Staying Creative during the Coronavirus outbreak 0 138

Tough times often require creative ways to get through it, as all tested solutions may no longer apply. Welcome to 2020.

For those working with content, travel, and events, the recent movement restrictions imposed in several countries around the world are forcing people to discover new ways of staying creative, useful, sane and, in some cases, still getting paid even when the world seems to have come to a standstill.

Monica Stott – Travel blogger

Shifting focus

“All of my trips have been canceled or postponed. I had one skiing trip to France, one trip within the UK, and one trip to Portugal. As I can’t plan anything at the moment, because I don’t know when we will be traveling again, over the next few months, I’m planning on focusing on family lifestyle, which is the secondary niche for my blog. I may end up losing some followers who aren’t interested in children, but no travel content is being read at the moment.”

Monica Stott – Travel blogger – www.thetravelhack.com

Israel Cassol – Model and Digital Influencer

Recycling content

“Due to our quarantine in London, I have been doing lots of housework and cooking that usually would be looked after by our regular cleaner. I have been posting content on the same days as I always have done. However, to maintain regularity whilst I can’t go out, I dig into photos and content previously left out and recycle and use them now. Revisiting content you left behind, forgotten in your laptop’s folders, can also be an amazing therapy as a way of remembering good times when we all took for granted the freedom of coming and going to create unforgettable moments.”

Israel Cassol – Model and Digital Influencer – www.instagram.com/israel.cassol

Kenneth Surat – Designer and Travel Blogger

Learning DIY

“Even as a travel content creator, I have always been a fan of ‘do it yourself’ carpentry.

The challenge is when you run out of materials as all hardware shops have been closed in my city. I’ve heard of people that are making their own face masks, using fabrics that allow them to wash it over and over again. Although it is only a very basic barrier against Covid-19, it keeps people busy when there is very little to do.”

Kenneth Surat – Travel Blogger – www.kennethsurat.com

 

May King Tsang – Professional Live Tweeter, Social Media Correspondent

Working with virtual events

“The current pandemic has given me an opportunity to think creatively! Before it, I would go to events, and I’d create an instant buzz for them by generating live social media posts, real-time content featuring event organisers, speakers, and attendees. After asking myself if I could keep that same level of excitement virtually, one of my clients turned his face-to-face 1-day conference into a virtual one, because of Covid-19, and I jumped on the opportunity to help. As a result, after creating 13 Facebook posts, 19 LinkedIn pieces of content, and over 700 tweets – which combined reach was over 4 Million accounts – I can see some of these posts still gaining likes and comments today. I am now reaching out to more face-to-face conferences who are shifting towards conducting their conference virtually, as I am still able to create my FOMO content. It is different from face-to-face events, but I can still make an impact with my work nevertheless.”

May King Tsang – Social Media Correspondent – www.twitter.com/MayKingTea

Other ways to keep creative indoors

Photo: Bench Accounting

Create a production calendar

Many content creators and marketeers already have a publishing calendar. Now, it is time to get efficient when it comes to bulk creation.

Start by confirming which platform works best for you. Then, double-check engagement to see what your audience reacts well to and create even better-related posts in the near future.

 

Discover indoor photo-worthy things

By now, you are probably getting used to the idea that shooting outdoors may yet take a while. Studios that I often work at, in London, have suspended their activities and sent out emails canceling photoshoots. It hasn’t stopped me creating imagery, though.

When it comes to content, you can still do wonderful things without setting foot outside your home. Look for old books, corners with good natural lights, unusual shapes. Don’t underestimate your kitchen worktop or any drawers around your home that haven’t been opened in a while – you will be surprised how many gems can be found when you are actively looking for it.

 

Stock up on production

When it comes to your own image bank, you should have the same approach. Many people have to toilet rolls in times of pandemics: stock it up. Reserve a set of hours, once a week, to create content that you can leverage later in the month, be it blog entry, clever content copy, or photography.

 

Make research a habit

Good content doesn’t magically fall from the sky. You can be an excellent photographer or a seasoned copywriter, and, still, some days, you will find yourself struggling to get your creative juices flowing. Create a ‘brainstorm’ folder in your PC to save ideas, chats, prints, and random notes of things that catch your attention, online and offline. Then reserve some time to create quality content about them, even if you haven’t been commissioned for a specific topic. Add to your folder a list of relevant hashtags and topics that are making headlines, as well as things that keep people talking.

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Marcio Delgado is a Journalist, speaker and a Content Producer working with brands and publications in the UK and Latin America.

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10 Tested Instagram Engagement Hacks for Your Business 0 73

By now, you probably know the basic rules of Instagram when it comes to posting content that will get seen: pay attention to what time your posts goes live; carefully curate images to grab the attention of those who are scrolling down their overcrowded feed; post often but don’t bombard people with 380 pieces of content over the weekend. Good, we are on the same page, then.

However, as you invest more time and resources into creating a professional and engaging Instagram for your business, you may realise that, very often, you have to do more than simply publish content and expect it to perform at any level.

You then have two choices:

The most popular one is to blame the ever-changing algorithm of the Facebook-owned platform, who are currently boosting over one billion monthly active users – after all, it is hard to keep track of so many changes and to compete with a sea of content being posted every second.

Your second choice is to work hard and not be afraid of using any legal hack that can help your content and your brand to shine.

It could be that you use a little trick, such as adding stickers to your Instagram Stories; 83% of the time Stories which utilise stickers to enhance storytelling outperform those that don’t use stickers. Or maybe what will work better for you is to reach out to between five and 10 micro-influencers, within your niche, and work closely with them by creating a series of tips that can be shared across both channels: your brand and theirs.

It is never too late to learn one or two new social media hacks. Here, 10 professionals share their experience and Instagram tips to help you reach a wider audience and harvest organic engagement.

 

1. Engage before you post

“You can support the spread and reach of your content by warming up your audience. So, just before you post, go on an engagement spree. If you’re planning to put something out at a specific time, before you hit publish, spend some time engaging with other people’s content. They will all then receive notifications saying that you liked their post, commented on their post, or responded to their story.  They’re reminded of you and then it’s likely they’ll visit your profile and see the brand-new content that you’ve just posted.”

Jodie Cook – entrepreneur and author of Instagram Rules.

 

2. Use polls to trigger engagement

“Regardless of whether you have the swipe up feature or not, the most helpful feature for engagement is polls. People want to feel like they’re heard, even if the poll is funny (e.g. settle the argument once and for all – tacos or burritos?). This also gives you more content to post, within stories, by sharing the results.

I have found that, by doing this, regardless of the size of your audience, people are engaged and are more likely to keep watching your stories. IG sees this as engagement and will bump your posts up in their feed.”

Carmen Smith – DIY Home Decor Blogger at www.livingletterhome.com

 

3. Properly curating your Story Highlights 

“Story Highlights are a great way of presenting your brand’s message. They can be accessed any time and, if you’re smart about it, you can curate them so visitors see exactly what you want them to see, in the correct order. For better results, strategize when creating your content. Plan a Highlights album from the very beginning, and upload in the order you want it to be seen, with the most relevant content being uploaded last. That way, anyone viewing the album will get the best content right at the beginning, as it’s often rare for people to go all the way to the end of an album.”

Jennifer Walden – Director of Operations at online marketplace WikiLawn Lawn Care

 

4. Show up on Stories

“You need to prioritise showing up on Stories in 2020. They are the first thing people see when they log into Instagram and they want to know your personality, be you an employee, a content creator or a brand. Stories are also binge-able – meaning you start watching the first one and can easily get carried away and watch them all. Keep in mind that, nowadays, tons of people only watch stories and rarely scroll their Instagram feed – unless they see a feed post shared in Stories. So, don’t forget to share your feed posts to Stories as another way of increasing your reach”

Sílvia Pinho – Social Media Manager and VA Coach

Marcio Delgado – Instagram Hacks for business 2020

Adding stickers to your Instagram Stories will make it perform 83% better

5. Create a customized hashtag

“Besides using relevant hashtags, aligned with a specific niche, businesses need to have their own customized hashtag representative of their brand identity. This hashtag should be used in all their posts. This also enables them and their followers to easily access relevant posts.”

Sandy & Vyjay Rao – travel bloggers at www.imvoyager.com

 

6. Engage with followers of similar brands

“One of the most important parts of your Instagram content strategy should involve building a solid relationship with an online community, and thereby growing that community exponentially. This means spending some time every day connecting with potential customers by liking and commenting on their posts with genuine, thoughtful comments. You can find these future customers by exploring hashtags related to your business as well as engaging with the followers of similar brands. Remember that 80% of Instagram’s 1+ billion active users also follow brands, so be genuine and consistent with your communications and you’ll find your community flourishing.”

Ellie Pritts – Chief Creative Officer at www.supermassivesocial.com

 

7. Be creative while researching topics

“Figure out what your target audience wants to know by researching top viewed videos on Youtube, related to your industry, and make great content around that. At the end of the day, you should produce content for the followers that you want to eventually convert to a customer, so make sure you regularly deliver entertaining and valuable content that your followers will care about”.

Tanner Chidester – Entrepreneur and Founder of Elite CEOs 

 

8. Be consistent during transitions

“To keep an Instagram business account relevant and engaging you to need to be consistent with what people followed you for. For example, someone who followed a business for food-related content does not want to see tech posts. If your business decides to transition to a different niche, expect changes in followers’ behaviour in the short term; engagement will get lower and people may unfollow. New followers will join you for the new niche, as long as you remain consistent with this new niche with what you post. If necessary, have more than one account so you can stay consistent and highly targeted – it is easier to plan posts for two completely different niche accounts than trying to please an audience that is too broad with the same content calendar.”

Raymond Cua – full-time blogger and founder of Travellingfoodie.net

 

9. Leverage your own network first

“I would say one hack when building your brand and audience is to start with your own network. Transition back to the basics and look at your personal network. Ask the individuals of your network to share your brand’s social media page and account with their own followers and network. If you ask 50 people to do this and they share with 50 people each, your reach can grow at an immense rate… The main takeaway from this is consistency. Replicating this process, and then going outside your personal network to embrace new potential followers and community members, will allow you to reach and engage with new audiences organically. The key is to then prove to them why they should come back for more. You can do this successfully by having your network tell you what they want to see and what they find interesting. By implementing this basic step into your strategy you can grow daily, with growth visible right from the start. Stories are a good place to organically find and collect this information too because the responses come directly from your audience. It’s all about giving your audience exactly what they hope to see from you.”

Jessica Armstrong – PR and Social Media Manager at www.cuddlynest.com

 

10. Create audience habits

“To keep your Instagram business accounts relevant and engaging, always use Stories as the behind the scenes of your business. Post multiple slides throughout the day and include one thing that you do everyday repetitive daily feature, so you can maintain consistency (e.g. a morning drink at your office or your to-do list as a story slide). This helps people feel like they are along for the journey with you. Based on this, your followers will often return because they feel more connected to business growth.”

Chelsea Clark – Co-Founder of influencer marketing platform momfluence.co

How to use Instagram’s support small business sticker and Messenger Rooms 0 88

Last month Instagram added a “Support Small Business” sticker to Stories, allowing users to highlight their favourite small businesses – most of them, around the world, is currently closed due to COVID-19 lockdown measures and trading restrictions.

With the newsticker, anyone can mention a small business they are passionate about, specifically through giving their followers a preview of the account. When people use the sticker their story will be added to a shared Instagram story; so, their followers can see it, along with other businesses that people they follow are supporting.

This is a great way to help businesses reach new customers and stay connected to the people they serve.

Businesses and influencers can also use the sticker to support other entrepreneurs in their community but tagging and supporting each other.

Here are the five simple steps you need in order to start using the new “Support Small Business” sticker for Instagram Stories.

Step 1:

Open stories and choose a previously uploaded photo or video, or hit the ‘create’ option, which will give you a colour adjustable blank background to start your post from scratch

Step 2:

Tap the stickers icon and look for the Support Small Business sticker. It is the one featuring a small shopping bag with a heart on it, as an icon, and the words “Support Small Business.” Here is a snapshot of what it looks like:

Step 3:

Start typing the Instagram username of the business you want to support. Note: you can’t tag your own Instagram account while using the Support Small Business sticker.

Step 4:

As soon as you add the name of the business you want to shout out, the Support Small Business sticker will populate your Stories post with three recent images from the establishment’s Feed, as well as their Insta handle. You can tap the text area again to change the format to a handle-only mention if you prefer.

Step 5:

The business you tag will also receive a notification and can choose to repost the content to their own stories or send you a DM to say thanks.

 

Instagram has been busy lately. Besides the Support Small Business sticker, over the last couple of months, the Facebook-owned platform has released two other stickers for the lockdown period. Firstly, the “Stay Home” sticker seeks to encourage social isolating, and a “Thank You” sticker aims to show gratitude and respect for key workers.

The platform also launched its Instagram Live Donations and, since May, started allowing content created during its Live function to be automatically shared on IGTV after you end it (previously you had to download your Instagram Live or record your screen and, only then, start to upload it to the permanent IGTV before it vanished from your stories. And a bonus: Live video replays won’t include any likes or comments from your original live video, keeping it clean for those ones watching in the future.

And these are not all new developments.

Recently, the Facebook-owned platform announced its Messenger Rooms, a feature allowing users to create and join group calls of up to 50 people on the Instagram app.

Following the increased demand for video calls during the lockdown period, in several countries around the world, a free easy-to-create chat room with no time limits should hopefully help people cope with social distancing rules.

Once you create a Messenger Room, a direct link is made available and can be shared with those you want to connect with – and they don’t even need to have a Facebook or Instagram account, as everyone with a direct URL can join the conversation.

To create your very own Messenger Room on Instagram there are two main steps:

Step 1:

Open your Instagram Direct Messages tab and tap the video call icon in the top right corner.

  • Tip: at first, I couldn’t find the video icon to set up a room and thought I had an old version of the Instagram app. Upon updating it still didn’t work. I then imagined that being a very new feature, it potentially wasn’t available in my city yet and I would have to wait a few days to obtain access. Despite this though, I didn’t give up so easily, and, after switching from an Instagram Creator account to an Instagram Business account, the icon magically appeared! By the time you are reading this, hopefully, Instagram will have fixed this apparent bug.

Step 2:

Select Create a Room and invite your Instagram contacts or copy a direct link to your Room and share the link through other channels you prefer – Whatsapp, for example.

To join a video call that you’ve been invited to, select Join Room; then, when prompted as to whether you want to open the room in the Messenger app, simply select Confirm.

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