Tips to Improving Your Instagram

At this point, most people are familiar with Instagram, the highly successful social media network that shares photos and videos with followers. When it was first developed, Instagram was used as an outlet to share photos with friends and family, but it has since grown in unbelievable ways. Today, there are over 800 million current users on Instagram- ranging everywhere from teens, to companies, universities, and even pets! While many businesses already use Instagram as a way to grow their brand awareness, there are a number of tips and tricks that you can use to boost your business’s Instagram game!

Shoppable posts

Have you noticed Instagram’s new feature: shoppable posts? Shoppable posts make it easier for businesses to produce advertisements by simply just posting a picture where the product is included! This feature allows businesses to tag and identify the products shown in their photographs. When you click on the tag, it shows the product, description, and price.  The tag also gives you a “shop now” option, which takes you directly to the business’s website. Talk about easy! Using shoppable posts, businesses are able to generate sales by doing what they were already doing: posting pictures. Doubtful about the effectiveness of this feature? 72% of users report purchasing products via Instagram shoppable posts.


Instagram stories

Instagram stories are an incredibly underrated feature of Instagram. If you don’t know what Instagram stories are, they are photos or videos that followers can view for 24 hours. After the 24 hours, the posts are either archived, or you can add them to your profile as a highlight for as long as you want. Instagram stories are great because they are an easy way to get information out to your customers without cluttering your feed. Having a flash sale? Post it on your Instagram story to remind customers! Instagram stories also have features where you can post polls, quizzes, or even ask questions. This is a quick and informal way to get information and feedback from your customers. Stories can also be a great location to repost photographs from satisfied customers. Overall, stories can help you increase your accessibility to customers. It’s so easy to view businesses as a face-less corporations; Instagram stories can help you to better personalize your brand!

Hashtags

Many people forget about hashtags when posting on Instagram. While they can seem like a nuisance, hashtags can be so effective in increasing brand reachability. For example, is your business a hair salon? Including  “#hairsalon” at the end of your caption can help connect people to your profile. Get creative with your hashtags! You will be surprised by the amount of new engagement that it will bring you. #Easyaspie!


Giveaways

Who doesn’t love giveaways! Instagram is a great way to show off giveaways or special promotions. Promoting your giveaways via Instagram can help you to gain positive brand awareness while increasing your followers and follower engagements. In most giveaways, accounts ask users to follow their account and tag a friend to enter. Not only do you gain a follower, but a new user is introduced to your page!

Partnerships

Many businesses do not take advantage of business partnerships as much as they should! By partnering with another business via Instagram, you are connected to a whole new set of followers and engagement. Small businesses need to stick together! Partnerships can be easy: post a story promoting their products, find a way to combine your services, or host a joined giveaway. Connecting with other businesses can help you to gain new followers, awareness, and engagement.

Try using one of these tips to improve your Instagram game! Click here to view our products!  

How to Utilize Influencer Marketing

Word of mouth and the use of social media are two of the best forms of marketing today. So, what if you could combine the two? Well, you can — the answer is influencer marketing.

Whenever potential customers look for a product or service, one of the first things they do is ask their friends for advice. People will trust their friend’s opinion over something they read on Yelp or Google. This is where you can leverage influencer marketing. The first step in this is to find an influencer.

By definition, an influencer is “an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.” This could be someone who has a social media account, such as an Instagram, that is focused. For example, if you are a restaurant you would want to look for “foodie” Instagram accounts. But not just any account would qualify as a good influencer. Below are a few you want to look for.

Types of Influencers:

  • Bloggers
  • Celebrities
  • Public Figures

It might be hard to get someone like the Kardashians to promote your beauty products to their millions of followers but that’s ok! You can start by reaching out to public figures or bloggers. These are people who post consistently about things like fashion, food, travel or fitness and their following is usually their friends and people who are enthusiastic about that specific field.

Now that you have an idea of the types of people to reach out to here are a few steps on how to get them to be an influencer for you:

Reaching out:

Once you find a potential influencer it’s time to reach out to them. They will usually have an email you can contact in their bio or you can just send them a direct message through Instagram. Like this:

 

Incentivize your offer:

It is only fair that both your company and the influencer benefit from this partnership. Instead of paying them, send them something like free samples of your product, a free class at your studio, or a discount on your website.

 

Posting:

Once the influencer tries your product or service they should post about it on their social media. Ask them to tag you in the picture and add a location. Influencer marketing is such a great way to reach a new audience. Influencers are trusted by their following so if they post about something they like or suggest you to try, it’s more likely that their followers will follow through and actually try it.

 

Want to grow your Instagram following?? Click here to check out our Instagram posting products!

How to Grow Your Instagram Following: Stories

We have already talked about the benefits of using story highlights, but the real bread and butter is the content in a story. Instagram now notifies you when you have caught up on all of  your feed’s new content. Naturally, instead of closing out the app people will tap through thousands of stories. It’s time to take full advantage of that.

Stories can include all sorts of content: a poll, a question, a preview, a reminder to check out your latest post, but it is always more than just a picture. Think of a story like a regular post, there are multiple components. There’s a caption, a hashtag, a location and a user tag. Now a story can contains all of these things too, but it leaves you with more room for creativity and opens doors to catching a new audience.

Let’s start from left to right:

Location

A location sticker can always help boost a post. You can make the size as big or as small as you want and put it anywhere on the screen instead of it being stuck on the top of your regular posts. The best part of putting a location in your story is that your story can appear on a live story of that location that anyone can see.

Mentions

When you mention (or tag) someone in your Instagram post, whether it be an individual person, or a company, that person or company receives the notification. That user will then be encouraged to view your story, or maybe even repost it to their own story. This will get your stories trending on more than just your account, therefore increasing your following.

Hashtags

Although it’s not recommended, you can add up to 11 different hashtags to a story (try to stick with one or two). Just like the location sticker, there is a live story of others who have also used the same hashtag. Be selective with your hashtag choices: you don’t want a hashtag that’s used millions of times but you also don’t want a hashtag that only a few hundred have used. If you really want to have a chance at getting exposed to a new crowd chose one in the low thousands. 

If you’re not as interested in having people click on the location or hashtag as you are with having it be viewed on a live story, a hack is to cover it up with a sticker or GIF!

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Does your company’s Instagram need a revamp?! Click here to view our social page build product!

Instagram Makeover: Highlights

Instagram story highlights are an easy way to share more content on your page. You simply save stories you post and add them to a collection of highlights that will appear in a circular bubble under the bio section of your page. We are here to highlight a few ways to make the most of your story highlights.  

Highlight Cover

The first thing people will see before any content is the highlight cover photo. The saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” doesn’t apply here. People are going to judge things based on visual appeal whether they know they are doing it or not. For this reason, try to stick with a theme for the cover photos of each highlight. It could be something as simple as creating matching avatars with a background color like this one:

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Or you can even use solid colors. Just remember, this is the first thing followers will see so make sure it is visually appealing!

Highlight Title

Titles can be tricky because Instagram will only let your highlight title fit 13 characters including spaces before it adds and ellipses. It is really up to personal preference but choosing a short title that fits on the screen is more visual appealing. Here’s the difference:

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What to Highlight?

You might get stuck on what to actual save to your highlights for content. There is no right or wrong answer, it all depends on what you use the account for. If you are a restaurant you can make the highlights as simple as “Specials” “Drinks” “Food” and just post pictures of different things on the menu. If you tend to use the poll or questions feature you can highlight the answers or polls that you post.

 

If you’re looking to improve your Instagram content, click here to check out our MaxExposure Instagram posting product!

How To: Use “Questions” On Instagram

Instagram has recently released a new feature for their stories. This feature is called “questions.” Similar to sites like Ask.Fm or Quora, Questions is a feature that allows you to directly ask users questions without having to DM them. This feature is extremely useful for businesses because it prompts your followers to give feedback on your service or products or, simply, ask you questions.

To be blunt, we live in a day and age where much of the population is often too lazy to look up a phone number or email, as it can be very difficult to find correct listing information. By posting the questions feature on your story, users reply to your story with their questions. From there, you have the option to respond to these questions on your story for all to see.

Here are some examples of good questions that you can prompt your followers with:

  1. What new products or services would you like to see us offer?
  2. What is your favorite food on our menu?
  3. How can we improve our service?
  4. What is the best experience you’ve had with us so far?

Below find an example of what these questions, submitted and answered may look like.on a personal profile… thank you mashable.com for offering these graphics!

 

7 Calls to Action for Instagram

 

The purpose of a Call-To-Action or a CTA, is literally, to prompt your audience to take action on what you are prompting them to do. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Let us help you convert your Instagram audience to potential customers with these no-fail CTA’s!

woman sitting on sofa while looking at phone with laptop on lap

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency by highlighting strict timelines. Try using wording like “24 hour sale ending SOON!”
  2. Encourage followers to tag their friends because more eyes = more possible conversions.
  3. Use powerful actions verbs such as buy, shop, try on, register or discover.
  4. Create incentives such as liking the post to get an in-store discount of 10%.
  5. Prompt questions that will spur engagement such as “What do you think of this new trend?” or “Would you ever try doing this?”
  6. Use creative and colorful graphics to draw the eye of your audience from their everyday, dull feed.
  7. Entice your audience to stay updated by posting about new products and special deals that they can only learn about through your Instagram page.

Happy Instagraming!

Written by @GraceMaxExpo

Our Favorite Instagram Editing Apps

The key to having a successful Instagram is not only in the quality of your content but also in the overall aesthetic of your page. No one even takes the “perfect” photo and most of the time, the in-app editing features of Instagram are extremely limited in its capabilities of transforming a photo from a pixely-dark image to a bright, eye-catching photo. The following apps all have different optimal uses. Read on to discover more.

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Photo by Henry Marsh on Pexels.com

VSCO

Level of difficulty: Easy

VSCO is an editing app featuring many preset filters. These filters are extremely versatile and have subsets that are specifically for outdoor photos, indoor photos, warm photos, cold photos, overshadowed photos, over-highlighted photos, etc.  This app is very user-friendly in that it also offers a toolkit where the user can edit skin tone, tint, shadows, highlights, saturation, contrast, exposure, sharpness, etc. We highly recommend this app to those who are novices at editing photos and need an all-in-one app.

Microsoft Selfie

Level of difficulty: Easy

Microsoft Selfie is an extremely simple app with only less than 10 “beautifying” filters. This app is best for those who are pleased with the natural look in their captured photo but simply want to smooth out tones. We highly suggest this app to those who want a great looking photo but really don’t want to spend any time learning how to edit their pictures.

Layout

Level of difficulty: Easy

Layout is an app that allows you to create photo collages. With hundreds of different photo layouts, we recommend this app for those who want to create a simple collage. There is also an in-app toolkit for those who want to make small edits to the photo.

Snapseed

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Snapseed is a bit complicated at first but once you get the hang of it, it’s an extremely intuitive app. Owned and created by google, Snapseed comes with preset filters as well as a full toolkit. In the toolkit you can find options to tune your image by adjusting brightness, contrast, saturation, warmth, etc. In the toolkit are also features that allow you to change the sharpness and structure of the image as well as the curvature of the tones. You can also edit white balance,crop, rotate and change perspective. Not to mention the brush features that allow you to paint the dodge/burn, exposure, temperature and saturation of the photo. The features on Snapseed are endless and unique. Our favorite is the “selective” tool that allows you to pick tones within a certain region of the photo to edit. We recommend this app to those who want all of the tools of photoshop with a less complicated interface.

Photoshop Fix

Level of difficulty: Hard

Photoshop Fix is basically a mini photoshop for your phone. The app has retouching, sculpting and healing tools that are compatible with Adobe Photoshop CC. We recommend this app to those who already have a knowledge of photoshop but want access to the app on their phone.

Photoshop Lightroom

Level of difficulty: Hard

Another Photoshop app, Lightroom is similar to Photoshop Fix but focuses on the light, color, geometry and optics of the photo. Similar to Photoshop Fix, we recommend this app to anyone who has a knowledge of Adobe Photoshop CC or Adobe Photoshop LR but wants access to these features from their phone.

 

How To: Create an Interactive Hashtag Campaign for Instagram

So, you want to know how to create an interactive hashtag and Instagram hashtag campaign? Let’s start by explaining what an interactive hashtag is. An interactive hashtag is a symbiotic marketing technique used by companies to get their social media users to interact with their brand online in exchange for some sort of reward. It’s a bit difficult to explain and understand so we’ll give you a few examples…

Heineken #SparkMyParty – Heineken promotes #SparkMyParty specifically to younger Instagram users in New York City. When Instagram users use the hashtag and tag Heinkein in a post or Instagram story during a live house party, they have the chance of being paid a visit by Heineken during their house party. Representatives from the company will show up during the party with free beer, balloons, DJ, snacks and brand gear. This campaign not only spreads the word about the Heineken brand but also makes the customer base excited to interact with the company.

Wilhelmina Models #LoveYourGenes – Wilhelmina is a global modeling agency that represents many celebrity supermodels and talent. When you post a selfie using the #LoveYourGenes , WIlhelmina promises that they will look at your photo. If they find you to fit their needs for new models, they will message you and you will get the chance to visit the NYC office and discuss modeling opportunities. This campaign makes it easier for Wilhelmina to find fresh faces as well as gives social media users the chance to easily be discovered.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

So how can you create your own interactive hashtag?

1. Pick a reward

What exactly do you want your users getting out of promoting your brand? Perhaps if they post with your hashtag they can receive 10% off? Maybe be entered in a contest to win free products or services? The options are unlimited.

2. Create a hashtag

Looking back to #SparkMyParty and #LoveYourGenes, what is the purpose of your interactive hashtag campaign? Be sure that your hashtag is catchy so that your users will easily remember it and won’t misspell it when using it on their posts. As a social media and business solutions company, let’s say we wanted to run a campaigns where you win a year of free services…. Perhaps a hashtag we could use would be #MaximizeMyBusiness. This hashtag is unique so we know that the average user won’t be using this hashtag on any normal photos, the spelling is simple so it will be difficult for entrees to misspell it and it’s fairly simple to remember because it’s a play on words for MaxExposure Business Solutions.

3. Keep track of your socials

The most important part of your interactive hashtag campaign is to keep track of all entrees! The last thing you want is to either forget about your campaign and make your business appear flakey OR not give all entrees a fair chance at winning.

Maximizing your Instagram Exposure

Earlier this month Instagram broke their silence about their newest algorithm reconfiguration. The updated algorithm involves a lot of moving pieces, but with a little practice and consistency, you can be maximizing your Instagram exposure in no time!

The Instagram algorithm is what determines what order posts appear in a user’s timeline, so businesses need to focus on how often their customers are actually seeing the photos they post. The algorithm focuses on interest, recency, and relationships, so be sure to follow these tips for improving your exposure!

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Photo by Omkar Patyane on Pexels.com

Interest

Instagram analyzes past behavior and estimates how likely a user is to enjoy the content being posted. So, businesses should post content that is relevant to its followers and their interest (warranting likes) and then they should stay consistent to that content. This could include similar colors, formats, or even hashtags! While posts should be unique enough to engage both old and new customers, followers should also have an idea of what type of content to expect from you (that’s why they follow you in the first place!).

Recency

A post from yesterday will almost always appear on a user’s feed before a post from last week. So post often! Maybe some of your followers do not check Instagram every day, but most likely, they will be checking at least once a week, and you want to be sure you have posted within a reasonable window of time. MaxExposure’s Evergreen Posting package allows you to schedule posts to be sent out days in advance, so you never forget to post!

Relationships

Posts from individuals deemed “close” to you, meaning that you interact with them often, will be higher up in the algorithm. This is tricky for a business, as it is unlikely that you will be tagging individuals in photos or receiving an influx of comments on a regular basis. Contests can be a life saver in situations like these. Encourage users to tag you in photos that they take with your product, or encourage them to comment the usernames of three friends for entries into simple giveaways. Another simple fix is to ask questions in your captions. If you post a photo of your product in a tropical location, ask your users to comment their favorite getaway or vacation spot. Any way you can think of to get your customers to engage in a unique way will get you more exposure on their feed in the future!

How To: Synchronize your Social Media

If you are running multiple social media accounts for your business (which you should be!) you want to be sure that all of them are telling the same story. A cohesion should exist among your sites, allowing customers to seamlessly transition between platforms while never feeling like they have disassociated between sites. Utilizing multiple sites while presenting a united, synchronized front could be the key your company is missing to putting your best foot forward online. Professionalism is a major key to securing customers and a solid social media base could be your first step.

First, visually tie together your accounts so that when jumping from platform to platform your customers feel as though they are still looking at the same company. There are multiple ways to make this a reality including color schemes, styles, and fonts. These methods may take a bit of practice to perfect, however if done correctly could really bring all of your sites together. A simple fix to this is having a logo. If your company has a recognizable logo that is present on each site, the customer is quickly reminded exactly where they are and who they are looking at. Lacking a stand-out logo? MaxExposure’s Custom Logo Design Package offers a custom logo design to help your company stand out (and stand together on social media).

Second, promote accessibility between sites. If you are looking to present your customers with a fully synchronized, full spectrum social media lineup, you want to be sure that they are noticing it, or it might as well not be in place. Placing links to accounts in the bios of other accounts or directly linking sites in posts on other platforms is a good way to promote the unification of accounts to customers.

Lastly, have the same voice behind all of your accounts, preferably the same person. Having a consistency in the content and style with which your posts are presented can give your company a voice of its own. Before long the voice of the individual running the accounts will become that of the company, as there is never a lapse in tone or consistency.

Don’t have the time to rummage through all of your accounts to post? MaxExposure offers a DIY Package consisting of software that you can use to post to all of your sites with a single click! Don’t have the time to post at all? With MaxExposure’s Social Posting – Basic package, we post for you!