Instagram Marketing for Organizations

instagram logo

Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world today. It has hundreds of millions of users, and its acquisition by Facebook, makes it doubly attractive as a marketing platform. But is it the right platform for your nonprofit organization?

Is it the right platform for your organization?

Instagram should be included, or prioritized, in your social media marketing campaign, if the answer to these two questions is “yes”:

  1. Are your members, volunteers, clients, and stakeholders there?
    This is a bit of “trick question”, because the answer is also “yes” if they are on Facebook. More on that later.
  2. Does your organization generate visual appeal?
    This question isn’t as obvious as it first appears, for example, a condominium corporation needs to spend money on gardens, lobby furnishings, and gyms. Common areas may include gorgeous views—very visually appealing!

Instagram is a Mobile Platform Application

A quick visit to the Instagram Website from your desktop computer will be very revealing; mostly because of what you won’t find! Even after logging in with Facebook (or creating an Instagram account) there isn’t a lot to see. Visit from your mobile phone though, and it’s a whole other story. Lots of activity. Lots of opportunity for interaction.

So, if there isn’t a lot to see on my desktop computer, why should a busy organization bother with this? Here’s why!

  1. Instagram is HUGE on mobile. Many your stakeholders have Instagram accounts, and use it to share photos on their mobile devices.
  2. Facebook is even “HUGER”, and most, if not all, of your customers and prospects are on Facebook.

I thought we were talking about Instagram, not Facebook?

Facebook owns Instagram. That fact is important for reasons that go well beyond shareholder value. Instagram is tightly integrated with Facebook. It is very easy to set up so that all of your photographs are also instantly shared on your Facebook business “fan page”. This means that your  marketing reach will not only cover the Instagram universe, with its younger, visually oriented user base, but by using it, you also automatically build your brand presence on Facebook too!

What Kinds of Organizations Should Use Instagram?

Any organization with a bricks and mortar presence, or a visually appealing service should be using Instagram. Whether it’s a bicycle club, , condominium community, or a charity providing housing— you gotta let the world see it. Basically, every organization that wants to showcase its achievements should have an account and post to it regularly.

Is Instagram a necessary time investment for every non-profit?

This is an important question for any organization—and the short answer is “no”.

Generally speaking, non-profit organizations that are primarily associations of providers of professional services, will probably gain very little marketing advantage. This type of organization will generally have answered, “no”, to the first two questions in this blog post. Their service is not especially visual, and many of their members won’t be using Instagram. In fact, those who have checked out the social media presence of Buzzyness.com, have already seen that we ourselves don’t have an account! Our main service is social media and blogging education, so even though we have a blog—you’re reading it now—and substantial investment on Twitter and Facebook, we have opted out of Instagram.

Need help getting your business started on Instagram?

Contact Us Now

 

Choosing (Social Media) Channels

Social media channels

Choosing the social media channels that will work best for your business is a tough choice. For the largest of businesses, the choice is actually easier than it is for smaller, entrepreneurial enterprises. The big boys have only once choice – participate in everything! But for those of us with more limited resources, it can be a bit more complicated; and confusing.

Choice number one is a “no-brainer”, but let’s get it out of the way right now. Every business, of every type, and of every size, needs to have some social media presence today. I’ve provided several reasons in other posts, and the research is pretty conclusive elsewhere too. In a nutshell though, choosing to opt out of social media is like walking away from a poker game with your money still on the table. Why would you even consider it?

Social media channels

But what channel(s) will provide you and your business with the best return on your investment of precious time and money. In a previous post I covered many of the nuts-and-bolts basics. Here’s a summary:

Which Social Media Channels Make Most Sense?

The answer to this question depends a lot on the nature of your business. I’ll provide a few suggestions.

  • Retail Business (B2C) The key to choosing the right platforms is in selecting the channels on which your clients are most likely to be found. For a typical B2C (business to consumer) retail store that should start with Facebook, and probably include Instagram too.
  • Professional Practice (B2C) For professionals that serve consumers a Facebook business page is also the best place to start. Since virtually all your customers are on Facebook, it makes sense for your consumer focused professional presence to be there too. [Also] all professionals, whether B2C or B2B (business to business) should also have an up to date LinkedIn page.
  • Professional Practice (B2B) B2B professionals need to be on LinkedIn, and more than that – to actually use LinkedIn. It’s also a good idea, even for a self-employed professional to have a blog—either on their existing website, or as a stand alone, that links to and from the website.
  • Other Business to Business  B2B businesses should concentrate their online marketing efforts where their business clients are most likely to be found online during business hours. And that’s going to be on the Web (as they search for products, services, and solutions to problems) and on Twitter, where many business people have their own Twitter feeds open on their desktops all day. Web-based social media marketing basically means blogging.

The take-away about social media channels is this:

  1. Your business should concentrate its social media presence in the channels that are most relevant to your customers and clients.
  2. Your business should further concentrate its resources to producing the kind of content that your stakeholders are most likely to respond to.

What kind of content do people respond most strongly to? The basic answer to this is surprisingly simple, the richer the media, the stronger the response. So, the biggest impact will be from video and audio—and that generally means YouTube, Facebook, and Podcasts. This is great if you happen to be naturally inclined to presenting in front of a camera, or speaking into a microphone. It that’s the case, your all set! Get in front of your camera (always look professional), record your video, and post it on your Facebook Business Page, your YouTube channel, and wherever else your customers will see it.

Unfortunately, not everybody is blessed with stage presence and a radio voice. For medium sized businesses that doesn’t have to be a barrier. You can hire professionals to produce your videos, and even use actors to “star” in them. For smaller businesses and solopreneurs, the challenge of using video might be insurmountable. That’s OK! Your customers are still online, and there are numerous ways to reach them.

In Why Inbound Must Change,  Meghan Keaney Anderson talks about some of the many ways available to reach people on social media. Her overall message of the article is a bit intimidating for smaller businesses, but that’s why I wrote the article you are reading right now. Rather than being intimidated into inaction, just review the options, and choose ONLY the channels that you think will work best for you and your business.

As entrepreneurs, we all eventually learn that we can’t do it all. But we also learn that, by concentrating our efforts where they are most likely to yield results, success is always within reach. Go forth and get social.

 

The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

entrepreneurs meeting

entrepreneurs meeting

Social Media and the Entrepreneur

For the entrepreneur, solopreneur, or sole practitioner, it often seems that business life is divided into two phases. Either we have a lot of work (and sometimes money) but zero time – or – we don’t have enough work or money to invest in marketing initiatives (like social media) that will bring in more money. This “money but no time” vs. “time but no money” is at the heart of the Entrepreneur’s Dilemma.

In my work, helping entrepreneurs get the most impact from their online presence, I come across variations of this theme nearly every day. It seems that nearly all business people have come to recognize the importance of social media and blogging to their online marketing efforts, but too many of them excuse a lack of execution with some version of the entrepreneur’s dilemma.

It’s either,

I’d like to do more online but I can’t afford to hire someone right now, and I don’t understand it well enough myself

or

I don’t have time to do my own social media marketing. I’d hire someone today to do our social media, but I also don’t have time to teach them about my business

The end result of either of these scenarios is that opportunities to build the business and cement relationships with clients are lost. Lost opportunities represent lost money, and at worst, the result of weak customer relationships can mean business failure during the inevitable downturns in the business cycle.

So What’s an Entrepreneur to do?

The good news is that it takes only a little bit of effort to overcome the entrepreneur’s dilemma when it comes to social media marketing and blogging. Let’s start with the first scenario. “I can’t afford to hire someone, and I don’t understand it well enough myself“.

Money may be tight, but the good news is that you have time. So basically all you need is a little bit of knowledge, and the discipline to apply it, for a few minutes every day. The first thing that needs to be done is to decide what social media platforms make the most sense for your business. It’s easy to either get overwhelmed into paralysis by all of the possible options, or just as bad, to join every network out there and the do a half-assed job of maintaining them all. I’m guessing that you didn’t get to where you are in life doing things half-assed.

Which Social Media Platform Makes Most Sense?

The answer to this question depends a lot on the nature of your business. I’ll provide a few suggestions.

  1. Retail Business (B2C)
    The key to choosing the right platforms is in selecting the ones on which your clients are most likely to be found. For a typical B2C (business to consumer) retail store that should start with Facebook, and probably include Instagram too. It’s not difficult to do both, because Instagram photos can be configured to show up automatically on your Facebook page. Just remember, that you want to set up a Facebook “fan page” for your business, that is separate from the page you use to communicate with your friends and family.
  2. Professional Practice (B2C)
    For professionals that serve consumers a Facebook business page is also the best place to start. Since virtually all your customers are on Facebook, it makes sense for your consumer focused professional presence to be there too. The biggest issue with Facebook is that business pages can be difficult to find, especially in the early days. Facebook offers the opportunity to pay for page ads to show up on targeted Facebook feeds. This can cost a few dollars, but can be done fairly inexpensively, and Facebook offers amazingly granular targeting, so you’re going to get huge bang for your buck there. All professionals, whether B2C or B2B (business to business) should also have an up to date LinkedIn page.
  3. Professional Practice (B2B)
    Here’s where Facebook becomes pretty much irrelevant! While every consumer is on Facebook, business users are on Facebook mostly for outreach to consumers. Trying to reach the right people at a business of any size, using Facebook, is probably going to be extremely unfruitful. Make sure you have Facebook page anyway – but don’t spend much time or energy there once you do. Just a quick check to respond to any comments or questions. B2B professionals need to be on LinkedIn, and more than that – to actually use LinkedIn. What do I mean by, “actually use”? Log on every day. Comment on interesting posts by other people. Post updates and ideas of your own using the Share an Update link, and better still, write the occasional article using the (what else!) Write an Article link. It’s also a good idea, even for a self-employed professional to have a blog—either on their existing website, or as a stand alone, that links to and from the website.
  4. Other Business to Business
    For any B2B business that goes beyond the solopreneur level, IE/there is more than one employee, the suggestions for best platform change. Having an up to date Facebook business page is still a good idea, but as with my suggestion (above) to B2B professional, it doesn’t make sense to do more than keep it current and monitor it – unless it becomes very busy. B2B businesses should concentrate their online marketing efforts where their business clients are most likely to be found online during business hours. And that’s going to be on the Web (as they search for products, services, and solutions to problems) and on Twitter, where many business people have their own Twitter feeds open on their desktops all day. Web-based social media marketing basically means blogging. Blogging requires the most input, in both time and money, but a good blog is by far the most effective tool for inbound marketing. Unlike the ephemeral nature of Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram (etc.), you blog posts are permanent. Blogging means that every new post adds more content to your online presence, and makes you increasingly important to search engines like Google and Bing. Using Twitter, in combination with your Blog, is like putting Batman and Robin to work for your business! Set up your blog to display your Twitter feed, and use Twitter to promote your blog posts.

Let’s Talk a Bit More About Scenario Number Two

You’ve read the section appropriate to your business type, and you’ve decided where to concentrate your social media marketing efforts. But you still don’t have time!

OK. My first and smart-ass, thought is just, “make time!” But since I’d never say anything as smart-assy as that, let’s talk about other options. The best option is to hire a person or an agency to manage your social media for you. If your business is big enough, with the human and financial capital to justify $4000 to $12,000 per month, you can probably stop reading, and start shopping now. There are a lot of good agencies that can fill all of your social media marketing needs, including post writing, account management, metrics measurement, etc.

Here’s where my own self-promotion kicks in!

I, and people like myself, offer social media services specifically intended to help busy professionals, solopreneurs, and entrepreneurs, get maximum benefit from social media presence. In a nutshell, I offer the same services as I suggest that entrepreneurs should use themselves. I set up, manage, and maintain ONLY the social media platforms that make will bring the biggest return for the smallest possible investment. Typically that means, I can charge only $500 to $1000 per month instead of the $4000 to $12,000 per month typical of the bigger agencies.

Want to learn more? CONTACT ME

How Much Should a Blog Cost?

Getting ready to blog? How much should it cost?

I suspect that if you are reading this post, you’ve begun researching this question. I also suspect you may be pretty confused by now at the range of prices you’ve seen!

Setting up, and maintaining a blog can literally cost zero dollars. I’ve also seen articles by very reputable organizations, that suggest you need to spend about $20,000 a MONTH if you’re serious about blogging. Do not panic. The blogs that I set up will not cost you anywhere near that amount. Nevertheless, I’ll start with something you probably already know, but I’d like to reinforce it.

Setting up a blog is like any other business cost, you generally get what you pay for.

OK, but what should you pay for?

That my friends is the right question! The short answer is, you should pay for no more, and no less, than you need, and you should pay as much as you can afford to while maximizing the value you get for every dollar (and hour) you spend.

To make a bit more sense of that statement, I’m going to make some assumptions, that I’ll lay out now.

  1. I’m going to assume that you are either a self-employed “solopreneur“, or an entrepreneur with a small staff.
  2. I’m going to assume that you are not reading this as a representative of a bigger organization, with say, 60 or more employees. If you are, you have bigger marketing issues than I can help you with. Please hire a marketing manager.

You run your own business. You need to get the most for every dollar you spend on it to make your business successful. Social Media and Blogging are excellent marketing tools for smaller businesses because they offer incredible value. In fact, if your business is still in its very early stages, and you have a lot more time than money, you really can get going without spending any money at all. You will however, need to spend a lot of time learning skills that are not relevant to your business. So what are your options?

  1. Free blog hosting and super-easy setup at WordPress.com, or on Blogger
    First of all, you’re a business person, wise in the ways of the world, right? Free is never free! Setting up your professional blog presence on a free service means your precious blog will be running ads for someone else’s business. The hosting company keeps all the ad revenue, and the advertisement algorithms are probably going to put ads for your competitors on YOUR blog. It doesn’t look professional. It isn’t smart. Don’t do it.
  2. Low cost blog hosting, using your own Domain name (YourBusinessName.com)
    This means taking a totally hands-on DIY approach, and setting up your blog on a reputable shared hosting service like 1and1.com / 1and1.ca, GoDaddy, or BlueHost. This can actually be a pretty good option. It’s the option that I myself use! There is no reason that you can’t do it too. Your monthly costs can be well under $20. Should you go this route? Absolutely, but only if you are very comfortable with the “back end” of the Internet, and understand what web hosting involves. If anything in the previous sentence is even slightly confusing, DIY is probably not for you.
  3. Your Nephew Frank
    You may have a friendly relative that blogs about his fishing trips or her collection of antique costume jewellery. Said relative may offer to set you up with a blog for a few hundred dollars. If you are very, very, lucky, and your relative is a professional blogger with a track record and a nice portfolio, then go for it. Otherwise, think back to what I said early on in this post. You usually get what you pay for. If you take your business seriously, your blog had better make that fact blatantly obvious. Nephew Frank is probably not going to cut it. Sorry Frank.
  4. Hire an Ad Agency or Marketing Firm
    This is a great option. A large or medium sized marketing firm will have a fair sized roster of clients with excellent, visually attractive websites and blogs, with fabulous functionality. A larger firm will have a decent sized staff of professionals that specialize in all of the different aspects blog and social media marketing. Unfortunately, all of this professional service staff costs a lot of money to feed and maintain. The only way the agency can pay for those fancy digs, and fancy young professionals, is by making you pay pay for it all. If your company is big enough to afford a $50,000 Website and $10,000 to $25,000 a month to keep it going, by all means go for it. You will get a great website, an excellent, professional blog, full social media integration, marketing help, advertising support, and all the bells and whistles you deserve for that kind of money. This site offers an honest view of the costs involved in going “all in” on a blog.
  5. Hire a Professional Blog Builder
    Yes, this is where I come in. A blogging specialist can do all the technical chores for you, so that when you’re ready to actually use your blog and start writing articles for it, that’s all you’ll have to worry about. My basic startup package is extremely affordable. For a very low fee (ask me about it) I will register a Domain Name for your blog, get it hosted by one of the world’s leading web hosting companies, set up your blog, create the initial “mandatory” pages (Home, About, Contact, Privacy) and even write an introductory blog post! I’ll also secure your blog against comment spam, and connect it to your Twitter feed for you. I also include full training and support for your first month!My basic package includes all the options you need for a professional looking, highly functional blog that you will be proud to have your clients and potential customers visit. If you want more than “basic” but you’re not ready to use a larger firm we can discuss other options, like purchasing specialized WordPress Themes, adding more pages, high-traffic hosting options,etc. I’m a solopreneur myself. I get you. Let’s Talk.

What do I charge?

Since this article was originally posted, I’ve received several inquiries from people asking what I charge to set up a blog. I have three options available to new bloggers:

  1. Basic Blog Package
  2. Deluxe Blog Package
  3. Custom Blog Package

Price List

 

 

Social Media and the Solopreneur

As a solopreneur (solo + entrepreneur = solopreneur), you know that your business success depends a lot on your marketing. And by now you’re probably aware that social media offers a great way to market your services. Except that, as a solopreneur, you’re too freaking busy working on your business to actually find to time to market it online!

So, whatcha gonna do?

Social media marketing works well only when it is done consistently. This simple fact presents a dilemma to the typical self-employed professional or entrepreneur.

When business is good, you don’t have time for “extra” marketing work, and when business is slow, it’s already late in the game to launch an online marketing campaign.

There is a way out of the dilemma—social media marketing takes time and effort, but not very much of either.

  1. Decide that marketing your business is worth some effort
  2. Decide that social media is a cost effective way to market yourself
  3. Choose ONLY the one or two social media platforms that offer you the best ROI
  4. Schedule a regular time every every day for social media marketing
  5. Stick to your schedule like it’s nailed to your forehead!

How much time do you actually need?

Here is the beautiful thing about social media marketing. Once you’ve committed to the five principles above, it really only requires about 10 minutes a day! 

That’s right. Once you are consistently on top of the best social media platforms for your business product or service, it’s just a simple matter of checking in, communicating, and checking out.

What social media platforms are right for your business?

For a good explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of various platforms, read my previous blog post. But, in a nutshell:

  • Every solopreneur should be on Twitter.
  • Every B2B service should be on LinkedIn.
  • Every B2C business should have a Facebook page.
  • Blogging is perhaps the most effective inbound marketing tool for solopreneurs, but it requires a bit more time and effort.

Want to learn more? Would you like some help getting started?

Contact Me

EDIT: January 2017
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]BUZZYNESS.COM no longer offers consulting services to for-profit enterprises. Services are now exclusively offered to nonprofits, NGOs, and charities. Not-for-profit boards of directors are welcome as clients, including organizations representing professionals and for-profit businesses.[/perfectpullquote]