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How To Use Instagram Stories For Business

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As a business owner, we all know that we should be using Instagram stories more to show off the behind scenes and real life of our brands. Are you struggling with WHAT to show in your stories? HOW often should you add to your stories? And WHY your business should be using Instagram stories? In this one hour workshop, we will discuss all of this and more. Instagram Stories For Business is geared towards, e-commerce sellers, brick and mortar stores, and service providers. You will leave with a link to the digital playbook of ideas to help your business succeed instead of getting skipped over on Instagram stories. 

This is an in-person workshop in Portland, but not to worry if you don't live in Portland I have a plan for you as well. Stay tuned. 

For more information and to register click HERE.

Ten Rad Nature Outdoor Phone Photography Tips For Social Media

New Zealand Wildflowers by Aaron Courter

New Zealand Wildflowers by Aaron Courter

If you've been following my Instagram for a while then you know that one of my favorite things to do is escape to nature. I'm lucky that I live in an area of the country where amazing hikes are only a quick drive away.  While I was hiking around Banff I realized that a photo can never do justice to all the amazingness that Banff National Park is in person.  It prompted me to think about how I can take better photos with my phone in an attempt to capture the majesty of Mother Nature. 

My brand photographer's husband always takes these beautiful nature photos on their hikes so I asked him if he would be interested in offering some of his tips to my readers.

Without further ado, here is Aaron Courter of Aaron Courter Photography.

If you want an incredible outdoorsy Instagram feed, you may need to break a sweat!  Walking out to a visitors platform or designated lookout point is a great start but some of the most incredible things to experience will have you walking a bit deeper into the forest. 

Let’s take the Oneonta Gorge for example. To get to this magical spot you have to scramble an obstacle course of tangled logs and then wade through an ice cold waist-deep river. Worth it? Totally, even if you accidentally drop your phone in the water. 

Here are a few tips you can take with you on your adventure:

1. Lighting is one of the most important things to consider what chasing that scenery. Nature doesn’t sleep in like we do and rarely does the magic happen at noon. In the early morning or evening, the colors get soft, vibrant and more even for your photo. 

2. Leave Early. Not only will you get better light but you will also beat crowds of people, especially if you are doing a popular hike. Be selfish and the first one to drink it all in!

3. Take the iPhone photo now, edit it later. There are so many apps out there, and so many options. Get the exposure right, snap the photo, and then just be present in the moment. You don’t need to upload it right away.

4. Get lower, get higher. 99% of the Instagram photos you’ll see from a specific vantage point will be 5-6 feet high. Get on the ground and see how the perspective is different. Climb a tree, walk backward up the hill, or dip it in the water if your phone is water-resistant.

5. Prepare for the trip. Check your sunrise and sunset times on your weather app for the light. There are also some great apps that get more specific for weather, shadows and light (Lightrac, Goldenhour, Dark Skies) that are very precise.

6. Don’t be afraid of weather. Sometimes there’s drama in rain or snow that you don’t see when everything is just right. Nature is rugged and powerful so embrace her dark side.

7. If you saw it on Instagram already, do something different. Anything.

8. Shoot through something. Put a branch a foot away from your phone camera when you’re photographing the mountain. Vignette the waterfall with a fern. Use the side mirror on your car. Get the mountain reflection on the lake without the mountain. 

9. Get to know your camera app. For the iPhone, single tap for your on what you want in focus, then press and hold to adjust the exposure and lock it in. iPhone cameras are smart but we are smarter, so learn how to boss it around. 

10.  Rules are meant to be broken occasionally, but for the love of all that is holy in nature, don’t zoom in. The photo quality degrades quickly. Force yourself to learn good composition instead and move with your feet. 



What is your favorite hike in Oregon?

I won’t tell you my favorite, but my second favorite hike is probably Mt. Thielson in the Umpqua National Forest. The trail takes you up to a mountain peak that feels about 30 feet wide and breathtaking views of the Cascades. The Rowena Crest area is also beautiful in April and May with wildflowers and views of the mountains.

I know that you recently went to Patagonia, as a bucket list item, why was Patagonia a place that you wanted to go? 

I always knew their jackets were warm so I wanted to see where they were made. I was severely disappointed when I found that Patagonia was just a region in Argentina & Chile filled with rugged, remote mountains, incredible wildlife and delicious food.

What is a good family friendly hike in the Portland Metro area that still has excellent Instagramability?

I’m not sure about Instagramability, but there is so much to see in Forest Park, from the Washington Park side to the far end past Germantown road. Also, the book Portland Hill Walks, by Laura Foster is fantastic, with great hikes close in and up the west hills.

Do you ever shoot hiking photos with your iPhone or just with your fancy cameras?

I’m very particular and I love my Fujifilm X series cameras that are always with me. They are small, light, simple and do exactly what I want them to. I would rather be happy with the image quality and have the experience of a real camera than just using an iPhone. I’m used to looking at photos close up, and iPhone photos don’t usually cut it for me. I always admire what people can do with iPhones. The same photo principles apply!

What’s one hike you’ve seen on Instagram that you now want to do?

If I’ve seen it on Instagram, I probably don’t want to do it that much. But I do use Instagram to see what other people have seen, and what the light may look like at certain times of day or weather.

How do you find out about hiking spots? 

Recommendations from friends are helpful or if I'm looking for a new hike, or www.oregonhikers.org always has good info!

After you've edited your rad photos don't forget to add the location tags when you post them to your social media. 

Navigating The Instagram Algorithm

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Let's take a moment to discuss when you are posting information about an event or a sale on your social media feeds. With the current algorithm if people are not constantly interacting with your feeds they will not see your updates right away.  In fact, they might not see your updates for up to 5 days later! When you are creating that great post that says, " Today only, buy one get one free" you are hardly reaching any of your following.  Let me rephrase if you have an amazing engagement rate consistently on every post this number is obviously higher. However, if you're hovering around a 5% engagement rate and looking for a good ROI of your invested time in that post you will barely see any the day of the post.  You need to give ample notice on whatever it is you are wanting people to know, way more notice than the day of. 

I am bringing this up now because over the holiday season, I personally viewed so many posts about things that I would have wanted to take advantage of but I didn't see the original post until 3 days after it happened.  I am personally guilty of not spending my 20 minutes a day every day engaging on Maven's Instagram. Which is why I do not see stuff from people I follow right away on the day they post because I may have liked or commented on something from them a week ago. Since Instagram now filters what they think you want to see based off of what you have interacted with it's harder to stay in your followers feeds every since day right when you post. Don't believe me just check your search and scroll through all of those suggested photos. Do they look like things you've been searching in Google or on Facebook, as well as photos you've been interacting with more consistently on Instagram? 

Moving Forward

To make this transition easier for your future sales or events consider adding to your story what will be happening and snippets of what is happening in "real time" if it's an event at your business. Remember a story post is live for 24 hours but you are now able to save it to your highlight reel. Also, post about an event at least 3 days in advance on your grid, as well as on your other social platforms, and in your email blasts.  Hashtag those posts and story snippets correctly and you will begin to see a better ROI on your time and efforts promoting whatever it is you want to be promoting. 

Instagram Story Highlights

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Have you noticed that under your Instagram profile a space for your story highlights?  Instagram is copying Snapchats Memories feature and going a step further, by letting you create a permanent home to show off your best stories.  For the purposes of this post I am going to call this your "highlight reel" because it should be 3 or 4 of your best Instagram story slides. Images or videos that will help a potential customer or client really know the person behind the brand. 

If you are not using stories, I'm here to say that you really need to start.  This update reflects just how serious Instagram is about Stories. Though the company (which has gone months on end without significant app updates prior to Stories) has been spinning out new features for more than a year now, updates have barely touched profiles themselves. This is because a majority of the masses are posting well-curated images once a day. We as members were and are not posting nearly enough as Instagram wants, hence why stories came about. 

Stories highlights could help to convert more people into followers by teasing the types of stories that your brand posts. According to Instagram, 200 million people view at least one brand’s profile page on any given day, but two-thirds of those people don’t follow the brand. Now the brand can use Stories Highlights to show them more of what they’re missing. Stories highlights mean that you need to step up your stories game. I'm not talking every post needs to be perfectly filtered but the ones that you think would benefit you by living on your highlight reel need to be your A game material.

For example, if you are a brick and mortar store or a venue that people could rent out to host an event make a top-notch video tour as a story and have it live on your highlight reel.  Let people into your space show them something that you don't want to permanently live in your little squares. Another idea would be to create a story slide about an upcoming promotion or sale that you are having and allow that to live on your highlight reel.   Highlights is a place where you can really showcase more of your stuff, where you can let video live and actually tell a story in your voice about your brand.

Keep in mind as well that hashtags are searchable in stories. While you should only use one or two hashtags on a story slide make sure that they are a good one. 

If you want some personally tailored ideas on what to do with your highlight reel, holla atcha girl. 

Tips to Combat Low Instagram Engagement

Low Instagram Engagement

 

 

Have your engagement and likes been down for awhile now? Are you frustrated? Yeah, me too, and I have six accounts and bosses that I answer too.

The official word is that there was a bug in the explore tab. Supposedly it's been fixed however engagement and likes are still down, all over the platform. Instagram is also testing their spam algorithm to start cracking down on bot commenters and spam accounts that are posting 5x per day or using 3rd party services.

Here are some ways to combat the engagement icky's:

1. Add hashtags back at the end of the caption. I know, I don't like how it looks either BUT it seems to be helping.

2. Change up your hashtags. Last week I spent most of the week reworking a second and third set of hashtags for clients that we are rotating through.

3. Stop using the uber popular hashtags and start using some with less than 50k posts to them for the time being.

4. Interact with the people that are still with you and finding you. Likes and follows don't necessarily lead to sales. Positive relationships and experiences lead to sales, which lead to more customers which leads to word of mouth and more network marketing.

5. Start storying more. Show people that your life is more than a well styled stiff square image.

6. Work on building that email list. I know I know, it's on your list but way at the bottom. However with this plummet of engagement it's just a red flag that you should probably be doing more, getting directly in front of your niche.  

Do you have any tips that have been working for you during an engagement drought?

The Future Of Online Shopping

We’ve all done it, we’ve seen someone wearing or using something on Instagram that we just NEED to have in our lives.  We’ve tapped the photo to see where they got said awesome item, only to find that feed does not have the cool thing we need in our life now. We’ve even gone the extra mile to Google search said awesome item to find it sold out or only available in store.

Enter, Instagram shopping. Currently Instagram is testing out allowing people to shop directly from said Instagram post.  I work with people that run ecommerce websites and retail stores, when I shared this article with them they about lost it.  They asked how they can get that on their feed now, and were disappointed when I said that Instagram hand picked who was going to test this new endeavor before releasing it to the masses.

Image via   SocialMediaWeek.

If you are an ecommerce or retail site I suggest that you give this article a read just to see how the future of ecommerce is about to change. If you are a consumer get that credit card ready because all that cool stuff you see Instagram influencers post is about to be at your fingertips.