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      10 Ways to Move an In-Person Service Business Online


      We know you’ve been adapting to a new normal these days. 

      You’re a slave to your in-home wifi, your social interactions are taking place behind a screen, and your work “watercooler” moments are happening online, not around the office Keurig. But if you’re a business owner, those aren’t the only ways your working life has been transformed over the last few months. 

      Businesses are being profoundly affected by the global state of affairs. This is an unprecedented time for everyone, and as such, we’re learning to adapt and pivot how we do business.

      “It’s absolutely critical for businesses to pivot right now because the economic environment has completely changed,” says Jeremy Knauff, CEO of Spartan Media. “You can’t keep doing what used to work because everything is different right now. We’re facing a Darwinian business event unfolding.”

      Service professionals especially have been feeling the strain of how to transform their in-person business models into streamlined digital operations. Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? We don’t think so.

      In this guide, we’re outlining 10 creative and lucrative ways that your service-based business can continue to make money and provide value during quarantine, while still planting seeds for future growth. 

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      10 Ways to Move Your In-Person Biz Online

      1. Analyze Your Business Plan

      Before you jump into a new money-making effort, it’s helpful to take a look at your business as it currently operates (or did, pre-pandemic). With that in mind, consider: What will pivoting really look like for your business?

      “It could be a very small change in your business model, such as how you’ll deliver your services,” says Susana Fonticoba of Clear Path Marketing. “Or it could be a major change that disrupts the who, what, where, and how. Whatever changes you make in your business model, it must always satisfy the revenue you need to survive, the income you want to thrive, the type of clients you’ll serve, the clients’ deep goals, and the offers you’ll sell to fulfill it all.”

      Take the restaurant industry, which has been hit particularly hard during quarantine. Many have pivoted by offering curbside and delivery service but have still faced massive loss. Na’ama Moran, co-founder and CEO of the restaurant supply company, Cheetah, took a unique approach to deal with her industry’s changing business landscape due to COVID-19. Moran switched from serving as a wholesale restaurant supplier into a grocery delivery service, selling direct to consumers.

      “Moran leveraged Cheetah’s infrastructure, staff, inventory, and technology to provide a streamlined way for people to purchase food and cleaning supplies without any contact with other people,” Knauff explains. “This unique pivot enabled the company to continue moving their inventory while supporting their local community.

      2. Adapt Your Services

      Even if your business offers in-person service, there can be ways to safely continue providing those services — with necessary modifications and added digital provisions. 

      Take the recent adjustments made by lawn care company GreenPal. We have changed up processes for how our vendor partners interact with their clients,” says Bryan Clayton, GreenPal co-founder. “We now have instituted a contactless procedure for when a homeowner hires a lawn care professional to mow their yard.”

      Because of these adjustments in operations, GreenPal has “seen a 17% conversion rate in many of the markets that we operate in,” Clayton adds.

      If your target audience is more hesitant to loosen the purse strings during an uncertain time, you can utilize digital tools to yield future growth.

      “More than anything, people are afraid to spend money right now,” says Bri Henke, owner and Design Director at Dig. “Because everything that used to be guaranteed just isn’t anymore — jobs, food, school, toilet paper — nothing feels safe about our world right now. So spending money on a luxury, like design, is slowing down. Right now, people are thinking about what they want to change about their home, and for that, I am trying to build up an e-design/concept package level to my business where we don’t have to physically interact, but we can make some positive changes to their space”

      3. Offer One-on-One Training or Tutorials

      Even when you’re taking your business online, you can still provide that essential person-to-person experience indispensable to service-based businesses.

      “A service is a personal experience,” says Jermaine Amado, photographer and owner of J Amado Photography. “It’s about building on the relationship with your client. So why not find a way to offer one-on-one support to your client through a video call? You could guide them through the process of taking photos, planning meals for the week, or a pedicure.”

      And pivoting your business for COVID-19 helps you not only prepare for future economic challenges but offers you a chance to target new audiences.

      “By offering one-on-one online photography courses and camera training, I feel like I was able to reach a new client base,” Amado says. “Adapting my services has allowed me to venture into an all-digital world where I don’t have to travel to offer my services.”

      No matter what field of industry your business occupies, you can adapt to bring offerings online.

      4. Offer Value Through Online Learning

      In addition to providing virtual services, you can make the most of the digital landscape by sharing your hard-earned knowledge, while establishing yourself as an authority and building your brand visibility. This strategy can help your business remain viable during a crisis and attract clients.

      For example, as a result of COVID-19, Southern Tax Preparation & Services moved from providing educational resources as part of its paid services to making those materials readily available through social media platforms and online communities, email campaigns, live video conferencing, and a podcast. This strategy shift is boosting the business in big ways.

      “We are establishing ourselves as an authority in the accounting and finance industry, and our audience’s desire to establish and maintain a stable financial structure has also increased,” says Jasmine Young, MBA, CPA, CFE, andSouthern Tax founder. “The increase in revenue from client referrals to purchase services that assist in creating a stable financial foundation is an obvious indication that our decision to pivot . . . was a step in the right direction for our company, as our gross income for the past quarter was 75% of last year’s gross income for the entire year.”

      The knowledge you have is valuable. Utilize it!

       

      5. Curate Customized Product Kits

      Pivoting your traditional business in difficult times is necessary to establish multiple revenue streams to compensate for the loss of income from main offerings. This has been especially vital for hair salons in the UK, as governments may limit their re-opening for another six months. 

      HairCraze by Naomi, a salon in Wales, has innovated new strategies to offer value and boost its online business. They filmed a video on DIY haircutting, and a banner ad was placed on their website and Facebook page notifying visitors that the video is accessible to people who subscribe to their email or newsletter. According to their marketing company, this tactic has helped the business build up a stack of email addresses from potential customers to hit up and market to once the lockdown ends.

      HairCraze by Naomi has also contacted their current clients that regularly utilize hair coloring services, offering to make dye for them based on their individual hair profile. These dyes can be mailed or delivered to customers at a discounted cost, helping them maintain color between salon visits — a better-than-boxed-dye solution at a cheaper-than-a-salon-visit price. 

      Now that’s creative innovation.

      6. Learn and Incorporate New Tech

      The health and fitness industry is seeing creative solutions to the prohibition on in-person gatherings as they seek to incorporate innovation and recoup lost earnings through digital offerings.

      Soofi Safavi, an entrepreneur and hot yoga enthusiast, pivoted his yoga business to operate virtually during the pandemic. When COVID-19 caused him to close his studios, instructors struggled with online class logistics and lost income, and his customers were without the habits they needed for their physical and mental health. Safavi acted quickly to create Wizard.fit, an integrated fitness app that allows instructors to virtually teach classes, collect payment, and instruct in a way that simulates a live studio. 

      Adapting to offer your business’ services on a digital platform doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. With the right network and tools, you can get virtual offerings up and running fast.

      “There are a myriad of opportunities available online for service-based workers,” said James Dyble, Managing Director of Global Sound Group. “For example, if you’re a personal trainer, jump on YouTube and start providing your services with that method. Possibly, even have a membership website or a mentoring program. . . . If the content is right, then the revenue will follow.”

      7. Improve How You Engage

      Running a business behind a screen can be a challenge for service-based companies that rely on an in-person relationship. Use this time as an opportunity to refine and improve the ways that you engage and connect with audiences.

      First, update your website during this crisis. Make sure your customers are aware of what new or adjusted services you’re providing during social distancing. Then, take connection a step further.

      “As an events producer, I enable entrepreneurs, speakers, and organizations to have engaging events. Wow, did COVID-19 ever change that!” says Connie Zeller of C.Zeller Events. “I’m fortunate that I have amazing clients who could see the value of a pivot. While a virtual event can’t deliver the energy, physical connection, gift bags, food, and the overall live experience, it can still deliver an impactful message and reach the goals and visions of a live event.”

      Thoughtfully consider and plan how you’re going to provide your winning service in digital environments. Without the in-person connection, your business needs to use available tech in innovative ways to prioritize your audiences and nurture relationships.

      “Technology is allowing connection in such a productive way without having to leave your home,” Henke says. “So the opportunity to offer your clients your time still exists; it will just be through a screen. Reassuring your clients that they still get you, I think, is key in all of this — rather than just them feeling that they are only worth an email. [Clients] need to know that we are still there with them, it is just in a different capacity than before.” 

      8. Expand Your Virtual Marketing Techniques

      As a professional organizer, Diane Eisenstein, founder and “Chief Organization Officer” of The Tidy Abode, has been experimenting with the addition of virtual services to her in-person business, offering coaching via FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom.

      “The most exciting part of it is that I have reached people from all around the country this way,” she says. “So many people staying at home want to be productive and get organized, but they get stuck on one part of the project. That’s where I come in! I give them advice on potential solutions and the products they need to get it done. I don’t get the big reveal moment at the end of a project, but I do see the ‘aha moments’ when I give my clients a suggestion that would work for their space.”

      Social media is likely already a part of your marketing strategy, so continue to expand your social media techniques to boost business! Host live tutorials on Instagram, Facebook, Zoom, or Youtube Live so you can communicate with your supporters in the comments in real-time. You can then upload these videos online to boost engagement and visibility.

      As a writer and vocal teacher for MusicGrotto.com, James Croad has been utilizing YouTube Tutorials to continue his vocal and guitar lessons remotely.

      “As a service professional, the transition hasn’t been easy, but it wasn’t impossible either,” Croad says. “It just takes a little bit of ingenuity! Regardless of the service you provide, we live in a digital age where there are multiple online platforms that can improve your business regardless of the quarantine. If you’ve got some grit and are willing to experiment, you can find a goldmine of efficient and profitable business practices online.”

      As you pivot and find things that work, market them vigorously. 

      “We are offering both free training and paid virtual 30-day masterminds to help businesses creatively explore their options and accordingly tweak or pivot their services,” says Janis Pettit, CEO of The 10x Zone.

      “For example, one company provides in-home occupational therapy for special needs children, and their business was down 70%. They decided to try teletherapy and it was approved by the insurance companies. After testing it and getting great results, we developed an aggressive marketing plan to promote it. It’s working, and weekly visits are going up quickly. And the best part? They can now serve clients not just locally as before but in the entire state!”

      Taking advantage of every opportunity to make $$$ (and build a loyal audience) can serve you well and help you develop the creative entrepreneurship needed to run a successful business, no matter the conditions.

      9. Expand Your Offerings

      Why not try something completely new? Offering a novel service to clients can expand your business — and your audience.

      “Since lockdown, I have recorded myself making healthy meals and putting them in the Whatsapp group that I have set up with my clients,” says Elliott Reimers, a certified nutrition coach at Rave Reviews. “They’re contributing a small amount each per month for these tips. In addition, I am making up batches of the meals I recorded and then dropping them outside clients’ houses once a week.”

      By supplying unique offerings, checking in with clients, and keeping a positive attitude, you can meaningfully connect with your audiences and provide value.

      How can other businesses do this?

      • Nail salons can curate and send clients boxes of supplies with illustrated (or video) instructions on how to care for their nails. 
      • A massage therapist can film a video of how to pinpoint trouble spots in muscles and how a tennis ball or foam roller can alleviate the pain. Then they can sell and schedule a private one-on-one session via Zoom to walk through this process with the client.
      •  An esthetician can schedule private video sessions to examine clients’ skin and recommend and order specific products for the client.
      • Physical trainers can provide virtual workouts or home-workout tips, creating video tutorials or doing it with them virtually to boost both of your physical activity and gains. They could also sell different protein shakes or guided meal plans.
      • Cleaning companies similarly can sell their cleaning products, supplied with step-by-step tutorials on how to clean various home spaces. 

      And all businesses can offer gift cards!

      10. Continue to Incorporate Digital Options

      Bringing parts of your business online can be a massive benefit to you as you target new audiences and expand your offerings. So don’t stop that momentum when things return to business as (mostly) usual. Keep utilizing the power of tech to boost your business. 

      “One valuable aspect of a digital service-based business is the convenience factor,” Eisenstein says. “In-person services require travel time, prep time, and schedules that need to be matched up. Even after COVID-19 conditions end, I will most likely conduct consultations over video calls, plus I plan to incorporate more virtual coaching into my schedule so I can reach more people around the world.”

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      Re-Homing Your Business in a Digital Landscape

      Pivoting your business into a digital landscape isn’t just valuable — it’s essential right now. Not only can virtual adaptation help you keep your business afloat, but it can ultimately help you run a better, more successful business in the future as you refine how you market, engage, and incorporate technology. 

      “The economic environment and marketplace have shifted, and the ‘new normal’ will not go back to the way things were,” Pettit says. “Businesses that don’t have a way to serve their customers’ needs as they are now will struggle or even fail. Look at businesses in the past that didn’t — Blackberry, MySpace, Sears, and many more. There is great opportunity here if you can creatively embrace it.”

      If you want to get your business up-and-running online and flex those creative muscles, you need to start at the beginning: partnering with a great web host for your site. We can help you set up your online presence — at a safe, virtual distance.



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      Expert Advice: 11 Ways Small Businesses Can Pivot to Survive a Crisis


      Every entrepreneur knows that starting a small business is never easy. There are a few challenges that are to be expected — from building the perfect team to discovering exactly who your customer is, to creating a social media presence, just to name a few.

      One thing we never expected? Dealing with the economic blowout from a global pandemic.

      No matter what type of small business you have, everyone has experienced consequences from the coronavirus outbreak. That’s precisely why small businesses must be able to pivot in order to survive a crisis.

      “It is important to always listen to customer needs and to respond, but at a time when customer needs and demand is changing, it is critical for small businesses to pay attention to what customers are saying, how they are responding and what their needs are,” says Deborah S. Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. “For small businesses to continue to remain relevant, they have to listen and respond. It is an opportunity to learn and grow as a business owner and to leverage entrepreneurial skills when they are most needed.”

      So, how can you be nimble these days?

      While every type of business has to act according to their market, there are a few universal rules that apply. Here are 11 ways small businesses can adapt to pull through the coronavirus crisis — and practically any crisis.

      11 Ways Your Small Biz Can Pivot to Survive a Crisis

      1. Adjust your offerings based on new customer demands and needs.

      It might seem obvious that entrepreneurs will need to switch up their business model to stay afloat during this crisis. The tricky part is figuring out how to change.

      “These shifts should be made in changing customer choices and industry trends and not simply in response to changes in economics,” says Bob Minhas, Founder and Lead Trainer for eSchool for Entrepreneurs. “Of course, shifting in economics will always lead to shifting customer choices, so they are generally aligned. However, a shift in economics is reactive, whereas a shift from purposeful research is proactive.”

      To figure out how to begin, Minhas suggests starting with market research. First, study what the economic experts are saying and learn what has changed in the national, regional, and local economies. Think about your industry and what the experts in your field are saying about its shift. Finally, talk to your existing and potential ideal customer base to determine what they need and if your skillset can support that.

      “Compiling all the information here will allow you to put something together and then just offer, offer, offer,” Minhas says. “Get people in to test your offer so you can continue to refine until it’s working and bringing in the revenue you need. Keep in mind that in this specific economic situation, it’s not a good idea to make a hard pivot you cannot come back from. You only want to pivot enough so that you are still within the realm of your expertise as that credibility of what you do is needed for customers to still trust you.”

      Plus, once the economy bounces back, you’ll want to be able to return to your initial business, or at least a modified version.  Potentially, this pivot can also stay as a new revenue source.

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      2. Always be prepared to work remotely.

      As a small business owner, you’ve most likely learned that planning ahead is key to success.

      “I always advise companies to plan for certain risks and make contingency plans, one of which is typically being forced to work from home,” says Jaryd P. Kase, Principal at Kase Consulting, LLC. “Of course, you don’t always have the benefit of being able to plan in advance. I would take advantage of cloud-based storage options such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft One Drive, etc. so that employees can access files from home computers. Take security precautions into consideration and don’t allow sensitive material to flow freely, but you should allow people enough access that they can do their jobs.”

      If your team is struggling with how to stay focused while working from home, these 16 strategies can help.

      Video conferencing enables people to work on team projects and keep the office on the same page. There are plenty of options from companies like Microsoft, Google, and Zoom, among others. “Some are free, some cost a little money,” Kase says. “Compare the features and pick what is best for you.”

      3. Keep up daily team meetings.

      With everything in flux, it’s even more important to keep your employees up to speed. “Normally, team members can sync outside of their regular meetings with a quick desk visit or a water cooler visit,” says Chris Sica, Chief Revenue Officer of The Ronin Society. “Because these no longer exist in a work-from-home situation, you need to supplement them with increased meetings to make sure people get unstuck or remove blockers in their projects.”

      Plus, meetings can actually be a morale booster when the going gets tough. If your team is feeling isolated while working from home, you can even create watercooler moments while working remotely. Plus, chatting on Facebook Live, for example, can be a much-need way of staying social while social distancing.

      “Virtual team meetings let people see that they are still part of a team and not just stuck in solitude,” Kase says. “I usually allow a bit more leniency for going off-topic and joking around just because people have that need for human interaction that they are not getting from working in the office. When it comes to discussing work, though, this is where everyone can give updates on where they are on their tasks, ask for help, and congratulate a team member on a job well done.”

      4. Boost your communication with customers.

      “Communication is an important factor during this time to help maintain your customers’ feeling of confidence,” Minhas says. “However, I find that a number of businesses focus on outbound communication, meaning they’re talking more than they are listening. Communication with customers needs to be a balancing act. Listen to what the most common questions coming in are and create outbound communication related to that.”

      Keep communication lines open during this time. For example, create a space such as a FAQ page and quickly respond to any outreach from clients. “Be sure to invest in a ticket system to track communication effectively among your team,” Minhas advises.

      5. Stick to a daily schedule.

      With the world feeling upside down right now, it’s hard to remember what day it is. But that’s even more reason you should create a schedule — and be strict about following it.

      “It’s difficult to stay on track with so much going on (and not going on),” Sweeney says. “Hence, it’s critically important to plan and strategize and have an organized structure for your day. Have a schedule — wake up, exercise, eat healthfully, stay organized, get work done, communicate with team members and customers, and save time for strategy and organization of yourself for the upcoming day.”

      6. Work on what can be done in the present.

      One of the many challenges of the coronavirus crisis is not knowing when things will return to normal. Since we can’t predict the future — even when we’re not in a global pandemic — focus on the now.

      “Small business owners need to prioritize the survival of their company,” Kase says. “That means making sure that proper financing, communication, staff retention, customer outreach, etc., are occurring. Beyond that, business leaders cannot forget about their longer-term goals. Goals for 2020 might be shot at this point; you likely will not hit your revenue numbers. Your 5- to 10-year goals, however, should be able to absorb a bump in the road, and you need to make adjustments to your strategy and tactics to ensure that you are still on course for reaching those goals.”

      7. Improve your skill set.

      Just like people are using their newfound time to learn a language or start meditating, that self-improvement can trickle over to your business too. There are many areas where small businesses could use a boost.

      “It’s time to learn how to write great articles and emails,” Sica says. “It’s important to learn how to get good pictures and videos of yourself, your team, and your product or service. It’s time to learn digital marketing, how to use social media, and how to build an audience organically. It’s time to learn how to vet digital marketing agencies. It’s time to learn how to manage your finances more seriously so you can be more competitive with your pricing and sales offerings.”

      8. Continue to network.

      It might seem counterintuitive to prioritize networking while social distancing, but it’s a great way to keep your business going strong.

      “Right now everyone is in a similar situation: The economy is struggling, unemployment is high, customers have been told not to leave their houses and businesses have been told to close,” Kase says. “Networking in a time like this can be both therapeutic and educational. It’s therapeutic in the sense that you can commiserate with other small business owners who are dealing with similar problems and educational in the sense that you may be able to learn what has worked well for someone else and try it for your own business. Meeting for coffee may now be talking on LinkedIn or Zoom, but the concept is still the same. There are plenty of places online where small business owners congregate, and a large portion of them would love to network.”

      9. Get feedback.

      It’s always important to know what your colleagues and clients think, but now you might have more time to implement changes based on their suggestions.

      “Feedback right now is the best market research tool,” Minhas says. “Consumers are going through a shift in their buying behavior, so to understand the gap of what they need and what we are delivering is an important way to maintain relevance to them and, in turn, having them continue to spend money with us.”

      It’s not just your clients that you should be touching base with — hearing from your staff is equally important. “Feedback from team members ensures you’re able to maintain productivity as a team and that team members are invested in the success of what your company is trying to achieve,” Minhas says. “They buy into your common goal and mission when they feel heard.”

      Finally, you can also reach out to leaders and mentors within your field for suggestions on how to improve your own personal skill sets.

      10. Stay positive.

      Looking on the bright side is especially challenging during tough times, so remind yourself that there is always a silver lining. “Silver-lining observations are often a hallmark of entrepreneurs,” Sweeney says. “Learning to take the opportunities from challenges is a critical aspect to adapting to change and growth. Business owners need to find order out of chaos … and be the voice of reason, observation, and opportunity when others cannot or do not see it.”

      To help your staff feel more optimistic too, empower them during this difficult time. For example, encourage team members to develop their skills during their downtime.

      “If you have an employee who is looking to grow in the company, this might be a great time to suggest reading up or training on some specific skills,” Kase suggests. “They can come back to the office when the economy is back open and use those skills in their work, showing you not only their dedication but also that they might be ready for that promotion.”

      Another critical way to empower employees is by listening to them. “Your employees might have some great ideas on how to weather this storm, so don’t feel like you as the owner need to have all of the answers,” Kase suggests. “Set up a virtual brainstorming meeting. Even if nothing comes of it, just being invited to sit at the table is an empowering gesture.”

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      11. Ask for help.

      The coronavirus pandemic has changed the economic landscape and created a financial crisis, so there are new government resources available to small business owners. Consider taking advantage of them to stay afloat.

      “Additionally, there are a few other programs that are potential options,” Sica says. “The Main Street Lending Program is a four-year loan with interest and principal payments deferred for one year. There are a number of large corporations offering special grants, and federal taxes have been delayed until July 15th for both personal and business. Each individual city seems to have a list of solutions applicable to their citizen businesses; search ‘[your city + COVID resources + small business].’”

      Ready for a Successful Pivot?

      No doubt about it — this is an uncertain time for small businesses. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from hosting websites for the last two decades, it’s that entrepreneurs are a scrappy (and smart!) bunch.

      You’ve got this, and we’re here to help.



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      17 Ways to Build a Massive Following on Instagram for Your Website


      Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms among younger users. Even so, “Gen Z” might still be ignoring your image feed. While this may be frustrating, it’s not an insurmountable problem.

      Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to take a well-rounded approach to Instagram infamy. This means you can take advantage of the 200 million Instagram users who visit business-niche profiles daily — including the key 18–24 demographic.

      In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes Instagram such a hot property for marketing right now. Then, we’ll show you how to create a strategy and highlight 17 growth tactics you can put to work. Let’s get started!

      What Makes Instagram a Valuable Marketing Tool for Your Website

      Instagram continues to be one of the fastest-growing social media platforms available. In fact, it’s grown 5–6% in terms of users in the United States over the past year, continues to trend upward, and is actually more popular among teenagers than adults.

      Given this, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using the Instagram app as a marketing platform:

      • It’s visual. We all know the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words” — it almost applies to Instagram itself. Your images can reach millions of people on the platform and can quickly deliver valuable visual messages about your business.
      • You can start for free. You can jump on Instagram within seconds to start an account at no cost. While advanced features and Instagram ads have a price tag, you can still use the platform to build a following and post brand-relevant content.
      • Integrations are easy. Integrating with other social channels (such as Facebook) is a snap. This means you can post to multiple platforms with a minimum of clicks.

      Additionally, when it comes specifically to dedicated advertising features, you can also use Instagram’s popular Stories ads option. In fact, Clif Bar did this — and when they used quirky, memorable videos across all formats, it resulted in a 28-point lift in ad recall among followers.

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      How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy

      When it comes to marketing on Instagram, some best practices can help enhance your results. As a foundation, note that establishing a strategy is not the equivalent of posting pictures when you feel like it.

      Some helpful starting points for setting your strategy include:

      • Identify Your Instagram Goals. SMART goals are valuable when it comes to creating a measurable plan. In this case, it’s best to set your goals so they fall within the strengths the Instagram platform offers.
      • Research Your Target Audience. The more you know about your potential customers, the more likely you are to deliver content they’ll be interested in. Google’s Consumer Insights tool can help you gather valuable audience research data.
      • Set Your Instagram Theme. This should support your brand and overall business mission and vision. All of your content should then tie into that theme.
      • Choose Your Growth Tactics. Keeping up to date with Instagram trends can help you implement your next steps with the platform. By doing this, you’ll be much better prepared to take the next level with Instagram marketing, when your business shows signs it’s ready to grow.

      With the above in mind, some specific tactics can help you build a massive following on Instagram. After all, you want as many targeted followers as you can get for your marketing efforts to pay off.

      17 Ways to Build a Massive Following on Instagram

      Instagram offers some unique, visual opportunities that are not as prevalent on other platforms. Given this, here are 17 tips to help as you begin marketing with Instagram.

      1. Use the Best Filters

      Instagram filters are a way to apply corrective or artistic features to your images without the need to use editing software. These are applied before you post an image to your feed.

      Instagram offers quite a few filters already built into the app. These typically play with the color and light in your images. However, filters can be used to help create a cohesive look for your feed. By including in-house guidance regarding which filters can and can’t be used by your marketing team, followers will begin to associate it with your brand.

      2. Post Consistently

      Posting consistently lets your followers know they can always rely on fresh content from you. This means they’ll also be more likely to make your feed a regular stop when they get online. One way to do this is to create a content calendar like the example Instagram provides.

      ‘Instagram’s sample content calendar’.

      When it comes to posting content, consistency can also help build trust with users. This is one way you can use Instagram to build and maintain relationships with your customers.

      3. Use Relevant Hashtags

      The “hashtag” — also called the “pound” sign or “octothorpe” — is used to make certain phrases or words in a post searchable. This helps categorize them and makes it easier for visitors to find the content they’re looking for.

      Hashtags are meant to be used often, but you do have to watch for those not representing your brand well enough. For the right hashtags, using the same ones consistently can lead to higher rates of engagement with your visitors.

      Additionally, if you use an Instagram business account, you can access data about your hashtags and see which ones perform the best.

      4. Organize Your Stories into Highlights on Your Profile

      Instagram Stories enables you to combine images and videos together into a dynamic slideshow on your feed. To give you more control over your stories and how viewers see them, Instagram introduced the “Highlights” feature.

      ‘Example of Highlights from the Ellen DeGeneres Show Instagram feed’.

      Highlights remain visible until you take them down, so they’re akin to pinned posts on other platforms.

      This is a dynamic way to make sure users who are new to your feed get the most critical information front and center — for example, Highlights relating to your brand story or goals.

      5. Utilize Video

      Overall, marketers overwhelmingly agree that video ads give them a worthwhile Return On Investment (ROI). It can also help you develop leads and directly increase sales. While your videos are limited to 60 seconds (with the exception of IGTV), you can enhance them with filters, hashtags, text, and location tags.

      Although it started out strictly as a photo-sharing platform, Instagram quickly added the ability for users to share short videos. These videos can be used to leverage content such as influencer interviews or product demonstrations as a way to engage with your followers.

      6. Geotag Your Instagram Photos

      Instagram uses geolocation technology to afford users the ability to tag their posts with their exact location. This can be helpful when trying to build a following. For example, if your business doesn’t have a listed location on Instagram, you can use your connected Facebook account to create one.

      Once you’ve done this, visitors to your business can tag their posts with your location. This gives you a lot of visibility throughout Instagram and also allows you the opportunity to use geotagging to run contests, promote events, or find influencers in your area.

      7. Post at Ideal Times

      Saying that there is one definitive “best time” for posting on Instagram is not simple. Data collected by different marketing firms shows a wide variety of peak times. However, collecting some of your own data is likely the best way to target the ideal time for your audience.

      Instagram Business accounts can view insights for their account in three main areas. This includes content, activity, and audience. Keeping track of these stats can help you determine the best time to post so you reach more followers. Additionally, the days you post also have an impact on how well your posts and promotions are received.

      8. Cross-Post on Other Platforms

      Cross-posting is a technique used to easily push your Instagram posts out to other platforms.

      For example, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable you to connect Instagram to your WordPress website using a plugin such as Blog2Social.

      ‘The Blog2Social plugin for WordPress’.

      With this, you can send your blog posts to Instagram or vice versa. Even if you cross-post your content manually, it’s an excellent way to reach users who only use one particular platform and would miss out on your content otherwise.

      9. Socialize With Your Followers

      Instagram gives you a great way to connect with your followers. It has very few on-screen distractions, and you can guide the conversation with the imagery you use.

      Even more importantly, customers want brands to connect with them — they’re more likely to purchase from brands with a strong social media presence. In fact, 76% of people said they are more likely to choose a brand they feel connected to over other choices.

      10. Invite Your Followers to Share Posts With Friends

      Whether you encourage your followers to share your content through contests or by simply asking them to, social sharing is a powerful tool. This is mainly because, unlike other forms of advertising, social sharing can grow exponentially.

      For example, what if one of your followers, who happens to have 1,000 followers of their own, shares your post? Of course, there are additional views up for grabs — not to mention what happens if each of those users shares your post too.

      This is a time-honored technique that’s tailor-made for social media. In fact, it should be foundational to your overall approach.

      11. Share User-Generated Content

      User-Generated Content (UGC) does what it says on the tin. This kind of engagement can be very exciting for loyal customers and employs simple hashtags, submission forms, and more.

      One example of UGC is Wayfair’s #wayfairathome campaign.

      ‘Wayfair’s UGC content campaign on Instagram’.

      With over 43,000 posts from users, you can see how UGC can be an effective way to fill out your content calendar and get your users excited to engage with your Instagram feed. With a concept users can get behind, it’s one of the more successful ways to build an Instagram following.

      12. Collaborate With Other Users and Brands in Your Niche

      When you reach out to collaborate with other users and brands in your niche, you can accomplish a couple of major goals.

      1. This is a good way to find a potential instagram influencer who might want to promote your business.
      2. Finding brands in your niche market not directly competing for the same customers can be mutually beneficial. You can essentially double your reach by joining forces with a complementary brand to market both products collaboratively across both feeds.

      13. Engage With Your Competitor’s Followers

      Contrary to what you may think, it’s OK to leverage your competitor’s followers. First, establish your niche and gather some valuable search data. To do this, you can use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner or your own Instagram Insights.

      Once you know what to search for, you can begin reviewing your competitor’s feeds. The idea is to look for popular hashtags that are used by your competition’s followers and then follow their feeds. Many people have their accounts set to “auto-follow” their own new followers, which potentially means you’ll gain some new visitors.

      14. Run a Giveaway

      We’ve mentioned giveaways previously, but it’s worth dedicating more time to the concept. There are a lot of applications available to help you create and run giveaways on your Instagram account. Most require users to share the post in addition to either inviting a friend or reposting content.

      ‘The Rafflecopter giveaway app’.

      There are plenty of steps to consider here. You’ll need to set a deadline and outline the actions the user needs to take in order to be eligible, before choosing a winner.

      Overall, this method is a frontrunner for boosting shares, engagement, and visibility among your users.

      15. Pay for Sponsored Posts

      If you’re familiar with Facebook’s post-boosting options, you can achieve the same thing on Instagram. Sponsoring a post means you can pay to have it placed in feeds outside your follower list.

      This means you won’t have to create new content to sponsor. Another benefit of using this method is that you’ll also be able to choose relevant targeting criteria to make sure it’s delivered to your chosen audience. This can include age, location, and interests.

      16. Hop on Viral Trends

      Making your own version of a popular meme is a fun way to take advantage of viral trends. One example of this is the celebrity reaction to the “Dolly Parton” meme.

      ‘The viral Dolly Parton meme’.

      Celebrities took up the challenge and posted their own versions. Brands can do this too, using sites such as Digg. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your company’s humor in a way that can remain relevant to your brand.

      17. Use Analytics to Measure Success

      Remember those SMART goals we mentioned earlier? Don’t forget to use your data to measure your success and set your sights on where to improve.

      Since it’s not really feasible to implement all of these tactics at the same time, you’ll want to monitor performance to see which ones garner the best outcomes based on your goals. You can use the built-in Insights option to collect data or try a free, third-party collection tool.

      Ready to Hone Your Social Media Strategy?

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      Build Brand Awareness With a Successful Instagram Strategy

      As you can see, there are many tactics you can implement on Instagram to create a strategy that will gain your target market’s trust and a massive following. It might seem overwhelming, but Instagram is also fun, engaging, and worth the effort to market to users.

      A cohesive theme throughout your feed is one of the cornerstones of the strategy. Additionally, you can easily leverage concepts such as UGC, as well as collaborations with other brands in your niche, to gain followers. Ultimately, you’ll want to aim to create an attainable set of goals and make sure your tactics line up with those.

      It can be easy to lose sight of your goals once you’re in the trenches using all the tools we’ve discussed. One thing you shouldn’t have to worry about, though? Your web host. Check out our shared hosting plans today so you can focus on becoming the next Instagram sensation!

      Image credits: Instagram





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