If your business isn’t already one of Instagram’s 800 million active users, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy.

Instagram’s diverse and highly engaged user base makes the platform a prime candidate for brands looking to grow their reach quickly and easily. It’s not about whether or not your business should be on Instagram, but rather how much time you should be investing in it.

Between Facebook’s saturated News Feed and its engagement throttle on branded content, everything seems to be pointing towards Instagram.

Here’s everything you need to know in order to launch your profile and start growing your brand’s presence on Instagram.

Start With a Business Profile from the Beginning

Setting your Instagram page up as a Business Profile gives you access to valuable audience insights and engagement statistics on your posts.

Some marketers believe having a business account throttles your engagement, but it’s important to start learning from your metrics as soon as you start posting. This makes it easier to identify what the best time to post is, where your followers are coming from, how they engage with your page, and which of types of content work best with your audience.

If you need access to all of the data on your followers and various profiles, there are tons of more advanced options for tracking analytics like minter.io, Sprout Social, and Later. But at the very least, start by enabling your Instagram Business Profile.

Just make sure you’ve linked your Facebook account and Instagram profile, then either add one of your existing business pages or create a new one directly within the app.

Also bear in mind that if you want to take advantage of post promotions and other Instagram based ads, you’ll need to have a Facebook page linked.

Setting up Your Profile

You have just a few seconds to capture the attention of your audience and convince them to check out your profile before they continue scrolling.

Creating a great Instagram profile for your business requires five key components. The goal is to provide your audience with as much context as possible without coming off as repetitive.

Account Name
If possible, add a keyword to your name that gives your target audience a little more context and helps your account stand out in a crowd.

Username
Your username is your primary means of identification on Instagram — make it fun while still fitting in with your brand.

Try a slight variation on your account name, and keep in mind that shorter usernames are easier to remember and less frustrating to type.

For example, In-N-Out Burger’s username on Instagram is @innout — short, simple, memorable, and the account will pop up before you finish typing the entire name.

Profile Photo
If you’re a business, use your logo. Unlike Facebook, keep in mind that Instagram uses circular profile when you’re designing or cropping your logo.

You don’t need to worry about including your name in this version of your logo because Instagram always displays your account name next to your profile. Any text used in your logo on Instagram will be hard to read and relatively low resolution.

Bio
Like anything you post on social media, your profile should be easy to absorb at a glance. Make it simple, clear, and most importantly, skimmable.

Don’t force users to sift through a dense paragraph of text. Break your bio up into short bullet points or single sentence lines to make it more readable.

It’s also good practice to switch up the copy in your bio depending on what your link is. If your goal is to get users to click on your website, your bio is an opportunity to guide them there.

Link
Sending traffic to your homepage is great, but it doesn’t engage your followers. If you’re not changing the link in your bio, you’re missing out on a ton of free, targeted traffic.

Nobody is going to check the homepage of your business once a week for updates. On the flip side, using your link to send your followers to a new blog post each week is a great way to turn recurring profile visits into organic traffic.

Start Filling Your Feed and Engage Others

Building your following from zero can feel like a bit of a Catch-22. You can’t increase your follower count without content, but you it’s impossible to get others to see your content without people liking and commenting on your posts.

Thankfully, engaging with content on Instagram isn’t a one-way street — the best way grow your following is to start communicating with others.

Once you have a few posts uploaded, search for relevant hashtags and accounts and simply engage with their posts. The more you like, comment, and follow, you increase your chances of being seen.

And this is where content comes in — if your posts are relevant to the niche you’re targeting, engagement will come naturally. If you’re struggling to get followers, think about who you’re targeting and what types of content they’re interested in.

Find Relevant Hashtags

Targeted hashtags are another indispensable method for generating organic engagement on your Instagram profile. Hashtags act like site-wide, searchable categories for user-generated posts.

When you’re just starting out and your overall engagement isn’t that high, reaching the top of popular hashtags is impossible.

Don’t waste your time with hashtags that have over 100,000 posts — you’re just not going to get seen. Keep the hashtags you target small to start and be as specific as possible with your targeting.

Stay Consistent to Beat the Algorithm

Beating Instagram’s algorithm to make sure your post rank at the top of your followers’ feeds is actually quite simple. It’s based on two primary factors: how much engagement you get and how quickly you get it.

Use the insights on your Business Profile to find out when your followers are active and post as frequently as you can. If you don’t post every day, your engagement will drop and your future posts will lose visibility.

If your content is wildly inconsistent in style, people will unfollow your page, your engagement will drop, and you’ll lose visibility.

See the theme? If content is king, consistency is queen.

Recent changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm are making it harder than ever for brands to reach their audience organically. In simple terms, Facebook has become pay-to-play.

A solid Facebook advertising strategy is integral to keeping your brand relevant. If you’re not already experimenting with Facebook ads, you’re losing out on precious engagement every day.

You can’t expect your ads for baby diapers to convert if you’re showing them to parents with teenagers. Targeting is how you show your ads to the right people. Here’s a quick guide on how to take advantage of Facebook’s extremely powerful targeting options to find the customers the are most likely to click on your ads.

What Makes Facebook’s Targeting so Special?

On average, Americans spend over 40 minutes on Facebook each and every day. In terms of the global population, one in seven people already have a profile on Facebook — resulting in over two billion monthly active users.

With a serving size this large, Facebook allows advertisers to get incredibly granular with their targeting options.

Facebook continues to preach the term “people based marketing.” As opposed to tracking cookies with generic data, Facebook’s targeting is based on real people, with real profiles, and real interests.

This results in significantly higher ad engagement than other platforms and allows for particularly savvy marketers to vary their ads to specific segments of their audience.

A Brief Overview of Audience Options

Custom/Lookalike Audiences

Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences are the bread and butter of Facebook’s targeting options. Custom Audiences can be created based on customer email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs, app user IDs, and data from Facebook’s Pixel tracking.

In short, Custom Audiences allow you to retarget website visitors, past ad viewers, and in general, the segment of your audience most likely to make a purchase.

Lookalike Audiences piggyback off of Custom Audiences to expand your reach while still retaining the targeting characteristics of your best customers.

Once you’ve built a Custom Audience that works particularly well for a given ad set, Facebook can automatically create a new audience that mimics top performers within a previously created Custom Audience.

Lookalike audiences are great for expanding your reach once you’ve tested a few campaigns and identified which audiences are the strongest.

Pixel

Adding Facebook’s Pixel to your website allows you to target various audiences at specific points in the customer lifecycle. The Pixel helps you track events like purchases, or clicks to a certain page on your site.

In addition to providing valuable insight into how you can optimize your ads, Pixel can also help you improve the layout of your website if it’s not converting.

Core Targeting

Facebook’s Core Targeting revolves around location, age, gender, languages, and other, more detailed categories like demographics, behaviors, and interests.

Location

Keep it local — only advertise in places where you’re actually going to sell your product. Combining Local insights from your page with location-based ad campaigns can be a powerful combo for small businesses looking to optimize their reach within the surrounding area.

When in doubt, keep it broad and track the performance of your ad sets. Then simply create audiences based on the highest performing sections of your last set.

Age/Gender

Unless you’ve been testing ads and collecting data for a while, it’s best to start off with age and gender left open. If you’re noticing a massive drop-off in performance after age 35, it’s safe to say you can limit the upper end of your age range. But remember, you don’t want to miss out on a key section of your audience just because you made a wrong assumption about who’s going to click your ad.

Languages

An obvious but often overlooked portion of many ad campaigns. If you’re advertising internationally, make sure everyone can read your ads.

Facebook allows you to add multiple languages to each ad set, so make sure you take advantage of them if you want to capture everyone in your intended audience.

Detailed Targeting

Core Targeting consists of three main categories: demographics, interests, and behaviors. All of the data in here is based on the content users share, which apps they use, what ads they click, what pages they engage with, their device usage, purchase intent, and travel preferences.

Keep It Small, but Not Too Small

The best audience size for a Facebook ad set is somewhere between 250,000 and 1,000,000 people. This is the sweet spot for Facebook’s targeting power and will typically result in the cheapest CPC (cost-per-click).

Don’t get overzealous with targeting, especially if you’re a small business trying to reach your local town. You shouldn’t throw out your customer profiles but always start as broad as possible to reach the users that are most likely to convert.

If you’re sending traffic to a website, it’s best to let Facebook pixel do the work for you. With a large sample size and Lookalike audiences based on Pixel data, Facebook can better optimize your campaign and get CPCs down while finding new customers in your target audience.

Test Everything

Don’t drop all of your spend on a single campaign until you’ve tested every variable at least once. With audiences, start broad, then split test the best performers against each other until you find the targeting options that convert best.

If you’re a small business targeting based on location, you can also try split testing for different creative to see which types of content resonate with your audience the most.

With Facebook ads, pretty much everything can be customized and tested. If you want to be successful, you need to start taking advantage of this early on.

Get Narrow by Layering Multiple Targeting Options

“Or” targeting with various purchasing behaviors and demographics is already pretty powerful, but the real magic happens when you start to narrow your audience using “and” targeting.

After listing a set of detailed targeting options, you have the option to both exclude or narrow further.

Think about it this way, if you’re a local bar trying to reach incoming college students, you can start by targeting people that just moved to the area and then narrow it to users who are currently in college.

This allows you to tailor extremely specific messages to various niches within your community and customer lifecycle.

It’s important to keep in mind that hyper-targeting won’t always result in the best CPC, so it’s best to use a mix of broad and narrow audiences when optimizing your Facebook campaigns.

Apps like Robinhood have been trying to get millennials excited about the world of stock trading, but to most kids, crypto is still the coolest. The idea of participating in the earliest phases of something revolutionary seems to resonate particularly well with the 25-35 age group.

Unless you have thousands of dollars at your disposal — it’s not easy to get started in the stock market. Shares are typically on the pricey side and the market isn’t growing that much these days.

On the other hand, crypto is skyrocketing in popularity, and it feels significantly more accessible to investors with smaller budgets. You can easily take out a massive position in a new coin with a few hundred dollars.

Crypto is also faster paced and a lot more volatile in terms of day to day price action. Almost every piece of news influences the price of a coin in one way or another. This makes it particularly interesting to younger investors that don’t have the longest attention spans.

A Brief History

Bitcoin is nearing its tenth birthday, but it’s still new to 99% of the world. The rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can get quite complicated, so here’s a quick recap.

The first application of blockchain technology was designed to decentralize financial transactions in by using a cryptocurrency. The idea for bitcoin was made public in a white paper by someone under the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto.

After the coin started to gain popularity due to its anonymity and small transaction fees, other coins with similar aspirations started to pop up. In 2011, Charlie Lee introduced Litecoin — an alternative to bitcoin that could be sent and received faster with even lower fees.

With more exchanges popping up and new investors starting to sink their teeth in, bitcoin surged to over $1000 a coin back in 2013 before crashing down to $300 in the subsequent weeks.

In 2016, Vitalik Buterin proposed the idea for Ethereum — customizable, code-based contracts that can be executed on the blockchain, powered by its own cryptocurrency.

BTC soared to over $20,000 this last December, along with thousands of other alt-coins that started to gain momentum from a drastically increased public interest in the blockchain.

Decentralized Funding is Running Rampant

ICOs raised over $6 billion in 2017. The crazy part? There were at least 400 of them. That’s more than one ICO per day for an entire year.

ICOs are a crowdfunding method where founders sell underlying tokens on their platform for a fixed price in ETH or BTC. Early adopters buy at a fixed, discounted price hoping that each token will go up in value once the technology is released.

The amount of money being raised via ICOs is increasing exponentially as more investors flock to the market.

Less than $1B was raised from January to June, but skip forward to the month of December and that number increases to $1.6B.

Crypto is still unregulated in most of the world’s major tech hubs. That’s both a good and a bad thing. While it’s never been easier to get funding for a startup idea, it’s also never been easier to pull one over on people and make off with a ton of money.

Existing Businesses Are Pivoting to Blockchain

Crypto is so hot that even iced tea manufacturers are starting to get involved.

ICOs have become the overnight pivot for businesses experiencing trouble in 2018. Everyone is hopping on the bandwagon, from Long Island Brand Beverages to Kodak imaging solutions.

While their underlying intention may be pointed in the right direction, it’s impossible to shake the feeling that this move comes out of a desire to shoot some much-needed life into their stocks.

Keep in mind the SEC is starting to crack down on companies that do this. You can’t just slap crypto on your business in hopes of making a quick buck off of tech’s latest buzzword.

A Dangerous Pattern Is Starting to Form

There’s been a recent influx of new investors due to hype about the rising price. Adding volume is great for the market — but these new investors are a prime target for manipulation. Without the right strategy, people are spreading themselves thin on risky altcoins.

It’s easy to promise a ton of value and get new investors excited about your ICO. There are no qualifications required to launch a coin — savvy marketers can convince consumers any technology will be valuable as long as it’s tied to the blockchain.

But that’s simply not true. There’s a ton of hype, a ton of excitement, a ton of capital, but there’s not that much real world value. The market cap is sitting just under $500B right now yet blockchain technology still doesn’t have any mainstream use cases.

There are simply way too many players in the game right now. People are betting big on promises — and promises don’t hold value for too long.

Bitcoin Is a Bubble, but It’s Not Going to Pop Anytime Soon

International headlines light up about how bitcoin is crashing and the bubble is popping every time the price fluctuates by more than ten percent.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are still finding their places in the world. It’s impossible to expect a perfectly smooth rollout of something that is still being actively developed.

Cryptocurrency definitely has the makings to become popped bubble at some point, but you can’t start to form a bubble until the market becomes oversaturated.

Right now only 0.5% of the world possesses bitcoin — we’re still in the earliest stages of adoption. Not to mention, if investors can get savvy about sniffing out companies that don’t provide any real value to the market, a bubble can be avoided.

Nobody wants to release something that isn’t perfect, so the idea of an MVP (minimum viable product) can be tough to comprehend.

Building a full-fledged digital product brings a ton of risk to the table — both in terms of resources and your pride. While it’s easy to get trapped in the perfection mindset, testing your value proposition using an MVP is one of the only ways to mitigate risk in the startup landscape.

According to Crunchbase Insights, the number one reason startups fail, accounting for 42% of cases, is because there’s simply no need for the product.

Eric Ries, New York Times bestseller and author of The Lean Startup, writes:

“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

Start Ridiculously Simple

Don’t confuse an MVP with an alpha version of your product. MVPs are designed to test your idea, and you should never build a multi-feature product without first validating the idea.

If you’re still thinking of ways to slim down your product idea, it’s not minimal enough.

Airbnb is a great example of how an MVP can (and should) be used to discover a massive demand in the market. When the $30 billion dollar company started, it wasn’t about revolutionizing the world of travel accommodations — it came out of the founders’ need to pay rent.

After moving to San Francisco to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams as product designers, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were struggling to keep up with their lease. They thought about filling up the extra space in their living room with a blowup mattress and charging people to stay with them.

Around the same time, they noticed the massive hotel booking crisis that would inevitably happen anytime a highly attended conference came to town. For event attendees, finding hotel rooms during the conference was both painful and expensive — perhaps just painful enough that the conference-goers would be willing to stay in a stranger’s home to cut costs and make the experience easier.

The first version of their product was a Craigslist posting. Not an app. Not a website. Literally a single post to validate an idea.

Take a Look Around

Competitor analysis can be extremely difficult when you’re emotionally invested in your product. As a founder, it’s easy to think your idea for a product is more unique than it actually is.

Unless you have a few hundred thousand dollars to waste, you can’t ignore your competitors just because you believe in your idea. Unfortunately, consumers don’t use products because just because the founders believe in it — they use products that they have a demand for.

If you’re solving a unique problem that a lot of people have, gaining credibility won’t be a problem. But if you’re going after a saturated industry (I.e. Uber of…), you’re going to have a hard time making a name for yourself and building something people would actually be willing to test out.

It’s relatively easy to get people to try something out if it solves a problem they didn’t previously have a solution for, but convincing users your product is more “effective” than what’s already out it is almost impossible.

If You Can’t Boil It Down to a Single Feature, It’s not an MVP

If you’re starting out with more than one feature, you’re building an alpha version of your product — not an MVP.

This is the key difference between a true MVP and early versions of your product. Each MVP should only test one feature. If you find a fit, you’re good to go. If you’re MVP doesn’t gain traction, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

You can’t conduct a meaningful test if you’re measuring multiple variables at the same time. If the problem you’re solving is important enough, it should catch like wildfire. Think of almost any product you use, from your smartphone to your toothbrush. They all started as a single feature.

Only build what’s strictly necessary and add features only when you notice a clear demand. The more complicated your product is, the less likely it is people are going to use it.

If you want to create a successful product, do one thing and do it really well.

Remember: Liking Your Product Is Different Than Actually Paying for It

Hearing that people like your product might be great for your ego, but it doesn’t actually mean anything for your business. At the end of the day, you’re trying to get people to become paying customers.

If your core idea is off, adding features isn’t going to fix anything. Creating an MVP allows you to test the value proposition of your idea without wasting a ton of time and resources building a complicated solution to a problem nobody cares about.

Test one feature at a time, and start with something that people are already willing to pay for. Monetization isn’t an afterthought.

Early Releases Are an Entrepreneurs Best Friend

It sounds simple, but few entrepreneurs realize it before going down the rabbit hole on the wrong project: what you want doesn’t really matter, whether or not a product is successful is based on what other peoples want.

Starting with one feature at a time and identifying which ones work is much faster than building a product with a ton of features only to find out nobody else needs your solution.

MVPs help you waste less time in the design phase by allowing you to iterate on what actual users want.

If you expunge all of your resources trying to build a complex app to fulfill all of your users’ needs, you won’t have anything left to iterate if people don’t resonate with your product.

Remember, creating a single feature that everyone uses will make you a lot more money than building 10 that nobody uses.

Social media makes it easy to connect with your customers, but keeping them engaged is becoming harder by the day. As more brands start to compete for attention across all of our social feeds, it’s crucial to stay on top of trends if you want to leave a lasting impression.

Ready to update your marketing strategy? Here are five of the biggest trends in social media we’re likely to see in 2018.

1. Influencer Advertising Will Get Even Bigger

The good news: producing high-quality photo and video content has never been easier. The bad news: all brands have the same ability and platforms to broadcast amazing content.

For that reason, /how/ you say something has become equally as important as /what/ you’re saying. Brands like MVMT Watches and Audi have shown off the true power and flexibility of social media by leveraging powerful influencers to build brand awareness in key communities.

Great content has become the standard. An effective marketing campaign isn’t about who can make the best content, everyone can do that these days — it’s about who can create the most compelling narrative.

Furthermore, your content is worthless if you aren’t getting it in front of the right audience. Influencers make it easy to reach targeted niches in a way that feels authentic and generates high engagement.

Want to launch a successful campaign on social media? Start by understanding who influences your target customers and what types of posts they’re likely to engage with. These days, people have an inherent trust in influencers — capitalizing on the way social media connects the general public with celebrities is still largely under-recognized in the marketing world.

2. Micro-Moments Will Become an Integral Part of the Customer Journey

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of the term UX in context with a website or a digital product. But what about thinking about the UX of your business?

In a sense, the customer journey is really just one large user experience. If you want to engage users, you need to think about how they’re going to interact with your business digitally.

Social media obviously plays a huge role in your overall brand experience, so it’s important to make sure all of the relevant information is readily accessible from all of your profiles.

Google defines four different intentions in its [guide on digital micro-moments](https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/micro-moments/micro-moments-understand-new-consumer-behavior/):
* “I-want-to-know moments”
* “I-want-to-go moments”
* “I-want-to-do moments”
* “I-want-to-buy moments”

Growing your presence on social media isn’t all about posting daily and optimizing your hashtags — it’s vital to make sure your page actually provides users with whatever they’re searching for.

This means adopting a mobile-first strategy; in order to anticipate the actions your target customers are going to take, you need to understand what they’re going to be looking for.

3. Chatbots Will Dominate Customer Support

Facebook Messenger reminds us every day just how far we’ve come from the laggy support bots buried deep in the help section of a business’s website.

For younger audiences, chatbots are quickly becoming the preferred method of interacting with a business — from basic customer support requests to more complex tasks like scheduling appointments and making purchases.

With the announcement of Apple’s Business Chat for iMessage, the competition is starting to heat up. 2018 is the year of experimentation. Brands are going to start branching out from handling basic support to engage their customers in new ways.

60% of millennials already use chatbots, and over 70% would like to try a chatbot experience with a brand they already have a relationship with.

Chatbots have the capability to make brands feel uniquely personal, and with Facebook Messenger and Business Chat, the UX is often better than a traditional phone call. Conversation retention is increased significantly by the fact that users can pick up a conversation from any device, anytime they want, without having to worry about waiting on hold.

# 4. Ephemeral Content Will Continue Remain King of Engagement

After Snapchat launched stories, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t want to get left out of the ephemeral content game. Soon enough, Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp launched their own versions of stories, all following the same basic recipe as Snapchat: photo/video content viewable by your friends or followers that disappears after 24 hours.

Ephemeral content creates a sense of urgency and makes your social profiles feel more human. On top of daily feed posts, ephemeral content marketing requires a strategy all on its own.

Instagram is doubling down on stories — and for the most part, this is a sign that you need to as well. You can now access stories from almost anywhere: at the top of the feed, on every post in your feed, and now promoted in random spots while you’re scrolling.

If you’re not posting stories to maximize your reach, you’re missing out on a ton of potential engagement. Due to their ephemeral nature, they lead to extremely high conversion rates. Instagram allows accounts with over 10,000 followers to promote links using their stories — users can simply swipe up and access websites without having to leave the app.

A perfect feed might be important if you want to gain followers, but users don’t want to see “perfect” in your disappearing content. The more human and behind-the-scenes you can make your stories feel, the better.

5. Facebook Will Become Primarily Pay-to-Play

If you’re experiencing lower reach and engagement on Facebook, don’t freak out — it’s not your fault. As Facebook becomes increasingly cluttered with advertisers, organic traffic is becoming a scarce resource.

Facebook has gone as far as testing the complete removal of brands from the News Feed. Unless, of course, they want to pay a premium that is.

Facebook ads have always been great, and this is simply another measure to encourage brands to start paying Facebook to take advantage of them. While the implications are yet to surface, we’re likely going to see an increase in influencer posts, increased Facebook ad budgets, and less organic posts from brands on their pages. Along with lower overall engagement, we’re also probably going to see a decent amount of brands shift their focus solely towards Facebook’s golden child: Instagram.

In the world of blogging, Medium is the new kid on the block — and it’s crushing it. After launching in 2012, Medium has quickly generated well over 60 million monthly users, 90% of which have already graduated college.

Does the name Evan Williams ring a bell? If you’ve ever written a blog post or crafted a tweet, it should — he’s the founder of both Blogger and Twitter. After providing a way for anyone to publish long-form content on the internet through Blogger, Williams moved on to tackle the opposite end of the spectrum: giving people a platform to publish their thoughts in 140 characters or less.

Ev’s Been Around the Block Before

Blogger was great for getting your ideas out there, but as more people began to publish content on the internet, actually getting noticed became almost impossible. Blogger had no internal platform to circulate content, i.e. Twitter.

Twitter was essentially a platform built to circulate content. It was one of the first social networks that relied largely on the re-blogging of content.

As soon as celebrities caught wind of Twitter, the new micro-blogging platform based on quick updates took off. Twitter was great at personalizing celebrities and brands, but it wasn’t so great for content — it’s pretty hard to inject a ton of depth into 140 characters (now 280).

What Makes Medium so Special?

Medium combines the benefits of a social network with the ability to publish beautiful long-form content. Instead of hosting your posts on a domain only accessible trough external links, Medium gives users the ability to create profiles and publications — both discoverable by anyone using the platform.

For the first time, traffic to your company’s blog doesn’t have to come externally. Medium has its own content algorithm, and that makes it easy to grow your audience by publishing content that people enjoy. Plain and simple.

Customizable publications are the bread and butter of Medium for businesses. Like a blog, publications can feature multiple authors, sort content by category, and even display a completely customizable design.

A Custom Business Blog, but Better

Publications are free to use, and Medium allows you to customize the domain name so long as it’s preceded by medium.com (medium.com/yourpublicationname). For a fee, you can even add a custom domain — allowing businesses to match their website’s domain like a traditional blog.

Once your categories are set up and you’ve customized the design of your publication, writing is as easy (if not easier) than any other CMS. With the limitless benefits of a social network backing the platform, why wouldn’t you feature your business blog on Medium and get the benefits of both worlds?

Not to mention, adding in the social aspect to your publication makes your content feel more human and approachable than a traditional blog relegated to the back pages of a website.

With tons of updates and new features coming out all of the time, Medium is at the forefront of digital publishing. As a content marketer, hopping on new trends before they emerge is crucial if you want to set you and your brand apart.

Step 1: Optimizing Your Profile/Publication Page

Remember, your publication functions like a normal blog. Your design should be engaging, and your content should be easy to find.

If you’re trying to generate leads for a business, ideally you’ll be sending users to your publication’s homepage. Getting a custom domain that matches your brand is a great way to appear more professional.

Set aside a decent chunk of time for the design of your publication. Play around with the way posts are displayed, customize your categories, and if you have one, upload your business’s logo. Medium is super flexible — if you’re not taking advantage of it, someone else will.

Step 2: Test Different Types of Content to Find What Works Best

You’re never going to know what resonates best with your audience without trying multiple styles of writing, different topics, and changing the visual design of your posts.

Keep in mind that if you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, crafting something compelling is going to be impossible. It’s hard to truly sell a topic if you’re not passionate about it.

Readers on Medium like their posts short and sweet. Four to five minutes in length is ideal, and first-person tends to work best. As Medium is a social network at heart, users like to engage with content that feels human.

Step 3: Get Featured in the Big Publications

Start by monitoring your favorite publications and authors for a while. Take a look at which topics tend to get the highest engagement and experiment with putting your own spin on them.

If your content fits within a specific niche, identify the popular publications in your industry and get in contact with the editors. Large publications are a great way to drive targeted traffic back to the rest of the content on your profile.

Getting readers to follow your publication might be a little bit more difficult, but including a short snippet about the author with a link back to your page at the bottom of your post is a good start.

Step 4: Engage Your Audience

You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Anyone on social media knows that high engagement leads to more reach.

Blogging isn’t about crafting a monologue, it’s about creating a conversation. Always try to engage your readers with specific questions at the end of your post. Medium’s algorithm loves posts with a lot of thoughtful user responses.

You’re Not Going to Become a Star Overnight

Don’t get discouraged if your follower growth doesn’t quadruple overnight. While growing on Medium is way quicker than a traditional blog, it’s still a long game.

Your success builds on itself — the more engagement you get, the more your exposure will continue to grow.

Medium isn’t just another channel for your content marketing efforts. If you want to succeed as a writer on Medium, it’s vital to change your mindset before you get frustrated.

Medium isn’t designed to generate leads by giving your content massive reach, it’s designed to generate leads by building social proof. Stuffing your content with actionable value is key if you want to grow on Medium. You can’t fake good content.

What’s stopping you from shipping your product? Or for some, what’s stopping you from building it in the first place?

Being successful isn’t always about learning new things and complicating your daily routine. While the definition of success is different for everyone, bad habits are universal.

Anyone can come up with a great idea, but only a few end up following through. Regardless of what your goals are, success starts when you take a look back and identify what’s holding you back.

Some habits may take months to break, while others may disappear as soon as you’re made aware of them. Here are five unhealthy habits that you need to drop if you want to reach your maximum potential as an entrepreneur.

Stop Making Excuses

A five-minute break never hurt anybody. But if you take five of those breaks per day, five days a week, we’re talking about over eight hours that could have been spent learning a new skillset.

You can’t get anywhere by trying to justify wasted time. If you want to be successful, you need to take responsibility for making the most out of your day. Excuses are only a tool used to shift blame away from the root cause.

As an entrepreneur, establishing priorities is crucial. At the beginning of each year, month, week, and day, you should always outline the basic priorities you refuse to make excuses for.

Forcing yourself to exercise each day is far too difficult if your only goal is to “get in shape by the end of the year.” On the other hand, setting aside time in your schedule to workout each day because you know its integral to your productivity is both measurable and tangible. Remember, it’s better to plan around your priorities than to skip out on them altogether.

Give up on Being Perfect

Nobody is perfect. There aren’t any perfect ideas, and there certainly aren’t any perfect products.

The only way to make a product people like is to release it and get feedback. There’s a ton of power in releasing something and simply asking your users what they like and what they don’t like.

The faster you move, the more you can iterate; and the more you can iterate based on your customers’ feedback, the less time you waste making a product that nobody ends up liking.

Stop Multi-tasking

Humans are not wired to be multitaskers—it’s that simple. Powering through a design while talking on the phone may seem like you’re beating the clock, but you can’t beat your own brain.

While nine out of ten people you talk to will likely vouch for their ability to multitask, it turns out only 2% of the population is mentally equipped to multitask effectively. Quitting multitasking altogether is the fastest way to become more productive.

You may believe you’re working on two things simultaneously, but you’re really just switching your focus back and forth between tasks rapidly, blocking your brain from dedicated full power to either thing you’re working on.

It takes time to refocus whenever you switch to a new task. If you’re juggling multiple things, you’re going to lose a ton of cognitive power.

If you want to be less stressed (a key component of success), stop multitasking. Whether it’s a workout, a dinner with family, or a business meeting, the key to productivity is dedicating all of your focus to a single task at a time.

Don’t Think Short-term

Short-term goals don’t help you form long-term habits. You won’t get anywhere by measuring your success in material possessions. A lot of the time, being an entrepreneur is a long-game. Sometimes your ideas will work out and other times they won’t.

Trying to launch a startup so you can drive a fast car is a lot different than starting a business to become financially sustainable.

Don’t set your goals based on your immediate desired return, set them based on what you identify with. Do things because you know they’re good for you, not because they’re going to make you more money.

Don’t Get down on Yourself

Resilience is the most important yet underestimated trait of any successful entrepreneur. It’s easy to talk about failing and picking yourself back up, but actually doing it after six failed app launches is a whole different story.

Success isn’t given—it’s earned. Everyone has the tools necessary to build a business from the ground up. Knowing you have the power to succeed and constantly believing yourself is massively important if you want to stay productive every day.

Running your own business isn’t supposed to be easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

While having your own business has a ton of benefits, starting anything from the ground up is obviously going to come with a lot of challenges—it’s unrealistic to get it 100% right on the first go around.

“80% of success is showing up.” — Woody Allen

You can’t expect to grow without building a network, launching your product, and talking to your customers. Everyone can come up with a great idea for a business, but only a select few ever end up actually following through with it.

Successful business owners don’t possess any divine traits. The only difference between those who failed and those who ended up succeeding is how often they picked themselves up after hitting a roadblock.

Nobody is responsible for making your life better except for you. You can’t expect things to change if you’re not putting in the effort. Having a bad day is one thing, but things aren’t going to work out if you throw in the towel when things go south.

This doesn’t mean you should stick your head in the sand and ignore all of the negative feedback on your product, but instead that you should listen to your customers and head back to the drawing board in high spirits.

All entrepreneurs make mistakes—the successful ones are those that acknowledge them and dive headfirst into fixing them.

Allowing your employees to bring their dogs to work may be great for creativity, but does it really matter if nobody is excited about solving the same problem?

Creating sustainable startup growth starts with unity. Company culture is important, but you can’t do anything if your team doesn’t get excited about solving the same problems.

The best startups use their culture to identify like-minded people and help them thrive. Diversity is the key to getting people excited, but unity is what keeps your team together.

At a startup, there’s only one guarantee: unexpected roadblocks. A team comprised of people that are only in it for the paycheck simply won’t last. The best products are made by people who would be working together even if there wasn’t any money involved.

Culture Starts at the Core Team

Regardless of what stage your business is in, the core team sets the tone for the entire company. Excitement starts at the top.

As a founder, you don’t have any time to drag your feet. You can’t expect employees to be enthusiastic unless you’re practicing what you preach.

It’s crucial for the core team to have a clear vision. While it’s important to cover a diverse range of skill sets with your hiring, it’s important to remember that most things can be learned — the hard part is identifying the necessary soft skills.

For early hires, the most important trait is a strong desire to learn. When you’re at your most vulnerable, you can’t necessarily afford to diversify the talent. Your core team should be ready and willing to switch gears and learn something new.

At companies with thousands of employees like Amazon, each hire is merely a cog in the wheel. If one breaks, the wheel isn’t going to stop turning.

Startups are more like old Christmas lights: when one goes out, everything falls apart quickly. When you have a team of five, you can’t afford to hire someone that isn’t going to show up when things get difficult.

If the core members of your startup are taking three days off each week, you can’t expect the work ethic of your employees to be any stronger.

As a founder, leading by example is everything. Whether it’s listening to everyone during brainstorm sessions, conducting daily standup meetings, or even opening up communication to public Slack channels — good company culture always starts with the founders.

Is Everyone Excited About the Same Thing?

When it comes to hiring at an early stage startup, your main priority should be on identifying the right soft skills. It’s easy to over-diversify and hire too many people at the first sign of success, but diluting your focus can spell disaster without the right team members.

An experienced freelancer who knows 25+ programming languages may seem like a safer bet over a college student willing to work at your startup for pennies on the dollar, but the fact is, freelancers simply aren’t going to dedicate their lives to your product. Just because someone isn’t an expert doesn’t mean they aren’t a great candidate for your team.

Your core team should always be the most passionate and be willing to learn the widest range of hard skills. The various skills your future hires contribute should get more granular as you continue to scale.

Hiring people who are excited about the same problem doesn’t necessarily mean they have to same the solve the same part of it — that’s how you start to add diversity to your team.

When the seas get rough in the Silicon Valley, internal drive is the only thing that forces people to go to work every morning. If you’re excited about what you’re working on, perseverance comes naturally.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

It’s impossible to improve your company’s culture without looking at what’s already going on. Before making any changes to your internal operations, you need to know what you’re doing right, and what you’re doing wrong.

Always start by making a list of your strengths and weaknesses as a team. Maybe everyone is great about project deadlines but nobody knows what’s going on internally. Finding balance is everything — if you want to keep the marketing team in sync with product leases, maybe it’s time to shift from Slack channels to a weekly stand-up meeting.

While the Silicon Valley may have you thinking otherwise, adjustments to company culture don’t always have to be made by letting employees bring their dogs to work. Dogs might be great for productivity but start by pinpointing your weaknesses and adjusting accordingly.

Does Your Company’s Culture Promote Organization?

Creating a culture that keeps your team organized is the most important part of your internal review. Sometimes the biggest changes are the simplest to implement.

Whether you’re in the same office or distributed across multiple contents, getting organized is central to staying focused as a team.

Your company’s culture is an opportunity to bake creativity and organization right into your team’s work habits.

While it’s hard to improve your individual company’s culture without looking into what exactly needs to change, opening up your communication channels is a great starting place.

Always hire people that don’t need to be micromanaged. Your culture should promote independence by segmenting projects and encouraging team members to communicate.

First Unite, then Diversify

You can’t have a successful startup without unifying your team’s vision. The first stage is bringing together people with the same idea. Your core team should have all of the soft skills and technical knowledge needed to build your MVP (minimum viable product).

The second stage is diversifying. This comes once your team is stable, your product is launched, and you’re starting to generate revenue.

Diversifying the talent on your team helps you grow in unexpected ways. When the focus is on new product releases and customer development, hiring an employee with a more niche skill set allows your startup to scale by playing to its strengths.

The transition is usually incremental—maybe instead of having a marketing manager who handles everything, you add in a social media specialist and copywriter to take over blog updates and daily content.

The same can be said for the product side. Mark Zuckerberg may have coded the initial version of Facebook, but it’s a safe bet he hasn’t written any code for at least a few years considering over 13,000 people work at his company.

The roles might become increasingly granular, but your team members shouldn’t be any less aligned with your vision.

We’ve all complained about email at least once in our lives; late-night sales pitches, endless chains, and cluttered inboxes full of information you just don’t need. Done wrong, email marketing can leave a very bad taste in your mouth.

But in the age of the internet, there’s no way to grab someone’s attention quite like a message straight to their inbox. When reaching out to prospective clients, customers, or audience members via social media isn’t personal enough, email is there to give you a direct line of communication. If you don’t want your recipients groaning when they see your address in their inbox, check out these quick tips to step up your email marketing game.

1. Always Provide Value

With average email open rates sitting right around 25%, it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to find unique ways to engage their audience. In the noisy age of social media and fast-paced content consumption, attention can be easily won or lost with the click of a button. To keep those open rates up, make sure your emails always provide engaging content, timely insights, or exclusive offers—whatever form of value the subscribers of your mailing list would be interested in.

2. Get to the Point

Part of providing value and keeping attention is to cut away all of the fat from your email copy. Whatever value that you’ve determined you can offer to your audience is all that needs to be communicated—as they say in the news business, don’t bury the lede.

Don’t try to do too many things at once. Keep your emails simple so you can measure the responses to different styles of copy, content, or audiences.

3. Be Generous

But not tortuous. As the great Gary Vaynerchuk so concisely put it, “Give, give, give, then ask.” Nothing will kill your open rates more than reading like the internet’s caricature of a door-to-door salesman. As you liberally supply value through engaging content, you will end up keeping some of the least expensive attention digital marketing has to offer.

While Facebook ads, Google Adwords, and influencer marketing all play huge roles in creating a successful marketing campaign, building an email list is by far the cheapest. Once a user subscribes, you no longer have to pay for extremely targeted inbound clicks.

4. Speak to Your Reader

When you read an email, it’s a solitary experience. So when writing an email, the key is to make your readers feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

With over 300,000 subscribers and counting, The Hustle has rapidly made a name for itself as “What you’d get if The Daily Show and The Wall Street Journal had a baby.” Want to know their secret recipe for explosive growth? A unique tone.

In a business world cluttered with boring publications and dreary market reports, The Hustle switches things up by adopting an informal (and at times, hilarious) tone to make current events easier to digest for millennials.

5. Know Your Voice

And be authentic to it. Lazy, self-interested copy will be picked up on immediately, and cause users to rapidly unsubscribe from your mailing list; the same goes for emails that copy rather than communicate. Consistency matters here as well—which is why the easiest way to write effectively is to write honestly.

6. Personalize Important Emails

If you’re running a business, it’s probably safe to assume you don’t have the time to personalize 1,000 individual emails two times a week. But if part of your campaign hinges on some key points of participation, don’t be afraid to get focused. Sometimes, 30 well-tailored messages go farther than an email blast to list of 1,000 subscribers. However, as with anything else, a combination of the two is likely to work best.

7. Avoid Over-the-Top Visuals

That is, without reading test emails yourself on both desktop and mobile first. Many of the more complex layouts will deliver in a disjointed manner on mobile, resulting in an unenjoyable read and quick click to your unsubscribe page.

8. Experiment with Personalized Subject Lines

According to Campaign Monitor, emails with a personalized subject line are 26% more likely to be opened. Across the board, the data is clear–play around with your email marketing software and customize as much as possible, or you’re already behind. Even if you don’t have the time to create unique emails for all of the various segments in your mailing list, the majority of today’s email marketing apps allow you to automate the basic customization of your emails.

9. Segment Your Email Audiences

Or outright split them into multiple lists if it makes sense to do so. If you find your target audience expanding, you may be faced with a few different factions valuing what you offer for different reasons or demanding different things altogether. Listening to those new developments in your audience is how you remain relevant to them. Segmenting your email lists can also make it easier to personalize your message, so make sure your offerings are coherent with how you decide to split up your audience.

10. Be Consistent

Human beings are creatures of habit, and as we all know, it’s far too easy to unwittingly fall into patterns of behavior that we never change for inertia alone. Setting your email campaigns to occur on a consistent schedule makes it easier for your readers to incorporate your content into their daily routine, significantly increasing your retention.

11. Always Include a Clear Call to Action

And make it clear, attractive, and easy to access. Emails are likely towards the top of your sales funnel, and as such must be designed to engage, attract, and convert people who have expressed interest in the value you or your company bring to the table. Therefore, providing space in your email to access that value (and convert interest into sales) is of the utmost importance.

A 2017 McKinsey report noted that “the average [inbound] order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media”—no laughing matter considering the advertising dollars Facebook reaps in every year. When done right, email marketing is still one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to stand out to your audience.

We’ve all heard it before, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” And now, it couldn’t possibly be any more true—especially when it comes to marketing your business. Relatability, sharability, and virality are the defining characteristics of any successful marketing campaign.

You won’t resonate with your customer if they don’t relate to your ad’s creative. You won’t expand your reach if people don’t want to share your content. And if neither of these things happen, you won’t drive any sales, and you definitely won’t go viral.

Whether you’re trying to raise awareness for a new product launch or retarget past customers before the holidays, a strong social media presence is the fastest (and least expensive) way to start. At first glance, social media seems relatively simple. Setup your profiles, tweet out a few links, and you’re well on your way, right? Not exactly.

Making beautiful profiles and posting great content is only the beginning. Growing a massive following and going viral are two completely different stories. Here are eight tips to help you accelerate your brand’s social media growth and make a lasting impression on your audience.

Set the Right Goals

You can’t skip the planning stage. Establishing clear, achievable goals is the first step in any successful social media campaign. You should never create an account without determining why you’re on social media in the first place.

Start by setting specific, achievable goals. If you’re trying to grow engagement across all of your social media channels, the first step is to pick a platform and hone in on a metric of your choosing. Your goals should always contain metrics that are easy to measure. For example, trying to boost your daily Facebook engagement by 10% in 3 weeks is specific, measurable, and easily achievable.

As long as you have a clear, definable purpose when you’re posting on social media, you shouldn’t have a problem increasing the engagement and overall interaction with your page.

Find Your Audience

Before you start posting, make sure you know who you’re trying to reach. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn all have millions of users, but you’re going to need to narrow down your audience if you want to reach customers effectively.

You’ll need to take into account which social media sites your target customers are using, what types of content they’re consuming, and how you can better tailor your strategy to generate engagement amongst your audience.

To get a better idea of what you should be posting, segment your audience into small subsections and take a look at how they interact with other brands on social media. It’s easy to grow your presence organically if you know what types of content your audience is likely to engage with.

Be Relatable

When you’re interacting with customers on social media, it helps to have a little personality. Whether you’ve got a separate Twitter account for your company’s support team or an autoresponder on Messenger, be friendly, respond quickly, but most of all, don’t forget to be human.

When posting, make sure your copy is fun, easy to read, and highly engaging. Figure out what type of voice resonates with your audience experiment with giving your captions a bit of personality.

Use Visual Content

If you’ve used any social media platform within the last five years, then you’re no stranger to the impact visual content has to offer. Almost all of the viral content on any social media platform is tied to some form of photo or video.

[Photos get the most engagement](https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/photos-generate-engagement-research/)––it’s that simple. So if you want to grow your audience, think about using visual content to your advantage.

Social media is a great place to post photos of your team, photos of customers, product photos, event photos, behind-the-scenes photos, and engaging quotes.

However, always try to make sure your visual content somehow ties back to your brand. Reposting is great, but there’s nothing more valuable than being the original creator. If you’re trying to rapidly generate growth across your social media channels, focus on producing original content that engages users while simultaneously exposing them to your brand.

Pay Attention to Analytics

Want to know the easiest way to grow your social media presence? Measure everything. You can’t optimize your marketing strategy without knowing what you need to change.

Engagement rates are an easy way to keep track of what types of content resonate with your audience and when the best times to post are. Always remember to take a look at your followers every once in a while and make sure your audience aligns with your target customer. If not, you may need to rethink what content you’re posting and adjust your targeting.

Create a Content Calendar

The more you start to grow on social media, the harder it will be to stay organized. When you’re running multiple accounts and posting two to three times a day, it’s easy to get behind and lose momentum.

Scrambling for headlines in the middle of the day right before you need to post isn’t a sustainable workflow. It’s crucial to plan your content out in advance. If you want to stay ahead of the game, take the time to sit down at the beginning of each week and build out a content calendar. When you start focusing on social media content for a few hours at a time, you’ll find it’s much easier to stay in the mindset and come up with gripping creative.

Be Consistent

If you want to get seen, you have to post every day—there’s no way around it. Every major social network penalizes users (in terms of feed ranking) for infrequent posting.

Once you find the best times to post for each day of the week, keep it consistent. Ideally, you want to become a regular component of your followers’ daily schedules.

In terms of content, make sure your profile has a theme. While it’s obviously encouraged to test different types of creative, don’t post random cat photos if your followers are there for daily fitness tips. Content curation has its place, but don’t repost random stuff just to get a few extra likes—a strong presence starts with a consistent brand message.