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March 22 2013

5 tips for using Instagram for Business

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Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger loved playing around with cameras when they were kids, and they came up with the ‘Instagram’ name from a mixture of using the concept of an instant camera, with the way they compared a picture to an old telegram that was sent over a wire to others.  Thus the name Instagram.  Their concept though simple, has transformed the photo taking and photo sharing world.

Taken directly from the Instagram FAQ page, this is how the two Stanford grads describe what Instagram was created for: “Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, and then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever. We’re building Instagram to allow you to experience moments in your friends’ lives through pictures as they happen. We imagine a world more connected through photos.”

Over the last few years, millions of users later, after being acquired by Facebook, after launching IOS and Android apps, and even after a desktop version, the use of Instagram by companies has skyrocketed.  It’s not just for personal use any longer either.  Instagram has become the perfect opportunity for brands and business to get quick, instant messages and photos to their target audience in a very rich, visual manner.

Images are being used more and more within business social media marketing strategies.  Here are a few ways to use Instagram to market your business:

  1. Take advantage of the desktop version and set up a Profile that gives your audience a better insight into your company.  The desktop version is bigger, therefore more visual and robust, so take advantage of the increased real estate and tell a story with the images.
  2. Create engagement with photo contests.  Contests are easy to create on Instagram.  Companies can ask users to incorporate a specific hashtag (#) for the contest, so after uploading their pictures, they can tag it with that hashtag.  That way, it’s easy to search through pictures, ask other followers to vote for their favorite pictures, and pick a winner.
  3. Reward followers with promo codes within your photos.  This will definitely keep followers coming back to check in and see what new photos have been posted and what promos are being offered.
  4. Post photos of your customers – nothing says brand loyalty more than a happy customer.  Take quick pictures of your customers, with their permission of course, and showcase a sneak peek into what the experience with your company or brand is like for them.  Make sure the photos showcase your brand values while also highlighting the customer experience.
  5. Most importantly, promote your Instagram feed across all of your other social networks.  Create a custom tab under the Timeline photo on Facebook, add the Instagram badge to your website and to your G+ page, and make sure to include it in all email marketing.

Customers want a personal experience with a brand, and by adding Instagram to your marketing tools, your brand can start engaging with customers instantly while telling a story with images that are quick and easy for customers and fans to digest, process, and ultimately share with others.

February 28 2013

10 Tips for Sharing Business Presentations with SlideShare

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SlideShare is the world’s largest online presentation sharing community.  With over 60 million unique visitors monthly, and over 16 million registered users, (http://www.slideshare.net/about ) SlideShare is a community where business professionals and individuals can research topics, get inspiration for their presentation or simply check out a sales deck without an annoying sales rep.

SlideShare was launched in 2006 and was acquired in May 2012 by social media powerhouse LinkedIn.  LinkedIn just recently reached the 200 million registered user mark, and is the world’s largest online professional networking community, so the SlideShare acquisition is a perfect fit.  The SlideShare app integrates with your LinkedIn company page so you can showcase all your professional presentations seamlessly, while keeping more real estate for yourself on your LinkedIn profile.

SlideShare is effective for storing, sharing and studying presentations. The ability to embed presentations into a blog or website is also a very handy feature. Businesses, educators and entrepreneurs are all target-users for SlideShare, which makes the demographic very similar to LinkedIn’s.

If your business is new to SlideShare, here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of its community and start sharing your presentations online:

  1. Create a main Company profile including a well-branded username that represents your business or your objectives well.  Your company name should be used to build your brand.  For example, www.slideshare.net/yourcompanyname (minimum of 3 characters with a maximum of 25 characters).
  2. Fill out your profile information completely.  Profile fields include your location, phone number, About Us, all other social media URL’s such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and a tags field where all your keywords go.  Make sure to include a link to your website.
  3. Try to include your company contact details, address and web address url within the first few slides in case people don’t watch the entire presentation, and make sure your company branding is within the footer of each slide.
  4. Always include clear links back to your website within your slides to drive users there.
  5. Keep presentations visual and eye catching, without being overly wordy.
  6. SlideShare adds navigation around your presentations, so make sure to leave enough space around your slides so there is no important information too close to the edge that could get covered.
  7. Ensure your title is captivating and contains targeted and unique keywords for search optimization.
  8. Cross promote your presentations to all other social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Plus.  You can even add snapshots of them to Pinterest.
  9. The description of your presentation should be compelling and contain relevant keywords. You can also add your website address (unfortunately this will not be clickable) and your full business address and telephone number (ideally exactly as Google has it in your Google Places account).
  10. If you find yourself using SlideShare a lot, it may be worth looking into a “Pro” account. They start at $19 per month and will allow you to capture leads, upload larger Hi-Res images, track presentations you share by getting alerts when a user views your shared presentation, and many other features that business users value.

Even short Powerpoint or Keynote presentations take a good amount of time and resources to prepare, so use these tips and let SlideShare help you to maximize your return on investment.

February 8 2013

Introducing Vine – A new mobile video app from Twitter

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Introducing….. Vine.  This new video sharing mobile app is now available in the ITunes store for free download to your IOS mobile device, and is quickly gaining in popularity.  Social media giant Twitter acquired this New York based, 3 person start-up in October 2012, and launched it in early January 2013.

Vine is a stand alone mobile video application that allows you to share 6 second video snippets on your Twitter and Facebook social networks.  Vine is not part of the Twitter interface, but after you download it from the ITunes store, Vine settings give you the option to connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts so any videos you take on Vine can be tweeted to your Twitter profile or posted to your Facebook page with the touch of a button.  If you download the Vine app this week, it contains an important update to share your video on Twitter or Facebook AFTER you post it to Vine, whereas before this update, you could not share it to either social network after the video posts to your profile!

If you’ve always wanted to shoot a quick video without any editing, Vine is for you.  It’s simple to use and very fun.  To begin, press the video camera icon on the top right corner of your home screen.

You have a progress bar on the top of your video screen telling you how much time you have left, since you only have 6 seconds in total.  Start shooting by tapping your finger anywhere on the screen and while recording, your progress bar turns green, showing you how much longer you have before your 6 seconds are up.  Tap again anywhere on the screen to stop shooting and the progress bar stops.  Tap again, start shooting.

It’s that easy. When the progress bar reaches the end, your 6 seconds are up, and Vine automatically pieces your video snippets together, and voila, you have a 6 second video created which is then ready to tweet!  It’s really that simple. Any business, large or small, can use Vine to come up with creative ways to advertise their brand.  You can also shoot and hold for 6 seconds without piecing anything together.  Here is an example of how I used Vine:

Vine’s short, 6 second time frame makes for some quick thinking and creative pre-planned shooting.  It’s fun and easy. Download this app and give it a try.

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