6 Ways to Win on Instagram for your Brand

Instagram strategies

Instagram, a visual social platform, known for memes, gifs, and lifestyle-focused posts is where fashion industry pros live, collaborate, and grow relationships. It’s a place to build your brand from a visual standpoint, and allow your audience to see the story you want to tell.

There are many “tips and tricks” posts out there about using Instagram for your business. But we want to go beyond just “tips and tricks”, and instead delve a little deeper into strategy and tactics to show that…

True success is found through well thought-out planning, consistency, and dedicating time to make sure the channel grows for your brand and your business.

Here are 6 ways to grow your brand within instagram

Hashtags:  We all know that hashtags allow us to associate our Instagram posts with a category, an event, or a point of view. Using them is a great way to help your posts get found.

But how many of you are using them for search, discovery, and engagement? Hashtags can be used to your advantage to identify and connect with new customers, editors and other media, collaborators, and retailers. The thing here that you have to remember is that you need to take the offensive. Rather than just using hashtags in your posts and hoping you’ll be discovered by the people I listed above, you have to carve out the time to go find them yourself.

What are some ways to do that?

  • Search for your competitors, potential collaborators, complementary brands, and people who have already bought from you on Instagram and see what hashtags they’re using.
  • Make a list of the most commonly used hashtags (separate by industry hashtags and customer hashtags) in excel.
  • Search each hashtag and look at “Related” and add any relevant tags to your excel sheet.
  • Regularly search each hashtag, look at the posts under “Most Recent” and open them up. Start engaging with the people who are posting with these hashtags.

Posting Times: Keep in mind the posting times that appear to work best for your audience.

The goal is to test what does work by trying a few different days and times with a similar kind of post and then determining the ones that work the best. This way you aren’t wasting time on posts that aren’t going to reach your audience. However, keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily the case with partners or influencers you work with. Their posting times will vary against yours, and that is great. It means you’re reaching a wider net of people and hopefully gaining followers too.

Notifications: We all saw the “turn on notifications!” posts that lasted way too long across Instagram. While we tended to ignore these for the most part, I would suggest turning them on for a select few top people.

The goal with doing this is to be notified of a few things:

  • When top competitors post a picture, you can be notified to check it out and then observe who is commenting and liking, and how well their different posts are working for them. Take note of types of posts, times of posts, hashtags used, etc. You can start to do some great customer research this way too.
  • When your favorite editors or bloggers or podcasters post a new picture, you can be notified and then leave a thoughtful comment that helps to start building that relationship.
  • When top complementary brands or possible collaborators post, you can be notified and then leave a thoughtful comment that will be seen by the followers of that brand; hopefully they’ll click through to your profile and check you out too! Which would be great since you have the same customer.

Competitor’s Followers: This one is tricky and should definitely be approached with care. But checking out the followers of your competition, clicking through to their profiles, and engaging with them can be a great way to build your following. One big point I’d like to make here:

  • Do not just open up the list of followers and immediately follow all of them.  This is lazy and often a waste of time.  It’s certainly harmless but in terms of the time and energy that the brand/business is spending, it’s pointless.
  • Instead, take time to go through the lists of followers of your competitors, open them up, see if they seem like a desirable follower for your brand and start engaging — follow, or comment, or like a few of their photos.

Strategy and Tactics Take Time: This is something a lot of us don’t want to hear. Clearly, the strategies and tactics listed above are not something that you can do in five minutes time. They take a lot of time and patience. If you decide that Instagram is going to be your main social channel (as many fashion brands do), then it’s important that you take the time to really use it. If you’re simply posting your pics with some hashtags and occasionally commenting things like “nice!” or “love this!” on other people’s posts, then you don’t have an Instagram strategy. You have a social media hobby.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Saving Time on Your Brand Marketing Efforts

 

fashion marketing

Being a marketer for your brand, there is little time to waste. You are constantly thinking about the next thing on your to-do list. Content, posting, testing, measuring, and testing again…the process is really never ending.

But where do you find the time to learn and keep up with what’s “new” in marketing?

If you wait to find it, you’ll be waiting for a long time. You have to make the time.

This doesn’t mean spending hours reading through blog posts and getting sucked into the abyss of technology, social media, and the latest app. Although, we’re all guilty of it.

No, you can do it a lot more efficiently.

Use social media. Really.

Most social channels now have features that allow you to “save” and/or view things later. By using these features and putting time slots into your calendar to “learn and grow”, you’ll find that keeping up with what’s new, is not so difficult after all.

Here are five easy ways that your favorite social channels can help you be both productive and efficient while keeping up with the latest marketing trends and technology.

  1. Facebook “Save link”: This feature allows you save links for later. When you’re commuting to your office – whether it be your home office or a workspace, you don’t always have time to read the whole article, but know it could be useful tomorrow or next week. Bookmark it and go back when you have time fully devote.
  2. Favorite it: As with Facebook, same goes with Twitter. Favorite the tweet that you found useful. It’s not just for letting people know you found their tweet informative and interesting. It actually is useful.
  3. Pin it: Save articles on a board that are inspiring. Will it help with a new blog redesign? Will it help with your social strategy? Pin it and go back later to think through it in more detail.
  4. Create a folder in your email: So much email. Save the ones that matter in a folder so you don’t lose it later.
  5. Use and app.  Pocket is a semi-new app that allows you to collect any articles, posts or videos you find and save them to go back to later. All in one place for your viewing pleasure. Evernote also works well.

In the end it’s about what works best for you. Sometimes it’s easier to have it all in one place, and other times it’s easier to save within the app experience you’re in at that moment. Choose your social poison.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Nostalgia Marketing: A phase?

 

Since the beginning of #throwbackthursday and the more recent #flashbackfriday – consumers and brands have been taking a look back at what the past was and means. It could be a memory that was cherished, an accomplishment achieved, an uphill battle overcome, or just something really funny.

Apps like Timehop have allowed people to look back more frequently and see where they were a year or more ago on this very day. Facebook allows you to see friendships from years ago. It’s typically fun and enjoyable (unless it’s a memory you wish you didn’t have to relive – oops!) and something people are excited to share back out to let others remember too.

And there’s more…

Old bands have been reuniting and creating new albums and having concerts together. Casts of TV shows are being resurrected for new seasons (i.e. Heroes).

Older fashion styles are coming back for another season too. Additionally so are old past times like listening to records, reading actual books, playing with toys from generations ago.

What’s old is new again.

Brands realize that too.

It’s an opportunity for brands to create new content (from old content or events). It allows the brand to show another side to the brand through history and well-received content/events. For example, if there is an iconic package or product, a brand may look back at the beginning and show the evolution over time. And brands are already doing this.

But what else can brands do to take advantage of nostalgia and how consumers are excited about it?

Brands can:

  • Create experiences to relive the “new old” in a way that’s unique from before
  • Create a series that brings it life (i.e. a comic book, video series, or offline event that reoccurs).
  • Allow fans to share their old experiences through the new lens
  • Keep it authentic by leaving some to the imagination rather than forcing the nostalgia
  • Bring back best sellers to surprise and delight – i.e. Calvin Klein and their 90s campaigns; pumpkin flavored everything; troll dolls; classic old school converse and adidas sneakers; and more.

Nostalgia…not just a thing of the past.

This post was originally written for Social Media Club. 

Mobile: Search and Ease for Consumers and How Brands need to Adapt

 

We’ve seen the importance of convenience transforming our tech, digital, and social media experiences over the past months and years. Consumers, as we know, want things at their fingertips – when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it. They don’t want disruption from what they choose to view, and don’t want inconveniences such as leaving the mobile app they’re in in order to continue a content experience.
Brands are adapting. Advertisers (brands) are adapting. And they have to.
The upcoming ios9  is going to go even further.
The preview supposedly boasts some of the following:
  • the ability to block ads;
  • search within spotlight for finding something within any app or doc on your device versus having to search multiple apps for what you want to
Why does this matter?
Brands will have to work harder. Content needs to work harder. 
Right now it’s hard to tell how this will affect native ad experiences, but as we are seeing with Hulu (letting consumers opt out of ads completely for a higher price point), consumers will have more choices on what they want to view. So your brand’s content needs to be on point. It needs to be valuable and interesting. It needs to entertain or educate. It needs to be something your consumer target deems worth their time as they run from grabbing their latte to their next meeting.
Is this a bad thing for brands?
Not necessarily. It will weed out those who don’t put in as much effort into their content and other will rise.
This post was originally written for Socialnomics. 

FTW: When Brands & Consumers Connect

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Working in digital marketing on a day-to-day basis, it makes me stoked to see when brands and consumers truly connect. When a brand takes a beat and steps back to reflect and understand what their consumers really want. Even cooler, when a brand reinvents part of itself to be with the times. One such brand is Banana Republic. Perhaps I’m biased, because they now sell so many leather oriented clothing, but so what? Here’s what we can learn from BR as of late:

1. They Hired a Kickass Creative Director – one to help reinvent BR and shape it into a new, cooler, fresher brand. Marissa Webb. I salute you. You took BR from being a stuffy, conservative office brand to one that women are excited to wear. The brand now exudes confidence, sex appeal, and best of all, amazing clothes that fit just right.

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2. The advertising fits the new brand – The new ads are edgy and they standout. Best part, Marissa herself touts the clothes, makes personal ads through her instagram (without being an ad), and allows people to connect with the brand in a way people never could before. In a way, (sorry Tory), she’s the new Tory Burch. She is a visionary for the brand. Is that a bold statement? Perhaps.

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3. They are human – By far my favorite characteristic. The brands replies, comments, and favorites posts by its fans. They thank people for purchasing their clothes. Reward them with fun loyalty gifts. And best of all, are just kind and nice. Not to mention, Marissa herself “favorited” my last tweet about the brand. That is huge in my book!

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What brands stand out to you? Which brands make you say – yes, I love this brand?

Note: This post was originally written for Marketing on the Rocks. 

Tips to Invest in Visual Content for the Digital Space

Content isn’t just about blog posts, whitepapers and only written content. Content can be anything from a Tweet to a TV Commercial. Unfortunately, some brands write a great article, and then just slap on a photo. The photo for that article is what will entice people on social channels to actually consume your content and potentially share to their audience. For example, when posting an article on Pinterest, unless your brand’s photo is visually appealing, the likeliness of someone clicking on it is slim to none. And who wants to Re-Pin an article with a blurry or unappealing photo? So before you choose any photo (or video), consider investing your money and resources to something that’s of higher quality and more engaging to your target audience.

Here are some quick tips to invest (and some ways that don’t break the bank):

1. Don’t just rely on your smartphone camera – It’s definitely easy and convenient, especially for apps like Instagram to shoot and share immediately through your phone. However, for better quality shots an investment on a good Canon or Nokia may be worth the few extra bucks. That way you can have more effective photo shoots of your products, services, influencers, and events with a little less stress.

2. Have a committed resource (or freelancer) – Taking photos isn’t a 5 minute job. It takes time to get the right shot. Additionally if your brand is committed to posting every day on channels like Instagram, Pinterest, and/or tumblr, you need the assets to do it. It’s ok to have multiple shots from one shoot, but it’s important to have variety.

3. Curate - Not only is this helpful to not put all the pressure on your brand, but it helps to highlight others in the community who also have great content. And if karma is real, it’ll definitely come back around.

4. UGC – Your consumers will like and maybe even love to be highlighted. I admit, when I posted a picture tagging Nordstrom Rack a couple weeks ago, and then the brand took notice not just by liking my photo, but regramming it to their feed – well I may have done a little dance or two. I was ecstatic. It was the ultimate compliment by a brand I admire. So not only is that a way to win over a consumer, but it’s more content for your arsenal!

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How to use your new awesome visual content wisely:

1. Facebook – Considering it’s almost impossible to get noticed organically on Facebook nowadays, the more you can do the better. Ensure that each post has a featured image that is bright colored (blue is always helpful), with the main product/service/person standing out clearly. It helps if it’s an image a consumer would be excited to share.

2. Twitter - Instagram will not show up in-feed anymore, so consumers have to click out to view the image. However if you post directly through Twitter than it will show up. It’s more likely that someone will click on your Tweet and the link in your Tweet if the image is enticing.

3. Instagram – My favorite as of late – can’t help it. It’s fun, easy to share, and addicting to follow others. Make sure your content stands out in the crowd. A helpful tip is to ensure you post regularly (daily) with pictures that are high quality – not blurry! The filters are fun, but most brands don’t use them because they take away from the photo and make them lower quality. Also if you want to feature your pop of color, don’t use a filter to take away from it.

4. Pinterest – Some people think you can only post images on Pinterest – not true! You can post articles, infographics, and more. However make sure that there is an image that goes along with said article that makes it pop and appealing to the crowd. Mashable does a great job of repurposing their blog content on this visual channel, which in turn leads to great referral traffic back to their blog.

And don’t forget to have some fun with it. Show off your brand with some behind the scene pics of your team, your product being made, your event being planned, or even let an influencer take over your instagram account one day to show their take on your event or brand.

This post was originally written for Marketing on the Rocks.  

Mobile Strategy for your Small Business

 Small Businesses are realizing that mobile is meant for “today”, not “tomorrow” – and it’s time to get on board before falling behind. Mobile isn’t just about having an app (but it is one option). Being mobile can mean having a mobile site (or responsive design), an app that allows the consumer to interact with the brand, mobile payment options, and/or mobile advertisements. Where should your small business jump in? My advice – ensure you have a mobile site before anything else. Not sure? Consider how many of your target market use smart phones and how often they access your site through their mobile device over their laptop. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you are falling short.

Easier than you Think: Building a mobile site can be as simple as converting your site to a mobile one – which allows your consumers to choose which one they use to view your site when they search for it via mobile. If your brand has a little more resources to commit – my vote is the responsive design. It conforms to whatever device your on immediately.

Ready to take the next step: A mobile app is not for every brand. An app should solve a need. One example would be a utility app or one that allows to shop the store through an app (ex. Amazon) rather than having to go to the site each time with your account.

Mobile Payment: Allowing consumers to pay with a mobile app is a great way to simplify things for a brand and for the consumer. The Small business and charity –Charity Water – does this well. They use Square in order to allow easy credit card payment on iPads, and also allowing consumers to feel secure about their transactions. Charity Water has been doing great things around the world, and being mobile friendly is key for them. They use mobile devices, mobile payment transactions, and social media such as Twitter which is imperative to their awareness and engagement.

Can’t forget Social: As seen by Charity Water, social networks like Twitter which are mainly done via mobile are key to not just awareness, but also promotion, content distribution, and engagement with a brand. Yes it takes resources, effort, strategy, and money – but it is essential to almost any small business.

Ads, Ads, and More Ads: Mobile ads are a whole other ball game and take a large amount of resources. It’s not a few hundred dollars a week like some google adword campaigns, but can cost at minimum 10s of thousands on a monthly basis. It takes a larger commitment, and is usually best after a small business is lucrative or has the backing to do so.

Small business – does not mean small mobile strategy. Small businesses can play like the big boys too.

Image source: http://www.toowaybroadband.co.uk/newsReach/Prepare-mobile-and-tablet-versions-of-websites,-firms-advised_ID_801329603/

Note: this post was originally written for socialnomics and my post can be found here.

Building Community through Storytelling Apps Like Cowbird, YouTube and Tumblr

Many brands today are still figuring out how to tell their story, show the human side of the brand, and connect with their audience on a deeper level than just their products and services. If that isn’t hard enough, there are a myriad of avenues by which to do so…should your brand use Facebook, a blog, YouTube,  Pinterest, none, or all of the above? It’s important for each brand to see where their audience is first, and use the tools that most resonate with their audience and engages them where they prefer to be engaged. However, it doesn’t hurt to try new tools and see if they “fit” the brand’s identity as well as the audience. Test and Learn – great motto.

3 Tools to consider and see if they “fit” and why:

(1) Cowbird - Use photos, text, and/or sound to tell the story of a moment in time, a brand, a product, a service, a person who works there, a consumer, or what have you. Video isn’t available (as of yet), and it’s only a web service (although apparently mobile friendly), but it appears to have a growing community as photos are so easily uploaded and shared. People love to tell “their story” and brands can collaborate with cowbird to tell a “saga” or something more. However there is currently no advertising as they are trying to keep it pure to contributors. Benefit for brands? A community of people who are engrossed in stories and visual content – and ones who will share, and engage with it via “likes” or “re-telling” a story (basically like a re-blog on twitter, which is a high value action on this platform). Also the potential opportunity to partner with Cowbird for feature content.

(2) YouTube: The Archive and the storytelling vehicle that has lasted the test of time. Video like photos are a great tool to tell a brand’s story. It can be used to tell a six second snippet (the “vine” rage) or it can be longer and tell a consumer’s journey, a sneak peek on a product line, the inside scoop on an event, or how and why an employee loves every moment of working for a particular brand. Whatever the video may be – it is a piece of the brand – and it’s story. Not sure how to break into video content? Not sure if you can afford it? Start small; start simple but start with a content strategy on how that video will amplify your current brand’s story and/or revive it from the dead. Did I mention it’s only one of the largest search engine’s on the web? Cough Cough – SEO (huge perk).

Great Example: The Lego Story [Watch The Video]

(3) tumblr - a blogging platform and so much more for brands and consumer alike. From fashion brands like Nordstrom to finance brands like American Express, tumblr has become a place to not just tell a story but allow the consumer to see a different side of the brand; and of course explore and engage with fun, digestible content – from posts to photos to videos and more.

ProTip: when using a platform like tumblr (or your blogging place of choice) always consider the amount of time and amount of content your brand has for both quality and frequency. Your audience will expect fresh, new, engaging content on a consistent basis.

note: this post was originally written for Social Media Club and my original post can be found here.

Three Tips for your Blog Content Strategy

Blogging Content

Image via janefriedman.com

Publishing is no longer just in the hands of magazines and newspapers; brands have the opportunity (as many have realized) to provide the value of content to consumers through video, blogs, infographics, and much more.

Today the brand is the publisher. When brands start creating and curating content it is normally through a blog or landing page that consumers are directed through to other channels.

Does your brand have a blog? Is it ready to make the investment in writers and quality content to keep loyal fans and accrue new ones?

3 things to consider for your blog content strategy…

Content Buckets
Your blog strategy is dependent on your marketing/business goals so it is important to ensure your content strategy for your blog is in line with those goals. Then, whether you have a 3 person team or a 500 person team you need to do a few things to put out valuable content:

  • Evaluate what your competition is putting out for content and what content buckets they are focused on (is it lifestyle content, industry content, sales content, and what mix?)
  • Evaluate what your audience is clicking on; spending most of their time consuming, and what keywords drive them to your website.
  • Where are the gaps…fill them in.
  • Determine the 2 to 4 buckets your brand can focus on and  test and learn and optimize the content accordingly.
  • Note: your strategy will change with time and so will your content buckets. Be ready and willing to adapt.

To read my other 2 imperative tips for a blog content strategy, please check out my full post on Startup Fashion! Thanks!

 

Optimize your Email Marketing Campaign with 5 Tips

 

Email marketing is an essential part of marketing programs for brands. It allows brands to communicate personally and directly with their audience.

There are the basics that all brands should be implementing into their marketing plans, but then there are those few extras that brands can do to further optimize their email campaigns for increased open rates, engagement with the content, and in turn conversion to a customer (or loyal customer).

Here are 5 tips for optimizing email marketing:

Add Clear CTAs

Adding a call to action (CTA) is common, but not all brands do it properly. Unfortunately some brands forget to make it stand out.  Or they add too many, making the call to action (the intent from the brand) less likely to occur.

Our tip – make the one, specific CTA, stand out. Use a button or a different color…either way ensure it calls out to the reader. In addition ensure the wording on the CTA is relevant and a next step that makes sense.

For example, if you have an excerpt on one of your products, add a CTA that allows the reader to continue reading on the topic elsewhere (online, social media, or via download).

Socialize your Content

This step is crucial to any brand whether they are just starting out or not. Utilize social presence and allow the audience to continue the conversation online with brand specific hashtags ,which apply to the content.

Additionally, allow readers to share your content easily with their friends.  Let them tweet it (have a shortened link already available for them to use), let them share on Facebook, let them pin it on Pinterest, let them +1 it or whatever they may choose as their preference.

The key is, the more shareable the content, the further the content and conversation will go. Hence – more eyeballs on your brand!

email marketing

 

To read my 3 other tips on email marketing, please read my original blog post for Startup Fashion. Thanks!

Five Reasons to Have a Blog for your Brand

Tory Burch blog

The importance of starting a blog as an independent fashion designer is based around a solid way to tell your story, drive traffic to your website, and allow your brand to grow a loyal fan base while allowing for a deeper look into the brand.

Lets take a closer look on why your brand should have a blog…

Create Awareness

Creating regular and consistent content and publishing out to your social channels can create awareness for your brand. The key is to have content that is valuable to your audience whether it be “how-to”, tips, expert advice, highlighting your products through lifestyle content, or a blend of content types.

That awareness will then lead to sharing of content on your fans’ channels for greater awareness, and in turn can drive traffic to your site for your products.

Drive Traffic

Your content, which will be engaging through multi-media such as photos and videos of your lines, can drive traffic through SEO (taking advantage of keywords and tags) as well as from referrals, influencers, and your loyal audience. Your blog can easily become the vehicle that leads traffic right to your products – whether it be your current or future fashion line.

To read the other 3 reasons why your brand should consider a blog, please read my full post on Startup Fashion. Thanks!

5 Features to Consider with Facebook Global Brand Pages

Facebook gone Global or should we say local? Global brands can now reach a  larger audience  with these pages in the Facebook users’ own language. Great for brands and consumers. Here’s why:

1. Go local – Although targeting is available now for Facebook posts, it is a nice luxury to be able to have a whole page targeted to a particular area rather than just posts. Unfortunately small business are unable to do so (just yet).

2. Automatic referral to the right page – Consumers (aka Facebook users) don’t have to hunt for the global page they want; instead they’ll be directed automatically (although a person can choose another through a drop down menu if desired).

3. Combined Insights - We marketers all realize how important and invaluable measuring is in order to optimize our strategies. Luckily with Facebook Global Pages – brands can combine “likes” and “people talking about this” across countries. That helps in order to measure across pages, rather than going one by one.

4. Ability to communicate to global fan base already formed - Why is global valuable? Because most global brands already have a global fan base. Now it’s become even easier to communicate to each global fan. But what does this mean for content strategies – they are going global too (not just targeting one by one post). Get set…ready…crap…go!

5. Migration – one issue some brands may be concerned with is the migration or combination of multiple Facebook Pages they already have. Facebook appears to allow the migration of these multiple pages into one. How simple and easy that is – time will tell.

Want some real life examples – check out the movie Facebook Page forFrankenWeenie below….(when clicking on the carrot, you can switch “region” easily and simply if desired. It was already targeted to the U.S. for me).

 

NOTE: This post was originally written for Socialnomics and my original blog post can also be found here.

Questions? Comments? Let me know how you feel about Facebook Brand Pages in the comments below.

Customer service can make or break a brand

Customer service is key to a brand having loyalty by a consumer — at least for me, that’s the case. For example, recently an item I purchased via Amazon was not delivered. My online status said “delivered” but said package was not on my doorstep. I immediately thought “crap! Someone took it!” — “now what?” Well I phoned Amazon and asked if they knew what happened, and they realized it was accidentally delivered to the wrong address. I was dismayed because I was really hoping to have the item that day. What did Amazon do? They promised to have the item delivered by end of business the next day. I was relieved and the matter was squared away within less than 5 minutes. Unbelievable — I got a person on the phone, she was polite, she answered my questions, and fixed the problem! Is it sad, that I was surprised this actually happened? Sad, indeed. An even bigger surprise was that my package came within 12 hours – I had it the next morning! All I can say is, Amazon – you rock! I am a loyal consumer, and will not falter (unless you fail me – but please don’t!)

Customer Service – the bedrock of customer brand loyalty.