Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Using Instagram to Market Your Business

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms right now. As such, it's the perfect showcase for your business. With so many people using Instagram, you need to stand out to make an impact with your audience and gain new, devoted followers. This means thinking outside the box. Here are four extraordinary ways to use Instagram to boost your company's success.

1. Show New and Innovative Uses for Your Products
Most of your customers and followers already know what your products can do, or at least what they were initially made to do. However, you can increase user engagement tremendously by showcasing lesser-known things your products can do. Come up with some novel and innovative uses for your products, then post photos of your products being used in those new and interesting ways. Take it a step further by inviting your followers to come up with their own new and interesting uses for your products. Have them send you photos for possible inclusion on your Instagram page. Make it a contest, and award a prize for the most unique and/or useful suggestion submitted via photo. You'll get a lot more participants and new followers, which is exactly what you're after.

2. Show Your Production Process
Give your followers a behind-the-scenes tour of your production space, office, store, and other places where the magic of creating your product happens. Show them what a day in the life of one of your employees looks like. Don't limit your images to just production. Show employee-only areas like cubicles, on-site gyms and daycare facilities, lunch areas, meeting spaces, common areas, and more. Include images of employees interacting with each other in both a businesslike and playful manner. Showcase each individual employee with a mini-bio (your employees will love this recognition). Give your followers an idea of what goes on at your company, and strengthen their loyalty to you by making your relationship with them more intimate and personal.

3. Include Celebrities
Our culture loves celebrities. If you can get an image of a celebrity sighting in your area, put it on your Instagram page. Whether it has anything to do with your product or not, it's sure to get a lot of views. People who come by to view the celebrity image will probably take the time to look at the rest of your Instagram page, leading to more followers and fans for your product.

4. Use the Power of Animals
Just like celebrities can't help but bring views to your Instagram page, animals have a similar power. Share images of cute animals you find that you like. Post photos of your employees' pets (bonus points if the pets are at your office). If you can get an image of someone's pet using your product in some way (even playing with it), your followers will love it, and it will attract new views. As with celebrity images, these new views may very well turn into new followers.

These are just a few ways you can creatively use Instagram to your advantage. Make sure your business has an Instagram presence, then make the most of it. Use these suggestions, and watch your views and follower numbers soar.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Confusing Directions and Confusing Advertisements

Driving somewhere new always comes with a certain level of stress. Even with GPS, there are worries about getting lost, ending up in the wrong location, or otherwise having a bad experience. When someone gives you directions, whether you enter them into your GPS or they get scribbled down on a notepad, you expect them to be clear and direct and help you get where you need to go.

Imagine there's a new restaurant you've been meaning to try, so you call and get directions over the phone. You jot them down, as the GPS has not been working well. You know the general part of town where the restaurant can be found, but you haven't actually been there, so you feel a little nervous looking the directions over.

You get in your car and start driving. Surprisingly, the directions seem to be taking you in the opposite direction of where you need to go. You decide to continue follow them a bit. The directions have you circle back around and eventually start heading in the right direction, but you have now wasted 20 minutes. After a few more odd turns, however, you find yourself in a part of town you don't recognize, and you become increasingly frustrated. Eventually, starving and annoyed, you give up and head home, stopping at your favorite place to eat right by your house.

By giving unclear directions, that restaurant just lost your business.

What we as marketers can learn from this experience

Your customers want -- and need -- clear instructions from you about what to do. When you create marketing campaigns and landing pages, you want to make sure they're simple and easy to use. If you have pages that are busy or confusing, or if your pages have multiple calls to action, you're going to lose customers.

This desire for simplicity is known as the Law of Pragnanz. People appreciate layouts and designs that require the fewest cognitive processes. We all naturally interpret things according to the simplest explanation.

Using this desire for clear directions in marketing

Creating advertisements that lack a clear path of what the visitor is expected to do can be as frustrating as the directions you received to get to the restaurant. You didn't know where to turn and -- in the end -- just gave up. Chances are, if you were still looking for a product or service, you would've just gone to a competitor (like the favorite restaurant in our story).

All of your marketing materials should be designed to provide clear guidelines and instructions for your customers. Don't be coy about what you're actually hoping customers will do. Be upfront about the purpose of your advertisements and what customers will get from you. This will help improve your conversion rates and the success of your marketing campaigns.

Too many companies find themselves trying to make advertisements with multiple calls to action or with formats that are so confusing no one knows where they should click first. Keep it simple and work to create landing pages and advertisements that are clear and straightforward to follow. You'll keep your customers happy and improve your conversion rates.