Instagram adds tools for brands, starts to look like a real ad platform

Instagram adds tools for brands, starts to look like a real ad platform

Today is a bit like Christma-Hanu-Kwanz-ukkah for brands that use Instagram in their marketing efforts, as the photo-sharing network just announced three new tools for them.

The new tools, “account insights,” “ad insights,” and “ad staging,” are now available to all Instagram advertisers and are meant to give brands better control over their campaigns and results.

From Instagram’s blog post:

The new tools will help brands monitor their posts and campaigns by providing information on reach, impressions, and engagement. For example, an advertiser will now have access to a real-time campaign summary and data showing how their target audience is responding to each of their sponsored photos. Also, brand marketers will be able to better understand the best time of day to post a photo or video.

We’ve worked closely with several of our advertising partners to make sure these tools meet their needs. We’re now making them available to all Instagram advertisers, whose feedback will help us improve the product before releasing it to additional brands later this year.

Account insights shows brands how their Instagram account is doing, including impression, reach, engagement, and so on, and it appears to be for the brand’s photo activity, not paid campaigns. In fact, it looks a lot like the “Insights” page of a Facebook brand page, which is not surprising, given Facebook’s ownership of Instagram.

instagram account insights

Ad insights provide analytics for a brand’s paid campaigns, including impressions, reach, and frequency. The feature conveniently includes an “Export data” button to enable social media managers to easily use the data in their workflow.

instagram ad insights

Ad staging is where social media managers can create, edit, preview, and even collaborate on paid ad campaigns on Instagram. It’s sort of the sandbox before the ads go live.

Instagram first introduced ads on its network back in November 2013 and has since signed deals with ad agencies (not coincidentally once it introduced videos) and opened up its ad program more widely to brands. Now, it’s adding real analytics and insights tools that are turning Instagram from a fun photo app the teens were using, into a real advertising platform.

Facebook, which acquired Instagram in April 2012, has been beefing up its mobile efforts, and reported a strong second quarter for 2014, largely thanks to its mobile business. Unfortunately, Facebook does not report separate figures for Instagram, so it’s impossible really know how much revenue Instagram’s ads have been generating so far.

Fellow visually-driven social network Pinterest has also been leveraging visual ads amongst its user-generated content in the form of promoted pins.

-Courtesy: VentureBeat

3 Ways to Leverage Hashtags to Enhance Your Brand

The reason for their popularity? Hashtags allow you to find timely content online in real time. When you search a specific hashtag, you find recent, if not instant, results. These results can be refreshed and updated minute by minute. This is quite different from using keyword terms on a search engine and finding an article that could be several years old.

Also, for companies and their owners, hashtags allow you to track what’s being said about your industry and your business.

While their functionality is pretty straightforward, hashtags can be leveraged in ways beyond doing a simple search.

Want to be sure that you’re using hashtags effectively for your business or startup? Try one, or all, of these three tips:

1. Virtually attend and participate in industry events.

Need to attend an industry event to connect with consumers or experts in your field but don’t have the budget let alone time to attend in person? Virtually participate by using the conference’s hashtag.

You’ll be able to follow along in the comfort of your own home office, with no airfare or conference fees needed.

And you don’t have to wait till the day of the event to get started. Typically, conference and event planners share their specific hashtags well in advance to help attendees connect and network beforehand. By using the conference hashtag, you can keep current on industry trends while connecting with the speakers, too.

Start by searching the conference’s hashtag results on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on the days leading up to the event. This will help you determine who is speaking, when. Then, on the day of the event, tune into the conference livestream, decide which platform you’ll engage the most on and introduce yourself! Be sure to include the hashtag in your tweets and posts so your comments will show up in the search results.

As a best practice, set a goal. Are you participating to expand your network or connect with strategic alliances? Tweet three attendees. Looking to keep current on industry trends? Read conference recaps and blog posts from the media in attendance.

Last, search the hashtag stream that day to see what topics are being discussed, what attendees have to say. You can retweet comments. You can favorite tweets and share your own thoughts, too.

2. Use hashtags to establish further credibility.

Want to boost your online presence, credibility and visibility? First, participate in a few Twitter chats. You’ll be able to share your expertise while also observing how the hashtag can be used for engagement and tracking online impressions.

Twitter chats, typically an hour in length, hone in on a specific topic and often have a Q and A format. The moderator and participants are able to reply to one another — and the questions at hand — by including the chat’s designated hashtag in their tweets. This allows for conversations to be organized. You will be able to search and filter results versus having to scroll through your followers tweets (without any guarantee that the content you are looking for, and trying to respond to, can be quickly found).

Then, after you’ve had some practice, host your own Twitter chat using a custom hashtag that you’ve create. This will give you further credibility, promote awareness of your company’s brand and provide you the opportunity to connect directly with consumers and influencers.

3. Geotarget hashtags to reach the right audience.

Ready to engage with customers in your city? In lieu of advertising or using broad hashtags (that reach consumers worldwide), drill down and use hashtags that geotarget users in a specific cmomunity. Search your city’s hashtag then “like,” comment and participate in relevant conversations to let consumers know you exist. Make sure to hashtag your own content with your location, too.

As an example, if you own Bob’s Pizza shop in Los Angeles, make sure to add #LA or #LosAngeles to your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

As is often the case with social media, there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all approach.” If you have a hashtag strategy that hasn’t been mentioned here, post it below! As the saying goes (which is now a hashtag): #SharingIsCaring.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

Good.co Wants To Put Employees In Good Company

Whether or not we like to admit it, our relationships with our colleagues are among the most significant in our lives. Dealing with their quirks (endearing or otherwise) can take up as much time as actually working. A startup called Good.co wants to make it easier for co-workers to get along by taking research from organizational psychology and distilling it into a series of easy-to-understand personality quizzes.

The company, which has raised $3 million in funding so far and took part in TechStars Cloud program last year, has been around since January 2012, but recently launched its first mobile app for iOS, which features new quizzes once every couple of weeks. It is now working on a monetization strategy that revolves around subscription-based tools for businesses and companies.

“Americans are disengaged at work and there is a massive human cost and economic cost associated with it,” says Good.co co-founder Samar Birwadker.

“A huge part of the problem is that there is not much transparency at both ends,” he adds. Resources like LinkedIn makes networking and applying jobs relatively easy, but it’s hard to see if someone will be a good personality fit for a company. Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations at Google, said last year in an interview that GPA and test scores are mostly “worthless” in determining how people will fit in at a company.

Ultimately, a lot of a person’s professional success hinges on their ability to get along with colleagues and supervisors.

One of Good.co’s co-founders is Kerry Schofield, an Oxford-educated psychologist, while its advisory board includes human resources and management consultants. Good.co’s quizzes are based in part on the Big Five personality traits, which measure “openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.”

photo 1

Good.co, however, doesn’t use words like “neurotic.” In fact, the tone of its quizzes and results is almost relentlessly upbeat. Instead of just one personality “archetype,” you get three out of a possible 15, though your results may shift as you complete more quizzes. Types include “maveric, go-getter, and visionary” (Birwadker’s cluster) or “idealist, dreamer, and inventor” (mine). Companies get labels like “nuclear family” or “space colony,” that are further divided into subcategories. For example, you might work at a empathetic or aggressive nuclear family.

One of the quizzes answers the question “how do you come across to others?” My results told me, in part, that I am an “independent and introverted” person who is also a “hard worker and [is] most successful when surrounded by limited distractions.” That’s a bit different than what I’ve heard from other people about their first impressions of me (“aloof” and “cold” were some choice adjectives), but then again, as an idealistic dreamer, of course I prefer Good.co’s upbeat approach.

“We worked really hard on not making things negative because we don’t think there is such a thing as a bad company. There’s a right place for everyone and right employee for everyone,” says Birwadker.

Over 170,000 people have used Good.co’s Web app and answered more than six million questions. Birwadker says 15 to 17 percent are recruiters, while 30 to 40 percent of users are passive or active job seekers.

As you take more quizzes, you get a “fit score” that assesses how you will fit into a certain company. It can also show you how to better interact with colleagues at your existing job.

Good.co currently has about 5,000 company profiles, most for mid-size to larger firms, that were put together using information from users, as well as Good.co’s own research into things like how many acquisitions a company has made, its geographical footprint, or revenue from old versus new products.

“These tell you a lot about their attitude towards growth,” says Birwadker.

You can also use the app to find advice on how to deal with different personality types by (anonymously) answering questions about co-workers. For example, if someone is more of a “technician” than a “mastermind,” you should stick to the facts when talking to them, instead of going into abstract concepts.

photo 2Good.co’s competitors include the MBTI tool, a personality assessment test that is popular among HR professionals, as well as companies like Glassdoor and Knozen, an app for sharing opinions about co-workers. Good.co wants to differentiate by taking a “bottom-up” approach, first focusing on the personality traits of individual employees before figuring out how that impacts their team and, in turn, their company.

To be sure, scores on personality tests can’t always predict how a person will react in a certain situation or among a specific group of people. Good.co is currently working on a set of tools that can be tailored to teams and that can provide insights based on different combinations of personality types among individuals or groups. A subscription-based dashboard geared toward managers is part of the company’s monetization plan, and can potentially be an alternative to assessments by HR consultants that only larger corporations can afford.

“We give users insights based on those permutations about how you can work better in an environment that is very different than yours or even in one that is very similar,” says Birwadker.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

10 Signs You Were Born to Be an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs come from all different walks of life but almost all of them share similar personality traits. From confidence to curiosity, there are certain attributes that are inherently entrepreneurial–these are ten signs that you were born to be an entrepreneur.

Risk-Taking Behaviors

Starting your own business is a risk in and of itself. That being said, the sort of risk that entrepreneurship entails is just one in a long line of testing the waters for many entrepreneurs. The time old saying “with no risk comes no reward” is one that entrepreneurs tend to take a little bit too literally, but that’s what makes them fearless leaders and successful business owners.

Tenacity

Drive and the ability to stick with a task goes a long way when it comes to building and running your own business. A lot of people don’t have what it takes to see a business through the tough times that can last for years, but at the end of the day, perseverance is what makes a great entrepreneur.

Confidence

It takes a lot of confidence to be able to break out on your own into uncharted financial waters, and it takes a lot of confidence to be persistent with something that you love, even if it is difficult. But, entrepreneurs tend to be some of the most confident people around, and they have to be in order to see their vision through to the end.

Adaptability

Everybody knows how fickle the economy can be, and it takes an adaptable individual to navigate these changes with grace and persist to make their business a success. Furthermore, as somebody who will frequently encounter unchartered situations and difficult decisions, an entrepreneur is always willing and able to take challenges head on and try find the best possible outcome. You never know what to expect as a business owner, but entrepreneurs are always ready and able to adapt to the challenge.

Curiosity

Curiosity is a trait that most entrepreneurs have in spades, and it can really help them innovate and drive their own success. Most businesses are built upon their owner asking questions of the market and finding problems to solve, and they persist by looking into new strategies and solutions to keep them on the cutting edge.

Restlessness

There is quite a bit of work that goes into running your own business; in fact, there is something to do almost all of the time. An entrepreneur will have no problem with this, as they are always looking to have their hands on what might be the next big thing!

A Focus On The Big Picture

Being able to juggle tasks and wear a million different hats makes a successful entrepreneur, especially at the crucial beginning points in the life of a business. A good entrepreneur can strategize and utilize all parts of a situation with ease.

A Rebellious Streak

It takes a lot of guts to break out on your own, away from the security of working for someone else. This kind of rebellion definitely started early on in life, and you might notice a pattern in your past that follows breaking the mold.

A Desire to Build Things

This doesn’t necessarily mean physically building things, but entrepreneurs really love the process of putting things together to create a whole to show. New challenges excite the entrepreneur and being able to build a successful business or product from the ground up is a source of pride for most.

Competitiveness

Entrepreneurs love to show off their competitive side through their successes, and won’t give up until they’re on top. Just like the world’s most successful athletes, entrepreneurs have an undying drive to be the best of the best, and are always finding ways to outdo their competitors.

Every entrepreneur is different, but the most successful ones all share these ten personality traits. If this list sounds like you, then you may be cut from the entrepreneurial stone and maybe someday, you’ll be the founder of the next major company!

-Courtesy: Inc.com

5 Steps Toward Building Influence as a Great Thought Leader

Do you have something to say about a topic you are well versed in? If so, you could become an influential thought leader in your field of expertise.

Thought leaders are CEOs, businesspeople, entrepreneurs and other individuals who are respected for their knowledge and expertise and who have something to say and know how to say it. Thought leadership can spread awareness about the individual’s company while he or she develops a personal brand, influence and credibility. Just like building a business, becoming a recognized thought leader requires dedication and a strategy.

Here are five steps to take to help you build a strong thought-leadership campaign:

1. Clarify your purpose.

The most successful thought leaders have a purpose and a clear definition of what they want to accomplish. They also understand the time and dedication it can take to become influential. Before embarking on a thought-leadership program, consider your goals and what you want to achieve.

Do you want recognition? Do you want to earn credibility and respect from your peers and from the public? Do you want to offer advice and help people?

Figure out your purpose and why becoming a thought leader is important to you. Then build a strategy to support that purpose and your goals.

2. Identify your voice.

Thought leaders have a strong, identifiable and distinct voice that sets them apart from others. Their voice is their brand and their audience knows exactly what they stand for and what to expect from them. Most important, they don’t stray from their brand identity and instead look for opportunities to make it even stronger.

If you want to develop a strong voice and brand, ask yourself: What are my values? What do I stand for? What can I offer that isn’t obvious? What can people learn from me? Be clear and concise about your voice, your stances, your ideas and be sure that everything you do and say aligns with that.  Remember to stay true to who you are because the most successful thought leaders are authentic.

3. Write.

One of the defining characters of thought leaders is their ability to effectively communicate their expertise and knowledge to their audience. A great way to get your thoughts and experience noticed is by writing contributed articles, op-eds and blog posts.

This allows you to be a part of the conversation, establish your voice, demonstrate your expertise and contribute to an ongoing dialogue. Writing gives you the opportunity to not only demonstrate your abilities but also earn credibility with your audience and other thought leaders in your industry.

Do you have advice and tips for other entrepreneurs? Can you provide lessons that you learned while creating and running your business? Figure out how you can turn your experience and background into a learning opportunity for others and start writing!

4. Build an active online presence.

Great thought leaders have mastered the art of sharing and putting their message and brand out there. A good way to offer advice and tips is to actively share them on social-media platforms. A great thought leader understands how instrumental social media is in developing their voice. He or she looks for opportunities and groups to join and uses different platforms to talk about his or her expertise and becomes a part of relevant conversations.

Building an active online presence requires a social-media strategy that allows optimal brand exposure and opportunities to actively connect with different audiences. Therefore, provide relevant and interesting content, actively engage with users, ask questions and offer feedback and insight on Twitter and Facebook. Establish your credibility, offer your expertise and make yourself reachable by participating in discussions on Reddit, Quora and LinkedIn.

Be strategic about your social-media profiles and always look for opportunities to build your brand and spread your message.

5. Be a mentor.

Great thought leaders have strong ideas that live on through the people they have influenced and helped out. These informal teachers understand the importance of becoming a mentor and shaping the next generation of leaders in their field. They want to share their experiences, lessons and knowledge so that others will continue in their footsteps.

Do you remember how much of an impact your mentor had on your life? Your mentor influenced who you are today as an entrepreneur and how you run your business. You have vast experience and are full of lessons and a wealth of knowledge that you could share with others to make an impact on their life and your own.

Great thought leaders are influential and affect the trajectory of popular topics and conversations. They have gained t he respect of their peers and the public and use their credibility to offer direction that others can benefit from. They understand the importance of building a sphere of influence and being recognized as an expert. Most important, thought leaders look for strategies to strengthen their position and share their views with others.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

Rocket Internet’s ClickBus scoops up $10M to make bus trip booking better

Rocket Internet’s ClickBus scoops up $10M to make bus trip booking better

ClickBus, an online booking platform for bus travel, announced $10 million in funding from investors Latin America Internet Group, Tengelmann Ventures, Holtzbrinck Ventures, and Rocket Internet. It plans to use the capital to grow in existing markets, invest in technology, and continue expanding. The Rocket startup was founded one year ago and is now present in seven countries.

ClickBus wants to bring the sale of bus tickets online, which presents both challenges and great potential for the startup. It reports that 120 million passengers travel annually by bus in Brazil, however, less than 5 percent of bus tickets are sold over the internet. Brazil was the starting point for ClickBus’ business, and it has since has expanded at a pace customary for Rocket ventures to Mexico, Germany, Poland, and Thailand. Now, the bus booking platform is available in Turkey and Pakistan.

According to ClickBus, it has sold close to 1 million tickets by offering trips to more than 8,000 destinations in its first year of operations.

Cesário Martins, Global co-chief executive and co-founder of ClickBus, explains on how ClickBus plans to use the funding: “‘The funding’ will allow us to continue our growth trajectory in existing markets and advance our technology, especially in the field of M-Commerce, where we will launch apps for iOS and Android shortly. The new round of funding will also allow us to tackle further markets, which are mostly in the offline realm.”

ClickBus currently has around 100 employees worldwide.

-Courtesy: VentureBeat

Meedoc, The Video Conferencing App For You And Your Doctor, Raises $1.5M Seed Round

Why can’t you Skype your doctor? That was the question Mikko Kiiskilä asked before co-founding Meedoc, an app and service that lets patients connect with their doctor online via the medium of video. Telephone consultations are already widely used by the medical industry — especially for pre-screening and follow up consultations — but doctors have been slow to upgrade the ‘technology’ in the age of near-ubiquitous broadband, mobile devices and apps.

Today the Finnish startup is disclosing a $1.5 million seed round from unnamed investors from the healthcare industry — spanning the fields of pharma, care providers, pharmacists, doctors and medical regulation.

Whilst no well-known Silicon Valley or European angels are included in this list, Kiiskilä is keen to point out that a startup hoping to knock down walls in the extremely regulated healthcare industry in Europe, requires a different kind of investor profile and one that has the knowledge and connections to help with that mission.

The mantra ‘move fast and break things’ doesn’t apply so much when you are dealing with people’s health, he says.

To that end, Meedoc, which is currently launched in its home country of Finland, has successfully registered as a CE-certified Medical Device telemedicine platform, enabling it to be used for treatment across the European Union.

However, perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Meedoc’s simple app to enable on-demand or pre-booked video consultations with your doctor, is the startup’s target market, which is already seeing the service find a home with companies who want to make it part of their healthcare plan for employees.

The premise being that early medical attention — in the form of a convenient video consultation — can often result in less time off work and a healthier employee in general, specifically for straightforward and easily treatable conditions that don’t require a hands-on physical examination.

Doctors can also prescribe medication after a Meedoc-facilitated diagnosis. And, of course, the employee doesn’t have to book time off work simply to see the doctor in the first place. Now that does sound like progress.

Regarding monetisation, Meedoc charges companies €10 per month per employee for unlimited use. Kiiskilä says the company counts thousands of patients as users, from corporates and SMEs, including KONE elevators (one of the largest publicly trading companies in Finland).

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

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