Why Content Marketing is Critical in the Age of Visual Marketing

With content marketing exploding in 2017, it has morphed from managing a company blog to building entire brand newsrooms and content libraries curated by an outside public relations agency or social media management firm. So why does your company need content integration and a newsroom?

For starters, a strategic social media campaign will be extremely bareboned without solid content to back it up. Content is a critical part of any social media campaign today. At least 2/3 of your outbound social media posts should include backlinks to content that is generated by your company that lives on your site.

According to marketing expert Neil Patel, brands who succeed at content marketing experience 7.8 times more site traffic than companies who are not crafting compelling, valuable content.

This 8% increase in eye traffic on your brand is one of the many reasons why every company should create a solid digital footprint and integrated content marketing strategy. A well thought out content strategy helps prospects find you when they are looking for your services. It also helps your bottom line if your content answers sales questions that representatives previously answered by phone. Additionally, great content creation will position you as an expert in your field more than a traditional press release ever will (press releases are dead). Well thought out content will also give you the trust factor you are looking to build with media, and provides media with usable snippets they can pull into articles.

Establishing a content library or newsroom takes a lot of work, and a lot of content. However, if you already have a public relations firm or social media management firm, they can help create content for you. This has become a critical function of the PR department as the lines between PR/Social Media/Marketing becoming further blurred together. If you already have retained a firm and want to try getting more bang for your buck this month, try having your PR firm work on content marketing for you, rather than pushing out traditional press releases (that no one is reading.)

Here’s how content marketing – in partnership with PR and social media pros — can boost your marketing efforts in 2017:

What’s a Content Library? All highly successful brands have built a well-planned and executed “content library.” Also called a “newsroom,” this digital information storage space includes everything from press releases to white papers, infographics, images and videos.  In fact, Fortune 500 companies build, populate and administrate completely separate websites just for journalists and editors. Mobile giant T-Mobile has three: 1) a consumer newsroom; 2) a media center for journalists; and 3) a social media “home” or library.

“Use content as your currency to create marketable content your prospects are seeking.”

What kind of content should I write about? Consider the journey your ideal clients follow to find your product or service. Go on a treasure hunt to discover all the keywords your current clients and potential prospects use to find your company and solve their problems. This includes long-form, problem-based keywords, solution-based keywords and casual language.

Tip: Use Buzzsumo to research the most highly shared articles in your industry to get ideas for what topics you should be writing about.

How can my publicist help me curate a content library? Public relations agencies and social media management firms know exactly what your content library should (and should not!) include. Your content library needs to provide solutions to your customers’ and prospects’ greatest challenges. If you deliver smart content to help make them become informed decision makers, then you can expect more highly qualified purchase decisions resulting in ideal new clients.

Don’t have a newsroom yet? One way to build a content library quickly is to repurpose old press releases by transforming them into blog posts, which can help secure backlinks and increase SEO.

Where do I distribute content? What’s the point of creating an entire content library if you don’t distribute it correctly? Once your content library is in place, make it available to as many distribution points as possible. This includes your company’s newsroom, blog, email marketing and all social media accounts – even Facebook Live or apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. All this fresh and “repurposed” content should attempt not just to entertain, but to educate, enlighten and go for “direct action” so your brand sees immediate results. Be sure your content can be easily redistributed by your brand’s fans and followers so it is easily shareable for consumers.

Need to create content quickly? Go to your sales team and have them ask current clients what they’d like to read when it comes to your business and then create content to educate them on those subjects.

How do I hire a content writer? Public relations professionals and social media management firms understand how to communicate with your different client “personas” by working with media-savvy specialty writers. Need to attract millennials? Or, how about middle-aged women with a certain amount of disposable income in Westchester County (or wherever your business may be located)? PR and social media management firms work with many different writers to capture not only the mind, but the voice of your niche market customers.

Choosing the perfect content writer for your company is like a treasure hunt. Remember, PR and social media management firms can help you hire the best writers who focus on solution-based keywords.

How do I format content? Formatting content is equally as important as the writing itself. Ever click out of a web page or a story just because it’s too long or unreadable? Think of the many ways your clients or potential clients want to consume media from your brand. For example, millennials want “punchy” copy with short sentences and bold headings. Baby boomers usually prefer longer, journalistic style articles. And Gen Z? They want to watch videos on their smartphones rather than read stories.

Need to revamp your brand? Sometimes bringing fresh content to the boardroom table can revitalize old school marketing materials and breathe new life into your brand.

The bottom line is this: Your brand’s content should help solve your prospects’ greatest challenges.   With a well-executed content library and consistent distribution, your company will stay top of mind and be positioned as a thought leader in your industry.

Ready to craft stellar a content strategy and distribution plan? Ruby Media Group brings years of PR consulting, content marketing and social media management expertise to help your company be even more successful in today’s diverse new media space.

Visit Ruby Media Group at www.rubymediagroup.com or Kris Ruby at www.krisruby.com.

For more information on optimizing your exposure with content marketing, contact kruby@rubymediagroup.com 

Follow Kris Ruby on Twitter @rubymediagroup and @sparklingruby

©2017 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


BU COM Alumni Kris Ruby Leads Personal Branding Workshop for Executives

I was thrilled to lead an interactive personal branding workshop recently for Boston University’s College of Communications alumni. For the full webinar, click here: 

Do you recognize the need to establish a personal brand, yet are unsure how to do so? During this webinar, Ruby Media Group CEO & Social Media Expert Kris Ruby will teach you the top 5 ways to leverage social media and digital PR to build a brand to stand out from your competitors.

During the webinar, Kris Ruby (COM ’09) will cover the following key points:

  • How to be positioned as a source so the media calls on you for quotes
  • How to leverage content marketing to increase inbound interest in your brand
  • How to use social media to make new connections with members of the media

Webinar main topic / industry: PR, Marketing, Communications, Branding

Webinar Target Audience: Mid-level managers and senior executives with intermediate prior knowledge of social media

Kris Ruby (COM ’09) is the founder of Ruby Media Group (RMG), a full-service Public Relations and Social Media Agency. RMG specializes in creating award-winning integrated public relations and social media campaigns. Ruby works with top Executives to help position their brands in the ever-changing world of social media. Kristen graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication in 2009 with a major in Public Relations. Kris is one of America’s pre-eminent social media experts on social media and is a frequent on air contributor on FOX News, CNBC, GMA, The Today Show and more. Kris was chosen by the Business Council of Westchester as the youngest “40 Under 40″ Rising Stars. For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com


How to Get Your Business Featured in Westchester Magazines

PR Tips to Gain Exposure in Print

Westchester PR firm shares how to get published in westchester magazines

Wondering how to get published in print publications, but not sure how to go about it without insider advice and connections? Then be sure to follow RMG’s top 12 tips on how to create media magic inside the pages of your favorite print publications.

As experts in public relations, we have secured numerous editorial placements for clients. Below, we boiled down years of pitching and securing print placements to give you our top advice on how to get your story told and featured in the print magazines you love most.

Top 12 Tips on How to Get Published in Print

1. Create a spectacular image-driven website. Lifestyle journalists and editors will go to your website first when considering covering your business in the pages of their glossy magazine. Not only are they looking to vet you as a credible business, but they are also looking with an art director’s eye at your corporate imagery. Does your company have at least a handful of drop dead gorgeous high-res images ready to go that are fresh and on trend? Be certain you use the “show, don’t tell” motto when it comes to brand imagery. Luckily, there are simple programs available to you today, so you don’t need to understand code to design an attractive site.

2. Produce your own media. A common mistake that entrepreneurs make is forgetting to create their own media before, during and after a client engagement. Capturing multimedia (images, videos, memes and even livestreams) is more important than ever when it comes to digital marketing. All of these assets can provide valuable social proof to an editor from a third party perspective on why you are the best at what you do. So, make certain to discuss the possibility of “capturing media” with your clients before you start your next project so you can leverage it in the pitching process.

3. Hire a photographer. Want to woo a magazine editor with your images? Look inside the publication you most covet and check out the photo credits. Is there an award-winning photographer the magazine uses over and over? Hire the photographer for your next post-project photo shoot. Then, leverage the images and share them with the media the next time they are considering covering you.

4. Send images in the correct format: Jpeg? Tiff file? High res? Low res? No, this isn’t a foreign language; just standard formats for sending images. High-resolution images are required for print publication, but the huge files can clog—or crash—an editor’s inbox, so consider sending images via Dropbox or other cloud sharing sites.

5. Do your media research and pitch accordingly. Targeting media correctly is an art. And it takes a lot of time and pinpointed research. Conduct detailed background research of other local, regional and blog outlets that you want your business to appear in. Remember to focus on your niche market and find the publication that best covers your areas of expertise.

6. Determine the correct editor and use email. Score! You have the list of publications you want to appear in ready to go. Next, it is time to determine which writers and editors at each magazine would cover your story. The goal is to find the golden egg: their email address. While this may sound easy, editors are especially adept at keeping their email addresses private. This is why PR firms pay big bucks to have instant access to media research and aggregation services (such as Cision). Plus, editors are notoriously busy and don’t have time to read every press release and pitch that comes their way. Publicists are great at crafting detailed, yet short email subject lines that get the attention of the top editors.

7. What about exclusivity? It’s an unwritten media ‘no-no’ to pitch the same story to multiple outlets. Two competing magazines don’t want to showcase your business using the same story angle. So, offer your story idea and accompanying media gallery as an exclusive first. If you get a polite ‘no thank you,’ then move onto the next publication’s editorial team while continuing to refine your pitch each time.

8. Don’t skip entering contests. While entering a professional contest may seem time- consuming and trivial, don’t pass on the opportunity. Design awards and professional award opportunities come with the bonus of free publicity if you win. And, even if you don’t win the award, editors keep a list of up-and-coming professionals on their minds for future story considerations.

9. Separation of church and state. Don’t confuse advertising with editorial. Most of the time (except when it comes to advertorial), advertising and editorial are complexly different departments within each publication.

10. Social media and content integration. Use the multimedia you create with your projects for a consistent pipeline of brand messaging and consumer engagement via your social media channels, blogs and web site. Regional editors are constantly viewing what’s happening on social media, so be certain to always include locally-used hashtags and engage in online conversations with other local business people, influencers and media outlets.

11. What about Westchester? Remember, editors cover “beats” or locations. If your business is outside the greater Westchester region, then you may be wasting the editor’s time if you pitch them a story that is way outside of their coverage area. Be certain the editor immediately knows that your business is located within the publication’s editorial “map.” You can get a better idea of a publication’s coverage area by requesting a “media kit” from their advertising department. Usually found buried inside a publication’s website (and downloadable as a PDF), a magazine’s media kit includes eye-opening information on readership demographics, advertising space details and the all-important editorial calendar.

12. Ask for the publication’s editorial calendar. Every year, magazines release a new upcoming editorial calendar, which highlights the specific features they will be covering in editorial as well as specific advertising features. Be sure to time your pitch to something they are already covering if you want an editor to feature your business. This calendar describes the theme of each issue and is a good way to strategize your brand campaigns and pitches.

For more advice on PR, contact kruby@rubymediagroup.com to secure a copy of our new e-book How to Strategically Increase Media Exposure.

Follow us on Twitter @rubymediagroup and @sparklingruby

©2016 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


How to Score Local Publicity in Westchester County

westchester PR firm owner shares publicity tips for your small business

Photo credit: Lauren Kallen

When it comes to maximizing your publicity efforts, scoring a national media hit is usually a major goal, but if you are a small business, you may only need hyper-local publicity placements. For example, you’re a Westchester County doctor or owner of a small coffee shop and only want to establish a strong presence in your local community.

Here are ideas on how to get your business in the newspaper:

  1. Pitch trends: Are there new trends in the area or is the community undergoing a revitalization? Pitch a local business editor an article or segment about the revival. Ask other local businesses to participate and provide sources to interview.
  2. Give back: The media loves feel good stories. Raise funds for a local non-profit. At the event, take photos of the actual donation and invite the media to cover the event.
  3. Show me the money: Speaking of money, has your company saved by converting to energy-efficient light bulbs or using a technique that is environmentally friendly? The money or environmental editor of the might be interested in an article or segment.
  4. Cook it up: At holiday time, pitch recipes, ideas and cooking tips or tricks. For example, if you own a small coffee shop, pair the best foods and wine or share ideas on specialized coffees that you can give.
  5. Look around: What are other local businesses doing? For example, The Cecil in Harlem recently had an event with Esquire Magazine where they hosted a large party with top editors, who were able to taste their food and get to know and understand the restaurant’s concept. It was followed by a brunch with a DJ. Guests took photos and posted them to Instagram with specific hashtags.
  6. Pitch an employee: Maybe an employee has achieved something spectacular, so pitch them to the features section for a profile. You could also pitch them for relevant award nominations and submissions.

Here are ideas on how to get your business in regional broadcast media:

  1. Visualize the story. Pitching Westchester broadcast media is very different than pitching traditional Westchester print media. What will make your story stand out are your visuals. Think about how you can visually bring the story to life for television. Go out of your way to make your story aesthetically appealing to a producer. You can even add some props, such as a stunning table display, if you think it will add to the story.
  2. Tie it in. Give the producer a compelling reason to run the story now. For example, your pitch has a strong tie-in to a Westchester calendar event. For example, Ruby Media Group, a leading public relations and social media agency in Westchester, NY and the New York metropolitan area pitched and secured a story on The Cooking Realtors’ Tomato Sauce. It was the featured package on News 12 Westchester on Saturday at 5 pm. The larger trend was that this was a behind-the-scenes peek into one Westchester resident’s annual tradition that hundreds of Westchester residents participate in all weekend. By mentioning the fact that hundreds of county residents also do this, the appeal of the segment suddenly became a lot larger.
  3. Walk the producers through the process. After you’ve secured a segment, walk the producers through it. For example, we stirred the tomatoes and let the producer taste the sauce. We also had b-roll opportunities available to show the entire process from beginning to end to visually walk the viewer through it.
  4. Provide sources. Producers like when you have additional sources available. If you are hosting an event, have other attendees or sources available to talk to the press.
  5. Don’t forget the 5 Ws. This goes without saying, but if you want Westchester media to show up, be sure to provide them all of the relevant details in one condensed email: who, what, where, when and why. Also, provide correct spellings up front for all town names, resident IDs and interview names. The address of the location shoot and a phone number of a point of contact are also critical.
  6. Graphics. Be sure to capture tons of graphics before, during, and after the event. Many of these graphics can be used to promote the segment on social media (a must!) and to include in a post-event release for extended coverage. If you want to re-pitch the same segment when the event takes place next year, it is good to have accompanied graphics to help show what the finished product will look like. Get super creative with your graphics by combining screenshots of the press coverage with photos of the displays you created. We recommend using some of our favorite apps to create these pieces: PIP Camera, Photo Mirror, FotoFus, InstaMag.

Most importantly, get to know your local reporters and what beat they cover. By building a relationship, you will score more media hits because the journalists will remember who you are and include you in their next article or segment.

Like this post and follow me to read more posts like this one.

For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com and follow me on Twitter: @sparklingruby and @rubymediagroup 

©2016 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


How to Stay Relevant to the Media

westchester PR firm ruby media group

In order for your business to succeed, you need steady media exposure. To do this, it’s important to stay relevant. Stay in touch with what is currently going on in the media and utilize that to create new, timely angles and ideas to pitch to journalists and producers. It’s best to review and update your media campaign to make sure it is not outdated. This audit will help to secure more placements in the media and, ultimately, achieve your goal of increasing business exposure.

Identify Target Media Outlets 

What magazines and newspapers do you want to write about your business? Do you want to see your business featured in Forbes or Wired magazine or is your local newspaper the best place to reach your audience? Do you dream of being on The View or hope that, one day, your restaurant will be profiled on The Food Network? Before you can audit your campaign, you need to decide who your target media outlets are and, then, how to best stay relevant and get their attention.

Target Audience

You daydream of being on the cover of Widget magazine, but is that the best publication to reach your target audience? Does it establish you as a leader in your industry? To determine this, you first need to know who your target audience is. For example, your ideal customer is male 20-somethings, so ideally you want to be featured in a magazine such as Men’s Health, but if you are trying to reach a more upscale gentleman, your target audience would be more along the lines of Esquire magazine.

Now that you know your customer and your target media, it’s time to see what you can do to stay relevant in the media’s eyes.

1.    What are you doing right now and what has it accomplished? Has your business been featured before? If so, why was the media interested? What success have you already had? In publicity, history can repeat itself, because if a publication was interested in your business once, chances are that with a more current angle, they may be interested in featuring you again.

2.    Are you establishing yourself as a thought leader? Do you have a blog and are you consistently providing content for your customers? Journalists and producers often scroll blogs for ideas, so reaching out with valuable, educated content can draw attention to the media.

3.    Have you met the media? Do you know the local business editor? Have you been in contact with the local news producers? Do local bloggers know about your business? If possible, arrange a media event at your site to meet the media. For example, a restaurant can open the doors for a media dinner to promote the launch of a new head chef. A winery can offer media wine tasting days, while a country club can offer the media passes to try out the new golf course and learn about what’s new at the club.

4.    Propose relevant sponsorship/advertising opportunities. In today’s publishing world, sponsors are important. Once you commit to a sponsorship, your company could receive perks including advertorials and article placements. Yes, you’re paying for a feature, but it does open doors.

5.    Don’t dismiss blog power. Not only can your blog attract your customers, but other bloggers can draw attention to your business too. For example, if you are a fashion business, reach out to fashion bloggers to talk about your new product or clothing line. If you’re the author of a YA book, there are a wide variety of YA book bloggers with tens of thousands of followers. Approach them in a respectable, professional manner and pitch to them the same way you would pitch to the editor of O or Esquire magazine. Again, however, make sure your target audience matches the blog.

6.    Hold monthly topic meetings. Every month, evaluate where your market is and what topic you need to write about to get attention. For example, if you are a lawyer and are pitching an article idea to a journalist about the legal ramifications of deflategate on the NFL, it’s best to either tie it into the Super Bowl’s anniversary or when another similar incident happens. Any other time and the pitch just isn’t relevant.

7.    Spread the word. Once you get a placement, make sure you spread the word about it so that other publications, bloggers and producers can hear about you. If your subject is timely, make sure to stop posting about it when it looks like it might be out of date.

Finally, keep at it. To stay relevant, you have to stay on top of media trends as well as trends in your business and your competitor’s business. By doing so, you’ll be able to spot the right time to pitch the media about a timely topic, and you just might score the most successful placement possible.

Like this post and follow me to read more posts like this one.

For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com and follow me on Twitter: @sparklingruby and @rubymediagroup 

©2016 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


How to Avoid Deplorable Post Election Social Media Behavior

Westchester PR Exec Kris Ruby recently shared how to avoid deplorable post election social media behavior with The Obsever. For the full article, click here. 

 

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How can you open up a dialogue on social media without offending everyone you know? Follow these tips:

1. Be mindful of what you are saying. Whether you love President-elect Donald Trump or hate him, do not put out sweeping generalizations such as “If you voted for Trump you are an idiot and please unfriend me.” Many of us have been on Facebook and Twitter for so long that it’s hard to remember who we are are friends with (clients, colleagues, etc) and statements like this can’t be taken back.

2. If you are going to write a politically-charged post, be prepared to defend it. Chances are, if you write a strongly opinionated political post, half of your friends will attack you. If you do this, you aren’t allowed to get upset when your friends go to war against you. Instead, be prepared to defend yourself with facts—and to be sucked into a never-ending online fight that will drain you for hours.

3. Remember who your connections are. To the first tip, many are posting severe knee-jerk reactions without being mindful of who their connections are. When you have over 3000 “friends,” chances are some of them are valuable business aquaintences. Think very carefully before you post, because you will most likely alienate people you may want to work with down the line. If you absolutely must voice an opinion, consider using Facebook’s “list” feature to limit the content you share with a select group of contacts.

4. Establish a personal social media policy. Make it very clear to Facebook friends that certain words, derogatory phrases and general misconduct will not be allowed on your page. Put that out as a disclaimer before opening up a political conversation. If your friends continue to violate these guidelines, consider warning them and then ultimately unfriending them.

5. Weed out the trolls. Some people are going to argue with you regardless of what you write. Value your time and energy. If you are Facebook friends with these trolls, it may be time to unfriend them.

6. Don’t continue to engage. A political post is meant to open up a conversation between friends of varying view points. However, this does not mean you need to defend yourself against single negative comment that comes your way. Let your community engage in the discourse as well. A big mistake people make is feeling like they need to respond to every comment, even if its not directed toward them, because the content is on their page.

7. Delete derogatory comments. This may seem controversial, but if someone leaves a racist, derogatory, or defamatory comment on your wall or page, you have every right to delete it. Do not feel pressured to keep up something that goes against everything you believe in just for the sake of the authenticity of the conversation. Deleting a derogatory comment is deleting something you ultimately (or hopefully!) do not believe in or want to be associated with in any way.

8. Take a break. Engaging in political debates can bring increased levels of stress and is a major energy suck. Don’t make the mistake of being glued to your phone for the next five hours after you post something. The conversation will continue with or without you. That is the purpose of these networks—intelligent debate.

9. Consider why you are posting. If you are posting to win an argument, or to get the “other side” to see your point of view, chances are you’ll fail. Quit while you’re ahead. Posts that are more neutral seem to do better. Anything that feels slanted or attacking one side will typically draw out very hateful rhetoric (even if that wasn’t your initial intention).

10. Fact check. Unfortunately, a number of fake news stories have been published at a rapid pace after the election. Try fact checking the source of the link you are sharing a few times before posting it. We have all been guilty of posting these links (myself included!) only to find out the next day that the link was false. If you don’t realize it is false, your network will, and that will open up a whole new can of worms.




How to Respond to Negative Reviews Online

Negative online business reviews are inevitable – even companies with consistent 5-star reviews get a handful of 1-star reviews from time to time. The most common negative reviews concern the topic of poor service, which could translate into complaints like long wait times, dealing with rude employees, or overdue payments (to name a few). With the rise in review websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, it’s more important than ever for companies to learn how to respond to negative reviews in a proper and timely matter.

You Received a Negative Review, Now What?

First off, accept that negative reviews are normal and common. If you don’t deal with your customers on a daily basis, this can be hard to see for the first time, so it’s important to be aware and accept it. Next, you’ll want to put together a plan to respond to negative reviews. Every business should have one of these plans put in place early on in their tenure, and the relevant team members should know how to respond to negative reviews.

Responding to Negative Reviews- Dos and Don’ts

Businesses must acknowledge their customers in order to inspire loyalty. Think of it this way – when a customer invests their time and effort to evaluate a business and they don’t receive a response, you could lose that customer. Be sure to respond in a timely matter – if you don’t, they will take their business elsewhere. Research shows that customer emotions become permanent with time, so it’s best for an effective intervention to take place as close to the experience as possible. Issue a formal statement addressing the complaint(s) and naming the steps you’ll be taking to resolve the issues.

You should never be waiting around for negative reviews to happen. Ideally, you’ll want to address any of these issues and intervene before those online business reviews are published. This allows them to mitigate the negative experiences and amplify the positive ones in the minds of customers. You can do this through your social media channels and your customer service email account, for example. Additionally, be sure to address and remediate poor reviews before launching an aggressive, proactive marketing campaign.

To combat any negative reviews, reach out to your happy customers and ask them to post their own reviews. You could also reach out to bloggers and influencers in your business’ niche and have them write about their experience using your product or working with your business. Lastly, invite those customers with poor experiences to come back when the issue is resolved (this could mean comping their next meal, for example).

It’s important to remember that online reputation management (like responding to negative reviews online) is a Band-Aid approach and not a permanent cure. If your business is proactive in seeking out and acting on your customers’ instant feedback promptly, you’ll not only retain existing customers but also add new ones through positive word-of-mouth.

Removing a Defamatory Review

Most established review websites and social media platforms allow you to request the removal of any defamatory reviews. It’s best to go to the website the review is posted at and look for their policy on the issue (often this can be found in their FAQ or Legal section, but a quick Google search can save the day if this doesn’t yield results). If your negative reviews are indexed in a search engine like Google, you can visit their Legal Removal Request page, which allows you to seek to obtain a judgment from a court declaring the statements in a review to be false, and then present the court order to Google with the goal of having the relevant URL(s) de-indexed from Google.

How to respond to negative reviews

 


30 Tips to Boost Your Instagram Marketing

30 tips to boost instagram marketing

There are 300 million active users on Instagram every month, and every day 1 billion photos are liked. Quality posts are better than quantity, especially on Instagram. According to Forrester research, Instagram user interactions with brands is 400% higher than on Facebook and Twitter, delivering 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.

The facts speak for themselves – Instagram is a must for building and branding your business. However, if you are an Instagram newbie, here are 30 tips to help you maximize your Instagram exposure.

For starters, make sure your handle is recognizable and easy to search.

1. Use popular hashtags every day of the week to increase searchability. These include #motivationmonday, #transformationtuesday, #wisdomwednesday, #tbt, etc.

2. Search for people who are mentioning your brand and use the Repost app to re-gram any brand mentions. Be sure to @mention customers and tag them in posts.

3. Connect with businesses using hashtags & geo-tags and be sure to utilize the location feature on each post.

4. Create a unique hashtag that is relevant to your business that followers can use and TELL people to use it. A custom hashtag is worthless if you don’t tell anyone to use it.

5. Tag brand names, users, and locations in posts to increase searchability.

6. Show followers what is taking place in your business behind-the-scenes” and hashtag it with #BTS.

7. Increase visibility by liking and commenting on prospect’s photos. If you like and comment on photos, people will come back to check out your account and are more likely to follow you back.

Golden Rule: like and leave a heartfelt comment on ONE photo per day.

8. Offer exclusive content – if you are launching a new product or service line on Instagram, try creating an exclusive offer and offer followers a unique code to track how effective the promotion was.

9. Leverage user-generated content by running a photo contest. Use all images, even those that do not win, to help promote the brand as fresh content.

10. Run Instagram celeb “takeovers” with local celebs or influencers to drive more traffic and engagement back to your page.

11. Focus on the entire post, not just the image. The image may be the star, and the hashtags may offer context, but the caption tells a specific story and gives insight into you as an expert and the context of the photo.

12. Use apps, such as Afterlight, VSCO, Whitagram, Pic Stitch, Aviary, Lumify, Hyperlapse, Quick, Bokehful, Snapseed to edit photos. Studies have shown photos using the follower filters get more likes: Mayfair, Inkwell, Amaro, Walden and Lo-Fi.

13. Post and re-post images that show your product or service in use, while also using hashtags in conversation where your optimal follower will be.

14. Follow/monitor top trends to grow your brand’s awareness and stay on top of specific industry trends.

15. Get to know your followers to make posts more relevant to them. When someone follows you, follow them back and then analyze what your followers are interested in, what hashtags they use, etc.

16. Run engaging contests. Have an incentive for your community to share content and promote your brand with the use of prizes and giveaways. For example, National Geographic hosted a #MyAWAY Contest where users could upload photos of places that, to them, are an escape. On Instagram, they would tag the photos with #MyAWAY and at the end of the contest period, one lucky fan wins a digital camera plus goodies from NatGeo and Go RVing.

17. Reward your followers: Create lasting relationships with followers by using discount codes. Reach out and connect with influencers one-on-one. Brands that go the extra mile reward their Instagram followers see better success rates.

18. Connect your Instagram account to your website, and link all social channels to expand your reach to new or existing communities. This creates an avenue of traffic for each social media site. For example, make your Instagram account visible on Facebook. Post photos that show the lifestyle of your customers, while staying relevant to your brand. Your account should be a balance of fun pictures (pictures of cute animals or funny pop-culture references), mingled with promotional business photos).

19. “Feed speed” is a critical factor in your brand’s Instagram success. There is a fine line between agitating your followers with a daily clogging of their newsfeed and posting so infrequently that your followers forget you exist. Create a posting schedule that allows you to track what works and decide which direction to take next.

20. Post at peak times. According to a study by TrackMaven, the most effective days to post are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Another study found that posting at 5 PM EST yields a higher engagement rate.

21. Leverage video. Use diverse visual formatting, such as 15 seconds of video or a cinemagraph (still photographs in which a repeated movement occurs.)

22. Add locations to all your post to increase searchability and geo-targeting.

23. Plan posts in advance. Use services such as Latergram, HootSuite or TweetDeck to help with this process.

24. Show appreciation for your followers by featuring them using your products or service. For example, Sharpie powers their Instagram account with fan-submitted doodles created with their line of markers & pens.

25. Like your followers photos and comment on their posts.

26. Make sure all of your graphics are consistent using a graphic design software such as canva.com Be sure to use canvas “magic resize” tool to resize images to spec to fit the Instagram specs.

27. Respond in real time to the latest trending content. Keep your followers entertained and engaged.

Think of Instagram as a vision board for your business. Post photos that will inspire your prospects to be part of the lifestyle that is associated with your company.

28. Include a call to action- tell people what you want them to do. This may seem simple- but it is often overlooked!

29. Reverse Engineer. If you are trying to get prospects who may be interested in your services, think about their hobbies and demographic profile. Search for hashtags that align with their hobbies, such as #yachting #countryclub or #hamptons. From there, like and comment on their photos and follow them directly. They may even follow you back! You’re welcome 🙂

30.  Measure, Measure, Measure! Observe when your followers are online. What images/posts do your followers respond best to? Where are your new followers coming from? Is your brand growing or shrinking on Instagram?  To refine your Instagram strategy, it’s important to know what resonates best with your audience.

By following these tips, you will maximize your Instagram exposure and, as a result, increase your brand awareness.