Livin’ in E-Harmony with the Infamous Social Media Algorithm

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Linley+Lauren // Image provided by LP2 Boutique Agency

 

Today’s guest bloggers Linley+Lauren are biz besties and co-founders of WORK//SHOP, marketing, social media and store planning resources for independent retailers. Follow their fun @linleylaurenlp2 and flamingle with them during their four social media seminars on Friday, April 8, 2016 at Atlanta Apparel. Visit www.AmericasMart.com/events or www.retailerworkshop.com/upcomingevents for more details.

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We’ve got a special guy we’d like you to meet. You may not be looking for anyone new, but he’s actually already in your life. In fact, he’s been all up in your business lately.

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Al Gorithm // Image provided by LP2 Boutique Agency

You’ve probably heard his name before. He’s quite the social butterfly, after all! Meet Al Gorithm (as in the infamous Facebook algorithm).

Waiiiiit… Don’t stop reading now! Sure, you (and almost every other business owner in the world) have a love/hate relationship with him, but hear us out. We think he’s gotten a bad rap, and he’s worth getting to know.

In fact, we suggest you get serious with him pretty quick… like maybe consider getting engaged?? That’s right! Social engagement is the best way to have Al Gorithm start working for your business and increase your social media success. Here’s why:

  1. He’s a real go-getter… and a bit of a workaholic too! He’s been organizing your customers’ Facebook news feeds since 2010, and he’s recently gotten a second job at Instagram. Whether you like it or not, he’s becoming increasingly important to delivering your social media content to your customers. If you don’t have a good relationship with him, he could be a bit of fatal attraction for your business.
  2. He’s quite the VIP. Sometimes it feels like ’ol Al is just using you for your money. After all, social media algorithms can force you to pay for ads or boosted content to increase your reach… especially if your engagement is low. But face the facts. Facebook users have liked more pages than their capacity to consume the information that comes from them — around 1,500 posts at any given time, and Instagrammers miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. If a feed is too overwhelming, users won’t see a thing. That’s why Al has become a Very Important Poster (and so well paid too!).
  3. He’s a good guy. Deep down, he really cares about what is important to you and your customers. The goal of the social media algorithm is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. On Facebook, he narrows those 1,500 posts down to the 300 or so that users are most likely to find interesting. Nice guy, right? No word on his start date at Instagram and how exactly he’ll work, but since Insta is owned by Facebook, he’s bound to operate similarly.

So do you heart him now? Then it’s time to say, “YES!” and get engaged on social media. We’ll be back with a second love letter soon to give you specifics on how to increase your placement in the algorithm by engaging your followers on Facebook and Instagram.

Take Care,
Linley+Lauren

Part 1 of 2

HOW TO ACHIEVE INSTANT SALES WITH INSTAGRAM

Instagram

“If Twitter and Flickr could have had a baby it would have been Instagram,” says Christi Tasker, CEO, author, and speaker of PuTTin’ Out. Tasker established her credibiltiy in the social media space in the early days of Myspace and Webkinz. However, as today’s social space turns visual, Instagram is at the forefront of great pictures and now 15 second videos.

Twitter and Flickr Baby  Instagram Collage

So what is Instagram and why does it matter to retailers? Instagram combines the photo experience of Flickr with the real-time conversation element of Twitter. Instagram has become the fastest growing mobile application to “capture and share the world’s moment.” It’s a photo sharing application that lets users take photos, apply filters to their images, and share the photos instantly on the Instagram network and other social networks such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Foursquare, or even email. The app is targeted toward mobile social sharing, and in just over one year, it’s gained 15 million users. Growing at a rate of 2 million users per month, users have uploaded 400 million photos in less than two years (60 photos per second). Ten percent of all photos taken by humankind were taken in the past 12 months. The strengths of Instagram are the filter, social community and tag-driven search functions with geo-tag capabilities that group pictures of that particular site.

Nordstrom is considered a retail industry leader for Instagram. The company incorporates a behind-the-scenes look from their employees. Employees of Nordstrom who send in the best photo are rewarded with prizes. Talk about a great incentive and great way for the company to collaborate/compete for having the most creative pictures on Instagram! Other successful retail brands on Instagram include Starbucks, Nike, Gucci, Burberry, December Diamonds, Victoria Secret and Michael Kors. All have been effective in spreading awareness and cultivating relationships with their biggest fans.

Nike Instagram  Nordstrom Instagram

How do you correlate sales to Instagram photos? Answer: Chirpify. Chirpify is the only in-stream social selling commerce platform that allows fans to comment on photo and leads them to directly buy. Users can hook it up to a Paypal account and never leave Instagram. Talk about revolutionary for retailers! So start thinking of your second hobby as a photographer. Make sure you are decorating a table with candy and other home-made sweets if you are trying to sell your new candy dish. You need to dress up your photos and use relevant hashtags such as #candy #sweets #antique. Check out how Sore Footwear and Adidas use this social selling commerce platform to get ideas. Instagram also recently added the embed code so you can embed your pictures on your website.

The Social Commerce and Payments Platform from Chirpify on Vimeo.

Instagram is quickly outpacing Foursquare as the largest mobile social network: 91 percent of U.S. citizens have mobile phones within reach 24/7; 25 percent of people in the U.S. have totally abandoned their laptops for exclusive use of their mobile devices; and opting to download mobile apps 10.9 billion times is expected to peak in 2013. Why is Instagram so cool? Users process more information more quickly from images than from text thus images drive more audience engagement than text content.

The popularity of Instagram derives from the ability to tell a story through visual images. Seventy percent of Facebook user activity centers on uploading, liking and sharing photos. No wonder they purchased Instagram in 2012 for better picture sharing and increased engagement. Users are posting lifestyle photos that are visually appealing. People love visual content, and photos tell stories. Storytelling is crucial to the social success of your content, and the emotions associated with photos carry a lot of weight.

Your brand should maintain consistent posting frequency by posting at least two Instagram photos every week to inspire follower growth. Focus on posting interesting images with good production value and quality photography rules such as light, composition, contrast, geometry, emotion and processing.
Your Instagram Cheat Sheet:

  • Images: Filters, frames, caption, @tagging, #hashtags, geotag location, Tilt-shift teardrop for creating an illusion of depth, eye button to rotating picture.
  • Hashtags: Each hashtag has its own page, and its own RSS feed where the photos with that tag are displayed. Research what people in your industry are posting by searching relevant #hashtags. This is also a good way to find new people to follow. Check out Tag for likes too.
  • Leave constructive comments, start conversations and be nice.
  • Geotagging: Tag your location to make it easier for people to find your account.
  • Photo Competitions: Submit photos to competitions such as instadaily.com.
  • Measurement: Take a look at Statigram, Inkstagram\ or Gramfeed.
  • Use this list of Instagram apps:
  1. Instagoodies.com-Stickerbooks
  2. Postagramapp.com-Send actual Integra postcards
  3. Printstagr.am-Mini books, teeny books and posters
  4. Teenytile.com-Make teeny tile from your photos
  5. Stickygram.com-Fridge magnets from your Instaphotos

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What Instagram pictures are you sharing? Let us know!

How to Spot Gift Trends at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market

By Lindsay Roberts, Founder of TheGiftInsider.com 

LindsayRobertsBrowse Pinterest before you go. Make sure you are keeping up with what people are “liking” and “loving” on the web. It correlates well with what your customers are going to be wanting. Make sure to browse the “Popular” tab, “Products” tab or search specific product types. Follow industry leaders, experts and editors to stay ahead of the trends.

Make sure you subscribe to popular magazines and websites and spend some time browsing their gift guides and picks before you head out to the Mart. Oprah’s O list, social shopping sites like The Fancy, ThisNext and Beso all show what people are really taking to. AmericasMart’s Market Magazine presents home and gift trends and where to find them during the Market. The more you immerse yourself before you go, the easier it will be to spot new trends.

Stay social media savvy while at the show. Make sure to follow AmericasMart twitter hashtags (#ATLMKT and #JulyGift) and Facebook while at the show to see what products are trending. This will help take all the pressure of your eye and you’ll be able to see what others are loving too. Make sure to engage in the conversation and you’ll really get a lot out of this.

Of course, if you need a little help spotting the trends The Gift Insider is here to assist. Make sure to attend our Top Trends in Gifts seminar on Thursday July 11th, from 10 – 11am (Building 2, Floor 6 Escalator Lobby.)  We’ll be sharing our Top 10 gift picks from the Market.

Going Social at July Market

Christi Tasker, owner of PuTTin’ Out and author of the soon-to-be-released book “The Power of Pinterest,” delivered a trifecta of social media seminars to standing room only crowds at the July 2012 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. The seminars, which included The Power of Pinterest for Retailers and Designers; Top Secret: 10 Commonly Missed FREE Facebook Features; and Seven Facebook Contest Tactics to Create and Maintain Customer Relationships, were presented as part of AmericasMart’s Education Center.

In each of the seminars Tasker emphasized the importance of maintaining a consistent branded message between your website, Facebook, Pinterest and any other social media outlets you use. She suggests investing in a graphic designer to produce a logo design that can be used, all or in part, for everything from your business cards and letterhead to your website and social media pages. By doing so, you create continuity through an easily identifiable image that your customers will come to associate with your company. In addition, try to secure the same username across all of these outlets and link them all to your website’s home page.

Be sure to give your social media audience valuable and informative information as a value-add for following you. Christi gave the example of posting a recipe that incorporates a product you carry as one of the ingredients, rather than simply posting a photo of the item you want to sell. By doing so, you’re subtly promoting yourself and the product you carry, but more importantly you are giving people a reason to link to your post, thus increasing your exposure to their friends and followers. In addition, use key words that you yourself would use when searching online for the subject matter you are posting, increasing your chances of showing up in a Google search.

When using Pinterest, it’s best to create boards worth following and keep them organized in a straightforward manner. Christi suggested categorizing boards by subject matter or a common theme, like color, to make them easy to navigate. She also stressed the importance of hiring a good photographer – or taking a photography class – to ensure that you are presenting images that represent your company in the best possible manner. Hopefully, new customers will find you through pins and repins so you should be putting your best photo forward.

When using Facebook, she underscored the importance of responding to messages and posts on your page and engaging your readers with call to action posts such as questions they can answer or contests. For more information on Tasker’s presentations and contest ideas visit: http://puttinout.com/education/presentations/

Show & Tell – Show Off Your Window Displays

There’s a wonderful scene in the movie “A Christmas Story” where the kids rush downtown to see the toy display in Higbee’s store window that sets the tone for the entire movie. Or for another generation, remember the Barney’s Christmas window episode of Will & Grace? Or Holly Golightly strolling down Fifth Avenue in her little black dress to look in the Tiffany & Co. window. How many remember that Rhoda on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was a window dresser by trade? Or remember Marlo Thomas winking at a look-a-like window mannequin in “That Girl?”

All those scenes focus on store windows – the literal window the world of 050709window01retail. With the Show & Tell Window Display Contest AmericasMart is paying tribute to all the creative displays out there, while having some fun and giving the buyers who search our showrooms for the perfect props and products a chance to show off a bit.

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So, show us what you’ve done. You could win an Apple iPad 2 or an Apple iPod Touch.

To enter, email photocontest@americasmart.com with your Window Display jpeg image attached. In the body of the email, please include:

1. Window Display Title
2. Your name
3. Store name
4. Store location (city, state and zip)
5. Email address
6. Telephone number

Once we receive your entry, you will receive a confirmation email with 24 to 48 hours.

DEADLINE EXTENDED! Submit your photos between May 16 – June 3. Online voting begins June 6. So, send in your photos – then start bugging all your friends to go to the AmericasMart Atlanta Facebook page to find out all the details to vote for you. For the complete scoop, visit the site: http://www.americasmart.com/photocontest/.

Good luck!

Blogging For Business

image001_SmallIn preparation for speaking to fellow retailers at the upcoming AmericasMart Gift Market in Atlanta next month, I’ve been thinking about what I feel are the most important aspects of blogging for business. I started a blog for my invitation, stationery and gift boutique in October of 2008. I wasn’t exactly sure what a blog would do for my small business when I started it, however, I now know how valuable it is for keeping current customers engaged and obtaining new customers. I hope to be able to share some of what I’ve learned about “blogging for business” with my colleagues in Atlanta in January.

Here is a sneak preview of what I’ll be sharing.

Keep It Simple

It really couldn’t be easier to create a blog for your business. It is much easier than creating and maintaining a website and can even be your business’ website if you don’t have a reason to keep a separate web presence. Using free blog hosting services such as WordPress and Blogger, it’s as simple as creating a free account, selecting from one of their excellent blog templates and filling in the blanks to customize the blog for your business. Then you do have to actually come up with what you want to blog about.

More about that at my upcoming seminar. Hint: It’s simple.

Keep Communicating

One of the original reasons I started a blog was because I didn’t want to send emails to customers too often at the risk of ending up in their SPAM folders or them just not reading emails because they were to frequent. I have always sent a monthly email newsletter to customer who subscribe and found that as business grew, there were times I wanted to communicate with customers more than monthly. Blogging was my answer. I post information on the blog that is worthy of sharing between newsletters and then direct customers to the blog for special updates, event info, sale and new product notifications. In this case, if customers want the information, they are free to review it, however, we are keeping our promise of only emailing them once per month.

Keep It Going

Blogging does take time. You may be lucky enough to have someone to delegate

blogging to, which would mean it won’t take as much of your time. I actually really enjoy blogging and using it as a platform to tell others about my business, therefore, I maintain our blog entirely on my own. Anything worth doing takes time and one of the biggest blogging mistakes you can make is to stop blogging once you’ve started. Make a commitment to your blog, just like you commit to your business. Make it something reasonable for you, not something an expert told you. If you can commit to blog once a week that’s great. If you can commit to once a month, that’s better than not at all.

Keep It Connected

Because I’m also an avid user of social media for my business, I use other social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter to promote our blog to existing and prospective customers. After I post on our blog, I always put a link to the new post on Facebook and Twitter. These avenues expose our blog to many more people than just those who choose to follow it. I also reference the blog in our monthly email newsletter. I’ve found that this makes creating the newsletter faster and easier. I typically cover some of the same information in the monthly email newsletter that’s recently been posted on the blog. I link directly from the newsletter articles to the blog to share more detailed information, making the newsletter more concise.

These are just a few of my “blogging for business” tips. I’ll be sharing much more at the upcoming panel discussion “The Power of Blogging” AmericasMart University: Building

Your Brand Course on Thursday, January 13, 2011 from 1- 2 p.m. in Building 1, Floor 10, Room 1001. I hope to have the opportunity to meet many of you there!

Formulating Social Media Success: Where to Start and Find Missing Pieces To The Facebook Puzzle

24691_1201083437643_1545296452_455110_222153_nFinding a formula or social media concoction that works for retailers can be rocket science if you make it, keeping things simple is best!  Like other forms of advertising your social media  target audience should be identified and a plan must be created. Most independent retail stores have a target audience of generation ages 32-54 to older boomers (65+). Of course there are over a dozen decent solutions waiting to eat away your valuable time; a few include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google Buzz,  FourSquare, and Tumblr. So, how would you dare know where to begin spending time on the social web?

First and foremost, while this article is being written, printed, and distributed Facebook has just gained enough users to make up a small country. There are more subscribers to Facebook than there are people in the United States. If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest country in the entire world just behind India and China. Therefore, your uno, number one choice for social marketing for retail stores and brands should be Facebook!

With over 500,000 users think of Facebook as the largest newspaper in the world that more than 50% of the subscribers actually login to read every single day. Yes! That’s exactly what happens people read what’s happening in the world by going to their Facebook “newsfeed” before they open their email! Facebook makes it easy for people to like and share all of their favorite things. When each subscriber has an average of 130 friends you can bet that those “things” that they like spread like wild fire!

So what’s the missing piece of the puzzle??? Many independent retailers dive into Facebook and other social media as if they’re the BIG BOX and BIG BRAND. Think about it! Does the world know your brand? Do they know of your store? OR do they know YOU!??? In many instances, many independent retailers fail to use their personal relationships in their social media campaigns.

How do you rewind??? Start by creating a personal page, expand your knowledge with the platform and then of course find some friends. You may be thinking there’s no place or space for you. Or that you prefer not getting caught up in the social web or that you’d just prefer a “place” to advertise your business. The last excuse is what I tend to hear most from retailers…they want a “place to advertise” their stores for free. Free is good, but it working to increase your bottom line is better.

Building your “personal” page and “personal” friendships on Facebook are more valuable than you think Remember: Each Facebook user has an average of 130 friends. Therefore, if you can find 100 friends that are in your community that already know you, like you, and may know of your store, then your chances of reaching the masses for FREE are greater!

After setting up your personal page, first and foremost….make the page personal! Fill in as much information as possible on your info tab. You can choose to hide specific information by going to account (top right hand corner) and then privacy settings. I recommend that you leave your information page visible to all, yet hide your posts and wall so that people have to ask you to be a friend in order to see your comments and posts. Be sure to add photos, comments, and positive personal comments that are well written. Post your favorite quotes so that your new friends know something about you.

Next, on the right hand column of Facebook Newsfeed, under Get Connected allow Facebook to find your contacts from your email service provider (ESP). If you haven’t imported your customer email list into your ESP, you’ll want to do so. With a couple of clicks, Facebook will begin to find ALL of your customers for you almost effortlessly. You’ll have hundreds of friends before you know it!

You maybe thinking…”I don’t care about having friends, Christi!” I want my business to benefit! On social media it’s most important for your to connect personally so that you can advertise your business secondly. Think of how your relationships with sales reps, if you have a relationship with a sales rep you’re more likely to buy from their manufacturer. The same is true for your customers.

In most cases, the BIG box stores have products that are like or could replace the products you have in your store. What is the major difference between “Jane’s Hallmark” and Target? RELATIONSHIPS! Target and Wal-Mart change employees faster than most of us change underwear! Independent retailers have the advantage of the relationships and customer service-make yours count 🙂


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To learn more about marketing your retail store on social media including Facebook and Twitter, join Christi at AmericasMart University – Thursday, January 13 at 9 a.m. Location: Building 1, Floor 10, Room 1002

Have questions about Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, or other social media sites? Ask Christi on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/PuTTinOuT