Ahhh, social media, what a love/hate relationship I have with you! I was talking a few weeks ago with a colleague whose goal in her business is to never have to use social media, and I could totally get on board with that. Can you grow a business without social media? Of course! However, there are so many examples of business owners growing quickly by effectively using social media that you can't ignore their results. But when it starts taking over your life, like it can sometimes do, some boundaries need to be put in place.
For example, I LOVE Instagram. I would probably use it personally even if I didn't run a business because I'm a very visual person and adore the beautiful pictures! Hence why I have a branding course ... I love to make things look beautiful and pretty, so of course Instagram is right up my alley. But when I look at my social media statistics each month (click here for your own free social media tracker), I can't argue that IG sends me virtually NO traffic. Like usually less than 20 clicks a month.
While you might personally love spending time on a specific platform, make sure that if you're using it for your business, that you're getting actual results from it. There's no use in investing dozens of hours on something that isn't working for you.
Even though Instagram isn't the biggest referrer for me, I do get lots of questions from my followers about how I use it for my business. Questions like: if you're with doTERRA, why do I see you using the #youngliving hashtag? While I'm definitely not an expert in social media marketing (some people specialize in just this!), consider this Instagram 101 for your holistic health business.
Truth be told, I've invested in a course (two, actually) to teach me how to use Instagram in my business. One I implemented about 2 years ago, which pretty much solely focused on growing your following, and the other much more focused on generating business from Instagram, I purchased in a course bundle and haven't started yet. Excuse me while I add this to my calendar for the summer ;).
So even though I don't have it all figured out (spoiler alert: no one does), here are my secrets for how to use Instagram for your holistic health business:
1. Take Good Pictures
I'm a semi-recovering perfectionist, so I try not to impose perfection on anyone else anymore, however, Instagram IS a visual platform.
If your pictures look like crap, don't expect a lot of like, comments, or follows!
You don't need a fancy camera, not at all. Most smartphones have amazing camera on them now, so no need to spend hundreds or thousands on a professional one, unless you want to do some serious photography.
No matter what camera you end up using, for me it's a non-negotiable to use a free picture editing app on my phone for pretty much every picture I post on social media. Once you get the hang of it, editing your pictures takes about 30 seconds, but it can completely change the quality of your images.
It's also great for editing colours out that might not be 100% on-brand for you, like the pictures below! This picture got a ton of comments simply because everyone wanted to know where I got the pink envelopes that aren't even pink in real life! They're regular manila envelopes that I purchased at the dollar store, but with the magic of editing (I currently use the Color Story app), le voila, they're pink!
Pretty crazy, right? That was done with a simple hue shift on the Color Story app, but you could also use another popular app like VSCO Cam.
If you want to know how to do this yourself, plus other secrets for taking scroll-stoping images for Instagram without a fancy camera, I wrote an entire blog post over here with a free training video on editing in VSCO Cam.
2. Plan Your Feed
Maybe it's the graphic designer in me, but I hate when things look unbalanced. I have an eye for knowing how to balance visuals out, even if it's just how I arrange books and knick knacks on our fireplace mantle.
I love seeing insanely bright colours in my Instagram feed, but for me, that needs to be balanced out with some lighter or white posts.
For text based posts as well, like quotes, I don't like to have text posts on top of text posts (which means they're 4 posts apart, since Instagram is a 3-picture wide feed). So what's a girl to do?
Well, I have a free app that's going to rock your world if you want to start planning how your complete Instagram feed will look altogether, not just as individual posts.
There are a few different apps you can use, but let me introduce you to Planoly.
Planoly is a free app where you can upload the pictures you're thinking of using on Instagram, and you can drag them around, re-arrange them, and play with your feed before you post anything!
I know your mind is blown because mine was! You're welcome.
The paid version of Planoly starts $11.99 US a month, which allows you to manage your comments, schedule captions and posts in advance, advanced metrics, and more, but I just use the free version to plan my feed.
There are other apps like Planoly, so feel free to do some research and find one that works for you, but if you're using Instagram, the ability to visually plan your future feed is priceless.
3. Use Hashtags
The most common question I get about Instagram is why I use the hashtags that I use. I'm a Leader in doTERRA, an essential oil and wellness company, but you'll often see me using #youngliving and #saje on my Instagram images, which are two main competitors.
Why would I use hashtags for my direct business competitors?
Because you have to use hashtags that your ideal clients would use so that Instagram knows to match you up with those people!
In my doTERRA business, it's much easier getting a sale if someone has already been using essential oils, they just haven't been using the best ones available on the market today. They're already a believer in this mode of health support, so I don't have to talk them into the fact that essential oils have science-based evidence for their efficacy, or that you can safely use them on pretty much any age with the appropriate dilution and method. I just have to educate them on why doTERRA is the best (*my opinion, but do your own research!).
When you use certain hashtags, Instagram tries to match you with other people who have the same interests. You'll potentially show up in their newsfeed, but you'll also show up in their Search & Explore page.
Plus, in late 2017, Instagram introduced the ability to follow hashtags, so if you start using a specific hashtag that someone is following, you're much more likely to show up in their feeds.
Most businesses who use Instagram to generate huge incomes don't put a million hashtags directly in their captions, however, because that makes it feel spammy and awkward to read. So how do you put your hashtags into your captions for Instagram's algorithm?
You put 10-15 hashtags in the comments below the picture!
Pretty pictures + inspiring caption + hashtags in the comments = Instagram gold 🌟
Now you don't just use any old hashtags, it takes time and effort to research your ideal clients to see what they're using. Plus, you want to use a mixture of super common and popular hashtags along with specialized ones. Maybe you just put up a picture of a dessert you made, because you're doing Whole30 and can't find a ready made one. So you could use #whole30 (used 3+ million times) with #sugarfreedessert (used 6,200 times).
Write your captions from the heart, tell your story, and then use hashtags in the comments to make sure you're findable by new potential paying clients on IG!
4. Use Instagram Stories
Having a perfectly curated IG feed is so 2017, people want to see the real you, and what better way for you to show them than with Instagram Stories!!!
Truth be told, I kind of love IG stories. I love seeing what people are like in real life, and with Stories being a max of 15 seconds (unless you do an Instagram Live), it's lovely to see snippets throughout the day.
Turns out, though, that IG stories isn't just all fun and games, it can majorly boost the organic reach of your posts. Here's how it works:
- Instagram, like any other social media platform, only shows your posts to a small percentage of your followers. That sucks, right?! It's almost impossible to know what percentage are seeing your posts (there are so many factors involved!), but it's probably in the 10-20% range, unless of course you pay for sponsored posts.
- If you get lots of likes and comments within the first 30 minutes of posting, Instagram will show that post to more of your followers.
So how do you do this? ☝🏻
You share on Instagram Stories that you just put up a new post!
Sounds so strange, but there's a reason why it works. Instagram Stories are still shown chronologically, meaning that if you are consistently posting Instagram Stories throughout your day, you're more likely to show up at the top of someone's feed AND in a section that shows up every now and then further down the feed spotlighting IG Stories.
Many high level, popular IG marketers are now putting up a picture in their Instagram Stories of their latest news feed with the last post (the new one they want to draw attention to) covered up with an emoji or a coloured block. They usually put the caption "check out my latest post!" or "click my profile to see my secrets about X,Y,Z".
FYI: once you have more than 10,000 followers, Instagram will unlock the function where people can swipe up on your Instagram stories to go to a specific page that you're wanting to drive traffic to (i.e. a blog post, sales page, webinar sign-up page, etc).
This drives more traffic to that post throughout the day, and so Instagram will then show it to more people organically.
Does that solve the mystery of why people are showing the first post of their feed with it covered up? It sure does!
There are lots of ways to use Instagram Stories, too, that aren't just live videos. You can totally have conversations and share your lessons just like you do on your captions, but because Stories are chronological, it'll probably get the message to different people than your newsfeed does.
Here's how you can play around with Instagram Stories while keeping your brand consistent:
P.S. the image size for Instagram Stories is 1080 by 1920 pixels, and I used an app called WordSwag to add the text to many of these pictures instead of the automatic text function (and boring font!) in IG stories.
P.P.S. in reviewing these images, reading white text on the black background isn't as clear as black text on white background. Noted!
We think we're annoying people on social media, when in reality, only a very small percentage of people who need to hear what we have to say actually get the messages. By layering Instagram Stories on top of your posts, it'll help you reach more people organically who already raised their hands to follow you.
5. Use the 80/20 Method
When I was in holistic nutrition school, we were taught that you shouldn't teach clients that they have to be 100% perfect with their eating, but instead they should focus on eating the best they can 80% of the time, and be a normal human being the other 20%. I've always loved this tidbit.
There's also the Pareto Principle which states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, and vice versa. For instance, 80% of your focused business time might only bring in 20% of your clients (probably if you're using social media 😂), or 20% of your top clients generate 80% of your income, etc.
The same should be done on social media. Don't just ask people to buy something every. single. post, that's just not cool. Your followers will ignore your incessant sales pitches (and probably just unfollow you anyways) because there's absolutely zero value in what you've provided.
Selling stuff is hard work nowadays, people need to be shown value, that they can trust you, and that you're worth them parting with their hard-earned money.
Gary Vaynerchuck wrote a book called "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook" about how you should be using the 80/20 principle in your marketing. Here's how this breaks down for every 10 posts:
- 8 posts should be strictly adding value to your followers lives. These posts could entertaining, educational, or starting a community conversation by trying to get to know your followers better. Polls are great for this, along with the "comment below if you [insert what you're trying to find out here], too!".
- 1 post should be a soft sell, meaning you're not directly asking them to purchase something, but you're sharing a testimonial, story, or by-product of what happens if they purchase something from you. For example, for your doTERRA business, you could share a picture of someone hosting a class for you where everyone looks like they're having a magical time, therefore making someone seeing that picture want to have a class with you (where people would buy). If you have an online course on weight loss, share a heart-felt testimonial from one of your students who had great success, but don't necessarily ask your followers to buy anything!
- 1 post should be a hard sell, actually asking them to purchase something or take direct action. Captions like "I have 5 spots left!" or "Get my online course before the price goes up/bonuses end" work well for this. Get right to the point, no need to beat around the bush on a hard sell post.
And those 8 posts where you're providing value? Don't forget to share a little (or a LOT) about yourself in those posts! People just want to know you, because you're pretty great and worth knowing 😍.
There you go, all my "secrets" for making Instagram work for your business. Like I said, I'm really not an expert in IG, so if you have any other tips and tricks, I'd love to hear them!
Leave them in the comments below, or DM me on Insta ;)