Sections

Ready To Jump On The Instagram Bandwagon? Expert Tips To Help You Succeed

Michael Brenner

If you are marketing for a visually intense industry like travel, food and beverage, or the arts, or for any brand that targets millennials, you can’t afford to ignore the latest force to join the social media leviathan lineup. While relatively new when compared to Facebook (which purchased Instagram in 2012), Twitter, and Pinterest, Instagram has risen to prominence rapidly – and I mean Bugatti Chiron 261+ mph-type fast.

From its inception in 2010, the network today captivates one-third of all Internet users. And its forecast 2017 global mobile ad revenue? $2.81 billion!

It is also right now a gold mine for brands that target millennials, with 90% of users under 35.

BrightEdge CEO and digital marketing expert Jim Yu describes Instagram as a perfect complement to Facebook, specifically for mobile engagement. This is because it is so well integrated to Facebook; it has in many ways become Facebook’s creative little sister. Cultivating a strong presence for your brand through the biggest social media site’s cooler younger sibling may not be a bad idea. With its premium Zuckerberg ownership, we can count on Facebook channeling its penchant for efficient innovation through this highly popular medium.

Ready to start creating your own fantastic Instagram marketing campaigns? Here are some expert tips to inspire your strategies.

Use Instagram to compel

President of Ignite Social Media Jim Tobin explains that one of the best ways to use Instagram is to motivate others by showing products being used in compelling ways. When people can see how amazing/thrilling/soothing/fun a product can be via a stunning Instagram image, they imagine themselves using that product and having a good time. They can visualize the value they will derive from the product.

Tentsile, a company that sells tree tents, or “portable treehouses,” is an excellent example of the power of compelling visuals. See for yourself – who wouldn’t want to ponder the universe perched above the ground in their very own tent treehouse?

Use hashtags to define your brand on Instagram

Instagram marketing expert Jenn Herman uses this site to build the “we’re-all-human” bridge between brands and consumers. It’s a place to connect more intimately. To do that, you need to define your brand’s personality on the network, which can be done eloquently and effectively with the hashtag. This will help your audience identify what you’re all about and show that your brand shares their interests.

Instagram hashtags aren’t just about keywords. They’re about expressing commonality with your audience. That does take some research, tracking what your buyers are talking about on social media, researching trending hashtags at the moment, and evaluating what works, what doesn’t, and why.

Herman has shared her secret Instagram hashtag formula to get the most brand-building traction:

  • Use a total of 15-20 hashtags in a post
  • 4-5 should be popular, generic terms like #digitalmarketing, #startup, #videos
  • 5-7 should be moderately targeted to your brand or industry
  • 2-5 should be niche-specific; these are the target keywords your audience is searching for
  • 1-2 are specific to your brand

Tell a story with your images

Bianca Cheah, founder and managing director of Sporteluxe, a popular lifestyle blog, advocates using Instagram to tell your brand’s story in order to relate to potential buyers. “I always tell a story through my images and make the image as relatable to the viewer as possible,” she explains. “There’s a fine line between being too inspirational, where it becomes out of reach, and then being on a level where viewers feel like you’re one of them.”

There are lots of ways to launch powerful visual storytelling on Instagram:

  • Use your audience to tell your brand’s story by encouraging user-generated content. This is perfect for travel and tourism, and fashion and beauty brands.
  • Post images of your team at work to give your audience a glimpse into the inner workings of your agency. This works well for B2B marketing.
  • For nonprofits, posting visuals that tell the story of the difference their organization makes can be very effective. CharityWater does this well, showing images of the people who are directly helped, or of their volunteers and staff in action.

Be consistent

To be effective and digestible to your audience, be consistent in terms of style and timing. The best way to help your buyers recognize your brand is to create a cohesive presence that they can come to expect, like their morning cup of coffee with caramel syrup and a splash of coconut milk.

Make sure your images fit seamlessly with your brand. If you are clean and minimalistic on your website, use the same style on your Instagram account. Is your brand lighthearted and colorful? Then be quirky and eye-catching on Instagram. Have you been posting pictures using a particular filter that makes your brand really shine out? Keep using it.

Second, stick to a consistent posting schedule. This doesn’t mean over-posting. In fact, posting too much is one of the biggest Instagram mistakes you can make. Two to three posts a day is a standard that many brands use for successful social media marketing, but be flexible and use what works for your brand.

These expert tips can guide you as your create your brilliant marketing campaigns on Instagram. This social media site is an effective tool that you can use to build your brand, and is essential if you are marketing to a younger audience. Instagram is growing faster than most other social media networks, and this growth is expected to continue, especially as sites like Twitter and Facebook begin to feel more “aged” in our very trend-driven digital world.

Right now, however, Instagram is still young, which means it has a lot of room to grow. Jump on the Instagram bandwagon now so you can take advantage of the power of visual marketing and serious social media engagement for your brand.

For more on marketing strategies that get results in today’s connected world, see How To Master Social Media Marketing In 2017.

Image: Instagram

Comments

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.

3 Millennial Expectations Every E-Commerce Business Needs To Address

Tracy Vides

Ah, the millennials – the generation brought up with the Internet and the rest of the digital revolution! While there may be a good deal of stigma attached to this crowd, there’s no stopping the fact they are flooding the job market and are predicted to spend $1.4 trillion in the U.S. retail market by 2020.

Due the fascinating point in history this age group grew up in, they are an extremely tricky bunch to market and sell to. They have essentially caused a lot of brands to throw out their entire playbook and start from scratch.

Let’s a take a quick look at a couple of the top brands today: Amazon, the leading retailer, does not own any physical stores. Uber, the leader in transportation, does not own any cars. Both of have one thing in common: the point-of-sale happens electronically.

This phenomenon is a big indicator that e-commerce is taking over. Modern shoppers (particularly millennials) have much different values and expectations than shoppers did 20 to 30 years ago. No surprise, therefore, that for most online companies, appealing to a millennial audience has become a top priority. Let’s discuss three of the most prominent expectations these shoppers have for e-commerce businesses.

1. Persuasive social media presence

Hundreds of years from now, when historians discuss the biggest breakthroughs happening early in the second millennium, the rise of social media will undoubtedly be one of the most debated topics.

What took off in the early 2000s now has a collective user count around 2.5 billion, many of them millennials. In fact, a recent survey found that 88% of millennials get their news via Facebook.

With this many eyes on social media, having a strong brand presence on popular outlets is no longer an option. The harsh truth is that millennials are not responsive to traditional ads or played-out sales tactics. While social advertising is proving to be very effective, one of the main goals of your brand’s social media presence must be to give your messaging a playful and humanized tone that connects with the younger audience on a more in-depth level.

Red Bull is well known for its superior social media presence. It uses its accounts to become so much more than just an energy drink. If you follow Red Bull, you’ll see how good it is at promoting original, branded material such as films, competitions, live shows, and of course, user-generated content.

In addition to favoring e-commerce brands with a human touch, millennials value consistency and responsiveness across channels. Be sure you are keeping up with all your accounts in all networks to remain in touch with your audience.

2. Personalized user experience

Even though the development of technology and the evolution of the Internet have done a lot to bring us together as a species, e-commerce is getting more individualized. Millennials are not fazed by traditional marketing and sales pitches. They want interactions to be tailored to their needs.

Unfortunately, there is no formula written in stone about how to deliver the perfect personalized experience.

However, there are certain things you can do to embrace this concept. For example, Amazon’s homepage looks different to each and every customer. Using workflows and user information, it recommends relevant items to customers based around their online behavior.

The overarching goal for retailers is to understand customers’ needs throughout the entire sales funnel. The most effective way to do this by implementing marketing automation within your e-commerce platform. For example, Shopify lets you profile customers, map their journey, market to them across digital channels, and provide a consistent shopping experience across multiple devices, online and in-store.

Personalization has become a staple in many e-commerce operations. In fact, a study by Gartner predicts by 2020, smart personalization engines used to recognize customer intent will enable businesses to increase their profits by up to 15%.

Basically, younger audiences want e-commerce companies to show them exactly what they want to see.

3. Transparency

Sales techniques have seen a huge shift as millennials gain spending power. Smartphones have literally given people all the information in the world in the palms of their hands. With this in mind, e-commerce brands need to come to terms with the fact that each buying decision will be well-researched.

“Millennials have changed the old retail model of price obfuscation, especially in online commerce,” says Jason Goldberg, VP of strategy at Razorfish. “They have grown up with transparency and information available to them at their fingertips, so brands have to design their business around transparency.”

Everlane, a luxury clothing store, is a prime example of how to use this concept in a business model. It openly promotes how all of its products are made, from A to Z, directly on its e-commerce website.

It doesn’t hide any manufacturing costs or warehouse details from the public. A lot of companies are known for relying on cheap labor, and the stigma around that helps get Everlane’s transparent approach into millennials’ good books.

Additionally, it maintains a strong social media presence that constantly reinforces its values. For example, it famously gives its audience behind-the-scenes glances at its factories in action via Snapchat. Using raw footage like this puts customers in a better state of mind about their purchases.

Transparency and authenticity are essential for gaining traction with millennials. It’s not just about what you sell anymore. It’s about how you promote it.

Parting words

Millennials are a fascinating group. Apart from the selfies and constant social media updates, they have a lot to offer in terms of digital consumerism. The truth of the matter is the online shopping landscape is incredibly crowded. Regardless of what products or services you provide, chances are there hundreds of other businesses working towards the same goals. Since millennials have been brought up in the middle of this reality, they have no problem looking around until they find an experience that really speaks to them. It’s up to you to differentiate yourself as a brand that meets them where they hang out.

For more on marketing to today’s consumers, see 5 Steps to Your Customer’s Heart with Emotionally Aware Computing.

Comments

About Tracy Vides

Tracy is a content marketer and social media consultant who works with small businesses and startups to increase their visibility. Although new to the digital marketing scene, Tracy has started off well by building a good reputation for herself, with posts featured on Steamfeed, Business 2 Community and elsewhere. Hit her up @TracyVides on Twitter.

Is Broken Link-Building Right For You?

Michael Brenner

Let’s talk link-building – broken link-building, that is. Should you be doing it? Is it a magnificent and creative inbound marketing technique, or a waste of time?

Earning quality links through the production of relevant, value-driven content is one of the best ways to improve your domain’s organic search traffic while also:

  • Boosting referral traffic
  • Building brand authority and trust
  • Expanding your exposure beyond your industry
  • Establishing yourself as an influencer

With so much inbound impact, it’s no wonder link-building has become a world unto itself. A recent survey questioning 435 link-building professionals found that while more than one-third of clients have monthly budgets of less than $1000 for link-building, another 43% allocate between $1,000 and $5,000 a month. Nearly 10% have budgets ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per month just for link-building.

You can do it successfully through a number of white hat techniques, from writing guest posts on relevant sites to creating compelling infographics and SlideShare presentations that other content producers will want to use.

So why go out there and fix all those orphaned links on the web if there are other ways to get quality links? After all, this entails finding the broken links, creating your own replacement content, and contacting webmasters to replace the links. Is it worth the effort?

Cleaning house for the web

Broken link-building is basically the lost art of cleaning up the web. Think of it this way – there are, give or take a few hundred thousand, one billion websites at any one time. But as many as three-quarters are inactive. Every time someone links to content and that page is removed or deleted, another broken link is formed.

With new sites being created and left to die, and many more being reborn when a webmaster decides it’s time to give their website a makeover, there are probably nearly as many broken links out there as there are stars in the sky.

Aside from everyone taking care of their own redirects when they do a website relaunch, broken link-building is the only way some of these lost links are ever going to be corrected. You are essentially doing other webmasters a favor while also making your corner of the web more relevant.

Sweeping up the cobwebs is not a thankless job, however. Broken link-building is a powerful way to create your own quality links and reap the SEO rewards in the form of an ongoing increase in web traffic. With that many broken links out there, if you can find a method that works for you, broken link-building could be page-rank gold for your brand.

How to do it

Broken link-building isn’t something to pour your heart into at the sacrifice of other SEO techniques. Nor is it something you should do casually. You need a happy medium where the time invested is bringing you enough links that make it worthwhile, but you aren’t spending precious marketing hours mining for broken links that are relevant to your brand.

According to online marketing expert Neil Patel, for every 100 emails you send out letting a website owner know that they have a broken link and offering your high-value content as an alternative, you will get only 5 to 10 links.

The only way to make curating quality broken links worth it is to be smart—very smart.

First, use the resources that are available to you.

These tools will help you identify broken links when you visit a webpage (Domain Hunter Plus is a little more efficient as it will let you create a list and then export it to Excel):

  • Check My Links Chrome Extension
  • Domain Hunter Plus

When you’re looking for sites that may have a lot of broken links, keep in mind that the older a site, the more broken links it may have. Also, you want to get the best-quality links to your own content – so start by checking the sites in your niche that already have the most authority.

You can search in bulk by using tools like Xenu Link Sleuth. QuickSprout explains how to scrape hundreds of pages at a time to identify broken links with Xenu.

Another bulk tactic recommended by Patrick Stox, a SEO specialist for IBM, is to use Ahrefs. He suggests saving time by looking at your competitors’ broken links, using the same process you would to reclaim your own site’s broken links. Then, as you may already have content that could fit what your competitors had, you don’t even need to create new content.

Once you have neatly organized all your links, determined replacement content, and have your email addresses in order, you need to reach out to website owners. Politely let them know they have a broken link and offer your solution: your informative, engaging, compelling content!

When reaching out, it may be tempting to send bulk emails to “Dear Webmaster.”’ While this technique is fine, keep in mind that your offer to fix the broken link may appear as just another spam email that they are better off ignoring. You may have better luck with a more personal email. Keep it short; two or three sentences should suffice. And make sure you spell their name correctly.

Now everyone wins. You get a high-quality link, the site owner improves their website, and the web becomes a little bit cleaner.

Aren’t there better ways to build links?

There may be faster ways to build links, and there may be better ways. One thing you don’t want to do – ever – is veer away from white hat techniques. No buying, trading, or selling links. Don’t bother with poor-quality online directories, and definitely don’t post on another’s website with anything less than a high standard of quality. Remember, the goal for search engines is always about increasing value for web searchers.

Instead of going after broken links, you can simply create links to your website by posting original and relevant content on your own site on a regular basis. Other sites will eventually link back to your elegantly designed infographics, entertaining videos, and informative, well-researched blog posts. In the process, you are creating more content for your own audience.

Guest posting is still one of the most popular white hat link-building techniques as it gives you a chance to get your brand out there, build relationships with other influencers in your industry, and also create a link.

Broken link-building can be a time-consuming process. You must first find the broken links, and then find out if another website owner is even interested in your practical SEO-boosting-for-both-of-you offer. But it can also provide a nice boost to your site’s page ranking and get your brand out there in a positive way. This is particularly useful if you don’t have much content on your site.

It may also be right for your marketing if you get a sense of satisfaction from helping clean up the web for everyone else. After all, someone has to do it.

For more on digital marketing strategies, see Confessions Of A Webcast King: Modern Marketing, Webinars, And The Future Of Digital Marketing.

Image: Pixabay

Comments

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.

The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage

Justin Somaini and Dan Wellers

 

The cost of data breaches will reach US$2.1 trillion globally by 2019—nearly four times the cost in 2015.

Cyberattacks could cost up to $90 trillion in net global economic benefits by 2030 if cybersecurity doesn’t keep pace with growing threat levels.

Cyber insurance premiums could increase tenfold to $20 billion annually by 2025.

Cyberattacks are one of the top 10 global risks of highest concern for the next decade.


Companies are collaborating with a wider network of partners, embracing distributed systems, and meeting new demands for 24/7 operations.

But the bad guys are sharing intelligence, harnessing emerging technologies, and working round the clock as well—and companies are giving them plenty of weaknesses to exploit.

  • 33% of companies today are prepared to prevent a worst-case attack.
  • 25% treat cyber risk as a significant corporate risk.
  • 80% fail to assess their customers and suppliers for cyber risk.

The ROI of Zero Trust

Perimeter security will not be enough. As interconnectivity increases so will the adoption of zero-trust networks, which place controls around data assets and increases visibility into how they are used across the digital ecosystem.


A Layered Approach

Companies that embrace trust as a competitive advantage will build robust security on three core tenets:

  • Prevention: Evolving defensive strategies from security policies and educational approaches to access controls
  • Detection: Deploying effective systems for the timely detection and notification of intrusions
  • Reaction: Implementing incident response plans similar to those for other disaster recovery scenarios

They’ll build security into their digital ecosystems at three levels:

  1. Secure products. Security in all applications to protect data and transactions
  2. Secure operations. Hardened systems, patch management, security monitoring, end-to-end incident handling, and a comprehensive cloud-operations security framework
  3. Secure companies. A security-aware workforce, end-to-end physical security, and a thorough business continuity framework

Against Digital Armageddon

Experts warn that the worst-case scenario is a state of perpetual cybercrime and cyber warfare, vulnerable critical infrastructure, and trillions of dollars in losses. A collaborative approach will be critical to combatting this persistent global threat with implications not just for corporate and personal data but also strategy, supply chains, products, and physical operations.


Download the executive brief The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.


Comments

Tags:

Unleash The Digital Transformation

Kadamb Goswami

The world has changed. We’ve seen massive disruption on multiple fronts – business model disruption, cybercrime, new devices, and an app-centric world. Powerful networks are crucial to success in a mobile-first, cloud-first world that’s putting an ever-increasing increasing amount of data at our fingertips. With the Internet of Things (IoT) we can connect instrumented devices worldwide and use new data to transform business models and products.

Disruption

Disruption comes in many forms. It’s not big or scary, it’s just another way of describing change and evolution. In the ’80s it manifested as call centers. Then, as the digital landscape began to take shape, it was the Internet, cloud computing … now it’s artificial intelligence (AI).

Digital transformation

Digital transformation means different things to different companies, but in the end I believe it will be a simple salvation that will carry us forward. If you Bing (note I worked for Microsoft for 15 years before experiencing digital transformation from the lens of the outside world), digital transformation, it says it’s “the profound and accelerating transformation of business activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way.” (I’ll simplify that; keep reading.)

A lot of today’s digital transformation ideas are ripped straight from the scripts of sci-fi entertainment, whether you’re talking about the robotic assistants of 2001: A Space Odyssey or artificial intelligence in the Star Trek series. We’re forecasting our future with our imagination. So, let’s move on to why digital transformation is needed in our current world.

Business challenges

The basic challenges facing businesses today are the same as they’ve always been: engaging customers, empowering employees, optimizing operations, and reinventing the value offered to customers. However, what has changed is the unique convergence of three things:

  1. Increasing volumes of data, particularly driven by the digitization of “things” and heightened individual mobility and collaboration
  1. Advancements in data analytics and intelligence to draw actionable insight from the data
  1. Ubiquity of cloud computing, which puts this disruptive power in the hands of organizations of all sizes, increasing the pace of innovation and competition

Digital transformation in plain English

Hernan Marino, senior vice president, marketing, & global chief operating officer at SAP, explains digital transformation by giving specific industry examples to make it simpler.

Automobile manufacturing used to be the work of assembly lines, people working side-by-side literally piecing together, painting, and churning out vehicles. It transitioned to automation, reducing costs and marginalizing human error. That was a business transformation. Now, we are seeing companies like Tesla and BMW incorporate technology into their vehicles that essentially make them computers on wheels. Cameras. Sensors. GPS. Self-driving vehicles. Syncing your smartphone with your car.

The point here is that companies need to make the upfront investments in infrastructure to take advantage of digital transformation, and that upfront investment will pay dividends in the long run as technological innovations abound. It is our job to collaboratively work with our customers to understand what infrastructure changes need to be made to achieve and take advantage of digital transformation.

Harman gives electric companies as another example. Remember a few years ago, when you used to go outside your house and see the little power meter spinning as it recorded the kilowatts you use? Every month, the meter reader would show up in your yard, record your usage, and report back to the electric company.

Most electric companies then made a business transformation and installed smart meters – eliminating the cost of the meter reader and integrating most homes into a smart grid that gave customers access to their real-time information. Now, as renewable energy evolves and integrates more fully into our lives, these same electric companies that switched over to smart meters are going to make additional investments to be able to analyze the data and make more informed decisions that will benefit both the company and its customers.

That is digital transformation. Obviously, banks, healthcare, entertainment, trucking, and e-commerce all have different needs than auto manufacturers and electric companies. It is up to us – marketers and account managers promoting digital transformation – to identify those needs and help our clients make the digital transformation as seamlessly as possible.

Digital transformation is more than just a fancy buzzword, it is our present and our future. It is re-envisioning existing business models and embracing a different way of bringing together people, data, and processes to create more for their customers through systems of intelligence.

Learn more about what it means to be a digital business.

Comments

About Goswami Kadamb

Kadamb is a Senior Program Manager at SAP where he is responsible for developing and executing strategic sales program with Concur SaaS portfolio. Prior to that he led several initiatives with Microsoft's Cloud & Enterprise business to enable Solution Sales & IaaS offerings.