MARKETING STRATEGY

Instagram business myths that you need to stop believing!

Instagram myths that you need to stop believing. Instagram isn't just for product-base businesses or fashion bloggers. If you think you can't use Instagram for your business, read this post!

I’ve heard a lot of different “excuses” for why people think Instagram isn’t a good platform to market their business and some of them drive me insane because I KNOW they’re just not true. Over the past few years I’ve used Instagram for a number of different businesses and blogs, so there’s definitely not ONE right way to use it. I really do think that MOST online business owners should be using it to connect with potential customers because it’s a platform that allows you to build relationships in a way that’s unlike any other platform.

SO HERE ARE A FEW INSTAGRAM MYTHS I’VE HEARD MORE THAN ONCE…

and why I think you should stop believing them now!

My customers aren’t on Instagram

There are over 800 million people on Instagram so chances are, your customers are already there. Years ago most Instagram users were on the younger side, but now only about half of those are under 35 – so really everyone (and their mom) is on Instagram now! BUT – your customers aren’t necessarily looking for YOU on Instagram, so you may need to do a little homework to find them.

TAKE ACTION: Do your research. If you don’t know who your target audience is, you’re going to have a hard time with social media marketing across the board. Think about what other accounts they might follow (Who inspires them? What blogs do they read? Who are your competitors?) and the hashtags that are relevant to them (not just the ones that describe your business).

I need a lot of followers to make money on Instagram

While growing your following is important if you want to expand your reach, followers aren’t everything! Rather than focus on just getting a lot of followers, I always advise my clients to focus on getting targeted followers who are actually engaged with your content. At the end of the day would you rather have 20,000 followers who never want to buy from you or 2,000 followers who are loyal customers? Followers are often a vanity number (and unfortunately it’s easy to buy followers these days – ugh!), but you definitely don’t need a ton of followers to make money on Instagram. One of my clients booked 3 clients from a single Instagram post – and she only had 200 followers at the time!

TAKE ACTION: Focus on engagement + building community. You don’t need to follow a ton of accounts and hope that they follow you back. “Introduce” yourself to 10 new accounts every single day by liking and leaving genuine comments on their photos. Don’t forget to respond to comments, and make sure your profile clearly states who you are / what you do / how people can buy from you or hire you.

Instagram is only for product-based businesses

No ma’am. I’ve sold $10 statement necklaces, $100 digital products, and $1,000 consulting packages all via Instagram (not to mention my dog charges $1,000+ PER POST as a social media influencer), so I’ve personally sold a range of things via Instagram. But don’t just take my word for it – my clients have sold $30 home accessories, $200 organic skincare products, $2,500 photography packages, and $5,000 coaching packages. So Instagram is definitely NOT just for product-based businesses! If you have a digital product / service based business you can share photos of mockups, examples of your work, behind the scenes photos of your business or office, or other lifestyle photos that are still on brand.

TAKE ACTION: Make sure you’re telling people what you offer and how they can get it. Even if you have your business information in your bio, you need to remind people in the captions of your photos what you do or what you sell from time to time. And if you’re actively seeking clients or customers, make sure you are also telling them how they can hire you or where they can find your products! For example, if you’re a graphic designer you might post photos of your design work on Instagram and then tell people that they can click the link in your profile to find out more about your design services. Don’t just assume your followers know who you are and what you do! Here are more ideas on what to post on Instagram for both product and service-based businesses!

Instagram Resource Guide for shooting, editing, scheduling photos

You need professional photography to stand out on Instagram

This is definitely not true!  Most Instagram users are not professional photographers (and can’t afford to pay someone to take photos for them) – but that doesn’t mean you can’t stand out on Instagram! You can take amazing photos with just an iPhone (see some amazing examples right here), and some people use (on brand) stock photos or just repost other people’s photos (with proper credit of course). Instagram is a visual platform so the quality of your images / videos does matter, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a pro!

TAKE ACTION: Save time by batching your photos once a week or once a month. If you’re taking your own photos and want them to look consistent, it’s much easier to do that if you take them all at one time! Plan out a few weeks in advance if possible so you can prepare your content and always know exactly what to post. If you have the budget to outsource content creation, make your life easier, then make your life easier!

While growing your following is important if you want to expand your reach, followers aren't everything!Click To Tweet

Instagram won’t drive traffic to my website

One of Instagram’s “flaws” is that you’re only allowed the one clickable link in your profile (unless you’re running ads or using the shop feature), but this “flaw” is also one of the things that keeps Instagram from being super spammy! Here’s the thing, if you want people to click on the link in your profile you need to give them a reason to do it – don’t just assume that because you link to your website or blog people will decide to click through on their own. Most people who are scrolling through Instagram aren’t looking for a reason to LEAVE Instagram, so driving traffic to your website requires a little strategy – but it’s really not that hard!

TAKE ACTION: Make sure you have a clear call to action in your bio telling people WHY they should click on the link in your profile. Bonus points if your CTA leads them to sign up to get something valuable for free!

I don’t have a lot of time to spend on using Instagram for my business 

I’m not going to lie, Instagram is not going to work for you if you don’t put in some work – BUT, unlike Twitter or Pinterest where you need to be constantly posting throughout the day, you can post just once per day on Instagram and get great results! Unfortunately (or fortunately really), you can’t just post a photo every day and expect to bring in the $$$. You need a strategy and you need to be consistent (as with most things in business)!

TAKE ACTION: Plan your content in advance and schedule it out. If you take my advice above and batch your photos in advance or use high quality stock photos, you can also pre-write your captions (here are 365 different Instagram caption ideas!) and schedule your posts using a scheduling tool like Planoly. Do a little work up front and you can save a ton of time when it come to creating your content – then you can just focus on engaging + building community for a few minutes each day!

Did you believe any of these myths? Are there any other reasons why you think Instagram can’t work for you?!

Not sure what you should be posting on Instagram?

Download my guide to 365 Instagram caption prompts that you can use for your online business!

How to Get More Engagement on Instagram

5 ways to get more engagement on Instagram - for bloggers, entrepreneurs, small business owners who want to grow an engaged Instagram following, get more likes, more comments, and more customers!

Since Instagram announced that they would be rolling out changes to the platform’s algorithm a couple of months ago, there’s been a lot of panic followed by a lot of requests to “turn on post notifications” followed by a lot of talk about “focusing on engagement” to make sure that people continue to see your content. I’m firmly on team panic-is-dumb-let’s-take-action, but regardless of the algorithm changes, engagement has always been important. So let’s talk about how you can actually get more engagement on Instagram!

How to get more engagement on Instagram

I hosted a webinar on this topic in April, but realized I’ve never really shared much about it on the blog – so I’m breaking down 5 actionable ways to increase your engagement!

Create Relevant Content

First things first – if you’re not creating relevant content, you’re going to have a hard time getting people to engage with it! Remember the purpose of your Instagram account – assuming you’re using it for your business (or blog), what are you trying to share with your audience? Are you educating them / inspiring them / sharing behind the scenes with them?

Is sharing a photo of your avocado toast really relevant to your purpose? No? Then don’t do that.

“Relevant” is obviously relative, so you need to know your audience. More on that in this post, but if you’re trying to appeal to everyone, you’re probably appealing to no one. And that’s no fun. We’ve got ya covered with this handy list of 365 Instagram prompts! Need help figuring out what to post on Instagram for your business?

Remember your purpose, know your audience, and create content that’s relevant to your purpose and relevant to your audience. 

For example, THIS <– I relate to this so hard. #bikiniseason #notready #hatesworkingout

Engage With Your Audience

Here’s an easy one – if you want your audience to engage with you, engage with them. Common sense, right? But how often do you actually do it? 

Engaging with your audience means including calls to action in your captions to encourage your audience to actually do something. Ask them a question. Ask them to tag a friend. Tell them to click the link in your profile to get something VALUABLE.

Engaging with your audience also means responding to their comments (please tell me you are already doing this) AND engaging with their content. You don’t need to follow all of your followers back, but taking some time to give some of their posts a little love can go a long way!

If you have trouble making time for engagement, I’ve found that it’s easier if I carve out specific blocks of time for it. Rather than try to keep up throughout the day, I usually take a few minutes around lunchtime to respond to comments, etc. and then again at night when I’m watching tv before bed.

Remember your purpose, know your audience, and create content that's relevant to your purpose and relevant to your audience. Click To Tweet

Focus On Community Building

Of all the things I’ve learned in my  6+ years of blogging, one of the most important things is how much community building matters. You can only do so much on your own, but when you have a community of like-minded people to support you, the possibilities are endless. As an introvert, reaching out to new people is something I’m constantly working on, but on Instagram it’s really not that hard to 1) find new people whose content you like / connect with 2) follow them 3) leave genuine comments on their photos. Seriously, that’s it!

As you start to find more of “your” people, don’t forget to provide value to them and find ways to give back to your community. You could literally give something away (by hosting a giveaway), but there are plenty of other ways to give back. Collaborate with people. Share their content. Learn from each other.

Planoly - best visual Instagram scheduling tool

Use Hashtags Strategically

If you want more engagement on Instagram (which I assume you do if you’ve read this far!), then getting more eyes on your posts certainly can’t hurt. But not just any eyes – targeted eyes.

I could write an essay on hashtags (sidenote: Maybe that’s a thing that people do in college these days? I’m so old… but recently a FIT student interviewed me about my dog’s Instagram account for a final paper, so apparently that’s a thing), but if you aren’t using them strategically to help people find your content, you’re missing out!

Your hashtags should be relevant to your target audience, specific to your brand / your niche, and popular enough that they are being used and searched by other people. 

So for example, if you want millenial-creative-entrepreneur-work-at-home-moms-who-love-watercolor-art to see your content, using a hashtag like #harleydavidson is not relevant.

And using a generic hashtag like #love is not helping your content get found because it’s not nearly specific enough and probably has nothing to do with your business, but #lipsticklove could be relevant if you are a makeup artist or beauty blogger.

And #pleasedontusehashtagslikethis because #nooneissearchingforthem <– seriously.

Pay Attention To Your Analytics

Last but not least, if you want more engagement on Instagram, pay attention to the types of content that people are engaging with, and post more of that. I think that many creative business owners have a tendency to have lots of ideas and want to try new things, but sometimes the best thing you can do is focus on doing more of what already works. 

I use Iconosquare Pro to track Instagram growth and engagement and specifically look at the photos/video that get the most likes and comments to see if there are certain patterns or things that they have in common – then try to incorporate those things into future posts. This is such an easy concept (and yet something that a lot of people don’t do!) – plus, you can use Iconosquare to determine the best times to post for your audience, so you can post during the times when they’re actually on Instagram to optimize your engagement! 

But what else?

So those are 5 actionable ways to get more engagement on Instagram, but I know you might be thinking ok, great but…

Download 365 Instagram prompts for creative business owners!

5 Things I Learned From Getting 50,000+ Instagram Followers

5 things I learned getting 50,000 Instagram followers plus a free Instagram Resource Guide download.

Last week, we hit a pretty cool milestone – 50,000 Instagram followers. If you’re new around here, “we” is me + my dog Mochi. She’s obviously way more popular than I am.

This post not about how we grew from 0 – 50,000 followers but more about a few of the things I’ve learned along the way. Although you can read this post + this post!

There will always be someone ahead of you and someone behind you

This is probably the most general life + business lesson of the bunch, but I’ve found the need to repeat it to myself lately. I often struggle with feeling “good enough” to do things – as a recovering perfectionist, I feel this annoying need to be REALLY good at anything I do (or not do it at all) which is a really terrible thing for my mindset when it comes to basically everything I’ve done / tried to do for the past 2 years. I had the idea for Celebripet Boot Camp last year but it took several months for me to actually launch and make it happen (in part) because I was worried no one would want to take an Instagram course from someone with “only” 15,000 followers (when there were so many people with thousands more). And even now just a few months later with over 50,000 followers, I still occasionally feel like a small fish in a big pond in comparison to accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers.

This is silly. This is insane actually. To say that I still sometimes feel irrelevant with over 50,000 Instagram followers (which is more than four times the number of people in the city my parents live in, FYI) – kind of makes me want to slap myself into reality. You only need to know more than the person you’re teaching to provide value. And just because someone else may know “more” or be further along, that doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. Period.

The most specific your niche is, the easier it is to find your people

I’ve mentioned before, niching down was something that took a few years to figure out, but once I did, magical things happened. This is something that many of my clients and students have struggled with as well – and to be honest I do think it takes some time to figure out, but when you do, it’s easier to find “your people” and easier to create content that appeals to them. This post has several tips on finding your niche including 4 questions you can ask yourself to get more specific.

With that said, I don’t think that you have to limit yourself to the same niche forever or even to one niche at a time!

One of the keys to growth + success is acknowledging when something isn't working and knowing when to pivot. If you aren't seeing the results you want, change something.Click To Tweet

Creating “valuable” content is really all about your audience

Here’s the thing – valuable content does not necessarily mean having professional photography or swoon-worthy design or 2,000 word blog posts. It really depends on your audience and what is “valuable” to them – so whether you are educating or inspiring or entertaining your audience, to keep them engaged you need to be creating content that actually makes them give a sh*t. You can create a 12 page download with tons of great information but your audience might find more value in a simple, 1 page checklist.

I’ve tried A LOT of different things (checklists, ebooks, free workshops, giveaways, etc.) when it comes to converting Mochi’s Instagram followers into subscribers and you know what the #1 lead magnet has been? A digital Valentine. Seriously, she offered to email a Valentine to her followers and got hundreds of subscribers in a couple of hours. Sometimes the best things are the simplest. 

Analyze, tweak, repeat

I’m a total data nerd (in another life, I worked in finance), but the truth is, sometimes the data doesn’t tell you what you want to hear. One of the keys to growth + success is acknowledging when something isn’t working and knowing when to pivot. If you aren’t seeing the results you want, change something. Sometimes that means improving what you have and sometimes that means creating something totally new. And once you’ve figured that out, it will probably be time to analyze again and make new adjustments.

On Instagram in particular, I learned that some of the things that worked when we had 10,000-15,000 followers are not the same things that work now that we have 50,000+ but that’s ok. In business, sometimes the things that work when you’re first starting out aren’t the things that work a year or two down the line. Your audience might change, your services might change, your entire business might change . Honestly EVERYTHING in my life has changed over the past 3 years (except my husband, thankfully he’s still sticking around!) – but with each season of change comes new opportunities. 

Sharing your knowledge positions you as an expert

I mean duh. But for some reason, this is was somewhat of an unexpected realization for me. When I launched Celebripet Boot Camp and started actively teaching Instagram strategy through the course, but also through webinars and live workshops, more people (including people who weren’t dog people) started asking me about Instagram. Almost all of my consulting clients over the past few months have hired me specifically to talk about Instagram strategy, and I’ve gotten a random assortment of other exciting opportunities lately because of Instagram as well. Basically my life revolves around Instagram (and my dog) at this point – and I don’t hate it!

Instagram has changed my life in so many ways over the past year, so I’m pretty passionate about the platform and sharing what I’ve learned along the way. Click below to download my Instagram Resource Guide which includes everything you need to plan, create, and schedule your Instagram content!

Instagram Resource Guide for shooting, editing, scheduling photos