Inspiration

Tips on Creating a Cohesive Instagram Feed

Social media strategy is an essential facet of digital marketing, but not all social networks are created equal. Posting on Instagram requires a careful attention to visual detail that can instantly boost your brand if done correctly.

Stay True to Your Visual Identity

B&G Client: @Kollectin

 

What story does your product tell? Who are you trying to reach and inspire? These are questions that should influence the visual identity of your Instagram feed, and each photo should provide a consistent answer. The colors, presentation and even the light you choose will have a strong impact on your visual identity on Instagram. If you want to project a mysterious and ethereal identity, you can play with depth of field and use variable light to create moody pictures. If you’d like to create a bright and cheerful look to represent your brand, well lit photos with a deep depth of field that keeps everything in focus can be a more logical choice.

Use Consistent Photo Styling

It’s the little things that really count in a medium that’s as structured and refined as Instagram. The platform itself provides just enough support to let your images shine, and followers can see your entire feed in just a few seconds with a scroll. This means that the balance between variety and uniformity is paramount in creating consistency without being boring.

How can you accomplish this balancing act? You’ll want the subjects of your photos to vary while keeping the structure of the image itself consistent. This means using similar compositional methods and choosing similar perspective angles. You don’t have to shoot from the exact same angle every time, but there should be a consistent blend. For example, you can include about 30% overhead product shots at 90 degrees, 30% lifestyle shots at 45 degrees and 30% landscape or still-life shots at a dead-on 90-degree approach. You can create your own formula and even gradually shift it over time, but think carefully about the angles and compositional shapes you’re using in terms of how they fit into general categories in your feed.

Exercise Restraint

Instagram is among the most aesthetically minimalistic social networks, and a strategy of excess just doesn’t work with the fundamental way the app is structured. A feed that’s clogged with a wild blend of long text posts, multiple tiny images crammed into collages and the occasional striking photo feels especially frantic and unappealing in such a spare, gallery-like digital setting.

A thoughtful Instagram strategy requires careful selection for each post. Rather than quickly editing and immediately posting every photo you take and idea that comes to mind, take some time to think about it. Consider whether the image itself fits in with your overall brand presentation and whether it continues the identity and styling themes you’ve worked so hard to create. Saving each new post as a draft before actually pushing it to your feed can give you the distance you need to make a more carefully considered decision about whether or not the image fits in with the rest of your feed.

For professional help in curating and producing images for your Instagram feed, contact us at B+G.

 

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The Internet of Things (IoT) Converges with Beauty Products, Apparel and Jewelry

There is a revolution happening all around us, yet many of us simply aren’t noticing it. It is called the “The Internet of Things” (IoT) and it is defined as a network of physical objects and devices that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

Gartner Research reports that 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use in 2016, up 30% from 2015. The IoT sector will support total service spending of $235 billion in 2016, up 22% from 2015. Leading sectors include homes, automobiles, and consumer products.

You might be surprised to learn that the IoT revolution is now impacting the beauty, apparel, and jewelry business sectors.

BEAUTY

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 12.43.14 PML’Oreal is not a name typically associated with the International Consumer Electronics Show, but in early January, Guive Balooch, global VP of L’Oreal Technology Incubator, was in Las Vegas to unveil the beauty giant’s new foray into wearable tech: a temporary tattoo that measures sun exposure call “My UV Patch.”

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“My UV Patch”

It is a “stretchable sensor” with a diameter of one inch and thickness of 15 microns (think band-aide-like). My UV Patch contains flexible electronics that with the help of your smartphone, can tell you how much UV exposure you are subject to and at what times of day, with the help of your smartphone. “It’s a fashion statement” Mr. Balooch said in a NY Times interview.

As to why they started with a patch, “We know from our consumer insight research that UV exposure is a big issue for people,” Mr. Balooch said. “We really only wanted to make products that would disrupt the industry.”

APPAREL

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 12.47.55 PMAfter testing out the technology on ball boys at the 2014 US Open, Ralph Lauren began selling a PoloTech™ smart shirt for men that is embedded with sensors to track vital signs like breathing, heart rates, stress levels and calories burned.

The PoloTech shirt streams the information to an app that generates customized workout programs. From all this data, the shirt will essentially tell you how to exercise.

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Light up your life

Fashion designers are also now exploring the potential of sensors and internet connectivity to create clothing and accessories that are often beautiful and intriguing as well as smart.

Lauren Bowker at The Unseen in the UK has created materials that change color and pattern in response to sensors, including a dress that “interprets human magnetism and emotions by reading brainwaves,” and a “4,000-piece gemstone headdress that reads brain activity, portraying distinctive color states of the individual’s thought process.” (shown at right)

The UK Guardian reported on the trend last year “Get yourself connected: Is the internet of things the future of fashion” including dresses that glow thanks to LEDs embedded in the fabric of a programmable shirt that features a video display, built in camera, microphone and speakers with the ability to show status updates, songs and photos.

JEWELRY

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ALTRUIS gold & black bracelet

There is more to connected accessories than smart watches. The fashion-forward Altruis from Kovert Designs is meant to remove people from the spell of tech and put them in a more meditative, connected to the here and now frame of mind. Unlike their better-known competitor Ringly, the Altruis collection is designed to limit the demands your phone places on you.

Instead of providing a constant technological tug and alerting you to activity across your social media accounts, it lets in only a select few who try to reach you with calls, texts, and email messages. Prices: $345-$430.

Ringly is the acknowledged category leader in “smart jewelry.” They create jewelry and accessories that connect to smartphones and provides customized notifications to on-the-go women.  Ringly is also working with MasterCard to make their jewelry a mobile payment device. Imagine using your bracelet to buy a stunning gold necklace.

THE FUTURE OPPORTUNITY

At BLACK + GOLD we’re excited about the IoT wearable technology as it enters the beauty, apparel and jewelry business sectors. We think this convergence spells plenty of opportunity for both large and small businesses alike to test “disruptive ideas” that will evolve the function of their products

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2016 Resolutions for eCommerce Businesses Success

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.33.02 AM2015 was a good year for many eCommerce businesses, but regardless of how prosperous your company was, there’s always room for improvement! With the new year upon us, BLACK + GOLD has come up with five New Year’s resolutions that can help make 2016 progressive and prosperous for your business.

  1. Get engaged with social media marketing

Social media Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.42.23 AMcontinues to grow like a weed, and it has become a great venue for not only marketing but also selling using newly introduced “buy buttons” where people can buy directly from the social media site. Everything is testable on social media, including which types of “content” resonate with your target audience, reflected by what they choose to engage with and share.

  1. Start your own blog (and post frequently)

More and more companies are using marketing to “invite a conversation” with their customers rather than “talk at them” the way traditional advertising does. A blog can tell your story, or invite your customers to share their stories about your brand. Authentic and engaging content produces results: people will think your blog is worthy of sharing and commenting on, and it will build your brand in the process.

  1. Upgrade your website content

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.45.49 AMYour website is your “digital storefront” and it should be treated with great care. Take an objective look at your site (or have someone else do it) to make sure the content makes sense. Look at your web analytics for simple metrics like the “bounce rate” off your site (people who only look at the home page then leave, often never to return). Be sure to change a homepage that is boring or off-putting. Make sure you have a clear call-to-action and use relevant key words to consistently drive web search traffic.

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Branded image created by B+G in 2015

  1. Create a consistent / high quality visual brand image

Consider creating visual keywords. Does your website and its product images convey a consistent, high-quality look and feel? Are all the images easily identifiable as your brand? This applies to static images and video /streamed content as well. Consider developing visual keywords for your website. Check out our blog post on the best ways to do this.

  1. Take reasonable risks

In his book “The Start-up of You” LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman suggests that people should act like a start-up and be in “permanent beta”  or constantly challenging the status quo by testing new things. This can include your merchandise, distribution channels, website images, pricing strategy, marketing efforts or even evolving your business model. Try a test-learn-apply approach to business. Disruption can create big value, just look at Uber and Airbnb.

Here’s to a healthy, happy, and- most of all -prosperous 2016 from the team at BLACK + GOLD.

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Holiday Tips for the Upcoming Season

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 2.42.02 PMThinking about how to make life better during a typically stressful time of year, the BLACK+GOLD staff discussed our personal and business holiday tips. We decided to share them in the hopes they might help others.

  1. Remember to be kind to yourself: We have two schools of thought here, one physical and one emotional.

Physical: Massage. The highly respected Mayo Clinic reports in its Healthy Lifestyle blog under Stress Management about the many benefits of massages. The article states “Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.”

The potential benefits of a massage include treatment of anxiety, headaches, insomnia related to stress, soft-tissue strains and sports injuries.

Massages are now available in places like malls and airports. Xpress Spa and Be Relax are two of the leading airport spa / massage providers. Check out their websites for airport locations nationwide.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 2.59.31 PMEmotional: Meditation Apps. The NY Time recently wrote a review of meditation apps designed for smart phones. The article starts by saying “By now you’ve probably read about how meditation may help you manage anxiety, stress and blood pressure, and help you sleep better, be more creative and improve your relationships.” We couldn’t agree more.

It’s best to start with an app that will teach you the basics of meditation through a guided program. The sessions will introduce you to the concepts of mindful awareness and techniques such as focusing on your breath and body.

2. Outsourcing for Any Occasion: We’re big on outsourcing, and we don’t necessarily mean having your manufacturing done in some third world country.

From a business standpoint we like Intelecall Inc. for lead generation, outbound sales calls, inbound sales support, customer service and tech support. (Check them out. Mention BLACK+GOLD to receive a 10% discount)

For personal convenience we like instant delivery apps. Even living and working in NYC you can’t beat delivery to your door for nearly anything the heart desires. The NY Times rated four leading services recently. Be aware that there is a price mark-up for these services, that’s sometimes not transparently communicated.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 3.06.47 PMAnd if you live in NYC check out Task Rabbit. They can help with home cleaning, delivery services, assembling IKEA furniture, general handyman services and even wait in line for restaurants, special events or the Department of Motor Vehicles.

3. Remember to Work On Your Business (not just in it). Business can just get crazy during the holidays, especially for eCommerce businesses.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 3.08.52 PMWhile you’re busy filling orders and providing extra customer service, be sure to take time to look at the data your eCommerce is generating. Then use that information to optimize your website and social media marketing.

Start with Google analytics. Check out “The absolute beginners guide to Google Analytics” from the Moz blog. This article will give the clear reasons why you need Google Analytics, and then a step-by-step guide to installing and using it.

With these handy tips you‘ll get through the holiday in calm and good order, and build your business in the process. What a great way to go into 2016.

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