Friday, February 23, 2018

15 Ways to Use Snapchat for Your Business

The days of Snapchat being used solely for sending pictures between friends are over.

This social media platform has evolved. Your company can’t afford to ignore the impact that this marketing channel can have on your business.

It’s an absolute necessity if you’re focusing on Generation Z as your target market. That’s because 71% of Gen Z use Snapchat as part of their daily routine. Plus, 51% of this group use Snapchat roughly 11 times each day.

While Snapchat definitely has a reputation for being used by teens, their market penetration is starting to hit young adults and older generations as well.

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So Snapchat is a viable marketing channel if your current target market falls anywhere between the ages of 12 and 34. But keep an eye on these trends as older generations may continue adapting to this platform.

In Q4 of 2017 Snapchat hit 187 million active daily users. The platform has seen more than an 18% growth rate in terms of daily users in the last year.

There is no sign of a slow down, and I expect these marketing trends to continue in the future.

So, what exactly does this mean for your business?

It’s great news. You now have another viable marketing channel to engage with your customers.

But this may be intimidating or confusing if you’ve never used Snapchat before and don’t know how to apply it to your business.

Fortunately, you’re in luck. I’ll show you the top 15 ways to use Snapchat for your business.

1. Post to your story often

Once you’ve created a Snapchat account, you need to make sure that it’s active. So the best way to approach this is by adding content to your story on a daily basis.

Anything you post on Snapchat will disappear after 24 hours. So posting content often will keep your brand fresh in the minds of your followers.

Just don’t go overboard. Posting 20 times in one day isn’t effective.

That’s because people will just skip through your posts. Depending on how many people a user follows on Snapchat, they’ll have lots of stories to view each day.

But that doesn’t mean that they are going to watch every single post in its entirety.

According to a study conducted by Snaplytics, engagement drops by 36% once users reach the fourth snap of a story. They also discovered that roughly 80% of your followers will see your post about 4 or 5 hours after it’s been added to your story.

What does this mean for you?

Based on these numbers, I’d recommend updating your Snapchat story about three times per day, every four or five hours.

This will help keep your engagement high and prevent your followers from skipping through your content.

2. Promote your Snapchat account on other marketing channels

In order for your Snapchat strategy to be successful, you’ve got to get followers first.

Rather than trying to come up with followers out of thin air, try to target users who are following your business account on other platforms.

Look at how People Magazine uses this strategy in their Instagram bio.

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This is really important for you, especially if you just created a Snapchat account for your company. Nobody is going to know that you have an account unless you tell them.

In addition to Instagram, you can promote it on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can even work this promotion into your YouTube videos as well.

Tell your email subscribers to follow you on Snapchat and pitch it on your website too.

The more channels that you promote it on, the greater chance you’ll have of getting more followers.

3. Create a sponsored lens

People love to use Snapchat filters and lenses.

It’s estimated that sponsored filters are seen by 16 million users each day. These filters are just a way for people to take creative photos.

Snapchat has plenty of them built directly into their platform. So instead of just taking a basic selfie, users can make the image black and white, apply a filter to make their eyes abnormally large or even make their nose disappear.

Some of these filters for video snaps can even change the pitch of your voice.

All of these were created to make users have more fun. They’ll send a snap to their friends with one of these filters because it’s entertaining and often humorous.

But now businesses can create a sponsored filter as well. Gatorade used this strategy during Super Bowl 50 and it turned into one of the most successful Snapchat campaigns on record.

If you’ve ever watched the Super Bowl, you know it’s tradition for the winning coach to get Gatorade dumped on his head by the players. So Gatorade created a sponsored filter during the game that would simulate Gatorade getting dumped on the user’s head.

The filter had more than 165 million views and increased their purchase intent by 8%.

Here’s another example from Taco Bell to show you what these filters look like.

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As you can see, the filters themselves are silly, but they definitely create brand awareness and help you create engagement.

The only problem with this strategy is that it’s expensive. If you want to create a filter during a holiday or special event, such as the Super Bowl, you’ve got to be ready to dish out between $100,000 and $750,000.

That cost will keep your filter active for 24 hours. But if you can afford it, the return on your investment can be huge.

The Taco Bell filter above was viewed 224 million times. The average user spent 24 seconds playing with the lens before sharing it with friends.

4. Let social influencers takeover your account

Another great way to get more followers and increase engagement is through social proof of concept.

Celebrities and other influencers already have a steady following on social media. Take advantage of that.

If you allow someone else to takeover your Snapchat account, you can expose your brand to a much wider audience. Some of these people may not even know that your company existed until they saw an influencer talking about it.

You may need to pay for an influencer to do this unless you have some kind of other mutual agreement or common interest in whatever you’re promoting.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about from iHeartRadio.

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They allowed singer Hailee Steinfeld to takeover their account. As a result, she promoted the takeover to her fans on social media.

Hailee has over 933k followers on Twitter and more than 8 million Instagram followers. This is great brand exposure for iHeartRadio, especially because she is directly related to their industry.

That’s important for you to keep in mind as well. You may find a professional basketball player with 10 million Instagram followers, but if sports aren’t related to your industry, their followers may not be relevant to your company.

5. Feature user-generated content

Ask your followers to send you pictures and videos of them interacting with your brand or using your products.

Then you can repost this content on your Snapchat story.

A great way to encourage user-generated content is by running contests and similar promotions.

GrubHub used this strategy on Snapchat a few years back. Their campaign was a huge success.

They ran a contest called “SnapHunt,” which lasted for a week. Every day they posted a new challenge. A winner was selected for each challenge and won a $50 gift card.

During this contest, GrubHub’s followers grew by 20%. Furthermore, 30% of their followers participated in this contest.

So it’s safe to say that engagement was high.

6. Offer discounts and promo codes

Not sure what to post on your story?

When in doubt, give your followers something that they can actually use. Send out discounts and other promotional offers via Snapchat.

This strategy will also help you drive sales and increase conversions. KIND used this strategy to offer their Snapchat followers 15% off of a purchase.

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When you’re posting on Snapchat, you’ve always got to keep the overall goal of your company in mind. Don’t get distracted with all of the other bells and whistles.

You want sales.

Offering discounts is a great way to accomplish this.

7. Takeover another account

Earlier we talked about letting someone else take over your Snapchat account. But another effective strategy is taking over another account yourself.

When someone else takes over your account, you’re relying on that person’s followers to add you on Snapchat to view your content.

But when you take over an account, the audience won’t have to do anything. It will be your job to convince them that they should be following your brand.

So make sure your content is engaging.

Even if they don’t add your Snapchat account, you’ll still be able to create brand awareness with a new audience.

8. Promote a new product

Keep your followers up to date with any exciting news from your brand. A new product launch is definitely worth mentioning.

Even if your product hasn’t launched yet, you can build hype and anticipation, so consumers are ready for it when your product finally gets released.

Here’s something to take into consideration. How often do people visit your website? I’m willing to bet that the average consumer isn’t checking your website on a daily basis for any updates.

But they are checking Snapchat every day.

Just because you’re promoting a new product launch on your website, it doesn’t mean that people will see it. That’s why you’ve got to take advantage of other marketing channels.

Here’s an example of a new product promotion via Snapchat from McDonald’s.

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Try to follow their lead the next time you want to tell your followers about a new product or service.

9. Provide exclusive access

It’s obviously unreasonable to let your social media followers to just walk right into your office and check things out.

But with Snapchat, you can give them that same exclusive feeling by providing them with behind-the-scenes content. Show your followers what it’s like in your office or production facility.

If you’re at an event, take snaps of some of the action backstage.

This type of content will keep your followers engaged because it makes them feel like they are getting VIP treatment.

10. Reply to your followers

The majority of your Snapchat strategy should be focused on uploading content to your story. However, that’s not the only way to engage with your audience.

Followers may reply to your story and send you direct one-on-one messages as well.

On other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, everyone can see if you’re responding to followers or not.

But on Snapchat, only you and the person sending the message know if you’re responding. So it’s easy for companies to just shrug these off and ignore them.

Even though everyone can’t see it, you should still make an effort to reply to your followers.

Getting a personal response from a brand will make the user feel special. Ignoring their message shows them that you don’t care about what they have to say.

68% of customers say the reason why they stop using a particular brand is if they don’t think that the company cares about them.

You can easily avoid this by simply responding to those private messages.

11. Post relevant content

Your snaps shouldn’t just be mindless images of your products. You can use this platform to show your audience that your brand is aware of various topics.

You could talk about charities or any type of social awareness that your business is involved with.

Here’s an example from Dove. They used their platform to discuss self-esteem issues.

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Their Snapchat story featured interviews with 30 women and various psychologists. They wanted to have an open discussion about self-esteem issues to help women enhance their own self-images.

As a result, the campaign had more than 130,000 views.

Just make sure that you tread carefully when you’re approaching something like this. It’s best for businesses to say away from issues involving race, religion, politics, and other controversial topics.

12. Promote an upcoming event

If your company is hosting or attending some kind of meeting or event, tell your audience about it.

Depending on what kind of event it is, you could even try to get your followers to come and show their support.

67% of people are more likely to purchase tickets to an event after watching a similar event on a live video stream.

While Snapchat technically isn’t live video, it’s pretty close. So you can figure that the percentage of people interested in the event will be similar.

13. Drive traffic to your website

Snapchat recently introduced a new feature that allows you to add links to your story. To do this, simply take a photo or video using their camera as you normally would.

Then click the paperclip icon before adding it to your story.

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Now you can add a link to your post. Users will have access to the link if they follow the prompt at the bottom of your story advising them to “swipe up.”

This is a great way to increase your website traffic.

14. Inform your followers about an important milestone

Keep your Snapchat audience informed about important dates for your company.

Is it your 10th anniversary? Is it your CEO’s birthday?

You can even talk about other milestones like getting your 10,000th follower on a certain social media platform.

All of these are great excuses to post on Snapchat. It’s a nice break from the same boring posts that get shared on a daily basis.

15. Mix it up

This piggybacks off of my last point. You don’t want your content to be boring.

Lots of the tips that we’ve discussed so far are definitely useful and should be applied to your Snapchat marketing strategy. But with that said, don’t just pick one or two and use the same ones every day.

You’ve got to keep things interesting.

If your followers aren’t entertained, then they’ll stop following you. Once that happens, it won’t be easy for you to market to those people again.

You can avoid this by keeping your content fresh.

Conclusion

Snapchat is growing in popularity. If your company doesn’t have a Snapchat account, you need to create one ASAP.

But once your account is active, you need to get followers and keep them engaged.

Overall, you want to make sure that your Snapchat marketing strategy makes your business better. In addition to creating brand awareness, you want to drive sales as well.

Whether Snapchat is new for you, or you’re just looking for a fresh insight to spice up your existing Snapchat marketing campaign, the tips that I’ve outlined above are a great place to start.

Use this guide as a reference for increasing engagement on Snapchat.

What tactics are you using to connect with your followers on Snapchat?



from Quick Sprout http://ift.tt/2ENAqvm

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

10 Under the Radar Tactics to Persuade Your Audience to Take Action

To be a successful marketer, you need to come up with ways to engage with your audience.

The goal of every marketing campaign should be to get people to complete a specific action. Some examples of these actions might be:

  • generating a sale
  • getting users to download something
  • adding new subscribers
  • creating social proof of concept
  • driving traffic to a specific landing page

You know what you want your audience to do, but things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes these people need a little extra convincing.

That’s totally OK. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have high conversion rates right now or if you need a boost in sales.

There is always room for improvement. That’s what inspired me to create this guide.

I want to share with you how you can use persuasion tactics to convince your audience to do something. As a result, you’ll get higher conversions and ultimately increase your profits.

These are the top 10 tactics that can be used to persuade your audience.  

1. Be willing to accept criticism

While it may not initially seem like it, accepting criticism is a valid method of persuasion. You’re not always right. People know that.

If you’re carrying yourself as though every word you write and speak is never wrong, your audience may think you’re arrogant. As a result, they will be less likely to take action.

Instead, show your audience you’re reasonable and open-minded by accepting feedback and criticism.

Here’s an example from a blog post written by Ben Labay at ConversionXL:

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One of the readers wrote a comment that disagreed with some of the points made in the article. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Some people are afraid to enable comments on their blog posts because they fear criticism. I always welcome comments and respond to them even if I don’t always see eye-to-eye with the writer.

Make sure you digest the opposite side of every argument. You may even realize the other person has valid points.

Now you can spin that criticism and re-position your argument with a positive angle that entices the person to take a specific action.

Live video streaming is another great platform to utilize for this purpose. You can converse with your audience in real time through these channels and have a discussion.

After watching a branded video, 64% of consumers are likely to make a purchase.

Furthermore, 46% of users complete an action after viewing a video advertisement.

Use this information in your marketing campaign. Next time you’re writing a post or streaming a live video, be more receptive to opposing opinions, and leverage that position to persuade your audience.

2. Find ways to get your audience to agree with you

On the other hand, it’s always better if your audience agrees with you. It just involves less work on your end.

But if you’re starting from a clean slate, the first thing you need to do is get people to start nodding their heads.

Make obvious claims or statements they’ll agree with.

Here’s a great example from an article written by Ian Blair at BuildFire:

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Ian’s persuasion is set up perfectly in the first few lines. These opening statements get the reader nodding their head right off the bat.

  • mobile apps are growing in popularity

  • the development process needs to be optimized

  • it takes a long time and lots of effort to launch an app

Anyone reading the above statements would agree with all of them. Now that the reader is in agreement, Ian offers a solution in the third line.

And the audience is hooked. They’ll continue reading and follow the advice to take specific actions.

This tactic isn’t limited to blogging. You can do this when you’re speaking to someone in person as well.

For example, a car salesman may set up a pitch for a certain vehicle by discussing the rising cost of gas. In the very next breath, they’ll show the consumer a hybrid vehicle with great gas mileage.

It’s a simple technique, but it’s extremely underrated. Try to implement this into your marketing strategy.

3. Show them actual evidence

Telling people something isn’t always enough to convince them. This is especially true if they don’t know you personally.

While your closest friends and family members know you wouldn’t lie to them, consumers may be skeptical.

So you’ll need to show evidence to back up your claims.

For example, you could tell your audience people like to use Facebook to get their news. But does that really mean anything if you don’t have any proof?

It’s much more effective to say,

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 67% of adults in the United States use social media platforms to get news.

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Show graphs or other data sources as a visual reference for your claims as well. If you’ve been following my blogs for a while, you know I use this technique all the time.

Visual evidence can have a remarkable impact on someone’s ability to retain information.

When information is communicated orally, the listener is only likely to remember 10% of what they heard three days later. But if images are paired with that data, 65% of the information is retained three days later.

You want your audience to take a specific action, but they may not do it right away. Give them some time.

Visual evidence will keep your persuasive voice in their minds even days after they consumed your content.

4. Limit their choices

If you’re trying to get people to buy a product or make a selection, limit their choices.

Marketers make this mistake all the time. They think offering hundreds of choices will appeal to a wider audience, leading to more sales.

The reality is, it has the opposite effect.

One of the best examples of this concept is referred to as the “Jam Study.” Here’s what researchers discovered.

A grocery store had a display table with 24 different types of jam. The table attracted 60% of people shopping in the store.

On average, each shopper sampled 2 flavors of jam, but only 3% of shoppers actually made a purchase.

On a different day in that same grocery store, a smaller display table offered 6 different jams. This time, 40% of shoppers were attracted to this display.

While people still sampled an average only 2 flavors, 30% of shoppers purchased jam.

When consumers had fewer choices, they were 10 times more likely to buy something. It’s known as the paradox of choice.

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People are indecisive. Giving them too many options will overwhelm them. They can’t make a decision, so they end up getting nothing.

Consumers are also more likely to feel buyer’s remorse if you offer too many options.

They will constantly second-guess their choices and may end up having a negative perception of your brand. Obviously, you don’t want this to happen.

If you’re trying to persuade someone to choose something, narrow down their options, and you’ll have higher conversion rates.

5. Know what your audience wants

It’s important to make sure you know your audience so that you can properly persuade them to do something.

You should know what platforms they are using and how to distribute content to the right audience. For example, research shows that men are more responsive to email, but women respond better to face-to-face interactions.

Find ways to captivate your audience and get their attention. This will make it easier for you to get them to do something.

Let’s say you have a broad target audience of men. What gets their attention? If ads for men’s products include photos and videos of attractive women, it definitely grabs their attention.

6. Focus on repetition

Just because your marketing campaign didn’t work the first time doesn’t mean you should completely trash it. Sometimes it takes a couple of attempts to persuade your audience.

Here’s an interesting psychological concept that shows the importance and relevance of repetition.

Studies show that in a group setting, if one person in the group repeats an opinion, others are more likely to see it as a representation of the entire group.

Still don’t think repetition is important? Let’s see what you think of the following phrases:

  • Just do it
  • I’m lovin’ it
  • 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance

As you know, those aren’t just random words. Those are recognizable company slogans. I don’t even have to say the names of those companies.

You knew exactly what I was referring to because these slogans have been repeated enough times to become familiar.

Are you experiencing shopping cart abandonment on your ecommerce website? Use the concept of repetition to remind the consumer about your products.

Here’s an email that Office Max sent out after items were left in a shopper’s cart:

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This reminder improves your chances of persuading the recipient to finalize the purchase.

7. Be clear rather than ambiguous

Get right to the point.

Don’t speak in tongues or in terms unclear to your audience. It’s shady and can make you appear untrustworthy.

If you’re constantly talking in circles, you will confuse people and could make them think you’re trying to trick them or fool them. Don’t be deceptive.

Ambiguous sales techniques are not effective. All it’s going to do is raise the guard of your audience, and they won’t want to follow your advice.

8. Learn how to tell a great story

Rather than just telling someone to take a specific action, you can entice them to do that by telling a captivating story.

The story could even be about a personal experience.

92% of consumers say they want advertisements from brands to feel like a story.

Your stories should trigger an emotional response from your audience. Make sure you’re telling a story they can relate to.

Stories can be shared through multiple distribution channels, such as blogs, social media platforms, or your YouTube channel.

You can even tell stories if you’re speaking to a crowd to keep them engaged.

It’s an effective sales technique. Take a look at this example from the Nutrisystem website:

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They display success stories of people who have lost weight using their products. After hearing these stories, their audience is more likely to be persuaded to try the product.

This also relates back to a tactic we discussed earlier about showing evidence.

Saying your products can make someone lose weight is much different than showing them actual people who were able to lose weight.

9. Control your body language

Body language says a lot about a person. Look around the next time you’re out in public. It’s easy to tell what kind of mood someone is in just by looking at them.

Something as simple as smiling or laughing can show that someone is happy. But slouching and staring at the ground are both typical signs of being upset.

This may not be applicable if you’re blogging, but you need to be aware of this whenever your audience can see you.

If you’re trying to persuade someone to do something, you should mirror their body language. Psychologically, this strategy helps you establish a rapport with your audience.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to make a sale.

If the consumer scratches their nose, you should do the same. When they cross their legs, you should cross yours. When they lean forward, you need to lean forward as well.

Get it?

Just don’t be obvious. Remember, you’re mirroring them, not mimicking them. These subtle actions can make the consumer trust you more, allowing you to convince them to do something.

Another body language trick is known as The Sullivan Nod.

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Whenever you’re making a point or creating a sales pitch, you should subtlety nod three times when you’re talking about whatever you’re persuading your audience to do.

So for example, let’s say you’re doing a video review of a few products. When you get to the review of the product you’re trying to sell, nod your head when you’re talking about it.

Studies show this technique can have a 60% success rate.

10. Speak confidently

Confidence goes a long way. If you sound unsure, your audience will pick up on this right away.

How can they believe you if you don’t even believe what you’re saying?

So relax and speak as if you’re an expert. Speak with authority.

You should also speak fast. I’m not saying you should mumble or speak so fast that you can’t be heard. But speaking at a faster pace makes it more difficult for your audience to pinpoint any flaws in your argument.

If they don’t have anything to disagree with, they’re more likely to be persuaded.

Conclusion

Being persuasive is a great skill to have as a marketer, but it’s also something you can use in your everyday life.

The techniques I’ve outlined above can help you in every scenario imaginable.

You’ll be able to persuade people through your blog, website, and social media platforms. You can even use these tactics to persuade someone in a face-to-face conversation.

Some of these tips can be applied to a setting where you are a guest speaker in front of a large audience as well.

Keep these under the radar tactics in mind the next time you’re trying to persuade your audience to take action. You’ll be able to do this with success.

What persuasion tactics are you using to convince your customers to do what you want?



from Quick Sprout http://ift.tt/2ohMLh2

Monday, February 19, 2018

How to Create an Engaging Facebook Cover Photo

By now I’m sure you know how important it is to have an active presence on social media.

You’ve been posting more often and trying to engage with your followers. This is great, but you need to make sure you’re not overlooking the small stuff.

Often, I see business pages with cover photos that look like they were created without much thought.

This is a huge mistake.

Your cover photo is the first thing your audience sees when they view your Facebook page. First impressions can make or break the public perception of your page, which is why you need to put some time and effort into your cover photo.

Incorporating the right visual elements into your marketing strategy is important. You need to look at your Facebook page as a marketing channel.

Marketers recognize the importance of this. That’s why 74% of marketing experts use images and other visuals to enhance their social media marketing strategies.

Furthermore, 37% of marketers named visual content as the most important marketing channel for their businesses.

Creating more engaging content and coming up with visual content is a top priority for B2B marketers:

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If you’re trying to improve your visual content, your Facebook cover photo is the most logical place to start.

That’s because Facebook has over 2 billion active monthly users. This user base is growing at roughly 17% every year.

No matter what industry you’re in or what your company does, it’s safe to say your target market is active on Facebook. Now, it’s time for you to reach them.

I’ll show you exactly what you need to do to create a Facebook cover photo that engages with your followers.

Know your audience

The first thing you need to do is understand who is following you on Facebook. You may think you already have some idea because you’re assuming your Facebook audience is the same as your existing customer base.

However, this isn’t always the case, and you need to find out for sure.

How do you go about this? Facebook has awesome analytics tools built right into their platform. If you’ve never used them before, here’s how you can find out who is following your page.

Step #1: Navigate to the “Insights” tab on your homepage

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If you’re used to regular Facebook profile homepages, you’re probably not familiar with this tool. Business pages and fan pages have more options than personal profile pages have.

You’ll notice a row of tabs at the top of your screen. Select Insights to continue.

Step #2: Select the “People” option toward the bottom left corner of the Insights menu

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Your Insight menu has lots of options. You can check out various actions on the page and manage videos, events, page views, and more.

One of those choices is the “People” menu. Select that to get one step closer to seeing your audience.

Step #3: Click on the “Your Fans” tab

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Now you’ve got complete access to everyone who likes your page. You can view the numbers for these demographics based on categories like:

  • gender
  • location
  • primary language

You can use this information to come up with a cover photo that speaks to your primary audience.

For example, let’s say you discover that 85% of your fans are female, 80% of your followers speak Italian, and 75% of your fans are between the ages of 45 and 55.

If that’s the case, you should probably create a cover photo that speaks to a middle-aged Italian woman. Simple, right?

This information can definitely guide you in the right direction, but make sure you take it with a grain of salt. The data probably won’t be 100% accurate.

People lie on Facebook. In fact, research shows that more than 75% of people have lied in their social media profiles.

That said, this shouldn’t drastically skew your results. It’s still a good indication of your primary audience.

Simplicity is effective

I’ve explained in the past why websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates. The same concept can be applied to your Facebook page.

Don’t overwhelm your followers. Your image should be clear and simple. If you try to fit 20 different elements into one picture, your message will be lost.

Instead, try to come up with a clear point of focus. Your audience’s eyes should be drawn to just one element so they don’t get overwhelmed.

Here’s a great example from the Acura Facebook page:

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Acura has an entire fleet of vehicles. They sell a variety of sedans, sports cars, luxury vehicles, and SUVs. But notice that their cover photo is very simple.

Instead of bombarding their followers with 20 different cars in one image, they selected one. It speaks volumes and makes the audience think.

What is so special about this car? If you click on the photo, you’ll learn that it’s a new prototype of the Acura RDX.

Users would be less likely to click to find out more if there were many cars in the picture.

This is also related to the paradox of choice phenomenon. The more choices you give someone, the lower your conversion rates will be.

That’s why simplicity converts.

Let’s take a look at another well-known brand to see how they approach their cover photo.

Adidas is recognized across the globe. They sell clothing, shoes, and sporting equipment. Their customer base is men and women of all ages, who participate in a wide range of sports.

How can they come up with a simple cover photo that encompasses all these elements?

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They don’t even try, which is a smart approach. If they tried to include every sport in one picture, it wouldn’t be very effective.

In this instance, they decided to pitch their soccer cleats. It could be related to part of their overall marketing campaign.

Or maybe they used analytics to determine that the majority of their fans live in areas where soccer is the most popular sport. It might even be a combination of multiple factors.

Regardless of their reason, Adidas made the smart decision to keep things simple.

If their marketing goals change, I’m sure their cover photo will be adjusted accordingly. But I’ll discuss this idea in greater detail shortly.

Make sure you follow Facebook’s guidelines

Regardless of how you decide to approach your Facebook cover photo, it needs to follow the Facebook Cover Photo Guidelines.

Facebook is pretty strict when it comes to their rules and regulations. It’s imperative your photo abides by these guidelines, or you’ll have problems.

The last thing you want to happen is to have your account suspended for a breach of their rules. That will crush your social media marketing campaign and defeat the purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish here.

I’ll quickly summarize what you need to know.

Your image should be unique and relevant to your page. For example, if you’ve got a restaurant, an appropriate image would be something on your menu.

Cover photos must be properly sized. Here are those dimensions:

  • at least 400 pixels wide by 150 pixels tall
  • 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall for smartphones
  • 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall for computer screens

Your cover photo will load as fast as possible if it’s an SRBG JPG file that’s less than 100 kilobytes, 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall.

If you need help resizing your photo to meet these standards, you can use photo-editing software such as PicMonkey:

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Facebook’s rules also state that your photo can’t mislead or deceive your audience. The image also can’t infringe on someone else’s copyright.

Your photo can’t encourage or promote users to tag themselves or their friends either. It’s prohibited to tell your followers to upload your cover photo to their timelines.

Make sure you review all the Facebook Page Terms to ensure you’re not in violation of any policies.

Change it up

Don’t be boring.

Just because you came up with an awesome cover photo that fits everything I’ve talked about so far doesn’t mean you should use it for the rest of eternity.

Changing your cover photo will help keep your audience engaged. Think back to some of the examples we looked at earlier.

Acura isn’t going to promote that one car forever. Adidas won’t be promoting soccer cleats all year either.

Your photo should change based on the goals of your company and overall marketing campaign.

Try to include highly relevant images based on the season or current events. For example, you could have a red, white, and blue themed cover photo around the 4th of July.  Or maybe use an image with a pumpkin and witch close to Halloween.

Check out this example from Bose. They do a great job of accomplishing exactly what I’m referring to:

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With NFL season coming to a close, Bose changed their Facebook cover photo so that it’s related to the Super Bowl. This image is perfect for this time of year, but it wouldn’t be as effective in May or June.

If you don’t update your cover photo regularly, your followers may think you’re not monitoring your page.

Your cover photo should represent the overall image of your company

What’s the goal or mission of your company? Your cover photo should tell that story.

If your company works with charitable organizations or helps people in need, use an image reflecting that.

Again, first impressions matter. The first thing people see on your Facebook page should tell them what you stand for.

Your cover photo should also try to entice people to follow your page:

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Try to create brand awareness through your cover photo. If your followers like and comment on it, the image will appear on the timelines of their friends as well.

This increases the exposure of your company and improves your chances of getting more followers.

Conclusion

Your social media marketing campaign isn’t complete without an effective and engaging Facebook cover photo.

Don’t rush. Take your time and come up with something unique.

Your cover photo needs to speak directly to your audience. Use the insights feature on Facebook to find out who follows your page. Tailor your image toward those people.

Keep it simple. Your company does a lot, but your photo doesn’t need to encompass it all. Pick one theme and go with it. You can always change it later.

Make sure your photo follows Facebook’s guidelines. Otherwise, your account could get suspended.

Whatever you decide to do, keep in mind your cover photo should reflect the overall image of your company.

Follow these tips, and you’ll get more engagement with your audience on Facebook.

What kind of Facebook cover photo do you use?



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Friday, February 16, 2018

11 Ways to Increase Conversions for Your Ecommerce Store

Ecommerce platforms rely on sales to survive. If you operate one of these websites, you know how important sales are for your business.

Whether you sell products exclusively online or have an ecommerce site in addition to your brick and mortar store, you need high conversion rates to be successful.

What do you do when your sales plateau and your conversions drop?

You need to analyze your website. What you’ve been doing in the past may have worked, but it’s imperative for you to constantly optimize and improve your ecommerce store.

After reviewing your site, you might realize certain elements are killing your conversions.

Fortunately, you’re in luck. If you want to improve your conversion rates and generate more sales, all you need to do is make some changes.

Through research and my personal experience consulting businesses, I’ve identified and outlined the top ways to increase ecommerce conversions.

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Simplify your website

Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.

Depending on your company, you might have hundreds or even thousands of products for sale on your website. But trying to cram all of those products onto one page is ineffective, and it’s crushing your conversions.

Clutter overwhelms the customers. Instead, focus on your top selling products or items with the highest profit margins.

Let’s look at a globally recognized brand as an example. Here’s Apple’s homepage:

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When in doubt, it’s always a great idea to look at successful companies as examples. Apple is an industry leader, and their website is about as simple as it gets.

Think about the number of different products they offer. They have all kinds of different desktop computers, laptops, phones, and other electric accessories, not to mention the digital products like software and music.

If they tried to fit everything they sell on their homepage, it would be an absolute mess.

Instead, they promote one product and have a navigation bar at the top of the screen that lists different categories.

This makes it really easy for shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple reported $52.6 billion in revenue— a 12% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. It’s safe to say they don’t have a problem with conversion rates.

2. Use high quality images

One of the most difficult parts of online shopping is the lack of direct access to the products shoppers consider buying. They rely on photos to get an accurate idea of their options.

It’s up to you to make sure you have lots of high quality pictures for every product.

You should have a photograph from every angle. Zoom in on features. Have pictures of models using or wearing what you’re selling.

This will make it much easier for shoppers to make a decision.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about from the Nike website:

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They’ve got six different pictures of just one white hoodie. If you click on the other colors for this product, you’ll see even more photos.

I realize this takes time. It’s not necessarily the easiest process to take half a dozen photos of everything you’re selling.

But in the long run, it’s well worth it. Now shoppers know exactly what this product looks like from every angle. They’re more likely to buy it if it fits their needs.

3. Include a detailed product description

In addition to photos, you’ll want to thoroughly describe what you’re selling. With items like clothing, it’s usually self-explanatory.

However, if you’re selling electronics or something that has a bit of a learning curve, an accurate and detailed product description could help you close the sale.

Think of it like this. If a customer were to walk into a physical store, there would be employees to answer questions and help explain how different products work.

Shoppers don’t have that luxury when they browse online. It’s your job to make sure they aren’t confused about a product.

Even if you’re selling something simple, such as a t-shirt, point out how it differs from others. Does it keep you cool when it’s hot? Does it keep you warm when it’s cold?

These are things that can’t be determined from a photo alone.

Check out how Amazon accomplishes this with one of their TV wall mounts:

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Just like companies in our previous two examples, Amazon is another industry leader across the globe. They know how to sell products online.

While the photos are helpful, the description really helps the consumers.

It explains which kinds of TVs this mount is compatible with as far as size and weight are concerned. The description also covers the various mounting patterns based on what kind of TV you have.

Without the description, you wouldn’t know how far off the wall the mount comes or how close to the wall you can push it.

Not everyone is an expert in mounting televisions. The majority of people probably never have to do this. And unless you install home theater equipment for a living, it’s probably not something you’ll do more than a few times in your life.

For a unique and somewhat niche product like this, accurate descriptions can really help drive the sale.

4. Show video demonstrations

This element takes our last point a step further. Instead of telling the consumer what your product does and how it works, show them.

If you haven’t been using video content to increase sales, you need to start right away.

Why?

Well, for starters, 64% of people are more likely to complete an online purchase after watching a video about a product. Furthermore, 90% of consumers say that videos help them make a buying decision.

Consumers want videos, so give them what they want. Thule recognizes this. That’s why they include videos with all their products on their website.

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The video is super helpful. It gives the consumer way more information than they could get from just a photo and a description.

In this example, the customers learn how to properly fold and assemble the stroller for transportation and easy storage. The video also shows how to safely secure a child in the seat.

It’s an effective way to give your website visitors a more accurate description of the product. They can see it being used instead of just reading about it and looking at pictures.

5. Offer easily accessible customer service

As I briefly mentioned earlier, there’s nobody there to assist the consumer when they’re shopping online, unlike in a physical store.

Do your best to replicate that customer service experience. You may have photos, videos, and a great description, but customers will still have questions.

Make sure you give them several options to reach a customer service representative:

  • phone
  • live chat
  • email

Offer as many options as possible so each customer can contact your company based on their personal preference.

You also need to have support ready at all hours. As an ecommerce platform, I know you’re aware that customers all over the world have access to your website 24 hours a day.

Let’s play out a scenario. A customer is interested in one of your products but has a few simple questions. They try to contact customer support but don’t get an answer.

They won’t complete the purchase process. But if their questions get answered right away, your conversion rates will improve.

6. Don’t surprise your customers with extra fees

Consumers are sensitive to price. You have to be upfront and totally transparent with the prices on your website.

The customer expects to see the same price for the same product on all pages, including in their shopping cart.

Adding hidden charges, taxes, and shipping fees will crush your conversions.

Look at the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:

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Extra costs are the number one reason why consumers abandon their shopping carts.

Look, I realize you’ve got to pay sales tax and shipping isn’t free. But rather than surprising the customer when they check out, include those costs in the original price.

You’ll still get paid enough to make a profit, and the customer won’t be surprised with extra fees. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.

Plus, it will reduce cart abandonment and improve your conversion rates.

7. Send shopping cart abandonment emails

Let’s continue with our last point. While you can certainly do things to improve your shopping cart abandonment rates, some customers still won’t always complete their purchases.

You can’t ignore this.

Someone was just a click or two away from buying something on your website. They identified what they wanted and added it to their cart.

It’s going to be much easier to try to get this customer to convert than to find a new customer.

This person is already familiar with your brand and obviously interested in at least one of your products. Sometimes they just need a bit of extra motivation to complete the sale.

Send out a shopping cart abandonment email to remind the consumer of your products. Here’s an example from Oakley:

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This product will still be fresh in the customer’s mind—they just left it in their shopping cart. They wanted it, but for one reason or another, it just didn’t happen.

Receiving this email could be enough to trigger an impulse buy.

8. Include all your contact information

On top of providing customer service, you should have as much information as possible about your company available on your website.

Clearly display your:

  • address
  • phone numbers
  • fax
  • email

If this information isn’t on your site, it could appear sketchy. Customers may think you’re not a reputable company.

What if they have a problem with their order? If your contact information isn’t available, how will they get their issue resolved?

That uncertainty could prevent people from buying things on your website.

9. Run promotions

As I said earlier when talking about extra fees and costs, consumers are price-sensitive. It’s important to be aware of this.

One way to get people to convert more on your ecommerce site is by running promotions. Offer sales, discounts, or other special offers that sound enticing.

It just needs to be worth it. For example, if you’re offering a 5% discount on orders over $200, it’s not going to make anybody rush to make a purchase.

But on the other hand, if you’re offering 25% off everything on your website, it will boost your conversions.

Just make sure you have all your numbers worked out. You don’t want to slash prices so low that you’re not turning a profit with each sale.

The best way to go about this is by jacking up your prices initially, then constantly running sales.

Check out all of these different promotions on the Macy’s website:

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They have some discounts as high as 50% off. This is a great way to drive sales.

Just make sure you’re careful with this strategy. Once you start offering discounts and promotions, customers may be less likely to buy things at full price. They’ll just wait until the next time you run a sale.

If you’re going to incorporate discounts, markdowns, and other promotional offers into your ecommerce marketing campaign, be prepared to do it often.

10. Accept as many payment options as possible

I realize some credit card companies charge you higher fees than others. But that’s no reason to exclude those payment options from your website.

You can’t assume every customer visiting your website has a Visa card. You need to accept all major credit cards, including Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.

Even if they have a card you accept, it doesn’t mean they want to use it. They might have better benefits or a lower balance on a different card.

You should also take alternative forms of payment, such as PayPal, Venmo, or Apple Pay.

Offering more options increases the chances of the customer being able to pay with their preferred card or method.

It’s also important that the checkout process is completely secure. That way your customers feel safe about entering their credit card information.

11. Recommend products to enhance the shopping experience

If your site is using cookies to track browsing behavior, you can recommend products to your customers based on what they like. Use their previous order history as well to personalize recommendations.

This shows the consumer you care. Their browsing experience is different from everyone else’s.

Here’s an example from Bed Bath & Beyond:

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You can also try to upsell to your customers when they add something to their shopping carts. For example, if they buy a pair of headphones, you can recommend a carrying case for them.

Again, it reflects their personal experience. This strategy works.

Research shows that 49% of consumers said they bought something they weren’t initially planning on purchasing after seeing a personalized recommendation.

Conclusion

Whether your business is brand new or has been around for a while, there is always room for improvement.

You can make simple modifications to your ecommerce website to get more conversions.

These 11 tips are the best place for you to start. Refer back to the examples and the data I showed you for guidance.

I’m not saying you need to implement all of these strategies overnight. In fact, you may even have a couple of these in place already.

But over time, you need to optimize your ecommerce website if you want to get as many sales as possible.

Follow these tips, and I’m sure you’ll see an improvement.

What elements of your ecommerce website have you changed to increase your conversion rates?



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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Top 15 Apps to Edit Your Instagram Photos and Videos Like a Pro

By now I’m sure you realize how important Instagram is for your business.

Every day your audience gets bombarded with many different pictures and videos showing up on their timelines. That’s why I’ve told you in the past that you need to write captions that drive engagement.

But nobody will read your captions if the image doesn’t capture their attention. They’ll just keep mindlessly scrolling past your post.

I’ve seen some companies hire experts in photography to help them put out better Instagram posts.

While I can applaud the effort, I also think it’s a complete waste of money. You can take your own photos without hiring a professional.

Now you can use that extra cash and apply it to other aspects of your business to focus on the newest marketing trends.

Instagram has tools allowing you to edit your photos and videos directly on their platform. Those might be okay for the average person, but your business should avoid them.

Why?

It’s all about standing out from the crowd.

All of the 800 million monthly active Instagram users have access to those editing tools. If you’re using them too, your posts will look like everyone else’s.

There are other apps available that can help make your photos stand out. But there are thousands of them out there, so it’s tough to figure out which ones are most useful.

That’s why I’ve taken the time to share with you the best 15 apps for photo and video editing. These will help you take your Instagram posts to the next level.

I’ll go through all of my favorites and show you some of the key features of each one.

1. Afterlight 2

If you’re looking for unique filters, Afterlight 2 has a huge collection of old school and vintage ones available. These are definitely an upgrade from filters that come standard with Instagram.

They also have some really cool effects and designs that allow you to add text and other typography to your images:

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You can even put part of your text behind elements within your photo. This feature is perfect for businesses.

Now you can capture the attention of your followers by layering a catchy headline directly over your image as opposed to just writing a caption. This is a great opportunity for you to do something like:

  • advertise a sale
  • promote a new product
  • build hype for an event
  • run a contest
  • get more followers
  • draw attention to a link in your bio

You can download Afterlight 2 for $2.99, and that’s all you’ll ever pay for this app. They don’t have any other in-app upgrades or additional charges to access their best features.

2. Snapseed

Snapseed takes your editing effects to a whole new level. You can apply effects and filters to specific areas of your image with high precision:

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They’ve got a really cool editing feature called a perspective tool. This helps you automatically adjust or correct any skewed lines in your images.

Let’s face it, a picture taken by hand won’t be 100% perfect. You might think your horizon is level or buildings are lined up properly, but that’s rarely the case.

That’s when the perspective tool can make your photos look professional.

What’s the best part about Snapseed? It’s free. It’s definitely worth checking out since there’s no risk involved.

3. Aviary Photo Editor

Aviary Photo Editor is an Adobe product. If you’ve used Adobe software and were happy with the experience, you should give this Photo Editor a try:

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The editing tools on Aviary allow you to saturate colors within your photos as well as soften or sharpen areas for an effect.

Aviary also has a large collection of frames, stickers, and other overlays to embellish your images. You can even hand-draw captions across the pictures.

I like to use Aviary because of the features allowing me to fine-tune my images. With just a couple of clicks, you can eliminate blemishes or brighten shadows to make your images more lively.

Aviary saves your images to the cloud. If you have an Adobe ID, you can access your images from anywhere and edit them from any device.

This feature comes in handy if you’re taking and editing images as a team. Everything can be stored in one place.

4. Vintagio

For those of you who want to add a vintage feel to your videos, Vintagio has what you need, as the name suggests.

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If you’ve got a fashion company or ecommerce store that sells clothing, this app can be useful for promoting products from bygone eras.

If you want your video to appear to be from a certain time period, their video filters can match the style of that time. That way, it’s clear to your audience that the setting of your video is not supposed to be the present day.

You can also trim and piece together different video clips with this app.

And you can change the video quality of your clips if you want to create something that looks like it’s from the 1950s.

Vintagio has great soundtracks from different eras as well. You can adjust the speed and timing and add other effects to your clips too.

Combining all these elements together will help you make a unique Instagram video.

5. Average Camera Pro

The name says it all. Average Camera Pro was created to help regular people edit photos like professionals.

Unlike other apps that just edit photos, Average Camera Pro has a built-in camera function. You can use it to take multiple pictures at the same time or set a timer for the photos.

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You’d find these tools on high-quality and expensive cameras. But you can have them on your phone for just $0.99.

This camera function works best if you want to take pictures in low-light settings. Since you’re increasing the exposure time, you’ll get brighter pictures that would normally appear dark on a regular phone camera.

Sometimes when you try to brighten a really dark photo, the editing looks obvious in your final image.

But you won’t have to worry about that if you take the pictures with Average Camera Pro.

6. TiltShift

TiltShift is great for bringing focus to a specific area of an outdoor scene. So if you’ve got a business with a physical storefront, you can use this app to bring your location to life.

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The effect makes your image appear as if it’s a miniature. Instagram has a tilt-shift feature built into their editing tools, but this one is far more advanced.

If you take lots of landscapes or other outdoor photos, this app is worth getting for just $1.99.

7. Superimpose

Do you want to change the background of a picture you took? Instagram doesn’t have any tools for that, so you’ll need to get the Superimpose app.

Superimpose lets you remove the background from an image.

Then, you can combine it with another picture. This is awesome from an advertising perspective.

Want to take an exotic beach photo without leaving your office?

No problem.

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Check out these creative images above. Superimpose allows you to blend images together or even change an image into something unrealistic, such as a fish with the head of a chicken.

Using Superimpose  as part of your arsenal of photo editing tools will make your brand stand out on Instagram. You can create images that are fun, exciting, and imaginative.

Plus, their software creates a smooth final product that’s believable. Your pictures won’t have that unprofessional crop and paste feel to them.

It’s only $1.99 to download. In no time at all, you’ll be uploading new photos to Instagram that will get your followers talking.

8. 8mm Vintage Camera

The 8mm Vintage Camera is great for shooting and editing longer videos. Now that Instagram lets you upload videos that are up to a minute long, this app is perfect for you.

You can get really cool video effects such as:

  • light leaks
  • scratches
  • flames flickering
  • dust

All of these can make your videos feel more authentic.

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8mm Vintage Camera was even used in the filming of an Oscar-nominated movie.

If a professional director can use this app to get on the red carpet, you can certainly use it to edit your Instagram videos. It’s available for download for just $1.99 with some additional premium themes available as in-app purchases.

9. CrossProcess

If you love adding filters to your photos but are sick and tired of using the same ones, it’s time for an upgrade. CrossProcess has over 70 filters.

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I’ve seen many businesses on Instagram using the same one or two filters over and over again.

It’s boring.

Your followers will realize pretty quickly you’re not being very original. Once this happens, they may start ignoring your posts. Or even worse, they could unfollow you.

If they aren’t following you, you won’t be able to keep them informed of other promotional information that drives engagement and gets conversions.

You can prevent this from happening by simply spicing up your photos with new filters available from CrossProcess.

10. PicFrame

Instagram allows you to upload multiple photos to one post. The only problem is you have to rely on your followers to scroll through each one.

This is not always the case.

If you want to combine multiple photos into one image, you can do it by creating a collage with PicFrame:

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One of the coolest parts of this app is you can apply different filters and effects to each image within your collage as opposed to having one tone across the entire picture. That way, they can all be unique and stand out from each other.

You can also adjust the color and design patterns of your frames with this app.

If you really want to enhance your collage, PicFrame has lots of bonus features like stickers, shapes, text, and even music.

I think it’s worth the $2.99 price tag.

11. Facetune 2

If the majority of your Instagram photos contain people as opposed to just products or landscapes, you need to consider Facetune 2.

Nobody is perfect. Sometimes, we get blemishes, breakouts, or acne. After a long night of tossing and turning, everyone gets bags under their eyes.

But these imperfections shouldn’t discourage you from posing for a photo.

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This app can make photos of people more flattering. Sometimes, all it takes is a slight adjustment to the lighting.

Facetune 2 also has specific filters designed for selfies. Sometimes the front-facing camera on our phones doesn’t take the best pictures, so just apply one of the filters to make up for it.

With a few easy steps, you can easily:

  • whiten teeth
  • change eye color
  • remove wrinkles
  • eliminate shine on oily skin
  • make dull skin appear vibrant

The Facetune 2 app is completely free, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t at least try it.

12. Tiny Planet Photos and Video

Tiny Planet lets you take images and videos with a fisheye lens effect.

This effect creates the appearance of a “tiny planet”—hence, the name.

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Have you checked Instagram today? How many photos have you seen so far that look like this?

I’m willing to bet you haven’t seen any. I know I haven’t.

Get this app if you want to create images that are fun. The circular and warped photos this app creates can also be used as background images on phones, computers, or other devices.

You can suggest that to your followers.

13. Quick

Quick has really cool fonts that you can add to your photos.

They simplified the photo editing process with this app. Quick advertises that it’s designed to be used with “just a thumb.” So you won’t need to get on your computer or do anything too fancy to get great photos.

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You can send your edited image straight to Instagram or other social media platforms directly from the app.

As you can see from the example above, their text overlay features are great for captioning a photo or listing a price for something on your ecommerce store.

14. DXP FREE

The whole purpose of the DXP FREE app is to create multiple exposures on one image.

As a result, your pictures will stand out. Check out these examples:

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Instagram doesn’t offer such tools.

This app does require a little bit of patience and precision. You’ll need to understand the concepts of blending, or you might get a bit frustrated when you’re trying to edit.

But like with anything else, the more you use it, the easier it’ll get. Just as the name says, it’s free to download.

15. Tangent

Tangent lets you add patterns, textures, and geometric shapes to your images.

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It’s another way to let your creative juices flow.

It also has some features that allow you to add framing overlays to your photos.

Tangent gives you an opportunity to express yourself. If your company has an audience that recognizes art and creativity, you’ll definitely want to use Tangent to impress your Instagram followers.

Conclusion

To captivate your Instagram followers, you’ll need to make sure your photos and videos are edited properly. That doesn’t mean you have to hire a professional editor.

There are plenty of apps available that are really easy for anyone to use. Lots of these are free of charge or only cost a couple of dollars, so they are worth a try.

Everyone with an Instagram account has access to the same filters and editing tools.

Editing your photos with another app can separate your pictures from the crowd. If you’re not sure where to find the best apps, refer to this list as a guideline.

All of these apps are unique and offer different features depending on what you’re looking for, such as collages, text overlays, face touch-ups, or vintage themes.

What types of camera effects do you like to use when you’re editing photos and videos on Instagram?



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