For the most part, internet marketing involves creating a brand and then selling products through that brand.
But while this might sound dull, keep in mind that the brand does not have to be a bland corporate one. You don’t need to have a fancy logo or to have some meaningless and hip name. Another option is to make yourself the brand.
This is what’s called ‘personal branding’ and it’s a fantastic strategy for anyone that’s looking to promote a product online and that doesn’t mind putting themselves out there.
Thanks to tools like Social Media Stories, this is easier than ever before.
Personal branding means that you’re turning yourself into the figurehead of your business in a very public manner. This can mean either that you are the business and you trade under your own name (it saves you money on trademarks at least!) or it could just mean that you’re featured front and center on your website and social media.
A good example of this would be the Smart Passive Income Blog where anyone who reads the blog regularly will recognize Pat Flynn. Likewise, you have the Four Hour Blog where Tim Ferriss is front and center. These are examples of personal brands that have worked very well.
Of course, in the case of an influencer, the brand is the business. And the person is inseparable from that.
More traditional businesses should learn that they too can do something similar however.
Social Media Stories are short form posts that users can post to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and some other accounts, and then disappear after just 24 hours. The idea of this is that it creates an immediate and urgent form of communication, and a much more real-time back-and-forth between the creator and their fans.
This is PERFECT for building a personal brand, as it allows you to effectively ‘invite’ your followers and fans into your routine, thereby giving them a chance to know the real person behind the products or services they’re hiring. This can drastically increase trust and drive many more sales.
One advantage of a personal brand is that it can make you famous. Sure, some people will see this more as a disadvantage but if you’re the sort of person who likes the limelight it may well appeal.
Another advantage is that it gives your brand personality. This means that when you interact with someone on Twitter or Facebook, they’ll feel like they’re talking to an actual human being rather than just being the recipient of market speak. That in turn means they’re more likely to trust you to deliver your product.
It’s definitely worth considering including yourself a little more in your marketing and if you’re interested, pay close attention to the web’s big names to see how they’re making it work for them!
Failing that, find ways to give your business a human touch by using Stories to show the team hard at work, or perhaps enjoying themselves after a busy week with some drinks.
The word business can these days be used to describe two completely different beasts. On the one hand, you have the lumbering dinosaur of a business that is still stuck in the 90s.
That organization uses a bland logo that is vaguely meaningless, it has a stark white website, and it daren’t show any personality for fear of looking somewhat less professional.
At the other end of the spectrum is the modern business that is using social media to its fullest to promote itself. This company knows that being a little quirky and showing personality will help it to stand out from the crowd, and it knows
The latter organization is of course the one that is more likely to thrive in the digital age. And if the dinosaurs can learn one thing from them, it should be to use a little more photography in their marketing.
An image will create an emotional impact in a visitor, and can deliver a huge amount of information in a second. If you land on a homepage and see a large image that clearly communicates what that company does, then you will much more quickly know if there’s any point hanging around.
Moreover, images like this elicit an emotional response – which can often translate into a sale. Whether it’s anxiety, dissatisfaction, inspiration, desire, or jealousy… all these things can make us click “buy” even when we don’t really need a product.
As Alan Glynn says in Under the Night: it’s not about finding out what people want, but making people want things!
Images – and especial social media Stories – are ideal for letting an audience get to know you, which in turn is perfect for building trust and increasing engagement.
Better yet is how quick and easy posting a Story to Instagram is. Most mobile devices will allow you to simply share an image straight from your camera or photo gallery and as it's all visual there's no need to think of anything witty to say. You literally just point and click then hit upload to make your point and start getting views.
There's no expectation either for you to upload something every day, so you won't risk making an account that immediately looks and feels like a ghost town. While many businesses recommend two posts daily, others say this can actually be overkill and that two a week is enough!
Compared to something like a blog post – or even a Twitter tweet then, Instagram really doesn't require much of an investment of time and will let you rapidly create a following for yourself.
And seeing as you can easily share your Instagram images to Facebook and Twitter this can even make it easier for you to keep on top of those accounts.
This is a big reason that many celebrities have taken to Instagram and Twitter over more complex social sites like Facebook – it lets them stay in touch with millions of fans while maintaining their hectic schedules.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to be an introvert and a successful business owner. Thanks to the power of the internet and social media, owners and managers are increasingly being asked to step in front of the camera to promote their brands.
If you plan on using social media stories as a business for instance, on Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat, then you’re likely going to have the camera pointed at you a lot of the time.
Problem is… most of us don’t like how we look in selfies. Here’s how to change that and to create professional images that will help to sell your products and services.
First of all, let's address the issues that surround the selfie. One is the angle/composition, another is the proximity and lighting, and another is the quality. The angle is usually be bad because these pictures tend to be taken from underneath with one hand holding the phone awkwardly.
The proximity/lighting then shows up all of your blemishes and pores, and the quality tends to make you look grainy and web-cam-esque.
But each of these issues can be solved…
The best selfies are always taken from above to avoid the double chin effect. This is selfie 101 and will give you much more attractive definition right away.
At the same time though there are other elements of the composition that you also need to consider. For instance, think about what is in the background of the shot and how well it will allow you to show up in the foreground.
Think as well about your expression, what you are wearing and generally what you are trying to say with the picture. Every picture should say something, and if it's just a random duck pout, then that's unlikely to further your brand (unless you’re promoting lipstick…).
Show off your clothes, where you are, or just how tired you are after a long day – don't make the picture and your expression vacant. Think of it like acting!
Proximity and Lighting:
The selfie is always going to be relatively close-up as it's taken at arm's length and this is part of the charm.
Still though, you can limit the negative effects of this by turning off the flash and ensuring the surrounding lighting is good – that means using flatter lighting as opposed to the more 'directional' kind which will cast shadows and make you look like you have big tired bags under your eyes.
Makeup and even skin care can also make a big difference here. Do your best to close over your pores and to give yourself an even skin tone, even if you just splash some cold water on your face this can make a surprisingly big difference. Yes, this applies to men as well! You can also make your skin look better by using colour and drawing attention in the correct way. For women, wearing some red lipstick will make your skin seem lighter and smoother and your teeth look whiter while also distracting away from any less than ideal features.
Finally, in order to really increase the look of your photo you need to ensure the image is as high-quality as possible. That means investing in a good camera first and foremost – and particularly paying attention to the front facing camera.
There’s no reason you can’t run a social media campaign and ‘cheat’ by using your DSLR then uploading your photos…
Of course, the quality can also be improved to an extent in post-production. By using the right filters and altering the lightness and contrast you can give your selfie an almost magazine-like quality to really improve your overall appearance.
Social media is designed to allow people to connect, and that is no different for businesses. The vision is that people can follow their favorite brands, get to know them better, and generally feel more confident about ordering from them in future as a result.
The Stories feature is perfect for this – providing a quick and dirty way to share a bit of what’s going on with you right now, and that way to help your viewers to see behind the curtain a little.
The problem is that you still want to make sure you come across as professional, and that your products look glossy and desirable too. And that’s where you might find yourself wanting to do a little editing.
Thankfully there is one tool available for those who want their pictures to look more professional that doesn't require any special knowledge and is completely free. Enter: Instagram which is essentially a piece of photo editing software that will enable you to quickly add a photo by using a number of ready made filters.
These ready-made filters are some of the best in the business, and lots of them are available from the Stories section. If you’ve taken a somewhat questionable photo of a product, then the right photo can make your poor creative choices look intentional and help to guide the viewers emotional response. This is KEY when it comes to selling.
If the filter you want isn’t available from Stories, you can always grab a picture that you prepare for your feed by taking a screenshot and cropping everything else out – if you have a modern phone, the resolution will still be high.
The other good news is that it is easy to cross-post from Instagram to Facebook as well.
However what Instagram won't do for you is to turn you into Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. For that you'll need to do some genuine photo retouching using something like PhotoShop.
Note however that if you can't afford PhotoShop or get hold of a cheap/free version somehow, then you can use other software such as Gimp to achieve a similar effect.
There are many features that you can use in these programs to edit your images and improve your looks or improve the scenery.
Changing the color variations for instance can allow you to pick out reds or greens, while the color replacement tool can also be useful for changing the hue of an image to make it more vibrant/romantic/artistic. Again, you have options to change the contrast and brightness as well as to alter the shadows and highlights.
If you want to use this to change your physical appearance however, then you will probably be looking to remove blemishes.
One way to accomplish this is by simply applying a blur filter, or alternatively you can also try using the smudge tool and the cloning tool to even out the skin tone. Decreasing mid-tone contrast meanwhile can also give you that porcelain look.
One other way to improve your looks is to increase the size of desirable features and to reduce the others – i.e. bigger eyes, lips and breasts and small nose, waist and feet. To accomplish this go into liquify and then use the tool to increase and decrease the size of selections to gradually change your looks.
Note however that all these things are best used in moderation. Making some slight tweaks will make you glow, whereas going overboard will make you look inhuman. The former is preferable as you can imagine...
Instagram is all about making your everyday life look more attractive and bringing out the artistry in your smallest and most mundane moments. Sitting on the grass by the lake in the sun can be made into a beautifully poetic image, while a cup of coffee on the window sill can feel as though it tells the world's greatest story.
This can be ideal for a business of course, as it invites them to make their products and services seem equally idyllic. And you can take that same approach to the rest of your social accounts when you use Stories.
While anything can be made to look amazing though, some things lend themselves particularly well to the world of social media and are likely to be featured prominently by businesses.
Here we will look at some of those things, and then provide tips on how to really make them look appealing. By doing this, you’ll get an idea of how to make any product or service look more appealing.
Gradually technology has reached the point where it is no longer mostly made up of large grey machines with lots of wires. Today, our tech can be part of our style and things like Kindles, iPads and Surfaces make great 'lifestyle accessories'.
At the same time, this portable technology suggests a way of life. An appreciation for technology, and possibly also an entrepreneurial streak if you like working on your portable devices on the move. Your Instagram pictures need to capture all this.
Placing your technology in different surrounds can also be a great way to capture this concept. This at once gives it context and suggests the travelling/working/surfing lifestyle, and at the same time can be used to create a great sense of contrast.
Picture yourself sitting on the edge of a waterfall while working on your Macbook air, or your laptop sitting on a table on a train with a cup of cappuccino to go next to it. What makes these images so great is that they allow the viewer to make up the story themselves, and to imagine themselves in the situation.
Show off the way technology affects your lifestyle - not just the technology itself (though that said, awesome desk setups can make a great picture if you have multiple monitors and an executive looking table top). This suits itself perfectly to Stories, which are all about showcasing your lifestyle.
Jewellery is very different to capture when compared with technology. Here you are trying to show off the item itself rather than the effect it has on your lifestyle, but sometimes this means removing it from focus.
If you've ever seen a watch advert, then you'll notice that the watch is rarely the main image in the picture - instead it will be a suited guy looking suave with a great watch just poking out from underneath his sleeve.
This is a great way to sell the watch because the picture will be composed in such a way that the eye is drawn to the wrist making it the most impressive thing on the page regardless of it being one of the smallest. You can force this issue slightly by using the filters and the blur effects in order to make a ring or pendant really stand out.
That said, sometimes a super-close up picture of a skeleton watch or of a diamond can make for a beautiful and deep image.
Notice how different products are better served by different types of photography? Play around with the options when creating your shots!
By now most businesses recognize the importance of social media and the value of investing in a strong presence across these platforms. Social media allows you to leverage the interconnected nature of the internet and to make use of the existing networks to aid the viral spread of their messages.
But where many of these same companies make the mistake is in ignoring those social networks that fall outside of the “big two.” Facebook and Twitter might be the biggest kids on the block in many ways, but that's not to say that others can't be just as powerful for spreading your message – and particularly if for certain industries.
Instagram allows you to upload photographs from your phone as well as images from the web, to crop them, to apply a filter and then to pick from a couple of other options such as borders and blur effects.
From there you can then upload your image, usually with a number of 'tags' in a manner similar to Twitter. In fact, many people have described Instagram as being the visual version of Twitter, which is only slightly ironic seeing as it was bought by Facebook.
What’s more is that Instagram now allows a host of other powerful options – such as Stories for sharing quick updates with followers, and such as live streams.
So that's what Instagram is, now what makes it such a useful tool for businesses?
Well for starters, Instagram makes it incredibly easy for other users to find and like what you upload.
Because images stand out so vividly on Instagram it's considerably easier for users to find your images by searching for different tags, and you'll find it's relatively easy to get up to a hundred likes even early on if you choose smart keywords. Images also lend themselves easily to viral memes which certainly doesn't hurt either.
If you can create a meme of your own, then this will do wonders for your business. In fact #meme is a highly popular tag and there are several accounts such as 'Memebase' that can help you to spread these images quickly.
Another great tip for going viral on Instagram? Try to stay relevant to current events: people will search for things like 'Olympics' and 'World Cup' during key seasons and this creates a great opportunity for exposure.
Letting other users get involved is also a good strategy, such as 'BeyondTheWeek' which promises exposure for amateur bodybuilders and fitness fanatics if they include the brand in their posts.
Once someone sees one of your images this can then easily lead to affirmative action or a 'follow'. They say that an image can tell a thousand words and so getting someone to look at a single one of your images is a great way to make a statement and pique someone's attention.
You can often tell from a few images what a brand is ‘about’ and you can feel whether it speaks to you or not in that time.
Of course, this format lends itself particularly well to businesses that have a visual nature – web designers, artists and product manufacturers will do well promoting their products on here.
The effects are just enough to make a good product look incredible and to convince someone to make a purchase. And features like Stories create even more avenues now for that to happen.
A great example of this (and of the above 'involving your followers' tip) is Bonobos: a clothes company that posts pictures of its fans modelling their clothes!
Adapt or die. That is the name of the game when it comes to internet marketing, and especially social media marketing.
If you aren’t able to keep up with the changing trends and demands of the social media landscape, then you won’t be able to stay relevant. Right now, changing with the times means placing more emphasis on stories. And there’s VERY good reason for this.
Just in case you’re that out of touch and you’re not sure what a Story is, this is essentially a concept in social media that involves posting a short video to your account that typically lasts around 10 seconds, and which disappears after 24 hours.
This won’t normally appear anywhere on your home page/profile, and nor will it appear in the user’s main feed. Rather, it will normally appear above the rest of the content at the top of the page.
The benefits of Stories right now are huge and near endless.
Firstly, the position of the stories that we just mentioned – on both Facebook and Instagram, Stories appear above all other content in large rectangular icons. This makes them very easy to see, and that helps them stand out.
And this has never been more important at a time when both platforms are de-emphasizing brand content in home feeds. The Instagram feed for example is now predominantly made up of the content that users show an interest in.
Conversely, Stories are shown in chronological order, making it easy for you to stand out.
Another big benefit of Stories is the short duration. This means a couple of things. Firstly, it means that you don’t need to worry about creating a beautiful image that is going to live on your page forever.
If you want to post something quick and dirty, then this is the perfect way. If you want to post something off topic, perhaps even a little off-brand, then this is the safest environment for that.
Another advantage of this is that it makes it more exciting for users. Users will typically act much quicker to view a Story because a) it tends to be more personal in nature, and B) they know they only have a limited time to see it. This leverages that powerful feeling we all know as FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out!
The best part about Stories though, is the way in which they allow you to engage with your audience. Stories allow you to post about your day, to show your personality, and to reveal a little bit behind the curtain.
This is huge from the perspectives of the follower, as it allows them to feel that they know you, and understand you a little better. This drastically increases the likelihood that they might buy from you, which is of course precisely what we’re going for!
The big advantage of Stories is not for increasing followers, but for building stronger relationships with those that already exist.
The internet provides a huge range of different marketing opportunities for businesses and site owners and really makes it possible for someone who has the ambition and the time to compete with large businesses that have superior resources.
When many people think of web marketing however, they tend to focus purely on SEO and perhaps PPC advertising - not looking at the bigger picture and the other possibilities that the web provides for getting a message across.
One area that often gets neglected for instance is video, which has a number of great advantage when it comes to engaging a large audience and making a statement.
Creating video lets you create more interactive social media Stories, it lets you create explainers for your sales pages, and it lets you market through YouTube. This is HUGE.
Did you know for instance that YouTube is actually the second most used search engine on the web? Not Bing, and not Yahoo! - YouTube. At the same time though, while there are billions of videos online, there still aren't as many videos as there are articles meaning that there's a lot less competition.
Likewise, video has a lot of advantages due to its medium - how often do you read a 'catchy' article? And how much more likely are you to watch a video through to the end compared to a long piece of written marketing hype? Just think about all those nights you stayed up watching trashy TV – that’s how hard it can be to look away from a good video.
Another huge advantage of video is that it allows you to show your personality in a big way. While you might be able to convey a little tone of voice and some opinion via an article or written post, there is nothing quite like actually seeing someone talk in the flesh complete with all their quirks.
This is another reason that Social Media Stories are so powerful – when someone has seen the business owner talk to them, they feel almost as though they know them. And then they are much more likely to want to invite them into their home to do their plumbing!
Conversely though, video also has the potential to look far more professional and polished – and this can build trust in the opposite way. Think about it: literally anyone can create a website. There is almost zero up-front investment required and tools like WordPress make it supremely easy. Having a website is in no way impressive.
BUT if you can create highly polished, beautiful video, then that suggests that your business has at least a certain amount of resources to be able to pull that off. That suggests that you are ‘big leagues’ and that you’ll be able to apply the same polish and sheen to your other endeavors.
Too many business owners are afraid to use video because they’re afraid to go in front of the camera. In short? It’s time to get over that!
Social Media Stories have taken the internet by storm, and for good reason. It all began with Snapchat, which introduced the concept in 203. Since then, everything from Instagram and Facebook, to YouTube and even Skype have released something similar.
As with anything, the popularity Stories comes down to utility. Users enjoy Stories because they allow a quick insight into the minds of their favorite creators, brands, and businesses. Businesses enjoy Stories because they are popular with users and enjoy a lot of engagement.
Thus, the market forces are in place, and it’s no wonder that the concept grew! And for these same reasons, you really need to make sure that your business is taking part too.
The only problem? Social media stories are a little obtuse for some businesses and hard to grasp. Apart from anything else, many companies aren’t aware of just how many sites are offering the feature, or how it works on each platform. Here’s everything you need to know.
It’s only fair to start with Snapchat, seeing as this is the one that started it all. Snapchat is of course the social site/messaging app that initially became famous for its self-destructing messages. Stories takes this same concept and applies it to a more public form of publishing.
Snapchat isn’t as in-vogue as it once was, but it remains somewhere between the 5th and 6th biggest social platform on the web. Not only that, but it has built itself around the concept of Stories.
Stories on Snapchat benefit from the excellent ‘Lenses’ feature, which is basically a fancy term for very advanced filters that have a tendency to go viral. Snapchat Stories also have the huge advantage of allowing a link embedded right into them.
Facebook Stories offer a tempting alternative for business owners that have grown disheartened with the reduced prevalence of content from Pages. Stories allow you to appear right at the top of a user’s feed, and to interact in a very direct manner.
Facebook also has the advantage of being THE largest social media platform in the world, and giving you access to a truly massive number of people. Facebook also lets you include a call-to-action link, which has potential to be extremely useful.
Instagram doesn’t allow you to include a link until you have at least 10,000 followers, or you are a verified account. This is an annoying limitation on an otherwise feature-rich offering. Fortunately, such options as polls, questions boxes, and more will help to make up for this to some extent.
Then there’s the fact that Instagram lets you share your stories directly to Facebook, expanding your reach even further.
YouTube Reels are stories for YouTube. YouTube is a platform all about video, but in this case it is encouraging users to embrace the short-form. Like other forms of Story, YouTube Reels will only appear for 24 hours.
To try this one, you’ll need to use the Reels tab in the YouTube mobile app.
More options includes:
One of the quickest ways to get stressed and burned out in life is to try and please everyone all the time.
And one of the quickest ways to see your website or blog sink into obscurity is to do the same.
It is impossible to please everyone and so you shouldn’t try. This is especially important in marketing though because it is perhaps the very fastest way to create a website that is bland and that no-one cares about. It’s also a surefire way to prevent yourself from building any kind of trust or authority.
If you were to create a website that appealed to everyone, that would mean that the posts would have to be useful for people who were new to the topic and those that were experts.
It would mean that you couldn’t make any very controversial statements and it would ultimately prevent you from gaining any sense of ownership from your visitors.
Conversely, if you have a strong point of view, a mission statement and an ideal customer, then you can create a website that will greatly appeal to the right person.
One of the fastest ways to make your content more interesting is to quickly identify who it isn’t for. This will rule out people who wouldn’t have been the right demographic for you to market to anyway but it will also help you to make your content appear that much more appealing to those that are still present.
Many brands will attempt to qualify their content in a way that is transparently fake. For example ‘If you don’t want to earn mega bucks, then leave right now!’. This doesn’t work because the visitors see through it and it just looks desperate.
However, if you say ‘this course is only for professional lawyers that are already making a lot of money’, then those professional lawyers will be much more interested than if you had said ‘this course is for beginners and experts alike’. You want your target demographic to feel that the content you have on offer is aimed directly at them.
Likewise, you need to ‘take a side’ when it comes to your content. For instance, if you have a site about health then you can decide to come down on the ‘highly scientific’ side of things and only promote strategies backed heavily by science.
Alternatively, you could decide to promote naturalistic products with no chemicals. It doesn’t matter which – that comes down to your personal beliefs – but you do need to pick.
Why? Because this way, people who agree with you will be able to choose your site over other sites. They will know that your site shares their principles and their beliefs and they will be able to feel confident that the advice you share and products you recommend are in keeping with their belief system.
If they can’t know that for sure, then how can they trust you enough to buy from you?
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