1. Socialise on Social
The number one tip I give to all my clients is to spend time in the app engaging with others and ideally, doing this straight after they posted. I see it like attending a networking event, loitering by the tea and coffee, quietly placing your business card down on the table and leaving without so much as saying Hi. If you "post and run" then that's what you're doing, and you may as well not have bothered going.
I know that everyone is aware of the need to engage but they are time pressured, and this is resulting in far too many people turning to Bots (not that there is a great deal of them left now) or Virtual Assistants to do their engagement for them. They provide their VA or programme the bot with a selection of generic sentences to copy and paste with a fistful of emojis. When I see these comments (and I can spot them straight away!), they honestly make my heart sink. I appreciate that time is precious as a business owner (I am in the same boat after all) but how is this benefiting you and your brand? Part of engaging is using this time to FIND YOUR TRIBE, connect with the community, get to know your customers and BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. I have made some amazing friends through Instagram, and I get the vast majority of my business through Instagram by answering questions, showing up and being authentic. You cannot do this via a Virtual Assistant based in India or an automated bot. It's called social media for a reason. You don't need to write an essay but try to string 4 or 5 words together (plus an emoji if you like) that is relevant to the caption or the image. Please do not just write "Great shot" and paste this over and over again.
2. Provide Content that Benefits your Customer
This is always the second pill that my clients find hard to swallow. Guess what; it's not all about you. So many clients come to me with Instagram accounts usually languishing under 1000 followers, with low engagement (40-ish likes per post). Almost always it's because their account is filled with promotional posts. Stock images of product (you know the ones I mean, cut outs on a white background) and text heavy promotional posts with discounting all over it. Neither of these types of post encourages a follower to buy or even engage with the content. Why? Because people are not on social media to be sold to.
To have any chance of success with your business on social media you need to sit and think about who your customer is, where to do they live? How old are they? What their marital status? What hobbies do they have? What keeps them awake at night? Drill down. Name him/her if you can so when you're choosing what to post or even what to write in the caption you can think "Would Miranda like this?" If the answer is no, then don't post it.
A good place to find out a bit more about your customer base is via your Google Analytics, in the demographics section it has subcategories, such as Art Affectionardos, Shutterbugs, Gardening Enthusiasts. These can help you to craft the right kind of content for your audience.
3. It's Not a One-Way Street
It's not all about you. Sorry but it isn't. Nothing disappoints me more than when I see brands Instagram, and they have a big fat 0 next to their followings, in fact, I quite often don't follow; especially if this is coupled with the fact they don't reply to their community. I'm sorry, but who do you think you are that you don't have to follow people back? There is some stupid stigma on Instagram that you can't possibly follow more people than you have followers and you must keep that number much much lower than the number of people you follow to make you look "popular". I'm sorry, but are you appealing to tween fans of Justin Beiber or trying to grow your business?
You don't have to follow everyone, and whatever you do don't get into the habit of following people back just to try and discourage them from unfollowing you - it doesn't work, and you'll end up following a lot of spam accounts. You should, however, be following back your "True Fans", communities that can benefit you, such as entrepreneur hubs and even your wholesalers and influencers you want to work with. When it comes to your competitors, I recommend starting a separate account to follow them on; I am sure you won't want to accidentally like their posts when you're mindlessly swiping and tapping in the post office queue.
4. Pay Attention to your True Fans
Your "True Fans" are the ones that like and comment on all your posts, they take the time to write meaningful comments, tag their friends into your posts to spread the word, regram you and even send you direct messages on your Insta Stories.
Nurture these people; they are your tribe! They will tell all their friends about you, be first to sign up for your new newsletter, book tickets to your event, etc. Reply to their comments, follow them back, comment on their posts. You may even pick up some followers through the comments on their posts, and their followers may well like what you do as well!
5. Build Trust by Getting Your Audience to Know and Like You.
Instagram Stories is a great way for your audience to get to know you and see behind the sequin curtain of your brand. Have a chat with the camera, celebrate your successes and take us along for the ride. Do not, however, use this as a place to go "off-brand". It's fine to post a photo of a beautiful sunset that happens to not be the right colours for your gallery, but it is not the place to show us irrelevant content that could damage your brand (i.e. Political rants, ten clips of your children playing in the park, etc.)
When I use Instagram stories consistently, I notice a significant follower uplift than when I don't. I've also built great relationships with people who have replied to my stories (and I have responded to theirs). I'm currently doing a 30-day challenge where I am posting to Instagram Stories every day for a month, even if it's just one clip of me talking to the camera. Give it a go, it's honestly not that scary, and with the new filters, you can even disguise yourself a little bit to ease yourself into it.
Let me know how you get on with these tips and use the tag #smallandmightybusiness to start connecting with others in the industry.
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