Instagram stories and how they can help your business

If you aren’t using Instagram stories to promote your business or brand, you should be. In fact, I would go as far as to say that you are missing out big time if you aren’t making use of the function. If you are using Insta, then you should be adding to your story on a regular basis, as well as posting your usual photos and videos on your feed. Instagram stories are an extra string to your business bow. You might be wondering why you would bother to use them as a business or brand, because you aren’t posting for the benefit of your mates, and no one is interested in seeing what you had for lunch are they? Well, actually, they are. So, you’ll want to carry on reading.

Instagram stories are a brilliant marketing technique, and here’s why…

They let your consumers in

Stories give the impression that you are letting people in to the life of your business or brand. So, when I say that people ARE interested in what you had for lunch, this is what I mean. Your followers love to see the ‘human’ side of your brand, and by ‘human side’, I mean the people who work for you and what they are getting up to on a daily basis. People want to see what colour the walls are being painted in your office refurb and they want to see what snacks are on offer at the breakfast meeting. It makes them feel involved, and it makes them feel like they are getting to see the side of your business that no one else sees, a ‘sneak peek’ if you will. The more you can involve a consumer in your business, the better. Instagram stories are more personal than the branded photos you upload to your feed, and people like to connect on a personal level with a business.

You’ve got unlimited content

We know that if we bombard our followers with branded content, they start to disengage. Stories don’t work like this. You might only be able to post one photo or video on your feed a day, but Instagram stories don’t have that restriction. You can keep adding to your story throughout the day and no one gets all “snooze” about it. Winner!

You can add hashtags, you can tag people, you can add your location and you can add info. You can ask for engagement, you can ask for opinion and you can call your followers to action. Fill your story up with “follow them”, “look at this”, “decide that”, “come see us here”. Where you lead, we will follow, as such… Terrible joke, sorry (not sorry).

They’ve got limited time

No marketing technique works better than telling your consumer they are running out of time. Instagram stories are only there for 24 hours. Once that 24 hours is up, they are gone forever. This feature makes an Instagram story feel exciting. It encourages people to hashtag, follow, reply and engage when they wouldn’t usually.

So, you want some tips, don’t you? Here’s how to make the most out of your Instagram story; don’t let us down!

Top tips:

  • Post at optimal time – as they only last for 24 hours, get to know when your followers are online and use this to your advantage to get the highest levels of engagement possible.
  • They don’t have to be perfect – people like seeing things looking natural, we can tell when something has been staged to death. And, because they only last for 24 hours, you don’t worry if you’ve got a bit of a shiny face in your selfie.
  • Call to action – the human race likes to be told what to do, if you don’t tell us to “click here”, we won’t. Use the features in Instagram stories to direct your followers; show them where to go and what to see.
  • Use it as a gauge – you can see how many people are viewing your story and you can see which posts and calls to action people engage with (it’s risky to do this with your one post of the day on your feed, but not so much with your story). You can then start to tailor your content to your consumers more effectively and keep giving them exactly what they want.

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Changes to Facebook Advertising

In January this year, Mark Zuckerberg announced a change in Facebook’s news feed algorithm. That might not sound like a big thing, but it will change the way Facebook users view the posts on their feed and how visible Facebook advertising will be. The way content is prioritised will be changing.

If you are an “average” Facebook user, then this might well be a good thing for you. When I say “average”, I don’t mean you are an uninteresting social media user, I just mean you are using Facebook to look at what your mates are up to and to post photos, not market your business or your brand. The big change will come for those who are using Facebook to market their business and brand. If that’s you, this recent change might make your life a little bit harder, but don’t worry, I’ve got a few tips to help you out. 

What’s changing?

Mark himself said that we’ll be seeing “less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media”. He’s also said that the public content we will be seeing should encourage more meaningful interactions and will be held to the same standard. This is all very well but what does that actually mean for us? 

What does it mean for the average user?

You’ll be seeing less content from brands and businesses and more from your family, friends and the groups you follow. More of what you want, and less of what you don’t want. So, you should be seeing less badly written quizzes and ads about hair care and more pics of your colleagues’ kitten (cute) and your neighbour’s new shed (not so cute).

This is meant to make your experience more “meaningful” and to make sure your time on Facebook is well spent. When I say “well spent” I mean not having to waste as much time scrolling through tonnes of ads trying to encourage you to buy things. No one got Facebook for the ads did they? They got Facebook to keep in contact with their friends and family all over the world, and so they could see what they were getting up to. This change is allowing the average user like you and me, to spend more time looking at the things that are really relevant to us. 

What does it mean for businesses and brands?

If you are a business or a brand, you are going to have to work harder to make sure you are getting customers attention.

Zuckerberg has warned that the change may result in users spending less time on Facebook, therefore reducing the amount of time you as a business or brand have to reach out to your consumers. In short, you are going to have to make sure your content is pretty epic to stand out from the crowd.

So, you are wondering how you stand out from the crowd, aren’t you? Well, luckily for you, I’ve got a few tips and tricks up my sleeve to help you maintain your reach.

  1. Keep it relevant! Don’t post unnecessary content. If it’s irrelevant to them, your consumers aren’t going to go out of their way to view it.
  2. Quality, not quantity! We all know we need to keep posting to keep people engaged, but don’t post ill-thought out content just for the sake of posting it. Make sure all your content is top quality, just like your brand is.
  3. Spark conversation! Meaningful interactions mean comments and shares. The best way to generate these is to raise a question and spark conversation. You want your consumers to want to let their friends know about your post. If people’s friends and family are talking about your post, it’s more likely to get seen by more people.
  4. Boost Facebook followers! Keep encouraging customers to follow your Facebook page. Users can still choose to see posts from their favourite pages first, so make sure you are one of their favourite pages.
  5. Up your ad budget! Spend more time and more money on making good quality content. High-quality content will make sure you stand out from the crowd, and mostly, that means you need to spend more money.
  6. Keep it lively! We love a live video these days and they can get you a lot more interaction than standard video content.

So, how are you going to change it up to stay relevant with these changes? Would love to hear your thoughts below.

Also, if you need to learn more about Facebook The Content Hub is running their popular Facebook for Business course next month. So if you would love to learn about Facebook face to face and be surrounded by like-minded people in a lovely environment, consider coming to Bundeena for the day.

A blogger with a tendency to rant and a flair for the creative things in life, who doesn’t shy away from asking the difficult questions that divide the nation, like “milk first or last when you’re making a cup of tea?”.

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How to plan a blog post

If you are anything like I used to be, you just sat down and wrote a blog post with no planning. It took me a long while to realise this was an ineffective way of doing things. It wastes a load of time as you lose direction, you lose your message and you end up having to do a tonne of editing. Planning cuts out a bunch of this wasted time, so let’s have a look at how to plan your blog post.

First things first, you need to have your idea ready. As funny as this may sound, so many people start off writing a blog post without really knowing what they’re writing about. To combat this, I like to keep a list of ideas for blog posts. I couldn’t count how many times I have come up with a great idea and forgotten it before I’ve written it down. I now keep a list of ideas in a note on my phone; I always have it with me and you can’t lose it in the bottom of your bag or throw it away like you can a piece of paper!

But, what to write down in your note?! Sometimes just a title idea isn’t enough. They won’t all apply all of the time, but here’s what I try to write down when I come up with an idea:

• The idea
• Where I was when I came up with the idea
• Any words or phrases which come to mind (I find this particularly helpful and I might keep adding throughout the day)
• A story or anecdote which fits with your idea
• A link to a source; you may have seen something on social media which jogged the idea, or an article on a news site
• The issue you are addressing or the reason you want to write about it

Now you’ve got your idea, you are well on your way to writing your post. But, before you start writing, answer the following questions:

• How long should it be?
• What is your target audience?
• What are the main themes of your post?
• Why are you writing it?

When you are writing your post, you can refer to these to help keep you on task. It’s easy to forget the reason you are writing the post and drift off course. Having the answers to these questions visible will help keep you focused.

Before I start writing, I sketch out my plan on a piece of paper (I have a scruffy notepad I use for this). I basically create a mind map – more than anything, this helps me visualise my post in my mind, as well as having something to refer to as I go through. I include the answers to my questions, I add in any keywords or phrases I want to use and any graphic that will help jog my memory. I note down what I want to include in the introduction, the main body and the conclusion. Sometimes I colour code it and sometimes I keep it plain and simple – it depends what is working best for me that day.

With a plan, it’s whatever works best for you, so don’t be afraid to switch it up.

A blogger with a tendency to rant and a flair for the creative things in life, who doesn’t shy away from asking the difficult questions that divide the nation, like “milk first or last when you’re making a cup of tea?”.

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