Advantages of using #Instagram for your business

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As visual content becomes more popular on Social Media, it also becomes increasingly important for brands to create and leverage. This shift to visual social media means that more and more businesses, big and small, are starting to communicate visually with their fans, followers and customers. Brands tend to have a fairly firm grasp on how to handle Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram still appears to challenge many companies.

Instagram, launched in October 2010 ,acquired by Facebook in April 2012. has around 55 million photos shared everyday. With over 75% of leading brands including Intel, American Express, Adidas originals, Red Bull and Starbucks already present on the platform, it is shaping the ways people interact not only with one-another, but also with brands and companies.

Many conversations are taking place on Instagram every day, and there’s a high chance that some of them mention your brand. Why not join in to shape the way your brand is seen and discussed on Instagram? Why not use Instagram to create meaningful interactions with your community and fine-tune your message to improve your brands’ visibility?

Here I am going to talk about some advantages of using Instagram as one of your social media tool for marketing.

1) Engagement 

Instagram registers 15 times more engagement than Facebook, for some brands it delivered 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.  Instagram’s tagline is “Capture and Share the World’s Moments” so it is not how a brand is posting a photo, it is about using follower’s photo on a brand’s posts.

That Greek yogurt brand Chobani for example. In just a matter of weeks after joining Instagram a year and a half ago, Chobani (@Chobani) attracted a loyal clique of some 9,000 “Chobaniac” followers, which helped catapult the company from little-known to must-have. Chobani generated buzz about its brand on Instagram by encouraging followers to share their own pictures and holding weekly contests.

2) Building a Brand

Instagram can be highly resourceful tool for building a brand. Alice and Olivia’s designer Stacey Bendet is a shining example of how showcasing your point of view will connect you with your customers in a way unparalleled by any other medium.

According to Instagram, Bendet shares photos and videos that capture what she is seeing, feeling, or thinking in the moment and provides followers a genuine glimpse into her life of fashion and design and the inspiration behind her brand.

“That is really what building a brand is about, not just showing the product but showing the story all around it,” Bendet says.

3) Networking

It’s easy to get caught up in all those pretty pictures, but like I mentioned before, there is more to Instagram than the photos. Instagram is like any other social network.

Social networks were created to help people meet new people and build relationships. Start interacting with a whole new network of interconnected people. In turn, you could gain followers, potential new customers, or new partners.

And it doesn’t end there. Instagram is connected to Facebook and Twitter. This makes it easy to connect all of your networks and use them interchangeably without too much stress.

Hastags are a great way to get your posts—and brand—noticed in the vast universe that is Instagram. Generally 80% of brand posts contain at least one hashtag, and the average brand post will have three.

Most brands are likely to use popular hashtags for their industry so their brand will come up often in people’s searches. However, some popular brands like Topshop and Gucci consistently use their brand hashtags to encourage users to adopt them in their posts, and they are not surprisingly among the top-10 most popular brands on Instagram.

Instagram offers an excellent opportunity for your brand to diversify your content as a means to broaden your online reach. If you haven’t created an Instagram account for your business, it’s best time to do it now.

Please do ask questions on the comment field below if you are still confused. I am also available on twitter @abhijitdasuk.

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Things to consider while designing a Mobile Friendly website

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With the emergence of high speed wireless network technologies and the increasing market penetration of mobile phones and tablets, the global advertising industry’s interest in using this medium as a means of marketing communication  is rising. Mobile marketing lets businesses get in front of customers on the devices they use the most.

The problems most companies are facing today in terms of mobile marketing are the lack of clear strategies that harmonize specific business needs and user interests. Most business websites are still designed with only a desktop or laptop computer in mind. When you view a typical business website on the browser of mobile device, it usually requires pinching, zooming and scrolling just to see what’s on the page. And interacting with such site via a touch-screen can be clumsy at best.

Internet access using mobile phones in United Kingdom reached 53% in 2013, this was more than double three years ago when it was 24% This growing number made companies look forward to use dedicated mobile gateway which can build interactive relationships by identifying consumers in terms of commercial behaviour, geographic location and social communication patterns.

While designing the mobile marketing strategy for the “The Candidate” I came across few things which should be considered while designing a company’s mobile friendly website.

  1. Responsive web design

A study from Google reveals that 74% people when they visited a mobile friendly website are more likely to return to that site in future. In order to improve the mobile web experience, Google also recommends creating smart-phone optimized websites. Additionally, Google prefers responsive web design because content that lives on one website and one URL is much easier for users to share, interact with, and link to than content that lives on a separate mobile site.  

  1. Single Column layout

A single-column structure tends to work best as it helps with managing limited space on the smaller screen, it also helps you easily scale between different device resolutions and flipping between portrait and landscape mode.

  1. Larger Chunkier buttons

When converting from a desktop to mobile site design, you have to revisit your “clickable” elements — links, buttons, menus, etc. — and make them “tappable.” While the desktop web lends itself well to links with small and precise active (clickable) areas, the mobile web requires larger, chunkier buttons that can be easily pressed with a thumb.

Make sure the text is also big enough to easily read on a mobile device. The screen size is much smaller than a PC or laptop, and people don’t want to have to hold the phone up to their nose just to read it.

      4.  Keep it Simple

A mobile website is most likely loading on a smartphone, which doesn’t have the same bandwidth as your computer at home. Adding extra images can take a while to download, significantly slowing down the load time of your page, and forcing your visitors to click the back button.

      5. Test your mobile friendly website

Make sure that the site you design will play nicely with the vast number of devices out there. iPhones, Androids, and yes, even BlackBerrys need to be tested with your new site, and don’t forget to test multiple browsers for each device.

     6. The F-Design

An eyetracking study shows 232 users looked at thousands of Web pages. This dominant reading pattern looks somewhat like an F and has the following three components:

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem.

 Contact info and social media plug-ins of your website should follow this pattern so that visitors don’t have to struggle to contact you or share your page on social media.

 In February’13, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced at the annual Mobile World Congress that number of active cell-phones will exceed the total world population by the next year. So, the simple and irrefutable prophecy is this: Mobile will power our internet lives in the near future

Hopefully this article provided some insight as you embark on a new mobile site design project. Be sure to leave any other tips you find useful when designing for the mobile web in the comments below.

Creating an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy

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Change has long been the only constant in a world filled with technological innovations and adaptations but the speed of change in the area of communication, enabled by the Internet has been extraordinary, especially since the late 90’s.  With the constant growth of the web, and more people getting connected every day, digital marketing has become a necessity for many organizations. Its not only about posting your product or services on Facebook or twitter, it is the process of building and maintaining customer relationships through various online activities to facilitate the exchange of ideas, products, and services.  Being able to understand the needs of individual clients online and generating sales and/or capturing leads from those who are searching on the Internet for answers are the core principles of a digital marketeer.

Objectives of Digital Marketing Strategies and Campaigns

i) Reaching the right audience.

ii) To engage with your audience.

iii) To motivate your audience to take action.

iv) Efficient spending on your campaign.

v) Return on investment (ROI).

It is needless to mention these objectives are set in such a way that it serves SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) purpose. Answer below mentioned questions to yourself to check whether your objectives are SMART.

Specific – What exactly are we going to do for whom?

Measurable – Is it quantifiable and can WE measure it?

Achievable- Can you get it done in the proposed time frame with the
resources and support we have available?

Relevant- Will this objective have an effect on the desired goal or strategy?

Time bound- When will this objective be accomplished?

Around 89% of consumers of the world use a search engine to find information on products or services before buying, according to a recent report from Fleishman-Hillard, and 70% of purchase decisions begin with a search. Consumers also continue to engage with brands online after a purchase to share experiences with one another. Much of this consumer journey is beyond the direct control of companies, and marketing organizations are sprinting merely to keep pace. So a poor Digital Marketing strategy can mean missing out on potential customers online. These Five things mentioned below cannot be missed or I will say “mandatory” to keep in mind before going for an Effecting Marketing outreach.

1) Organic and Paid Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines such as Yahoo, Google and Bing. Search Engines narrow the search item according to the keywords used in the particular website. Sites with growing number of quality links and engaging contents rank well in search results. If your business website ranks first in Google on the right phrase more people will view it- simple. This is called Organic Search.

Paid search marketing means you advertise within the sponsored listings of a search engine or a partner site by paying each time your ad is clicked (pay-per-click – PPC). For Both kinds of SEO you need to do an extensive research on the keywords, demography and location because the main purpose of SEO is to get your website visible to right kind of audiences.

2) Social Media Outreach.

Like I said Social Media is not just about posting your product information/catalogue on Facebook or twitter.The interactive nature of Social Media Platforms make them an essential tool for digital marketing.  For the businesses based on visual products and services Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr works better. For those based on information, Twitter may be a good choice. Location-based entities may benefit from FourSquare or Yelp.

Social Media Websites have got the ability to go viral. So creating a flashy YouTube or Vimeo video for your business works really well to attract visitors to your product but with the increasing Trolls online, you need to be prepared for any kind of negative feedback on your product as well.

3) Analytics and Insights 

Analytics software such as Google analytics, Netvibes, eyso, Sproutsocial, Topsy, Hootsuite, Buffer,Moz, engagor,Tracx,datasift LocalResponse, Spreadfast, Sprinklr, Hearsay Social, Sysomos and uberVU has opened up a whole new world of demographic targeting based on useful data.

Analytics and Insights are the most important among all, without an insight on what is happening when you post anything on any of the social media sites you cant determine whether your plan is working or your execution is right. Even world’s most popular Social Media platform Facebook gives you some insights on your activities. Google analytics users can see exactly where their visitors are coming from geographically, what sites are referring traffic to them, and what search terms are resulting in traffic. sales or conversions. It is also essential to justify a company’s digital marketing budget and investment planning.

4) Quality contents and Content Optimisation.

Content should always be the focus of the site, at first. If there is no content worth reading or seeing on the site, then people won’t visit . Frequent updating of relevant content and using keywords as tagline on your website makes it rank well on SERP and apparently attracts more and more viewers. For example Red Bull reportedly made record sales when it sent a man into the stratosphere only to jump and parachute back to earth. The strategy was not to create a content but to create right content for their customers.

Marketeers also have to keep in my mind that not all content performs well on all platforms.With increasing mobile usage of urban users many companies are going for responsive design of websites with instant call to action buttons, which is a great idea to attract potential buyers on the go.

5) Sales, Leads and Conversion

Finding methods to get more leads and sales is an important part of the Digital marketing procedure. Many of you experienced especially on twitter whenever  you retweet or favourite a tweet, you are followed by that particular person or agency who initially twitted, that can be considered as the first phase of lead generation. A strong blog with clear calls to action will attract your key audience and improve your chances of converting readers into leads. We tend to be lazy consumers, so it is also important to make the sales procedure super easy for potential buyers to buy.

Constant changing nature of the Digital Marketing field makes it fun to work for but at the same time it does create challenges for Marketeers everyday to keep up to new innovations, softwares and tools.  Experts predict that 2014 will be an year of increased personalization and customization of messages, Geo-Targeting, Narrowcasting, Rich Media Messaging service, micro-content and Gamification of ads, which I will discuss in a future post.

Can you tell me more about your experience on Digital Marketing Strategies? As a SME owner or a Digital Marketeer how do you plan your strategies and what are the difficulties you face while implementing your strategies?  Would love to hear from you.

Can you please comment below and let me know how you liked my approach to Digital Marketing Strategy?

 

 

 

 

 

Challenges in Project Management

The Challenges in Project Management faced by different Project Managers and Project leads all around the Globe are more or less the same unless there are context specific complications in the project. Unrealistic deadlines and scope variations can be called as common challenges. The subject of this blog is not only those , I’m also going to talk about some typical problems that Managers face while executing a project, which they do not share publicly or try to overcome it by using their leadership/organisational/managerial and technical skills at that point of the project. In my short span of working career as a Project Engineer and a Senior Engineer in Electrical High Voltage construction Project Management sector, I faced quite a few challenges which are at some point of time almost stopped the project. These are (i) Sudden leadership crisis of the Manager (ii) Difficulties in prioritizing tasks (iii) Lack of accountability.

Sudden leadership crisis of the manager appears due to inexperience of the manager on certain subject and unaccommodating attitude of the management on top of the manager. Lack of proper planning in HR management gives rise to insufficient team skills which in turn affects skilled employees in terms of prioritizing tasks. Lack of accountability of stake holders may cause problems in executing projects which might delay the project.

These are the areas which almost every manager faces in a project but avoid to discuss, so this blog is created to discuss about those areas and finding different views on how to overcome it.

The funny thing is that Project managers are well aware of these challenges and they do make contingency plans for all these kind of barriers, but one or the other pops up at a crucial time of the project stopping its flow.

So whats the solution???

Well, recruiting skilled and experienced employees for important projects by the HR may solve this issue a bit but there is also a need to monitor closely each and every steps of a project by the Quality Managers and giving feedback to the Project Management team and top management about it. Democratic leaders as managers may be well suited for accountability check of new and prospective employees .

There are some constraints in implementing all these remedies discussed above, but according to the perspective of Project Management  and smoother process flows and on time successful completion of a project these steps are essential.

So Project Managers around the Globe, lets act on it ..what say??