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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Demonstrate your success stories”… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.