What are hashtags? Why should you use them?

What are hashtags? Why should you use them?

When putting together your social media strategy, you should always consider the tools available to help you meet your goals. A popular tool for over a decade has been the famous hashtag. Hashtags are powerful tools that can help your target audience find you organically across all social media platforms. Hashtags are valuable for every brand in every niche when used correctly. 

The pound symbol (originally intended to represent numbers) is now a piece of your social media marketing strategy. In 2007, Chris Messina, Product Designer, Product Therapist, and Public Speaker, came up with the idea to group tweets using the symbol. That is when the hashtag was born. Now, more than fourteen years later, social media marketers, influencers, and business owners obsess over choosing the perfect set of hashtags for every social media post. Our team at Root & Roam has created this hashtag guide to help you decipher through the thousands of hashtags in existence and choose the right ones for your brand.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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What are hashtags and why you should use them

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How to choose hashtags

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How to use hashtags

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Key Takeaways

THE BASICS OF HASHTAGS

We now know the history of hashtags, but what is a hashtag exactly? A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the pound symbol. They don’t contain spaces or special characters such as the asterisk or dollar symbol. Hashtags may contain numbers and or emojis. 

(Example: #howtousehashtags, #hastagguide2021laughing)

Hashtags are a piece of the pie that help make your social media account(s) successful. Hashtags can help you use the algorithm to your advantage by getting your content to more news feeds of current and potential followers, ultimately increasing your reach.

How To Choose Hashtags

Choosing the correct hashtag for your post is the key to a successful hashtag strategy. The hashtags you use should be relevant to your brand and the content of each post.

Your social media budget also plays a part in selecting hashtags. Hashtags that already have thousands of posts are going to have a higher competition level. You will need to post multiple times per week or even per day to stay at the top of the hashtags news feed. Just like any other newsfeed, a hashtags newsfeed features the latest post first. If you are working with a small social media budget, it is best to use hashtags with lower posting rates to be competitive. However, be cautious of hashtags with low posting rates. Hashtags with less than a few hundred posts total are likely new or dead hashtags with very few followers. Using such small hashtags would not be effective for reaching your goals. 

The process of choosing hashtags should commence when you begin creating the content for your post. Use this list as a guide of things to consider, before settling on a hashtag:

Branding in hashtags

You want the hashtags you choose to reflect your specific niche. For example, it does not make sense to use #shoetrends when you are trying to market massage services. Spamming hashtags is a sure way to get your account flagged. A flagged account could result in your page getting banned temporarily or permanently.

Hashtags to help you reach your social media goals

You will need to consider what the post is intended to do before selecting the hashtags. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I trying to sell a product or service?
  • Am I trying to entertain viewers with fun content?
  • Am I trying to get viewers to sign up for something?
  • What would I like to gain from this post?

Relevant content in hashtags

A social media post includes the caption and the visual element (photo, video, or graphic). If the post is about your latest summer coffee flavor, you might want to use a hashtag like #summercoffeeflavor to maintain relevance to the content or to be found by people searching for new summer coffee flavors.

Holidays or Special Events Hashtags

If the social media post is about your upcoming holiday sale, include hashtags for the specific holiday. Pay attention, as some hashtags contain a date. i.e. #christmas2010

A rule of thumb is to begin using holiday hashtags between 60 and 90 days prior to the holiday. For larger holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, you will want to begin using the hashtags sooner. Major holiday hashtags will be heavily used by many platform users within the month of the holiday.

Once you have answered all of the above statements, you will begin searching for the hashtags. There are many tools available to help you search for hashtags. One that we like to use at Root & Roam is the Key Words Everywhere plugin. This tool has free and paid features. It downloads directly to your browser and gives clean instructions for set up. Once you have completed the setup, you will find the hashtag symbol in the upper right corner of your screen when you log into Instagram on your desktop or laptop computer. Click the symbol and begin researching a term or phrase to find all of the available hashtags with their statistics.

The most straightforward method is to log in to the desired platform that you will be using the hashtags on, go to the search bar, type “#” followed by a word or phrase relevant to your post or brand. The platform will direct you to a list of hashtags related to your search. From here, you will need to search through each hashtag until you find the right one(s). Continue this process until you are satisfied with the hashtags that you have chosen. Note: some social media platforms limit the number of hashtags used in a single post. Others have character limits per post as well. Always do your research on each social media platform you choose to work with before posting any content. 

Hashtags best practices to start with are:

  • 1 – 2 hashtags on Facebook
  • 3 – 4 hashtags on Instagram posts
  • 0 – 2 hashtags on Linkedin
  • 3 – 4 hashtags on Pinterest
  • 2 – 3 hashtags on TikTok
  • 2 hashtags on Twitter

There are many different recommendations regarding the use of hashtags on different platforms. Ultimately it all depends on your social media goals and budget. It is always okay to push the boundaries and find what works best for your brand.

How To Use Hashtags

Now that you have chosen your hashtags, there are a few ways you can include them in your post. The most common method of using hashtags is to drop them at the end of the caption. Another way is to add the #hashtag in the body of your caption, as we did here. Instagram allows you to include all of your hashtags in the first comment. We recommend using this method if you are using a lot of hashtags to keep the caption reader-friendly. 

You will want to use hashtags heavily for some social media platforms and selectively for other platforms depending on your social media budget. Hashtags, when used correctly, will put your brand in front of new viewers by targeting a specific interest relevant to your brand. This leads to new followers on your social media account and potentially new customers for your business. All without the use of paid advertising.

Remember to continuously engage with and nurture your newly obtained audience to prevent losing them in the future. Your social media goals and objectives will continue to change over time as your brand grows. Hashtag research along with many other audience obtaining factors are a continuous revolving door. Starting your hashtag journey and maintaining it properly will serve your brand well indefinitely.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

A few key takeaways to remember when using hashtags:

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Only use relevant hashtags

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Do your hashtag research

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When used correctly, hashtags are great tools to help you reach your target audience organically

Are you ready to increase your organic reach on social media? Our team is here to help take your brand to the next level. Click to start using hashtags in your social media strategy.

iPhone Professional Photography 101

iPhone Professional Photography 101

iPhone Professional Photography 101 – Instagram is a wildly popular social media platform. Based on its active monthly users, we’re willing to bet you are familiar with it and most likely an active user yourself. With over 1 billion active users monthly (130 million of those in the United States alone), Instagram has a worldwide reach. As a business owner, there is a high probability that your target market is already on Instagram.

So, how do you get your audience to stop the scroll on your content? The answer is simple in theory. You must stand out in the overload of visual stimulation. The execution is a little trickier. Today we’re going to focus on making your still photography stand out.

Photography Tips 101

We get it. You’re running a business. You’re likely pulled in a million different directions as it is. Who has time to become an expert in photography? And, not to mention, professional photography gear is expensive. Thankfully, these days, smartphone technology has come a long way. With a little practice, you have everything you need to create visually stunning images right in the palm of your hand. Let’s take a look at a handful of best photography practices and how to accomplish them using your iPhone.

Lighting for Photography

Depending on your brand’s aesthetic, it’s imperative to choose the proper lighting source. We can guarantee that source is almost never your iPhone’s built-in flash. There are a few reasons we hold steadfast to this belief. First, your iPhone’s flash is simply not strong enough to evenly light a scene. Second, the flash tends to cast harsh and distracting shadows. While shadows can be an artistic choice, you have almost no control over the built in flash of your iPhone. And, finally, the light from your iPhone’s flash is bounced back to you off of any reflective surface. Think: mirrors, windows, countertops, etc.

If you do not already own (and know how to use) professional lighting equipment, you can experiment with natural light sources. Did you know that shooting in a garage with the door wide open is touted as one of the easiest, most even natural light sources to work with? So long as the sun is not shining directly into the garage, you have a beautifully diffused light source free of charge! This principle can be carried over to other physical areas of your home or business. How about placing your subject in front of an open door where just the right amount of light shines in? Or, perhaps you have space to stage your scene in front of a large window. In any of these cases, the subject faces the light source, and you place yourself between them to shoot. Just watch out for any shadows you may be casting on the subject.

Photography Exposure

Great lighting leads directly into the topic of proper exposure. Exposure is everything! When photographing a subject, an image that is either over exposed or under exposed causes a loss of detail in the highlights or shadows respectively. In the case of product photography, it’s of the utmost importance to depict your goods as accurately as possible to avoid disgruntled customers and decrease returns.

So, how can you accomplish that with your smartphone? Fortunately, the iPhone has an exposure tool built into the camera. Typically, a camera reads the entire scene and automatically exposes the image based on that reading. Are you shooting outside on a sunny day? In that case, your iPhone may naturally want to underexpose the subject to keep the majority of the scene properly exposed. To remedy this, you simply tap and hold your finger down directly over your subject. Once you see the yellow box over your subject and the words AE/AF LOCK pop up, you are ready to manually adjust your exposure. Next to the yellow box, you should see what looks like a sun. Simply slide your finger up to brighten the subject or down to darken it. Voila!

Composition of Photos

There are tons of possibilities when it comes to composing a photograph. Composition, simply put, is the way elements are arranged in a photograph. A central principle in photography is called the rule of thirds. Perhaps you have heard the term before, but maybe you are unsure how to utilize it. Essentially, to use the rule of thirds, you would visualize your image cut into thirds both vertically and horizontally (much like a tic-tac-toe board), and you would place your subject where those lines intersect. The iPhone makes it simple to compose photographs following the rule of thirds. To enable a visual grid when you are taking pictures, simply go to Settings > Camera > Grid. Now, when you access your iPhone camera to take photos, you have the added assistance of knowing exactly where to place your subject. (This works on any of the built in aspect ratios – 1:1, 4:3, and 16:9.)

While the rule of thirds is foundational to good photography, it’s most definitely not the only way to shoot a beautiful, compelling image. Subjects placed directly in the center of the frame can make a big impact if done properly! In this case, simpler is better. Place your subject against a background that allows it to take center stage (literally and figuratively). Avoid busy, overdone backgrounds, and utilize negative space to avoid distraction.

Finally, when shooting multiple subjects in the same frame, employ the rule of odds. The rule of odds is defined by the belief that an odd number of subjects is more visually and compositionally appealing than an even number of subjects. Perhaps your company sells dinnerware, and you want to showcase a table setting on your Instagram account. According to the rule of odds, it would be more visually engaging to have three place settings as opposed to four.

Photo Backgrounds

Backgrounds play a vital role in the impact a photograph makes. Even with the best of intentions, background details are often overlooked. An activewear company may have sourced a fitting outdoor location to showcase their products in a lifestyle setting. However, the details in the background must not go unnoticed. Is there a tree branch extending out of the model’s head? Is there a car in the distance catching and reflecting light that draws the eye away from the subject? Is your own shadow reflected into the frame? Best practices are to scan the scene surrounding your subject to determine if there is anything that would compete with your subject. Adjust the position of yourself or the subject to remove distractions and keep the focus where it belongs.

Bonus iPhone Photography Tip: Portrait Mode

Professional photographs are often recognized and set apart from amateur photographs based on background blur. Background blur is the result of a number of variables such as aperture, lens length, and the distance between the photographer and the subject… all contributing to the shallow depth of field. This is getting a little technical, we know!

All of that to say, essentially, it is a bit more difficult to create a shallow depth of field or background blur using an iPhone. However, using Portrait Mode on your iPhone simulates background blur using edge detection. Unfortunately, Portrait Mode is not usable in every situation. To be able to use Portrait Mode, you have to be the perfect distance from your subject, and this is not always feasible. Additionally, we suggest paying extra attention to the output to make sure the result looks natural.

The good news is that you can still utilize your manual exposure technique and your rule of thirds grid in Portrait Mode. Using Portrait Mode can elevate your images, but an extra level of attention to detail must be maintained.

Post Processing Photographs

While it’s preferable to get as much right straight out of the camera, sometimes you may need to do a little adjusting after the image is already snapped. In this case, there are an abundance of free apps to handle your post processing. One of our favorites is Snapseed. This free app is extremely robust and allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, ambiance, highlights, shadows, and warmth of your images after you’ve taken them.

And, that’s only a small scratch of the surface. Is your composition throwing you off, and you wish you’d set up the frame differently? Perhaps your whites have a yellow tint from your natural light source. Snapseed offers a crop tool with both preset sizes and custom sizes, as well as a rotation tool if your horizon is slightly crooked. Use the white balance tool to pull those color casts out of your image. If you find that your images don’t quite meet your standards even after following our iPhone photography tips and tricks, we suggest you give Snapseed a try.

Before and After Our Photography Tips

iPhone photograph

This is the area I was working in. Both images were shot with my iPhone XS.

iPhone photograph before and after

In this before picture, I literally just placed the product on the table and snapped a photo. This is the quintessential “point and shoot.” Here is a sampling of the things wrong with this image:

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Lighting – the only lighting I’m using here is natural light, however, there is not enough of it.
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Exposure – because there is not enough light, the image is underexposed.
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Composition – The product is placed in the center of the frame, which is not always a bad thing. However, in this instance, it does not make for a very dynamic photo.
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Background – The background in this image is particularly distracting. The framed print is reflecting the light coming through a window, as well as simply being too busy of a print to let the product shine. Additionally, the corner of the table draws the eye away from the focus.
iPhone photograph before and after

In the after picture, I implemented the following tips:

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Lighting – I opened the double doors to the right of my scene to let in the beautiful, diffused, natural light.
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Exposure – I used the iPhone’s built in exposure tool to brighten the overall exposure of the image prior to taking the photo.
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Composition – I utilized the rule of thirds by placing the main focus of the image on the left line of the “tic-tac-toe” board. Additionally, I brought in two other, smaller products as accents that still allow the main product to take center stage. This is an example of the rule of odds.
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Background – I removed the framed print from the image all together, and I repositioned the products in the center of the table so that the edge of the table would no longer draw the eye away from the product. Additionally, I pulled the table away from the wall in an effort to create a smoother, neutral background. (You’ll notice in the “before” picture that you can clearly see the texture of the wall. This is stylistic preference. I preferred less texture for this image.)
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Post Processing – I used Snapseed to adjust the white balance, highlights, shadows, and contrast.

With a little bit of effort and attention to detail, you can use your phone, a free app, and the lighting you have available to you to create lovely, engaging images.

Practice your Photography Basics

Here at Root & Roam, we know that you’ve built your business based on your expertise in your field. We understand that becoming a professional photographer may not be in the cards for you or any of your team members. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful, engaging, and converting Instagram feed! With a little practice and by using the iPhone photography tips above, you can capture and share images that stop your audience in their tracks.

If you’re ready to elevate your Instagram feed (or any medium where photography is used), but you just don’t want to do it on your own, contact us! We have a team of professional photographers on staff with a wide variety of specialties and extensive experience in taking businesses to the next level visually.

What Are Heading Tags and Why You Should Use Them?

What Are Heading Tags and Why You Should Use Them?

It’s hard to believe at times, but the internet has rules. There are protocols and conventions that, when followed, tend to make things easier on all of us. They also make the content we create more accessible to more people! One of the foremost jobs of a digital marketer is knowing these rules and knowing how to use them to do better work for their clients. Heading tags fall under this category. This post aims to explain what heading tags are, why they’re important, as well as how they function.

What are HTML heading tags?

Heading tags serve several different purposes.

Let’s start with the content creator or the web designer, the person writing and determining each heading tag. Here, heading tags act similarly to an outline of the content being created. They establish how the information and the content surrounding that information are to be structured. 

To search engines such as Google or Bing, heading tags act like labels or signs. They help point search engines to the specific places within web pages to quickly locate the content that people are searching for. Heading tags inform the search engine robots about the hierarchy of the information that they’re processing – a heading tag helps delineate what is the most important content and where it is located. 

Finally, to someone visiting a website to read the information or content, heading tags are topic signifiers and points of interest – by reading the “What are HTML heading tags?” above the previous paragraph, a reader can easily determine what the overall topic being presented will be and can deduct what to expect in the post. Heading tags are also an important accessibility feature that helps accessibility software like screen readers parse and categorize the most important information on a page. 

heading tags are also an important accessibility feature

How are heading tags structured? How many heading tags are there?

Heading tags are numerical, starting with H1 to denote the most important section heading. This is the heading that a search engine gives the most weight. Most HTML (the markup that most pages are built with) supports six levels of headings, with H6 denoting the heading with the least importance. Within that markup language they look like this:
heading tags are also an important accessibility feature
But what about the page’s title? The title tag is used to denote what your page is titled, and it’s what displays as the preview for your page in search engine results and social media snippets. The page title tag is not the same as a heading tag, but a page title tag and the H1 tag are often mirrored. This is largely because best practices have shown that Google typically gives more authority to pages that are formatted in this way because it views those pages as being more accurate.

Prevent inaccurate article titles

We use our crawler to scan your article pages and determine the correct headlines for your content. Follow our best practices to help us display the correct title from your content:

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Place the title of your article in a prominent spot above the article body, such as in an <h1> tag.
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Match the title of your article page (in the HTML <title> tag) to the title of your article (in <h1> or equivalent).

Google HTML Rules

Heading tags and SEO best practices

Although using heading tags alone may not have a substantial impact on overall SEO from the standpoint of a search engine (the keywords used on each page take precedence), it does have a substantial impact on the readability of your content. When utilized properly, this impacts the time that is spent on a page and the overall webpage traffic. Both have a substantial impact on your search rankings. When correctly utilized alongside your page title, meta-description, and target keywords, your heading tags play a key role in improving search rankings for those specific keywords. A few best practices directly from Google:
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Match the anchor text that points to your article in your section pages to your article/page title.

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Avoid using the article title, or a substring of the title, as an active hyperlink on your article page.

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Do not include a date or time in your article title.

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Article titles should be at least 10 characters and between 2 and 22 words.

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Do not include a leading number in the anchor text of the title to make sure your article title displays properly on mobile devices.

A few more SEO specific best practices include:
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Use only one H1 tag per page.

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Keywords should be aligned by the rank of importance corresponding to your tag hierarchy.

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Keep your heading tags concise and keyword specific.

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H1 headings should be approximately twice as large as your body text.

Why should you use heading tags?

There’s plenty of reasons to use heading tags, and it mainly comes down to structuring your content in a way that makes it coherent and legible for every interaction with them. They are also an important part of your overall on-page SEO efforts, especially when you consider how it impacts your entire audience’s ability to find and digest the information you put out there. A quick summary of why using heading tags is important:

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Heading tags structure your content

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They help make your content more accessible

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They are an important part of SEO best practices

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They enhance readability and improve accessibility

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They play a part in enhancing the overall user experience

Here at Root & Roam, we have a team of passionate people with decades of experience utilizing all aspects of available technology to help communicate value to customers. Our company has experience working with all forms of media through all available channels, platforms, and mediums. Our mission is to help businesses connect with customers, and we take pride in our ability to do just that. We know we can help you grow your business, so schedule a free marketing consultation to see what we can do for you today.
Determining how to structure your page and its headers to best benefit your business and its goals can be tricky. Root and Roam has a passionate team with experience in Content Creation and Web development to help.
How to Sell on Instagram: Everything you need to know about how to sell products on Instagram

How to Sell on Instagram: Everything you need to know about how to sell products on Instagram

As of 2021, 1.074 billion people are on Instagram worldwide making it the perfect place to sell your products. Instagram has all of the tools you need to get your product in front of the consumer and make them remember it. Selling on Instagram takes hard work, dedication, and marketing skills. This guide will show you how to sell on Instagram.

Set up an Instagram business account

 

To sell on Instagram, you will first need an Instagram business account. An Instagram business account will give you access to all of the great Instagram business features, including a “contact” button, analytics, sponsored posts, and Instagram shop. Follow these steps to create your Instagram business account:
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Begin by creating a new account that does not contain any personal information.

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Go to your Instagram page settings, click – Account
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Click – Switch to Professional Account
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Follow the steps and input the necessary information.

Voila! You are now ready to start selling on Instagram.

Build your Instagram shop

 

Once your Instagram business account is set up, you will need to set up your Instagram shop. To do this, you will also need a Facebook business page. Create your Facebook business page in two simple steps:

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Connect your Instagram business account to your Facebook business page.
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Log into Facebook, go to your ads manager, and find Commerce Manager in the hamburger menu. Follow the instructions to upload your catalog.

Your catalog can be uploaded three different ways:

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You can bulk upload your items using an excel spreadsheet. You will need to create a spreadsheet and input the item name, description, and price. Then follow the instructions to upload your spreadsheet to your shop.

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You can opt to manually input each item into your Instagram shop. If you choose this option, you will need to fill in the required blanks within the shop upload form to upload each item individually.

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The third option is to integrate your instagram shop with your ecommerce website. To use this option, you will need to have already set up an ecommerce shop with any of the website platforms that Facebook integrates with. Your options are Shopify, Channeladvisor, Feedonomics, Admixt, Quipt, Woo Commerce, Bigcommerce, CommerceHub, CED Commerce, Data Caciques, and Zentail. The integrate option will automatically pull the inventory listed on your ecommerce website into your Facebook and Instagram catalog.

Once you have created your catalog, you will then need to set up the Instagram shop. Click the shops icon on the left hand side of your mobile screen. Follow the instructions to create the shop. You will be able to organize your Instagram product into categories, choose your shop colors, button styles, and fonts. When you are satisfied with your setup click – save, and publish. 

It may take some time for Facebook and Instagram to process your shop for approval. Keep the platform’s bylaws and rules in mind when adding products to your catalog. Once your shop has been approved, your customers will be able to shop directly from your Instagram business account.

Reach your Target Audience and Gain Shop Awareness

 

Reaching your audience is more than just posting content. Take the time to develop a strategy that shares content that grabs your target Instagram audience’s attention, and pair it with keywords, hashtags, and timing.

Strategically build your Instagram shop awareness and audience with Instagram’s paid and unpaid advertising options. Take advantage of various posting methods such as posting, stories, reels, IGTV, post promoting, and Instagram paid ads to get the word out about your Instagram shop. Devise a strategy for what methods you will use and how you will measure success. Continually adjust your strategy as you find what works best. 

Reaching your audience is more than just posting content. Content that grabs the views paired with keywords, hashtags, and timing are what makes a perfect post.

Timing is Everything

 

Instagram’s algorithm is designed to show the most recent posts at the top of the news feed. The Instagram insights feature shows you the time and days when your audience is most active. Post your content during the most active time for a better chance of getting in front of a larger amount of your audience and bringing in new followers.

Optimize your Instagram post with keywords

 

Optimize your Instagram shopping posts using keywords just as you would optimize your website. Keywords are also necessary for your Instagram post to be discovered in a Google search. Research keywords relevant to your niche and use them to strategically plan your next post.

Hashtag it

 

Hashtagging is not just a trendy activity. It could mean the difference between reaching additional audiences who would not discover your business otherwise. When you add a hashtag to your post, your post will appear in that hashtag’s feed. This means that anyone who follows the hashtag has the potential to see your post. 

There is quite a bit that can go into your hashtag strategy. A few dos and don’ts when using hashtags in Instagram:

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Use just a few relevant hashtags in each post that you upload to Instagram, regardless if your post is in your Instagram feed, a story, or a reel.

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Make sure the correct audience finds your posts by ensuring that the hashtags mean what you intend.

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Pay attention to the amount of posts within a hashtag. When you search a hashtag on Instagram, you will see the number of posts with that hashtag. If there are a large number of posts, the likelihood that your post will be seen decreases. Instagram’s algorithm currently shows the most recent content first. When many posts are being added to a feed quickly, your post will get rotated down quicker. If you are just starting or are a small business, we recommend using smaller hashtags.

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Do not use hashtags that are irrelevant to your post, products, or services.

Create a shoppable Instagram feed

 

Build a shoppable Instagram feed by tagging your catalog products in your posts. When consumers tap the image, they will be able to follow the tag directly to that product in your Instagram shop and purchase within Instagram. Creating a shoppable post only takes a few simple steps:

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Create a new post

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Choose your image

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Tap Products – find the product in your shop catalog and tag it. If there are multiple products in one photo, be careful to place the tags in the correct place to avoid confusion.

Creating a shoppable Instagram story is similar:

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Create a new story

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Choose your image

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Under links, choose – product

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Search and tag the product in the story

Use this method every time you post product photos, and you will have created a completely shoppable Instagram feed.

Let’s sell product on Instagram!

 

To achieve the results that you desire, everything you do with your Instagram business page and Instagram shop should be strategically planned. Remember to always develop a strategy prior to starting any social media project. Keep your goals in mind and plan your actions accordingly. Selling on Instagram is the way of the future.

Here at Root & Roam, we understand that even with all of the tools available, selling on Instagram can be time-consuming and quite overwhelming. If you have any questions on how to sell on Instagram, we are here to help. Contact us today for more information on our Social Media services. Let’s move your product on Instagram!

Owned Earned and Paid Media

Owned Earned and Paid Media

Owned, Earned, And Paid Media: The Digital Marketing Trifecta

 

You may have heard the terms “Owned, Earned, and Paid Media” tossed around in the past and could be concerned that they are new types of media that you must have to optimize and create a well-rounded online presence for your business. However, there’s a strong likelihood that you already have developed and are using at least a few of these types of media already!

Owned, earned, and paid media all play a strong role in your company’s SEO, and all work together to provide a clear overview of your company to a customer. Let’s dive into the differences between earned, owned, and paid media.

Owned Media

 

Your owned media is just that – any content or platforms your brand owns. If you have complete control over the media, you “own” it. Owned media is great because you control the entirety of the messaging and branding. The more places your brand can be found online, and the more engaged on these platforms your audience is, the better your website will rank on a search engine results page (SERP).

Examples of your owned media include:

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Website

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Ebooks

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Blogs

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Podcasts

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Apps

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Social media accounts

Owned media allows your brand to shine. If you have a branding kit, make sure that you’re referring to it consistently to so your messaging, brand personality, color scheme, and fonts are all on-brand. It’s important to show consistency across all of your owned platforms to increase your brand awareness.

Whether you’re working to develop all your owned media platforms or you’re continuing to grow them, now is the time to do an audit.  Make a list of all of the owned media your company has, and make sure that you’re utilizing them all to their fullest potential. This is a prime way to get seen by current and potential customers, so make sure you are putting your best foot forward and providing up-to-date and engaging for your audience. Create a plan to monitor and engage with your social media accounts. If you have a social media account you’re not currently using, consider whether or not you have the bandwidth to re-engage with this platform.

Root and Roam Tip: There are many types of owned media, but you do not have to use them all. Focus on the owned media platforms that resonate with your audience.

Earned Media

 

Earned media is any mention your brand has earned through work of your own. You’ve heard before that “nothing good comes easy,” and your earned media is a prime example. Over time, your earned media grows exponentially. Putting in the hard work to develop customer relationships, loyalty, and provide excellent customer service pay off for you with earned media.

Examples of earned media include:

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Blog posts about your product or service others have written

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Press mentions

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Online reviews

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Social mentions

It may feel uncomfortable, but the fastest way to gain earned media is by asking. Check in with your most loyal customers and ask them to write a review on your Google My Business page, an online business review site, or even your social media platforms. You can do this in person or through an email.

Root and Roam Tip: It may feel easier to ask a customer to leave a review in exchange for a discount or small token of appreciation. Resist this temptation. Doing so can inadvertently be considered to be bribery. Your company is great and your organic reviews will show this!

Paid Media

 

Your paid media is any content or brand mention you’ve paid to have. They may fall anywhere on the cost spectrum, from just a few dollars to the largest paid campaign that you could dream up.

Example of Paid Media Include:

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Google search ads

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Streaming ads

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Google display ads

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Banner ads on a website

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Network display ads

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Paid articles or advertorials

Your paid media is an important part of your overall marketing strategy because it expands your reach.  Paid media allows you to get your company seen by potential new customers. Targeting options allow for you to hand-select who your audience is, and there are multiple ways for you to do so. You can target your search and display paid media in many different ways, including geographic location, specific keywords or searches, demographics. You even have the option to do a retargeting ad to follow up with those who have already visited your website or Facebook page.

Your paid media also includes any ad buys that you make on any online industry publication and streaming TV or radio ad.

Root and Roam Tip: There are many places you can use paid media. The opportunities are endless. Start off simple with platforms that you know your current audience or target audience are utilizing, and do some A/B testing to see what resonates best and provides you the most conversions.

How do I combine earned, owned, and paid media?

 

As we talked about the differences between earned, owned, and paid media, you may be thinking “How do these all work together to give me a well-rounded digital marketing strategy?” The combinations of earned, owned, and paid media is the key. All types of media play a pivotal role in your SEO strategy but also in your overall brand strategy.

Owned and Paid Media

 

Some examples of owned and paid media combinations include:

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Sponsored social media advertising

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Boosted social media posts

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Influencer partnerships

Owned and Earned

 

Some examples of owned and earned media include:

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Testimonials on website

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“As seen on..” Sections of the website

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More branded searches for your business

Owned and Paid

 

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Engagement on your owned media from influencers or social ads

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Website conversions through paid advertising efforts

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Increased web traffic on a dedicated landing page to capture leads through an ad

Each option of the type of media you choose, if leveraged alone, can achieve a company goal. However, when combined with another type or better yet, when all three are utilized, you’ll see much better results regardless of if you’re targeting brand awareness, lead generation, lead nurturing, or transactional opportunities. Interested in learning more about how these three types of media can improve your business, get in touch with a marketing strategist at Root & Roam!

Marketing Trends To Expect In 2021

Marketing Trends To Expect In 2021

There is no doubt that COVID-19 had a dramatic impact across industry sectors, to include the one we work in here at Root and Roam Integrated Marketing Agency. The pandemic decimated small so called “Mom and Pop” shops, while wreaking havoc on just about all brick and mortar businesses. 

And although we hope the worst of this economic shake-up is behind us, it is still difficult to predict what the future holds when it comes to sector growth and keeping businesses up and running. 

No one likes to operate in a volatile market, which is why we’ve outlined a few marketing tips that we believe can boost your business even during such uncertainty. 

YOUR BRAND SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE

 

It’s all about transparency and accountability. Yes, two words that you’ll often find in a mission or vision statement. A lot of businesses may talk the talk but don’t necessarily walk the walk. 

Even without a global pandemic, competition across industries is and always will be fierce, unless perhaps you’re Amazon. That is why now more than ever it is important to not just provide stellar goods and services, but to do so with purpose. 

Research shows that brands that have a precise and carefully communicated purpose observe growth two times faster than businesses that don’t. And leveraging transparency and accountability should be woven into that purpose. 

With all the options out there, it is important to stand out, so clearly communicating your purpose helps in doing so. 

As well, present-day consumers are more aware of the social responsibility businesses should embrace. Gone are the days of repetitive purchasing because of limited options. Now customers not only become lifetime consumers, they literally align themselves, and their communities, with their favorite brands. And if you consider that currently Millennials make up the largest demographic and have the most buying power, you should take note that social issues are a big part of their buying decision. Issues like inequality, social struggle, and environmental problems should be integrated within your marketing solutions, if you want to reach this demographic.

TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF YOUR MARKETING

 

We’ve seen how businesses have been impacted by COVID-19, but one of the first line items usually to go when creating a budget for a business is marketing. Now more than ever, every penny you spend in marketing needs to directly contribute to a return on investment (ROI). Working with a market research firm or having access to online databases in order to curate the exact information you need to create that marketing strategy is imperative to the success of your marketing efforts. And in the end, you’ll achieve better ROI by leveraging data.

Being able to take a deep dive in your customer’s purchasing journey, understanding your brand’s share of voice (SOV), or even creating customer personas isn’t something even the brightest marketer can do without the access to good data.

At Root and Roam, we leverage strong data to build strategies that make sense. We don’t guess, because budgets can’t support guessing, and businesses can’t thrive on the unknown. 

THE RISE IN TEST MARKETING

 

Product and/or service launches can be costly; that’s why you need to get it right the first time. With smaller marketing budgets come fewer resources, so this is where testing your product or service prior to launch can help save millions in dollars and resources. Testing the market versus sinking millions into research and development (R&D) can often be more cost prohibitive and get you the answer you’re seeking faster. 

Expect to see an increase in test marketing, as companies try to keep up with consumer demand, but don’t have the big budgets backing them like they used to. 

And if you’re a company prepared to launch a new service or product, work with your marketing teams or a marketing firm that can help you facilitate marketing testing. You’ll be glad you did.

VIDEO CONTENT IS STILL HOT

 

Video content has been and will continue to be some of the most important content you create. Whether it’s an answer to a question, a “how-to” video, or a cooking demonstration, people of all ages engage with video more than any other content. 

Video also helps to humanize your brand and a perfect platform to demonstrate your accountability messaging.

Pro tip: to get the biggest bang for your buck, edit your video for various platforms (i.e. long-form for YouTube, short-form video for Instagram). Also, don’t be afraid to edit and modify for each platform. For example, if the majority of your audience is younger and spends their time on TikTok, consider modifying your message and video for a younger audience. 

Also, don’t be afraid to go live! Facebook offers a great platform for live video, and people love to see brands in action. 

LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BETTER CUSTOMER RETENTION

 

The second quarter of 2020 saw an increase of budget of 24 percent for social media support as part of the total US marketing budget. Marketers turned their focus to customer retention, which, in terms of marketing spend, is far less expensive than trying to acquire new customers especially during a pandemic. 

The pandemic also changed how much time viewers spend online researching products, services, and brands. In response, marketers can expand their reach, connect with first-time buyers, and continue engaging with loyal customers. Consider highly engaging content, customer loyalty programs, and social media “shout-outs” to your most loyal customers. Let them feel they are part of your brand’s success by sharing their content, incentivizing them when referring new customers, and showcasing their loyalty through social media.

USE MORE INTERACTIVE CONTENT

 

Consider this, interactive content facilitates 2x more conversions than content that is passive. 

Interactive content can include quizzes, surveys, polls, giveaways, contests, open-ended questions; basically any content that the user is compelled to respond to. The more engaging the content, the more time the user spends on your platform, and this helps your business grow in two ways: the more time someone spends on your site, the more search engines deem your site worthy for organic search, and the more time they spend on your platforms, the better chance they have to convert. 

Highly engaging, interactive content is likely to be shared more across social channels, so consider this when creating content for your users.

VIRTUAL EVENTS WILL CONTINUE TO GROW

 

With the pandemic came the dramatic increase in the use of virtual platforms. Just ask Zoom! And although some of these meeting-based digital solutions have been in play for quite a while, they haven’t always been leveraged for events. 

This has presented a unique opportunity for businesses. By making events virtual, you’re able to open up your business and share your content to the entire world! If COVID-19 taught us anything, it was that people don’t need to gather in physical spaces to share, engage, or get things done. 

Need ideas on virtual events? Consider doing a virtual Q&A on a topic that your managers have expertise in. This is a great way to demonstrate thought leadership within your industry.

CONVERSATIONS SHOULD KICK-START YOUR CONTENT MARKETING

 

There are two types of digital content; content created for Google’s algorithms and content created for humans. Yes, as digital marketing experts, we understand the importance of creating and publishing content that leverages search engine optimization (SEO) tactics for better organic search. However, we also understand that no one is going to take the time to read 1800 words of uninteresting content. 

When creating content, whether it’s a blog or a Facebook post, consider reading what your customers are reading and providing content that compels them to read and engage. It’s okay to be creative, have fun with content, yet still be a brand serious about revenue goals. But if you create the same boring content day after day on your products or services, you will lose your audience. 

BRANDS CONTINUE TO EMBRACE E-COMMERCE

 

In 2020, marketing agencies specializing in e-commerce development saw a mass influx of requests. Some were out of fear due to the decrease of foot traffic in brick and mortar locations, and some were due to the rise in direct to consumer (DTC) opportunities prior to the pandemic. Regardless of the need, we expect e-commerce development opportunities to continue to rise. 

During the pandemic, we know that consumer behavior dramatically changed with more and more people going online to transact, but in 2021, don’t expect to see that behavior change. With the ease of pushing a button and just about anything you want can be delivered right to your doorstep, consumers are finding that online shopping is the way to go. 

That said, if you’re considering taking your products or services online, now is the time to do it. 

The good news is, there are a lot of great e-commerce platforms out there that won’t break the bank in terms of development costs. As well, these platforms utilize other technologies that integrate with them seamlessly, technologies that have automated what marketers used to manage.

EMBRACE 2021 WITH A NEW MARKETING STRATEGY THAT MATTERS

 

In summary, your organization’s marketing activities in 2021 should be driven with the intent to reach new audiences and embrace the customers you already have, with purpose. Provide them with content that matters, leverage the platforms they use most, and consider utilizing video and live, virtual events to have compelling conversations. 

If you’ve been thinking about taking your brand online for e-commerce opportunities, seize the moment, and do it now before your competition beats you to it. 

And finally, if you’re not working with a strong agency that understands good digital marketing, consider working with one. At Root and Roam, we know digital marketing, so feel free to give us a call.