“How you should use (but not overuse) hashtags” With GeekSmash CEO, Joe Delbridge

Use (but don’t overuse) hashtags — Hashtags are becoming less important with each new Instagram update, but they’re still somewhat useful for when someone wants to search for that tag. While the # symbol isn’t necessary if you can work the words into your post, they can be helpful for variations. Place them as a comment rather than crowding your post.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Delbridge, CEO of GeekSmash, a pop culture focused marketing agency that manages influencer marketing campaigns for major brands and popular social media influencers. Joe started GeekSmash in 2012 as a blog and converted it into a marketing agency in March of 2016. Also an experienced martial artist, Joe derives many of his business principles from the “The Book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi and he has a passion for teaching and helping others realize their dreams.

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 my pleasure. I love going to comic cons; I have since I was a kid. I knew I wanted to work in the industry, but getting a job in it can be quite the challenge, so rather than wait for a door to open, I built my own door, kicked it in, and now here I am! I’ve found that I’m gifted in creative marketing strategy and in growing brands and have combined that with my passion for the pop culture industry, specifically on the geeky side.

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

I finished my bachelor’s degree in Internet Marketing at Full Sail University in early 2017, graduated Valedictorian, and had multiple awards, including the Academic Achievement Award. I’ve since taken on the influencer marketing space with vigor. I regularly connect with brands that want to grow their businesses through influencer marketing and have provided income opportunities for social media influencers by working with these brands. I’ve managed over 100 social media influencers directly and I’m currently on the forefront of the industry, creating standards in the influencer marketing space on which the brand and influencer can rely. Up until now, it’s been pretty much the wild west in terms of what influencers can charge, what brands should pay to see a good ROI, and some best practices for seeing results.

I’ve even created both Instagram and YouTube engagement rate calculators, which you can find on my website, https://www.geeksmash.com. These calculators show both parties how much a particular influencer should be paid based on their followers, average views, and engagement rate. It’s also a nice tool to help prevent a brand from being taken advantage of by a fake influencer who buys followers.

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

No single story stands out. I think that mostly, I just feel so fortunate to surround myself with exceptional individuals who remind me every day in what human beings can do when they find their calling.

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?

Facebook is the heavyweight champ here. We consistently compare closely with Google Ads in terms of cost per click, but usually fare better. The reason that it works best is because of several factors:

YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine, so there’s a greater chance that people will find your promotion simply by searching here. Frequently, people will search for brands to view unboxings or reviews on YouTube before purchasing.

YouTube videos tend to continue to get a reasonable amount of views long after they’re published as opposed to Instagram, which tends to slow down to a crawling halt only a couple of days after posting.

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. Tag curators — These are accounts who scrub the web and Instagram daily to curate content that their readers might find interesting, so help them out by sharing your story and your products with them through your posts.
  2. Use (but don’t overuse) hashtags — Hashtags are becoming less important with each new Instagram update, but they’re still somewhat useful for when someone wants to search for that tag. While the # symbol isn’t necessary if you can work the words into your post, they can be helpful for variations. Place them as a comment rather than crowding your post.
  3. Share your story — Everyone loves a good story and you have one whether you think so or not. Use Instagram to chronicle your journey and share this with your followers. It humanizes your brand and makes you more relatable.
  4. Share mistakes — This goes back to humanizing your brand. Don’t worry about being perfect.
  5. Create a curation account — If you can find a way to curate content and grow that account beside your own, you can eventually use it to post your own products without having to pay an influencer or another curator.
  6. Spend money — It’s no mystery that these platforms operate off of revenues from ads, so don’t be afraid to fork over money to gain followers and spread your brand message. Just be sure to include the link to your website or store in your bio.

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 oddly passionate about reducing waste. For example, if we could remove unnecessary printed receipts and coupons from grocery stores along, we would have an enormously positive impact on our environment. Plus, it would be a great cost saver for the stores, so I don’t know why this isn’t already happening!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger! He’s inspired me since childhood. He’s a habitual winner that plows through any obstacles to obtain his goals. It would be an honor to meet Arnold and share my appreciation for him.

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


“How you should use (but not overuse) hashtags” With GeekSmash CEO, Joe Delbridge was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Why you should never ask for trades on social media” With Finish Fit CEO, Armen Ghazarians

Avoid statements like “shout-out for shout-out”, “like for like”, or “follow for follow”. Never ask for trades. It’s rude and most likely you’ll get blocked by the other party. Simply be generous with your likes and be gracious with your comments on other profiles. Read Bob Berg’s book called the “Go Giver”. You’ll understand these steps after you read the book.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Armen Ghazarians, the CEO of Finish Fit®. With over 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, he has created the Finish Fit® Coaching System which combines the power of technology with the knowledge of Finish Fit® Coaches to remotely train its clients 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?

In high school I was a cross country runner. I was fit and felt great. My story changed when I started college. I focused so much on school that I lost sight of my health and fitness. I gained 50 pounds over 5 years and my cholesterol shot through the roof. The funny part was that I didn’t realize how overweight I was until I took a good look at my license photo. I was shocked! So, I hired a personal trainer and went on the WW diet. It wasn’t long before my trainer told me that he landed a gig on a TV show. Understandably, he left to pursue his dreams. The next question for me was: now what? I studied fitness, got certified, and started working as a trainer at various gyms. Now, after spending nearly 20 years in the fitness industry and receiving over a dozen certifications, I’ve started my own fitness company, Finish Fit®. I created Finish Fit® with the desire to help all those who are struggling with their health and fitness just as I did. My mission is to help change lives for the better, just as my trainer and WW helped change mine.

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

I believe I’m an authority on Social Media Marketing because I’ve leveraged it successfully to promote the Finish Fit® brand.

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

Perhaps the most interesting story that has happened to me is that I’ve had to transition from being a technician (personal trainer) to an entrepreneur (CEO) in order to make my company a success. The learning curve has been steep and I’ve had to work extremely hard to master many different skills.

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 completely oblivious of social media when I started my company. So, I would randomly create posts at odd hours with little engagement and for a very long time I could not figure out why. Eventually, through a lot of trial and error, I learned how to time social media posts correctly for best engagement.

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

For many years we used Facebook exclusively to increase our business revenues. However, recently, we have had a paradigm shift. Our Instagram posts have gained greater audience engagement than our Facebook posts. Hence, we have begun to focus more of our social media marketing efforts on 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. Treat each engagement as a “make it or break it” interaction. Take the time to respond to every comment and be generous with you “likes”.
  2. Avoid statements like “shout-out for shout-out”, “like for like”, or “follow for follow”. Never ask for trades. It’s rude and most likely you’ll get blocked by the other party. Simply be generous with your likes and be gracious with your comments on other profiles. Read Bob Berg’s book called the “Go Giver”. You’ll understand these steps after you read the book.
  3. Timing your posts is essential. We have found that posting between 5pm-7pm PST works best on weekdays. And posting between 3pm-5pm PST gets the most engagements on weekends.
  4. Content is king. However, not just any content will suffice. You have to go beyond generic posts. You content must be educational, inspiring, novel, and authentic. You must engage your audience and your content must be catered to your niche.
  5. Master “Pareto’s Principle”. Applying this to Instagram, the 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of your results come from 20% of your posts. So, it’s vital that you follow each post’s analytics to know which posts perform the best. By doing so, you can model future posts after ones that have a proven track record.
  6. Research your “hashtags”. Use the right “hashtags” to get your content found on Instagram. There are tools like “http://hashtagify.me/” that can help you with this.

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 inspire everyone around the world to begin a healthy lifestyle that incorporates good eating habits, regular exercise, and daily stress management.

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 have breakfast or lunch with the CEO of WW, Mindy Grossman. When I began my personal weight loss journey over 20 years ago, I joined WW and went to its weekly meetings. WW changed my life and set me on my current path. I’d like to partner with WW to bring the Finish Fit® Coaching System to its members.

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


“Why you should never ask for trades on social media” With Finish Fit CEO, Armen Ghazarians 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: “Gather qualitative data” With Kara…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Gather qualitative data” With Kara Harms and Candice Georgiadis

Instagram is an incredibly useful way to gather qualitative data. You can write thought starts in a caption or questions to prompt comments from followers/customers. You can even use the “Questions” feature in Stories to do this. Ask your followers a question that can’t be answered with quantitative data points and within a few hours, you’ll have plenty of responses to review! Best part? You can do this for free! I use this all the time when making roundups. Just this week I used the Questions feature to quickly gather a list of books for an upcoming blog post.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kara Harms, the co-founder of Whimsy Soul, a body positive lifestyle blog based in San Francisco. She creates content that is focused on inspiring women to find confidence in their daily lives. Kara and her husband made over 100,000 in 2018, all with under 65,000 Instagram followers. After earning six figures this year alone, Whimsy Soul is proof that you don’t need hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to have a lucrative channel. Just a powerful, close knit community and an authentic voice.

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’m one of those people who had no intention of being a fulltime blogger / influencer. Heck, that wasn’t even a real career yet when I was in college! When I moved to San Francisco from the Midwest (I hate the snow and needed better weather, seriously!) I was set on pursuing a career in social media for big companies out here like Uber or Old Navy. The catch 22 of the real world is that it’s really hard to get hired for a job like social media management when you don’t have any professional experience actually running social media channels.

I quickly realized after a series of unsuccessful interviews that I needed to have at least one social community I could point to and be like “Look at this. I did this well and grew this channel by x% in 6 months, so you should hire me to work on yours.” So one night, I started Whimsy Soul and scaled it to 3,000 Instagram followers in about 2 months. It honestly started out as a way for me to show off my creative skills to get a big girl job, and it worked! I was able to leverage my personal Instagram account and blog into multiple full time jobs over the years. But, it didn’t take long for me to really fall in love with working on Whimsy Soul. I l love writing, creating and inspiring fellow women. By the end of that first year, I was set on making Whimsy Soul my full time career. After 3 and a half years, I made it happen.

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

I’m one of the rarities who have actually worn both the hats as a brand and a content creator/influencer. I’ve been on both sides professionally, which has given me the opportunity approach social media marketing in different ways that others may be able to. This really comes in handy every day when we work on sponsored content. I have to ability predict what a brand is probably looking for, how they are measuring success, how our work will be talked about internally and use that forsite to craft meaningful social content that jives with our followers well while helping our partners reach their goals.

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

Being an influencer can take you on some crazy rollercoasters. For instance, in January 2018, we worked with Lufthansa on a campaign where they sent us to Frankfurt… for just one night! They reached out to use just a few days before Christmas with this trip happening the first week in the new year. Lufthansa holds an annual fashion show on a plane (it’s a pretty great way to pass time on a long flight!) and wanted us onboard to cover it.

The catch? That flight left from Frankfurt, so we had to fly there first. It all happened so quickly that there wasn’t time to send us any earlier, so we flew all the way to Frankfurt, got to walk around the city for about 7 hours, passed out in our hotel, woke up and flew back to the United States the next morning. I was so jetlagged I legitmaily fell asleep in a Frankfurt historical museum!

Even though it was a crazy whirlwind trip, it was so much fun and makes a really great story. I mean, who else can say they flew to Germany for one night randomly (and got paid to do it)?

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

#love #shoe #dress #cool #blogger #street #ootd #iloveshoes….

Sometimes I look back on some of my first Instagram posts and can only laugh at the the stupid hashtags I used. Why so many stupid hashtags? These days I’m way more strategic about what hashtags we use on a post. I use this tool called Display Purposes to conduct hashtag research to help extend the reach of our posts. #love just doesn’t cut it anymore!

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?

Hands down, Instagram has been the best social platform for my blog business. As an influencer, Instagram is where the money is at right now in terms of brand deals. Everyone and their mother wants to run Instagram-based Influencer campaigns. This year alone, we’ve made over six figures from brand deals and most of our partners were interested in working with us because of our Instagram channel. Even though we have a strong blog readership and even command over 1 million monthly views on Pinterest, leveraging our Instagram channel into a revenue stream has literally been the key to making Whimsy Soul a hobby-turned-career.

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. If you’re an influencer, now is the time to leverage Instagram from just a social channel to a main source of revenue. I firmly believe that a successful blog business needs to have multiple streams of revenue. Affiliate sales, banner ads and selling products are classics ways to earn passive income, but right now Instagram-based campaigns are a great way to quickly increase your business’ revenue. I’ve personally made over six figures this year, and most partners wanted to work with me because of my Instagram account. Having a profitable year on Instagram means I can afford essential business upgrades and have the liberty to write blog posts about whatever I want, usually evergreen content that overtime can earn tons of passive income.
  2. Instagram is an incredibly useful way to gather qualitative data. You can write thought starts in a caption or questions to prompt comments from followers/customers. You can even use the “Questions” feature in Stories to do this. Ask your followers a question that can’t be answered with quantitative data points and within a few hours, you’ll have plenty of responses to review! Best part? You can do this for free! I use this all the time when making roundups. Just this week I used the Questions feature to quickly gather a list of books for an upcoming blog post.
  3. Of course, you can also use Instagram Stories to gather quantitative data. On top of monitoring insights on static posts to help indicate what products, ideas, mesassing, etc your customers are responding to, you can also use Stories to do quick polls. Want to know their opinion on a new product or article vertical you’re considering? Use a poll! (IE: would you like to see us sell shoes?)
  4. Drive more pageviews with Instagram Stories and Highlights swipe-ups. “Link in bio” works, but the swipe up feature is a powerful way to drive traffic to your website and make conversions.
  5. Conduct takeovers with influencers to spark brand intrigue and gain access to a new audience! Working with key influencers to do channel takeovers is a smart way to diversify your content and tap into a new audience who may turn into paying customers.
  6. Forge an emotional connection with customers. Instagram is highly personal! Your social media manager has to read and reply back to comments. They may be coming from a brand, but a human is still behind the voice. Take the time to write meaningful replies and answering DM’s in a timely, thoughtful manner can help you forge a loyal following. I personally take the time to answer any questions my community has and work on relationship with my followers. This high emotional connection has lead to a loyal following who keep coming back to Whimsy Soul to feel that connection1

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 love the idea of using influence to spread doing good. It’s not all about sharing cool vacation spots or a trendy jacket to buy. Just today I bought sandwiches for a homeless man at the bus stop and reminded my followers on Stories that doing good for others in need is important. I’d love to see more influencers share about topics like politics they believe in or great charities to support. If we can use our influence to drive massive revenue streams for brands, why can’t we apply that same power to helping others? The world would be such a better place.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’m pretty sure drinks with Gary Vee would be both enlightening and entertaining.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Gather qualitative data” With Kara… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Why you need to understand the Instagram algorithm” With Brian Peters, digital marketing manager…

“Why you need to understand the Instagram algorithm” With Brian Peters, digital marketing manager at Buffer

Understand the Instagram algorithm. Social media algorithms play a very important role in the ability for marketers and business owners to make an impact online. And although the Instagram algorithm is often difficult to understand, businesses need to learn to work with it and not against it if they want to find success. In hundreds of conversations with marketers around the world, we’ve found that something as simple as posting consistently can dramatically improve your business results.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Peters. Brian is the digital marketing manager at Buffer, a social media management platform that makes it easy for businesses and marketing teams to schedule posts, analyze performance, and manage all their accounts in one place. Based in the Rocky Mountains, Brian manages Buffer’s digital marketing campaigns and initiatives across the board such as social media, partnerships, advertising, content, video, the Buffer podcast, and more. Brian and his wife Katelyn have lived in eight different cities over the last two years, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, and Vancouver, B.C.

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 very fortunate to be in the position I am today at Buffer — it’s truly a dream come true to be able to live and work remotely from wherever makes me happiest in the world.

I started out in the insurance industry in 2012 and quickly realized that insurance wasn’t going to be my long-term career path, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. That’s when I met a professor at my alma mater that introduced me to the world of marketing. Although I was really good at sales, marketing captivated me in a way that is hard to explain. I never looked back.

Five short years later, after various marketing roles in social media, brand management, and digital marketing at one of California’s top universities, I am proud to say that I’m going on my third year at Buffer. Every day brings a new opportunity and challenge to solve as digital marketing manager, where my role includes a bit of everything: social media, advertising, podcasting, content marketing, partnerships, product management, video marketing — you name it.

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

There are so many incredible people working in the social media industry these days; I feel super grateful to be able to play a small part in helping marketers, and business owners improve their social media results on crucial platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

Over the years I’ve helped multiple organizations grow their social media accounts — followers and engagement — while simultaneously impacting the bottom line. As the digital marketing manager at Cal Poly University, I led the team that increased engagement by 800% over the course of two years. I also managed all social media and communications for the Office of the President. At Buffer, I’ve helped to increase our total audience size from 400,000 in 2016 to more than 1,000,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Perhaps most importantly, I’ve worked with several great brands such as Animoto, BuzzSumo, Delmondo, and others to publish original pieces of research in the social media industry. This science-backed approach to social media marketing is one of the main factors that have helped us to be so successful over the years.

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

I’ve always believed that in the world of marketing and social media, if you focus on consistently helping and educating people, eventually someone will take notice.

That’s precisely what happened in early 2017 when we partnered with Animoto on a big research study that looked at how landscape (16:9) video format performed vs square (1:1) video format on social media.

That partnership led to an invitation to speak alongside Gary Vaynerchuk and Sue Bryce at the Animoto Video Summit in New York City. I was out of my league, but Gary and Sue were terrific people. They gave me some advice on those starting their marketing careers:

Learn to love failing. Trying and experimenting with new strategies almost always leads to failure (and that’s a good thing!) Success is often by a byproduct of failing and getting back up.

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

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my career!

However, one of the biggest mistakes I made when I was first starting out, and one that I now look back on and laugh, was when I was personally managing the President of Cal Poly University’s Twitter account.

As many social media marketers know, you can easily switch back and forth between Twitter accounts in the app. Well, I thought I was Tweeting from my personal account, but I was still logged in under the President’s account. I Tweeted something about the Los Angeles Dodgers and didn’t realize for about two hours that I had sent the Tweet out under the wrong account. Needless to say, the President wasn’t too happy with me!

I learned that when you’re in a public-facing position such as roles within marketing and social media, you have to be nearly perfect with everything from timing to spelling to grammar. That Tweet is the reason why I still double-check everything before posting anything to social.

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?

Today, I’ve found that Facebook and Instagram offer the most effective way for businesses to increase their revenue on social media directly. Not only do they offer more than 2 billion monthly users on their platform for businesses to target, but they also feature robust advertising tools to reach very specific audiences.

For example, I helped consult for a small e-commerce brand on the side during the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend, and we were able to drive more than $2,500 in revenue from Instagram Ads alone — spending a mere $250 total in advertisements. That’s a 900% return on investment (ROI)!

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. Utilize Instagram Stories

An incredible 400 million people around the world use Instagram Stories on a daily basis (with that number rapidly growing by the minute). Whether you’re promoting your product, giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your business, or simply posting entertaining content, the Stories format offers businesses an exciting new way to reach audiences. At Buffer, for example, we’re using Instagram Stories to drive awareness around various company initiatives that help drive traffic back to our key landing pages.

2. Understand the Instagram algorithm

Social media algorithms play a very important role in the ability for marketers and business owners to make an impact online. And although the Instagram algorithm is often difficult to understand, businesses need to learn to work with it and not against it if they want to find success. In hundreds of conversations with marketers around the world, we’ve found that something as simple as posting consistently can dramatically improve your business results.

3. Boost your top performing posts

Growing your account organically is wonderful, but it’s also a huge challenge for many businesses. By putting a few dollars behind your top performing posts, you’re greatly increasing the speed at which your account will grow. At Buffer, for example, we spend $20 per day on boosting our top posts, which has helped us to grow our account by an average over 50% month-over-month. Not to mention the thousands of engagements we receive in the process.

4. Embrace user-generated content

One thing that we hear from businesses is that it’s difficult to find and create consistently engaging content for Instagram. I believe that the best way to supplement your own branded content is to feature posts from your community and other users. There is an unlimited amount of beautiful content on Instagram today and businesses that know where to look and how to tap into that content are seeing tremendous results. During the period of six months in 2018, we saw a 300% growth in audience size after experimenting with a UGC strategy.

5. Maximize your hashtags

Instagram is one of the few social media platforms where hashtags truly matter and make a big impact on results. Hashtags play an important role in the Instagram algorithm when it comes to content discoverability in the Explore feed. When used correctly, hashtags can help users that have never heard of your brand or business discover your content. For pro users, we recommend adding the hashtags as the “first comment” on your own post in order to keep your caption clean and tidy. Also, try to use no more than 15 highly-targeted and relevant hashtags for best results with your content.

6. Pay attention to the small details

With more than 1 billion monthly users, Instagram is becoming a second “home page” for businesses around the world. In other words, your Instagram account is an extension of your brand’s website or storefront. Businesses should treat it that way. Pay attention to even the smallest details such as your company description, website URL, how your feed looks on the whole, the language you use, your captions, etc. Everything matters. Many of the most successful brands on Instagram today use their feed as a visual representation of what their brand is all about.

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

If I could spark a movement it would most certainly be in relation to social media and the 2 billion+ people that use the various networks each month. While there is a TON of good on social today, I also feel like there is a lot of negativity that is spread and passed along on social media.

I’d love to inspire and encourage a larger majority of people to use social media to positively impact the world. Whether that’s raising money for natural disasters, helping others that are going through tough times, or simply saying something kind each day to people in your network, there’s so much potential. After all, social media connects more than one third of the earth’s population, we just need to understand how to better leverage that power.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

If I could sit down with one person in the world for breakfast it would be the host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah. He went through so much growing up in South Africa to get where he is today that I think I could learn a ton from him. He’s an inspiration in so many different ways.

Plus, Trevor Noah is an amazing storyteller and has a knack for understanding and conveying the human experience on a deep, personal level. That sort of thing is infinitely interesting to me.

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


“Why you need to understand the Instagram algorithm” With Brian Peters, digital marketing manager… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Why you should repost your customers’ content” With Woops!

“Why you should repost your customers’ content” With Woops! co-founder Tal Avivi & Candice Georgiadis

Repost, repost, repost. Reposting our customer’s content is a big thing we do. We’ve found that the more interaction and exposure we give to our customers and influencers, the more they want to share their experience at Woops! with others. It gives them a chance to be creative and become a part of our brand story.

Armed with 20+ years of restaurant experience, Tal Avivi co-founded Woops! with four friends. What started as a holiday pop-up in Bryant Park has turned into a thriving business, with over 40 locations across nearly 20 states. Avivi currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for the brand.

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

I have more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, doing everything from waitressing, floor management, and other customer facing roles. After I graduated with my Master’s in International Affairs from the New School, three of my friends and I decided to open a macaron pop-up in the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park in New York City. We ended up selling over 100,000 macarons in 9 weeks and realized that “Woops!” we had a business! I was one of the first partners to focus all my time into the company as the first CEO of Woops!. Now I serve as the Chief Marketing and Design Officer where I oversee all marketing, design and branding for Woops!.

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

Social media has been instrumental in launching our brand and is a key element in our marketing strategy. Social media happened naturally for us. Our products are incredibly visual. The impact of the visuals of our product and using our locations as the background has created a perfect haven for Instagrammers and bloggers — something about the colorfulness of the macarons coupled with how we design our locations has drawn Instagrammers in. We care about our design — everything from the black and white background, the textures in our stores — and the thought of our design is visually appealing, which pushes Influencers to incorporate the space or product into a photo with them. Then, they become a part of our space and they want to share the space with other people. It’s a very natural process.

We really encourage creativity in our spaces and we welcome people to use our space for whatever they want. We want people to take advantage of the space, whether it is a small or large photoshoot. It’s about cultivating a culture and community of creative people.

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

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by a man who used to live by our Williamsburg location with his wife. They used to love coming in and his wife particularly loved our white chocolate pecan coconut cookies. He mentioned that they recently moved to Portugal and she found out she was pregnant. Now she is craving our cookie and he asked if there was any way we could send a recipe or box of cookies. We ended up tweaking our recipe to fit a home quantity and passed it on to him. He emailed a few weeks after to say his wife was very excited to have the cookies again. It was a very heartwarming story and a tangible showing of our impact.

Overall, the most interesting part about this role is not a specific moment, but rather the accumulation of the people I’m meeting. From the customers to our franchisees, it is a whole world of diversity and it’s been fascinating to get to know everyone. Whenever I think about getting to know that rainbow of human beings, what we are doing and where this business is taking us, I’m in awe.

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?

Around the beginning when we first started franchising, we decided to do a little joke for April Fool’s. We created a macaron pizza, with tomato sauce and cheese and all the works. We took a photo, posted about it and thought it was a funny joke. Turns out, we got a lot of customers asking where they could order a pizza macarons and a few franchisees upset that they didn’t know we sold that. What we learned from that experience, is that everything we post on social media can have an impact and we need to be careful when posting. We also learned that if you post a joke, etc. on social media, you need to make sure the right people are informed ahead of time and in on the joke. It was a funny April Fool’s joke though.

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?

Our most active platform is Instagram. It’s hard to know if it is the most effective in increasing sales, but as far as brand awareness, exposure and identity, Instagram has proven to be a great tool for us. We use it as an introduction to new franchisees and new customers, and as a way to communicate with influencers to get even more exposure and collaboration.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Have appealing content. We are fortunate to have visually appealing products and bakeshops that bring in natural light. Our feed incorporates bakeshops and products and we focus on consistency to ensure each photo is eye catching and our entire feed is visually appealing.

2. Use Stories Content. Stories are getting more popular as a tool on Instagram. It is instrumental in getting to know customers, engaging and developing relationships with them, and getting feedback. Post polls, questions and other fun content on Stories to make the most of this feature.

3. Repost, repost, repost. Reposting our customer’s content is a big thing we do. We’ve found that the more interaction and exposure we give to our customers and influencers, the more they want to share their experience at Woops! with others. It gives them a chance to be creative and become a part of our brand story.

4. Engage. Instagram is a great tool to interact with customers and build a community, and can be used to communicate with influencers and collaborate.

5. Optimize Highlights. We use Highlights to show other aspects of our business, outside of the product. We have Highlights to share location information and press articles to emphasize our franchise opportunity. Customers can use Highlights to quickly check to see where we are located.

6. Consistency is key. We plan our feed two weeks in advance to make sure it is consistent and all photos align with our marketing schedule. Our feed is like our portfolio — is it the first impression to customers and potential franchisees. We make sure all the editing is the same, colors match and we have a variety of content from close-ups, landscapes, and reposts.

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

If I were to start a movement, I would focus on women empowerment, especially for women in business. I was one of the first of four partners to really focus my time into Woops! and I want to help other women figure out how to have a career and business, while also running a house and family and a life. I want more transparency and solutions to the difficulty of being a women in business.

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 🙂

Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank — I would love to have lunch with her. I read an interview with her once, and she was incredibly intelligent, and I was very inspired by her. She continuously builds herself up through lots of difficulties throughout time. She would be a good person to chat with.


“Why you should repost your customers’ content” With Woops! 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: “Entertain as well as inform” With…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Entertain as well as inform” With Candice Georgiadis & Amad Ebrahimi

Entertain as well as inform. Who doesn’t like a little chuckle at work? We like to throw in a few humorous memes here and there to mix things up, but they’re not random. They pertain to relevant topics to small businesses owners, like the need for coffee or being self-employed, or working remotely. We consistently send the messages, using popular meme formats that connote we like to laugh and have a good time while working. There’s no reason that we can’t have a good laugh with our followers who are also building a business.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Amad Ebrahimi. Amad is an entrepreneur, business owner and founder of Merchant Maverick, a business and ecommerce review site which has helped over 1 million businesses make better decisions since 2009.

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

In 2008 I was building an online travel site and became frustrated with the lack of information and transparency about merchant account systems. In researching merchant accounts, I discovered the lack of high quality, transparent information about an essential element of any online retail business could be a business opportunity. With this in mind, I founded Merchant Maverick in 2009 to provide independent, well-researched reviews of merchant account systems and other business-related software and products.

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

I don’t think anyone is an authority on Social Media Marketing, as it is constantly changing and evolving. What we try to do is to keep pace with new technologies and ideas that help us engage our audience. Importantly, we found that staying focused on our key messages and verticals, (business and ecommerce software and products) helped build the perception that our social pages are places for SMBs and ecommerce operators to go to learn, share and become empowered.

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

I think the most interesting story I can share is that when I was first started Merchant Maverick, I wrote a negative review of a well-known credit card processor. Somebody from that organization or related to them gave me a call and completely unloaded on me in the nastiest way possible. It was scathing, but I found it also funny; it was so petty that it actually made me laugh out loud on the phone. The biggest lesson I learned is that to operate any business, especially in this industry, you have to develop a thick skin. After dealing with one of the scariest things I thought could possibly happen to me, the knowledge that I could find humor in the situation and go on to be successful was empowering.

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 the early days of Merchant Maverick, I was too afraid to put my real name as an author on the website. I called myself _Mr. Maverick_. It was my persona, something I could hide behind. There was definitely fear behind revealing my true identity. I was embarrassed about my name and ethnicity. I placed a huge burden on myself thinking that others wouldn’t take me seriously. Ultimately, I overcame the fear and I was able to use my real name. Really being transparent about everything helped me get over my fear of being in the public eye. But it makes me chuckle now when I look back on those days, seriously _Mr. Maverick_! Hiding behind your identity is hardly being a maverick.

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?

Recently, after some false steps, we re-engaged with social media to drive traffic to our site. Our efforts on Instagram were particularly rewarding. As one of our key brand values is trust, our readers expect authenticity of our original content posted on Merchant Maverick.com and we wanted to extend this to readers via Instagram. With this in mind we created a program consisting of original memes depicting our website content, insightful news stories focused on our readers’ industries, motivational memes and pictures of our staff at home and worked to add a human touch. The first month we added 7,000 impressions, since then impressions, followers and conversions, (new traffic to our site and click-throughs to partner sites) have steadily grown. This is amazing as we don’t have product shots or consider ourselves a visually oriented business.

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.

At Merchant Maverick one of our key brand values is trust. Our readers expect authenticity in our original content and we wanted to extend this to readers via Instagram. With this in mind, we created a program that:

  1. Stays on message — Whether we’re promoting new content or sharing a motivational quote, we strive to show that we support small business owners. Monday is the start of the workweek so we always make sure our followers have a motivational quote to start off the day. Our motto is Small Business Made Easy. How do we do that? By providing content that gives business owners the info they need to help make better business decisions. We then promote that content on Instagram in a manner appealing to Instagram users to make sure we’re reaching the widest audience.
  2. Showcases company culture — Nothing gets done in a business without dedicated employees and Merchant Maverick is no exception. We feature are employees frequently not only to recognize them for their hard work but to build a connection between us and our followers that says, “Hey, we’re people doing the best we can, too.” It humanizes our brand and makes us more accessible.
  3. Entertains as well as informs — Who doesn’t like a little chuckle at work? We like to throw in a few humorous memes here and there to mix things up, but they’re not random. They pertain to relevant topics to small businesses owners, like the need for coffee or being self-employed, or working remotely. We consistently send the messages, using popular meme formats that connote we like to laugh and have a good time while working. There’s no reason that we can’t have a good laugh with our followers who are also building a business.
  4. Is consistent — It’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t show up regularly and we take that to heart. We want our followers to know what to expect. Every week we share Monday Motivation posts and a weekly employee feature called Telecommute Thursdays. If we posted irregularly or simply stopped, no one would have reason to follow us.
  5. Shares content that is relevant to our audience — Our target audience is small business owners and e-commerce operators, so we consistently share posts about topics that are relevant to them. Small business owners aren’t generally looking for the best video games so we don’t review video games. What they are looking for are ways they can save money while leveraging the business products and services they need. So, we do the research, write the reviews, and then share the info they need to know, e.g. like the best credit card processors — or small business loans.
  6. Engages with others — The foundation of any social media campaign is community building and the best way to do that is to engage with each other. We do this by following not just other industry experts, but by also following small business Instagram accounts, liking their posts, and answering their questions. Our goal is to be accessible on all fronts so we can provide the best info to all small business owners.

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 a proponent of a better understanding of mental health and removing the stigma that is associated with mental health issues. In a modern society such as ours, it’s important for us to accept mental health as part of our overall health paradigm. Judging by the headlines we see today, it’s clear that mental health is a large-scale problem that would benefit with a more holistic approach.

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 🙂

Jack Dorsey. From what I’ve read, Jack was a self-taught programmer who learned to program in order to solve an immediate problem. I feel like I have a very similar personality in that I don’t necessarily learn subjects just to learn them, but rather to apply them to a problem that I’m trying to solve. I admire the fact that he’s running two companies at once, I admire the fact that he walks to work 5 miles every day without looking at his phone (allowing himself time to think), and I admire that he has interests outside of tech and business, specifically music and yoga.


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Entertain as well as inform” 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: “Avoid the Instagram shadowban” With…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Avoid the Instagram shadowban” With Candice Georgiadis & Shervin Mohseni

Avoid the Instagram shadowban: Many people are not aware of the Instagram shadowban, but it can be your worst nightmare. The Instagram shadowban will prevent your hashtags from being discovered, and your followers will be the only accounts that can see your posts. As a result, your account reach will be limited and your account will not grow. The shadowban can last for up to 2 months. Instagram allows an account to use 30 hashtags, however you should only stick to using 15–20 hashtags per post and the hashtags should be diversified. Instagram will view your account as a spam account and will likely shadowban you if you post 2–3 times a day and utilize the same 30 hashtags on each post.

I had the pleasure to interview Shervin Mohseni. Shervin is a 25-year-old entrepreneur from Southern California. He has over 3 years of experience in the digital marketing field. He is currently the owner of The Source of All.

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

About three years ago a good friend of mine and a current business partner moved to Los Angeles. He had a successful business importing, distributing, and wholesaling smoke shop products throughout the United States. He decided to expand his business by opening a wholesale warehouse in Los Angeles. At the time, I was working for a family member who owned a textile business in Downtown Los Angeles. Although I loved the textile industry, I felt I learned as much as I could about fabric and wanted to learn something new. As a result, my friend presented a business opportunity to me where we would start an online retail business selling the inventory stocked in his warehouse. This was my introduction to the digital marketing world.

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

With over 3 years of experience in the digital marketing field, I have been able to dramatically increase traffic to my websites through social media marketing. I’ve been able to grow accounts and expand reach by posting on Instagram 2–3 times a day, using influencers, utilizing hashtags, promoting giveaways, and engaging with my followers. In addition, I’ve been able to utilize social media to benefit my SEO by connecting with influencers within my niche who run high traffic blogs.

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

As a young and eager entrepreneur, I always wanted my first business to be a hit, however I quickly learned that isn’t always the case. What I did learn was that I could monetize off the digital marketing skills that I had learned during my first year in business. There were many neighboring wholesale businesses around us that were noticing how many online orders we were shipping out from our warehouse. As the new kid on the block, many of these businesses were approaching me and asking questions about what I knew and how I did it. A light bulb went off in my head, and I realized how valuable my skills were. I realized I could monetize off these newly learned digital marketing skills (building websites, SEO, social media). As a result, this led me to start my marketing consulting business. The moral of the story is never put all your eggs in one basket, and learn to have multiple streams of income. I’m blessed to have learned this at a young age.

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

The funniest and biggest mistake I made with my first eCommerce store was purchasing backlinks from someone in an SEO forum. At the time, I didn’t completely understand backlinks, and believed that any link pointing at my website was valuable regardless if it was relevant or not. At first, these backlinks helped improve my keyword rankings and traffic to my website, however a year after, my website traffic from organic search dropped by nearly 80%. I then ran a backlink audit, and noticed I had backlinks from spam websites and PBNs (private blog networks). This is a big no-no in the SEO world. Work hard, build a quality backlink portfolio, and avoid shortcuts, otherwise you’ll suffer in the long-run.

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

In my opinion, Instagram is the most effective social media platform for a business to use in order to increase their revenue. Instagram allows a business to put an image behind their brand. Regardless if a business is marketing an inferior or superior product/service, if their Instagram visuals are appealing and managed well in terms of growth and engagement, there’s a high chance they’ll receive traffic on their website from Instagram. In addition, Instagram can allow a business to connect their product/service with bloggers and influencers. Influencer marketing through Instagram can allow a business to dramatically increase their reach, which can lead to more traffic to their website. For example, I recently direct messaged and connected with an Instagram influencer in my niche who has around 50k follower. I noticed she had high engagement on her posts, and felt it would be extremely beneficial for both parties if I sent her a few products in exchange for a post and shout out on her Instagram with our product. The results were astonishing. Not only did we sell 50 units of the product she marketed for us, but it allowed her to increase her engagement and following on her Instagram because she was posting content her followers connected with.

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 Influencer marketing: Running a product giveaway campaign with an influencer within your niche can be the easiest way to grow your account and build traffic to your website. The influencer should specify rules within the caption of the post, such as; “In order for a chance to win you must be following @, like this photo, and tag 3 friends in the comments.” By utilizing this caption in our last influencer campaign, we were able to grow our account by 500 followers in less than 24 hours.

2 Consistently post quality content 2–3 times per day: Have you seen those meme pages with millions of followers? Have you noticed how many times per day they post? There’s a reason why these accounts are continuously growing. Instagram’s algorithm favors accounts that post regularly and engage with their following.

3 Use Hashtags: Hashtags are a great way to expand reach and grow an Instagram account, however it’s important to only use hashtags that are relevant to what you’re posting. Analyzing the hashtags your competitors are posting can be a great way to create a list of diversified hashtags. You can also manually search hashtags on Instagram and view how many times each hashtag has been used. Avoid using hashtags that are broad and have been used millions of times. At the end of the day, you want people to see your post.

4 Avoid the Instagram shadowban: Many people are not aware of the Instagram shadowban, but it can be your worst nightmare. The Instagram shadowban will prevent your hashtags from being discovered, and your followers will be the only accounts that can see your posts. As a result, your account reach will be limited and your account will not grow. The shadowban can last for up to 2 months. Instagram allows an account to use 30 hashtags, however you should only stick to using 15–20 hashtags per post and the hashtags should be diversified. Instagram will view your account as a spam account and will likely shadowban you if you post 2–3 times a day and utilize the same 30 hashtags on each post.

5 Use Instagram to improve SEO: Many influencers on Instagram run high traffic blogs, and any SEO expert knows that receiving a backlink from a high traffic website is extremely valuable. Therefore, you should find influencers within your niche and reach out to them to see if they’re willing to backlink to your website in exchange for something.

6 Use the Instagram story and swipe up feature: The Instagram story feature allows your business to maintain visibility in your followers’ feeds, and allows you to connect with your target audience. The swipe up feature can create a landing page for the product/service being promoted on your story. With one swipe, it can allow a follower to go from viewing your story on Instagram to landing on your website and purchasing a product.

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. 🙂

In today’s world, I feel people are too hard on themselves. If I could inspire people to do one thing, it would be to give at least one stranger a compliment every day. You never know what people are going through, and by providing something as simple as a compliment can potentially inspire someone and help them get through their day.

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 🙂

Since I am a marketing junkie, if there was one person I could sit down and have a meal with it’d be Gary Vee. I view Gary Vee as the most successful marketer of our generation, and I would love to sit down with him to pick his brain for at least an hour.


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Avoid the Instagram shadowban” 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: “Know Your IDEAL Audience”, With…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Know Your IDEAL Audience”, With Candice Georgiadis & Yahya Bakkar

Know Your IDEAL Audience: Before you start posting, you have to know who you are speaking to. You need to know who your message is for and who it ISN’T for. Don’t try to please everyone.

I had the pleasure to intervoew Yahya Bakkar. Yahya is a family man, speaking coach and online business consultant.He’s the secret weapon behind many successful entrepreneurs, celebrities and influencers when it comes to taking their speaking game and personal brand to the next level. The meaning of Yahya’s name in Arabic is “alive” and he’s made it his life’s mission to help other leaders become more A.L.I.V.E. — Authentic, Likeable, Influential, Vulnerable and Empathetic — in everything they do. He’s also the co-founder of World-Class Leader which is a 90-day online business program helping successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders build profitable personal brands while creating a movement around their message.

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

When I graduated high school, my dream was to become a personal trainer.

Because I was the first person in my family to ever get an American education and the fact that the parents who raised me are middle eastern, they pressured me to become a doctor so I could make them proud

After spending 4 years taking my prerequisites to one day become a doctor, I realized that it wasn’t my path and I was only doing it for the acceptance and approval of my parents. So I dropped out with one semester left, no degree and over $50,000 of student loans.

My father was disappointed in me and wouldn’t allow me to stay in his house so one of my best friends heard about my situation and invited me to stay with his family until I could get myself together.

Feeling depressed and not knowing what to do with my life, my friend suggested I become a motivational speaker and life coach for young people.

I thought it was a silly idea but he told me to sleep on it.

Next day, I went on Google and looked up “motivational speaking and life coaching programs for young people”.

I found two online coaching programs that would teach me how to build my career as a paid speaker and coach.

The total cost of both programs were $9,000 at the time.

There was no way I was able to afford that.

I had no degree.

No job.

$50,000 of debt.

And $47 in my checking account.

Despite the fact that I was broke, I figured I only had one shot to go all in.

I got 2 jobs and raised $4,000 from family and friends to pay for both programs.

Within one year I was a full-time speaker and one of the youngest graduates in the coaching program.

Fast forward to 2016, I traveled all around the world with over 100 speaking engagements.

I built a 6-figure career traveling the world as one of the highest paid motivational speakers for high schools and college students and I’ve spoken on more than 500 stages including platforms like TedX, Harvard and Yale.

But after years of traveling and speaking on the road, I was burnt out. I wanted a better way to share my message while one day raising my own family…

I trusted my gut and I literally walked away from a lucrative speaking career after 8 long years without a “plan B.” I created a life on my own terms that would allow me to figure out a way to make an even bigger impact while being their for my family and achieving lifestyle freedom.

I leveraged my experience speaking on the world’s biggest stages and have now built a 7-figure coaching business helping celebrities, millionaires and entrepreneurs build profitable personal brands.

I co-founded World-Class Leader and I now get to help my clients create REAL impact on the world while they build their own profitable personal brand and create a movement around their message.

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

When I left my career as a full-time speaker, I used the resources I had available to me. I’ve not only built a 7-figure online business using Instagram (@YahyaBakkar) and Facebook, but with my new program World-Class Leader, my team and I have helped our clients leverage social media to generate over 1.3 Million Dollars in less than 4 months.

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

You know what’s interesting? Initially I thought people’s motivation to grow their social media following was all ego driven. And while that still exists, what I’ve found is that people have a story and message they want to share, stories that will impact lives and change the world.

Whether it’s on stage, online or offline, I’m blown away by the impact of each person’s unique story.

I have seen first hand how entrepreneurs and thought leaders take that unique message to the next level.

By sharing their story on social platforms they are scaling their ability to impact people and are leaving a living legacy.

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?

A mistake I see entrepreneurs make is building an empire on quicksand. What I mean by that is they see online celebrities like Gary Vee, Lewis Howes, The Rock, etc and think “they are so famous and influential, I need to do that too.

I’ve seen people trying to become Instagram “influencers” who start posting content everyday with NO clear direction or roadmap. Their content doesn’t align with who they are or their ultimate impact goals.

What they don’t realize is there’s a system, a strategy, a process to creating content on any social platform that will increase impact, influence & income.

Most people are doing the right things in the wrong order. It’s kind of like having the right numbers to a locker combination in the wrong order.

Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20. If you’re thinking “Why isn’t that working for me, why am I not good enough?” STOP. You’re likely doing the right things in the wrong order. All you need is a better system and a step-by-step process that can hold you accountable.

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

The most effective platform for you, depends on who your ideal audience is.

Instagram is great to reach a more millennial audience, Facebook targets the Baby Boomer generation and moms between the ages of 35–50, professionals and executives are best attracted from LinkedIn, YouTube is very search driven and is great for solving problems…

You need to take all of this into consideration.

A lot of “gurus” will say to use all platforms all the time. I say pick the platform that feels most natural to you, where you feel your voice can be heard by your ideal audience. Focus your time, energy and business there.

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.

Before we dive into this, remember 2 overarching themes.

Instagram is a SOCIAL network — make it social. Create content that balances connection and information. Show your character, personality and who you are but create content that can help your ideal audience solve a big problem.

You need a good balance to both in order to grow your business and brand on Instagram.

1) Know Your IDEAL Audience: Before you start posting, you have to know who you are speaking to. You need to know who your message is for and who it ISN’T for. Don’t try to please everyone.

2) Get Clear on Your Direction: When you get clear on your ideal audience, this will streamline who you’re speaking to and the direction your messaging and all of your content will take. One of the biggest mistakes I see is people share everything on Instagram with no specific direction.

3) Treat Instagram like a Business: If you understand that Instagram is a tool to grow your brand and business, not a hobby, that’s when you’ll see growth. You need to approach Instagram and everything you do on it as if it’s a business.

4) Problem — Outcome — Solution: Speak to the problems of your ideal client. Lay out the outcome if they continue down that path in your messaging. Know their challenges, speak to that THEN layout a solution. The #1 mistake most influencers make it not speaking to a direct solution. Don’t leave them hanging.

5) Call to Action: Have a clear message at the end. Clearly tell them HOW to reach out, message or connect with you. Do you want them to send you a DM? TELL THEM. Do you want them to leave a comment? TELL THEM. Give a clear call to action.

6) ENGAGE — The whole purpose of Instagram is that it’s a “social” platform. Make it social. Engage with people. Don’t feel like you’re ‘too good” to direct message them back or respond to their comments. Engage Engage Engage. That conversation can convert them to grow your business

Be patient with the process and have good intentions. Rome wasn’t built in a day. When you can master delaying that instant need for gratification online you’ll master Instagram.

If you’re building your business, you need to think of Instagram as a long term strategy that focuses on adding value.

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

Let’s all leverage social media & technology as a TOOL for connection instead of as a reason to disconnect.

It’s a double-edged sword. Without social media I would have never found birth mother after being separated for 25 years. If your intent and heart is in the right place, social amplifies who you are and your deepest desires.

What breaks my heart is seeing the other side of social media. Many people are concerned only about vanity metrics, follower counts, number of likes and friends they have, etc.

It can be so superficial. There is a depth and power of how it can affect your professional career and personal life on both sides.

Use it as a way to connect.

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’ve ALWAYS said if…

The Rock

Kevin Hart

Will Smith

Oprah Winfrey

Ellen Degeneres

had a love child, it would be ME.

They are living legends, leaving their legacy while they are alive.

They are all using media to create a powerful movement around their message — kindness, trust respect, motivation, positivity , joy, depth, laughter.

I love how each and every one of them leverages mass and social media to create a positive force to be reckoned with

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Know Your IDEAL Audience”, 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: “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.