Biz Tips: Ignore Instagram at your financial peril

Biz Tips: Ignore Instagram at your financial peril


Ignore Instagram at your financial peril

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Businesses that eschew Instagram are missing out, according to Tyler J. McCall, although he might be biased.

McCall is an Instagram marketing strategist with expertise in social media and technology. His Instagram Roadmap features the “six steps to creating your very own Instagram marketing strategy.”

He talked with marketer and entrepreneur Madalyn Sklar about how best to use Instagram for business. This includes what new business owners need to understand to start selling on Instagram.

“It starts pretty simple for Instagram success,” McCall said. “You have to have complete clarity on who you want to attract as your ideal follower. Once you know who they are, you can start creating content for them. Then engage with people on Instagram to grow your following.

“Also, it’s important to focus on the quality of your followers — not quantity,” he said. “I can’t stress this enough. People get obsessed with follower count and getting to 10,000 so they can get the swipe up. However, you’ll get a lot further if you spend your time and energy focusing on serving the right audience.”

McCall emphasized what Instagram is and is not.

“It’s not a traffic-driving platform,” he said. “Focus on bringing your content to Instagram instead of using all of your energy to get your followers to leave Instagram.

“Focus on who you need as a follower to see results on Instagram — nothing else,” McCall said. “Then, make sure they’re engaging with you.”

He explained how the BFFL — best friends for life — System can help businesses increase sales on Instagram.

“The BFFL System is all about focusing on relational marketing,” McCall said. “Instead of pushing your product or service on your followers, you are pulling them into your business. You should focus on inviting them to learn more about what you do and why you do it.

“The system requires you to speak to one person, about one topic, with one type of content, with one goal in mind. That’s it,” he said. “Instead of creating content that is overtly sales-y and promotional for your followers on Instagram, create content that brings value through education, entertainment or inspiration to pull your followers in.”

Dispel the myth

The new Instagram algorithm allegedly prevents entrepreneurs from reaching their audience, but McCall dismisses that notion as myth.

“Most of the complaints about the algorithm are coming from lacking an understanding of how people use Instagram,” he said. “User habits have changed. They’re different today than they were a year or two ago.

“Instagram Stories have taken over content consumption on the platform,” he said. “That means people aren’t scrolling and liking as much as they used to. Decreased engagement in the feed isn’t because of the algorithm. It’s due to new user habits.”

Rather than fight it, McCall urged business owners to embrace the technology.

“The algorithm is your best friend as a marketer,” he said. “It makes your content last longer. You can actually post less in the feed than ever before because your posts last for days instead of minutes.”

McCall also talked about Instagram TV and how it works.

“IGTV is Instagram’s answer to a place to store long-form video content,” he said. “IGTV allows you to create and share videos on Instagram that are up to 60 minutes in length. Most users like you and I can share videos that are 60 seconds to 10 minutes in length. Verified users can share even longer videos on IGTV — up to one hour long.

“IGTV is a mobile-only platform, meaning vertical video is key,” McCall said. “Instagram wants us to fully use the vertical format.”

He said there are valid reasons for IGTV’s structure.

“You can drive traffic to your IGTV content from your Instagram Stories,” McCall said. “People can find you within IGTV’s discover tab. One thing I love about IGTV is it’s one of the few places on Instagram where you can put clickable links — inside your descriptions.

“IGTV makes sense for a very small set of IG users — those who want to create and share long-form video,” he said. “I don’t want to tackle creating a YouTube strategy yet.”

Expand messages

IGTV also lets a business better explain its product, service or process.

“It’s a great place to expand upon the content you’re sharing on Stories and in your feed,” McCall said. “Think of how you can take a post from the feed and tell more of a story through a longer-form video. You can take a topic you cover in your Instagram Stories and expand in video.

“The key is to keep it engaging and relevant to what you do on Instagram and what your followers want from you,” he said.

McCall suggested ways to develop a robust strategy on Instagram.

“First, focus on the content, not obsess over that follower growth,” he said. “Then spend more time engaging than you post by liking and commenting on others’ content. Engaging more than you post on Instagram is how to grow your following and reach nowadays. It’s key.

“Also, you’ve gotta be on Instagram Stories,” McCall said. “There’s no way around it now. It’s where most Instagram users are spending time.”

The benefits for businesses can be fast and startling.

“One in three Instagram Stories leads to a direct message,” McCall said. “That’s a huge opportunity for you to have direct conversations with your customer.

Be consistent,” he said. “The Instagramers killing it are those who show up, post and engage consistently. Do not just post and run.”

Metrics for strategy

There are ways a business can realistically measure its Instagram strategy.

“Look at a few different metrics,” McCall said. “I typically recommend engagement — the percent of your followers who like, comment or save — story retention and direct messages:

  • Engagement from the feed based on likes, comments and posts saves lets you know how your feed content is working.
  • Story retention lets you know how you’re doing at keeping your viewers engaged with your content.
  • Direct messages let you know how you’re doing with driving interaction and engagement with your audience.

“The last metric to track is sales,” McCall said. “Is what you’re doing on Instagram actually leading to a growth in revenue?”

He and Sklar continued dissecting Instagram during a Facebook Live conversation.

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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