Instagram Story Tips for Building Your Brand

With more than 83 percent of users worldwide unhappy with the new platform update, Snapchat’s usage could see a big decline in the coming months. Instagram has been making changes too, and – aside from the lack of a chronological timeline – users seem to be pleased with the updates. New Instagram Story features include various font styles, new stickers and gifs, highlights, and more, all of which have users sharing content now more than ever.


In 2017, Facebook announced that Instagram Stories surpassed its competition, gaining more than 250 million daily active users in its first year. And with 100 million more people using Instagram Stories than Snapchat, it’s no surprise that businesses are starting to take advantage of this widely used feature.


By allowing users to share photos and videos separate from the main Instagram feed, Instagram Stories provide an additional way to share exclusive content that lasts for only 24 hours before disappearing. With an Instagram business profile, marketers can track impressions, followers, and engagements, as well as manage promotions. The Instagram Story feature allows marketers to track the number of views, the number of people who exited (swiped away from) your story, and the number of people who re-watched (tap-back) or skipped ahead (tap-forward).


Below are a few tips for using Instagram Stories to build your brand:


Give exclusive access and deals.

Because Instagram Stories only last for 24 hours, it’s the perfect way to deliver exclusive offers to your followers. Business can either (a) post a special offer/discount code directly to the Instagram Story or (b) refer viewers to the link in your Instagram bio, containing a direct link to a landing page for the special offer. By creating a sense of urgency, followers will be more likely to pay attention and engage as a result.


Provide a look behind the curtain.

Your followers continue to follow you for a reason, most likely because they’re interested in what you’re doing or offering. By sharing the creative process or giving a look behind the well-edited curtain, brands can give followers a peek at what goes on behind the scenes through content on their Instagram Story.


Let influencers take the reign.

By partnering with influencers that connect with your audience to conduct Instagram Story takeovers, brands can offer different perspectives for their followers. Hosting regular guest segments can provide both a variety and consistency of content for your followers to connect with. By promoting the takeover on the guests’ profile, brands can gain additional engagement and brand recognition from the influencers’ followers as well.


Collect feedback and increase engagement.

Aside from asking followers to ‘comment below’ to get their opinions, brands can take advantage of the Instagram Story feature that allows businesses to solicit additional engagement in the form of a two-answer poll. Post a question to your followers and they can simply select one of two responses, all of which are tracked in the Instagram Story metrics. Brands can also open their inbox to followers by asking them to ‘direct message’ (DM) them with responses, ideas, and more.


Tag your location.

By using the geolocation feature via Instagram Story, brands can tag and share their location for additional engagement. Instagram auto-populates locations near you or your business for simplified use, but brands can create a new geolocation tag using Facebook. From popping up on the Instagram ‘Explore’ page and finding local influencers to locating new followers and seeing who’s tagging you, the geolocation feature allows brands an alternate avenue to connect directly with other Instagram users.


Link to additional content.

For brands with verified accounts with more than 10,000 followers, adding a URL to the Instagram Story is a great way to link to additional content online. This feature can be used for promoting a new blog post, linking directly to a sale, or directing traffic to a partnered site. Brands who aren’t verified, or who have less than 10,000 followers, can still gain web traffic through Instagram by using their Instagram Story to direct followers to the link in their bio.


Need help creating content, increasing engagement, or generating brand awareness via social media? Request a consultation with us today!


How Does PR Affect SEO?

The year was 2006. Pluto was still a planet, you didn’t own an iPhone, you were more likely to log on to MySpace than Facebook, and search engine optimization (SEO) meant squeezing as many keywords as possible into your content and getting backlinks by any means necessary. Scary, right?

Today, thinking that keyword density and lots of low-quality backlinks will get your site to appear at the top of Google’s search results is as reasonable as staying indoors for fear of contracting the Bird Flu (the “it” disease of 2006).

The rules of SEO have changed—especially over the past two years. Updates to search engine ranking algorithms like Google’s “Panda” and “Penguin” mean you can no longer think in terms of keywords and inbound links alone. What matters now is quality, relevance and audience engagement.

Or, as Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts explained:

“We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO—versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on a page, or whether they exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect in a particular area. It is an active area where we have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”

google-panda-penguin-updatesFor many SEO firms, these algorithm shifts have delivered a crushing blow. For Dittoe PR, it’s cause for celebration.

For years we had to sit back and watch as SEO firms gamed Google with blackhat link building schemes predicated on paid backlinks and blog networks that allowed them to distribute keyword stuffed “articles” to hundreds of sites to quickly generate hundreds of backlinks.

Even PR agencies got in on the Google-gaming action. They used wire services to distribute horribly written, albeit keyword dense, press releases knowing full well that human eyes would never read them—they just wanted the backlinks. Sadly, many PR agencies still charge clients hundreds of dollars per release to provide this “service,” even though those press release backlinks barely nudge the SEO needle.

While SEO is still very much a technical discipline—especially when it comes to on-site optimization—the bottom line is that content that is published but not read by living, breathing human beings, not just GoogleBots, achieves nothing—both in terms of human impressions and search engine traction.

When our clients are featured on ESPN or Mashable, they’re not only benefiting from extremely valuable backlinks; there’s also no risk that an algorithm update from Google is going to render those backlinks worthless. It’s a simple matter of quality vs. quantity that makes the difference between page No.1 of Google’s search results, and being buried in the double digits.

Search engine optimization in no longer a “website promotion strategy.” It’s a content strategy; one that’s based on producing compelling, targeted content for humans—not search engines—and promoting that content across national and local media outlets, trade publications, blogs and social media channels.

If you’d like to learn more about our firm and services, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Public Relations: Where we’ve been and where we’re going

Most public relations pros are well aware of their industry’s rich history which dates back to the early 1900s with Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays. Although both figures are responsible for introducing some of the more controversial elements of PR, they’re also credited for being two of the first professionals who understood the need for two-way communication in which organizations deliver their messages while listening and responding to the people who are important to them. This concept still represents the core of what public relations is today.

Although there haven’t been any massive tectonic shifts to alter the  foundation of PR, the industry has  taken many evolutionary steps during the past several decades.

Here are a few of the most notable changes.

  • The New Definition of Public Relations: In 2011, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) led an international effort to modernize public relations and came up with the following definition: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This definition is pretty broad, but serves to describe the various roles today’s PR pro plays for his or her clients.
  • 24/7 News: We all know the Internet has long surpassed print news as the source of choice for people seeking national and international news. All major media sources now have online outlets that are constantly updated; the news literally never sleeps. What does this mean for PR pros? The job is now even more full time and those in the industry need to constantly be prepared to see how their clients may fit into the steady stream of daily news topics.
  • Social Media: Everyone knows the big hitters- Facebook and Twitter. But the list of social media outlets PR pros work with on a daily basis has expanded to include YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and more. Social media channels have become a great way to enhance traditional and online campaigns, save money and participate in two-way communication. Still, it’s important for PR pros to know how to use each outlet to best benefit the client.
  • The Press Release: Oh yes, this gem is still around, but even it has evolved. The Social Media Press Release (SMPR) was developed in 2006 and is much more interactive than the traditional release. Press releases are now full of links, RSS feeds, tags, videos, pictures and more. There are also new distribution channels for PR agencies to deliver messages to readers.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is an internet marketing strategy that involves using key words and phrases to boost your visibility on search results pages. PR pros can use SEO to craft messages that reflect key search terms about brands and companies. If you write with SEO in mind, you will likely improve your ranking on search results pages, which can lead to increased website traffic.
  • Crisis Communication: With the rise of new media outlets, companies now have multiple ways to communicate to their publics during a time of crisis. For example, Dominos’ President issued an apology via a YouTube video. Companies can reach more followers and fans by tweeting a link to a press release or issuing a statement. Since word of crises spreads quickly through online media, PR specialists must respond even faster than in the past.

As you can see, the public relations field is continuously changing, becoming more innovative and adaptable to the current economic and cultural trends. But one thing has stayed the same- the PR industry is here. In my opinion, it always will be. Still, more changes are inevitable.

  • PR will always be about fostering good relationships, and even with the rise of social media, that won’t change. Personal relationships between PR pros and journalists will still exist. In fact, as this post from Mashable points out, relationship building has become even more important as traditional journalists have been joined by bloggers and other key media influencers.
  • According to a PRSA blog on future trends in public relations, the PR industry will see more integration with similar professions. Convergence will continue as PR pros work closely with marketing and advertising departments. We are already seeing a blurred line between these similar industries, with marketing professionals writing press releases and pitching and PR pros writing vital company copy for websites and marketing material.
  • According to PRSA’s 2012 Industry Report, U.S. spending on public relations will have an annual growth rate of 14 percent for the next three years. The Council of Public Relations Firms predicts 10 percent year-over-year industry growth. These statistics prove that the PR industry is growing and that more companies are seeing the value in PR. Certainly, that’s enough to make any PR pro smile!


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