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How to Help Your Audience Connect with your Brand Through Compelling Images

A famous saying states that a picture is worth a thousand words. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to increasing brand recognition and improving customer loyalty.

Did you know that 67% of consumers pay more attention to images, and often find them more important than written content, such as descriptions and even customer reviews? Including images in the way you tell the story about your company helps individuals create an emotional connection and become lifelong shoppers.

Read on to learn what type of images you should consider implementing for your business and how to choose the best ones within your budget.

What Images Can Help Your Branding?

Logo

Think of world-famous logos that require less than a second for a consumer to recognize them – such as Nike, McDonalds or Apple. This can help you understand how important a compelling logo is to the success of your business.

“We have less time and less space to tell our stories in than ever before,” says Alina Wheeler, branding expert. “To rise above the clutter, a symbol or a logo is the fastest communication known to man. It unlocks associations with your brand on sight, so it’s important to get it right the first time around.”

Product Images

Images run the show when it comes to designing your products or showcasing them on your website, catalog or in your marketing materials.

Website/ Marketing Images

As online users are bombarded by information, they skim over website content quickly and prefer images to help tell the story. Images are also highly shareable and boost search engine optimization (SEO).

Where Do I Find Compelling Images for My Branding Needs?

Stock Images Websites

As a small business owner, you likely don’t have the budget to hire world class photographers or marketing experts. However, that does not mean you should forego using attractive and high resolution images for your business.

You can find high quality, yet low cost images on a variety of websites, such as iStockphoto.com‎, Shutterstock and iStock. These websites include free and affordable stock images that you can purchase for commercial use. Some of the images can be purchased for as low as $1! Simply type in the keyword or topic you need (dentist, secretary, high-heeled shoes) and find all the related images available to be purchased.

Fiverr

While stock images may be useful for design elements, when it comes to creating unique visuals for your brand, such as your logo, you can’t rely on an existing image. Fiverr is a very useful site to connect with freelance designers (and other specialists).

For as low as $5 (and up), you can find a professional to create a one-of-a-kind image for your business needs. Fiverr also allows you to read freelance profiles and customer reviews as well as view samples of their previous work.

Create Your Custom Images

You don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to create images for your company. If you would rather do this task yourself than rely on others, you can do so with the helpful of online tools.

Sites such as Canva provide ready-made templates so you can create specific visuals for marketing, articles, infographics and more! Freelogodesign promises to help you create a free logo in just minutes. You can then add that logo to merchandize to market your products or services.

There are a multitude of ways to find free and affordable images, or make them yourself with the help of existing tools. If you would rather invest in your brand by hiring a professional or need financial help in utilizing the images you created to market your brand, IOU Financial can help. Visit our site at www.ioufinancial.com to learn about our quick and easy small business loans.

 

 

 

Instagram Ads: The Basics

If you have explored advertising on any social media platform, you have likely focused your attention on Facebook. However, a rising star in this space is Instagram, which has grown from 90 to 800 million since 2013!

Although Instagram gives owners the potential to connect to a large group of users, cutting through the online clutter is difficult for small businesses that are trying to increase their brand recognition… Simply posting content and waiting to grow your following organically can take months, if not years.

A better strategy to reach a mass audience instantly may be to pay for Instagram Ads. The ads would be featured as “sponsored posts” that would come up on users’ feeds as they browse. The goals of utilizing Instagram ads would be to “grow brand exposure, website traffic, generate new leads, and move current leads down the funnel (and hopefully towards converting).”

Are Instagram Ads Effective?

Is investing in Instagram ads effective? The results speak for themselves. “In March 2017, over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got directions, called, emailed, or direct messaged to learn about a business based on an Instagram ad,” according to a source.

Why are Instagram Ads Effective?

Unlike advertising on a website or on television, where you can choose the channel, but not who sees your ads, Instagram allows you to target your audience base. This means that you have the ability for your ads to be shown to selected individuals, based on factors such as gender, age, location, interests, etc.

Plus, you can create groups for each ad, choosing between:

“Saved Audiences – interest-based targeting

Custom Audiences – retargeting audiences and customers

Lookalike Audiences – people similar to your other audiences”

How to Set up an Instagram Account to Create Ads

Using Instagram is very easy, and a business can set up an account within an hour to get started with the following steps.

  1. Because Facebook bought Instagram, you can use your Facebook account or create a personal Instagram account to get started.
  2. Sign up for a Business Manager account.
  3. Create a Business Page.
  4. Enter all the required information, such as your business name and details and your contact information.
  5. Create your ad.
  6. Choose an ad objective, which includes goals like brand recognition, engagement, reach, traffic, app installs, lead generation, etc.
  7. Choose who the ad will target, decide on your budget, create a schedule and narrow down on the creative aspect of your ad.
  8. Start advertising!

Examples of Inspiring Instagram Ads

If you are not extremely creative, there are a multitude of examples online of Instagram ads that can inspire you, such as:

55 Amazing Instagram Ads

84 Best Instagram Ad Examples in 2018

You do not require a large budget to get started with advertising on Instagram. AdEspresso’s research has found that the average price of a pay-per-click Instagram ad is around $0.80. Although, to reach a substantial amount of people, you may want to hit the ground running!

IOU Financial can help you to market and grow your business with a small business loan of up to $300,000. Call us at 1.866.217.8564 or visit us online at www.ioufinancial.com to learn more!

Should My Business be on Snapchat?

Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Snapchat. The list of social media platforms goes on and on. While business owners know the value that social media presence can bring to their company, many small and medium firms simply don’t have the resources to devote to all of the platforms. In this article, we will discuss one of the most popular social media sites, Snapchat, which has become a dominant player in today’s world.

Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur explains his view on the success of this platform: “Snapchat closely resembles how we communicate face-to-face than any other social network. When we talk to each other, passing in the halls or just living out our lives, those moments disappear. Snapchat emulates that behavior and psychology. Moments are temporary and that’s exactly the feeling and behavior that Snapchat matched to.”

Younger Target Audience

Snapchat is an ideal tool to reach a younger audience base. Out of a total 166 million users, the majority of Snapchat users are under 24 years old. More specifically, 71% of users are 18-34 years old.

As of September 2016, Snapchat had over 150 daily active users all over the world. What is the best way to reach these audiences? With a well thought out marketing strategy.

Here is a list of some of the most successful utilizations of Snapchat:

  • Sour Patch Kids: The candy company made headlines on Snapchat when they posted snaps of harmless pranks they would conduct in public. Candy and pranks are perfect attention grabbers for the younger generation, which is how the brand connected with them.
  • Taco Bell: While Taco Bell has a variety of customers, it utilized Snapchat’s storytelling feature to share new products, and even give dating tips!
  • Amazon: This world-known giant posts exclusive deals just for Snapchat members, and made a killing on black Friday with this strategy!

Not Right for All Industries

While Snapchat is a valuable platform that can help businesses increase brand recognition, it is not right for all industries. Fields such as government, construction, logistics and banking may find more advantageous to focus on other platforms, such as LinkedIn.

The customers of these websites are typically older, married and not as prone to using Snapchat. They also are less likely to be driven to explore a business from a social media ad or post. Instead, they would probably be more swayed from reading an article or an opinion piece online!

Can’t Drive Traffic

There are ways to include a link to your website when you post content on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. However, there is no way to do that currently on Snapchat. While it can be a valuable marketing platform for brand recognition, there is no way to track and analyze Snapchat’s value in bringing in leads or raising profits.

Business owners that are tight on funds may find it more valuable to utilize social media trends that can present clear data on conversion rates.

Although Snapchat is not right for all businesses, if you have interesting and unique content (videos and photos) to share with a younger age group, it can be a helpful tool in driving new business. IOU Financial can help you with the funds needed to explore all of the offerings Snapchat has to grow your company. Call us today to inquire about our small business loans, which can be approved in as little as 24-48 hours.

 

8 Effective Ways to Strategize Social Media Marketing for Your Business

For most brands, social media marketing is about accumulating as many likes and follows as they can. While this approach helps, it is just one of many maneuvers you should consider to grow your social media audience. The following are eight effective ways you should consider when creating a social media strategy for your business.

Create an effective content marketing strategy

After you’ve created excellent, unique content, the next step involves marketing this content in a way that guarantees results. You can do this by creating a social media posting schedule that befits your brand and using the right post publishing schedule. Doing this will grow your organic audience and reduce the need to use social media ads to grow your audience.

Conduct contests and promotional activities

What makes contests work on social media is the fact that they involve your audience directly and on a personal level. This has a significant positive impact on brand awareness. Promotional activities give your social media followers a reason to share your content with other social media users, ultimately increasing brand exposure to many other potential customers.

Indeed, there is research evidence to suggest that 35% of people who like your business page on Facebook did so for an opportunity to participate in your brand’s contests. Therefore, if you want to increase engagement on social media, consider conducting a contest.

Create and schedule your status updates

The key to posting on social media is consistency in posting content designed to empower, educate and entertain your audience. The status updates should include emoticons, questions, links, images and videos. Use a variety of post types to get the attention of a wide array of social media users.

Integrate social media sharing

One effective approach to social media marketing is the integration of social media plugins and share buttons on other brand channels like your website and email. Incorporating sharing buttons allows people who find your content educational or entertaining easily share it with their friends on social networking sites. Some of the most common plugins include Digg Digg, Flare, Mashshare and Ultimate Social Deux.

Create a personalized experience for your customers

This approach increases the chances of conversions by addressing the queries, concerns and questions a potential customer might have before buying your product or service. One way businesses are doing this is by use of chatbots. The chatbots create a more customized experience for individual customers and break the tradition that most customers are used to when companies are trying to sell them products.

Tell stories instead of selling stuff

Sometimes entrepreneurs are so enthusiastic about their products that they over-promote them on social networking sites. This can have a devastating effect on the long term viability of social media marketing for the business as many would-be customers get turned off by the overselling messages that make their way to their timelines.

Therefore, consider using social media sites as storytelling platforms first and only incorporate promotional posts occasionally. When you tell the stories that make your brand what it is, it personifies your brand and makes it more relatable. Finally, when it’s time for these people to buy your kind of product, your brand will be at the top of their consideration list.

Create a community for your audience

Growing your audience on social media is not simply about finding anybody who doesn’t mind liking or following your brand, it is about finding people who genuinely want to connect with your brand. Instead of haphazardly adding new people to your social pages, consider using social tools like Social Growr to find people who have a high likelihood of connecting and engaging with your brand. Growing this community will ensure your audience asks questions, gives you feedback, likes your content and shares it with their online social circles.

Respond to all comments, suggestions, inquiries, and complaints

You’ve spent a lot of time and money acquiring your social media audience. It is therefore important that you spend just as much effort engaging with it. When they comment on your post, they expect you to respond to their thoughts. When they make complaints, they expect you to address them. Indeed, a Convince and Convert report indicated that 42% of social media users demand that you respond to their queries within an hour.

 

Guest Post: About the Author

Marquis is a writer, social media manager and SEO content marketer.  She currently lives on the coast of Ecuador, working remotely as a freelancer. Her primary focus is on building online visibility of new, up and coming brand, particularly brands that promote health and wellness. She lives a nomadic lifestyle, though is originally from California.

Social Media Trends for 2018

Every business owner should know by now that social media is one of the most effective ways to market your brand, connect with your target audience and grow your business. As technology is constantly changing, it is important to fine tune your marketing tactics with it. Staying on top of trends helps you refine your efforts to receive the best return on your investment (ROI). We present the latest social media trends that will likely become even bigger in 2018 for you to review with plenty of time to implement them:

Instagram Stories

While Snapchat is the social media platform that developed the ability for users to share short videos that delete after 24 hours, Instagram took that to another level. The Instagram stories daily users quickly surpassed Snapchat’s, with 20 million daily views, and should be implemented in the way you present your brand’s story to your audience.

The stories are fun to use and to view, allowing you to add filters, tags and text. They are discoverable, meaning that Instagram users can see the stories even if they are not your followers.

Any account with at least 10,000 followers is allowed to add a link to their story, which is a direct way to lead viewers to your site. In addition, just like with any other Instagram photo or video, you can hashtag relevant keywords to help users find you faster and easier.

Social Media Influencers

In years past, the biggest public relations stunt was hiring a celebrity to promote your product or service. In today’s world, celebrities have been largely replaced with influencers, who are celebrities in their own rights. These are individuals who have been able to get a staggering number of social media followers, often in the millions. Companies pay these influencers to promote their offerings on their pages, sites or accounts.

It is advantageous to find the top influencers in your niche industry, and follow them. See what they are promoting and how so you can determine if utilizing an influencer is right for your business needs.

Augmented Reality

The new iPhone 8 already incorporates the aspects of augmented reality by allowing users to project images of certain pieces of furniture from websites such as Amazon. This is a great benefit for shoppers because they are able to see for themselves how an item will look in a specific room without committing to purchasing it.

Augmented reality will likely allow business owners to offer all kinds of benefits to customers, such as seeing how a piece of clothing looks on them, the ability to try on different makeup products and so on.

Messaging Platforms

Most people consider social media to be sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but millions of people worldwide connect on messaging apps. “Artificial intelligence, voice assistants and chatbots will enable brands to offer personalized shopping experiences on messaging platforms like Messenger, WhatsApp and Kik,” a source states.

The newest trends for social media can reap great rewards for business owners; however, many of them come with a price. If you need help investing in your marketing strategies, IOU Financial wants to help you finance this goal. Contact us today at www.ioufinancial.com to learn how you can get a small business loan in under 48 hours.

3 Ways to Advertise Your Business for Free

Whether you have an online or brick-and-mortar business, you must advertise to create brand awareness for your company. Even if your store or business is located in a high traffic area, not advertising to potential new clients can significantly hinder your sales.

A portion of small business owners don’t believe they have the funds to advertise, but the fact is that with some effort, you can advertise completely free! We list our favorite three free ways to advertise your business for maximum results.

Google My Business

Google is the most used search engine around the world, and while many companies spend thousands or even millions of dollars on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, it is possible to do so without spending a cent!

Google is constantly working on improving its Google Maps and local search results, which is good for business owners! By inputting your business name, address, phone number, website, description and hours or operations, you can increase your inbound advertising for free!

When individuals search for services or products they are looking for, such as “hair salon in Dallas,” “best French food near me” or “tutoring services Miami,” Google will direct them to your website.

Simply add or claim your existing business listing on Google, verify your account and optimize your Google+ page with reviews and visual and written content to attract new clients! The best part is that even online businesses can benefit from this free advertising feature by listing their company as a service in a particular area.

Write Press Releases

Forming relationships with the press can be extremely beneficial in getting the word out about your business on local blogs, newspapers, news channels and magazines.

Anytime you have news — which can include a new service or product, a new hire, a sale or promotion — write a press release to announce it. Press releases do have specific formats, so it’s helpful to learn how to write a press release to appear more professional in the eyes of the local press.

If you need a starting point, be sure to check out this template.

Utilize Social Media

No article about advertising strategies can omit social media, as that is likely the #1 way to connect with customers online. Using popular platforms — such as Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram — can create significant exposure for your business.

In order not to spread yourself thin and create various profiles on social media without sufficient time to interact with your followers and submit relevant content, choose one to three platforms to focus on.

Start by figuring out where your target audience is, and devote your efforts there. The younger generation is likely on Instagram, mothers are on Pinterest and working professionals spend time on LinkedIn.

Add photos and videos, share news and communicate with your followers in order to create brand loyalty and increase sales! Go a step further by creating contests or offer internet-only specials!

The following three free advertising resources can go a long way in attracting new clients to your company; however, no one can dispute the power of paid advertising. Whether you want to invest in PPC advertising on Google, create paid content on social media or purchase a subscription to a press release distribution site, these efforts require capital. IOU Financial wants to be your partner in growing your business. We are ready to finance your strategies with a loan of up to $300,000 in under 48 hours!

 

Instagram – Is It Right For My Business?

It should be no surprise to any business owner that social media is the latest and greatest tool for connecting with existing and potential customers. Although there are a multitude of platforms, one of the most effective and popular ones is Instagram. Read on to determine whether this social media platform is right for your business.

What is Instagram?

Instagram allows users to share photos and videos along with captions and a link with their followers. This platform has a total of 800 million users around the world, 500 million of which use it every single day.

If you do not utilize Instagram to market your business, you’re in the minority, as 91% of all of the world’s biggest brands utilize this platform for business purposes. These include Nike, Adidas, Michael Kors and Gucci.

Is Instagram Right For Your Business?

While Instagram may be the fastest growing social media platform, it is not the right solution for every single business. Marketing on a platform requires a time and financial commitment, and business owners should pick the platform or platforms that are most suited to their business needs rather than spread themselves thin advertising on a multitude of platforms. Answer these questions to see if Instagram is right for your business needs.

Can You Share Captivating Images or Videos?

Although Instagram is a great marketing tool, it may not be the right solution for all businesses. Instagram users crave creative, original and quality images and videos to capture their attention. It is best suited for businesses that offer food and products that can be captured via images.

Businesses that offer services, such as accounting or cleaning, may not be able to come up with enough images or videos for this visual platform, and, therefore, should focus their marketing efforts on other platforms which are not as image-based.

Is Your Customer Target Base on Instagram?

Depending on your offerings and the demographics of your clientele, Instagram may not be the right solution for you. It is important to truly know your customer base; based on that information, you can determine if marketing on Instagram would be advantageous for you.

Sixty-eight percent of Instagram users are female, with 59% of them being between the ages of 18 and 29 years old and 33% are 30-49 years old. Less than a third of American women and less than a fourth of American men are active Instagram users; 80% of users are located outside the United States.

These demographics allow business owners to determine whether Instagram is the right place to target their customers. This visual platform is a definite must for companies that target younger females, such as hair salons, restaurants, makeup brands and clothing stores. However, businesses that target older males, such as accounting firms or body shops, should consider other platforms for more efficient marketing strategies.

Are Your Competitors on Instagram?

A third question to ask yourself is whether your competitors have an Instagram presence. Search this platform for your competitors by name, as well as hashtags that are relevant to your brand to see what is currently being shared on Instagram.

If you notice a lot of competition,  it may be worth while to build up your own Instagram presence so that your competitors do not grab the entire market share in your industry.

Instagram requires a careful strategy, consistent posting and well-shot, unique images and videos to distinguish your company from the clutter. If you need financial help to hire a professional photographer or videographer, pay for Instagram ads or hire a social media marketing expert, IOU Financial can help you with a small business loan of up to $300,000 in 24-48 hours. Contact us today!

Are you Using your Social Media Platforms Effectively?

There are innumerable benefits of using social media to promote a business online, such as communicating with your target audience, increasing brand exposure, and increasing inbound traffic to your website. The problem is that many business owners encounter don’t know how to use social media effectively. To create the best strategy for your business needs, you must utilize the following two steps.

Pick the Most Relevant Platforms

There are a multitude of social media platforms: Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc. Most business owners don’t have the time or the resources to utilize all of them effectively; as such, they do a subpar job trying to market on all the channels rather than concentrate their efforts on the most relevant platforms for their business.


The way to determine which social media platforms are best suited for your brand is to assess which site gives you the best access to target your ideal audience. For example, 81 percent of Pinterest users are female; while the median age is 40, most of the users are under 40. This is a great channel to contact younger women. Also, as Pinterest allows users to upload high-quality images and videos and organize them on virtual pinboards, the brands that would most benefit from using this platform would be ones that have good visual imagery, such as travel companies or fashion brands.

Companies that want to target professionals should focus on LinkedIn, a networking site for working individuals. Businesses that offer services for professionals, such as accounting and marketing groups, can join the online conversation by establishing themselves as experts in the groups and discussions on LinkedIn.

Measure the Return on Your Investment 

 
Social media provides plenty of opportunities for users to invest in marketing their products or services. However, measuring the return on investment (ROI) of social media is not something all business owners know how to do. In fact, one study found that 41 percent of businesses did not know whether they were getting a good ROI on their social media strategies.

How do you analyze whether your social media tactics are effective? Follow these steps:

  1. Track how much you invest in social media; this doesn’t just include the fees of marketing, but also the time you spend utilizing these channels.
  2. Pinpoint your goals; different companies will have different aims for using social media – some will want to lead users to their websites, while others will want to generate newsletter signups; obviously, the ultimate goal of any action will be to generate sales.
  3. Create campaigns; instead of expecting various results from your combined social media actions, create individual campaigns for each goal. This way, you can track the precise result of each campaign, measure the resources and time you put into it and how much you earned as a result.
  4. Track the results; every single social media platform has a system that tracks activity and provides results. You can also connect most platforms to Google Analytics, which will provide detailed information for each campaign.
  5. Calculate results against the amount spent (money and time) to analyze whether the campaign was successful.

In order to invest in creating relevant social media campaigns, you may need financial help. IOU Financial can help you market your brand with a small business loan. You may qualify to borrow up to $150,000 in 24-48 hours! Click here to find out more!

Social Media Basics: 5 ways to Create Engaging Content for Your Customers

There is a question that should come across every small business owner who generates content for their customers: what good is putting out content that nobody sees or is interested in? Let us take this one! Putting out content no one sees or is interested in doesn’t do a company any good.  It is a simple as that. However, knowing some ways to create content that people do want to read and engage with can be tackled with the following 5 tips.

Talk about Trending Topics

It’s no question that people like jumping into discussions about popular or trending topics. Similarly, people like to read content that include or focus on what’s relevant right now. When writing a blog, sharing a social media post, or sending a company newsletter, be sure that your company hits what’s relevant in your industry. Get in the game by adding your company’s perspective to the online conversation!

Talk about Unsafe Issues 

Nobody likes a boring read. Rather, people want to read things that make them think, become inspired, or be encouraged to use or trust a company. To accomplish this, companies should present “unsafe” or “out of the box” commentary and comments. Dare to stand apart from other competition, especially if you’re in the small business niche, because your potential customers want to feel something. Creating content that doesn’t follow the usual framework is a unique way to capture your audience and keep them coming back for more.

Get Google Smart

What’s Google smart you ask? It’s simple: post a blog title or content that people look up on Google or other popular search engines. If you have a great blog idea, newsletter update, or website ready to launch, focus on naming it something people already search for and stay away from titles nobody would look for. For example, if your launching a fresh new pair of jeans, don’t use descriptions or titles that only you and your designers know. Write a post called: “New Best Fitting Jeans.” People will search for that phrase immediately when in the market for new denim. Factoring in SEO (search engine optimization) when creating a title is the best way to ensure your link is clicked. From there, your post can then delve into the ins and outs of your product.

Stick to the Point

People scroll through the internet quickly. Studies have found that customers rarely read word for word, and rather scroll until something jumps out at them. Use powerful titles and images that is void of filler.

Speak to Customers, Not Yourself

With a small business, you want to ensure you speak to the customer! Find out what topics or issues your audience wants to learn more about and be sure to mold your content around that. For example, if you own a roofing company you could educate your customers on why a leak in one spot of the house shows up 500 feet away. When your customers find you provide relevant content, they’ll keep coming back for more.

As you can see writing content that is engaging and informative is an art; one that takes time and trial and error to execute successfully.  Following these 5 suggestions for developing engaging content for customers is one step any small business owner can take today to generate great content that customers want to read. Happy content creating!

Why Social Media is Beneficial for Small Business Owners: 5 Sites and The Best Ways to Use Them

Keeping up with the growing number of social media sites and trying to put your small businesses mark on the map can seem overwhelming. What platform does what?, How do I use each one?, and Aren’t they all the same? are most likely questions your business has asked when the word “social media marketing” comes up. By understanding the basics on how to best use social media, small businesses can immediately see and benefit from the value these platforms can bring. Lets dive into the top 5 social media sites your business needs to be active on to maintain a presence in the market.

Facebook  

Main Focus: Staying consumer engaged

Facebook hit the scene in 2004 and regardless of what some may think, it still dominates the market for small businesses to stay connected to the “people” who use and support business brands. Facebook for businesses should focus on creating content that keeps the conversation going with the dedicated followers and supporters of your business. When starting with Facebook focus on the following:

  • Use photos with questions. Create a post (preferably an image) and ask questions such as “What would be a good caption for this?”
  • Incorporate people who use your brand. When posting mention a customer who follows the page or “shout out” a person who recently commented.
  • Engage with questions. Keep the content focused on feedback from customers and keep them offering their perspectives.

Twitter

Main focus:  Offering perspective

Twitter is also a long standing platform with 317 Million active users each month. Twitter has become increasingly popular for brands and companies to offer their perspectives on hot topics or using “hashtags” pointing to relevant issues people are talking about on their platform. Twitter offers a short character count method to express a thought, stance, or comment on current events and news. When starting with Twitter focus on the following:

  • Use for news about your niche. Share news or other “stories” relevant to your niche that users can gain insight or information from.
  • Use polls and ask questions. Polling the audience is a great way to keep users engaged and offer opinions. Users will also share those polls with others growing your presence.
  • Ask for a “Re-Tweet” or just say “RT”. A Re-tweet is someone else sharing your “tweet” or “post” giving you credit and exposure.

Instagram

Main Focus: Inside scoop

Instagram was the first platform that simply asked users to post photos and small (if any) captions. Instagram has now expanded to a major source of website traffic referral and business exposure. By sharing photos of your business, companies should use Instagram as a “behind the scenes” look at their brand offering users a view they can’t get on other platforms. When starting with Instagram focus on the following:

  • Share content that is “about your brand.” Post photos of design sketches, a team meeting, or something funny that happened outside your office walls. This brings a “behind the scene look.”
  • Use interesting photos. Post images that look artsy or different to catch your customer’s’ eyes. Have fun with the ideas you can create.
  • Use bio and links to relevant offerings. Update the “bio” section often giving users a direct link and upcoming offering that they don’t want to miss out on.

Pinterest

Main Focus: Educating

Pinterest is a play on the word “Interest” with the idea of “pinning” something that you like and want to save for reading, trying, or even learning more about in the moment or down the road. Users create “boards” that they “pin” items to so people can easily find whatever strikes their fancy. Businesses can use Pinterest to educate their audience on a variety of related “niche” ideas. When starting with Pinterest focus on the following: 

  • Be an educator. Share relevant information and facts that people can learn ideas, tips, tricks, and other facts from simply looking at your boards.
  • Build on networks like yours. Add other contributors to your “board” to further expose your brand and use that exposure as a traffic source to your site.
  • Share inspirational posts. Inspiring other people is one of the most common reason to “pin,” and therefore doing the same can be helpful to your brand.

Google+

Main Focus: Location Location Location

Google+ is a way for businesses and customers to find each other, learn more about each other, and tell other people about each other. Small businesses who tap into Google+ can find ways to increase foot traffic to their storefront, offer visitors a place to share their thoughts, and also allows businesses to share relevant information about their brand to help promote and increase website rankings. Google+ for businesses is created after a business account on Google has been created. When starting with Google+ focus on the following:

  • Bring people to YOU. Google+ offers location services and direct links to your business platform or portfolio.
  • SEO. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is highly crucial to any website for any business. By joining and linking content on Google+, SEO gets a jumbo boost.
  • Use for networking with customers and influencers. Google calls these “circles” which allows you to categorize who are your customers and who are your business influencers. This helps businesses tailor the content to both groups maximizing relevancy on the platform.

As you have read above, there are many social media platforms out there for small businesses and brands. While some may think it’s simply enough to “share the same message” across all platforms, or that “one site fits all” is the stance to take, such is not the case. By understanding the differences between platforms, and the best ways to utilize each, businesses can offer users varied information and a push to follow and engage with your company in multiple ways. Starting out can be daunting, but after the first post, tweet, pin, circle or hashtag, small businesses will find the effort was worth the outcome.