Feel like you’re falling behind your competition? Not reaching as many people as you’d like to with your website, blog and overall digital presence? What are you doing to make sure your content, and your site, is up to par.
Managing your business’s online presence is more important than ever. Today, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to check out local businesses. This means having your information online and up-to-date is incredibly important.
What’s even more important though is how you optimize your information to get the best results in Google’s search rankings. This practice is known as SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) and it’s the process of optimizing the content you share online to appear as high as possible on the list of results returned by a search engine.
Paying attention to your SEO is key to expanding your online presence and is especially important since 92% of searchers will pick businesses that appear on the first page of Google’s search results.
NINETY TWO PERCENT!
Put another way: if you ain’t on the first page of Google - you ain’t online!
There are many ways to optimize your online presence that will help lead you to better SEO. Keyword research, proper use of alt tags, backlinks… the list goes on.
Not familiar with any of those terms? Here’s Neil Patel - the SEO master - with some basic background on SEO (in only 5 minutes!).
But this post is about a single tool that can help you step up your SEO game quickly and easily and it won’t cost you a cent to take advantage of. That tool: Google My Business.
Google has long struggled with standalone social media channels (anyone remember Google+?).
But Google My Business, or GMB, seems to be around for the long haul.
It’s not really a social channel. At least not in the traditional sense. But it allows businesses to create profiles and share social-style updates which will help them rank when people search for similar content online.
In this post, we’re going to look at 5 ways you can use Google My Business to improve your SEO game today.
But first, let’s do a slightly deeper dive into what Google My Business actually is and how it can help you grow your online presence.
Google My Business is a free platform that can be accessed by any business owner. It allows businesses to better control the information that appears about their business on their Business Profile when users search within Google Search or Google Maps.
The platform will also let you reply to Google user reviews and FAQs, share posts from your business, and even talk to customers in real-time. In addition, it provides useful analytics that can help you to understand how your business profile is being engaged with.
Important note: your Business Profile is not the same as your Google My Business account. Rather Google My Business is how you manage your Business Profile.
If you’ve not yet set up your Business Profile or you need to claim yours, check out this helpful support page from Google walking you through how to do it.
Now that you’re set up, let’s get on to the good stuff!
1) Optimize Your Business Profile Using Targeted Keywords and Information
The most important thing you can do to boost your SEO for your Google Business Profile is to be sure you’re using the right words and phrases.
People may search for your business name. But way more people are doing general searches in your industry. What keywords are they searching for? What questions are they looking to get answered on Google?
If you own a shoe store, you need to know if people searching for “tennis shoes,” “running shoes,” “sneakers”… or something else entirely! Until you know that, you can’t optimize your content accordingly.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, the goal is pretty simple: use the language your audience is using!
Not sure what keywords you should be leaning into? There are loads of free and paid tools out there that will help you do keyword research. Google Trends is a free Google tool that’s very helpful. I really like a tool called Ubersuggest (the free version is limited but still very helpful - the paid version lets you dig a lot deeper). There are tons of others. Do a Google search for keyword finder or SEO tools and you can research until your fingers fall off. Happy hunting!
Make sure to fill in all fields requested by Google My Business to the best of your ability. Information that will especially impact your SEO is location, hours, and contact information (phone and website).
You’ll also want to add information about your business using the correct category for your business and attributes to show your full capabilities.
And, as always, don’t forget to lean into your UVPs (unique value propositions). What makes you special? Highlight it! If you’re a restaurant with really awesome patio seating, make sure that’s obvious in your profile.
Once you’ve done some keyword research, use it! Make sure you’re using keywords that people would use when searching for a business like yours. Think about words or phrases that you want your business to be associated with and that users are actually using when they search Google.
PRO TIP: Avoid keyword stuffing (the act of cramming keywords anywhere and everywhere at the expense of actual good, clean writing). Google hates keyword stuffing. Come to think of it, so does everyone else!
2) Use Google My Business Analytics to Learn More About Your Business Profile
Google wants to collect all of the world’s data and make it shareable. So you better believe there is loads of analytic data waiting for you in your Google My Business account.
Poke around in there and you can find a ton of useful information such as:
Knowing this information can help you to perform even better on SEO while also giving you a platform to directly engage also with your customers! Check it out today!
Here’s a review on my GMB site:
Want to see how this feature works? Head to my Google My Business page today and leave me a review. I’ll engage with you for sure!
3) Build Trust With Google and Your Customers
One important thing to always consider when working on your search engine optimization is that Google factors trustworthiness into its algorithm for search rankings. There are a few key things you can do in Google My Business to increase trust both with Google’s algorithm and your audience.
First and most importantly, you’re going to need to start focusing on getting reviews! You want reviews coming in often.
Make sure to respond to every single review. If it’s a great one, thank your customer for leaving it. If it’s not so good, still make sure to respond. Ask the customer for more information or seek honest feedback regarding what you as a business can do to improve. Showing that you listen to feedback and responding thoughtfully builds trust both with customers and Google.
Next, you’ll also want to make sure to respond to customer questions in the frequently asked questions section of your business profile. This also helps to show Google that your business is trustworthy and engages with customers. In addition, responding to customer questions also shows off your expertise and willingness to go the extra mile for your audience.
Lastly, make sure to use your keywords in your responses to both reviews and frequently asked questions. Again, always be natural with your usage of keywords, since keyword-stuffing will negatively impact your Google ranking, but work them in as possible.
4) Use Google My Business Posts to Help With Rankings!
Google My Business allows you to publish posts directly to your Business Profile that include text, images, video, and even nifty call-to-action buttons for your customers!
You can use this feature to share business updates, new products or services that you offer, events you’re hosting, or even just some fun times at your business. These posts show customers what you’re all about and can also help a ton with search engine optimization when you add in some keywords.
There are a few important things to consider when posting. One thing to think about is how frequently you’d like to post. Google no longer removes Business Profile posts after seven days - but it’s still important to keep your profile fresh. If you can, post a few times a month - more if possible.
You should also know that posts can be up to 1,500 characters long. You’ll likely want to keep it shorter though. Keeping things short and tight can help keep your reader engaged.
5) Utilize Industry-Relevant Features to Better Engage With Your Customers
Last - but definitely not least - you’ll want to take advantage of Google My Business’s industry-relevant features. These are broken down into features for restaurants, retail, and service businesses.
If you’re running a restaurant, Google My Business will be a key part of your marketing strategy and has lots of potential uses. Features for this industry include the option to highlight essential info such as if you offer takeout or dine-in, and health and safety updates, the ability to share photos of your food and special deals, as well as the option for customers to place online orders or make reservations.
Retail businesses also have equally powerful options. These include the ability to list your products directly to your profile, show how customers can shop and link preferred shopping methods, and post about special offers.
Finally, service-based businesses can also harness the power of Google My Business. Service features such as the option to list your services and credentials, allow customers to request a quote or schedule an appointment directly, or even message you directly will streamline and personalize your customers’ experiences.
Google My Business isn’t going to magically create a pipeline of new customers to your business. But as with all things related to SEO, it adds up. Your site needs to be easy to navigate, you should be blogging, you should be using alt text on your images… and you should claim and set up your GMB account. Every bit helps when you’re competing with everyone else for that prime real estate on Google’s first page.
GMB is low hanging fruit that you should absolutely take advantage of. And the best part: it’s relatively easy and totally free to do so!
So if you’re one of the 56% of local retailers that haven’t yet claimed their Google My Business account, or if you’re just looking to increase your web traffic through search engine optimization, get on Google My Business today!
You will benefit a ton from all of the features covered in this post and more importantly - your customers will too!
If you found something useful in this article, have a question, or want more personalized help, let us know! We’re always here to help you take your business to the next level!
STep Up your social ep. 18 — Write Your Blog Post For Google. Or Facebook. Or Both. And Other Tips For Blogging.
In Episode 13 of #StepUpYourSocial, we discussed why you should be blogging.
Today let’s talk about how you should approach writing content for your blog.
In this episode, we cover a lot of best practices for blogging in 10 minutes or less including:
Full episode transcript
If you aren’t already blogging… you should be.
We did a deep dive into why in Episode 13. But the short version:
For more on all three of these reasons, head back to episode 13 and dig in.
So that’s why you should be blogging.
Today let’s talk about how you should approach writing content for your blog.
First things first: a blog post should answer a question. It doesn’t literally have to be titled with a question, though that doesn’t hurt.
The question should be specific enough that people are looking for the answer, and broad enough that you can turn it into a full-length blog post.
A while back, I did a blog post on the Evolution of Instagram. That topic is potentially HUGE - but I was answering a specific question: How has Instagram changed over the years.
-What was the score of last night’s game? A bit too specific.
-Let’s do a full annotated history of our local sports team, along with in-depth explorations of every players’ personal journey to get there, the story of the team mascot and a recap of every game they’ve played since 1945. A bit too broad.
-What can we learn about our favorite team based on their playing last night? Sweet spot!
You can write pages on that topic, without ever losing the thread of why you are writing the post - or more importantly - why someone might want to read it.
So answer a question. Specifically.
Next up: make your post easy to skim.
No matter how captivating your writing, some people are not going to be interested in pouring through every word.
User headers. And subheaders. And sub-subheaders.
Use bullet points and lists. Please LOVE lists.
Keep your sentences short.
Keep your paragraphs short.
Use formatting - like bold, italics and underline - to make it easier for your reader to know what’s the most important content in the page.
If you can, use images and graphics to help make your content flow.
The word I like to use when it comes to content written for the internet: digestable. How easily can someone digest what you are trying to impart. If it’s not easily digestable - they will just move on.
You don’t have to be a great writer to be a great blogger. You just have to break things down in a way that your audience can follow.
So answer a question and keep your content easily digestable.
If you want to connect with a wide audience, don’t assume they know… well anything!
The goal of writing for an audience is not to make yourself sound smart. It’s to make them feel smart.
Picture a real person in your head when you write (or at least when you edit) your content. You are an expert in your field (if you weren’t, you couldn’t be blogging on it!). Unless you only want to talk to other experts, don’t assume they know the lingo. Spell out acronyms for them, explain why something that seems obvious to you should matter to them. Write for them as if they don’t know what you are talking about. Because frankly, if they knew what you were talking about - they probably wouldn’t be reading your blog post!
So answer a question with easily digestible content in a way that makes your audience feel smarter.
Next up: write your blog post for Google. Or Facebook. Or Both.
What does this mean? If you want a post to do well on Google — meaning you want people to find it when they do a search on the topic — know your keywords before you start. What’s a keyword (bearing in mind a keyword can be a phrase as well)? It’s the thing someone is going to put into Google that will hopefully help them find your post!
Before I wrote my blog post on the Evolution of Instagram, I did research into which keywords people were actually searching for on the topic. Were they looking for a history of Instagram? A breakdown of how Instagram has changed? Something else altogether? They were looking for an Evolution of Instagram. So I wrote my blog post accordingly. And my blog post is now on the first page of Google when someone searches for that keyword.
How did I get it on the first page of Google? I used Evolution of Instagram as my url slug (the part after the .com in my website). I used it in my title. I worked it into my copy as often as I could without sounding redundant (if your copy sounds like it’s been “stuffed” with keywords you will be penalized by Google, not to mention by your annoyed readers!).
How did I know that this was a keyword worth optimizing for? I did research. There are loads of free and paid tools out there you can use. I like one called Ubersuggest. You can also just use Google directly - run a few searches and see what comes up. Did one query give you 20 hits and another 200,000? Well that’s good to know, isn’t it!
Not every blog post needs to be written for Google.
But if it’s not written for Google, make sure you’re writing it for Facebook!
If you don’t have to worry about people searching for your content - because it’s something timely, interesting to you and your audience but not necessarily to the world, or for any other reason, then be sure the title helps it pop.
Let’s say you’re writing a post about the ways that your industry has changed, and what it means for consumers. And, just so we can get specific, let’s say your industry is artisanal sourdough bread .
If you’re writing for Google, you might go with: How Sourdough Baking Has Changed Over The Years, or What Do I Need To Make Sourdough?
If you’re writing for Facebook, you might go with something more like: Finding the Sweet Within Your Sourdough! Or 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Sourdough… But Should!
No one is going to search for those latter titles - but they are fun and have the potential to do great on Facebook!
In this day and age, if your content isn’t written for Google OR Facebook, it’s written for no one. So pick one - or find a way to tailor it to both - and get to writing.
One last thing: folks always want to know how long their posts should be. Google likes long form content, so if you’re writing for Google, keep that in mind. That said, I prefer the following: your content should be exactly how long it needs to be and not one word longer.
You’re not doing yourself any favors adding fluff to a post. Google will see through it. So will your readers. Tell them what they need to know and let them get on with their day.
Happy blogging y’all!
Step Up your social ep. 17 — How Chewy Uses Their Customers' Darkest Moments To Build Unyielding Brand Loyalty
What do you do at the end of your customer lifecycle? Do you go above and beyond to ensure that the customer who is moving on never forgets just how much they love you?
Chewy is a pet supply company. They know their customers will have to cancel their auto-renewal products... eventually ? ? ?
But Chewy doesn't just offer canceling clients full refunds. They take their "marketing generosity" to the next level.
They don’t just want to get out of the way. They want to be a part of the family.
In this episode of Step Up Your Social, we take a look at how Chewy creates unyielding brand loyalty from their customers, even as those customers are canceling their orders.
We then give some thought to how *you* can keep your client lifecycle going, even as it seems like it might be wrapping up for the foreseeable future.
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
If you’re a pet person, you know how much joy your little furry (or scaly or feathery) friend can bring into your life.
Sure there are chores associated with having a pet: They have to be cleaned, walked, taken to the vet… did I mention the endless cleaning?! But through it all, our days are just better with a pet at our side.
Unfortunately, most pets have shorter life cycles than us pet owners.
You might enjoy your fish for a few months, your bird for years, or your dog or cat for decades. But eventually, that hard day will arrive when you have to say goodbye to them… for good.
So now grab a tissue, wipe your eyes and take off your pet owner hat and replace it with your digital marketer hat.
If you’re in the business of selling products to pet owners, this cycle can create a real challenge for you. When someone loses a pet, your customer cycle for them ends. At least for the time being.
There aren’t TOO many industries where customer service reps have to field questions from the grieving as a regular part of their job.
Selling pet products is DEFINITELY one of them.
So you know that awful day is coming for every one of your customers. What do you do?
If you’re Chewy, you use that awful day to builder deeper and more meaningful relationships with your customers.
Head to Twitter and search @chewy and the word died and you will find countless stories all getting at the same thing - my pet died. I had regular packages getting delivered from Chewy. I called to cancel and not only did they refund my money, they told me to keep the food and donate it to some other pet owner who needed it.
AND NOT ONLY THAT! Loads of people shared stories that they got flowers in the mail from Chewy expressing their condolences. I even saw people posting about Chewy sending them oil paintings of their passed pups!
To quote just one of the many tweets you’ll find when you search: “That’s all class.”
Here’s the thing - you can find these posts all over Twitter. But I first learned about this tactic from a random post in a Facebook Group.
And I can pretty well guarantee you that anytime a first-time pet-owning friend asks someone on the receiving end of Chewy’s — let’s call it “marketing generosity” -- where they should buy their pet supplies, they aren’t just going to recommend Chewy — they are going to do so empathically, as if it’s a family company.
Could Chewy simply offer full refunds and call it a day?
You might even see tweets letting you know that Chewy customer service makes it easy to cancel orders when your pet departs.
But by going from easy to compassionate, Chewy takes their relationships with their customers to another level.
They don’t just want to get out of the way. They want to be a part of the family.
On a P&L, this might seem bad for business. You are building deep bonds with someone who no longer needs your services.
But pet owners are pet owners through and through. It might be weeks or months before they get back on the horse (or kitty or puppy or chameleon). It might even be years. But they will almost certainly get another pet!
And even if they don’t, they will have friends and family members who do.
Chewy sees these regular order cancellations not as an end of their relationships, but as the start of a whole new one, one deeper and with more intimacy between them and their customer.
And it pays off for them big time - don’t believe me? Just head to Twitter or Google or reddit or Facebook and poke around! The stories are endless.
The takeaway here: wow your customers, even if they’re no longer your customers. Host free classes teaching people how to be better at something related to whatever you sell. If you ship products, make the packaging so fun people can’t help but post a picture of it on Instagram. If you’re a nonprofit and someone sends you a gift, do you send a thank you that let’s them know you appreciate them… or do you send them a letter that knocks their socks off?
The person who bought your product or donated money might never do so again. So what?! They are the people most likely to spread the word about how great you are to their networks.
Make it easy for them to do so and more importantly , give them a reason to want to!
At the end of the day, remember that you can’t just sell pet stuff. You have to be a pet person! I hope you have the same passion for whatever you are selling or advocating for online, as your typical pet owner has for their furry, four-legged friend!
Instagram has a new feature and it's a fun one!
It's called Guides and it allows you to batch posts to create compilations. For a platform notorious for keeping things "simple" (WHY can't I add links to my posts?!), this new feature is a powerful new way to take your content further.
Think Pinterest meets blogging. That's kind of where Instagram seems to be positioning Guides.
Instagram is a massive platform with a billion Daily Active Users. Understanding all the tools they have to offer is a huge step in standing out from the crowd.
So let’s take a look at how Instagram Guides work and hopefully you can get some ideas for how to use them to grow your own brand.
How To Create an instagram guide in 3 easy steps
Like I said. Easy!
There are three types of Instagram guides
The three types are Places, Products, and Posts.
The primary difference is in determining how you search for content to add to your Guide. But all three are ultimately pretty similar and none of them limit your content options.
Places lets you search locations to add content.
Products lets you search shops to add content.
Posts lets you search your own posts, as well as posts you've saved from others, to add content.
Editing each Instagram Guide type is a bit different, but they do have most basic features in common. Let’s start with Places.
Instagram Guides Types
Once you’ve started a new Places Guide, you’ll see a search bar as well as some recommended places. Choose or search for a location to see posts geotagged in that location.
Select images to add them to your guide. Don’t worry if they’re not your posts — the image will automatically link to its creators’ account.
As with all location-based searches on Instagram, you can go super specific (Wisconsin State Capitol), more general (Madison, WI) or very general (Wisconsin).
A Capitol search will only find pics tagged at the Capitol.
A Madison search might find pics tagged at the Capitol, but also posts tagged in other places throughout the city.
A Wisconsin search could find Capitol pics, Madison pics or pics from anywhere else throughout the Badger State.
Go as specific, or as general, as makes sense for you.
The Posts Guide lets you search and select from your own posts along with, possibly more importantly, your Saved Posts.
Wait, How Do I save Posts on instagram?
To save any post on Instagram, simply tap the bookmark icon located to the bottom right of the post. Doing so adds it to your Saved Posts.
To organize your Saved Posts (for Guides or in general), head to your profile and tap the hamburger menu in the top right corner of the screen. Tap Saved, and you’ll see your collections, including the default All Posts collection. Tap the plus in the top right to create a new collection. Here, you can choose posts to create a new collection of related posts. Boom — you're in business!!
I use Saved Posts as a way to find posts I want to be able to find again later. I have collections for fun gift ideas, interesting ads I see (#DigitalNerd! 🤓), pics of my cat... Saved collections are private, so think of them as a safe space to save things you want to come back to later.
It actually seems that after years of having private Saved Collections, Instagram is using Guides as a way to simply have public Saved collections as well. And I for one am here for it!
With well-organized collections, you’ll start to see how flexible Posts Guides really can be!
How Do I find Instagram Guides Once They're Published?
Once you've published your Guide, they're actually super easy to find. Just head to your homepage and navigate to the map icon directly under your profile. If you haven't yet created a Guide, you won't find the option (the same is true for IGTV and Reels).
You can also visit other people's profiles and click on their Guides the same way (if they've created any).
Want to see an example of an Instagram Guide? Here's one I made that's just pics of the Wisconsin Capitol. (Noticing a trend? I freaking love that building!)
Don’t forget, this feature is quite new as of this writing. There’s plenty to explore, and you can find your own way to use this tool uniquely.
Now... who wants to make a Guide explaining how to make Guides? Have fun and don’t forget to tag me (@jlemonsk) when you post your first Guide! I definitely want to see it!
Further Instagram Geeking Out
Want to know more about how Instagram has evolved over the years? Check out this Evolution Of Instagram I put together.
And then check out this episode of my podcast, Step Up Your Social, where I cover 10 Tricks and Hacks to Step Up Your Instagram Stories.
Ready to become an Instagram Champion? I provide private lessons to businesses, campaigns, nonprofits, solopreneurs, bands... anyone who wants to get more out of this powerful platform.
Instagram Stories currently have 500 million daily active users. Half a billion people — around one-and-a-half-Americas — use Instagram Stories every single day!
And Stories keep growing, both in their popularity and in their functionality.
So in this post, we’re going to cover some fun tricks, tips and hacks your can use to take your Instagram stories to the next level.
If you’re not already posting Instagram Stories on a regular basis, check out Episode 3 of my podcast Step Up Your Social and get caught up on what they are and why you should be using them.
That short podcast episode (all episodes of Step Up Your Social are short — ~10 minutes or less) is the 101. This post is the 202.
So let's dig in!
Instagram Stories: The basics
Instagram Stories launched in August 2016 — by October 2016 they already had 100 million daily active users!
Want a deeper dive into all the changes and added tools that have been rolled out by Instagram over the years, both for Stories and in their primary feed? Check out my Evolution of Instagram.
But needless to say, Instagram Stories is a vibrant platform and you should definitely be taking advantage of it. Here are some tips, tricks and hacks to get the most out of your Instagram Stories
How to make instagram stories
Several Ways to Create a New Story:
Since Stories have become such a successful part of the platform, Instagram has made it all but impossible to miss them when logged into the app. Users’ Stories are spread out horizontally across the top of the screen, just below the Instagram logo.
Your's is the first circle on the left. If you don’t have an active story, there will be a blue plus icon over your photo. Tap there to create a new Story. Stories last for 24 hours, so if you have made one in the past day, tapping here will show you your current story.
You can also tap the plus button at the top of your profile or home page and then select Stories from the bottom menu choices.
You can also swipe right anywhere in-app to create a new story. That's right, this is such a popular tool, Instagram — known for their obsession with simplicity — has given us numerous ways to get to the same place.
Spice it Up with Filters & Stickers
Adding filters can make an otherwise run-of-the-mill Story feel special. Take for instance this fun shot of my Turkish carpet. With a few quick taps, I can easily add some fun flair.
Once you’re on the Story creation screen, you can see a menu of filters in small circles at the bottom of the display. Tap on one, or swipe through to see different filters applied to your photo or video.
Instagram cycles through filters often, so it’s worth scanning through to see if there’s anything new. This example was taken in June, so there were a bunch of cool Pride filters. Some filters like this one have different variations, which you can see directly above the filter list.
Next, there’s the sticker library. These are meant to be placed over your content, and they’re incredibly diverse — GIFs, location, @mentions, #hashtags, donation requests, and more.
To resize or move a sticker, just use two fingers to pinch or drag it, respectively. If you change your mind, drag it to the bottom of the screen, where a trash can will appear. Poof, it’s gone!
Want a deeper dive into some of these fun sticker types? We’ll cover a few of the specific sticker types in more detail below.
Sticker Quick Tips
-Pinch and drag to resize and move stickers
-Tap on a sticker to change what it does — feel free to experiment!
-Change color of some stickers with a tap
-Add a “sound on” button sticker to let viewers know to turn up the volume
-Explore the deep GIF library to find something that fits your personality or mood
-All text is customizable — from font, alignment, size, color, and more
-Tap the squiggle to draw: change line styles & color, add arrows, erase, and undo/redo
All of these powerful and fun tool are… literally at your fingertips.
Check Your Analytics
Wondering who watched your Story and which Stories inspired actions on your account? Analytics aren't quite able to read minds, but they are definitely the next best thing.
During the 24 hours your Story is live, you’ll notice in the bottom-left of the screen “Seen by x,” so you know how many people viewed your story. Tap here to see more detailed analytics of how your Story performed.
On the analytics screen, you can see both who viewed your story and what actions they took (for example, if they skipped your story or watched the next one), Instagram will break that down for you. This can be helpful if you’re posting 20 times a day and want to know what’s connecting with your audience... and what isn't!
Ok, now that we’re all caught up with the basics, so let’s talk hacks!
1. Increase Reach With The Location StickeR
Adding a location sticker doesn’t just let your viewers know where you are, it can also potentially extend your reach beyond your current followers. How you use the location sticker is up to you.
You can be super specific — I’m at the WI capitol.
You can be a bit vague — I’m in Madison, WI.
Or you can be super vague — I’m in WI.
There are 2 reasons to use location stickers:
1) It helps people know where you are. And
2) and this is the important one, it could dramatically increase your Story’s reach.
There’s no surefire way to get one of your Stories added to a public Story* — which will definitely increase your reach — but not tagging your location guarantees that you WON’T be added to the public location’s story.
*What do I mean by public Stories? When you search for any place on Instagram, you'll find a menu of images tagged in that location. You'll also find public Stories that Instagram is highlighting to give a fuller peak at the spot you are checking out.
And here’s something cool: Instagram is smart enough to know that the WI Capitol is in Madison and that Madison is in WI. So it’s possible you’ll wind up in the public Stories for all 3 of those places. Which is the main reason why specific location tagging is better than general location tagging. But any location tagging is better than none!
Two quick notes on this — 1) not every story should be tagged by location. If you’re sharing a screenshot of one of your tweets, or posting a Game of Thrones meme that got you laughing, it’s okay to skip the location. And 2) — and this is a big one — you don’t actually have to be at a location to tag yourself there. Now of course I’m not telling you to lie to your audience. In fact I'm straight up telling you to NEVER lie to your audience. But if you took a bunch of pictures at an event last night and you we’re too busy to share them to your Stories in real time, you can post them the next day, and tag the location after the fact. Just search for the location within the search bar, select it, and voila. You’re tagged.
You can then move that sticker around, make it bigger or smaller, or tap it to get different color formatting to better fit the feel of your story.
2. Increase Reach With Hashtags
There’s a location sticker. There’s also a hashtag sticker. Use it! Just like you might be added to a public location’s Story when using the location sticker — thus increasing your potential reach — using a hashtag sets you up to potentially be added to a public hashtag’s Story.
Now on a general Instagram post, you can use up to 30 hashtags. Stories won’t let you go that far, but it will allow you to use up to 10 hashtags. The more hashtags you use, the better chance you have of getting added to public Stories.
You can only use the hashtag sticker once in a Story. But if it makes sense for you to add more, just pop on over to your text and start typing out relevant hashtags.
IF IF IF you are going to do this — and of course you don’t have to add 10 #s in every post — consider stacking and then hiding them, so that it doesn’t make your Story look... gaudy.
Create each hashtag as a new piece of text, meaning that instead of just hitting space between tags, you hit done typing out tag one, and then start new text for tag number 2 and so on.
Then, stack them. Literally put them all on top of each other. Which will look awful. But fear not. Once you've got your hashtags stacked, head back to your stickers and find yourself a sticker or GIF to stick on top of them. Then no one will see them except Instagram… which in this case is the only one who really matters!
3. Increase Reach With The Mention Sticker
There's a location and a hashtag sticker. There’s also a mention sticker. This sticker lets you tag someone(s) in your Story. This one won’t help you get into any public Stories, but it will give a public shoutout to the account(s) you are tagging, and just as important, it will send a notification to that account that you have tagged them in a Story.
As I always say — don’t talk about anyone on the internet if you wouldn’t want them to know. And talking about someone on social without tagging them is like talking to them on the phone without first dialing their number. Without it, they might accidentally come upon your post, but a tag all but ensures they see it!
Another reason to tag someone is that when you do so, they'll get the option to share your Story with their followers. So you give them a shoutout, and then they help you reach new audiences. Win-Win!
Along with hoping your community shares your posts, definitely consider sharing relevant and interesting Stories from your audience that tag you. User generated content can be an amazing way to tell your brand’s story.
And, something cool about sharing other people’s stories — it’s more like a quote tweet than a retweet. Meaning you don’t just have to share their Story as is. You essentially are sharing their Story as a sticker, so you can add your own location, mention and hashtag stickers to it as well as GIFs, text and more. Have fun with it!
The ability to share stories changed the whole concept of Instagram’s power of telling stories in real time. Take advantage of this tool, as it makes sense for you and your brand.
4. Get Engaging With StickerS
If you haven’t explored the loads of fun stickers available to you in Instagram Stories, you are missing out! Along with the ones we’ve already covered, and GIFs (which I love!), there are also some really cool engagement stickers built right into the platform.
You can use stickers to solicit questions from your audience (which you can then answer in follow up Stories), take polls, quiz your audience… there’s even a countdown clock available to you if you have an exciting event taking place and want to build some excitement.
Explore and get to engaging your audience with stickers.
5. Create Your Own StickerS
Can’t quite find the perfect sticker for your story? Don’t sweat it: you can make your own. It’s surprisingly simple to do so.
Find a photo you like. Whether it’s in your browser or saved on your phone, either will work.
In your browser, long tap the image until you see the option to save it. Once the image is saved to your photos, tap the Share button and then tap copy photo.
Now, head back to your story. The copied image should pop up in the lower left hand corner of the screen. Tap on it and bang! You’re good to go.
If you miss the pop up, don’t sweat it. Just open the keyboard, hit paste, and you’re back in business.
That was the tip—here comes the hack! You can save transparent images (.png files) like a Polaroid frame and use these as stickers too. This way, it’s easy to get really creative with a few basic building blocks. Add these in the same way you added those previous stickers, and you’re in business.
This is a super fun and interesting way to create your own content, and most importantly, to be able to do so in your own voice (and with your own colors and branding).
6. Add Any Instagram Post To Your Story
Did you know that you can add ANY public Instagram post — your own or anyone else’s — to your Stories? To do so is extremely simple: at the bottom of the post, next to the heart and comment icons, there’s a little paper airplane. Click it and you’ll see the option to “add to story.”
Click that and whatever you were looking at will appear as a sticker in your Story. When I say “whatever you were looking at,” what I mean is that if it was an album, you can only add one image, and if it’s a video, you will only be adding a screenshot of the thumbnail associated with the video.
But once you have the image in your Story, you can move it around, make it bigger or smaller and add all of the stickers, GIFs and text you want. And if you tap on the actual post, it will change the formatting from the clean image with a tag of who posted it, to an image that includes the handle and part of the post’s original text.
Here’s the coolest hack for this though — go to your GIF library and search “tap here.” You’ll have loads of options — pick one you like. Add your "tap here" sticker to your Story.
When someone taps it, they’ll get a seemingly magic option to visit the original post. Here’s the thing — they would get that option whether or not you point them to tap there. Most folks just don’t realize that it's an option to click through.
The built-in call-to-action makes it super easy to drive people from your Story to your original post (or anyone else’s). It's a big part of why more and more accounts are creating Stories from their posts. It’s a second audience you can engage around the same content, and you can potentially drive people back to the original content at the same time.
I don’t recommend doing this for every one of your posts, but definitely a helpful tool for the posts you are particularly excited about.
7. Get Creative With Color
When I am building a new Story that’s not based on a picture, I’ll sometimes just snap a photo while covering the camera so I can start with a black background. This works fine, but if you want a different color background, there’s actually a really easy way to create one.
Take any picture and then tap the pen tool. Select the first pen, pick your color of choice on the bottom and then hold your finger down on the screen. The whole background will become that color.
If you want to add a transparent color over top of one of your pictures, you can do that too. Instead of selecting the first pen, select the second one, which looks more like a marker. Choose your color, hold down and you get a transparent overlay over top of your picture.
Want to get really clever with either of these — create your solid or transparent color over top of a picture, and then use the eraser to remove color from the selected areas. That can create a very cool effect!
8. Keep The Story Going With IGTV
If you have 10k+ followers, you can link a Story to an external link. This is a very powerful tool, but one that not a lot of users actually have access to.
For those of us with less than 10,000 followers, you do still have one option for linking out from your Story — you can link it to an IGTV video that you have previously posted.
IGTV, short for Instagram TV, allows you to post longer videos then you can post within Instagram proper. On Instagram, you are limited to one minute videos, but with IGTV, you can go up to 10 minutes (some bigger accounts can even go up to an hour).
It can be a great way to repurpose videos that you created elsewhere but couldn’t post to Instagram because they were too long.
Once you have posted something to IGTV, you can link directly to the video through a Story. To do so, simply tap the link icon at the top of your story. You will then be able to select from any of your pre-published videos in IGTV. Then anyone seeing your Story can swipe up and get to your IGTV video.
Like with the “Tap Here” hack, search the GIFs library for a “Swipe Up” call-to-action. so your audience realizes that your Story is intended to take them somewhere else to continue on in the fun!
You can also share an IGTV directly to your Instagram Stories. To do so, simply select it and add it to your story like you would any public post. This will not show the entire IGTV, but will let people stream a few seconds of it and give folks an option to keep watching your full video at IGTV.
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