This week Instagram finally added a feature I've been hoping for ages would come into effect.
One thing that has become as common as a mobile phone number has got to be an email address. It is a rarity to hear someone say they don't have email, just the same as if they said "I don't own a mobile phone" and it is why you need to be compiling a list.
Often a potential customer will provide an email address willingly before they sign-up to pay for your product or service so they can start to get a feel for what your business is all about and they may have had you recommended by a friend who has used your business, maybe they heard you have previously offered discounts or special offers and they are waiting for you to repeat this offer.
So you owe it to current customers and potential alike to keep a contact database and consistently reach out to them with updates. It can be as simple as a monthly email newsletter and it really doesn't need to be long. You can even build a yearly calendar and do some of the leg-work early or even repeat it. e.g.
January - Welcome to X Year from all of us at (company)
February - Could your business target Valentines Day or special offer?
March - Easter Holiday offers
and so on...
Think about Holidays in each month that suit your business offering and/or client needs. What about your yearly specials like a stocktake clearance or spring cleaning, closing for holidays or other important dates. Set email dates for these and if necessary, alarms in your calendar to finalise messaging.
Then think about opportunities to collect email addresses like on your website and social media - Facebook can add a mailchimp signup tab for instance.
We recommend using mailchimp. It is a brilliant free service is you have a small list, but they also have some incredible paid functions like automated emailing, so you can spend a little time at first planning these out and then set-and-forget like: email offer to new subscribers say after 60 days with a special offer code and thank you message for being a subscriber. Or you could set up an automation for anyone that clicks on specific links indicating an interest in certain areas of the business, it could be a series of information based communications. What you ideally want is a range of content that you can repeat across platforms.
Remember that this email list is a list of people that have indicated an interest in your business. They are your customers so think of ways you can reward and excite them with offers from your business. It's a win win situation.
To be perfectly honest, I'm a little bit excited about the changes. For those of you that have been living under a digital rock, Instagram has announced that it will be changing the feed from 100% chronological to something more suggestive like "stuff you missed but probably want to see" and will probably look a lot like Twitter in terms of showing the latest few tweets, then "while you were away" - a collection of the most likely tweets that you'd enjoy - then more chronological.
Why are they doing this?
Well, Instagram has started to mature and the way people are using the platform has changed dramatically in the past few years, we most probably follow a couple of hundred more people than we used to and interact with profiles in a vastly different manner. So it makes sense to make sure the best posts all get seen.
Also, the fact that Instagram is a modern advertising platform - think Newspapers (remember those print things that we used to read) - so it makes money from advertising. Thus, it needs to make sure that there is good reason for people to invest in advertising on their platform. I saw one page (a small business) having a whinge across platforms on Twitter about the changes saying something like "Don't they realise their customers don't want this?" and it stuck with me, really it is the catalyst for this post since my response was basically "you aren't their customer! You are just a consumer, unless you are advertising". I feel a sense of irony in a small business complaining about another business changing to suit their customers (advertisers) when they'd been catching a free ride for years selling their own wares.
Why shouldn't you tell people to click 'Turn on Notifications'?
This feature has been around for ages, potentially since the beginning. I know I noticed it about twelve months ago and clicked on it for a page and the first time that page posted an image and I got a notification, well, I clicked again to turn it off. To be honest, every time I looked at that profile afterwards I was slightly annoyed and the first bad post, I clicked unfollow. Sure, I might be a little more vicious when it comes to my flood line for this kind of thing, but I am more than confident that for all the people that turned on notifications for business profiles, a huge percentage of those are going to turn them back off and/or simply unfollow to get rid of the notifications. Of those that stay, as soon as that business starts posting rubbish "sell" type posts they are gone too. Worse, many of them will simply stop using the app all together and that is bad for everyone.
- Changes to the feed are good
- Great content will rise to the top
- Don't tell people to 'Turn on Notifications
- Stop thinking Social Media platforms are here for users - they are advertising platforms!