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How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS INTRODUCTION

It’s about time you learn  how to use Instagram to grow your business!

Why’s Instagram (IG) so important? It’s one of our favorite platforms for countless reasons, but just to name a few –

Brand Awareness 

Good IG feeds lead to better brand awareness which translates to more purchases online and in retail stores. People likely won’t seek out your product unless they already know about it – this way, you make the first move.

Word-of-Mouth

Your business should work for you while you sleep (passive growth), but chances are it hasn’t up until this point. As you build your fan base on Instagram, you’ll have others spreading the word about your business for you through IG Stories, IGTV, and main feed posts.

Competitive Edge 

When you show up on Instagram, you connect with different audiences while keeping your existing fans engaged. You immediately have that special edge against other brands in your niche that aren’t nurturing their online presence.

We’ll Break Down How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business Into Five Small Steps

This step-by-step post is not only easy to follow, but jam-packed with tips we’ve refined over the years. Both seasoned social media gurus and brand-new influencers will have something to gain from this post. Read on for all the juicy Umai growth tips.

SECTION 1: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH PROPER ACCOUNT SETUP

You can’t use Instagram to grow your business if you don’t have an account yet! Create an Instagram account on your phone via the Instagram app or a desktop computer – we’ve included instructions for both. Already have an account? Skip ahead to the next step in this section: Choosing a Personal, Business, or Creator Account.
 

Create an Instagram Account on Your Phone App

  1. Download the Instagram app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play Store (Android).
  2. Once it’s installed, tap the app to open it.
  3. Tap Sign Up With Email or Phone Number (Android) or Create New Account (iPhone), then enter your email address or phone number (which will require a confirmation code) and tap Next. You can also tap Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
  4. If you register with your email or phone number, create a username and password, fill out your profile info and then tap Next. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out. 

Create an Instagram Account on Your Computer

  1. Visit instagram.com
  2. Click Sign up, enter your email address, create a username and password or click Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
  3. If you register with an email, click Sign up. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out.

Now, let’s refine your account preferences and user experience by discovering which is the right Instagram account type for you.

Choosing a Personal, Business, or Creator Account

There are three kinds of Instagram accounts: Personal, Business, and Creator. Instagram began with Personal accounts, and it’s what you’ll have set up by default. It leaves much to be desired, so it wasn’t long before creatives + brands desired analytics and deeper insights to measure their performance.

The Business account option – while sufficient – has served as a catch-all for brands, influencers and every kind of artist under the sun. Now there’s a more specific option you can also try out: the Creator account.

 

The Creator account was added at the end of 2018. 

It’s a Professional Instagram profile that allows users to access more features to control one’s online presence, understand growth and manage messages. Meaning, you’ll gain access to in-depth performance insights and Direct Messaging organizational tools.

It’s also important to note that we’ve seen no negative impact from Instagram’s algorithm or an account’s reach when switching over to the creator profile –  unlike some who have seen a negative impact from  switching to a business account.

The names for these accounts speak for themselves! Are you using Instagram for personal, business, or creative reasons? Here are some more questions you should ask yourself… 

The Personal account is right for you if you –

– Use Instagram to stay in touch with friends, family, or specific communities.
– Are not going to earn an income from day-to-day activities on IG.
– Get or expect to get some Direct Messages (DMs) but have no need to sort them.

The Business account is right for you if you –

– Operate a more traditional business by selling a product or service.
– Are getting or expecting to get a lot of DMs but mostly just the same FAQs.

The Creator account is right for you if you –

– Use Instagram to run a business or plan to, but you or your specialty craft is your business. In some cases, your face or influence drives profit.
– Are getting or expecting to get a lot of DMs that vary a ton because you offer multiple services or handle a high volume of unique commissions.

At the moment, there are no special requirements you must meet to switch over to the Instagram Creator account. If you’re a creative on the hunt for 1) insights on your IG growth + performance or 2) managing a ton of varied DMs, then this account type is likely for you!

Also, there’s Creator Shopping! 

With this feature, you can create shoppable posts to support the brands you love + those you’re partnering with. Users can directly purchase through a link displayed on your photo. Just another way to measure ROI and convey your value as a content creator!

Finally, you’ll also gain access to the Instagram Creator Studio, “an easy-to-use dashboard management tool that allows you to see all your Facebook and Instagram analytics (that you’d otherwise access in the app) – on your desktop,” (Keyhole).

How to Switch to a Creator Instagram Account

Here’s your step-by-step instructions –

  1. Go to your account and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
    – If you currently have a personal account, choose Switch to Professional Account and tap Creator.
    – If you currently have a Business profile, choose Switch to Creator Account.
  4.  Choose a category that best describes what you do – so many options!
  5. Option to connect to your Facebook Page
    – If you have a Facebook Page you would like to link to your account, select it from the list that appears.
    – You’re also able to skip this step.
  6. Review contact information. At least one contact is needed to proceed. You will have the option to display or hide this on your profile.
  7. Choose your profile display options. You can decide whether to hide or display your category and contact details on your profile.

Note: “If your personal account is private, completing these steps will make it public. All pending follow requests will be automatically accepted when you go public,” (Instagram).

How to Switch to a Business Instagram Account

  1. Go to your account and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
    – If you currently have a personal account, choose Switch to Professional Account and tap Business.
    – If you currently have a Creator profile, choose Switch to Business Account.
  4. Option to connect to your Facebook Page
    – If you have a Facebook Page you would like to link to your account, select it from the list that appears.
    – You’re also able to skip this step.
  5. Review contact information. At least one contact is needed to proceed. You will have the option to display or hide this on your profile.

Of course, you may change your mind once you make the switch so here’s…

How to Switch Back to a Personal Instagram Account 

  1. Go to your profile and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner. 
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Select Switch to Personal Account and tap Switch Back to confirm.

All in all, it’s exciting to have more options on this oftentimes influencer-driven platform! Now, it’s time to discuss the content you’ll be thinking up, creating, and sharing on Instagram to grow your business.

SECTION 2: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH CONTENT CREATION

We could go on about branded content creation forever – it’s a beast! So, we’ll keep this short. These are the most important strategies to keep in mind while creating content to use Instagram to grow your business. 

Create Messaging Buckets

Maybe you haven’t heard of messaging buckets before! They’re basically different categories you can sort future content into, ensuring you touch on all aspects of your business or brand.

As a jumping off point, we recommend the following buckets –

From there, you can create subcategories that fit inside each bucket. Here’s what that would look like for a brand like Purely Pecans, a clean label pecan butter company + what kind of visuals they might use –
Product (or Client) Highlights

  • A photo of a jar of their Pecan Butter

Recipes (DIYs + Tutorials)

  • This one’s self explanatory! Take a product and incorporate it into a recipe or DIY
  • Let’s say you’re offering a service – you’re a realtor. In this case, you’d record a video or snap a series of photos related to home financing or shopping

Education

  • Share the why behind your product or service
  • Spotlight an ingredient or your products nutritional benefits

Community

  • An ingredient photo of salt and sugar that asks users to answer the question: “Are you feeling sweet or salty today?”
  • A caption with a call-to-action in the caption: “Drop an emoji in the comments that perfectly summarizes your weekend plans!”
  • A photo from your day volunteering at your local food bank

Fun, Quotes, and Events

  • A shareable meme video that’ll make your audience laugh
  • You may use your caption to tie this content back to your product or service – or, leave it open-ended to let the moment just be

Assign the buckets different colors and use a highlighter tool to mark them on your calendar along with a short description of the content. Example –

Write Varied Captions

Once you’ve got a visual picked out, it’s time to write a caption.

Consider what you’ve seen other brands in your space doing. In most cases, a blend of short and long captions is a win.

Sometimes you need the space to really get in-depth, especially in an educational or recipe post. Other times, you can let the graphic mostly speak for itself – the caption could be as short as a single emoji that plays up the theme.

Captioning a photo is an artform, and you’ll learn what works best for your audience from trial and error. It’s also a medium to speak to your audience on a deeper level, beyond a simple graphic. Your visual drew them in – now, what do you really have to say?

Do note that you can preface a long caption with a couple of words that summarize what you’re about to jump into, enticing users to hit “read more” to see your full caption.

Choose Legit Hashtags

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it! You should be using hashtags.

Why? Some users follow hashtags, so your content will find its way to their feeds automatically and it’s a great way to aggregate your content.

Also, it’s an easy way to be discovered. It connects your content with new or existing communities that people tap into on a daily basis.

Hashtags are also important as a tool for you to use when engaging with others. We’ll touch on this more in Section 3: Daily Strategy.

You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram. We’ll use anywhere from 10-25 for our clients. 

This is because quality outranks quantity once again. Find hashtags that an everyday person uses – not a bunch of bots!

Start with a key hashtag. For a brand like NutriSuits (a prebiotic-probiotic supplement), that could be #guthealth. Paste your key hashtag into Instagram’s search bar. The results not only show you posts, but related hashtags as well.

Browse through the recent tab to get a sense of how often people are posting, what they’re posting about, and if it’s a match for your brand (keeping your ideal consumer in mind).

 

SECTION 3: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH YOUR DAILY STRATEGY

You may be wondering what the value of engaging on Instagram really looks like. We’ve seen firsthand how it can make waves, so we’re excited to provide you with a breakdown that we personally apply on the daily!

And while it may seem a little crazy to share so much of our strategy, we’ve done just that with our Engaging with Social Content guide which we’ve made COMPLETELY FREE just for you. 🙂 Go ahead – download right this minute!

Engaging with users shows people that you’re a real brand: You care about your customers and want their business. You wouldn’t let a customer service email go unanswered – right?! Same thing here – if someone tags your brand or floats a question via DM, it’s essential that you step in and field those mentions. 

People you’re engaging with will start to perceive your brand as friendly, reliable, and trustworthy.

This translates to an increase in followers, substantial brand loyalty, and lifetime customers.

Plus, it’s a compounding strategy to gain more clients or sales as social channels favor posts that have more likes, comments, saves, and shares – that’s the social media algorithm at work! When you consistently show up, more people end up seeing your brand and how well you interact with others.So, play nice!

Through years of trial and error, we’ve boiled down our tried-and-true strategy to three points that fuel impactful Instagram engagement: Listening, Engaging, and Interacting.

Listening

To be a good listener, you have to remain present. This means getting on the choice platforms for your brand Monday through Friday, even popping in over the weekend, to see what your audience is talking about + how they’re engaging with your recent posts. 

You may choose to set up various notifications via Google, Instagram, and Facebook, so you’ll receive an alert relevant to hashtags, other brand accounts, or influencers that are in line with your brand.

We include a short activity to get you thinking more about who you should be listening to here: Engaging with Social Content.

Engaging on Instagram

Engaging

Take note of positive and negative comments.

If the comment is positive, find a natural way to respond that feels genuine. Record especially good testimonials to utilize in future marketing materials.

As is the way of the internet, negative commenters are inevitable.

You’ll have to decide if the comment is customer service related and needs real attention or just a troll trying to get the best of you – in which case, we’d suggest deleting it or blocking the user if future harassment seems likely.

If it’s a true customer service complaint, take care to reply on the platform the user commented on, letting them know you have DM’d them so you can move the conversation off your public channel into a private channel.

Interacting

Create a few hashtags related to your brand. If you’ve got a long brand name, consider abbreviating it. You could also employ an adjective related to what the brand’s experience is or the mission behind it.

For example, the brand @hailmerrysnacks created their branded hashtag #sinkyourteeth, because it’s more relatable and more likely to be used by fans.

  • Include branded hashtags in every post, encouraging users to tag their own content with said hashtag.
  • Comment and like those using your hashtags – thank them for being a fan!
  • Interact with other hashtags that relate to what your brand does. For a gluten-free snack brand, this could be #healthyeats or #whole30.

Users that click in to your custom hashtag will view a plethora of posts with your product front and center.

One of the most challenging aspects of engaging is knowing how much time to pour into the different relationships you’re building. We like to focus on these three core relationships:

  • Influencers – an individual who has the power to impact purchase decisions of others because of their established following. This could be at a micro (less than 5k followers) or macro (more than 5k followers) level.
  • Like-Minded Brands – brands with similar qualities to your own, oftentimes prospecting the same audience. Careful not to interact with a direct competitor (example: you both sell matcha-based energy bars).
  • Potential Customers – your ideal demographic in age and interests.

Start to schedule time in your day for engagement, dividing how you engage based on which relationships matter most to your brand. 

Experiment with different ratios, like half an hour for influencer + like-minded brand relationship building versus an hour sifting through relevant hashtags. It can get pretty complicated, so we created this timetable that breaks down how + where to invest your time.

And, remember we’ve got our free Engaging with Social Content guide available here!

Once you’ve got this daily strategy down, there are a couple special monthly events you can use to increase your following + engagement on a grander scale. Namely, giveaways.

 

SECTION 4: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH GIVEAWAYS

Content creation and daily engagement will ensure you use Instagram to grow your business properly. But, we truly can’t recommend this final step enough: host an Instagram giveaway! 
 

Surely, you’ve seen Instagram giveaways on your feed. Aside from a product or influencer shot, they include a call to action in the caption that ultimately forwards a brand or influencer’s growth –

  • “Follow our page, like this photo, and tag as many friends as you’d like in the comments! One comment = one entry!”
  • “Like this photo and follow the link in our bio to sign up for our newsletter!”

We’ve earned hundreds, even thousands of followers and email subscribers for brands by implementing monthly giveaways.

 So, what kind of Instagram giveaway rules should you set? How do you connect with other brands? Let’s dive right into it with these six easy steps.

1. Pick A Goal

Do you want to grow your follower count, email list, or something else entirely? 

Free advice: If you’re starting at follower count zero, building out your follower pool is the way to go. 

Then, you’ll have a greater network to interact with if you’d like to collect emails in the future (product familiarity alone often sways users to forfeit their email in the hopes of a potential discount).

2. Find Brand Partners
If you spend anytime at all on Instagram, you’ve likely got a handful of potential brands you’d love to partner with. Start there and see what happens. There are SO many ways to build out a list of brands – this is just a jumping off point, but we’ve got a few more suggestions within our guide as well.
3. Make Contact

Start with a simple DM. Show a little love for the brand you’d like to team up with and share important details regarding the kind of giveaway you intend on hosting as well as when you plan to launch it. If you’ve hosted a giveaway before, take care to hint at past areas of success.

4. Take Photo + Create Copy

Whether you buy participating brand’s products on your own, have free product shipped over, or design some sort of graphic that represents those brands, now is the time to snap a photo or pop into Photoshop.

Situate all the subject matter so it fits inside of a square to look good in the feed, use natural lighting, or invest in some photography lighting to ensure products are adequately lit. Use bright color backdrops when you can to make the image shine!

Then, get to typing up a killer caption. The main thing here is that you state instructions for participants in a very clear manner with a call to action while including a gentle disclaimer that protects the brand you represent from legal allegations.

You can borrow our Instagram Giveaway Legal Disclaimer Template:

We’ll randomly pick a winner next week. Open to US residents only. Must be 18+ with a public profile to win. By entering you acknowledge that this giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Instagram and release Instagram of all responsibility. Good luck!

5. Set Dates + Amplify Reach

Nail down a date. We bet you’re wondering: “How long should I run an Instagram giveaway?”

The optimal length of time may vary, but three to five days is pretty standard. We share more info like this in our guide.

After you launch your giveaway, it’s time to promote it accordingly. Share it via Stories – add it to a highlight. Then, budget for the dollar amount you’d like to put behind boosting your post. Note: boosting often makes a HUGE difference!

Take care to optimize your post by sending people to “Your Profile” and select Target Audience to “Automatic” – we’ve tested this and got the highest amount of new followers this way!

6. Choose a Winner

Contact the winner(s) and obtain their address, ensuring they receive their prize.

Take time to appreciate your newly acquired followers – follow up with a discount code or email to solidify a connection.

Don’t forget to share the giveaway results with the brands you’ve partnered with! They’ll be eager to learn about the results + you may want to work together again in the future.

SECTION 5: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH INFLUENCERS

Instagram influencer programs are a beast to manage. That’s why we’re sharing our cheat sheet with you to simplify the set-up process! This includes our method + completely free messaging templates.

We’ve had great success with these in the past. For example, we established a tiered influencer program that garnered tremendous brand awareness and increased online sales, and also provided excellent UGC to share across social for an all-natural pest control brand.

We were able to increase their monthly reach tenfold with an influencer budget of  only $1K/month. 

This resulted in a team of 25 influencers,  a 900K reach, and an increased social engagement rate from .8% to 4.63% over 4 months. 

Now, those numbers really speak to the power of influencers. And, it also resulted in their highest monthly sales to-date!

Now, let’s make that happen for your brand…

Let’s first define the difference between macro and micro influencer – 
 
Macro-influencers = more than 10K followers
Micro-influencers = 5K-10K followers
 
Of course, this is just how our team defines it. Your own interpretation may vary! And, engagement rates play an equally important role in deciding who is or isn’t fit for your influencer program.
 
Next, you’ll have to decide what goods, services, or money will be exchanged through your influencer program.
 
If you’re working with macro-influencers, it’s common to exchange free products as well as money for a series of branded posts or Stories.
 
If you’re working with micro-influencers, you may exchange free product for a series of branded posts or Stories. 
 
You may offer both of these types of influencers a greater slice of the pie by including them in an affiliate program where they make a cut of each sale whenever users purchase product associated with their affiliate link or a custom discount code.
 
We don’t recommend finding influencers and outright proposing a collaboration (sliding into the DMs when your lead is as cold as ice). 
 
We do recommend engaging with influencers for 1-2 weeks through periodic “nudges” – following, liking, commenting, and DMing their account to develop a history with the user.
 
Remember that you represent one of many brands out there. And, one-off DMs often gather dust as they sit in the requested messages section of a user’s DMs never to be opened (probably ever). 
 
Set yourself apart from the crowd. Actively listen and learn about your contacts before sending offers.
 
To get these conversations going, you’re going to need to build out a list of contacts that align with your brand. 
 
1. Build a List
How big of a list are we talking about?? That’ll depend on your brand. 
 
Most recently, we worked with a brand that wanted to share their product (for free) with 40 micro-influencers. So, we got to work building a list.
 
The total number of influencers included on a list that we recently built (goal: build affiliate program) was about 200. 20% of the influencers we connected with said yes to the free product.
 
Try applying this equation to the brand you’re working with – 
 
Your Goal / 0.20 = the Number of Influencers on Your List
 
Or, start with a list of 100 users as a jumping off point.
 

So, how do you connect with the right people?

2. Three methods for growing your list
  • Software
  • Suggested
  • Instagram re-share accounts
Software
You don’t need software to run an influencer campaign, but it sure does make the process easier! 
 

Check out these apps – 

Suggested
You don’t need software to run an influencer campaign, but it sure does make the process easier! 
 
  • Browse hashtags and the explore page to find your starting place: a user in your demographic with beautiful content that’s well engaged with
  • Go through their “suggested” tab on Instagram
  • Vet accounts. Do they share objectively good content? Are they in your desired demographic? Are they not spammy (collabs with every brand that comes along)? Do they have good engagement rates?
  • Keep track of influencers on a Google spreadsheet – here’s an example of all of the information we keep track of:

Instagram Re-Share Accounts

There are plenty of Instagram accounts out there that build community by re-sharing posts related to a specific topic or place.
 
Let’s say you just opened a restaurant in Dallas, and you want to up the buzz about it on Instagram. You’ll want to engage with foodies in Central Texas.
 
You can find those foodies by tapping into an account like @bestfooddallas. Just scroll their page, check who is credited + tagged in photos, and voila! Dallas-specific foodie photographers.
 
Let’s say you’re a gluten-free flour brand. You may want to connect with healthy foodies – how about the vegan cooking community? 
 
Drop into @vegangirlglow and do the same – check those tags for a whole pool of talented content creators.
 
Okay, now it’s time to pull a Katy Perry on ‘em and turn those cold leads hot!
 Warm Up Leads
 
Let’s talk more about those nudges – liking, commenting, and DMing influencers on a repeat basis.
 
You don’t want to be sales-y. You want to compliment them over the course of 1-2 weeks! Think: “This workout looks like fun! :)” or “Wow, you’re really pulling off those teal colored shoes!”
 
Here’s a timeline to follow or share with your team…
 
 Influencer Nudge Schedule
 
  • Nudge 1, Week 1 – Monday:
  1. Like 8-10 photos, semi-recently posted and randomly
  2. Comment on 1-2 photos
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 2, Week 1 – Wednesday:
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 3, Week 1 – Friday: 
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 4, Week 2 – Monday:
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 5, Week 2 – Wednesday:
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 6, Week 2 – Thursday: 
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send your juicy offer!!
 Free Product Offer Template
 
Hi! You’ve probably gathered by now that we love what you’re doing with your feed and just had to reach out for a quick chat.  
 
We’re [YOUR BRAND NAME] – [YOUR MISSION STATEMENT IN 1-2 SENTENCES].
 
We’re looking to share our [PRODUCT OFFER] with as many people as possible. Would you be interested in trying [PRODUCT OFFER]? At no charge, of course. We’ve been getting feedback from folks seeing [PRODUCT BENEFITS].
 
We’d love to share them with you to get your feedback! What do you think?
 
 Finish Out The Weekend & Beyond
 
We’d love to share them with you to get your feedback! What do you think?
 
Follow-Up, Week 2 – Friday: 
  • Your offer has been sent, so it’s time to check your DMs for any replies!
  • For those that say yes, request and record shipping addresses on your spreadsheet
  • Follow up with any ignored messages (“Hey, just making sure you saw this!!”)
  • Share acquired addresses with your team on a weekly basis to promptly send out product 

That following Monday…

  • Have you met your goal? Whether you’re just trying to send out free products or offering influencers payment, it’s better to keep at this process than just waiting around for a reply!
  • Go back to your list and build it out again accordingly

Repeat nudge process with new contacts until desired number of leads is acquired 

  • For the brand that we referenced working with above, the goal was 10 leads a week = 40 leads over the course of 4 weeks
 Turn Influencers Into Advocates
 
We’re sharing the messaging templates we’ve used with the goal of exchanging free products for an affiliate deal.
 
Hot lead: Let’s say one of your influencers receives the product, loves it, and organically shares their thoughts! 
 
 Hot Lead, Affiliate Offer Message
 
  • Hi ___! It sounds like you’re enjoying [PRODUCT OFFER], so we’d LOVE to offer you a [DISCOUNT]% off coupon code and affiliate link!! You’ll make [COMMISSION]% commission from whoever uses your code or purchases through your custom link on their first order. Let us know if you’re in, and we’ll send you a link to sign up. 😀
Warm lead: If an influencer that you sent free products to does not mention receiving it or plug the brand on Stories/their feed by the end of that 1-2 week period, that is when you’ll need to be direct and ask for feedback + share an affiliate code!
 
Warm Lead, Affiliate Offer Message
 
  • Hi there! Hope you’re enjoying your [PRODUCT OFFER]. Would you be interested in a [DISCOUNT]% discount code and affiliate link to share with your followers? You’ll make [COMMISSION]% commission from whoever uses your code or purchases through your custom link on their first order. Let us know if you’re in, and we’ll send you a link to sign up.
Wrap it Up
 
Not done yet! Keep a close eye on those DMs to follow-up with sign-up links and custom coupon codes.
 
We are currently using an app within Shopify called Secomapp to manage our affiliate program and commission organization and payments.
 
Remember that these programs do take a great deal of time to manage as well as see results from. Nudges may easily be outsourced to a stellar freelancer (we love Fiverr!).
 
 

SECTION 6: HOW DO INSTAGRAM REELS WORK?

Instagram Reels is a feature that allows you to share entertaining and/or informative short videos! Here’s how Instagram Reels work:

Pick a video (or series of videos + photos)
  • This could be one you already have in your gallery, or you can shoot a new one on the fly. Ideally, we suggest that you keep an album of 5-15 second video clips in an album on your phone to be able to piece together for future Reels!
    • *Pro tip: When snapping pics, also take a short video to build up your video bank!
  • Make it short (15-30 seconds). It’s best to keep your reel short so that when people are scrolling through their feed, they notice yours and want to watch it all the way through—and then maybe follow your account!
  • Edit it down to only highlight the best parts (this will also help make it shorter).
Edit your clip(s)

When editing your Reels, you have two options:

  1. Edit within the Instagram app or
  2. Edit within a third party software (we love Splice)

When editing your Reels within the Instagram app:

  • Upload all of your videos and/or photos that you want to use for the Reel 
  • Add filters if you’d like 
  • Add audio using Instagram’s in-app music selection or add your own sound! (see more below)
  • You can also add captions, stickers, GIFs, text, or draw on your clips.
    • We recommend you add a “hook” to the beginning of your video to catch the viewer’s attention (ex. “The best 5 minute summer appetizer”) as well as a CTA (call to action) at the end of the video to encourage engagement (ex. “Follow for more recipes!”)
  • The “Edit clips” button lets you switch between clips when you’re editing so that you can reorder, add more clips, or trim.
  •  
Adding music to your Instagram reel is as easy as 1, 2, 3:
  1. Choose a song that matches your video and/or is trending on Instagram
Adding music to your Instagram reel is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  2. If importing your own song, make sure it is available for use on       Instagram and that you have the rights to use it.

  3. There are a few ways to add music to reels:

    • Search on the “Search music” bar and add any music you like; or you can select “Saved” from your saved folder.
      • Tip: While you’re scrolling Reels for fun – save trending audio as well as music you love so that you have a good bank of audio in your saved folder for future use. 
  • Add your own audio by clicking “Import” or add a “Voiceover”
  • And finally, use Instagram’s suggestions like “For you,” “New releases” and “Original Audio.”
  • Use the trimming tool (possible again!) to cut your clips down to the preferred length based on the beat of the song.
    • Tip: This is where a third party editing app comes in handy – as you can extract the audio to be able to see where the audio “spikes” occur, making it easier to edit the clip to the beat of the song.
Share your Reels
  • Share to your Feed: ​​ Once you are done creating your video, it’s time to click the “Share” button so that you can view it on your home feed.
    • You can add a custom cover by uploading it at this time – or you can choose a still from the video to be your Reel cover.
    • You can also choose “Crop profile image” to better adjust what is featured on the Feed.
  • Optional: Share to your Story
    • Once posted to your feed, tap the paper airplane icon (share button) underneath a post and select “Add Post to Your Story.” Edit the post in your Instagram Story — you can move, rotate, scale, and add text or different stickers. Here’s a breakdown on how to do this: Share an Instagram Post to Your Story

Reels are a fun way to express yourself on Instagram, so feel free to get creative! They can be used to share your passions, hobbies, interests, and everyday life.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to create and post Reels, you can start exploring one of the most innovative new features on Instagram. They are a great way to share what you’re passionate about with both friends and strangers, so don’t feel shy about making your own. And remember: just like TikTok, the possibilities for what you can do with them are endless!

SECTION 7: HOW TO SWITCH TO AN INSTAGRAM BUSINESS ACCOUNT

Introduction

Instagram is a great way to grow your business and connect with customers. Switching to a Business/Professional account is beneficial because it allows you to access insights about the performance of your content, which is something we recommend you check in on often.

If you’re already on Instagram as an individual user and want to switch to a Business/Professional account, you’ll need to go through a few steps first.

Here’s what you need to know about switching from a personal profile to an Instagram Business/Professional profile:

Anyone with an Instagram personal profile can switch to a Business/Professional account.

You’ll need to have a verified email address and a verified phone number. Once you’re set up on your business account, it will appear in the “About” section of your Instagram bio—along with any other business pages that may belong to you (if any).

The Process

  • Go to your profile in the Instagram application.
  • Tap the three dashes in the top right corner of the screen (the menu will appear).
  • Tap “Settings,” go to “Account,” scroll down until you see “Switch to professional account.”

Switching to Professional Account

To switch to a business/professional profile, follow these steps:

  • Tap “Switch to professional account.”
  • Instagram will provide you with a quick summary about switching to an Instagram Business Account and what it entails. Click “Continue.”
  • Choose the category that best describes you (e.g. Artist, Blogger, Digital Creator, etc.).
  • A reminder will pop up that your account will be switching to a professional account and it will be public. Click “OK”

Important notes

  • Link your business account to an existing Facebook Page that you have permission to manage, or create a new one.
  • Link your business account to an existing Instagram Business profile that you have permission to manage.
  • Fill out your contact information and verify that it’s up-to-date.
  • Be sure to also add a profile photo and a cover photo along with a profile bio.

More on Making the Switch!

To create a Professional account, you’ll need to link your Instagram Business profile to an existing Facebook Page or create a new one. This is an important step because Instagram uses the same login process as Facebook to manage profiles – so if there’s any confusion about how to connect them, it will stop working.

You can also switch between personal and business accounts on your phone without having any additional steps added by going through the steps above again (And don’t worry! Switching your profile won’t make you lose any of your content!). 

We hope this guide helped answer all of your questions!

HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS CONCLUSION
And that’s it – our six-section guide to ensure you use Instagram to grow your business starting today!

Maybe you’re jumping in from the beginning and setting up your first-ever Instagram account. Or, revamping your long-standing strategical process. In both cases and anything in between, these tips will come in handy as you refine your online presence to develop brand loyalty and earn lifelong sales.

Running a giveaway is one of the most effective ways to quickly grow your following.

That’s why we put together this guide, where we dive into the details – little nuggets of giveaway planning gold – AND provide you with our EXACT system and essential resources: checklist, organizational spreadsheet, and messaging templates.

We’ve spent YEARS and TENS of THOUSANDS of DOLLARS perfecting our giveaway strategies. And before you ask, we’ve used these strategies across multiple verticals (from building egg empires to selling supplements)  – and it proves effective every time!

We put in the work to save you time and money – snag our guide to grow your brand today:   Create a Winning Instagram Giveaway: And Get Tons of High Quality Followers

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Facebook Shops Launches to Support Small Businesses

The big day was May 19, 2020. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s newest feature: Facebook Shops.

At last, a free way for businesses to set up product listings! On their Facebook Page, Instagram profile, Stories, or in ads.

Really, this couldn’t have come at a better time. As we’ve all seen, small businesses continue to struggle in light of COVID-19 closures and social distancing. A new way for these businesses to market their goods and services online could quite frankly change the game.

What Will Facebook Shops Look Like?

There will be a dedicated section for your shop on Facebook where you can catalog inventory. It’s similar to Facebook Groups! You’ll be able to add a cover image and accent colors for that extra branded touch. Organizationally, users will have the option to purchase, save, or share items.

Or, select inventory may be attached to ads, posts, Instagram Live, and Instagram Stories to divert users to your shop.

Zuckerberg reassured audiences that this tool will be an easy one to use: “It’s one simple and consistent experience across [our] family of apps.”

Basically, a lifeline for brands that are masters at their craft but aren’t so tech savvy. If you’re already familiar with Facebook, using this tool may come naturally.

They’re Still Refining Checkout

Though, you won’t be able to complete the entire transaction on Facebook just yet. Users will be prompted to go to a business’s website to complete purchases. 

Facebook has launched an invitation-only beta program for Checkout. It’s currently being tested. This would make it possible to complete a transaction from start to finish on Facebook. But, they do plan to charge a selling fee. They haven’t yet disclosed how much cash this will tack on to each purchase.

This means third-party partnerships are still entirely necessary.

The Facebook Shops Team is Working Alongside –

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce
  • Channel Advisor
  • CedCommerce
  • Cafe24
  • Tienda Nube 
  • Feedonomics

Businesses may use these platforms to manage their Facebook Shop as well as their Facebook Shop ads.

Shopify paints a clearer picture of how all this will work, “Facebook Shops allows Shopify merchants to control customization and merchandising inside Facebook and Instagram. Then, they’ll be able to manage their inventory, orders, and fulfillment within Shopify.”

Though, we still recommend you diversify by selling your goods or services on other competitive platforms. Like, Amazon or your own website. Basically, be everywhere if you can. 

Try-Before-You-Buy Augmented Reality 

Another Facebook feature rolled out recently: Augmented Reality (AR). Yep, the future is basically here folks! And, it means you can actually see if that blush and your skin tone are a match made with the help of Facebook AR.

Not sure which shade best complements your eyes? Now, you can use Facebook’s new augmented reality feature in Facebook Shops. Or, ask for help through a customer service inquiry within Facebook Shops. You’ll be able to message businesses through various channels, like WhatsApp or IG DM.

Final Thoughts on Facebook Shops

As usual, this will not only be a benefit to small businesses. And, it’ll be a huge moneymaker for Facebook. Naturally, an increase in ad spend is likely to follow.

Though, don’t get too excited yet. As par for the course, Facebook does plan to charge a small fee on each purchase made through Shops. But, no specific details regarding this rate have been released.

Another twist, there’s also talk of eventual loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases. Such programs could increase customer advocacy. And, lead to greater brand awareness. So, fingers crossed.

Of course, we’re excited for Facebook to step it up with these new e-commerce features. Because, it’s sure to connect more users with small businesses. Though, we’re still unsure how many people will actually want to complete purchases directly on Facebook.

Lastly, we’ll be following along closely! As always, monitoring analytics during this beta phase. We’re excited to see what’s best for our clients’ sales in the future with or without this tool.

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How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS INTRODUCTION

It’s about time you learn  how to use Instagram to grow your business!

Why’s Instagram (IG) so important? It’s one of our favorite platforms for countless reasons, but just to name a few –

Brand Awareness 

Good IG feeds lead to better brand awareness which translates to more purchases online and in retail stores. People likely won’t seek out your product unless they already know about it – this way, you make the first move.

Word-of-Mouth

Your business should work for you while you sleep (passive growth), but chances are it hasn’t up until this point. As you build your fan base on Instagram, you’ll have others spreading the word about your business for you through IG Stories, IGTV, and main feed posts.

Competitive Edge 

When you show up on Instagram, you connect with different audiences while keeping your existing fans engaged. You immediately have that special edge against other brands in your niche that aren’t nurturing their online presence.

We’ll Break Down How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business Into Five Small Steps

This step-by-step post is not only easy to follow, but jam-packed with tips we’ve refined over the years. Both seasoned social media gurus and brand-new influencers will have something to gain from this post. Read on for all the juicy Umai growth tips.

SECTION 1: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH PROPER ACCOUNT SETUP

You can’t use Instagram to grow your business if you don’t have an account yet! Create an Instagram account on your phone via the Instagram app or a desktop computer – we’ve included instructions for both. Already have an account? Skip ahead to the next step in this section: Choosing a Personal, Business, or Creator Account.
 

Create an Instagram Account on Your Phone App

  1. Download the Instagram app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play Store (Android).
  2. Once it’s installed, tap the app to open it.
  3. Tap Sign Up With Email or Phone Number (Android) or Create New Account (iPhone), then enter your email address or phone number (which will require a confirmation code) and tap Next. You can also tap Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
  4. If you register with your email or phone number, create a username and password, fill out your profile info and then tap Next. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out. 

Create an Instagram Account on Your Computer

  1. Visit instagram.com
  2. Click Sign up, enter your email address, create a username and password or click Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
  3. If you register with an email, click Sign up. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out.

Now, let’s refine your account preferences and user experience by discovering which is the right Instagram account type for you.

Choosing a Personal, Business, or Creator Account

There are three kinds of Instagram accounts: Personal, Business, and Creator. Instagram began with Personal accounts, and it’s what you’ll have set up by default. It leaves much to be desired, so it wasn’t long before creatives + brands desired analytics and deeper insights to measure their performance.

The Business account option – while sufficient – has served as a catch-all for brands, influencers and every kind of artist under the sun. Now there’s a more specific option you can also try out: the Creator account.

The Creator account was added at the end of 2018. 

It’s a Professional Instagram profile that allows users to access more features to control one’s online presence, understand growth and manage messages. Meaning, you’ll gain access to in-depth performance insights and Direct Messaging organizational tools.

It’s also important to note that we’ve seen no negative impact from Instagram’s algorithm or an account’s reach when switching over to the creator profile –  unlike some who have seen a negative impact from  switching to a business account.

The names for these accounts speak for themselves! Are you using Instagram for personal, business, or creative reasons? Here are some more questions you should ask yourself… 

The Personal account is right for you if you –

– Use Instagram to stay in touch with friends, family, or specific communities.
– Are not going to earn an income from day-to-day activities on IG.
– Get or expect to get some Direct Messages (DMs) but have no need to sort them.

The Business account is right for you if you –

– Operate a more traditional business by selling a product or service.
– Are getting or expecting to get a lot of DMs but mostly just the same FAQs.

The Creator account is right for you if you –

– Use Instagram to run a business or plan to, but you or your specialty craft is your business. In some cases, your face or influence drives profit.
– Are getting or expecting to get a lot of DMs that vary a ton because you offer multiple services or handle a high volume of unique commissions.

At the moment, there are no special requirements you must meet to switch over to the Instagram Creator account. If you’re a creative on the hunt for 1) insights on your IG growth + performance or 2) managing a ton of varied DMs, then this account type is likely for you!

Also, there’s Creator Shopping! 

With this feature, you can create shoppable posts to support the brands you love + those you’re partnering with. Users can directly purchase through a link displayed on your photo. Just another way to measure ROI and convey your value as a content creator!

Finally, you’ll also gain access to the Instagram Creator Studio, “an easy-to-use dashboard management tool that allows you to see all your Facebook and Instagram analytics (that you’d otherwise access in the app) – on your desktop,” (Keyhole).

How to Switch to a Creator Instagram Account

Here’s your step-by-step instructions –

  1. Go to your account and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
    – If you currently have a personal account, choose Switch to Professional Account and tap Creator.
    – If you currently have a Business profile, choose Switch to Creator Account.
  4.  Choose a category that best describes what you do – so many options!
  5. Option to connect to your Facebook Page
    – If you have a Facebook Page you would like to link to your account, select it from the list that appears.
    – You’re also able to skip this step.
  6. Review contact information. At least one contact is needed to proceed. You will have the option to display or hide this on your profile.
  7. Choose your profile display options. You can decide whether to hide or display your category and contact details on your profile.

Note: “If your personal account is private, completing these steps will make it public. All pending follow requests will be automatically accepted when you go public,” (Instagram).

How to Switch to a Business Instagram Account

  1. Go to your account and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
    – If you currently have a personal account, choose Switch to Professional Account and tap Business.
    – If you currently have a Creator profile, choose Switch to Business Account.
  4. Option to connect to your Facebook Page
    – If you have a Facebook Page you would like to link to your account, select it from the list that appears.
    – You’re also able to skip this step.
  5. Review contact information. At least one contact is needed to proceed. You will have the option to display or hide this on your profile.

Of course, you may change your mind once you make the switch so here’s…

How to Switch Back to a Personal Instagram Account 

  1. Go to your profile and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner. 
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Select Switch to Personal Account and tap Switch Back to confirm.

All in all, it’s exciting to have more options on this oftentimes influencer-driven platform! Now, it’s time to discuss the content you’ll be thinking up, creating, and sharing on Instagram to grow your business.

 

SECTION 2: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH CONTENT CREATION

We could go on about branded content creation forever – it’s a beast! So, we’ll keep this short. These are the most important strategies to keep in mind while creating content to use Instagram to grow your business. 

Create Messaging Buckets

Maybe you haven’t heard of messaging buckets before! They’re basically different categories you can sort future content into, ensuring you touch on all aspects of your business or brand.

As a jumping off point, we recommend the following buckets –

From there, you can create subcategories that fit inside each bucket. Here’s what that would look like for a brand like Purely Pecans, a clean label pecan butter company + what kind of visuals they might use –
Product (or Client) Highlights

  • A photo of a jar of their Pecan Butter

Recipes (DIYs + Tutorials)

  • This one’s self explanatory! Take a product and incorporate it into a recipe or DIY
  • Let’s say you’re offering a service – you’re a realtor. In this case, you’d record a video or snap a series of photos related to home financing or shopping

Education

  • Share the why behind your product or service
  • Spotlight an ingredient or your products nutritional benefits

Community

  • An ingredient photo of salt and sugar that asks users to answer the question: “Are you feeling sweet or salty today?”
  • A caption with a call-to-action in the caption: “Drop an emoji in the comments that perfectly summarizes your weekend plans!”
  • A photo from your day volunteering at your local food bank

Fun, Quotes, and Events

  • A shareable meme video that’ll make your audience laugh
  • You may use your caption to tie this content back to your product or service – or, leave it open-ended to let the moment just be

Assign the buckets different colors and use a highlighter tool to mark them on your calendar along with a short description of the content. Example –

Write Varied Captions

Once you’ve got a visual picked out, it’s time to write a caption.

Consider what you’ve seen other brands in your space doing. In most cases, a blend of short and long captions is a win.

Sometimes you need the space to really get in-depth, especially in an educational or recipe post. Other times, you can let the graphic mostly speak for itself – the caption could be as short as a single emoji that plays up the theme.

Captioning a photo is an artform, and you’ll learn what works best for your audience from trial and error. It’s also a medium to speak to your audience on a deeper level, beyond a simple graphic. Your visual drew them in – now, what do you really have to say?

Do note that you can preface a long caption with a couple of words that summarize what you’re about to jump into, enticing users to hit “read more” to see your full caption.

Choose Legit Hashtags

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it! You should be using hashtags.

Why? Some users follow hashtags, so your content will find its way to their feeds automatically and it’s a great way to aggregate your content.

Also, it’s an easy way to be discovered. It connects your content with new or existing communities that people tap into on a daily basis.

Hashtags are also important as a tool for you to use when engaging with others. We’ll touch on this more in Section 3: Daily Strategy.

You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram. We’ll use anywhere from 10-25 for our clients. 

This is because quality outranks quantity once again. Find hashtags that an everyday person uses – not a bunch of bots!

Start with a key hashtag. For a brand like NutriSuits (a prebiotic-probiotic supplement), that could be #guthealth. Paste your key hashtag into Instagram’s search bar. The results not only show you posts, but related hashtags as well.

Browse through the recent tab to get a sense of how often people are posting, what they’re posting about, and if it’s a match for your brand (keeping your ideal consumer in mind).

Using Instagram Line Breaks

When you start to look out for them, you’ll see Instagram line breaks everywhere! And, you’ve probably noticed you can’t just hit enter to make one in your own caption.

@Milkimchi uses spacing to isolate giveaway instructions, highlighting how simple it is to participate.

When it comes time to write out some longer captions, we recommend using line breaks to increase readability! But, you can’t just hit enter on your phone while creating a post through the Instagram app – this function isn’t currently supported.

That’s why a number of workarounds have been thought up. You’ll see influencers, brands, and even your average Joe using hashtags, periods, characters, or emojis to create line breaks.

Really yummy IG account here: @thedefineddish! It’s your call as to whether or not you use a character or blank space as your line break. Always better to have the choice by learning this Instagram formatting hack.

This works for the most part, but doesn’t always translate the same on desktop. Plus, you may not want an added element distracting from your post – why use an emoji when you could instead have a clean distinction between paragraphs?

How to add spacing to your Instagram captions or bio

You simply need the right number of spaces to achieve a clean line break. And, here they are –

[                                                              ]

While you could copy-paste the space within these brackets wherever you’d like a line break, there’s something even easier you can do!

Create a shortcut on your phone that includes this spacing. Here’s how…

For iPhone –

  • Tap Settings, General, Keyboard, Text Replacement, then tap the “+” button in the top-right corner of the screen.
  • In the blank next to “Phrase,” type in [                                                              ]. Then, in the Shortcut section, name it Linebreak.
  • Hit the “Save” button.

For Android –

  • Tap Settings, Language & Input, “Personal dictionary,” then pick a language or choose the “For all languages” option. (Note: the exact settings may differ depending on the make and model of your Android phone.)
  • Tap the “+” sign in the top-right corner of the screen, then enter [                                                              ].
  • In the Shortcut section, name it Linebreak.
  • Tap the Back key, and you’ll see an entry for the shortcut you just added.

Now, you’ll just have to type in Linebreak and the optional shortcut will pop up. Just delete the brackets afterward.

Important: Take out any extra spacing between the last word or punctuation before adding your line break! Also, try drafting captions on your phone’s notes app to see your lengthy caption as a whole + double-check for spacing errors.

instagram line break shortcut [⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀]

So easy, yet a heavily neglected Instagram formatting tip!

Now that your content is ready to go, there’s the matter of engaging with users who interact with your posts. And, connecting with users in the comment sections of their own content to wrangle them over to your page.

 

SECTION 3: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH YOUR DAILY STRATEGY

You may be wondering what the value of engaging on Instagram really looks like. We’ve seen firsthand how it can make waves, so we’re excited to provide you with a breakdown that we personally apply on the daily!

And while it may seem a little crazy to share so much of our strategy, we’ve done just that with our Engaging with Social Content guide which we’ve made COMPLETELY FREE just for you. 🙂 Go ahead – download right this minute!

Engaging with users shows people that you’re a real brand: You care about your customers and want their business. You wouldn’t let a customer service email go unanswered – right?! Same thing here – if someone tags your brand or floats a question via DM, it’s essential that you step in and field those mentions. 

People you’re engaging with will start to perceive your brand as friendly, reliable, and trustworthy.

This translates to an increase in followers, substantial brand loyalty, and lifetime customers.

Plus, it’s a compounding strategy to gain more clients or sales as social channels favor posts that have more likes, comments, saves, and shares – that’s the social media algorithm at work! When you consistently show up, more people end up seeing your brand and how well you interact with others.So, play nice!

Through years of trial and error, we’ve boiled down our tried-and-true strategy to three points that fuel impactful Instagram engagement: Listening, Engaging, and Interacting.

Listening

To be a good listener, you have to remain present. This means getting on the choice platforms for your brand Monday through Friday, even popping in over the weekend, to see what your audience is talking about + how they’re engaging with your recent posts. 

You may choose to set up various notifications via Google, Instagram, and Facebook, so you’ll receive an alert relevant to hashtags, other brand accounts, or influencers that are in line with your brand.

We include a short activity to get you thinking more about who you should be listening to here: Engaging with Social Content.

Engaging on Instagram

Engaging

Take note of positive and negative comments.

If the comment is positive, find a natural way to respond that feels genuine. Record especially good testimonials to utilize in future marketing materials.

As is the way of the internet, negative commenters are inevitable.

You’ll have to decide if the comment is customer service related and needs real attention or just a troll trying to get the best of you – in which case, we’d suggest deleting it or blocking the user if future harassment seems likely.

If it’s a true customer service complaint, take care to reply on the platform the user commented on, letting them know you have DM’d them so you can move the conversation off your public channel into a private channel.

Interacting

Create a few hashtags related to your brand. If you’ve got a long brand name, consider abbreviating it. You could also employ an adjective related to what the brand’s experience is or the mission behind it.

For example, the brand @hailmerrysnacks created their branded hashtag #sinkyourteeth, because it’s more relatable and more likely to be used by fans.

  • Include branded hashtags in every post, encouraging users to tag their own content with said hashtag.
  • Comment and like those using your hashtags – thank them for being a fan!
  • Interact with other hashtags that relate to what your brand does. For a gluten-free snack brand, this could be #healthyeats or #whole30.

Users that click in to your custom hashtag will view a plethora of posts with your product front and center.

One of the most challenging aspects of engaging is knowing how much time to pour into the different relationships you’re building. We like to focus on these three core relationships:

  • Influencers – an individual who has the power to impact purchase decisions of others because of their established following. This could be at a micro (less than 5k followers) or macro (more than 5k followers) level.
  • Like-Minded Brands – brands with similar qualities to your own, oftentimes prospecting the same audience. Careful not to interact with a direct competitor (example: you both sell matcha-based energy bars).
  • Potential Customers – your ideal demographic in age and interests.

Start to schedule time in your day for engagement, dividing how you engage based on which relationships matter most to your brand. 

Experiment with different ratios, like half an hour for influencer + like-minded brand relationship building versus an hour sifting through relevant hashtags. It can get pretty complicated, so we created this timetable that breaks down how + where to invest your time.

And, remember we’ve got our free Engaging with Social Content guide available here!

Once you’ve got this daily strategy down, there are a couple special monthly events you can use to increase your following + engagement on a grander scale. Namely, giveaways.

 

SECTION 4: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH GIVEAWAYS

Content creation and daily engagement will ensure you use Instagram to grow your business properly. But, we truly can’t recommend this final step enough: host an Instagram giveaway! 
 

Surely, you’ve seen Instagram giveaways on your feed. Aside from a product or influencer shot, they include a call to action in the caption that ultimately forwards a brand or influencer’s growth –

  • “Follow our page, like this photo, and tag as many friends as you’d like in the comments! One comment = one entry!”
  • “Like this photo and follow the link in our bio to sign up for our newsletter!”

We’ve earned hundreds, even thousands of followers and email subscribers for brands by implementing monthly giveaways.

 So, what kind of Instagram giveaway rules should you set? How do you connect with other brands? Let’s dive right into it with these six easy steps.

1. Pick A Goal

Do you want to grow your follower count, email list, or something else entirely? 

Free advice: If you’re starting at follower count zero, building out your follower pool is the way to go. 

Then, you’ll have a greater network to interact with if you’d like to collect emails in the future (product familiarity alone often sways users to forfeit their email in the hopes of a potential discount).

2. Find Brand Partners
If you spend anytime at all on Instagram, you’ve likely got a handful of potential brands you’d love to partner with. Start there and see what happens. There are SO many ways to build out a list of brands – this is just a jumping off point, but we’ve got a few more suggestions within our guide as well.
3. Make Contact

Start with a simple DM. Show a little love for the brand you’d like to team up with and share important details regarding the kind of giveaway you intend on hosting as well as when you plan to launch it. If you’ve hosted a giveaway before, take care to hint at past areas of success.

4. Take Photo + Create Copy

Whether you buy participating brand’s products on your own, have free product shipped over, or design some sort of graphic that represents those brands, now is the time to snap a photo or pop into Photoshop.

Situate all the subject matter so it fits inside of a square to look good in the feed, use natural lighting, or invest in some photography lighting to ensure products are adequately lit. Use bright color backdrops when you can to make the image shine!

Then, get to typing up a killer caption. The main thing here is that you state instructions for participants in a very clear manner with a call to action while including a gentle disclaimer that protects the brand you represent from legal allegations.

You can borrow our Instagram Giveaway Legal Disclaimer Template:

We’ll randomly pick a winner next week. Open to US residents only. Must be 18+ with a public profile to win. By entering you acknowledge that this giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Instagram and release Instagram of all responsibility. Good luck!

5. Set Dates + Amplify Reach

Nail down a date. We bet you’re wondering: “How long should I run an Instagram giveaway?”

The optimal length of time may vary, but three to five days is pretty standard. We share more info like this in our guide.

After you launch your giveaway, it’s time to promote it accordingly. Share it via Stories – add it to a highlight. Then, budget for the dollar amount you’d like to put behind boosting your post. Note: boosting often makes a HUGE difference!

Take care to optimize your post by sending people to “Your Profile” and select Target Audience to “Automatic” – we’ve tested this and got the highest amount of new followers this way!

6. Choose a Winner

Contact the winner(s) and obtain their address, ensuring they receive their prize.

Take time to appreciate your newly acquired followers – follow up with a discount code or email to solidify a connection.

Don’t forget to share the giveaway results with the brands you’ve partnered with! They’ll be eager to learn about the results + you may want to work together again in the future.

 

SECTION 5: USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH INFLUENCERS

Instagram influencer programs are a beast to manage. That’s why we’re sharing our cheat sheet with you to simplify the set-up process! This includes our method + completely free messaging templates.

We’ve had great success with these in the past. For example, we established a tiered influencer program that garnered tremendous brand awareness and increased online sales, and also provided excellent UGC to share across social for an all-natural pest control brand.

We were able to increase their monthly reach tenfold with an influencer budget of  only $1K/month. 

This resulted in a team of 25 influencers,  a 900K reach, and an increased social engagement rate from .8% to 4.63% over 4 months. 

Now, those numbers really speak to the power of influencers. And, it also resulted in their highest monthly sales to-date!

Now, let’s make that happen for your brand…

Let’s first define the difference between macro and micro influencer – 
 
Macro-influencers = more than 10K followers
Micro-influencers = 5K-10K followers
 
Of course, this is just how our team defines it. Your own interpretation may vary! And, engagement rates play an equally important role in deciding who is or isn’t fit for your influencer program.
 
Next, you’ll have to decide what goods, services, or money will be exchanged through your influencer program.
 
If you’re working with macro-influencers, it’s common to exchange free products as well as money for a series of branded posts or Stories.
 
If you’re working with micro-influencers, you may exchange free product for a series of branded posts or Stories. 
 
You may offer both of these types of influencers a greater slice of the pie by including them in an affiliate program where they make a cut of each sale whenever users purchase product associated with their affiliate link or a custom discount code.
 
We don’t recommend finding influencers and outright proposing a collaboration (sliding into the DMs when your lead is as cold as ice). 
 
We do recommend engaging with influencers for 1-2 weeks through periodic “nudges” – following, liking, commenting, and DMing their account to develop a history with the user.
 
Remember that you represent one of many brands out there. And, one-off DMs often gather dust as they sit in the requested messages section of a user’s DMs never to be opened (probably ever). 
 
Set yourself apart from the crowd. Actively listen and learn about your contacts before sending offers.
 
To get these conversations going, you’re going to need to build out a list of contacts that align with your brand. 
 
1. Build a List
How big of a list are we talking about?? That’ll depend on your brand. 
 
Most recently, we worked with a brand that wanted to share their product (for free) with 40 micro-influencers. So, we got to work building a list.
 
The total number of influencers included on a list that we recently built (goal: build affiliate program) was about 200. 20% of the influencers we connected with said yes to the free product.
 
Try applying this equation to the brand you’re working with – 
 
Your Goal / 0.20 = the Number of Influencers on Your List
 
Or, start with a list of 100 users as a jumping off point.
 

So, how do you connect with the right people?

2. Three methods for growing your list
  • Software
  • Suggested
  • Instagram re-share accounts
 

Software
You don’t need software to run an influencer campaign, but it sure does make the process easier! 
 

Check out these apps – 

Suggested
You don’t need software to run an influencer campaign, but it sure does make the process easier! 
 
  • Browse hashtags and the explore page to find your starting place: a user in your demographic with beautiful content that’s well engaged with
  • Go through their “suggested” tab on Instagram
  • Vet accounts. Do they share objectively good content? Are they in your desired demographic? Are they not spammy (collabs with every brand that comes along)? Do they have good engagement rates?
  • Keep track of influencers on a Google spreadsheet – here’s an example of all of the information we keep track of:
Instagram Re-Share Accounts

There are plenty of Instagram accounts out there that build community by re-sharing posts related to a specific topic or place.
 
Let’s say you just opened a restaurant in Dallas, and you want to up the buzz about it on Instagram. You’ll want to engage with foodies in Central Texas.
 
You can find those foodies by tapping into an account like @bestfooddallas. Just scroll their page, check who is credited + tagged in photos, and voila! Dallas-specific foodie photographers.
 
Let’s say you’re a gluten-free flour brand. You may want to connect with healthy foodies – how about the vegan cooking community? 
 
Drop into @vegangirlglow and do the same – check those tags for a whole pool of talented content creators.
 
Okay, now it’s time to pull a Katy Perry on ‘em and turn those cold leads hot!

 Warm Up Leads

Let’s talk more about those nudges – liking, commenting, and DMing influencers on a repeat basis.
 
You don’t want to be sales-y. You want to compliment them over the course of 1-2 weeks! Think: “This workout looks like fun! :)” or “Wow, you’re really pulling off those teal colored shoes!”
 
Here’s a timeline to follow or share with your team…
 
 Influencer Nudge Schedule
 
  • Nudge 1, Week 1 – Monday:
  1. Like 8-10 photos, semi-recently posted and randomly
  2. Comment on 1-2 photos
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 2, Week 1 – Wednesday:
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 3, Week 1 – Friday: 
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 4, Week 2 – Monday:
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 5, Week 2 – Wednesday:
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send a DM
  • Nudge 6, Week 2 – Thursday: 
  1. Like their most recent photo(s)
  2. Comment on 1 photo
  3. Send your juicy offer!!
 Free Product Offer Template
 
Hi! You’ve probably gathered by now that we love what you’re doing with your feed and just had to reach out for a quick chat.  
 
We’re [YOUR BRAND NAME] – [YOUR MISSION STATEMENT IN 1-2 SENTENCES].
 
We’re looking to share our [PRODUCT OFFER] with as many people as possible. Would you be interested in trying [PRODUCT OFFER]? At no charge, of course. We’ve been getting feedback from folks seeing [PRODUCT BENEFITS].
 
We’d love to share them with you to get your feedback! What do you think?
 
 Finish Out The Weekend & Beyond
 
We’d love to share them with you to get your feedback! What do you think?
 
Follow-Up, Week 2 – Friday: 
  • Your offer has been sent, so it’s time to check your DMs for any replies!
  • For those that say yes, request and record shipping addresses on your spreadsheet
  • Follow up with any ignored messages (“Hey, just making sure you saw this!!”)
  • Share acquired addresses with your team on a weekly basis to promptly send out product 

That following Monday…

  • Have you met your goal? Whether you’re just trying to send out free products or offering influencers payment, it’s better to keep at this process than just waiting around for a reply!
  • Go back to your list and build it out again accordingly

Repeat nudge process with new contacts until desired number of leads is acquired 

  • For the brand that we referenced working with above, the goal was 10 leads a week = 40 leads over the course of 4 weeks
 Turn Influencers Into Advocates
 
We’re sharing the messaging templates we’ve used with the goal of exchanging free products for an affiliate deal.
 
Hot lead: Let’s say one of your influencers receives the product, loves it, and organically shares their thoughts! 
 
 Hot Lead, Affiliate Offer Message
 
  • Hi ___! It sounds like you’re enjoying [PRODUCT OFFER], so we’d LOVE to offer you a [DISCOUNT]% off coupon code and affiliate link!! You’ll make [COMMISSION]% commission from whoever uses your code or purchases through your custom link on their first order. Let us know if you’re in, and we’ll send you a link to sign up. 😀
Warm lead: If an influencer that you sent free products to does not mention receiving it or plug the brand on Stories/their feed by the end of that 1-2 week period, that is when you’ll need to be direct and ask for feedback + share an affiliate code!
 
Warm Lead, Affiliate Offer Message
 
  • Hi there! Hope you’re enjoying your [PRODUCT OFFER]. Would you be interested in a [DISCOUNT]% discount code and affiliate link to share with your followers? You’ll make [COMMISSION]% commission from whoever uses your code or purchases through your custom link on their first order. Let us know if you’re in, and we’ll send you a link to sign up.
Wrap it Up
 
Not done yet! Keep a close eye on those DMs to follow-up with sign-up links and custom coupon codes.
 
We are currently using an app within Shopify called Secomapp to manage our affiliate program and commission organization and payments.
 
Remember that these programs do take a great deal of time to manage as well as see results from. Nudges may easily be outsourced to a stellar freelancer (we love Fiverr!).

HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS CONCLUSION
And that’s it – our five-section guide to ensure you use Instagram to grow your business starting today!

Maybe you’re jumping in from the beginning and setting up your first-ever Instagram account. Or, revamping your long-standing strategical process. In both cases and anything in between, these tips will come in handy as you refine your online presence to develop brand loyalty and earn lifelong sales.

Running a giveaway is one of the most effective ways to quickly grow your following.

That’s why we put together this guide, where we dive into the details – little nuggets of giveaway planning gold – AND provide you with our EXACT system and essential resources: checklist, organizational spreadsheet, and messaging templates.

We’ve spent YEARS and TENS of THOUSANDS of DOLLARS perfecting our giveaway strategies. And before you ask, we’ve used these strategies across multiple verticals (from building egg empires to selling supplements)  – and it proves effective every time!

We put in the work to save you time and money – snag our guide to grow your brand today:   Create a Winning Instagram Giveaway: And Get Tons of High Quality Followers

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4 IG Takeovers Your Marketing Team Needs to See Now

All About Instagram Takeovers

One of our favorite ways to form consumer-brand connections as of late is with a well-planned Instagram Takeover. Inviting a guest to takeover a brand’s IG Stories helps viewers put a face to the brand. As a result, it expands their reach rapidly. 

It can happen between any two users. This can range from founders of a company sharing their daily routine to an influencer endorsing a brand. This may also include a customer sharing their product experience. 

Now, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite finds to share with you! Plus, we’ll explain how this marketing approach boosts each brand’s strategy.

Lead consumers to make website purchases.

Bustle’s Be My Guest takes “you inside cool homes so you can gather design and decor inspo for yourself.” Each Instagram Takeover is linked to an article that Bustle has published on their site. For instance, this article featured Summer Rayne Oakes’ luscious plant house.

Most importantly, we love this Instagram Takeover because it shows viewers a slice of a larger piece of content. This attracts users to move away from Instagram and onto Bustle’s site. Therefore, it moves users from the outpost to their home base, where content and ad distribution is fully theirs. 

Individualize offering. Nurture customer loyalty.

Belletrist is “an online platform that celebrates great books and the people who read them.” It is hosted by co-founders Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss.

They promote their newest book of the month by welcoming the author via an Instagram Takeover. Then, the author shares their book collection to the viewers. This puts a face to a name. In other words, it adds a human element back into this remote book club experience. It acts as a service that competing book clubs may not offer. 

In addition, users are encouraged to join the Belletrist email list. It features exclusive interviews and “promos and recommendations of things we think you will enjoy.”

Certainly, brand loyalty is obtained through free content. Users will more readily subscribe and participate in those promotional offers. That is to say, free author interviews equals soft leads. 

Boost credibility and retention.

Serenity Kids featured @mamaknows_nutrition. She is a toddler dietitian with a platform for educational infographics. After the takeover, results were twofold! 

Firstly, brand awareness increased. It led Kacie’s audience of 104K followers to Serenity Kids Baby Food.

Secondly, the takeover boosted credibility. With her reputation for thoughtful and educational content, Serenity Kids got a big stamp of approval. Most importantly, this will live on their IG Stories Highlights for any new consumers to view over time.

Educate audience. Promote unique product.

Birch Benders has quite the varied SKU of nutrition-packed pancake and waffle mixes. They appeal to diet-specific audiences in particular, like paleo, keto, and vegan consumers. 

Leanne of @leannevogel led a takeover focused on her positive experience with a ketogenic lifestyle. It spoke volumes to viewers searching for a healthy diet. For instance, it was helpful to those who have already tried vegan or paleo diets with mediocre results.

In this way, consumers are directed from one of Birch Benders products to another. Certainly, they covered all of their bases. As a result of leveraging Leanne’s experience, they could drive existing purchasers to their keto-specific mix.

To sum it up, an Instagram Takeover does everything from increasing a brand’s credibility to personalizing one’s services. Like the cherry on top of a sundae, it’s fine if you leave it aside. But, will you really have the best dessert without it?

For additional tips, tricks, and inspiration, join our CPG CORE 3 Facebook Group.

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Why You Should Be Using IG Story GIFs

Using the Instagram GIF Feature

“Who the heck decides which Instagram GIF is available for use via Stories?!” It all starts with this very simple question. 

Instagram story gif examples

Then, if you’re anything like us you’re asking yourself, “Okay, now how can I get a GIF on here for my brand and clients?” If you’re not thinking like this yet, you should be since it’s free exposure! After it has been done well, you’ve got hundreds, even thousands of users utilizing your branded GIFs.

A little background – Instagram’s GIF function is powered by Giphy. A huge bank of GIFs & animated stickers. So, they make the rules when it comes to Instagram’s interactive GIFs.

The rules go like this

As a rule, you’ll need at least five GIFs to get your official Giphy Brand Channel activated. That is to say, you must have an official Giphy Brand Channel for your GIFs to populate through the Instagram GIF search function.

Also, if you don’t already have someone on your team that’s familiar with GIF creation, we recommend connecting with an experienced freelancer. In the past, we’ve had great luck finding freelancers on Fiverr or Upwork.

Giphy Brand Channel activation

Firstly, you’ll need to activate a Giphy Brand Channel. 

1. Create a new account using a brand-designated email address. Examples: hello@yourbrand.com or social@yourbrand.com

Your GIPHY username must accurately reflect the name of your business. Get rid of any non-applicable numbers, underscores, or other special characters. In other words, anything “off” may fail your application. 

Add a working link to the website field. Although, social accounts do not qualify. For example, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Your website must be public.

Add an avatar, preferably your brand’s logo. 250×250 JPG, PNG or GIF files are all supported.

2. Upload five GIFs minimum. In this step, take care to fill out their tags section with branded key words and common phrases that apply to the product or service you’re spotlighting.

3. Apply for a brand channel. Here’s the application.

4. Wait 1-4 days for your application to process. If your application is approved, GIFs will populate on the Instagram GIF search function. However, if they’re not appearing or your application was denied, connect with Giphy support. In this case, they’ll walk you through the necessary steps to get your app approved.

Ideal Instagram GIF export settings

Secondly, adjust your export settings! If you’re making these GIFs on your own in Photoshop, use these settings to export clean transparent images:

  • Colors: 256
  • Dither: 88-100%
  • Diffusion Transparency Dither
  • Adjust as needed to export your GIF – if you’re met with an error message, decrease dither to 88% and colors to 128.

Check your Instagram GIF stats

Lastly, observe the impact of your work by reviewing your Giphy analytics. In the top right-hand corner, select your username > Dashboard > Channel Activity. Moreover, you can review weekly, monthly, and all-time results. Certainly, this is useful to gauge impact on GIFs for special events or timely releases. 

In short, IG Story GIFs can be easily overlooked. But, they make an appearance across thousands of Stories every day. So, it only makes sense to get in on the fun and create a set of five branded GIFs for your own brand + clients.

branded instagram gifs

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