How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Nail a niche; everyone’s bored of the…

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.

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Alexandra Zelenko and Candice…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Use professional photos”, With Alexandra Zelenko and Candice Georgiadis

It’s true that social media is a powerful tool that can help us connect with people globally. Also, social media is a vital aspect of teenagers’ and children’s social and creative lives. While this can be used to their advantage, it could also be used against them. Facebook and Instagram open up many dangers especially for a younger generation if they don’t use it carefully. If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, I would create guidelines about social media use that help teenagers and children avoid risks and stay safe online.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexandra Zelenko, Marketing and Technical Writer at DDI Development company that provides web and mobile digital solutions for a wide range of business expertise, such as recruitment, fintech, CRM, e-learning, logistics, etc. She has always been passionate about writing, language, and psychology. Also, she knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to social marketing, including blog writing and unique well-structured content.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

The growth of social media has played a significant role in the need for marketing professionals. Internet presence is exceptionally vital to business success these days, and brands also should communicate effectively through the use of social media. The biggest reason why I chose this specific career path is that it allows me to be creative and to come up with new strategies that could win over consumers and grow business. This industry requires me to be very logical and structured as well. I find that this combination works well because it allows me to explore my imagination while remaining focused on marketing tasks at hand.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I personally believe that social media marketing is one of the most effective and affordable digital tools for any businesses. Over the years, it has turned into a fundamental marketing component for companies of all sizes. As for me, it is ideal for businesses because it requires minimal financial investment and, if executed correctly, it can help to boost any business. In our company, it helps us to build a reputation as a professional provider of web and mobile solutions. With the countless social media platforms, we stay engaged with other professionals in our industry and thought leaders that allow us to interact closely with them and help in generating new leads for our business.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I was an intern at DDI Development company. Once I was asked to write an article series that were going to be published in a blog of a large company. To make a long story short, I accidentally deleted all the articles I had already written. Facepalm. I had to spend the rest of the day and night refreshing my memory and re-creating the same that I already did. No doubt this was a nightmare. But, thankfully, with each mistake is a lesson to be learned. Yes, it is a travesty to lose information, but there’s always a solution to every problem. It was a good thing I proved to be a quick thinker and calm. No doubt in any situation where something is lost or deleted feels like the end of the world. But there is always a way to correct what has gone wrong. Just stay calm and move forward.

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?

Once I was working on the Facebook social media advertising campaign. I have crafted an efficient and successful strategy that would work well when done right. In the evening I decided to check how many people viewed my ad because I was sure the campaign had been already started. Facepalm. Nobody. “0” views. I anxiously began to check what was wrong, where could be a mistake. Then I remembered that the social ad campaign would be launched tomorrow;-) The lesson I learned from this is never panic. There is always a way out from any situation. You just need to sit down, think, and find a solution because no one will do it for you.

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?

Social media platforms are the best ways for businesses to reach and engage their target audiences. If business owners are not using social media, they may be missing out on a compelling opportunity to grow their business. Currently, Instagram is definitely at the top of the list when using social media for business. This platform works the best for brands that have a product or service that lends well to images and video. It can also be an excellent space for companies from niche industries that rely on visual content to tell their story.

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.

  1. Provide professional photos. The power of high quality product images is essential to any business. Instagram’s visual platform helps to showcase products that are valuable toward impressing consumers and making purchases than just delivering the product information or even other customers ratings.
  2. Product Tagging. E-commerce businesses should tag item prices and include special offers to the photos they are going to publish on their business profiles, as well as connecting these products with an item page on their website. Business should have a full catalog with the same range of goods on their Facebook page to implement this feature into the Instagram account.
  3. Instagram saved stories. Instagram accounts which have 10,000+ subscribers received the opportunity to add direct links to their stories that boost sales channel for many businesses. Thanks to the usability, a consumer can be taken to a website using one swipe. Most e-commerce accounts find creative approaches to the new section. One of them duplicated the main website categories, and others — split stories with links “see more” to new folders as “winter must-have”, “summer must-have”, “best-sellers” or “customers” choice.”
  4. Filter hashtags. This solution is useful for sales or special prices. When you offer discounts for a specific group of products, you can create a separate tag below each post which contains any of these offers. This way, a consumer will see all products at a discounted price by clicking this hashtag. And a business, thanks to the “editability,” can easily remove irrelevant hashtags at any time.
  5. Instagram booking and native payment system. According to a Techcrunch report, Instagram places its stake on adding a native payments feature into the app for some users. Currently, this is available for electives from the US only, but it is conceivable that Instagram users will soon be able to book a cinema ticket, apartments or a restaurant directly via an app in the future — no redirecting to websites required.
  6. Include a link to increase traffic to your website. Instagram provides only one opportunity to directly lead a click over to your website. Your bio is the one place where you can click a link. Don’t forget to include the link to your website or a targeted landing page in this spot that will definitely boost traffic.

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’s true that social media is a powerful tool that can help us connect with people globally. Also, social media is a vital aspect of teenagers’ and children’s social and creative lives. While this can be used to their advantage, it could also be used against them. Facebook and Instagram open up many dangers especially for a younger generation if they don’t use it carefully. If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, I would create guidelines about social media use that help teenagers and children avoid risks and stay safe online.

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 🙂

I’d love to talk with Lisa Buyer, CEO of The Buyer Group. She is passionate and ambitious about how public relations, social media, and online marketing influence each other. She is also an instructor of the Advanced Social Media Certification Training Course in San Francisco, United States. It would be great to hear from her a piece of advice on how to better elevate brands and execute robust social campaigns.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Alexandra Zelenko and Candice… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Everything posted should be well

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Everything posted should be well developed around a niche that people are very passionate about” with Christian Lovrecich & Candice Georgiadis

Marketing has always interested me. I’m that guy who watches the Superbowl for the commercials instead of the game. At 23 years old, I started my first company, and I began to study marketing and how to target customers. At that point, I was working with traditional marketing, such as mailers and similar print materials. I’ve always been somewhat of a “techie,” and I’ve always seen the value of developing technology, using the internet, and keeping up with day-to-day changes of how we communicate and obtain information. I’ve been a social media junkie since it began. I knew it would be huge and continue to grow and affect marketing and advertising. I wanted to be a part of it, and here I am!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Christian Lovrecich, a speaker, trainer and consultant in internet marketing, social media, niche marketing, niche market lead generation, branding , business development and also is the founder and CEO of Lovrecich Media, which is a full service digital advertising firm that focuses on driving sales to businesses using the power of digital marketing across all digital platforms.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. Even as a kid, I was always trying to sell. Besides the adrenaline rush of making a deal, I love providing a service or item that makes someone else’s life easier or makes them happy and more fulfilled. Sales has always been a part of my background, so I have significant experience and have done my share of “cold calls” to make sales and obtain clients. I’ve always been interested in finding a better way to match potential customers with the goods and services provided by businesses.

Marketing has always interested me. I’m that guy who watches the Superbowl for the commercials instead of the game. At 23 years old, I started my first company, and I began to study marketing and how to target customers. At that point, I was working with traditional marketing, such as mailers and similar print materials. I’ve always been somewhat of a “techie,” and I’ve always seen the value of developing technology, using the internet, and keeping up with day-to-day changes of how we communicate and obtain information. I’ve been a social media junkie since it began. I knew it would be huge and continue to grow and affect marketing and advertising. I wanted to be a part of it, and here I am!

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

Once technology became available and accessible on the platforms we now have available online, I started to dig deep to learn everything I could about it. I took every course, read every book, and reached out to the biggest industry names. I’ve also put my own money, blood, sweat, and tears into testing and selling my own products/services and building brands, which has given me valuable experience and allows me to help others succeed. I know what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, I continue to grow, keep up with the day-to-day changes of the platforms, and have never stopped learning. I’m constantly in touch with people in the industry and attend multiple events a year to keep up with the latest changes and trends on every platform out there.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I decided to test the idea of promoting my agency to help others to grow their businesses with the power of digital media because people everywhere I went that knew what I did always asked for my help. When I was starting out, I needed to create case studies to be able to show big companies results, that we knew what we were doing, and what was possible when it came to the return on investment of their marketing budget, which is commonly referred to in the industry as “ad spend.” I reached out to a friend who owns a real estate brokerage and began a digital ad campaign for him on Facebook. Immediately, we got so many leads his team couldn’t keep up. We actually had to dial back the campaigns and he had to bring in other people to handle all the leads we generated. It’s an example of how I helped a business grow and take it to another level, and that is what makes me the most happy and passionate about what I do.

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?

When I was learning about selling on Facebook when the platform first became public for advertisers, I decided to test a shirt that I knew would be a winner because it was a very niche specific design. It was a niche I am passionate about and the design looked awesome! I hired a company to make the shirt as the orders came in and to ship them to the customer directly. I launched the campaign for a Black Friday deal. It was an instant hit! The orders were coming through 24/7, and I was super excited because it was my biggest success at the time.

You’re probably wondering where is the mistake? Well at the time I had the design made, I looked at it on a monitor that wasn’t calibrated, and I made the huge mistake of not ordering a sample for myself. It turns out black print on a navy blue shirt does not show up well in person. After the orders went out, I started getting bombarded by messages on our fan page and emails complaining about the product. Customers emailed me pics of the product. It looked horrible.

That shirt went on to make about $12,000 in sales before I pulled the plug because of the faulty design. I believe in quality and taking care of my customers over anything else, so by the time I was done sending replacements, processing refunds, and giving away gift certificates to make everyone happy, it actually cost me a lot more than that. In other words, the irony is that my first “real winner” in ecommerce ended up costing me a lot more than the revenue it generated. Lesson learned, and I NEVER made that mistake again. Every product is sampled and checked for quality control before we even put it online for testing to see if it sells.

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?

It really depends on the particular product or service but Facebook , with is massive amount of user data is by far the most cost-effective platform that produces the best return on investment, if used correctly. Interestingly, the cost of advertising with Facebook keeps increasing every year because big brands are finally becoming interested in using the platform; however, most businesses really underestimate the power of the platform because they simply don’t know how to correctly utilize it to get maximum return on their investment in ad spend.

For example, a campaign of ours is being run for a software company in the SAAS (Software As A Service) niche. We built a highly targeted campaign on Facebook where our goal was to acquire new clients by offering an online presentation of how the software works (a “demo”), with an ad spend of approximately $1,500. As a result of the campaign, we were able to book 23 demos. Out of those 23 demos, 6 were brought on as clients, and the lifetime value of each of those clients is $8,500 in revenue per year for the software company. Cleverly targeting the right people can give you a massive return on your investment. In this case the return was over 30 times the investment made.

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.

1) Your Instagram account and everything posted should be well developed around a niche that people are very passionate about. For example, if your niche is CrossFit, post videos related to lifting heavy weight and activities that CrossFitters can relate to as opposed to videos showing how to do yoga poses. In this example, even though both videos relate to fitness, the Instagram algorithm sees the weight lifting video as CrossFit related and drives the post to the feeds of CrossFit fans. Your post will then rank higher on their feeds, giving it a high chance of appearing on the “explore feed” of your target audience, which is the page of Instagram where posts are suggested to users based on their interests. This is how posts go viral.

2) Post videos and make use of the “stories” function. We are seeing in the industry that videos are reaching further than photos or other forms of posting because Instagram’s algorithm is pushing video hard across the platform, especially with the use of stories and IG TV.

3) Check your Instagram account analytics, study which type of content your users like and interact with the most, and keep giving them what they want. Going back to the CrossFit example, if your video posts about burpees get the most interaction, then post more about burpees. It’s working!

4) For posts and hashtags, quality is better than quantity. Keep a minimum of 2 hours between posts. If you post too frequently the algorithm detects you are creating too many posts and works against you by automatically pushing them down on the feeds of your target. To make these posts more effective, use a “call to action” on every post, which is a directive to visit your store, website, or the link in your bio. For hashtags on your posts, although Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags per post, you shouldn’t. Your post will appear to be spam and Instagram’s algorithm will “shadow ban” the post, which means your content won’t appear on a person’s feed unless they already follow you. This prevents you from reaching new followers and growing your audience. 8 hashtags is the sweet spot for getting the best results.

5) Research trending posts on the explore feed related to your niche. Look at which posts are getting the most likes and interaction. Look for comments made by real users, not bots. Model your content after those posts that are trending the most. Pay attention to the type of content and the hashtags being used on the top posts so you can incorporate that information, improve upon it, and make it into your own successful post.

6) Don’t play the follow/unfollow game. This will attract bots. Focus only on following high ranking accounts. For example, people who are important in your niche that have millions of followers. This will help your account get real followers and become a high-ranking account of its own.

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. 🙂

The education system needs a complete overhaul. Unfortunately, education in the US and many countries focuses on memorizing material and test scores. We need to focus on real life skills and how to put ideas into action. People would benefit more from that kind of education system and, in turn, they will be more motivated and end up in careers they love and enjoy. It will help our country become more productive. We have great technology at our disposal and it should be used interactively to educate our kids.

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 🙂

I would have to say Mark Cuban. He’s a billionaire in the tech sector and followed his passion for basketball by buying the Mavs and turned the franchise around. He’s invested in many startups throughout the years, and I like that he’s involved and spends time helping others realize their entrepreneurial dreams. I respect that many times he makes an investment in the person behind the business, not just because of the business itself. He came from nothing and went all the way to the top through hard work and determination. I admire his involvement in many different business sectors, and I aspire be able to do one day as well.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Everything posted should be well was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Create A Voice & Stick With It”, With…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Create A Voice & Stick With It”, With Morgan Scofes and Candice Georgiadis

I had the pleasure of interviewing Morgan Scofes. Morgan is the Senior Digital Marketing Manager at DineAmic Group, a hospitality company in Chicago, with seven unique restaurant concepts. In addition to overseeing their nine social media accounts and paid social advertising, Morgan heads up the photography and content creation for the company. One of her most successful endeavors with the company was growing BomboBar’s Instagram account, which recently hit 50,000 followers. Her photos have been published on numerous online media outlets as well as some of Chicago’s largest print publications.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s actually a funny story, I knew I wanted to work in marketing/advertising but wasn’t finding the right fit after I graduated college. I had started an anonymous funny twitter account, where I met one of the owners of our company. He was so curious how I had generated my Twitter account to 15K followers and asked me for some pointers — I guess I just had a knack for social media! A year later, the Social Media Manager position opened up, he asked me to interview, and the rest is history!

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I have been working in social media and digital marketing at DineAmic for nearly five years now and successfully grown social pages from 0 followers to 50,000. I am constantly reading articles and looking at other leaders in my industry to stay up on the latest trends and watching for anything unique that catches my eye. Social Media is constantly changing and evolving, so it’s important to continue to learn constantly.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

The most interesting thing that has happened is taking over the photography. I’ve always had a creative eye and love taking photos, however, I have never taken a photography course in my life. A year into the job I was handed a camera and told to just run with it and since then, I’ve had numerous photos published on large media sites and print publications. It’s amazing to look back at photos I took when I first started to now and how much I’ve learned, it really shows through in the styling, photos, and editing. There have also been multiple times where people will recognize me from Instagram, which is always fun! A few weeks ago, I was working at an event and a woman looked at me and said, “Hey, aren’t you that Instagram girl? You kill it, keep doing what you’re doing!”

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?

Running nine accounts, mistakes are bound to happen. One thing I’ve learned is to slow down and check your work. There were times when I first started where I’d post a photo on the wrong page that didn’t make sense at all, such as posting a pizza on our steakhouse’s page! Luckily, I usually realized it right away and was able to fix it, but there was definitely a time or two where it stayed up for a couple hours or more.

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?

I would definitely say Instagram. With @BomboBar, it has been a crazy ride. After we launched our “Hotter Chocolates” three years ago, we blew up on social, but specifically Instagram. Managers that work on site have told me that people still come up to the window pointing at a photo on their phone saying, “I want this!” Which is cool and crazy at the same time… It can be hard to measure ROI in the food and beverage industry from social media, but this proves just how much it has impacted that specific concept. We also have run specialty items for one day only, with promotions living solely on social media and building up to it on Instagram stories a couple days in advance, which have sold super well.

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.

Great Photos & Content — This is (obviously) a must, with Instagram being such a visual platform. You need to attract an audience and then keep them. When speaking on a panel last year, I was asked what I choose to post and why or who influences my work. While I follow a ton of great photographers, influencers, and foodie accounts, when it comes down to it I post what I find most visually appealing. Sometimes you get that one great shot that makes you feel something, whether it makes you drool or it just catches your eye because of the angle/lighting/beautiful set-up!

Create A Voice & Stick With It — Having nine different accounts ranging from a small doughnut shop to a high-end steakhouse, you have to make sure your posts are on brand for each one. I like to keep @BomboBar’s captions light-hearted, fun, and occasionally punny, whereas @PrimeProvisions is much more straightforward and business-minded with the occasional word play.

Instagram Stories — These have become huge over the last year and it’s amazing to see how many people take notice to these. They’re a great tool to use for short promotions and I love the more personal/impromptu feel to them. You can give followers a behind the scenes look at the workings of your business in addition to showing the real, human-side of your account. We recently started running a “5 p.m. Wine Pour” promotion at @SienaTavern which we have promoted solely on Instagram Stories. Every Wednesday, I visit the restaurant and chat with a server or bartender about the “wine pour of the week,” snap some photos of them with it, and post to our story with their reasons for liking the wine and a pairing to go with it. It has gone over super well, and both our audience and staff get excited about it each week.

User Generated Content — Use it! People love to be reposted and see their photos acknowledged. My team constantly screenshots photos people have posted and tagged at our venues and saves them in a folder. It’s great to have awesome content to mix in with our own and to also show some love to our fans and followers. I also find that sharing this content entices more people to post and tag us, which overall helps with brand recognition.

Engagement — This goes hand-in-hand with User Generated Content, but you need to engage with your followers. Whether it’s liking and commenting on their photos they posted and tagged our brands or responding to comments, questions, and messages. I like to take at least an hour each morning to engage with our audience and make sure I respond to messages. Even if you don’t have an answer at that particular moment, it’s great to know someone saw your question, so a quick response saying you’ll look into it goes a long way!

You Have To Give To Get — There are weeks where your engagement will dip and your page isn’t growing, and that’s okay! It’s normal to have plateaus, especially with Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm, but stay consistent with your posting and it will turn around. If you’re able to, try working with influencers (of any size account) or running a boosted post. If you don’t have a digital ad budget, get your audience involved and try running a contest, doing a giveaway, or simply having a call-to-action in your caption. We’ve run contests on Instagram where someone has to follow our account and tag a friend they’d share the experience with which puts our photo in front of a potential new customer and that’s always a good thing!

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. 🙂

There’s been a spotlight on social media recently and the perception of perfection most users strive for on the platform, giving off an unrealistic ideal to their followers. With the rate of cyber bullying and suicides growing, I think it’s imperative to make a change, however diminishing the importance of followers and likes will hurt so many in the social media industry and I don’t believe this is the answer. I love the recent focus on showing the imperfect side of yourself on social media and the “reality v. Instagram” trend, however, there’s still room for growth and I’d love to see different industries come together to continue to reduce and eventually eliminate it.

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 🙂

I absolutely love Mindy Kaling. Ever since I read her first book and started watching her on The Office and The Mindy Project, I felt like we’d be kindred spirits. There were some random things she said on the show or in her book that I had thought or said which is crazy. I love her sense of humor and how she continues to be real in a world so consumed with social media and only showing the edited, filtered version of ourselves.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Create A Voice & Stick With It”, With… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve Your Business, with Melissa DiGianfilippo…

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Don’t neglect your captions”, with Melissa DiGianfilippo & Alexis Krisay

We’re using Instagram stories heavily because they’re performing well. Whether it’s highlighting a work in progress, a completed project, behind the scenes previews of a television segment, or coordination of a client event, it’s a great tool to highlight the work that we are doing. Instagram stories also give potential clients an idea of our expertise and can spark an interest in finding out what we could do for their businesses. Rather than just telling, Instagram stories allow us to show all of the work that we do.

I had the pleasure to interview Melissa DiGianfilippo and Alexis Krisay. Melissa DiGianfilippo is partner and president of public relations at Serendipit, where she leads all of the firm’s clients’ public relations and communications efforts. Melissa leads a highly skilled team to help clients achieve their goals. Under her direction, Serendipit clients have achieved millions of dollars in positive press coverage across international, national and local media outlets including CNN, Nancy Grace, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Late Show, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Reuters, Associated Press, Huffington Post as well as local broadcast and print outlets in all U.S. markets. In 2018, Melissa was named the top female PR professional in Arizona by Arizona Foothills Magazine and a Most Admired Leader by the Phoenix Business Journal. In 2014, Melissa was named a Rising Star by Student Housing Business, as well as being named on the list of Generation Next: Forty Under Forty by AZ Business Magazine. Melissa serves as the Marketing Chairperson on the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Phoenix Connect Board, and on the board of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) in Arizona.

Through her extensive background in online and offline strategic marketing operations, Alexis Krisay has sharpened her instincts, innate talent, and passion for all things marketing. Known for her out-of-the-box thinking and contributions of fresh ideas, Alexis has helped dozens of clients within the residential and commercial real estate, lifestyle, spa and wellness, and health and fitness industries effectively identify market opportunities and pair them with strategic and impactful, results-driven marketing solutions. Alexis has 15 years of experience in the fast-paced, ever-changing field of marketing, cultivating a deep understanding of what makes people, brands and organizations tick. Alexis is an active member of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). She was named a Student Housing Rising Star in 2014 and on the list of 30 Under 30 in 2013, both by Student Housing Business. Alexis graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in communications and marketing.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

We both shared a clear, persistent vision on how to do the agency thing different. How to do it better. We had worked for large marketing and PR agencies in the past, so we knew instinctively that there was a way to make clients and employees happier. The idea of doing things better ultimately led us to open Serendipit Consulting, a full-service PR and marketing agency.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

We’ve been in this industry for more than 15 years, so we’ve been along for the ride as social media has shifted, grown and opened up new avenues for reaching target demographics. Of course, there’s been a lot of trial and error to get where we are now. The majority of the time in world’s recent ‘digital decades’ were a period of growth and learning for everyone. Today, as marketers and as an agency, we have a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t when marketing a business through social media. It’s always changing, so it’s a constant process of education, exploration, and imagination to stay up to date on the latest social media trends. A few times, we’ve played the role of actual trend setters which is exciting! Today, Serendipit stands out from other agencies because we don’t believe in cookie cutter approaches (unless we’re baking). While we’ve developed basic efficiencies and processes, our mission is to ALWAYS maintain a fresh perspective, and bring only the best strategies and ideas to the table — for ourselves and our clients.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Choosing one is tough. Over the past 10 years, we’ve had the chance to work with some amazing and very recognizable brands and people.

In 2010, we were approached by a up-and-coming brand called WeGrow — a hydroponics superstore. Its first location in California was dubbed the “Walmart of Weed” by national media. While it was risky for our relatively young company to be associated with a cannabis brand, we decided to take the risk. Working with this client gave us some amazing exposure into what is now one of the fastest growing industries in America, no pun intended!

We helped WeGrow gain national and international credibility as it expanded into Phoenix and Washington D.C., landing press coverage on all the major national outlets — CNN, The Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today, The Late Show and many, many more. Our successful media relations and crisis management for this brand propelled us into work with many other local and national brands, and earned us a great reputation working with cannabis-related brands. While we never anticipated getting into cannabis marketing, it’s been an interesting and unique challenge!

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?

Just under two years into the business, we had the opportunity to work with a major food distribution company. Our mission was to drive nationwide brand awareness for its refrigerated salsa brand, sold exclusively in Walmart stores across the country. Looking back, it’s hilarious to even type that, but at the time we were a bit green, wide-eyed and ready to try something new. Oh, and the budget! They were giving us a whopping $100,000 for 3 months! At that time, that was around a quarter of our annual revenue, so in taking on this client, we believed we were on top of the world.

WORST. IDEA. EVER.

Do you know how hard it is to market a refrigerated salsa brand sold exclusively in Walmart stores? We bit off way more than we could chew, including producing a YouTube e-mercial series that starred a Chili Pepper and told the story of his escape from the salsa factory. We hired street teams across the country to go to select markets to hand out coupons and do taste tests at major events and in Walmart parking lots. We paid mommy bloggers to enter into salsa recipe challenges and taste test competitions. We hosted a nationwide jingle contest. We actually WORE CHILI PEPPER COSTUMES to make video recaps of all of our work for our client, weekly. The seasoning? The client was absolutely over-the-top INSANE and made it a habit to call us and scream at us over the phone at least 3 times a week. To add insult to injury, we made our entire office, family and neighbors live off of chips and salsa for the entire 3 months. So that $100,000 actually turned into around $10 of profit. MAJOR LESSON LEARNED.

Looking back now, it’s beyond comical. But it was a valuable lesson. We learned the critical importance of appropriately pricing our work, and the realities of accurately budgeting for the hard costs entailed in executing a project. As a bonus, we also learned how to read a client up front to determine whether or not they would be a fit for our brand and core values.

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?

Ten years ago, we would have said Twitter, because we actually got one of our first and largest clients from a Twitter conversation. We were honest with a major real estate brand and told them that their marketing was pretty bad, they could use some major help, and we were just the people to provide it. Our brazen message caught their attention, and we ended up securing them as a long-term major client.

Today, for most of our clients, Instagram is really standing out as the best way to boost revenue. When executed properly, Instagram ads can drive quick purchase decisions. Also, Instagram influencers add a whole additional layer of added value that can drive real revenue increases. The swipe up feature that can take a viewer to a brand’s landing page from an Influencer’s story is a game-changer and boy, is it working! We’re seeing this work well for many of our clients. A particular example is Bodify — a Coolsculpting boutique in Phoenix. We consistently drive qualified leads to the brand through Instagram. Month over month, we’re seeing revenue increases.

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.

Instagram Stories/IGTV

Since the launch of Instagram Stories, and more recently Instagram TV, they have surpassed Snapchat’s audience, becoming one of the most popular features on Instagram. Content discoverability is what gives Instagram an edge. Many users may not know this, but each city has its own Instagram Story, compiled from other users’ stories with relevant location tags. By tagging a location in a story, businesses can increase their story’s reach. Business owners who tag a location in their story see their account and content instantly become more discoverable, opening up new sources of engagement. Videos are the most popular types of stories, driving the majority of impressions. Businesses also have the ability to add URLs to stories that can link out to their websites, specific products, or services they offer.

At Serendipit, we’re using Instagram stories heavily because they’re performing well. Whether it’s highlighting a work in progress, a completed project, behind the scenes previews of a television segment, or coordination of a client event, it’s a great tool to highlight the work that we are doing. Instagram stories also give potential clients an idea of our expertise and can spark an interest in finding out what we could do for their businesses. Rather than just telling, Instagram stories allow us to show all of the work that we do.

Branding

Instagram is the ideal platform to bring your brand directly to your target audience and generate awareness. However, to effectively use Instagram correctly, business owners need to understand how to craft content that aligns with their brand. This all begins by figuring out your brand’s tone of voice and understanding your target audience. First, brands need to identify who they really are — if you could personify your brand, how would they talk to the target audience? Are you trying to be knowledgeable, edgy, trendy, professional, etc.? Once you’ve identified your brand tone, you can start crafting appropriate messaging. When creating your messages, stop and think about what your audience is looking for on social media. What information your brand can provide that’s useful and relevant to the target audience? Being too “salesy” or posting content that is not reflective of your brand and expertise can and will be a major turn off for your audience. Remember to outline and implement a brand engagement strategy for how you address questions, comments, and reviews. Consistent voice and tone in branded posts can help build brand awareness and audience engagement.

Example: We recently held a three-hour branding workshop with one of our clients, Bayless Integrated Healthcare, to completely renovate their marketing message. The results are reflected in their social platforms, especially Instagram. We created an entirely new, patient-focused strategy for posts that are presented within branded, well-thought-out layouts and consistent tone-of-voice. This mix and match of branded graphics, video content, and photos tells the story of Bayless — all inside a 3×3 grid.

Get Creative With Your Content

Take a picture, add a filter, and post away. Right? Sure, that worked when Instagram was still in its beginning stages, but the channel has matured, and consumers now expect quality, attention-grabbing content. Up to 10 photos and videos can be shared in a single Instagram post, giving users the opportunity to swipe through to view each individual piece of content. Instagram albums offer businesses a way to combine photos and videos to tell stories and share information in a highly engaging way. But don’t neglect your captions! Instagram may be all about captivating visual content, but captions present an additional way for businesses to bolster their story and their message. Captions help expand the meaning and impact of an image, give it context, and evoke emotion from viewers.

Example: With our Student Housing clients we know we have to focus captions around current social trends, college-related news, engagement posts, etc., to keep students engaged and interacting. We’ve had great success in running engagement-driven giveaways. For example, this Thanksgiving followers were asked to comment with their favorite Thanksgiving food for a chance to win a $100 gift card.

Collaborate With Influencers

Using social media influencers on Instagram is a wonderful way to build relationships and brand loyalty for a business. Whether an influencers’ audience is large or small, they’re able to reach consumers that businesses may not be able to engage with on their own. Start by identifying key influencers in your particular market that are relevant to your industry or brand, and build a relationship. This can mean anything from a takeover — where an influencer takes control of the account for a day, to providing them with products or services in exchange for sponsored content on their page.

Example: Influencer marketing has dominated the social media realm this year, and it’s something we have successfully worked on with many of our clients. One that’s found a lot of success with influencers is our client, Bodify — a CoolSculpting boutique. Bodify has partnered with online blogger and influencer, Marika Meeks, a breast cancer survivor. Marika used CoolSculpting to find her “new normal” life after cancer. Marika and her pitbull, Stella, are a well-known Instagram blogger-duo who help bring brand awareness and engagement to Bodify.

Shoppable Posts

Instagram recently launched a shoppable posts feature in the app. Followers have the option to shop products directly from an Instagram post; buying a product without ever having to leave the app! All businesses have to do is connect a product catalog to their Instagram account. From there, they can tag a product just like they would tag a person.

Example: One of our clients, Robbins Brothers The Engagement Ring Store, utilizes the in-app sales tool to drive customers further into the sales funnel. Instagram users scrolling through their posts can simply tap on a ring in any of the photos to see the product name and price. Clicking on the tagged product description and price information takes users directly to the ring on Robbins Brothers website, where they can make further inquiries or even buy it! This tactic establishes Instagram as a sales tool and not just a branding tool.

Share Your Company Culture

Instagram is a platform built solely for visual content, making it the perfect place to show off the parts of your business most people don’t get to normally see. While company culture varies from business to business, it’s important to highlight what’s unique about your day-to-day operations. While it might not drive sales and increase business directly, sharing company culture with followers helps to build trust and create a connection that is deeper than just superficial interest in your product or service. Highlighting your company culture can mean posting a behind-the-scenes look of employees working on the next big product launch, a boomerang from the latest company outing, or simply documenting fun office happenings.

Example: At Serendipit we’re proud of the stellar company culture we’ve created in our office and it’s something we love to share with our followers. We consistently update our Instagram story — spotlighting daily office happenings, company outings or gatherings, the office dogs (because Serendipit is dog friendly all day, every day), silly moments, victories, and the day-to-day operations. We are sure to designate one post weekly that showcases our company culture in the form of an employee spotlight, office happening, or a big “win” for the week. Our followers, current clients, and prospective clients are able to put faces and personalities behind our brand. Best of all, we have the chance to give everyone a better look at the work we do for our clients… and how much we enjoy it!

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. 🙂

Melissa — I would love to come up with a creative movement based around keeping young kids safe on social media. I’m the mom of two girls, and one of the biggest fears I have is how dangerous social media can be to a generation who were basically born with a smart phone in their hands. Bullying and harassment, sex crimes, oversharing and social media addiction — these things are legitimate fears for people of any age — but we have to do a better job of keeping kids safe.

Alexis –

My passion would be to figure out how to educate, encourage and nurture entrepreneurship in teenagers/college kids/young professionals. So many kids have brilliant ideas, but I think they’re intimidated by trying to figure out how to break into business. With proper mentors, coaching and encouragement they can get started and learn how to build a thriving business. I want the average joe to feel confident that they can start and run a business. I would love to create an incubator program in my community.

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 🙂

Melissa — I’m an avid podcast junkie, so I’m going to go with the two people people who I’m currently obsessed with who have great stories: Jennifer Hyman (CEO and CoFounder of Rent the Runway), and Rachel Hollis (The Hollis Company, The Chic Site founder and author of Girl Wash Your Face).

Alexis –

I would have to second Melissa’s request for Jennifer Hyman. I love her company, and I’m amazed by her determination. I also truly admire Joanna Gaines. Her passion for creating and building her business as well as balancing life with her family is impressive. I constantly want to know, how does she do it all?


Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve Your Business, with Melissa DiGianfilippo… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“We’ve seen firsthand how a moment of real kindness online can affect people.” with Matthew Monagle

We’ve seen firsthand how a moment of real kindness online can affect people.” with Matthew Monagle and Candice Georgiadis

Our social team is often engaging with students at a time in their life where there’s a lot of uncertainty about life, college, work, and more. We’ve seen firsthand how a moment of real kindness online can affect students; as a result, whenever I see a brand whose identity consists of insults to their prospective customers, it makes me want to scream. You never know where someone is at emotionally when you hit ‘reply’ to that direct message, so I’d love to see more brands think about the way they interact with students online and the opportunity they have to form a real — if brief — connection with someone.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew Monagle, Social Media Manager for Aceable, Inc. (https://www.aceable.com).

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I began my career at an organization without a dedicated social media manager, which meant we often took an ad hoc approach to our social channels. If someone had something they felt needed to be posted, they’d post it, leading to infrequent and inconsistent updates. Since I had an interest, I took over our social accounts and it quickly became a big chunk of my work at as member of the marketing team. I saw the importance of a consistent brand message and online presence, and I wanted to be part of solidifying that.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

Like most, I’ve had to wear a lot of hats in my career as a full-time and freelance social media manager, but my time at Aceable has solidified my position as a social media start-up expert. From originating the position at our company with a youthful audience to managing both the paid and organic sides of the business within a performance marketing team, my challenges (and successes!) have been varied as the company has grown exponentially.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Early in my time at Aceable, we briefly partnered with WeRateDogs — just before it became the powerhouse social media presence it is today — on a summer giveaway program. Since our company emphasized growth, we were hoping to raise our profile on social media, but we were shocked at the number of users who submitted user-generated content as part of our contest. Our favorite part of the contest was after we picked a winner, we were able to send one particular Twitter user who’s dog had just passed a Pop Your Pup! pillow featuring their forever friend. When a campaign works at the macro and micro level, you know you’ve done something special.

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?

During one of my first webinars, we had an equipment malfunction that prevented our video device from capturing correctly. Our workaround was simple, if not particularly elegant: I contorted myself into a ball in the corner of a small conference room and held an iPhone for 30 minutes as our guests discussed the subject of the day. The lesson? Technology fails, and triple-checking your primary devices isn’t enough. Have a second device ready at a moment’s notice or be ready to invest heavily in muscle relaxants.

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?

Every business is different, but we’ve had a lot of success at our organization by carving out dedicated time to test and iterate on our Facebook retargeting campaigns. In my current organization, we’re lucky to have a dynamic SEM team who helps us get people onto the page; building social media campaigns that convert these page visitors ensures that we’re thinking holistically about our customers (instead of becoming siloed within our own channels). Now that Reddit has grown its native advertising platform, we’ve run some early prospecting tests with related subreddits that could pay big dividends in the future. Nothing can be an audience that self-identifies their interests for you.

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.

Have authentic interactions. As simple as it may sound, everyone knows the fastest way to grow your Instagram presence — and therefore drive more traffic back to your website — is by interacting with other Instagram accounts. That being said, don’t be one of those brands that simply spams other companies with comments like, “Great photo!” or “We love your business!” Leave specific comments, ask real questions, and show other that you’re not just another Instagram bot. Sure, this might lead to more followers, but it also might also mean more partnership opportunities (backlinks, influencers, etc.) down the line.

Find your office’s secret photographer. If you cannot afford a full-time graphic design person as a small company, don’t worry: odds are good that someone in another department is secretly an aspiring photographer and willing to chip in some projects. My biggest weapon as a Social Media Manager at Aceable is our Digital Assets Manager, whose primary responsibility is to oversee the distribution of course content but who happens to be an amazing photographer in her spare time. We’ve been able to produce high-quality stock photos and Instagram campaigns that separate our marketing material apart from our competitors, just by carving out a few hours in her day.

Pay attention to your discovery metrics. Instagram’s native analytics include the ability to report out on what percentage of a post’s audience came from non-followers. Measuring this on a weekly basis can show you which content and keywords are bringing net-new impressions and followers to the table. If a post has a lower impression share than you’re used to but is reaching more people outside your network, that additional reach might just be more important to you than the loss in impressions.

Find the link tool that works for you. Every social media manager hates the restrictions of having to call out the link in your bio; one colleague even went so far as to create an entire persona around this limitation (their mortal enemy, Lincoln Bio). Thankfully, these days there are a handful of link tools like Campsite and Linktree that will allow you to add additional links mapped to individual posts. We started using one a few months ago and it’s been a huge boon to our page traffic analytics.

Treat Instagram like a social landing page. Most small organizations often struggle just to keep the lights on when it comes to content, often leading to Instagram feeds that are cluttered with varying types of content that happened to fit what they had on hand. If you can, take the extra time to create something visually consistent — a well-conceived collection of photos can often make up for a lower follower count in the eyes of prospective customers.

Don’t try to be everything for everyone. As marketers, we know the values of our brand inside and out. We also know that targeting everyone sometimes means you end up communicating with no one at all. Know your target audience, of course, but also know your ideal audience, the kind of people who will become life-long advocates for you and your organization, and provide the type of content that resonates with them. We have clear a clear brand voice and tone established for both our real estate education and drivers education verticals, so we don’t get bogged down on vanity metrics like followers if they’re just sitting silently and providing us no in-platform value.

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. 🙂

As an online drivers ed company, our social team is often engaging with students at a time in their life where there’s a lot of uncertainty about life, college, work, and more. We’ve seen firsthand how a moment of real kindness online can affect students; as a result, whenever I see a brand whose identity consists of insults to their prospective customers, it makes me want to scream. You never know where someone is at emotionally when you hit ‘reply’ to that direct message, so I’d love to see more brands think about the way they interact with students online and the opportunity they have to form a real — if brief — connection with someone.

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 🙂

If I could have coffee with anyone in the industry, it would be Michaela O’Shaughnessy, Social Media Manager for Teen Vogue. She and her team live at the intersection of education and social impact; I would love to talk about her approach to Generation Z and how they continue to be one of the most important teen brands in the business.


“We’ve seen firsthand how a moment of real kindness online can affect people.” with Matthew Monagle was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Get active; people are extremely vocal on social media about causes, news, and culture, but they…

“Get active; people are extremely vocal on social media about causes, news, and culture, but they rarely act.” with Cary Smith and Candice Georgiadis

I would love to see social media have more immediate impact on the positive growth of our society. People are extremely vocal on social about causes, news, and culture, but they rarely act. Social media creates discussions that have the potential for positive influence, but it’s still a very passive medium. How can we as a society truly utilize the immense potential of the tool for good? Just because you retweet something on Twitter shouldn’t be the end of your activism if you feel strongly about any given subject. Lead by example and get active.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Cary Smith, Senior Vice President of Social Media at North 6th Agency’s (N6A) Toronto location. Most recently, Cary was Director of Content at Toronto-based agency Zulu Alpha Kilo, where he modernized all content production across broadcast, digital and social for clients such as Tim Hortons, Interac and Uber. Before making the move into the agency world, Cary was the Executive Producer of Moving Images at Red Bull Media House, the drink brand’s in-house media and content creation division. In that role he created and commissioned short and long form series for their OTT platform Red Bull TV and executed distribution and production partnerships with the NFB, OVO, Telus, and the CBC. Prior to that, Cary held the role of Executive Producer/Head of Development at Bell Media, overseeing content production for Bell Media specialty channels.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My path has been quite unconventional to end up with a specialty in content marketing and social media. I began my career with aspirations to work in news and current events. I worked for a local news outlet called Vancouver Television (VTV) and was working the morning show on September 11th, 2001. The hours and days that followed affected me deeply, and I turned that energy into a new path to do work with positive impact and the potential to make people happy. That path eventually led me to MuchMusic in Canada where I oversaw all content for the national youth network, which is essentially the MTV of Canada. Throughout my time there, I found the challenge of brand integration into storytelling fascinating, and I saw it more as an opportunity rather than a limitation. I was able to flex different creative muscles. Some early success in the branded space took me to Red Bull Media House where I was an Executive Producer creating narratives from social media to long form content and series.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I believe social media is about listening closer than ever to the audience. In the past, content creators could dictate to the audience what was relevant. To cut through the clutter you must utilize as much information as possible around what types of content work for your brand’s audience. At N6A we start with analytics and then begin our strategy with that deep understanding of their habits and interests. I have always felt that taking this approach and combining it with content that is human, touchable and shareable is a great roadmap to a successful social media marketing plan.

You also have to understand your own brand’s DNA and not chase trends too quickly. Consumers of content, if you’re lucky enough to have acquired their attention, are with you because they like what YOU do. Stick to that.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I can honestly say that I’ve been lucky to experience a wide array of interesting stories. I’ve worked closely with artists like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, and traveled the world creating awe-inspiring events. For me though, the most interesting was catching up with an old friend in Vancouver. My friend started telling me about this great video they had recently seen on Youtube. As they kept explaining it, I realized they were talking about a video I had made. This made me feel that those early days of wrestling with the choice of career direction were worth it.

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?

I’ve made my share of mistakes for sure; it’s the only way you really learn. In one of my early roles I had an extremely challenging manager in the sense that he was tasked with much more creative responsibility than he could deliver. There was a team of us all in our early twenties who believed we had the right approach, and that our manager was hindering our ability to do something special. We collectively wrote an email to our manager’s boss, who was the head of the company, with an ultimatum: it was us or him. The boss then shared the email with our manager and told him to deal with it. He called us all into a room and said he wasn’t going anywhere — and of all the people who initially said they would leave the company if our manager stayed, it was only myself and one other who walked out that day.

Looking back and understanding the nuances of the workplace, it was a terrible move. There were many better ways we could have handled that situation, but we were passionate and felt like we were irreplaceable. I learned that you are never irreplaceable. The world is full of talented people who are happy to have that same opportunity. It also taught me that passion is important, but learning how to channel it in more productive ways is equally as important.

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?

This really depends. We work with a wide range of clients at N6A and tailor our approach to best suit their needs. If your business is B2B, then LinkedIn is your best choice, because it’s where you are easily able to target like-minded businesses and professionals to partner with. If you’re a larger company focused on B2C, then I would say it’s really close between YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Telling authentic branded stories that are optimized for each has immense potential.

I worked on a campaign last year that was focused on YouTube as the primary platform. I was able to optimize the content during filming to ensure we could tell the same story with unique versions across Facebook, Instagram and Instagram Stories. The results were a new best practice for the agency.

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.

· Keep it human. Instagram is a platform where people are going to see content from their friends. If you’re using it to update your company’s growth or create blatant advertising, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t have an Instagram feed that is all photos of your product. If I want a catalogue, I will visit your website.

· Let it be an extension of your brand’s identity and try not to worry about everything being perfect. Instagram is full of user generated content, so corporate stock photos should be a non-starter. Use Instagram stories to show interesting behind the scenes of your company. Use it as an opportunity to be revealing.

· Consider long form. As Instagram evolves Instagram TV, there is a huge opportunity to grow consumer engagement with your content. Long form should be as lightly branded as possible. Create brand lovers from having them trust that you create good content.

· Use Instagram Live to share exciting moments. If you’ve spent thousands of dollars on a marketing event/activation, show it off — but only if it makes for good viewing. Nobody wants to see the CEO talk about revenue growth on Instagram — unless maybe your audience does!

· Engage with other brands. Instagram is a community. You can’t expect the audience to come to you, so get active. Like, comment and share content that is not your own.

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. 🙂

I would love to see social media have more immediate impact on the positive growth of our society. People are extremely vocal on social about causes, news, and culture, but they rarely act. Social media creates discussions that have the potential for positive influence, but it’s still a very passive medium. How can we as a society truly utilize the immense potential of the tool for good? Just because you retweet something on Twitter shouldn’t be the end of your activism if you feel strongly about any given subject. Lead by example an get active.

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 🙂

I’d love to have lunch with Mark Hamill. I met him very early on in my career and had no idea who I was talking to for the first two minutes — he just introduced himself as Mark. He was very generous with his time and my impression was that he was a genuinely good person. I would love him to buy me lunch and talk Star Wars spoilers.


“Get active; people are extremely vocal on social media about causes, news, and culture, but they… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Taylor Moran and Candice…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Taylor Moran and Candice Georgiadis

I truly believe that social media and online communities can connect and inspire groups of people more than any other medium. If I could inspire any movement, it would be to create safe spaces within the social sphere that encourage users to genuinely connect and share with one another. For me, that’s specifically a community that allows young women and girls to share in their creative endeavors. We have made great strides, but women are still highly underrepresented in the arts and this is partly because young men and boys are often less criticized for their artistic work and therefore less afraid to share it. By establishing communities for women to encourage and mentor each other, we could build confidence and increase the presence of women in art spaces.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Taylor Moran, social media strategist at The Penny Hoarder. Taylor lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and loves the water and sunshine. She’s been working in digital marketing for five years and specifically in social media strategy for nearly four years. When Taylor isn’t working she enjoys reading, going to the dog park and cheering on the Florida Gators!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always loved storytelling and actually got my B.A. in English and Film Studies from the University of Florida. Throughout college, I spent a lot of time writing both fiction and non-fiction pieces and exploring careers in the film industry. It wasn’t until I spent a semester helping to organize and promote our school’s film festival that I began to think about marketing. That summer I took a digital marketing internship with a small organization where I wrote web and email copy and set up and created content for their social media accounts. I was hooked!

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I have spent the last five years working in digital and social media marketing both full-time and as a freelancer for various organizations. I’ve also completed a Continuing Studies Digital Media & Marketing Certificate program from Duke University during this time. Now I work full time for The Penny Hoarder, leading our organic social media strategy. I also teach social media marketing classes to writers and bloggers through a local nonprofit, Keep St. Pete Lit.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I don’t know if this is necessarily a story, but the most interesting thing has been the impact you can have on people’s success as a marketer. In the last two to three years, I have become especially interested in offering digital marketing consulting to people who are at the beginning of their career. This applies to consultants looking for clients, artists trying to gain a following, and small businesses hoping to establish a consistent brand. A strong presence on social media, a weekly newsletter and an intuitive and well-built website can make a significant difference in someone’s success.

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?

Early in my career, I was absolutely terrified of having a PR crisis via social media. The organization I was working for was very niche and only well-known within its sector. However, I still spent a lot of time worrying about and preparing for the possibility that something I’d post would anger the social masses and go viral. One fateful day my fear came true. I posted a video regarding a new product on LinkedIn and several of our followers immediately started complaining it was misleading. My boss called me panicked and something amazing happened: I became incredibly calm and quickly suggested we ask our chief marketing officer for a quick quote to clarify and rectify the situation. Sure enough, our followers felt satisfied with the explanation and the whole debacle was over as quickly as it began. So, I guess the funny/silly part of all of it was worrying so much about how the members of the social sphere may react to any given thing. Social media is a vast and diverse space and if you spend too much time trying to anticipate how people will receive what you post, you’ll miss a lot of opportunities to be authentic and build deeper connections.

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?

I’ve worked in several sectors and I’ve seen different results for each, but I would have to say that when working in B2B I’ve found LinkedIn — both organically and with paid advertising — to be the most effective for increasing business.

In a B2C atmosphere, I’d have to go with Instagram (and not just because that’s the subject of this interview!) In my experience, Instagram offers the most opportunity to get in front of new eyes in an authentic way. The algorithm punishes those using hashtags that aren’t relevant to their content, which encourages people to be cautious and thoughtful about the hashtags they’re using (read: minimal growth hacking). I also have noticed that the emphasis on images produces a stronger emotional tie and establishes trust quickly and effectively — when done well, of course.

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.

  1. Use hashtags. Studies consistently show that Instagram accounts that use seven to 10 hashtags have more followers and get higher engagement rates than other accounts. When I began working with bloggers just starting out, I noticed how many never included any hashtags. What they didn’t realize is that without hashtags your post appears only in the feeds of your followers. Hashtags are key to gaining valuable new followers by tapping into feeds of those interested in topics similar to what you post about.
  2. Post in stories consistently. Instagram Stories now has over 400 million daily users. Stories are featured at the very top of the Instagram feed and are cut off after 10 seconds — meaning they are the first thing users see and require a minimal time investment (on your end and the viewer’s). This is a quick and easy way to post new content for your followers every single day.
  3. Engage with others in your niche. Whether it’s other businesses or individual influencers, commenting on another account’s post shows the Instagram algorithm that you are looking to build meaningful relationships on the platform, which results in the algorithm amplifying your account’s reach. Not to mention, if your comment on a popular account attracts a lot of comments or likes, that’s increased exposure for you!
  4. Put a link in your bio. Posting day-in-day-out is great for community building and reach, but without a link in your bio section you have no way of driving conversions. If you think of your Instagram account in terms of a marketing funnel, posting branded and helpful content regularly is a top-of-funnel action.It allows you to acquire followers and move the followers you have down the funnel, i.e. closer to becoming a client/customer. To move them all the way to the bottom of the funnel and convert them to a customer, it is essential you provide an obvious place for them to go to take that action. This means including a link to your website or a using a service like Link Tree in your bio and instructing followers to go to that link in every caption.
  5. Respond to comments. This tip goes back to the Instagram algorithm. Since Instagram wants to promote genuine and meaningful connection, it prioritizes accounts that actually engage with the comments their followers leave on their posts. In fact, the word on the street is that responding to comments on your posts within an hour of the comment being left is an especially significant action and signals to Instagram that your account’s reach should be further amplified.
  6. Create a unique and consistent branded presence. As we all know, Instagram is a visual platform, and this emphasis on visuals has left a number of brands and users scratching their heads about the best approach. While Instagram may have started as a place to share photos, many accounts are now turning to graphics and text-heavy visuals to better communicate their mission or inspire their followers. Here at The Penny Hoarder, we are fortunate to have amazing designers who can create quote cards that offer financial tips and inspiring quotes in a visually appealing way. However, if you don’t have a team of designers at your disposal, look to online tools like Canva to create visuals that stick to a consistent color scheme, font and stylized look.

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. 🙂

I truly believe that social media and online communities can connect and inspire groups of people more than any other medium. If I could inspire any movement, it would be to create safe spaces within the social sphere that encourage users to genuinely connect and share with one another. For me, that’s specifically a community that allows young women and girls to share in their creative endeavors. We have made great strides, but women are still highly underrepresented in the arts and this is partly because young men and boys are often less criticized for their artistic work and therefore less afraid to share it. By establishing communities for women to encourage and mentor each other, we could build confidence and increase the presence of women in art spaces.

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 🙂

Elizabeth Gilbert, hands down. Eat, Pray, Love changed my life when I was 17. So much so that on my 18th birthday I got a tattoo with a quote from the book, “live harmoniously amid extremes.” Years later, when I was feeling as though I was in a creative rut, I read Big Magic and once again her words changed my life. Her commitment to being authentic and creative, grounded yet ambitious, and supportive and empowering embodies everything I hope to someday be.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Taylor Moran and Candice… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Samia Gore on why it’s so important to recognize that what you say behind a screen matters, with…

Samia Gore on why it’s so important to recognize that what you say behind a screen matters, with Candice Georgiadis

I would want to focus on a movement that helps people understand the things that they say behind a screen regarding other peoples bodies matter. Our bodies are our temples and we can’t escape them. Your “she’s not cute” or “he’s fat” or “her nose is too big” comments hurt. If you don’t have anything positive to say about someone’s body don’t say anything. It seems as if there is a certain level of decency some people in this world are missing. I wish I could do an anti body shaming campaign that focuses on that.

Samia Gore is an author, wellness expert, CEO and founder of the wellness and supplement company, BODY Complete Rx. Gore, a mother to four, dove into an entrepreneurship role by developing an online presence on Instagram — where her following rapidly grew to over 150k followers. Throughout the course of this social recognition, she acquired a greater understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle. This lead Samia to embark on the creation of her newest entry into the health and wellness space, BODY Complete Rx (BCRx), a supplement company that addresses weight management, obesity, cognitive, and overall health. Although BCRx is relatively new, just 2 years on the market, BCRx has garnered over $3.8 Million dollars in sales in the past 2 years, making Samia the first African American female CEO to break significant ground in this male-dominated, highly competitive, supplement industry.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always had a passion for self-care and wellness and I have always been a girl who loved to pamper myself and try new things. My start as a CEO of the wellness brand BODY Complete Rx (BCRx) was, however, a bit nontraditional. It all began from a passion to become the best version of myself. In 2014 after having my 4th child, in which I gained a considerable amount of weight, I felt my lowest. I had let myself become less of a priority and my health was suffering the consequences. I decided to set out on a — publicly documented — weight loss journey to lose nearly 80 lbs, in which I also made the decision to publicly share my ‘Mommy Makeover’ journey, which quickly advanced into a following of like-minded women and men. I soon began to share more about my personal routine, like the organic ingredients I used to aid in my weight management. These tips and tricks, specific to my own journey, continued to catch the attention of the aforementioned audience and from that BODY Complete Rx was born.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
In just over 2 years BODY Complete RX has grown a social media presence and recognition to rival that of mega multi-million dollar brands. Speaking to my audience authentically, drawing from my own experiences, has allowed me to obtain a social media presence which has fueled the expansion of my brand. As the CEO I use my own social presence, as well as partner with a variety of aesthetic, health, and wellness enthusiasts to leverage the messaging of my brand and expand our audience.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
One day in March 2018, after being sold out of product for a number of weeks, we restocked our inventory only to do an amazing $250,000 in sales in 10 minutes, closing the day with nearly $300,000 in revenue without any discounts offered on products.

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?
Not sure if this is funny per se but one mistake that I can say I made is investing in social media gurus. Obviously as a business owner on social media when looking for support or resources the first place I look is on social media. While there are many qualified people who market their businesses on these social platforms, there are just as many crooks and people who “look good” or are “popular” who misrepresent their actual skills and ultimately drain unsuspecting business owners and entrepreneurs of their precious startup dollars. So many people giving seminars and webinars about things they know absolutely nothing about. And it sucks because you are hiring for their expertise as you may have limited knowledge on the subject — I’ve learned my lesson.

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?
Instagram is without a doubt our strongest social media platform. We look to expand our footprint on our Twitter and Facebook accounts — @bodycompleterx — in 2019. Please follow us!

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
Use your social media to get to know your audience. Interact with them. Ask them questions and engage with them. This is quick and easy market research as well!

Use IG tools such as ads, hashtags, IG shopping to help advertise your business outside of your current audience/following creating extended exposure for your brand.

Create campaigns with hashtags! BCRX utilizes uniquely created hashtags to help connect our customers in our brand. Follow the hashtag #downinthepounds and #bcrxfam and you will see customers worldwide who have used BCRX

Use IG to improve your customer service. Most business accounts direct you (in their bio) to an email as this is where most would prefer to engage with customers. BCRX uses email as a platform to connect with our customers, however, we also make sure BCRX has quick and accessible customer service via Instagram. This way we can enhance our support so that we can help with any questions regarding our products and orders.
Leverage exposure opportunities. Instagram is becoming a modern day TV with every account being a “TV station” run by the account owner. Just as with TV, commercial breaks are often used on IG with brands leveraging their relationships with celebrities and well-known personas to share for brand exposure. BCRX also utilizes this model by connecting with customers with varying exposure to best share their experiences with our products and brand.

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. 🙂
I would want to focus on a movement that helps people understand the things that they say behind a screen regarding other peoples bodies matter. Our bodies are our temples and we can’t escape them. Your “she’s not cute” or “he’s fat” or “her nose is too big” comments hurt. If you don’t have anything positive to say about someone’s body don’t say anything. It seems as if there is a certain level of decency some people in this world are missing. I wish I could do an anti body shaming campaign that focuses on that.

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 🙂
My dream lunch date would be with Daymond John. I would love to pitch my brand to him. As an African American woman building a wellness brand, which aims to help change the health of a mainly minority customer base, I know that what we are doing at BCRX is special. Knowing Mr. John’s own story of having thyroid cancer and his passion for health and education, I believe he would see the value in our brand.


Samia Gore on why it’s so important to recognize that what you say behind a screen matters, with… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Technological illiteracy is a real problem and those of us who work every day online and with…

“Technological illiteracy is a real problem and those of us who work every day online and with technology often forget how overwhelming it can all seem to those that don’t.” with Kristine Neil and Candice Georgiadis

Technological illiteracy is a real problem and those of us who work every day online and with technology often forget how overwhelming it can all seem to those that don’t. Teaching everyone how to use, manage, evaluate, and understand technology and information online is as critical a subject as reading or math. I believe that we have a civic responsibility to make sure that not just our students but other demographics that are routinely marginalized online have the tools they need to access information and engage in the conversations that will shape our collective future.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristine Neil. Kristine is a creative entrepreneur, who believes that world-class branding and technology should be available to every business — no matter its size, years-in-business, or industry. She uses Instagram as a platform to connect with peers, prospective clients, and design enthusiasts by sharing cultural, experiential, and portfolio content for both her personal brand and the creative studio she owns — Markon Brands. Kristine loves consulting business owners on how to create a cohesive brand on Instagram.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In my early days as a brand designer and strategist, I learned that brands needed to be able to effectively portray themselves on social media and not just in traditional ways like print or other static marketing. It wasn’t enough to create a great logo; it was understanding how it would be viewed on a mobile device. It wasn’t enough to know how to work with long-form copy for an advertisement; I needed to know how to help them communicate in blurbs and snippets. Love it or hate it, understanding the nuances of social media can make the difference between building a successful brand and a mediocre one.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I’ll admit that I was slow to jump into social media back in the day, but it didn’t take long to realize the power it was going to have to influence how businesses are discovered and ultimately change the way brands interact with customers. The communications and public relations rules that companies have always followed still apply on social media, they just operate on a much, much faster timeframe! My background in communications helped me tremendously when I started forging my own way on social media, then when I started working on my business accounts, and ultimately when I began managing and consulting for clients. It’s hard to be an authority on something that evolves as quickly as social media marketing, but I treat staying ahead of the trends as part of my job.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Apparently watching a thousand different episodes of Dateline didn’t help us know to be wary of blind dates with clients from the internet. Unfortunately, catfishing exists even in the business world which we learned the hard way after agreeing to coffee with a potential local client who followed us on social for a while before sending an inquiry about a new project. Flash forward a few hours after sitting in a coffee shop wondering if he was going to show up at all and my teammate and I found ourselves watching slideshows in some random guy’s basement office while frantically trying to find a reason to cut the meeting short. As it turns out, he didn’t actually have any real work to offer and just wanted to “pick our brains” in a (too long) free consultation. Hot tip: screen those types of inquiries by phone before committing yourself for an afternoon — or worse!

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?

I’m a pretty critical person, so it’s hard for me to think of any mistakes as funny. Rookie mistakes usually involve things like not proofreading posts and publishing careless typos or pushing the wrong image for a campaign seemed like major fails at the time but looking back I can definitely laugh about them. As I said, social media moves fast so luckily most mistakes will be buried by the gaffes someone else is inevitably going to make tomorrow.

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?

Instagram is by far the most effective platform for me and my business. As web designers, our work is inherently visual, so it works well to show some behind-the-scenes shots, preview finished projects and interact with clients and peers there. The tough part can be directly connecting engagement with increased business revenues. Unlike retail industries where low price points can result in impulse buys and direct correlation between promoted posts and content with sales, it often takes clients getting to know us over a long period, liking our work and then — when the time is right — reaching out to work with us to see results. The funniest memory is a client that finally (after following us on Instagram for a while) came by our office to talk about working together. She was shocked to discover that our office is just like it appears on Instagram! I guess she was used to a lot of people who put out super altered photos and portray them as their own that she was just impressed to find out that we were real!

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.

1. Be Authentic
The quickest way to get people to zone out is to show them exactly what they see on everyone else’s accounts. You’re not keeping up a robust posting schedule and all that goes with it to blend in! Users are quick to notice when someone isn’t being real. When faced with an endless scroll of pretty, polished, manicured personas, offering an authentic picture of who you really are as a person (or as a brand) can be a breath of fresh air. Brands and influencers alike shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves out there; I’ve found that the messy behind-the-scenes posts usually generate the most engagement. If you’re hesitant to post anything less than perfect to your grid, that’s what Stories are for! You can be silly, speak directly to your followers, play with fun features like gifs, polls or questions and still maintain the picture perfect main profile we all strive for.

2. Ignore the Haters
People on Instagram tend to be nicer folk than those over on, say, Twitter but the platform is not without it’s fair share of trolls. They can often crop up in unsuspecting ways, such as a competitor who follows you just to copy your style or a jilted past customer who just won’t stop leaving negative comments. We’re all for free speech but honestly, your Instagram is your property and you have the right to police it in any way you want including blocking people or using the profanity filter to censor out specific keywords or phrases. This can help make your page a more enjoyable experience for the people you really want to connect with and allows you to keep your focus on more positive activities.

3. Be Consistent

Some of the best brands on Instagram aren’t necessarily posting multiple times per day, but what they are doing is posting consistently. This can mean that they are posting on the same days of the week, the same times of the day or even with the same themes that their followers can count on seeing. The key is to find what works best for your audience and stick with it! It’s sad when we set a client up with a beautiful content calendar that they stick with for a month and then drop the ball on. Keeping the momentum on your feed going doesn’t need to take up a ton of time, either. Use a scheduling app to queue posts up and work on a week’s or month’s worth of content at a time. This way, you can post consistently day-to-day and reserve your active time for engagement and connecting.

4. Define Your Brand Aesthetic — and Stick To It
Instagram followers may not be able to put into words just exactly why they like certain accounts over others, even within the same industry. But as a designer, it’s easy to see that what they are attracted to a cohesive brand identity. They know what to expect, and they like it. Working to define a brand color palette, photographic style and even a caption style that aligns well with your brand identity and messaging in the real world can pay off big time on Instagram. For brands, especially solopreneurs or small brands, this would also include defining what’s not Instagram-worthy. Examples of things that don’t belong on a business account are family pics, posts about personal politics or other affiliations and almost anything shared from another account. Your business feed is about your brand, not someone else’s, and definitely not about your personal life.

5. Meet Them Where They Are

One of the most under-used buttons on Instagram is that little magnifying glass icon in the bottom tray. The discover tab is a great place to explore industry hashtags, connect with peers and see what everyone else is up to. More than that, it’s a place to learn more about what your ideal clients are interested in. What are the accounts and hashtags they follow? Is there anything you can learn from them? Styles or content ideas you can tweak and make your own? Doing some exploring away from your brand’s own notification tab will help you expand your circle and grow your network.

6. Focus on Engagement, Not Likes
We all love when that little heart counter ticks up and up but likes aren’t the metric brands should be paying attention to on Instagram. When we look at our analytics, the posts that have the most likes are almost never the same as the posts that have the most comments and guess what posts convert clients? You guessed it — the ones with higher engagement. You can encourage comments by asking questions or being conversational in the captions; it all comes back to being authentic. Followers want to connect with the real people behind a brand. The likes are just a bonus.

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. 🙂

We’re at a place in history unlike any other when it comes to access to such a large amount of information at the tips of our fingers. So much of what happens in our real lives, in our communities, in our classrooms, in our town halls, and in our boardrooms is affected by or has the power to be shaped by the information that we get first online. Unfortunately, technological illiteracy is a real problem and those of us who work every day online and with technology often forget how overwhelming it can all seem to those that don’t. Teaching everyone how to use, manage, evaluate, and understand technology and information online is as critical a subject as reading or math. I believe that we have a civic responsibility to make sure that not just our students but other demographics that are routinely marginalized online have the tools they need to access information and engage in the conversations that will shape our collective future.

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 🙂

I’m a Catfish fan from way back so if Nev Schulman is still on the hunt for a guest co-host, I’m available!

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


“Technological illiteracy is a real problem and those of us who work every day online and with… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.