T.P.R. Episode 11 - How to grow your company using instagram
Sam: Today we're going be talking about Instagram marketing, Instagram growth. That's what we're talking about today. Instagram, obviously owned by Facebook. Very interesting sort of opportunity that they saw there and they purchased it. Very like-minded values as far as their products are concerned. We've got comorbidity now with the ad platform. You can serve ads both on Facebook and Instagram, which is huge, but I just want to talk about Instagram today. I feel like it could have been one of those platforms that you could have left off before, or something that you could have neglected. Not anymore, by any stretch of the imagination. Why?
Hannah: It's visual. Social media is very ... Just the internet in general is a very visual medium. The pictures that you're sharing can engage with people. You want it to be bright colors. You want engaging, funny videos. Whatever your niche is, just make sure that the content is great and then that's what will keep your engagement and grow your following.
Sam: Why is it a necessity now in your social media game?
Mikhail: From a marketing standpoint?
Mikhail: That's where so many people's attention is and that's where there doing a lot of communication. What's interesting is, I think, rewind five years and Twitter was in this conversation.
Sam: Yeah, it was.
Mikhail: Maybe not as much.
Mikhail: But, I think the interaction that's happening on Instagram, for example, is people are actually ... They're tagging other people. The release of Stories made direct messages really easy, so it's a communication platform for consumers as well as for brands and businesses. That type of thing. That's what it is. If you can communicate effectively with your target audience, then you can sell something effectively there, too.
Sam: Interesting. Very interesting.
Mikhail: That was a cool line.
Sam: Yeah. No, you're killin' it, dude.
Hannah: You're doing great.
Sam: So, the Instagram Stories thing. Some people say they stole that from Snapchat. Other people like Instagram, they don't really care. What say you?
Hannah: I think it's yes, they stole it from Snapchat, but there's the whole positioning game. Snapchat may have been the first, Instagram has that benefit of they just added it to their platforms.
Mikhail: The users.
Hannah:They already had a user base. I had deleted Snapchat probably about a year before Stories started, and that gave me the opportunity to share little temporary tidbits of life without having to switch between apps or re-download Snapchat. It has that immediate user base and that has helped that succeed. I don't think a new app like Snapchat would succeed, because Instagram was already a thing.
Sam: Why should brands care about Instagram Stories?
Mikhail: For one, I think that, again, it makes it really easy for people to communicate with you. But for two, I think a lot of attention has gone to Instagram Stories as opposed to the actual posts that are going through the feeds. It gives people ... You know, people are watching it like TV, which I think is kind of interesting. I don't know about you guys, but for me, personally, sometimes I'll watch three people in a row and not click forward. It's like reality television and I think that's why people like it.
Sam: You just let it play.
Mikhail: Yeah, and I think that's why people like it. For brand specifically? For bigger brands, there's the swipe-out feature, which makes it really seamless for their audience to go to their website and make a purchase. In addition to that, Instagram Stories in particular does get a lot more engagement and views than the actual post in the actual feed.
Hannah: Another side of that is that you can post interesting content without ruining your color-blocking, without ruining your grid. A lot of brands are using the grid theme or using color-blocking. One of our clients, we post short little animated videos to Stories about new blog posts, or products. That allows us to post that content temporarily and not mess up the color-blocking that we've created.
Sam: Okay. So, color-blocking is this new thing that we hear a lot about. We use it because it's so freaking cool! But, what is color-blocking?
Mikhail: It's using multiple pictures to create a theme, a visual theme, essentially. You can do it in multiples of three, and you can do it line by line, or you can take an entire page. It's a really nice way to showcase your brand, I think, especially because for a lot of consumers when they hear of a brand, one of the first things they do is look them up on Instagram, right? Whether it's clothing, or even if it's a small business. That's the pulse check. Are they real? When's the last time they posted?
Hannah: It doesn't have to be obvious, either. Right now, my own Instagram is much more obvious grid pattern, but you can weave colors throughout. You can have different tones of yellows going into greens each month, or something like that. There are so many ways to do it and to recreate it, and to make it unique for your brand. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing, which I kind of am doing what other people are doing, but I'm taking it and modifying it and hopefully it's working.
Sam: One of the things that strikes me about instagram is it's beautiful because of its simplicity. Facebook ... There's a lot going on Facebook. Instagram, it's unique in the sense that it's very simple. It's expanding as far as the features and functionalities of how brands can use them and how you can actually use a profile. The simplicity of it. I think that's why it's so attractive is because you scroll through the feed. You scroll through the stories. There's a lot of ways to access unique and dynamic content very, very easily. When it comes to brand using Instagram, are there strategies that they can use to optimize each post that they make? What would the advice be to a brand that's posting on Instagram ? How is it that they can get the most engagement, the most reach out of their post? What are some of the strategies they can employ there?
Hannah: Engaging another brand's content and their supporter's content. Yes, you want to put well-chosen hashtags in your post, but you also want to engage with others. You don't want to count on people coming to you. So, that's liking posts that tag you. If someone makes a recipe with your product, then comment and say, "Oh, that looks great!" Something like that. Really engaging with others and focusing on the color-blocking. It's a mix. It's a formula that is ... It all comes together to be a cohesive brand. It's not just one thing.
Mikhail: Definitely remember that regardless of how powerful Instagram is for businesses, you're still not going to get just discovered.
Mikhail: Somebody has to actively search you out, search your brand name. Or, if you come up in one of the top 12 posts for a specific hashtag or location or anything like that. So, keep that in minds. Another way to gain a lot of engagement is to shoot to be one of the top 12 posts. For example, if you look up #socialmediamarketing, just as an example. The top 12 posts up there stay up there because they have the most engagement. Something you can do is try and get as many people to interact with your photo within the first hour of it being up, and that gives you a better chance of being in the top 12. In addition to that, the people who are interacting with it, interact back. There's a lot of little hacks to try and break the algorithm stuff, and that's a completely different episode, I guess? But that's one of the bigger things, for sure.
Sam: When you do a post ... We're talking about ... We post a picture, whether it be a video or an actual image itself, right? And then, when you go into actually adding locations, tagging other people, adding a description or the text, and then being able to do the hashtags there. What is the formula for the right ways to do that ?
Follow Mik on Instagram. Check this guy out. This is the real deal there. How do you do it, man?
Mikhail: It's not that cool.
Hannah: It takes a lot of time and effort to look this cool.
Sam:Lots of time and effort.
Mikhail: I'm not even cool.
Hannah: Yeah, you are.
Mikhail: I get by. When you pick your photo ... If you're gonna do color-blocking, that's not really a strategy of mine, because I have no time to color-block on top of everything else. Pick the photo that you like. Hopefully it starts with a great theme. Then, make sure that you edit it properly. There's some studies that show that high contrast, high brightness, actually gets more engagement than other photos, but in addition to that, make sure that it's a good crop. Lifestyle photos do really well. Having more than one person in your photo does really well. Those are some things to take into consideration.
In addition to that, you can use a long form caption. In some posts ... I know Hannah's doing it and a lot of other brands are doing long form posts in there. They're reading mini-blogs, essentially on captions. Don't be shy to be descriptive.
Sam: Is there a character max?
Mikhail: Yeah, but I haven't reached it yet.
Hannah: It's pretty high.
Mikhail: It's pretty high.
Hannah: It takes a lot.
Mikhail: There's four or five paragraphs, and I talk a lot if you can't tell.
Sam: Adding a story to the image itself is powerful.
Mikhail: Yeah. Actually, Humans of New York was built off that. They didn't have super pretty photos. They were good photos, but there was a story behind it. After you do that, add the 30 hashtags that you want to use. You can us up to 30, but don't use 31, because then your entire caption will delete afterward. I'm sure you've suffered through this.
Hannah: Actually, I haven't. You're more creative with hashtags that I am.
Mikhail: It's crazy. When you're choosing your hashtags, chose the ones that are like 50,000 to 100,000 that are relevant to what you're doing. You don't want to use a million, two million, three million ... a hashtag that's been used that many times.
Sam: So, you don't want to be basic?
Mikhail: It's not that. It's not about being basic. I'll throw in a couple there every so often, just for the small chance of being viral, but it's because there's so many people posting to it that if someone searches #socialmediamarketing, you're gonna be way down.
Mikhail: Very quickly. You're not giving yourself an opportunity to win. So, choose those 30 hashtags, then once you have the photo, tag 20 people in the photo.
Sam: You can tag up to 20?
Mikhail: You can tag up to 20 people in the photo. Those are people that you want to be found under. So, for me, it would be like Gary Vee or Sam Smith, or Eric Thomas, or those types of people. If you're a health and wellness company, you might want to be found under Amanda Bucci, or you might want to be found under Dr. Axe. That type of thing. Tag the 20 people in there. Make sure that you tag the location as well, and then pray that people like it within a certain time. There's typically more engagement, depending on who your audience is, for a lot of brands. There's typically a lot more engagement around the nine o'clock pm time because people are just browsing through their feeds.
Mikhail: Whatever it might be. I can't even stand by that anymore because I feel like the feed has changed up so much in the last couple weeks, I don't know if the time thing is very important. After all that's done, put it up in your Stories that you have a new post and a new offer in your last post so that the people who are just browsing through that but not their feeds can actually see your stuff, and that will give you a better chance of getting more engagement. That's why I don't color-block.
Sam: You guys are awesome. Very cool stuff. I know I've gained a lot of insight and I know our viewers and our listeners have. Before we sign off here, let's talk about the messaging, direct messaging. DMs, direct messaging, instant messaging ... It's huge. It's blowing up. It's the new way that people prefer to communicate. You can't even call it a new way. It's the way that people are communicating. Facebook's investment into their Messenger technology, the purchase of Whatsapp. Now the new features and functionality in the way that Instagram has changed around the direct messaging. Walk us through some of those things and how brands can leverage those things to their advantage.
Hannah: I know that I tend to use DMs more now that Stories are here. I'll be going through some athlete or fitness blogger, whatever that I might follow, and then also just friends, or also the requests. You always need to make sure to check the requests, because that's where I find a lot of the potential biz dev and just making connections. Mikhail does a lot of biz dev through his DMs. I'm always impressed. He can probably speak better to it than I can.
Sam: I'm impressed with him right now.
Mikhail: Nah, don't be.
Mikhail: My dad would be so disappointed if he found out that I'm essentially a 30 year old 13 year old girl taking selfies for a quarter of my day.
Sam: Well, now that you put it that way.
Mikhail: It is an effective business development tool.
Sam: It seems personal.
Mikhail: It is really is. It's very personal.
Hannah: It is. It's more than just commenting. It's the one on one.
Mikhail: I think what's really interesting is you never really liked to use Snapchat back in the day when it was still bigger, and in the beginning, you're almost reluctant to use Instagram Stories. That's obviously changed. That's what happens when you hang out with me. That's obviously changed.
Sam: Instagram freak!
Mikhail: But why are you using DMing now to talk to people as opposed to before?
Hannah: I think it's because it's more accessible. When you're going through a story, you can just easily tap the bottom. Instagram has made it easier since the first released Stories to do that. Also, it never occurred to me to DM someone on Instagram from a post. I'll send posts. The Overheard LA account is very amusing, so I'll send that to friends sometimes. But, Stories is that more personal connection, because it's like that person is talking to you or sharing to you directly about their life, even though 400 people saw it.
Sam: Yeah, yeah. It's almost like you could use that as a strategy to reach out to someone as opposed like for B to B. Instead of LinkedIn, which is overcrowded with in-mail messages and people that are constantly trying to sell you stuff. It's changing a lot as a platform. The way that people are approaching LinkedIn is a little bit different now than it was, a little bit. There's a lot of new strategies. But, the Instagram Direct Messaging seems to me like a great way to really reach out to someone and make it more personal.
Sam: It seems like maybe something a lot of marketers aren't leveraging quite yet.
Hannah: It's also ... If you want to work with someone, the chances are if they have a good Instagram account, the chances of us wanting to work with them is higher. You know the importance of it.
Mikhail: Whether you're a business or a person, you know what I mean, cause there's somebody behind it, I think it's super important. I think it is underutilized. To go back to what Hanna was saying in the beginning, you got to literally like other people's stuff first and genuinely engage with the stuff that they're talking about. Dude, if you're a car dealership in Orange County, why the hell aren't you looking up # HighSchool and liking all these kids' photos that are about to turn 16. That doesn't make sense. Sure, it takes-
Sam: Man, that's a cool strategy.
Mikhail: Yeah, think about it. It might seem like a waste of time, because, oh my gosh, you just spent a whole day, but it's free. It's free.
Sam: Yeah. It's free.
Mikhail: Other than the time that you're spending in there, if you sold one car out of that, out of a week. To me, that's worth it.
Sam: Each sales guy should be doing it.
Mikhail: Yes, every sales guy should be doing it. If you're not, you suck.
Hannah: Make it personal.
Sam: There's no excuse with the amount of platforms that are out there and we just heard ... You can rock it on Instagram and you can do it ... If you don't have any money to do it, you've got hustle, right? There's an opportunity to use Instagram to do a lot of really great things and do it in a way that maybe a lot of companies aren't doing it and a lot of brands aren't doing it. With the direct messaging and with a lot of the unique engagement stuff, you can really make it super personal and it's a powerful thing, as opposed to using LinkedIn or Facebook, which maybe people will overlook.
Great stuff, guys. This is awesome. This has been another episode of the Production Room, brought to you by Replay, the collective marketing agency. I'm your host, Sam Smith, and I'm outta here. Oh, don't stop growing… Don't ever, ever stop!