5 tips for getting the most out of Instagram

Last week, we discussed SnapChat and how it was the hottest social media app to use if you wanted to reach out to millennials. This week, we are going to look at another popular social media app that sellers can utilize to help with their branding and advertising.

Instagram is somewhat similar in a way to Twitter (and you can even connect the two), but while Twitter users typically post sentences, Instagram users communicate with photos and the photos get comments. To say Instagram is popular is actually a bit of an understatement. The social media website has 400 million active users per month and the site shares around a billion photos. This should give you an idea of just how popular it really is.

When getting started with Instagram, the most important thing to concentrate on is your profile. It’s the first thing that members see when they find you through a search and when you add a comment, Instagram allows users to tap on your username and it takes them right to it.

So, how is the best way to utilize Instagram? Here’s some tips you should know:

Let members know who you are right away

Although your photos will give members a strong hint about who you are and what you do, you want to make sure that you tell them in your profile as well. As an example, you could post something like: eBay, Amazon, online seller.

Make it more personal

In addition to telling them who you are, you can also add personal quotes or something about your likes or interests. This would make your profile look something like: eBay, Amazon, online sellers. Believe and succeed.

Provide your other social media info and email

Instagram gives you the option to promote your other social media sites, so in addition to saying who you are and your life philosophy or tagline, you can also add that you can be found on Twitter, Snapchat or wherever else. This is where you want to provide the information about your store and contact information, such as an email address is good too.

Use a strong clear image for your profile picture

If you are established across other social media platforms, you will want to use the same image on Instagram that you are using elsewhere. If you’re just getting started, your company logo or a professional looking headshot is the way to go.

Promote your Instagram account on your other social media platforms

The more followers you have, the more “street cred,” so it helps to ask people to follow you on the other social media platforms you belong to. This means that if you’re on Twitter, ask your followers to follow you on Instagram and make sure to invite people to follow you when you send out emails and newsletters too.

Oh, Snap! Can using Snapchat help sellers connect to millenials?

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Do you promote your items on Snapchat? If not, maybe you should. Snapchat is similar to Instagram in that it allows users to share images and videos with their followers. Since it is so similar to Instagram, however, you may wonder why you need yet another social media account.

Well, it’s because Snapchat is hot, or what you might call the current next big thing. According to Motley Fool, it has an active daily user rate which surpasses 100 million and its users watch more than 7 billion videos each day. Yes, you read that right – that’s billion with a “B.”

Although Snapchat is a great way to generate buzz about your items and more importantly your brand, keep in mind that it’s not for everyone. Not yet, anyway.

Snapchat is geared toward Millennials, or rather, those who are between the ages of 18 to 35. It also is widely used by what it referred to as “Generation Z,” pre-teens and teens who are between the ages of 12 and 17. If you’re items appeal to these age groups, Snapchat is a great place to connect with them. If you sell items that appeal to an older group, however, you may want to stick to other social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

If you’re trying to target 35 and under though, Snapchat really is the place you want to be. It has so much attention on it right now, if you use it correctly, you can not only give members a behind-the-scenes look into your business, you can create relationships that will have buyers coming to your store to make purchases time and time again.

So, how do you get started?

Well, the first step after you join is to look for members that have already bought from you in the past. Just like Twitter, members tend to follow those who follow them and since they already know who you are, they are a lot more likely to follow you back when you follow them first. Keep in mind, the site is heavy on pictures, so you want to use your best item photos when you post something.

While it will take a little finesse to win them over, if done correctly there is a huge opportunity here for success. Just remember you’re marketing to the under-30 crowd and you’ll need to keep your material fresh and innovative to keep them from moving on to someone or something else.

Do you use Snapchat? Leave a comment below.

How to advertise your online store using Twitter

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There are several benefits to using social media sites such as Twitter to promote your online store. It can help you reach out to new customers, connect with your buyers, and (when done correctly) even help you gain the attention of social media “influencers.” Since you are able to reach out in real time, it can even allow you to have instant conversations with buyers, which in turn can help you build your brand.

Whether you’re new to social media or just want to up you game, below are some ways you can get more bang for the buck on this popular social media website.

Develop your Twitter identity

One of the hardest parts about marketing on Twitter is that most sellers who tweet, really don’t know what to say. One way to overcome this is to think of yourself and your store as a brand. Instead of random posts, use your Twitter account to give your followers an inside look at your store. Share relevant content, such as posts from your blog or information about new item arrivals, along with more general and personal updates that allow followers and potential buyers to get to know you better.

Embrace the hashtag

The hashtag, which was once upon a time known as the pound symbol (#), was designed as an easy way for people to locate and follow conversations about topics they wanted to keep up with. Creating a hashtag for your store is an easy way to help followers keep up with you and allows them to see not only what you are saying about your store, but what other people are posting as well. Make a point to not only use the hashtag when you post something, but include it on your business cards or invoices that you send out with your orders. Encourage your buyers to use your hashtag as well.

Don’t just post – participate!

One of the biggest mistakes that many Twitter users make is that they create a lot of posts, but don’t bother to join any conversations. Find relevant content in your niche to reply to and retweet. As an example, if you sell vintage clothing, you could find influencers in this niche and reply to or retweet some of their posts. You could also reply to comments about fashion trends or compare the similarities or differences between today’s styles and the ones that you sell. Remember, the purpose of this is not to directly promote your items, but rather to simply draw attention to your store, your brand, and then ultimately – the items that you sell.

Do you use Twitter to promote your store? Leave a comment below.

How will Twitter’s changes affect your tweets?

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Sometimes it seems like the world of online selling is all about change. EBay constantly changes. Amazon constantly changes. Advertising on Facebook constantly changes, and now Twitter is about to have a change too.

That’s right, another change to the Internet is on the way. Although Twitter has perhaps been one of the more constant sites in the Internet sea of change, all of that comes to an end on November 20, 2015. That’s when Twitter will do away with one of it’s buttons – the tweet count number.

To be fair, the site hasn’t changed its buttons since all the way back in 2011. Twitter states that although the share counts will be gone, Twitter members will still be able to know how many followers they have, so the good news is that this part of Twitter won’t change.

Why the change?

Twitter’s explanation for the change centers around the fact that the count never was actually intended for use by members, but rather as a way for Twitter’s own use when working with web widgets. The other reason (and probably the more important one) is that they are stepping away from the data management system “Cassandra” and moving toward a real-time, multi-tenant distributed database known as “Manhattan.” Apparently, although Manhaatan will bring a bunch of improvements to the folks at Twitter, its downside is that it doesn’t support this type of counting.

If this sounds familiar

If all of this sounds kind of familiar, it may be because some marketers are comparing it to the big Google analytics change that occurred a while back. As you may recall, the change made it where search results would come up for users, but with no clear explanation as to why results show up the way they do. The general consensus is that without knowing how many times an article or product has been shared, sellers have no way of knowing if they’ve got their advertising just right, or whether they are headed in the right direction with their marketing.

How will this ultimately affect sellers?

Although knowing the number of times an item has been tweeted is a nice thing to know, it really shouldn’t affect a seller’s use of Twitter all that much. As long as you’re providing quality products or great content, followers will continue to share. If this count has been something that you monitor closely, however, all hope is not lost. You can still access some of this type of information by looking at Twitter analytics to help gauge your follower’s interest.

If you’ve like to learn more about the upcoming change, you can read Twitter’s official announcement here.

What do you think about the upcoming change? Leave a comment below.

Using Social Media for Your Online Business

Customers are Ignoring You

If you’re like most online sellers, you have probably begrudgingly created at least one social media account for your online business. There’s also a pretty good chance, however, that you are struggling with exactly how you should use your account though too. You may have set it up and perhaps you even post some on it, but are you doing it correctly?

First, do you simply post your listings or do you actually engage the people that are following you? In today’s world of social media, you have to do more than just participate. You have to build relationships and show your followers that you’re more than just a business entity. This helps to build trust and and in turn makes your followers want to buy from you.

Think back to the days before the big box stores came to town. Back to when there were local mom-and-pop businesses in your community. These stores didn’t have social media to rely on, so they had to form personal relationships to build up their business. This involved having conversations and getting to really know their customers and what they wanted.

Although social media has taken away many of those face-to-face exchanges, the concept is still the same. As an online seller, you want to work to create that same type of experience. You’re just simply doing it online. The key to this is to treat your followers like they are actual people. Don’t worry about seeing how many people will follow you or how many page views you are getting. Instead, concentrate on engaging the followers that you do have and building real relationships.

Second, listen to what your followers are telling you. Ask for feedback on your products and also how they think you are doing on social media. Most followers won’t hesitate to tell you what you’re doing wrong, but it may take some encouragement to get them to tell you what your doing right. Once you have them participating, you can adjust your listings or look for products that meet your followers needs.

Finally, a lot of online sellers get frustrated with social media because they don’t see results right away. Realize that the process takes time. Focus on building the relationships rather than working to get immediate sales. It may not help you today or tomorrow, but in the end you will build relationships with your buyers that could last a lifetime.

Do you use social media to promote your online business? Leave a comment below.

Should You “Ghostwrite” Other People’s Social Media?

Ciff Ennico Headshot “I am a social media marketing consultant. Basically, I help small businesses and others build a marketing presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media websites.

Normally, I just set up the client’s pages on these sites and post content to them whenever the client sends me material to post. For example, a restaurant will send me their evening specials and I will ‘tweet’ those on Twitter.

Lately, however, a couple of clients have asked me to generate original content for their social media posts because they don’t have the time to do this themselves. The money they’re offering is fairly tempting, but I want to be sure I’m not putting myself or my reputation at risk by doing this.”

This sounds like a great opportunity, but you will have to be careful how you go about doing this work.

Right now, you don’t have a lot of liability, because you are merely a “conduit” for your client’s content. When I look at your client’s Facebook page, I see only information and content generated by your client, not you.

Your clients can get into a lot of trouble, however, if they send you content that is illegal or otherwise is going to create legal problems for them. As an “expert” on social media, it is your duty to review the content they send you and warn them of any potential problems before you post the content online. Also, your standard contract with your clients should have an “indemnity clause” saying that the client, not you, is solely responsible for the content they are asking you to post on social media. That language should guarantee that:

  1.  content is original, accurate and complete;
  2. the client is the owner of copyright to the content;
  3. the content does not infringe anyone else’s copyright (in other words, the client didn’t steal it from the original creator or copyright owner);
  4. the content is not offensive and does not libel or slander any individual or group; and
  5. the content otherwise complies completely with the law.

Your contract should also say you have the right to pull any content offline if you receive notice that the content is problematic (although that’s very difficult to do on most social media websites – once something is posted there it usually stays there forever).

Your relationship with the client will change completely once you start creating original content for the client’s social media pages. First, some social media sites (such as Facebook) expressly prohibit “ghostwriting” of content in their user’s agreements, so check these first.

Second, as the author of the content and an independent contractor to your client, you own all the intellectual property rights (such as copyright) to the content. If the client is smart (or has a smart lawyer) they will want you to assign your copyright to them once they pay for the content. By doing that, you are selling and giving up all rights to that content. You cannot use that same content for another client, or for yourself (for example, as part of your marketing portfolio), without the client’s permission.

Because of that, you should insist on an “acknowledgment” or “credit” clause in your client contract saying that although the client owns copyright to the content, they will not use it without giving you due credit online. If you are taking photos for your client’s social media page, the photo will be accompanied by a standard “photo credit” acknowledging

you as the photographer. If you are writing articles for the page, your byline will appear underneath the article’s title. You still won’t be able to use the content elsewhere, but at least your authorship will be recognized.

Lastly, because you are now the author of the content, it is your responsibility to guarantee to the client that they won’t have legal problems because of the content you create. That “indemnity clause” we talked about putting in your client contract will now be turned around and pointed directly at you. Before sending any content to the client for review, you will need to make 100% sure that the content is original, that it doesn’t infringe anyone else’s copyright, that it won’t offend anyone, and so forth. Make one mistake, and you’re the one who will have to fight the battle in court.

Some clients – your more established ones – may also require you to obtain “publisher’s liability insurance” in case your content creates legal problems for them. Such coverage is not cheap and may run you a couple of thousand dollars a year in premiums.

So, should you write content for your clients’ social media pages? Unless you are intimately familiar with the client and its business, I would say “no”, unless the client agrees to approve every piece of content in writing before you post, and absolves you of any legal liability for the content once they give their approval.

Cliff Ennico, a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of “Small Business Survival Guide,” “The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book” and 15 other books.

How to Kickstart Your Facebook Page

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If you’re like most online sellers, it’s a pretty safe bet that you have a Facebook page. It’s also a pretty sage bet your page has grown stale from a lack of posting.

Unfortunately, this is a common problem for many sellers. It usually occurs for any numbers of reasons, but the most likely reason is that you are unsure what you should post.

Trust me, I get it. It can be hard to know what to post when you know you’re suppose to be using it for marketing purposes. Promote your products all the time and people feel like you’re spamming them. Talk about your online store and you soon run out of new things to say.

You know Facebook is suppose to be about making social connections, but you still want to promote your business. So…what to do?

Well, that’s where something called the 70/20/10 rule or (depending on who you ask) the 80/10/10 rule comes in. Basically, these two rules are the same, so you’ll need to play with it a little to see which one works best for you.

It goes something like this:

80/70 percent of your posts should be the type of content that appeals to the audience you’re trying to target. This could include things like fun facts, trivia, polls, or how-to tips. As an example, if you sell vintage clothing you could give tips on how to store hats or ask your audience what their favorite summer style is.

20/10 percent of your posts should be “Shared” content, or rather, other people’s content. This can include everything from videos you find on YouTube to inspirational quotes or funny memes. Keep in mind, however, that this content still needs to be relevant to your business. You obviously will not want to share information from the business pages of other similar sellers. It may not be intentional, but in reality you would then be promoting their page, which obviously wouldn’t be a good thing!

10/10 percent of your posts should be promotional. This is where you tell your audience about your listed products, your store, or the business itself. The trick here is to humanize your brand, so don’t go overboard with simply listing the items you are selling on eBay or Amazon. Instead, let them know a bit about you, what your company’s values are and why they should shop with you.

Do you have a Facebook page? How often do you update it? Leave your comments below.

That Kat Radio – Podcast 60- April 7, 2014: Social Sandi Speaks Hashtag

Listen to That Kat Radio – Podcast 60 – April 7,2014: Escape Hashtag Hell With Social Sandi

 

In this episode of That Kat Radio, Kat spoke with Sandi Garcia, or “Social Sandi” about how to escape hashtag hell.

 

Kat spoke with Sandi about her history in the social media world, as well as the history of hashtags and how to use them effectively. 

Questions that were asked were:

  • Why are they called hashtags instead of pound tags or number tags?
  • What is a hashtag?
  • Are hashtags similar to keywords?
  • Are hashtags searchable?

Facebook changes in January to affect online sellers

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In the spirit of “nothing good lasts forever,” Facebook recently announced that in mid-January they intend to step up their efforts to keep unpaid promotions out of Facebook user’s newsfeeds. If you’re wondering what this means if you’re an online sellers who likes to use your Facebook page and status updates to promote your items or steer buyers toward your eBay store, well — you’re basically going to have to “pay up or shut up.”

In other words, you will either have to pay for the ability to advertise your business on the newsfeed, or your status updates containing promotions will likely be filtered out. This basically means that if you attempt to promote your items, they won’t be seen on your fan’s newsfeeds. If you do pay, your post with then most likely show up as a “suggested post.”

What this actually means is that according to The Wall Street Journal, businesses that up to this point have been posting free marketing pitches or reusing the content from their existing ads are now going to see a “significant decrease in distribution.” Since it is estimated the around 80-percent of small companies are using social media as a way to promote their business, this could really take a bite out of an online seller’s pocketbook.

Although Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president of small business, admits he does feel for those who are going to be affected, The Washington Post says that he is quick to point out that Facebook has paid-advertising options that have recently been quite effective. Still, this probably isn’t going to do much to calm the somewhat growing animosity that some people are starting to feel about social media platforms in general. First, there was the new rule that members on Facebook had to use their real legal name and now it would appear that unless you want to pay to advertise, all the branding and building up of your business that you did on Facebook…may be for naught.

Do you use Facebook to advertise? Are you willing to pay for advertising or will you come up with another marketing plan? Leave your comments below.