The Secret to Success through Visual Marketing on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram

A picture may be worth one thousand words, but nothing can provide a more stunning narrative than online video content.

eye-321961_1280As multimedia consumers, we crave visual content. Look at the popularity of social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Corporate brands have discovered our affinity for visual content, but even small businesses can build their own audiences by developing visual content that customers want to see.

Here are some secrets to the success of the big brands on social media platforms:

Instagram

Use your fans to sell your products. Some of the best audience engagement on Instagram is using your loyal fans to help sell your products. By posting photos of real fans using your products, you’re boosting visibility of your product and gaining brand loyalty while also increasing your sales.

Sponsor online contests and giveaways. If you want people to get excited about your products, then feature contests and giveaways that require your customers to engage with your brand via your brand’s Instagram profile. Choose winners through likes, comments, reposts or photo challenges.

Take advantage of #hashtags. Like Tumblr and Twitter, Instagram uses hashtags to increase user engagement. Keep your hashtags short, easy to remember and make sure they are tied in with your product.

Pinterest

Create high-quality and beautiful content. On Pinterest, your visual content must be beautiful. By offering quality content, you’re more likely to draw more people to your brand.

Be creative with your brand. On Pinterest, visitors can create different boards to showcase the many facets of your brand. This will give your customers a more in-depth look at your company, and showcase the things that make your company and your products unique and interesting.

Be the source of inspiration. Pinterest is about inspiring people to be better, whether it’s cooking, decorating or keeping up with the hottest trends. Provide motivation for your audience through your Pinterest account. This is how you’ll convert potential customers into dedicated fans.

YouTube

Actively engage and participate with your audience. YouTube’s comment sections are where your audience members have the opportunity to connect and communicate with you. Show your fans how authentic your business is by providing helpful and authentic responses.

Understand what your audience wants to see. Make content for your audience in mind. Audience members who enjoy your content will naturally react positively to your brand not only in other multimedia channels, but also in the marketplace.

Publish content frequently. The most successful brands on YouTube publish about 78 videos per month, according to one study, rather than publishing a few videos a month and hoping they go viral. Create content that keeps your audience engaged, entertained and updated on the latest news about your business and products.

The big brands have learned that the most effective social media marketing strategies are not by marketing head-on, but by marketing sideways. Social media success is more about helping, then a hard sell.

The good news is that even small businesses can find success on these social media platforms, even without the brand recognition that a multibillion dollar corporation may have. With realistic goals and a plan, you’ll see a return on your investment.

The Seven Must-Haves for a Successful Business Blog

home-office-336378_1280Business owners realize that a company blog is a great way to engage customers online, but setting up a new blog may seem like a daunting task.

There are many designs and functionality options to choose from, and what should you write about to drive traffic to your website? If you’re going to create a blog, you want it done right – right from the start.

Here are several key elements you will need to build a successful business blog:

Choose a well-designed layout
There are three layouts that are most often used for business blogs:
• One column, featuring only the main content
• Two columns, featuring one sidebar and a main content column
• Three columns, featuring two sidebars and the main content column

As with any editorial web design, there are pros and cons to each of these blog layouts. You must pick the one that functions best for your business. If you think you’ll have a great deal of content that you’ll want to promote, in addition to the posts on your blog, the three-column layout may be your best option.

The three-column layout can also distract your readers from focusing on your main story. But the greater the content, the more likely they’ll remain on your website the longest since they’ll have pages of related content to read and click through.

A two-column layout is a bit cleaner to read, keeping readers more focused on the main blog post while providing a sidebar for other things, such as promoting your products, providing additional content and links to social media profiles and email newsletter opt-in forms.

The one-column layout is your best bet if you want readers to focus their attention solely on your main content. The drawback is that you don’t have any room for other promotional content, except perhaps within or at the end of your blog posts.

The most popular option is the two-column layout, giving you a main column plus sidebar. The best way to leverage this layout for your business is to focus your sidebar on topics that boost your business goals, with the most important material at the top of the page.

Choose a responsive design
If you want higher rankings with Google, you’ve got to be mobile-friendly, no matter what layout you decide to go with for your blog. A responsive design is one that will resize itself, based on the device the reader is using, whether it be a laptop, mobile phone or mobile tablet.

It shouldn’t be difficult to find a responsive design or theme for your blog, no matter what blogging platform you decide to use. There also are blog plug-ins for WordPress that can make any blog mobile-friendly.

Add several opt-in forms
You don’t want your blog readers to remain anonymous. You want to convert them into email subscribers as a way to promote the products and services that your business provides. There are several options on how to build opt-in forms into your blog. An opt-in form could be added at the top of your website, or you could decide to go with a scroll box that would appear at the bottom right of your website. Some businesses have gone with pop-ups that appear over the website after your page loads. The options for opt-in forms are endless. You can add them anywhere, including slide-ins, floating bars, after each blog post, at sidebars or footers. It’s important that opt-in forms don’t overlap or end up next to one another, but they are helpful for business blogs, providing opportunities for readers to subscribe whenever they want.

Optimize your SEO fields
As you build pages and add blog posts, it’s important to remember to fill in the SEO title and meta description, using these fields to optimize them for specific keywords. This will give your blog posts greater visibility during internet searches.

Don’t forget your Social Media sharing buttons
Social media sharing buttons are critical for your blog content. They make it easy for readers to click and share your content on social media networks like Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. If you use a social sharing platform, rather than manually installing the social media buttons, you’ll be able to access analytics that allow you to learn more about who is sharing your content and how they’re using it.

Install analytics to see how well your content is performing
There are many analytic tools you can install to provide you with critical information on the traffic being driven to your website. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools will allow you to optimize your digital marketing strategy and help you tweak your content to make sure you’re continuing to get better results from your blog content.

Create custom user accounts for your bloggers
If you hire popular bloggers to write for your blog, this will allow you to gain additional visibility during web searches and drive more traffic to your blog.

Business blogs are a valuable tool that businesses can create to engage with potential customers, while also building relationships with their existing clientele. If you’re not blogging, you should be.

Let’s get started now.

Build a Social Media Strategy that Works

icons-489548_1280Social media is one of the most effective tools in your digital marketing toolbox. If you use social media effectively, you can develop strong connections with your potential and current clients.

However, many business owners dive into social media without a clear strategy and hope for the best. This can either result in a big waste of time or, worst case scenario, a public relations nightmare.

To get the most from social media, you need a strategy that sets goals on what you want to achieve, establishes whom your targeted customers are and includes an analysis of what your competition is doing online.
Here are a few things to consider before you get started:

Establish your goals
The first step in building a social media strategy is to define what you hope to accomplish. Do you want to raise awareness of your brand? Is your goal to increase website traffic or sales, or both? Are you hoping to build customer loyalty?

While you may want to do all these things through social media, try to focus on one or two primary goals. By focusing on a specific goal or two, you’re not spreading yourself too thin, which could result in accomplishing nothing.

Create clear objectives
Set some objectives, based on your goals. Your objectives should follow the S.M.A.R.T strategic plan:
• Be specific
• Be measurable
• Be attainable
• Be relevant
• Be time-based
For example, if your goal is to increase sales, then one of your objectives may be to generate a certain number of online leads per week or month. If your goal is to build brand awareness, then set an objective of the number of times your brand is mentioned on social media.

These objectives should be directly tied to your business goals and, most important, they should be achievable. Otherwise, you are setting yourself for failure. Your objectives should have time-specific deadlines.

Target the right audience
A successful social media strategy targets the right audience with the right message. To do this, you need to understand who is your audience, or your ideal customer. Create detailed profiles of your ideal customers, creating a persona for each of them. Figure out the best way to reach each of these customer profiles and connect with them via social media.

See what your competition is doing
Take a peek at what your competition is doing online. Are they targeting the same customers that you are? If you don’t study your competition, you are missing out on an opportunity to learn from their successes and failures.
Pick three or four of your competitors. Find out what social networks they are active on and study their content. Is it serious or funny? Do they focus solely on their products or do they use their social media profiles differently?
For example, if they sell boats, do they focus solely on the products or do they post fantastic fishing or waterskiing videos that may have their boats featured in them? Notice how well these videos are performing. How much active engagement do they get from posting these videos, either through shares, likes or comments? This could give you a good sense on what works and what doesn’t.

Build your social media messages
Start building your own messages. This is not social media content, but rather a list of key messages that you hope will resonate with your targeted customers. Choose two or three messages for each type of audience member you’re hoping to build a relationship with.

If you decide to include a few of your competitor’s successful marketing messages, that will work. But it’s important to also create messages that help you build your company’s own unique brand. Be creative. Your social media contributions should build excitement.

Pick your social media channels
Choose the right social media channels that work well for your products. For example, Pinterest may work well for you if you’re in the fashion or home interior industry, but if you’re trying to garner business-to-business sales, then LinkedIn is a good choice.

Find the influencers who can best reach your target audience. Established bloggers are often trusted by their faithful readers and they can help build excitement around your brand.

Develop strong content
No matter what channels you decide to use, you need to deliver engaging content that is aligned with your overall messages. You need to deliver more than just product information. Your customers want content that has real value to them. Deploy a multimedia content plan, using a blend of videos, graphics, photos, blog posts and more.

It’s important to remember that content isn’t something you post once or intermittently. You need to deliver fresh content on a regular basis no matter what social media platform you are using.

I’m always happy to walk through a strategy session with a free 30 Minute Consultation. Contact me today!