Tagged: instagram

Buying and Selling Instagram Accounts

Social Media Strategist Kris Ruby was recently interviewed by MarketWatch in the article titled, “This 23-year-old has made $120,000 buying and selling Instagram accounts.”

Flipping Instagram Accounts

 

 

Here are just some Google search results you will see when searching “How to buy Instagram accounts.”

“How to flip and sell Instagram accounts”

“Sell your Instagram account with real followers”

“Instagram accounts for sale with high engagement”

“Marketplace for Instagram account trading”

But is buying or selling an Instagram account a good business decision? And what are the risks if you get caught?

 

Flipping Instagram Accounts & Buying Verified Instagram Accounts: Don’t do it 

People are flipping Instagram accounts. Social Media Strategist Kris Ruby suggests steering clear of this trend and explains why it is bad for your business. 

What are the main ways people buy and sell Instagram accounts? Can you buy verified Instagram accounts?

People are buying and selling Instagram accounts through sites like Swapd, TooFame, Social Tradia and Insta Sale, to name just a few.  Instagram accounts that are for sale are advertised through Reddit threads, Facebook groups, such as Buy, Sell, Exchange, Instagram DM’s and Facebook DM’s.

What does it mean to flip Instagram accounts?

Instagram accounts are flipped the same way real estate properties are flipped. Buy low and sell high seems to be the motto. The practice of buying and selling Instagram accounts appears to be most prevalent with niche accounts.  Niche accounts are created around a specific vertical of content, which typically attracts a target audience that is primarily interested in that specific subject.

Instagram Like Neon Sign

Why are people buying and selling accounts on Instagram? Is it because they don’t want to run the Instagram accounts anymore?

Instagram accounts are bought and sold for a few reasons. Any time something is perceived to have value in the marketing world, it will be exploited. However,  the notion of “value” in the Instagram ecosystem is currently one that is up for grabs and is being redefined as we speak. Instagram is currently testing out a feature which would essentially hide ‘like’ counts. This will be a game-changer for the influencer community and will essentially force everyone to start from a more even playing field. While follower counts will still be critical, engagement will be the most important metric to benchmark against.

There is currently an entire underground market that exists within this influencer community for buying and selling Instagram accounts.  This is not something that a reputable social media agency would endorse or support.  People are buying and selling verified Instagram accounts to make money, not because it has any real intrinsic value for the business who is buying the account.

Why the Instagram influencer bubble was bound to burst

If Instagram hides ‘like’ counts, it will have a massive impact on the entire Instagram ecosystem beyond influencers.   If someone wants to become an influencer, they will have to work much harder to gain the same traction they were previously getting. Influencers will have to focus on creating quality content if they want to increase engagement.

I was never a fan of relying on like counts as a metric anyway. When people want to work with Ruby Media Group for social media management services, I always ask what success would look like. If someone says, “An increase in X number of followers,” I know they aren’t a good fit as a new client for the agency. Why? Because follower count is not a true measure of success. Three hundred followers that are actually in your target audience mean way more than 10,000 followers from all over the world who will never be your customers. Vanity metrics are garbage and have always been pretty much worthless. I have been saying this for years. Likes do not equal new customers and profitability!

So, why does this matter for buying and selling Instagram accounts? If you redefine value in a marketplace, you also redefine what people are willing to pay for that perceived value.  As the metrics of measurement and value change in the Instagram ecosystem, everything will be impacted, including how people flip Instagram accounts. The main metric they were using to measure these accounts may disappear entirely in a few years.

Click and Collect Instagram likesWhat makes an Instagram account valuable?

Followers used to be the supreme way that people measured how valuable an account was. Like count was viewed as equally important. But with Instagram testing a feature that would hide like counts, the notion of value will be redefined. Engagement is the most important metric of what makes an Instagram account valuable.

However, an Instagram account in a silo is not a true measure of value. People make the mistake of thinking one Instagram account can make or break their marketing. It can’t. An Instagram account is one tactic within a larger social media marketing strategy that must exist under the umbrella of a strategic marketing communications plan.

Instagram is not a quick fix to raking in new sales overnight. You have to evaluate the platform in correlation with your target audience/ demographic and where they spend their time online. Whether you are B2B vs. B2C also factors into what makes the most sense for your business. I can unequivocally say that the #1 thing that makes an Instagram account not valuable is a fake account purchased through a third party swapping platform.  Username and third-party verification is also important, but there is an underground market for getting those blue checkmarks too.

Let’s say someone sells an active account with 100,000 followers with decent engagement.  How much would that Instagram account be worth?  How much would a sponsored post on that Instagram account be worth?

Instagram accounts sell on the underground market anywhere between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. It is difficult to say how much a sponsored post would be worth as it would depend on how many followers the account has, how much engagement the account has, and the activity level on the account.

Do companies ever buy Instagram accounts so that they can have the username?

Brands buy Instagram accounts predominantly for the follower count and prepackaged audience. Username is a factor as well but not the driving force.   I always encourage people to secure their username on every social media platform.  Even if you don’t plan on using the account, no one can take the social media handle from you if you have secured it first.  In an age where personal branding reigns supreme, owning the social media handles for your name is invaluable.

Is it legal to sell Instagram accounts?  Buying and selling Instagram accounts violates the company’s terms and conditions. Do people actually get in trouble for buying and selling accounts? 

The people who get in trouble are the ones who have bought the Instagram accounts. They may think they got a great deal, but in reality, it is a terrible deal. Why would you want to build something on top of a pre-purchased Instagram account? The Instagram account can essentially be kicked off at any time for violating Instagram’s TOS. That seems like a terrible investment and a big gamble and makes no logical business sense.

Additionally, you have no idea what you are really getting by buying a prepackaged audience that has been built for someone else and not for your business. Furthermore, all it can do is hurt you from a digital marketing perspective. Your ad targeting will be thrown off if it is not custom-tailored to the target audience of customers and prospects you have built for your business. No one else knows your business as well as you do, so why try to purchase it from someone else? Stop looking for shortcuts and do the hard work yourself to build an organic following.

Have you ever heard of circumstances in which an Instagram account has gotten shut down or if someone has gotten banned for buying/selling Instagram accounts?

I haven’t heard of a circumstance in which an account has gotten shut down for buying and selling Instagram accounts because I do everything by the book and don’t fundamentally agree with this practice. I believe in building your own following from scratch — not buying someone else’s and hoping it works out. It is also worth noting that Instagram appears to be kicking people off their platform for any reason they deem fit these days, including what they recently did with the meme purge.

What is Instagram fraud? How do you spot a brand scam on Instagram? 

Check out this snippet from our interview on Fox 5 NY on how to spot a social media scam artist. Hint: If you don’t hear from The Director of PR or Marketing, you are most likely dealing with an Instagram brand scam!

 

Kris Ruby’s Final Thoughts on Buying and Selling Instagram accounts: 

  • Instagram very clearly states this is against their TOS to buy and sell accounts.
  • Do not buy Instagram accounts through these services. It will hurt any targeting digital advertising you are doing, and Instagram can remove the account at any time if it violates their TOS.
  • The old metric of likes and followers will increasingly matter less in the future of Instagram marketing as Instagram experiments with hiding like counts.
  • Focus on quality engagement and content and stop looking for a shortcut to doing the hard work of building the audience yourself and creating great content.

 


Kris Ruby in NY Post Discussing Instagram Meme Purge

NYC Social Media Strategist Kris Ruby, President of Ruby Media Group, was recently quoted in a NY Post article on the Instagram meme purge. Click here to read the full article “Instagram’s purge of accounts cost this teen $4,000 per month.”

Instagram Meme Purge

During the recent meme purge, many any of the Instagram meme accounts were suspended without warning. This move left many Instagrammers wondering what policy they violated. Users had no idea why they were suspended. Why does this matter? For two reasons:

1) Vague content policies leave users wondering where they went wrong and what TOS they violated.

2) It is becoming increasingly challenging for content creators to build a business where their sole revenue comes in from third-party social media platforms.

The recent Instagram meme purge is a great example of why. You are essentially dependent on a third-party platform to host all of your business content. If that third-party decides to remove you from the platform (for whatever reason they deem fit) your business is essentially demolished overnight and you lose that income stream.

Social media platforms are rented virtual property. You must diversify your assets – just as you would in real estate. The same applies for social media.

Do not put all of your social media marketing eggs in one basket. You can not trust that these platforms have your best interest in mind.

Focus on creating owned media and always back up your content.

This article originally appeared in MarketWatch.

 


Public Relations Strategist Kris Ruby on Fox News

Public Relations and branding expert Kris Ruby was recently on Fox News sharing discussing how social media has changed the retail experience.

Social Media Strategist Kris Ruby

 

The Rise of Social Shopping

HOLIDAY SHOPPING ONLINE CHANGED RETAIL

How Buying Decisions are influenced by social media

What was once a family tradition of shopping together for the holidays at the mall has now become obsolete with the rise of social media shopping. Holiday shopping online has forever changed the retail experience.

Product Reviews. People are hesitant to buy something in a store without knowing what others think of it via reviews. Online shopping gives you an opportunity to “try it before you buy it” by reading others reviews first.

Mobile has changed the way holiday shoppers complete their lists. They expect to be able to find what they want, when they want it and they don’t want to sit in traffic or wait in long lines to get their gifts.

While people may be turning to online shopping to make their holiday purchases, they are turning to brick and mortar for holiday ‘experiences.’

SOCIAL MEDIA’S ROLE IN SHOPPING (ONLINE & IN-STORE) 

Instagram is the new catalog.

You can now shop directly through Instagram tags and see what other people are buying and liking and click directly to the URL to purchase it through the social media app.

Retailers must make the experience of being in a store more valuable than the convenience of online shopping.

Stores are no longer places to “sell stuff.”

Today, stores need to sell experiences that are highly visual and immediately shareable on Instagram.

In order for retailers to re-capture lost market share, they need to create visually appealing and Instagrammable experiences that give shoppers a reason to go to a physical location.

 


NY Social Media Marketing Agency Founder Kris Ruby Shares How to Use Instagram Stories for Business

In this 15-minute video, Kris Ruby of NYC Social Media Marketing Company Ruby Media Group covers:

-What social media channels are better for B2B vs. B2C.
-How to determine your target audience on Facebook.
-Why influencer marketing is a growing trend.
-How to tell if someone has fake followers.
-Why the role of the traditional media gatekeeper is obsolete.
-Why engagement trumps the number of followers and vanity metrics.
-3 steps to take to become an influencer in your community.
-3 ways to leverage Instagram Stories to build more followers for your business.
-How to conduct hashtag research to increase visibility.
-Instagram feed posts vs. Story posts: the # 1 mistake you are making.

-PLUS: Live Social Media Consulting with TV News Anchor Shannon Lanier

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56HXjciLK5U

 


Best Practices From Influencers & Experts For Marketing Your Small Business On Instagram

New York Social Media Marketing Expert Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group was recently featured in a CBS article discussing best practices for marketing your small business on Instagram. Click here to read the full article!

Instagram for Business Best Practices

 

Instagram Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Have a Clear Brand Identity. If you want to succeed on Instagram, your branding needs to be super tight before you ever begin. You should have a strong understanding of brand guidelines and what is on brand versus off brand. So many small business owners with beautiful branding completely ruin it when they hand the keys to a new, inexperienced social media manager. There needs to be a cohesive strategy that unites traditional and digital branding. Make a commitment to your brand aesthetic and stick to it. A great tip for small business owners is to use apps to plan out their Instagram grid in advance to make sure all of the images will have a cohesive look.

Create content in batches. This is a helpful strategy to stay on top of your social media marketing. You can pull from pre-made content whenever it ties into something topical or in the news. Categorize the content into different batches. For example, testimonial graphics, reviews or even blog content.

Outsource Social Media. It is much easier to create social media content for a client than it is to create it for your own business! You must have a fresh pair of eyes to help weed through the content and create new posts. Even if you don’t engage a social media marketing firm to manage social media for your business, have a social media accountability partner who you can run posts by before you put them up. Sometimes things you think will be so amazing may be more personal and don’t belong on your business page. It can become very hard to see the difference.

 

INSTAGRAM FOR BUSINESS RESOURCES:

Kris Ruby’s Instagram for Business Tips featured in “The Ultimate Guide to Instagram for Business

13 Social Media Mistakes Your Business Is Making That Could Result in Legal Trouble

 

Social media seems like fun and games—until it isn’t. There are many legal mistakes that small business owners make daily on social media. Most of the time, they are lucky enough to get away with them. But as the FTC continues to crack down on influencer marketing and sponsored posts, more people are paying attention to what they are posting. If your social media agency isn’t trained in the legal ramifications of social media activity, you can still be held liable if the posting is done from your account. I spoke with three leading social media attorneys for a rundown on the legal mistakes you are making on social media and how to avoid them.

1. Not understanding copyright law. Photographs are protected by copyright law, but it is often difficult to ascertain who owns the copyright to the photograph. Is it the photographer? The person who posted the photograph? Or the person shown in the photograph? It could be any of the above. New York-based Advertising Law attorney Kyle-Beth Hilfer says user-generated content from consumers can expose a company to legal liability for embedded intellectual property infringement. “When using photographs on Instagram for commercial purposes, the poster should make sure that it has the proper licenses to the photograph. This is easy if you’ve taken the photograph yourself and post it directly to your own account. It’s often more difficult to ascertain who owns the copyright to a photograph that you are taking from elsewhere. You also want to make sure that you have appropriate releases from anyone shown in the photograph so their rights of privacy/publicity are not violated.”

2. Regramming without attribution. Thinking of regramming a photo a customer took at your restaurant? Be sure to provide proper regram credit and attribution. “Regramming a photo with attribution may be acceptable, but it may not. If there is a creative commons license attached to the photo that allows for use with attribution, that’s great. But more often, the content on Instagram isn’t sourced by these apps with this in mind. Giving attribution mitigates against copyright infringement damages, but it doesn’t completely solve the problem,” says Hilfer. She adds that brands using Instagram should also develop internal content curation guidelines that account for risk in a variety of different categories.

3. Failure to properly disclose influencer marketing campaigns. Business owners should be aware of recent FTC guidance urging transparency on Instagram. In April, the FTC sent over 90 letters to companies, celebrities and other social media users reminding them of the legal requirements for clarity in influencer marketing. According to Hilfer, endorsers must disclose their material connections to the brand. The federal agency offered specific guidance on how to do that. For example, any disclosure should be placed before the “more” button since many consumers will not click through. In addition, the FTC warned that certain kinds of hashtags would not be clear disclosures. Marketers should work with their legal teams to ensure that influencers, whether they be employees or third parties, make proper disclosures on Instagram and any other social media platform. Penalties for violating FTC guidelines have ranged from $20-$50,000 with a range of other requirements for compliance. The FTC can pursue legal action against both the brand and the influencer.

4. Improper formatting of sponsored posts. The FTC has cracked down on influencer marketing campaigns, including the exact formatting of these posts. According to Hilfer, the mere presence of a disclosure may not be enough to satisfy the FTC. If the post contains multiple hashtags, links or tags, you must separate the legal disclosures to make sure they are clear and conspicuous. “If an influencer includes ‘Thanks [Brand]’ or #sp or #partner, these notations may not clearly indicate to the consumer that the post is sponsored. You have to put yourself in the mindset of the consumer seeing the post,” said Hilfer. While the FTC has been clear that there are many acceptable ways to make disclosures, it explains that any term that has many interpretations will not provide the appropriate clarity.

5. Assuming your social media agency understands legal. Your social media agency is probably amazing at the creative work they do. But unless they have substantially invested in legal training, chances are they are not well versed in what could get your business in hot water. It is incumbent upon brands to make sure they are working with agencies who are cognizant of the law. For example, if a mistake is made on your company’s social media, is it clearly outlined that the agency will take the legal and financial responsibility for the risk? Or are you assuming the risk? “Not having appropriate contracts when working with third party content creators is one of the biggest mistakes I see,” says Social Media Attorney Ruth Carter of Venjuris. “In many cases, unless the contract states otherwise, the creator retains ownership of the copyright in their work, and if the hiring party wants to acquire it, they will likely have to pay for it. Additionally, I recommend that the hiring party have an indemnification clause to protect them if they are accused of intellectual property infringement or other wrongdoing because of the content provided by the third-party creator.”

6. Fake testimonials. Testimonials are great for building trusted authority as an expert. However, they can also land you in hot water with regulators who are watching out for fake testimonials on social media. According to Hilfer, “State attorney generals are enforcing laws against this practice, known as astroturfing. In New York, fines resulting from such investigations have been up to $50,000. In one case, the state settled for $100,000 with a brand that had instructed its ad agencies to post fake reviews online. Influencer marketing can have expensive legal ramifications for a brand if done improperly.”

7. Not reading the terms of service. For any social media platform, check the rules in their terms of service. The legal ramifications vary on each social platform. Many social media sites’ TOS state that you agree to only post images for which you own the copyright or for which you have permission to post. “The terms may state that by posting an image, you give other users permission to share the image on their profiles on that platform (ex. sharing on Facebook.) If you want to use the image of another person in your Facebook ad campaign, be sure to familiarize yourself with the applicable state laws on a person’s rights to publicize their image,” said Carter.

8. Reusing someone else’s license to a purchased stock photo. You found the image you were about to purchase on iStock through Google images (for free!). You directly pull the image onto your desktop and upload it into your content queue for the week. However, this mistake can be costly. According to Carter, you can only use images that you’ve received permission from the copyright holder, either directly or via a license like Creative Commons. “For iStock photos, read the license the person purchased. Your use must comply with the limits of that license. If your third-party creator bought the license, make sure it allows you to use it without having to buy your own license. Many of the agreements between independent contractors and the hiring party state that the contractor isn’t the company’s agent, so they can’t make purchases for the company. Unless the license for the image is transferable, the company has to buy their own license unless the terms of the license state that the agent’s license is sufficient,” says Carter. If you want to use an iStock image, buy your own license and avoid the risk.

9. Not having an internal social media policy. As personal branding and social media become more ingrained in our society, it is imperative to have a social media policy and a promotional clause as part of your employment agreements. For example, if your employee is promoting herself as an expert in the same line of work that you are in, is this a conflict of interest or is it acceptable? If the employee is using social media (LinkedIn) to pursue outside job opportunities while on the clock, are you protected? If the employee builds a substantial following on social media while working for your organization, who owns the rights to this fan base? Many business owners don’t anticipate these issues, and the hiring and firing surrounding these issues can often result in wrongful termination lawsuits. Adam Katz, an employment law and commercial litigation attorney at Golderg Segalla, says that most employers don’t realize they can be held liable if they terminate employees for certain posts and social media activity pertaining to salary and other work conditions. “An employee can bring a lawsuit for wrongful termination and discrimination if they believe they were fired for something that a supervisor saw on social media but otherwise would not have known.” Katz emphasizes that employers need carefully tailored social media policies that limit a supervisor’s social media activity with employees. “A good policy will state that while employees are allowed to associate themselves with the company when posting, they must clearly brand their online posts as purely their own. Additionally, the policy should make provisions for reviews and editorial rights of all posts or blog entries that reference or pertain to the business of the company. The social media policy should also prohibit employees from using derogatory words and racial slurs and from divulging confidential company information such as design plans, internal operations and legal matters,” says Katz.

10. Pulling content from Google Images. Many small business owners do not have subscriptions to iStock or Shutterstock, so they pull whatever they can find from Google Images. However, Google Images is not a free library. This mistake can be extremely costly. Not only will you incur legal fees if the originator of the content decides to come after you, you also may be liable for treble damages under copyright law. “Possession does not yield copyright ownership. There is no 10 percent or 20 percent rule that allows one to take a certain percent of content and use it without a license. This is particularly the case for commercial purposes. The fair use defense requires significant legal analysis. It may not be available, depending on the facts of each case,” explains Hilfer.

11. Not budgeting for legal recourse. Posting on social media may be free, but paying the fees associated with a lawsuit spurned by social media gone wrong is anything but that. According to the experts, social media lawsuits can cost small business owners upwards of $100,000. Many small business owners do not budget for the cost of an attorney if something goes awry with their marketing campaign. “Suing for infringement is complicated, and you have to be ready to front the costs of litigation, even if you’re in a situation where you are likely to be awarded attorney’s fees if you win. If the other side doesn’t have money, you may never collect, and you still have to pay your lawyer. For many people, sending a cease and desist or a DMCA takedown notice is the more effective and cost efficient way to proceed,” says Carter.

12. Making employees promote your company on their personal social media profiles. As a small business owner, your employees are a critical component of your social media strategy. After all, the millennial in your office has way more Facebook friends than you and can definitely increase engagement on your posts, right? Wrong! According to Carter, there is a big difference between making content available for employees to post on their social media profiles if they want to and requiring them to do so. Carter explains, “The former may be permissible; the latter is not. Review the terms of the social media platform where you want employees to promote the company. The platform may forbid people to use their personal accounts to promote a business.” Next time you want to terminate an employee for not complying with your request to promote the business on social media, understand they may be able to bring up an actionable claim against you. If they suspect they are being asked to violate the terms of the platform, they can report their employer to their state’s Department of Labor or the Attorney General’s Office.

13. Running a social media sweepstakes without legal clearance. Everyone loves to win a prize, and involving your followers on social media in spreading the word about your product is great publicity. But running a sweepstakes or contest on social media without understanding the legal issues can cause big problems. In fact, sweepstakes and contests consistently rank in the FTC’s annual top ten list of consumer complaints. And regulators are watching how brands implement them closely. Hilfer explains, “Social media sweepstakes raise legal issues with gambling and lottery laws. Often, brands forget about drafting rules. Or they take form rules that don’t cover them adequately. Refer a friend, text to enter, public judging: all these mechanisms have legal implications that can make your giveaway illegal.” In addition, even if you’ve done everything correctly to set up the promotions structure and draft rules, your marketing messages promoting the game can still get you in trouble. The FTC has numerous guidelines that affect how you spread word about your prize promotion, and the various state attorneys general enforce state laws that mirror the federal rules. According to Hilfer, “You will want your marketing teams advertising and promotion of the game to match up with the legal rules. This often means crafting disclosures in space-constrained posts. Ideally, marketing teams will plan ahead and work hand in hand with legal counsel to pre-approve messages.”

Don’t assume you understand the legalities of social media. Read the applicable terms of service and work with an attorney to understand the legal ramifications before clicking post.

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV commentator and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com


How to Pick the Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand’s 24-hour disappearing ‘Story’

On March 9, Facebook rolled out a new feature merged into its Messenger chat application called “Day.” Inspired by Snapchat, it allows you to post video or image content that lasts for 24 hours. Afterwards, your posted content disappears.

Facebook is not the first social network to copy Snapchat’s innovative Stories feature. Instagram has done the same (also calling their feature “Stories”). The previous month, WhatsApp followed suit, adding an update to their “Status” feature.

As a business owner, you can use these features to capture a sense of spontaneity and engage with your customers. But which network should you choose? We explore the pros and cons of each platform.

Facebook Messenger Day

Facebook Monthly Active Users: 2.41 billion

Facebook Largest Demographic: 25-34, followed by 35-44, 18-24, and 45-54

Facebook Messenger Day Pros: Because it’s brand new, fewer people use Facebook Messenger Day, which means your posts may not get lost in the crowd. This is ample livestream “real estate” to broadcast your day to people who otherwise may not use livestreaming platforms. Additionally, Facebook is still the most popular social network with the largest overall reach. As Messenger Day matures, this may ultimately result in a broader reach than you will find elsewhere. Facebook’s demographics are well distributed among middle-aged users. If your business is targeting a middle-aged demographic, this would be the perfect livestream feature to capture their attention.

Facebook Messenger Day Cons: Because Facebook Messenger Day is still new, your reach may be limited. Functionality is lacking in a few areas as well. There is still no indication that Frames are available for use with Day posts, which restricts geographic discoverability. Day also does not work with Facebook pages right now; it’s only available to individual users. That means you must use a personal account, which may be difficult if all of your business content is on your company fan page. Facebook Messenger Day is also still missing features that exist on Snapchat and Instagram, such as 3D stickers, swipeable filters and brush styles.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Monthly Active Users: 1 billion

Instagram Largest Demographic: 25-34, followed by 18-24

Instagram Stories Pros: Instagram is arguably the best overall choice for most businesses. This social network has more monthly active users than Snapchat. While it has fewer active users than Facebook or WhatsApp, Instagram Stories is far more established than Day or Status. For right now, it provides the best reach. Instagram is particularly popular with millennials, making it ideal to reach the younger generation. Like Snapchat, Instagram is well established and sports numerous features like brush styles and GIF capture. So, you can customize your posts—perfect for letting your employees showcase your corporate culture. The growth of Instagram Stories has surpassed the growth of Instagram feed posts with millennial users. Millennials were already used to utilizing this format from Snapchat and quickly adapted to it when Instagram Stories took off.

Instagram Stories Cons: Instagram is a particularly popular network among marketers, so you may find yourself vying for attention. This is because Instagram is well established as a visual platform and provides a broader reach than Snapchat.

Snapchat

Snapchat Monthly Active Users: 100 million

Snapchats Largest Demographic: 18-24

Snapchat Pros: Twenty-three percent of Snapchat users are between the ages of 13 and 17. So, if you’re targeting gen Z, Snapchat will provide you with fine-tuned visibility. It has many advanced features like 3D stickers and the ability to export to other platforms, so you can customize your posts. Another advantage is that Snapchat is well established and was the leader in developing this feature. Because it was the original livestream, it still has the most “authentic” vibe.

Snapchat Cons: Snapchat is not as useful for reaching baby boomers and Instagram stories may be a more ideal platform for reaching millennials who are already active users of the platform. For this reason, its utility within a B2B context is limited.

WhatsApp Status

WhatsApp Monthly Active Users (as of September 2019): 1.5 billion

WhatsApp Largest Demographic: 25-34, followed by 35-44

WhatsApp Pros: As with Facebook Messenger Day, WhatsApp Status is relatively new in its current incarnation and not yet oversaturated. WhatsApp has a large user base and gives you access to a wide age distribution. Status updates are encrypted, perfect for reaching out privately to a single customer or associate. Another interesting feature about WhatsApp is that it was designed specifically for use on mobile devices, which may make Status the perfect choice for B2B posts in an industry, such as construction, where mobile technology is pervasive.

WhatsApp Cons: Like Messenger Day, this version of Status is not well established, which will restrict reach in the immediate future. Because it’s still in the early stages, it lacks the advanced features available on Snapchat and Instagram Stories.

Ruby Media Groups Picks:

  • Best for overall reach: Instagram stories
  • Best for targeting Millennials and gen Z: Snapchat, Instagram stories
  • Best for targeting baby boomers: Facebook Messenger Day
  • Best for privacy: WhatsApp
  • Best for mobile reach: WhatsApp
  • Best for customization: Snapchat, Instagram Stories
  • Best for geographic discoverability: Instagram Stories, Snapchat

Differences in demographics and reach make one platform more appropriate for your brand than the rest. Evaluate your target market and choose the platform that will best reach your customers.

The days of static social media are long gone. It’s no longer enough to post a photo and hope for the best. Every social network is clamoring for your attention and encouraging users to livestream their day. Without taking advantage of these livestream features, you may be missing out on a core functionality of where social media is headed.

 

WHY STORIES ARE MORE POPULAR THAN FEED POSTS

Stories are where all of the action is right now.

  • Stories are an easy way to consume content and there is no etiquette limit to how many stories you can post in a day.
  • Newsfeed post etiquette is typically not more than one feed post per day, so many users feel more free to express themselves via Stories.
  • Another reason feed posts have declined with millennials? Millennials are afraid to commit. Feed posts require a larger commitment than a disappearing story does.
  • A feed post has to fit in with an entire brand aesthetic, whereas a story is the more unfiltered version.
  • This aversion to commitment that is evident in the growth of Instagram stories vs feed posts shows a much larger trend among millennials, which is also evident in pushing off marriage and longer term commitment.

The Future of Social Media Stories:

Publishers are creating episodic content for Instagram Stories in the same way producers create packaged content for traditional television.

This will create an abundance of new jobs and opportunities.  More digital marketing agencies are creating in-house video production studio offerings to stay competitive.  Additionally, new jobs are being created specifically around Social Media stories.  These jobs include:

  • The creation of graphics and video production for Instagram stories
  • Ad sales of sponsored content of Instagram stories
  • Partnership development of Instagram stories
  • Branded influencer marketing of Instagram Stories
  • Producers for Instagram story series production

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a public relations and social media agency. Ruby is a frequent on-air TV contributor and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit rubymediagroup.com or krisruby.com

 

Photo Credit: Kara Hendrick, Women in Digital


10 Ways to Leverage Instagram Albums for Business

Utilize the new feature to increase your visual storytelling capabilities

One of the most buzzed about social media changes is the new Instagram update known as “Instagram galleries,” “Instagram albums,” or simply “Instagram carousels.”

You may be familiar with Instagram carousel ads, which Instagram previously had as a paid feature.

Now, that same feature is available for free to all social media users to share their stories. The Instagram carousel feature lets users upload up to 10 videos and static images in a single Instagram post.

How brands are using Instagram carousel posts

This feature is ideal for social media managers and content creators who are looking to increase visual storytelling capabilities on social media platforms. It’s also perfect for those who struggle to choose just one image for an Instagram post.

How can you take advantage of the new carousel feature to promote your business?

10 Creative Instagram Carousel Ideas

  1. Team member carousels. This helps your customers build a relationship with your business. Take a picture of each team member and post it in one carousel along with a group shot at the end to showcase your corporate culture. Utilize the “Boomerang” feature to make this carousel come to life.
  2. Before-and-after carousels. Does your brand run photo challenge contests on Instagram? Put a new twist on the tried and true idea by challenging your customers to submit before-and-after shots, showing how your product has transformed their lives. If you are a cosmetic dentist, you could share a series of before-and-after cosmetic makeover photos, demonstrating your services.
  3. Case study carousels. Use a carousel to showcase your best case studies. Figure out how to bring your work to life by leveraging video and photography, and showcase your top 10 case studies in a carousel. This is a great way to show off your success by leveraging a visual medium. Get creative with how you want to tell the story. No one wants to read basic case studies, so use Instagram to make them come to life. Tag customers and brands that you are referencing for an added bonus.
  4. Thematic album carousels. If you are business-to-business (B2B), the ability to create themed carousels is a great way to take advantage of Instagram albums. For example, you can create a carousel on your company’s top press moments or a carousel with the best photos at your company’s Breast Cancer Walk.
  5. New product carousels. Post a carousel with close-ups and a video of the product in one album. This will allow your customers to see your product from all angles without feeling like they have been spammed with a bunch of posts in their feed. Imagine being able to show off a clothing item from all sides or demonstrate how to use a complex appliance in a single post.
  6. Behind-the-scenes carousels. Buyers who are passionate about a brand love to get the inside scoop into how a product is manufactured and how a creative team brainstorms ideas. The carousel format is perfect for sharing these behind the scenes moments. Behind the scenes footage will make your customers and associates feel like they were right there with you.
  7. Product demo carousels. If you are looking to promote a specific product from all angles, Instagram carousel is a great option. Post close-up photos and a demo, and customers will be able to visualize themselves using your products, which may give your bottom line a crucial boost.
  8. New line/collection carousels. If your business involves clothing, use a carousel to pinpoint each item in a look. This is great for your new spring arrivals. Highlighting each item of clothing from your spring collection will inspire your customers to try out new styles and imitate what you share. This is the perfect opportunity to tag brands so your customers can find other clothes they might enjoy from the spring collection.
  9. Sequential tutorial carousels. If you sell a cooking ingredient or kitchen appliance, you could use a sequence of images or videos to walk followers through a recipe, which might inspire them to purchase your product. If your company sells surfboards, you can share a sequence of videos and images to help new surfers get started with their first board. This may be all someone needs to take the plunge and make a purchase after seeing how to use the product.
  10. “Best of” album carousels. If you are a celebrating your companies fifth anniversary, put together a “best of” album showcasing your top moments over the years. For example, you could choose one image to represent the best of each of your five years in business.

How to use Instagram Carousels

After you have chosen the images for your Instagram album, be sure to tag all featured brands in the post. Also, if you are including multiple photos or videos in a carousel, remember to shoot the photos in a horizontal format. If you want to reorder the slideshow images, tap and hold an image to move it from the beginning to the end. You can drag it to change the order or delete a photo from the post altogether. You also have the option of filtering all the posts with the same filter or individually.

How do you make a carousel on Instagram and post scrolling photos?

Easy! Simply upload your favorite photos and share them in one post instead of in 10 separate posts.  This is a great way to show off your success by leveraging a visual medium. Get creative with how you want to tell your brands story with your followers.

Jump ahead of your competition and leverage carousels to gain visibility for your medical practice with these creative ideas.

Pro Tip: The goal is to figure out how to create content and use social media to tell your story in a new, social media friendly way.

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the changes in the social media networks. Instead, focus on the story you want to tell, and leverage the networks to help you tell your brand’s story.

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV contributor and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com


30 Tips to Boost Your Instagram Marketing

30 tips to boost instagram marketing

There are 1 billion active users on Instagram every month, and every day, 4.2 billion photos are liked. With Instagram, the quality of the posts are much more important than the quantity. According to Forrester research, Instagram user interactions with brands is 400 percent 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 numbers speak for themselves: Instagram is a must for building your personal brand and business if you are looking to appeal to millennials. If you’re new to the platform or looking to increase your engagement, here are 30 tips to help you maximize your Instagram exposure.

30 Instagram Marketing Tips for Business:

1. Create the perfect Instagram username. Make sure your Instagram handle is recognizable and easy to search. Try to avoid using underscores or numbers in Instagram handles.

2. Use Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories are used daily by over 500 million users. Leverage this rising trend and build your audience by showing followers what’s taking place in your business behind-the-scenes. Pin the story highlights to your Instagram profile.  Fun fact: over 2 million advertisers are buying Instagram Story ads across Facebooks properties.

3. Geo-Tag. Be sure to utilize the location feature on each post to increase visibility using geo-tags. Add locations to all of your posts to increase search optimization and geo-targeting.

4. Create a branded hashtag. Create a unique and relevant hashtag for your business that followers can use. But be sure to heavily promote the branded hashtag at events and on marketing materials.  A custom hashtag is worthless if no one is using it.

5. Hold Instagram Takeovers. Utilize local celebrity influencers to drive traffic and engagement through cross-promoting content on both Instagram accounts. Here is an example of a successful Instagram Takeover we did with News 12 Anchor Tara Rosenblum.

6. Utilize user-generated content (UGC). 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 products.

7. Switch to a free Instagram business account. Convert your personal account to a business account. This will enable you to track insights and analytics that regular profiles don’t have.

8. Use Instagram planning apps. To win at Instagram, you must be very creative and good with graphic design. Consider using an app like preview or Plann to lay out all of your upcoming posts in a grid before you click post.

9. Include a call-to-action. Tell people what you want them to do. This may seem simple, but it is often overlooked! If you are looking to increase sales using Instagram, consider running Instagram ads or boosted posts and include a CTA in any Instagram ads.

10. Weekday Hashtags. Use popular hashtags every day of the week to make it easier to get found in hashtag searches. These include #motivationmonday, #transformationtuesday, #wisdomwednesday, #tbt and #flashbackfriday.

11. Regram. Search for people who are mentioning your brand and use the Repost app to regram any brand mentions. Be sure to tag them and mention any associated Instagram handles in your posts.

12. Tag brands. Tag Instagram users and locations in posts to make your brand easier for new users to find. Also tag other influencers in your Instagram posts to get found in their tagged photos, but be careful not to spam!

13. Aspirational Instagram Marketing. Think of Instagram as a vision board for your business. Post photos that will inspire your prospective customers to be part of the lifestyle brand that is associated with your company.

14. Like and comment daily. An easy way to increase visibility is by liking and commenting on prospective customers photos. Through this Instagram marketing strategy, people will check out your account and are more likely to follow you back. Leave a comment on at least one photo per day to create a digital footprint.

15. Offer exclusive content. If you’re launching a new product or service on Instagram, try creating an exclusive promo and offer followers a unique code to track how effective the promotion was. Consider creating an Instagram carousel post to highlight the new content.

16. Run a photo contest. Use all images—even those that don’t win—as fresh content to help promote the brand. Make sure any contests adhere to legal rules by avoiding social media legal mistakes that can get you sued.

17. Focus on the story behind the post. The image may be the star and the hashtags may offer context, but the caption tells a specific story, highlights subject matter expertise, and gives insight into the context of the photo. Make sure it is formatted properly and use emoji’s sparingly.

18. Download editing apps. Use apps such as Afterlight, VSCO, Whitagram, Pic Stitch, Aviary, Hyperlapse, Quick, Bokehful, and Snapseed to edit photos. Studies have shown that photos using Mayfair, Inkwell, Amaro, Walden and Lo-Fi filters to get more likes and enhance your images.

19. Social Listening. Follow and monitor top trends to grow your brand’s awareness and stay on top of industry trends through a newsjacking strategy. Use social listening tools such as Mention or Google Alerts to monitor for brand Latergram, HootSuite or TweetDeck can also help with this process.

20. Analyze new followers. 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 and what hashtags they use.

21. Run contests. Have an incentive for your Instagram 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.

22. 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 by rewarding their Instagram followers see better success rates.

23. Create a compelling visual aesthetic. Post photos that show the lifestyle of your customers, while staying relevant to your brand. Your account should be a balance of fun pictures and branded, promotional business photos. Make sure all images share the same aesthetic.

24.Do not over post. “Feed speed” is a critical factor of your brand’s Instagram success. There’s a fine line between agitating your followers by clogging their newsfeed and posting so infrequently that your followers forget you exist. Create a posting schedule and editorial content calendar that allows you to track what works and then decide which direction to take.

25. 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.

26. Leverage video. Use diverse visual formatting, such as 15 seconds of video or a cinemagraph (still photographs in which a repeated movement occurs.) Also consider leveraging Instagram TV (IGTV) for longer form video content.

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

28. Promote your Instagram handle. Connect your Instagram account to your website using social plugins and link your Instagram handle in your email signature to expand your reach. This creates an avenue for traffic for each social media site. Also consider making your Instagram account visible on Facebook.

29. Reverse engineer. If you’re 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.

30. Measure. Observe when your followers are online and review performance metrics. What images and 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 marketing strategy, it’s important to know what resonates best with your audience.

 

Finally, be sure to repost images that show your product or service in use, while also using hashtags where your optimal follower can be found. Also remember to respond in real-time to the latest trending content. If you receive a sales lead through Instagram Direct Messaging but respond four weeks later, the lead will be gone. Try to keep your followers entertained and engaged with educational and informative content.

By following these tips, you will maximize your Instagram exposure and, as a result, increase your brand awareness (and sales!).  Need help with developing your Instagram marketing strategy? Contact us today to learn more about our social media marketing services.

Curious to know how much Instagram marketing costs if you hire a social media marketing agency?

We break it down for you here.

 

Instagram Marketing Resources

5 Ways to Make Your Corporate Event More Instagrammable 

5 Reasons Your Social Media Campaign Bombed 

Instagram Marketing for Medical Practices