Instagram is often overlooked as a social media platform due to its nature being entirely ‘images’ based. However, this fact alone is what makes Instagram very powerful – it allows you to convey much more emotion and to really make a product or a lifestyle look desirable.
Not only that, but Instagram is the second largest social network behind Facebook. That’s a pretty impressive stat, so you really shouldn’t leave it out of your plans!
In 2018, expect more small businesses than ever to jump aboard the Instagram marketing train. The eye-catching format is easy to use, and provides businesses with tools to keep their audiences engaged and informed.
New features and toolsets, like Instagram Stories, have also expanded what the platform can do for small business owners. Thanks to Instagram’s powerful advertising tools, evolving features, and highly active audiences, small businesses can use the platform to make big gains.
To help your business prepare its digital marketing strategy for the year ahead, take note of the following Instagram and influencer marketing trends that have nearly every small business owner saying, “Oh, that’s Insta-worthy!”
More Small Businesses Using Instagram Marketing
Small businesses have driven huge growth on Instagram. This includes growth of both unpaid organic account posts and paid advertising use.
According to Forbes, Instagram now has over 8 million business profiles. The platform saw 500% growth in the number of business accounts in just a few months last year.
Instagram execs credit the majority of this growth to small business users. Setting up an account is easy, and it’s also just as simple to begin using paid advertising tools to promote posts.
Why are small businesses drawn to Instagram? Because huge audiences login every day, often several times a day. There were over 500 million monthly Instagram users and 300 million daily active users around this time last year.
Now, with the advent of features like Instagram Stories, that number has likely soared even higher.
Businesses can therefore use Instagram to get huge reach for their campaigns or fulfill brand awareness goals with just a little bit of effort.
Influencer Marketing Benefits for Small Businesses Stack Up
Big brands aren’t the only ones who use influencers to achieve marketing goals anymore. The ability for social media personalities to drive engagement and direct attention can benefit small businesses, too.
According to a recent study, 94% of marketers from a range of company sizes found that influencer marketing programs are successful.
Because influencers can pique their audience’s interests and motivate action, campaign goals like conversions or product awareness become much easier to achieve. Twitter claims that just under half of social media users trust recommendations and product reviews posted by influencers.
That power likely explains why some business owners found that influencer marketing generates 11 times greater ROI than other digital marketing channels.
Micro-Influencers Take on Huge Importance with Small Audiences
Some influencers with a million plus followers like Michelle Phan have taken on celebrity status. They get invited to red carpet events and appear on mass broadcast TV ads.
As these average people become megastars, a clear distinction emerges between them and other influencers. Marketing experts have begun to split influencer types into multiple categories as a result.
“Macro-influencers” like Phan, Kim Kardashian and King Bach have millions of followers and a huge range of topics they cover. “Micro-influencers” have a small following of a few hundred to a few thousand people but often follow a much more niche focus.
Small businesses have realized that micro-influencers are not only cheaper to work with, but they also drive campaign goals more effectively. Micro-influencers have this power because their audience feels stronger connections and finds the content posted more directly relevant to their interests.
You can see this connection in micro-influencer engagement rates. Influencers with less than 1,000 followers can engage 8% of their audience on average, while influencers 10 million+ followers only get “likes” from 1.6% of their audience, and an even lower frequency of comments and shares.
Put simply: small business owners can work with micro-influencers to connect more authentically to audiences and drive more consistent action.
Instagram Stories and Live Video Make Engagement a Daily Affair
Most brands generally avoid posting on Instagram more than twice a day, except for on special occasions. Their reasons include diminishing returns and a fear of oversaturating their audience.
But, two new Instagram capabilities have begun to change that: stories and live video.
Live video can encourage people to watch content for eight times longer compared to pre-recorded video. Instagram stories displays content that gets deleted after 24 hours similarly sparks our love of authentic experiences and our FOMO (fear of missing out).
Instagram stories provide a fun and unique way to engage followers and drive traffic to your web- site. Many businesses have yet to adopt Instagram Story as part of their marketing strategy. However, you can be an early adopter and reap the benefits right now.
Instagram might have started as a fun mobile app, but it has turned into an extremely valuable and powerful marketing tool for companies that know how to use it.
If you create a compelling profile, use hashtags appropriately. Take advantage of new options like Instagram Stories. You can use Instagram to build brand awareness and attract new customers.
“Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month,” says Entrepreneur, “which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat — and Instagram Stories is just one year old! At this rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018.”
Businesses interested in driving attention towards certain campaigns or maintaining more active engagement with audiences can turn to Stories and Live video to accomplish these goals.
Increasing Demand for Brand Safety and Proof of ROI
The double-edged sword to influencer marketing is that some brands worry about influencers staining their reputation.
Video game streamer PewDiePie, who has the largest YouTube subscriber base of any channel, caused waves after repeatedly using extremely offensive language in his content. Brands that collaborated with PewDiePie had to cut their ties and make statements condemning his actions.
Since influencers are not brand employees, business owners invite a bit of risk when they collaborate with them.
The best way to avoid controversy is to look to influencers’ past behaviors. Ask questions before collaborating in any capacity. Make it clear that your relationship is dependent on a positive image for your business.
Similarly, tie any relationships you have with influencers to concrete KPIs, including ROI. It’s always better to start small with a relationship. After that, establish proof of ROI before committing marketing dollars to a true collaboration.
For instance, try sending an influencer a free gift or just a kind request to highlight your latest campaign. If you like what they do with the information, you can work toward more collaborative content or even an endorsement-type relationship.
Trends in Instagram and Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses Can Help Your Brand Take Off Next Year!
Remember, Instagram is not about instant conversions or links. This is about the long-term benefit, so rate your success in terms of likes, follows and comments – not profit.
Likewise, remember that this is a ‘young’ and ‘hip’ crowd. You need to get to know your actual audience, but you should also get to know the Instagram audience more generally. What you’ll find is that Instagram is a place where ‘in your face marketing messages’ don’t go down well. So, don’t do that!
What’s Your Local Score?
Enter any business name and zip code and see how optimized it is for local search.
What if we told you that Google might not be as important a resource for local search as you think it is?
You’d probably think we’re crazy. Nobody can challenge Google when it comes to search supremacy.
Well, when it comes to local search, that might not be true.
We’re not talking about Bing or Yahoo or any traditional search engine. Instead, the search option that might overtake Google in local search isn’t a search engine at all.
The social media giant is undeniably a powerhouse when it comes to marketing small businesses. And given how likely consumers are to connect with local brands on social media, it should come as no surprise that Facebook searches are making inroads against Google.
Here’s what you need to know to take advantage of Facebook local search for your business.
#1: Facebook Is Using Location in New Ways
As recently as 2015, Facebook’s search function was quite ineffective for local search. People who searched for businesses near them got incomplete (and often inaccurate) results.
Today, in mid-2017, Facebook highlights the locations of businesses at the top of their home pages and on the “About” tab.
Facebook’s search function defaults now to local search. Before, if a user searched for a type of business, they might get results from their hometown – or from halfway around the world.
Today, the search returns only businesses located within a couple of miles of the searcher’s location. That’s a huge improvement.
Another key change is that Facebook now recognizes when to use location – and when to leave it alone.
For example, a search for a type of business or an attraction – such as a restaurant or a park – returns relevant local results showing Places first, and then, local businesses as appropriate.
When a user searches for something else, such as a celebrity or book, Facebook disregards locations and returns other results that are relevant to the search.
#2: Facebook Local Searches Return Helpful Information
One of Google’s big advantages in local search is their ability to show relevant information – such as hours, distances, and maps – in their search results.
And now, Facebook does that too.
In fact, when you search for a business on Facebook, you’ll see a ton of pertinent data in your list of search results, including:
- Profile picture and other photos
- The street address of the business
- The distance from you
- Whether the business is open or closed
- The average star rating from Facebook reviews
That’s a huge amount of information – and it can make a tremendous difference when it comes to attracting Facebook users to your business.
Everything they need to know is at their fingertips, and that means that you’ll get more clicks, calls, and visits as a result of a Facebook search.
#3: Facebook Is Crowdsourcing Its Databases
One of Facebook’s value propositions for businesses is that it’s a social media giant with a huge number of users. As of June 2017, that number has topped two billion!
Two billion people have a ton of collective knowledge, and Facebook is now putting that knowledge to work for local businesses.
When a user checks in at a local business on Facebook, they get a series of questions about the business – questions designed to help other users learn about it.
For example, they might be asked:
- Does this business have available parking?
- Does your map show the correct location of this business?
The benefit of this type of crowdsourcing is clear. It ensures that anybody who searches your business on Facebook will have access to accurate and detailed data about your business to help them decide whether to buy from you.
#4: Friend Posts and Local Search Are Integrated
Would you be more likely to frequent a local business if you knew your friends liked it?
If you’re like most people, the answer is yes. That’s because social proof is a huge driver of business in digital marketing.
Even reviews from strangers on sites like Yelp carry a lot of weight, with 88% of people saying they read reviews at least some of the time.
Facebook now uses Friend check-ins and posts in combination with local search.
What does that mean? When you search for a local business, you might see an announcement that the business was “visited by friends.”
You can click to see which friends have visited. And when you search for a business, you will also get Friend Posts in your search results so you can see what your friends have to say.
#5: Facebook Has Created City Guides
Which would you rather do when you visit a new city: go to a business that caters to tourists or visit one that the locals love?
If you’re like a lot of people, you’d choose the latter option. Now, Facebook local search makes it easy for people to find out what the locals say about your business – and for locals to get to know about your business in a new way.
In addition to displaying business information such as location, hours, and reviews, the city guides also show which friends have visited each business listed.
Make the Most of Your Facebook Profile
Want people to be able to find you on Facebook? Here are some quick steps you can take to make it easy for them.
- Fill out your profile completely. Make sure that your name, address, and phone number are listed properly and consistent with other online listings.
- When you put in your address, check to make sure that Facebook displays a map with a pin at the top of your profile. (It should show up automatically, but doesn’t always!)
- Answer as many questions as you can, even if it means simply answering “no” to questions that don’t apply to you. This eliminates the need for crowdsourcing and ensures accuracy.
- Activate Facebook buttons like “Call” and “Make an Appointment” to streamline the interaction process.
- Add additional business categories if they apply to you. You only need to provide one, but adding additional options can broaden the chances that people will find you.
Providing Facebook with the information needed to help searchers find you is easy – and can have a huge impact on your traffic.
Google Still Matters…
… But Facebook matters too when it comes to local search.
Take a few minutes to optimize your business description and page – and see the difference that local Facebook traffic can make to your business.
Learn more about digital marketing by visiting JVI Mobile Marketing or by contacting us!
What’s Your Local Score?
Enter any business name and zip code and see how optimized it is for local search.
Here’s the deal. Your business can have a huge presence on Facebook with thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of fans, but still struggle to get new clients. Why is this? Well, for the most part it is because you’re not doing a good enough job of turning those fans into actual paying customers.
You have done a great job with the first step in the process which is attracting people on Facebook and ultimately building a raving fan base. Now is the time, however, to take that next step of turning those fans into people that actually pay you money for what you have to offer.
Here are 5 strategies to consider that will help your fans turn into customers.
1. Be Consistent with Content
In the overall scheme of things, it is important that you keep your Facebook fans engaged and keep your brand in front of them at all times. To that end, it is very important that you as a business owner maintain a consistent approach to the content you are publishing for your followers. A good practice is to put something out there once a
day that is likely to be shared or liked a lot. Not only will this help your content go viral and get in front of more people, it will also establish you as an authority in your industry.
Examples of content that you can post on a daily basis are how to articles, tips related to your industry or even interesting photos that your fans may want to see. The key is to make this content as engaging as possible so that it keeps getting shared and it keeps your fans coming back for more.
Now, when one of your fans needs the service or product you offer who are they going to call? Exactly! They will call you because they know who you are and consider you an authority in your industry.
2. Reach More of Your Fan Base
In order to convert more fans into customers, first your fans actually have to SEE what you are posting and promoting so they have the opportunity to become a customer. One of the most dramatic changes Facebook has made recently is minimizing organic reach for brands. Basically, this means that only a tiny fraction of your fans will see your updates in their newsfeed. According to Edge Rank Checker as of march 2014 it was estimated that you reach about 6.5% of your fan base with every post you make on your fan page.
There’s a number of ways you can increase your posts visibility within your fans news feed, and one of the best ways is to promote your posts. A promoted post starts off just like any other post you’ve made on your fan page. You simply choose a post you want to promote, like a special sale, or a story you want to share about your business. Then you set a budget and the post is shared to a set number of Facebook members depending on your budget. Your post will be seen by your fans, and even friends of your fans depending on your budget. Promoting your posts is a very inexpensive way to ensure you get maximum visibility.
Another way to ensure your fans see your updates is to educate your fans that they can ‘Get Notifications’ from your Page.
Most of the time, users aren’t even aware that they aren’t getting seeing your updates. Simply by telling them how they can stay better informed with your businesses special promotions will boost the number of people that actually see your posts.
3. Create Offers with Urgency or Scarcity
If you want to turn more of your Facebook fans into paying customers then you are going to have to market to them – plain and simple.
Now, a common and effective practice to use is creating offers and posting them to Facebook that have an element of scarcity or urgency to them in order to get people to act right away. In other words, why not post a coupon limited to the first 10 people who claim it for a certain percentage off your service? Or what about a special offer on a service that expires in 24-hours? Make the offer something that your fans cannot pass up and you will see the phone begin to ring! That said, once you end driving your fans from Facebook through your doors it is your job to keep them coming back. Use these special offers as a way to get them there – it’s up to you to keep them there.
Another way to reach your audience with a special deal is through Facebook Offers. This is a form of paid advertising where you can create an ad and target specific people with a special offer that will fit their needs. Once the ad is created and displayed it will have a “get offer” button on it. When a user clicks this button, they will be directed to an area where they can claim the discount offered by your company. The thing that makes Facebook Offers unique and very powerful is that they will actually email the person that claimed the offer to remind them to use it. In other words, they will do some of the dirty work for you to ensure that the person actually becomes a paying customer!
4. Drive Fans to Your Email List
Having a robust fan base on Facebook is great and can be very profitable but there is an even better way to engage these people to turn them into customers. What is it you ask? Simple, it’s email. If you are able to drive your fans to your email list then you will be able to communicate with them on a whole other level. Email newsletters are still the best way to communicate directly to your audience.
Think about it for a moment. Not only are you engaging them within Facebook, but now you are also engaging them within their inbox. This is very powerful as the more “planes of engagement” there are between you and your potential customers the more you will see your bottom line increase.
The best part about building that email list from your Facebook fan base is that it’s easy! You simply need to drive your fans from Facebook to an email opt-in form on your website or to an opt-in form right within Facebook. There are many apps out there that make it really easy to create these lead capture forms right within Facebook so the fan never has to leave if you don’t want them to.
Please keep in mind that people will only opt-in to your email list if you give them a good reason. Don’t be afraid to offer a discount or some other valuable form of content to ensure they sign up right away!
5. Show Them Some Love Too
A final strategy to turn fans onto customers is to show them some love too! What this means is making sure you are active on Facebook and sharing content that your fans have produced. This will create a feeling of reciprocity between you and your fans. It will also show that you are just a normal person too – not a corporate machine.
People love being engaged with in social media. If you take a few minutes each day to engage with some of your fans, you will see that investment on time come back to you tenfold. Even if you post though automation and use a platform such as MySoPro, it’s a great idea to always check in daily and take a look at new likes, comments, shares and overall engagement. All of a sudden, a normal fan will become a raving fan just because you reached out to engage them. Who do you think that person will do business with when they need what you have to offer?
All in all, getting your Facebook fans to turn into paying customers is easy if you know what you are doing. Just follow the strategies that are outlined above and watch your business take off like you never thought possible!
Learn more about online marketing by visiting JVI Mobile Marketing or by contacting us!
What’s Your Local Score?
Enter any business name and zip code and see how optimized it is for local search.
This is an article Mike Cooch wrote for Entrepreneur.com.
I’m just like most other entrepreneurs I know – I have at least three new business ideas before I get out of bed in the morning. And the ideas just keep coming throughout the day.
Thankfully, after years of trial and error as an entrepreneur, I’ve learned to evaluate my new ideas carefully to determine if they are actually an opportunity, instead of just an idea.
Even more importantly, I’ve learned to evaluate if it’s a good opportunity for me and the lifestyle I want to create for myself.
I do that evaluation by asking twelve questions that I’ve found are critical to determining if a business is right for me. If I have more than a few ‘No’ responses, I can immediately cross the idea off of my list and forget about it. If it’s all ‘Yes’ responses, I know I have an idea with real potential.
Here’s the list of questions, with some of my thoughts explaining why each is important to me:
Will this business support the lifestyle I want (income, ability to travel, flexible work time, etc.)? I work to live, not live to work. I also love to travel and have flexibility in terms of when I get my work done. That immediately disqualifies many businesses.
Is there proven demand for the product I am going to sell? Creating demand is hard, slow and expensive. I’d rather capture my share of already existing demand.
Is there a clear value proposition that will make my product unique in the marketplace? Business is no fun if I don’t have some sort of competitive edge.
Is there a very clear way to market and sell my product or service through existing channels? Leveraging existing sales channels is the fastest and easiest way I’ve found to get a business off the ground profitably.
Can I leverage online marketing and social media to grow this business? These are two of the most powerful business-building forces of our time; I want to be sure to take advantage of them.
Will this business have gross margins of at least 50% and/or net margins of at least 20%? At the end of the day, a business has to make money.
Can this business become a sellable asset? The big win often comes from being able to sell and exit your business when you are ready, but not all businesses are easy to sell.
Can I automate the majority of the operations of the business? I try to take advantage of as much automation as possible to reduce the overhead of operating a business.
Can I easily find someone to successfully run the business for me? Eventually, I’ll likely want someone to run the business for me. Is this a business that can easily be handed over to someone else, or does it require my specific knowledge and talents?
Is this a business that I’ll find fun and interesting to run today? Yes, life insurance is very profitable, but it’s not fun. Profit is not enough; I want to be in businesses that I actually enjoy.
Is this a business that other people will find fun and interesting? I’ve found that it’s much more enjoyable to be in a business that other people think is fun and interesting.
Is this something I’ll still be willing to run seven years from now? The reality is that most businesses don’t grow as quickly or as profitably as I’d like.
If I am still running this seven years from now, will I still find it enjoyable?
Use these twelve questions to evaluate your business ideas. You should be able to answer ‘Yes’ to the far majority of the questions.
If not, drop the idea and be thankful that you didn’t invest your time and energy into something that ultimately wouldn’t fulfill your entrepreneurial dreams.
Now, go build something!
Thinking of starting a business? Already have one, but haven’t created the lifestyle you’re looking for? Download our free guide to creating a business that gives you the freedom to decide where, when and who you work with.
World of Sports Family Fun Center is a landmark attraction in South Boston Virginia for over 40 years! Our 85,000 sqft center hosts a World Class Bowling center with Pro Shop. Next to that, there is a modern arcade with the top games on the planet. Adjacent to that, we have a brand new for 2015 Lazer Tag Arena, with full scoring and competitions.
In addition to the games, World of Sports offers 2 full size cinema screen theater sowing the latest blockbuster Hollywood hits.
On the other side of the facility is our indoor roller skating rink, with all of the lights and audio that makes skating fun.
In the center of it all is Spare Times Grill and Bar. Fun for the whole family. Now, this isn’t your typical bowling alley fare. Spare Times offers delicious american lunch a dinner specials like prime rib and filet mignon, or comfort foods like buffalo wings with many sauce flavors. We also host live entertainment and sometimes bigger concerts.
Did I mention this is all under one roof?
JVI Mobile, JVI Social and SMS Campaigns are the three services we are providing for World of Sports. To join their Text Message Marketing list, you can send the Keyword WOSSTG to 41242.