Guest post fromTyler J. McCall
When was the last time you looked at the number of followers you had on Instagram and felt pretty dang proud of yourself? Come on, be honest, when was it? Maybe it was when you get your first 100 followers? Maybe your first 1,000? Maybe you celebrated when you FINALLY got that “K” behind the number of followers on your profile?
Or, maybe you’re like most folks I run into online and you’re feeling pretty deflated when it comes to the number of followers you’ve accumulated on the ‘gram. You spend time on Instagram looking around at everyone else – your competition, friends in the industry, that kid you babysat in high school who now has 6,000 followers and gets 500 likes per photo – wondering why you don’t have more. More followers, more likes, and more business from the work you’re putting in on Instagram.
I hear you, I see you, I get it! Instagram has turned most of us into greedy social media monsters – I know I’ve DEFINITELY NOT recognized myself before as I’ve thought about what I’m doing on Instagram. But, here’s the good news, you don’t need more. You don’t need more followers. The number of followers you have right now – if they’re the right type of followers – is perfect. And you can turn those followers of yours into raving fans who know what you do, care about why you do it, tell the world about who you are, and even buy your products and book your services.
Okay, how do you do it? How do you turn your Instagram followers into customers or clients? How do you get more sales from Instagram? You focus on turning your followers into fans and the results will follow. Let me tell you how…
Get Clear On Your Audience
It all starts with getting clear on who you’re trying to reach on Instagram. Think about your dream client – what do they do, how old are they, what’s their life like, what do they value, and how do they decide what to spend money on? Spend time daydreaming this perfect person AND talking to your current clients or customers to see if you’re right on the money. Have a nightmare client from the past? Don’t create content for them! The goal is to get crystal clear on who you’re trying to reach and create content for that person.
Have an Objective for Instagram
If I had a nickel for every time I said, “Oh, bless their heart…” about an account I run into on Instagram, I could buy everything I wanted at Target (and yes, it’s is just a cart full of Ben & Jerry’s…). So many folks on Instagram are posting without a plan – they aren’t using Instagram with intention. And even those with the best of intentions get caught up in the habit of “oh shoot!” posting – when you say to yourself, “Oh shoot! I haven’t posted on Instagram in a week. Let me put something real quick.” Creating content without a plan is just a waste of time! You don’t know what it’s doing for your business – if anything – and you’d be better off spending that time binge watching Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix.
Tell Your Story…Over and Over Again
It’s the 21st century, y’all! That means the age of just throwing products out there into the ether and hoping they stick (and sell) is totally and completely over. There are so many people doing what you do. There are people offering your product or service cheaper and better. It’s just the way it is! The way you cut through the noise is by putting your unique spin on it. Tell your story and make sure people know why they should choose you – what is your background and experience, why do you do what you do, how long have you done it, what have you helped your clients or customers achieve, what is it about you that makes you uniquely qualified to solve their problems? Answer those questions through your story and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Speak In Your Voice
You’ve gotta stop trying to be something you’re not and stop trying to replicate what everyone around you is doing. Telling your story is important – telling it your own voice is even more vital. What do you say and how do you say it? Think about how you want your followers to feel when they read your posts on Instagram. Your voice is the tool for sharing valuable content, telling stories, and selling to your audience. The photos on Instagram are just there because you have to have them to post. As a business owner, the real magic on Instagram happens in the comments.
Create a Consistent Visual Identity
Crappy iPhone photos be damned! While your captions are doing the real work of moving your brand forward on Instagram, you have to consistently share quality imagery to keep your followers interested and grab the attention of new friends on the ‘gram. Pick a theme and aesthetic and stick with it – you want to be so consistent that your followers know the post is from you without looking at the username. If you can’t figure out how to take your own photos (or outsource the photography), use stock photos! Free websites like Unsplash and Pexels offer quality, free-to-use stock imagery for social media. And, styled stock photo services from folks like Kate Max, Jana Bishop, and Rosemary Watson can fit perfectly in your feed.
Stick to Posting Themes
Nothing confuses an audience more than Instagram content that is all over the freakin’ place. Pick a few types of photos to share and captions to write and stick with them. There’s a reason the most successful Instagram accounts are those that post the. same. thing. over. and. over. again.
Engage More Than You Post
Posting on Instagram is all well and good; but, it’s the tiniest part of what you should be doing on the platform. Don’t get caught in the caught up in the habit of “drive-by posting.” Stick around and have conversations. Respond to comments and direct messages. Spend time on Instagram going out and finding potential new followers and starting conversations with them. My rule is 10 for 1 – I engage with 10 new people for every 1 post I put on Instagram.
Use Instagram Stories
You gotta. There’s really no way around it. Almost half of Instagram’s users are on Instagram Stories every single day (that’s over 250 million people). And, the stat I love that just blows my mind, 1 in 5 Instagram Stories leads to a direct message. HELLO! That means 20% of the time, your Instagram Story could lead to one of your followers sending you a message and starting a conversation with you. Do you realize how amazing that is? You have a tool that fosters conversations and you have to use it if you want to continue to be successful on Instagram.
Get the Education, Resources, and Support You Need
The great news is you don’t have to do this alone! The Follower to Fan Society is an online membership community of creatives focused on using Instagram with intention to build relationships and create community. The Society is the place to be for the resources, education, and support you need to build a fanbase on Instagram and turn your fans into paying customers and clients. Membership includes access to a full online training library, monthly content plans and editorial calendars, done-for-you comment pods, monthly hot seats and masterclasses, in-person events, and much more.
Tyler J. McCall is an Instagram and social media marketer, strategist, and coach for creatives. He teaches his students and clients how to use Instagram with intention to grow their community online, grow their list, and grow their business. Tyler focuses on using Instagram and social media to tell stories, build relationships, and convert followers to fans, drawing from his 10 years of experience in non-profit marketing and management and community organizing. Tyler is based in Chicago, where he lives with his partner Eric and their dog Douglass. When he’s not coaching or teaching or Instagram strategizing, Tyler enjoys Target runs and road trips…that he documents on his Instagram Stories.