Where Should You Spend Your Marketing Budget in 2020?

In general, small businesses allocate 7% to 12% of their gross revenues to marketing. This compares with the Small Business Administration’s suggestion of spending 7% to 8% on marketing. Of that amount, the total budgeted to digital marketing is expected to rise to 45% in 2020 compared to 42% in 2019. The biggest share of digital marketing expenditures will go to video marketing, and social media ads will account for 25% of the average digital marketing budget. Let’s dig a little deeper to see how you should spend your marketing dollars.

Calculating Your Marketing Budget

It’s not too hard, just follow these steps:

  1. Identify your gross revenue: This is revenue before any expenses, deductions, or allowances. If you are a new business or the market has changed, you can use estimated revenues.
  2. Determine your ideal marketing budget: If your company is younger than five years old, your budget should be in the 12% to 20% range. You need to spend a high amount to help establish name recognition. Older companies should budget between 6% and 12% unless you are establishing a new brand name.

For example, assume your business is a startup and you expect to gross $100,000 in the first year. With a budget between 12% and 20%, your marketing expenditures should range from $12,000 and $20,000.

On the other hand, let’s say your company is 10 years old and grosses $1 million annually. With a budget of 6% to 12%, you should expect to spend between $60,000 and $120,000 this year on marketing.

Allocating Your Budgeted Funds

To know how to allocate your 2020 marketing budget across online and offline channels, you should review what worked in 2019. To start, identify the 5 to 10 most successful 2019 marketing strategies in terms of leads and sales. Break down the information to categorize your previous-year marketing spending, including:

  • Branding
  • Email
  • Events
  • Public relations
  • Print ads
  • SEO
  • Social media
  • Training
  • Website

The quality of your marketing data will help determine how much value you can extract from this exercise. To the extent possible, you want to spend money on the strategies with the highest marketing return on investment (ROI).

Understand 2020 Digital Marketing Trends

As you ponder your marketing expenditures, consider these trends:

  1. More than 90% of customers claim to rely on influencers to help them decide on purchases. In other words, it makes sense to allocate money for influencer fees.
  2. You really can’t afford to ignore video because it gets results. You can create streaming or live video for a modest cost. Check your community resources for companies that can handle video for you.
  3. Sophistication is on the rise. Look for increased use of artificial intelligence, video search, and 5G networks.
  4. You can better convert website visitors to leads by making your site more interactive. Think about adding live chat, quizzes, games, and even virtual reality.
  5. Do you understand micro-moments? These are instances where folks reflexively utilize their device(s) to do, watch, discover, buy, or learn something. In a micro-moment, people are ready to decide and/or spend money. For you, this means helping visitors act on their micro-moment. You do this by providing value, including timely articles, links to valuable resources, tools, help desks, etc., on websites and apps.
  6. Be aware that smartphones may eclipse websites this year in terms of video-based advertising.
  7. Concentrate your marketing on social media sites most relevant to your potential customers, be it Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
  8. Never forget that content is king. That means you should allocate sufficient budget to pay for high-quality, authoritative, and timely articles employing SEO features to drive an organic presence in search results.

How IOU Financial Can Help

Frequently, a mismatch develops between revenue collection and marketing expenditures. In other words, you may need to borrow money to exercise a timely marketing strategy. IOU Financial can provide quick, hassle-free funding so that you can realize your marketing objectives on your timetable. Contact us today for more information.

Retail Businesses: Improve Your Instagram with These Tips

Instagram is a leading video- and photo-sharing platform that belongs to Facebook. It includes many business-friendly features, including ads, analytics, business profiles, tagged products, purchase page links, shopping lists, support for e-commerce purchases, and more. Instagram is characterized by more engagement and less competition than other social media titans such as Twitter or Facebook. That means you can market your offerings at reasonable ad rates. Check out the following tips to extract maximum value from your commitment to Instagram.

1.    Let Your Creative Juices Flow

To start with, concentrate on solutions rather than products. If you’re a service organization, discuss the processes underlying your offerings. Remember, Instagram is a visually-oriented platform, so you have to look good as you explain the value you provide. Like it or not, you’ll sink or swim based on your visual content. Liberally sprinkle your presence with photos and videos that celebrate your company’s mission, culture, and ways you help your customers.

2.    Optimize Your Entries

You have limited space per posting, so don’t try to cram in too many ideas. Rather, give a single focus to each posting, such as a special promotion, a new product, or a company event. Frequently update the single clickable link (in the Bio section) to point to new content on your website or elsewhere. Use Instagram Business Profiles to give out your phone number and collect comprehensive analytical data.

3.    Make It Meta

You can use Instagram to give viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your company. You can show them how you build your products or deliver your services. Highlight special characteristics of your offerings, such as sustainability and fair trade practices. If you are a manufacturer, show each step in the fabrication process, from raw inputs to production to distribution. Get creative by showing pictures of brainstorming whiteboards and other inside information. As you get feedback, sharpen your postings to reflect the types that work better than others. And to prevent clutter, archive your older posts.

4.    Use Hashtags

Hashtags can increase your reach. You can tailor them to specific campaigns or topics, but always keep them relevant to your content. Set up your main hashtag (e.g., #yourbrandname) and use it occasionally on Instagram and other social media sites such as Twitter. Hashtags help folks find the content they desire. Don’t overuse hashtags — three to five are a good number, even though you can add 30 per post. Also, try some popular ones like #instagood or #tech. Vary where you work hashtags into your postings, from inline to comments to the end of your post.

5.    Share Customer Success Stories

You can @mention others to showcase successful customers and clever collaborators. After all, you can let their excellence reflect back upon you. It’s good marketing (and just good) to support a charity or two, and you can tag them to show your commitment to a worthwhile cause that aligns with your company’s values. You don’t have to be an “official sponsor” of a charity in order to tag them. This technique supplements hashtags, which aren’t necessarily monitored by some visitors. Also, use reciprocal unpaid “shout-outs” to and from your partners. If you prefer, you can use paid shout-outs if your marketing budget permits. Typically, these require payments to a popular brand or influencer in return for their shout-out to you. This can increase your viewership quickly and efficiently.

6.    Offer Exclusive Content to Loyal Followers

Give your Instagram followers first access to exclusive content and upcoming promotions. Let them know that they are being singled out to early information about new events, services, and products. You can even tease upcoming events with enticing photos to build anticipation. Satisfy their curiosity about new offerings, offices, or stores. Try to make your Instagram followers feel special.

7.    Use Analytics to Build Success

You won’t know whether your marketing is successful unless you can measure results. You can use Instagram’s analytics and/or those available from third-parties to measure followers, click-throughs, and engagement. Integrate your Instagram analytics with that from other social media sites.

Conclusion

Is your marketing budget sufficient to meet your needs? Marketing is an essential ingredient when you want to grow your business, but it can get expensive. IOU Financial can help you bulk up your marketing budget for a special push. We feature friendly terms, fast funding, and convenient payment options. Contact us today to get a business loan that you can use to elevate your company to the next level.

Up Your Social Media Strategy with These Tips

Social media has burrowed into the population’s psyche as an indispensable source of news, opinion, and gossip. Approximately half of the earth’s population uses social media via platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. The average time a social media fan spends on these platforms exceeds two hours per day. The message is clear: You need to include social media in your business’ marketing strategy. Here are some handy tips to up your social media presence.

1.    Create a Comprehensive Content Marketing Plan

You begin by asking yourself some probing questions to help you determine the type of content to adopt:

  • Who is buying your offerings? Define your market in terms of income, age, gender, location, needs, likes, behaviors, and challenges.
  • What subjects interest your market?
  • What social media platforms do your customers use?
  • Do they prefer a particular type of content?
  • What content do you have to revamp or add?

Use the answers to guide the creation of your social media content. For example, a distillery might target an audience that is interested in drink recipes and food pairings. At the very least, begin a blog that addresses your market with relevant content. Then, share your blog and other content across multiple social media platforms. Include videos, SlideShare presentations, infographics, and visual content. Use scheduling tools (SproutSocial, Buffer, Hootsuite, etc.) to push out and publish content on various platforms. After posting, continue to engage your audience by answering questions and responding to comments. Consider features like contests, surveys, and promotions to spark additional interest in your content.

2.    Distribute Content to the Right Platforms

Pick the right platforms for different types of content. Start with Facebook to post news and entertaining information, including videos. Use LinkedIn for content appealing to your B2B audience, and Instagram for high-quality videos and images. You get the idea. Also, share your content with a schedule tailored to each platform. For example, you might want to add Twitter and Facebook content twice per day, whereas a few times per week for LinkedIn.

3.    Use Video Content

Nothing beats the power of video for engaging your audience and making a memorable impression. It’s a great way to tell your story and promote conversions. Consider these video ideas:

  • Animation
  • Listicles
  • Product videos
  • Interviews
  • How-to videos
  • Live-streaming videos

You might try to turn your most popular blogs into videos. Also, identify your top keywords to drive interesting subject concepts. There are tools that generate visuals from keywords as well as video creation tools to help you share your story, including AnswerThePublic, Promo, and Wave.video.

4.    Consider Using Influencers

Studies show that the marketing plans that include influencers have a higher return on investment. The right influencer can boost your exposure to your target audience. You can save money by using niche influencers rather than general ones because they charge less and are more effective if chosen correctly. There are several tools (Awario, Upfluence, NinjaOutreach, BuzzSumo, etc.) that can identify the most relevant influencers for your business. Niche influencers should have a good-sized following and a proven ability to stimulate engagement. Trust your influencers to shape their contributions, because they have the experience to resonate with your audience.

5.    Measure Your Outcomes

This is a must. Use tools to monitor and measure the effectiveness of your social media strategy. These tools include TweetDeck, Awario, Talkwalker, and Mention. You can track likes, comments, and shares to gauge involvement, and dig deeper by using UTM parameters and A/B tests to gather detailed data on traffic and conversions. You should also monitor your competitors’ marketing activity. Consider performing a social media sentiment analysis to help you understand what is motivating conversations among your audience members.

Conclusion

There seems to be no end to the growing influence of social media. That escalates the stakes for an innovative social media marketing strategy to increase your presence on the popular channels and boost sales. You want to outshine the competition, and the tips presented here can get you going on the path to success.

6 Unknown Facebook Features Your Business is Missing

Facebook is absolutely massive in the advertising and marketing webspace. So much so that the number of features other platforms have dull in comparison to those offered by Facebook itself. The downside, of course, is that even experienced marketers are bound to find themselves missing out on features that could make all the difference.

Facebook Product Shops

A relatively recent addition to the list of Facebook features is Facebook Product Shops. This feature introduces a new way to sell products online while removing the inconvenience of dealing with companies like Shopify.

Using this feature, it’s possible to sell products right on your page. People can then pay directly on Facebook or integrate a third-party checkout. Any products purchased on the platform are paid for through a payment processor of your choice.

Selling on Facebook grants businesses direct access to existing customers and better analytics on products placed for sale on the platform. Combined with ads and the power of the Audience Insights Tool, you will have much greater exposure to current and potential customers.

A critical part of improving engagement metrics is having proper product descriptions and scripts. The proper essay writing service or copywriter should deliver exactly what you need.

New Facebook Ads Features

Facebook may be one of the most detailed analytics platforms in the world, but there’s a lot more to the website than meets the eye. It offers several options aside from the traditional newsfeed that most people are used to.

The first is Facebook Messenger ads. These provide an opportunity to drop into a conversation with a prospective customer at any point. This enables you to tweak your sales funnel as you see fit. If you feel the need to add more information about the product or personalizing the experience, all the tools already exist within the Messenger app to do so.

The second of Facebook’s new ad features is in-stream video ads. As their name suggests, this feature provides businesses with prime advertising space right in the middle of a stream.

Videos can be 5-15 seconds long and can be placed on both live videos and those that already aired. If you happen to have a live video that went viral in the past, here’s an opportunity to monetize it at last.

New Video Publishing Tools

Going live for the first time is often frustrating and nerve-wracking. Without the right kind of assistance, it’s almost impossible to know what to expect on the technical side of things. Facebook’s answer to publishers’ complaints is Live Rehearsals. The gist of it is that publishers can now broadcast to page admins and editors only before they go live.

This is a very useful feature for brands that use scripts to reduce friction during live presentations. For those that don’t, dissertation writing services such as UK dissertation are some of the best places to get a custom fully-edited one.

Finally, viewers will be spared the harrowing minutes before anything happens at the beginning and end of live video replays. Publishers can now take advantage of the ‘trimming’ feature that enables them to cut out certain time frames from the beginning and ends of their recorded videos.

Facebook Live Marketing Features

Aside from pre-roll and in-video advertisement, Facebook also offers brand access to features to streamline its Facebook Live experience. Since the adoption of the feature is at an all-time high, the following tools might be useful for a business looking to take their marketing campaigns to the next level.

Pre-scheduling lets businesses set up when a Facebook live stream is going to be aired. This seeks to address the disadvantage of spontaneous live posts: even with notifications enabled, it’s still difficult for individuals to notice when a live stream has started.

For brands with a substantial following, it creates anticipation in viewers before the actual video is aired. It also addresses timing issues, where the videos are streamed later than they were intended to.

If you’ve set up a shop on your Facebook page, you can combine it with Facebook live to merge traditional and social media advertising. While introducing a new product, you can also provide details regarding how they are used and allows for live interaction with viewers that have questions.

This is reminiscent of old-school infomercials. You can also tag your products when you mention them in-stream so users can access them through an in-video link.

Keep Track of Competition with Pages to Watch

It’s possible to get detailed analytics on how detailed a competitor’s published posts are doing using Facebook’s Page Watch feature. Originally designed to help marketers find inspiration in data provided by leading innovative brands, it can be repurposed to anyone’s benefit.

Take advantage of the feature by navigating to Page Insights and scroll down till you find the ‘Pages to Watch’ feature. As long as you have a hundred or more fans, you will gain insight into data such as:

  • The page’s total like count and the percentage change from the previous week.
  • Total engagement metrics for the week.
  • How many times the page has posted to Facebook during the week.

These are actionable insights that could potentially be used to change how your marketing operations are run.

Audience Insights Tool

Most business decisions made today are driven by the abundance of data. Facebook Audience Insights is a powerful analytics tool that gives access to demographic and behavioral data on both your audience and competitors.

Data that can be gleaned from this tool include demographics, past purchasing activity, location, and demographics. With all these in hand, you can narrow down your target audience so you know exactly where your ad dollars are going.

Conclusion

Facebook is a fast-changing platform. New features are introduced and old ones retired regularly, so it’s almost impossible to always be in the loop. However, some of these features are quite important and could be the difference between whether your next marketing campaign succeeds or fails.

Guest Post: About the Author

Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at Best Essay. She is interested in education technologies and is always ready to support informative speaking at writing service, Grabmyessay. Follow her on Twitter.

Social Media Tricks That Can Bring a Fresh Breath to Your Business

Growing your small business through social media should not be that stressful. If you know which tools to leverage and you are equipped with ample knowledge of online marketing, especially social media marketing, it will be easier to attract prospects and gain customers. Social media is a huge platform where you can promote your business in fun, simple and cost-effective ways. If you have a small business and want to conquer all social media channels, here are some social media tricks that can bring a fresh breath to your business.

Cinemagraphs

If you want to keep the interest of your prospects online, don’t bombard them with lengthy texts since they will only find these overwhelming and boring. Instead, make visual content your weapon in increasing engagement. For one, use cinemagraphs or still images with some animation. Unlike actual videos, they are very easy to make using programs like Fixel and Fotodanz. Using these apps, you can make beautiful cinemagraphs which your audience will surely find interesting and engaging.

Stock Photos

If you don’t have enough time to take your own pictures or you just want to save some bucks from hiring a professional photographer, you can always take advantage of stock photos. They can increase your business’ visual appearance and make your content more appealing. Stock photos are easy to find, save and upload to your social media page and they have the same quality as the photos taken by professionals.

Hello Bars

Also known as floating bars, hello bars are simply notification bars that prevent your visitors from being disturbed when browsing your page. These will notify your customers and prospects when you are making announcements, offering a lead magnet, showcasing more content, asking your prospects to subscribe to your email list or running a limited-time offer. By using a simple floating bar, you can easily promote your business without annoying your prospects.

Free ‘Click to Tweet’ Option

The click-to-tweet option is a good way to promote your brand and boost your sales. This is free and you can put it on your website or anywhere there is text on your page. If people like your content, they will click it and share it on Twitter, where more prospects can see it. A lot of people use Twitter and when people start sharing your content in this platform, you’ll have a higher chance of gaining customers.

Shopping on Instagram

Every month, more than 800,000 consumers use Instagram to shop and business owners around the world have been using this platform to share their products and stories. Now, you cannot just use Instagram to share content, but you can actually sell your products here. You only need the approval of Facebook shop and you can start tagging your products on your posts. This is a great way to increase your revenue since more people can now see your products and go to your website when they find any interesting item from your shop.

Killer Captions

Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, always make sure that you use killer captions. Don’t post your content right away without making an interesting caption or checking each word you wrote. If you’re not that good with wordplay, you can let your social media manager take care of it or hire a copywriter to improve your captions. Killer captions are made with some storytelling using captivating words. Just make sure the captions are free of clichés and focus on quality instead of quantity.

Catchy Hashtags

Hashtags are also a great way to increase your audience so make good use of them all the time. To garner a broad interest, use popular hashtags in your industry and include your company’s name in the list of hashtags you use. However, avoid using too many hashtags and only put relevant ones. Try to shorten your hashtags since long ones are difficult to read due to the lack of spaces.

Giveaways

Everybody loves freebies and even though giveaways are very traditional, they hardly fail marketers in boosting their sales and engagement. Because people are always on social media, it is a great place to run all these contests. Take advantage of holidays and celebrations and run a contest where you can give some nice giveaways. The rewards may come from your shop or you can also offer other appealing and valuable items. It is also a great way to thank your customers for their patronage and encourage them to buy more of your products.

Fun Facts/Inspirational Quotes

Sometimes, you can rest from posting videos and other visual content. You can also post some fun facts or memes to entertain your customers or share some inspirational quotes to cheer them up. If you’ll notice, most fitness coaches use this trick but even if you’re not in the fitness industry, you can always do this to increase engagement and motivate your customers and prospects.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lidia Hovhan is Digital Marketing expert and SEO guru. She contributes articles about how to integrate digital marketing strategy with traditional marketing to help business owners to meet their online goals. You can find really professional insights in her writings.

10 Video Content Ideas That Work with Your Small Biz Budget

Savvy marketers know that, in 2019, video marketing simply must be a part of the strategy. To illustrate why that is, let’s take a look at a few stats: 93 percent of businesses say they’ve earned a new customer by posting a video on social media and 72 percent of users say they prefer video over text when they’re learning about a product or service. Video as a digital medium and a mode for advertising grows exponentially every year, making it a requisite for all businesses looking to position themselves for success.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that your small- or medium-sized business could benefit greatly from integrating video into your process. But with a limited budget, is that even possible? Indeed, it is! Start by realizing that you don’t need any expensive equipment or software to shoot viral-worthy vids. In fact, you can transform your DSLR camera or iPhone into a high-tech piece of equipment by purchasing affordable video accessories to outfit your existing gear, and there are plenty of free and cheap editing programs out there.

Coupled with some of the affordable video concepts listed below, you’ll be well on your way to a successful campaign that doesn’t bog down your budget.

  1. Crowd-Sourcing Content: Basic User-Generated Videos

    Looking to produce compelling video content without actually making any videos? Here’s a tip: encourage your users to make their own vids that you can use in your campaigns. Offer an incentive to your fans to create a review, a tutorial video or a testimonial that you can then turn into its own video. Nothing’s better than word-of-mouth advertising, and this is one of the best ways to do it in the world of modern marketing, where everything’s online.

  2. Getting Personal: Meet the Team and Behind-the-Scenes

    One of the things that video marketing does especially well is helping users connect with brands, giving marketing a real, personable face and voice. Filming a few behind-the-scenes videos, such as a meet the team video or a how it’s made video, will help your viewers, fans and potential customers get a better idea about the essence and vibe of your company. Don’t forget to film an interview or a feature showcasing your founder and the origins of your brand.

  3. Brand Rep 101: Testimonials and Reviews

    Perhaps the most obvious way to use video as a marketing tool is to create content that promotes. Invite in a few of your most loyal customers or those who have seen amazing results from your product and film an interview-style video featuring their feedback. Make sure your testimonial videos are built for success: make them short, simple and authentic, and definitely don’t use a script.

  4. Educating Users: How-Tos andTutorials

    Gone are the days of in-store demos and door-to-door salesmen. These days, YouTube is all you need to explain how your product works. Have one of your most camera-ready employees film how-tos and demonstrations detailing how your product or service works. Whether you film it yourself with your iPhone (and a few essential filming accessories, of course) or have an artist create a custom animation just for you, you can count on these vids to educate and sell at the same time.

  5. NoFilmingNecessary: Webinars and Audio-Only Videos

    Naturally, with the set, the hair and makeup and the lighting, the visual component of video marketing can be hard on the budget, especially when you’re working with minimal funds. Consider recording audio only and then pairing the audio portion with still photos, screen-sharing shots and other components to provide the same enjoyable viewing experience of a regular video. This can be done relatively easy with your phone or DSLR and a camera microphone.

  6. Expert’s Circle: Interviews and In-Depth Guides

    If you want to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry (and therefore gain more leads and better brand recognition), you need to be pulling insight from the experts in the field. Cater to general searchers who are looking to learn with educational, expert-driven content that adds to a broader conversation.

  7. Live-Streaming:Day-to-Day Snippets

    No doubt about it: embedded videos and a strong presence on YouTube and other platforms are great, but you also have to make sure you’re leveraging your “one-and-done” channels, like Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories to get your products in front of users. Film and post everything from employee community engagement to press conferences and company networking events.

  8. Listicles: Turning Your Text Content into Compelling Videos

    You’ve probably come across short videos on Facebook and Instagram that feature still photos and video clips with text overlays, highlighting interesting facts or telling a story. This is a great format for companies that want to repurpose their existing text content into video format — listicles, tip articles and buyer’s guides can make surprisingly sharable video content.

  9. Adding Art: Animations and More

    It may be a lot cheaper and even more effective to ditch the video footage altogether. Instead, consider hiring a digital artist to create an animation or a stop-motion video highlighting your product or service. These kinds of videos tend to capture the attention of people scrolling through your feed, but they don’t require actors or a set, so they can save you a pretty penny.

  10. Influencers: Creating ‘Why We Love It’ Vids

    Finally, don’t forget to invite real, influential users to come onto your channel to help highlight why it’s worth trying your product or service. Whether you enlist a real-life user from your community or a professional influencer is up to you, but you can count on these vids ramping up your reputation and earning you more followers.

Once you start exploring, you’ll be surprised to find out how many clever video concepts you can nail without a hefty investment. It’s all about leveraging what you have around you — your existing equipment, your existing content and your video-ready team — and then dialing it up a few notches by adding the special sparkle of video. When your brand goes viral, you’ll be glad you made the effort!

Guest Post: About the Author

Ethan Long is the business development director for MovoPhoto. Before starting with them, he worked in advertising in NYC where he gained over eight years of experience in content and video marketing. In his free time, he enjoys being outside, learning new photo and videography techniques, and spending time with his wife and their dog, Rory.

How to Use Instagram Stories to Engage with Your Customers

Instagram is an extremely popular social media network that over ⅛ of the world, or 7.7 billion people, is currently enjoying! It allows users to share their photos and videos, follow others and search for content based on keywords.

While Instagram is not intended specifically for business use, such as LinkedIn, all of the biggest and many of the smaller brands around the globe are seizing the opportunity to connect with a broader audience. Learning how to use Instagram stories, a great newer feature of this platform, is a proven way to engage with your customers.

Instagram Stories Explained

Instagram users are able to share content by uploading it to their profile grid, but they can also create stories, which is a feature that shows photos and videos in a bar at the top of the main feed. Unlike regular content on the feed, stories disappear within 24 hours, making it more tempting for your followers to view your stories daily, or risk the chance of never seeing them again.

When your followers open their Instagram account, they are able to see circles with the accounts they follow that uploaded an Insta-story. All they need to do to see it is to click on it to see it. In addition to uploading your content, you can add music, text, images and locations to your stories. Note that your followers can’t like or comment on stories like they can on other content.

How to Use Instagram Stories

Creating a story is extremely easy; just click the “+” sign on the top left of your screen. You will have the option to upload content from your phone or to use the camera to take a new video or photo.

The screen will provide you with the options to customize your content with filters, stickers, drawings and text. You can check analytics of who has viewed your story by clicking on it; you will be able to see every single person who saw the story, along with a total count.

Tips to Encourage Engagement with Instagram Stories

Tag Your Location

If your business has a physical storefront, make sure to tag it in every single Insta-story you create. The location tag will show up right on the story, allowing your followers to clearly see your business name.

Instagram allows users to search for companies in certain locations, such as “hair salon New York,” and is a great way to connect to a new customer base.

Add Hashtags

Hashtags are keywords that you can add to your story along with the # sign. Examples include:

  • #cheapmechanicLouisville
  • #ChineseFoodinLosAngeles
  • #trendiestshirtsonline

Instagram now allows users to search stories by hashtags, so as long as you know what keywords your customer base will use, you can attract them to your profile with your hashtags.

Use Polls

Polls are a fun feature on Instagram stories that allows you to ask your followers to vote on a certain topic. After adding a photo or video, add the “Poll” sticker to your story and write your question with two answer choices. Voters will be able to choose their selection right on your story, and you can see the answers.

This is a great way to engage with your followers and ask them what they prefer to see in your stories, what questions they may have, what products or services they are mostly interested in and more!

Instagram is a fun way for you to connect with a wide range of audience online. It can be a great marketing strategy, but since there is so much competition, it may be helpful to work with an Instagram specialist or influencer to truly make your business stand out on this social media channel.

As this takes a financial investment, you should consider a small business loan. IOU Financial is ready to fund your next loan in just under 48 hours. Click here to learn more.

Facebook Trends for 2019 to Optimize Your Business Page

Nowadays, businesses are highly focusing on social media marketing. The right platforms help them to reach to a wider community at a lower budget.

One of the most popular platforms is Facebook, which had 2.23 billion monthly active users from 2008 to 2018. So, small and big businessman target Facebook business pages as an integral part of their marketing strategy to reach out to a huge audience.

Does your business have a social presence on Facebook? If not, setting up Facebook pages for business can get you a noticeable entrepreneurial hike within a few days.

As we enter 2019 in a few months, you should know about the latest Facebook trends.

Innovative Visual Content

You might have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. So be sure to use compelling graphics in your Facebook posts. Use images, videos, and GIFs to spruce up your timeline. Visuals are more attractive and can convey the message you are trying to communicate in less time.

GIFs are an amazing medium for building a Facebook business page. It not only stands out from static images but also requires less of a monetary investment compared to videos, carousel, and lead ads.

Frequent Posts on Facebook Live and Stories

Apart from your Facebook page, you can use Facebook live and stories to keep your audience updated about your business. In fact, this is a more trending way as live content drives three times more engagement on Facebook.

This feature is all about showcasing the content regarding and what is happening presently. By going live, you can engage with a lot of people on the spot thereby increasing your business authenticity and popularity in the audience’s eyes. People simply love to see live streaming of events, product launch, office fun, etc.

Expanding Your Store on the Facebook Shop

If you have a robust Facebook community, setting up a Facebook store should be your next move. It helps your customers get whatever they are looking for. Moreover, there are functional plugins available at Knowband for Prestashop and Magento store that let you connect your Facebook shop with the Facebook business page.

This feature leads the visitors directly to your store thereby increasing the conversion rate. It also automatically updates the Facebook store, when you make changes on your store.

A CTA Button on the Business Page

Facebook keeps changing its algorithms to personalize what users see in their feed. The call-to-action is one such feature which helps you to drive action on your page. This feature can be placed below the cover image of your Facebook business page.

It helps to send traffic to your website, direct messages, signups and more. You have a range of options to add including shopping, booking, learning, or getting in touch. You can link this button to any destination on or off Facebook. Make sure your page’s call-to-action is linked with your preferred activity.

Continuous Rise of Facebook Ads 

You might feel that Facebook ads are not effective to optimize your business, but they are more worthy than you think. According to Sprout Social research on Facebook Advertising, about 3 million businesses use Facebook advertising to market their business.

The advantage of using this means to advertise is that you get to target a specific audience by selecting factors like demographics, age, interest, and many other options. Facebook ads  are a good medium if you want to run a PPC (pay per click) campaign to reach a targeted audience to maximize your business recognition. Also, planning your Facebook ads campaign before setting up Facebook for business is advisable.

Among the 2 billion Facebook users, one-third regularly engage with brands on Facebook. So plan your Facebook marketing techniques in accordance with these Facebook trends to optimize and build a Facebook business page. Moreover, make sure you are analyzing the traffic coming to your page to plan your future marketing strategies.

Guest Post: About the Author

Sanket Patel is Founder & Director of www.blurbpointmedia.com, an SEO, and digital marketing company. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. He is an expert in Web marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Affiliate Marketing, B2B Marketing, Online Advertisement of Google, Yahoo and MSN. Connect on Twitter.

LinkedIn Strategy: How to Get Your Employees to Use LinkedIn to Benefit Your Biz

Any professional has likely heard about LinkedIn and even created a profile on the social media platform. However, with the wide reach of over 562 million users, LinkedIn is a valuable tool that should be utilized to promote your business. Below are ideas about how you can help your employees to use this platform not just for their personal needs, but to benefit your company:

Become Authority Figures

To set your company apart from the competition, an effective way is to facilitate your employees to becoming authority figures in their respective niches. LinkedIn is a platform that can help with this goal, allowing employees to post articles and blogs on their profiles.

A marketing expert can write about the latest trends, while a mechanic can write about tips on preserving a car’s value. When online viewers search for keywords related to the content, they read the articles and start to form trusting relationships with your employees.

If your team members can become known in their fields for their authoritative and informative content, you will improve your brand recognition and attract new customers.

Network

To find new clients, business partners or investors, you should encourage your employees to network. LinkedIn makes this objective easy by promoting online networking that transcends time and location constraints.

Your employees can join industry-specific groups where they can join conversations and make important connections. They can search for specific individuals and reach out to them on the platform.

LinkedIn Showcase Pages allows employees to create pages that highlight a certain area of the business, and then share that with a target audience. For example, if your business needs an investment to explore franchising opportunities, you can create a page that reflects your earnings and profits, as well as goals, and share that with interested investors.

If your team members are encouraged to make connections on LinkedIn, your company can leverage that for business opportunities.

Recruit

Increased competition has made it challenging for some businesses to recruit and retain employees. LinkedIn can offer an advantage to your HR department in this regard.

LinkedIn makes it easy to search for candidates based on their current position and experience. Instead of posting an ad on a general career site, such as Indeed, you are able to do a targeted search and view detailed information to make faster and more informed hiring decisions.

LinkedIn Career Page is another option for candidate searches, helping prospective candidates come to you. The Jobs tab on this page lists current openings as well as insights from current employees about the company and their positions.

The Life Tab helps candidates determine if your company would be the right fit for them. This tab offers photos and videos shared by your employees as well as any written content that can be shared about your company culture.

This helps your business share benefits that candidates can expect if they join your team, and allows your hiring managers to connect with potential employees on a more personal level.

There are multiple opportunities that LinkedIn offers that can benefit your business. Some of them, such as promotion and marketing, may require a financial investment. If you need a partner that can help you grow your business, IOU Financial is ready to help. We work with small business owners to help them finance their goals. Contact us today to learn more about our easy and fast loans of up to $300,000.

2019 Social Media Trends Businesses Need to Plan For

If there is one thing that business owners should know for certain, it’s that there’s no certainty in today’s world. Technological advances, shorter product life cycles, and shifting consumer demands create changes and surprises that business owners need to be ready for.

A key part to growing and sustaining businesses today is social media. These platforms allow owners to connect with millions of possible customers worldwide. As this field is constantly being innovated, it’s advantageous for companies to prepare for social media trends in 2019 to stay innovative and relevant in their niches.

Increased Integration

In today’s fast world, people expect quick and seamless service, which is why all businesses should focus on creating the most seamless user experiences for their customers. In 2019, more and more companies will focus on social media integration, allowing customers to register for website access, sign up for email lists and more using their social media accounts.

Business owners should consider updating their websites and apps to allow new users to register with just one click through their social media account instead of filling out a long form. This step can help you increase your followers and connect better with your customer base.

More Video

The way businesses connect with users on social media is shifting from written to video content. Over half of all social media users watch videos, with that number climbing consistently.

Video is beneficial because it allows businesses to showcase their products and services, provide how-to guides and reviews. Social media users can form an emotional connection with the brand through video when they feel like the content is valuable to them.

Live video, especially, is becoming an important feature for marketing. Businesses can use this opportunity to share events, sales and new product announcements in real time.

Customized Marketing

In 2019, companies will finetune their marketing with customized strategies. Not only does content need to differ across channels to offer exclusive deals and stories, but business owners should focus on creating custom personas to cater to different demographics.

Whether you own a restaurant, a hair salon or an auto repair shop, customizing your outreach to target different audiences is key. Using insights from social media analytics, you can create customer personas depending on demographics such as age, gender, shopping patterns, income, etc., and create content tailored to those interests and needs.

Chatbots

Customers are demanding instant communication from the companies they shop with, and social media is no exception. While you may not have the budget to offer 24/7 customer service representatives for social media, you can invest in chatbots to solve this problem.

Chatbots are computer programs that mimic actual conversations. Companies can use them to answer questions, troubleshoot and even allow customers to book services and make purchases. With one estimate that 25% of the world will use messaging apps by the end of 2019, integrating chatbots into social media’s direct messaging services should be a priority.

Setting aside a budget to integrate social media trends into your operations is key to staying innovative. IOU Financial can help you with this goal by offering easy and fast small business loans. We can instantly pre-approve you and fund your loan of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours!