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.

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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project management app

With a full-time job in IT, a small business, opening a gallery and looking after a five-year-old as a single mum, I have struggled over the past year trying to keep organised and on top of everything. I tried so many different apps trying to get organised so that I could manage all my client’s information, freelancers, social media management and the general day to day project management of a small web design/social media management business. I also needed a space to share all this information with my business partner who is my twin sister, and a flight attendant so that she could keep on top of her work and have all the information at hand about our clients, logins etc.. on the road.

I was feeling really frustrated with the latest app I was trying, as again I found that after setting it all up, it was missing a feature I needed. Then, an app called Monday crept into my Facebook feed. After reviewing it and liking the user interface, as it looked a lot like some of the project management programs I have used throughout my career, I decided to give it a go.

I set the app up and started loading the information about one of my projects. I was able to add in everything that I needed including attaching all password information, making notes against each task, copying in emails and correspondence and uploading documents, screenshots and any information that I had in a variety of formats related to that project.

I felt that I finally had an app that I could work with. I quickly sent my sister an invitation telling her that this was the app that we should use.

After sending her so many logins to different apps over the last few months, I could feel the proverbial eye rolls from a thousand miles away. However, she loved it!

We now use Monday for everything. We have set up a system that works for us where we have each of our active client’s boards grouped in one folder and what are called “pulses” added and tailored specifically to the work we are undertaking. We then assign the work to each other and make all updates to tasks and add all materials and correspondence as we go.

This has become our complete project management system for all of our work. We also create shared boards for our freelancers so that we can keep on top of all of the tasks they are working on and have a complete record of everything.

At this stage, due to costs, we are only using the Basic Plan which gives us everything we need at AUD $34 per month, a small investment to have my business life organised. However, I could definitely see the benefit of the larger plan as it gives you the ability to plan everything in one visual timeline and integrates with other apps. As our business grows, we will most likely upgrade to this plan.

With an app like this, I finally feel like we are organised and have our workflows under control. This will help us keep on top of things during 2018 as our small business grows.

Liza is the content manager and founder of The Content Hub. As a technology specialist she loves passing on her knowledge about the latest technology and best practices to her readers.

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How to make your email work for you

I went to a conference recently, and the speaker asked the question “how many emails are currently in your inbox?” There were many people in the room that had thousands of emails; some had hundreds, and there were only two of us who answered none. So how can you make your email work for you?

Your email inbox should be like the priority tray on your desk: empty at the end of each day, and I’m not joking!

Following is a simple 6 step plan to making your email work for you:

Commit to your email program

Take a long look at your relationship with your email program. Are you happy with it? Does it meet your needs? Is it up to date?

You might not have a choice, but if you are planning an upgrade or thinking of setting up a home business, you need to spend the time thinking about this.

Most organisations use Microsoft Outlook; however, many are moving towards using cloud services such as Gmail so make sure you shop around and find the best service for you.

Take some training

Next, take the time to learn about using your email program correctly. Most people just get by with the essential features, but there are so many others that will benefit how you work once you know how to use them.

For example, you can set categories and colour code your emails. I use this system to colour code each email related to a particular project. I also use tags for due dates to respond to emails as well as use rules to automatically move emails into certain folders.

Set up folders

Now set up folders to organise your emails. I would suggest setting up your email folders similarly to those on your hard drive. Start with a folder called clients, then have a folder for each client. Then a folder for projects that contains a folder for each project you are working on.

Schedule backup and archives

This is the time to schedule a backup of your e-mail. This can be done through the e-mail program, in the operating system, or with a separate application.

Make sure that backups are stored in a separate location, like on a DVD or a USB drive. Store them outside of your office.

Most e-mail programs also support archiving: moving all of your e-mail out of the program into a separate folder. Typically, this is done once a year. Set this up now! If your e-mail program doesn’t support this, put a reminder on your calendar to do it at the end of every year.

Automate what you can

Next, set up automation wherever possible. Some ideas:

  • Set up rules to move messages from particular people or organisations.
  • Microsoft Outlook features Quick Steps, which allows you to combine multiple actions into one clickable button and shortcut key. Take the time to learn about these, review the Quick Steps already configured, and configure your own if necessary.
  • Configure your junk e-mail/spam and phishing filters to move suspicious messages out of your inbox. Be sure to review your junk mail folder periodically.
  • Empty the recycle bin once a week.

Use time-saving tools

Other e-mail time-saving tools that you can use are:

  • Dynamic search folders
  • Assigning reminders and flags to e-mail messages
  • Customisable alarms and reminders
  • Creating calendar appointments and tasks from e-mail messages (simply drag it from your inbox onto the calendar or into the tasks folder)
  • Color-coded categories
  • Message grouping (by conversation, sender, or date, for example)
  • Marking a message as complete to indicate that you have completed required actions
  • Quick access to folders via a Favourites pane
  • Customizable navigation tools
  • Address lists and contact groups

If you’re not sure what your e-mail can do for you, pressing F1 typically opens the help file. Take the time to look for easier and faster ways to perform common tasks.

Have any other time-saving tips for using email? Share in the comments below.

Liza is the content manager and founder of The Content Hub. As a technology specialist she loves passing on her knowledge about the latest technology and best practices to her readers.

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