Here’s how to use a like-free Instagram.

If you’ve logged onto Instagram lately I’m sure you noticed a massive change – that the number of likes are no longer visible. 

Removing likes from Instagram is one of the biggest changes to hit the platform, ever. So the big question now is how to use Instagram, post likes? 

Instagram has been talking about removing likes from the platform since May 2019. They ran a trial in Canada and have now rolled out the test to more countries including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand!

With the changes you’ll still be able to see how many people liked your post but you’ll no longer be able to see the number of likes on other accounts. 

Why did Instagram remove likes?  

Instagram has said that they have removed the like count to help minimise mental health problems in the community. However, the update also tied in with a significant 19% drop in organic engagement across the platform. 

 Although mental health concerns may be part of the reason behind the move – I think it’s safe to assume that Instagram knew such a significant change in the algorithm would spark pushback and may have rolled out the changes to distract from any possible algorithm changes. 

How should you be using Instagram now? 

Although we can’t see the total like counts,  they still count in the algorithm.  So you should continue to like posts that you connect with. However the updated change now means that comments will become even more important as social proof. 

If up until now your engagement strategy has relied heavily on liking posts, you’ll need to place a higher emphasis on comments. 

With likes removed, and organic engagement on the decline, now is the perfect time to review your social media strategy. Expanding your activity on other platforms, as well as making sure you’re driving your social media followers off the platform and onto your own website and email lists is now more important than ever.

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From the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri (@mosseri): “We know bullying is a challenge many face, particularly young people. We are committed to leading the industry in the fight against online bullying, and we are rethinking the whole experience of Instagram to meet that commitment. We can do more to prevent bullying from happening on Instagram, and we can do more to empower the targets of bullying to stand up for themselves. Today we’re announcing one new feature in both areas. 💙 Encouraging Positive Interactions In the last few days, we started rolling out a new feature powered by AI that notifies people when their comment may be considered offensive before it’s posted. This intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment and prevents the recipient from receiving the harmful comment notification. 🧡 Protecting Your Account From Unwanted Interactions With Restrict We wanted to create a feature that allows people to control their Instagram experience, without notifying someone who may be targeting them. Soon, we will begin testing a new way to protect your account from unwanted interactions called Restrict. 💛 It’s our responsibility to create a safe environment on Instagram. This has been an important priority for us for some time, and we are continuing to invest in better understanding and tackling this problem.” 💗 To learn more about these new updates, click the link in our bio. Artwork by @heysp

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How to use Instagram in 2019

Instagram is currently the hottest social media platforms around. In the last year alone it has doubled its number of worldwide users.

Its features are continuously updated and improved (Stories anyone) which keeps it interesting. On the flip side however, it means that the old way of doing things don’t work as well anymore.

Once upon a time, you could throw up a pretty image with a few cute hashtags, and boom go viral. The platform has more users and more content – which means it’s getting pretty crowded. Reach has reduced and the days of easy viral content are long gone.

It’s not all bad news however as Instagram is still a platform that launches very successful businesses. In 2019 these are the top five areas you should be focusing your efforts on to grow your account and get the right eyes on your posts.

How to use Instagram in 2019

Have a Strategy

The first (and most important) step to killing it on Instagram is to have a strategy. A strategy helps you know what you’re going to be posting, why you’re posting it and the key messages to get across.

A strategy helps you align what you post online with your business goals. So the time you spend online is working for you and your business and helping set you up on the right path.

Posting to Instagram without a strategy is a bit like bushwalking without a map. You’re still walking, but you don’t actually know how to get to your destination. Sure, you might get lucky and end up where you wanted - but not without a lot of wandering in the wrong directions before stumbling (by accident) onto the right path.

Stop obsessing over your feed

I’ve worked with a lot of business owners who get obsessed over having the perfect feed. To the point that they stop posting strategically and only focus on their feed. Some where along the way they decided that a perfectly curated feed was the strategy. That if they just got the perfect feed- they would make more sales.

Here’s the thing- your images only work to capture interest. It’s your caption that draws people in and turns followers into customers.

Yes, all your images should be good quality and on brand. I can’t stress that enough. But beyond that? No one but you really notices (or care) about your feed. So, if you find yourself spending lots of time stressing about curating some intricate diagonal, colour blocked, alternating, filtered feed - Just chill.

Get personal

At the end of the day, social media is all about building relationships. And relationships are formed between people. You might be a business selling to businesses. But there is a person behind every social media account - A person who wants to connect.

Tell the stories behind the brands. Tell the story of your staff on the computers, the staff who answer the phones and the team designing your products. Show faces (and I mean real faces, not stock photos) of your staff. Talk about the values the business upholds. The culture you aim for.

Talk about the ups and the downs because people are complex. Business is complicated. And being raw, honest and human is how you build a connection. But if that’s all too scary for you – at least add some humour.

Engage. Engage. Engage

Engage, engage and engage some more. If you ignore all the other tips, please do not overlook this one (or better yet don’t ignore them). You need to be engaging with your followers and the people you want to connect with.

Respond to comments. Like images. Post comments on other accounts. Watch stories and reply to ones you connect with.

Yes, it is a lot of work. Social media is very much a two-way street. If you don’t invest in your community - they won’t invest in you.

Set aside a small amount of time each day to leave meaningful and genuine comments. You might even be surprised at the connections you make that turn into real life friendships too.

Embrace Stories

Stories are addictive and fun. Best of all they’re easy to create.

80% of all Instagram users are watching stories daily. If you’re not using them - you’re missing out!

The good thing about stories is that they are created on the go - which means you don’t need to stress about creating high-quality edited videos. In fact, some of the best stories I’ve seen show the stuff you usually edit out.

Need help with your social media? Get in touch to discuss how we can work together or check out my next workshop.

How to run a successful social media competition

Running a social media giveaway is one of the easiest ways to increase engagement, grow followers and build brand awareness. I’ve run multiple successful ones - Think 400 new followers in one week. But a few of the earlier ones didn't see those type of results simply because I wasn’t really sure how to leverage them.

There is a lot more to running a successful social media competition than meets the eye. Strategy, planning and promotion! 

Why run a social media giveaway

When you run a social media giveaway you want to make sure that your business gains the most benefit from the competition. The first thing you need to decide on is what outcome you’re looking for.  

Do you want to: 

·      Grow a new social media account

·      Increase online chatter about a launch

·      Get people to an event 

·      Grow your email list

·      Increase user generated content 

 However, if you find yourself running giveaways every month or so because it’s the only way to grow your account, then you’re better off taking a look at your strategy. A good social media strategy will result in steady growth of your account.

Working out the prize

The next step in running a social media competition is the fun part: The prize!  

Sometimes the prize is a no brainier, such as free tickets to an event you’re promoting or a new product you’re launching. If the prize isn’t related to a specific event or product then you can get creative. 

What every outcome you’re looking for will guide your prize. For example, if you’re looking to grow your account a free voucher or product will be enough motivation to enter. On the other hand, if you’re after email addresses you’ll need to make your offer more enticing. 

If you’re a small business on a budget (and let’s be honest when isn’t a small biz) collaborating with other likeminded businesses is a way to offer a big prize without carrying the cost alone. 

From my own personal experience giveaways with a physical prize tend to get more entries compared to those that offer a voucher.

 

Setting the competition entry guidelines 

You’ve got your prize, you know what you want to achieve.  

Now you need to set the entry criteria.    

Each social media platform has rules about giveaways, so before setting the entry guidelines you should make sure you’ve read and understand what you can and can’t ask people to do.  Here’s the policies for Facebook and Instagram.

The number one tip for running a competition is to make entry as easy as possible! 

Setting entry criteria that work with each platforms algorithm is a good way to build traction.  Asking people to like a post and leave a comment or tag who they’d like to bring (if you’re giving away a prize for two) works well.  

On the other hand, if your prize has serious value you can ask people to put more effort in and you can get some great user generated content this way too!  

Some fun examples I’ve seen are:  

·      Take a photo of the product in unexpected and far flung locations 

·      Create videos of what they like about your brand

·      Create an ad for your company  

If you’re looking to grow your email list you’ll need to have a landing page or website to gather entries. Alternatively, if you don’t have a landing page you can also run paid ads to capture leads. 

How long should you run a social media competition? 

Setting the time frame for the competition is so important – too short and you won’t get many entries. Too long, and you may struggle to keep interest going. 

  • For a small simple giveaway, you’ll usually want to run it for 3 days to a week. 

  • For a something with more value-  2 weeks to a month is a good amount of time. 

When the competition is for an event you’ll want to time it to build anticipation. So running the competition in the immediate weeks prior will help. Too far in the future you risk losing the momentum and interest generated by the competition.  

Paying to promote a post can help you get more eyes on your post and entries to the competition. Even just a $20 ad spend will be enough to see good results. 

 

Choosing the winner

Most small competitions select the winner at random and there are plenty of apps that can help you do this such as Woobox.

Get creative with the judging process when the entry requires effort. From guest judges to writing press releases announcing the competition winner.  You can help increase brand awareness every step of the way and make the winner feel especially excited. 

So there you have it a step by step guide to making sure your next social media giveaway

is a huge success.

Need help with your social media? See how we can work together or get in touch.

Ramp up your Instagram strategy with stories

Ramp up your Instagram strategy with stories Shine communication

Instagram stories may just be the best thing since sliced bread in this digital marketers humble opinion. Yep, I’m making that call. Instagram stores are the secret sauce to any Instagram strategy right now, and with a 67% increase in users in the last 3 months I’m not the only one who loves them. 

But first up what exactly are Instagram stories? 

Instagram stories have their own feed at the top of your homepage.  You can upload short 15 second videos or images to your stories and they will disappear after 24 hours. 

Stories don’t have the ability for people to like or comment on the stories- but people can respond by sending you a private message. You can add locations and hashtags to stories to help increase the exposure like you would in a normal post. 

So how exactly can you use Instagram stories to increase your social media game? 

1.    Invite your followers behind the scenes

Some of the best social media stories I see show the day to day going on in the business. You might think that it’s boring, but people are nosy and love to get a snap shot into other peoples lives. So share what you’re doing and help build the all important like, know and trust with your followers.

2.    Use stories for sneak peeks and pre-launch

Build up interest and excitement in new products or services by providing a sneak peak.  It helps your followers feel ‘in the know’ and will help to generating buzz before new items are even available.

3.    Be the face of the brand

Businesses of all sizes should be getting in front of the camera, introducing their staff and letting their personalities shine. Because people do business with people. End of story. 

4.    Use polls to gain insights into your customers

Thinking of launching a new product but can’t decide the colour?  Ask your customers what they’d prefer. There’s nothing better than getting some direct feedback from your followers.   

5.    Have fun! 

The best way to get engagement on your stories is not to take them too seriously. Remember that they are only here for 24 hours- no-one is expecting high quality video production. Remember there is only so much you can say or do in 15 seconds.  

Stories can seem intimidating when you start but our advice is just to jump in!  Try a few different styles and you’ll be surprised with the number of messages that start rolling in. 

Need direction in your social media strategy? Get in touch to discuss how we can help your business in the ever-changing landscape of social media.

How to make the most out of Instagram shopping

Instagram Shopping for small business Shine Communication Bendigo.jpg

Instagram shopping – talk about a total game changer. 

 
 

I am one excited social media manager.  Since the announcement and roll out my brain has been bubbling away thinking about what this means for product based businesses. So here are some things that I think small business owners should be thinking about to make the most of this new feature.

Instagram is still a social media platform

The first thing to remember is that Instagram is still a social media platform - it’s just easier to shop. Businesses that use the shopping feature can expect to see a big increase in sales, but one of the biggest risks that businesses face is accidentally turning their feeds into product catalogues.

Your followers are not on Instagram to be sold to. Rather, they are there to be build connections and if they also happen to shop – fabulous.

Increased need to create value packed content

Small businesses that are going to do the best from the update are those that shift their focus to creating value packed social media posts. “People don’t buy the products you create, they buy the stories you tell".

Now that people can click your image to discover product details and price, your content needs to be engaging and value rich. Great content means more engagement. More engagement means more people seeing your posts and your products. Revisit your social media strategy to make sure you're providing great content that your followers are connecting with

Don’t have a social media strategy?  Get our free guide to creating your own.

Gorgeous imagery just got more important  

With Instagram shopping available to all product based businesses in Australia, there is a good chance that you’ll suddenly find yourself competing in a bigger pool. Give yourself an edge with really enticing clickable content. One way to stand out from the crowd is with gorgeous styled images that showcase your products.

If you aren’t in a position to invest in professional photography take some time to learn basic image editing using a free web app like Pixlr.

Instagram shopping means more web traffic

Instagram shopping is going to give businesses a huge boost to their web traffic so that’s going to be great for your SEO (thanks Karlie from Technobird for this great tip).  On the other hand, that means that your website needs to be easy to use and optimised for the best user experience. So it's the perfect time to review your website and make sure its functioning at its best.  After all, there is no point investing time and money to drive visitors to your website if your website is slow to load or hard to navigate.

We’re sure this blog has given you heaps of things to think about, and maybe you’ve even added some all important things onto your to do list. I’d love to hear what you’re going to do in your business to make the most of this exciting new Instagram feature. 

Is Instagram out to destroy small business?

Using Instagram as a business Shine communication

Hint: The answer is no, but if you've been reading some recent blogs you might think so. 

If, like me, you use Instagram for your business you’ll no doubt be aware that Instagram changed its algorithm a few times in the last 12 months.  The biggest change happened just before Christmas.

You also might have read multiple viral blog posts about the ‘new rules’ for Instagram. I’m just going to come out and say it. These articles are full of rumours and often plain misinformation.

So, I’ve decided to address some of those rumours

 

Using Instagram Stories.

Stories are a GREAT way to engage with your audience. If you’re a business you should be doing stories.  They’re fun, quick and a great way to reconnect with people not currently engaging with your feed.

Want to improve your engagement and grow your following? Post more stories.

 

Using hashtags on Instagram

Many of these rumours relate to how many hashtags you should use and where to post them. Currently, you can use up to 30 and you can post hashtags both in the caption or comment. There is no difference at all in your visibility.

If Instagram sees hashtags as ‘spammy’ they will limit the number you can post. Until then you can post up to THIRTY.

Using the same hashtags isn’t a problem with Instagram, however it will mean that the same group of people see your posts. So, you’re better off changing them up BUT Instagram doesn't penalising you if you don't.  

 

Best length for Instagram comments

Instagram likes to see meaningful engagement on your posts. That means that Instagram puts more weight on longer comments, however Instagram rates all comments as engagement regardless of length.

If you have a business account you can see what Instagram counts as a ‘comment’ in their insights.

 

What gets you in trouble with Instagram?

There is only one thing that currently gets you in trouble with Instagram. Using bots or behaving in a bot like manner. So, what does ‘behaving in a bot like manner’ mean?

·      Excessive liking posts in a short time frame

·      Excessive commenting in a short time frame

·      Commenting the same phrase on multiple posts in a short time frame

·      Following an excessive amount of people in a short time frame

·      Unfollowing an excessive amount of people in a short time frame

 

When you do any of the above, you will get a warning message from Instagram, and maybe even a 24 hour ban on performing that action. Just remember, Instagram lets you know when they don’t like what you are doing.

 

Instagram best practice

Instagram started as an image sharing platform that encouraged posting in the moment.

So, think about what Instagram wants. They want spontaneous posts with fun and engaging captions. They want you to behave like people and not bots. The best approach to Instagram?  Do what feels natural to you.

That’s pretty much it. And remember if you DO behave in a way Instagram doesn't like, they'll let you know. 

Need more help using Instagram for your business?  Download our free 17 page guide.

 

 

 

Improve Your Facebook Ads With These Five Simple Tips

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People tend to fall into one of two camps. They either loath Facebook ads and think they are pointless, or, like me, they LOVE Facebook ads with a passion.

If you’re a small business owner and not running Facebook ads you’re missing out. Full stop. Facebook offers the cheapest and most effective advertising around. Maybe you’re unsure about where to start with Facebook ads? Or perhaps you’ve tried them before with no luck? Don’t give up just yet! Here are my top five tips for getting the best results from Facebook ads.

 

1.    Know your audience

The key to great results with Facebook ads is understanding your customers and targeting accordingly. The trick is to set your targeting to your KEY DEMOGRAPHIC. What does that mean? Technically anyone of any age or gender might be a customer but every business will have a strong appeal to a specific customer type. Narrowing your targeting to the demographic most likely to make a purchase will save you money AND get better results.

 

2.    Understand why you’re running Facebook ads

Running Facebook ads even when successful doesn’t make any sense if you don’t have a strategy.

Work out what you want to achieve and WHY before you start running ads. Facebook ads should align with your marketing and business goals not just to get ‘likes’. This is the main reason people advise against boosting posts. Any ads you run should ideally be to drive people to your website or subscriber list.

 

3.    Successful Facebook ads are developed

If your first Facebook ad is wildly successful, then brilliant…. But usually, to get the BEST result you need to develop your ad. What that means is testing ads and seeing what works.

By using split testing in ads you can really drive down your cost per conversion and end up with results of $20, $30 and even $100 income for every dollar spent on Facebook ads. For most people, these type of results will take quite a few attempts – but once you do this you will have a much better understanding of who will respond to your offer on Facebook.

 

4.    Monitor your Facebook ads

The cost to run ads on Facebook literally is only a few dollars a day. The best part? If you aren’t seeing results you can switch them off.  I’ve spoken with a lot of small business owners who tell me that they’ve spent hundreds on ads for no visible results. There is no reason for this to ever happen - If you’re not seeing results from Facebook ads simply turn the ad off.

 

5.    The Facebook Pixel

Finally, make sure you’ve installed the Facebook pixel on your website. The Facebook pixel is a piece of code you add to your website that allows you to retarget ads to people who have interacted with your account or website. Effectively allowing you to run ads with a cheaper and higher conversation rate. Facebook explains how to install the Pixel here.

 

So,  before you run a Facebook ad make sure that you understand who you’re targeting, why you’re running the ad and monitor your ads so you can see who is responding to them.  

I'd love to hear how you find Facebook ads. 

 

Why you need to be using Pinterest for your business

Use Pinterest for business

When you think of the leading social media platforms it's easy to overlook Pinterest. I know I certainly was guilty of that... Until I kept reading about how people were getting fantastic and unexpected results from Pinterest. So I decided put my detective hat on and looked into what the fuss was about.... and I found some pretty jaw dropping information.

Here's four reasons savvy business owners (like you) should be using Pinterest.

1.    Pinterest users are looking to buy

More so than any other social media platforms, Pinterest users are looking to make purchases. In fact, 87% of Pinterest users have purchased items found through Pinterest. Not only that but Shopify users found that traffic from Pinterest spent double that as traffic from Facebook. In summary, Pinterest users are looking to shop AND have the money.

2.    Followers numbers are not important

Unlike other platforms, you don’t need a large number of followers to get results. All you need to do is post consistently! Not only that, it only takes a few weeks to start gaining serious traffic from Pinterest. 

3.    It helps your website Google ranking

When you’re consistently using Pinterest you’ll start seeing seriously big increases in your website traffic. Which in turn helps to boost your website Google ranking. For many users Pinterest becomes their number one source of traffic after only a few months.

4.    Pinterest pins have a long life cycle

On Instagram or Facebook, the lifecycle of your posts is pretty short.  Posts from two days ago hardly appear in timelines let alone two weeks ago!  Posts in Pinterest are different. Pins can be trending for years. They can also disappear only to resurface a month or two later. A Pinterest pin is an evergreen source of traffic to your website and sales.

Who do we recommend Pinterest for?

You might have discounted Pinterest in the past because it seemed American centric. The demographic has changed in recent times with over 80% of users based outside of America. Of course if you offer an online product location of users doesn't really impact you. For product based businesses that offer international shipping Pinterest opens a world of opportunities.

Items that work well on Pinterest:

  • Online courses
  • Printables/ downloads 
  • eBooks
  • Wedding related items
  • Makeup 
  • Homewares
  • Kids clothes and toys.

Pinterest currently has over 300, 000 million users world wide.  Which might not seem like a huge number compared to Facebook or Instagram. However, unlike every other social media platform Pinterest users go there to shop.

So, if you’re ready to start getting more website visits that actually result in sales, get in touch and ask about our Pinterest management.  

You might be interested in our blog post What is an Instagram pod and should I be in one?

Questions to ask before hiring a social media manager

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If you’re running a successful small business and managing your own social media accounts there will inevitably come a time when you start considering outsourcing your social media.

There are so many AMAZING social media managers out there. Knowing questions to ask about the tactics and ways social media mangers handle your account will help you find the perfect fit for you company.  

So before you outsource your social media, you might want to ask these questions:

1.     What third party apps will you sign my social media accounts up to?

You may not realise this but certain third party apps are against Instagram’s terms and conditions.

The answer you want to hear to this question is that they will use a scheduling app and one to gather the analytics for your accounts.  Any apps that automatically follow, comment or like are against Instagram’s terms and conditions. Using them might result in your account being closed or shadow banned.

2.     Do you ever buy social media followers or likes?

When you buy followers or likes, that engagement is coming from a fake account. Full stop. There is literally no way to purchase genuine followers or likes unless you run social media ads.

If your social media manager purchases followers or likes this should be a red flag. Not only is purchasing followers or likes against most platforms terms and conditions, bought followers negatively affect your social media accounts.

Only a small percentage of your followers will be shown your posts organically and the number of genuine followers who will see your post will be even further reduced once you start buying followers.

3.     Do you use social media engagement pods?

Engagement pods are very common on Instagram and increasingly used on Facebook.  An engagement pod is a group of people that agree to like and sometimes comment on each other’s posts. (If you'd like to understand pods more  check out my earlier blog).

This can look like genuine engagement and it might seem like your account is really growing. The problem with engagement pods is that the engagement is artificial. The people commenting are only doing so to get engagement on their posts - not because they are interested in your business or products.

The idea behind engagement pods is that if you trick the algorithm into thinking the post is popular THEN you might get some genuine engagement. 

The problem with this?  You’re paying someone to spend hours engaging in pods instead of building genuine relationships with your target audience.

4.     Who will be handling my social media account?

Believe it or not even when working with a boutique social media agency the person you speak to might not be the person handling the account.  Is your account going to be managed by the intern or perhaps it’s outsourced to someone overseas?

Clarify exactly who’s going to managing the day to day of your account. Remember, social media is the face of your company and bad management can damage your company’s reputation.

Engaging a social media manager can be a bit scary, especially if you’ve been nurturing and growing your own account for years.  Asking these questions should give you peace of mind that the person you choose will be growing your account in a genuine, authentic and successful manner.  

You can learn more about our social media management packages here.

You might be interested in reading our blog post 7 types of social media posts your business should be doing.

How I Beat the Instagram Shadowban

I’ve had a few people contact me recently asking how I managed to have my Instagram shadowban lifted. Originally, I had decided not to write a blog post about this due to the already overwhelming misinformation on the web regarding Instagram shadowban.  I didn’t want to add my voice to an already confusing subject.  However, as more and more people have contacted me I decided to write this post.

What is the Instagram Shadowban?

Firstly, Instagram has never acknowledged or said that they are shadow banning accounts.  However, some people have noticed that their posts are not showing up under hashtag searches.  What this means is that only people who already follow their account will see their posts and the posts have no ability to be either a ‘top 9 post’ nor to be found on an explore page of non-followers.

How to Check if You’re Shadowbanned?

Log into or ask someone who doesn’t follow your Instagram account to see if your posts are showing up under hashtags.  If no posts at all are visible you’ve been shadowbanned.

There currently is a website checker- but reports seem to indicate that this is inaccurate.

Shadownban Vs Banned Hashtags

I have seen some people who find that one or two of their posts are not showing up under hashtags searches, but others posts are.  This happens when you have used a banned hashtag. I’ve written a blog post about that here.

To clarify - A shadowban effects all your posts. If some posts are still visible under hashtag searches you have used a banned hashtag on the missing post.  Check my earlier blog to learn what to do when this happens.

How I got the Instagram Shadow Ban Lifted.

I’m going to be completely transparent here.  I do not know how my shadowban was lifted.   Anyone who tells you they know how to avoid or have a shadowban lifted is guessing. Until Instagram acknowledges a shadowban and addresses it, any tips people post are only guesses, mine included.

The three steps I took top remove my shadowban:

1.     Reported the issue to Instagram every second day

2.     Removed all third party apps (which for me was a scheduler and Crowdfire)

3.     Contacted Facebook ad support via ads account help page (There is an online chat during US business hours)

I’m sorry to tell you that there was there was no miracle fix. After 14 days my ban was lifted. I don’t know what of the above steps worked but I suspect it was lodging the issue through my Facebook ad account.

The biggest take away I had from this experience was that the Facebook Ads manager seemed as perplexed as I was.  I was even asked to confirm that I hadn’t set my account to private by accident.  During my two week shadowban I contacted Facebook help four times and each person I spoke with seemed as confused as me.  For this reason, I do wonder if the shadowban is really just a bug and not a deliberate ban. 

If your account has been affected I really feel for you.  It is SO frustrating.  I kept plugging away and managed to continue to grow my account during my shadowban, albeit at a slower rate.

My other take away was the realisation that we have no power over social media and if you’re running a business it’s so important to start building mailing lists and develop a relationship directly with your followers outside of social media.

For those of you who have been shadowbanned please share what helped you have the band lifted in the comments. 

You might be interested in our blog post What is an Instagram pod and should I be in one?

 

7 types of social media posts your business should be doing

Social media is great, but it can also be time-consuming. Especially when you’re a small business owner managing it yourself.  One thing we hear over and over is that businesses, especially service based businesses, struggle to know what to post about.

I know you’re nodding your head in agreement right now.  Thinking of content can be HARD.  So we've put together this list of seven types of content that are especially effective for businesses.

Products

Got new products in your shop? Changed your menu? New window display even? That’s all social media gold. Even if you’re a service based business you can still talk about non-physical products. Explain what the product is, how it’s used, what it does, who it’s for. How they can go about ordering it. The list is endless. Really. 

Testimonials

Got some great feedback?  Shout it from the rooftops or at least the imaginary ones online. No one wants to hear a person talking about how great they are… but everyone loves to hear a review. In the age of the internet, word of mouth referrals include online reviews so make the most of them.

Behind the scenes

I’ll let you in on a secret - everyone is nosy. Tap into that and share a shot of what you’ve been working on. Some things to share might be a new client, a fun event, your morning routine, your office, outfit of the day or my personal favourite - new stationery. It helps to show the face and person behind the brand. 

Shout out

Discovered a new café, restaurant or anything?  Maybe it’s not a new find but a long-time love. Write a post about what is great about it and tag the business to help others find them. That, my friends, equals good online karma (Is there such a thing?  Who knows, but if there is that's how you get it). 

Tips and tricks

You’re an expert in your field so let everyone in on the secret by sharing industry tips and tricks. Giving value online is a social currency that only leads to good things - like new clients. Think about the things in your industry that are hard to understand or that people not in the know get wrong - then explain it in simple clear language.

Memes

This one may surprise you but memes? They're memorable and help customer connect and remember you. You can either share one you’ve seen or create your own.  Trust us, memes equals great engagement. Always remember to keep them on brand, and decide beforehand where you draw the line on things like swearing or sarcasm. There is no right or wrong on this one. It’s just what you feel most comfortable with for your brand.  

User generated content

This best suit those who do events, run a shop, café or have physical products. And if not?  Think about investing in something small and Instagram worthy to gift clients.  My current favourites- adorable branded cookies. Encourage customers to post photos to social media with a specified hashtags such as #myshopname.  You can even offer a monthly prize to get people snapping. Then share, share, share- because everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.

We’ve given you seven relatively easy posts to write, and if you create four of each…. then you’ll have a WHOLE MONTH of content (almost). Easy!

We’d love to know the type of social media post you like to read. Leave a comment below. 

You might be interested in our blog post Increase your organic reach on Facebook without paying a cent.

What is an Instagram pod and should I be in one?

WHATS AN INSTAGRAM POD AND SHOULD I BE INONE

Currently it seems that Instagram pods are all the rage. People seem to think that they are the holy grail of gaming the Instagram Algorithm.  I’m going to outline the pros and cons of Instagram pods.  But first things first - what is an Instagram pod?

What is an Instagram Pod?

An Instagram pod is where a group of users agree to comment and like each other’s posts. Usually the accounts in the pod have a few things in common such as the same time zone and industry. Each pod will have different rules but common examples of rules are that you must respond to the post within the first hour and that comments must be more than 4 words long.

Pods are usually organised in Instagram and are limited to around 15 people due to the platforms limitations on group private messaging. However, some are organised outside of Instagram using apps such as what’s app. These pods can have as many as 200 people in them.

Why people use an Instagram Pod?

In Instagram both the amount of engagement on a post and the time frame that the engagement happens affects how Instagram rates your post. By being in a pod you can artificially inflate the ranking of your post so that it is shown to more people, ends in the top 9 posts under hashtags and is more likely to be found in the explore tab.

Why not to use an Instagram Pod?

Time commitment-  The amount of time that you end up dedicating to commenting and liking other people’s posts adds up. These people are often not your ideal customer, and are very unlikely to ever become customers. From a business perspective, it doesn’t really make sense to invest that much time building relationships with people who aren’t interested in your products or services.

You look fake- A lot of feedback I hear from people who end up leaving pods is that it’s not genuine. People in pods would struggle to find things to comment on. Basically, they felt that it made their account look fake.

Your engagement level doesn’t grow- Unless you’re willing to commit to pods forever, when you leave your engagement rates will go down.  Why? Because you’re not actually building a community, you’re artificially inflating it.  Over and over again this seems to be what people say when they leave a pod. That despite spending months in pods their actual online community doesn’t grow.  Why?  Because all your time and effort is going into supporting the pod, not connecting with people that are interested in you or your products.     

People know- If you’re looking to become an influencer or collaborate with other brands, anyone who works in the industry will be able to tell you’re in a pod. Believe me, it’s easy to pick up on.  We can see the same dozen people commenting on your posts, and most of your comments aren’t really engaging. Anyone experienced in working with influencers can pick this out a mile away. So if the majority of your engagement is coming from pods, they won’t be keen to work with you.

Conclusion

It does seem very tempting to use Instagram pods, but in the long run all you get out of the pod are the temporary increased vanity metrics. And believe me, likes don’t pay the bills, but genuine followers do.  If you dedicate the same time and energy into connecting with your potential customers online you will grow a following at the same rate, and they will be genuine followers who are interested in you beyond how you boost their own stats online.

Are you in a pod?  We'd love to hear your thoughts on this- Comment below!

You might be interested in reading our blog post How I Beat the Instagram Shadowban.

 

Increase your organic reach on Facebook without paying a cent.

It’s no secret that business pages on Facebook have a  limited organic reach on Facebook.  Organic reach is usually limited to 2%.  That means that if you have 1,000 fans on Facebook, you’ll be lucky if even 40 see your posts. 

This is due to the Facebook Algorithm.  Facebook has never released all the details about their Algorithm. However, there are some proven ways to help increase your organic reach.

Include pictures with all Facebook posts

The most simple way to increase engagement on Facebook is to make sure you include an image with your post. You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!  Nowhere is this more true than on Facebook!

Don’t ask for shares or likes on Facebook

A few years ago you’d see a lot of Facebook posts saying‘Like this post if you agree' or similar. Nowadays Facebook will limit the reach of posts that are outright asking for likes. 

That doesn’t mean you can't encourage people to like or comment on your post.  Try asking a question or hosting a Q&A thread. 

Facebook loves videos

Videos are so important in social media right now with all platforms prioritising them. 

Any type of video you post on Facebook will be given a greater organic reach than an image. Perhaps you are uncomfortable or unconfident with videos Or you don't feel you have the time or skills to make one? Not to worry,  there are great apps around like iMovie or flipagram, that will transform still images into a slide show.

Avoid third party scheduling on Facebook

Using a third party scheduling app such as hootsuite or buffer when you post onto Facebook will limit your organic reach. Why? Because Facebook wants you to post directly to their site.  Facebook give business the option to schedule future posts now so there is really no need to use another scheduler. 

Posting videos from Youtube or Vimeo will also not get the same reach as those shared directly from to Facebook. Facebook prioritised original content so if a video is uploaded directly it will be promoted more than a video shared from another site.

Don't use hashtags on Facebook

If you’re a Instagram fan you probably love using Hashtags. However, studies have shown that  Hashtags in Facebook posts will reduce the reach of posts. If you must use hashtags on Facebook we recommend keeping it to three or under.

We’d love to know if you’ve tried any of these suggestions or if you have some other tips not covered here.  Feel free to leave us a comment below.

You might be interested in our blog 7 types of social media posts your business should be doing

Fall back in love with Instagram

We’re hearing around the place that people are feeling frustrated with Instagram. That people have plateaued or are feeling that they are not getting the same reach as even a few weeks ago. Has Instagram changed the algorithm again? Maybe. But at the end of the day, does it matter? 

Instagram is still a fantastic platform to connect with customers and grow your brand online. However, if you’re not feeling the love right now, here are some tips to shake it up!  

What are you posting on Instagram?

Have a look at your feed. Is it all looking a bit… the same?  
Mix it up. Post some behind the scenes shots. Got any work in progress?  Post that. Has something or someone inspired you lately? Share it with your followers. What are you dreaming about? Tell everyone! Change the conversation to see great results.

When are you posting on Instagram?

If you have an Instagram business account they tell you the best times to post. I find however that when you post at the exact same time your posts attract less and less engagement. Even adding an extra 30 minutes can result in a HUGE increase in likes and comments. If you usually post in the morning, try the evening. Think about when your customers might have some down time. Is it in bed before they head to work, after they drop the kids at school, on their lunch break, on public transport after work. Post at a different time of day and see what happens, and don't worry if Instagram says its not the 'best time'. 

How are you using Hashtags? 

When was the last time you reviewed your hashtags, and the number you use?  For a few days last week I used 5 hashtags LESS and saw my engagement go up. Varying the hashtags and amount used can give you big results. Maybe it’s that different people see it, or maybe Instagram just prefers accounts with less repetition. Variety is the spice of life after all.  

Are you connecting online?

The final tip - think about how you connect online. I’m a huge advocate for sharing the love by liking inspiring and cool images. Are you commenting too?  I’m not talking about those autobot comments like ‘too funny!'  or ‘this is beautiful’. Aim to leave a few meaningful comments on posts you connect with every day.  Remember social media is a two-way street.  

I'd love to hear if you use any of these tips and how they work for you. Have you discovered any tips that you find increase engagement?

Instagram Bans Hashtags

The other day when working on a client’s Instagram channel I posted a beautiful, on brand post, and then... crickets. No likes, no comments. Nothing. It made no sense. 

I had a quick look at the hashtags and realised that I was using one of Instagram’s blacklisted hashtags. 

What is a banned hashtag?

I know what you're thinking. Instagram loves hashtags. Why would they ban them? Firstly they’re not banning them all but a select few. These are often hashtags which Instagram sees used in spam posts. But some of the banned hashtags seem pretty harmless like #skype #citycentre and #humpday. 

The problem is that Instagram will hide any post that has a banned hashtag used. So even though you might have used multiple hashtags no one will see your post except current followers if it appears in their feed.

What do I do if I’ve used a banned hashtag? 

You might notice one of your posts under performing?  Or maybe you noticed it wasn’t showing up in hashtag searches? 

Don’t worry your Instagram account isn’t broken. You just need to remove the banned hashtag and there is a simple way to find out which hashtag is causing the problem. 

Usually, when you do a hashtag search there will be the top 9 most popular posts at the top of the screen, but banned hashtags don’t do this. If you scroll down you will also see this message:

“Recent posts from #HASHTAG are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”

So you can simply check through the hashtags on your post for this message. Once found you can just delete that hashtag from your post. Once removed your post will start showing in searches again.