The #hashtag power

Lately I have been doing a lot of work on Instagram. I am not new to the social media giant, but working on it from a business point of view has taught me a few things…


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Lesson 1: Adding #hashtags

We all know that hashtags are an important tool to help grow your brand on Instagram. But did you know that Instagram is designed with an algorithm that favours posts with high engagement? Basically this means the more likes or comments your post receives, the more people will see your post.

Great! So using hashtags with a lot of following will help you reach a wider audience…but take caution. Some hashtags are overused (those that have been posted a million or more times) which might make it difficult for your target audience to find your story among all the rest of the stories associated with the same hashtags.

Okay, so what now? Don’t fear…nothing a bit of hashtag research can’t fix. My advice, search hashtags on Instagram that you would associate with your brand and see what posts you find. This way you will have a better idea of whether you will reach the correct target audience. You will most often find that the narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users will be.

You should focus on using hashtags that describe your brand, product and your target audience. For example, if you promote baby food you can use hashtags such as #freshbabyfood, #normaloldbabyfood, #babyblends and #organicbabyfood. These hashtags clearly describe your brand and product. Now, to describe your target audience, you can use what is called community hashtags. These are Instagram hashtags that connect like-minded users that have the same specific subject in common. Sticking to the baby food example, you can use hashtags such as #girlmom, #babymom, #dailyparenting or #motherhood. Additionally, you can search industry leaders and influencers in your target market to compare the community hashtags that they use. Embracing these tactics are a great way to connect with your target audience, improve the search ability of your posts, gain followers and even grow your own community.

Another useful tip would be not to copy and past the exact same list of hashtags that you would usually add to your posts. When you continue to use the exact same hashtag list over and over again you trigger Instagram’s spam algorithm which will affect your post visibility. You have to switch up your Instagram hashtags in every  single post. It sounds like a tedious task, I know…but at the end of the day it comes down to quality vs quantity. The most effective way to switch up your hashtags is to  first identify the hashtags you would like to incorporate in your social media strategy, sort them into different categories for the different type of content you would like to post, and only use your selected hashtag when they add value to the story your sharing.


1B6FCDD5-B041-4BF8-9C90-79C2E342BFDDLesson 2: Following #hashtags

And then there is the ability to follow hashtags. Why would this add value to your social media strategy? Because when you start to follow a hashtag, you can click on your followings, toggle from the users that you follow to the hashtags that you follow. Instagram then shows you a list of suggested hashtags to follow based on what your interest are… It is a very handy research tool that assists with gathering new suggestions which you can then add to your posts.

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0F2065CE-D3A2-46C7-B00A-DE703AE5B25ELesson 3: Tracking #hashtag success

You can analyse each and every single post to see how it is performing. What exactly do I mean? On Instagram (only when you have a business profile) you can see exactly how effective your post was at attracting your targeted audience. This result is based on impressions from various sources, such as the hashtags that you used. Having access to this information can help you track your hashtag strategy and also narrow down the hashtags that are most effective for your brand.

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You should have no doubts in the #hashtag power – hashtags do still work… Having a hashtag strategy is a great way to connect with your target audience. I think the most vital thing to remember is that you need to be intentional with your hashtag selection; it has to be in line with the kind of hashtags your target audience is searching for and following. So try implementing your own hashtag strategy and discover how it can change your overall audience reach & engagement.

 

 

 

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Finding freedom in being your own boss

Looking back at the last 10 years of life, I am really starting to wonder where the hell I missed my turn-off… I was one of those people who had a plan for my life – I was going to go to university, get a degree (with a distinction) and then step into a corporate position and start climbing the ladder of success. Similar to how they do in the movies.

Jokes aside, I got the degree and I got the ‘sort of‘ corporate position. However, five and a half years later, I feel like I am fading away. You see, I have always been a bit of a creative person. I initially studied into the field of marketing because of the ‘out-of-the-box‘ way you could approach and solve a problem; designing campaigns and promotions, studying consumer behaviour so that my campaigns can appeal to certain behavioural traits leading to an inquiry or sale. I even did a one year course to learn basic Graphic Design skills so that I can involve myself even more creatively when working on projects. Now that was the plan…and unfortunately, in real life, my career did not exactly go in that direction and I somehow ended up feeling like a piece of myself has gone missing. I guess that is how I came to the conclusion that my passions are my passions for a reason. You can only suppress what you are truly passionate about for so long. Ignoring it will start to drive you bonkers. You can trust me on that!

If you don’t take risks, you will always work for someone who does.” – Anonymous 

Happier days are coming. I am slowly but surely pulling myself out of my own rut. Over the past couple of months I have realised that I am what you would call a ‘creative entrepreneur‘.  So basically, being a creative entrepreneur means that you are a talented thinker who combines business acumen with creativity and aesthetic. In other words, you are considered to be an innovator that makes ideas happen…

I took that description to heart and thought to myself: I have an education, a solid knowledge base and some really good skills; so why not put them to good use and help others? And then my project Tall Tale Creative Solutions were born. Going back to my roots, I made myself aware that I actually want to use my marketing and creative background to help small business owners with their marketing efforts. From experience I know how much of your attention is needed to focus on the daily running of your business. Flying solo and even working with a small team doesn’t leave much time for brainstorming on promotional campaigns or planning next month’s social media content. That is where I can make a difference – I hope… I can offer assistance with taking care of telling your brand story, putting word out there that you are open for business and these are your product benefits. I can help built a memorable brand experience. It doesn’t sound difficult and I am not saying that it is, but it can be a time consuming activity when you have more urgent matters to attend too, or you don’t have an extra body that can just focus on your marketing efforts.

Starting Tall Tale Creative Solutions was probably one of the best and scariest decisions that I have ever made. It is proving to be a very exciting journey. I cannot wait to see what the future will hold. If your interested to find out more about the services offered by Tall Tale Creative Solutions, you can visit my website and follow us on social media.


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The strength of content

I am staring at a blank canvas. Ready to develop content for my website and all of sudden, just nothing. Who would have guessed that telling people more about yourself and your business can be this daunting? I mean, in theory it shouldn’t be this hard…

Well, yes it actually is that hard and no it doesn’t have to be. You need to have some patience and you need to give yourself some time. When you create your own content, you have to keep in mind one very vital factor: you only have a few seconds to capture interest. With content, first impressions are everything. It is the initial exposure to your content that will help people determine whether they should spend time reading it. There is a lot of competition out there; so your content needs to be memorable. You have to find a way to be edgy without offending anyone, be willing to challenge and amuse, but without sounding like you are bragging.

That said, you should also keep in mind that people nowadays don’t exactly read properly or even enjoy ready at all. So I would suggest, to capture interest, that your content is created with a mixture of short concise sentences and supported with high quality images or any other visual elements. This will most definitely keep people engaged in your content. It will also make it easier for people to skim through your content to extract the information that they are looking for.

To stand out from the swell, we must quietly say only what is important. Briefly and with care.” – Brian Solis

You should also consider adding some sort of call-to-action to your content. This will increase traffic to your site or social pages. A call-to-action can be a competition, a special offer if they register with your business or even to subscribe to your blog. Whatever option you choose just make sure to place it in such a way to help people identify what to do without them being forced into doing anything.

And then, as with all types of writing…check for errors. I always read my own work 3 times over and still get somebody else to read it as well before I put my work out there. It just looks unprofessional when you publish content that has a spelling error – even if it is just one.

Listen, at the end of the day, your content acts as a marketer for your business. It informs potential customers about your business even while you are asleep… So take your time creating your content. Read and adjust and even re-adjust until you are satisfied with what you have created. And then…you let your content be your word-of-mouth.

“Content is the reason search began in the first place” – Lee Odden

 

 

 

When you embark on a new adventure

As I have mentioned before, I am working on a little project of my own. I am hoping that this project will allow me to embark on a new adventure. But, I have to admit, it is a very scary process. Some of you might already know, but when you offer your services at a cost to other businesses, you open yourself up for criticism and a possible few failures. I suppose, however, it’s all part of the learning curve. It doesn’t really matter how many years of experience you have, you still won’t always know how to approach certain challenges.

So on that note, the biggest challenge for me so far is deciding on how I want to communicate my project to the outside world… It’s great to have an idea and you have compiled your business concept, but then what? How do you tell your potential target market that you are now ready to do business?

I would say step 1 is to identify your audience. Where are your ideal customers, how would they come into contact with your brand and what would they need to do to decide on your product? A helpful way to identify your ideal customer is to create your own personal persona. With my project, my ideal customer are those individuals who have started their own small business. These type of business owners will most likely be running their brand by themselves and have limited time and/or budget to spend on marketing their product. My personal persona would look something like this:

 

Customer Persona

 

Great, so now we know who our customer is. Step 2 would be to find out more about how your customers are spending their time online. How would customers find your product? I would say do a bit of research of keywords and possible traffic sources associated with your kind of product so that it will be easier for customers to find you.

Then, step 3: you need to join the right social media party. Remember, you don’t need to feature on all the social media platforms. You just need to identify those platforms your customers most engage on. Take time to do your research on this one. Each social media platform has its own demographics and allow businesses to tell their story in different ways. Also consider what kind of content you would want to share. For example, if it is more visual like images and videos then Instagram or Pinterest will be a better option than Facebook. Personally, for my project, I would promote myself on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram as my ideal customer is a small business owner.

Lastly, step 4, starting out on your new adventure, I would not suggesting using any traditional marketing to advertise your brand. It can get way too expensive. Stick to digital. Maybe consider leveraging email marketing. It might take some time to build up a proper customer contact list. You will mostly find your customers via offering an email subscription option on your website. Email marketing provides the opportunity for your voice to be heard by people who are actually interested in your product and it makes your communication effort effective.

Just take your time to find the right channels to tell your brand story. Communicating your brand to your ideal customer is key to making a good start. And even after you have introduced your brand, you would need to continuously reinforce that story to keep your brand top mind among your ideal customers.

“You don’t build a business – you build people and then people build the business”

– Anonymous –

 

 

Why marketing?

I have been a bit m.i.a. I do apologise – life happened, well my daytime job-life happened. I have been waiting patiently for things to quiet down a bit because I have this special “project” that I just cannot wait to get started on. And now that I have some time to focus on this “project”, Murphy’s Law has decided to throw me a “brain block”. However, on the other hand, it gave me the inspiration for this post.

Why marketing? What is the importance of marketing? We all know that marketing covers a variety of activities associated with selling a business’ products and services, from advertising to consumer research to promotions and sales. Marketing is also happens to be the core of any business. You see without some sort of marketing, people won’t know that your business exists or that your open for business; which means no sales, no business. Marketing is the process in which you introduce and promote your product or service to potential customers.

Great marketing makes good food taste better. It makes cars run better. It changes the perception of everything.” – George Lois

So, again, why marketing? Marketing is important for the survival and success of your business, because:

Marketing gets the word out

You have to get word out that you have a business and this is what you have to offer so that you will have potential buyers. Marketing is good way to create awareness of your product or service.

Marketing boosts your sales

Once you have been advertising your business and got it on the radar, you will improve your chances of making a sale. Through your marketing efforts you will create the reality that there is chance that a new customer will be spreading the word. As the word of your business spread, you will start to notice an increase in your sales.

Marketing gives your business a reputation

Having a good marketing strategy in place can definitely help with building a brand name for your business. Your reputation will tell customers what kind of a business you are. You have to set high expectations for your business in the public eye. This can be done by actively participating in a community program and by offering high quality products or services that support your marketing efforts. Never over promise and under deliver – marketing is all about the true value that you can offer your potential customer (without decreasing the quality). As your reputation grows, so will your sales increase even further.

Doing business without marketing is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.” – Stuart H Britt

Marketing initiatives can get very expensive, depending on your result driven goals and budget. I would say that it is more important for your business to promote itself efficiently while staying within your limited budget. Good marketing doesn’t always mean you have to spend a lot of money. You can get creative and still get the end results you were hoping for. Start with writing down a list of what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts. Then, do a bit of research, like where your potential buyer find their information. Use that as a foundation for your marketing communication efforts.

It doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be expensive. You just have to know your potential customer good enough to speak their language on the platforms they most engage on. As easy as one, two, three…again, know your marketing goals and know your potential customer.

The best marketing you can have it a loyal customer spreading the word about how incredible your business is.” – Shep Hyken

 

 

 

 

Know Your Customer.

What a week it has been. I have been clocking long days, just going home to eat, shower and sleep. It sounds exhausting, and trust me it is… You see we are currently working on a major event to celebrate our brand history – aka our birthday.  This will be an event for the history books. We have never done something as big as what we are preparing for and trust me, it involves a lot – and I mean a lot – of preparation…

When you work on such a big event, it is important to keep in mind the type of customer you are catering for. Your efforts should match your customer interest. There is no point in putting together an event that will not provide your brand with some sort of call-to-action.

“Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.”

-Dan Zarrella-

It is vital to remember that not everyone on your database will be the right customer for your new product. This means that you need to analyse the benefits of this new product and match it up with the right target group. Sorry, but it does require a bit of homework on your part. Different customers have different needs and wants. It is your job to identify those customers whose needs and wants match up with your product benefits. Identifying the correct target group for your new product will allow you to better know your customer base in order to align your marketing strategy efforts in such a way that it will lead to the successful implementation of your new product into the market.

Here are a couple of tips on how to identify your correct target group:

  • Be as exact as possible when defining your ideal customer for your new product. Don’t define your target group too broadly; list the needs and wants you want to fulfil. You don’t want to create an opening for a competitor.
  • Once you have a clear description of who your customer is, analyse their behavioural patterns. For example, which social media platforms do they engage on, what kind of articles to they read…
  • Now put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. Develop a marketing strategy for your new product. Test this strategy by using a focus group (who has the same characteristics as your target group) to determine how they will react and whether you are on the right track.
  • And then, your execute and monitor. Emphasis on monitor – it is important to continuously track your marketing efforts to ensure that you attract the correct target group.

Before you start spending money on marketing your new product, you need to really know your customer. You can end up waisting a lot of money and gamble away the success of your brand if you approach launching your product blindly. Understanding the customer you want to sell your product to plays a vital role in the success of your marketing strategy. You don’t need to be an expert to understand your target group; but you do need to stay open minded and if you find that you are doing something wrong, admit it and try to improve on it. You just need to figure out the message that your prospective target group is ready to receive.

The more you know about your customers, the more you can provide to them information that is increasingly useful, relevant and persuasive.”

-Jay Baer-

 

 

 

The Silent Ambassador of a Brand

It is so easy to come up with business ideas; what products to sell or which services to provide. But do you ever stop and think HOW your business idea will impact the consumer? Is your business idea actually NEEDED in your community?

A business idea is just that – an idea, until you can link a genuine purpose to it. We live in a world where there are a lot of problems. Designing your business idea or your brand  for that matter, should not revolve around the profits. Sure making a profit is vital for a brand to survive. However, your target customer should be your first priority. Ask yourself “What are the current problems in your community?” and “How will your brand improve your community?” If you can develop your brand based on the foundation of addressing a genuine problem within your community, you won’t really have a problem finding customers.

You see, designing a brand is like making a PROMISE to your customer. You tell them what they can expect from you, the benefits that they will enjoy when they support your brand. An easy way to design your brand is to sit and think about who you are, who you want to be and who your customer will perceive you to be. Again, you need to focus on the problem you want to solve – how you can improve people’s standard of living. 

Successful brands of the future care about people, not branding.

DESIGN is the silent ambassador of your brand. You need to clearly define who you are and what your purpose is. This refers to how you design and executive the following aspects that will form part of your brand:

  • Your logo should clearly reflect your brand story; who you are
  • Your brand message should communicate to your customer the story behind its design, why you started this brand and the benefits they will enjoy when becoming a part of your brand family
  • Your tagline should be memorable, meaningful and concise to capture the core essence of your brand story
  • The look and feel of your marketing materials should be designed to portray your brand story; consider aspects such your colour scheme, logo placement and marketing channels that should fall in line with your brand story
  • You should always be true to your brand and the story it tells; if you don’t deliver on your brand promise, your customer won’t return and surely won’t refer anyone else

 

I used brand story a lot in the above bullet points… Designing your brand is the most important part of starting up your business. You have to be consistent in the message that you put out there when you promote your brand. Running a successful business depends a lot on the trust that develops between your brand and your customer. Nowadays customers don’t care about your business but they do care about their problems. It is in your hands to be the solution that they are looking for.

Brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product over another”

-Seth Godin-