Get the edge on your competition by taking advantage of these simple and effective tools. The key to them is often storytelling.
Cheap, easy, effective—these are three words that don’t always come together with digital marketing. But that’s what your dance business will get from the digital tools described here. Two are relatively new, and one is an update. So be an early adopter and get the edge on your competitors. It’s time to get lazy. And effective.
Unleash the Power of Stories
Stories are easier to create than a video, and much more fun than a blog post. They’re tappable, swipeable and get lots of engagement. But they sit in your social media where the algorithmic gods decide who sees them. What if you could own your stories—posting or sharing them where and when you wanted?
With Web Stories on Google, you can do just that—and they’re easy to make. If you have a WordPress site, just load the plug-in and start creating. If not, you can use a publishing tool like Newsroom AI or MakeStories.
Web Stories on Google must have a minimum of five pages. Each story needs to be complete (no teasers). A page can contain images, video, animations and text, and it can link to more information or a product page. When you create one, you’re making a webpage in story format—so you can use that page anywhere. It can stand alone on your website, be embedded in a landing page (or a partner’s website) or on your blog page.
This type of story has a big advantage: As a webpage, it will show up in Google search. It could even show up in the dedicated story section at the top of Google mobile search. Or be featured on Google Discovery (with 800 million users a month). Just think about how powerful that is! When customers search, your story could appear well above your competitors in results. And you can even extend its reach by having it embedded on other websites.
Let’s say you do a story about a dance school’s uniform with pictures or video of the required styles. It would be easy to create and helpful to parents. A great addition to your website, it could also provide helpful information on a dance business partner’s website. What dance school or dance store isn’t tired of explaining school uniforms? Tired of telling new dance parents that leotards are what go on the body and tights go on the legs. A simple explanation of the elements that go into the school uniform is something you can provide with a Google story. All a partner has to do is embed your story on their website, which will improve your search ranking. And because every link goes to your website, it will improve your sales and exposure.
A school uniform story is just one idea of a story to share. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
- Think visually first, then work out the text.
- Create an outline, showing what will be in each panel; it will make things easier.
- Gather up all your materials—copy, video, photos—before you start. This is the most time-consuming step; the actual creation goes quickly.
- Keep your original images without text overlay; create the overlay in the app.
- Do it now, before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon and it gets harder to have your story seen.
Get Lazy With Instagram Guides
Another great tool to get the edge on your competition is Instagram Guides. These are just thoughtful compilations of other posts pulled together in a guide. You’re curating new content from existing content and leveraging it to get great exposure with little effort. Guides are shareable. Because the guide is new, Instagram will give it more visibility.
There are three main categories of guides: places, products or posts.
Places: Say you want to create a place guide of the top five locations to shoot dance photos in your town. Just click “guides,” on Instagram (you’ll see it listed under the “+” sign on your account), click on a location, add captions, and you’re done. Just don’t forget to share it with all your dance partners.
Products: You can curate a themed list of products, including those from complementary businesses. For instance, a “best gifts for dance teachers” guide could include your products, flowers from the florist down the street and great chocolates from that cute store in your neighborhood. Expand your reach by sharing the guide with the featured stores so they can share it with their followers.
Posts: Simply compile posts (yours or ones you’ve saved) into a guide. It helps to unite your guide around a theme, to tell a story. It could be “top 10 fashion leotards” or “best dance photos.” You could also create a guide around a brand, using their posts.
- “Top tips” guides can be very effective. For example, how about a guide on tips for taking care of pointe shoes? Or for getting ready for a dance competition.
- Step-by-step instructions can be very appealing to dance students—a story of another type.
- Use saved posts from other pages in your guide where you can. Including others’ posts (with their permission) will get your guide shared.
- Use guides to get more exposure with less work. It’s OK to be “lazy” and repurpose content.
More Visibility via One of Your Most Powerful Marketing Tools
You already know that Google Business Profile posts are one of your most effective marketing tools. Posts help your listing appear in the top three listings on Google search. And a snippet from your post could even be included in the search results.
The downside of Google posts has been that they would only show up for a week—and so your post would only be seen by a few hundred people. Granted, these were a few hundred potential new customers who were ready to buy and likely didn’t know about your store. But it was still only a few hundred.
Now, Google is leaving your posts up for much longer. So they are more visible—reaching thousands of potential customers, not just a few hundred.
Here’s a post we did for back to dance. Since September, we’ve had over 1,920 views by primarily new customers. (We posted it on Facebook, too.) It was also seen by 256 people who already know us.
So if you are already posting on your Google profile, keep doing it. If you’re not, then take some time from posting on social media and put your efforts where they will be more effective.
- Remember that your Google Business Profile posts are mostly reaching people who don’t know you. These aren’t social media posts to your followers. Introduce your business, and talk about what makes you special. Keep your tone conversational, the way you’d talk to a stranger who wandered in to your studio or store.
- Use original images. Stay away from stock photos, because Google knows if the image is used elsewhere. If you’re stuck with a stock or lousy photo, blur it and lay a little text over it.
- For that matter, consider overlaying text on all your images. It will make them more effective. Just make sure the image isn’t all text, or it won’t be shown.
- Check what Google sees in your image by going to its Cloud Vision API page. Just drag and drop your image into the box and look under the “safe search” tab to see how Google rates it.
- Make sure your posts don’t get blocked. Google has trouble distinguishing light-colored clothing from skin and will block your post because it thinks it’s “adult content.” So don’t post an image with a lilac bodysuit. Go with the red instead.
Digital marketing can be challenging—but these three straightforward tools will help. I hope you give them a try. And do something nice for yourself with the time you’ve saved.
Gilbert Russell is president of Brio Bodywear, which has two brick-and-mortar dancewear stores in Ottawa, Canada. Through his consulting firm, No Qualms Retail, he shares his experience and knowledge with other independent retailers.