How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Build a community and have fun first…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Build a community and have fun first, then sell” With Candice Georgiadis & Jenn Herman

Build a community and have fun first. Then sell — but not often. I don’t know how many times I can stress that “social media” is about being “social”. It’s not a billboard and it’s not about selling as a first priority. It’s about building a community around your brand and Instagram is probably the best platform for community building. It’s arguably the most interactive platform and drives great engagement, making it easier to connect with your audience and build relationships. Those relationships will lead to sales but the focus should be on your community and how you can serve them, not how you can push another sale on them. While my account is far from the ideal template for most, I rarely post anything promotional on my account. I don’t often talk about the services I offer or how to book consultations with me. Instead, I share breaking news and updates about Instagram or social media. I host an Instagram live every other week that is webinar style, where I interact with my audience while talking for 45–60 minutes on a topic that matters to them. And every week, I get people emailing me or direct messaging me asking me for advice, signing up for my newsletter, or asking to work with me. Because they see me regularly and have built a trust in what I offer, the sale happens naturally.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenn Herman. Jenn Herman is a social media consultant, speaker, and globally recognized Instagram expert. She is the forefront blogger on Instagram marketing and her blog, Jenn’s Trends, has won the title of a Top 10 Social Media Blog in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Through her blog, consulting, and speaking Jenn provides tips, resources, and training for small to medium sized businesses that need to structure their social media strategies. Her business background includes Administration, Sales, Human Resources, and Marketing and she enjoys bringing all these skills together to help you grow your business. Jenn has been featured in Inc., Fox News, Yahoo Finance, HuffPost, The Verge, CBS Radio LA, and numerous other podcasts and publications. She is the author of “Instagram for Business for Dummies”, “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Instagram” and “Stop Guessing: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Social Media Strategy”.

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 was working at my corporate day job in the aerospace industry and trying to get upper management to understand the value of social media while getting them to open the curtain, so to speak. In that industry, privacy and security is paramount, so sharing things publicly is a hurdle and changing their mindsets was a challenge. I learned a lot and overcame some hurdles that I figured others could probably learn from. So, I sat down on my couch one Saturday and launched a blog. Just like that, Jenn’s Trends was born!

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

When I started blogging, it was a hobby and I was a nobody. But I fell in love with Instagram about 6 months after I started my blog and started writing about how to use Instagram for business and marketing. It was all very experiential — I shared tips I learned, tactics that worked, or didn’t work, for that matter. I took my readers on the journey as I explored the app. In the process, and because at the time, there really wasn’t anyone else blogging consistently about Instagram, I gained notoriety. I started getting invited onto podcasts and interviews and speaking at conferences to teach instagram marketing. In 2017, I was approached to co-author “Instagram for Business for Dummies” which published in 2018. As a result of my presence in the industry over the years, I have become friends with many of the experts in the social media space and have gotten to know the people behind many of the third party tools available. This network of people has allowed me to stay abreast of all the latest news, updates, and trends in the industry.

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

A few years ago, I was called to be an expert witness in a court case. I was requested by the defence attorney to speak to the use of the defendant’s social media and the possibilities that someone else could have posted on his profiles. I warned the defense attorney that I might be a better witness for the prosecution but it didn’t matter since the case never made it to court.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early on when I started appearing on podcasts, and Google Plus Hangouts (back in the day!), I had some slower internet speeds. I often had a bit of a lag in the audio when being interviewed. Well, on one interview, right before we went live, the host asked if everyone was ready. We all said “yes” or a variation of that. I said something “yup”. But because of the delay, my “yup” is the first piece of audio in the live broadcast and the recording. The whole video starts with my “yup” then the host introducing the show. It was so embarrassing and now I always nod in agreement rather than say anything out loud in these situations!

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

This is a bit of a complicated question for my business… Overall, I would say Instagram has been my biggest reward for generating revenue. I have the largest audience there and I host live broadcasts every other week plus I share Stories and posts that educate my audience. This is how I build trust and community with my audience. Which, in the long run, drives consulting clients and strategy support my way. This is where I get my largest revenue conversions. But this often takes months or years of relationship cultivation.

Additionally, I have a strong presence on Facebook, specifically my Facebook group. While I am building a community there just as I do on Instagram, the audience is smaller and more devoted so they convert more quickly in general. But this is usually on lower ticket items. I don’t get the same conversions on the larger package and consulting services I offer to this audience.

This is why it is so important to know your audiences on each platform and craft strategies for each. I know what to sell and how to sell it on each platform — and they are completely different in every 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.

Use keywords in your username. The only two searchable criteria on Instagram are the Name and the Username. The bio and everything else is irrelevant for search. Therefore, to be found by potential customers and new followers looking for you, you want your business name (or whatever brand name you are known as) in at least one of the two fields. Then, include other keywords that your audience is likely to be looking for. For example, my username is @jenns_trends (my brand name) and my name is “Jenn Herman | Instagram Expert” (my actual name and what I do). This way, if anyone is searching for my brand name, my actual name, or an Instagram expert, chances are I will appear in the search results!

Write a really good bio that appeals to your audience. Your bio is the equivalent of your 30-second elevator pitch and it’s your first impression to new visitors. Most of the views on your bio come from first-time visitors so the bio should be directed towards them. It should tell them who you are, what you do, and why it matters to them. It should include a call-to-action corresponding to the URL in your bio. It should also be full of your personality and not reek of corporate jargon. Use emojis and characters to add color and dimension. Use spacing and formatting to make it visually appealing and not simply one long run-on paragraph. One of my favorite accounts that always has a great bio is @thelovebombco — her bio tells you who she is and what she does, with her personality, and the call-to-action to get a free product!

Set up the Action buttons on your profile. Convert, convert, convert! Yes, you can drive conversions from Instagram! But you need the Action buttons set up for best results. Having these buttons front and center on your profile makes it easy for your customers to connect with you, contact you, and even reserve or purchase from you directly. You can have up to three Action buttons on your business profile. The default options to choose from are Text, Call, Email, and Directions. You can set these up by going to “Edit Profile” and selecting the “Contact Options”. If you complete any of the basic info (email, phone, or business address), the corresponding Action buttons will appear on your profile. If you don’t want people to have directions to your business, simply delete the business address info. You can also add third-party integration Action buttons by selecting the “Add an action button” option and adding a button for “Buy Tickets” that integrates with Eventbrite, or any other variety of options from the list of approved partners.

Build a community and have fun first. Then sell — but not often. I don’t know how many times I can stress that “social media” is about being “social”. It’s not a billboard and it’s not about selling as a first priority. It’s about building a community around your brand and Instagram is probably the best platform for community building. It’s arguably the most interactive platform and drives great engagement, making it easier to connect with your audience and build relationships. Those relationships will lead to sales but the focus should be on your community and how you can serve them, not how you can push another sale on them. While my account is far from the ideal template for most, I rarely post anything promotional on my account. I don’t often talk about the services I offer or how to book consultations with me. Instead, I share breaking news and updates about Instagram or social media. I host an Instagram live every other week that is webinar style, where I interact with my audience while talking for 45–60 minutes on a topic that matters to them. And every week, I get people emailing me or direct messaging me asking me for advice, signing up for my newsletter, or asking to work with me. Because they see me regularly and have built a trust in what I offer, the sale happens naturally.

Have a content strategy. If you don’t have a strategy, you’re basically throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. But then when it does stick, you have no idea what you did to make that happen and you’re left floundering to capitalize on it. To start your strategy, you need to know your WHY. Why are you using Instagram and why is it of value to your audience? When you answer those, you can start to create content that supports that end goal. Your strategy should focus on creating QUALITY content that appeals to your audience (in reference to building that community I talked about in point 5 above). Quality means high resolution images/videos and your own images or videos. Not taking something off of the internet and posting a meme or random stock photo. But taking relevant photos and videos of your business, product, or other related aspects of your business. This may mean you need to schedule and plan photo shoots (even in your backyard with your phone) in advance. If so, do that! People on Instagram want pretty pictures, not memes and lots of text. Your photo should capture their attention and the caption is where you should speak. Your caption should have a strong opening sentence that grabs their attention and takes the message of the post that much further, including a call-to-action (like “click on the link in the bio” or “email us for more info”) if appropriate. Your strategy should also focus on posting frequency. These days, less is more on Instagram in general. So posting a couple times a week is completely ok. You should only post as often as you have quality content to post. If you can only create one high quality, relevant post a week, then stick to that. Don’t force yourself into posting mediocre content merely to say you posted “something”. That actually hurts you in the algorithm.

Use hashtags for exposure. Hashtags on Instagram absolutely work, but you have to be strategic with their use. My recipe for success recommends using at least 15–20 hashtags per post (you can use up to 30). Combine 3–5 popular hashtags (these are hashtags with upwards of about a million posts), 3–5 moderately popular hashtags (those in the low hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of results), 3–5 niche specific hashtags (those with less than 10 thousand results but that are hyper targeted to your industry), and 1–3 of your own branded hashtags. Additionally, all of the hashtags on your post should be directly related to the content in the post and/or your industry. You are not hashjacking popular or trending hashtags just for the sake of it. A great example of an account that uses hashtags well is @octonation. They incorporate a variety of hashtags that appeal to their audience and reflects their content. As a result, they frequently rank highly in various hashtag searches and reach hundreds of new users. And finally, don’t just use the hashtags that you want people to look for, use the hashtags that your audience is actually looking for. For example, if you’re an insurance broker, people on Instagram aren’t looking for insurance brokers — that’s what Google is for! But, they are looking for cars perhaps, and people with cars need insurance. So you can tap into some targeted car related hashtags where your content fits in relative to that market.

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 super passionate about education and really teaching everyone — kids, college students, and adults — tangible and practical lessons. If I had a magic wand to grant a wish, it would be to find ways to provide more affordable education to more people. It could be classroom education, or practicum or internship opportunities, or seminars and online trainings. Education is the key to success and changing our lives for the better.

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 sit down with Bethenny Frankel. I think she’s incredibly smart and business savvy and just crazy enough (like me) to be fun! Lol! But I have huge respect for how she’s built her businesses, is incredibly charitable with her time and resources, managed being an incredible mom through a contentious situation, and that she continues to be fabulous and down to earth all at the same time.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Build a community and have fun first… 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: “Instagramers love a Cinderella story”…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Instagramers love a Cinderella story” With Marco Shalma, founder of Round Seven and Candice Georgiadis

Instagramers love a Cinderella story. Well, everyone does. I make sure to share any success, as small as it is. It’s contagious, it drives emotion and a sense of “we’re in it together”.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Marco Shalma who is the founder of The Bronx’s leading creative agency; Round Seven. He is a creative producer with BBDO, Complex, Thrillist, and independent filmmaking background

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

As a kid, I was obsessed with commercials. I loved the way an idea, well-executed, has a universal reaction. To me, that was powerful. I studied advertising and found a dream job in the industry, but something was missing. I took a “detour” and moved on to filmmaking. I guess I wasn’t aware at the time but, looking back, I was craving more complex content development. Cut to a few years ago, my life path led me to found a company where I get to come up with cool ideas, and then ideas on how to market those ideas.

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

Coming from the advertising world and into the online content sphere, I’ve not only witnessed the progression first hand but often took part in teams that helped define trends.

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

Working pedominately in The Bronx, NY has had its challenges. Mainly due to the fact that the local business community was lagging when it comes to online presence and social media. We literally had to fight to keep up with global trends, while at the same time take a few steps back and help the community catch-up on the basics. In mid-2018 we won an award for achievements in media and that was a much-needed morale boost for us all.

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 first lesson I learned is that what worked 5 minutes ago isn’t necessarily gonna work in 5 minutes. Truly understanding that ensures that I always triple check & question everything.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

It really depends on the demographics and the target audience. When the campaign is directed at businesses and/or 45+ we invest in Facebook marketing. When our audience is younger we focus on Instagram heavily. In the (not so far) past, we used to diversify platform wise, but that’s very 2017 — nowadays we zero in on a platform using 80/20 principles and attack, revise, repeat.

In 2018 we launched The Bronx Night Market in what turned out to be the most successful campaign in the Borough’s history. The strategy was clear: push tons of content on Instagram and engage-engage-engage. This led us to organically grow the account to 8000 in 5 months and lead to a 15k+ in attendance at each physical event.

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. Micro Influencers — These are the up and coming instagramers that are in your local social circle. They all work hard to grow their following base and are very active. We engage and collaborate with them, run takeovers, and curate content.
  2. Community pods — The algorithm favors engagement, so we created multiple pods (groups) of likeminded individuals and/or businesses and share relevant content amongst the group. The group immediately engages by commenting, liking, and reposting.
  3. Personalization — Put yourself in the front. I long realized that people want to support other people, not brands. Don’t sell, don’t push, but use Instagram to document your process, your journey, and eventually, people will support your content and the cause, once they trust you.
  4. The Come-up — Instagramers love a Cinderella story. Well, everyone does. I make sure to share any success, as small as it is. It’s contagious, it drives emotion and a sense of “we’re in it together”.
  5. Team Accountability — When your team is invested in the strategy, the creativity, and the execution, they are committed to winning. They get incentivized by the numbers and the success and will generously engage with the brand’s community. That’s money!
  6. Giveaways — As corny as you may think this is — it is still one of the best ways to get people behind a CTA. Make it clear, rewarding and always follow up.

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. 🙂

Not really a movement, but I lately been thinking about this idea in which each and every one of us will have full access to all the info relevant to our name, including search histories by big data companies, government offices, financial institutions, and every joe schmoe. In the way credit score work. You get full transparency. Because, it’s your info, to begin with, no?

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 🙂

The choice is easy. Gary Vee is the king of social media, and a man I share a lot in common with (aside for the bank account — for now.) I don’t agree with all his mantras, but, you can’t ignore the revolution he is leading and his tenacity.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Instagramers love a Cinderella story”… 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: “Tell a story in a different way” With…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Tell a story in a different way” With Charlie Whyman and Candice Georgiadis

Tell a story in a different way — people learn and consume information in different ways, sometimes a photograph can clarify a message more than repeating the same words.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlie Whyman, a Business Development Strategist and Marketing Trainer with a passion for tech through relationship driven marketing. Charlie began her career as the Director and Founder of an olive oil production company in Italy before becoming the Global Head of Sales and Marketing for a 3D Laser Mapping Company in the UK. Charlie is now using her 7 years of experience and logistical way of thinking to specialise in LinkedIn training for SMEs, via workshops, coaching, training and digital support so businesses can excel in social selling.

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

My career has always been driven by my curiosity; I’ve worked across many industries and sectors over the years. After 8 years in technical sales, marketing and leadership roles I decided to take the jump into the world of self-employment.

I was burnt out and unhappy doing what I was doing and knew I wanted something more. A lot of friends kept asking me to teach them how to improve their sales and marketing in order to grow their business. They asked me to help them use LinkedIn — they had seen the results I was gaining from the platform and wanted to know how to do it for themselves.

After doing a bit of research I learned that more people wanted help with this and I was in a great position to be able to help them. In January 2018, I developed an online and offline learning experience and have been running this ever since.

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

I have been actively using social media for over 12 years in business to gain visibility, credibility and influence in over 10 different markets. I would say my “ninja skill” is more around effective communication — especially in technical industries which are more traditional and feature focussed rather than benefit focused.

I’ve used social media to win new clients, launch a business, gain speaking and media opportunities, attract investors, manage agents and distributors and develop communities. LinkedIn has always been my go-to platform as I’m a natural networker and I have a large network — Twitter is my second favourite because I’ve always used it at events.

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

Before July 2017 I’d never done an online course before and decided in November that I was going to put together my own online course to serve my international network and enable me to keep working with people around the world. In January, I launched my first online course and have been developing it since. In November this year, I was shortlisted to the top 3 of a ‘move on up’ contest and was invited to speak in front of over 700 people at a marketing conference in Orlando, Florida to try and win $25,000. I didn’t win but it was an incredible experience and I felt like I was winning all weekend.

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 was hosting a LinkedIn challenge webinar but I was running late and couldn’t make it home in time so had to host it from my in-law’s house. I had to run it in their guest room that was pink with a crushed velvet bed with diamonde trim — completely the opposite look and style for what I’m known for so a lot of people on my webinar found it funny. The internet connection was also unstable so I was unable to share my slides for the webinar which in fact ended up improving the experience of all involved. I now try to run most of my webinars without slides to create more interaction and remove any risk of a death by PowerPoint webinar.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

LinkedIn every time. When I quit my job as head of marketing I had no plan and no savings to fall back on. I needed to find some clients and fast. So I approached some people in my network I wanted to help and knew I could add value to and secured my first two retained clients in my first week. When you have a nurtured network it will work for you — it will support you, advise you, recommend you to others and much more. I used LinkedIn to gain clients without a website in my first 12 months of business — it’s that effective.

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. Invite Instagram users to be interviewed on a podcast — I’ve managed to gain a client some interviewees through Instagram
  2. Use stories to engage your network and keep them posted about what’s going on — I did a story about an upcoming webinar I did which reminded a few people it was happening who messaged me to tell me they forgot.
  3. Tell a story in a different way — people learn and consume information in different ways, sometimes a photograph can clarify a message more than repeating the same words
  4. Get to know people in your tribe a bit better. I’ve been getting to know a few peers of mine better by following their activities on Instagram
  5. Learn about new products, services and places — Instagram is a great way to discover new things. I travel a lot and I’ve used Instagram to find local places of interest and things I want to prioritise and see on short trips.
  6. Be inspired. There is always at least one great quote a day you can gain inspiration from and sometimes you can learn things you didn’t expect to that lift your day, pique your curiosity or do more.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to see more people embrace and use their inner curiosity to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new. Be more curious to ask more questions and not settle for the status quo.

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 🙂

Where do I start?! Dave Brailsford, Clive Woodward, Alex Ferguson, Robin Sharma, Mel Robbins, Marie Foreleo to name a few!

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Tell a story in a different way” 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: “Don’t Fear Consistency” With Nico…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Don’t Fear Consistency” With Nico Hodel, CTO of Start It Up NYC and Candice Georgiadis

Don’t Fear Consistency: In the days of the chronological feed, businesses were right to worry about overwhelming their audience with too much content. Gone are those days. Today, Instagram’s algorithm means that organic reach of each post is quite low, so posting more often is necessary to maintain visibility and engagement with your followers. Many of my past clients were slow to adapt to the change in Instagram’s algorithm, and experienced an uptick in conversions after doing so.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nico Hodel, CTO of Start It Up NYC, a media company and startup accelerator providing app development, digital marketing, investor relations, and PR services to New York tech startups.

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 was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and took an interest early in web development, which led to a passion for marketing, as programmatic marketing was in its early days. After starting my own web development company in college with a few friends, working on mobile apps in the Angular and React Javascript frameworks, I began work with Start It Up, building a media site and accelerator program that we’ve leveraged to provide clients a broader range of services to accompany development.

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

I had experience early programming to the Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook APIs and have used that knowledge to leverage Instagram for Start It Up, building an engaged audience of several thousand followers, leading to 2000 unique views per week on our media site, agreements with many partner companies, and several clients in just one years time.

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

A few years back, I took on a really complex programming project with a UK-based tech company. I like to challenge myself, and I knew that the project was a bit beyond my ability, but didn’t fully realize the extent of it until I got started. I realized that I’d have to learn a new tech stack in order to actually pull it off and that there just weren’t enough hours in the day. I locked myself in my apartment, taking shelter from the New York Winter and adopted a polyphasic sleep cycle to free up time, sleeping just three hours a night, with three 20-minute naps throughout the day. I managed to complete the project but later heard from close friends about how by the end of the project I looked “near death.” While still a proponent of polyphasic sleep when it comes to productivity, I’d definitely advise anyone interested to be cautious.

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?

In my early days, I took a contract with a Honolulu-based ecommerce company. Little did I know, their past developer held login credentials for all of their hosting, domain, and social platforms and had passed away years ago. Two days after starting work their domain and hosting plans expired, and I was tasked with recovering both – a job that’s difficult without any credentials or proof of ownership. I spent hours on the phone speaking with reps from domain and hosting providers and was finally able to set everything straight, but not without a flurry of stress and wasted time. I learned the hard way to always know the full story before deciding to work with any company and to pick my clients carefully.

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’ve found Instagram to be the most useful to increase revenue as it’s led to direct relationships with partners and clients, with our personal Linkedin profiles being a close second.

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. Perfect Your Instagram Funnel:

Being strategic about the link featured in an Instagram bio can dramatically increase desired conversions. If your immediate goal is to gather data or qualify leads, make sure the link directs directly to a form for the user to fill out. If app conversions are your goal, make sure it directs to a page where users can immediately download your app. Same goes for event signups. Many of my past clients made the mistake of directing their bio link to a web page that was unrelated to the conversion they were attempting to track, and saw conversions increase dramatically when they redirected the link in their bio.

2. Don’t Fear Consistency:

In the days of the chronological feed, businesses were right to worry about overwhelming their audience with too much content. Gone are those days. Today, Instagram’s algorithm means that organic reach of each post is quite low, so posting more often is necessary to maintain visibility and engagement with your followers. Many of my past clients were slow to adapt to the change in Instagram’s algorithm, and experienced an uptick in conversions after doing so.

3. Don’t Fear Bots – But Use Them Judiciously

If you choose to use a bot, make sure it’s done in an extremely targeted and calculated way. Program it specifically to engage only with content that makes sense for your niche, and reduce frequency of each of its actions to avoid being flagged by Instagram. We’ve experienced that when used with caution, a bot is a powerful, cost-effective way to generate impressions, increase traffic to a profile, and potentially boost conversions. However, I’ve had people who used them unwisely come to me for help after their profile was flagged. Start with autoliking, not comments or other actions and keep frequency to less than 40 likes per hour until you get the hang of things. Keep track of activity logs to make sure the bot’s actions are in line with your brand.

4. Ride The Wave of Video Content

Video content has far more engagement on Instagram and should be a pivotal part of growing an audience. Keep content short (between 10 and 60 seconds) and be mindful of its thumbnail image and beginning to make sure you can capture users’ attention early. Videos will also generally have better margins for running Instagram ads, as social platforms try to incentive use of video to boost engagement on the platform. I’ve seen businesses increase their reach dramatically after leaning into video content.

5. Don’t Boost Posts – Run Ads Through Facebook’s Power Editor or Ad Manager

Many businesses I’ve worked with were frustrated by a lack of conversions and growth after boosting their posts through Instagram. Using Facebook’s Power Editor tool will allow you to be far more surgical and granular with your targeting. I’ve seen double digit boosts in clients’ conversions after taking the time to create specific adsets to target specific demographics.

6. Don’t Discount Partnerships

While staying focused on conversions is key, don’t discount Instagram’s ability to act as a digital business card. I’ve developed valuable partnerships for my company and for clients by reaching out to other companies in a direct message and gaining access to decision makers. Particularly if you’re talking about startups, chances are Co-Founders aren’t managing the company’s Instagram day-to-day, but they’re checking up on it from time to time. Keep messages brief, and open up by offering something, not asking for something. We’ve used this method to connect with many interesting startup companies that might have missed us on LinkedIn or other channels.

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. 🙂

Part of my goal working with Start It Up is to inspire a movement towards innovation. We’re looking to accelerate a change in business culture that puts intelligently engineered tech products with a social purpose at the forefront. The reason we choose to work with companies like UBQFit, Saavor, and Moad Computer, isn’t financial gain. We think these companies are genuinely offering products that can initiate positive change in users lifestyles and larger social causes.

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 🙂

Having dinner with Elon Musk or Kim Dotcom would be a dream come true and sure to entertain. More realistically, I’d love to sit down with Matt Hartman sometime. He’s been a VC speaker at many of our events in the past, and moderated at Ascent Conference whom we partnered with, and I’ve always enjoyed his perspective on fundraising for startups.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Don’t Fear Consistency” With Nico… 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: “STOP using fake likes, bots etc” With…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “STOP using fake likes, bots etc” With Katriel Sarfati and Candice Georgiadis

STOP using fake likes, bots etc: I get it, if you appear to be larger, you assume more will be attracted. While in theory, this makes sense, in (bad) practice this leaves you vulnerable to just how savvy people are becoming as well as the upcoming Instagram bot purge. Oh and Instagram throttles your reach when they catch you faking your engagement, meaning less of your real audience actually sees your stuff.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Katriel C Sarfati, a Growth and Marketing strategist that started his first business at 15 which sold for six figures. He and his friends went on to monetize their Instagram accounts in 2013 before the term “influencer” was a thing. In the last 2 years, his colleagues and he have launched campaigns that have brought in 6 and 7 figure sales.

With the rise of social media in the last few years, he has gone on to train Executives and Entrepreneurs in some of America’s fastest-growing companies to include the cannabis industry where one of his brands made 25k their first 30 days on a shoestring budget.

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

First and foremost, thank YOU for including me in this awesome venture of yours, i can’t wait to tell my audience about all you’re doing here!

I’ll admit, I was a bit in denial at social media a part of my career path, for years I was a shy introverted nerd haha. Over the years I began noticing patterns and started sharing those patterns and my theories with my friends who were already very “social” having amassed a ton of “friends” on myspace and facebook before they became known as followers (I’m showing my age).

For years I used social media as a listening tool, a window into the convos and tastes happening where I once against noticed patterns which then bled into my professional career, I’d use social media to show my clients and myself where to advertise, what language to use and what emotions to envoke.

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

I became one of the go to’s once the clients and friends I helped began seeing money coming in…. I’ll never forget one of my first campaigns that didn’t read like one brought my client 260k in a few months. It gave him chills, he began telling anyone he liked about me and through word of mouth I began hosting training sessions and sharing my thoughts on social media. I went on to test some of my theories with different industries and after replicating results across the board, in a weird way began influencing the influencer.

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

We would be here all day haha. One of my favorites would definitely have to include celebrating New Years in Las Vegas. It was surreal having that level of service. When I arrived I had a limo waiting for me, which whisked me away to the Aria hotel where the view of the strip alone was inspiring. Moments later I was in a helicopter over the grand canyon with my family seeing the sunset. Hours later there I was biting into of the most succulent steaks I’ve ever tasted while raising my glass to DJ Tiesto who sat across from me. All this wrapped up incredibly with an assigned personal security guard named Stan that got us a front row seat of the fountains and fireworks as the new year rang in, that to me is always a reminder of just how awesome working in this space is.

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?

Almost falling into the “Instagram flexin” trap. While working on some of my campaigns I would often show behind the scenes stuff and one of the clients was a dealership, for about two weeks I was sharing photos of their exotic cars and had someone reach out to me asking me to come to a Hollywood Hills party! They really thought I was this playboy type that drove a new car every day based on those posts alone, it was funny explaining to them that it was just storytelling, he’s still a client of mine today.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

I get asked this a lot — the truth is that it depends on the business. Very often people look at vanity metrics such as “oh this platform has the most users”, but these days it’s more of who’s on the platform, not so much how many are on it, speaking to the demographic that you’re targeting in an organic way is far more efficient.

For example, an entrepreneur I worked with about a year ago was doing great in terms of eyeballs on Instagram, he drove the nice car, he wore the nice suits. In terms of monetizing, ehh he barely broke 2k a month in revenue, we switched him over to LinkedIn and Twitter and within 3 months he was averaging 6k a month.

Another entrepreneur I worked with in California worked in a very niche market, hairline tattoo. He was on every social media platform but still relied on word of mouth for his business, after analyzing his expertise and time in his field, we switched him over to Yelp and Youtube with a dash of IG and he is crushing it these days.

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. STOP with the constant selling: One of the things I personally exploit in social media sales is the countless businesses who operate as a self-important dork, everything is omg look at what we are selling, buy it, buy it now. That lack of social skills is perfect for those that are eager to bring value to those seeking it. I mean, have you ever been to a networking event? The constant being sold is half the reason I avoid them, the other half is the cash bar.
  2. STOP using fake likes, bots etc: I get it, if you appear to be larger, you assume more will be attracted. While in theory, this makes sense, in (bad) practice this leaves you vulnerable to just how savvy people are becoming as well as the upcoming Instagram bot purge. Oh and Instagram throttles your reach when they catch you faking your engagement, meaning less of your real audience actually sees your stuff.
  3. STOP using it if you aren’t able to fit in: this one tends to rub some people the wrong way, the demographic for Instagram success is for those who can speak to, inspire, and rub elbows with the 18–35 crowd (there’s more of a breakdown but you get the idea) while other platforms such as Facebook perform better with the 31–60 yr old crowd. One key difference between Instagram and other platforms seems to be how pop and hip-hop culture influence a ton.
  4. START connecting with people who share your ideologies and vision: Make friends on Instagram, it is after all social media! The people you engage with you eventually realize become your brand ambassadors, your engagement peers, part of your feedback loop and potential partners (more $$ with less investment)
  5. START listening to the convos happening: This alone is how I filter out who I do and don’t work with. This one action weeds out who sells and who doesn’t. If you have a ton of money for advertising then great, but if not, then grassroots marketing and growth hacking is a helpful strategy. Sales are a symptom of the value you bring to the table mixed with how you communicate that. What that looks like is as follows; Company A and B both sell widgets. Company A shares facts about their widget nonstop, a few fun facts here and there, and a few holiday sale discount announcements whenever its time to boost sales. Company B creates content aimed at storytelling, steering conversations and engages those who are prominent in the spaces they do business in. What eventually happens is Company A becomes the company that always needs money to solve their problems, Company B becomes a brand.
  6. START sharing the corporate culture that you have or are building: Keyword in social media is SOCIAL. An important and overlooked KPI (key performance indicator) for a business’s social media is their brand awareness — and one awesome way to do that is to share the insights, quirks and behind the scenes of what you do and the people behind the company. This can be as simple as one of the team members sharing their experiences, their favorite whatchamacallit that helps them work better. Connect!

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. 🙂

Something that’s near and dear to me and brings a lot of good to people is mental health. I have elevated my platforms and reach to collaborate with several people and businesses to share “hacks” for mind and life. This started because back in 2015 I noticed a lot of pages and businesses popping up practically copy and pasting “motivation” everything. From Ferraris to lavish lifestyles, to the dude yelling “just do it” on his video standing next to an exotic car it was showing signs of having negative effects on people who were procrastinators and or not enough resources to get things rolling for themselves. I’ve started helping the people who read all the theory but are kind of stuck at the “ok I’m pumped but now what?” stage.

This often mean tackling things such as cognitive roadblocks, fixed mindsets etc. My background in psychology has come in very handy in helping many many people.

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 🙂

As a Nerd who grew up in Brooklyn, NY, a meal with Steven Moffat and JayZ would be a treat.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “STOP using fake likes, bots etc” 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: “Have a secret side account” With…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Have a secret side account” With David Kovalevski and Candice Georgiadis

Have a secret side account: As part of your ongoing research, you always need to know what competitors, related brands, and influencers in your industry are doing. But you don’t always want these accounts to know you are following them. We use our secret account to research new hashtags, picture ideas, and trends, and to gain insights about the industry. We apply some of what we learn from our research to our own account. Knowing current trends will help you generate ideas and keywords, but don’t simply copy others’ ideas. Use your research to inspire your own creativity and innovation.

I had the pleasure of interviewing David Kovalevski. David Kovalevski is the Founder and CEO of Waka Coffee (wakacoffee.com), a quality instant coffee startup that is on a mission to reinvent the instant coffee category. It tastes like a slow drip coffee minus all the hassle of making it. It is made of 100% Arabica beans, freeze dried to preserve the original beans’ taste and aroma. They even donate a portion of their sales to support clean drinking water initiatives around the world through their “Add Water, Give Water” program.

Before starting his venture, David worked as a Marketing Program Manager in New York City, helping some of the largest technology brands in the world to generate more engagement with their marketing initiatives. He also has a military background and experience in government procurement and project management.

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 wanted to be an entrepreneur from a very young age. My dream was to open a coffee shop. When I was about 15 years old, I began collecting menus from local coffee shops to generate ideas for my future business. I eventually obtained a BBA in Digital Marketing from Baruch College in New York. While working in the marketing industry and formulating my business plan for a coffee shop, I realized the potential in the instant coffee industry. After working and studying full-time, I knew many other busy people would benefit from a simple-to-make coffee solution that is as tasty as it is convenient.

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

I have a degree in Digital Marketing and worked in the marketing industry, which helped me understand the fundamentals of creating engaging content, acquiring customers, performing analytics, developing paid and owned marketing strategies. I see social media marketing from both perspectives — as a brand and as an “influencer” that promote other brands’ products. Most of my hands-on knowledge comes from working on the Waka Coffee account. We acquire many customers from social media, specifically Instagram. About 64% of all social referrals to our website come from Instagram, mostly from organic reach. It requires a lot of work and persistence. I also have an account dedicated to food and lifestyle content, which I use to promote both Waka Coffee and other brands. Like a true millennial, the third Instagram account I operate is for my cat. Between these accounts, I have a total of 44K followers. I create new content almost everyday on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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

I started Waka Coffee without prior experience in the food and beverage industry. I listened to so many industry-specific podcasts and read professional blogs, which have taught me a lot about the CPG industry. I took bits of pieces of information from various success stories and tried to apply other entrepreneurs’ tips to my own business. The interesting part is that it works! I acted on some of their suggestions, such as reaching out to bloggers and journalists and sending them samples of our coffee. I had no experience in PR and had no money to pay for it, so I just sent different versions of my pitch to as many outlets as possible. I continued with the versions that worked and started getting coverage in influential coffee blogs, which boosted sales and brought new followers on 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?

I started investing time in my non-company accounts long before I launched Waka Coffee with the intention that they will help me generate more awareness to the business. I researched some of the most popular accounts and realized that cats do really well on Instagram! Who wouldn’t like a cute cat’s picture? Well, my wife and I happen to own a cute cat, so I opened an Instagram account for our cat, Boris. I worked non-stop on Boris’s account to generate as many followers as possible. One time, I wanted to check the account while at work, and opened Instagram on my desktop computer. Right when Boris’s entire feed loaded on my screen, my boss walked up to my desk. I had to quickly come up with an excuse as to why I was looking at kitten pictures at work… I learned that you should work hard on your accounts, but you also need to limit the time you spend on social media. It can be addicting to monitor your performance all the time, but it’s not a healthy habit.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

I have different goals for each of our social media accounts. By far our most revenue-generating platforms are Instagram and Facebook. Twitter and Pinterest help us with SEO, while LinkedIn helps us to gain exposure from potential investors, buyers, and leaders in the industry. We have recently also started generating more content by collaborating with YouTube bloggers. I can’t quantify the effectiveness of these platforms yet, but Instagram and Facebook allow you to clearly understand revenue stream attached to these channels. A good story I have is about one way we generated revenue through Instagram. A small local store found us on Instagram and emailed us through the email in our bio. They ended up placing a bulk order through our wholesale channel. In that case, Instagram helped us with awareness and with building the buyer’s confidence in our product, even though the sale didn’t come directly through Instagram.

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. Think like an influencer: I have three Instagram accounts that I manage. @eatfoodsipcoffee focuses on food, @wakacoffee is our business account, and @yesitsboris is for our cat. My food and cat accounts help me promote the business, but they also give me the opportunity to work with other brands by promoting their products. I get to see how other brands contact me, which helps me understand how to write an effective, feasible ask. I try to approach other influencers how I would want to be approached.

2. Don’t DM — email influencers: Many businesses direct message influencers or other brands they want to partner with. First, Instagram categorizes some messages as spam and delivers them to separate inbox, which nobody really checks. Second, I rarely read DMs because 90% of them are automated messages or solicitations. Influencers do read their emails, and a brand that sends a professional email looks more appealing to partner with. I have seen about 80% more responses by emailing instead of direct messaging.

3. Become an Instagram authorized seller: This is relevant if you have an ecommerce business. Apply to become a seller on Instagram so you can tag your products in your images. This eliminates the need to write “link in bio” in every caption, because it allows customers to click on the picture and get redirected to your product page. We have seen an uptick in traffic since applying the tag product function.

4. Be consistent with your theme: Make sure your business is aligned with the type of pictures you post on your account. Otherwise, you might see engagement from people who are not really interested in your product or services, which will not help you make sales. Make sure to also use relevant hashtags that align with the same theme. Waka Coffee is focused on the convenience of using instant coffee with a marketing approach geared towards millenials, so we post a lot of lifestyle and food pictures. Our pictures show how easy it is to carry our product around and how fast it is to make quality coffee.

5. Know your calendar: Posting on a regular basis is very time consuming. We have a calendar of when we post, and we prepare the posts in advance. Although I did suggest to post pictures related to your theme, I recommend mixing it up sometimes for holidays and other special events. It will help your brand to remain relevant and appear on holiday-specific hashtags, which can bring in new potential customers. We still feature our product in these types of posts, but they were not necessary aligned with our overall theme.

6. Have a secret side account: As part of your ongoing research, you always need to know what competitors, related brands, and influencers in your industry are doing. But you don’t always want these accounts to know you are following them. We use our secret account to research new hashtags, picture ideas, and trends, and to gain insights about the industry. We apply some of what we learn from our research to our own account. Knowing current trends will help you generate ideas and keywords, but don’t simply copy others’ ideas. Use your research to inspire your own creativity and innovation.

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. 🙂

While I was developing Waka Coffee, I realized the huge amount of water waste that the coffee-making process generates. It was really important for me to tackle this problem with our brand. This is why we donate 4% from our sale price of each instant coffee box to support clean drinking water initiatives around the world. Access to clean drinking water affects every aspect of life, such as health, wealth, education, equality, and much more. Currently, about 633 million people in the world live without clean water. For reference, that’s twice the population of the United States! There are many great organizations that support this very important cause, and I believe there should be more awareness around this issue, especially in the business community. There has been a lot of attention to other social issues in the coffee industry, such as fair trade, but little attention has been paid to the water waste problem. I would like to start a movement in the coffee industry that puts more emphasis on giving back to clean water initiatives. If we can bring more awareness to this problem, I’m positive there can be a change.

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 be honored to meet Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder and CEO of Chobani. I view him as an example of the success that is possible when you have a goal and are determined to achieve it. Like Hamdi, I also immigrated to the US from the Middle East (he is from Turkey and I am from Israel). I read a ton about Hamdi and his business before starting Waka Coffee, and his story embodies what I want to become one day. He is well-known as a strong supporter of innovative food startups through Chobani’s incubator, and he recently invested in the coffee industry. Hamdi’s advice would be invaluable!

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

Thank you so much for this opportunity, and the special mission and cause you support in your articles.


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Have a secret side account” 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: “Instagram simplifies the process of…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Instagram simplifies the process of brand building” With Dautov Bahtiyar & Candice Georgiadis

Nowadays, every business has a website. A website is a base of modern companies and incorporations. Businessmen and entrepreneurs use websites as business cards. However, there is a big problem most of us are unconscious about — it is extremely difficult to get your website discovered. If your website is your only base on the Internet, then, your road to success will be paved with loads of struggling. On the opposite side, Instagram simplifies the process of brand building to a very large extent. Nowadays, not everyone browses the Web. However, almost everyone spends at least 5–10 minutes a day surfing on Instagram. This fact makes IF extremely attractive for brand building.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dautov Bahtiyar, who is a successful and businessman, online entrepreneur, affiliate marketer, SEO specialist, SMM professional, blogger, writer, perpetual traveler, fitness enthusiast, bodybuilder, and the founder of Bahtiyar World a popular blogs on online business, and personal development. Bahtiyar has a track record of leading successful online enterprises. He is a truly global businessman, who is fluent in 7 languages: English, Arabic, Russian, Turkish, Uyghur, Kyrghyz, and Spanish languages. This truly wide knowledge of foreign languages lets him make business on a global scale.

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 am a person who is naturally inclined to reading, thinking, contemplating, and analyzing different things. I have a lot of knowledge in different spheres such as medicine, genetics, online business, healthcare, politics, sexuality, psychology, and etc. From my early childhood, reading was my favorite activity. Throughout my whole life, I accumulated a lot of information and knowledge. It is not strange that I decided to start blogging. First, I have a lot and even too much knowledge to share with the world. Blogging gives me this opportunity. Second, I feel very comfortable in loneliness. Someone said that writing is the world’s loneliest work. This is absolutely correct. However, if you enjoy loneliness, then, blogging and writing those things that you will definitely love.

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

Any type of online business is about two parts:

1) Create content, product, or a service to sell

2) Do everything in order to attract as many visitors (web traffic) to your Web platform as possible

Now, we will be talking about the second part. To succeed in what I am doing, you will need to get tons of web traffic to your Web resource. Without it, your blog, a website, your online platform, or anything else will be lost in the huge Internet.

I have already made my blog Bahtiyar World successful. It means that I created a lot of high-quality content. Second, I attract huge web traffic to my web resource. Without being a great SMM (Social Media Marketer), you will spend years hardworking to get some traffic from search engines. SMM is the easiest and free way to make your brand famous and popular. In both theory and practice, I know how to choose and implement the right strategies in order to succeed in Social Media Marketing.

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

Well, SMM is all about interesting stories and adventures. You already know that I use SMM to promote my blog Bahtiyar World. Thus, SMM is connected with my blogging career.

I think the most interesting is that I stay at 5-star hotels for free. While traveling around the world, hotel owners invite me to stay at their hotels for a kind review on my popular blog. I got free hotel accommodations in New York, India, Egypt, Spain, and many other countries.

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?

My funniest mistake was to create a lot of superbly high-quality content without promoting it. It is funny because by doing this I was simply wasting my time. Even if you have some brilliant content, products, or services to offer, but you don’t promote it, nobody will discover your brand. Purely emphasizing my efforts at the quality of my work was a funny mistake.

I learned that any online business is about creating something, and then, promoting it in order to generate leads and sales.

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?

Nowadays, Instagram is definitely the most effective media platform to use in order to increase business revenues. Today, if you have an Instagram account, you can make online business even if you don’t have a website. I am a tech-savvy man who knows programming, coding, and other technical stuff that lets me manage my complicated online project. However, the majority of Internet users don’t have these skills. Nonetheless, even a technically unsavvy people can start an online business on Instagram now.

In my personal experience, Instagram opened me a door to a whole audience of the world. Since almost everyone uses Instagram today, I am able to reach out to anyone on this planet. Visual content has no language. Everyone understands visual signs and information.

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.

UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF INSTAGRAM

I have been in the online business market for several years. I have been dealing with almost every type of online entrepreneurship you can ever imagine. Blogging, SMM, SEO, e-commerce, dealing with cryptocurrencies, and many other things. Just to let you know, I am not a kind of a person who loves taking selfies and however. However, we need to be more adaptive in order to survive in today’s’ busy global business market. Social networks is a reality of our days. No matter what type of business you run, you will never survive without SMM. Instagram is the most crucial social network that can take your brand to new heights.

First, you need to realize that today’s online business is almost impossible without Instagram marketing. There are other ways to market your business online. However, most of them either too expensive or demand a lot of patience and hard work. Understand the popularity of Instagram to fully use its advantages for the benefit of your business.

PLAN YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY

Before you start marketing your business on Instagram, you should carefully plan your marketing strategy. IG is all about visual content. Prepare high-quality visuals such as photos, logos, videos, and graphics. Identify how often and when you are going to use paid Instagram ads. Are you going to promote your business on other popular IG accounts? These are the issues you should clarify even before you start your Instagram marketing campaign.

MAKE YOUR CONTENT GO VIRAL

Nowadays, going viral is the easiest way to get your brand noticed. If you create really catchy content, your brand can go viral if you are lucky enough. Creating high-quality content requires some investments, and of course, a lot of dedication.

USE INSTAGRAM FOR BRAND BUILDING

Nowadays, every business has a website. A website is a base of modern companies and incorporations. Businessmen and entrepreneurs use websites as business cards. However, there is a big problem most of us are unconscious about — it is extremely difficult to get your website discovered. If your website is your only base on the Internet, then, your road to success will be paved with loads of struggling. On the opposite side, Instagram simplifies the process of brand building to a very large extent. Nowadays, not everyone browses the Web. However, almost everyone spends at least 5–10 minutes a day surfing on Instagram. This fact makes IF extremely attractive for brand building.

USE ADVANTAGES OF VISUAL CONTENT

In today’s busy world of social networks, people are extremely busy. We have no time to read long articles and blog posts. Nowadays, everyone thrives to save some free time. This is why we see a big prevalence of visual content on the global business market. Visual content always catches our attention. What is more, visual content is more prone to going viral. Since Instagram is both video and photos oriented, you can use this feature to promote your business through both photo and video materials. High-quality content will be always quoted, commented, shared, and re-shared. If you are lucky enough, a single viral Instagram post will supercharge your brand in a matter of a few hours or days.

RUN PAID INSTAGRAM ADS

Running paid Instagram ad campaigns is very effective. Even if your IG account has very few followers, you can still achieve great results while promoting your business through paid ads on Instagram.

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 encourage all wealthy people to share their financial assets with poor people. I really love what Bill Gates is doing. He has already donated several billions of dollars to some of the world’s poorest countries.

If every wealthy person would share his wealth with those who are in need, then, we would definitely defeat poverty in the world.

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 like to have a private breakfast or lunch with Neil Patel. He is a very smart person and leader. I call him a leader because he has already educated a whole generation of successful online marketers. Also, we are making business in the same niches. Therefore, I would have a lot of topics to discuss with him.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Instagram simplifies the process of… 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: “Make engaging with others’ content…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Make engaging with others’ content and profiles part of your daily routine” With Katelyn McCullough and Candice Georgiadis

Dedicate 30 minutes to an hour each day to engagement. Whether this is first thing in the morning or evening, make engaging with others’ content and profiles part of your daily routine. It’s hard to expect others to engage with your content if you don’t engage with theirs. It’s called social media for a reason. You have to be social for it to work.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Katelyn McCullough, who is the co-founder of Elwynn + Cass, which is a beauty concierge service with a focus on luxury beauty planning. She graduated with a BA in International Business from the University of San Diego. She lives in San Diego, CA, but works for clients all across the nation and around the world.

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

Of course, my pleasure, thank you for having me! The original idea for Elwynn + Cass started when I was growing up. My dad is an attorney and would have clients that had special events/galas that my mother and I wanted to get our hair and makeup professionally done for.

We found the process of hair and makeup and finding artists that are well suited to your needs to be overwhelming. It could take hours to go through google searches alone and even then you don’t know if someone is reliable, does great quality, is professional, etc. We found so many aspects of booking hair and makeup to be impersonal and time consuming, that we wanted a solution to these issues and to curate an experience that we ourselves wanted. Someone to make the whole process easier and stress free, so we could just enjoy the experience, and we realized that others wanted this as well.

About 6 months after I graduated from the University of San Diego, we launched Elwynn + Cass.

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

Social media marketing is all about marketing and selling yourself. Marketing your business, your brand, your personality, etc. I use social media every single day to not only grow my business, but to build trust and rapport with my followers and I’d say it’s working, since in the past year I have grown my business by more than 400% using social media marketing alone.

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

Well an interesting anecdote I think would be how we set up a beauty lounge in Stagecoach one year into business. I remember having the grand idea to pitch Stagecoach about setting up a personalized beauty lounge during the festival that year in the VIP lounge. Not knowing anyone in the parent company (Golden Voice), I emailed the Stagecoach reps on a whim. Literally wrote something akin to:

“Hello! I would love to partner with you on a custom beauty lounge for the VIP guests during the Stagecoach festival. Let me know if you would be open to chatting more!”

Within 2 days, the rep for Stagecoach got back to me and said that they would love to partner and we were part of Stagecoach that year without any cost to us. Just goes to show you that amazing things can happen if you have the guts to ask.

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 certainly wasn’t funny at the time, but now we can look back on it and laugh. In the beginning of the business, we got approached about setting up hair and makeup for a charity fashion show in La Jolla, CA. We are big proponents of doing some work for free to get experience, get recognition, etc. but you want to have it in writing what the details of your trade will be. For this event, we were told it would be 10 ladies for hair and makeup for the fashion show. As the event went on, the number changed from 10 ladies to 25 as the promoter just kept telling people they could get their hair and makeup done. It was our mistake to not get the full details in writing, as we weren’t given compensation. It was a lot of product, additional time and stress.

We still do charity work and trade, but now we have it in writing what the details are. Whether this is in a contract or in an email. You just want to have it in writing that way you can refer to this if things happen to change last minute. It covers your bases and enables you to refuse additional work if proposed last minute.

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 best by far for me. I remember the first time that I got a referral from another vendor, without having met them in person, solely because I interacted with them and left them genuine comments on Instagram. It floored me that someone who I had never met could feel that trust simply because I cared. Just goes to show you that when you care about someone and their successes, life has a way of returning the favor.

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.

Absolutely!

#1: Dedicate 30 minutes to an hour each day to engagement.

Whether this is first thing in the morning or evening, make engaging with others’ content and profiles part of your daily routine. It’s hard to expect others to engage with your content if you don’t engage with theirs. It’s called social media for a reason. You have to be social for it to work.

#2: Slide into the DM (for business)

I do this every single day (even as part of my daily engagement). I consistently comment on people’s stories and love seeing what they are doing with their lives. Think of it like texting. Rather than texting your friends and colleagues what they are up to you, you now have an opportunity to see what they are doing with their lives and feeling part of it. I have gotten clients and referrals from other vendors simply because I have engaged on their stories and then they send me a message that they have a client for me. It’s worth the time.

#3: Personalize your message

People like to feel they are a person and not just a number. If you reach out to someone on Instagram via DM with a pitch or asking to meet up, be sure to personalize your message. Find something about them that you have in common or that you admire about them and put that into your message. The more sincere you are in your message, the more likely someone will take you up on your offer.

I often ask the vendors I admire to meet for coffee or lunch, because I genuinely want to get to know them as people and not just their work. If we end up working together great, but that is not my intent. My intent is to connect with them on a personal level and go from there. If you treat people like a transaction or like a pushy salesperson they will ignore you or refuse your offers.

#4: Search the hashtags you use on your photos

If you use certain hashtags on your photos (i.e “thatsdarling”, “lasvegasweddingplanner”, etc.) you should also follow them and click on them to see who else is using those hashtags. More than likely the people who are using the same hashtags are people you may want to connect with. Within your daily allotment of engagement, search the hashtags you use and see what the top posts are. These are the people you more than likely want to fully engage with and dedicate time to getting to know and creating a rapport.

#5: Pay attention to your own tendencies

I always pay attention to my own tendencies when going through Instagram. I almost always go to Instagram stories first, rather than scrolling through my feed. I will usually start skipping videos in someone’s stories if there are too many talking ones in a row or there is an onslaught of stories in general (i.e. more than 10). Figure out what you are not a fan of and more than likely others feel the same way. This can help you in determining how to best bring value to your followers.

Bonus: Ask your followers using the polls and questions in stories, or on one of your posts itself, what they like to see or would like to see content wise. You want to bring value to your followers, so this is the easiest way of getting to know what they like and find valuable from you.

#6 Give love back to those who have given love to you

Anyone who is watching your stories or liking your photos, go back through and see who they are. I will routinely (at least once a day), go through my stories, see how many people have viewed and then systematically go through each one of their profiles, liking and commenting on photos and stories. It is painstaking I know, but this is another aspect in which you can show someone that you actually care about them and their business and thus build trust. Plus if you do this consistently (not necessarily everyday), you will stay front of mind to these vendors and they will think of you when they are in need.

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 more simplistic in this aspect and genuinely would love to create a movement in which people are unafraid to try something or to ask. I am a firm believer in that the worst anyone will ever say is no, and that it isn’t that bad. Every no will bring you closer to the ‘yes’ you are meant for and there is no reason to get upset about a rejection. We all get rejected, it’s part of life, but how you respond to these rejections is what matters.

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 🙂

Oh this is a difficult question! I’d have to say Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Raz, or Richard Branson… If any of these individuals showed up at my door or invited me to breakfast or lunch, I wouldn’t say no.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Make engaging with others’ content… 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 personality for your brand” W

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Create a personality for your brand” With Melissa Tavss and Candice Georgiadis

Create a personality for your brand. Instagram is an opportunity for people to get to know your brand and what you are all about. Beyond just your company’s offerings and products, you can use Instagram to give your customers a sense of your brand’s essence- what is your brand’s aesthetic, voice, etc. For example, as an ice cream company, most of our photos are of ice cream, but our captions to these photos are about: throwing a party, unwinding after a long week of work, ideas for entertaining etc.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Tavss. Melissa Tavss started Tipsy Scoop in 2014. She previously earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Richmond, and later went on to complete her master’s degree in Integrated Marketing from NYU. Melissa’s background is in marketing and public relations, specializing in the wine and spirits industry. She was responsible for marketing on behalf of various wine and spirits clients for five years at The Baddish Group. Melissa has been quoted in various publications such as Forbes, CNBC, NY Business Journal, and Food & Wine. She has appeared on several TV shows such as Fox Business, ABC New York, Fox NY, and NBC New York. Melissa has been honored by The James Beard Foundation and the Specialty Food Association for her unique offerings as The Founder and CEO of Tipsy Scoop.

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

My Italian ancestors brought ice cream to Scotland in the 1800s. First up — my great, great, great grandfather, Achille, who moved from his small mountaintop town of Picinisco, Italy to Glasgow, Scotland. He made ice cream at home and sold it from a pushcart as he walked the city streets. Eventually he opened his own ice cream shop and brought his sons into the business. The family business continued with my great, great grandfather, Giovanni, who opened several of his own shops around Glasgow in the 1900s. My great grandfather, Federico, continued the family ice cream tradition and opened shops throughout Scotland and England and eventually became the President of the Ice Cream Alliance of Great Britain.

Following in the ice cream tradition, I started to experiment with putting a modern boozy twist on ice cream. I wanted to combine the best of both worlds! I started working on my first own homemade ice cream recipe and found it nearly impossible to get it right in our small Cuisinart ice cream maker. I was struggling and decided to add a tablespoon of alcohol to soften the ice cream. It was icy on the side of the bowl and I couldn’t get it to hold a creamy consistency. The alcohol seemed to help, but my recipe was far from complete. At the same time, I was working at a PR agency, which represented wine and spirits clients. I was lucky enough to bring home lots of samples to experiment with. I began to think — I need more than a tablespoon of alcohol to this ice cream! Why was there no actually boozy ice cream? We know- rum raisin and cherries jubilee but come on — that little amount of rum or brandy will not do the trick!

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

Tipsy Scoop started from an idea, not a traditional business plan at all. An idea that was first tested by family and friends as I served them different variations of recipes in tubberware containers. I tested out recipes on friends and family and tested out the idea and brand concept on social media, specifically on Instagram. I used Instagram to see if the idea had legs and how people (beyond those I knew) responded to it. I was able to gage how viable the brand and idea was through Social media and grow the company that way. I was able to grow my concept for Tipsy Scoop from an idea to a business using our strong social media following and cultivating that following. For that reason, I consider myself an authority on using Social media marketing to drive sales and awareness.

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

in 2016, I was happy to slowly grow the business as we grew our wholesale and catering accounts, and our online and shipping business. At this point, we did not have a storefront and did not plan on having one. However, our social media page followings had been growing rapidly as our online orders increased and people learned about our business. Because of the rapid growth, we were approached by food content companies that were interested in creating videos about Tipsy Scoop and what we were all about.

In the fall of 2016, these videos started launching on Facebook and Instagram. The response was tremendous and caused a real domino effect. The videos started airing one after the other, each going viral: over 7 million views in just a few days! Our email inquiries, order forms, wholesale, and catering sales were completely flooded. People started showing up at our production facility in East Harlem looking for the boozy ice cream “shop” they had seen on their newsfeeds! We are not sure how they found us as the location was in a big warehouse right under the train in the middle of the block in Harlem (not an easy find!)- but they showed up in large groups and when we couldn’t sell them boozy scoops, they bought our boozy pints from us — right there and then! The crowds did not stop showing up and we ultimately had to hire someone just to ring them up. From there, we knew we had to open a storefront where people could go to buy boozy scoops and a shop that lived up to their expectations that were set on Facebook and Instagram!

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, I really thought I could do everything all by myself- or with limited help- from making the boozy ice cream, to selling and distributing it, and so forth. My partner Lyz and I literally hauled boozy pints in our car from grocery store to grocery store delivering orders in coolers in dry ice. We pretended our “truck” was parked around the block and we weren’t just hand delivering on our own! I once dropped Three 3 gallon ice cream tubs on my leg while carting them around- I still have a Hematoma!!! I quickly learned that we needed to build a capable team in order to scale up. You cannot do everything all on your own if you want to grow into a viable business. That is a hard lesson when you are funding your business as well. But investing in people, and good people, is certainly worthwhile and imperative to growth!

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 definitely found video content on both Facebook and Instagram to be the most effective way to increase business revenues. In addition to Facebook and Instagram videos which initially drove traffic to our production facility in East Harlem, these same sorts of videos were extremely effective in generating awareness about our store opening in May 2017.

When our store opened, I was not sure what to expect. We spent the week before the store opening having different content companies in to shoot video of our store offerings. The videos started to be shared right before the opening date which created amazing awareness and excitement about our opening. I arrived at the store at 9am the day of the opening (we were opening at noon), thinking I had plenty of time to set up and get ready. Boy was I wrong! There were already people camped outside our store, around 10 people at 9am, waiting for the store to open at noon! By noon, the line was around the block. We continue to shoot videos about our seasonal offerings and these are a great way to bring new and old customers in and showcase our products.

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.

6 ways to use Instagram to leverage your business:

1. Create a personality for your brand. Instagram is an opportunity for people to get to know your brand and what you are all about. Beyond just your company’s offerings and products, you can use Instagram to give your customers a sense of your brand’s essence- what is your brand’s aesthetic, voice, etc. For example, as an ice cream company, most of our photos are of ice cream, but our captions to these photos are about: throwing a party, unwinding after a long week of work, ideas for entertaining etc. Providing some added value to your customers and giving them a sense of what you are all about makes Instagram a more interesting tool that goes beyond what an e-commerce website could provide someone with.

2. Motivate customers to experience your brand. And SHARE their experience. For a brick and mortar location, use Instagram to show your products and offerings in their natural environment i.e. in your retail location. This seems obvious but showing a physical location online encourages people to go there. They want to go there to see the space in real life! Also if the pictures are enticing enough — to go there, try your stuff, and get their own shot and share that with their following. We sometimes joke that at our Barlour, it seems like customers come in to just take a photo of their ice cream, and we are not even sure if they are going to eat it! (they do eat it, we promise it’s delicious)- but definitely getting that Instagrammable photo is important to them too!

3. Have a conversation with your customers on Instagram. Use Instagram to interact with your customers. You can listen to your customers on the channel and really get some interesting feedback that you can use to better your business! You not only get invaluable insight into your customers’ needs and wants but also get the opportunity to respond to them and start a conversation! Don’t talk at your customers by posting content and then never responding, but rather think of responding to comments as just as important as creating an Instagram posts schedule. You can also source imagery from your customers and repost their content- making it a collaborative effort and including them so they feel special and appreciated- as they should!

4. Show “Behind the scenes” views of your company on Instagram stories. Offer sneak peeks of your company, how your products are made, and provide insider information. This is something small businesses often do better than larger corporations as they are more willing to have a flexible social media schedule and strategy that allows them to post in real time and more spontaneously. Showing your customers what happens behind the scenes is a cool way to let them in and get them more engaged in your brand’s story. For example, we post sneak peeks of the making of new seasonal flavors at our test kitchen and the R and D that goes along with that!

5. Collaborate. Work with different companies and influencers to create new content and product offerings and in doing so, allow your brand to be introduced to their audiences. For example, we collaborated with a lingerie brand for Valentines day to host a giveaway on both their Instagram page and ours. We were then able to leverage the following of a fashion company and introduce our brand to a different audience, beyond foodies and spirits enthusiasts!

6. Be authentic. I am sure there will be lots of people who will disagree with me, but you don’t need to only use professional photos on your Instagram. You also don’t need to plan out your content in an Instagram calendar and schedule your posts so that they sound very rehearsed. Instead, have your employees take photos, use your customers photos and repost them. And create content on the fly sometimes- if it is still 80 degrees in October, don’t post about how it feels like Fall even though that was on the schedule! Your audience will see right through you if you aren’t being authentic and likely lose interest quickly. Keep them interested and keep them scrolling through your feed, then coming to your store, then sharing that experience!


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Create a personality for your brand” W 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: “Do not underestimate the power of raw…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Do not underestimate the power of raw emotion to connect with your audience” With Gracie Page and Candice Georgiadis

Stories were introduced by Instagram when they started realising users were making a second, private account to share less perfect images with their closest friends and family. Responding to this obvious need for a place to share what real life looks like, Stories was born and it’s also the perfect place for your brand to show what real life means to you. Whether its product development, team lunches, getting shipments ready or even the office dog, this is where you can show the heart, personality and soul that goes into what you’re selling. Do not underestimate the power of raw emotion to connect with your audience.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gracie Page. Innovation Lead for global advertising agency VMLY&R and adtech expert Gracie Page, who works with iconic British and global brands like McDonald’s, the BBC, Ford, the Premier League, Monopoly and many more to design brand-consumer interactions that make customers lives better. Gracie knows the world’s strongest brands are those connecting with their audience past simple transactional moments, and works to ensure technology is always used as a means not an end. When she isn’t supporting teams of strategists and creatives, or mentoring as a Mayor of London “Digital Pioneer”, she’s writing for the press.

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

It’s been a long and winding road! My first career started age 9 when I commited full time to an Olympic dream of figure skating. A spinal injury put an end to that, and I went to university as a “mature student” to study molecular biology. After a stint in genetic engineering, I realised I had to choose between going for my Ph.D in cancer research, or taking a left turn and studying for a Masters in tech entrepreneurship. I bit the bullet and turned my back on a life in academia, opting instead to found a skincare company in week two of my Masters course using research from my days in the lab as the basis for the product. When the company crashed and burned, I realised I didn’t have a clue how to discern or speak to audiences, so I took the very logical next step of applying for a job in advertising to learn as much as I could. I brought in ten years experience as a freelance web developer, my tech entrepreneurship battlescars, and scientific mindset and never looked back!

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

I’ve been working with the social media medium for over ten years in a plethora of guises. Between running a top-10-on-the-internet niche subject matter blog, devising creative low-budget start-up strategies for social campaigns, heading up daily production of McDonald’s social media content in the United Kingdom, and working on every part of the social media marketing funnel from strategy, creative ideation through to technical feasibility, platform partnerships and delivery, there isn’t a corner of social media I haven’t explored. I led the team that saw Play-Doh launch their first ever UK-specific social media campaign, produced wildly popular social media stories for Monopoly, and work hand-in-hand with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter every week to push the boundaries of what’s possible on their sites and apps for world-leading brands.

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

Every day in an interesting story in my line of work! No two days are alike, which makes it difficult to choose just one. As a Creative Technologist at Young & Rubicam the default expectation of me was to bring technology-heavy solutions to the business problems we were solving for our clients. Sometimes technology isn’t needed, but a scientific outlook can bring left-field answers to the table when they’re least expected. Once I was asked to solve the problem of driving guests to in-resort dining destinations, and the front-running idea at the time was to make an app to smooth the reservation process. Once we got in to it though, I realised the goal wasn’t to put butts on seats in the resort restaurants, but rather reduce the number of guests bringing in their own food from surrounding supermarkets. With this in mind, the team and I got on the phone and brokered a partnership with a leading cooking box subscription service to deliver recipes and all the necessary fresh ingredients to guests who weren’t into sitting in restaurants at the end of a long day with the kids. The answer wasn’t an incredible piece of technology, but rather to reconsider the job at hand and the customers’ needs. I always think back fondly on this anecdote because it proves that being innovative isn’t always synonymous with building apps.

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 was coding a website for McDonald’s and closed my text editor before saving the file. Right at the end of the day. I had lost about 2 hours of debugging work, and ended up in the office until 3am re-cleaning my code. The later it got, the less my brain worked, and what had taken 30 minutes before now took three times as long. I was horrified at my own stupidity, and rather fittingly just sat there alone in the office, with the motion-sensor lights switching off every 3 minutes. Darkness, a glowing screen, and me intermittently flailing my arms like a mad woman to turns them back on. My partner brought me those yoghurt snacks that come in a tube at about 11pm, and I’ll never forget writing CSS drinking strawberry yoghurt through the night. Thoroughly absurd. I learned that backups are king — a simple lesson but a lifelong one!

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?

That depends entirely on the business goals and the people the business is trying to speak with. Notice I said “with”, not “to” — social media is a place for dialogue and brands that connect with consumers are those that do best out of social. When I was producing McDonald’s we spent 4 days a week coming up with new concepts, trying them out, shooting them and getting them fit for Facebook. But the best post we ever put out was shot on my iPhone at the local McD’s on London’s Tottenham Court Road, and simply showed a McFlurry ice cream with the tag line “tag a mate who should go on a McFlurry run now”. We hit over 30,000 comments in one day, and racked up millions of views. This is testament to the fact that social media marketing works when you bring the user in on the action.

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. Show your brand’s personality (alongside the glossiness)

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the ultra-manicured visuals of the Instagram platform. Every image in a profile’s “grid” should sit harmoniously with those surrounding it — no mean feat to plan and execute, and it’s essential to convey your brand’s product, purpose and message. But what about personality? That’s where Instagram Stories comes it. Stories were introduced by Instagram when they started realising users were making a second, private account to share less perfect images with their closest friends and family. Responding to this obvious need for a place to share what real life looks like, Stories was born and it’s also the perfect place for your brand to show what real life means to you. Whether its product development, team lunches, getting shipments ready or even the office dog, this is where you can show the heart, personality and soul that goes into what you’re selling. Do not underestimate the power of raw emotion to connect with your audience.

2. Make your content interactive

We all know that consumers are saturated with online content, and we’ve all been a thumb-scrolling zombie at one time or another on Instagram. The content just flows in a never-ending stream, and our eyes glaze over as all the perfection blends into one. So how can you draw your customers and leads out of autopilot mode? Ask them for their opinion. Ask them for recommendations. Ask them to choose between things. Making your content interactive is an amazing way to connect with your customers on IG, because it not only shows you value their input, you might actually unearth incredible insights that can help inform business decisions. AirBnB did this brilliantly in a campaign where they posted a beautiful photo of a destination and asked the audience to choose between two options as to where they thought the photo was taken. Simple, but very engaging.

3. Engage at an individual level

It’s no secret we all just want to feel heard. When you’re a brand on Instagram and you’re doing well enough to be receiving comments, shares and answers to Stories, the least you can do is respond to that person. Although you may be dealing with 1,000 such interactions a day, those individual prospective fans only interacted once (most likely). This is not about you, it’s about your customers. So put yourself in their shoes: if you commented on a post of a brand you love, and they responded something genuinely warm/funny/helpful you’d experience a heightened affinity for that brand. So do to others as you’d have done to you as a consumer. And if you’re getting too many to feel like you can manage to engage individually, congratulations! That’s a lovely problem to have. The solution is to hire a community manager who can consistently deliver the tone of voice that represents your brand’s personality on the platform.

4. Lead a community

There’s a lot to be said for standing up for the things that are important to your brand. If you take the risk of raising your hand, you’ll find your tribe. So start something, and lead it. Starting a # on Instagram is hard work, but if it truly encapsulates what you and your followers are about it can reap rewards of spreading the word about your brand organically (that is, without having to spend money) and lend enormous credibility to you as a movement-leader. Editorial brand @theprettycities has amassed over 350k followers on its main and city-specific accounts by launching #prettycities as a call to action for users who are already sharing images of the cutest corners of their hometowns. This works because it taps into a pre-existing user behaviour (taking such photos), and gives those snappers a community to belong to.

5. Give the world tools to express themselves, then get out the way

Millennial knitting brand Wool And The Gang are all about knitwear. They sell all the implements to start crafting, and have an irreverent makers-are-ace attitude on their social media accounts. But on Instagram they went one step further, by creating a set of “Instagram Stickers” (technically there’s no such thing as brand Stickers, but brands can create GIFs on a transparent background and distribute them through Giphy, which has an Instagram Stories integration). Consumers posting stories about their daily lives love to embellish them with nuggets of visual content, and GIFs are one of the most popular ways of doing so. By creating these “Sticker” GIFs, Wool And The Gang gave millions knitters on Instagram a way to express themselves when they’re posting about their knitting. Just like that, the brand spreads organically, and users enjoying the stickers will remember WATG for longer as a brand that helps them live their best crafty life.

6. Understand the value exchange

We must always remember that when consumers engage with branded content, they are doing so on the basis that they’ll derive value in exchange for their attention. And as consumers become increasingly time-poor, what they get in return for their attention needs to be inordinately wonderful to justify that sacrifice. As a brand, remember that it’s your job to deliver so much value to users when they consume your Instagram content, that they can’t help but want to come back for more. This could be insanely useful tutorial content, insights from experts they could never normally gain access to, or even sheer entertainment that puts a smile on their face. Whatever they’re giving you, you need to give back 10x.

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. 🙂

That movement is what I call: Slow Tech Living.

In Western society, it has become essential to be “connected”. To consume digital technology to go about our daily lives. We have digital products and services for every aspect of our rich, complex existence: from taking a pro-grade photo of your best friend, to calling home on the other side of the world, or finding the love of your life. Or, you know, just ordering pizza. Tech has afforded us convenience and connection, but many want to shame you for your use of it and purport the only way forward is to “log off”, “delete accounts” or perform “digital detox”. Whatever that is. These so-called champions of a less connected life use hyperbolic language to make us feel guilty about the services we know and love to use. “Put your phone away NOW!” shouts one headline, “You’re addicted to your phone!” reads another.

But there’s something else going on here.

Technology companies, governments, educational institutions, and many more society-shaping organisations have spent billions of dollars designing products and services that leverage fundamental human psychological hooks to keep us using their services. I reject the premise that our use of such services makes us somehow “weak”, and I reject the premise we should be ashamed of it. But of course, I’m no fool, and I can see that over-stimulation through constant connection is starting to hurt us. The reports on the links between dwindling mental health and screen usage are undeniable. But isn’t there a happy medium, that doesn’t require us all to promptly throw away our iPhones?

Yes, there is. It’s called Slow Tech Living.

“Humane tech”, or “slow tech” is a school of design thought that outlines a set of design principles championing the placement of the end user at the heart of the digital experience. By applying humane tech thinking to the design of digital products and services, people are able to use technology as an enabler of their own potential. And those are great guiding principles for the companies designing the future phones and sites we’ll love using. But what about the rest of us?

Slow Tech Living is the translation of slow tech principles into our daily lives. It’s a philosophy that champions mindful disconnect at the right time, helping you enjoy the moment fully. It doesn’t suggest you throw your phone away, and it doesn’t presume you’re fine with the idea of throwing away the conveniences modern tech affords us. Life is all about balance, with tech as with everything else.

You can find my full post on the topic, and my most important message (cut yourself some slack!) here:

https://thatchicgeeklife.com/2018/07/16/quit-feeling-guilty-why-technology-isnt-your-enemy/

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 🙂

Angela Ahrendts, Senior VP Retail at Apple. She is an incredible role model for women in business and is spearheading a shift in the way Apple interacts with its customers and the wider communities in which they operate by refocusing the retail experience around deep connection that transcends transactions. She films a weekly selfie video for the Apple workforce that goes over whatever’s on her mind that week, making herself an approachable leader as a result. Angela’s simple approach to designing user-centric experiences is what I admire most however. Simply put, she says: “have empathy. Care. It’s not rocket science.” And she’s right, it really is as simple as that.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Do not underestimate the power of raw… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.