3 Ways to Get Better Results on Instagram

Welcome to episode 471. I want to talk about Instagram today because it came up a lot. I posted over on my Instagram Stories a few weeks ago about what you want to hear on the show and that’s what’s going to inspire us for the next few episodes because mostly I got really good questions, but one of the really, really common questions I got was around Instagram and using it effectively. And it ties really well into sort of my word for the year because we’re still in January and it took me a while to land on my word of the year, but I ran into efficient because we did really great things last year. We saw some really epic growth last year.

However, we spent a lot of last year, and if I’ve said this before, if you listen to a couple of episodes ago 469, where I talked about the first year of Uncommonly More, you’ve probably heard me say this phrase, we spent a lot of last year sort of duct taping things together. So I really wanted to spend this year looking at my efficiency. How are we spending efficiently? How are we systemizing our business so we’re working efficiently, not just making efficient uses of our money but our energy and our attention. And I think that that’s a really important point to be looking at when you look at how you’re spending your time on Instagram because I want you to be using Instagram really efficiently because I think that’s what leads to its effectiveness.

When we look at how can we be efficient with how we’re using this tool and how can we make connecting with us as easy as possible so that we are not taxing our consumers, either meaning like their efficience in getting enough information that they trust us and they can invest and they can make that step. I think that’s really, really powerful, and so that’s what I wanted to get to today. Again, this is such a critical piece to really like quite frankly, like in the simplest term, like just mother-loving enjoying your time on Instagram so that it’s not a time suck, right? So that’s what we’re going to dig into today. We’re going to break it down into three things, three ways that you can be using this tool more effectively, be more efficient with using this tool, and just get better results, like have like actual like, “Oh, this happened and then this happened. Cool. Thanks, Instagram.” That’s what we’re looking for. Does that sound good?

All right, let’s dig in. 

I want to start with the foundation.

So let’s look at the pieces of Instagram. We’ve got Instagram Stories, we’ve got Instagram TV, we’ve got our Instagram Grid, so Instagram Stories are what we see up at the top when we log into the app. The circles with the little profile images, those are Stories. These are the most casual feature I would say because they only last 24 hours. However, you can use them to create highlights on your profile and they’re not as schedule-able as other pieces. Number two, IG TV. This is where we’re talking about more long form video, more in the range of a minute to 10 minutes. They last. There’s no exploration. It’s not a 24 hour thing, so they last ‘til you delete them.

They do have a preview piece where you can put the first minute in your Grid and then drive traffic to them from there. You can link to them via ‘swipe up’ in Stories no matter what your follower account is. So even if you don’t have the access to ‘swipe up’ to a link to any website, you can swipe up to send someone to IG TV. Next up we have the Grid. This is sort of the OG Instagram feature, right? So this is the images that are on your profile, your news feed when you get in. That’s the Grid. Again, no expiration. They last. Can be photos, videos, and you can have up to 10 photos in an image carousel, that’s what it’s called, where you swipe through different images.

These are sort of the foundations and the most important thing that I want to express to you here is that all of these things are great, but they also all impact each other, so when you’re getting people to engage in your Stories, that’s going to help you get your Grid posts in front of people. When you see people staying through the entirety of an IG TV episode or video, whatever you want to call it, I say episode because it feels like a very episodic medium to me, like you could really do like a series there, anyways that’s when my brain just nerds out, what I want you to look at is when you get people seeing those entire videos, again, your Grid posts are going to perform better.

When you get a ton of engagement on your Grid, that’s going to impact how high up someone sees you in their list of Story options. The algorithm is connected on all sides. With that said, I don’t want you to think, “Great. That means I have to do everything.” In fact, that’s 1000% not true. For example, I don’t put out a lot of IG TV content. You want to know why? Because try as I might, my audience doesn’t watch it. They just don’t know. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t ever do it. From time to time, there’s something where it’s just like, “You know what? This is actually really great IG TV content, let’s put it out,” and we do, but more often than not, what I’ll do is I’ll do a version of it for Stories and I’ll put it in my highlights because my audience does 100% love Stories.

I won’t say 100% cause I’m sure there’s one of you who are listening like there’s somebody right now listening to this show going, “I don’t like Stories,” and you’re going to send me an email for sure, which, thanks! I always love hearing from you, but for the most part, Stories are where it’s at. Also, the Grid, so for me, my Grid is a critical part of my referral system. This is something we’re going to be talking about later in February because I think it’s a really important conversation and we’re going to dive deep into this, but for me, the Grid is all about if you are listening to this episode and you’re like, “Oh my God, it’s so good, so-and-so needs to hear this,” and then you send this podcast to so-and-so. And then so-and-so is like, “Oh, that was good. Let’s go check out Stacey,” and then so-and-so comes over and checks me out on Instagram.

My Grid posts are all about me establishing my expertise and me establishing like, “Yep, I am worth spending your time with,” and so that’s what I mean about being a part of my referral system. And again, we’re going to talk more about this, but it, for me, is a critical part of just like sitting there as a calling card and setting expectations for how things operate in the land of The Stacey Harris or in the land of Uncommonly More. All right. I want you to think about where do each of your pieces become a part of your overall strategy. So again, I’m not using IG TV because my audience doesn’t like it, so we’re tossing that aside, for the most part. It doesn’t mean it’s dead, doesn’t mean it won’t ever get used. Just for me, it’s not a priority.

Stories are strategically about me nurturing relationships. I don’t super worry about my Stories being a first impression because generally if you’ve landed in my Stories, you’ve probably watched highlights or you’ve probably watched something on the Grid or you were a warm enough referral that you kind of have an idea of who I am. Maybe listened to this show before, something like that, and so it’s all about nurturing people who already know me, so you won’t very often see me go on and do an introduction, although from time to time I will. We’ve had a lot of clients have success with doing an intro and then keeping that in their highlights. That’s something I’m going to be doing at some point in January, so it’s probably up now so go check it out.

But for me, it’s a really important part of my ongoing nurture. You know me, now love me kind of thing, right? Whereas my Grid is a little bit colder in the sense that… Not it’s colder like burr, but it’s built for colder people. It’s built for colder traffic, meaning you maybe are less familiar with me. Maybe it’s the first time you’re ever landing on any of my social and I want it to be scroll-able and easy to connect with, meaning I want it to be someplace where you go, “Oh, hey. Yeah, I’m on-board. I get this. I see what you’re doing here. I’m cool.” It’s also the part where I’m being really established in primarily my foundation, meaning promotion, podcast episodes, sales messages. It’s very clearly, “This is what I do. This is who I am. This is how you hire me,” because again, if somebody shows up, if it’s a referral, I want it to be really clear.

I want it to be as clear as it would be if you landed on my website; who I am, what I do, how you hire me, and so that’s why I want you to look at when you’re looking at these different pieces, where do they fit in your plan? Where do they fit in your strategy? Why are you using each of these purposes, and if you’re not sure which of these tools you’re going to be using, consider not using it for a while. I absolutely have clients who are successful without Stories. I absolutely have clients who we post once or twice a week on the Grid, and I would say once a week on the Grid when they’ve got new content, and for the most part they’re in Stories or they’re doing IG TV. Utilize the parts that work for you.

Remember, we’re looking at effectiveness and efficiency as we dig into these different pieces, right? 

Now, I want to move forward to my second piece here, which is all around engagement and you encouraging people to be engaged. I get a ton of questions around, “I put a question sticker in my Instagram story and no one responded. How do I get people to respond to my questions?” Here’s the deal. You have to train them to engage. And let me just say as a side note, before we dig into training people how to engage, this is the latest spam issue. We are now seeing people, it’s got to be a bot. It’s just got to be, I don’t know how people are doing it. I can only imagine that it’s bots, flooding questions or the question sticker rather with “Hi,” and then like it’s your username or “Love what you’re doing, keep it up,” or like just some generic question. “What’s your favorite fruit?” That kind of BS.

Malarkey, right? So if you’re seeing that happen, it’s not just you. It’s absolutely a thing right now. The last time I said on a podcast recording that something was a bot thing and that hopefully Instagram would fix it, Instagram fixed it like a day, two days after the episode came out, so we’re going to pretend that that’s because I’m super cool and not just great timing, and hopefully that will happen again with this, but for right now, just so you know, it’s not you, you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s just spam. Now then, back to encouraging engagement. When I know I’m going to have questions in a story, I almost always put polls before them, meaning let’s say we’re going to have five slides.

We’re going to break this down sort of generically, but let’s say we’re going to have five slides. First slide, “Hey, welcome to the day.” Second slide, “Here’s what I want to talk about.” Third slide, ask a either/or question, meaning I can do it in a poll, either yes/no, in or out, listen/haven’t listened, whatever the answer is. Fourth slide, same thing. Another poll, easy yes or no, easy A or B kind of question. Fifth slide, that’s where I put my questions. That’s where I put my sticker where you can actually put information and/or I will say, “DM me with your feedback,” if I want to follow up the conversation in DMs. Generally speaking, I try to put a question in there because I can respond via DM to those questions or to the responses rather, or I can also feature them in an upcoming story, which is really helpful in showing that other people are answering. So that’s the other piece, right?

So I’m gearing them up, I’m getting them ready, easy to answer, easy to answer, takes a little more effort. Next, sort of preempting future questions, I’m responding to anyone who leaves information in that box, so I’m either DMing them directly or I’m featuring them when I go in and I talk about it in a story in the future. Now, I don’t tag them unless it’s something that I can tag them in, like if somebody asks questions, I don’t tag them. However, what I will do is if I say, “Hey, I’m looking for recommendations on restaurants in San Francisco,” or whatever, I will then tag people. I’ll say, “Oh, so-and-so… ” In some cases, yes, add a tag. In most cases I don’t, but here’s the deal.

They’ll find out because they’ll watch my Stories and they see that I featured them. Very, very frequently. I will also send people a DM and start a one-to-one conversation with them, especially if I’m in a situation where I’m asking for questions because I’m leading them to a promotion. So if I know I have X, Y, Z offer coming up and I’m sort of seeding that offer with some questions and some conversation now, I will DM them because I want to nurture them into a sales conversation. This is really, really helpful, but again, I up-fronted this by giving them some easy stuff to answer. And in the future when I ask questions, people are actually interested in answering them because they know I’m actually reading them. They know I’m actually responding to them.

This is really, really important and the same thing is true for engagement on the Grid or on IG TV. If you want people leaving you comments, make sure you’re responding to comments, make sure you’re going and leaving comments on things. Make sure you’re engaging the way you want people to be engaging. And guess what? That doesn’t have to be you. This could be someone on your team. This could be someone in your organization. This could be somebody that you hire out from a third party. This could be a certain amount of time you spend each day or each week or whatever. This is something that I try to break up in like five minutes, a couple of times a week.

That makes it really easy for me to go in, get it done. Like I always say, I always have a start and an end time, actually physically start a timer, and I’ll go on and engage. But when you want to encourage engagement, start with easy stuff. Too often the people who I see, “Hey, how come I can’t get them to answer my questions,” it’s because they’re constantly asking really big questions with no buildup. So, if you’re having a hard time getting people to use the questions sticker, start with some polls, get them just in the habit of making it a two-way conversation instead of a broadcast situation.

And if you’re still having a hard time, think about making your questions easier to answer, some low stakes questions. Again, training them through things that are really easy to jump on-board with versus, “Tell me all your goals for 2020,” or whatever sort of grandiose question you might be considering. 

All right, I want to shift gears to the third point, and this one is a little soapboxy, but it’s because this is literally the fastest way to make money on Instagram. 

Be a human. Answer your DMs. 

Not every DM, and when I say DM I mean direct message, so this is the private message sent to you on Instagram, needs a dissertation in response. You’re not writing your thesis. Sometimes, yeah, it’s just going to be a heart and like a, “Hey, thanks for listening,” or “Loved your feedback. Thanks for sharing,” but I would highly recommend for you to look at ways where you can move the conversation forward.

If anybody is familiar with improv and the principle of “Yes, and…” I would encourage you to look at that. Where can you make sure you keep the story going? Now, yes, there must be an end to every conversation at some point. Otherwise, you wouldn’t get to your next conversation, right? But it doesn’t need to be the second thing that happens. Give it some time. This is where we’re building actual profitable relationships. Think about your direct message inbox, your DM inbox, as an in-person event. Think of it as if those people were not just randomly on the internet but were actually physically in your office. How would you behave?

Now, as somebody who’s gotten some really random DMs, some of them I would yell at and call the police. I’ll be honest. Any woman online knows that there is a certain amount of really skeezy DMs that comes through, but for the most part, the legitimate ones are obviously what I’m talking about here, I wouldn’t just be like, “Hey, yeah, thanks for that,” and then turn around and go away. No, I would move the conversation forward. I would actually execute a dialogue with them. I would behave like a human, and so I want you to behave like a human. Engage with your DMs. It is your fastest path to money. I promise you. It is without a doubt the most profitable part of any of my social media because I treat people like people, because I behave like a human, and I keep the conversation moving forward.

I offer actual value, I ask for actual value, I respond to people’s Stories, I engage with them, I connect with them, and that’s what I want you to be doing as well. So, instead of mindlessly just flipping through Stories, make sure every X amount of Stories you’re responding in some way. So for me, I don’t go more than five people without saying something to someone. In fact, more than once I’ve gotten to five and I’ve gone back and been like, “Okay,” and sometimes it’s just an emoji. I’ll be honest, sometimes we phone it in. I am a human, right? But in most cases, it’s me moving the conversation forward. It’s me actually connecting with a human and responding to the effort they put in in putting that story out there, kind of like I would want other people to do with me.

You see how it turned full circle there? That’s what I want you to do and that’s what I want to see from you. All right, I’m going to wrap this up because we’re getting to the 20-minute mark, or we’re at the 20-minute mark for recording, and I want you to move through this information gathering and into action, so here’s your homework. I want you to look at how are you utilizing the different pieces of Instagram and I want you to really commit to spending the rest of January or maybe all of February changing some of your engagement stuff, changing some of your direct message stuff and seeing what feels right and what fits for you. All right?

If Instagram is an incredibly confusing part of your strategy but you love it, if Instagram is something you feel like you should be doing but you don’t feel like you’re doing very effectively, if you want to know how Instagram fits into everything else in your business, that’s a great use of my single session one-on-one calls. These are a great way to get started, getting some feedback, getting some support. It’s a one-off, one-hour call, super easy to manage, super easy to figure out for your schedule. Head over to the show notes for this episode and you will see the link to grab your one-on-one session, or if you just go to thestaceyharris.com/60min, M-I-N, you will get a link to my calendar and you can book your session.

Our January sessions are all gone. I think we have a couple left for February. As of recording this, we have a couple left for February. If not, there are some openings in March. That’s how quickly they book up, so get in there, all right? Thank you as always for listening to the show. If it’s been impactful for you, I would love it, love it, love it if you could leave a review. Next month, February, starts my birthday month and I will be ridiculously transparent in the fact that for my birthday I want more podcast reviews because I see the download numbers. I know how many of you are listening and I do not have a comparable amount of reviews, so go to ratethispodcast.com/hitthemic and you can figure out how to leave reviews on Stitcher and Apple podcasts and all the things, all right? All right. Thank you for listening. I will see you next week.

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