How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Nail a niche; everyone’s bored of the generic coffee shots.” With Henry McIntosh & Candice Georgiadis
Nail a niche: everyone’s bored of the generic coffee shots. Instagram is about creating a visual identity. Show personality in your imagery and captions and make sure it is always relevant to your niche! If you’re in fashion don’t start randomly posting about food, always have an element of relevance to what you are doing. People follow you for a distinct reason.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Henry McIntosh. Henry is the Co-Founder of Twenty One Twelve Marketing, an agency which creates strategies to help businesses reach and engage niche target markets. A former journalist and award-winning blogger, Henry’s worked with startups right through to major corporations on digital projects.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was younger I wanted to be a screenwriter but my path to get to where I am has been a bit all over the place.
For a start, I did History & Politics at university. It was interesting but I didn’t want anything to do with politics and history wasn’t getting me anywhere fast.
One thing I have to thank my degree for is the fact I managed to get an essay published as an undergrad. It led me to think maybe writing was still for me and helped me land my first real job as a copywriter for a big ecommerce retailer. It was a low-paid, high responsibility type gig and I loved it.
It gave me plenty of editorial, copywriting and digital experience, which I harnessed to go freelance. I worked for a number of tech and digital publications before landing a gig at Luxurious Magazine by sending an article in. I got a call from the owner the same day, he hated the article but liked my style.
All of a sudden, I was on his roster, flying around the world, staying in ridiculous hotels, getting invited to exclusive nightclub launches and eating in the best restaurants. I landed on my feet and was well out of my depth. I remember eating in Michelin starred restaurants for the first-time and not knowing how to eat food which resembled miniature pieces of art; I had to watch the PR to see how they ate it before I dived in.
At the same time, I was working for Ryan Irving at the web design company, Ri Web. We decided to start a blog and a year later we won the UK Blog Award in Digital & Technology category. The blog was just a catalogue of the techniques we used to grow social media audiences and generate leads, we thought there was a business there but didn’t want to be another generic marketing company.
So we started Twenty One Twelve as a niche marketing agency, initially as a marketing company just for luxury brands. Soon we were being asked to fulfil briefs from a variety of different industries and it’s hard to turn good projects away, so we’ve now branched out a little. The key is that all our clients tend to need to target a very specific or niche target market because their offering is quite complex.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
The simple answer is that I attain my clients a strong return on investment through social media practices.
The longer answer is that we’ve used social media to get startup companies international press, generate B2B businesses thousands of leads, sold products in a variety of niches, filled events and created a number of companies highly-engaged audiences.
In essence, we deliver results.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Ryan and I started the business by investing £300 each. Our first port of call was to put ourselves in the right room. By chance, The Luxury Network were looking for a new website at the time and responded positively to our outreach. We built them a website in return for a year of membership, which normally goes for around £5k.
Two months later we found ourselves on-board a superyacht at The Monaco Grand Prix. I was 24 years old, still living at home and rubbing shoulders with multi-multi-multi millionaires, it’s safe to say i felt out of my depth… but the free Champagne did help.
We took our first client, Eight Ray Music, along. At the time, we didn’t have a lot of money so they had to pay for themselves. The guys from Eight Ray loved it and they’ve since gone on to provide music for the likes of Red Bull and the Princess of Monaco, I like to think that first trip (alongside some great marketing) helped propel them there.
I’ve had a knack of getting myself into these situations ever since, mainly thanks to my work as a journalist. The imposter syndrome is huge but you’ve got to believe you belong.
We managed to snag a client from our time in Monaco. Lesson learned: always aspire to be in the right room, among people who are way out of your league. Then it’s all about the hustle. Eventually you will feel right at home.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
How much time have we got here?! There’s too many to name but the funniest one? It’s still a little raw for me but other people find this story pretty hilarious.
When we hired our first employee I was pretty proud of my myself, Ryan and I had spent a long time creating the hiring process and took candidates through from the CV/cover letter stage to phone interviews, group interviews and then face to face interviews. Essentially, we spent a lot of time on hiring.
I was even consulting my business coach on tactics to keep employees happy and motivated during their first few weeks.
The candidate who won through? They lasted five days before we parted company.
It was humbling, a little embarrassing but it’s pretty funny to look back on the time we spent on it. Especially in relation to the outcome we achieved. I’d love to go into more depth but I’d rather not end up in court as a result of this interview!
The lesson learned in this instance was to hire on cultural fit and a candidate’s attention to detail, not their CV. We can train them, we can’t change who they are.
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
LinkedIn is by far the most effective. I love Instagram and we still get clients through Insta despite being a B2B business but the platform that has a truly incredible affect on Twenty One Twelve’s bottom line is LinkedIn.
Other platforms are hard to build meaningful relationships on, when you reach out to someone on Instagram they just perceive it as spam.
On LinkedIn, when you connect to someone relevant who truly represents your target market and send them a personalised message the responses you get are amazing.
The best story I can tell you is based on stats, I am a marketer after all. The stat is that we generate two long-term clients a month from LinkedIn, their average spend isn’t bad either because we’re targeting decision makers at sizeable businesses.
So for me it’s LinkedIn and for my B2B clients it’s the same story. In B2C right now, you can’t ignore Instagram, however.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
– Use Influencers: you don’t need to pay thousands to work with influencers, trust me — that doesn’t deliver a return on investment (on its own). Instead, find influencers who operate in your niche and are legitimately influencing your target market. Build a relationship with them on the platform and then offer to gift them a product in return for some exposure, most will work with you for the free product alone. A good way to start the relationship is to interview them on your business’ blog, they will nearly always then share the article with their audience. Then gift them a product as thanks, again they will then share this with their following. We’ve got influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers to work with unheard of startups for free because they love their ethos and products. Make sure you add a pixel to your site so you can re-advertise to the influx of traffic this will generate.
– Use hashtags properly: most people’s hashtags are too generic. Look at how many times the hashtags you are using have been used before, if it’s 10 million times, your content is never going to get seen. Instead, select highly relevant hashtags which have been used 5,000–200,000 times where you’re more likely to rank in the explore page. Also, engage with other people who are using your hashtags, it shows you are relevant in your niche. That’s a Connor McCreesh trick and it works.
– Don’t automate DM’s and comments but consider follow/unfollow: DM’s and comments are boring, spammy and they don’t work. But you know what? follow/unfollow still works if you set the right parameters around it and make it look human. I might get a lot of stick for saying that but it’s a good way to gain traction. Don’t use third party apps though, do it yourself.
– Use new features: Stories are already becoming saturated but IGTV remains relatively underutilised. As soon as Instagram brings out a new feature adopt it early, even if you don’t understand it properly. Social media platforms love early adopters and will push the content further.
– Nail a niche: everyone’s bored of the generic coffee shots. Instagram is about creating a visual identity. Show personality in your imagery and captions and make sure it is always relevant to your niche! If you’re in fashion don’t start randomly posting about food, always have an element of relevance to what you are doing. People follow you for a distinct reason.
– Showcase your brand using highlights: one of 2018’s great developments was Highlights, the permanent stories that reside beneath your bio. Use this as a chance to show-off, make sure all the stories you save are on-brand and position you in a good light.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It sounds ironic but a digital detox day would probably do people the world of good. No phones, TVs or devices of any kind for a day each year. It might get kids outside and push people into the face to face interactions which are becoming increasingly rare. The impact of digital isn’t always positive and it would be good to be mindful of its affect on society.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
That’s a tough one. I admire a lot of people but Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin would be right up there.
Also, Jose Mourinho and the Glaziers so I could get to grips with what’s going on at my beloved Manchester United.
Equally if anyone has read this and would like to get in touch with me please do!
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!
How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Nail a niche; everyone’s bored of the… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.