl?

What Can Your Business Learn from 2012’s Super Bowl Ads?

Did you catch the big game this weekend? Whether you’re in it for the actual game, the food or the half-time show, the advertisements have become a spectacle of their own. Here are 5 commercials and some lessons you can learn from each:

Doritos
Doritos is known for making funny and memorable commercials and this one doesn’t disappoint. Well, unless you’re more of a cat person… This ad combined humor with product placement in all the right places. Lesson learned: Keep your ads short and to the point – customers will remember!

Samsung
Samsung has made fun of “urban camping” before, it what others have called their anti-iPhone ads. This latest ad showcases a larger screen and some cool looking stylus pen, all celebrated in an over the top style. The down point of this product highlight is that they should’ve shown more about then pen and show viewers that it’s not just a regular stylus. Lesson learned: You can make fun of the competition but make sure that your product can stand up to your talk!

Honda CRV
Nostalgia, anyone? This ad received a lot of buzz and mostly positive reviews. It showcases some pretty cool car features, as well as a possible Ferris Bueller sequel. Lesson learned: people love the 80’s and familiar faces.

Toyota
While this commercial tried hard to push “reinvention”, the ad itself did very little to show viewers what was so new about the car. I think ads like this spend too much time on the creative aspect and not enough on sealing the deal with hard facts… or even product details for that matter. Lesson learned: A commercial can’t be considered effective if it does little to remind customers why they should use your product.

Go Daddy
According to critics, this ad ranks dead last. When these commercials first came out, the point was to be sexy, shocking and provocative. But for the past couple of years, this schtick isn’t doing it for viewers anymore. Lesson learned: Don’t beat a dead horse. If your edgy angle is no longer working, it’s time to think of something else. Nowadays, I think these commercials make the company look very lame and outdated. Anyone else with me?

What were your favorite and least favorite commercials? Check them all out here on Mashable and feel free to share your favorite online viral marketing campaign with us.

Optimizing Your YouTube Videos

The American Dream film

There’s nothing worse than the misconception of, “If you build it, they will come.” Of course, this also applies to your website video marketing. YouTube views don’t just add up by themselves!

Just like Google’s search engine algorithm changes on an everyday basis, YouTube’s search engine also has a system for ranking your videos as it applies to related terms and keywords. So, in order to make the most out of the hard work you put into making a great video, it’s important to look at a few different ways you can improve your YouTube search rankings.

Titles, descriptions and tags – When choosing these keywords, remember that you’re not just appealing to the YouTube search engine but more importantly, the viewers. It’s important to use interesting terms that people would actually want to click on when your video shows up in their search results.

Positive user interaction – YouTube considers the number of views, comments, subscribers and ratings of your videos. Make it easy for your viewers to comment on and rate your videos. (Depending on the nature of your video, you’ll also have to keep a sharp eye out for YouTube trolls.)

Encouraging clicks – Make sure to add your site URL in your video descriptions and main channel info. Keep your viewers engaged with a call to action such as “Visit our site” or “Support our cause”. Also if you receive video responses, you can accept the links to also help increase the visibility of your videos.

PS) Remember to also optimize the technical aspects of your YouTube videos and don’t forget to check out The American Dream Film.

Social Media Gives ‘The Walking Dead’ a Hand

Last night, Conan O’Brien made his triumph return to late night television on the debut of his new show on TBS. Not only did Conan beat David Letterman and Jay Leno, but he also managed to pull in more viewers than Jon Stewart’s Daily Show! Perhaps, this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the 1 million+ devoted fans of I’m with Coco.

Let’s take a look at how social media has also helped one of my new favorite shows, The Walking Dead:

Home to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, AMC brought life to the comic book series in 6 episodes for the first season of The Walking Dead. After just 2 episodes, it’s been confirmed that the network as OKed 13 episodes for the second season!
How exciting can zombies really be? Check out some fan feedback: “This is the best zombie show ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and “This by far is one of the best made series, ever, I truly can’t wait to see what you do next. Thanks.” Note how the Page updates frequently with Q&A, conversation and extras to engage their fans.

The marketing team hasn’t just stopped at their Facebook Page though. Fans can also Spread the Dead, which is a way for them to generate a unique URL to share on their social networks. This is a great way to generate buzz and encourage conversation. Meanwhile, more clicks = more points. The contest ends Nov. 19th and prizes consist of $5000 and other Walking Dead memorabilia. Check out the leaderboard to see who has exposed the most friends to the undead.

Improve Everwhere’s Mp3 Experiment # 7

Tomorrow night, Improv Everywhere is set to carryout their 7th Mp3 experiment!

It will all take place in Manhattan, NY and you can read more about it here. The goal is to have as many people as possible download an Mp3 file that contains instructions – everyone will listen to that file for the first time tomorrow night at 6PM. As the crowd gathers, hilarity will ensure! Last year, the crowd imitated popcorn, followed strangers, and participated in a friendly game of Bats vs. Hammers.

Take a look for yourself in the clip above. Does it remind you of one of your favorite online viral campaigns?

I think they should bring it to Los Angeles!