The Secret To Staying Relevant

For many years, our Platinum Elite Group was lucky to work with a very special restaurant consultant, Phyllis Ann Marshall. If you attended any of our Boot Camps in Phoenix AZ, you may have had the gift of hearing her speak. Phyllis Ann’s expertise came from her education at culinary school (including Le Cordon Bleu in London), from working and studying alongside Julia Child, and from years of owning and running restaurants. We are no longer graced with her presence on this earth, but oh she was a force. At the age of 70, she was one of the first people I knew to get their hands on the original iPhone model. It was when she showed it to me that she said something that sticks with me to this day… “My grandchildren always tell me I’m at expert at staying relevant.” And she was. All the way up until she passed in 2017.

It’s a lesson that all Independent Business Owners MUST take to heart. And it can mean many different things. What does it mean for you today? Delving into a growing medium to market your business that might be one of the hardest to swallow…Instagram.

Do we REALLY have to learn the latest dance craze, or make our cat talk? And how would any of that even begin to grow our business?! Like it or not, Instagram has become a powerful tool for businesses to engage with followers and create connections with customers and potential customers. But as with anything, it has limitations and must be used properly.

A social media account has the power to illustrate who you are as a business and why people would want to do business with you. If you interact as your true, genuine self, you can earn the trust and attention of your followers. And if you engage with them, by responding to comments, you can show that you care about them and their opinion. All these things can work together to build trust and turn followers into paying customers.

But don’t get confused. You aren’t trying to become an “Influencer”. Building an account just to see how many followers you can get isn’t going to grow your business. Like all of our other marketing, it needs to be strategic and you need to monitor the details. You want to curate a list of followers who are most likely to become happy customers. Ready to take the plunge? Read on for the top 7 tips for beginners on Instagram.

7 Tips For Beginners On Instagram

Before reading on, familiarize yourself with some basic Instagram speak:

Engagement: The number of interactions your content receives from users (likes, comments, shares, saves, etc.)

Reach: The number of people who see your content.

Algorithm:  Algorithms control a lot, like trending hashtags, what content certain users do or don’t see, and more.

Caption:  A brief description that appears underneath a photo.

The Gram: Instagram!

Follow Adam Mosseri. Adam (Head of Instagram, @mosseri) gives frequent updates and insights into the platform and explains some of the inner workings. The platform is always changing, so it is helpful to know when there is an update.

Keep a Clean List. The most valuable followers are those that are likely to spend money with you. But as it turns out, there’s a lot of scammers and phishing accounts that may start following you to increase THEIR reach. Keep your list clean and delete any suspect followers who do the following:

And don’t worry… when you remove followers, they will not be notified of your action. By keeping your list clean, your engagement increases (based on Instagram’s stats) and your analytics will reflect actual data, not data bloated by irrelevant followers. When you start cleaning your list, stick to removing only a few at a time, every couple of days, so that Instagram doesn’t flag you for irregular behavior.

Put A Face Out There. This can be hard for some Independent Business Owners, but keep in mind, it doesn’t always have to be YOU, it could be managers or other team members. What IS important is that you let followers get to know your business, your staff, your culture. People buy when they know, like and trust who they are buying from. It’s not easy to accomplish that with just your business entity.

So get your face on the platform and be authentic, presentable and energetic. If you are having a particularly great moment and are on a high, capitalize on the opportunity. Or try to replicate that energy, jump around, play your favorite music, get in your feelings. Energy moves people, they can feel your enthusiasm. Do lots of takes, for both photos and videos, until you are happy and then post the best result. And don’t worry about doing live feeds until you are comfortable on camera.

What the heck am I going to post about anyways?

Here’s a helpful rule of thumb when it comes to content:

 – 1/3 about your product and services

 – 1/3 about you personally

 – 1/3 promoting others: local non-competing businesses, local organizations, fundraisers, etc.

 You determine your proportions, the bottom line is to post regularly, but don’t always be selling.

Make it Easy (…for people to give you money). Confused people don’t buy, they give up. Develop clear calls to action. If your goal is to send followers elsewhere, provide a link to buy, reserve, book an appointment or get information, but do that in your bio. URL’s do not act as live links in your post caption, so followers are primed to find ‘link in bio’.  (And make sure your website is listed there too, so people can find you easily.)

Review Analytics. These are available if you have a business account. From your profile you can access your “Professional Dashboard” and then drill down in Account Insights to see information about who your followers are, the breakdown in gender, age, geographic location and non-followers. You can also see what content was most interacted with, which will help you determine what kind of content to make more of.

Maintain a List You OWN. You MUST have an external list of buyers. You already own this in your Royalty Rewards® database, but we want to highlight the importance: You do not own your list of Instagram followers – Instagram does. If your account got hacked, or shut down for whatever reason, your followers are gone. You can never rely on an external free resource to hold your vital customer data. The best use of Instagram is to engage with your followers, build a relationship and their interest in you, and then use it to get them to become a customer and a Rewards Member (ie. in the customer database you own). Your Coach can create Social Media posts to link your Rewards Program directly to your sign-up page, so you have ALL the information needed to make them a loyal repeat customer.

Connect. Just like you would on a personal account, respond to comments, thank people, follow events and businesses that follow you, re-post content that is relevant and participate in the conversation. This creates engagement, and lets people know there are real people behind your business.

Bonus Tip: Don’t get flagged! If you repeat the same comment on multiple posts or messages, using copy/paste, it makes you look like a bot and the algorithm might flag you with “unusual activity”. On this note, be cautious about doing anything else en masse. For example, there is also an ‘unfollow’ limit of 60/hour or 150 a day. If you unfollow more than that, you can get temporarily banned.