You’re scrolling through Instagram and come across the cutest summer dress– of course you want to buy it! But, how can you do that? Up until recently, you wouldn’t have been able to buy directly from an Instagram or Facebook post; thankfully, that’s all changed!
Both Instagram and Facebook now offer shopping platforms users can purchase items from. As a result, many of the tiny remaining friction points between discovering and buying products on social media platforms has been eliminated. 👏👏👏👏
At the end of May, Facebook announced it was rolling out Facebook Shops in an effort to “give people a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying,” as well as help small businesses reach consumers that they may not have otherwise.
Facebook shops makes it easy for a business page to set up a single online store for customers to access not only on Facebook, but on Instagram as well. It’s free to use, and (fairly) simple to set up. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their stores or catalogs, and add them as items in the shop. Businesses can also customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand (consistent branding remember!). Essentially, any business or seller can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them. In fact, Shopify offers a superlative integration with Facebook for you to build your site, track and ship orders, and sell in person or through social media.
Facebook Shops can be found on a business’ Facebook page, or Instagram profile. Another benefit? Shops are also discoverable through stories and of course, ads. Customers can browse an entire catalog collection, save products they are interested in, and place orders. Order checkout can be done either on the businesses website, or there’s an option to enable checkout within the app itself. Additionally, if a customer needs help or has a question, there’s an option for them to message your business through Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Messaging, and WhatsApp (remember- Facebook owns WhatsApp too!
Starting this summer here in the United States, Instagram Shops will allow users to browse products and explore collections directly through a dedicated Shopping tab found within Instagram Explore. This option will take users directly to a brand’s shop or shop-able posts. Eventually, Instagram users will be able to jump into a shopping experience from the app’s main navigation bar “in just one tap,” and be able to filter items that they are looking for (ex: “home” or “beauty”). Just like with Facebook Shops, once a customer is in a business Instagram Shop, customers can purchase products in-app (when checkout on Instagram is enabled) or be redirected to purchase through the business website.
Facebook is also testing a “Live” shopping option where sellers, brands and creators will be able to tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase. This allows those watching to shop for products in real-time.
Does your business have a loyalty program? Facebook is also exploring ways for customers to continue to earn rewards while shopping your business through Facebook. The rewards would be linked to the customer’s Facebook account where they can easily see and keep track of their points and reward milestones. Facebook is also exploring ways to help small businesses create and manage a loyalty program through Facebook Shop specifically.
How Can Marketers Use Shops?
These opportunities to shop via social media provide a unique opportunity to expose your business and its products to a larger target audience. As a marketer, use Shops to leverage social media-driven sales, but of course, you’ll need to make sure you have a concrete strategy in place instead of just posting one-off about the products you offer!
Instagram recently turned 10. It’s hard to believe this platform has only been around for 10 years. Instagram is such a big part of so many lives, and yet still so many find it confusing and still ignore this powerful marketing platform. There are so many new features that we thought it was time to put out the Ultimate Instagram Guide for 2021. This is a BEEFY post so you may want to bookmark this so you can come back and use it as a reference.
If LinkedIn is the serious business platform for sharing articles, finding jobs, and congratulating people on their recent promotions, Instagram is the peek behind that stodgy curtain where we get to see a more relaxed side of you, and your business. We know it’s true that people buy from those they know, like, and trust, so it makes sense that Instagram is the platform that allows you to invite your audience a little closer to get to know you better, and hopefully they will like what they see.
If you have been dragging your feet on embracing this tool, or find all of its parts just too confusing, this guide will give you all the information you need to finally get moving. There is a lot of information in here so get comfy.
I’m going to break this into segments for you since there is so much to cover. Consider this a guide that you will refer back to over and over.
We will do a deep dive into the 4 types of posts that live on Instagram:
GRID STORIES and LIVE STREAMS REELS IGTV
Next, we will explore the 3 parts to your posts:
CAPTION PHOTOS FREQUENCY (how often you should be posting, which is a question we get almost daily at SocialKNX.)
We’ll wrap up with the different types of content you can rotate in. You don’t want everything to be promotional and as a business owner, you certainly aren’t on Instagram to just share photos of your dogs (although if you are, be sure to drop the name of your account…I love following those accounts). By rotating in different categories or types of content you will have a well-balanced feed or collection of posts.
Let’s take a look at the 4 types of posts on Instagram:
1. Your GRID (AKA: your feed)
This is the hub, the main posts on your Instagram account. The photos here are typically a bit more staged and planned. Consider this the place for your BEST SELF to show up. Your feed is a mix of real images of you, your team, and the occasional (beautiful) stock images or graphics. A carousel post (one that has 2-10 images) can be loaded into one post and will give you more opportunities to have that post seen. If someone sees only the first photo and scrolls by, Instagram will show that post again but start on image 2 or 3 where the person stopped, so your chances are better to grab someone’s attention. Keep this in mind when loading multiple images too. Put those eye-catching images first!
2. STORIES and LIVE Streaming
Stories are those short blips that look as if it is a visual diary of someone’s day at times.If you post only one image or short video, you will see one long continuous line across the top. Each segment of your story is a dash. When I look at someone’s story and see tiny dots, it seems like a big commitment and I usually pass but if it’s great content I will click through each one. Watch your analytics to see if you are overwhelming people with too many segments here.
Stories are where a brand can be more casual, funny, authentic, and it is where you can definitely point people to your other content. Use stories to promote your latest podcast, blog post, or even your latest Instagram post (Grid post). You can also go LIVE in your stories area. When you go to add a post from your home page, you will notice several options- POST-STORY-REELS-LIVE.
Instagram recently extended the amount of time you can go LIVE from 1 hour to 4 hours. My thought is, who is watching a LIVE for 4 hours? This happened during COVID quarantine time, so I believe it was to accommodate all of the classes and events that suddenly went online. 4-hours is also the limit on Facebook LIVES so it makes sense. When you finish your Instagram LIVE, you will be asked if you want to save or download the video. This allows you to edit it or chop it into small sharable pieces for IGTV, Stories or even on your other social platforms.
Another feature that is tied to your Stories, is the highlight button. You may notice that some people have little circles under their bio. These can be categorized and created by you to save segments of your Stories that otherwise will disappear after 24-hours. You may create a button for EVENTS, LAUNCHES, TESTIMONIALS, TEAM MEMBERS, etc. After you create some Story segments you will start to see which pieces you want to tuck away in your highlight buttons. You can always go later and clean out old segments.
Use a tool like Canva to create cute buttons and brand them with your colors.
Reels is the latest roll out and it’s Instagram’s response to TikTok. With fun video effects, you can create educational or just entertaining 30-second videos. The best part of Reels, at least at the time I’m writing this post, is that Instagram is giving special treatment to these video clips as they are trying to get more people to catch on.
When you record a Reel video, it goes onto your feed with a special Reels icon. People can click on the Reels icon on your profile (under the highlight buttons) to watch more of your Reels, and better yet, if someone is watching a Reels video from someone else, Instagram will prompt them to watch more Reels (from other people) and your content is more likely to be found. [Read more on the differences between TikTok and Reels HERE]
This is your space for Long-form video. Let’s just say that this is Instagram’s response to YouTube. Anytime a video post goes over 60 seconds it will show the first 60 seconds in your feed and then have the KEEP WATCHING option that takes people to the IGTV section of your profile.
If you are creating long-form educational and informative video content, this is a great way to share it. After loading it on your feed and in your IGTV, you can make a short story to promote it. It creates a web of links crisscrossing from one area of Instagram to the others.
Now we can dive into the different parts to each post.
On your grid posts, you have lots of room to write, versus your stories, you can put some text (more like a headline) across the image or video, but let’s look at these 3 parts:
What helps you build the “know, like, and trust” factor on Instagram is your ability to connect with your followers. In your grid posts you have the opportunity to start a conversation—to share something and ask questions. This is your caption or copy.
You have a sentence and half before the READ MORE is shown, so make sure you have a strong headline or enticing first sentence. Your content can be broken into two types–CONVERSION-focused (education or informative with CTA) or CONVERSATION-focused (telling a story). You have 1,000 characters in this section.
Start your caption with one of these:
Question – “What can you do to make up income in 2021?” “Have you wondered how to build an online community from the ground up?”
Cliff Hanger – “Last year I made $350K doing this one simple thing” “My business chugged along until I made this one change”
After writing your post ask yourself these 3 questions:
Would my perfect customer find this INTERESTING or HELPFUL?
Are you giving them a reason to take action or respond? Have you asked for a response or call to action? Never leave the conversation hanging with “Fun time with our team.” Ask a question or tell people what you want them to do next. Don’t just say “LINK IN BIO” or worse… don’t put an unclickable link in the post! No one is going to do that kind of work! Give specific instructions: “If you’d like to join our group, click the link in the bio to get started today!” Or “To see how this actually works, click the video link in my bio and be amazed!”
Does it explain who I am or what I do?
Instagram started out as a photo editing platform with beautiful filters making even your boring backyard pics look as if it was a magical wonderland. It wasn’t until marketers got ahold of the platform that we saw the immediate decline in quality of photos.
People started posting horrific colored squares crammed with text promoting their products and services, and cringe-worthy stock images that turned Instagram into a virtual junkyard!
Images are the key on Instagram. Photos of people work best, and if they show your eyes and smiling face, you will see those get the most attention.
Look at any account that gets real engagement on Instagram, and you will notice they are filled with the person’s face or the brand’s products and users of the products up close.
I’m not saying you can’t use stock images, but make sure they are beautiful and fresh. Not the corny images of a sales team in business suits running on a track—JUST STOP THAT! [For help on finding better images, read STOP USING CRAPPY IMAGES]
We all have amazing cameras on our smartphones today so there is no excuse for not having good photos available. Get in the habit of snapping 5-10 images per week that you can use somewhere down the line on your social posts. You can load a single image or up to 10 in a carousel post. These are the posts that have dots underneath the images showing you how many you can swipe through to view.
As painful as it is, you need to take loads of photos of yourself and your team in action (drinking coffee, texting, typing at a desk, looking up at the sky or out a window in deep thought, chatting with someone). If you are stumped and don’t know what kind of images to take, download our 55+ photo shot ideas—Ultimate Photo Shot List to get you going.
Get closer than you think you should. Show the details of things- macro images on Instagram do very well. Instead of showing an item of clothing you are selling, zoom in and show us the buttons or quality stitching. Instead of your whole office, zoom in, and show us something on your desk.
We typically think of Instagram in squares. The photos that get posted on your “grid” or main profile are seen in batches of 9 squares, HOWEVER… when someone is scrolling through their newsfeed on Instagram, you can have your image show up in PORTRAIT mode (1920 x 1080 instead of 1080 x 1080). Just like posting an image to your stories, that portrait mode will take up more real estate, and hopefully grab more attention – Instagram will crop it on your grid so be sure to put your main image in the center. Since marketing is all about testing and tweaking, do some testing on this with your images and see for yourself.
Ok, you may need to sit down for this one… When it comes to frequency of posting on Instagram, daily is not necessarily the BEST for your feed (grid). I know… mind blown right there!
If you are a professional photographer, and you have thousands of beautiful images to share, you might be an exception here, but Instagram is a very visual platform, and just throwing up junk stock images or text-covered visuals is a complete waste of your time.
If you can create better images a few times a week you will have a more beautiful and well-balanced grid to represent your brand. If you have loads of great content, then go for it, but keep in mind that the Instagram algorithm favors NEW CONTENT, so it will continue to show your post for 48-hrs+/- unless you post again shortly after, then the new post will take over. We always suggest testing things in marketing, so do another test here. For a month, post each day and then the following month, post every 2-3 days. Gather some data and then make that decision for yourself.
As you plan your content, keep in mind you don’t want it to all be promotional. Most people get stuck here wondering what type of content to actually post. We have a monthly service for folks who need caption prompts that can be customized and come with fabulous images for Instagram. Check out DIYsocial for more information.
I have 8 categories listed here that we use when writing content in our DIYsocial program as well as for our clients. These should get the ideas flowing for you. At the end of this post, I have a sample content calendar that you can copy and use if you find it helpful.
Categories of Posts
ME/TEAM – These are the nice images you either have a photographer take or you collect [download our 50+ images you need…]. They are photos of your team or yourself in different settings. People love seeing faces and these posts will generally do better than most others.
HOME– Family, pets, cooking, sitting by the fire, etc. These posts are for you to share a little about yourself and things you enjoy doing on the weekend or evenings. You certainly don’t have to share photos of your kids or personal life, but if you can let your hair down a bit, it will draw people in.
LIFESTYLE– Coffee, Tea, Cocktails, Food (real or stock image). You are not necessarily talking about coffee or cocktails but perhaps you are sharing something about your day, or your business. Think of these posts as if you were meeting your prospects or clients for coffee or cocktails and having a conversation.
WORKSPACE– Flat-lay images of your desk, journals, computer or tablet, etc. Clean up that workspace and show people where the action takes place!
PROMOTION– a clear promo post telling people how they can work with you and what you can do to help them. Promote your podcast, new product, classes or service offerings.
BOOK or PODCAST What are you reading or listening to? Show photos of books and podcasts along with a nugget or two that you think others will find helpful or interesting.
QUOTES– Do you have a quote that speaks to you or inspires you? Don’t fill your feed with just text, but when you have a quote or funny quip that moves you… share it with your community.
EVENTS or TRAVEL– Whether you host events, attend events or just love to travel. These can be posts and images to share that love of learning.
Lastly, let’s talk about hashtags!
Hashtags allow people to find content they are interested in and therefore the more you use, the greater the opportunity for more people to find your content. Here are 4 tips for using hashtags on Instagram:
Use 30 on all posts…that’s right THIRTY! The more you use, the greater the opportunity for people to find your content. If you can’t think of 30 hashtags right away, start a list and continue to add to it.
Create a few lists and then you can copy and paste them into your posts- don’t use the same group of hashtags on each post—mix it up.
You can place your hashtags at the end of your caption, or in the first comment. There is a reason for this inconvenient action. Hashtags are hyperlinks so if they are in your post, you may be sending people off of your post and onto other people’s content. They can still see your hashtags in the first comment but by the time they are in your comments they are either commenting or at least reading your comments.
Pay attention to how many people are using that hashtag—If there are too few (12 people using that tag), the hashtag isn’t going to attract anyone, and if there are too many people using a hashtag (20 million), your post will be lost in the masses. Do some research and aim for hashtags between 100,000 and 2 million.
If you have survived reading this resource post, you certainly have what it takes to persevere and the stamina to stay consistent with your Instagram marketing strategy. If your head exploded halfway through this post and you need help managing it all, reach out to our team…it’s what we LOVE TO DO!
Be sure to connect with us on Instagram @SocialKNX and let us know what your biggest take away was. We’ll share your post in our stories and love you forever!
What’s the first thing you do when you see a video as you scroll through your Facebook feed? I’d guess that you first check the length of the video to decide whether or not it’s worth the time to watch it. Even if you do press play, how often do you actually watch the entire video?
Only 52% of viewers actually watch a video all the way till the end. If a video is under 60 seconds, that number jumps to 68%. These days, it’s hard for marketers to hold the attention of consumers- small bites of consumable information are what people seem to crave right now- as a result, marketers are tailoring content to consumers’ short attention spans.
While the long-standing “2 minute” rule is still a good guideline to go by in regards to your video length, it’s important to tailor each video length to the specific platform on which you are posting the video. Odds are, someone is more likely to watch a 4-minute long video on YouTube, but only last a minute if the same video is on Twitter.
How Long Should Your Videos Be?
In a nutshell, your video really should only be as long as it needs to be in order to convey the message you are intending. The video should be engaging all the way through – providing information that is valuable or that tells a compelling story without any “fluff.”
Facebook videos can technically be up to 240 minutes long, but let’s be honest, nobody wants to watch a 240 minute video on Facebook. On Facebook, videos organically get exposure on a news feed when they are at least 3 minutes long. That doesn’t mean that all of your videos need to be 3 minutes long – you want to focus on the message of the video rather than time limits. The video itself is what captures interests and sparks engagement, not the length of the video.
Some other things to keep in mind when creating a video for Facebook: use eye-catching imagery early on in the video as the first few seconds will automatically play as viewers scroll through a newsfeed. In these first few seconds, it is crucial to include only the information you need to get your point across.
Instagram essentially has three different options for posting videos: Instagram Feed, Instagram Story, and Instagram TV (IGTV).
Instagram Feed Videos posted in your Instagram feed can be up to 1 minute. That being said, Instagram is now set up so that if a video is posted to IGTV (more on IGTV below!), a 10-15 second preview will also show up in the regular feed. According to Hubspot research, videos that are, on average, 26 seconds receive the most comments on Instagram. Similar to Facebook, people are scrolling quickly through their Instagram feed and may not want to stop to watch a long video.
Instagram Story With Instagram Stories, each video uploaded directly to your story can be up to 15 seconds, but you can also post a longer video that will be broken up over multiple 15-second Instagram Story scenes. Statistics say that a story with 3 “parts” tends to be the most engaging.
Instagram TV (IGTV) IGTV was designed with long-form videos in mind, so like Facebook, your video should only be as long as it needs to be in order to get the point across. Previews of your IGTV video now show up in the Instagram feed, and users must then tap “Keep Watching” to watch the rest of the video.
Originally, Twitter had a 30 second limit for video uploads, but it has now been extended to as long as 2 minutes and 20 seconds. However, since Twitter users are used to short updates, it’s usually best to keep your videos on the shorter side. You could always consider creating short teaser videos and linking out to the full video on another social media platform like YouTube.
The audience for YouTube is different from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter because users turn to YouTube specifically for video content! As a result, viewers are prepared for longer videos as they are not aimlessly scrolling through a feed. Similar to Facebook, YouTube rewards videos that have more engagement (watch time) and will feature them more prominently in search results. 6 to 8 minutes is usually the ideal length of a video on YouTube, BUT if you can get the information across in less than 6 minutes, avoid stretching the video out with filler content.
While we do live in a fast-paced, ‘results NOW’ world, a benefit of longer videos is that they can build loyalty and create engagement with your brand on social media – as long as you make sure you are optimizing the videos for the correct social media platform to maximize your views and engagement. When a viewer spends more time watching your video, it typically means the content resonates with them personally, increasing their interest in your company. Video content can help your target audience get to know your brand, create that personal connection and establish that long-standing loyalty!
Here at SocialKNX, we know that different social media channels may require different strategies. Reach out to us today to see how we can help you break your content into byte-sized pieces that get shared across the social media universe!
Did you know that 47% of social media marketers report that the biggest challenge they face when it comes to social media marketing is coming up with strategies that support business goals? THIS is where the handy-dandy SWOT analysis comes in to save the day! SWOT stands for Strengths-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats, and completing one of these can help you understand how exactly to utilize social media and strengthen your strategy. The SWOT framework is traditionally used to analyze the internal and external factors that help or hurt a business’s success. A SWOT analysis can help you identify key areas within your social media strategies and campaigns that require improvement or tweaking in order to be successful.
Many of you may be rolling your eyes saying, “Who cares?” While the rest of you are intrigued since you are probably among the masses who jumped on TikTok during the quarantine period to entertain yourself after finishing ALL OF NETFLIX. Now we have Reels to test drive. Aren’t global pandemics useful?
TikTok has been in the news A LOT lately with the announcement of Trump threatening to ban TiKTock in the US and telling Microsoft they have a month to buy the US division of TikTok and all kinds of other craziness. Picturing Microsoft users getting on TikTok is amusing in itself. Perhaps the RickRoll will make a comeback after all. I believe Twitter is now also in talks to purchase TikTok which worries me since Twitter bought Vine before that shriveled …on the vine, I’m not so sure that will go well either. While all the talks and bidding wars go on, Instagram rolled out Reels. Most people had no idea though since it seems to be a feature that is buried inside of stories.
Reels has been available for quite a while in other countries, but it began rolling out August 5th, in the U.S. Since I have been one those “over 40” (ok… over 50!) moms who are cluttering up TikTok with our SAVAGE moves and the Cannibal Dance. I thought I’d check out Reels over the weekend. I was sadly unimpressed. I really was hoping it would be more of a copycat app with the fun comedy and dance memes, but it reminded me more of… VINE.
Here are a few of the main points on each so you can consider where to waste… I mean, spend more of your time. Don’t get me wrong, I do see some amazing ways to use these apps for a brand, but it will take some time to sift through all of the 16-year-old dance videos and lots of creativity to create content that is worth sifting for.
Launched in 2018 and already has over 2.5 billion downloads in the app store—almost a billion users worldwide and 100 million in the U.S. as of August 2020.
More users spending more time on TikTok than on Instagram!
Mostly entertainment- funny and fashion-oriented video challenges
You can view TikTok videos without having an account
Launched August 5th in the U.S.
Must have an Instagram account to view
If you follow someone’s Reels you will also be following their Instagram feed
It is mixed in with Instagram’s main app causing a bit of confusion and clutter with stories, IGTV, and the regular feed all mixed in with Reels
More augmented reality filters (aka-deer face and sparkles spinning around your face to mask wrinkles and puffy eyes)
So after week one (and just two videos posted to Reels), I am not seeing much to get excited about yet. I’m sure there will be more features that get rolled out and perhaps it will take a few months for us “older folks” to find out about Reels since it’s buried within so many other Instagram features. Just look at the success (or lack thereof) IGTV has had. It was supposed to rival YouTube and I’ve never met someone outside of those in marketing who understand what it is, how to find it, or how to use it.
As popular as TikTok is, it will take a lot for Reels to snag market share. But then again, if TikTok gets snapped up by Microsoft and they blend it with LinkedIn (also owned by Microsoft), Reels could have a fighting chance. I’d better start practicing my SAVAGE moves for Reels now.
Like any new app, I suggest people get on there, poke around and watch a few videos or 87 hours of them (which is what will happen when you first get on TikTok) to see where your brand can find a space to fit in. It feels kind of like a junior high dance… stand against the wall looking awkward. Have a few of the mean girls tell you how old fat and uncoordinated you are and then throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care.
With over 500 million monthly active users, Instagram continues to grow in popularity. Brands have all scrambled to jump in and try to build an audience, but many have no strategy and do not take into consideration the fact that this platform is not like the others. Like Twitter, many are tempted to buy followers and likes instead of growing the audience organically which always leads to problems when you actually try and convert to sales. On any social media channel, it takes time, strategy, and consistency to build your audience, but there are some unique tips that can make using Instagram more effective.
Keep in mind that with any social channel, it is getting more important to create content that is interesting enough that it starts conversations and gets shared, versus you pushing it in front of people through advertising. (Read “The Content Marketing Genius of Angie Castalano” for a great example of this in action!)
10 Tips for Instagram Marketing
1. GET REAL– As often as possible, use real photos that you have taken. While this isn’t always possible, find images that share your brand’s story and look authentic.
2. NO STOCK IMAGES-No one likes stock images that look like…STOCK IMAGES! Corny staged corporate porn is definitely a NO-NO on Instagram.
3. ADD HASHTAGS– People use hashtags to find great content and people to follow. Click on any hashtag to see the top people or most recent people using that tag.
4. USE 10-20 HASHTAGS– Adding multiple hashtags will help your profile become more findable. You can place the hashtags in the caption or in a comment directly following. That’s a personal preference.
5. EXPLORE & DISCOVER– once a day click on the magnifying glass to find new people to connect with. The more people you follow the more people will follow you back.
6. COMMENT & LIKE– Make a point to show the love to those you follow. Comment and like photos on other people’s profiles and BE SOCIAL! Adding an emoji to your comment helps your comment stand out in the crowd.
7. WRITE MORE- This isn’t Twitter. You can write 2,200 character posts, but keep in mind it only shows the first 3 lines of text before showing the MORE link to read more. Be sure you are weaving your keywords into your posts like anywhere else.
8. CONSISTENCY & FREQUENCY– Posting regularly will pay off. Like any social site, being on there regularly will help more people find and connect with you.
9. LET US PEEK- Show us the behind the scenes for your business. Let us meet your team or see your product being made. Don’t always show perfection…let us peek behind the curtain of OZ!
10, STAY TRUE TO YOUR BRAND– I love brands like DRY BAR with their touch of yellow in most every image or those that just a look that you can identify immediately. When possible, use your brand colors and fonts, even if it’s just a touch here and there. Using tools like Canva will help you maintain your brand look and feel since you can load your brand’s fonts and exact HEX or RGB colors and use them in your image designs.