The Roaring PJ - A Social Media Blog

Improve Your Instagram for Business with These 7 Tips and Tricks

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

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Earlier this year, I wrote of new year’s resolutions for social media, where we InstaBiz_instarecommended using more images and expanding to new platforms. Using Instagram for business provides the opportunity to achieve both of these resolutions, as well as the occasion to explore a more visually- and aesthetically-oriented style of social media.

Our team at Roaring Pajamas spends considerable time studying and honing the art and science of Instagram. With the help of our resident Instagram expert, Kelly Adame, we compiled tips and tricks to help businesses learn how to use Instagram. Here are our thoughts on how to make your business roar on Instagram.

Consider Frequency and Timing

At Roaring Pajamas, we suggest posting once a day, four to six times per week and mainly on weekdays. Occasionally, though, the team mixes it up with a weekend post. For timing, find a couple of times a day that work best and alternate between those times with each post.

Kelly recommends identifying the “sweet spot” of days and times with the greatest Instagram engagement. Careful, hands-on monitoring of the account yields optimal engagement metrics.

Create a Look, Feel and Voice Consistent With the Brand

As with any marketing effort, consistent look, feel and voice help brands achieve the greatest success. This applies to the types and content of photos used, filters (if any) employed, fonts and words imposed on images, captions written and other Instagram accounts followed.

For an excellent check on brand consistency, inspect the business Instagram feed in aggregate; click on the brand profile to see thumbnails of three images across and three or four images down. Viewing multiples posts at once clearly shows the cohesiveness of the visuals and story. If it looks funky and incongruent, adjust the imagery going forward.

A little confession, we recently audited the Roaring Pajamas business Instagram feed and realized we have some work to do. While our Instagram-specific posts follow brand guidelines, the images in our blog posts that we cross-promoted on Instagram were not visually united. Firm believers in practicing what you preach, we implemented plans to change this… like stat!

Form a Hashtag Strategy

In our experience, five to 12 hashtags per Instagram business post proves ideal. We don’t use trending hashtags and prefer a combination of popular, moderate and less popular hashtags.

A few other hashtag rules:

  • Use only meaningful hashtags; don’t use non-relevant tags just to get likes or followers. Such examples of non-relevant, gratuitous hashtags include #instafollow #instalike #likeforlike.
  • Apply hashtags after a caption otherwise the copy appears messy. That said; if one must include a hashtagged caption, stick to just one hashtag.
  • Consider devising custom hashtags to establish a gallery of your content. For example, Stella and Dot created #stelladotstyle to showcase stylists and customers rocking the brand’s jewels.
  • Search a hashtag before using it to ensure it makes sense for the brand and that it doesn’t have other meanings. Some hashtags are used by people to post negative content, nudity, obscene language and other types of content not suitable for business. We make sure hashtags are “good for business” before using them.
  • Review and use our 5 Hashtag Rules post, all of which apply to Instagram.

Develop and Edit Images and Other Visuals Like a Pro

Not everyone is a creative director or graphic designer but, even without those credentials, most everyone can utilize a myriad of applications and make an Instagram feed look professional. Four of our favorite tools for creating and editing visuals include:

  • Canva: Empowers users to create cool graphics in multiples sizes quite simply.
  • VSCO: Offers excellent editing and filtering options available on iOS and Android.
  • Word Swag: Allows users to add text to photos easily via an iOS app.
  • Moldiv: Lets users combine and edit multiple photos to make amazing collages.
  • PicPlayPost: Makes it easy for users to combine photos, videos, GIFs and music to create a video collage for posting on Instagram and other social media.

Employ Instagram Tools

Enhance a brand page with selections from the ever-growing crop of Instagram tools. Some of our faves include:

  • Hootsuite: Allows one to format posts, follow competitors, observe hashtags and keep track of keywords.
  • Iconosquare: Provides excellent statistics on best posting times, engagement details and other key metrics.
  • Latergramme: Equips users with a simple tool to manage and schedule images on social media.
  • Repost: Makes it easy to repost favorite photos and videos on Instagram while giving credit to the original poster.

Establish Best Practices and Guidelines

Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, and this adage certainly applies to social media adoption. We’ve learned many lessons over the years about best practices for business use of Instagram. In addition to everything above, check out these “Instagram DON’Ts” our team lives by:

  • Don’t make every post about selling.
  • Don’t make your captions too long. We like captions no longer than a paragraph unless it’s for a contest or giveaway that requires more information.
  • Don’t forget to be personable or get personal. For a personal brand, a personal presence in images and on the page is non-negotiable. Do this by showing behind-the-scenes shots, office views and candids while out and about.

Learn From the Best

Follow brands you admire and gain a sense of what makes them great. A few businesses on Instagram our team enjoys following include Starbucks, Refinery 29, Target, Tieks and – for major shoe envy – Louboutinworld.

In addition to our thoughts on here, Social Media Examiner’s 26 Tips for Using Instagram for Business provides excellent ideas to get started. We also regularly read the Instagram business blog for success stories, unique insights on growing a business on Instagram and the latest platform news.

Anything we missed? Let us know and happy Instagramming!

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The Roaring Tip Sheet: Live Streaming with Facebook Live

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

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Photo credit: Ben

Photo credit: Ben

While live streaming isn’t new, the advent of applications such as Periscope and Meerkat brought it to the forefront of marketing and social media in the last year. Not to be outdone, Facebook announced Facebook Live, their version of a live streaming service, in August of 2015. Initially only available to public figures and verified pages, last month Facebook announced expansion of the service; now any individual in the United States and a few other countries, with a personal Facebook page and an iPhone, can broadcast video. Rollout of the service will continue to the rest of the world in the coming weeks. Exciting announcements, but what does the ability to live stream mean to you? Let’s talk about it!

What is Facebook Live? Facebook Live is the latest live streaming video application to become available to a widespread audience. Live streaming video allows users to broadcast over the Internet in real time. In the case of Facebook Live, it is done via iPhone but with an Android version promised soon. A broadcaster chooses an audience with whom to live stream, answers questions and comments during the broadcast and sees who is engaged with the show. Upon completion, the broadcaster edits the content and reposts for non-live viewing. It is quickly becoming a very powerful social media tool.

Why is it relevant to me and my business? Live stream broadcasts exploded in 2015 and figure to gain even greater popularity in the next few years. By example, Periscope gained 10 million users in the first four months after launching! We expect adoption of live streaming to skyrocket, which will drive increased expectation of, and demand for, content available in this medium. While it isn’t available yet for Pages, we suggest you give it a try with your personal page now. Test your own broadcast, perhaps only to yourself or a friend, until you get the hang of it. And, check out some experts who have honed their live broadcasting skills. Mari Smith and Mario Armstrong are a couple of our team’s favorite Facebook Live broadcasters. Once it is rolled out for Pages, you will have mastered the art of live video and your business will be ahead of the game.

How do I do it? One of the best parts about Facebook Live is that it is extremely easy to use. First, make sure you have the latest version of Facebook on your iPhone. Then, follow these simple steps while using your iPhone:

  1. In Facebook, click “What’s on your mind?” – just like if you were to do a written status update
  1. If you see a menu that drops down, click “Write” – note that this view is in beta testing so you may not see it, if that is the case just skip to step 3

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  1. On the “Update Status” page, first choose your audience under “To:” – I suggest the first few times broadcasting a test to only yourself or a few select friends
  1. After you have selected your audience, click the broadcast icon at the bottom of your screen

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  1. This page confirms you want to “Go Live on Facebook!” – click “Continue”

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  1. Give your live video a title where it shows “Describe your live video…” – I named this one “Let’s roar!”
  1. Click “Go Live”

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  1. A countdown shows how many seconds until you go live: 3…2…1…
  1. The top left corner displays the running time of your video
  1. The bottom one-third of your screen shows comments from viewers in real time
  1. Click to “Finish” in the bottom right corner when you are finished live streaming

LIVE

  1. Congratulations, you did it! Your video will upload to your timeline for your selected audience to see at any time. Pretty easy, right?

Want more information? I previously mentioned one of our team’s favorite Facebook experts, Mari Smith. Mari regularly shares her wealth of Facebook knowledge, and she is the team’s go-to guide for the latest tips, tricks and information on Facebook Live. We found this video to be a particularly useful guide to getting started. Also, this article on Social Media Examiner explains what marketers need to know about Facebook Live and provides valuable tips to get started and produce great quality broadcasts.

Let me know what questions or comments you have about live streaming. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

 

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Small Business Software Tip: Managing Aging Software

Posted on by Kent Yunk

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Aging software disks

Photo credit: Jason Coleman

At Roaring Pajamas, we rely heavily on various software programs that make running our small business more efficient. We also rely heavily on our friend Sam Battles, of Sam Battles Networks, our IT consultant who fixes most of our PC problems, moves data over when we get new laptops and keeps up posted on useful small business software tips. Sam recently sent me this tip for users of QuickBooks, Quicken and other aging software programs. I am passing along his sage advice, in the event you find it as helpful as we do.

For those of you who use Intuit products like QuickBooks, Quicken, TurboTax or other aging software and who may find these broken’ after a Windows 10 upgrade, read on. A little technical, but things you need to know.

Middle of the night last night, out of my ‘memory archive’ came a ‘trick’ or a work around if you wish. Ten or more years ago, I had a customer who needed to keep his Lotus123 spreadsheet program alive but was unable to have the Lotus Suite of programs work. It worked in Windows XP, but the advent of Windows 7 was when it stopped working. If you remember, it was with Windows 7 that there were options for both 32 and 64 bit installs. Then in researching this, there was a suggestion that did work. It was, in the install process to choose the install ‘location’ outside of the more recent “C:\Program Files (x86)” which was the 32 bit location or just “C:\Program Files” which is the new 64 bit location. In the case of Lotus123, I chose to install to the ‘Root’ (C:\Lotus) rather than to either of the above-mentioned program file locations. Lotus123 now worked as designed. Programs do not have to be installed in these two locations to work and in some cases are better off in today’s world installed outside of either of those locations. Most software, either by choosing ‘custom install’ or just following the prompts, takes you to a place where you can choose the Folder/File location where you want to install the program. One word of caution, you should create a folder under C:\ for this. For example “C:\Intuit” for QuickBooks would be a good idea, otherwise all the files will go to just C: and garbage up the root of the drive which is not good. Just FYI, and for interest sake, I was also able to make a 2000 version of Microsoft Flight Simulator work this way for another customer.

This morning I installed both Quicken2006 and QuickBooks Pro 2013 software on a small business computer that was upgraded from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. Both installations worked. Since I am a fairly ‘simple’ user of both Quicken and QuickBooks, I have no way of knowing if every available ‘feature’ in both will work, but my gut feeling is they will.

The small business customer who still does use and depend on his Lotus123 software informed me that it has continued to work even after the Windows 10 upgrade. This is because I had done what I described above when it was a new Windows 7 PC.

I hope this helps those of you with small businesses who might be struggling with software, the Windows 10 upgrade and getting everything to work.

Roaring Pajamas knows well the value of both time and resources as one utilizes programs to help run an efficient and successful business. Hopefully you find this small business software tip as useful as we do. Please let us know if this is helpful and if you’d like to see more posts like this one in the future. Happy computing!

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  • Melanie Yunk Founder Melanie Yunk cooks up the perfect recipe for building customer engagement using her fresh take on digital marketing strategies as the key ingredient. Melanie launched Yunk Consulting in January 2009 and began creating social marketing campaigns and optimizing sites for clients. Today, Melanie’s successful business grows under the Roaring Pajamas name. As social media and search engine optimization change rapidly, Melanie and her team are available to provide creative digital solutions for your business.
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