5 Apps to Improve your Instagram Stories

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We all want our Instagram stories to stand out from the rest, right? These apps can make your stories unique by adding very cool features that will allow you to go beyond just using the Instagram tools already within the app.

Pocket Video

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Pocket Video is a great app for short video editing. The app consists of millions of stickers, GIFs or PNGs to add cool, cute or edgy decoration to your videos. And If have stunning graphics or photos on your phone, you can import those and also use them in your Instagram story videos.

With the Pocket Video app you’ll also have control to adjust the duration of text, titles, and images, so you can cue in anything at any time throughout your story. You can also render the video in HD quality, save it to your camera roll and post to your Instagram story.

Storeo

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Storeo allows you to create Instagram stories without a timer interrupting your videos or photos. Just keep the camera rolling, then let Storeo clip it afterward. When you’re ready, you can load these clips into your Instagram Story for seamless replay.

Hype Type

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Hype Type allows you to add animated text to your photos or video. Film or snap with the handy story-ready cam. The app handles multiple clips, Vine-style (R.I.P) or single photos. The app hosts different animated text styles and color schemes to use. Hype Type also provides easy-to-use editing tools for speeding up, slowing down, flipping, or reversing your videos. This means you’ll have more opportunity for your stories to stand out beyond motion typography.

Fyuse

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Fyuse is a 3D photography app. By combining photography and video, this app allows you to capture moments that one may not have otherwise by recording not one moment in time, but moments stitched together in little moments. This format has not been picked by all devices and platforms yet so the app also has an option to export any published Fyuse's to video, gif, or live photo. 

Adobe Spark Video

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Spark Video helps you create compelling video stories in no time at all. You can add and trim video clips that will stand out on within your Instagram stories. The themes can add cinema-quality animation to your video. No design experience needed and if you’d rather upgrade to the premium version, you can add your company logo to create branded content.

Ready to take your Instagram stories to the next level? Shoot us a message to chat with us about our social media marketing services!

 

4 Holiday Promotions to Increase Engagement

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The holidays are an exciting time when friends and family gather, but they’re also a time where sales can increase measurably for your business as consumers look for the best deals. Use these 4 holiday promotion ideas below to bring more awareness and sales of your product or service during the holiday season!

1. Sweepstakes 

Sweepstakes contests are a great way to give away prizes in exchange for information such as email addresses and phone numbers to build your marketing list. When creating a sweepstakes contest, you’ll want to make sure that the prize is worth it to the entrant to provide their private information. It’s also wise to create a contest with a low barrier to entry, which will make it more enticing for people to enter your sweepstakes.  

A good strategy for a holiday promotion would be to run different sweepstakes each day to create a sense of urgency, which will encourage entrants to fill out the form before the sweepstakes end at the end of each day. Having multiple people participating in daily sweepstakes promotions will increase awareness of your brand, social shares, and mentions, as well as website visits.

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2.  Photo Contest 

Photo contests will not only inform more people of your brand but can also be a clever way to acquire user-generated content. When creating an Instagram photo contest, be sure to set a contest-specific hashtag for all the users participating to use when posting their photos. While generic hashtags, like #holidaycontest or #holidaygiveaway, will widen the reach of your contest, they might also make it difficult for you to keep track of contestants. Be sure to select a hashtag that is specific to your brand or campaign. 

Another great way to get more eyeballs on your photo contest is to include voting as a way to select the contest winner. The photo with the most votes will win, which will encourage users to get others involved increasing engagement, awareness and new followers. Consumers love feeling like they’re a part of the brand so make sure to repost your favorites during the contest period as well!

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3. Video Contest 

Like the photo contest, user-generated content will also be a plus for this type of campaign. Ask your followers and customers to post videos that are unique and creative to receive the most impact. 

The prize offered should be of great value in order to make it worth the effort it takes to make a quality video. Create example videos to give your followers an idea of what you are looking for during the contest.

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4.  Coupons 

Coupons are very popular during the holidays considering most people love a good deal. Create special offers or coupons for your business throughout the holiday season and make them available on all social media platforms as well as on your website. 

Use a different discount code on each so you can track which social media platform works best. Make each coupon post shareable so that your followers will also share these great offers with their family and friends.  

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Any of these contests will be sure to increase engagement and awareness of your brand during this holiday season. Have you planned to launch your own holiday campaigns in 2018? Contact us to let us know what you’ve got in the works!
 

How to Create a Custom and Lookalike Audience on Facebook

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What are Custom and Lookalike Audiences?

Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences are created by the data acquired from your website traffic or engagement with your Facebook and/or Instagram accounts.

Custom audiences will allow you to create audiences from: 

  • Company databases 
  • Email lists 
  • People who have visited certain pages of your website
  • People who have watched particular videos on Facebook or Instagram
  • People who have responded to your Facebook events
  • People who have interacted with your mobile app

Once you've created these audiences you can target these groups with your ads. For example, if you have a newsletter that goes out to an email list every week, you can upload that list to Custom Audiences and then direct your ads to that particular group. 

Lookalike Audiences work hand-in-hand with your Custom Audiences. Once you've created a Custom Audience, Facebook will then find people who look like that Custom Audience and create a new group of Facebook users that have similar interests and demographics. This new audience is called a Lookalike Audience.

How to Create a Custom Audience

In the Ads Manager, you can access Custom Audiences in the Assets tab from the drop-down menu in the upper left-hand corner.

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From here, you'll need to create a new Custom Audience.

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A pop-up window will open and you'll choose which type of audience you want to create depending on your objective. 

For example, if we choose the Customer File option, you can upload your own CSV file, manually enter your data, or import a list from MailChimp. Facebook will now cross-reference your list of customers or subscribers with its own database. Rename your audience list so you can easily access this for later use. 

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How to Create a Lookalike Audience

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To create a Lookalike Audience to use on Facebook or Instagram, start by selecting your desired Custom Audience and location. You can only target one Lookalike Audience in one country at a time. For example, if you are advertising in the United States and want to create a Lookalike Audience from your email list, you will want to select the United States as your country and Email List Custom Audience. Facebook will then generate a new audience from your Custom Audience.

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Once you've created your Lookalike Audiences, you'll then be able to create your ads in Ads Manager using these Lookalike Audiences. But, you'll also need to add other demographic information such as location, interests, age, language, etc., to narrow your audience even further to ensure that you're creating the perfect audience for your ad. 

Would you like to learn more about creating Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences for your businesses? Contact us to schedule a social media marketing training session. 

4 Writing Resources for Bloggers

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Medium

Medium is a hub for writers. The platform was built to unite people sharing stories, viewpoints and original ideas all within a clean reading experience. You can customize your feed to showcase your favorite topics, writers, and publications. All the content that matters to you will be right at your fingertips on the Medium platform. Medium also serves as a content creation tool where users can publish their own stories. In addition, paid members receive access to exclusive content from their favorite publications such as Fast Company, The Guardian, New York Times, etc. 

Ghost

Ghost is a seamless authoring experience. With Ghost, you’ll be able to assign multiples roles for authors, editors and administrators within your own publishing platform. The program allows you to invite your whole team to collaborate, with dedicated public user profiles for everyone. You can also build almost any type of category, section, format or flow using tags as well as schedule posts in advance. Ghost is also customizable, allowing you to add a logo and create navigation menus. Ghost can power blogs, magazine and journalists from Zappos to Sky News.

Draft

Draft is a great resource for writers who make multiple edits and changes throughout the writing process. With Draft, you can edit documents and any changes that you make will automatically sync to the cloud or the platform that you imported the content from, such as Evernote, Google Docs, and iCloud Notes. Draft documents can easily be published to Wordpress, Tumblr, Ghost, Svbtle, Blogger, Twitter, LinkedIn, Basecamp and even Mailchimp.

Writefull

Writefull will help to make you a better writer by giving feedback and checking your text against databases of the correct language. The app or Chrome extension uses a large language database to search for the frequency of chunks of text from academic papers and reports, books and web pages. The screenshot above shows an example of when Writefull can help a writer choose the most appropriate phrase depending on the context of the particular sentence. Writefull can also define certain words or phrases from dictionary databases.

By adding these 4 resources to your writing repertoire, you’ll be able to produce higher quality content in less time and also reach readers who are interested in your writing.

4 Reasons Why Public Relations is Important For Your Business

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Public relations is about creating relationships and storytelling to expand your brand’s influence in your industry and community. Here are a few reasons why public relations is important for your business:

1. Increase awareness of your business

There are many ways that PR can increase the reach and awareness of your business including speaking opportunities, media interviews, partnerships, event planning and more. For example; to keep their business on the minds of local customers, Great Clips teamed up with local news stations across the country for a back-to-school haircut campaign. Great Clips stylists went live demonstrating back-to-school hairstyles that can help simplify a busy fall for parents and even offered an in-store coupon to those who mentioned the tv station.

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2. Create partnerships within your community

Creating partnerships with local businesses will not only put your brand in front of the people within your community but will also support other businesses that you partner with as well. Online influencers mentioning your business can add credibility to your brand. People that follow these influencers are likely to perceive your brand the way the influencer presents it. 

Birchbox, a monthly box of personalized makeup, haircare and skincare samples, teamed up with lifestyle blogger Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere to promote a special May box with five Instagram photos on her Instagram page. The campaign received over 18,000 likes and reached more than 550,000 consumers.

3. Establish your business as an authority in your industry

You want your brand to be considered an expert in your industry. Media interviews and speaking opportunities are great ways to inform your potential customers of your expertise. Wedding planner David Tutera, for example, was asked to speak at the Wedding MBA Convention for the wedding industry. He plans to share his approach to extravagant event planning and what advice he can offer to those trying to thrive in the industry. 

4. Give your brand a voice

Now with social media, most businesses are able to speak to and engage with the public immediately. But, by using public relations, your business will be able to craft stories your potential customers can relate to as well as reach larger audiences through the media, partnerships and other opportunities.

Simply placing products on shelves won't cut it anymore. Showcase the stories behind the products, the people who love them and use them, and how they reinforce your brand's values. Like this example: TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie took a trip to Argentina and noticed that many poor children didn't have shoes, and decided to create a one-for-one business model. Every product purchase, TOMS will help a person in need.

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How does your business implement an effective PR strategy? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Create a Snapchat Ad

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Have you ever watched a friend’s Snapchat story that is then immediately followed by an ad that actually looks as if you’re watching another individual’s Snapchat story?  Larger brands have already been using the Snapchat platform to advertise and now local businesses have the option as well (although, it is pricey!). Register your business for the Snapchat Ads Manager and follow these steps to create your first Snapchat ad:
 
1. Create an Audience

Like Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat now offers ways to target individuals based on device, demographics, and geography. When creating your audience, try to keep in mind that most people using Snapchat are teenagers and young adults, so if your audience falls outside of these parameters, it might be wise to consider advertising on a different social media platform.

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2. Set Your Budget and Goals

Select your ad budget for the particular ad as well as the goal. This can either be “swipe-ups” or “installs”. As of now, the minimum budget for a Snapchat ad is $100 per day, which is much higher than daily ad minimums on other platforms. (Facebook and Instagram currently only require $1 per day per ad.) We’re hoping that Snapchat will lower the daily ad minimum once brands with larger budgets become more familiar with the platform. We saw this happen with Instagram and Twitter years ago.
 
3. Schedule

Select a duration for how long you want this specific ad to run. One week? One month? A year?
 
4. Select an ad type and upload your content

There are four types of ads: App Install, Long Form Video, Top Snap Only and Web View.

The App Install ad will send people directly to the Apple Store or Google Play to download the selected app. The Long Form Video ad is similar to a video trailer and these videos can be up to 10 minutes long. The Top Snap Only ad option is a 3-10 second video ad with no call to action.
 A Web View ad will send people to a website to purchase a product, make an appointment or read an article.  

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Ready to get started with Snapchat ads? Reach out to us to begin creating these type of ads for your brand!
 

4 Steps to Handling Negative Feedback on Social Media

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If you’re a business owner or marketer responsible for handling social media accounts, then you’re more than likely to receive negative feedback at some point. It can be difficult to hear negative feedback at times but it’s important to consider this as an opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive. Here are some tips on how to handle the negativity that may come your way via social media.

1. Remain calm

Even though it’s easy to respond quickly and negatively in response to a complaint, it’s nest to approach the situation calmly and professionally. Some people prefer to walk away from their computer or give themselves a designated period of time to process the situation and consider how it should be addressed. This prevents saying things that will tarnish your brand or make your company seem unprofessional. 

2.  Don’t take it personally

Many business owners take negative feedback personally simply because they have so much invested in their business. When addressing negative feedback, it’s important to remember that most customer complaints are genuine and can point to a significant problem within your company. Look at this opportunity to fine-tune certain aspects of your business operations or customer service.

3. Show compassion for the customer’s issue

Compassion goes a long way. Even if the customer is frustrated, they will be more responsive when interacting with someone who is compassionate and understanding.  If your response sounds unempathetic to the customer, there is a good chance the issue wont be resolved and it could be a catalyst for a PR disaster.

4. Learn from the feedback

Handling negative feedback can be a great learning experience. Important questions to ask yourself are: How can we improve? What can we do differently moving forward? From this point forward you can decide if a change is to a business process is required to prevent this from happening again or if you should adjust how that specific complaint is handled in the future.

Because complaints via social media are seen by the public. It is important to handle these complaints as quickly and professionally as possible But if you keep these 4 tips in mind while handling complaints, you may be able to gain new customers from the positive stories that come from them. 
 

4 Apps to Help You Stay Organized

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With a jam-packed schedule each day it’s often times hard to stay organized, so it helps to have apps to simplify our tasks. Whether it’s reminding you to pick up a gift for an employee or pay your monthly power bill, these apps are extremely helpful in keeping you organized.

1. Evernote

Evernote is the ultimate note-taking app. The app acts as a virtual file storage system with multiple notebooks comprised of even more notes. By using the app, you have quick and easy access to share notes or notebooks with your team for feedback and collaboration.  A fun feature of Evernote is the camera function that allows you to scan, digitize, and organize your paper documents, business cards, handwritten notes, and drawings. The app also has a search feature to look up information that would otherwise take a long time to find in a paper notebook. Evernote is a great option to replace note-taking with paper notebooks and also store any important data or information. 

2. LastPass 

LastPass is the best app for keeping up with all the passwords that you can never remember. All your account passwords are stored within the app and you can also audit your passwords to see which is stronger and create a more secure password. All you’ll need to remember is the master password and the app will autofill your passwords in your web browser and app logins.

3. Wunderlist

Wunderlist allows you to be productive from anywhere. The app is available for your phone, smartwatch, tablet, and computer. Create, assign, and share your to-dos with the Today widget. With the Wunderlist app, you can also save web pages and articles for later with the Add to Wunderlist sharing extension. The app sets due dates and reminders to ensure you never forget important deadlines (or birthday gifts) again.

4. Mint

Mint is the perfect app to stay on top of all your finances. Connect your different accounts from your phone bill, car insurance, rent, and other bills to see what you’re spending, where you can save money, and pay bills on time. The app will also set up your monthly budgets and will make you aware when you have exceeded them. Bonus! Mint will also provide you with a free Credit Score once a month, no credit card required.

Download these apps and start your October organized and ready for the world.

 

Facebook Ads Manager: Changes You Need to Know

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If you advertise on Facebook, at one point in time you've probably run into a bit of confusion over deciding on which tool to use for paid social. Do you prefer Facebook Ads? Or Power Editor? Whichever one it is, both tools had their advantages and disadvantages for your advertising purposes.

Facebook recently announced that it is rolling out an updated ad management tool that will combine features from both Ads Manager and Power Editor. The supercharged tool will now go under the Ads Manager name with the best features from both, and Power Editor will eventually be removed as an option.

Workflow Options

Before the update, designing campaigns were slightly different for both tools.

Ads Manager utilized Guided Creation, where advertisers went through the entire process of creating an ad, ad set, and ad. 

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For Power Editor users, advertisers had the option to choose either the Guided Creation or Quick Creation function. With Quick Creation, advertisers were able to generate campaigns faster, and with more basic information. 

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Now, the new and improved Ads Manager will have both options available for use. You'll be able to switch between both methods, but Facebook will automatically open the one used most often.

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Drafts and Publishing

The new Ads Manager includes an "Automatic Drafts" feature that automatically saves your work during the time campaigns, ad sets, and ads are being set up. This option should work great for your planning process. The feature may seem familiar to Power Editor users as you will now need to review and publish your changes. The new Ads Manager includes an "Automatic Drafts" feature that automatically saves your work during the time campaigns, ad sets, and ads are being set up. 

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One Stop Shop For Reporting

The update provides one unified place to access your ad reports. The new Ads Manager combines breakdowns, summary rows, charts, activity history, exported insights and more features from both of the previous versions tools. 

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Facebook says that no functionality will be lost from this change (Power Editor users won't lose everything) and that this update will provide more fluidity and a better ad experience for everyone. 

What do you think about these changes? Will you miss Power Editor? Let us know in the comments! 

5 Best Apps for Photography on Your Smartphone

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Most think in order to create jaw-dropping visuals for social media content, you need a DSLR camera, professional lighting, backdrops, etc., but that isn’t the case. Now, all you need is a smartphone to take stunning photos. Apple, Samsung, LG and Google phones are now packing a 12-megapixel camera or above.  In order to create high-quality photos, just point and shoot, then edit your content using the apps below.
 
1. Polarr allows you to create your own filters instead of having to choose from the various filters already provided on social media platforms. You can also take advantage of the advanced editing tools within the app, such as color masking and batch export with filters. The cool thing about Polarr? You can also edit your photos using the desktop version, for either Mac or PC. 

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 2. Over is a mobile app that can add text to any photo. In addition to its simple and unique design, the app has a wide variety of fonts and colors to choose from. Bonus? Over always saves your original photo, which can be helpful when testing out different versions of your image.

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3. Facetune can be used to fix skin blemishes in photos. This app can even alter facial features like decreasing the size of your eyes or changing the face shape. Just a heads up… Facetune will make you a master in the selfie world but for a price of $3.99.

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 4. Color Story is a mobile app that will give your image a distinct color or hue by making it either more vibrant or subdued. This app also allows you to stack filters for the perfect look or add filters to your Boomerangs. 

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5. VSCO is a well-known photo editing app that uses awesome photo filters to create a distinct mood for your photography. You can also snap your photos through the app and use the advanced editing tools to change things like the exposure and depth of field. Additionally, you can find photography inspiration through VSCO’s Discover tab within the app where photos are selected by the VSCO team to be featured.

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Using any of these apps will help you to create stunning, professional quality photos for social media content as well as your website and other marketing materials.