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Why Keeping Your Social Media And Digital Marketing Up To Date Is Important For Your Business Health

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One of the accounts I work with is a user-generated content account where I repost content from paying community members, as an additional way to market for them. Right now, these accounts are smack dab in the middle of their busy season. They aren’t keeping their channels updated because they are so busy running their business. Not updating is entirely understandable. You, as a business owner can not wear all the hats, run the business, write content, and post the content all while taking care of themselves, their families, and their other personal commitments. Something has to give, and most of the time, I have noticed that it’s their digital marketing that gets put on the backburner.

While this is an understandable situation, I am here to advise against this happening too often to you. There are inexpensive and even free resources to keep your accounts up to date; it just needs some planning in advance and setting aside a few hours during the week to update the scheduling applications.

In this day in age, we all as customers have become accustomed to interacting and engaging with a brand on we feel like we know them in real-life level. We think of brands as a part of us and the smaller ones we might even feel a personal connection with the owner.

The flip side to this is that it could be attracting other new people to your feeds via locations, hashtags, and search terms. If these new people visit your feed, see that you have not posted in months or longer, they may scroll right past you and choose to do business with someone who is keeping their feeds up to date and current.

Both of these situations are not ideal for your business because, in a world where our attention span is about three seconds, a society we are continually fed content from every direction existing and customers could forget that you even exist if you are not staying at their top of mind.

A few suggestions to avoid this situation from continuing to happen to you, invest in either a free or a paid social media scheduling platform, schedule time on your calendar to write and schedule your posts. Or hire out the workload to a social media manager.

Every single business has a busy season. The trick to keeping existing customers as well as enticing new customers to conduct business with you is to maintain your social media presence.

Five Ways To Successfully Instagram Story For Your Business

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During one of my latest speed marketing sessions, we were chatting about Instagram Story Highlights and how some stuff is better left off of them. If you’ve met with me or heard me talk you already know that your Instagram Highlight buttons should be where you put work that you would want on a portfolio or that you want to live permanently in your feed.  

You’ve also heard me say that your Instagram Stories should also showcase a more personal version of your business, highlighting the person and people involved in doing the business. The stories should give a behind the scenes of the person that is engaged in the business for 24 hours.  

Stories could include slides of your dog, cat, kiddos, camping trip, etc. However, these slides should not necessarily make a permanent home on your highlight reel if they do not have anything to do with what your actual business is. The more candid stories that relate to your business should live in your highlight reel if you love them and fit into the themes of one of your bubbles.

I’ve flipped my way of storying and started thinking of Instagram stories as “trailers” to grab the attention of the viewers to click your name and check out your entire feed. Since I started experimenting with this method on my feed, and a few clients, feed their stories, views, and profile visits have skyrocketed. It’s insane, stories that used to get 20 pictures or so have quadrupled! I’ve been testing this on my feed for 30 days, and while my likes and engagement are down, my website, clicks have quadrupled as well.  

A few simple ways to create a “trailer” for your feed:

  1. Make use of the quiz, survey, and question stickers.

  • Erase the “Ask Me A Question” statement on the question sticker and ask your audience a question you want their answer to. 

  • The survey sticker is a great way to do a market research of your target. A few times, I did a survey asking if people would prefer speed marketing during happy hour and the response was overwhelming that they did. Therefore, I’m going to try a few sessions during the happy hour. 

  • The quiz sticker is a cool interactive sticker to see who in your audience is paying attention to what you are putting out there and an excellent way for your audience to get to know you better and for you to be more personable. 

2. Don’t always be trying to sell and talk about your business. Show what your life looks like, messy desk, no makeup and all. You also want to show who people are going to get in real life when they sign up to meet with you.

3. Make sure that your highlight bubbles are categorized including services that you offer, reviews, and any other page that is also on your website. 

4. If you are selling products and have them in your feed, shoot those posts also to your stories. 

5. Try to keep up to 4- 6 slides on your story in a 24-hour time frame. Any more than that and people are going to swipe away from your account. This is extremely important if you are doing a video story. Please be conscious that you are saying everything you want and getting to the point in ONE story slide. If your video goes for multiple slides, you’re going to get swept next. Longer video can most definitely live on your IGTV channel. 

The story neighborhood seems to be the hip place to hang out these days. If you are not storying, consider giving it a try, and if you need help with ideas sign up for one of the Speed Marketing Sessions. 

The Digital Marketing Manufactured Look Is Moving Out

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Q. Should your brand's social media feeds only be styled professional photos? Is it ok if your brand's social feeds are just phone photos, or is it ok if your feeds are a mix of both?

A. The best device to take content photos with is the device that you already have with you.

I am a firm believer that putting any kind of content out there is better than not putting any kind of content out there.  If the only equipment that you have to take a photo is your phone then that is the equipment that you must use. A good photo doesn’t necessarily come from a big fancy DSLR camera, it does help however but what makes a photo great is the skill set of taking a great photo.

A comment was left on my Instagram post when I posted about this subject and I feel that it sums everything up perfectly, “If you can’t shoot compelling content with a phone, you can’t do it with a DSLR.  Invest in learning skills, not gear.” Citizen Nomads

There are beautiful feeds out there that I know personally are only shooting their social posts with a phone camera. Then there are feeds that I know they are hiring out their content shoots to professional prop stylists and photographers.  All of which is great but the question then becomes are you doing this just to fit the “Instagram Aesthetic”?

The Instagram Aesthetic is something that has been created by influencers, the beautifully styled flat lays with the warm filter, the perfect pose in front of the perfect piece of street art taken by their Instagram partner.  You all know what I’m talking about, the perception that everything is perfect because their photo is perfect. This is boring, generic and the chances of you getting scrolled over are pretty great. Because that perfectly styled photo of yours looks manufactured and just like everyone else in your industry.  

The Atlantic released an article stating that the “Instagram Aesthetic Is Over” and I seriously couldn’t be more excited that things are shifting.  The article goes on to talk about how Gen Z influencers are now reaching for their phones camera instead of hauling a DSLR with them to restaurants and spending hours getting that perfect shot masked with the perfect curated “Instagram Aesthetic” filter they have created. Gen Z wants to shift things back to real-time and consistently showing up as your authentic self, not your social media alter ego.

I’m not here to pish posh on a beautiful photo, quite the opposite, in fact, I’m here to say that it should stop taking up so much of your brain space and time to get that Instagram aesthetic approved photo. Mavens feed has been and will continue to be a mix between phone, stock, personal DSLR and professional photos, why because I want to be part of the change in the way people look at marketing and branding. As a business, your business should be a reflection of and authentic as you.  I should meet you for coffee, or walk into your store and feel the same feelings that I feel when I look at your feed or see your ads. I shouldn’t be seeing an alter ego of you on social media and meeting the authentic you in person. The translation of your in-person experience with a brand and a digital experience with a brand should be very similar if not exactly the same.

This is the goal of Maven and Muse produced content. Your business is as authentic as you are and this should translate into your digital marketing. By creating authentic to you content you are getting people to stop their scroll and take notice. This will build engagement, which leads to trust which leads to booking or purchasing from you.

The manufactured look of Instagram does work, it’s proven day in and day out. Perhaps in your homework assignment, you will notice that the manufactured look is what your target likes and expects from you. I’m not here to disrupt what is already working for you,  I am here to challenge you to look at the analytics of your feed and see what posts have performed the best. Are they stock, DSLR or phone captured content? Were your words heartfelt or salesy? Dissect the top three best performing posts and mimic more of that in the weeks to come.  The numbers don’t lie my friends, they are communicating to you what is working for you, what is setting you apart and not making you manufactured.




How To Make Your Instagram Accessible For Visually Impaired Community

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You’re posting on Instagram all of the time as part of your business marking plan and I know that you have seen the “ALT  text” when you are loading a photo. You’ve probably blown right past it when you are posting because why would you even bother, as far as you know Instagram does not offer SEO so what’s the point?

Instagram introduced the ability to add ALT text to photos in an effort to make the platform more accessible. Users can add their own custom ALT text that can be read by screen readers to assist those with visual impairments.

Right now, you’re thinking, “This is awesome, how do we use this feature professionally and assist those with visual impairments? “

The ALT text is NOT meant to be a  “copy and paste” of your Instagram caption. Instead, the ALT text should be used to describe exactly what is in your photo.

Think about it, Instagram is a VISUAL platform, and we certainly are not describing the photo in our caption. We are instead,  writing our marketing copy, sharing a quote or a story. The caption is the part screen readers are able to assist the users with, however, the user is missing out on the visual that accompanies it if you are not writing your own  ALT text.

Instagram wants everyone in the community to be able to interact with each other, including those with visual impairments. Keep this in mind, if you are not adding your own ALT text, know that Instagram will automatically generate  ALT text to your photo using their own technology. Their image recognition technology will scan your photo and write an ALT text for you. I encourage you to begin getting in the habit of writing your own ALT text before you post because the Instagram generated text is pretty generic.


The ALT text is your way of giving the user a full Instagram experience by understanding the complete context of both the photo and the caption. As a business owner,  you are now making your content, your product and yourself accessible to more people in the community. How awesome is that?!

An item to note: It is strongly recommended that ALT text be 125 characters or less to ensure compatibility for popular screen readers. The character limit for the ALT text on Instagram is 100 characters.

While researching and at the time of this publishing I did not find any solid evidence one way or the other that by also using the ALT text could mean that there is some sort of SEO associated with it on Instagram just yet. However, I have to believe that this is in the works if it does not already exist on at least a BETA level.  ALT text on images when using it on your website we know helps your SEO ranking on Google, which has me thinking that perhaps something like this is coming or again already exists to some level on Instagram.

How To Add ALT Text To A New Post:

  1. Upload your image as usual.

  2. On the Instagram caption page, press “Advanced settings”:

  3. Click “Write ALT text”: On Instagram you can write a maximum of 100 characters to describe what is in your photo.

  4. Write your ALT text and press “Done”


How To Add ALT Text To Your Old Photos:

You are able to and I encourage you to take the time to do so.

1. Select the photo you want to add ALT text to:

2. Click on the 3 dots “…” in the upper right-hand corner:

3. Choose “Edit”:

4. Press “Add ALT text”:

5. Write your ALT text:

6. Click “DONE”

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Tips on how to write ALT text from Perkins School for the Blind:

  1. Describe the image as specifically as you can.

  2. “Imagine someone is sitting next to you as you scroll through Instagram and they point at a photo and ask what it is. Chances are, you’ll give them a one or two sentence description that is perfect for writing as alt text” ( Perkins School for the Blind).

  3. Is there an important text on your photo (like signage or quote)? Write out the text.

  4. Keep your ALT text (relatively) short, 100 character limit on Instagram and 125 character limit on popular screen readers.

  5. Write who is on the picture (especially if you have a personal account). For example: “Jade sitting on her computer with a latte next to her.”

  6. Colors: “Don’t be afraid to share what colors are in a photo, if the color is important. A photo can be described as being in black-and-white, having warm or cool colors, or being tinted a certain color. Someone wearing clothes that are the main focus of the photo can write that they are wearing “dark denim Levi’s with a white t-shirt, Adidas sneakers with green earrings.”


Spring Cleaning Your Content: When To Recycle Vs. When To Create

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The spring equinox has happened which means that it’s time for all of the spring cleaning to happen. Spring cleaning your house, your car and even your social media feed. Today we’ll talk about reducing your time spent creating new content by reusing and recycling what you already have working for you.

The old Earth Day saying goes “Reduce Reuse Recycle” and spring is the perfect time to put this plan into motion for the content on your social media feeds so you can enjoy the incredible weather that I know you’re itching to get out from behind your computer to go and enjoy.

REDUCE the time that you spend creating content, meaning glance back through your feed to see what posts performed well and REUSE them. Decide what people liked, the message or the photo and reuse that. People are afraid to reuse content which I don’t completely understand, especially if that content is at least 100 days old. I’ll be the first one to tell you that most of your ideal clients are not going to remember if they saw that same photo on your feed previously.

If the post has a message that you want to bring back to your target copy and paste the caption and add a different photo. Remember that the marketing buzz is people need to hear or read something SEVEN different times before they will act on it.

When you are RECYCLING content just be conscious of changing up something about it up. I’m sure that you have learned or experienced something in the time since it originally posted to update the caption and always update the hashtags. No need to have the exact same photo attached to the exact same hashtags.

There is an excellent app that I use to “regram” because I am all about reducing time. What I enjoy about this app is you don’t get that icky looking transparent gray box with the original posters screen name on it. However, with that being said if you are EVER reposting someone else's content make sure to credit the original poster in the caption with “Regram: @Insert_User_Name”.

Spring is also an excellent time to create new content. The spring light is way better than that harsh winter light and I don’t know about you but my creativity feels more inspired with the sunshine. It’s probably all of the vitamin D. Block off time to style and create new product photos, or grab a coffee, get outside and walk around a different neighborhood with your phone or camera and take photos of things that are relevant to your brand that you can use later on in your marketing efforts down the road.

To wrap, reduce your valuable time by reusing and recycling previous well-performing content especially the messages that you want to stick in your ideal client/customers brain. They need to hear/read these messages seven times before they will act.

The Social Media Apocalypse What's Your Digital Marketing Back Up Plan

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The social media apocalypse of Facebook and Instagram being down is happening. It’s March 13, 2019, Mercury in retrograde and we’ve been experiencing the biggest meltdown in social media history.

Since 8am PST people around the globe have been unable to get into both Facebook and Instagram. At the coffee shop today the world seemed a bit quieter, people are having these things called conversations with each other instead of being preoccupied with snapping a quick picture of their latte to put on their Instagram story. (Ahem I am guilty of this as well, sometimes.) I don’t know if this is because we are all secretly freaking out just a little bit.

I will say that I have enjoyed the silence of only having to focus on other digital marketing platforms for my clients that do not include a member of the “Facebook Family” for one day.

The real question we should be asking is, “ Will Facebook and Instagram be back tomorrow?” Honestly, that could happen. We could wake up tomorrow with the same messages on our pages, or they could be erased forever. As of this posting Facebook, reps are saying, “Facebook is down for required maintenance. We will be back soon.” Historically when huge expansive platforms such as Facebook and Youtube have done an update it’s only been 1-3 hours, as of this writing we are going into hour number 12.

If this outage has taught us anything it should be to not put all of your eggs in one basket. I’ve been saying it in talks and to clients since the first Zuckerberg Senate hearings, start thinking about your digital marketing backup plan.

If these platforms do not exist tomorrow, do you have access to your customers? Do you know your customer's email addresses and how to get in touch with them? The only real channels that are guaranteed for you to directly communicate with your customers or clients are your blogs and your email campaigns. I know these are such a pain in the ass to do. These digital marketing campaigns actually take a bit of time, I get that. You can’t post a pretty picture and write an emotionally touching caption to get your message out there. But you should start considering a plan B.

There are other great platforms to build a presence on as well Youtube and Pinterest are two that if you are not already tinkering around on you should at least begin investigating.

Lately, I’ve been pushing current clients toward my Pinterest management package because it is a powerful search engine that as of right now I don’t see going anywhere but up. The power of brand awareness that Pinterest offers is incredible if you know how to use it. Start here, you already have amazing photo content of your products which is half the battle, because you have been posting those awesome images to Instagram. Just start posting them with a good description to Pinterest as well.

Consider blogging as well, if you are a service based business or a product based business you have things to say, things that your target market IS searching for.

I am really thinking positive that the “Facebook Family” figures it out and that we are back in action soon but then again if they don’t we’ll figure it out. We are in this together.

What Is Your Instagram Neighborhood?

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The best piece of advice that I got recently was to step back and look at Instagram as an entire city but with three neighborhoods.  This resonates with me because in case you don't already know I moved to Portland via Chicago.  Chicago is a very neighborhood centered city, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Pilsen to name a favorite few. The beautiful thing about big cities is the many different neighborhoods inside of them, each with their character, their feeling, their vibe. 

If you happen to live in a big city, think for a moment about the places that you tend to spend a majority of your time.  How many different neighborhoods do you frequent? Obviously, the area that you live in but are there others that you travel to for a particular coffee shop or a one of a kind gift store that you find that unique item for someone? 

Keep this in mind as we step back to look at Instagram the same way as we are looking at a big city. There are three diverse neighborhoods within Instagram, the feed, the stories and the lives. However, the one similarity amongst all of them is that they each require a neighborly manner to thrive.  You know where you reach out and chat with a person and aren't just lurking neighborhood watching them.  

The Feed

This is obviously the epicenter of the city of the Instagram city. The feed is where the perfectly curated posts and thoughtful words live.  The space that gets the majority of the friendly neighbor to neighbor chatting.  

The Stories

Stories are north of the city center and are a welcoming community that shows a more personal and attainable side. Stories is a place to show more of what your every day looks like and who you are as a person.  The problem here is like any neighborhood place you tend to frequent if you get annoyed with the oversharing that someone is doing you turn your head and avoid contact with them.  This neighborhood is an excellent place to people watch because everyone is doing their own then but conversations are hardly ever started. 

The Live

The Neighborhood that everyone says is up and coming. Realistically this feature should have taken off like gangbusters but over a year later it's still that up and coming place. Some of the neighbors here are still just not sure what to do with it yet.   

By now you have undoubtedly figured out which two neighborhoods are your favorites. The two favorites you should be posting to frequently the other it's ok to make a weekly or monthly commute to, but you shouldn't forget about it all together.  

 

State Of The Instagram Algorithm

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Extra, Extra read all about it the Instagram updates.  I'm going to break the changes down into three categories; post exposure, engagement, and hashtags.

Post Exposure
If you've been following along, you know that when you post something to Instagram, it may only be getting exposed to 10% of your audience. If your brand new post gets engagement right out of the gate, you're in luck because then the post will be released to the other 90% of your audience relatively soon. You've certainly seen posts from up to 12 hours to an entire day before showing up in your feed out of order.

Remember those comment pods that everyone was going crazy for in 2017? If you are still a part of these pods, they are not doing your account or the people that comment on your post any favors.  They are hindering you and here's why, Instagram keeps track of who is messaging your photo and when you message your own photo then you get a blow up of comments, well they know something is up.  Authentic engagement is what matters, not solicited but we'll get to that.

If you are posting like a business and thinking like a business why aren't you, in fact, a business account? Seriously, if you are in any way shape or form promoting your business but haven't moved on from a personal account, you are sabotaging yourself.  The time is now to switch over, there are so many perks, you have access to so many statistics to make sure that you are reaching your target audience. 

Engagement

Engagement is by far my favorite topic. I will never understand how accounts can post and post and post and never talk to their followers or another account.  This is a social network in 2018 it is no longer an option to post without engaging with others. In kindergarten, we all learned the golden rule of playing well with others. Let's think of your new golden rule is to engage well with others.  One of the most frequent questions I get asked is if it's ok to engage once a week? No, you should be commenting and chatting for at least 20 minutes every day with your following and other accounts that are using your hashtags.  20 minutes is vital because you want to raise your exposure and engaging with others helps this so much, 
In your 20 minutes of engaging, please do not leave comments such as, "great pic" "love this" or just a single emoji. It's a waste of time because with comments like this the algorithm will think that you are a bot.  Instead, write a complete sentence or at least four words before an emoji. 
Storying is another excellent way to bump up your engagement and pop up more in peoples feeds.  The stories that appear first in your feed are the accounts that you engage with the most.  Story more often and give people a reason to see you first. 

Hashtags
I know how you love to keep your caption aesthetically pleasing and post the hashtags in the comment.  Well, I'm sorry to say that based on my own experience the reach is better when hashtags are posted in the caption.  Include hashtags in the body of your caption if you want to be seen by more than 10% of your audience. This change has been fluid for about a year. To make this work for you instead of against you, write your epic caption, six dots than your hashtags. 

While you can use 30 hashtags in a post, don't do it every time. If you do, make sure that you are switching them up. Instead, consider three sets of ten hashtags and alternate them with filler tags relevant to your photo.

What could be seen as spam comments= shadow banning which = little to no business which = little to no money. 

New Features

There are also some awesome new features that will work in your favor.  You've seen the explore feed, the specially curated collection of posts based off of your interests and the people you follow.  Well, people that you do not follow that share interests with you will begin to show up in your feed. Yep, that's right strangers will begin popping up in your feed, which in turn means that you will be popping up others feeds. This is great because when you comment on these photos you will be exposed to a new following of people. 

At the end of last year, it was rolled out that you could begin to follow hashtags. This is one feature that totally brings me so much joy because gone are the days of typing certain hashtags into the search bar to interact with. The rumor is that your account will be favored if you follow hashtags. Start small, consider following your top five favorite hashtags. 

That's all I got for you so far, I am working on the Facebook update post because there are so many things about to change over there. 

Instagram Workshop For Your Business

"I've been a small business for 6 years. If I didn't understand how to compose great photos I would not still be in business. I actually arrange my work flow around good photo content. Social media + good photos = sell things." Tamara Young Consign Couture

Portland Instagram Workshop

 

 

Just like every business owner, every business is different, and their social media feed should reflect that. When I first sign on a client, sometimes their Instagram feeds just need another pair of eyes.   Which is totally acceptable because not everyone is born a photographer or a marketer.  If they are a client that lives near me, we grab a coffee and we talk photography basics,  how to get the best photo, how to to up their hashtag and engagement game. 

All of this perked an idea in me, why not team up and ask my "staff" brand photographer that I use for all the website revamps to teach a workshop on how to get a killer social media photo with just your phone.  I pitched her and she said yes, so here it is a two part workshop happening in April at my favorite work from space The Society Hotel.  

In week one brand photographer Ashley Courter will teach you photography basics and assign you some homework. In week two I will help you with your homework and help your business with industry specific hashtags and tips on how to build an authentic following which will turn likes into sales. 

There are still spots available, sign up via the workshop tab.  Come enjoy lattes, wine, snacks all while learning to level up your businesses Instagram game. 

Instagram Spam Comments

In my efforts to stop the Instagram commenting bots and attempting to get social media back on track of actually being social I'm about to drop a tiny bit of knowledge on you.  

You know those annoying spam comments you get right after you post a picture that you've worked really hard on achieving the perfect lighting as well as the perfect caption. You load it and press share, then right away you get a comment, part of you is so excited, it's only been 20 seconds since you posted your hashtags and someone is commenting on your well thought out post. Then you click the comment and it's "Want more followers" or "Like for Like" or my personal favorite "Wow check out my page" and disappointment and annoyance sets in.

Well I'm here to help you with this, you can deter the bot comments and here's how. 

Settings>Comments>Turn On Inappropriate Comments> Type in your custom keywords>Done

It's that easy! Now how are you going to do your part in keeping social media actually social?