How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Switch things up.”

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Switch things up.” With Trevor Cowley and Candice Georgiadis

Switch things up. Make sure you’re posting videos as well as pictures from around your office or place of business. If you look up “#accounting” on Instagram you will see so many stock image/photos in an attempt to look professional. The whole point of Social Media to be more transparent. People want to see who they’re working with and videos will show more of your company’s personality so to speak. If you look at our Instagram account you’ll see a lot of videos, some fun and goofing off and some more serious and motivational.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Trevor Cowley. Trevor Cowley is passionate about business and has been a serial entrepreneur since 2013. Trevor is now the co-owner of 4 different companies and feels fortunate to have business partners that he also considers to be his best friends. Trevor and his partners are now doing 7 million a year in revenue and growing fast. Easier Accounting is his primary focus and Trevor believes the company will force the accounting world to dramatically step up their game in the next 5–10 years.

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

Thanks for having me. I’ve always had a passion for sales. As a child, I would go down to the local golf course and dig through the bushes and jump in the ponds to find golf balls and then go home and polish them up and sell them to the golfers. Right out of high school I went into sales and fell in love with the process of prospecting and closing deals. I was working for my now business partners at 28 years old, the company wasn’t doing good at the time, the final year of me being in sales the company lost $100,000 and was in $66,000 credit card debt. This was due to a previous business partner that mismanaged money. My current business partner Jeremy had to pay $5,000 out of his personal account to cover payroll at Christmas time in 2012. I was making six figures as a sales rep for the company and had money saved and that is when my now business partners said they want me to buy in and run the company. I invest $10,000 into a company that had $66,000 in debt and lost money the previous year, we set up a new account with me as the new partner and the old partner that mismanaged things was out. I took over in January 2013 with a $10,000 investment and an open wallet, willing to invest what was needed to turn the company around. In 2013 we ended up profiting $500,000 and had paid of the debt and each made six figures and padded the company account with $100,000. From this point on we invested into new business ventures, the next investment went well and then a few following that not so much, we lost $20,000 here and $30,000 there. We eventually had 2 businesses running well and had trouble finding a great accounting solution that was affordable to the small business owner (us). We went through 3–4 options over the years, some were great CPA’s but not affordable and in some cases hard to get in contact with when we needed something, we went on to a more affordable solution and got great communication but the work was horrible. We were paying a monthly fee but couldn’t get our P&L’s on time and we thought to ourselves, “If it’s this hard to find a great accounting solution that is affordable then we need to create it”, because we knew others are going through this as well. We founded Easier Accounting by solving our own problem and offering it to other small businesses and haven’t looked back since. We are now using Instagram and Facebook as the main platforms to offer our services and grow our business while giving people an inside look at who we are.

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

Because we’ve first hand seen an increase in attention which in turn turns into an increase of revenue. When you have someone follow you on Instagram or FB you have their attention and can provide ongoing value in terms of business advice and then sprinkle in your company’s offers to them here and there at no additional marketing cost. You don’t want to overdo it where it feels like they’re getting overwhelmed with offers, so like I said “sprinkle” it in there here and there. Once we started using Social Media platforms as a business tool rather than a personal tool only we onboard more clients on a monthly basis and have a deeper connection with which each client, this increases our LTV (Lifetime Value) per client. The reason that it increases the LTV is because they have a deeper connection with us because they literally have seen our faces and like or comment on our posts. When you can see who your working with and feel a connection with them it makes it harder to leave. It’s easier to stop doing business with someone you’ve never seen or hardly interact with. We have literally doubled down on Social Meda by hiring a full time in-house videographer that walks around the office filming on a daily basis. This gives us daily content, some tax tips, some business advice or at least our theories on business and then a few offers or discounted offers every so often.

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

I would say flying out to New York and going to the VaynerMedia offices. We did a deal with VaynerSports in 2017 to have one of their signed NFL players be a sponsored athlete for Easier Accounting. To walk into an office that was 3 stories and 72,000 square feet was incredible. We spoke with AJ Vaynerchuck about his strategy for building VaynerSports and it was spot on to what our plans were with Easier Accounting. We sat and talked about building businesses that run at a loss for 3–5 years for the purpose of building something special. It made us (me and my partners) know that we were doing the right thing and helped reenergize us to stay focused on the reason we started the company and our long-term goals. Thank AJ!

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 funniest mistake, this is a tough one. Usually, mistakes aren’t that funny because they cost you money. I would agree that there is always a lesson within each mistake. This isn’t funny but I would say is very relevant to a lot of newer business owners. The biggest mistake I made was thinking that no one can do what I could do as well as me. I had a lot of fear of stepping down from the business I was running and helped build because of fear and ego. I feared that someone would tank what I built and my ego was largely tied to the fact that everyone turned to me for all the answers, being the go-to guy. When running a company you’re constantly putting out fires and then trying to find the long-term solution so that same problem doesn’t reappear. After operating a business for 5–10 years I think you’ve taken it as far as you can and its time for a new brain to be at the helm. A new set of eyes can see things differently and make positive changes that you didn’t even think about. I think a lot of business owners hold their businesses back by not giving up operational control to someone else once they’ve hit a stagnant revenue level year and year. If the company is still growing, by all means, keep running the business, if its no longer growing then think about putting someone else in control of day to day operations.

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?

We have seen more traffic/revenue come from Facebook. I think its because people are more likely to read ads/offers they see on Facebook than they do on Instagram. Instagram was built around 60 second videos and to get away from all the writing on Facebook.

Facebook was built for writing thoughts originally and has morphed to what it is today. Instagram is a great place for videos and pictures but when it comes to reading an entire ad or offer under the post it won’t yield the same results as Facebook. People are more used to using Facebook for reading articles and click on links than they are on Instagram.

Instagram is still effective and if you’re more visually selling, like an artist that sells paintings would want to use videos or pictures to do your selling, then use Instagram. They can video themselves throughout the process of painting something and post those and use the pictures posts for the finished product. If you need to have an explanation behind your product or service I would use Facebook. Doing accounting isn’t something that is visually fun for people to watch so we need to talk and type out an offer which is why Facebook has been better for us.

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. I will start with the Bio — Make sure that you are clear about who the company is and what you do while mixing in something positive/fun. This can be one of the first deciding factors whether someone looks deeper and ends up following you. If we only put “Accounting Firm” and left it at that it wouldn’t catch someone’s eye. We start with “Easier Accounting — Built for Entrepreneurs by Entrepreneurs”, then “Documenting our journey building Easier”. People love documentaries and reality TV so if they feel like they’ll be watching you grow over time they will be more intrigued. Throw a few emoji’s in there to make it fun and catch their eye.

2. Make sure that your business contact info is accessible. Some Instagram accounts haven’t linked up there company phone numbers, email or website. They think someone will direct message them if they have questions which does happen but make sure they can do further research right from your Instagram by linking your website so they can click on it and get redirected immediately.

3. Switch things up. Make sure you’re posting videos as well as pictures from around your office or place of business. If you look up “#accounting” on Instagram you will see so many stock image/photos in an attempt to look professional. The whole point of Social Media to be more transparent. People want to see who they’re working with and videos will show more of your company’s personality so to speak. If you look at our Instagram account you’ll see a lot of videos, some fun and goofing off and some more serious and motivational.

4. Do Giveaways — People love free stuff and or money. This also will give you an opportunity to grow your following. In the accounting world, you can write these giveaways off as a “promotional expense” which is different from marketing expense or donation. How you can use this to increase your following is as follows, you have someone “tag 3 friends” to be entered in the giveaway. We do $500 giveaways and switch it up for example, Win $200 and Tag 3 friends that you want to each win $100 and if you’re selected you win $200 they each get $100. They must like this point and follow our account in order to win. In some cases they only need to tag one person and the winner gets $300 and the person they tagged get $200. It makes it fun for everyone involved. This way your engagement goes way up and you get followers faster, this is more people that you can remarket.

5. Hashtags — You want to make sure that you have some hashtags that are relevant to your business and post them with your post. What you’ll see when you do that is you’ll get those organic followers that are looking at that hashtag and find you. Look at it like a keyword on google that people bid on. If someone types in “accounting” then we have to bid on that keyword and pay for that provided someone clicks on it. With Instagram, you don’t have to pay for the hashtag (or keyword) so if someone is searching accounting in the hashtags then I would say that is a potential customer for our company. What I do is, I go back weeks and post the hashtags under older post so when I first post it doesn’t look like I have a million hashtags on it. This way people can just appreciate the post for what it is rather than seeing all the #. Then after that post ages for 6–8 weeks I post hashtags under it, this way there are daily hashtags out there and my followers are seeing a ton of hashtags themselves.

6. Post Daily and Engage — If want your business to see a positive impact on Instagram then post daily and engage with the people that comment on your posts. There is so much content out there that you need to stay in front of people. Some things won’t get a lot of likes or comments which is fine. This doesn’t mean its not being seen. Not everything you post will get in front of your followers, the more you post the more you control that. I would say that even we need to step up our game and post more but you will ALWAYS see us post at least one post per day but ideally is at least 2–3 posts a day. Somedays we will post tax tips videos, general business advice or a simple motivational quote that we create and then credit the source but then put our logo on it for branding. When you post daily you will start to find ways to have more fun with it and the real you will start to come out as you get used to using Instagram. Most start will first start out posting what they think people want to see and then they run out of ideas of what they think people want to see. Once they run out of those ideas is where their real self comes out and that is when it will have a bigger impact on your business. People want to feel like they know who they’re working with.

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. 🙂

Encouragement, we need to be more encouraging of each other. There isn’t to many feeling on this earth that is better than making someone else feel good about themselves. Too many default to negative when they see someone trying to do something better for themselves and one of the first things you’ll see is someone belittling or naysaying what they’re trying to do. Life and business would be easier if we all were bigger cheerleaders for each other. I guess I’ll end it with #encouragement.

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 most likely say Grant Cardone. We have very similar pasts regarding little formal education and addiction problems. I never stepped foot in a college and didn’t even walk with my class. I got my diploma 6 months after my class graduated by taking packages to get enough credits. Shortly after high school, early in my sales career, I had addiction problems which I have since faced and have overcome 12 plus years ago. I think having some common ground helps make a conversation easier and from there it goes onto building a business relationship. Not to mention, I would love to met him to sell him on the idea of doing a shout out to Easier Accounting on his Social Media platforms. From there incentive him by offering him an affiliate commision on signups. Always have to be thinking about the next big move!

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Switch things up.” 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: “Learn about Gen Z through their eyes”…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Learn about Gen Z through their eyes” With Jaya Jaya Myra and Candice Georgiadis

Learn about Gen Z through their eyes. Every generation has differences in what is the best way to market to them. Since so many young people use IG, take advantage of this. See what they’re saying and doing, and why.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jaya Jaya Myra, an internationally acclaimed author, motivational speaker, and creator of the Well Method. After healing herself naturally from debilitating fibromyalgia, Myra developed the Well Method to teach others how to live a healthy, fulfilled and successful life based on each person’s unique elemental composition. Her approach to wellness and purpose shows why one-size-fits-all solutions don’t work for everyone, and how to find what will work for you.

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

Wellness has always been a priority of mine, growing up in a family that was anything but “well.” I’ve always wanted to heal people and help others live their best possible lives. I started out thinking about this only in terms of what I could do to help, but I later learned how I promoted myself was equally as important as the message and work itself. That led me to learn everything I could about marketing, branding and publicity, and to keep current with social media.

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

Many years ago I opened a marketing, branding and PR consulting firm based in NYC, working with agencies, major brands and startups. I’ve been leading marketing initiatives for amazing clients for over 12 years. In the current marketing landscape, social media marketing is crucial to understand well if you want to grow your influence and really succeed as a brand or business.

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

The most interesting (and exciting) thing to me was being able to become a recurring guest on national TV. That was so much fun! My first national TV experience solidified for me the importance of media (including social media) for inspiring and motivating others to succeed. That was the point of no return that solidified my desire to do more with visual media on TV, and also social media. In case you’re wondering the connection between TV and social media, TV needs ratings, and if you have a large following you are more likely to get featured on TV than if you don’t have a social following.

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 using social media, I avoided Instagram completely. That was a huge mistake! It’s by far one of the most dynamic and engaged social media outlets out there right now. I was intimidated because it’s all visual, and I am not a designer or a photographer. I’ve since found ways to use IG that work well for me, and now it’s my favorite channel to create content for because the type of content is so authentic and engaging.

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?

Twitter and Instagram. I’ve found you get lots of very high caliber business people on Twitter, probably because of the low barrier to entry (aka, a 260-character tweet and click of a button to retweet works great for busy CEO’s, versus a visual IG post that takes time to create). Also, Twitter doesn’t limit the number of people you can follow, so you have near unlimited growth potential. It’s a great way to connect with lots of people. I’ve made some amazing business deals from people and brands I’ve met by connecting on Twitter, so don’t ever underestimate this channel! People tend to, but my experience has shown that Twitter can outperform LinkedIn for business, if you use it right.

Instagram has also been great, especially for growing my mailing list; I’ve found people tend to be more engaged and communicative on Instagram. For example, if I send a message saying I have a free offer available on my website if you join my mailing list, I get a thoughtful reply and people join my list. This doesn’t happen much on any other social media channel.

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. DM’s to followers — grow your list. If you direct message your followers, they will likely write you back, making it easier to communicate with new people and grow your business. I’ve found it’s easy to grow my mailing list this way; even better than my free offer on my website.
  2. Show behind the scenes content. People want to know, like and trust you before they’ll do business with you. IG allows a great visual platform to show people what’s going on behind the scenes on a daily basis. In fact, people tend to like authentic content of this type even more than highly curated video or graphic-designed posts.
  3. Brand segmentation. If you really look at the kind of content your followers are posting, you can get great insight into what people in different audience segments value. IG makes this easy since it’s so visual. This is a great exercise to use when working on your brand and knowing how to target audiences of different types.
  4. Learn about Gen Z through their eyes. Every generation has differences in what is the best way to market to them. Since so many young people use IG, take advantage of this. See what they’re saying and doing, and why.
  5. Poll your followers. Instagram makes it super easy to poll your followers via your IG story. You can get tons of data this way from your followers and know exactly what they want from you.
  6. Launch a content or giveaway. This is a great way to engage your current followers and attract new ones. You’ll likely find using IG for this works much better than your email list. Post your giveaway and tell your followers to tag 2 of their friends in the post to enter. You’ll draw more people to your page that will likely engage with you (because people don’t ever want to tag their friends and spam them, so they’ll tag people who are likely genuinely interested in you). Hopefully you’ll get more followers this way, and also remind your current ones why you’re so awesome. Remember, if they like you they’ll want to do business with you.

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 like to inspire people to be the best possible version of themselves. The more you work on yourself, the more confident and charismatic you’ll become, and this is how you start to influence others and make change in the world. There is so much a single person can do, and more people would realize this if they’d only get out of their comfort zones and try. I believe being the best version of yourself helps individuals to be more successful, and can help build an empowered, diverse and tolerant 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 🙂

Definitely, Harry Connick Jr. His daytime show was the first national TV appearance I did, and the first time I was there taping, it was my birthday. It was one of my most awesome experiences ever; a day I’ll never forget, and he is such an awesome person! I did segments on his daytime show talking about food for mood, and how food can affect your mind and emotions in powerful ways and make or break major life events. Harry mentioned it would be fun to have dinner so I could tell him how the food would affect his mood, and I agree!

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Learn about Gen Z through their eyes”… 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: “Demonstrate your success stories”…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Demonstrate your success stories” With TV Host Shannon O’Dowd and Candice Georgiadis

Demonstrate your success stories: Before and afters are so powerful as well as redemption stories. If you can show your product or service helping people in a clear way, you are using the platform in the most effective way. Videos are great, testimonials are awesome, before and after shots, etc. are all powerful for consumers.

I had the pleasure to interview Shannon O’Dowd. Shannon is a TV Host/Spokesperson as well as an on-camera coach and media trainer who specializes in TV hosts, influencers, and experts. Originally from St. Petersburg, FL with a degree in Theatre Performance from Florida State University, she has been working on both sides of the camera (as on-camera host and also as a coach), for well over a decade. As on-camera talent, she has been the spokesperson for several national commercial campaigns including Cable One, Sunsweet Raisins, OfficeMax, Invisalign, and Nissan. As a host, she has been on QVC as well as being the face of many spots in the infomercial world including Keurig, Aerobed, Instant Figure, Nano Gym, Lipozene, Bankruptcy Legal Network, etc. As a coach, she has clients on the Today Show, the Doctors, HGTV, Hallmark, WE, DIY, QVC, HSN, and on talk shows, news appearances, morning shows, and more! Her training focuses on camera technique, brand messaging, talking points, and sound bites for TV Appearances, Press Junkets, Talk Shows, Social Media, etc. Shannon specializes in getting the best performance possible out of her clients with spot-on adjustments & information that “sticks” & aids in many areas, even beyond just on-camera work. Shannon is precise, insightful, fun, and great at getting the best performance possible from her clients.

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 started out in LA as an actor and would freelance line produce when not acting. Producing also gave me an opportunity to create projects I could be in as well. By 2007, I went from a recurring role on Bold and the Beautiful to a series regular role in the first scripted drama on TLC called Diagnosis X. When that series didn’t get picked up for a second season because of the 2007/2008 writer’ strike (and a lot of theatrical work dried up for a time), I turned to auditioning for commercials. I quickly landed the role of the spokesperson for Sunsweet Raisins. It was all essentially hosting (talking directly to camera, interviewing). When a commercial director friend saw the spots, he said “you should be a host!”. I wasn’t even sure exactly what that meant. But we hired a shooter, went out a shot a hosting reel, I started auditioning for hosting opportunities, and the rest is history.

I also took a hosting class early on, and shortly after completing the class, I started teaching the level 1 of that class. I couldn’t believe how much I loved training aspiring hosts when I wasn’t working as a host myself. After 7 years of teaching for that studio, I broke off and started my own company where I both train hosts and provide media training for people who are experts in their field and want to take that expertise and transfer it to either TV appearances or even a career as a TV personality. Media training is so fun for me because you are not only helping your clients be good on TV, you are also co-creating their messaging and branding. I get to use my producer part of my brain as well as my coaching part of my brain. It’s the best of both worlds.

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

As an on-camera coach and media trainer, I am often brand building for my clients along with their publicist, PR firm, agents, and/or managers. And a lot of my clientele over the last 5 years have become influencers. And the trend for influencers are they are being encouraged to put out more video content. Not just pretty pictures. Many influencers have no idea how to put out great video content. That’s where I come in. So we are creating content that their viewers want to see, testing, and adjusting/tweaking as we go. I have a pretty comprehensive understanding of social media marketing through going through that process with so many of my clients. I know what works.

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

I think the most interesting moment in my career is definitely when I was the spokesperson for Cable One and I had a bobble head made that was me! They actually measured every angle of my head to be as accurate as possible, and took so many pictures of my head as well! And when I would go to do meet and greets at the Cable One headquarters and sign autographs for their employees every year, most of them would have my bobble head on their desk. It was surreal!

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 really the leading social media platform in general. LinkedIn is working on being more of a contender and has the potential to be really impactful since it’s already so career/business related and are now allowing for video content by users, etc.

If you are looking to run ads, Facebook ads have been popular in the past. The downside to this is that now Facebook’s demographic is older now that a lot the younger generation is leaving Facebook. And the trend is that people 45+ are less likely to buy from those type of ads and are pretty set already with their buying decisions (i.e. they know the brands/products they like and aren’t likely to change). Therefore ads through IG (who is owned by Facebook) with a smaller media buy on Facebook might be a good way to go.

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) Utilizing the platform: Make sure the link in your bio to easily direct you followers to begin the process of buying your products or services. Also offering deals and promo codes to your followers through that link also really helps to make them feel special for being part of your group. Make sure you also are tagging companies like you that you might want to collaborate with or who has followers that would also be interested in your services. And in Instagram, doing an Instastory promoting each of your regular posts that exist in your grid is a good way to show your followers you posted something new (since it’s relatively still new to the platform, IG still favors Instastory posts in their algorithm).

2) Utilize Supporting Apps: Making sure you are using programs like follow/unfollow, cleaner, VSCO or Facetune, etc. will put you in the game of utilizing social media’s potential and looking super professional in your posts.

3) Find Out What People Want: Use your posts to find out what you followers need and want from you. You can do a post asking people what their frustrations are in __ space or what they most want when they see __ person/company for ___ service. Your followers will feel like you really care about them PLUS you are getting a free focus group to discover what people want from you and how you can serve them in a more thorough capacity.

4) Demonstrate your success stories: Before and afters are so powerful as well as redemption stories. If you can show your product or service helping people in a clear way, you are using the platform in the most effective way. Videos are great, testimonials are awesome, before and after shots, etc. are all powerful for consumers.

5) Engage With Your Followers: This should be done within the first 24 HOURS of your post. Comment back to those who left you a comment. It’s also great to go their page and find out something about them to use in your comment back. This will create a genuine interaction. Also, going on their page and commenting on a post they did is great for relationship building with your followers. And following people and brands in your space or field and like/commenting on their stuff is a great way to get them to not only return the love but also creates a space for future collaborations where you can potentially get followers from each other.

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 am really passionate about animals. They have always been my cause and animal welfare organizations are always where I make my monthly contributions. I think if I could inspire a movement that would bring about real change, it would be to end factory farming. I’m not advocating everyone be vegan. I think we as a society can find a way to continue to consume meat while still giving those animals a humane life while they are alive. I think the way we breed, contain/confine, and treat the animals we intend to eat is barbaric and inhumane.

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 breakfast with anyone in one of these fields, it would probably be Reese Witherspoon. I love that she has branched out to being such a powerhouse producer with such an amazing production company putting out really thoughtful, interesting, layered content. I also think she is an advocate for women and their right to receive equal pay and opportunities without using her energy to shame all men for the inequities of the past or the ones we are still working to correct. We are all in this together and I think it’s important to remember that.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Demonstrate your success stories”… 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 content calendar” With…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Create a content calendar” With Veronica Belmont of Adobe Spark and Candice Georgiadis

Create a content calendar. As I mentioned, posting on a consistent basis is the best way to stay top-of-mind for your users. Creating a content calendar (I love using Airtable for this kind of project) enables you to have a future-looking plan of all the things you want to communicate. Maybe you’re planning posts for the holidays, or you have a special promotion that you’re going to be running. Front-loading a bunch of content will make it a lot easier to get those posts out when they’re most effective.

I had the pleasure to interview Veronica Belmont. Veronica is a product manager, podcaster, and technology evangelist living in San Francisco.

At Adobe, she is a product manager and evangelist on the Adobe Spark team, where she works to help social media creators, marketers, and influencers bring their brands and creative ideas to the masses.

As a podcaster, she previously hosted Mozilla’s IRL: Online Life is Real Life, where she spoke to people all over the world about how technology and the internet is shaping their existence — from the relationships we make to the policy that is changing how we even access the web. On the Hugo-nominated Sword & Laser (co-hosted with Tom Merritt), they cover the latest news in science fiction and fantasy, interview authors, and discuss the monthly book picks.

Veronica has also worked extensively as a public speaker, startup advisor, and presenter for companies of all sizes, including IBM, Intel, Sony, AOL, Discovery Digital, and more.

In the world of gaming, she was the host of Playstation’s first digital magazine, Qore, and is the co-founder of the largest World of Warcraft guild in North America.

Veronica was named one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company, and received the Young Alumni award from her alma mater, Emerson College, in 2012.

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

I’ve had a somewhat unusual career path! I started as an audio/video producer, began podcasting, moved professionally into on-camera hosting and producing, started working with startups as an advisor, and then transitioned into product management. The common thread is that I’ve always lived at the intersection of technology and creative expression. I’ve never been especially “artistic,” so finding ways to use tech to express myself has been important.

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

First of all, I’d love to get into how we (our team at Adobe Spark) thinks of “social media marketing.” This was one of the things that resonated most with me when I joined. We’re all social media marketers. If you have a side hustle, or a charity you’re passionate about, or you’re a freelancer like I was, you’re implementing the same strategies for your own content that many social media marketers employ at massive brands. Understanding your audience and knowing how to craft your message is just the start. I’ve worked with both planning and participating in campaigns of all sizes, so I’ve definitely seen what works and what doesn’t.

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

That’s a good one! I think for me, the most interesting thing that happened was how I got my first product job. I decided to switch careers back in 2016, to get out of freelance production and into product management. But though I felt that I had the skills necessary to get into that field, I didn’t have the typical background to make the jump into a big company. So I started learning as much as possible, and establishing domain expertise in areas that interested me. One of those areas was around bots and conversational interfaces. I spent months becoming an expert in that area, and reading and writing all about the industry. Eventually, I became an admin for a huge Slack community of bot makers and enthusiasts, called BotMakers. Another member saw me in there, and heard that I was looking for a PM role. Lo and behold, he hired me to be the first employee at their new startup as a PM. So there was some luck there, but I also positioned myself in the right way for 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?

I won’t name names, but I will say that at my first week at one job, I forwarded a phishing scam email to a coworker, which caused our Instagram account to be compromised. I felt horrible because 1. I should have known better (I have literally recorded entire podcasts about the danger of phishing scams), and 2. I put another coworker in a terrible position, and 3. IT WAS MY FIRST WEEK ON THE JOB. Everything worked out ok, but I felt terrible.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues?

It really depends on where your audience is, but I’ve seen the most success for companies with Instagram. Instagram gives brands the most support, I’d say, for reaching the right users with targeted ads while also now giving them the ability to sell directly from the platform. Plus, there are endless social media influencers that have access to very targeted audiences that can fit a micro-brand’s niche perfectly. Plus, I think it allows brands to have conversations with customers in a really authentic way.

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. Have a consistent look and feel to your posts

We all know the importance of a good brand, but carrying that over to your visual aesthetic on Instagram is important too. Brands and influencers alike are using tricks like custom Lightroom presets or consistency around content (and how often you post) gives customers a sense of familiarity. Plus, they know to look forward to your content every day!

2. Be a fan!

If you want people to be a fan of your brand, then you need to be a fan of your users. Get out there and find the people who represent the message your brand is trying to convey. If you’re a fitness brand, find the influencers in that space, follow them, and engage with them on Instagram! Comment on their posts, like, etc, but make sure it stays authentic. People can smell a phony (or a bot) a mile away, and that will do more to hurt your reputation than help. And most importantly, integrate user-generated content into your feed! It shows you’re appreciative of your viewers and fans.

3. Make use of Instagram’s tools

Instagram lets your create shoppable posts, so if you’re selling goods make sure to use this important feature. If Instagram is where your customers are (and for some brands, it might not be!) then make it as easy as possible for them to buy what you’re selling. Make sure the images are clear and beautiful, and that you have an active Business Instagram account that’s linked to a Facebook page. There are some other rules as well, so check up on them before you get started.

4. Create a content calendar

As I mentioned, posting on a consistent basis is the best way to stay top-of-mind for your users. Creating a content calendar (I love using Airtable for this kind of project) enables you to have a future-looking plan of all the things you want to communicate. Maybe you’re planning posts for the holidays, or you have a special promotion that you’re going to be running. Front-loading a bunch of content will make it a lot easier to get those posts out when they’re most effective.

5. Use templates!

I’m a little biased here, considering I work on the Adobe Spark team, but I’m a huge fan of templates — and Spark has a lot of great ones to choose from. I’m not a designer, but I know what looks good. Being able to create content using templates designed by actual professionals helps me have a starting point to work from. Plus, if you’re using multiple social networks to promote your brand or business, it helps to have those templates be able to switch between aspect ratios for everything automatically. You’ve got enough on your brain to have to remember which networks are square or 16:9.

6. Hashtags are your friend

When I first started out, hashtags seemed like an unnecessary addition to my posts. However, I’ve seen how well they’ve helped people find their niche online, and how well they’ve enabled brands to expand their reach on Instagram (where pretty much everyone company in the world has a presence). Create something very specific to your brand identity, and encourage your fans to post with that hashtag. Essentially, you’re helping your community go viral without having to do all the work.

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.

Be kind. It’s so easy to say, but it can be very hard to live (especially online, where people feel like there’s very little consequence to NOT being kind). That can mean responding to an email request for help or advice, or saying something nice to someone who is having a tough time. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the vitriol online something, but a little kindness can go a very long way.

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

Serena Williams. She’s kind of my idol right now. So smart, savvy, and dedicated to her passions. Also I want her workout tips!


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Create a content calendar” With… 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: “Use Automation Lightly” With Ashley…

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: “Use Automation Lightly” With Ashley… 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: “Carousels can be a great way to…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Carousels can be a great way to improve business” With Logan Bennett and Candice Georgiadis

CAROUSELS CAN BE A GREAT WAY TO IMPROVE BUSINESS
Carousels can be used a number of different ways. One way I’ve used carousels is to show different pieces of content to tell a complete story. I worked on marketing for a major beer brand in the past, and we used the carousel to tell a sequential story inside the creative campaign.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Logan Bennett, who is the Chief Experience Officer at the marketing agency Secret Fort. He sits at the center of strategy, technology, and creative to help expand ideas and bring holistic and personalized consumer experiences to life. At Secret Fort, he leverages his award-winning experience to work hand-in-hand with in-house agencies and marketing teams to lead tech innovation, consumer experience, and data strategy to help develop and evolve brand storytelling. His “idea first, digital everywhere” mindset plays an integral role at successful work for a wide range of brands including AMC, Tyson, Coors Family of Brands, Gatorade, Intel, Toshiba, and more.

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

Chance brought me into marketing. In 2008, I was working in payroll for a global corporation — a job I hated and was eventually laid off from mid-recession. In my scramble to find another job, I ended up back in school through an Obama-era program that allowed students to collect unemployment.

The first class I took was marketing … and here I am.

Of course, it wasn’t that simple. After fortuitously landing in that marketing class and finding a subject that captivated me, I networked like crazy in order to get a competitive job once I graduated. LinkedIn was yet to have its titanic influence over networking, so I turned to Twitter, and I was able to talk to influential advertising industry folks from around the US.

Online chats led to coffee, which then led to meeting a guy named Reggie Wildeman. Something I said impressed him. He helped get me an internship, which led to a full time job before I had graduated.

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

From my time as Group Director, Creative Technology — North America at VML to my current position as Chief Experience Officer at the Secret Fort, social media has always been an integral part of the work I’ve helped carry out.

While my roles haven’t exclusively focused on social, my expertise is in technologies and how these can work together with social for fully integrated experiences. This experience spans strategy for brands of all sizes to figure out how to “hack” platforms to fit specific needs.

Bottom line, my work on brands such as Gatorade, Coors Light, and Hillshire Farm has taught me this: Social must be a carefully strategized part of every brand’s marketing. Whether it’s B2B or B2C or a younger or older target, brands must continue to adapt to the evolving social media space and keep it in the marketing mix.

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

In the decade I’ve been in this business, the proliferation of digital, social, and technology has been profound. These are such a part of our lives now that we forget it was only a short time ago that they were introduced to our lives and to marketing.

I’ve worked around a lot of old school advertisers that didn’t believe the hype in digital and social, even when all the signs were right in front of their eyes. I still encounter people who refuse to believe that consumers are spending more and more of their attention on those channels than on broadcast.

This fall alone, we saw a 10% decline in broadcast TV viewership with people flocking to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon; Hulu is the only one of the three platforms that allows advertising. It’s been interesting and perplexing to continue to see advertisers simply use their broadcast spots on these types of platforms without taking the time to understand how messaging should be tailored to the audience and other new variables.

We’re experiencing the same need to adapt to the rise of AI, and I constantly witness brands drag their feet to change.

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?

Well I suppose the thing I laugh at the most now, is what I thought was a mistake at the time but ended up being one of the best decisions of my career. It also didn’t feel funny at the time.

I moved from Portland, OR, to Chicago to start my career at a mid-sized agency. The agency was fine, but ultimately wasn’t a good fit for me. After six months, I was recruited by another agency. When I gave my notice, the CEO called me into his office and proceeded to berate me because of my decision to leave, telling me how connected he was in the industry and how he would get me blacklisted in the Chicago ad scene.

Would he call my new agency? Was moving to a job I was confident would be a better fit the wrong decision? My mind led me down a road of getting fired, not making rent, living on unemployment … None of that happened.

My choice to take that new job wasn’t a mistake in the slightest, and I now look back and laugh at that period of time. The agency I moved to grew to become one of the most awarded agencies in the past few years.

Mistakes — whether they really are mistakes or not — usually end up being an important part of your career. I learned: Always follow your gut; if something doesn’t feel like a fit, it isn’t; don’t be a jerk; treat everyone with respect and understanding.

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?

Not what marketers want to hear, but there isn’t an easy answer. The most effective platform for your brand is the one that reaches YOUR audience and fits YOUR creative idea.

I once worked on a brand that had a younger audience and had historically carried out their social on Facebook and Snapchat. Creatives came to me with a fun idea they wanted to bring to life on Facebook, but we ultimately started looking at Twitch and evolved the idea to fit that platform. The platform choice turned the concept into a more engaging idea.

Bottom line, don’t pigeonhole yourself into using one platform over the other. Pay attention and cater to your consumers and creative.

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. STORIES ARE KEY
    Instagram stories are fast becoming the go-to place users spend their time. I’ve used stories in a number of different ways, including pure awareness. However, I’ve seen them be really good for conversion and engagement. The best conversion driving stories are incentive-based and get people to swipe up. Brands can also have a lot of fun with engagement in stories. I once worked on a campaign for a TV show where we used exclusive content and the tapping behavior to give fans the ability to see other “episodes” or plotlines that were built by the user depending on how they tapped through the story sequences.
  2. THE FEED IS SOMETHING THAT CAN’T BE IGNORED
    People tend to move through their feed slower than they do stories, but not that much slower. Content in the feed is usually more thought out, more carefully edited and filtered, more beautifully done. This gives you more of an opportunity to catch people’s attention. It also gives you a great opportunity to figure out what types of content works best in the feed. I worked on some major food brands in the past where we would do beautiful photo/video shoots and create beautiful thumb-stopping pictures or videos or GIFs to post in the feed on Instagram, both paid and unpaid.
  3. CAROUSELS CAN BE A GREAT WAY TO IMPROVE BUSINESS
    Carousels can be used a number of different ways. One way I’ve used carousels is to show different pieces of content to tell a complete story. I worked on marketing for a major beer brand in the past, and we used the carousel to tell a sequential story inside the creative campaign. Carousels can also be used to show different features of a single product. For that same beer brand, we used each carousel image to show off different product RTBs. Thirdly, carousels can be used to show all the products in a brand’s portfolio. Carousels will even let you use different links and different body copy for each product. That can be a great tool to drive traffic.
  4. THE SHOPPING FEATURE CAN HELP DRIVE SALES
    This is the newest Instagram feature for marketers and brands. Shopping can be accomplished inside stories, on posts in the feed, and inside Explore. This turns your Instagram content into visual storefronts. As more shopping continues to be done on visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, it is important brands strategically utilize these shopping features and stay up-to-date with the evolution of the tools Instagram offers.
  5. INFLUENCERS CAN BE USED TO HELP GET YOUR WORD OUT Influencers are trusted voices. The tricky part with influencers is letting yourself as a brand manager let go of control. They work best when they aren’t being told when, where, and how to make a creative idea come to life. They know their fans best, so they know what is going to resonate with their followings. So, it’s crucial for a brand to find the right influencer that fits with their brand and with their creative idea that needs to be brought to life.
  6. THE GRID IS ANOTHER WAY TO IMPROVE BUSINESS THROUGH GREATER ENGAGEMENT
    This is one that is very tricky and doesn’t always yield the greatest potential. However, with the right creative idea it can be great. I’ve concepted campaigns that utilize the grid, such as one for a large food brand that beautifully showcased content from local farms that supplied food to the 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’m passionate about helping people of color and all genders come into positions of equality. That movement towards equality, which I know a lot of people are passionate about, would have to: A. Help others understand the inequality of things and B. Figure out ways to make that equality a possibility.

For instance, I was thinking about the pay gap the other day. There are a lot of companies that are moving forward with equal pay. Well, how do you then become a company that embraces the equal pay idea without becoming a company that is just lip service? The only way to do that is have your entire employee workforce understand what a certain position gets paid and why. We must create systems that make that a reality.

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 🙂

Mark Cuban. First and foremost, he is a business wizard. The portfolio of companies he owns, support he’s given to other ventures, and foresight into opportunities is outstanding. Secondly, I really appreciate his political stances lately. He is probably the one Republican I can think of that — if he ran for office — I would have to stop and consider voting for.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Carousels can be a great way to… 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 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!