How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Catherine Campbell and Candice Georgiadis

Leverage your content! Instagram posts should come FROM somewhere and keep going TO other platforms. Use existing website content such as product descriptions, customer testimonials, blog post excerpts and more to inspire your captions (you can even just copy and paste). After it’s published to the feed, publish your latest post in your IG stories to encourage more feed visits and interaction. Publish it to Facebook and Facebook stories. Make sure you have a social feed embedded on your website. Tag influencers or other brands mentioned in your post so they share it to THEIR audiences. Include your favorite post in your next email newsletter as an embedded graphic that clicks back to Instagram. Each post should be lifting 10x its weight. Make it count!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Catherine Campbell, director of strategy at Bright Planning, a national marketing and PR agency for eco-friendly and socially responsible brands. Since 2006, Catherine has created story-driven marketing strategies for a national clientele.

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

No one in my generation said, “I want to work in social media when I grow up,” because it didn’t exist yet! When I started college, we had MySpace. But after I earned my BA and then my MFA in creative writing, I knew I wanted to tell good stories about good people in the world and realized very early on that social media would become one of the most powerful ways to do that.

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

I’ve been in social media since social media was an AOL chatroom. But professionally, I’ve been working with social as a core business strategy since 2006. My agency has worked with clients of all sizes, from fast-growth startups to Fortune 500 brands to help them integrate social media into their marketing strategy and focus on not only growing fans but also engagement and customers.

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

I think the most fascinating and exciting time has been watching Instagram grow from just another social platform into a huge revenue driver for businesses, including some of our clients. Where it was once just a place to raise awareness, now it’s THE place to sell, too. The growth rate is staggering.

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 blindly used hashtags. I didn’t do the 5-sentences-long hashtag thing, but let’s just say I unknowingly used some hashtags that would you should never, ever look up. They would make Urban Dictionary blush. Always research your hashtags, people!

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 B2C brands, we’ve seen a lot of revenue growth from Pinterest. For example, we have a modern office furniture client, StrongProject. Because StrongProject’s products are so visually appealing, we determined that Pinterest could be a healthy traffic driver for the company if we set up “office design inspiration” and office product boards and pins with detailed descriptions and longtail URLs (leading Pinterest browsers to a product’s detail page rather than the home page). Within the first 90 days, this strategy led to $132,000 in sales leads for StrongProject. Today, Pinterest drives an average of 2,000 unique visitors to StrongProject’s site each month, with an average viewing time of 5 pages and a 24% goal completion rate.but I think Instagram is catching up to this really quickly and will overtake that position this year.

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. Use Stories for real-time updates to keep customers happy and informed. Because it’s not a slave to the algorithm, IG Stories are one of the best ways to update your customers throughout the day about important things. We work with restaurants and services that have really improved their overall communications with customers by using IG Stories to post daily specials hours before each meal service, fire sales, inclement weather closings and even celebrity sightings or event opportunities.
  2. Save mental stress with a link app. If you have lots of content and website pages to share with your audience, use a link app like Linkt.ree so you have one link in your profile URL that serves as a master link: this link then opens up a “landing page” with your chosen links. You can even schedule these chosen links, such as limited-time sales pages or your latest blog posts, to auto-expire from the landing page after a certain amount of time so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of what was posted, what needs to be changed out, etc.
  3. Save hours with a scheduling app. It’s okay to post in real-time, but for busy business owners, I strongly recommend a scheduling app. Buffer should do the trick but if you have multiple locations (such as our restaurant clients), you may want to look at a more robust calendar tool such as CoSchedule.
  4. Separate curation from creation. It’s fine to go “au natural” on your IG stories and IGTV while posting in the moment throughout the day…in fact, your audience will love it. They want to see your company without fancy lighting, without makeup, without the perfectly positioned hand reaching for that cookie product or whatever. But when it comes to the feed, curation is queen. This is where it will help to give some thought and a few hours of monthly planning to your IG feed. Ask yourself, “What is the most important message that will bring value to my audience right now?”
  5. For captions, use the Goldilocks method. Captions that are too short can be perceived as too hip to care and withhold vital information, and captions that are too long look self-obsessed and indulgent. Like Goldilocks and the three bears, aim for the middle and get it just right: 1–4 short sentences, bullet line breaks if necessary, emoji sprinkled throughout, or a call to action at the end. For example, if you’re a skincare company, you can post a beautiful photo of your latest eye cream to the feed and use the caption space to educate your audience about one little known history fact about eye cream (which famous rulers used some version of eye cream to look younger and more powerful). Then apply appropriate hashtags, hit publish and sit back and relax.
  6. Leverage your content! Instagram posts should come FROM somewhere and keep going TO other platforms. Use existing website content such as product descriptions, customer testimonials, blog post excerpts and more to inspire your captions (you can even just copy and paste). After it’s published to the feed, publish your latest post in your IG stories to encourage more feed visits and interaction. Publish it to Facebook and Facebook stories. Make sure you have a social feed embedded on your website. Tag influencers or other brands mentioned in your post so they share it to THEIR audiences. Include your favorite post in your next email newsletter as an embedded graphic that clicks back to Instagram. Each post should be lifting 10x its weight. Make it count!

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

My agency works with food brands and restaurants because food has always been an important and personal issue for me. More specifically, food security. The U.S. has too many food deserts and one of my goals is to raise awareness around food production and sustainability, reducing food waste and improving access to good healthy food in these deserts. We need to have this conversation so we can continue to innovate solutions. Fortunately, I think it’s starting to gain some traction on the scene.

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 with Chrissy Teigen — she knows how to fight for something but while keeping a sense of humor. She’s a badass mom, public figure, and author. Want to know how to rule social? Study her.

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


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Catherine Campbell and Candice… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.