6.21.2017

How to Use Instagram to Elevate Your Brand



A few folks have asked for the notes from my presentation from last Friday for The Baltimore Business Journal. So I've done one better—here are the take-aways from my talk.
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This is my car, the one my husband found for me last October. It's a red Mini Cooper Countryman, and as I soon found out—it's the only one like it in all of Garrett County. I told the story of how I was stopped by a gentleman in a restaurant and asked about the car. He proceeded to tell me he had “seen me around.” This has now happened to me several times!

Creepy, right?!?

The reason I told this story is because, as anyone in marketing can tell you, we all have brands. We have personal brands, and we have company brands. My Mini Cooper has become part of my personal brand in Garrett County, but also is in line with my CurlyRed brand, because, duh, it’s red, but also it’s well-designed and memorable.

Instagram can be used much the same way.


When we moved, I decided, without a lot of intention, to post one picture a day to my Instagram feed. Now I’m up to day 294. Each day I find something beautiful or interesting to photograph. As you’ve seen, I even add a quote in Photoshop from time to time. Posting each day to Instagram helps to remind myself why we moved here, espeically on the days when the weather is less than ideal or I find myself face-to-face with homesickness.

Capturing new sights and adventures on my Instagram feed has led to the doubling of the size of my following. So I also occasionally feature CurlyRed work we create that I’m especially proud of—like this new website for a custom woodworking shop in Maryland.

Ok, Kendall, that’s nice and all, but what about me? How can Instagram help me?

I adore Instagram. It’s my favorite social media platform by far. I love that it’s primarily visual. I love that (for the most part) it has side-stepped much of the nonsense you find these days on Facebook. Over 600 million people are currently using Instagram, with 400 million of those users on the site daily.  55 percent of all 18- to 29-year-olds in the United States are using Instagram, but the platform has a broad age range in usage, unlike some other platforms.

BUT—I DON'T love that Instagram allows advertising. I don’t like how it messes with my user experience. Every bit of building my following has come organically from my content.

That being said, In March 2017, over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got directions, called, emailed, or direct messaged to learn about a business based on an Instagram ad. So it clearly works. If you are interested in building your brand or investing money on Instagram, let’s look at some best practices:



 This might go without saying, but your content MUST be visually compelling.
The copy should be the support, but the photo or video content must tell the story.




Tag People Involved. If this is a collaboration with other individuals or companies,
tag them to increase exposure and share the love.


Use Hashtags Often. This is the best way to get discovered by others,
and should be related to your content. A branded hashtag is a hashtag that’s
unique to your business. It can be as simple as your company name, tagline,
or the name of one of your products or campaigns.


Use Geo Locations. This is another way to get discovered,
espeically if you're a small business local for local customers.
Image Carousels. If you’re going to advertise,
it’s a great way to feature multiple products. 




Instagram Stories ads. This feature changes the way Instagram
users interact with ads—allowing users to feel like they’re in the ad.


Instagram Insights (business accounts only). 
Analytics are good for tracking what's working and what's not working.
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I hope these tips have been helpful! If you need additional help taking your
Instagram presence to the next level, please contact us.

6.06.2017

Client Spotlight: W.C. Bird

In CurlyRed's ten years of business, I had a first last week:

I attended the funeral of a client. 

W.C. Bird, passed away unexpectedly on May 22nd, 2017 from heart complications. I had only known him a few short months. We were paired together after he invented and secured a patent for a baseball/softball training tool. W.C. was taking an Entrepreneur class at Garrett College and was hoping to win the business plan competition that was a part of the Power of Possibilities conference, just a few weeks before he passed away. 

Although he didn't win that competition, it was a joy and honor to work along side him. He was kind, caring, always smiling, extremely hard-working, never condescending (even though he could be my dad!), and full of integrity. 

A quick snippet from his obituary shows what an incredible human he has:

Walter Clifton WC Bird, 72, of Morgantown WV died unexpectedly May 22, 2017, from heart complications. WC was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church. A man of great compassion and personal caring, he was a trusted advisor and mentor to many. He had a particular expertise in helping people prepare to enter the workforce. His outreach went well beyond the career and employment spectrum. He touched lives in many different ways. 

Born in Morgantown, WV and a graduate of Morgantown High School he was a 1968 graduate of West Virginia University School of Journalism. While attending WVU, he was inducted in membership to Mountain, Sphinx, and the Scabbard & Blade honoraries. He was a 1965 initiate of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity which he continued to serve throughout his life. He is the immediate past President of the James Cochran House Association. He was a member of the WVU Letterman Club having earned his Varsity Letter in Tennis, a sport which he enjoyed his entire life. Upon graduation he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Signal Corp. He served a full tour in Vietnam where he earned the Bronze Star. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. 

After his service to the country, WC began a career with Scott Paper Company starting in sales and progressing through various management assignments. He retired as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources. Along with his wife, Madonna, his first venture after leaving the corporate world was to develop Ash Mill Farm, a bed and breakfast in Bucks County, PA which they operated for 7 years, welcoming the public into their home. He returned to Morgantown where he could enjoy a varied number of passions. 

He was an artist, architect, and inventor at heart. He was known for his carved and painted gourds. He loved designing and building a variety of things. Inspired by his grandchildren, he engineered a training device to help young baseball and softball players learn to hit and pitch for which he was awarded a patent. He took great pleasure in his affiliation with the Friends of the Art Museum. He tended his garden with the same love and care that he tended to people and his garden always flourished.

As I sat through the service, I was overwhelmed by emotion—not because we were very close, but because I wish I had known him longer. What an incredible legacy to leave behind—to be known first and foremost as someone who loves and serves others.

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In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

This beautiful hymn called the “Hymn of Promise” by Natalie Sleeth, was written for her husband who had recently died. The lyrics resonated with me and seemed to be a perfect end to celebrate W.C's life. W.C., you will be very truly missed.
 
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