How to Make Instagram Videos That Add Value to Your Brand

Instagram has proven to be a highly valuable platform when it comes to social media marketing. Its reach is incredible! In fact, this social media platform boasts 1 billion active monthly users, half of whom log on to the platform daily. It’s quite obvious, then, that using Instagram to reach your target market is a must.

While Instagram used to be strictly for images, the addition of video has given marketers, community managers, and all sorts of brands and businesses the opportunity to create visually stunning content to wow their audience.

Chances are you’ve already started incorporating video into your marketing strategy, which is a great first step. However, simply posting videos on your Instagram account won’t be enough in this competitive market. If you’re looking for ways to make your video content more effective, use these tips on how to make Instagram videos that stand out above and beyond your competitors.

Instagram Video Basics That Will Improve Your Marketing Strategy

If you’re posting video content on your Instagram account, then it’s very likely that you already have a social media marketing strategy in place. Of course, if your marketing strategy isn’t getting you the results you want, it’s worth going back and taking a look at some of the basics in order to maximize your impact.

Create Different Types of Videos

At some point you decided to start using video content on your Instagram feed – but did you consider the different types of videos you could include in your marketing strategy? It’s a good idea to test out different types of videos that make sense for your brand and audience. This will help you measure what type of content is more effective in terms of your goals. For example, if you only post promotional videos, give tutorial videos a shot. You may find that your followers spend more time watching these or are more likely to follow your account thanks to the variety of videos included in your feed.

Rethink Your Hashtags

By now, you’re probably tired of hashtags. If you’ve decided not to use them at all or are going overboard and using too many, it’s important that you find the right balance for your posts. Hashtags can give your videos a great boost, but not using the right tags won’t do much no matter how many you use. Creating a hashtag for a campaign or contest is great practice. For other video posts, avoid using overly generic hashtags and opt for more descriptive tags that will help your target audience find your posts. In your mix of hashtags, include some existing and relevant ones that will give your post a boost, ensuring it doesn’t get lost in the mix. Although Instagram allows you to use up to 30, you’re better off using between seven and nine hashtags per post.

Stories Are a Must

Before Instagram Stories existed, the only way to get users to pay attention to you was through posts. However, since their introduction, Stories have changed the way users consume information. Instagram users are now more likely to engage with a brand through their Stories. Video stories will be more captivating, so stick to well-made videos that are tailored to this space. Don’t forget to experiment with different types of videos in your Stories, just like in your feed. To get your audience to interact with your brand, use the different features available: ask questions, include a poll, quiz your followers, and when possible, include a ‘swipe up’ option that takes them to your brand’s page.

Best Practices for Creating Instagram Videos Worth Watching

Just like with any other social media platform, you want your content to stand out and make someone scrolling through their feed stop and give your post more than a half-second glance. With the number of posts and Stories being uploaded to Instagram on a daily basis, this task can seem near impossible.

Instead of giving up before even starting, use these Instagram video best practices to put you on the right track!

1. Focus on Your Goal

Before starting to produce any content, stop to think about what your goal is. Do you want to increase revenue, drive traffic to your website, generate leads, etc? Having a clear goal in mind will help you develop a solid video idea with a clear call to action so that your video’s message doesn’t get lost on viewers.

2. Stand Out

Creating video content for Instagram allows you to communicate with your audience in a very visual manner. To make your videos visually striking, use bold colors, keep the text to a minimum, and use animated elements to really catch their attention. You can easily create animated videos using an online tool like a slideshow maker. Add as many slides as you need and control the animation, text, images, and tons of other elements with just a few clicks.

3. Don’t Forget Branding

Just like the rest of your social media posts, your video content should reflect your brand. You want your viewers to be able to easily identify content coming from your brand. This means including your logo, incorporating your brand colors, and other elements important to your image. For short videos, consider including a branded intro.

4. Understand That Length Matters

Viewers don’t have a huge attention span, especially when scrolling through their Instagram feed. Because of this, it’s important that you keep videos short and to the point. It’s also worth noting that there are length limits for Story videos as well as timeline videos:

* Videos posted to your Instagram feed should be a minimum of three seconds long to a maximum of one minute.

* Instagram Story videos can be up to 15 seconds in length.

* Instagram Live videos can be up to 60 minutes long.

5. Tell a Story

When making video content for social media in general, don’t just make a commercial. Since social media gives you the ability to connect on a more personal level with your customers, create content that is engaging and speaks to them. Use storytelling techniques to captivate them and inspire loyalty.

Instagram Video Ad Tips to Help You Convert

Making Instagram videos is a great place to start if you want to engage your audience and get them interested in your products or services. These videos can spark some interest in those who already follow you, but you can generate even more interest and reach a wider audience by creating Instagram video ads.

Instagram allows you to buy ad space that will appear in your target audiences’ feed, or you can also buy ads that will appear as users tap through their stories. Just like with any other ad you invest money into, you first have to define your goals, plan out your ad content, and optimize the content so that it has the impact you’re hoping for. Below are some questions that can help you achieve this.

What’s Your Objective?

When purchasing Instagram ads, you can choose one of three ad objectives: awareness, consideration, and conversions. Knowing what you want to achieve with your ad will make it easier to choose a solid objective. It’s also important that you know who your target audience is, where they’re located, and other demographics and behaviors that will help you better target your ads.

Instagram Story or Instagram Feed?

Previously, ads were only featured on the Instagram timeline, but the introduction of Stories means you have two different spaces to choose from. One great benefit of Instagram Story ads is that they take up the entire screen, meaning no distractions. You don’t get a caption but the ‘swipe up’ option makes it easy for users to visit your brand’s page. Ads featured in the timeline blend into a user’s feed seamlessly and using video content can very well get them to stop scrolling. Since your post will be linked to your profile and you’re given space for a caption, users will have easy access to more of your brand.

How Should I Optimize My Videos?

For the best results, make your videos at the best resolution possible. Stick to MP4 or MOV files and keep your videos below four GB. Normal video ads should be between one and 60 seconds long, while Instagram Story video ads should be a maximum of 15 seconds long.

Sound or No Sound?

Audio can change the mood of your video, so do take some time to find the right track. Voiceovers and similar sound clips may not be worth the trouble since videos are presented with the sound off and users are given the option to turn the sound on. Because of this, your video should work and make sense without sound, but it’s a good addition just in case.

Should I Use Video Tools for Instagram Ads?

Many people put off creating video ad content because they don’t have the skills or the tools to make them. If you don’t have the budget to hire a video person, you can use an online video maker tool to get it done. These are easy to use and include tons of templates you can customize for your brand.

What Instagram Analytics Should I Be Checking?

After creating a video and posting it, you’re not quite done. The next step is to check how the video is performing, to see whether you’re reaching your objectives. From the data you gather, you can reach a deeper understanding of who’s watching your videos, if their behavior is what you expected, etc. All of this information will work to help you create more effective ads in the future.

Conquer Social Media with Striking Instagram Videos

Now that you’re better prepared to make your own video content for Instagram, you have no reason not to! Don’t let video intimidate you; use the tools available to make it all much easier and better targeted for your goals. Avoid falling behind in the game and start developing your social media marketing strategy that, of course, includes video!

Written by Roberta Camarena for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by lalo Hernandez

How Ecommerce SMBs Are Disrupting the Industry

Over the past few years, there has been a major paradigm shift in the world of retail.

Most people are aware of the massive shift in the way we buy things due to ecommerce. It’s no longer necessary to spend time going between stores in your precious free time. This can be a perfect opportunity for a working mother to get in on the action.

Despite its already massive place in the new economy, eCommerce still has tons of room to grow. In fact, it still only accounts for about nine percent of total sales in the U.S., while growing at an annual rate of around 15 percent. Small and medium-sized businesses are at the front of this surge. In other words, eCommerce SMBs are disrupting the industry. Since eCommerce is growing more than three times faster than retail as a whole, it’s safe to say this innovative way of shopping will only continue to gain influence.

Hyperlocal eCommerce

Large ecommerce companies specialize in shipping a broad variety of items at low costs. They don’t, however, do nearly as well when it comes to hyperlocal initiatives. This is one of the big ways SMBs are influencing how people are shopping online. There are a few benefits to operating hyperlocal. Consider the convenience of locally sourced and delivered goods. They can be brought to the customer with an extremely fast turnaround. Using ecommerce this way opens up a lot of opportunities for food and beverage stores. Picking up extra revenue for a business through great turnaround times can be perfect for the mother at home needing some extra income.

User Experience

More and more, online consumers want to have a shopping experience that’s, well, an experience. There’s nothing particularly engaging about the standardized search-and-scroll layout used by large ecommerce providers. Top-notch user experience is becoming the expectation for online stores.

SMBs are leading the way in this push. Their advantage in this arena comes from being able to focus on a specific niche, where large ecommerce sites need to have mass appeal. SMBs can tailor user experience to their audience. Plus, it’s now possible to build a cloud ecommerce store by selecting from a wide array of designs. This allows SMBs to create beautiful, effective e-stores.

Experiential Retail

Traditionally, a company’s product has been strictly defined as an item or service. This is gradually changing, thanks to the rise of ecommerce. Many younger people are looking for new, exciting experiences. In fact, expenditures on experiences and events has increased by 70 percent in the U.S. since 1987. Intelligent SMBs are taking advantage of this trend.

Consider companies such as Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club. These companies operate on a subscription delivery model. Customers get personalized packages delivered to their doors on a recurring basis. Getting makeup and shaving supplies doesn’t have to be laborious. With these services, it’s an experience. The great thing is there are nearly unlimited ways for SMBs to tap into this phenomenon. Nearly every portion of life can be intertwined in these types of subscription boxes from self care to fashion accessories.

Social Media Presence

Just about everyone is aware of social media. These days, your grandparents are probably on Facebook. But social media isn’t just a way for individuals to connect. It’s also a way for businesses to interact with their customer base. When SMBs can effectively mobilize their social media strategy, they can find huge success in the ecommerce space. Social media influencers are often a perfect fit for SMBs. Essentially, social media influencers will promote a company’s products to their followers in exchange for payment. This can have a huge payoff if the influencer has a strong overlap with the brand. Additionally, SMBs typically have a more personal feel online than larger companies. Through these deeper relationships, SMBs can further develop customer loyalty.

While people sometimes fail to appreciate the diversity of this landscape. ecommerce SMBs are disrupting the industry and standing out in the online marketplace.

Written by Emily Green for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Working Mother

How to Create a Welcome Series For New Subscribers

You’ve already done the hard work: You built a stellar landing page with a killer call-to-action, your blog entries are informative, enticing, and even fun to read, and your marketing to bring new leads to see these things are working, and you’ve got new subscribers. So what’s the next step? Creating an onboarding drip campaign.

You’ve won over new subscribers already – they’re hungry for more information, and they are looking to you to be the authority. Subscribers even expect it: 74.4% of consumers expect at least one welcome email when they subscribe.

So once they sign up, why not take this opportunity to introduce yourself, get acquainted, and reaffirm your subscribers’ choice: They did the right thing by signing up. Now is your chance to turn subscribers into clients.

Does this seem like a heavy load to bear? It doesn’t have to be. It’s important to reach out to new subscribers with a welcome series to continue building your relationship with them. While this should be a thoughtful process, it doesn’t have to be a difficult one.

Why You Need a Series of Emails

So why should you build a series of emails? Why not just one, perfectly-crafted welcome email and leave it at that. Here’s some food for thought:

Sending a series of welcome emails yields a 51% higher revenue than a single welcome email.

Do I have your attention yet?

Even if your new subscribers have done a little research on your website, they are still getting to know who you are as a brand. Just like with any relationship, it takes a while for you to get to know each other. Your subscribers learn what to expect from your brand through your email series because they learn consistency.

And when your subscribers build a stronger relationship with your company? They’re more likely to become customers.

In general, sending welcome emails increases long-term brand engagement by 33%. But a welcome series keeps your brand at the forefront of your subscribers’ minds for a longer period of time. With multiple welcome emails, you are consistently there to be the solution to the problems your subscribers have.

Crafting Your Email Series

When it comes to the actual writing of your welcome series, what should each email look like? Every email should be unique from the others so they don’t turn into radio static. Additionally, each email should offer a different value or piece of information for your subscribers.

So what should be in each email? Here’s a general guideline for your email series. Of course, you can adjust these emails to better fit your brand. But at the core of each email, you should think about how your company can solve your customer’s problem.

Let’s take a look:

Email #1 – Welcome

This is the place to include all the metaphorical streamers and balloons to make your subscribers feel welcome – and glad that they signed up for your emails. This email should be sent out as soon as your subscribers sign up. This assures your subscribers that they’ve successfully signed up for your emails while continuing the conversation with them.

Be succinct – and personal. This is a great opportunity to not only welcome your subscribers but to thank them for signing up as well. What’s unique about your brand? This is the time to share that with your new subscribers – is it your mission to give back? Is it your ethics and your values?

Your first email (and all of your welcome emails, really) is an extension of your brand, and an invitation for your subscribers into your brand. If you’ve made an offer for new subscribers (like an informational download or a coupon), this should also be included in your first email.

Email #2 – Connect

Your second email is a great place to meet your customers where they are – and encourage them to connect with you in other ways, like inviting them to follow you on social media, or sharing more information about themselves with your company.

As you write this email, keep in mind that your emails should always be focused on your customer. You can ask them for additional information, like their birthday, their preferences, or where they are located.

This is also a great place to introduce your product categories, the service you offer. What’s special about who you are as a brand? That’s something you should definitely include in your second email.

You can schedule this email for 1-2 days after your first email.

Email #3 – Re-engage

Re-engage with your subscriber and invite them back to your site: Has your new subscriber purchased anything yet? If not, your third email can remind them of your initial offer. Another thing you can do to re-engage your subscribers? Share your origin story, or a problem you tackled through the creation of your company.

This is a great place to remember that your subscribers have signed up for your emails to solve a problem. How can your brand solve their problems? Share your solution with your subscribers – then invite them back to your site.

Here’s a tip: How frequently do you send out your regular marketing emails? You don’t want to overload your new subscribers with too many emails, so you may want to exclude new subscribers from your regular marketing emails until they’ve received each of the emails in your welcome series.

You can schedule this email to be sent 2-3 days following your second email.

Email #4 – Send Useful Resources

Do you have an exceptionally helpful blog post or downloadable guide that your subscribers might want? Your fourth email should be a useful guide or a resource that will continue to help your subscribers solve their problem.

Not sure what their problem is, or what kind of information you should share? Go back to why your subscribers signed up in the first place and start there.

And if they receive something for free, or get an unexpected value from your brand? This can become a reciprocal relationship – your subscribers will want to return the favor and do business with your company.

When you send these valuable resources to your subscribers, you are establishing trust and building a strong bond with them.

This email can be sent around a week after your previous email.

Email #5 – Get feedback

What do your subscribers want to see next? And how can you best help them? Your fifth email can invite your subscribers to share information with you – and to personally reach out to you and build a real relationship – which can help you boost sales.

One way to do this? With a set of trigger links) in your email. Trigger links are not only a great way to track what kind of subscribers you have, but it can set up a new series of automated emails. And? You can better personally engage with your subscribers when you know more about them.

This email can be sent 2-3 days after your previous email.

Your welcome email series should be a reflection of who you are as a brand, but also should be a personal invitation for your subscribers; an invitation to let you solve their problems by doing what it is you do best.

By reaching out and connecting with your subscribers in the days and weeks after they sign up for your emails, you are reaching them when they are most interested in your company. It’s a great chance for you to cement a strong foundation for a long-lasting subscriber relationship.

Written by Ashley Hill for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by You X Ventures

20 Ways to Bust through the Digital Noise with a More Human, Relevant Brand

Building a brand that is relevant, memorable and valuable online requires a lot more than fancy visuals, fast moving video or knowing how to play the last social network newsfeed algorithm.

Standing out from the digital noise requires more than hopping on the latest social shiny technology object.

At the core you must earn attention, trust and action. Social currency on the web today = attention + action. You need both. To do this you must learn how to connect with humans in a real way. You must know how to leverage the technology to be more human, make people laugh, share your story and inspire them to take action.

Here are 20 ways you can bust right through the digital noise to grow your business. Remember it always has been and always will be about the humans.

1. Be authentically you.

There is only one you, so be that person, period. The best way to attract your ideal customer which will create energy, mutual joy and value is letting your true colors shine. Don’t pretend you are someone or a brand you are not. Find your authentic voice, personality, tone and share it worth the world. Life and business work so much better when lived in high human definition with no filters. Share your story and invite, engage and bring others with you for the journey. Let them help build you. When you win, then they all win.

2. Find where your passions intersect with the opportunity to create and drive business results.

When you are ignited by your passions your energy, excitement and happiness will often exude from your being. Customers will feel this and be attracted organically to work with you.

3. Create a content calendar and plan.

Though it seem may fun to wake up every morning and spontaneously post content to your many social profiles, your results will increase exponentially if you take the time to plan your content. The more you can focus on the right audiences, goals, objectives and strategies to attract your ideal audience, the more successful you will be.

4. Know and love your audience.

Think about the brands you love. What is it about them that you love? The more you know your audience and ideal customer, the better you can create content, products and services that connect with them in meaningful ways. Personal experiences make your brand more relevant and memorable. Create consistent, meaningful and unique experiences that separate you from the crowd of status quo.

5. Know your value.

Know your greatest strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to improve. When you are crystal clear on the value you serve your ideal audience and customers, you will pop out in a crowd to them in a positive way. They’ll be thinking “hey… that brand has just what I need now!”

6. Know the goals your audience has for life or business.

We must inspire our audiences to connect with us with a goal of helping them achieve their objectives. When we do this, we achieve ours by default as they are one and the same. Inspire – Connect – Achieve!

7. Create content that helps your audience achieve their goals.

How can you help them save time, make more money, lose weight, feel better, get more sleep and the list goes on. Know what they want and then create content that will help them achieve their biggest dreams. Then create content that provides the path, roadmap and actionable steps to help them get to the desired state or level of success they are seeking.

8. Create content that inspires and empowers.

Knowledge is power. Inspire your audience to take action with content that empowers them to win! Inspiration does not equal a link to your blog post or sales page. Truly connect with the heart if you want to stomp the status quo. Create content that is easy to digest, share and remember. Inspiration quotes or short stories that people connect with are both great ways to create meaningful and inspirational content without spending a ton of time.

9. Get visual… as in really good visuals.

Don’t simply post the same ol’ same ol’ stock images and creative for your content, blog posts, videos, Instagram, Linkedin and email newsletter. By using our free content calendar template, you can be more certain that your content is organized and it will be easier to create stunning visuals that are consistent, engaging and drive you customer to the desired action.

10. Double down on one specific industry or niche.

Get laser focused on a niche you have experience and case studies. Become the “go to” leader and trusted advisor in the industry. Narrow your focus to streamline and prioritize content creation, influencer marketing and all areas of content creation, promotion, advertising and marketing.

11. Double down on one or two social networks.

In our Social Profit Factor training academy we teach our students a 3 tiered approach to prioritizing social networks. It’s always better to start with one or two social networks where you can have a major presence vs spreading yourself too thin across more than you have time or budget to achieve a measurable return on your investment. Going deep can help you connect authentically with your target audience and build a more human brand. Less is truly more.

12. Look for the cracks of opportunity competitors in your industry are missing.

For example, we hopped on LinkedIn 14+ years ago when they were still in beta. We’ve been building our community and network there since. While others in our industry are just now realizing LinkedIn is for far more than job searching, and that it’s one of the best ways to connect with professionals, we already have a solid network including 365,000 followers, and over 25,000 connections. These connections have been nurtured for more than 14 years and deliver one of the highest ROIs of any social network our agency, Marketing Nutz leverages.

13. Double down on one or two marketing mediums such as video, visual or audio.

Have you thought about digging deeper into video and/ or audio? Ready to launch a new podcast or YouTube video channel? Choose one and find ways to leverage content you already have to reach new audiences. Add another layer of context and relevancy to not only pull over your existing connections and re-engage them with your brand but also connect with new people and make new friends!

14. Tap into the personal brand YOU FACTOR!

People buy from people they know like and trust. When was the last time you woke up in the morning excited to talk to a logo on social media? Invest in your personal brand and the payoffs will be high in building relationships, earning trust and growing your business. Learn the difference between authenticity and transparency and know that you don’t have to share everything you do 24/ 7 to build a rock solid personal brand that delivers result. Prioritize social networks, content and mediums that will help you connect with your ideal audience, customers, influencers and partners you want to work with.

15. Power up with the OPC – Other People’s Content and Community.

You don’t have to embark on your digital and social media journey all by yourself. Connect with other leaders in your industry such as influencers, highly connected thought leaders both online and offline, Share their content. Build relationships. Partner up for strategic, fun and inspiring co-marketing campaigns that ignite your combined audiences.

16. Leverage smart paid media and retargeting.

Imagine capturing the attention of visitors to your website or blog multiple times after their initial or repeat visits? Tap into the power of social media paid advertising as well as retargeting to place paid advertisements in from of them on the other blogs, websites, and social networks they visit. Example would be targeting them on YouTube over the weekend while they are watching videos related to their favorite hobby. Retargeting works amazing because you can target and connect with them by increasing the brand impressions. It takes 6-7 brand impressions before someone will remember your brand.

17. Leverage data.

While your competition is more worried about looking, sounding and performing like everyone else… dig deep into the data. When the market starts to shift, find out why. When you feel you are losing your edge don’t be afraid to pivot. However, leverage the data and make the smart decisions that will help you not just survive but thrive for both the short term and long term. Often times short term sacrifices lead to long term gains. Success in business today is more of a marathon than it is a sprint. To win the marathon you must keep yourself and your team educated and on top of the latest trends and best practices to win in your market and niche.

18. Focus on the big picture and the big wins. Stop sweating the small stuff.

The right baby steps that are aligned to the bigger vision will ensure you that you keep winning. Don’t get down with small setbacks or short term losses. Imposter syndrome is real and can kill your creativity and confidence if you let it. You will win and you will lose deals and even social media followers. However, the world is big and there will be more where those came from. Stay focused on your goals and never give up.

19. Create once use many.

Create pinnacle pieces of content you can use over and over again. This doesn’t mean you post the same piece of content over and over again. Instead you create amazing pieces of content that can be sliced, diced and served up in different formats, mediums, lengths and more. Get creative and work smart. This will help you stay agile while at the same time build a solid foundation of evergreen content that can serve your audience for months and years to come. Read and listen to podcast:

20. Invest in the humans.

You can never go wrong by investing in the human beings within your community. Learn and understand who they are, why they are there, what they need, what they desire, who they hang out with, where the hang out with and more. The more you can know about them, the better you can inspire, connect with and serve them. Inspire – connect achieve! When we inspire our audiences to connect with us with a goal of helping them achieve their objectives, we achieve ours by default as they are one and the same.

Written by Pam Moore for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Business2Community