Boost your agency’s online presence with visual content-based social networks
Marketing is changing the way businesses connect to their audience, and many businesses and agencies use social media as a part of their marketing strategies. While it is commonplace for agencies to have a professional presence on Facebook or LinkedIn, few agencies use Pinterest or Instagram. If your agency isn’t using these networks, your voice could be going unheard.
Instead of chasing potential clients, use networks like Pinterest and Instagram to make it easy for consumers to come to you.
Society operates at an increasingly faster pace, and most people comprehend visuals more quickly than written content. This means it’s important to capture users’ attention within the first couple of seconds of exposure to your agency’s content. Pinterest and Instagram rely heavily on visual content, unlike other social networks that house a mixture of media. Additionally, both of these networks use communities to organize their content. This is critical if you want to target specific demographics or interests and associate your brand with certain personas.
Pinterest uses pins and boards to store and organize content, while Instagram uses a combination of likes and hashtags.
Both of these social networks are more frequently visited at night, whereas other networks are more commonly visited during the day. You may be skeptical about joining these networks because they’re not active during traditional business hours. Nothing about Pinterest or Instagram, however, can be described as traditional.
Pinterest is like a digital scrapbook; users can collect findings related to a topic on boards they’ve created, such as “Delicious Recipes” or “Classic Cars,” and pin the related content to the board. When a new board is created, it can be placed into a category like food and drink, education, design, travel, technology—the list goes on. Pinterest houses a variety of user-generated media, including content from the original user, shared content from different sites, and repinned media from other users.
You can add other members on Pinterest to collaborate with you on a board, meaning another person can add content to your board at any time if you like.
It’s important to add fresh content to your Pinterest board frequently and consistently. Doing so generates greater engagement by your followers because they receive updates every time you add content to your board.
Pinterest’s algorithms set home feeds to be based on what an individual posts, what he or she pins, and whom he or she follows. Not only will users see updates from other profiles they follow, but also they’ll see content from boards and users they don’t currently follow. Instagram has a similar algorithm, displaying updates from followed profiles on a user’s personal feed, while a user’s home feed will display posts related to his or her interests based on likes and searches.
Pinterest and Instagram may not have the serious, polished look of a business-focused network like LinkedIn, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for professional purposes. These networks give you an opportunity to show the different values of your brand, as well as create an impactful presence among different communities. Traditional advertising often asserts a stagnant and generic statement of competition and consumerism, but this kind of advertising is slowly dying. Many people have become overwhelmed by the fast-paced retail world; and with brands trying to push products or services on them, many are looking in the opposite direction.
For instance, posting a photo of a home-cooked meal may not fit traditional standards, but it sure does convey a personal message. It says that your agency is genuine, that it cares about the same things as the average user, and that the user doesn’t have to purchase something to enjoy content. Clients respond more favorably to content that actually connects to their interests, rather than content that screams “Buy our product now!”
That’s not to say that selling your services isn’t important; it just doesn’t always have to be the top priority each day. It’s much easier to sell something when people feel a personal connection to your brand. Instead of chasing potential clients, use networks like Pinterest and Instagram to make it easy for consumers to come to you.
Pinterest provides free analytics, and the data can drive improvement in your agency. Our agency uses a service for Pinterest called Tailwind, a platform that allows us to schedule pins for set times and have them automatically push out at the selected times without our having to be at our computer or phone. We schedule 15 pins Monday through Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and it sure has made a difference. In fact, this past year our Pinterest page received over 2 million views, which is incredible considering we’re a small agency in a fairly small town. No matter how small your agency may be, with the power of visual media you can outperform the honchos.
Instagram uses a grouping system like Pinterest but bases its content groupings on hashtags rather than pre-created boards. This means it’s important to understand relevant or trending tags related to a post. Not only does Instagram share and store content based on these tags, but also time is a key factor in what’s being seen. For example, Instagram’s algorithm allows recently posted and top-liked media to be shown first in the home feed. This is great when you’re a new user who’s just starting out because you can gain a huge level of engagement. Note, however, that the first couple of minutes of a post are critical for engagement. Timing, tagging, and visual design are critically important on this network. Although optimal times vary from day to day, the posts that perform best on Instagram gain traction in the evening and late-night hours. This is because of the younger demographic on this network and because users want to relax and unwind after work. Peak times on Instagram are between 8:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.; there’s also a surge from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
If you create a business profile on Instagram, you’ll receive analytics similar to those available on Pinterest. It’s a free service, which means it’s free ROI for your agency. Instagram analytics allows you to see how much engagement a post received, the times and days it was most effective, and who interacted with it.
With the integration of Instagram and Facebook, agencies now can share sponsored content, and Instagram is a great place to do it. Instagram has an excellent advertising plan, because sponsored content is kept native to the site, so posts look like normal user-generated content. Because the design is kept native, users aren’t interrupted in their normal feed. Interrupted media, or content that distracts users from their original task online, often discourages viewers from viewing sponsored ads or interacting with them. That said, sponsored content is becoming a huge part of Instagram, and users generally are responding positively. Marketers can share sponsored content in three media: photo, video, and carousel (multiple images that users can slide left to view).
Pinterest is another great platform you can use to increase your agency’s online visibility. While logged into your business Pinterest profile, in the upper left-hand corner you’ll see a button that says “ads.” After you click it, Pinterest will walk you through a step-by-step process to create your own ads, and the possibilities are endless. First you select the objective of the ad you’re creating, then you choose a target audience based on demographics and interests, and finally you decide on your budget. Overall, sponsored content on Pinterest is incredibly effective because this social network’s users are 60% more likely to make a purchase online than those on other social media platforms.
Pinterest and Instagram are two of the most effective means to share content, and I strongly encourage you to use them. The networks are there for anyone to use and engage with, so why wouldn’t you put your agency’s voice on these networks, too? n
Chris Paradiso, CPIA, is president of Paradiso Financial & Insurance Services, headquartered in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. His agency won PIA National’s Excellence in Social Media Award in 2013. He also heads up Paradiso Presents, LLC, which provides social media consulting, seminars and workshops to help agencies thrive in the online marketing world. Contact Chris via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.