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Social media visuals matter for more than just aesthetic reasons—93% of consumers say a product’s visual appearance plays a key role in their purchasing decisions. Since a customer’s perception of a brand is often informed by more than a single touchpoint, social media marketers have many opportunities to capture the attention of their followers with on-brand, compelling visuals.

In a 2018 report, 70% of marketers revealed that their digital marketing results are better when they share visuals versus when they don’t. Conversely, in the past year, we’ve seen top social networks (ahem, Facebook) decrease the organic reach of videos shared by brands in favor of posts that spark conversation.

What does this all mean? Simply put, brands need to be more creative than ever before with what they share on social media. And when they do get in front of their audience, they need to make it count. With 2019 around the corner, now is the perfect time to reevaluate your social media strategy and consider how you make your content stand out from the crowd.

Here are 5 free resources every social media marketer can use to create visuals that engage their followers and position their brand in the best light:

#1 SOCIAL MEDIA VISUALS 

Let’s start with the photos themselves. You’ve probably heard of Unsplash. They became a go-to source for visuals for many marketers several years back, offering a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to pricey stock photo sites. But with so many individuals and brands now using Unsplash as a resource, we find ourselves pulling from these lesser known sites more and more:

Pexels
Gratisography
Splitshire
Reshot
Picography
Burst

The photos are beautiful, and free.

Just note: Each site has unique copyright permissions that you’ll want to be aware of before using any images. Always pay a visit to the site’s licensing page, so you know exactly how you can use the photos.

Published on: 2/16/19, 6:02 AM

Think about the last thing you posted on your company’s Instagram account. Did you craft the content thoughtfully? Was it created based on your target audience’s interests? If you nodded in response to both of these questions, great! You probably have an Instagram marketing strategy in place to guide your posting efforts.

As with any social media channel, Instagram marketing takes effort to drive results. However, with nearly a 4X higher engagement rate than any other social network, brands have a lot of opportunity to build communities among their mobile audiences. Learn how to captivate the right audience while driving more engagement across your company’s Instagram page by following these tips:

  1. POST CONSISTENTLY

Many brands will post 2-3 photos a day, but there is no “right” number. Your posting cadence should align with your goals for this channel. More importantly: be consistent. Photos should be story-driven, compelling visuals. Short on content? You can also ask for photo submissions from followers or show the behind-the-scenes life of your business. Don’t forget that Instagram Stories allows for 15-second videos, too. Some brands have found creative ways around the time restriction, like breaking longer clips into multiple 15-second videos and posting them consecutively.

  2. OFFER DEALS & GIVEAWAYS

A lot of deals and giveaways on Instagram are community-driven. Offer prizes to customers who take the best pictures of themselves with the product. Share a special promo code to reward your followers for remaining loyal to your business. They’ll be thankful for the deal and continue to follow your account for future perks. You can also ask followers to tag friends in posts or take selfies in order to enter contests and giveaways.

  3. WORK WITH INFLUENCERS

Influencer marketing on Instagram can be highly effective. By working with someone who already has an established audience on Instagram, brands can tap into new audiences and build followings. The most common tactic is to allow influencers to “take over” a brand’s Instagram account for a few days, so that the influencer’s followers will start looking at the account. Influencers often test or promote a brand’s product in each photo or video. Look for influencers who align with your brand’s values and mission, or who’ve shown interest in your company in past.

  4. HARNESS THE POWER OF HASHTAGS

The best way to start building an audience is to use common hashtags. Not just one or two, either. You can opt for anywhere from 5-11 hashtags per post to start growing awareness. By hashtagging industry terms and common words, you can quickly boost engagement and followers. Include hashtags that align with the content you’re sharing, and go for a mix of really popular tags and more niche-specific ones. The former will immediately get your post in front of a lot people, whereas the latter will ensure your post remains near the top of results for longer.

  5. KEEP YOUR PROFILE LINK FRESH

The link in your bio is the best way to drive traffic from Instagram. Top tip: Use a Bitlink for any piece of content in your bio and you’ll be able to track exactly how many unique clicks your Instagram page has driven to your content. To add polish and improve engagement, many major brands use a customized branded domain in for all their Bitlinks.

For savvy social media managers who are constantly rotating their profile link, upgrading to Bitly Enterprise allows you to redirect your link to a new URL without actually changing the link in your profile, making it easy to update and track new campaigns on the fly.

  6. ACTIVELY ENGAGE YOUR FOLLOWERS

The most successful businesses on Instagram don’t just respond to comments, they favorite and comment on other posts as well. By engaging with posts related to your industry or brand, you can create outbound awareness. It might take some time for your efforts to pay off. Think of this as an opportunity to extend your brand’s voice and connect with potential customers.

For more tips on how to boost your Instagram marketing efforts, download the full guide on how to drive social ROI through visual storytelling. You’ll walk away with:

– Inspiration from organizations thinking outside the box with their visual content
– Tips for using engaging photos to power better social media and sales results
– Insights on how real-time visual storytelling can help your brand go viral

Plus, get tips and tools for measuring engagement and ROI.

Published on: 2/16/19, 6:00 AM

There are so many elements to building your brand’s presence on social media that it can be tempting to dive right into posting. You have to start somewhere, right? While that’s definitely true, where you start matters—a lot. Taking time to set social media goals for your business will help make sure your efforts don’t go to waste and that you’re building toward something, not just throwing mud at the wall and hoping it sticks.

To be clear, setting social media goals is not the same as creating a social media strategy. So if you haven’t already done that, go check out our post to learn how to create a strategy that works for your business’s objectives. To understand the difference between the two, try imagining your strategy as a roadmap and your goals as the destinations. 

With those metaphors out of the way, let’s dive in.

WHY YOU SHOULD SET SOCIAL MEDIA GOALS

I. It Keeps You on Track

To start, setting social media goals gives you something to work toward. There’s so much to be distracted by in the world of social media—so many new ideas constantly being brought to the table from internal and external sources. Setting goals helps you focus on the areas that matter to your business so you can maximize the return on your efforts.

“Many social marketers get shiny object syndrome and try to tackle everything. Just because the trendy thing is new and exciting, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what’s best for your company.” – Carrie Gotch, Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Lumosity

II. It Helps You Identify What’s Working

On the flip side of that, as a social media marketer it’s important to be able to pivot when necessary and never feel married to a single path to achieving a goal. If the tactics you’ve outlined in your social media strategy aren’t getting you closer to achieving your goals, you can identify new ways forward that will help you be more effective.

III. It Keeps You Accountable

If you’re like many in social media marketing, social is just one of a number of areas your job covers. It can be easy to place it on the backburner during times when you feel stretched thin. Your goals are a helpful reminder that your daily work on social is part of a bigger picture, and by executing on your strategy you’re keeping committed to reaching them. 

SELECTING GOALS & METRICS

To start, you’ll want to consider your company’s overall objectives, then decide how social media can support them. In this post, we’ll use these common social media goals as examples: raise brand awareness, drive website traffic, and establish an active community. (Note: These purposefully lack detail; We’ll discuss how to turn them into actionable goals a little later.)

Once you’ve chosen your goals, you should select the metrics you’ll use to measure your progress. Below are a few that are often tied to the goals we mentioned above.

Metrics tied to increasing brand awareness:

– Average post reach: the average number of people your posts reached
– Social share of voice (SOV): the amount of chatter about your brand on social media compared to its competitors
– Amplification rate: the number of people who forwarded posts your brand shared on social media to their own networks

Published on: 2/3/19, 5:08 PM