Social Media Stardom: Making the Most of Instagram | Lolo Jones | Skillshare

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Social Media Stardom: Making the Most of Instagram

teacher avatar Lolo Jones, Olympian & Social Media Influencer

Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Always Be Testing


    • 3.

      Demystifying Instagram Stories


    • 4.

      Building Engagement


    • 5.

      Lolo's 7 Favorite Apps


    • 6.

      Working with Brands


    • 7.

      Final Thoughts


    • 8.

      Ready for More?


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About This Class

Join Olympian & social media star Lolo Jones as she reveals the secrets to her Instagram success!

Everyone wants to know how to grow their personal brand on Instagram, but with so many fast-changing features, how do you avoid feeling overwhelmed? You've found the perfect place to start!

In this engaging and energetic 35-minute class, Lolo Jones gets real about how she's grown an authentic Instagram community to 400K followers and counting—and shares tips, tricks, and secrets so you can do the same.

Five bite-sized lessons cover:

  • The importance of "testing" posts to understand your audience
  • Advice for making the most of Instagram Stories
  • Tips for building engagement (the real way to get followers)
  • Favorite apps for easier shooting, editing, and analytics
  • Growing brand partners over time

Plus, every lesson includes real phone screencasts to show principles in action.

Social media is always changing, but after hearing how Lolo has worked to build a community, you'll gain a whole new perspective on ways you can customize her approach to work for your goals, grow an authentic following, and find success on Instagram!

Lolo Jones x Skillshare

Meet Your Teacher

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Lolo Jones

Olympian & Social Media Influencer


Lolo Jones is an Olympian hurdler and bobsledder. She represented the U.S. at both the 2008 Summer Olympics, 2012 Summer Olympics, and the 2014 Winter Olympics, making her one of the few athletes who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Lolo currently resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and is an active social media influencer in addition to being very involved with the community in her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. I'm Lolo Jones, a three-time Olympic athlete, three-time world champion. I'm one of the 10 athletes that have competed in the Summer and Winter Olympic games. I originally started social media just as a way to interact with my fans, and from there I continued to grow all my social media platforms to the point where I was able to garner sponsorships and work with brands on a regular basis. Today, I'm going to talk about Instagram. I have 400,000 followers. Just so you know, I did this the right way, the real way, didn't buy any of my followers, and it was through a lot of hard work. There were moments that were great and I'm gaining followers like crazy, and there's moments where, yes, I'm losing followers and like, what did I do wrong? So I want to address some of those frustrations that every social media influencer or even just a person trying to use a platform is going to encounter. Today, we're going to cover best practices for Instagram engagement, how to get started with Instagram stories, and my favorite tools and apps, and how I work with brands. You don't have to have a special talent. You don't have to be an Olympic athlete. Someone should have told me that years ago. You can use content just from your everyday life. Just know that social media is never going to stay the same. It's never going to be the same meal you go to the restaurant. It's always changing. It's always updating. So you have to continue to learn as you use the platform. Thank you so much for joining me. I can't wait to see what you guys post. 2. Always Be Testing: You have to learn about your audience and you can only do that with experimenting with different posts. Most of my posts are about inspiring people or making people laugh, that's my platform. So, let's say, you don't know if your audience like more inspirational stuff or funny content, you have to play around with your post to figure out which ones are getting better hits and getting you more follows. Let's take a look at me trying to figure out my audience. Everybody think you have to be an Instagram model and you think, if I'm like half naked or I had this really iconic shot, I'm going to have a tone of followers. Well, if I'm looking at my data from this post, I really only got 27 followers. So, even though I garnered a tone of likes, it really didn't increase my following. Now, if we compare that to the video next to it is just me just talking about Easter and church, it did really well. I got almost a half a million views from this post and I had 681 followers. So, that just goes back to my original basic foundation. You have to learn about your audience and you can only do that with experimenting with different posts. What I learned from those two posts is the fact that, videos will increase my engagement, and my platform and audience is definitely geared more towards that than an actual iconic beautiful shot. I think that is a misconception that people think you have to be an Instagram model. You have to be this gorgeous good looking person. That is a lot of the complaints that I get like all I have to be half naked to be on Instagram to grow my account, not necessarily. That's why I want to show you the contrast of these two photos. I've noticed from my audience that my prime days are Monday to Thursday. So, on the weekends, either I don't post or I play around with the material a little bit because I already know I'm going to have low engagement. For me, an okay post is 15 to 20,000 likes. A good post is 30,000 likes. This one I posted on Saturday night, I knew that a lot of my followers were not going to be online. I rested. I just played around with it. So, 11 follows from it, but it was just, I wasn't necessarily freaking out at this post. If I would've posted, this is my prime time this post, essentially is a bomb for me. But because it was on the weekend, there was no harm, no foul by posting it, and it gave me a chance to kind of play around with the material, and see okay, like is a casual photo of me going to increase my engagement. This is actually not my video. I found this video from another track person that had a smaller platform than me. Pretty much, I use the re-post app to take this video and post it. Well, they got, I think 5,000 views. This is one of my highest views of the year, almost at 1.5 million. It reached me a ton of followers by getting me 470 new follows. So, I think the thing I learned from this is, if you don't have any content to post, don't be afraid to get content from elsewhere. Just make sure that you're tagging the original content provider, no harm, no foul. Your account grows and then the person that took this content from their account is growing. It's okay to do that. If you don't have anything to post and you're stressed out like, I didn't have time to create this amazing photo, I didn't have time to think of something to talk about on my Instagram, go ahead, just save some of these, you can bookmark them. So, when I saw this video, I bookmarked it right here. Then, a few days later when I realized that I had not posted it on my wall, I posted it on Friday and for a Friday post, it did very well. This is when I really started to learn that my audience likes videos over pictures, and that I get more engagement, and I have more new follows from videos than pictures. Before, I was focusing on having that perfect picture because it's Instagram, right? It's the foundation of Instagram was these epic iconic photo shots. Well, the game has changed now. So, as you begin to learn your audience, figure out if they are more receptive to videos or pictures. Some accounts really only focus on that epic shot and then there's others that are just solely video. Instagram has changed the game now. It's no longer just photos. So, play around with that. Figure out your platform. Find out which one helps increase your engagement more because engagement helps boost your photos and videos to the top, which therefore more people see it, which increases your followers, and that's what helps grow your account. 3. Demystifying Instagram Stories: I want to start with Instagram stories because it's new, it's fresh, and everyone wants to know how to use it. For a lot of people Instagram stories is overwhelming but it's actually the opposite. It's really freeing to play around in Instagram stories because you're not having as many people watch the Instagram story. So, that should take the pressure off and give you the freedom to try out a couple techniques before you post on your main platform. If you don't know what Instagram stories is, it's at the top of your Instagram profile. It's the ability to record videos or post pictures in a synced uniform story mode that's put together neatly. It's kind of like a mini TV show. But, don't get nervous, if you're worried about being a producer of that TV show. It's super easy and I want to tell you how to do it. So, you have the ability to record live, you can go live anywhere, a baseball game, sitting at home on your couch, frustrated in your car with the traffic, live is live. The second thing on Instagram stories is you have the ability to post videos and picture and put them together back to back without editing because it automatically puts your next post after it. So, it's super easy for those people that are overwhelmed with the editing process. This is something that Instagram just rolled out, is the ability to save an Instagram story for longer than 24 hours. So, before if you posted, your post would only be up for 24 hours. Well now, if you have some amazing story that you've posted you have the ability to save that post and keep it in your Instagram profile for however long you want. Why I like Instagram stories is that it gives me instant feedback if the content I'm producing is relevant to the people and fans that are following me. So, for example, if I post on my Instagram main page, I mean, you can have the comments section people will say, yeah this is a great post but more times and often people will actually dm me from an Instagram story and give me instant feedback if this is a hit or a miss on my Instagram story. So, I can run from there and change my platform or modify my account from that information. I don't know why it is that people are much more willing to dm you and ask questions or kind of give you a creative new flow than writing in the comments section for everyone to see. That's daunting for people. So, I think that with the Instagram stories and the ability to direct message you from those stories, people kind of let their guard down and with that you can use that information and grow your account. Oftentimes for me I've used Instagram stories to get new concepts or fresh content from people who ask me questions and then I use that in my next Instagram stories. As opposed to my comment section, most people are just liking the photo or just putting emoji is like hahaha, lol, but my Instagram dm messages people actually asking solid questions like what do you do for a workout or what do you do for this recovery? And those people are not asking those questions in my Instagram main page. So, I can be like okay they're kind of wanting information on this and go from there. So, Instagram stories is where I learn my audience the most. So, there's a couple different tactics on what makes a good Instagram story. A good Instagram story is what you are knowledgeable in talking about, comfortable in expressing, and having fun with doing it at the same time. It's three different elements. If you're providing people with information that they are not aware of, that's going to grow your account or if you're having so much fun on Instagram stories, people vibe off that energy and they love that as well. So, if you're wondering if maybe I'm going to produce an Instagram story that is just boring. There are so many great add-ons to Instagram stories that will help you have creative content. For example, here's just a boring picture I have. So, I have the ability to write on it, you can change the caption. It's pretty standard, right? Let's make a joke, tired at work. This is just a photo, but by adding a simple gif, it's like putting spices on a chicken, it just makes it more interesting. I don't normally add all of these, I pick a few and go with that. On my main account, I like to post once a day but on my Instagram stories, I average three to five times a day, sometimes more. You can post as much as you want, as little as you want and you will not have a dip in your followers from posting too much. Because it's at the top and it's not popping up on an actual person's Instagram main page, you're not going to over bear them if you're posting too much. So, that should help you feel great and just having the freedom to just go out there and post and play around with things. I like to call Instagram stories The Wild Wild West of Instagram. This is probably one of my favorite Instagram stories that I ever posted, I had a ton of feedback. It's when I was coming back from Bobsleigh season, I was overweight and I was stressing because I didn't think I'd be able to lose the weight in time. So, I decided to draw my abs-on with makeup. So, I was able to use my audience of working out with comedy to gain a ton of new followers. The story as you can see is gaining a ton of attention and you can see if the bottom how many views there are. So, if I go back to the original one, how you can tell an Instagram story is doing well is if it's keeping the audience throughout most of the stories. You're going to lose some people because it's Instagram stories, they're watching it on the fly. So, they could be distracted at work or something happens. So, you're going to lose like, for me I averagely losing like 1000, 1500 views per each Instagram post, but I know it's doing well because I'm not losing like 5000, 10000 views per post. So, on this one, it is just a fun post, like I said it's playing around. This wasn't anything that no production, no perfect photo, this was just me posting and just playing around with the content and having fun. My Instagram direct messages were going in crazy from this post. So, I knew that it was garnering a lot of attention, so I decided to save it so that it doesn't disappear after 24 hours. So, every Monday I do an inspiring quick message, 3 to 5 posts usually about 3. I'm using the motivation Monday or a hash tag throughout the post like keep fighting, never quit, because those will garner me new followers. With Instagram's new update, you're allowed to follow hashtags, which means you don't actually have to follow a person. You can follow a hashtag and if that person is using that hashtag, it will come up on their feed. The last post obviously is this contrast, very different from the ab-post I did which was funny. This is more inspirational. Another way, this is how I work with brands is just an authentic, just me opening my mouth. But it gives me the unique perspective to show my viewers products and sponsors that I'm working with. So, this is ASICS, and they're just sending me new shoes. So, I'm using hashtags throughout shoe porn. Sometimes I make the hashtags a little bit small so you can't see them. You don't want too many hashtags all the time, so, there's a lot of times where there is even hidden hashtags. Like actually there's a hashtag under see the All Whites. There is actually a hidden hashtag under that. Just because I want to get the hashtag out there but I don't want too many hashtags to where people kind of know I'm using the hashtags to gain my account. That's a little trick I do. You see under the whites, the IT, there is a hash tag under there. But, when people are watching my story they're not going to notice it because it's coming up so quick. Another thing you want to do is definitely use location as much as you can because you want to get on the view stories. Like if you're in New York or if you're, I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I use the Baton Rouge, Louisiana location, so that people can see where I'm at and I can get on their story. I'll talk more about that later. Using hashtags and locations, I noticed have helped increase my followers the most. One other thing to think about is if you're trying to get attention to let's say your main website or if you want people to subscribe to your newsletter, Instagram stories has a way where you can swipe down and implement a link and it will take them directly to either your website or to subscribe to a newsletter. For me let's say I want them to buy a pair of shoes, I can actually send them to a page that will allow them to put those shoes in their car and boom, they are on their way to running. I like Instagram stories because it gives me the ability to not post every day on my actual main Instagram. Then I can just go to Instagram stories and just be much more in the fly, in the element. I feel like there's no pressure in Instagram stories because it's more real, it's on the fly, you don't have to add the perfect angles. So, try Instagram stories, this is a really great way to learn about your audience and engage with them in a fun, easy, no pressure situation. 4. Building Engagement: The thing you probably want to do is increase your followers. But to do that you have to focus on engagement. Engagement with your fans will boost your photo to the top over someone who has more likes than your photo. If you have a post and it's equal with someone else's post, equal amount of likes, but your post has tripled the amount of comments, your posts will now be promoted over the other person's post. So I mentioned that Instagram is always constantly changing and updating, but one of the biggest changes they did that was very frustrating for users was the fact that they got rid of chronological order. Meaning that your post would no longer show up as you posted them, it would now show up based on an algorithm that determined what post you should see. How do I even figure out how to get people to see my photo now? I'm going to tell you how. The algorithm includes everything from likes, comments, dms or any other interactions the post is getting. So, don't just focus on likes, it's a whole tornado of things that is helping boost your photo. So, all these show that your photo is quality and pushes Instagram to have more people to see it. How do you get more comments? First trick, respond back to the people who are writing. I've seen people respond back to every comment under that photo, why? Because instead of saying 50 comments, now they have 100, simply by responding back. You can't just post and walk away, you actually have to be ready to interact with your followers in the comments section. Another way to increase engagement is just ask a question in your caption, instead of saying bad day with a cool photo, be like, how many of you guys have had bad days at the office? Then, all of a sudden, you'll have people commenting on their experiences. Research show that when you ask a question, people are going to want to answer it. So, it's going to increase your engagement just like that. One way to grow your audience is just by commenting on other posts. For me, I would go on sports center, ESPN and just, if they had a post, either make a joke about it or just something interesting. People like to read those comments. If they're liking what you commented on, I'll notice I can gain anywhere from 50 to 1000 new followers just by commenting on other photos if I have something that kind of really sticks out. Another trick is even just using one hashtag has shown to increase engagement because other people can click on that hashtags that have that same common interest or just want to see stuff about that subject and that will help you garner new followers. Another thing the algorithm takes into account is how long someone spending looking at the actual photo. So, that's why just posting one emoji is not necessarily going to help you with that engagement. Questions are good, using hashtags, anything to keep that person looking at your content just a little bit longer. Location is another way to get people to stay on that post and really boost up that algorithm. Simple basic tricks; ask a question, use a hashtag, implement the location. All of these things will help boost your photo over not using these tactics. If you really want to have a dynamic duo on a post, post on your Instagram main page and then as well have some Instagram stories to kind of back that up. Let's say you're doing a workout and you post this epic shot of you leaving the gym, sweats dripping down, boom! You now have the post, you have a couple of hashtags, hashtag games, hashtag fitness Friday, all those working. But then maybe have a couple of shots in the gym or like what you did in the gym on Instagram stories. Because you will have all of that implementing and working for you to help push that photo up. So here are some people that I think do these things very well, massy.arias. So, she has built her social media from ground zero. So, she is a true social media influencer, she's not an actress, celebrity, Olympian. Really just built her own platform and now she garners huge sponsorships to promote. If that's your goal, she's a person to kind of look at as an example of how to start from ground zero to building a great audience. She's asking questions, she's also interacting with her comments, you can see on other posts that she's done. She's also posting on her main Instagram but then she's as well using Instagram stories to make sure she has a double impact of getting her fans engaged. Bretmanrock right, 9.5 Million followers. Bretman is known for his hilarious videos as you can see he is garnering a ton of comments from these hilarious videos. A lot of his videos are shown just in his house, basic daily stuff, just it's done in a funny light manner. That just makes people laugh, they're entertained and he has really just grown his fan base. He does one to three posts on his Instagram stories a day. So this is someone I follow and what I like about, this is another team USA athlete. What I like about her account is the fact that she will respond to every comment. She doesn't have millions of followers but she's in that state of trying to grow your account. So, she's really out there engaging with her fans. She has 455 comments on this photo. Well, really, she has about half of that but because she has responded to every single person on here, she now has 455 comments which is really going to help burst through those algorithms and help more people see her account that wouldn't normally see it. If you compare that to me, I mean, I have about 400,000 followers, if I get 500 comments, that's a good day for me. So, she is just by interacting with her fans, she is matching my comment section on a good day. As you're looking to grow your account or maybe you're just filling stuff, you're not seeing the growth that you used to see on Instagram, that's when you really start to look at other accounts and see, what are they doing right? How are they garnering more attention to their pictures and how are they getting more comments? So, I tend to do that every so often. When I feel like my followers are kind of not growing like they used to, that's when I start to look at other accounts and try to see, well, what are they doing right in this instance, and what new tricks could I use in my photos and post to help increase engagement? So now, I want to try it out. Go look at your posts. Are you using hashtags? Are you asking questions? Are you using a location? If you're not using these tips and tricks, try it out and see if you're garnering more engagement and growing your fan base. 5. Lolo's 7 Favorite Apps: There are three types of apps to make the most of your Instagram: shooting, editing, and analytics. The first app I'm going to talk about is Whistle Cam. A lot of people want to create content, but they don't have anyone to help them. How many times have you like, "hey, take a picture," but then the person never really cares about what angles they're shooting you at. So, whistle Cam is a great app. You can take a picture simply by whistling. Boom, just took a picture. So, what's great about this app? You can have the app take a picture of you automatically or have a two second delay after you whistle. Why this is better than sometimes using just the timer on your phone is, like if you put the phone down, get the angle you want. You can walk away from your camera, whistle, post, boom, now you're like Heidi Klum taking these photos. Instead of having to constantly go back and forth, press the timer, run to the spot, pose, go back and check and see if it hit, Whistle Cam gives you the freedom. You don't have to wear anything, press anything. Just whistle, the phone will pick it up, and it takes a picture. This app is free, 399. So, the next app I want to talk about is Snapseed. This is a great way to just really refine a photo and make it crisp, clear, or add a filter onto it to really make your photo pop out. You're probably asking, "why is this different from just the instagram filters they have?" You can definitely provide more clarity, different options on the filter. If I want to tune an image, I can control the brightness all the way this way, the background, saturation. Don't just see Snapseed be daunting at first, but this is really the first step. It'd be really allowing your photos to pop. About 90 percent of my photos are edited with Snapseed, and I notice that I would have more likes from the edits I've done with Snapseed versus just posting a fit photo. Never just post a photo, ever. Always slap a filter on it or clarify in some way. Let's see some of the posts I've done with Snapseed. This was definitely done with Snapseed, clarity on that. My videos are never done with Snapseed though. Snapseed is purely for photos. So, if you're wanting that epic photo shot, for here example, I use a combination of two apps on this. I use Camera Plus and Snapseed. I know a lot of hard work just for one photo, but trust me, it's worth it. Okay. So, this is a photo I edited real quick with Snapseed. Look how the edges are blurred, so you can't really see the workout bench. It kind of puts the focus more on me as the athlete. If I go to the original photo, all of the original content was right there and nothing in the back almost blurred. My favorite editing app is the one I use for 100 percent all of my videos that are on Instagram, and that's called Videoshop. If I ever want to combine more than one video, I use Videoshop. I use it for every video that requires multiple video sync together. One of the biggest problems I had with using social media is, I'm not that good at editing videos. It was daunting. I felt overwhelmed. How do you do it? Videoshop made it very simple for me to edit videos without knowing how to edit videos. So, on this one, as you can see, you can just drop in videos and you can merge them and move them wherever you want to move them in the order. You can also add text. You can add songs. So, on this story, I did a combination of me trying to work out, and then I added a gift in there to kind of have an emoji, so you see how. It's just all merged seamlessly in one complete video package. So, I'm not a professional editor, but this video did very well on Instagram, just simply by me editing it on Videoshop and doing a few little tweaks. Another app I like to use is the Repost app. I talked about earlier how you can actually increase your engagements by using other people's content. Basically, Repost app allows you to save another person's content, and then, you can now post that on your Instagram as your own content, making sure you tag them as the original video provider. We've talked a lot about hashtags. Well, how do you get those unique hashtags to post under your captions. Hashme is a great app. You can literally just post. Let's say, running. I enter it into the app, and now it comes up with all kinds of other hashtags that I can use: fit, cardio, instarunner. All these apps have different other little communities that will help me get followers from each of those hashtags. Oh, my gosh, the most frightening thing can be is, I don't know when to post. There is an app is literally called WhenToPost, and that's going to help you figure out the best time to post on your Instagram. Why is this so important? As I mentioned earlier, Instagram no longer posts in chronological order. So, you need to figure out when the best times to post on your account, or how do you find that out by looking at your data, and seeing when most of the people who follow you are online. Because if their online at the same time and you post during that window, you're going to receive more likes, more attention for a photo. So, it shows you, like my best time today to post is at 8:30 PM. It makes it very simple. You have the best day of the week. My best day of the week is Tuesday to post, so it really just breaks it down and gives you a very simple way to post. There is a ton of apps out there that show you who your highest follower is, or who is the most followed that's following you, who's posting on your account the most. Social Blade, you can find out your analytics a few ways. You can turn your Instagram into a business account, and then they will provide you analytics, or you can go on a website. Social Blade is a good one I go out to. It shows me how many followers I'm getting per week. I'm losing some. Yeah, it gives you a rank on your social media, grade, negative [inaudible] so I got to get on fire with my posting. This is actually even I'm freaking out now because I just realized I lost 10 followers in the last few days. What's good about this is, it shows me, okay, on Saturday I gained 124 followers. What did I post on Saturday and why did it do so well as opposed to why did I lose 126 on Sunday? So, you can compare those posts and say, "Okay, this post did really well and this one didn't." That will help you get more information to figure out what posts are working for you and which ones are not. Play around with it. All these tools will help you have a more successful Instagram. Remember, social media is always changing, so try out these apps, experiment, so you can figure out what's really working on your account. 6. Working with Brands: Now, let's talked about brands, it's something everybody wants to know. One of the things I've learned over the years is, audiences don't necessarily mind ads as long as they're done in a unique, funny, genuine way. The unique challenge when you're getting ads is to make sure that your spacing them out. You don't want to post so many ads that your audience feels like you're just running a constant commercial on their feed. So, what I like to do is try to have creative content before and after I have an ad. If I know I have an ad coming up, I try to make sure that I have a really good post before that ad and then I follow up with a very unique creative one after the fact. It's like any TV show you're watching, you will continue to watch that TV show even through commercials, if the content is entertaining you after and before the commercial. So, the same thing with your Instagram feed is, you want to make sure that it's not back-to-back ads, otherwise people get frustrated, they get over it, and they unfollow. One of the biggest misconceptions is that if you get this coveted sponsorship, it's a one and done deal. But a lot of times, if there's a partnership, you can continue to have further relationships. There are different sponsorships on Instagram. There are the one hit ads, a one time post for X amount of dollars. But then there's others where there's a sponsorship of a person and what they believe in and it's continual post throughout the course of the year. The unique one that a lot of products and companies are using lately are hiring people to go out to an event and just with their Instagram stories or their page, showcase a new and upcoming product. So, the coveted sponsorship is great because usually when you have a relationship with a brand, they are giving you more of a freedom to talk about their product in just your genuine, real, authentic way. An example of some of my work I've done with ASICS is this is just me taking a photo, tagging them in the shoes, tagging ASICS women so they can click on that hash tag. Another one is just me dancing in my kitchen with their newest streetwear, casual, and just tagging them right there. There was no specific guidance from ASICS like, "Hey, you need to do this or that." It's just me having fun with the product, trying out new things. For example, in my Instagram stories whenever I get new products from ASICS, I open the box right there on Instagram so people can see what ASICS is shipping me. That gives ASICS an opportunity to get these new shoes, viewership to an audience, and me to do it in a fun, unique way. Or another way to talk about ASICS is because they are branding me with clothes and work out material. So, this is an ASICS tank top or any time I'm working out, even though it's not a commercial, it's not a photo shoot, this whole outfit is ASICS the shoes or ASICS. So, they're being visible even when I'm in this caption they're not mentioned, they're not tagged. So, it's just a genuine way to promote a sponsor without saying, #sponsored, #partnered, because there is a working relationship that's been there for years. If you do really well with brands, they're going to want to continue to work with you if they notice that you're helping increase their fan base and getting their product out there. Another way brands are working with influencers or just having them come out to an event and just filming either through their Instagram stories or providing content on their main feed. So, this was me at the Bonnaroo Festival with the Red Bull product in my hand, just having a fun time. Another time working with a brand in an event is when I went out to take a faster seat for an IndyCar ride. This is working with Honda to show behind the scenes at IndyCar race and just basically having fun really. This is an example of just getting paid for one post, one specific post. This was a fun campaign I did talking about how they had this new coat. They had this coat that was literally the same material as the pizza carrier. So, it keeps your pizza super hot when I was training for bobsleds. So, it was just a cool, fun campaign but just a one time just post on my Instagram. For someone who was wanting to work with brands, I get it. You're like, "Man, I'm not a celebrity, I'm not an athlete. How do I get those grants?" First tip, go after them. Start searching your Instagram for products or things that you think are interesting or that you could use and hit them up. No harm, no foul. Just go straight to the direct messages, "Hey, I really like what you're doing here. I'd love to partner with you." I mean, what's the harm in getting to know? Nothing, but you got to start somewhere. A lot of times when you start reaching out, they'll send you products, you can try the product out, interact with your fans, and continue to grow those relationships from there. When I think about the brands I want to partner with, I stay in the categories of like fitness, and health, and nutrition, because I know that my audience is going to latch onto those more so than if I'm trying to push a baby stroller. When you're just starting out, make sure you tag or hashtag the brand. If you have a moderate-sized platform, you don't want to continue to hash tag in and brand them because then, you're just giving away the content for free. I used to do like a freebie on my Instagram stories. I can show the brand how I would portray their product. But it's not necessarily an ad on my main page and so, usually a brand can see how that's going to impact the benefit of working with you, you can play around with it on that. This is why I don't buy followers because at the end of the day, if your goal is to promote a product or get a sponsorship, you want to get that product out to an audience. If you're buying the followers, you're getting out to a fake audience. So, you're shouting in an empty room. That's why I always want to do social media the right way because if I have something I'm trying to promote, I want a real audience. So, that those people are interacting with a product, or just the event that I'm trying to talk about. At the end of the day, engagement is the most important thing because that's going to get you the followers and then once you have the followers, then you can get the brands. 7. Final Thoughts: You can only be an athlete for so long and Instagram has given me longevity with my career. It's allowed me to work with brands and create these relationships that are outside the realm of just being an athlete. I mean the Olympics only come every four years. What do you do in the in-between? I think, that's what social media has done for me as it helps me share my experiences and how I train and compete beforehand, but it's also continue to have these relationships that last throughout. And at the end of the day, Instagram really is just a fun platform to be on. I mean, I get to interact with people in Europe, in New York, places I don't live. I'm constantly just having fun on the platform. Using the new updates they have come out and I feel like it helps me to continue to grow and just learn and evolve as I continue to use Instagram. If there's one thing I want you to at least to take away from this is don't be intimidated. You can absolutely kill it on Instagram, become one of the top followed, get sponsorships and brands to work with you. You just got to stay at it, keep working hard, and continue to evolve on that platform. I can't wait to see what you guys post. 8. Ready for More?: