When I launched my Instagram account in 2013, I posted 15 times and then I took a hiatus until 2017.
Since then, I have grown my following by over 110,000—with each of my 2019 posts averaging 8-10,000 likes along with hundreds of comments.
The Magic Behind Building My Personal Brand
I’m a 25+ year marketing veteran—with prior work experience including six years spent with HGTV as an on-air personality, and professional product presenter and a two-decade-plus-long career as a model with Ford Models. When it comes to presentation—and how to market products and people—I know a thing or two!
Now, through my business How-To With Julie Sue, I take brands to the micro marketing level and use a curated network of highly trained Viral Agents to help companies “create juicy journeys like a rockstar.” (This is one of my favorite coined terms I use to describe my business and the services we provide.)
One of my biggest specialties has quickly become Instagram. Here, I help companies share their messages, while maximizing the use of this ever-growing social media platform, with my “proven bankable tips for success” (another one of my favorite business descriptors). When it comes to building a profitable Instagram business, presence and a following, I help companies define a sales funnel, complete with trackable links where ROI can be measured and reported.
Why Instagram for Business?
Instagram, which got its start later than Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006), launched in October 2010 and now boasts one billion monthly active users and counting. According to data released by Sprout Social, today over 100 million photos are uploaded every day and users spend an average of 53 minutes per day on Instagram.
I fancy myself a #storyteller, #artlover and #travelguru, so the picture-based platform aligned well with my content and expertise—marketing through photography.
All in all, social media is the new age of building a brand, and now it takes place almost exclusively online. To me, it’s part science and part art—and it’s really exciting. Entrepreneurs, small business owners and passionate personal brands all now have access to an incredible set of tools to connect, build, market and promote themselves.
The advantage, of course, is that platforms like Instagram give less-well-known brands and personalities an equal opportunity to market their products and services. Influencers like myself help spread the message by acting as brand advocates and by marketing partnered products and services to a curated network of followers. A couple of my partnered brands include Daniel Wellington and OZNaturals, both of which have their own dedicated story highlight on my profile. In fact, this picture of me wearing a Daniel Wellington watch on the ski slopes in Montana in March garnered nearly 20,000 likes. (I love being able to share big wins like this with my partnered brands!)
It’s all about engaging with your tribe, and sharing the right content with the right message.
4 Instagram Strategy to Boost Sales
To turn a profit though an Instagram profile, here are my top four tips to get started:
1. Set clear goals for your influencer partnerships.
Creative influencers come in all different sizes—from micro, medium and macro, to celebrity. And, bigger isn’t always better, which is why I strongly recommend doing research to cultivate a targeted list of on-brand influencers. Reach out to set goals for the relationship and square away the details, like how much and when they will get paid. (Typically, influencers get paid at the close of a campaign but it’s a good idea to have a contract in place complete with duration and payment details.) Establish promotions, discounts and giveaways, tracking sales and engagement along the way.
2. Build your brand online-like an influencer.
In addition to using influencer marketers to promote the brand and its products, it’s also a good idea for companies to optimize their own profiles. My number one piece of advice is to include a link in the bio of any Instagram profile—this allows companies and people to drive traffic back to their websites or to a specific landing page, product page or blog post. Essentially, it acts as a huge marketing funnel—an opportunity not to be missed!
3. Follow-up and be consistent.
I also recommend creating a consistent look and feel for a successful Instagram profile. Consider posting regular themed pictures and content, like “Motivation Monday” or “Throwback Thursday,” as well as using similar filters on all of your pictures. Look at engagement numbers and analytics to determine what’s working and what’s not. As engagement numbers start to increase, rinse and repeat. Selling through Instagram is about being consistent, both in post types and filters but also in posting regularly. Whether it’s becoming an influencer or building a large, 100,000+ following like I did, it does not happen overnight. Be patient and keep at it.
4. Following this acronym: I.F.O.C.U.S.A.L.E.S.
- IGTV (Instagram television)
- Follow more hashtags
- Optimize your profile
- Create a consistent look
- Use more relevant hashtags
- Study analytics
- Add value
- Live IG
- Engage and interact
- Stories to highlights
Want to learn more about Instagram for business? Watch my webinar on CommonGenius! How to Use Influencer Marketing to Boost Sales.
And, if you’d like to discuss your Instagram hopes and dreams one-on-one, book a meeting with me!