Instagram for Business: Build an Engaged Community | Learn with Iconosquare | Tyler McCall | Skillshare

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Instagram for Business: Build an Engaged Community | Learn with Iconosquare

teacher avatar Tyler McCall, Instagram Marketing Strategist

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      Establish Your Audience


    • 4.

      Determine Your Objective


    • 5.

      Craft Your Story


    • 6.

      Find Your Voice


    • 7.

      Create Your Visuals


    • 8.

      Put it into Action


    • 9.

      Engage Your Community


    • 10.

      Measure Success


    • 11.

      Bonus: Instagram Stories


    • 12.

      Final Thoughts


    • 13.

      What's Next?


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About This Class

Unlock the power of Instagram for your business in this new, in-depth class with Iconosquare and Instagram marketing strategist Tyler McCall!

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a blogger, a maker, or a member of a marketing team, learn to leverage Instagram as an ideal storytelling platform for your brand. Join Tyler as he shares his fresh, authentic approach to building a vibrant community full of devoted customers and superfans who are truly engaged. You’ll learn how to:

  • Establish your audience and set the right objectives
  • Create visuals that “stop the scroll”
  • Craft an authentic voice
  • Use comments, hashtags and locations to build community
  • Measure success with Iconosquare

PLUS learn tips and tricks for using Instagram Stories — the most effective new way to convert followers to your website or newsletter.

Through downloadable worksheets and countless tips, tricks, and words of advice, you’ll walk away with a concrete strategy to create the right content, connect with your followers, and craft an authentic presence with tangible results.


Iconosquare works with your Instagram and Facebook accounts to help you grow a social-rich media strategy, effectively interact with your community and measure your efforts with metrics. Start your free trial today!

Meet Your Teacher

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Tyler McCall

Instagram Marketing Strategist


Hey, I'm Tyler and help people build thriving online businesses they love!

I'm the founder of and host of The Online Business Show podcast. Since 2015, I've has helped thousands of entrepreneurs start and grow thriving online businesses with my digital products, virtual workshops, coaching and consulting, and in-person events.

I love Target, nachos, and @itsmeericc. Making a life in Chicago.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. My name is Tyler J. McCall, and I help small business owners and entrepreneurs market their businesses online using Instagram, and teach them how to use Instagram in a really intentional and genuine way. Instagram is one of the last social media platforms where real engagement and real connections still happen, and they happen in a really organic and easy way. So in today's class, we're going to talk about how to use Instagram for your business, why using Instagram for business is a little bit different than using Instagram as a personal account and ways that you can get started with using Instagram to market your business online. We'll talk about your audience on Instagram. We'll go through how to create content that's really meaningful, and we'll also discuss how to grow your Instagram account so you can get more eyes on what you're doing in your business. We'll even talk about Instagram stories, the newest addition to Instagram and how you can use them for your business. So many times people are trying to create a strategy while they're also trying to implement a strategy and measure the strategy, and they don't really know what they're doing. You end up wasting a ton of time that could be better spent in your business doing what you love to do. So, if we can create a plan for what you're doing on Instagram that's really intentional and solid, it makes everything just flow much more easy, and it makes your Instagram work well with your business, instead of you trying to work for your Instagram account. So in today's class, I'll be showing you how I use Iconosquare to do a lot of the different things that I do on Instagram, as far as measuring what's working well on my account, scheduling content, and you are responding to comments right from Iconosquare. I'm really excited to have a lot of different worksheets and tools available throughout today's class. So, you can download those resources and follow along as we're talking through all the different lessons. You can always share those with us so we can see what you've been doing, how your work is coming along, and you can get feedback from one another. So I'm excited to talk with you today about Instagram. Let's get started. 2. Getting Started: When we're talking about using Instagram for business, or talking about the idea of using Instagram as a marketing tool, as a business owner, there are some really great statistics about Instagram that can convince you to get active on the platform. One of those stats is that over 80 percent of Instagram's users follow at least one business on Instagram. Over 60 percent of Instagram's users have discovered a new business, or product, or service on Instagram itself. This is the one that's really exciting; over 30 percent of Instagram users have made a purchase of a product or booked a service directly from Instagram. As Instagram grows and adds more tools, like advertising and insights, so you can better understand your audience online, it can become an even more powerful tool for you to use for your business. So, we can think about how Instagram fits into this idea of brand loyalty in a really unique way. I think so much of marketing nowadays is about telling stories, and connecting people with brands on a more personal level. Instagram also allows you to create this idea of communities or even tribes around your product or your brand. That's what works really, really well. Think about having a loyal and engaged audience around your business. People who care so much about you, what you do, and why you do it, that they can tell other people about that. Wouldn't it feel amazing to have that group of people marketing your business on your behalf? There's no more need for Facebook ads, or newspaper ads, or billboards. Instead, you have an audience that really understands what you do and why you do it, and they're willing to tell other people about that. Instagram works so well for telling stories and connecting people with your brand because it is inherently visual, and people really respond well to photos and videos when you're marketing your business, and the future of marketing is video. People want to connect more with real people in real situations. Think about how good it feels to watch a video of one of your favourite business owners or personalities online when they're talking directly to you. Now, think about how you can use that in your business by putting your face on camera, or showcasing your staff or your employees, or even your customers or clients, giving them an opportunity to talk about what it is that you do and why they love working with you or purchasing your products. When using Instagram as a business account instead of a personal account, that means you have to have a little bit more of a strategy with what you're doing. The reason I spend so much time talking about having a strategy and plan for what you're doing on Instagram isn't because I want you to be bogged down by another spreadsheet, or a worksheet, or something you have to keep up with. It's because you are a business owner, or a maker, or an artist, whatever it may be, and you want to spend your time doing those things. Your goal isn't to become Instagram famous or be a huge digital marketer in this world. Instead, you want to connect with your clients or your customers and talk with them about their problems, offer solutions, make something for them, deliver a service, whatever it may be. So, instead of spending so much time trying to do everything right on Instagram, why don't you spend time creating a strategy that you know will work, implementing that strategy, and then going back to doing what you love. There's another reason that's important to have a strategy on Instagram, and that's because when you eliminate the need of trying to figure out what to post in the moment, you free up more time to engage on the platform. Engagement on Instagram is huge. The amount of time you spend engaging on Instagram is actually directly correlated to the amount of engagement you receive back on your account. If you spend more time engaging, you can gain more followers and attract more commentors and build more meaningful relationships. The whole point of this is to have a dialogue with people. You can't just post and hop off of Instagram and hope it works well for your business. You have to post, stick around to have conversations, answer questions, and then spend time going out and finding people on Instagram that you can attract back to your account. So, instead of being in the moment of trying to figure out what to post right now, because you've forgotten to post for the past week, you could have a clear plan and understanding of what your content is doing for your business when it's going up online, and that frees up time for you to spend time, and hashtags, or locations, or whatever it may be on Instagram connecting directly with real people and having real conversations. Now, we're going to dive in to how you can create a strategy for what you're doing on Instagram for your business or brand. 3. Establish Your Audience: So, we're going to start the conversation about using Instagram for business with getting clear on your audience online. We start with audience because there are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, but we can't start putting any of it together until we know who we are speaking to. There's the saying in marketing, that when you market to everyone, you end up marketing to no one. Sure your business or brand may attract anyone and everyone, that's totally fine, but you shouldn't try and market to anyone and everyone. When you have clarity around who you're trying to speak to on Instagram, who you want to attract to your business, then you can do the work of creating content for those people and build a more intentional relationship with them through that content. Remember the goal here is to build the right kind of audience, the right type of people who are interested in what you do and who you are. The number of people isn't nearly as important as the quality of those relationships on Instagram. Now, I want to talk you through how to put this into practice and that's through creating a follower persona. So, follower persona is that description of the dream person you want to follow you on Instagram, and in turn the dream person you want to attract to your business or brand as a customer or a client. There is a worksheet that will help you work through this material as well. So, make sure you grab that worksheet and follow along. So, the follower persona is made of three distinct parts. We start with demographics. A lot of times in marketing your business, this is where most folks start and end. Think about who you want to attract in your business, who can afford what you offer, what type of person maybe purchasing your product or booking your service, and come up with the demographic traits of that individual. So, Studio DIY is a lifestyle blog and brand out of California. Studio DIY offers a blog that's filled with how-to-do all different types of arts and craft projects at home. So, if we were creating the follower persona for studio DIY, we could think about how the demographics for this brand are probably millennial women. They probably have some kind of professional job or career where they have some expendable income. There's a high likelihood that they're married or in a serious relationship, and they could potentially have children. The next piece of the follower persona are psychographics. So, psychographics explain how a consumer thinks, believes, feels, and makes decisions, and these are really important. This is where the magic happens in marketing your business on Instagram, because psychographics can help you better understand what your followers are considering when it comes time to make a purchase. It speaks back to their values and their interests, so you can connect with them on a deeper and more meaningful level. With psychographics, we would be thinking about someone who really enjoys community, connection, and relationships. They're the type of person who is asking their friends what they're doing before they're deciding whether or not to go. They get groups of friends together to go on trips or to come over for brunch. They really value being with other people and when they see that Studio DIY says that they want to make life a party, they connect with that because they want to live a life that is filled with parties and events, and fun outings, and experiences. The third part of building out a follower persona on Instagram are social graphics. So, these are the different attributes of how a person acts, engages, and follows on social media. We can use these as a way to build out our audience through growth and engagement strategies, which we'll talk about a little bit later. But, social graphics explain who a person follows, what type of content they really respond to, and what gets them to click the share button or the save button and send your post to a friend or colleague. For social graphics, this person probably follows content on Instagram that they find inspiring, they're connecting with this content on a really regular basis. But I don't think they're the type of person that is always in their phone and is totally obsessed with social media. Instead, they're scrolling through at the end of the day, while they're in the carpool line or while they're waiting on their coffee, and they're saving things that they like and mentioning their friends in the comments to share it with people that are important to them. When you pull together social graphics, psychographics, and demographics, you can build out a follower persona that explains the person you're trying to reach to market your business on Instagram. So, the worksheet that we've included is going to walk you through the process of better understanding your ideal customer and client and creating your follower persona. So, there's a few pages of a lot of questions and I know it can feel overwhelming because they may be questions that you don't have the answers to. I want you to think about a few things. The first is thinking back on anyone that you've worked with in the past as a client or a customer. Who have you really loved working with in your business? Who lights you up when you see their name come through on an order form or when they book an appointment with you? What is it about that person that you really value? What are the things about them that you can pull from as you're building out your follower persona? The other thing I want you to do is think about folks that you have not loved having as customers or clients. What was it about them that you didn't enjoy? What can you make sure you don't include in your follower persona, so you do not attract those types of people? After you work through those questions and you better understand the demographics, psychographics, and social graphics, we have included an easy to follow grid for you to plug all your answers in, to move on to the next activity which is building out your persona's values. So, your worksheet features a values bank with a ton of different words for you to pick from. I want you to start by picking 10 values that you feel like connect perfectly with the ideal customer for your business. Then from there, your job is to combine them and narrow it down to three core values. I've done this activity hundreds of times now and what I've seen over and over again is more often than not, people will pick 10 values that really complement one another well and so many times those values can be combined with one another. So, combine the values down and get them down to three core values for your ideal audience on Instagram and then describe those values. What do those values mean to your ideal audience? A person who values those things thinks and acts in a certain way, so describe that and think about that. As you're working through this values activity, you may find that you're feeling a little bit of an overlap between what you believe in your audience values and what you value as a business owner. So many times in our businesses, we think about marketing our products or services to us, as people, and we start creating businesses and marketing strategies that are speaking to our individual problems or needs or desires or values. While that may work initially, long term it could negatively impact our businesses. So, think about your values and your business and how those connect with the audience and and how you want to work with people or sell to people who have shared values. But, more importantly, I want you to think about the people who are really responding to what you do. Where are you getting the most engagement and connection with your audience? When you talk about your product or service to people out in the world, who are the people that are responding the most often to what you have to say? Think about those things and use those as some refining thoughts to get clear on the values and make sure you're not just replicating the personal values that you have in your business and the audience that you're creating to market to on Instagram. So, one value that comes to mind for a person who really appreciates Studio DIY is fun. This person values fun. They don't take life too seriously. They want to connect with other people, and find and exciting ways, and this is the perfect brand for them to do that. If you want to verify all of this information and make sure that it's true, the best place to go is back to clients or customers you've had in the past. Connect with them and ask them if you can ask a few simple questions. Send them a survey online or set up a coffee date, whatever it may be. Talk with them about what you've done in this work building out your persona to make sure it's true and accurate. What we can do once we have the demographics, psychographics, and social graphics, and the values we can pull it all together and we can ride out this person's story. This is what I love to do. We haven't included this in your work sheet because it may be too much work and that's fine. Instead, we want you to get clear on those values more than anything else and if you feel up to it, get a blank piece of paper and start writing this person's story. Talk about who they are and what they do. Tell us their story of childhood. What they wanted to be when they grew up? What are they interested in? How did they spend a Friday night or Saturday morning? Where do they go on vacation and what do they do? As you get into this person's head, and you start telling their story, and talking about their experience, you'll get more and more clear on how you can create content that speaks directly to them. You can create that really genuine and intentional relationship on Instagram. 4. Determine Your Objective: So, the next step in the process of using Instagram for your business is to get clear on your objective. The objective describes what you're doing on Instagram, how you want your actions on this platform to impact your business or your brand. Having that clear objective helps you create content more easily and with more intention. You know it's working for your business, instead of you trying to come up with content on the fly. There's a lot different types of objectives you can have, but there's a few common examples. One of the most common is brand awareness or identity. Having a goal of getting your name out there more. You just want more people to know about your business, your brand, what you do, and why you do it. Another objective could be community building. Maybe you do want to build a community around your brand. You're interested in having that group of raving fans who are willing to tell the world about you and what you do. You could use Instagram purely for sales. Maybe you just want to put products out there and convert followers to customers. Another example of an objective is affinity building. This is one of my favorites. Affinity is that natural like or trust you have towards someone or something. I'm sure there are brands or businesses or even people out there online who you have an affinity toward because of how they've built a relationship with you online and you may not even realize it. And another objective that you can have on Instagram is thought leadership. Especially, if you are a blogger, a writer, even an entrepreneur and you want more people to know about an idea that you have. Maybe it could be about business or parenting or community, whatever it may be. You can use Instagram as a platform to lead thought around that idea by building that audience of loyal and engaged fans and continuing to have conversations with them through consistent and compelling content. So, as you're coming up with your objective, I want you to think through a few different things. The first thing is that typically one of these needs to take priority, and more often than not it's going to be around the idea of either building community, or raising brand awareness. I don't want you to have sales as your primary objective because that means you end up creating content that isn't quite as interesting for your audience. If you're just posting about your product or service over and over and over again, you lose a lot of interest and a lot of momentum. Instead of just posting your product and service all the time, you can spend time posting stories, sharing valuable information, and bringing your followers inside your business or brand, so you can connect with them at that more meaningful level that we've already talked so much about. So, as you're coming up with your objective and you're setting some goals for what you want to accomplish on Instagram, I just want to caution you on trying to be too aggressive, too quickly with what you want to accomplish on the platform. I see so many people who have getting more followers as their main goal. They want to gain a thousand followers a month, or 10,000 followers by the end of the year. And what happens when you have that as an objective is you end up compromising the focus on quality on Instagram. You do things like follow and unfollow people to accumulate more followers, you buy followers on Instagram or you do follow for follow, and those things aren't going to help you in the long run. Realistic goals for growth and engagement on Instagram will help you create content more intentionally, and it allows you to celebrate when you do achieve those goals. Instead of getting a thousand followers this month, why not focus on introducing your business to 100 new people. If they follow you, that's great. If they don't, that's okay too. You've at least done the work of getting your brand in front of 100 new faces every single month. So, when you're choosing your objective, you don't have to worry too much about getting hung up or stuck with one objective for a long period of time. It's okay to try out different objectives over a few weeks or a few months and see what your audience responds to you best. Once you've found the one that works well, I want you to stick with it. People come to follow you on Instagram for a specific reason and they stick around because you continue to meet their expectations through your content. So, if you start changing up your content and your objective too much there is a potential that you could lose some followers, and losing followers isn't the end of the world. But, when you're not producing the same types of content, same quality content, content with the same objective or purpose, people may not understand what you're doing or who you are or why they followed you in the first place. So, where do you go from here? How do you set an objective for what you want to do on Instagram? It all starts with an Instagram audit. I want you to look through your Instagram account. You can do this using Instagram on your phone, using Instagram for business tools. If you have an Instagram for business account, or using a tool like Iconosquare, to look at what is happening on your Instagram account. There are a few key metrics I want you to pay attention to and we'll talk more about these later on. But for now, I want you to think about the number of followers you have, your engagement rate, and your conversions. Engagement rate is the measure of what percentage of your followers are actively engaging with your content through likes and comments. And then, conversions is a figure that you get to decide, what do you really want to measure on Instagram? Do you want to measure how many people are direct messaging you? Maybe you want to measure how many comments you're getting. Maybe you want to measure how many people are joining your Facebook group or downloading a freebie from your website or visiting your blog from Instagram, whatever it may be determined that conversion factor for your business. And then, you're going to make a note of those three things; your current followers, your engagement rate, and your conversion. After you've done that audit, I want you to set an objective for one month. Maybe it's getting more comments, maybe it's sharing more of your story, maybe it's introducing a new product or service. Post consistently with that objective in mind, and at the end of the month, do the audit again and see what has happened for your Instagram account, and what's happened in your business. 5. Craft Your Story: So, the next part in using Instagram for your business is crafting your story, and this is where we really start putting everything together. We know who we're speaking to and we know what we want to achieve on Instagram. Now, we can start deciding what types of content to share with them. Your story is that unique part of your business that belongs to no one else. It's how you cut through the noise and shine through on Instagram and let people know that you are the person or the business they need to solve whatever problem they have. As you're crafting your story, I want you to think about a few things. The first are your business values. So, earlier we talked through your audience's values and this time we have a worksheet for you as well, that includes that same values bank, and I want you to work through the same process of picking 10 values that describe your business and narrowing it down to those three core values for your business or brand. Now, if you are a solo entrepreneur or you are the only part of your business, maybe you're the business and the business is you, it can be a little bit difficult. It can start to feel like there is no clear division between you and the business. There's some of that that's true, there's some of that that is actual fact. That you are the business and the business is you and your personal values would shine through in the business itself. But I want you to think about, how it is the business acts in the world that is different from how you may act. What is it that the business offers that's different from what you personally offer? Are there any clear divisions between your personal values and your core business values? What do you want people to say about you when you're not there? What do you want people to talk about when they're discussing the experience they had purchasing your product or booking your service? These business values are core to crafting your story because they allow you to connect with your audience on that deeper, more meaningful level. As we've talked about before, there is a difference between your ideal audiences values and your business values and they can definitely complement one another. I think they probably should complement one another so you're attracting the right people to your business. But they aren't always the same core values. So, a great example of this is Studio DIY. Their tagline is "Make life a party." You could imagine that the values that a company like Studio DIY has, would be all around the idea of fun and relationships and connecting with other people. Because if you're making life a party, you probably value fun and having a good time, and if you want to make life a party with other people, then you probably value connections and relationships. You can see how this is coming through and the presence online for Studio DIY through the content that is fun and exciting, bright and beautiful and happy. It's just great content to look at, and through the connections that they foster through their content by responding to their customers, answering messages and talking about how they connect with other people in their creative industry. So, the next part of crafting your overall brand story is your origin story, and this is so incredibly important and people forget about it all of the time. So, that origin story is uniquely yours, it belongs to you and only you and it describes how you came to do what you do. What's your background? How did you get to where you are? How did your business start? Where is your business going? I love talking about origin stories and sharing them online because the truth of the matter is a lot of people are nosy and sharing your origin story allows them inside your business. It gives them a closer look and it creates that deeper and more meaningful relationship. Now, I don't want you to craft your origin story and just share it once and think you're finished. You actually have to share it over and over and over again. Because we know when we look at Instagram engagement that on average only two to three percent of your audience is actually engaging with your content. But believe me, that's better than other platforms. That's one of the reasons we love Instagram. So, if that means that over 90 percent of your followers aren't even engaging with what you post, there's a good chance that most of them aren't actually seeing that content. So, you have to share your story with them over and over again. As you're implementing these growth and engagement strategies, you're also gaining new followers on Instagram. So, it's important that you're sharing that origin story often, so that those new followers have the opportunity to connect with you on a deeper and more meaningful level. The last piece of crafting your story is your unique value proposition. So, this is that phrase, it's one sentence that clearly describes who your business is, what you do and why you do it, and why you are different or better than other people who offer that same product or service. Maybe it's the way you do business, maybe it's how you make your product or offer your service, maybe it's the particular thing that you sell or the thing that you teach on or offer up service around. Whatever it may be, that unique proposition for your business is something that you can use to continually speak to your audience and help them better explain why you are uniquely qualified to solve their problem through your product or your service. I want to encourage you to think about how you can show up in a more genuine way on Instagram using those values and that values proposition. As I already said, since Instagram is really a game of creating and sharing really great content in a really consistent way, you want to do this over and over and over again. This means you can get deeper when you're having these conversations, you can take it below surface level, you can bring your audience behind the scenes, lift open that curtain and bring them inside so they can really experience your business and understand your values and the uniqueness that you have in what you do. So for me, I talk about how my unique value proposition is helping entrepreneurs use Instagram with intention. That's really what it boils down to and I help them use Instagram with intention to grow their community, grow their list, and grow their business. Because I think it's important to have a community of raving fans online, you get those people onto a mailing list, and then you can grow your business from there. I talk about helping entrepreneurs because those are folks that I want to work directly with. I've identified my audience and I'm really clear as I'm sharing this online so they know whether or not I'm speaking to them when they read that unique value proposition. I focus on Instagram because it's a platform I know and I love and I've seen it work for businesses, myself included, and I include the word intention there because I want people to use Instagram with intention to achieve these things. Without a strategy or an intentional approach to what you're doing, achieving those goals of growing your community, your list, and your business is going to be really difficult. So, I've put all of that together into my unique value proposition. So, let's get back to the worksheet where you can actually create your own unique value proposition for your business. We talked through your values already and we've narrowed it down to these three core values, we want to start with those. The next thing to do is think about what your business does differently. When you're thinking about what you do differently, that really describes how it is you operate as a business that's different from other people in your space. If you think long enough, I'm sure there are things you can identify. Maybe it's the way you deliver your product or your service in a different way, maybe it's how you show up in your community, maybe you give back while other businesses don't, maybe it's the voice that you use, whatever it may be that really describes what you do differently. The next thing is what does your business stand for? So, when you're thinking about what you stand for, I want you to think about those things that you're willing to put a stake in the ground for. When people question that, maybe they confront you, maybe they ask you what that means, you can really describe why you care about those particular things. Which leads into our next question; what do you want your business to be known for? What do you want people to say about your business when it's gone? What reviews do you want them to write on Facebook or Google? How do you want them talking about your business? The next question is, what do you promise your clients or customers? What is your commitment to them? So, once you've answered those questions, I'm going to give you another challenge here. I want you to take each of your answers to those questions and put it into one sentence and then put those sentences into one paragraph, that really describes what you do differently, why you do that differently, what you want to be known for, what you stand for and what you promise. So, come up with one sentence for each of those questions and put it into a paragraph and then the next objective here is to take that paragraph and find the common theme. What is the thread that runs through that entire paragraph that connects these things to one another? You'll find areas that are overlapping, you'll see what your values really speak to what you stand for or what your promises to your customer. You may have even found that you've written some of the same phrases over and over again. Then you can bring that paragraph down into one sentence, that one core sentence that really describes what makes you unique, and then you're going to use that sentence on Instagram regularly. You can infuse that sentence into your bio on Instagram so people clearly understand who you are and what you do in just a few short words when they look at your Instagram profile. It can influence the content that you're creating on a regular basis because you want to speak to that unique value proposition through the voice that you use and the content that you're sharing and how you're showing up online. 6. Find Your Voice: Your voice on Instagram describes how you speak online. It's made up of what you say and how you say it, and it's also influenced by things you would never say. Your voice comes through in the captions that you write on Instagram and even the things you say in your Instagram stories or on Instagram Live. Your voice is something you'll use throughout your entire business especially when you're marketing your business online. So it's really easy to get hung up on the visual and the visual alone on Instagram. You may think I just need more pretty pictures and the magic will really start happening for me. But the photos are such a small part of what you're doing on Instagram. I like to say that the only purpose of your photos on Instagram is to stop the scroll. It's acting as a hook to grab someone's attention and keep them engaged long enough to read your caption. The caption is where you really show up as a business or brand. It's how you tell those stories, give value and connect your audience on a more deeper level. So don't think you just have to have beautiful images and then you'll be set and ready to go. Instead, focus on developing a consistent voice and visual identity and showing up in a consistent way on Instagram so your followers know the content is coming from you and they've made the right decision in following you on this platform. So as you're building out this voice that you're going to use on Instagram. I want you to think about the way that you want to speak online. So are your sentences short and casual? Are they longer and more dramatic? When you're writing, are you writing like you're talking to a friend or like you're talking to a business associate? Do you want people to engage with your content and experience it like they're shopping at their local corner store or like they're shopping at a boutique department store? Do you use things like emojis and puns? Do you curse when you're writing as your brand. Or do you never do any of those things? If you do or if you don't, write it down and get clear on that voice that you want to use. Think about when people are reading your captions what you want them to experience, how you want them to feel and what you want them to think about your business through the captions that you're writing. So now I want to show you how a few different brands are using their voice on Instagram in different ways, and how they're really infusing personality into their captions on Instagram that let you know who the brand is, what their approach is to business and that really helps their personality shine through in their content online. The first is Method Home. So they make soaps and home care products, and their voice on Instagram is really different and I don't know maybe a little bit funky and strange. But they do a great job of connecting with their audience through this type of content. Method is definitely an alternative brand to something like Dial soap or whatever body soap you may use at home. So they want to make sure you know that through their feed, which is really bright and fun and colorful and through their voice, that's a little different than the standard marketing voice you may experience. So they have a video here on their feed that says tap once for sound, tap twice for eco-enlightenment. There's this fun trippy video of a hand moving through the area with eyeballs flying out from it, and a little song about what it means to be eco-friendly. They have a photo with a caption that says water saving tips, sleep naked. Would you expect a regular brand like dial or another soap to do that? Probably not. So that's why Method does a great job of infusing that little bit of surprise into what they're doing on their account. The other brand I wanted to show you is a brand that has grown in popularity over the past year and that's Halo Top Creamery. They make an ice cream that's filled with protein and that leaves you not feeling guilty for eating the entire pint. So they want to make sure you know that that's what their product is. First of all, their feed is filled with amazing imagery that showcases their product in really prominent settings. Then their voice on Instagram is really fun and approachable. They have a photo with a fridge filled with Halo Top ice cream that says, "Don't worry, we realize this was the refrigerator only a few days later," joking about the fact that they accidentally filled it full and ate all the ice cream. A picture that is filled with all empty cartons of ice cream that says what we see when someone says they have stacks. So they're not afraid to infuse some puns into what they're doing online and be really funny with the content that they're creating. Another account that has a really conversational and personal voice is SouthernFatty. So Philip's voice on Instagram is really personable. While his photos are beautiful and they'll leave you hungry, his voice helps connect you more with the content that he's creating. Here's one picture when he was at the Music City Food and Wine Festival where he said, "Basically have all of the carbs and wine coming out of my pores after a fantastic weekend eating and drinking everything in sight at the Music City Food and Wine Festival." So he's not afraid to say hey, I ate a lot and drank a lot this weekend and I'm going to showcase my experience there with you right here on my Instagram. He also includes words like y'all because he's in the South, and he abbreviates words like working to workin'. So you know it's actually him talking to you through his content, not just more boring photos of french fries and hamburgers on Instagram. So how do you get started in coming up with your brand voice? I have three tips for you. Three things I want you to do and think about as you're building out your brand voice. The first one is really simple. I want you to look at how you speak in your business elsewhere. Look at the e-mails that you send to your colleagues, or customers, or clients. How do you speak in those e-mails? How do you create people and how do you close out the message? Are you really casual in your communication or are you more formal? Look at how you're writing about your business in something like a press release or a Facebook post. Anywhere that you've written about the business itself, how are you speaking as a business, and how are people perceiving that voice? You can start identifying trends here. Maybe words that you always use. Phrases that you use often and words that you never use and things that you never say. Write those down and start thinking about how those influence your brand voice. So as you're moving fore from this section and you're creating your brand voice on Instagram, I want you to go back to those core business values we defined in our last section together as we were crafting your story. I want you to imagine a person who values those three things. How does that person speak? How did they talk to a person they're meeting for the first time? How do they introduce themselves? How did they talk to their family and their friends? Do they speak differently when they write than when they speak to someone face to face? Are they different on the phone than maybe they are on a video? Whatever it may be, I want to start writing out this person's way of speaking. If you're feeling a little hung up here and you're feeling like maybe you are this person, isn't this person me, if you have some questions around that, I want to first of all encourage you to be okay with being the business and allowing the business to be you, and showing up on Instagram in that really genuine way so people can connect with you in a more intentional way. But I also want you to think about the idea of a business persona. We developed a follower persona earlier, we described who this person was, you may have even written out their story. I want you to do the same for your business and think about how you want your business to be perceived out in the world. When people see your content on Instagram, how do you want them to connect with it? What do you want them to think? How do you want them to feel> That can help you create that brand voice that allows you to create content that speaks directly to your ideal follower and make sure people know who you are, what your business does and how you are unique in what you offer. So maybe you're thinking how am I supposed to write captions on Instagram and have a unique voice for my business when I'm not a writer? That's okay, I understand it may be hard to develop this brand voice or write out captions that you feel like are going to work well for your business. But I don't want you to panic. The thing is you are a writer. You're already writing for your business. Sure you may be sending e-mails or putting posts up on Facebook, but you're still writing content for your business on a regular basis and you have a voice to that content you are creating. I want you to think about how you are writing in that way and if it's more conversational, if it's more personal then use that as your brand voice. If you feel like your e-mails are really business and maybe you have more of a professional voice, that's okay too, use that as your brand voice. I want you to get comfortable with creating this content on Instagram in a really consistent way. It's just like learning how to ride a bike, you have to practice and continue to do it and then pay attention to what your audience responds to you so you can shift your voice and grow what you're doing on Instagram as your audience is giving you feedback on a regular basis. 7. Create Your Visuals: So, let's talk about your visuals on Instagram, and you may be wondering, why are we just now getting to pictures so late in this class? I thought Instagram was all about sharing photos. But if you remember, we started this conversation with the idea that Instagram is about sharing stories more than anything else. The visual is important. It's that hook, it's the way that we get our followers to stop scrolling and read what we have written. Having a consistent visual identity is really important as well, because our followers grow to expect our content. Instagram is really about setting and meeting expectations. So, when we share content that looks great in a really consistent way, our followers grow to expect that type of content from us. When we continue to deliver that content to them, we're meeting that expectation. So, they stick around longer and they're more willing to connect with us on Instagram. Your visual identity on Instagram is an extension of your overall brand. So, when you look at your business, what does it look like? What colors are you using? Are there shapes and textures that you're using consistently? Whatever it may be, those are things that you can infuse into your identity on Instagram. To show you some Instagram accounts that do this really well with a really great visual identity, I wanted to showcase three accounts that all offer similar products, but have very different expressions of those products on Instagram. So, they're all paper goods companies. They all make, manufacture, and sell paper and lifestyle products. Things like notebooks, notepads, and journals, pens and pencils. But they all show up on Instagram in a really unique way. That's a clear extension of their brand identity that gets you to stop the scroll and that lets you know the content that's showing up is from them. You know it's their content before you ever look at the username that posted it. So, we're going to start with Yoobi, which is a really bold and bright brand that's available at Target. You may have seen it before. So, we're going to focus on the top nine or 12 photos here. When we look at their feed, what is the first impression that we get? Yoobi's feed is very bright. They have pictures of donuts, bananas, a lot of teals, pinks, yellows, and blues, and we can see that this must be a bright and fun brand. We could also assume that maybe they're going after a younger clientele with the types of photos they're posting. The next account I wanted to show you is Rifle Paper Company. So, Rifle Paper is a stationery and lifestyle brand that sells beautifully inspired paper goods. So, if we look at the top nine or 12 photos with Rifle Paper Co's account, we'll see that their account feels very comfortable and cozy. It's still bright and really clean and crisp in the editing of their photos, but their photos aren't filled with those really bright pinks and teals that we saw in Yoobi's account. So, Rifle Paper Co's account is more feminine in the type of content that they're creating. There's a lot of floral imagery, hints of pink and purple and blue in their content, and you can definitely see the influence of nature through the different botanical prints that they create and sell and that they have on their products. So, the last brands that we can talk about around the idea of visual identity is Appointed Co, which again is another paper goods company out of Washington DC. So, they create journals, notebooks, and calendars, but they have a total different look and aesthetic than the two we've already discussed. Appointed Co has more of a masculine or even gender-neutral approach to their content. So, there's lots of whites and grays and blues, and their account is filled with their products and the people who make the products that they sell. So, I love the top nine on their feet, or even the top 12 here that really features their products prominently, so you can see what they're selling. It also features different lifestyle imagery that connects to the type of people they're trying to attract for their business. So, you've seen some folks who are doing it well, and you may be wondering, "How do I put this into practice for myself, I'm not a professional photographer. I don't have a fancy camera. How am I supposed to do that?" Well, don't worry I have you taken care of. I want to share a ton of Instagram tips with you right now that will teach you how to take photos and post them on Instagram using your phone. That's it. Nothing else. So, let's dive in. The first thing is to remember that when someone is coming to your Instagram account for the very first time, they're making the decision about whether or not to follow you based on two things; your top nine and your bio. So, as you're creating visual content for Instagram, always keep that idea of the top nine in the back of your head. How are these photos going to play into your overall look and feel on Instagram? One of the first tips for creating Instagram content using a smartphone is to keep it simple. Remember that folks are viewing Instagram content on their phone and these screens are tiny. So, they may be scrolling through really quickly and it may be confusing for them to understand the type of content they're looking at. A few things that I like to do are the squint test and keeping my photos straight. So, when I say the squint test, I mean that I'm looking at my post and I'm squinting, and if I can't tell what they're pictures of, then it may not be a clear enough photo to use on Instagram, because people are just moving too quickly by your content. Keeping it straight means that I'm not trying to be really crazy or creative in my angles. I'm either taking a photo straight above, like maybe a flat lay or a bird's eye view type photo or I'm taking a portrait photo straight on. I'm not trying to take weird photos through different types of materials or holding the camera at weird angles. It's just too difficult to see what's happening in your pictures on Instagram. So, as you're creating your content for Instagram, remember to keep it really simple. Keep your backgrounds clean and easy to view. Make sure that your content is standing out in a really clear way, and make sure that your audience can understand what they're actually seeing pictures of when your photos show up in their Instagram feed. The next thing to do as you are creating your Instagram content, is to pick a style and stick to it. There are so many different types of ways you can take and edit your photos. They can be bright and poppy like the studiodiy feed that we looked at earlier. Maybe they're a little darker like the photos we looked at from januaryjewelry earlier. Or they could be light and airy, maybe like the photos we looked at from appointedco or even riflepaperco. Whatever it may be as you're looking at these different accounts and thinking of what aesthetic and style you want to use on your Instagram, it's important you pick one and you stick to it. That as you're taking your photos, you have your style in mind, and as you're editing your photos, you're either using the same editing techniques, the same apps or the same presets on your phone to get all of your photos looking really consistent in that style. It's important to have that consistent style because that again is how people know the content is coming from you before they even look at the username, and it acts as a really great extension of your overall brand and your presence online. The next step for taking photos using your phone is to use natural light. So, when you are taking photos using a phone, it doesn't have the fancy sensors that a professional camera may have. So, taking photos in low light settings probably won't work quite as well. Taking photos using natural light is really easy. You can get outside maybe under a tree or on a patio or carport, anything that has some form of cover or shade, but you're still getting natural light coming into the image. You can also take these pictures inside. Just get next to a window and turn off the lights inside, so you don't get those weird competing tones of orange indoor light and more blue outdoor natural light. Use something like poster board to reflect light back onto your image. So, if you're not feeling up to creating your own images for Instagram, that's okay. There are ways around it. I want to share a few different ways that you can create or curate content for your Instagram account that makes it even easier to manage. The first thing is to outsource when you need to. So, if you are not a pro photographer and you're not trying to become an iPhone pro photographer, then you can outsource your photography needs. I'm sure there are plenty of amazing photographers in your community you could work with to create custom branded imagery of your business or your service or your products, whatever it may be. You can also utilize stock photography, and there are limitless options out there. There's free stock from websites like Pexels or Unsplash, but there's also paid stock you can use from sites like 2020 or even Kate Max stock which offers a subscription service for styled stock photography. When using stock photos, whether free or paid, I want to encourage you to make sure you're using photos that are really in line with your overall brand identity, and that you're consistently using photos that have a similar style and look and feel, so you're building that consistent presence on your Instagram account and your audience knows the content is coming from you. The last thing you can do if you aren't feeling up to creating your own content is utilize user-generated content. So, these are photos that users have already posted on Instagram and they are typically people who are customers or clients of your business or brand, and research actually shows that on average, user-generated content converts over four and a half percent better than traditional content. A great way to do this is to encourage your customers or clients to post about your products or services using a branded hashtag or to tag you in those posts. When they do, simply take a screenshot and repost it on your own Instagram account giving them full credit for the image that they shared. If you want to make sure that your brand is really shining through in your post on Instagram, you can incorporate branded elements in your photos. Now, I don't mean you should slap your logo on every single post you put up on Instagram, that just looks way too busy and too hectic in your overall Instagram feed. Instead, utilize your products that showcase your branding prominently or showcase items like notepads, business cards, or even pens and pencils that have your brand icon or logo or even colors utilized in those pieces. You can feature those branded pieces in your photos to drive that consistent brand identity and what you're doing on Instagram. If you want to use any kind of text or graphics on your Instagram feed, make sure that you're using a really consistent style anaesthetic for those post. Use the same fonts, colors, and backgrounds in all of those posts, so it has that consistent visual identity. I'd also encourage you not to use them too much. A feed filled with those types of posts looks really busy and hectic. Instead, sprinkle them in from time to time, if you have a message you want to share. Maybe it's a quote or a customer testimonial. So, moving forward from here, I want you to think about the theme you want to create for your Instagram account. Look at the brand that you have for your business. What are some of the recurring colors, textures, and shapes that you're using on a regular basis in marketing your business? Then think about those and how you want your business to look through its visual identity and its aesthetic. I love to take a piece of paper and just write down a few key words that describe the colors and the textures and the overall identity I want on Instagram. You can say something like light and airy, bright and bold, dark and moody, and then start creating content that matches that overall identity. 8. Put it into Action: Now that you have clarity around who you're speaking to online, what you're saying, your objective on Instagram and your visual identity and voice, let's put it all together and come up with your content plan for Instagram. In this section, we're going to talk through the different types of photos and captions you can post on Instagram. We'll work together through a worksheet to decide what you're going to use on your account. We're going to pick three to five types of photos and three to five types of captions to share on your Instagram account. We're going to stick to that number because it's important that you have consistency in your content and your audience will better understand who you are and what you do. Like we said before, social media, and especially Instagram, is all about setting and meeting expectations. So when we pick those three to five types of photos and captions, we can get our visual identity out there on a regular basis, and then we can consistently tell stories and give value to our audience. They'll grow to expect that type of content and then they'll appreciate it when we meet that expectation. There's also the fact that you are a business owner and you want to spend more time doing what you love, and that may not be Instagramming. I love Instagram, but you don't have to. It's okay. By picking just a few key types of content that you're going to create, it makes the content creation process that much easier. It's a lot easier to manage and you can get back to doing what you love. There are so many different types of photos you can post on Instagram, but I want to give you a few examples of some of the most common and effective types of pictures you can share online. The first would be simple product shots and this works really well if you make a physical product, but also works if you deliver some type of service that ends up creating even a digital product. Think of this like a flat lay photo where you're looking above and you see the product displayed on a clean and crisp background. You can also create photos that show someone interacting with the product. This is really important because that human element really engages with your audience. It lets them know that there's someone behind the screen. There's someone creating this content. It's not just a robot posting from a phone. The next type of photo you can post would be a stylized flat lay. This may be a photo of items that you use to do your work, or your product, or your service, whatever it may be in some kind of stylized setting. It features a product yet the product isn't necessarily the main feature of the photo. Instead, we're showcasing the overall lifestyle that that product provides and that that product makes available. Stylize flat lays are also a really incredible way to infuse your brand identity into your post on Instagram, and they perform really well on the platform as well. Photos of people work really well on Instagram and that's because it triggers this part in our brain that says, "Hey, that's a person. I'm a person. I can connect with them." It's a great way for you to showcase you or your employees, maybe it's your colleagues or even your customers and clients. It really breaks up your Instagram feed by infusing some humanity into what you're doing online. If you use any kind of raw ingredients in your business, they are a great thing to feature on your Instagram account. I don't just mean food. If you're a food blogger or a chef, you have a great opportunity there. If you make anything out of something else, maybe you turn fabric into clothing, you turn metal or jewels into jewelry, that is incredible content for you to share because it takes people inside. We said earlier, people are nosy. When you showcase those bits and pieces of your business, it invites them behind the scenes and it's a really effective way to build relationships online. Photos of spaces and places work really well on Instagram. It could be the coffee shop that you spend most of your day at, it could be your home office or your studio, whatever it may be, showcase those places and spaces where your audience can find you. Again, this is inviting them inside to be a part of your business. You can also showcase places and spaces that inspire you. Maybe it's scenery, your vacations, a museum, anything that gives you the inspiration you need to do the work that you do. If you have a brick and mortar, maybe a restaurant or a shop, then a picture of that space works really well because it lets people know what they can expect when they come in and start shopping with you. Quotes and inspiration also work really well on your Instagram feed. Maybe it's something you design on a free website like, or maybe it's a letter board quote. I'm sure you've seen those on your Instagram account before. Whatever it may be, quotes and inspirational messages are really quick way to gain engagement on Instagram and let your audience know that you're on the same page. Don't forget, you're not going to be doing all of these types of photos. If you did, that's a lot. I want you to pick three to five and stick with it. There's so many different types of captions you can share on Instagram as well, but I want to give you a few examples so you can pick three to five that work best for you. The first is tips and tricks. These will be small actionable and digestible things that your audience benefits positively from. Tips and tricks worked really well for establishing your authority and letting people know that you know what you're talking about. They positively benefit your audience, giving them something they can use without any expectation of anything in return. You can also entertain your audience through your captions. You can tell a funny story or tell a joke, anything to get your audience laughing through the words that you write on Instagram. You can use your captions to inspire your audience on Instagram. Maybe it's telling a story of some form of transformation. It could be your personal story or a client or a customer testimonial. Whatever it may be, the words that you write can inspire your audience and move them to action. You can also write day in the life types of captions, and that's just really taking your audience inside what you do, either in your business or personally. It's inviting them to be a part of your life through sharing either a unique experience you had, or just an overview of what you did throughout the day. Behind the scenes captions on Instagram also work really well. They let your audience know what you do and why you do what you do. It brings them inside and shows them more of your process, so they better understand your business. Testimonials work really, really well through your captions. Have a customer or client write about their experience in working with you or purchasing your product and share that right on your Instagram feed. You can also use your captions to share thoughts and ideas. They may be things you have about your business or your industry. Whatever it is, you can share those thoughts and ideas on Instagram to help drive those ideas about thought leadership and building affinity with your audience on the platform. Now that we've gone through all these different types of photos and captions you can create, I want you to pick three to five types of each and stick with it. If you need a little help, there are a few questions you can ask yourself. The first thing is, what does my audience want to see? What are they interested in seeing more of from you? What are they really like? What do they appreciate? You can also ask yourself, what does my audience need to see, what type of content do you need to share with them so they better understand your business, who you are and what you do. I want you to ask yourself what kind of content do you want to create. What do you really love sharing on Instagram? Are there certain pictures or graphics that you like creating and putting out online? If so, you should do that. Then the last question is, what content do you need to create? What types of posts should you be putting up on Instagram to grow your business or brand because remember, you're using Instagram for marketing, so you have to have that marketing focus with all the content you're creating. As you start creating and sharing your content, I want you to ask yourself, what performs the best? What types of content is getting the most and the best interaction from your audience because that's type of content you should be sharing more of? To make this a little bit easier, we have a worksheet for you that list out the different types of photos and captions you can share on Instagram. I want you to look through and circle three to five types of pictures and three to five types of captions that you're going to post online. If you need to add your own, that's fine as well. Once you've done that, think about how much time you have each month to commit to Instagram. There's going to be some time for creating or curating your post, writing your captions, posting your content, and then engaging on Instagram. I'm always going to encourage you to spend more time engaging than anything else, and it's okay to post every other day on Instagram. You don't have to try and post multiple times per day, because in the long run, it's not really going to help you on the platform. If you need a little bit more help coming up with what type of content to post, I want you to think of prioritizing your content in this way. Your first priority on Instagram should always be creating and sharing content that positively benefits your audience. The second priority is sharing content that raises brand awareness, telling more people about you and what you do. The last priority for your content on Instagram should be selling. You may find that your content strategy has been a little bit upside down and that you've been putting a ton of energy into selling on Instagram. That may be why you're not seeing the results you had hoped. Just flip it. Focus on benefiting your audience, sharing your brand story, and then selling to your audience, and you'll start seeing results. If you're still feeling overwhelmed about how to put all of this into practice, and maybe you feel like you just don't have the time to dedicate to Instagram, I want to encourage you with this. Dedicate at least five minutes a day to Instagram. That's all. Maybe you're using that five minutes to craft a post for the day. Maybe you're using that five minutes to engage with new people. You don't even have to do this on the weekends. Instagram's not that active on the weekends anyway. Five minutes a day, five days a week and you'll start seeing results. You can start having more conversations with people on the platform, and you can start creating content that's even more engaging and more compelling. Now that you've selected the types of content you're going to be posting and you've prioritized them for your own Instagram account, I want you to start thinking about your content a month at a time. We talked before about setting that clear objective every single month. If you create that objective each month for your content, understand what you want it to do for you. You can actually look at a month at a time. You can create your content and you can load it into a tool like Iconosquare, so it makes your posting even easier. 9. Engage Your Community: Engagement really is the most important function of Instagram. It's why we love Instagram so much because we can organically find our ideal customers and clients and connect with them in a really meaningful way. I just want to remind you that you don't necessarily need more followers on Instagram. Instead, you need the right kind of followers. So, we're going to talk about how to find those people on Instagram. The first way to engage on Instagram is using hashtags. So, hashtags work in two different ways. The first way is they allow your content to be discovered by other people. But they also allow you to discover potential customers or clients on Instagram. Smaller, more specific hashtags will typically give you better results and larger hashtags with millions and millions of posts are a lot easier to get lost in. There's a few different types of hashtags you can use to get your content discovered. The first would be branded hashtags. If there are particular brands that your ideal customer or client follows, then see if they have hashtags you can utilize. You can also use community-based hashtags around certain types of people on Instagram. For example, if you're a dog parent, then try out dogsofinstagram. You can also use location-specific hashtags if you're a local business or if your business is in a certain location or people have to come to you. For that one, look for city or neighborhood names, state names, and abbreviations for those places as well. You can also use trending hashtags to get discovered when different topics are really popular on Instagram. This works well for holidays, really traditional holidays or wacky holidays. Whenever you're deciding what hashtags to use, it's really important to compare the quality of hashtags and the types of content that are flowing into those tags. You can look at the number of posts within each hashtag and determine if you want to be associated with that type of content. You can also pay attention to how your engagement is being impacted by the hashtags you're using. That's why a tool like Iconosquare is so helpful. It can actually tell you where your engagement is coming from as it relates to hashtags. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post and I recommend you use them all. You can use a mix of really large hashtags, really small hashtags, and some that fall in the middle. My rule of thumb is most hashtags you use should have between 50,000 and 500,000 posts within them. It's a really big range but it's a great place for you to show up in different types of tags and connect with users on a more personal level. So, as you're deciding what types of hashtags to use, you don't have to rethink them for every single post you're putting up on Instagram. Instead, I encourage you to keep some lists of hashtags either in your phone or your notebook and rotate through them. You'll typically want to use a set number of hashtags that are really about your industry or your community so you can connect with those people on a regular basis. Then you can use more product or service-specific hashtags or even location hashtags when the time is appropriate. If you're wondering about creating your own branded hashtag to use on Instagram, I want you to think about a few things. First of all, are you going to encourage your customers or clients to use that hashtag themselves? If so, are you going to incentivize it? Are you going to give them a reward for using that hashtag? I'd also encourage you to think about creating a hashtag that's a little more broad and it's not as specific as your business name. What if your business name changes or what if your customers feel awkward using that as a hashtag? Instead, think about a hashtag that relates back to your unique value proposition that we discussed earlier. That's a really great way to drive brand recognition and get your followers engaged on Instagram. Locations on Instagram are another great way to get your content discovered but also find potential clients or customers. Posts on Instagram that have a location tagged actually perform 79 percent better than posts without a location. So, whenever you're uploading your content, make sure you're tagging a location on Instagram. When picking locations on Instagram, as a business, I want you to think about picking a location that's a little more broad. So, if you're at a coffee shop in your city, you may not want to tag that specific coffee shop because there may not be nearly as many people looking at content at that shop itself. Instead, you could tag your neighborhood or the city itself, and you have the chance of getting in front of more people and connecting with them through that location than a super-specific location like a coffee shop. While Instagram tells you how many posts are in a hashtag, it doesn't actually tell you how many posts are in a location. So, this is a little bit more of an art than a science. But my biggest tip for you is to look into that location on Instagram and check out the quality of the content that's being posted there. Is it content you want to be associated with and is it content your ideal audience would find interesting? If so, then use that location. But if not, you can steer clear of it. The last place you can find people to engage with on Instagram are people who are following others on the platform. Think of this as a big community that you can connect with on Instagram itself. I like to think of a few different types of accounts where I can find potential followers. The first would be competitors, then complimentary brands, then client or customer favorites. Competitors are those people who offer a service or a product that's directly similar to you. Complimentary brands are those accounts on Instagram who offer some type of product or service that is in the same wheelhouse as you. The best example would be a wedding photographer who could connect with followers of complimentary brands like wedding planners, venues, and dress designers. Someone who's shopping for a wedding photographer would probably be shopping for those other things as well. The last would be customer or client favorites. These can be big accounts like bloggers or brands, or they can be a local coffee shop or community center, whatever it may be. You can connect with people who are following and engaging with those accounts that they really love. Now, when you're thinking about connecting with people in these types of accounts, I don't want you to just go to the people who are following these accounts and go through and like all their content. Instead, engage with the engaged users from these accounts. The best place to go is to one of these accounts at the latest post and head to the comments section. Find the people who are commenting and follow them back to their account to start building engagement. So, now, I want to show you how I use a tool like Iconosquare to manage some of my engagement on Instagram. So, the first thing you can see is my overall account view right here. It shows you my follower growth, it gives you an overview of my community, and it helps you understand the likes and comment history that I have on my account. It also showcases my average love, talk, and engagement rates and the posts that I have that's performing best over the past month. The next thing we can look at that really helps with engagement is using Iconosquare's Media function and creating a feed. We can actually create and name a feed that follows certain users and hashtags right in Iconosquare and then we can look at content that's been tagged using that hashtag and engage with it from a desktop computer. So, for example, this photo was tagged with a hashtag that I track so I can see it right here on Instagram. I can double click on the photo and I can leave a comment right here for my computer. So, now, you know why all these pieces are important for engagement on Instagram. So, how do you put it all together and take some actionable steps for starting to engage and building your audience on the platform? So, some of my best tips for engaging on Instagram and growing your account start with my 10 for one rule. I want you to engage with 10 new people for every one post you put up on Instagram. This is why having a concrete strategy for what you're doing is so important. When you understand what you're posting, why you're posting it, and when you're posting it, that frees up your time so you can spend more time having conversations on Instagram. Another rule I have for Instagram is commenting is key. That means I want to spend time actively engaging with other people through comments. Likes are great but comments are where the real magic happens. It's also important that you respond to comments from your followers. That's another reason I love Iconosquare. Their comment tracker makes it easy to follow along and have conversations right from my computer. I can open up Comment Tracker on Iconosquare and I'm able to see my latest posts and all the comments that I've received. I can click Reply on a comment, thank them and then hit Enter, and it's done. Iconosquare marks the comment as Read and it posts the comment that I just posted right on Instagram itself. My next rule for engaging on Instagram is keep it natural. You don't want to force it and comment on things you actually wouldn't like or engage with. So, whenever you're commenting on something, leave a genuine comment. Have a real conversation with someone. Don't just comment for the sake of checking it off your to-do list. The final tip for engagement on Instagram is engage with engaged users. Like I said earlier, don't just go to the account of a competitor or complimentary brand and go to their followers and just start following and engaging with people who are following them. You're not necessarily attracting the best quality of users that way. Instead, head to the comments section and find people who are already actively engaging on Instagram. If you find that you're spending too much time posting and not enough time engaging, I want to challenge you to flip that around and spend more time having conversations on Instagram. But it just takes a few minutes a day. You don't have to spend your entire work day trying to comment and like posts online. Just dedicate a few minutes while you're waiting in line for your coffee or while you're waiting on dinner to finish cooking, whatever it may be, and start having these conversations on Instagram. 10. Measure Success: So, you've built out your Instagram for business strategy and you're implementing it, but you may be wondering, "How can I tell that this is actually working and that it's positively benefiting my business or brand?" I want to share a few different ways that you can look at the analytics for your Instagram account using Instagram for business tools and Iconosquare to help you make better decisions about the content you're creating. So if you set up your Instagram account as an Instagram for business account, which is completely free, you get access to some pretty neat analytics directly from Instagram. So I thought I'd tell you a little bit about those. Using the Instagram for business insights, you get a quick overview of your account, including how many followers you've gained over the past seven days, and the number of posts that you've posted. Instagram also gives you an overview of your impressions, your reach, your views of your profile, and any clicks through to your website, a phone number, and email or a location if you have that set on Instagram. They also give you an overview of your followers based on their gender, their age, and their geographical location. Instagram for business gives you an overview of each and every post and your Instagram stories, which is really cool. You can actually see how well each piece of content is doing and what you can shift to help future content perform better. So while Instagram for business gives you those free insights right on your phone, I love using Iconosquare because it gives me more of a historical look at what I've been doing on Instagram, and the analytical tools are a lot more robust. So on Iconosquare, I get an overview of my followers, people that I'm following, the likes and the comments that I've received. I can also see my follower growth, my gained and lost followers, and so many more analytics and statistics that are really helpful for me as I craft my content and my strategy. So one way that I've actually shifted my own Instagram strategy based on engagement is through including more quotes and inspirational images on my feed itself. This is something I never would have done a year ago. But as I started experimenting with it, I realized my audience responded really well to this type of content. It got me some quick likes, really great comments, and those posts got shared and saved really often. So now, I use them regularly. So as you're looking at all of these numbers, statistics, and graphs, and you're trying to decide what to do on your Instagram account, I want you to go back to two key factors, engagement rate and conversions. So pay attention to that engagement rate, which of your posts are getting the most likes and comments from your audience? Those are things that you should do more of. A really great way to benchmark what you're doing and how things are working is using Iconosquare's index tool. Iconosquare tracks some of the world's leading brands and influencers, and they're able to tell us how those individuals are doing on Instagram. So using the index tool, I can actually look at brands based on industry. Something like a food brand and Iconosquare will tell me the top brands for that category. They'll tell me how many followers they have, their engagement rate, the posts that they have on hashtags, and the number of posts that they've posted. When I search by engagement rate, I can see something like Chips Ahoy having the highest engagement rate. These are major brands with four, five, eight percent engagement rates, which is really, really rare. So, it's cool to check out what they're doing and see if there's anything I can learn and replicate on my own account. Then, pay attention to conversions. Are there time periods where you're getting more messages or more comments or more visits to your website from Instagram? That could directly relate to your engagement strategies or how you're using calls to action on the platform. 11. Bonus: Instagram Stories: Instagram stories came on the scene in August of 2016 and they've already changed Instagram, I think forever. I like to think of Instagram stories as the new platform of choice within Instagram. They are an incredibly powerful tool for connecting with your audience and with people in your industry. The stats show is that over 250 million Instagram users are on Instagram stories every single day. That's nearly half of Instagram's users, and that's more users than Snapchat even has on their platform. One in five Instagram stories leads to a direct message, that's a 20 percent conversion rate to messages on Instagram. I think that's an incredible statistic as a business owner, and I hope you realize how important it is now to focus on building those relationships and having conversations on Instagram. Instagram stories are the perfect way to do that. I also love Instagram stories because they are in the perfect location on Instagram itself. When you log into Instagram, they are right there at the top of your feed. In my experience for myself, my clients, and my students, I'm finding that people are watching Instagram stories more than they're even scrolling through their Instagram feed any more. People are following along throughout people's days, going on journeys or experiences with people and watching their process, all on Instagram stories. While you have an intentional strategy for what you're doing on your Instagram feed, you should have a strategy for what you're doing on your Instagram stories as well. But the good news is they don't have to be scripted or stale or boring, they can be real life flight conversations you're having with your audience. You can showcase where you are or where you're going, the people around you and the experiences that you're having they are the perfect way to bring people inside and connect them more deeply with your business. I want to share some tips with you about getting started and using Instagram stories as a part of your Instagram marketing strategy. The first one is to experiment. The best news about Instagram stories is they're only around for 24 hours, so you can try new and different types of content and see what works the best. What gets your audience talking and what do you really love creating on Instagram stories. The next step for using Instagram stories is to have a concrete intention behind what you're doing. You can tell your personal story by just holding your phone up to your face and talking into the camera. You can break down a process for your audience by taking them through how you make or create something, or you can bring them inside your business, giving them an inside look at what you do to make whatever you make or deliver whatever product you produce. The next tip for using Instagram stories, and this is a really important one, is don't forget you are telling a story, and all good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. It's really easy to get hung up on trying to come up with a story, create the content, and not knowing how to finish it out. So, when you are thinking of a story in your head, think of how you want to start it and introduce the topic, how you want to bring the audience along through the entire story and how you want to wrap it up with a call to action or a question, something you want them to respond to and start having a conversation with you. Instagram stories also work really well for creating a feedback loop on Instagram. You can use your Instagram story to drive traffic to your Instagram feed by teasing a product or a process, and then use your feed to drive traffic back to your Instagram story. It's a really great way to build engagement and get your audience connecting with you on Instagram in multiple ways. The last tip for using Instagram stories is to let someone else do it. This works really well for having takeovers on your Instagram story's account. Maybe you can let a customer or client take over your account for the day and show people what it's like to work with you or use your product. You can have a team member or an employee or colleague take over and show what it's like to be inside your business, or just have someone that you like take over your Instagram stories for the day, and give your audience a different perspective. So I thought we would dive into what Instagram stories are showing up for me right now. The cool thing about Instagram stories is they show up as they show up, and they only last for 24 hours. So I actually don't know what I'm going to see when I open these up. So we'll see what we find together. The first story that's showing up is from Caitlin bachelor who is an online educator, and this is just Caitlin talking to the screen, and I think this is a great video. She's talking a little bit about her Facebook group and it looks like she just gotten enrollment in one of her courses online. I love when I see videos of people talking to the screen because that tells me they're talking to me, they're having a conversation and I'm interested to hear what they have to say. So let's swipe on to the next one. This one is from Melissa Griffin, who is another online educator all around Pinterest and marketing your business. It looks like maybe she's picking out some fabric samples for something from anthropology, so they look fancy. This is a fun example of a lifestyle story, where she's infusing some of her personality and her personal life into what she's doing on Instagram. It's not just business, so her audience can connect with her on a more kind of a more deep level. So the next story is for my friend Janna over at Twiggy Post, and Janna is talking to the camera and sharing a cute little thing that her friend Rosemary shared with her. We have an ad for Wagg, that's another thing, Instagram stories has ads. They pop up in-between stories from time to time. As a marketer, you can use those in your own business. The next story is from my friend Nicole who is a photographer, so she's prepping for a cocktail photo shoot coming up really soon. Now Nicole is new to Instagram stories. She just started using it recently after I harassed her for a pretty long time telling her she had to get on Instagram stories. So, she's talking about gathering surfaces ahead of her photo shoot, getting backdrops ready for her photography, organizing her props like cocktail shakers and strainers, and the ingredient that she's going to feature which is Gin from a distillery. So, some branding from that company is showing up, and then talking about their Gin, and then she gave us a sneak peek of a recent product photo that she actually did for this brand as well, with some stylized Flatley's and some simple product shots. This is an amazing example of a behind the scenes story. Now we know what Nicole is doing, we better understand her process and she showcase work that she's done for this client in the past. So, I'm excited to see what she creates next. So Instagram stories are really important part of your Instagram strategy. The best part is they are relaxed and casual and easy. They're a great way to try new types of content, but more importantly, they are a great place to start conversations with your followers online. 12. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for making it this far, all the way through this course about using Instagram for your business. So what about Instagram ads? We didn't even cover that today and that's another course in and of itself. If you're wondering if Instagram ads are right for you and when is the right time to start advertising on social media, I want you to think about this. Spend some time getting really clear on your audience and walking through the work that we did today. It's important to have a concrete strategy for what you're posting on Instagram and how you are engaging with people on the platform to build your following organically. Once you've done that work, then it's time to start thinking about how you can expand your reach through paid advertising on Instagram. As you start thinking about advertising on Instagram, the best thing you can do now is pay attention to the types of conversions that get the most traction for your account. What is getting people talking on your post on Instagram? What gets them to comment and direct message you? What posts are getting them to click through to your website or blog, whatever it may be. If you start paying attention to those things now, you can better understand your audience and their engagement habits so when it comes time to pay for advertising, you can meet them where they are and create content that's going to get them to act. That is it. There you have the complete guide for using Instagram with intention, to grow a community online, and grow your business. I would love to see the work that you've done throughout our time together using the worksheets and any examples or lessons that you learned. Share your worksheets with us here or even a screenshot of maybe a post that you created on Instagram that you think has done a great job of capturing everything that we've talked about today. I can't wait to see the stories you tell and the way you connect with people on Instagram in an intentional and genuine way. 13. What's Next?: