How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Create your own product” With Jessica Castaneda and Candice Georgiadis


Create your own product. Sponsored work is great, but I’ve learned the well can dry up if not enough brands like what you’re doing. When I started talking about body positivity and self love, a lot of brands stopped reaching out to me because I was pushing the opposite of what they wanted to sell (weight loss). Luckily, I was already working on my own product and was able to replace that income by selling something that I created.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Castaneda, the owner of Easy Living Today LLC and busy mother of two toddlers. She is a self proclaimed mombie that is using her business to help other mombie’s live healthier lives despite mom life.


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 vividly remember being seven months pregnant and working 11 hour days at a job I absolutely hated. I had to drive an hour to sit in a cubicle all day and felt like my life was just being wasted away. One day I was on Pinterest on my lunch break and kept reading all of these blogs and was like “you know what? I can do this too. If they can make money blogging, so can I.” The next day I quit my corporate job and never looked back.

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

I actually have a Bachelors degree in Marketing. It has always been a passion of mine, until I was doing it for someone else. When I finally used it to build my own business, and not someone else’s, I began to study it day in and day out. I’ve been able to use my Social Media Marketing experience to sell out products and grow a large following that I consider my tribe.

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

Oh man, so many interesting things have happened! I would say the most interesting, though, was when I decided to create my fitness planner and actually put it all together myself. One day I dropped my kids off at daycare and went to the store, in my pajamas with 0 makeup, to get some supplies to start building my Fit Life Planner. While I was there, someone approached me and was like “Oh my God, you’re Easy Living Today! I love you so much and have been following you on Instagram for a year! Is this all for your planners?” That was the first time I was ever recognized in public and had no idea how to react! I wanted to cry, I wanted to hug her and I wanted to hide all at the same time. It all hit home for me that day, what I was doing was working and my brand was real. At a time where I was considering giving up on my planner, it gave me the motivation I needed to push through.

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 first started my Instagram page, I happened to also be on the market for a new house. I was so trapped in this insane social media mentality that I thought I needed a white house that would look good on Instagram. Mind you, I also had a baby at the time and was pregnant with my second boy. I bought the perfect “Instagram house” (you have to know what I’m talking about)… and I just listed it for sale the other day. Those perfect looking white kitchens are not toddler friendly! They are a pain to keep clean and I never want to look at one again. My mistake was living my life for Instagram and not just living my life and sharing that to Instagram. Ya’ll, I bought a whole house because it would look good on Instagram- if that’s not the craziest/weirdest thing to do… I don’t know what is!

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?

Definitely Instagram! I started a business Instagram profile three years ago as an extension to my blog. However, as time went on Instagram became my business and my blog became an extension of my Instagram page. Due to the following I was able to grow on Instagram, I was able to sell out my Fit Life Planner in just under two weeks! I was shocked, to be honest. At the time, I had no idea Instagram was that powerful or that my followers would even buy anything from me. But at that point we had grown such a bond that everyone was actually excited to spend money on my product.

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. Always remember it’s about quality followers, not quantity. It’s easy to get sucked in to thinking you need to have a certain amount of followers to be successful, but what you really need are quality followers that are a part of your tribe. There was a time I did a big giveaway to attract followers and grow my numbers, and that just let to me being followed by people that just wanted free stuff. Then I had to waste a bunch of time removing all of these people because they were ruining my engagement. Once I deleted all of them, I finally had followers that were my people and started building a loyal following.
  2. Connect with other Instagrammers. I’m a huge introvert, so this was hard for me! But actually putting myself out there and leaving comments on other influencers pictures or even messaging them changed a lot for me. Some of the best advice I’ve been given has been from influencers I wouldn’t even know if I didn’t sneak my way in to their DM’s.
  3. Create your own product. Sponsored work is great, but I’ve learned the well can dry up if not enough brands like what you’re doing. When I started talking about body positivity and self love, a lot of brands stopped reaching out to me because I was pushing the opposite of what they wanted to sell (weight loss). Luckily, I was already working on my own product and was able to replace that income by selling something that I created.
  4. Use influencer marketing to sell your own products. As an influencer yourself, it’s a lot easier to understand and work with other influencers. When I released my Fit Life Planner, I emailed a bunch of influencers (their emails are always in their bio if they do collabs) and offered to send them my product just for feedback. I got lucky and most of them posted about it on their stories and it helped me both sell out and grow my following. I knew I couldn’t afford to pay them at the time, but I also knew I wanted my product in their hands because I believed in it. It worked out very well.
  5. Use Instagram ads! I used to not want to spend money on them because I never felt like there was a large enough ROI. But that was because I was just using ads to grow followers. However, when I reworked my ads and used them to link directly to my products instead of to my profile- the returns were huge.
  6. Be true to yourself. No matter who you are or what your passion is, there are other people that can relate. It’s so easy to get caught in to the trap of wanting to be like other influencers or thinking you need to be doing what they’re doing to grow, but you don’t. There was something about them that people connected with, and you have something unique that people will connect with as well. Listen, I even bought a white house because I thought it would look good in pictures. It was the perfect “Instagram” house. I’m now selling it because, well, a white “Instagram house” is not cozy or convenient at all!

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. 🙂

My goal is to inspire women to workout and live a healthy lifestyle for themselves, and not just to conform to society norms of what women should look like. Working out is so good for both your mental and physical health, not just for weight loss. I want women to understand that, that your appearance doesn’t define your health and working out isn’t solely for physical appearance. Exercise can change so much more than the way you look, and there’s nothing wrong with the way you look to begin with!

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 🙂

Gary Vee, no question. He is so inspiring and whenever I feel like giving up on my business, I literally take a day to watch all of his Instagram videos. The next day, I kid you not, I am super refreshed and focused working on a million new ideas. If it weren’t for him constantly popping up on my timeline, I probably would have given up a long time ago.

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

How to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Interact with your audience” With Ashlee Collova and Candice Georgiadis


Interacting: This goes without saying but it is important to interact with your audience. Do not wait for your audience to find you, you can find them. You can source potential new customers by browsing through hashtags related to your market and then liking and leaving comments on photos. We dedicate ten to fifteen minutes a day to interact with potential new customers on Instagram.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashlee Collova, a creative entrepreneur and the founder of Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions (ACTS). Youthful, ambitious and perserverent — at 12 years of age Ashlee decided that she would someday run her own talent and casting service, inspired by her experience modelling for a nationwide fashion campaign. Fast forward and nine years later that ambition came to life, Ashlee beginning her business career, with the long awaited launch of Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions (ACTS) in January 2017. Adopting a fresh approach to the way traditional talent agencies work, Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions (ACTS) is a web based children’s talent and casting database, offering an online platform to display talent listings presenting established and emerging child talent to companies and creatives for selection for work across the advertising and entertainment industries. Through her business, Ashlee has provided children across Australia with opportunities to star in fashion campaigns, commercials, television shows and films; and while this is exciting, Ashlee believes the best part of the job is helping young people to grow in confidence and creating memories to last a lifetime. While new to business, Ashlee is no stranger to the world of entertainment, having established and run a small celebrity interview website during her high school years. During this time Ashlee had the opportunity to interview artists including David Campbell, Ron Pope, Cosentino and Rai Thistlethwayte of Thirsty Merc, among many others. When she is not arranging castings, Ashlee can be found in the classroom, having studied a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and is set to graduate at the end of 2018.


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

Thank you for having me! I was selected to feature in a fashion campaign when I was twelve years old. This was an enriching experience for me, inspiring me to learn more about the entertainment industry and ever since I have wanted to own a talent and casting business. Eventually nine years later at the age of 21, I thought that I was ready to enter the world of business and I launched Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions, also known as ACTS. Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions is an Australian web based children’s talent directory and we specialise in connecting child talent with casting opportunities across Australia.

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

From the beginning of Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions (ACTS) I have used social media to market my business. Over time I have established some simple yet very effective strategies to use in social media marketing which has helped me grow my business over the past two years.

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

I sometimes have the opportunity to visit the set on projects that I have helped cast. I find these experiences so interesting as you are able to witness the movie magic and meet the cast and crew. I love meeting the families from my database as well. On my very first set visit, I was actually asked to take part in the filming as an extra, which was an interesting experience for me! Funnily enough, my character was a ‘teacher’, and I was studying teaching at the time — so they told me I was perfect for it. I begged to differ!

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?

It wasn’t funny at the time but I laugh about it now. I had originally planned to launch my business a year earlier and I decided to set up all my business registrations such as my website and emails. In the end, I never got around to launching that year. As a result, I ended up paying for a years worth of business expenses that I did not require at the time! I was just super excited to get things started at the time and so I rushed into it, so from this experience I learnt to take things slow and plan more efficiently.

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 has been the most effective social media platform to market Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions (ACTS) and increase our revenue. Our market is generally quite active on Instagram and we allocate a small time each day to interact with our market on the platform.

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.

Set Up: The setup of your Instagram profile is important. A lot of our leads come directly from Instagram, so people’s first introduction to Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions (ACTS) is through Instagram so our profile should look professional. We use a high quality profile picture and include a brief description of who we are and what we do in the biography section. We utilise the business profile option from Instagram, so that we can add our website link, email and phone so people have the option of contacting us through these channels directly from Instagram.

Timing: Find out what days and times your audience are online and plan to post at these times to increase your social engagement rates. When I first started I would post at anytime but when I started to pay attention to the statistics which you can receive with the business profile, I started to publish my posts according to my peak times. For us, the peak times are 6pm and generally on Monday through to Thursday. The statistics showed us that we do not receive much engagement on the weekends so we do not post on the weekends any longer and focus our energy to marketing mid week only.

Purpose of Post: You need to have a purpose for each post. Before you publish a post you should think about why you are posting this and how it will benefit your business. It is also important to mix the posts up so that you are showing different aspects of your business to your audience; your personality, your values, your mission. We post a variety of work samples, news, quotes and service description posts.

Giveaways: Every now and then a giveaway is a great way to gain exposure and engagement. It is fantastic way to plant the seed amongst new connections on Instagram. We held our first giveaway 6 months into our business and we have seen an increase in registrations since then.

Interacting: This goes without saying but it is important to interact with your audience. Do not wait for your audience to find you, you can find them. You can source potential new customers by browsing through hashtags related to your market and then liking and leaving comments on photos. We dedicate ten to fifteen minutes a day to interact with potential new customers on Instagram.

Hashtags: While you can search through hashtags to help you find your audience, you can add hashtags to your own posts to help your audience find you. It is a great way to gain exposure across different niches and hashtags have definitely increased our engagement rates on posts.

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. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement, I would promote that ‘kind is cool’, and hopefully change the ways in which people treat others.

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 have always looked up to talent manager, Scooter Braun. He started young like me, with little experience, and has built an empire. Everything that he has achieved he worked for from the beginning, nothing was given to him. I admire his drive and ambition and his success is a representation of this.

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

Thank you for having me!

Website and Social Media:

Website: www.MyACTS.online

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ashleecollovatalentsolutions

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ashleecollovatalentsolutions

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ashleecollova

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Use Automation Lightly” With Ashley Graham and Candice Georgiadis


Use Automation Lightly. Organic is always the best engagement you can have. No one enjoys bots or spam! There have been a plethora of automation tools that have emerged on the Internet, claiming to “instantly boost your Instagram engagements.” In reality, it is hard to gain followers and likes overnight without putting in actual work. Utilizing these commercial programs allow bots to run your account, commenting and liking posts under your behalf. Although this can attract new visitors to your Instagram, it goes against Instagram’s policies and brings in “fake followers” that may or may not be interested in your business at all. As long as you post consistent, relevant content, the engagement will come.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Graham, the founder and creative director of Brandesso, a modern-day brand communications agency that infuses brand authority through caffeinated strategies and communications through social media and other media outlets. To Brandesso, every brand has a unique story. Their creative process is to filter the raw, unique details of a brand and incorporate a well rounded methodology and strategy that brews the brand to stand out in their industry as an authoritative figure.


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

Thank you for the opportunity! I have thoroughly enjoyed my odd adventures that have led me to my career path in which I am excited to share them with you. To paint the picture, individuals who are in marketing have a special ability to notice the world around them and express their observations in a way that allures and attracts the eyes and/or minds of others around them. That is the power of marketing.

Aside from working in-house, I come from an influencer background where working with brands on their social media campaigns and their content plans became an integrated part of my career. As someone who is connected to sharing brand stories and making the connection between a brand and their audience, I wanted to not only continue the work, but I wanted the opportunity to also perform on a larger scale. Through various alignments, opportunities, and a deep passion for marketing, I discovered the drive to launch an agency-type business after running an influencer-driven hobby, and hitting the milestone of 12 years in marketing.

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

The psychology and meaning behind being social, is the act of pleasant companionship with friends or associates, as well as the interactions between individuals and/or a group of individuals creating a community with one another. The key behind great marketing on social media is being able to “talk” to your audience online as if they not a number, but a personality.

What makes me an authority in Social Media Marketing is my passion for truly connecting with people online. We live in a data-driven world in which from a business standpoint, it is important to track and monitor the type of engagement and reach we achieve for our clients. However, there is much more to social media than just numbers. In business, building and maintaining strategic relationships with your clients and community is important to the longevity of a business, so why not translate that online? I believe what makes me an authoritative figure on social media is being able to recognize the disconnect in the way we communicate online versus offline, and relay that information to those around me in order to make a positive impact on how we can communicate as a whole.

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

I am not sure if you would call it the most interesting, but I have had unique experiences that have happened at the lowest points in my business, in which challenged how I perceived the value and mindset of my business. As with any entrepreneur, there are countless bumps and bruises you are faced with that present you with a “fight or flight” response on how to manage certain challenges. What has kept me going at the absolute lowest points of wanting to flight and withdraw from the business, was the power of miraculous happenings at the most opportune moments.

I have been working with an advisory group in Chicago called Cultivate Advisors. My initial introduction to this business was made through nurturing a relationship with their brand through LinkedIn. Back in September of 2018, they hosted a conference for their current clientele as well as potential new clients in which they hosted a giveaway campaign for new prospective clients to enter in hopes to win a ticket. Needless to say, I entered the giveaway in hopes to win a ticket but did not win.

A few weeks from entering had flown by and I noticed I received an email from one of their advisors. They had been monitoring my posts on LinkedIn and felt that I would be a promising addition to the conference in which they extended a complimentary ticket. Seeing as I valued the opportunity and their generosity, I packed my bags and flew out to Chicago.

As a way to give back to those in attendance, the speakers decided to host a small social media giveaway for the attendees, which included 3 complimentary consulting hours with the CEO of Cultivate Advisors, Casey Clark. Seeing as I found myself at the low point in my business, I set the intention to win that contest in which I did. It was one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had this year.

Working with an advisory group has not only shifted my perspective in business, but also how to effectively track and monitor the process of scaling. If I could give any advice to a professional who is wanting to transition from their current positions to a role in entrepreneurship or running a business, it would be to save the finances to invest in an advisor before starting. It would help to eliminate some of the headaches you face making that first step and is also comforting knowing you have someone on the sidelines rooting for you from a structural standpoint.

In conjunction with more of the holistic opportunities I’ve had since I started my business, I have had the opportunity to engage in a few local speaking engagements in which I hope to continue to expand those opportunities in the near future.

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 wouldn’t say this mistake was funny at the time (it was actually quite humiliating) but looking back on it, I chuckle. When writing content for any type of medium such as a website, social media, e-newsletter campaigns, errors with grammar and spell-check are bound to happen and sometimes out of your control.

I was working on a e-newsletter campaign for a client that focused on announcing new ownership in which I had to elaborate on the owners name. After the draft was completed, I sent it over to the client for review, in which they brought attention to how their last name was spelled incorrectly. Unsure as to how this mistake could have happened (I clearly knew how the last name was spelled) I logged into the account to fix the variation of the last name and scheduled the email to go out. Within 15 minutes of the email being sent to a fairly large database, I received a text message from the client in which stated the last name was still spelled incorrectly.

The moral of the story is even when you think you have checked for spelling errors over 150+ times, check and review another 150+ times to make sure there is nothing that fell through the cracks.. And then recheck. I blame autocorrect, haha.

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?

The social media platform I find to be the most effective to increase business awareness to translate into revenue, has been LinkedIn. Compared to most social media platforms that are used for business purposes, I find LinkedIn to be the most “professional” as you are able to construct your profile in a business-oriented way, to not only showcase your business, but you as a professional/individual.

I recently launched a new program where potential clients or industry professionals can book a discovery consulting call with me for 30-minutes which is an in-depth call for them to ask me any branding or marketing issues they need clarification on or extra guidance on what they need to do to accomplish certain goals for their brand awareness. I have received the most inquiries through LinkedIn for this launch, as I feel the people who are utilizing LinkedIn to its full ability are already in the mindset to pursuing certain business transactions or to gain further industry knowledge.

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.

Connect/Engage With Local and National Businesses in Your Industry/Niche
 
 
There’s a reason why it’s called social media. It’s all about socializing with those around you! It is important to engage with your following. Often times we get so caught up with numbers, we forget about those around us. Connect with local businesses in your area or other businesses in your industry in order to create a support system to cross-collaborate. Do more than just follow! Engage with their posts, get an understanding of their business and what they offer.
 
 Post Consistently
 
 
It can be difficult finding time to post social media content when your agenda is already packed. However, with the help of social media management tools such as Sprout Social & Hootsuite, posts can be scheduled out anytime, anywhere. You can connect all your social media platforms, giving you the power to schedule and monitor posts seamlessly across them all. Posting consistently allows your feed to be fresh, offering new content for visitors to interact with.
 
 Post Relevant Photos With Branded Captions
 
 
Instagram can help customers learn more about your business and what it offers. When creating content, keep your brand personality in mind. How do you want visitors to view your business? What do you want them know? Post photos that are relevant, only sharing content that amplifies your brand! Don’t forget to pair them up with witty branded captions! We might know a thing or two about that ?

Use Relevant Hashtags
 
 
Want your photos to reach new specific niches while growing your engagement organically? Utilize hashtags! Hashtags make it easier for users to find your photos, grabbing the attention of those who may be unfamiliar with your business. Use hashtags that are both trendy and applicable to your brand. They say “the more the merrier”, but that may not be the case for hashtags.
 
 Keep Aesthetics in Mind
 
 
Instagram is all about visual creativity! Popular Instagram accounts all have one thing in common — they have coherent feeds. Create an aesthetic that is deeply rooted to your brand identity, following a common theme that can speak volumes about what you’re all about! Understand your brand and put #nofilter on your values, let them shine through your posts! Create photos that help illustrate your brand personality through a fixated theme, whether it be modern and minimalistic or cute and colorful! Utilize mobile applications like UNUM and VSCO to edit your photos and plan your feeds.
 
 Use Automation Lightly
 
 
Organic is always the best engagement you can have. No one enjoys bots or spam! There have been a plethora of automation tools that have emerged on the Internet, claiming to “instantly boost your Instagram engagements.” In reality, it is hard to gain followers and likes overnight without putting in actual work. Utilizing these commercial programs allow bots to run your account, commenting and liking posts under your behalf. Although this can attract new visitors to your Instagram, it goes against Instagram’s policies and brings in “fake followers” that may or may not be interested in your business at all. As long as you post consistent, relevant content, the engagement will come.

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. 🙂

One of the biggest conflictions I have noticed in business is the lack of compassion and respect in transactional relationships. I truly believe that there can be a holistic approach to doing business, even when it comes to money.

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 love to meet the model Ashley Graham in person. Not only do I resonate with her name (obvi), I also admire her courage and drive to channel her own experiences in life to help the well-being of others. She is the epitome of a go-getter in showing that she doesn’t take grief from anyone, is proud of who she is as a woman, and wants to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Social media, including Instagram, is such a powerful tool if used correctly. Not only do I utilize social media to connect with wider audiences in hopes to attract more business, but I also use it to showcase the real, authentic experiences and struggles that I face being an entrepreneur, and how I can help motivate and encourage others to still pursue their dreams, regardless of how difficult it may be. Getting out of the “fear” mindset is crucial when pursuing an entrepreneurial role, in which I believe I can relate with Ashley Graham on this and every level.

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

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Alexis Davis and Candice Georgiadis


If I could inspire a movement involving social media, it would be one focused on bullying and safety online. I love social media due to how we’re able to learn from one other and share commentary, but the abuse and name calling that happens along the way, especially involving our young people must end.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexis Davis, Founder of The Content Plug. She’s obsessed with social media marketing, content creation, and teaching others how to use digital tools and platforms to build a brand. She’s worked with The Andy Roddick Foundation, BlackPeopleMeet, General Assembly, the NCAA Men’s Final Four, SXSW, and numerous small businesses + personalities nationwide. She uses her platforms as a mini media outlet to discuss the pros and cons of social media and its effects on topics ranging from tech to pop culture.


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 obsessed with tech and social networking since the MySpace days. Once I learned basic HTML, I was the user who would update her profile each week and add new music to her playlist daily. Naturally, my friends would always message me asking for help updating their pages.

Facebook became the “it” platform when I was in high school and I quickly asked a friend to send me an invite once grade school students could join. When I started college, everyone began using Twitter, and I found myself creating and managing every club and organization account that I could get my hands on as I understood how to manage them easier than most did. I would send dozens of tweets on my way to class each morning and I quickly realized that I had no problem keeping everything organized. My early liking to social also assisted in my transition from public health to public relations.

After college, I found an internship that focused on content marketing and social media. It allowed me to learn more about the growing industry well before I had the opportunity to take on social media manager roles at two different companies. I quickly became that person who wanted to take on side projects and help others with their businesses and accounts in order to gain more experience. Therefore, the natural next step was to create my own company that I could grow over time.

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

I’m an authority on social media marketing because I’m using, testing, and researching the platforms we know and love every single day from a business and personal standpoint.

It’s simply not enough to only read how to use social media as you must really get hands on, know how to use new features, and be ready to adapt as quickly as they change.

I’m also quick on my feet when it comes to appropriate responses, campaign ideas, and general discussion around what brands are doing and could have done better. I love to share these ideas and tips on my company blog and as a part of my #SocialTipSunday Instagram Story series on Instagram.

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

I absolutely love teaching classes and workshops as I personally want as many people to know and understand how to use social media as possible. Back in July, I had the opportunity to teach a workshop to 80+ people as a part a day-long workshop event at The University of Texas at Austin.

I was approached a few weeks later by an attendee who said she enjoyed the workshop and that she was surprised it went so well due to automatically questioning my expertise because of my age. I was stunned by her honesty, but not surprised. As a 27-year-old, I’m often challenged by others regarding my social media and content marketing knowledge as some believe that I must be too young to really be knowledgeable on the topic. However, who better than a millennial to teach you how to use social media?

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?

The biggest mistake I’ve made since starting my business was when I registered for my LLC. The LLC paperwork asks for applicants to write the entire name of their company out without initials or abbreviations. I wasn’t sure if LLC would automatically be added to my name or if I had to include it, so I spelled out “Limited Liability Company” after my company’s name. When the paperwork came back and I saw the name spelled out, I just shook my head and laughed and then proceeded to pay for the edit. I guess you can say I started two companies this year!

The lesson I learned from this is to always ask questions when you’re unsure of something or if you need assistance. We often try to do so many things on our own, but in reality we more than likely could have achieved them easier, faster, and, especially in this case, with less spend than if we did the task on our own.

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?

In my opinion, Facebook is the most effective to use to increase business revenues due to algorithms, advertising, and their acquisition of Instagram. It is difficult, but not impossible, to be a successful business without using Facebook in 2018 because of the number of ways to gain attention via both physical and digital traffic. Even businesses using Instagram ads must first have an Instagram Business account and a Facebook Page in order to use Instagram to its fullest potential.

Even if a brand does not want to focus on Facebook, cross promotion of content should be implemented due to its ability to help with search.

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 is my favorite social media platform because I love how the app focuses on pictures and videos to tell stories and lacks all of the other overcomplicated features and needs. For those looking to leverage Instagram to improve your business, remember these six items:

1.Take full advantage of the Instagram Business features

If you’ve already taken the time to link your Instagram profile to your Facebook Page, then you should use all of the features that come with having an Instagram Business account including advertising, analytics, contact buttons on your profile, automatic posting with third party apps, and shopping (more on this later). For example, contact buttons allow users to directly call, email, book an appointment, reserve a table, and much more without ever having to truly leave the Instagram app on their own.

2. Create and manage three different Instagram strategies for maximum exposure

While Instagram is one platform, your feed, Instagram Stories, and IGTV are three vital and different parts that should work together seamlessly. In order to do this, consider having a strategy for each part of Instagram so you can better plan and understand where your content best fits based on your specific audiences and their needs. For instance, if you notice that users are making it to the end of your minute-long videos on your feed, consider testing out long form content on IGTV and cross-promoting the video in your Instagram Story using the swipe up feature.

3. Use hashtags to network and be discovered

Every Instagram post can have up to 30 hashtags and many businesses and brands fail to use them to their full advantage. Since users can now follow Instagram hashtags as easily as following an account, try using hashtags that relate to your products and niche in order to find and engage with potential customers, business partners, and inspirational accounts. At the same time, using hashtags helps these accounts find and engage with you! Don’t forget that hashtags also work on Instagram Stories and IGTV too.

4. Gather free information from your audience using Instagram Stories

If you’re unsure about what your audience wants, or if you simply need a refresher, use Instagram Stories tools such as the questions, polls, or emoji slider stickers to gather effortlessly free data about product needs or wants! For example, if you own a clothing brand you could use the questions sticker to ask customers an open ended question about the types of products they’re most excited to see in the spring. The polls sticker could accompany two sample items and then inquire which color is the audience favorite in order to determine which product to release first. Finally, the emoji slider can help poll an audience on how much they truly like or dislike an item in your catalog.

5. If you sell physical products, shopping tags are a must

Speaking of catalogs, if you have a business that sells physical goods that people can buy online you should absolutely be implementing Instagram shopping into your strategy. Shopping posts in the feed and in Instagram Stories make it easy for customers to purchase products instantly. All users need to do is set up their catalog in their Facebook Business Manager or a shop on their Facebook Page. Once approved by Instagram, you can tag multiple products at once instead of sending people to one link in your bio.

6. Stay consistent with great content, but post with a purpose

The best way to improve your business on Instagram is to stay consistent. Your business cannot and will not grow if you do not post regularly on Instagram. However, this does not mean you should post junk multiple times a day. Instead, create and then plan out top notch posts with a legitimate content/editorial calendar. This way, people can count on you and your brand to provide you with the most engaging, entertaining, and informative content on a regular basis.

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. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement involving social media, it would be one focused on bullying and safety online. I love social media due to how we’re able to learn from one other and share commentary, but the abuse and name calling that happens along the way, especially involving our young people must end.

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 meet with any business leader I would meet with Robert F. Smith, the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. I would love to discuss how he grew Vista, hear stories about being an African-American VC, and learn how and why he decides to stay under the radar. Smith is also one of six billionaires in Austin, Texas and luckily we both reside in the Texas capital. I’d happily fit into his schedule any day of the week!

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

How to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Andrew Stephenson and Candice Georgiadis


There are so many different things going on around that world that I would love to help with or wish I could solve. And quite often many of them feel too big to tackle alone. So, if I could start a movement, I would start locally in my community and it would be focused on stopping littering and illegal dumping which eventually ends up polluting our lakes and oceans. There are great organizations that do beach clean-ups and road/highway clean-ups, but those are merely band-aids for a bigger problem. How do we educate more people about the effects of littering/pollution, including big/small businesses? It starts in our schools and communities and may take years or even decades, but I think this could have a huge impact on the pollution and waste that’s floating around in our oceans.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Stephenson. A 20-year industry expert in Consumer and Digital Marketing, Andrew brings together a unique combination of digital strategy, entrepreneurial vision and an unwavering passion for delivering tangible results. As Director of Product Marketing for NewAir, Andrew and his team oversee the planning and execution of new product launches through a mix of content marketing, online advertising and influencer marketing that connects with consumers along the path to purchase.


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

After graduating university, I began my career at Xerox selling photocopiers. It was 100 percent commission for income, and with no work experience and little life experience, I quickly realized this wasn’t a passion of mine. This was in the late 1990s and just around the same time the internet was starting to become more mainstream. AOL was still handing out the “internet” on CD-ROMs and that kind of thing. A friend called me and said we should figure something out, because people were literally writing internet business plans on napkins and getting funded millions of dollars. Our online lifestyle magazine may not have been a winner, but I learned a lot about entrepreneurship and digital marketing. That’s when I decided to get more experience and ended up working for, partnering with, and starting up various digital and experiential marketing agencies over the last 20 years.

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

“Authority” is a word I don’t like to use, as I don’t think anyone in digital or social media marketing is a true authority. The medium changes so quickly I think it’s hard for anyone to keep up and be the authoritative expert. We’re all constantly learning what works or doesn’t work. That’s the fun part of social media: It’s one ongoing experiment. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been using social media since its inception and have been figuring it out ever since, for big and small clients alike.

I guess my big “aha!” about social media marketing is that it’s more an understanding of human behavior and communication rather than just simply pushing an ad or a message. You need to understand each platform, who uses it, what they are there for, and how you can interject yourself into their daily life in a way that feels unobtrusive while building trust.

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

My agency asked me to move from Toronto, Canada to Seattle to open a digital innovation center. Being 40 years old and single, it was an easy decision, even though I had to leave my family and friends behind. Long story short, I ended up in California, where four years later I live with my wife and two-year-old son. The biggest learning for me, is that you never know what’s going to happen to you in your career or where you’ll end up. That’s what makes it interesting and exciting!

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 started at my first digital marketing agency, I was an account manager and assigned a list of clients that I was responsible for managing and growing. One of the accounts I was assigned was the Canadian Auto Workers, Canada’s largest labor union. At the time, I couldn’t believe I had to work with these guys. In my mind I was like, “What the heck does some blue-collar union worker know about digital marketing?” My big lesson from that time was never to underestimate anyone, no matter who they are or what they look like. As it turns out, the CAW became my largest and most profitable account. I’ve seen so many agencies turn away smaller revenue clients because they don’t see the long-term value. Over the years I found that some of my smallest clients became so of my largest and best clients.

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?

For us currently, it’s YouTube. I have a team of five people working remotely from the Philippines that reach out to YouTube channels to get our products placed into their videos. Each video produced focuses on our product and has an SEO title, description and link back to our site with a discount code for purchase. This year my team will have produced nearly 1,000 videos, all of which are continually driving sales through our dot-com site.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share six ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Here is what we found to work well for us as we grow the NewAir Instagram account:

1. Have a plan. Before starting on any social channel, you should clearly identify your reasons for using that channel and end your goals. As an example, we don’t use Instagram for sales. Our long-term goal is to build a community we can engage with to get feedback and thoughts about new products and to build our overall brand equity. The goal is key.

2. Start with house cleaning. Make sure your logo, image, company info and links are at the top of your page and are up to date.

3. Make it grid-worthy. When planning out your Instagram account, think about what your photography/imagery style will be, and make sure it’s consistent. For example, we don’t use any filters on our images, so the style is the same throughout. We also look at the composition of each photo to make sure it’s centered and shows certain angles of our products. At the end of the day, no matter your style, make it consistent and grid-worthy as that’s one big reason someone will decide to follow you or not.

4. Post consistently. We post every day at 4 p.m. PST. Our followers may not know this, but it keeps us on a regular posting schedule and holds us accountable.. Think about how annoying it is when a friend or a brand never post and then suddenly post five images in a row. #unfollow.

5. Create captivating captions. Despite what you may have been told, people do read your captions. To get the most out of a post, have your image and caption work together. It makes your posts more interesting and shows that you’re thoughtful about your posts. That goes a long way with your followers.

6. Engage with followers. Maybe this should be point number one, but isn’t this what social media is all about? Creating a dialog with fans, getting their feedback and building a community of loyal followers that you love back just much as they love you? Don’t just ask a question in your caption and expect that’s good enough. You need to truly engage by going off your own page and interacting with other pages and hashtags. Show that you care. Be genuine and take feedback positively so that you can improve your offering.

7. Bonus: Grow your following. This is one of the hardest things to do. Especially since Instagram isn’t the shiny new social media platform any more. Because I’m impatient, we set out a goal to grow from 240 followers to 10K this year, and the only way we’d be able to do that is through ongoing giveaways, promoted posts and collaborations. Is it a perfect plan? Not exactly, because building a loyal fan base the “natural” way is best. But the extras have helped. We’re nearly at our goal and have still managed to build a great community of passionate fans.

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 are so many different things going on around that world that I would love to help with or wish I could solve. And quite often many of them feel too big to tackle alone. So, if I could start a movement, I would start locally in my community and it would be focused on stopping littering and illegal dumping which eventually ends up polluting our lakes and oceans. There are great organizations that do beach clean-ups and road/highway clean-ups, but those are merely band-aids for a bigger problem. How do we educate more people about the effects of littering/pollution, including big/small businesses? It starts in our schools and communities and may take years or even decades, but I think this could have a huge impact on the pollution and waste that’s floating around in our oceans.

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 🙂

Elon Musk. I think he’s an incredible visionary and not afraid to push new boundaries. We need more people like him. I have no political affiliations, but if we truly want to #MAGA, then we need to invest in our own people and IP. Just think about what Elon Musk has accomplished in such a short amount of time. Most people are happy and work hard to grow their one business. He has at least five on the go and as a result has created thousands of jobs, all because of one visionary person.

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