Archive by Author

Understanding Instagram

14 Nov

BoomerLakeStillwater

“Look at this vintage photo I took of the lake near my work!”

This slightly sarcastic exclamation illustrates the assumption many have of Instagram being nothing more than a place to post pictures of one’s breakfast or bicycle. Although it is true that Instagram is a place to do this, many businesses such as Nike, Starbucks and the NBA have recognized the massive power of Instagram as a communication tool.

I took the photo above at Boomer Lake in Stillwater, Okla. Using Instagram, I uploaded the photo, added a filter, wrote a description, and placed the hashtag symbol in front of words in my description related to the picture.

So why should your business care about Instagram and how can you use it to help your business? I’ll answer these questions in my next post, “Instagram your business.” Before we dive into the potential value of Instagram for business, let’s take a minute to establish a basic understanding of what Instagram is and how it works.

Six things to know about instagram:

1. Instagram is a free social media app for iPhone and Android that was launched in 2010 and sold to Facebook in 2012. A username and photo are all that is required to start an account.

2. Instagram allows users to share photos and 15 second videos. These photos and videos can be found by anyone with an account. A follower of an account will automatically see uploads from the followed account in their feed.

3. Users can take photos or videos using the app or choose to upload photos previously taken on their phones. All photos will be cropped into the signature Instagram square. A variety of filters can be applied to a photo or video for a desired effect. Before posting, a user can write a description of the photo or video.

4. Like other social media sites, Instagram lets users put the hashtag symbol, #, in front of words in a photo’s description. These hashtags makes photos more searchable by other users, extending the reach of a photo.

5. Those with an Instagram account can “like” a photo or video by double clicking on it. Users can also comment on their own or another’s photo. Unless a user sets their account to “private,” their photos can be found by anyone with an account.

6. Instagram allows users to select to post their photos or videos on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr by providing their login info for the various accounts.

Now that you have a basic overview of what it is, try it out. Then watch for our next blog on how to maximize it for your business. If you’re wondering what photos in general may do for your promotional and customer education efforts, also see Laurie’s previous blog on the power of photography.

3 tips for better blogging

9 Oct

As I sit to type a blog post about adding a blog into one’s social media mix, I am reminded of a skit on my favorite sketch comedy. In the two-minute skit, a man is in stuck in a technology loop. He moves from checking email to news to Netflix to text messages. The cycle continues in a comical fashion.

We live in an online world. We are expected to connect with our audiences through a plethora of mediums. We often start with a website. Then we create a Facebook page. Then we set up a Twitter account. Now throw a blog into the mix. Managing your social media mix might seem overwhelming, but there are ways to keep it simple and still be effective.

It may not appear to be at first, but a blog can be manageable. We often hear from clients the usual and understandable exclamations of “I don’t have time to blog!” and “I wouldn’t know what to write about it!”

Whether it’s for your business, nonprofit or yourself, here are three tips on blogging that will help you write stellar content for your blog.

1. Educate. Show your expertise in your field. Blog with the mindset that you want readers to be able to take away new knowledge and insight from your posts. When you sit down to write a new post, take some time to read the news in your industry. Doing this will help generate great ideas for a post that will be relevant and useful to your readers.

2. Connect. A blog post can be more informal and personal than a news article. Take advantage of the opportunity to be relatable and conversational. Write in such a way that your readers feel like you understand and care about them. Nobody wants to read a blog that is self-serving. Cross out the “I” and replace with the “you” and “us.”

3. Inspire. Not every blog post you write needs to motivate readers to go out and change the world, but readers should be able to read a post and feel like they have read something worthwhile to them. The more useful the information, habit challenge or task tip you can include, the more likely your readers are to read your future blogs and/or to post or share your blog with their network; which is where the magic of multiplication begins to take place. Good content leads to great followers. So, inspire them.

Blogging is a learned skill that, like other skills, can improve with time and practice. For a great example of a blog educating, inspiring and connecting to its readers, check out LeaderHuddle, a blog by Beacon Client Cathy McCullough.

The more you read other blogs and write your own posts, the more you will improve your posts and even enjoy blogging. As we at Beacon continue to dip our toes into the blogosphere, we hope you’ll stay with us. We would love for you to share your own blogs and blogging tips with us!

Does the thought of blogging still leave you feeling uneasy? No matter your level of experience with writing or blogging, Beacon can help light your way. Give us a buzz and we can take a look at your goals.

Connecting with audiences through Pinterest

16 Sep

Pinterest has come a long way since its beginning in 2010. In 2011, I began hearing statements like, “I just pinned the cutest idea for mason jar candles to my wedding board.” I didn’t initially understand what all the hype was about, but I started my own account and began creating my own cleverly-named craft, recipe and lifestyle boards.

There are about 70 million Pinterest users today. You ask what this statistic means for your organization’s communication goals? It means Pinterest is another medium your organization can use to connect with its audience. Pinterest has become more than a place to post recipes and craft projects. Many organizations from Southwest Airlines to the U.S. Army are leveraging Pinterest to reach an even broader audience.

Here at Beacon, we are in the process of creating our own Pinterest account. Below are three tips we’ve learned along the way that will help your organization as it considers creating an account.

1)  Show your organization’s personality through boards and pins:

Do you own a coffee shop? Consider pinning pictures of latte art, reading lists and pastry recipes. Think about what your brand offers beyond traditional products or services. What are the current trends in your industry? Identify these trends and use them to fuel ideas for your account.

Pinterest encourages businesses to “be authentic” and “show what inspires you.” So pin your organization’s passion. Through doing so, you invite others to share in your passion.

2) Create meaningful content for your followers:

Pins are essentially links to outside websites. Look at the online content your organization already has available and pin this content to your boards. These pins take pinners back to your website or blog.

Explore ways to create new content to share through your account. Don’t rely solely on the pins of others!

3) Interact with other pinners through likes, repins and comments:

Pinterest allows users to pin, like and comment on content.  Pinners can see when other users interact with their pins. Through participating in all these activities, you expand your presence on the site, which will hopefully result in pinners interacting with your pins in return.

Have any tips about using Pinterest for business? We want to hear!