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You probably associate YouTube with music videos, children’s programming and strange influencers, yet the Alphabet property is as much a marketing channel as it is an entertainment channel.

 

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Alphabet, the parent of Google and YouTube, doesn’t break out YouTube’s advertising revenues but in 2017 it  was believed to have earned about $12.4 billion from advertisers. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, a combination of YouTube and mobile search were responsible for much of Alphabet’s 17 percent growth. That was money spent by businesses looking to turn YouTube’s video views into revenue. Some of those companies would have been local—and not all local businesses on YouTube even spend money on placement.

 

Here are four ways to use YouTube for local advertising.

 

1.    Create Local Content

 

The easiest option is to create video content that appeals to your local market. This video from Del Sol Furniturelooks like the kind of commercial you might find on local cable. It picked up nearly 250 views on YouTube. That’s not much but even a 1 percent conversion rate would have been enough to give it an extra sale or two with little expense beyond the commercial itself.

 

You can be a smarter though. B&H Photo in New York City invited Austin Evans,a YouTube influencer with nearly 4 million subscribers, to tour the store after closing. Viewers got to see some cool gadgets. Evans got to shoot some good content. And the store won some free advertising. That video has clocked more than 1.25 million views. If you can turn a tour of your business into interesting content, either by shooting the video yourself or by working with an influencer, you can land some big views and plenty of new customers.

 

2.    Go Live!

 

In a recent trend report, Google noted that more and more people are watching “global cultural moments in real time.” The examples that Google gave included Felix Baumgartner’s leap from space and the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle but you don’t have to jump out of a balloon or marry into royalty to benefit from live video.

Whenever an event takes place at your business, or whenever your business takes part in an event, bring everyone with you. If you’re planning to take a stall at a fair, for example, tell your social media followers that you’ll be broadcasting from the event. Grab a camera and walk the stands. Talk to other stall holders and ask them about their products. If you’re holding a sale, broadcast from the store. Tell people what’s selling and why they should get down to your outlet fast.

 

A live video might land a small audience during the broadcast but it does bring a number of additional useful benefits. It’s interactive: viewers can use the comments to ask questions in real time. It’s urgent; anything can happen during live television. And it’s also permanent. Even live video becomes recorded video after the broadcast is over. The video just keeps on working.

 

3.    Go International

 

Over a third of the clicks on Google ads posted by U.S. businesses are generated outside the country. On average, more than 60 percent of the viewers of U.S.-made YouTube videos are outside America. Those fascinating figures are also from Google, and they show the size of the opportunity available to local companies that are willing to ship abroad.

 

Google cites a South Dakota bicycle-maker and a Maryland bow tie-maker as two examples of local businesses that use YouTube to reach customers overseas.

Clearly, this isn’t going to be a solution for everyone. A wedding photographer will only have a small market but even local manufacturers can export if they’re willing to figure out the logistics. YouTube’s borderless reach gives those companies access to new international markets.

 

4.    It Pays to Advertise

 

Finally, there’s always advertising. The advantage is that you don’t have to build an audience for your YouTube videos. You can just benefit from someone else’s audience. The disadvantage is that you pay for the placement and you have to be careful with your targeting to make sure that you’re only showing your ads to people who genuinely want to see them.

 

You also need to choose which kinds of ads to buy. Skippable ads are user-friendly. They let viewers scroll past after a few seconds. You need to give viewers a reason to keep watching as early as possible. Non-skippable ads force viewers to watch to the end. They deliver the message and tend to have high engagement levels but also a high abandonment rate.

 

“These ads also tend to get a bad rap because they seem forceful,” says marketing expert Neil Patel. “But, if your ads are good and targeted effectively, they don’t need to represent trouble. In fact, good ads will be shared on social media for entertainment purposes in their own right.” Get Started.

 

Start by creating your own content and building your audience on YouTube. Broadcast a live video to deepen engagement. Look for opportunities to make international sales. And once you’ve got the hang of video making and winning audiences, look for places to advertise and deliver the messages that turn YouTube viewers into your new customers.

 

                   Related Links

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

When I was in law school, I took a class on how to run your own law office, and the topic on everyone’s mind was: where in the heck will we get clients?

 

A few years later, as I started my own business, the question was the same: where would I get clients? I began to interview every successful solopreneur I knew, and essentially, their ideas boiled down to:

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  • Networking
  • Advertising, and
  • Networking some more

 

While that might seem like pretty thin advice, back then, those truly were the options. And somehow I made it.

 

The good news is that these days there is no shortage of places to get viable leads, and most are highly effective andquite affordable. You know the drill: Google ads, e-newsletters, Facebook ads and campaigns, tweets and blog specials, yadda, yadda, yadda.

 

Is there anything new under the sun? Yes. If I was to give a new entrepreneur advice today on where to get leads and find clients, I would point to three very viable, but a tad under-the-radar options:

 

1. Craigslist: Sure we all know, love, and use Craigslist to get rid of the old stuff in the garage (or buy new old stuff for the garage) but you make a mistake if you discount what a great resource the site is for business leads.

 

First of all, the Jobs listings are a virtual cornucopia of business leads. Yes, of course, jobs are listed, but so too are part-time gigs, contract positions, requests for proposals and the like. Beyond that, there is also, in fact, a listing called “Gigs,” and then, beyond that,  an area listing for “Services.” And if you sell a product, and list it for sale in the right area, it will prompt more leads and potential customers.

 

Best of all: It’s free.

 

2. Project bidding sites: I would have loved these sorts of sites if they were around when I was still practicing law: Sites like Upwork,Guru,Freelancer, etc. These sites are amazing, listing tens of thousands of contract opportunities a day for the self-employed and other small business people to bid on.

 

Let’s take Upwork for example. Upwork is a fantastic all-in-one solution for corporations and contractors. Corporate clients list projects through the platform, and the contractors then bid on those projects and use the Upwork virtual workplace and guaranteed payment system to complete the work. Pretty cool.

 

Bottom line: There are thousands of companies who not only need your help but are actively seeking it out on these sites. It is your job to get on these platforms, let them know you are out there and get some of this available work.

 

3. LinkedIn: Sure you have a LinkedIn account and maybe you even have a couple of hundred contacts. But do you use them? Have you ever really considered what an incredible resource and opportunity LinkedIn is?

 

Consider my pal, a San Francisco entrepreneur who gets all of his business through LinkedIn: He scours the site looking for potential partners and other people with whom he would either like to do business with or to whom he would like to sell his services. He then finds out who he knows on the site who knows these folks and gets personal introductions. He then meets these leads and closes the deal, or not, but he sure does save time and money.

 

And that is the beauty of LinkedIn. What is the point of having all of these contacts if you don’t use them? So use them. Here’s how:

 

LinkedIn has a very powerful feature that lets you search for people by name, industry, title, keyword, region, company and more. Do that, and not only do you get a list of viable leads, but you also get a list of people you know who know these people. And since nothing beats a word-of-mouth introduction, a LinkedIn lead is often a hot lead. And away you go.

 

So happily, gone are the days when you had to either network (the old fashioned way), or advertise your way to success. These days, there are a lot more and better, options available.

 

    Related Links

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

One of the best ways to get more customers for your small business is by cross-promoting with other small businesses. Big companies cross-promote all the time (such as fast-food operators offering kiddie toys to promote the latest superhero movie), but small businesses can do it, too.

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Why should your small business consider cross-promoting?

 

  • It gives you credibility. Your partner company’s customers will trust you because the partner is recommending you.
  • By sharing the cost of marketing and advertising, you’ll reduce your marketing budget.
  • You can benefit from your partner’s strengths and experience.

 

One of the biggest benefits of cross-promotion has nothing to do with sales. Running a small business can be hard and lonely, and working with another business owner who understands your challenges and can share the load makes everything feel easier.

 

Where to find cross-promotion partners

 

Your cross-promotion partners should target the same customer base and be complementary to your business but not competing. For example, a children’s hair salon and a children’s clothing store are natural partners. So are a website design firm and a marketing copywriting business.

 

Select people you can trust and who share similar business values. Working with business owners you already know or getting references from trusted colleagues can help.

 

You can find partners through your Chamber of Commerce, social networks and local business networking groups. Alignable, a social network specifically for small businesses, can be a great way to connect. The founders started Alignable to give small business owners “an easy way to meet the other business owners on their street.” Today the company has over 3 million members.

 

Your community may also have local business organizations such as this club for women business owners in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. If it doesn’t, consider starting one. The founders of Ladies of Logan Square—small business owners Kelly Marie Thompson and Mary Nisi—started their organization to help highlight the area’s female small business owners.

 

The founders say they had “trouble finding the time to network and collaborate with other business owners on top of all of their work and family obligations.” They told Block Club Chicago, they wanted to “create a community of ‘badass’ women” and give “women who have smaller companies. … an opportunity to get their name out there.”

 

Ideas for cross-promotion

 

Once you’ve found your partner/s, develop a plan together for your cross-promotion efforts. What are your goals? How will you measure success? What’s your budget?

Then brainstorm ideas. Here are 20 ideas to get you started:

 

      1. Do joint print advertising, such as mailers, postcards, or local newspaper or magazine ads.
      2. Host an event that appeals to all your customers.
      3. Display one another’s marketing materials.
      4. Give your customers your partner’s brochures or coupons when they check out of your store or packaged with their online order.
      5. Promote each other on social media to expose your business to a new audience of local customers.
      6. Support a charity together. Get your customers involved in volunteering or donating.
      7. Hold a joint contest.
      8. Link to one another’s websites. You can even create a section on your website and link to local businesses you recommend (making sure they link to yours, too).
      9. Offer a discount when a customer shows a receipt from the other’s business.
      10. Bundle your products and services. A website designer and a marketing copywriter could offer bundled services, for example.
      11. Do joint publicity. Team up to reach out to the media about a relevant topic.
      12. Conduct a survey and share the results to get publicity for your businesses.
      13. Produce co-branded marketing content, such as videos, e-books or white papers.
      14. Team up to write an article for an industry publication.
      15. Create and host a webinar together.
      16. Host a joint podcast.
      17. Write guest posts for your partner’s blog.
      18. Promote your partner in your email newsletter. Include an easy way for recipients to sign up for the partner’s email newsletter.
      19. Mail to your partner’s email newsletter list.
      20. Set up a system to refer relevant customers to your partner.

 

Ideas for cross-promotion are limited only by your imagination. Put your heads together and you’ll soon have double the sales success.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

People only read an average of 19 minutes a day, including texts, emails, social media posts, and books. As important as written communications are, other mediums are on the rise in terms of capturing attention from potential customers. Today I want to talk about video. YouTube serves over 1 billion hours of video a day and climbing. Most of the world consumes more video. So, are you using video to earn more small business customers?

 

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One detail about your business that I see entrepreneurs underestimate is that what you do is often more interesting than you think. Okay, it’s true: Some of you have boring businesses. No one would ever want to watch a video of someone filling out an insurance form. But that doesn’t mean the information you know can’t be made interesting. There are tons of videos like this that prove the point.

 

Often times, what you sell can be interesting. I saw this swell video about coffee making. Or if you prefer beer, here’s my pal Sam Calagione walking you through one of Dogfish Head’s beers being made.

 

Video Isn’t SUPER Hard Once You Break It Down

 

To make video, you need only a few tools and a little bit of creativity. For instance, you don’t need a lot of tech. Your smartphone and the camera built into your laptop is a decent start. Let’s talk tech first and then production.

 

Tech

 

    • Something to shoot with - use your smartphone and laptop camera to start
    • Lighting - you can use something as tiny as this Lume Cube Air or get a little more fancy with a ring light kit
    • Editing - use iMovie on a Mac or Microsoft Photos on a PC
    • Music - if you want to get a little more fancy, get a subscription to epidemicsound.com and throw that into the mix.

 

Production

 

Video needs to serve your buyer. If you want to do a behind-the-scenes video on how your shop bakes wedding cakes, people will love it. If you want to interview your air conditioner installers to show what separates you from the competition is service, that’s great.

 

Start with a story. “I’m going to interview the president and a couple employees about a typical day here at the fish market.” From this, you can start to figure out what you’ll need. Obviously, you’ll need the interview video footage. You’ll also want some clips of the market, some of the workers doing their jobs, and so on. But what should you shoot?

 

My favorite secret to teaching people how to make videos for work is to look at and break down other videos to get a sense for what reallywent into making it. Scroll back up to the coffee making video above. Count how many clips of video show up in the first five seconds. I got 6 or 7. (That’s a little more than one clip per second.)

 

Your first recording/production tip is this: shoot lots and lots of tiny clipsof video to go with the longer ones. Get lots of angles, zoomed in and out, and use them to enhance the story. Notice in the coffee video, the clips showed loose grounds, then a menu sign (I’d have put that in somewhere else), then tamped down grounds, then coffee poured in, then steam coming out of the espresso machine.

 

Editing is Where It’s At

 

Once you shoot all the video clips you need, toss them into iMovie or Microsoft Photos (open a new project and you’ll see where to drag everything). This is the editing phase. (You can ask YouTube for a few tutorials on either software. There are literally thousands of videos to help you.)

 

Trim the clips to grab only the action you need. Phil DeFranco explains why jump cuts are important in this video. It’s what separates out useful video from “just a bit too long” video.

 

If you decide to add some music underneath clips, you might do two things: 1.) lower the music clips when people are speaking and 2.) lower the sound on your video clips if it doesn’t add to the experience. (That’s the very basics of sound editing in a few sentences.)

 

How Long Should Your Videos Be?

 

There are a few “magical” lengths of video to consider.

 

    • 30 seconds - 1 minute - this will get the most views.
    • 1 - 3 minutes - most people want nothing more than this.
    • 10 minutes plus - now you have a “show” length. People love shows, if they already have a video consumption habit. 

 

Notice what’s missing? The middle. Between 3 and 10. That’s the weird “people don’t watch these as often” times. Why that is the case is still up for debate.

 

Upload and Share

 

I post my videos to a few different places. I post to YouTube because it is, by far, the most used video service in the world. I add my videos to LinkedIn because they’re investing heavily in showing off video right now. I sometimes post to Facebook. I link to my YouTube account via Twitter, and I post some of my videos on my business website.

 

People’s number one protest to me about making and posting video is that THEY don’t watch videos online.

 

1.  Usually, people under-report how much video they actually watch, forgetting everything they scroll through on Facebook.

2.   Even if YOU don’t watch a lot of video, people of Earth do.

3.   Maybe you should watch more video.

 

There’s gold in here. It takes practice, but not as much as you’d think. Peek at some of my videos. They’re simple as anything. Often just talking head videos. But they serve my business well. You can do the same for yours!

 

Related Links

 

About Chris Brogan

 

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Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Do you remember the first season of the podcast Serial, way back in 2014? Not only was it a captivating story, but the show launched podcasting into the stratosphere, becoming “an event.”

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The lone advertiser at the beginning of that season, MailChimp, never expected to be part of a cultural phenomenon, but undoubtedly were quite happy with podcasts’ popularity.  To date, the first two seasons of Serialhave been downloaded – wait for it – 340 million times.

 

To say podcasts are hot now would be an understatement. Consider these stats from Edison Research:

 

    • About 50 million people listen to podcasts each week
    • They typically listen to five shows during the week
    • The average podcast listener subscribes to six different podcasts

 

I have been podcasting my popular show Small Business with Steve Strauss for over six years, a long time in the short history of podcasting. Moreover, my content business has now added podcasting as something we offer clients, it has become that popular.

 

You can also check out Steve Strauss on “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” a collaborative podcast between Bank of America and ForbesBooks.

 

From a small business perspective, I am a fan for a very good reason: Podcasting works. It gets your name, business and brand out there, and it does so in a way that is unique and memorable, a difficult achievement in this media-saturated world.

 

There are two ways to use podcasts to grow your business. You can start your own podcast, or you can advertise on someone else’s show. Let’s look at both:

 

Should you start a podcast?

 

There are plenty of good reasons to do so:

 

1. It builds the brand. With so many people listening to podcasts, hosting a show can help establish you as a “thought leader” and thus is a great way to get you and your business in front of a new audience.

 

Moreover, if you read my stuff with any consistency (and thank you if you do!), you know one of my main marketing maxims is to mix it up. Trying a new marketing trick gets your business in front of new people, and that equals new growth.

 

2. It is an excellent way to network: That same Edison Research survey states that podcast listeners listen to an entire show 85% of the time. People listen attentively and react. Where else do you get someone’s uninterrupted online attention for so long? Right, nowhere. Your listeners will want to network with you too.

 

Moreover, if your show would interview industry experts, then that is a powerful way to, well, meet industry experts.

 

3. It’s easy and affordable: There are two ways to launch and run a podcast: You can either do it yourself or hire someone to help you. Both are easy and affordable.

 

Let’s start with hired help. I have a great podcast producer who helps me book guests and does all the tech stuff. We record the show and interviews in his studio, he edits it, and then uploads it to iTunes, my website, and so on. A Google or Craigslist search will help you find an audio engineer in your area.

 

The other way to go is DIY.  Here, you need to choose the right app that works for you, invest in some basic sound equipment (like a great mic), and start recording. Your options include:

 

1.     Anchor.fm

2.     Garage Band (on a Mac)

3.     Adobe Audition

4.     Audacity

 

Advertising on someone else’s show

 

I love this option  almost more because it is just so potent. If the good news of podcasting is that they are so popular, the bad news is that they are so popular.

 

You can simply find a show that caters to your audience and advertise there. That show has already done all the heavy lifting, and yet, because it is such a niche audience, the fees should be very reasonable. Since you will be in front of people like your customers, and because the host would likely read your ad, your results should be excellent.

 

If you’re interested in advertising on a podcast you could reach out directly to podcasts you like or get in touch with a network like Stitcher, Gimlet or others to look into the cost of ads and where your target audience is most likely to be listening.

 

You will likely not become the next MailChimp on the next Serial, but who cares? Podcasting can drive leads and build awareness among a new audience, so start mixing it up.

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

With over 1 billion users, Instagram is just too big for businesses (even small ones) to ignore. The image-sharing platform, owned by Facebook, is a vital channel for connecting with customers, building engagement, and showing people who you are and what you offer.

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Here are five strategies to turn your Instagram account into a winning marketing channel.

 

1.    Make Every Image Count

 

Every image your small business puts on Instagram should matter. All your pictures should be well-lit, carefully composed, and match the branding and style of your business. Think of your feed as a kind of informal, ever-growing catalog, filled with product pictures and mood-setting scenes. Most important, the contents of that catalog should always cater to the interests of the people who follow your account and see its content.

 

“The difference between a business account that just posts for the sake of sharing, and an account that makes an impact is that they know what clients want to see,” says Sue B. Zimmerman, an Instagram business coach.

 

Sue points to The Dry Bar, a salon chain, as one company that’s getting it right. The company’s feed contains just a hint of snark, plenty of fresh flowers and touches of the brand’s signature yellow.

 

“They use their Instagram feed to reflect their brand values and what makes them unique in their niche,” she says.

 

Related Reading: How To Sell Your Products On Instagram: A Step-by-Step Guide for Businesses

 

2.    Build Conversations in the Comments Threads

 

It’s images that will attract attention and build engagement, but Instagram isn’t all about pictures. The comment threads on your posts also allow businesses to interact with customers in the same way that a store assistant builds a relationship with a brick-and-mortar visitor.

 

“Your comments should advance the conversation or add a new perspective that keeps the comment thread active,” says Sue.

 

That means doing more than picking an emoji. It means going into detail and really thinking about what you want to say as you add new information.

 

3.    Take Your Time and Watch Your Stats

 

There are no overnight successes on Instagram, at least not for businesses that focus on real followers and engagement. A following in the thousands takes time to generate, and much of that time should be spent figuring out what kind of content your followers respond to most.

 

“Be patient and analyze your Instagram insights,” says Sue. “Then you’ll never have to guess the kind of content that your followers will want to see.”

 

Create a content calendar, track the results of each post that you create, and make more of the images that generate the most shares, likes, and comments.

 

4.    Hit the Hashtags Hard

 

Building a following on Instagram means first being found on Instagram. It means helping people who are interested in the kinds of images that you’re sharing to find them easily. Instagram can’t search the pictures themselves, but it can search the text around the image, especially the hashtags.

 

“I think a lot of businesses, especially when they’re starting out, underestimate how valuable hashtags are for discovery and growth,” says Sue.

 

Know which hashtags are always relevant for your industry and your field. Keep track of the hashtags that are currently popular. And make sure that you include a number of tags with your posts so that people looking for those hashtags can find you.

 

5.    Treat Stories as Your Own Personal TV Channel

 

Much of Instagram marketing is built on individual images that give followers snapshots of your business—carefully curated and photographed snapshots, but snapshots nonetheless. Instagram’s Stories knit those snapchats together to create a single narrative. You could link a series of images to show the creation of a product, the delivery of a service from door-to-door, or the stages in a make-over, for example.

 

Sue compares Stories to having your own TV channel, a place where you can broadcast whatever you want that’s relevant to your audience. She also recommends using IGTV, Instagram’s newer video-sharing application.

 

“Since Instagram decided to integrate IGTV into the feed, brands and businesses are seeing a huge surge in the number of people watching their IGTV content,” she says.

 

So as you’re building your business with Instagram, choose your images carefully; talk to your followers; take your time; use the hashtags; and don’t be afraid to use Stories and IGTV to stay ahead of the game.

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

While many small business owners may understand the benefits of influencer marketing, the challenge is finding the right influencers with which to partner.

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It’s easy to look at a social media profile and be impressed by the number of followers the person has, or the beautiful aesthetic they created on their feed.

 

However, just because a profile looks like it’s a great fit for your brand, you don’t know for certain without checking thoroughly. This is why carrying out your own research and taking the time to build a relationship with influencers before making an investment is so important.

 

Taking the time to vet influencers will help you:

 

  • Increase the likelihood of positive ROI
  • Limit reputation damage
  • Reduce overall costs

 

I’ve outlined a few tactics that will help you to select the best influencers for your business and program.

 

Partner with content creators

 

Not all influencers are created equal. One group of influencers tends to focus on driving the numbers: building a large community with an extensive reach. Others focus on the creation of content. With the latter, community growth has come through followers’ appreciation for their dedication to becoming an expert at their craft.

 

Both types of influencers have value, but in different ways. An influencer will take your product/service and show their affiliation, hoping their audience will then go on to buy based on their endorsements.

 

Content creators tend to be more selective in who they choose to work with because of their dedication to maintaining the authenticity of their brand. Content creators bring additional value in the quality of content, as well as the loyal audience they have built in their follower base.

 

Creators tend to be much more involved in creating a collaborative partnership and using their skills to showcase the value of your product through their own content creation.

 

By focusing on collaborating with content creators who have built a highly engaged audience, your investment brings in influence and the creative skill to highlight your products and/or services in the best possible way.

 

Carry out extensive research

 

As great as the rise and benefits of influencer marketing has become, there is a downside. There are a number of accounts who have purchased fake likes, followers and engagement to appear influential when, in fact, they are not. Naturally, they don’t have any real influence over their community, therefore, investing in them can be very costly with no return to be made.

 

This means you need to carry out extensive research as part of the vetting process. It starts with studying their audience.

 

Here are a few key things to look out for:

 

Audience Authenticity

 

Look at their followers and following. Are the individuals real? Click through and pay close attention to the content and engagement of the influencer's followers. It should be very easy to tell who is real and who is not. Look for potential bot activity and fake followers. If a significant number of followers appear to be fake, this lets you know this influencer is not a good fit for your business.

 

Audience Demographics

 

Influence is the ability to alter behavior or change opinion. This is only valuable to you as a small business owner if it’s influencing the right people, i.e. your ideal target audience. Without the right audience fit it’s unlikely that, even with a strong influencer behind you, that you will be able to convert to sales.

 

An influencer will know their audience and they will easily be able to share this information with you. However, it’s important you take the time to research and verify this yourself. Take the time to manually go through the influencer’s account, paying particular attention to who is engaging most.

 

Don’t compromise on ‘good enough.’ It has to be natural for your brand, for the influencer, and for their audience. This is key in driving up your return on investment.

 

Level of Engagement and Sentiment

 

When looking at the engagement of an influencer, you don’t just want to focus on quantity. Pay close attention to quality. Are followers initiating conversations with the influencer? How excited are followers when they reply? Are they interested in taking advice and following the influencer’s behavior? Are the same people commenting on every post?

 

More importantly, is the influencer replying to comments and using them as a means to keep the conversation going? This will let you know how much the influencer is invested in their community and building strong relationships with them. 

 

If you are going to invest in someone to represent your brand, you want to know they care.

 

Organic vs. Sponsored Engagement

 

Paying close attention to the engagement an influencer receives provides a good general indication of how influential an account is. The real indicator is when you take a look at their individual posts. Specifically, focus on the engagement of their organic posts vs. sponsored posts.

 

It’s very easy to tell. If an influencer is following the correct guidelines, their post will say sponsored and typically include #ad. Plus, Facebook has the special “Branded Content” tag used in both organic posts and in ads. Instagram is rolling this feature out to more accounts. If you come across content that is clearly sponsored but isn’t clearly labelled, this is a big indication that this influencer is not a good fit.

 

You want to know that people are very engaged in the person behind the account and that content will generally perform as well whether it is organic or sponsored. If you see a significant drop in engagement on sponsored posts, this may be an indication that the influencer’s audience is not receptive towards their offers.

 

There are a number of tools that can help you with this process. For example, Social Bakers, Buzzsumo and BrandWatch are all popular options. These should be used to support your manual research.

 

Build a relationship with the Influencer first

 

Influencer marketing is collaborative. It requires both parties to be aligned and working towards a shared common goal. You want the collaboration to be fun. The influencer should feel like a natural extension of your team.

 

Take the time to get on a call or video chat a few times before committing to working together. Look for brand voice alignment. Determine if their beliefs and core values match yours.

 

Ideally, you want to be in a situation where you would each promote one another regardless of a paid agreement being in place.

 

Understand the Influencer’s past experience

 

Once you’ve established an influencer to be a good fit for your business, reach out and ask about the influencer’s experience. Having proof of past results is more valuable than looking at vanity metrics. It will show you the real ROI of working with them. Having achieved measured results for other clients eliminates the risk of your campaign not working.

 

The influencer’s past brand collaborations will help you cross check the quality of the influencer’s audience, skill level and their ability to execute your campaign.

 

Set clear expectations up front

 

One of the most challenging steps with influencer marketing is managing the relationship and managing expectations. This applies to both parties. It’s likely you have different ways of working. You need to ensure you both understand one another and collaborate to define the process you’ll both commit to executing.

 

Part of building a relationship early on will help with this. Do they turn up on time for meetings? Are they sticking to the same key messages? Do they speak with clarity and confidence? Do they bring creative ideas to the table that are win:win? Do you have clear expectations they have shared up front with you?

 

The level of professionalism that the influencer brings to the table will provide the confidence they will be able to execute on their promise.

 

Disclosure Regulations

 

As mentioned above, it’s critical the influencer you choose to partner with is aware of, and adheres to, the disclosure regulations of their jurisdiction. You have to protect your business. Find more information on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) guidelines here.

 

Taking these steps before proceeding with an agreement with an influencer can help protect your brand and ensure you are building long-term collaborative partnerships with mutual gains. Take your time. Be selective. Follow a clear process and start building your business today with the right influencers in your corner.

 

    Related:

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

This year CBS set their prices at more than $5 million for a 30-second slot during the Super Bowl. That works out at about $175,000 per second—and that’s only the broadcast price. The production cost of those short creative movies can run from $1 million to another $5 million. It’s no wonder only giant brands get to put their products in front of the giant sports-loving audience.

 

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But you don’t need a budget the size of Budweiser’s to generate returns from video marketing. One of the reasons broadcasters charge so much is that the Super Bowl is a throwback. It’s the one time of the year when everyone sits in front of the television to watch the same show at the same time. The rest of the year, audiences are scattered across different channels. We watch different shows at different hours while struggling to avoid spoilers on social media.

 

That change has been good for small businesses.

 

They can find exactly the audience they want without having to pay vast sums to television networks. And advances in film-making technology means business owners don’t have to spend enormous amounts on production.

 

Although anything is possible now with video marketing, three formats stand out.

 

Commercials

 

The first is traditional. Script a commercial, rustle up people—actors if you can afford them, friends or colleagues if you can’t—and spend a bit of time shooting then editing. Upload the video to YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, and ask people to share it. The audiences you’ve already built on the Internet will see it. They’ll get the message and feel a deeper connection. If you’ve included a call to action, some of them may even act.

 

And if the commercial is funny, witty or extraordinary, it could even go viral, bringing you massive new audiences.

 

7 Tricks to Make Your Content Go Viral

 

Infomercials

 

You could also create infomercials, explaining the products you sell, or showing your customers how they’re made. Cosmetics firms have led the way, paying influencers to demonstrate their products.

 

Those approaches all look like traditional television. But online video has features television can’t match.

 

Live Video

 

Both Facebook and LinkedIn now offer live video. That means  you can talk to your audiences in real time – and they can talk back. As you’re broadcasting, they can write comments and ask questions. Instead of looking like the Shopping Channel, you can give the audience an experience closer to an in-store demonstration.

 

Videos for small businesses don’t have to be complex. Live video can also be spontaneous. Feel like talking to your customers? Pull out your phone, fire up your camera and shoot a selfie. Come across a great use of your product? Show it off. Meet someone who loves what you do? Pull out your phone and record them explaining what they like. Remember that live videos stay on websites and become recorded videos that continue to win engagement.

 

Those simple, short interviews are so simple. Whenever you find yourself having a chat with another expert in your industry, record them giving their top tip for whatever it is they do. The video won’t take more than a couple of minutes. It gives your audience useful content. It helps your colleague, who will now want to help you back. And it builds a deeper relationship with your customer who sees that you’re genuinely interested in your industry and in them.

 

And that’s really all you need to create effective video marketing for small businesses: a camera, a message and authenticity.

 

Read next:

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Just when you’ve got a handle on marketing to millennials, it’s time to target a new demographic: Generation Z. Variously defined as born after 1996 or after 2000, by 2020, Generation Z will account for one-third of the U.S. population and almost 40% of U.S. consumers.

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While many millennials have early childhood memories of the analog age, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up in a totally digital world. What must you know to market to them?

 

Living life online: 45% of teens are online “almost constantly” and 44% are online multiple times a day, says Pew Research Institute. The most popular platform is YouTube (85% use it), followed by Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%). Tap into Gen Z’s passion for video with how-to, behind-the-scenes, or product videos.

 

Social selves: Gen Z consumers use social media to crowdsource information about products and get opinions from friends. However, they use the various social channels in different ways, according to Response Media: Instagram is for showing off their “aspirational selves,” Snapchat is for sharing “real-life moments,” and Twitter is where they get news.

 

Attention, please: 30%of Gen Z users abandon content after 5 seconds if it doesn’t deliver something of interest or value. This generation is constantly filtering a barrage of information. Get their attention with“snackable” information using visuals (memes, emojis, GIFs and videos) as the main focus and text as supporting information.

 

Under the influence: You don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for a celebrity influencer. Generation Z prefers “nano-influencers” (small-scale influencers with just a few thousand deeply engaged followers). Get new products into influencers’ hands and involve them in your marketing and events. Use tools like Audiense and SocialBook to find nano-influencers, or turn a passionate Gen Z customer into a nano-influencer for your brand.

 

Relationship goals: Engage with Generation Z on their level. Don’t talk down to them or at them. Use social media to ask questions, listen, learn more about them and become part of their world. So Gen Z can see what their peers think about your products, make user-generated content part of your social media presence. Get customers to post photos of themselves wearing or using your products. Ask for input about new products, brands to sell, or promotional ideas.

Honesty is the best policy: While millennials post carefully curated Instagram shots of their perfect avocado toast, Gen Zers are more likely to portray themselves realistically, flaws and all, on social media. They want you to be honest, too. Tell the story of your business and share yourself and your employees as the face of your business to create a personal relationship.

 

All are welcome here: The most ethnically diverse generation ever (according to Pew, nearly half are racial or ethnic minorities), Gen Z is also more fluid and accepting regarding gender and sexuality (35% know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns). Show a wide range of people in your marketing messages, make sure your marketing is inclusive, and make all customers feel welcome in your space.

 

Traditional values: Growing up in the Great Recession, Gen Zers have a conservative attitude toward money that’s reflected in their passion for deals. The number-one reason they sign up for marketing messages is to get discounts and offers (and yes, they actually open their emails.) Provide value so they can feel their hard-earned money is being well spent.

 

Make it simple: Your digital marketing and sales strategy must be mobile first since that’s where Generation Z is most likely to engage. Make sure your marketing messages, offers, and customer experience are consistent across all your digital channels. Gen Z should be able to do anything, from browsing your products to placing an order, on a smartphone with one hand.

 

Read next:

6 Ways to Turn Millennials into Repeat Customers

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

In my last post focused on e-commerce, I talked about how local businesses are feeling the squeeze from giant online sellers. I explained that by offering personalized, in-store, local services, small businesses can make themselves a neighborhood institution in the same way Apple Stores do through informational events and services.

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It’s a huge advantage. Online businesses “know” their customers through the data they leave behind. Local businesses actually knowtheir customers.

 

The challenge that remains is marketing. Online businesses dominate search engine results, know exactly how to find people interested in their products on the Web, and have tactics in place to bring them to an effective landing page.

 

Offline, things are a bit more complicated. Local newspapers aren’t what they used to be. Local cable advertising lacks impact (and viewers) in the days of YouTube and Netflix. And as for direct marketing… well, spam folders weren’t the first places to store unsolicited pitches. There were trash cans long before email filters.

 

But there are some good solutions… and ironically, they’re online. Craigslistmight have killed off the classified pages in newspapers but it’s delivered an effective replacement. Amazon’s web traffic reporting platform ranks the site the 19th most popular in the U.S., with tens of millions of people each month browsing for used furniture, apartments and jobs, but also for wedding photographers, cars and computer repairs.

 

The site is highly competitive. Users expect prices to be low, and in busy areas in particular, ads are quickly pushed down the site. That means local businesses should use Craigslist to promote select items, tell people that they can find more in the store, and keep pushing new product or service listings onto the site on a regular basis to stay visible.

 

It takes effort but there’s a reason that classified advertising stayed so popular for so long. It works.

 

Next up: Facebook

 

The other effective online solution for local businesses is Facebook.

 

The social media platform might be better known for promoting online businesses, but it can also be highly effective for local offline businesses too. It happens in two ways.

The first is simply to advertise. Because Facebook lets businesses select the geographic location of potential customers, a local store can choose to only show its ads to people within a short drive of the shop. Wedding photographers, for example, have been known to advertise to engaged women in a radius of up to 50 miles. They reach exactly their target market.

 

That’s simple—and expensive—enough. Another route though is to join local Facebook groups. Local neighborhood committees often set up private members’ groups to keep people informed of events and news that affect everyone. People might talk about parking problems or lost pets, as well as garage sales and local services.

You do have to be careful here. These groups are set up for locals to talk to each other, not for businesses to pitch to customers but the organizers will often set aside one day a week on which businesses are allowed to advertise for free.

 

Obey the rules and make sure you’re only offering services that will benefit locals. If you’re a Realtor, for example, only promote properties in the neighborhood that serves that group. And be a good citizen of the group. Join in the discussions and give professional advice when you can.

 

The Internet has been difficult for local commerce. It’s pulled business away from bricks and mortar stores to sites like Amazon. But it can also be a route for local businesses to find local customers.

 

Learn more about connecting with local customers and watch stories of Atlanta and Nashville small businesses.

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

If I ask you if you’re using LinkedIn for your business, chances are you’ll make an awkward face. I can read your mind at this very moment: “Not really but I have a profile on there. Not sure why. Uh, market my small business?”

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I get it. You maybe haven’t heard much about whatto do on LinkedIn and I’m here to help. Here are some best practices for using LinkedIn for small business marketing.

 

Profile vs Group?

 

I’m asked whether companies should market on individual profile pages or create a special group instead. While some groups end up thriving, this requires a lot of maintenance. I don’t recommend groups unless whatever you sell really lends itself to a very active group-based interactive experience.

 

The challenge with marketing from only one profile is that it’s somewhat required that the profile you use be easily available to everyone who might want to contribute, and/or it changes the “feel” of the profile from being one person’s perspective to a corporate communications entity.

 

Instead, my recommendation is to have more than one LinkedIn profile of real people in the company post content and promote interactions in support of the company.

 

My old boss and friend Debbie Millin works at Globalization Partners, where she’s the COO. Her posts are a blend of personal business perspective (which is great because she’s the smartest boss I ever had), as well as pieces directly about the company including “We’re Hiring” reposts from the HR team and articles about the industry where her company interacts. There are several other individual profile pages from key team members at Debbie’s company and they all post their own content as well as share important company material.

 

 

What on Earth Should We Post?

 

Smile! First, I have to say it (and you’re reading it everywhere and trying to ignore it): video is hot. People are watching videos and posting a video is a surefire way to earn more engagement, even if the video is only the quality level of you holding your smartphone at arm’s length and talking into the camera. Video.

 

Give them knowledge. Second, thoughtful articles written on LinkedIn tend to do well if the topic is universal enough. Unless you have raving fans, no one cares about “Wanda’s Top 7 favorite pencil sharpeners.” But if you write about “The Ultimate School Supply Checklist for Fall,” you’re on to something. The more “evergreen” the article, the better. (Meaning it’s okay to write topically about current events, but it’s delightful to write posts that can still be useful a year or two later.)

 

Links are In. Post a few links here and there to articles you find interesting. People like to know what else is on your mind.

 

Shine the light. Here’s an easy and well-appreciated marketing tip: post thoughtful recommendations for other businesses and people in your local community. Maybe you sell tile and bath supplies. Do your “plumber of the month” or “interior designer of the month” profile. Write enough to praise the other person and promote their business without talking much about your company. People love the heck out of this. 

 

Share Educational Webinars. Invite people to a live webinar and/or take advantage of LinkedIn’s ownership of Lynda.com and Slideshare to create interactive learning products. That sounds fancy, but give people something they can do, step by step, using your product and post it on your profile.

 

Invite People to Live Events. Post invites to events in your offices or local community appearances. Tastings. Whatever you can manage. There’s nothing like a face-to-face engagement to make the digital world look even better.

 

Okay, so how often should you post?

 

A Simple LinkedIn Posting Calendar

 

You can edit this to match the needs of your business, but here’s my recommendation:

 

    • Post links to other people’s articles daily
    • Post a video once a week minimum. Better if you can post 3 videos a week
    • Post an article monthly (or more if you can muster it)
    • Do a profile of someone else monthly (unless you can manage weekly)
    • Share event invites whenever it makes sense. You can post reminders to the event 2 to 3 times as well
    • Avoid Monday morning posts - worst time ever
    • Avoid Friday afternoon posts - tied for the worst time ever
    • If you sell to a very specific time zone, 11am and 2pm are my magical posting times for businesses. Earlier and later for self-owned and customer experiences

 

Content Guidelines to Follow

 

The videos you post should be brief – no more than 12 minutes, no fewer than 2.

 

The articles you post can be brief or longer (200 words up to 1500 words).

 

With links, write about 30 words explaining why you’re sharing it or what to look for.

 

And with profiles, make them between 200 to 500 words with ample links to the person you’re writing about and any relevant links to their materials.

 

Add a call to action where it makes sense. Realize that if someone sees this content in their stream and they like it, they will click your LinkedIn profile icon to take a next step.

 

That’s my advice. Tailor content to fit your business, but don’t skimp on the parts you feel weird about. They’re maybe new to you but it doesn’t mean they’re not what people want.

 

Give it a try. What do you have to lose?

 

 

About Chris Brogan

 

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Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

How can a brick-and-mortar retailer convince e-commerce shoppers to get off their couches and into the store?

 

Even if you sell online as well as in-store, there are compelling reasons for cultivating in-store shoppers. Some 71 percent of shoppers spend $50 or more when visiting a brick-and-mortar store; just 54 percent do so when shopping online.

 

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And shoppers in physical stores buy more than the original item they intended to buy 75 percent of the time. In other words, in-store shoppers are highly profitable.

 

Getting e-commerce shoppers in your door is easier than you may think. Even though they make some purchases online, nearly 80 percent of consumers still shop primarily in brick-and-mortar stores. All they need is a little nudge.

 

Here’s how to deliver these customers to your store.

 

Use email and text message marketing. Direct messaging can be very effective at driving customers to a physical store. According to a report by Sailthru, 22 percent of consumers aged 35 to 44 have redeemed an emailed discount in a physical store; almost 40 percent of 18- t024-years-olds have visited a store to buy something promoted via push notification. Use data from customers’ past purchases to craft targeted messages and offers to entice them to your door.

 

Boost your presence online. Optimize your website for local search by ensuring your store’s listings in local search directories are up-to-date and complete. They should include your name, address, hours, phone number, images of your store and a link to your website; the description of your store should include relevant keywords. Since Google has become the primary place consumers look for reviews, encourage your customers to review your store on Google so people see a positive rating when your site pops up on Google.

 

Stay active on social media. A strong social media presence will boost awareness of your physical store. Use paid social media advertising to target shoppers who fit your customer profile and live near your store. You can also work with local social media influencers to publicize your store by inviting them to events or involving them in promotions.

 

Use your website to promote your store. Even if you sell products online, use your website to drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar store. Include photos of your store interior and displays, along with your address and a map, so people realize there’s a physical location to visit. Highlight the benefits of visiting your store, such as being able to test products or attend live events. You could even spotlight your newest products on your website but offer them for sale only in-store for the first week.

 

Hold offline-only promotions. Create different discounts and offers for your online and offline shoppers. For example, you could give shoppers who order online a code for a discount that’s good only in-store. Hold a flash sale in-store only or offer free gifts with purchase only to shoppers at your store.

 

Connect the online and in-store purchasing process. For example, offer the option to order products online and pick them up in store, and allow shoppers to return online purchases at your store. In both situations, shoppers typically do more than just pick up or return a product—they’ll browse and spend some extra money, too.

 

Use Google Shopping Ads. Since 87 percent of shoppers start their search for products online, grabbing their attention online can get them in your door. If a shopper sees you have the shoes they want in the size they want, they’re likely to buy from you rather than wait for online delivery: 73 percent of people who visit a physical store do so to get a product right away.  You can use Google AdWords campaigns to target people searching for products you sell or, even better, set up Google Shopping Ads to display a product photo, price, your store name and more. You’ll need a Google Merchant Center account and a Google AdWords account to get started. Learn more about Google Shopping Ads.

 

Driving e-commerce customers to your brick-and-mortar store strengthens your retail brand and gives you the best of both worlds.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Influencer marketing has evolved rapidly over the last few years. In fact, influencer marketing has become such a key growth strategy for businesses that the industry is estimated to reach up to $10 billion by 2020.

 

For a long time, influencer marketing was mostly associated with big brands and celebrities. The landscape is changing and, as individuals invest in building niche communities on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, businesses are beginning to recognize their value.

 

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We are now seeing a new wave of micro-influencers leading the way, not only for the big brands but for small businesses looking to capitalize on the trend. 2019 Statistics show that 81% of all influencers are micro-influencers.

 

This has created a level playing field for small businesses with an opportunity to drive sales even in a local market.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you how you and your business can get started with micro-influencer marketing.

 

What Is A Micro-Influencer?

 

Just as it sounds, a micro influencer is a person that may not have the largest following on social media but the following they do have is highly engaged. This person has a lot of influence among their community and, as a result, that community is highly likely to listen and act when a value proposition is presented to them.

 

Eighty one percent of micro-influencers have between 15k and 100k followers but don’t let this deter you from partnering with audience sizes as little as 5000 followers.  A report by Gartner L2 showed there is actually an inverse correlation between the number of followers and the engagement rate in Instagram influencers.

 

This highlights a critical factor in the success of micro-influencer marketing. It’s not just about the size of an influencer’s audience, the quality of the audience is just as important.

 

What are the benefits of working with a Micro-Influencer?

 

It’s A Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy

 

One of the biggest challenges that businesses face is finding their target audience and earning their attention. To do this exclusively in-house can be costly and extremely time-consuming. It can take months, if not years, to build an engaged audience who buys into your messaging and your product offering.

 

Micro-influencers have already done all the work. You have instant access to a highly-engaged, targeted audience. That’s hugely valuable especially in a local market.

 

While some micro-influencers still accept product in exchange for their endorsement, most now require compensation for their work.

 

The cost of influencer marketing varies greatly based on a number of factors including the influencer’s social reach, the type of sponsored content and the length/ frequency of your arrangement.

 

A report by Later (2018) stated 66% of businesses paid under $250 per influencer post, while 27% paid between $250 and $1000 per post.

 

Influencer Marketing Hub created an Instagram Money Calculator to help calculate how much an influencer’s post is worth. Whilst this shouldn’t be used to define an influencer’s compensation plan, it can provide a generalized overview. For the most part, micro-influencers will have their own media kits and pricing structures in place.

 

As a general guide, you can expect to pay anywhere between $75 and $2000 per post depending on the value that micro-influencer brings.

 

With that in mind, micro-influencers can be far more cost-effective than if a business were to grow organically by themselves.

 

Social Proof leads to Sales

 

Sixty one percent of consumers aged 18 to 34 have, at some point, been swayed in their decision-making by digital influencers.

 

Micro-influencers have already earned trust among their community. That social proof carries a lot of value when it comes to the follower making a positive buying decision.

 

Fullscreen, a global leader in social-first entertainment and branded content, partnered with leading social analytics firm Shareablee, to analyze 31,000 influencers. In their report, they discovered 22% of 18-34 year-olds have made a large purchase after seeing an online influencer endorsing the item. With the right micro-influencer(s) working with you, this strategy has the potential to generate large returns on your investment.

 

Influencer Marketing is Scalable

 

Micro-influencers act like your own marketing and sales team combined. They have their own audiences and they know what works in terms of engaging and converting that audience into sales. Brand campaigns driven by micro-influencers are estimated to create 60% higher engagement rates.

 

Micro-influencers don’t require the management of an inhouse team and they already have a community of warm leads. Deploying effective marketing campaigns and consistently generating leads are two of the biggest challenges small business owners face, which makes micro-influencers a huge asset to small businesses especially on a local level.

 

Influencer marketing is scalable. While it requires a financial investment, the right micro-influencers will quickly generate a return and dramatically build your brand’s awareness and reputation.

 

How to Get Started Working with Micro-Influencers

 

Getting started with micro-influencers is simple but not always easy. Here is a basic checklist for you to follow:

 

      1. Create a strategic plan with clear objectives you want to achieve.
      2. Make a list of potential micro-influencers to start exploring.
      3. Reach out to start building a relationship. Make sure your approach is very win/win as the micro-influencer may receive numerous invitations to partner with brands on a regular basis.
      4. Invite the micro-influencer to consider collaborating with your business.
      5. Draw out a written plan with clear terms and conditions to protect both parties.
      6. Set a time period initially to establish success markers.

 

This sounds straightforward, but it does require a lot of work and there are a few best practices to follow.

 

 

Best Practices for Micro-Influencer Marketing

 

1. Find Relevant Influencers

 

It’s really important to keep your end goal in mind when it comes to finding influencers with whom you can partner. You’re not looking for just anyone, even if they have an engaged audience. It has to be the right demographics that fit your target audience.

 

Positioning is key. You are looking for local influencers who have a loyal following that matches your target market.

 

This way, when the influencer presents your business and call to action, you are going to see some traction and a profitable return on your investment.

 

The easiest way to find relevant influencers is to spend time researching the platform on which you and your audience is most active. Search locations, hashtags and mentions to find out where the conversations are happening. Once you find potential micro-influencers, monitor their profile and their interactions closely. Look for the quantity but more importantly the quality of engagement on each post.

 

By investing time up front, you will ensure that you find micro-influencers that are a good fit for your business. Not only will it save you time long-term, it can save you a lot of money working with people who aren’t a fit and perhaps don’t carry the influence you initially thought.

 

2. Ensure the Authenticity of Micro-Influencers

 

As influencer marketing has grown, so have the number of companies looking to capitalize on the trend. In 2018, the extent of influencer fraud was exposed as thousands of accounts were found to be buying likes, follows and engagement to appear as though they had gained influencer status.

 

Captive8 reported that of the $2.1bn spent on influencer-sponsored Instagram posts in 2017, more than 11% of engagement on those posts was generated from fraudulent accounts.

 

This is a big problem. While technology companies are working to combat this by launching AI-focused tools, influencer marketing fraud still remains a huge issue.

 

Ninety percent of Marketers believe proving authenticity is critical to the future of Influencer Marketer.

 

For you, as a reputable business, it’s imperative that you do your research and establish the validity of an influencer before jumping into a relationship with them.

 

Monitor their account, check the quality of their audience and their engagement. Look for sponsored posts and how the traction gained in quality likes and comments.

 

When reaching out, ask for case studies and past results that you can cross-check. Also ensure that the micro-influencer is following FTC Guidelines.

 

It’s important to keep in mind that micro-influencers want to ensure the authenticity of your brand and products. Influencers promote what they trust. Take time to share with them and provide samples when appropriate. Micro-influencers have earned a loyal audience and protecting that audience is their responsibility.

 

3. Measuring the ROI of Micro-Influencers

 

One of the biggest challenges for businesses investing in micro-influencers is measuring the return on investment. As a business owner, you want to know that your marketing strategy is working and delivering results.

 

Eighty five percent of marketers say engagement data is the biggest metric of success for influencer marketing. Forty six percent of marketers are using product sales to measure the success of influencer marketing.

 

Both are valid measures. These are three key areas you want to track:

 

        1. Engagement:cThis is typically measured in new followers, likes, comments, shares, mentions, and all other forms of engagement with your business as a result of working with a micro-influencer. The return here is in brand awareness and growth. You should see a spike in engagement each time the micro-influencer shares your brand. This is a simple way to visually see the impact your micro-influencer has.
        2. Content: This metric is made up of comments, shares and sentiment of the paid posts. It helps establish whether the content fits with the audience and the objective. This may be an indication to try a different type or style of content that may resonate better.
        3. Sales: You can track this by providing affiliate urls, influencer exclusive discount codes and monitoring google analytics so that you can measure the sales each micro-influencer has brought to your business.

 

If you’re a small business owner, micro-influencer marketing can offer a lot of value and certainly has the potential to drive big sales in your local market. It just takes the right research, the right influencer, and the right partnership.

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Online shopping just keeps growing. Last year, U.S. consumers spent over $513 billion on the Internet, an increase of more than 14 percent compared to 2017, according to figures released in March from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Almost one retail sale in ten now takes place online.

 

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Those changing consumer habits are a challenge for small businesses and not just because every seller has to build an ecommerce store. Do-it-yourself website building kits now make designing a retail site the work of no more than a few hours.

 

The challenge for small businesses is that, while more than half a trillion dollars may be changing hands online every year, some 40 percent of those sales take place on just one site.

 

Amazon dominates online retail. The $867 billion company is more than a store. It’s a complete retail center serving over 150 million unique visitors each month. Its own sales make up much of that retail space but through its Amazon Marketplace feature, Amazon also hosts the online outlets of around six million other sellers. They’re said to make up more than double the value of Amazon’s own sales.

 

Essentially, Amazon is the world’s biggest shopping mall.

 

The good news is that any retailer can take space in that mall. For professional sellers, there’s a monthly subscription fee of $39.99, as well as referral fees that are typically between 8 and 15 percent of the sales price (although they can reach as high as 45 percent.) Retailers can fulfill orders themselves or they can ship stock to one of Amazon’s warehouses and let the company do the fulfillment work for them. (I use Amazon to fulfil orders of my Kaching buttons.)

 

The challenge of online retail isn’t building the website. It’s finding customers and building enough trust to make them comfortable entering their credit card details.

That’s what Amazon’s fees buy. When someone searches for your goods at Amazon.com, your products will appear in their search results. They’ll appear at a place where customers are used to shopping. It’s likely that the customer won’t even notice that they’re buying from a third-party retailer instead of from Amazon itself.

 

For online sellers, Amazon doesn’t have to be a competitor. It can also be a partner, helping you to sell your products to the massive audience that it’s already created.

But it’s not quite that simple. Amazon’s benefits come at a cost, and those costs are more than financial.

 

First, the competition is tight. You won’t be the only seller in your space pitching your goods through Amazon Marketplace. To stand out, you’ll need to keep adjusting your prices to keep them competitive. You’ll also need to pick up positive reviews, and, while you can pay for a higher spot in the search results, that expenditure comes on top of your referral fees.

 

Second, you’ll be at the whim of Amazon’s bureaucracy, including a judicial system that has been described as “Kafkaesque.” Amazon is quick to suspend sellers while its appeal process can be difficult and unresponsive. That’s made the marketplace a battleground for dirty dealers whose tricks have included buying fake reviews for competitors, setting competitors’ products alight then telling Amazon they exploded, and reclassifying rivals’ products in the wrong categories. There’s an entire industry of experts and consultants helping businesses with their appeals. Amazon Marketplace can feel more like a Wild West town ruled by a despotic sheriff than the Mall of America.

 

But above all, selling on Amazon Marketplace gives your customers fewer reasons to come to your own website where you have complete control. There are no competitors on your own site. The customer loyalty you win is entirely your own, and you don’t have to deal with Amazon’s strange appeals process.

 

Amazon Marketplace is too big to ignore. But its size and power make it unlikely to be a reliable environment for small sellers. Use it if you believe it will bring you extra sales but make sure that it’s not the only way you reach customers.

 

Read next: The Secret to Competing with Amazon by Steve Strauss

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Joel Comm to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Joel Comm is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Joel Comm. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

In a previous article, I discussed how product-based businesses can sell on Instagram. For service-based businesses, the rules and opportunities to sell on Instagram are a little different. 

 

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Regardless of what you are trying to sell on Instragram, here’s what you need to know and some key steps you can take.

 

Add your contact details on your Business Profile

 

When you switch to a business profile, you not only access profile analytics, you are also able to add your contact information. When you add contact information, a Contact button appears near the top of your profile. When people click that button, they'll see options like Get Directions, Call and Email, depending on the contact information you provide. If you add your location, you’ll have a clickable business address, which is ideal if you have a physical office or store.

 

Your interactive contact information provides the community with a way to reach you and take the next step, whether that is to ask a question, find out more information or book an appointment. You can also promote a call to action at the end of your Instagram post captions.

 

Make strategic use of the link in your bio

 

You get one clickable link in your Instagram bio, so it’s important to make the most of it. You can either use it to lead visitors to a specific call to action, such as a lead magnet or sales page.  Alternatively, you can use a third-party app to include multiple calls to action.

 

Examples include:

 

Later provides one link you add to your Instagram bio that opens a new page with your posts. Your audience can then click on each post to go directly to a specific landing page. This feature is only offered on paid business plans for Later.com.

 

Linktree is a free alternative that allows you to add multiple CTA links from one link shared in your Instagram bio. The paid plan has additional features, too. I personally use this one and really like it.

 

An alternative idea for small businesses looking to market services is to set up a dedicated page on your website just for Instagram visitors, e.g. domain.com/Instagram. Here you could share your main offers or exclusive bonuses for those visiting via Instagram. This is a great way to let your Instagram community know how much you value them. Platform-exclusive content and bonuses also incentivize your community to stay engaged.

 

It’s a good idea to reiterate your call to action in your bio description too. This will prompt new visitors, in particular, to take action especially if it’s in exchange for value, e.g. a lead magnet.

 

Showcase your services in action

 

The best way to let your community know why they should buy your services isn’t to tell them. It’s to show them. Create a content strategy that inspires and educates your audience on the services you provide.

 

Use your post captions to tell stories and connect with your audience. Relate to how they feel and use your services as the bridge that guides them from where they are now to where they want to be.

 

Ask for reviews from your past clients. Showcase these in your Instagram posts and Stories. Share before/after photos, results, testimonials and case studies throughout your profile and in your Instagram stories.

 

This generates social proof and creates excitement around the solution you provide. When you see someone else just like you experiencing great benefits, you want those same benefits for yourself.

 

While service providers can’t create shoppable posts, they can add a small pricing overlay graphic using a tool like Picmonkey or Canva. Used in conjunction with a well-crafted call to action at the end of your caption and the link in your bio provides a very effective way to promote your services.

 

Publish Stories regularly

 

As Mark Zuckerberg has said, ‘Stories are the future!’

 

Think of Instagram Stories as an on-the-go vlogging (video blogging) platform. Stories are your opportunity to connect with your audience via video and images to help them really get to know you. This is important because we all know that people do business with other people they know, like and trust.

 

There are so many ways you can use the Stories format to sell your services:

 

    • Share insight into what goes on behind the scenes, so people can see all the work that goes into creating and providing your services.
    • Host a Q&A through the Stories questions sticker feature and answer any objections that might be standing between your audience buying and not buying your services.
    • Conduct market research through the Polls sticker feature to understand how to best serve your audience.
    • Share tips and how to’s that leverage your credibility as an expert in your field.
    • Provide exclusive offers and discounts that create buzz and a sense of urgency to buy now so your audience doesn’t lose out.
    • Go Live on Instagram and start a conversation. You can even invite members of your community to join you live on camera via their smartphone, too. Going live and including your audience helps create a deep, meaningful and transparent relationship with your audience members. Live broadcasts build loyalty that will not only create customers, but it will create brand advocates. When you invest in others, they will invest in you and they’ll tell their friends to do the same.

 

          Related: 5 Ideas to Use Instagram Stories to Drive Small Business Growth

 

If you have over 10,000 followers on Instagram, you’ll have the option to add links to your Stories via the ‘swipe up’ feature, as indicated by the little link icon on your Stories. Being able to include links with a call to action helps to lead your viewers outside Instagram to an offer/sales page.

 

If you have less than 10,000 followers, you can still include the swipe up feature that goes to a video on IGTV. IGTV is Instagram’s dedicated vertical video app where you can publish longer video content.

 

Unlike the main Instagram app, any links in your caption or comments on IGTV are active. So, using your Stories, you can drive people from there to consume slightly longer video content and from there to an offer page on your website.

 

Use hashtags and locations

 

Make sure you incorporate hashtags, locations, and the tagging feature into your posts to make it easier for people to find you when searching for your area of expertise. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6 percent more engagement than those without, while posts with a location get 79 percent more engagement.

 

You can include as many as 30 hashtags in each post. Instead of just describing your post with hashtags, think of the specific hashtags your customer might type into the search bar.

 

For example, if you are a carpenter, you wouldn’t just add #carpentry to your post. You’re more likely to benefit from adding hashtags such as #interiordesign, #decoratingtips, #movinghouse, and #newhome with a particular location tag. Why? Because women looking for inspiration on how to decorate their new home are more likely to find your post with these types of hashtags.

 

Along with searching in the Instagram mobile app, also try a tool such as Hashtagify.me to discover more relevant hashtags for your posts. Remember to also include a few hashtags in your Stories!

 

Place Instagram ads

 

Instagram allows you to create 4 main ad types:

 

    • Photo ads
    • Video ads
    • Carousel ads
    • Story ads

 

Once you’ve chosen the type of ad that will give you the result you’re looking for there are a variety of calls to action from which to choose. With the right content and the right targeting, Instagram ads are a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website, a lead page or a sales page at a relatively low cost. 

 

Access Instagram ads via Facebook Ads Manager, or just tap the ‘Promote’ button on an existing post on your Instagram profile.

 

To promote a Story directly from the Instagram app, tap the 3 dots in the lower right of the Story, then tap Promote.

 

Related:

The Best Performing Facebook Ad Formats for Small Business

Instagram and Facebook Story Ads: How to Make Stories Work for your Small Business

 

While Instagram primarily started out as a photo sharing app focused on community, it’s safe to say that social commerce is now at the forefront of Instagram’s product development. We will continue to see the platform grow and change to support event better methods of helping businesses find and sell to their customers, and small businesses should prepare for that future now.”

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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