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Everywhere you look, people are staring at their mobile phone screens. Whether it be on the morning train commute to work, the local cafe while they wait for a coffee, or on an airplane as they wait for take-off. We have become a society where technology - and in particular social media - dominates our daily lives. Subtle notification dings are enough to switch our attention to our hand-held devices. So, as a business, why not capitalise on the trend?

We have put together a three-part series on the benefits of social media for businesses. Over the coming blogs, you will learn how to turn your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn into tools that will help drive your business forward, potentially generate leads and sales, and boost your brand awareness.

Kicking us off, we are sharing with you our top five favourite features of Instagram to help grow your following and, in turn, generate new leads. Here they are:

Live Stories

Most businesses host events at some point in the calendar year. Whether it be a charity fundraiser, morning tea for staff, media conference or family fun day. Whatever your choice, broadcasting the event live on Instagram can be of real benefit. It gives your audience a behind-the-scenes look into your business in its raw and unedited state. They are given a glimpse behind your walls, introduced to your staff and shown a personal side of your brand they would otherwise not have seen. If you have a jumping castle at a fundraiser, take your shoes off, get inside and start filming. Tell your audience what your event is about, what they can expect, why you are doing it and have a laugh. Social media is about being social, so open up your doors and let your audience in.

Story Interaction

Instagram recently rolled out a bunch of nifty little extras on its ‘Story’ feature. These included: adding hashtags, checking into locations, polls and voting, emojis and icons, and so much more. Use these to your advantage, especially the ones that call for interaction such as the voting icons, polls and questions box. Instagram - and Facebook - have reconfigured it’s algorithm so that profiles you interact with most (through comments, voting, likes, questions etc) will appear at the top of your newsfeed every single time. The more your followers use these features to interact with your page, the more engagement it generates and the more profiles it will reach. This means your content will be viewed more and your audience will expand. Give it a go and see what you get in return.

Swipe Up Link

The perks of having a business account is that you have the ability to add a swipe up link to your stories. The only setback is you need to have more than 10,000 followers. Once you reach that target, you can add a link to your stories to a website, allowing a seamless transition from your social media to your online platform. This is a great way to funnel traffic to products you might be selling, purchasing tickets to an event you are hosting, or viewing information on your blog, Facebook page or any other website. This is a particularly useful tool for retailers and those in the hospitality or events industry. And as with the above point, it will also boost your engagement and reach as swipe up links are considered an interactive tool. Kinda cool, huh?

Video Content

We’ve heard it over and over again - video is the way of the future. And let us tell you, it’s true. There have been a number of studies in recent years that have shown exponential growth in video consumption on social media by audiences far and wide. Let’s be real: most of us have a short attention span, so what better way to share information, graphics and even wording in one quick grab than on video? You can even add some music if you like. Video can be used for all sorts of content - political messaging, events promotion, advertising of goods and services, profile building, brand awareness, educational campaigns and so much more. The possibilities really are endless. And the best part? It doesn’t have to be fancy. Reports by social media experts have shown raw, unedited videos are generally always the most watched because they are the most believable and personable. That doesn’t mean you grab your iPhone and shoot in the middle of a busy road with terrible sound and lighting for a political campaign. You might need some extra help for that. But if you are showcasing a small event or sharing an opinion online, by all means film on your mobile phone and share it with the world.

Giveaway Loops

Everyone loves a good giveaway, the chance to win something (even though you may not need it). Businesses can really capitalise on a thing called giveaway loops. What this entails is two or more businesses banding together to give away one or more of their products or services to an online community. Generally, audiences are asked to:

1. Follow all Instagram accounts involved in the giveaway loop (extra followers for all businesses);

2. Like the photo being used as the promotion (boosting engagement);

3. Tag three or more friends in the comments section (boosting the post reach and engagement on the page);

4. And share the post to their story (boosting views of the post by sharing it with that one user’s following).

Winners are then drawn using online prize websites that randomly select a username. It is a simple yet effective marketing tool that does not require a lot of work, but can reap significant results when it comes to brand awareness, engagement and reach, and followings.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog in our social media series, which will focus on utilising Facebook as a business marketing tool. See you then.

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