Posts

If You Don’t Have a Responsive Design Website, You Are Losing Business

responsive_design_websiteObserving the trend of increasing mobile usage doesn’t take statistical analysis—it can be observed day to day, in public. Smart Insights lets us know that in 2013 global mobile internet use met and surpassed desktop computer use, and that as of January 2015, 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone, with 47 percent of internet users owning a tablet.

If you’re paying attention to Houston Marketing Matters and other digital marketing sources out there – you know that April 21st marks the commencement of Google’s emergent policy of penalizing businesses without responsive design websites.

There are quantitative consequences for the decisions you make regarding your businesses website and hopefully that decision is to create a site with mobile responsiveness in mind. Here are a few important points for Houston business owners to keep in mind while searching for the best fit for your company.

Responsive Websites Give Your Visitors a Positive Experience

If your visitors are able to get the information they want and need about your business while they are on the go, they will create a positive imagine around your brand within their busy lives. If a user lands on your mobile website and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, there’s a 61% chance they will leave immediately and go to another website.

Responsive Design is Easy

Many marketing professionals do not realize that responsive websites are not mobile sites. Mobile sites require separate domains and can be operating system, software, or model-specific. Responsive design websites adapt to any size screen, so users can comfortably access the site from smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, or laptop computers without the use of different domains. Responsive sites also adapt to future devices because it is based on screen size, not device type.

Mobile Usage is Exploding

Over 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device. This means that an investment in a web platform will become necessary, but business owners who make strategic choice, favoring sustainable responsive sites will reap greater long-term benefits.

The growth of mobile usage makes web pages highly visible aspects of a business’s public image. Speak with someone about an adaptable responsive design that will efficiently deliver important information and a positive experience for a reasonable investment. Keeping this information in mind will, not only, help you to find the best strategic fit for your company but keep your brand current and, in the end, driving more traffic to your new website.

,

A 101 on Mobile Geo-Fencing for Houston Businesses

Technology has opened new doors and broadened the ability to reach customers. In particular, geo-fencing, a mobile marketing technique, has become a go-to strategy for many Houston businesses. Understanding the intricacies and abilities of geographically based mobile advertising techniques and the latest in geo-fencing best practices can open up new opportunities for business to connect with customers on a more personal level.

What is Geo-Fencing?

Over the last five years, advertisers have increasingly looked to mobile technologies to push their products, drawing on a phone’s ability to provide data on a customer’s real-time location data. This has provided invaluable information, such as when and where consumers shop, to help marketers target users in real-time as they shop. Marketers began drawing data from cell tower pins, WiFi data, and GPS locations to advertise to customers when they are physically present at a store or business—a technique known as “geo-conquesting.”

Geo-fencing takes this one step further by hyper-targeting the location. In this case, the person at the shoe store would not just see an advertisement for a different shoe business, but the advertisement would be for a shoe store within walking distance. For Houston marketing, this includes “fencing” off an area within a quarter mile of a business. When the person’s phone data indicates they have stepped into the “fenced” area, they will receive targeted advertisements for the business.

Geo-conquesting and geo-fencing directly increase the chances that the shopper would be willing to modify his or her behavior in real time. It also ensures that targeted results are even more specific to the intended customer while continuing to push for advertising the provides clear ROI.

Geo-Fencing Strategies for 2015

Before jumping into geo-fencing, there are some basic best practices that will especially be relevant in 2015. First and foremost, Houston marketers should understand the format and the limitations of the mobile geo-fenced advertisements in order to select which type will make the most impact. Currently, geo-fencing marketing placement are used in content, display ads, and through SMS (text) messages.

However, not all geo-fencing strategies are created equal. While a SMS or push notification message may be direct and to-the-point, many users opt not to sign up for these alerts. On the other hand, the subtlety of display ads may be lost when a person is distracted.

For 2015, mobile marketers should try tapping into the market via applications that capitalize on a person’s location specifically. For example, Uber, the socially driven car service, uses geo-fencing to target customers who have landed at an airport. When the consumer enters the geo-fenced location, the consumer is greeted with a message welcoming them to their new city and asking if they would like a ride. Other apps, such as those that suggest restaurants or stores, could be invaluable for pushing out messages without being directly from the source.

A Must for Mobile Marketing

For Houston marketers interested in mobile marketing, geo-fencing is the best and latest strategy to effectively target a consumer group. By using real-time data mixed with a knowledge of a consumer base, geo-fencing and geo-conquesting will only improve as the technology expands and consumers become more amenable to such targeted advertising. For Houston marketing, geo-fencing, when done smartly, could bring a major change to how advertisers and consumers connect.

,

How Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Really Works

You’ve spent countless hours working on an amazing product and you’re finally done. Sadly, no one knows about it. What can you do to let others know about it? The Internet is a very big place. Should your Houston business advertise on a specific website or a social network? There are no guarantees with these options.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could guarantee your marketing dollars will have maximum impact? You can with a PPC campaign. (Shameless plug => Cox Media Group (CMG) has an established SMB partnership with Google and has extensive knowledge about having successful PPC marketing campaigns.) You pay for results from customers, not for an ad that may or may not be reaching an audience.

Let’s break this down further to look at how PPC campaigns work:

1. Compare and Contrast Using an Expert.

PPC campaigns work directly with search engines. Because of this, a search engine marketing (SEM) expert can optimize results and ensure the right audience is being reached. Remember, if this is not your area of expertise, it will take more time and money to do this on your own. Consider hiring an expert like CMG from the get go. Vendors like CMG already have a full-time team of experts trained and ready to support your PPC campaigns.

2. Choose the Platform(s) You Will Use.

Typically this is Google (which uses AdWords) Yahoo or Bing. (Note – the last two are now the same platform, called BingAds). Google is the market share leader in search but in many cases it is best to advertise on all three search engines for maximum reach.

This will also help with specific geo-targeting, demographic targeting, or exact match keywords. For example, if you own an Italian restaurant in Sugar Land and someone types in “Italian Restaurant Sugar Land” on a search engine, using geo-targeting and Adwords or BingAds, an ad for your restaurant will come up on search engine results pages (on the top or along the right hand side).

If utilizing the exact match keywords of “great Italian restaurant” your ad appears only when those words are searched. Remember, the more platforms you use, the more time will be needed to spent analyzing and updating the information.

3. Starting Your PPC Campaign.

The next step is to implement the PPC campaign using the specific keywords needed for your ad. This can be very difficult at times as it requires strategy and focus. A PPC campaign can be very time consuming especially if this is the first time going through the process. Research is also required to find the keywords being used match up with wording used by the intended audience.  These are all the more reasons to hire a digital media firm to assist!

4. Analyze the Results.

Once the PPC ads are in place, it is essential to measure and analyze the results and make appropriate changes. A PPC campaign requires constant monitoring. It will take time and some trial and error to be sure the keywords are targeting the right audience and to adjust for changes.

Some of the metrics which are likely analyzed include:

  • Clicks: The number of clicks on the ad placed.
  • Impressions: The number of times the ad is seen.
  •  Click Thru Rate: The number of clicks divided by number of impressions.
  •  Conversions: A click and action taken by customer.
  • Conversion Rate: The number of conversions divided by clicks.
  • Cost Per Conversion: The cost spent divided by number of conversions.

Once these metrics are analyzed, the keywords are fine-tuned to achieve better results. Negative keywords may be inserted which help define when the ad appears. An A/B version testing campaign may also be implemented to see what specific keywords achieve the best results.

Again, this can be a very time-consuming process for many, so it is best to get the help from an expert like Cox Media Group so you can utilize your pay-per-click campaign for optimal success with your customers.

,

Responsive Design & Mobile Display Advertising 101

You’ve heard about mobile advertising and know that your website must be mobile optimized, but you still aren’t 100% sure how to take the best advantage of mobile display advertising for your Houston business. Understanding the benefits of an effective mobile advertising plan is crucial and starts with having a responsive design website. So – here are the goods you need to know.

Mobile Display Advertising vs. Regular Display Advertising

Mobile display advertising is a form of advertising on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Regular display advertising can be seen on desktop computers. Examples of mobile display advertising include: apps, mobile image ads, QR codes, mobile searches, SMS (text messages), and local ads.

Responsive Design vs. Mobile Website Design

Smart mobile advertising is only successful if your business has a website that is mobile optimized. Furthermore, having a responsive design website is pertinent to today’s success as a business owner. Mobile design entails creating an entirely different website to accommodate mobile devices. Using the desktop design website is not conducive or practical for mobile use. However, in today’s rapidly evolving, technologically-driven marketing world, having a mobile website and a desktop URL are not sufficient anymore.

Responsive design is becoming the standard in the digital and marketing world. TechTerms states that responsive web design (RWD) “provides a customized viewing experience for different browser platforms. A website created with RWD will display a different interface depending on what device is used to access the site.” This is especially helpful when displaying content on small screens. Responsive web design ensures that the user can receive and read all content, no matter the size of the screen being used.

The Benefits of Mobile Advertising/Responsive Design

1. Cost-$$avings

Mobile display advertising costs are significantly lower than radio, TV, and print ads, helping you to reach more people for less money. You will see a higher return on investment (ROI) using mobile display ads, while maintaining the same level of quality that traditional advertising previously provided.

2. Accessibility 24/7

People don’t stray far from their mobile devices these days, therefore, your Houston business can reach customers at all times of the day. They can read your time-sensitive messages any time and at their convenience. The best part is that businesses don’t have to wait for customers to sit down at their desktop computers, you can reach them where they are. In addition, most people have their devices “on” at all times, which means your mobile display advertising is always “on”.

3. Larger Audiences (and Growing)

More people are accessing the internet using a mobile device, giving you larger access to the general public and to an audience that is constantly growing. A 2013 survey showed that 73.4% of smartphone owners used their devices to access the internet. This number is expected to exceed 90% by 2017. Consequently, you have the opportunity to reach an audience you might not have using traditional display advertising, only accessed via a desktop computer.

4. Relationship Building

People have a deep connection with and dependency upon their mobile devices now more than ever. You can use this to your advantage by creating a responsive ad campaign that connects intimately with customers to meets their expectations. This low-pressure advertising will garner repeat customers for your business, while allowing a casual, friendly relationship.

5. 2014 Mobile Advertising Results and 2015 Predictions

As of January 2014, 58% of adults own a smartphone; 32% own an e-reader; and 42% own a tablet. Needless to say, it would greatly benefit your Houston business to take advantage of mobile display advertising, as the mobile market is expected to generate $400 billion dollars in sales by 2015 compared to $139 billion in 2012.

recent study has revealed that 50.1% of spending on paid search ads and SEO efforts will go towards mobile advertising in 2015. It is predicted that 76.7% of search spend will go to mobile marketing by 2018.

The idea that your ads can go straight to your customers’ phones is not surprising, yet can make a significant difference, almost immediately for your business. The caveat to this success, however, is to make sure you plan and prepare your mobile display advertising plan correctly and efficiently, while understanding the benefits of such marketing choices and responsive design.

,

Don’t Waste Your Digital Marketing Dollars on Popular Keywords for PPC

Digital marketing, and specifically Pay-Per-Click (PPC) in Houston, can get expensive if you are competing with national brands. To go head-to-head with the ‘Big Guys’ over popular keywords can be a budgetary disaster for smaller businesses.

The Big Guys will always win because of the size of their budgets. However, the ‘Little Guys’ can carve out an affordable strategy by targeting less popular long-tail key phrases. These phrases, although less popular, are more powerful because they resonate with the consumer at the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT.)

What’s the ZMOT?

The ZMOT is the moment when the consumer has decided, consciously or unconsciously, to find what they need and buy it. This person searches quite differently from someone who just wants general information about a subject. They have a pressing need and an immediate desire to fulfill it.

Imagine you are selling a book for parents of toddlers. You want to find the key words, or phrases to bid on that will have the biggest impact. If you target the word “parenting,” you are going to run through your budget very quickly because it is a popular keyword. The people searching for this very general term probably aren’t trying to solve a pressing need.

Less competitive phrases can be more powerful.

Contrast this to a Houston mother who is searching “how to get my toddler to sleep through the night in her own bed.” This is a much less competitive key phrase, but it is much more powerful. If you can provide this person a solution to their pressing need, they are very likely to take action on it. You have found them at their Zero Moment of Truth.

PPC best practices allow smaller companies can focus on less competitive key phrases that have a stronger impact. There is no need to break the bank with Houston PPC. By targeting these key phrases that consumers use when in a buying state, the Little Guys can attract more business without wasting money trying to compete with the Big Guys.

Know the Importance of Online Directories for Your Houston Business

ask_for_large_orders._meaningful_solutions_require_sizeable_investments._In our increasingly digital world, we continue to see shifts in consumer behavior.Long gone are the days when we pull out the Yellow Pages to find the address of a business. Instead, the Internet makes this process much more automatic. After typing in a few keywords such as “Houston auto repair shop,” we are shown thousands of search results all customized to our query and geographic location.

Search engines are just the starting point for information on your business’s services. As consumers move away from search results, many of them end up on local directory sites such as Yelp, Bing, Google+ and Yahoo Local. Not to mention these types of sites are highly optimized and oftentimes populate the top spots in organic search results.

These directories play a critical role in your business’s online presence. It’s not just important to have your business listed on these sites, but also to have your business listedconsistently across each site.

Read below to find out how submission to online local directories can benefit your Houston business.

1. Increase organic rankings in local search.

According to Moz.com in January 2014, consistent business information across local directory sites made up approximately 15% of the local search algorithm. With all these new back links to your website, Google will deem your website more authoritative and in turn your page rankings will increase.

2. Keep business information updated and accurate.

We’ve all had this happen before…. You look up an address online, put it in your GPS, and spend 15 minutes driving three miles in Houston traffic only to find out that the business has moved. As a consumer, you know how frustrating this is. More times than not, you will find another business (your competitor?) with accurate directory listings that satisfies what you’re looking for. Don’t lose customers due to incorrect business information. That is a loss easily avoided.

3. Increase online visibility.

Your current and prospective customers are relying on these platforms to find your business information. Today’s consumers do not have the patience or time to scour the Internet to find your address or phone number. If your business is not easily found, it is likely they will turn to your competition.

4. Monitor your online reputation.

The Internet is the new first impression. Most directory sites have a place where consumers can write a review. Customers take advantage of this opportunity to share their experiences – both positive and negative. Also, today’s consumers do their homework before making purchase decisions and rely on these reviews to be informed. These directories are a great way to keep a pulse on what your customer’s are saying about you so that you can respond appropriately.

Despite all of these benefits, submission to online directories won’t break your budget. It’s one of the most cost-efficient ways to protect your business from your competition. Your business can afford these directories, but it can’t afford losing the business and trust of your prospective and current customers.

Bottom line is that today’s consumers expect everything to be convenient and automatic. If they can’t easily find your business information, they will lose patience and give their business to your competition. Help your current and prospective customers find you by claiming your business on online directories.

The Dos and Don’ts of Back to School Advertising in Houston

back-to-schoolWith more than 300 private schools, eight public school districts, and dozens of colleges and universities in the Houston area, the market for back to school advertising is not lacking and may benefit your business. Here are some dos and don’ts for successful back to school marketing for your Houston business for the next school season and beyond.

Do: Plan your Marketing Campaign Early

Studies have shown that back to school shopping, internet searches, and planning increase the first two weeks of July. Savvy moms, dads, and college students are getting a big head start these days. Begin preparing for this time a few months early. Think about the sales and promotions your business would like to offer, and the means by which you will advertise (i.e., via social media, paper mailers, email list campaigns, and if applicable, store front displays).

Don’t: Forget the Dads

Traditionally, moms have been the target audience for back to school advertising. But more and more dads are getting involved with the school shopping/preparation process and can be great targets for your business’ marketing campaign.

In line with increasing your digital device campaign, a recent report from Microsoft Advertising cited that “50% of men are influenced by digital ads and 44% are influenced by online search results.” So, focus on your digital device ads and promotions to appeal to the men shopping for their kids.

Do: Use Social Media to Bring in Back to School Customers

According to Experian Marketing Services, 64.8% of moms are social media users and are very willing to promote businesses to their friends, if they are pleased with the service and prices. They will also let their friends know when the service and/or prices aren’t to their liking. So prepare well and outshine the competition with your outstanding customer service and promotions.

Don’t: Forget the College Students

They are a large pool of customers to pull from. Marketing to college students has some uniqueness. For example, some students attend school all year-fall, spring, summer, and winter sessions. There is your opportunity to engage beyond the typical back to schoolseason.

During the summer and winter sessions, take special care to market your business through sales and promotions targeted to college students. This is especially beneficial if your business is located in a college town, but even if you don’t, your town still likely has highschoolers departing for college at the end of summer.

Do: Increase Campaigns to Target Different Digital Devices

According to a recent Nielsen report, the average family /individual owns four different digital devices. Do your research so your business can reach each type of device. If this isn’t your cup of tea, hire a tech-savvy professional who can literally hook your business up and get your marketing campaigns seen and heard over the wire (or network).

Don’t: Ignore Opt-in Inbound Marketing

Examples of inbound marketing are SEO (search engine optimization); PPC (Pay-per-click) advertising based on keywords; social media; and blogging. This type of marketing requires constant work and sufficient resources dedicated to producing high quality marketing around the clock. There also has to be excellent communication between your inbound and outbound marketing teams. They need to be working towards the same goals and objectives and collaborate with each other often.

Do: Engage your Customers Beyond the First Day of School

Sometimes in the hoopla of trying to advertise, create sales, and bring in real customers, businesses forget to focus on keeping the back to school customers for the rest of the year and beyond. Keep in mind the students who wait to see what their friends are wearing and bringing to school then shop after the rush. And don’t forget mid-year shopping. Engage well beyond that back-to-school season.

Don’t: Ignore the Good PR You Can Earn by Donating a Percentage of Sales to Local Schools

In the recent economic downturn, schools have received less state and federal funding and many parents aren’t able to contribute financially as much as they once did. A community-involved promotion can surely help to build sales and help the community, in turn, creating lasting relationships.

Marketing for back to school goes well beyond simply lowering prices, shouting out sales, and crossing your fingers that you’ll get some customers. Start planning early; target the right audience; use social media; target various digital devices; engage beyond the rush; don’t forget dads and college students; and be vigilant when using inbound marketing.

How to Make Your Digital Banner Ads More Effective

banner_ad

How do you make sure your banner ads deliver the results you’re looking for? Managed properly, great banner ads can be an effective way to drive awareness and boost site traffic and sale conversions. Here are some tips to make sure your banner ads bring the results you’re looking for:

1. Keep It Simple

Your message should be short, simple, and able to beat the two second glance. Use visual language and high impact messaging. The reader should view it, understand it, and act on it immediately. Avoid flashy, annoying animations and overly busy designs. Aim for clean, simple, and concise.

2. Color Palette

Colors will be the first thing the viewer notices and feels about your banner ad. Use a color scheme that matches your site’s banner image, and remember to contrast the background and the text so the words pop out. Don’t be afraid of white space.

3. Call-To-Action

A strong call-to-action is critical for any advertising campaign to have success. Sometimes “Today Only!”, “Buy Now!”, and “Hurry!” create just the right amount of tension to cause the user to click through immediately. But, sometimes a softer approach might be more appropriate. “Learn More” might be a better fit for B2B software and training’s.

4. Leave Them Wanting More (Call-To-Action II)

You don’t need to put every piece of critical information on your banner ad. Remember, the #1 goal of banner advertising is to get the viewer to click on the ad. Don’t distract with too much type or messaging. Write your banner copy so you leave them wanting more.

5. Width & Height Matter

Your banner ad needs to be large enough, but not so big that it obnoxiously takes over the page. Make sure your ad stands out without cluttering the screen.

6. Keep the File Size Low

Try to keep your banner ad file size low (under 50kb). The bigger the file size the longer it will take to load on the page. If your file is too big, you’ll either lose out on potential impressions (especially people with slower internet connections) or create performance problems for the page.

7. Research Your Competition

What are your competitors doing? Are they offering online coupons? Are their pages too cluttered? Are they using video banner ads with horrible sound quality? Take notes on your competitor’s marketing strategy.

8. Include Your Logo

You may want to create an abbreviated logo or mark to minimize clutter on your banner ads. For example, you could take an element from your logo (ex. a leaf from a tree logo) and include it on the banner ad instead of the whole logo.

9. Target Your Audience

Specifically, who is your audience? Don’t think that it’s “everyone” or the “general public.” Not everyone will be interested in your product or service just because you want them to. Your color palette, message, fonts, coupons, and call to action should all be geared towards your target audience, whether tweens, stay at home moms, car enthusiasts, or those who enjoy a backyard BBQ.

,

3 Reasons Why SEO Can’t be Your Only Online Marketing Strategy

analyticsThe importance of incorporating SEO into your Houston online marketing strategy cannot be underestimated. Millions of Houston residents turn to the internet on a daily basis to find local companies that can supply products and services that they need. If your business website is not prominently listed for industry-related and localized keywords, then chances are you are missing out on reaching a lot of potential customers. However, SEO can’t be your only online marketing strategy. We’re about to explain why. But first, let’s discuss what we mean when we talk about SEO.

What is SEO and How Does it Work?

There are literally tens of thousands of websites on any given topic. When a person searches for a particular keyword (i.e. “discount appliances in Houston”), Google provides a long list of answers. However, statistics show that 90% of search engine users do not look past the answers on the first page. For this reason, it is important for a company to do everything possible (and ethical) to be on the first page of search engine results.

There are many ways in which Google determines how well a site should rank. Some factors that influence this decision are:

  • The number of inbound links a site has (that is, the number of other sites linking to yours)

  • The quality of inbound links, i.e. what type of sites are linking to your site

  • The relevancy of your site to the topic in question (this is why having content pertaining to the right topics on your site is very important)

  • Your website’s bounce rate (that is, how long people stay on your website)

  • The number of indexed pages your site has

  • Whether people are sharing your website and content on social media

If you are not familiar with how to optimize your site for search engines and all this sounds pretty foreign to you, then employing the services of a Houston SEO company can be a good idea. These types of experts can ensure that your site is properly optimized at all times so that it can earn a high position in Google and other major search engines.

However, SEO cannot be your only strategy for reaching customers via the internet. Following are three important reasons why.

1. Search engines will not buy your products.

What matters in the end is not how many people visit your website but how many of these people turn into paying customers. For this reason, your site must appeal to real people, not just search engines. SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing may temporarily boost your site’s ranking. However, they will turn away potential customers. What’s more, Google will catch on and demote your site’s standing.

2. Google is continually updating its algorithms.

Many SEO tactics that worked well yesterday do not work today, as Google continually changes the manner in which it ranks websites. However, if your website appeals to people and not just search engines, your traffic will grow as a result of referrals.

This is yet another reason why hiring experts for your SEO services is important. They should be knowledgable and up to date on the lateste agorithm changes and content marketing trends that will help you get found online, while also tying this with your other online marketing efforts.

3. Visitors’ behavior has a big bearing on your site’s ranking.

As was noted above, website bounce rate has an impact on your site’s standing in Google. If website visitors come to your site, visit various pages and are clearly engaged, this will boost your site’s standing. However, the only way to keep visitors on your web page is to provide something of value and showcase it in a customer-friendly light. Your website must have clear navigation, useful calls to action, relevant content, and be optimized for mobile.

In summary, contrary to what some experts have stated, SEO is neither dead nor a thing of the past. It can help boost your website’s standing in Google and enable you to reach customers you could not reach otherwise. However, it is important to realize that, when all is said and done, your site is for potential customers and not search engines. Make sure your content and website layout is people friendly as well as SEO friendly and you will get the results you are after.

,

A 101 On Why Social Media Marketers Should Use Instagram

how_to_write_and_effective_blog_post

So what is this Insta-picture, photo, candy gram business anyway? The social media network you’re referring to is properly named Instagram, and if you don’t know about it, it’s time that you learn.

Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular social media networks on the scene in Houston and around the world. It provides viewers with a constant stream of photos from people that they choose to follow, updating constantly throughout the day as people continue to post more and more.

Why does it work for online marketers in Houston? The same reason that photos are the most popular item on Facebook. People want to visualize. They want to actually see what people are doing, wearing, selling, and boasting about. As social media continues to grow, words are becoming less and less important, and photos are taking the forefront. Instagram caters to just that.

So where’s the appeal? It’s just photos, what’s in it for me? When uploading photos to Instagram, you can add filters to them, crop them, angle them, add a border and basically ‘Photoshop’ them up to make them the best photos that they can be. Cue the ‘likes’ people! Each photo ‘like’ and comment increases your views on the network by sharing to other users. That’s not all. Not only can you upload photos for all of your followers to view, but now you can even upload 15 second videos right to your feed.

Even better? The videos can be pulled from the storage in your phone and be cut and merged together into a single 15 second clip. That’s right, you don’t have to record directly into the Instagram platform. This gives users endless opportunities to edit whatever they need to cater to their audience.

Once you’ve posted something, you can then choose to share it to all your other social accounts with just one click. Instagram allows its users to link to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr, AND Flickr! All you have to do is select which accounts you want to share with, hit “post” and voila, you have now shared one picture/video to numerous other social networks. Are you seeing the endless marketing opportunities yet?

Instagram has even started to experiment with sponsored posts, one of the most popular sponsors being Michael Kors. We all know that clothing genius, and if you don’t, I guarantee your girlfriend does. Why would Instagram do this? For the same reason Facebook and Twitter have allowed users to now sponsor and pay money to further the success of a post… MARKETING.

The fact that Instagram has now realized its marketing potential should not be overlooked. If you are looking to jump on the train, now is the time. Instagram will continue to grow in success and you want your Houston-based company to establish itself in this photo realm before it becomes swallowed by the corporate sponsor giants.

So what’s the hitch? Instagram runs mainly off of mobile devices/tablets. Although the site instagram.com is accessible on a desktop and laptop computer and allows you to ‘like’ and comment on photos, you cannot actually load a photo to the network unless it is through a mobile device/tablet.

Has this put a dent in the company? Instagram is so far from hurting.  “The mobile app boasts over 50 million users, despite only living in iOS and Android devices. Instagram launched on Android just this year and it quickly earned 5 million downloads in six days. Its success caught the eye of the most valuable social network in the world. Facebook acquired Instagram in April for $1 billion.” (Mashable.com)

The biggest social media network in the world has bought them out! “Instagram’s presence on the web has improved enormously in the last year. You can now use the web version to do just about everything — edit your profile, comment and like photos, discover and follow other users — except upload pictures and videos.” (Mashable.com)

Instead of hurting themselves with this move, Instagram is working overtime to ensure that they are exclusive so their idea and also one of the most popular and current social media networks to date.

Setting up an account is very easy, if you can’t figure it out our friends over at Mashable have given a very nice step-by-step “Beginner’s Guide” to Instagram here.

My parting words… Get on it. Don’t be a fool, Instagram is where it’s at. Get your company on it. The best part? You don’t need to spend hours updating it. It IS possible to overshare on Instagram. Users who post too much do have a higher “unfollow” rate. This means that starting off, your company only needs to post once a day, or a few times a week at that. We can’t make this much easier for you. If you aren’t Instagramming, you’re losing.