If done right, thought leadership marketing can be the strongest form of content marketing you can produce. But what is it and what does good thought leadership content look like?
Thought leadership is a term you hear a lot in marketing circles, so much so that its meaning has become fuzzy. The world is saturated with messaging, telling you to look at this, so how can you stand out and grab people’s attention in the right way? Hidden amid the mass of marketing messages, is a style of content marketing that is authentic, credible, and really works.
So what is thought leadership marketing?
Thought leadership marketing is not a type of content but rather an approach to producing meaningful content. Its an approach to planning how you want to be perceived by your industry as a whole. For example, I want my company/brand to be seen as an authority on a subject, or I want my audience to see our company as a source of insight and value.
In short, it is sharing your knowledge or expertise for free, to your audience in a way that creates the desired perception. The ideas do not have to be completely original, but for it to be effective, the content needs to be authentic and belong to you and your brand in a way that is recognizable. Content marketing is not obvious promotion, but rather content that shows you know what you are talking about and demonstrates your ability and your authentic value in your field. By doing this right, you are in fact promoting your company and brand in a much more powerful way.
So how can I create good thought leadership content?
Share your experience: There are many sources of great thought leadership content. One of the most valuable is your earned perspective through your experience. Sometimes you do something and learn from it, so you have earned experience. And sometimes you just see something nobody else does, and that is no less valuable to share. Great thought leadership can simply be in the form of sharing your experience and what you have learned.
Analysis: Another great source of thought leadership content is analysis. Analysis on the industry and world around you. If you are truly a player in your industry, you will have an authentic opinion and voice. What is happening, what is working, what is not and why do you think so? These are topics that, if authentic, will find an audience and provide value to readers in a real way.
Counter-narrative opinion: If you have a counter-opinion to an established narrative, this can also provide valuable thought leadership content. For example, if you hold a real opinion that you can stand behind, that is counter to a popular opinion, there will be an audience who want to find out why. It’s not enough to simply be contrary or provocative, but if you have a real point to make, this can make for great thought leadership content.
In short, thought leadership is sharing real genuine advice, experience, or opinion, and that is difficult to fake. Because it comes from a real place, it holds substance which adds an organic credibility to what you are doing. Think of stories, points of view or opinions that you might have to share about your industry or the world around you, it is more valuable than you think.
Need help writing some of your own thought leadership content? Get in touch with us today to find out about our copywriting services!
With lockdown still very much a reality for us all, it is clear that things will never be the same again. The way we interact will forever be changed, and the way we do business is no exception. So what have we learnt?
If you’re not communicating digitally are you communicating at all?
For those companies who thought digital communication was not for them, this lockdown has been a huge wakeup call. Hopefully, a wakeup call that will lead to positive self-improvement. having digital communication channels ready at your disposal is essential for businesses and even more so post lock-down. Yes Zoom, Skype, Teams and others are a part of this, but a company’s social media and website are a primary part of this. Being able to communicate to your audience is essential during a crisis but it’s equally as important outside of a crisis to build and sell your brand. Lockdown or not, consumers are savvy these days and look to the internet and social platforms to reinforce their purchasing decisions.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
The lock-down has served as a magnifying glass for many businesses. Magnifying bottlenecks or inefficiencies that weren’t clear before. For many companies it would have become immediately clear that they were casting their next too narrowly in their approach to selling and marketing channels. The lockdown closed many sales channels at a moment’s notice leaving companies completely stranded.
Having a multifaceted approach to selling in this time gives companies options. A shop who also has an online e-commerce store can take orders to fulfil later. A business that can provide services online rather than merely face to face can remain open during lockdown. This can save a business, and keep essential revenue coming in.
The lock-down won’t last forever, and before long it will be business as usual. But want we can be sure of, is that the expectation of consumers will have changed. This experience has provided a rare opportunity to take stock. It will be essential going forward to from this to be prepared. This means having processes and systems in place to deal with the changing demand.
The good news
The good news is that the tools are right at our fingertips. Social media, digital marketing and online selling are established fields now and the tools needed to get there are becoming cheaper easier to use. With the right guidance you too can take advantage of the same systems and techniques that large businesses use successfully.
So if we have learnt anything in this time, it’s that businesses need to take advantage of the tools available to them to ensure success, lock-down or not. Take the time to make sure these channels are in place and working for you, ready for the post-lockdown RUSH!
We live in a time where instant gratification has become the norm among many of us. Whether it be online or in person, people desire experiences and fulfilment without any delay. If your business aims to attract what marketers like to call the ‘Gen Z’ and ‘Millennial’ market, then this is a gentle reminder that you need to broaden your marketing horizons and include experiential endeavours into your marketing strategy. Simply put, ‘Gen Z’ refers to people born in 1995 to 2015 whereas ‘Millennials’ are born in 1980-1994. One may think that directing marketing efforts to Gen Z are a complete waste of time but the first wave of Gen Z has by now entered the job market and have money to spend and invest, making them quite powerful.
Millennials and Gen Z are reshaping the consumer market. Gen Z prioritizes experiences and are very tech-savvy. They are also very purposeful with the content they consume, Gen Z watches on average 68 videos a day from platforms they engage most with such as Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube (Kasasa, 2019). Isn’t is worth an eyebrow raise that Facebook barely made the list? Digital marketing on these popular platforms means only half the battle is won, it’s time to expand marketing efforts and think about what is really making a bigger impact these days. This presents experiential marketing, a form of marketing that allows brands and consumers to connect on a more authentic and emotional level, it engages consumers and provides memorable experiences that lead to effective sales. Gen Z and Millennials love events and experiences that they can capture and share on social media as well as receive instant gratification from. They are the market driving a brands online presence and influencing their connections about whether or not to support a cause.
ROI (return on investment) with experiential marketing can be easily driven and measured. If you are a product-based business – pop-up shops and exclusive product releases are right up your alley. Brands looking to build digital impressions can do so by hosting an event that is socially driven. Another great benefit about experiential marketing is collecting real time feedback about what you are selling, rest assured it is coming from the most honest and transparent audience who aren’t afraid to speak their mind. Gen Z and Millennials are often misunderstood by brands because they don’t respond to traditional marketing strategies. This brings us back to instant gratification and the competitive edge you hold by offering it. Experiential marketing isn’t just a trend, it’s here to stay.
Great content is about storytelling. But, and this is important, do not make everything about your brand.
To connect with your audience you need to learn how to tell meaningful, creative and authentic stories and avoid the norm.
Building authentic relationships online is tough but getting to know your audience is crucial if you want to get through to them and connect.
The way to do this is to listen, respond to the comments they leave and make note of which stories or posts they share the most.
These trends and commonalities can help shape your social content.
Using video content is one of the most effective way to engage with your audience.
In saying that, it does not mean that the power of unusual and authentic visuals should be underestimated or tossed aside but it is important not to always use stock images we have all seen a million times before.
The right image with a great caption and a #hashtag can encourage your audience to react and give you the desired emotion, which you want to evoke out of them.
To build affinity you must be authentic and put out what is best for your targeted audience. A good starting point is to bear these questions in mind: • Do I know my audience? • Does my content resonate with them? • Moreover, are you sharing something which is unique, interesting and informative?
Most importantly the rule of thumb is go with something that your audience will gain the most value from. Your brand is not about you it is about how you make your audience feel. By doing this you will not be limiting your brand only to people who are loyal and are already following your brand. Open up yourself to new avenues as this will enable you to attract new customers. Knowing your audience effectively is also about understanding their culture.
Do not try to engage a community with particular content in the midst of just trying to connect. For instance, without understanding influential figures, trends and the language that they use such as slang and relaxed tones of being colloquial. Audiences will catch you out and see you as a brand that is just pushing out content, of which it is clueless about. Effectively you cannot appeal to everybody, which is why it is important to research your audience.
Let your audience’s insights guide your content making your brand relatable.
You know your business needs marketing but you don’t know where to advertise or how much is the right amount to spend. That’s when you are most vulnerable and that’s why cold calling has continued to work all these years. Perfect timing when the rep calls and says ‘we have a special going at a 20% discount’ we reply ‘Wow, that’s great! I’ll take it.’ and then we tend to tick off our marketing job DONE! However, next month… same feeling, same sales, same place, but no idea of past advertising ROI (return on investment).
So where does that leave you the next time you need to make a marketing decision? What position does it have you in next year when the same event comes around and you still don’t know if attending or sponsoring last year was a success? Many business owners struggle to link their marketing expenditure to actually form part of a marketing strategy as a whole.
Hopefully these marketing tips can help ease the nerves a bit:
1. Marketing needs to be target based.
When I say target based marketing, ask yourself ‘will the person that needs my product or service see or hear or read this?’ ‘will they care to listen to what I am saying to them?’ Target the playground of your perfect customer. What is important to you won’t necessarily be important to everyone. For example, you would launch a new alcoholic drink at a restaurant or bottle store, not a school fete.
2. Strategy driven.
Strategy would require knowing specifically what you hope to achieve through the advert, launch or flyer. Start with why you want to market in the first place. Do you want people calling in, emailing or coming in to your store? Are you trying to increase your average spend, up-sell or cross sell for an in-store promotion?
3. Did it work?
What were your objectives and what will your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) be? After each marketing activity, you need to be able to answer these questions or you’re definitely shooting in the dark. Can you afford that?
4. Be clever.
Most business owners I consult with don’t see the importance of communicating price out in the open. They would take a full-page advert and it would consist of their mission, goals, values, business hours, premises, products/services and on and on. What in that advert is there about the customer? What is in it for them?
5. Still unsure?
Consult with a marketing professional to help you put a plan together for 6 months ahead, then you will start to bring your objectives into play. With the right amount of advice and planning, you should start getting to know what works for your business and then, hopefully you will have nothing to be nervous about.
Get yourself going quickly with these marketing tips:
Print out a calendar
What’s happening in the coming months that can be taken advantage of? Meat markets can leverage off Heritage Day/Braai day or punt ordering early for Christmas time, nevertheless, so can an events company where you can take a Braai Day event over for a company that doesn’t have time or hands to do something and the same applies for their year-end events.
When you set out a calendar at least 6 months ahead, you can plan these things accordingly and not always be caught in the last minute.
Attack your brand
Use one graphic designer so you speak one language. If you book and advert online or in print and it comes with free artwork, rather still use your own graphic designer that already knows your corporate identity and what your advertising objectives are. The incorrect artwork and message can waste your money as fast as words could fly. Trying to save a buck like this could very well be cutting off your nose to spite your own face.
Choose one Social Media platform
This will be the personality of your brand. Have at least one social media platform (the one you’d find most of your clients on) and run it well. Your calendar will help with this. Be at least 2 months ahead of schedule with this. This will include your copywriting, artwork and linking the same message up with other online platforms you have i.e. A website and email banners or promotions.
Anchor your marketing portfolio here. Websites are the new ‘sounding board’ for target audiences when deciding to use you or lose you. Here they should see any community initiatives, staff on board, upcoming events and achievements or affiliations etc. Think of your website as how the public will relate to your company.
Did these marketing tips help you? Let us know in the comments section.
The restaurant business is ruthless, especially in Ballito. Not only is competition fierce, a restaurant loses an opportunity they cannot regain every time there’s an empty table during a service. So how does one limit these missed opportunities? Through implementing effective restaurant marketing tips.
1. Professionally photograph your dishes
One of the most important things you can do is take professional, drool-worthy photos of your menu items. Online visual content is king, especially appetizing food to hungry eyes.
2. Welcome online reviews
Next is to make sure you have set up a TripAdvisor and Zomato account and have someone constantly manning these. Include as much detail on your restaurant as possible on these platforms, including your location, store hours and menu. Make sure that when reviews start coming in that they are appropriately handled. Always answer politely to negative feedback and promise future improvement. It may even be worth contacting the reviewer privately based on the nature of the complaint and possibly offering them a complimentary meal. Reviewers appreciate this interaction as they then feel like their opinions are valued by your restaurant.
3. Become discoverable on Google
Reviews can also be done on Google. Make sure you open a Google + and Google Business account. Having both these accounts increases your search ranking immediately as Google has more access to information about your restaurant. Once set up, when your business name is ‘Googled’ it will not only come up in the search results, but appear in a block on the side of the search results with your location on Google Maps, your trading hours and Google reviews – all for free. If you are unsure, get someone to set it up for you.
4. Set a Google Alert for your restaurant name
When you activate Google Alerts, it notifies you of any online content which speaks of your restaurant. This makes it a lot easier to stay on top of what is being said about your business online.
5. Create geo-targeted ads
The key to great restaurant marketing is to target local. More often than not, someone is looking to eat out somewhere that’s fairly close to home. For example, try targeting your adverts to the Ballito region instead of a broader, KZN reach. Investing in local geo-targeted adverts is more likely to result in a return on investment opposed to ads targeting large regions. This form of advertising is available on Google and various social media platforms.
6. Use social media and monitor it
Another tip for restaurant marketing is to use social media – and use it a lot. Use those mouth-watering images to draw customers in, but also post content which will be of interest to your target market. Use it to advertise any specials you may have, or to run a competition for more exposure. It is restaurants with a strong social media presence which often fair best in the industry.
7. Food blogger outreach
A strategic way to get your restaurant’s name out there is to invite press to come and dine at your restaurant. Ask whether they would share their experience as this cannot be assumed. You also cannot guarantee that the review will be positive – this is up to them. The only way to have any control over this is to ensure your food, ambiance and service are all top notch. ‘Unpaid’ advertising such as press reviews and articles are always more trustworthy sources of information to customers than paid advertising.
8. Share positive press
If and when your restaurant is positively mentioned by the press – share it! Show it off on your website and on social media. This will help the positive reviews reach more of your current customers and potential customers and will encourage word of mouth. More people are likely to visit your restaurant if trusted sources are giving it praise.
9. Promote user-generated content
This is one of the best ways to engage with your customers online. Encourage customers to share their personal photographs of their experience at your restaurant with the possibility of featuring on your social media platforms. Another way to gain user-generated content is to host a photo-sharing competition.
10. Have the ability to reserve a table online
One last restaurant marketing idea is to consider getting an online reservation tool set up on your restaurant’s website. The more convenient it is for your customers to book, the more likely they will.
How far are you willing to go – to take your brand to the next level?
With the introduction of new trends and techniques in the marketing space almost every week, it can be a little overwhelming to think about moving into video production especially if you’re a small business on a tight budget and unfamiliar with the concept. Great news! It’s easier than it looks and it’s a lifelong investment because video marketing is here to stay. In fact, viral video marketing is the future! Ever scrolled through social media and came across a video that made you laugh out loud and want to immediately share with your friends? That’s exactly the power of a video going viral overnight. It’s incredible to know that nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store and 90% of customers prefer videos as it helps them make decisions. Now imagine showcasing your brand and all its offerings in a tasteful yet viral manner to over millions of people on social media? Not only are you gaining brand exposure that’s unmatched from the thousands of people watching and sharing with others, your brand is communicating a very important message – likability and relatability. There’s nothing quite like having your brand become a household name and for all good reasons too, besides we’d pick exciting and innovative marketing over same old boring, any day!
So how does one go about viral video marketing? When it comes to your brand, there’s no shortcuts – which means you want to invest in good quality equipment, scripting and acting talent so your video doesn’t just leave a lasting impression that will psychologically influence a consumer to shop at your store but also speaks volumes of how top notch your brand is.
It’s okay to not play it safe and think out the box, but it can be a little tricky if you opt to dabble with controversial topics surrounding your brand. A vital part that comes into play when executing a video campaign is to always ensure it isn’t offensive to anybody and doesn’t misrepresent your brand and its values. One of the most talked about undertakings from popular social media vloggers, influencers and even celebs that incorporate brands so well – either subliminally or directly are trending #challenges. Think to the recent “Keke” challenge or even the ice bucket challenge. What started off as just one video sparked a trend amongst the world. From your average news headline about petrol to something local like bunny chows or koeksisters can incite quite a frenzy when carefully and cleverly positioned around your marketing message. Never underestimate the power of viral video marketing and the limitless wonders it could do for your brand awareness, sales, website traffic and overall image.
Did these marketing tips help you? Let us know in the comments section.
Over the last few weeks, Wordsmiths Marketing has been sharing valuable information and methods for you to use when it comes to marketing your business. Some of the feedback we have had is ‘how do you decide if you need to use a marketing agency?’
Many business owners feel that their marketing efforts are OK, but also lie awake at night knowing it could be better. By unpacking three different options, we will help you simplify the decisions you face when it comes to hiring a marketing agency or not. What you should be asking yourself is: is your marketing working for you and do you know how to measure it? We’ve created this quick guide to help you compare your options along with their pros and cons:
OPTION 1 – Do it Yourself (DIY)
The DIY approach is favoured by companies that are younger or have a limited marketing budget. Usually there is a “someone has to do it” mentality, and the marketing ‘task’ is then often left to the business owner, an IT person or someone in administration.
– You don’t have to hire anyone new or pay an outside contractor.
– You have full control of your marketing.
– There is likely a high opportunity cost for you doing these activities in-house.
– Marketing quality and strategy will be sacrificed.
– You are probably not a marketing master?
– Last minute decisions get made that don’t necessarily support the marketing objective.
– Marketing only gets done when there is money and is not part of a long-term strategy.
OPTION 2 – Employ Someone
Hiring a dedicated marketing coordinator/manager or an internal designer/developer is the popular option. Budget-wise, you are looking at spending R20k to R60k in salary and will have to budget for additional marketing spend.
– Hiring a dedicated marketing professional allows and your team focus on core business priorities.
– It will ensure that a trained, experienced professional is handling your marketing efforts.
– You are able to increase the quality of your marketing materials and create more marketing momentum.
– Hiring one marketing person will generally leave you with fairly narrow capabilities. i.e.: one person to be your marketing coordinator, designer, developer, copywriter, researcher, social media strategist, blogger and more… The many roles for one person leads to inconsistent results and, often, the need to still outsource specific marketing activities (graphic design, etc). This can get pricey.
– The person in charge of marketing your business can easily become your (very dangerous) tool for ‘measurement’.
OPTION 3 – Outsource to a Marketing Agency
A marketing agency can provide you with services that cover all stages of your marketing cycle including research, branding, marketing plan development and design/production services to create professional marketing material. Their involvement in your business can range from the occasional once-off campaign to the full management of your marketing profile and all touchpoints. Cost will depend on the range of services selected.
-You will have access to a team of specialists including strategists, writers, designers, web developers, email/social media experts, media planners and public relations specialists to help you execute your marketing professionally.
– At all times, help is only a phone call away.
– You can set a monthly budget to work within that the agency must manage.
– An agency managing your marketing ensures that your plan is based on facts, skill and experience – not gut instincts.
– Ensures that your marketing efforts remain consistent when you and your team are busy running your company.
– Agencies get better prices (and better deals) on media platforms in your area as well as nationally.
– A good agency can at any time give you a report on your marketing ROI (Return on Investment).
– Outsourcing your marketing to an agency can be costly. However, the costs can be on par with option 2.
– Opportunity costs to options 1 or 2 are often higher and should be considered.
– Most agencies ask to be on a minimum 3-month contract to start with.
– If you are not in regular contact with your agency, you can lose touch with your company’s marketing efforts.
– You might use an agency that does not understand your brand.
Your budget, marketing goals and the skills of your staff will all come into play when making this important decision. Remember, nothing measured is nothing gained.
1) Make your Facebook Posts link directly to a lead-generating landing page. This could be a form that needs to be filled out, or a compelling blog post which may drive an action from your audience. Send people directly to these landing pages by posting the link and ensuring that Facebook pulls a captivating feature image from your website. In order to ensure the image you want pulls through, make sure that it is the first/main image on that landing page. Make it clear in your post copy as to where you will be sending your reader, so they do not feel like they have fallen victim to “click bait.” The topic and title should be intriguing to draw your audience in. If you are going to use a blog post, I suggest including your call to action as a link within your first paragraph of your post. Including it sooner than later in your post has been proven by Hubspot to drive more leads.
2) Use video on Facebook to generate leads. The organic reach on Facebook has dropped by 52% since 2017, and based on trends is likely to continue to drop. However, video seems to be the answer to your Facebook woes as the Facebook algorithm favours video content. It has proven to have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts. It is ideal to verbally include your call to action in your video, as well as in the text of your Facebook post.
3) Pin posts to the top of your Page that will drive leads. By doing this it allows you to highlight the post, as it appears at the top of your Facebook Page regardless of how old the post is. You can identify a pinned post by a little pin in the top right corner of the post. You can pin a post to the top of your Facebook Page by clicking the three dots on the top right-hand corner of your post and selecting “Pin to Top of Page.”
4) Add a call-to-action button to your Facebook Page. This button is simple but powerful, and it can help drive more traffic to your website from your Facebook Page. You can choose from a variety of options such as “Book Serves,” “Contact Us” and “Download App.” Some marketers choose to keep the call to action the same whilst others change it up every few months or so. This will depend on your marketing strategy and whether you have many lead generating avenues
5) Create hype through extreme specials or a competition. People respond well to hype, especially if it involves winning something. This creates interest for your audience and encourages them to engage with your business, thus growing your reach and therefore your leads.
6) Create lead-generating adverts on Facebook. Facebook has now included a form which you can add to your paid Facebook post, allowing your audience to fill out a form on Facebook instead of having them click through to your website. This makes it more convenient for your audience and therefore will enhance the engagement on your paid post.
It is particularly useful for mobile users who do not wish to click through to another site. What makes the form even more useful is that Facebook auto-fills the forms for users (such as name and email address) thus requiring them to only press “submit” should those be the only questions you ask. You can even customize the questions based on the information you require through your lead generation.
If this seems too complicated, you can either choose to go with Tip 1 or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for a step-by-step guide on how to use Facebook Lead Generating adverts.
There’s a general understanding of what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is – it’s the magic you do to your content on your website so that it ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) organically. You just pick a couple keywords and BANG. You’re done. Right?
SEO algorithms are constantly changing, so make sure you (or whoever is managing your website) remains up to date with these. Here’s a breakdown of the basics you should know to maintain a good listing on Google.
The original understanding that you need to focus on a few keywords on your website still rings true, but it does not stop there. This includes your title and image tags, inbound links etc. Search engines also look at your website for elements such as structure, design, visitor behavior and user experience (UX).
Be careful not to focus on too many keywords though as this will do more damage than good. They should appear in your content in a natural way, not listed unnaturally in a paragraph. I would suggest rather focusing on the intent of your copy rather than your keywords, and then work them into your copy afterwards. This way you appeal to your intended audience as well as keep your SEO on point.
Social media can play a role in increasing your organic website traffic as SEO now considers your social media activity. This therefore means that when you’re thinking about your SEO strategy, think about your social media strategy at the same time.
But even if you ranked well for a term, does that actually mean you’re going to see results?
If you rank well for terms not ideal for your business, then no. If you have a high bounce rate (people clicking onto your website then immediately leaving it) then this could be one of the reasons. If you do not correct this issue, the algorithm will pick up on the poor performance of the click throughs which will not only affect your SEO ranking but business conducted on your website
Another change which is in the pipelines is to penalize websites which appear too template-dependent or appear to produce content (such as blog posts) purely for SEO purposes.
It is no doubt that over the years the Dolphin Coast has received increased attention – from people looking to move, to people looking to vacation here.
It therefore comes as no surprise that the term “Ballito” comes up in more than 18,000 Google searches monthly, with the top search terms being “Ballito accommodation” with 8,100 monthly Google searches and “Ballito restaurants” with 2,900 respectively.
What is surprising is the lack of competition on Google from local businesses in an attempt to take advantage of these search terms. When searching “Ballito accommodation” only one Google advert features and absolutely no adverts come up for “Ballito restaurants.” These are opportunities that local businesses are missing out on daily.
So now what? How does your business take advantage of all these Ballito-related searches?
Firstly, make sure that the content on your website is search engine optimised. In the case of wanting to feature in the Google search results for “Ballito accommodation,” make sure your content contains the term “Ballito accommodation” and synonyms of this term feature frequently in your website copy. Featuring on other websites with a link to your ideal search term will also increase your Google search result ranking. For “Ballito restaurants,” having an active TripAdvisor presence is strongly advised.
Another way to take advantage of search terms is to make use of Google AdWords.
Google AdWords is what is used to bid for the top spot on Google’s search results based on your ideal search term. You control how it appears and what page of your website it directs people to. If your bid is the highest, it will appear at number one with a little “Ad” icon next to it.
The use of Instagram, especially for businesses in South Africa, is on the rise. It is a visual way to connect with potential customers and employees whilst showcasing your businesses products and emphasizing your company’s culture.
Unless your company is already well known, you’re a celebrity, or you (unethically) buy your followers, you need to work hard at your company’s Instagram account to get it to work.
Fortunately, you can help your Instagram account gain traction by just doing a couple standard things. Creating a unique profile is important by posting beautifully crafted content and using well researched hashtags. This paired with some strong influencer mentions will see your Instagram follower numbers rise. Here’s a 10-point guide to getting started:
1) Create a profile.
To grow an Instagram following, you first need a profile.
Make sure that your username matches your business name exactly. If your business name is taken (which often happens) or is too long, then your next option is to do a variation of your business name. For example, The Get It Magazine is @getitmagnc on Instagram.
Then go on to choose a profile picture that will visually link your Instagram account to other social media accounts your company may have. The safest option would be your company logo.
Your bio is the next thing that needs to be done. Create something short that speaks directly to your brand and include a link back to your website. For example, the @northcoastcourier Instagram bio is “A behind the scenes look into the free weekly community newspaper serving the Dolphin Coast of KZN. www.northcoastcourier.co.za”
Once you have nailed down your username, bio and logo, make sure that your account is not private. You can do this by going to “Options” and switching off “Private Account.”
2) Get someone (or two) to man your account.
But two at the most. You don’t want to get too many people involved as you want to keep your tone of voice and imagery consistent. Look at commissioning someone experienced in using Instagram to ensure that all the features that you have available to you are optimally utilized. Be sure that their photography skills are also top notch if you require them to take the photos your company will be posting.
If your company is large and has a lot of people with a lot to say, it is best to put together a section in your corporate identity that outlines what guidelines your Instagram posts should adhere to.
Although Instagram posts no longer appear in strict chronological order, it is still important to consider the best time to post. Although the best time depends on your audience, it is best to aim for a time that falls out of office hours. Experimentation is key to see what times work best for your profile. Some companies have even found that arbitrary times like posting at 2am works well for them.
3) Centralize content sharing in your business.
I’m sure that there’s always something interesting happening in all departments of your business, so the best way to make sure you do not miss a good post opportunity would be to have a central photo sharing system.
This could be through having a designated Whatsapp group, or creating a folder on your company’s share drive specifically dedicated to content for your Instagram account. Try building up an archive of images for those dry spells when you don’t know what to post.
Just remember to always keep your target audience in mind as this will affect when and how often you post.
4) Make sure your captions are memorable.
One thing I can reiterate is that you should never absent-mindedly throw a caption together just to get a post out. “This is Jimmy in the office with a funny hat on. LOL” is just not going to cut it. The caption is almost as important as your visual. It needs to compliment your image or video, possibly even giving it more meaning. It will allow you to personally connect with your audience in an authentic way. The effort put into your captions will result in trust amongst your current followers and attract new ones.
A couple of ways to make your caption memorable, or get your audience to engage, would be to either ask questions, or have a subtle “call-to-action.” I’m sure you will agree with me when I say the “share if you agree <insert laughing face>” lines don’t work. However, prompting people to share their story in the comments, asking them to post a photo with a certain hashtag to stand a chance of being featured on your account, or getting people to “double tap to see the full picture” definitely works. Here’s an example of a Santa post that went viral in December 2015:
5) Use popular, relevant hashtags.
The hashtag is used on Instagram to link content shared by different users. If you use popular hashtags that frequently get searched, you stand a chance of your post reaching a wider audience than those who already follow your account. However, stay away from the #followforfollow kind and limit the number of hashtags you use in your caption to three. If you feel you need to add more, add them into the comments section of your post after you’ve published it.
When you open your Instagram, create your own hashtag that you will use on the majority of your posts for consistency and awareness. It could be your company name, or something your company strongly stands for. Once you have done this, start looking at including some more hashtags relevant to the post itself.
Finding relevant hashtags to your business requires a bit of research. You can do this by going to “Explore” in Instagram. Search a hashtag and it will give you suggestions of related hashtags and how many times that hashtag has been used. I searched “#digitalmarketing” and you can see the similar hashtags that came up as suggestions.
To further connect with your followers, try jump onto hashtag trends such as #MondayMotivation, #TeammateTuesday, #tbt (which is Throwback Thursday) or #fbf (which is Flashback Friday).
6) Get personal and interact.
Don’t be shy – do some scouting and find some accounts which relate to your company and who post interesting content. Give them a follow and engage with their content. By following their page and engaging, they are likely to have a look at your account and see if it would be worth following your account back. This is why your content is so important! This is the most organic way to grow your Instagram following.
Also get personal on your own account’s posts. If someone leaves a comment, reply as soon as you can. The best standard to stick to is to reply within 24hrs. Replying to a comment a week later makes your account look unprofessional.
7) Create a support base with users that are complimentary to your business.
After following some good quality accounts, it is worth investing time in creating strong relationships with them. It could be a random yet relevant page, or another business your company works with. Once you are on these terms, try organizing some co-promotion on each other’s accounts – but make it looks as natural as possible. There’s nothing worse than a post that looks like spam. Also, try limit how many you do. You don’t want to litter your account with co-promotion posts. I’ve included an example between The Get It Magazine @getitmagnc and the location of the August 2017 edition’s cover shoot, Umhlanga restaurant The Village Table @villagetable_umhlanga who cross-promoted based on the release of the August Edition of the Magazine:
8) Run a competition.
Running a competition is a great way to spike the engagement on your account and quickly gain a few more followers. All you need to do is publish a post promoting your competition and require engagement as a means of entering.
The competition could require your audience to follow your page, like the post and then comment on the post to enter. Another way of creating engagement is by asking people to enter with their own photos or videos on their personal accounts and then tag your account as well as use a unique hashtag. Here’s an example from @northcoastcourier who ran a #savethewaves competition during the 2017 Ballito Pro, Presented by Billabong:
9) Create your own Instagram stories, or start a live video.
Instagram stories and live videos are features Instagram have only recently introduced to their social media platform. It allows you to share content that is very current and raw – almost like a “behind-the-scenes” look at your company. After 24hrs your story disappears forever, or if you are streaming live, it disappears as soon as you end the video.
The rawness of it builds a sense of trust for your brand from followers. It is authentic and unscripted content from your business, which followers appreciate. Good scenarios of when to use these platforms are if you have a celebrity visiting your offices, or you want to celebrate one of your employee’s birthdays.
For example, you could also use Instagram stories to show the setting up of an event your company is hosting to try build the hype around it. An exclusive behind-the-scenes sneak peek always piques curiosity. Then if you have a keynote speaker at the event, go Instagram live for a snippet of their speech.
10) Make yourself discoverable.
Putting your social media links on your website is key to increasing your following. Just place a recognizable button on the bottom (or top) of your website that’s visible on any page a visitor may click through to. The button should link straight to your company’s Instagram. Here’s a couple of badge options you can consider putting on your website:
It could also be worth your while running a print advertisement that includes the mention of your Instagram account and encourage people to find and follow you.
Once your account is live and you are happy with the amount of content you have created, promote it across your other social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s likely that people who follow your other accounts will follow your Instagram account.
Following these guidelines doesn’t guarantee you 1,000 followers overnight (which isn’t impossible!) but it does give you a better chance of building a strong, quality following.
Have some additional tips you feel we might have overlooked? Share them with us in the comments.