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The 3 Steps to Making Video Work For You

Image of paused video with text "Be creative"

Sometimes, it’s helpful to see what others are doing. It can drive inspiration, collaboration and connection. Other times, it can be distracting.

With 5 billion videos being watched on YouTube daily, it can be both inspiring and overwhelming to see what others are doing. You know there’s a thirst for video and a push to produce it, and you may be wondering how to translate that into your own video strategy. Instead of getting caught up in what works for everyone else, take a breather to think about what’s needed for you.

What do your viewers want to see? How do they like to hear from you? Where do they like to hear from you?

You can find answers by looking inward, and that can help you drum up ideas for your existing audience as well as attract new eyes. You know your brand. Use what you know to create the best viewer experience.

Choose an approach. What are you trying to tell your audience? Why are you trying to get this message out?

Think about the tone you typically use in communications and the purpose of your video. Is it to entertain, inform or educate? Understanding why your audience digests your content and what you want them to see can help you shape the approach of your video.

Think about the story. If you don’t grab your audience in the first 10 seconds, chances are you’ve lost them.

The average video is under two minutes long (although that’s not to say you can’t go longer—when the situation calls for it and if you do it right). Tight, compelling storytelling is key. We love to tell and hear stories. And now it’s increasingly important to tell interesting stories with so much content for folks to choose from.

Ask yourself: Why should audiences hear my story?

Optimize your video for your audience. You’ve made your video. Don’t post it on YouTube and sit back waiting for views. Think about how your audience will want to watch the video. Are they on YouTube? Facebook? Instagram?

Make adjustments to your video so it plays well on each platform—and make sure it’s on your audience’s preferred platform. Don’t forget about your own communications either. Push your video out to your clients in an email newsletter and tease behind-the-scenes or promo content when appropriate.

Think about the different ways and times folks may view it. Then continue circle back to promote again, at different times and in different ways.

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Find your zen at work

Background image of balloons with zen proverb "Let go or be dragged"

It’s happened again—you were writing that report, but then you took a break to check your email. Also Twitter. And Facebook. What can you do when a world of discovery and distraction is at your fingertips?

Sure, it’s not a bad thing that our lives have become hyper-connected. The doors to exploration have opened wide online, making us more flexible, curious, and inventive. But at the same time, it can make it difficult to complete a task when you’re not totally focused. Instead of concentrating on one thing, you’re jumping from email to email, post to post, and easily put off track.

Sometimes, we aren’t even the ones to blame. Thanks to changing workplace and social expectations, folks often anticipate a prompt response. And those notifications are so enticing! It will only take a minute to check what they mean…

What were we talking about? Oh, that’s right—staying focused!

We’re here to help with a few tips, tricks and apps to help you concentrate and turn the computer into your virtual zen zone.

Set the mood

Perhaps one of the reasons why you go searching for distraction is because you legitimately need a break. Feeling uncomfortable at your workstation can be a real drag, and it’s natural to want to shift your focus elsewhere.

Perhaps it’s not your task that’s giving you a headache, but your setup. If you feel blinded by your computer screen, think about downloading f.lux, which adapts your screen brightness according to the time of day. If on a phone, double check your settings or download a filter app.

Block out the noise

Some people need silence to work. Other people need what they would consider a health level of noise.

The gentle hum of instrumental music can trigger creativity while helping you zero in on a single activity. Close your random tabs, forget about email and plug your earbuds in. Subscription music service Focus at Will promises to boost your concentration with background music. You can also search “concentration” or “study music” on your favorite listening platforms like YouTube and Spotify.

Searching for something a little different? If you work alone or from a home office, you might crave the office environment to keep you on track. Enter Coffitivity, a site that invites you to listen to the ambient noises of such locations as a “Texas Teahouse” or “Lunchtime Lounge” Perhaps a little noise can help you shut out those inner voices (and maybe even outer ones too) and stay on your A game.

Place limits

Sometimes, you have to set limits.

If you think you can’t keep yourself from visiting certain sites or checking your phone, you may need to give yourself some hard boundaries. The Google Chrome productivity extension StayFocusd will help you limit the time you spend on certain websites. Similarly, Freedom can help you tune out noises across your computer and smartphone. For phone users, apps like Moment help track which apps you’re using most and coach you into different habits.

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Catch attention with GIFs

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a GIF might be worth two. They can help tell stories in fun, memorable ways, and can keep a conversation going on social media.

via GIPHY

Although they may seem like a new trend, GIFs actually predate the internet. These looped, animated clips were created to share digital images without taking up too much space. They’ve made a comeback in recent years thanks to social media and meme culture.

via GIPHY

It’s possible to incorporate GIFs into your own social media and digital marketing strategies. You can make your own GIFs through software like Adobe Photoshop or Camtasia, and there are also plenty of free or low-cost GIF tools available online. These online tools include Animatron Studio, CloudApp, Gifs.com, GIPHY, and Make a Gif.

Even if you think GIFs are too casual, they are important and can lead to clever communication ideas. That element of movement can catch people off guard and invite people in. Consider adding them to an e-newsletter to break up text, using a GIF as a cover for your Facebook page to stand out from the crowd, or including on social media to help create a unique voice.

GIFs aren’t only for fun, either. Consider adding GIFs to a how-to blog post to better show each step or adding GIFs to show data changes.

via GIPHY

Keep in mind that GIFs, like emojis and other images, can have hidden meanings. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but do a little homework before you post without thinking. Sites like GIPHY will include hashtags associated with existing images, and that can give you some clue as to how that GIF is used.

Oh, and one more thing: GIF was 2012’s Word of the Year, but the debate continues over the correct way to pronounce it. Since GIF stands for “Graphics Interchange Format” many folks prefer to pronounce it with a hard “g.” However, Steve Wilhite, who is credited as the inventor of GIFs, has said he prefers the other way, which sounds more like “jif.”

via GIPHY

Happy GIF-ing!


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Developing Your Social Media Strategy

Social Media

Social media can be a powerful tool and help you engage with and grow your audience. You’ll need a strategy to help you manage and maintain your social media presence. Engagement is key when it comes to social media. Additionally, each social media network you choose to be active on serves a purpose for your business and your business’s growth.

 

Identify your goals and objectives.

First and most importantly, identify your goals and objectives. What are you hoping to get out of your social media networks? How do you want to utilize them? What do you want to accomplish? Make sure you know how each platform works and know the audience for each platform. For example, LinkedIn has a different audience and purpose than Instagram. So you would not want to post the same thing on LinkedIn as you do on Instagram.

 

Create a calendar and post regularly.

When getting started, you’ll need to have a plan to post regularly. You’ll also need to decide what to post about. Create a social media calendar, and be sure to add all of your upcoming events, blog posts, and other important information. This will help you stay organized and build a strategy around each of your social media accounts. Use a social media management platform such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social to help you schedule posts ahead of time. Here at Epic, we use Sprout Social to help us manage our social media accounts.

Create a plan and calendar that works for you and brings in more engaged followers. Once you have one, stick to it and do what is working more often. If you find something that works really well, stick to it and create more posts like it.

 

Understand your audience.

Understanding what your audience needs will help you be able to interact with them better. Knowing what they want to read about and what they believe in will help you understand what type of posts they will most likely react to and engage with. Once you understand this, your interactions will be more productive.

Each type of business is going have different experiences on social media – for example, a credit union is going to have a completely different plan than a clothing store. Take the time to research other ways to get more likes and follows to your social media accounts. Learn everything you can about growing your social media presence for your specific market and target audience.

 

Be relatable and be human.

Social media is all about engagement and connecting with others. Let your audience see the character of your brand. You want to engage with those who post on your social media pages, so be sure you are interacting with your accounts and your audiences often. This means when someone posts something, talk back to them. Let them know you are listening to your audience on social media. Then, give them more of what they want to keep them coming back to your social media pages.

 

Produce valuable content.

Content is king. Your audience will need to see the value in interacting with your social media pages – and this comes from your content. You want to be sure that you are providing and producing the best content for your audience. Is it interesting? Is it fun? Does it provide value and answer ‘what’s in it for me’? Give your customers a reason to like and engage with your page and follow you. Having the best content will help showcase your brand.

 

Be responsive and provide great customer service.

Social media was created to be just that – social. Once you open yourself up on social media not only will you get good feedback, you also need to be prepared to handle complaints. Often, how you handle complaints publicly far outweighs how you handle praise. Respond quickly and be professional – even if they aren’t. Acknowledge their complaint and answer their questions. Try to go above and beyond to resolve any issues. Remember, your audience is watching.

 

Get training.

We have partnered with the University of Delaware to teach social media marketing. We’ve always taken the approach of educating our clients about different marketing channels, including social media. If you can’t take a classroom course, there are a lot of resources for courses online. Being a social media expert means being a lifelong learner due to the constant evolution of the social media climate.

 

Remember social media is a powerful tool. It can help you engage with your audience and better understand them. Make sure you have a plan and stick to it. Social media requires continuous effort and engagement to be effective. If you have questions or need help with your social media strategy, contact us today at connect@epicmc2.com.

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Social Media Marketing Education Programs

Social Media Education

We are happy to announce our very own CEO, Nancy Dibert, has partnered with the University of Delaware Professional and Continuing Studies to teach Social Media Marketing.

UD’s Social Media Marketing program now includes two new powerful programs: Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing and Advanced Social Media Marketing for Business. These programs will provide broad and deep coverage of in-demand social media marketing skills, including social media monitoring and listening, audience engagement, content curation, strategic planning, campaign execution, paid placement, measuring results and ROI and more.

Nancy’s deep understanding of social media and social media marketing is vast, expanding to a multitude of platforms, with a long list of proven results for many projects and clients. Being a social media expert means being a lifelong learner due to the constant evolution of the social media climate. We’ve always taken the approach of educating our clients about different marketing channels, including social media; partnering with University of Delaware for these programs just makes sense – it is what we do everyday. We hope you join us in one of our upcoming classes.

Learn more about the programs and register at http://www.pcs.udel.edu/socialmedia/ or download the flyer.

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Why Credit Unions Should Be On Instagram

Why Credit Unions Should Be On Instagram

With over 700 million monthly active users, Instagram’s primary age group is 18-29, which is the prime demographic for credit unions to target to grow their membership. What’s more? The photo-centric app shows a human side of your credit union, giving your credit union an edge over megabanks. It’s a great resource for business development and community engagement.

Getting Started

When you visit an Instagram page the first thing you see is a username, a photo, a short description, and the only clickable link on Instagram (barring ads). When choosing an image for your Instagram photo, note that it will be a circular image; we recommend using your logo for branding purposes. Your bio is your introduction to your audience: and you only have 150 characters including the ever-important link to your website! Make sure your mission and brand are clear. There’s also a place to update your contact info: add a phone number, email, and address so that Instagram viewers can easily get in touch with you. Now you’re ready to get going!

What should your credit union post on Instagram?

Imagery is key when it comes to Instagram. Use branded imagery consistently throughout all your posts, whether elements of your brand are included or you always have a your logo present whether on someone’s t-shirt, merchandise or buildings. Instagram is a great way to showcase pictures of your staff and overall community involvement. Money tips and quotes could also be shared in a picture format.

To be successful on instagram and social media platforms, you need to actively engage with your audience creating a conversation. Follow local businesses, organizations, and influencers within your community. Engagement is key, like and interact with their posts. You don’t want your Instagram channel to be one-way.

If you can, get employees involved. Employees, like your business development team, can capture the most humanizing moments of your financial institution.

Don’t be afraid to use hashtags! In fact, Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post. Try including:

  •      3-5 popular hashtags (In the millions of followers) ex: #instagood
  •      5-8 moderately popular hashtags (In the hundreds of thousands of followers) ex: #personalfinance
  •      3-5 keyword targeted hashtags (In the thousands of followers) ex: #netDE
  •      1-2 branded hashtags i.e. the name of your credit union

Creating branded hashtags allows people to follow your brand specifically and creates a visual index of your financial institution.

To recap, creating a presence on Instagram allows your credit union prime access to Millennials & Xennials, extends your brand’s digital presence, gives your audience a behind-the-scenes look, creates meaningful relationships, and gives a face to your financial institution.

Need help getting started? We can help! Contact us today for a social media consultation.

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Facebook Algorithm Update: What Your Business Needs to Know

Facebook Algorithm Update - What Your Business Needs To Know

Well, Facebook has done it again on us: time for another Facebook algorithm update. Whenever Facebook posts an algorithm update, the social networking giant changes the types of content people see in their News Feed: some types of content get higher priority, while others are pushed deeper into our News Feeds.

So, what is Facebook’s newest mission to tweak its News Feed?

Facebook is going to prioritize the following 3 types of content:

  1. Posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people
  2. Posts that you might want to share and react to
  3. Posts from friends and family

 

Perhaps the most alarming News Feed change for brands and businesses is part 3 of the update: making posts from friends and family a higher priority than posts from brands and businesses. But hasn’t this always been Facebook’s mission? To serve only the most relevant, shareworthy, and meaningful content to its users? Simply put, yes. Facebook has spent years making sure you see only the posts you want to see in your News Feed.

It isn’t all bad news for brands and businesses. Parts 1 and 2 of the update largely speak to what businesses have already been doing on Facebook up to this point. Create content that people are compelled to like, comment, share, and react to or as Facebook says it themselves, “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.” You want to show up in the newsfeed alongside wedding and baby photos, create content that is buzzworthy and that gets people reacting. Facebook recommends the following types of content to keep your audience engaged:

  • Facebook Live (which may average 6x as many interactions as regular video)
  • Videos that explicitly prompt discussion
  • Posts in Facebook Groups
  • Posts especially relevant to local fans
  • News that starts conversations regarding important, timely issues

 

To recap: Facebook has changed its algorithm (again). What’s changing: more updates in your News Feed from friends and family. What’s not changing: share engaging content to reach the most of your audience. See, not so scary after all!

Need help getting your Facebook Business Page to reach the right audience? Send us an email at connect@epicmc2.com and we can help you right away!

 

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Using Snapchat for Business

Snapchat for business

Yes! Snapchat for business use is a thing!

With Snapchat, business and organizations can increase their community engagement and brand awareness through innovative marketing campaigns.

The video-messaging app Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social networks. It has more than 100 million daily active users, and although its users tend to trend young – 71% fall into the 18 to 34 age range – it’s becoming an integral part of many businesses’ social media marketing strategies.

So what exactly is Snapchat, and how does Snapchat for business purposes work?

It is a social media network that allows users to share “snaps,” or video messages, in real time. Snaps can be viewed for up to 10 seconds. After that time, the snap disappears, unless the user decides to keep it by taking a screen shot of the message. A favorite business feature, Snapchat stories, strings together snaps to create video narratives. Stories, unlike snaps, have a duration of 24 hours. These video narratives are being viewed at a rate of 1 billion (!!!) times per day.

You may be wondering how you could apply this social messaging app and all it has to offer to your business. Let us count the ways:

  • Provide access to live events: The real-time nature of Snapchat makes it a great platform to broadcast live events. Consider the possibilities, such as speaking engagements and seminars, trade shows, events and galas — you name it! Stringing together snaps provides viewers direct access not available through other channels, which includes and engages those who otherwise would not have had access to your event.

 

  • Offer sneak peeks: Is your organization launching a new product or offering a new service? Snapchat can be a great place to offer customers a sneak peek of what’s to come. Provide VIP access to loyal customers with a private viewing. They’re sure to appreciate an exclusive glimpse or the opportunity to check out new merchandise before it hits the floor.

 

  • Go behind the scenes: Show customers what really goes on inside your organization. Snapchat gives you the flexibility to offer virtual tours, product demos, or a no-holds-barred glimpse into a day in the life of a forward-facing employee. Giving your customers this kind of “backstage pass” can really build brand loyalty.

 

  • Deliver coupons, perks or promotions: Promote engagement by asking users to post their own snap showing how they interact with your brand. Encourage participation by holding random drawings for branded swag. Or reward those who watch your Snapchat stories in their entirety with coupons or discounts.

 

Snapchat for business can be a great way to strengthen brand awareness, increase engagement and enhance the customer experience. You’ve just got to know how to use it!

Need some help with engaging your customers on social or other advertising channels? We can help. Let’s have a conversation.

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Marketing Mistakes to be Avoided on Instagram

“Follow this method,”  “do this,”  “do that”  are all you hear when it comes to online marketing. Instagram has grown into one of the largest social networking sites. Just like you, many companies are struggling to make their presence felt. They are stuffed with “what to do” and fail to concentrate on “what NOT to do.”

 

Instagram for Business

 

The most common mistakes that people make while marketing on Instagram and how to avoid them…

These factors make a difference:

 

1. Improper usage of hashtags

Over usage of keywords in hashtags is a big– #turn-off. Hashtags must be short and sweet. Get to the point quickly; do not bore the pants off your followers by posting irrelevant descriptions.

Avoid using hashtags for posts which do not require them. Also, many fail to take advantage of the geo-location tag. Make sure you don’t overuse them and also don’t use the wrong ones.

 

2. Your posts are not good enough

Check this list before you go ahead and post:

  • Not posting quality pictures and videos
  • Posting at the wrong time
  • No variety in your posts
  • Over-posting
  • Posts that are unrelated
  • Posting things that have already gone viral
  • Re-posting old pictures or videos
  • Posting someone else’s photos as your own
  • Posting pictures you shared on other social networking sites

 

Make sure your posts don’t fall under these categories. You’ve been warned.

 

3. Lack of followers

Without followers, your Instagram account will be buried among the millions of other profiles that are active for name sake. So you have to work on increasing the followers to promote your page.

Don’t expect followers to come to you, you have to attract them. Followers are the main part of Instagram, without them there is no value or purpose for your account. Just for the sake of increasing followers don’t follow every profile, you won’t look credible.

 

4. No response to comments

Let’s say all your posts get a lot of comments, it doesn’t hurt to reply to at least a few of them. Not responding to the comments is rude. This is one of the main reasons for losing followers.

Make excuses or make changes, the choice is yours. If you want to increase followers and promote your page, you have to engage. This will also make you look committed.

 

5. Don’t juggle frogs

Many will advise you to be active on all social networking sites, but take this with a pinch of salt. It sometimes does more harm than good. If you are receiving good responses on Instagram, concentrate on promoting your brand on it.

You might run out of post ideas if you spread yourself too thin with post ideas on different social media avenues. And as a result, you will lose the reputation you have created if you juggle more than you can handle.

 

6. Trying too hard

As a rule of thumb in marketing (and in general) – too much of anything is bad. Don’t stuff your feed with unwanted and inappropriate posts just to get the attention of your followers. Get hints from your competitors’ feeds, and find out why their posts are doing better.

 

Another important thing to note is that you cannot set your account to private and have any hope of attracting people to your feed. It just won’t work. I hope you found these tips useful to some extent for your Instagram. A lot of people have followed these basic guidelines to effectively market and promote their products on social media.

 

Guest post from Sara George

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4 Ways To Use Content Marketing To Grow Your Business

Content Marketing

 

A business that is not growing is often one that is dying. It is impossible to stand still in a dynamic economy, so you need to make sure that your company is always well-positioned for growth. One important tool for doing so is content marketing.

Essentially, this form of marketing involves using content, such as articles, infographics or videos to attract visitors and persuade them to become customers. By creating or curating the right content, you can enhance your brand and reach a large audience.


Lead Generation

Generating new leads is a major challenge for many businesses. Using content to bring in new leads is a very effective strategy. By providing the type of valuable information that people are looking for, such as how-to articles, tutorials, or expert interviews, you can increase the amount of traffic that comes to your site.

Sites that are regularly updated with new content tend to generate many more leads than those that only add new articles or content irregularly, or not at all. However, it is important to select the right type of content for your target audience. For example, if you want to reach people who are interested in cooking, then recipes or instructional videos are going to be most effective. You can re-purpose the video content by converting it to a podcast or transcribing it and posting it as an article on your site.

A blue thumb's up symbol with words Great Content to illustrate

 

Increase Interest In Your Products

If no one is interested in the products or services that you provide, you will have a hard time staying in business for long. By providing free samples or trials, you can significantly boost the level of interest in a short period of time.

One effective technique for doing so is to offer free trials or free samples. This is particularly effective if you are in the business of selling content. Offer a free sample chapter of an e-book or the first video in a series of instructional videos. If people like what they see, they will be more likely to come back and pay for the rest.

 

Creating A Vibrant Community

Too often, businesses think of their customers in isolation, as separate individuals with no connection to each other. In fact, companies that work to connect their customers and to create a lively community focused on their brand tend to do very well in the marketplace. Content marketing is an excellent tool for building such a community.

Do not just publish your content and forget about it. Instead, ask people to respond to it and to let you know what they think of it. Social sites are an excellent place where people can get together and discuss a particular article or video. Encourage people to provide their own ideas that expand on your content.

When people feel as if they are part of a larger community, they naturally come to feel loyal to that group. By working on building such a community, you can turn casual visitors into loyal customers. Of course, you need to make sure that you keep providing new content so that the community remains active.

 

Grow Your Business written on desert road

 

Building A Brand Image

Your brand is one of your most valuable assets so you need to protect it. A great deal of hard work can be destroyed overnight by a careless tweet or thoughtless post. You need to make sure that all of the content that you post is consistently aimed at creating a positive image for your brand.

Because of this, it is often wise to centralize the production of content. Instead of letting a half-dozen people write articles or create videos, it may be more sensible to put these tasks into the hands of a few trusted employees. This way, you can make sure that nothing is posted that will harm your brand image.

Content marketing needs to play a central role in your strategy for growing your business. By making judicious use of these techniques, you can make sure that your company is able to take advantage of any growth opportunities that may arise.

 

Guest post by Jim Daniels

Jim Daniels has been an online entrepreneur since 1996. He’s been featured in Entrepreneur and Opportunity magazines, as well as other respected periodicals and regularly posts internet marketing strategies to his website.

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