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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.