How Companies Can Use Social Media To Attract Top Talent

Pretty much every company that is present on social media uses their presence there to achieve a few things. First and foremost, they use it to share news on their company and products/services, treating social media as another marketing channel. There are also those who provide some customer support via social media or who simply build stronger connections with their customers.

One thing that not that many companies do, and they should, is doing employer marketing online; or, in other words, attracting top talent through social media.

The Growing Importance of Employer Branding

Employer branding, in the formal sense, has been around for not that long. While companies have been looking for ways to attract the top talent in their fields since forever, it wasn’t until the 1990s that it was introduced as a concept as such – promoting a company from a standpoint of an attractive employer.

In the last ten years, it has truly become a big thing in HR and business in general, for a number of reasons. First of all, there are certain fields where there is a definite shortage of talent, especially top talent. These include app development, data science and cloud computing, just to name a few. Too many companies are struggling for experts in these fields.

Also, the employees’ loyalties have undergone a dramatic shift over the last 10 years, as is discussed very comprehensively in this article from Wharton’s website. The true cost of employee turnover has also become better appreciated by the decision-makers and all together, this has led to a certain growing importance of employer branding.

Which, as we have mentioned, can also be done on social media these days.

Where To Start?

Like always, it is best to start from the top. What this means when it comes to employer branding and social media is to sit back, take a deep breath and honestly and subjectively survey the company.

There are no two companies or business that are alike. There are no two local burger joints that are the same. There are no two B2B business software development companies that are the same. Every company has its quirks, its insecurities, its good sides and its bad sides.

This will give you an insight into what kind of an image you will be sending out to your prospective new hires. For example, if your company is not exactly the pinnacle of innovation, you will probably not be comparing it to Apple. Or, if you know that your salaries could be bigger, you will probably not advertise lavish signing bonuses and salaries that make people’s eyes water.

The next step is to come up with a strategy that you will stick to, a strategy with very clearly determined goals, avenues of pursuing those goals, fail-safes in case avenues are not working out, as well as everything team-related (someone will be working on it).

Put A Friendly Face Forward

The basis of all employer marketing is that you put a friendly face forward. No one wants to work for a gloomy, ominous company with dark offices and buttoned-up bosses, even though it might actually be the best place in the world to work.

People want bright now. They want every office to look like Google’s offices. It all has to be airy, breezy, friendly. And people should wear plaid shirts. Preferably with yellow and orange colors featuring prominently.

But all joking aside, your social media presence has to be candidate-friendly. This means only jokey Tweets, cheerful photos from the breakroom and the coolest Instagram videos you can imagine. Also, don’t forget about hashtags that show off your company knows what is going on in the world.

One word of warning, and this applies to HR in general, not just employer branding, please do not overdo the fun.

Feature Your Employees. Heavily.

Perhaps even more importantly, make sure that your present employees get every chance to shine on social media.

Whenever someone does something great, make sure all of your followers know about it. If there has been a major breakthrough, create a short video that you will post on your YouTube channel. Let your employees do a separate part of your company blog where they write about their experience with the company.

The best thing is that your employees will not mind it. People like to brag about where they work and they will be happy to show they are better off than their friends. Even if you make it part of the regular employee scheduling, they will not mind saying a good thing or two about their work and their company.

This will also increase the chances of your company story reaching new people as your employees will naturally share stuff like this. Their friends and family too.

Another way to feature your employees is to ask them to share new job ads and openings on their private social media profiles. You might even encourage them to do it with some tokens of appreciation such as a day off for the person who gets in the most candidates.

Be Proud of Your Expertise

One of the things that most attracts employees today is a company where they will be able to learn and improve their own skills. In order to do so, your company will also want to paint itself as an employer where interesting things always happen and where no day is like another.

Make sure to publish interesting and expert content from time to time and also make sure to promote this on the social media. If one of your employees gets a new degree or comes up with something on their own, promote this on social media.

There is nothing that puts people off nowadays more than the prospect of working for a company where they will only be punching the clock. Make sure that your company is as far from that as possible.

Instead of a Closing Word

To wrap things up and to provide you with a few ideas from companies that have started using social media to recruit new great talent, check out this story from Cisco or this one from Microsoft. Sure, these are some really big players with insanely well-financed HR and marketing departments, but there is plenty there that any company can apply.

AUTHOR: James D. Burbank is the editor-in-chief at BizzMarkBlog, a business-oriented blog. He is also a huge NBA fan.

History of SEO Part 1: Link Trading Era 2001-2006

I have seen a bunch of “History of SEO” posts floating around the internet and whenever I read them, I usually laugh and think that it’s obvious this writer is a newbie. I thought I should write something about what this industry was really like… for real.

Human nature dictates that people tend to be reciprocal in actions. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours or maybe you pick and eat lice off my back and I’ll do the same for you if you want to go back to primates.

You see this today demonstrated all over the internet:

  • You follow me on Twitter I’ll follow you back
  • You like my posts on Instagram, I look for one of your images to like back (probably not your kid’s pictures because that is creepy).

I mean everywhere, this is prevalent.

monkey-flea-picking-16-600x450

This used to be super popular on the web, even before the days of social media. In SEO it was known as trading links. At one point the Google guidelines told people to trade links with similar sites as a way of promoting their sites. This was before the advent of the no-follow link condoms that are popular today.

2001 SEO Landscape

When I first started doing SEO in 2001 there wasn’t as much info being shared on how to do it. People were not trying to make a name for themselves by sharing lots of technical info on SEO.  Spreading disinformation was more par for the course. These where the days of Jill Whalan and Doug Heil. There was a forum ironically called ihelpyou, which was my first stop on trying to learn SEO.  There is a whole post’s worth of funny observations about that forum but that would be a whole other article.

There was a whole continuous drama at this point which was primarily created by “white hat” SEOs calling out “black hat” SEOs. The whole thing seems pretty humorous this many years later. It was like the current guru thing that has become big, but instead of becoming noticed by giving out actionable information, it was about mostly just calling other people “spammers” and filing reports on your competitors to Google (did that ever work?).

images

Google Wanted Links

Anyway, I pretty quickly deduced that Google wanted lots of links with keywords in them, and that it had no idea if they were relevant and they didn’t seem to care.  I came to this conclusion by trying to do what the big “white hats” of the time said to do and basically getting my ass handed to me. Instead I went and copied what the top sites were doing and also I copied what We Build Pages was doing (you might know them as internetmarketingninjas now). They were located right by my home town, and I knew they made stuff rank.

I started slowly and cautiously, since I was working on clients’ sites at the time, because I had not made the shift in mindset from web designer to affiliate marketer. I was still looking at SEO as an upsell to web design, not my bread and butter.  I traded links with similar sites and saw small bumps in rankings.

This tapered off though because I would run out of similar sites. So then came the sort-of related trades. I would trade links with a business that complemented the client site, or which was close by location.  This worked too. Then it started getting more loose.

You also did not need any software to check a site’s backlinks at the time you just put a link:whateverdomain.com into the search engines and it would report the links.

Some Clients Want You to Push the Limits

Contrary to popular belief, not all clients want you to play it safe (this was also in the early 2000s). Google had not got all crazy with penalties yet. You also saw almost immediate changes with link building. This was almost instant positive reinforcement.  Some of my clients said push it. I let it rip.

I would trade hundreds of links by hand and they would take top positions. They were paying me peanuts but I had no idea. I found networks of hotel affiliates with 50 to a hundred different location EMDs and I could trade links with all of them in one shot. You would just cut and paste the HTML for all their links, then fill out a form with your link info and bam you had a bunch of links. (EMDs = Exact Match Domains).

It was awesome. This was before multiple links from the same server where being discounted and this rush of backlinks was like sucker punching the competition with brass knuckles. Then it dawned on me, why don’t I have a bunch of hotel sites, too. So I signed up for a hotel affiliate program and started buying up EMDs for small cities + “hotels”. I also got an Adsense account.

At this time I was still sort of thinking that I wanted to be a web designer, and since I was constantly testing everything, I made a test of link relevance. I traded links with all these hotel affiliates on my web design website. Suddenly I was number 1 for “my city” + web design” and top ten for “my state + web design”. So much for link relevance.

Emailing Was Way Too Time Consuming

In the early days when everyone was running around emailing each other for links, it was very time consuming.

The official “White Hat” way of trading links was to do this.

  1. Add the person’s links somewhere on your site.
  2. Send them a polite email, saying something like “Your site is a great resource. Look: I linked to it, would you link back to me pretty please?”
  3. Wait and hope they responded.

You would spend a bunch of time trying to get a response, and even when you did they would want you to put their link up and once they verified by your site or page was up to whatever standards they had made up in their head, would your link get put up. If they remembered to do it.

So you would often have to go and check repeatedly to see if they did it, and if they didn’t you would take their link down.

I Had To Speed It Up

Now I had to think of a way to automate this process, and I was not alone in this thinking. This is about the time that the various link trading software packages started springing up, the king of which was Linksmanager and its partner site Linkpartners.

Linksmanger is no longer functioning and there is only a page where the owner is saying why he is pissed at Google

linksmanager-com-goodbye-world-for-now

How Linksmanager Worked

Keep in mind this is before anyone was using CMS. Websites were static html or if you have any knowledge you were building sites using server side includes.

Linkpartners was a directory where you could register your site and and then request link trades with other webmasters.  You would choose your category and say if wanted to swap with anybody or people in your own category. There was always like 10 times as many people in the gambling category as its closest competitor (LOL).

The Free version gave you email notifications with cut and paste snippets to put links up on your site.  If you paid ($20 a month) you got access to the Linksmanager software. This would manage your link trades for you. It would generate links pages with your server side includes for formatting and you could hook it up via FTP to your server. It was the “Hot Lunch” of link trading at the time.

Link Market and Link Metro

There was also its cheaper counterpart Linkmarket and Link Metro. Link Metro seems to have disappeared off the internet but Linkmarket still seems to exist. Not only does Link Market still exist it still LOOKS THE SAME! AWESOME.

link-market-link-exchange-directory

Basically these services worked like Linkpartners: you registered your site and then requested links from other people. Link Market would generate cut and paste snippets with 10 links each to cut and paste to your website. I remember there was no rhyme or reason to the snippets, and links weren’t categorized or anything. You would just end up with huge lists of links.

In addition to these services, I wrote my own link exchange script. I liked what I saw the hotel affiliates doing and decided to improve on it.

Deadbeat Linkers

As link trading got hugely popular of course there were webmasters who would try to take advantage.

There was a whole culture developed around this, and of course there was what I had called “deadbeat” linkers. These were people who would put your link up for a minute while you checked and then take it down, and rip you off essentially. The deadbeat linkers still exist, they are now the people who follow you on social media, like a few of your posts and once you follow them back, they wait a bit and unfollow you and hope you don’t notice.

Made my Own Software and Started Building a List

So when you were looking for links, if you found a site where your links where posted instantly it was a great find. So I set up a form that not only allowed you to trade a bunch of links at once but also checked your link back and if it existed added your link to my sites instantly.

People loved it.  I also started collecting emails and created the Lake View Studios link exchange newsletter, which was also a big hit. I would send out an email periodically when I had new sites that people could trade links with automatically.

It was awesome: new site, boom 20 to 30 new unique links. Site was indexed and usually appeared in the rankings within a couple weeks. There was a slow trickle as all the webmasters on the list came up with new websites and added them. If I needed more links I could just turn to the link trading systems like Linksmanger.

Adsense was still paying very good per click for almost any subject. Adding links was like guaranteed increases in Google rankings. It was like printing money.

I Needed More Links Faster

I needed more links even faster and I could not do it myself, so I started paying my girlfriend to sit around the house and trade links all day. That was still not enough. So I started hiring more people.

I had this friend from when I was growing up, this guy was a party animal but was actually really smart.  His name was “the Russo”, like he would introduce himself just like that. I hired him to trade links all day too. He would wander around South Beach Miami.  He would party all night, and then wake up wherever with his laptop and connect to various wi-fi hot spots logging into Linksmanger and trading links all day.

At this point I really put the hammer on my personal site. Why stop at ranking for “my state + web design”  why not just rank for “web design” and be done with it? We hammered my homepage, threw every link we could at it. It never really ranked for “web design”. It was like top 20, but it was like top 5 for “website design”, “website optimization”, “flash web design, “website marketing”… the list went on and on and the phone calls just kept coming.

I couldn’t design the sites fast enough and half the people online where super bargain shoppers so it didn’t make sense to have me do that work. I hired this guy from Poland to make the sites. That’s was an ok business but why focus on that when the SEO affiliate route seemed way more lucrative.  I started turning away SEO clients, it made no sense to help them rank, when I could just rank my own sites and just keep all the profit.

Of course sometimes the amount I could earn as an affiliate or Adsensee publisher was way less then a real business, but you cut out all the social interaction: the sales, the supports calls, the questions, and the eventually complaints when an update made their rankings go down.  I would just rank my own Adsense sites and if the rankings fell or if it turned out way more difficult then was expected, I would just ditch them. Take whatever loss and move on to the next websites.

I developed an attitude and had no patience with web design prospects. I kind of let that aspect of the business go. Looking back that was really stupid.

It Came Crashing Down

I don’t really have an exact date or Google update, but it was sometime in 2006. The thing is unlike many of the more recent Google smack-downs,. It was like in general, traded links were just devalued to some degree.

The egregious violators like myself got their sites totally knocked in the rankings but under a certain threshold traded links still seem to have value. In fact I still see older sites that rank with many traded links in their backlink profiles. I haven’t studied them that deeply to see whether they still have the recip link on their site.

It didn’t look good for me and my little crew of link traders but something else was on the horizon and if trading links were like a set of brass knuckles then this was like a backpack nuke. It was called the Digital Point Co-Op Link network.

The 2 Essentials for Making Your WordPress Website Load Faster

If your website is slow-loading, then you’re losing visitors hand over fist.  What many website owners don’t realize is that even though WordPress has created a revolution in DIY websites, they don’t do much to prevent unsuspecting newbies from creating sites that load like it’s 1999 when we were all using dial up.

Yes, that premium WordPress theme you have looks great, but when you try to stick numerous 2 mb photos you took with your fancy new phone, you might just be bringing the whole thing to a grindingly slow halt.

Here are the two most important things you should do to lighten up your site so it loads faster.

1.  Reduce Your Image File Size

Of course one main source of website bloat has always been images.  We all want fancy, beautiful images to grace our websites, but if you’re not careful they can be the prime reason your website loads slower than most visitors are willing to wait around for.

Reducing your image file size is the first place to start, especially if you’re using a new WordPress themes which features any of the following:

  • Parallax backgrounds
  • Hero images
  • Header sliders

Also consider your blog post feature images, which can line up on your blog home page like a parade of heavy, slow buffaloes and take eons to download.

But you chose smaller sizes when you inserted those images into your post, right?  Doesn’t that reduce the image file size?  Not always.

Here’s what trips up lots of website owners…

Some WordPress themes will stick a full-size image where really all that’s called for is a tiny image.  But the image is small!  you say.  Not quite, and here’s why.

The displayed image might be tiny, but unless you’ve fixed things, when someone visitors your site, it is first loading the full-size image, then shrinking it on the spot to display it smaller.  Total waste of resources.

There are two ways to handle the image problem in WordPress.

You have a choice in how to reduce your image sizes.  You can use photo editing software (pre-upload), or you can enlist the services of a plugin (post-upload).  Personally, I prefer the first method.  Both give the same result, which is exporting your original (heavy) image into a lesser quality (lightweight) image.

But I don’t want bad quality images that look grainy!

Nope, I didn’t say you had to re-export your images into bad quality images.  I recommended “lesser quality”.  Trust me, you won’t be able to tell the difference between a quality measure of 99 and one of 80.  You’ll be cutting the weight down significantly, but not the perceived quality.

This image weighs a gargantuan 460 KBs when exported at a quality rating of 99.  If I turn the rating down to a quality of 75, I can’t really tell the difference and now the weight is down to 72.9 KBs!

For further reading on the image optimization, I recommend this article which covers everything from how to choose the right image format, downsizing the resolution, and compares different online tools and WordPress plugins currently available for reducing image file size.

Let's see how many MBs when can load on there!

Let’s see how many MBs when can load on there!

2.  Cache Your Site

Images aren’t the only things that slow down your website’s load time.  Your website can be large (because of images) or it can also be complex (because of scripts).

Another reason to cache your site.

Shared hosting will suspend your account if your website uses too many resources.  Scripts that constantly run to the database to create portions of your website aren’t necessarily bad, but once you get a lot of fancy plugins going, that’s a lot of script-grabbing taxing the database.

Plus, once you add lots of traffic to the scene, you’re really dealing with a major slowdown in load time.

JS files are now literally heavier than entire websites used to be.

Modern websites almost always have some javascript on them. For a while, that wasn’t the case, but now JS is back in full force and everybody’s using it.

The problem?  A Javascript file may literally be bigger than an entire website was 10 years ago.

Back in the day, the general rule of thumb was you weren’t supposed to use images that were more than 30-70 KBs.  You also weren’t supposed to make websites that were more than 800 pixels wide, and each page was to be no more than 100 KBs.

Now javascript files are like 100 KBs each, and sometimes there are like 5 javascripts on one page!  Plus plugins!  And plugins use javascript too, so you can imagine how ginormous fancy websites are these days.

So, what do cache plugins do, exactly?

Cache plugins will create a text version of your website.  Instead of calls to database, and having to run all the functions in the PHP script to generate the pages, it’s taking the output of all that and creates a static file of the final HTML.  Then all it needs to do is serve up that one static file whenever someone visits your site.

Cache plugins also put your site on a diet, trimming the fat in several ways to make it lighter so it loads faster.  Here are some of those ways:

  • Minify.  This means stripping the white space out of your javascript and CSS to make those files smaller.  This includes tabs, comments, spaces, and new lines in the CSS files.
  • Grouping of files.  Will combine several script files into one, making it possible to have fewer http requests.  Also does this for CSS files.
  • Packs JavaScript scripts.  

The bottom line.

Examine your photos, and cache your site, that’s really it.  To test the results of your efforts, use tools.pingdom.com or the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to see how fast your website actually loads.  Keep tweaking until you get the speed you need.

5 Statements to Live By When Using Social Media to Attract New Clients

Believe it or not, you can actually get leads from social media!

5 things you should know about using social media to generate leads and attract new clients.

As a business owner, you hopefully you know the important role social media can play when it comes to marketing your business.  However, it can be hard for business owners to keep up, much less stay ahead of the curve when dealing with how social media works.  Let’s face it the average business owner is giant flail when it comes to social media.

That’s because social media changes quickly and dramatically- what’s hot this year may be the MySpace of the next.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t find clients on social media.

Follow these guidelines for attracting new clients using social media … they’re general enough so they apply to any platform, no matter how hot it may or may not be this year.

1.  Don’t be afraid to branch out. But actually do something too.

You might have a Facebook page and think you’re done with social media.  But if that’s your approach to digital marketing, you are missing out on a lot of potential clients for your business.

Since the idea is to be generating leads and finding new customers, it makes sense to branch out beyond just one social media platform.  If you’re on Facebook, consider Twitter too.

Branching out doesn’t mean just sign up, put two posts and then add the link to the list of social media icons that came with your website template.

It actually means being active, and putting some time in.

This guy's followers are not real!

This guy’s followers are not real!

2.  People judge you by your social media accounts.

Whenever I am checking out a new business I found on online, I can’t help but clicking their social media links and judging them. I’m not sure what they are trying to tell me by showing they signed up for Twitter five years ago, and tweeted a handful of times FIVE YEARS ago and have done nothing ever since. I mean it’s great you got a free link to your website but why tell people about it.

If you are serious about leveraging social media, get a few platforms and actually do something once you’re there.

Here are a few more platforms to consider:

  • Pinterest.  Pinterest, as you may well know, is picture-driven.  It’s always been a wonderful source of inspiration for home decorators and wedding planners, but did you know it’s much more than that now?  All sorts of businesses (including B2B) are making connections on Pinterest…connections that may result in new customers.
  • Instagram.  Instagram is not what many business people think.  That’s to say, it’s not just a place for 20-somethings to show off details of their lives to their friends.  Like Pinterest, Instagram is where many business connections are now being made, including B2B.  Since you can’t post links and because it’s all about the photos, there is, however, a special way to do business marketing on Instagram.
  • LinkedIn.  LinkedIn gets the short end of the stick when it comes to reputation and potential as well.  It’s much more than an online resume site now.  With the introduction of Pulse, there’s more content creation going on these days: more sharing, and more commenting than before.  Businesses are finding LinkedIn to be a very rich source of connections, leads, and potential clients.

3.  You need to be proactive.

The biggest mistake that businesses make with social media is simply signing up and doing nothing.  The internet is littered with a million examples of this.

Don’t be scared to re-post great content that’s from your competitors,  if it’s relevant and valuable to your followers (and of course you hope they do the same with your content).

4.  You need to create.

You will see a rush of engagement when you re-post something great.  YOU need to be creating something like that too.

When you post original, valuable content to your social media, that’s when you really start to see a return on investment for your efforts.  Don’t forget: your potential clients are examining your feed (that’s what you post from day to day) and when they see lots of effort put into publishing original, creative content that makes you look authoritative, caring, helpful or whatever makes you look good, then they’ll form a better opinion of your business.

They’ll also share what they like, effectively broadcasting your business message to all their followers too.

5.  It’s important not to lose sight of your brand identity.

Another mistake business owners make – and this is common even among the heavy hitters in every industry – is they lose sight of who they are the minute they log into their social media accounts.

If your business branding involves marketing your services or product to high-end clients who are willing to pay a premium for a top-notch product with customer service that goes above and beyond, you probably shouldn’t be on Instagram posting pictures from the infamous “Girls in Yoga Pants” website, or joke pictures from their sister site, “People of Walmart”.  The latest cringe worthy thing has been posting photos made with the face swapping app on a business account.

With everything you post on social media, you should have first and foremost in your brain the message you want to convey.  The best way to keep your ducks in a row on this is to clearly define your brand identity, and post it everywhere in your office so everyone keeps it in mind throughout the work day.  Everything you post must be on message, or don’t post it at all.

Where to go from here.

So in general, post lots of good (appropriate) stuff everywhere!

If you’re not sure how to proceed, study the accounts of businesses whose pages you admire and enjoy.  You may be able to develop your own blueprint from the way they manage their social media accounts.

Do you get clients from social media?  What platforms have you found to work best for your business?

How to Make Instagram Work for ANY Business [5 ways]

I have been doing a lot on Instagram this year, on both client sites and on my own. Instagram is becoming super popular and here are 5 ways to make it work for ANY business, gleaned from my experience.

Demographics matter.

This is true of all social media and you should research your target audience. But here is the thing, Instagram is exploding right now and more and more older people are on it.

The first commercial account I worked on was for extreme sports and it took off like a rocket with huge engagement and numerous leads originating from the account. The demographic was perfect, as we were selling gear for an extreme sport. Instagram is full of young guys wanting to show off how extreme they are. It was a match made in heaven.

The next account I worked on was for a high end restaurant, and it did not work as well. The engagement was lower. Although it got responses, a lot of the response was from people who were already following the client on Facebook.  They’d seen the Instagram posts on the Facebook page, then headed on over to Instagram to follow the client on that platform, too.

Therefore, the account was not finding new leads. Instead, it was engaging existing customers. It was still worth having but it was nothing like the exploding success of the first account I worked on.

Instagram is global, but you don’t have to be.

The second thing about the demographics (and this cuts both ways) is: Instagram is international. Can you sell to people everywhere? Or are you limited to the USA or even a physical location.

The bigger the area you can deliver to the better Instagram can be for you. But this shouldn’t mean you should skip Instagram if you are promoting a physical location. The one thing that offsets your limitation is the shear volume of people you can reach on there.

I have worked on several campaigns which were promoting tours on the island of Key West where I live, and the accounts produce leads. Some of those people we were reaching out to in all corners of the world would later end up on the island booking trips.

Frankly if your customers are young like under 35 then being on Instagram is pretty much required.

What is this a photo of? Someone swapped faces with their wife?

Of course the photos matter.

You have to have good photos. This seems obvious but after working with a bunch of small businesses on their Instagram accounts, I know that its not obvious to everyone. If your photos are not good the account will not grow organically.

You can have interactions with thousands of people on Instagram and you will get some followers and likes but your growth will be severely limited if your pictures are ugly. People might feel indebted to because you liked their photo so they like your crappy photo back, but they are not going to tag their friends or anything.

What you really want is to be posting photos that elicit enough response so that people tag their buddies and you can get more followers. This seems pretty easy when your account is all about showing pictures of hot girls or guys, not as easy when it’s something people don’t usually get too passionate about.

Push your phone number.

You are going to see a lot more success from Instagram if you push your phone number. Instagram doesn’t allow links anywhere except in the bio, which again is a knife that cuts both ways for me. It makes it almost impossible for spammers to stuff their feed full of affiliate links but at same time legitimate brands can’t link out to helpful URLs.

I see a lot of people directing followers to click the url in their profile  When I tried this approach, it did increase click throughs, but what really seems to work is putting your phone number right in the post. People are viewing Instagram on their phones 99% of the time and if you give them a great photo of what you are offering with your phone number next to it, there is more chance they will just call, than if you make them go to your profile and dig through whatever you are using as a website in order to email you.

Closeup portrait, smart pretty young female in gray white suit, dumbfounded flabbergasted by what she sees on cell phone, isolated indoors office background

I can’t believe this account has so many followers and its only a week old!

Don’t be fooled by fake followers.

I see a lot of accounts on Instagram that are swollen with fake followers, and they stand out like a sore thumb, at least to me. I totally see the allure of padding an account with some fake followers to get it started or just to appear a bit more important. That actually might not be a bad plan: to get a new account a few fake followers so it doesn’t look new, but to me when you have thousands of obviously fake followers it just looks bad.

The way I spot them is that the account’s engagement rate is astronomically low. Your engagement rate is a percent based on the number of followers you have vs how many engagements your posts get. There are different ways to count engagement, like some people say you should only count comments or whatever but what I am talking about is likes and comments.

When I first started working on Instagram a couple years ago, it was wide open. You put a good photo on there and if you had a decent following you could see a 10% even 20% response rate. Like for example if you had 1000 followers you would post a photo and get 100 to 200 likes and comments on it. It was insane.

Then as the ads rolled out. Now if you have a really good account and you post a great photo, you are lucky to get 10%. You more likely to get 3-5%. There are a bunch of internal changes at Instagram causing this but it’s not important for this article so let me get back to what I saying about the fake followers.

When you have an account that has 1000s of followers and then you look at its post and you see it got like 27 likes and no comments on their last post from two days ago, guess what?  They probably have fake followers, and to me I go from being jealous at their huge following to thinking they are a joker.

So essentially, how do you know if Instagram will work for you?

You don’t! There is no way to know until you get on there and try. But if you have younger customers (although not required), you can deliver what you are selling over a wide area, you can answer the phone and you can take/buy great photos, you’ve got a great chance of Instagram working for you.