Instagram Success for Service-Based Businesses

Instagram Success for Service-Based Businesses

As a service-based business owner, I was always a little unsure of how to approach Instagram for marketing purposes.

On one hand, I loved the idea of the visual platform, and I knew a ton of people – including a lot of my ideal clients – were scrolling through their IG feeds regularly (compulsively?) But on the other hand, what would I share? I didn’t have physical products to showcase and, as much as I love a good cup of coffee, I was certain IG didn’t need another snapshot of a morning cup of coffee.

 

 

 

 

But evidence of Instagram becoming a powerful source for business was hard to ignore. Of course, articles proclaiming IG to be an essential marketing tool were popping up at every turn – but I also had anecdotal evidence from real people I knew. Friends, clients, and fellow service-based business owners were claiming that land a solid portion of their business from this platform.

Convinced I needed to straighten up my IG game and start tapping its full potential, I turned to the experts. The following 3 lovely and talented Instagram gurus graciously shared key advice with us on how to start, improve, and get the most out of your Instagram marketing efforts.

s0SwdIdaJenn Herman, @jenns_trends

what is the one biggest mistake to avoid making when using Instagram for business?

The biggest mistake people make on Instagram is not having a unique strategy for Instagram. They fall into using the same strategy they use on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest and then wonder why Instagram doesn’t work for them. Instagram is a completely different platform and needs to have a unique strategy, different content, and a different method of interaction. When it comes to Instagram, less content is better – create the BEST visual content you can, not the most content you can.

We know Instagram is great for showcasing beautiful products, but how can service-based business represent themselves?

Many service-based businesses struggle with how to use Instagram because they don’t have a product or item to showcase. But, really, they have so much to share and just don’t know it. I always use the analogy of pretending you have a camera crew following you around all day (like a reality TV show). What would they see? What do you do? What are you working on? Where do you go? Everything you do every day in your business is something you can showcase visually. You can also create graphics or overlay text on an image to share tips, tutorials, tactics, and other educational or resourceful information. Instagram is also extending video capacity to 60 seconds so you can capitalize on videos to share much more value and insight into your business.

If you had to narrow it down to just 2 things, what would you say are the best ways to grow your following on Instagram?

I love Instagram for its interactivity and engagement. Of course, growing your audience goes hand in hand with this, but remember, it’s not just about how many followers you have – it’s about the quality of the followers you have. To get the best, targeted audience, you want to promote your Instagram account to all your existing customers and audience. Cross promote to your other social media channels, include your Instagram link/username in your email signature, include it on your packaging or receipts, and tell your customers when you actually talk to them! To make this the most effective, you want to offer Instagram-exclusive content like contests, weekly content series, promotions, insider looks into your business, and other unique opportunities that encourage your audience to follow you here. Another way to significantly grow your audience in a targeted fashion is to use a well-structured hashtag strategy. You want to use 10-15 hashtags related to your content, business, and industry to ensure the right people are finding your content.

What is one thing business owners can do to help turn followers into customers through Instagram?

As a business, you need to be able to convert those fans into customers. And one of the reasons I love Instagram is that the traffic you generate from this platform is significantly more valuable than any other referral source. Because there is only ONE clickable link on Instagram, there is no junk traffic to your link – the people who click on it, want it, and when they get to your site, your bounce rate is practically zero. You can’t get that kind of traffic anywhere else! But the thing is to get people to click on that link! You need to use powerful (and beneficial) calls-to-action in your posts on Instagram that direct people to “click on the link in the bio” so that they know what to do. You can promote a webinar, your opt-in page, a free download, your blog page, your list of services page, a sales page, or any other page that helps you build your list and generate revenue. Just remember, not every post should be a sales post!

Learn more about Jenn on her website www.jennstrends.com or soak up more of her IG marketing advice in her Instagram Membership Community.

fYqjXtwOAlex Tooby, @instawithalex

What is the one biggest mistake to avoid making when using Instagram for business?

Sharing content that doesn’t relate to your business! You have to be very careful about sticking to the focus of your account. If you’re a graphic designer, stick to sharing posts that highlight your expertise, and avoid sharing posts that don’t relate, like photos of your cats or kids! Now of course we are human and want to share our personal lives with our audiences, and that’s fine, just make sure whatever you share can still somehow be tied back to the focus of your account.

We know Instagram is great for showcasing beautiful products, but how can service-based business represent themselves?

Instagram is a little trickier for those of us who offer services but it definitely isn’t impossible to master. In fact I know a lot of service providers that find the majority of their clients through Instagram. I think the key here is to share your expertise, and educate your audience. Take for example my account, @instawithalex, I share Instagram tips and the sole purpose of my account is to provide value, educate my audience, and position myself as the expert in my industry. This is a great model to follow and one that easily builds up the “like, know, and trust factor” that converts clients into customers. If you don’t want to share tips, you can post photos that show the benefits you gain from investing in your services. For example, a fitness instructor showing photos of her bangin’ bod would definitely help sell some sessions!

If you had to narrow it down to just 2 things, what would you say are the best ways to grow your following on Instagram?

1. Having a highly focused account. Take for example my account @menandcoffee. Part of it’s success (besides the gorgeous men) is the fact that I ONLY post photos of men drinking coffee. I don’t share photos of just men, or just coffee, or food, cafes, etc. By sticking to your focus like glue, you provide your audience exactly what they’re looking for and that not only attracts new followers but your current followers will stick around for the long haul.

2. Being social! It is called social media for a reason, so it’s a good idea to be as present as possible and take the time to engage with your current audience, and your potential audience. Don’t just post a photo and close the app, instead, reply to all the comments you receive, and actively engage with users you think might benefit from your content by liking and commenting on their posts. This is going to entice them to come check out your feed and when they see how awesome you are, how could they not follow?

What is one thing business owners can do to help turn followers into customers through Instagram?

Keep in mind that Instagram isn’t necessarily a “fast sell”, instead it’s a place to build a relationship with your followers, so that means it may take a little extra time before you see a monetary return from the platform. Coincidently, once you begin focusing on relationship building rather than selling, your sales will increase! The best way to make this happen is to offer your audience a freebie via the link in your bio (make sure you collect their email at the same time!). Give them something of value that will not only leave them appreciating you, but also trusting in your expertise. Then slowly nurture that relationship through a short series of emails, THEN ask them to purchase from you. Chances are if you offered a ton of great value your conversion rate is going to be pretty good!

Check out Alex’s IG marketing course, Infamous to Influential, and her awesome free Instagram Marketing Facebook Group.

10710576_643074625805816_5137247681136495664_nPeg Fitzpatrick, @pegfitzpatrick

What is the one biggest mistake to avoid making when using Instagram for business?

Turning Instagram into a sales pitch or an overly personal stream that’s not related to your business.

We know Instagram is great for showcasing beautiful products, but how can service-based business represent themselves?

Service-based businesses can also shine on Instagram with creativity. Share photos of people enjoying your services, ways that your service is used, or how-to’s for your service. A great way to engage people in your social media is to start hashtag communities around your brand using a brand-specific hashtag. You can find and share this User-Generated Content (UGC) and also use it to engage with your community as well. Example:

#SproutSocial
https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/sproutsocial/

#GoPro and #GoProoftheDay
https://www.instagram.com/p/BDLqY84rf0I/?taken-by=gopro

Make sure to share your hashtag in your bio and invite people to use it.

If you had to narrow it down to just 2 things, what would you say are the best ways to grow your following on Instagram?

Posting great content regularly and engaging in comments on your posts and other people’s post. Don’t post and run. Stay for the conversation.

What is one thing business owners can do to help turn followers into customers through Instagram?

Use your one link in your bio wisely. Create shortened links with Bitly or another service and regularly update it with something fresh and interesting that is valuable to your bottom line. For example, I have my link leading to blog content, special offers, webinars registrations, or projects that I partner on. You can add a regular post with more information and ask people to follow the link in your bio.

Learn more about Peg on her website www.pegfitzpatrick.com and grab even more great social media marketing advice on her helpful blog.

          

call - 616.821.7244  |  email - sonja@jobsonstudios.com  |  follow along - @jobsonstudios 
Grand Rapids, MI

3 Easy Blogging Time-Savers

3 Easy Blogging Time-Savers

Does it feel like blogging is taking over your schedule? Do you want to create a great blog for your business – with all the awesome perks that come along with it – but have this nagging feeling that it’s taking up way too much of your time?

I hear this question over and over again (and I’ve asked it myself): how can I blog for my business without losing so much time to it?

Based on my own blogging experience, here are my 3 favorite ways to keep blogging manageable and enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

Blogging Time Saver #1 – Create Your Brainstorm Plan

Writing a blog post can suck up a lot of time. Deciding what to write that blog post about can suck up even more. There’s something about sitting down to write a blog post without a solid idea in place that creates an impenetrable mental block. You’re suppose to write this thing now.  Come up with an idea already so you can get started. Talk about pressure.

You can save yourself loads of time (and heartache) by planning out your blog topics ahead of time – way before you sit down to actually write the post.

This is actually my favorite part of blogging (besides, of course, the immense feeling of accomplishment that comes along with finally hitting ‘publish’). It’s just plain fun.

You can brainstorm your blog topics any ol’ way you’d like, but here’s my personal version of getting it done:

1) I get away from the computer. Sometimes you need a change of scenery to get in the creative groove. Plus, I’m fairly convinced that the more time I spend staring at my computer screen, the more often I need to update my contact lens prescription. Just saying. So grab an old fashioned notebook and pen, and find some place inspiring to sit.

2) I create content themes or categories to organize my ideas. For example, I create sections for writing topics, social media topics, blogging topics, and so on. This way your brain won’t be bombarded by a million different possibilities all at once. Instead, you can focus on one area at a time, and dig to find really specific, unique things to write about within that broader topic.

3) I write down every idea. Even if it might suck. You never know what it could turn into with some refinement.

4) I aim to brainstorm at least 5 month’s worth of blog topics at once. Since I blog once per week, that boils down to about 20 ideas. This way, if later on I decide half the ideas are horrible, I still have 2.5 months worth of content ideas before I need to repeat the process.

Blogging Time Saver #2 – Dump first, edit later

Whatever you do, do not edit your writing during the first draft. Just don’t do it.

I know it’s super tempting to re-write poor sentences, fix grammar mistakes, and – sometimes – erase every last word and start over while you’re writing the first draft of a post.

But, in most cases, getting ideas out of your head and down onto the paper is the hardest part about writing. By editing as you write, you’re interrupting that creative brain-dump process and making it harder – and more time consuming – to get the words down.

When you write your first draft, give yourself permission to be sloppy. You can spell words wrong (as long as they are not so wrong that you won’t know what word you were going for), use poor punctuation, and let run-on-sentences slide. Promise yourself that you’ll fix it later, and then just write.

Get your ideas out of your head. Write the whole post and don’t stop. You’ll save a lot of time and, surprisingly, probably end up with a more creative and conversational-sounding blog post.

Once you have your entire first draft written, go back to the beginning and start editing. Fix all the sloppiness, tighten up the copy, and clarify your points. This is the perfect time to get all uptight about grammar usage and spelling, so have at it. But don’t even think about it during your first draft.

Blogging Time Saver #3 – Write in batches

Working yourself into your creative zone where your writing starts to sound good can take some time. It’s like exercising – you have to warm up before you get down to real calorie-burning business. So when you write just one blog post – or worse, just part of one blog post – at a time, you’re sacrificing a lot of valuable minutes to the writing-warm-up process.

You can cut down on that big time by writing your blog posts in batches. Personally, I like to write a month’s worth of blog posts at one time (which, right now, equals four posts). Instead of setting aside smaller chunks of time all month long to work on blogging, I reserve one large chunk at the beginning of each month and crank them out all at once. It’s a great feeling to have your content already set for an entire month ahead of time, and I also save a lot of time that I would have otherwise wasted warming up to writing. Not to mention all the time I would spend thinking and worrying about when I would be able to write my next post.

If you don’t think you can handle writing four or more blog posts all at once, that’s OK. Start with whatever you can. Maybe it’s two blog posts. Maybe it’s just outlining a month’s worth of blog posts, and writing the rest later. Whatever you need to do to start getting used to writing in batches, do it. Your schedule will thank you.

Now I want to hear from you! What tricks and systems do you rely on to make blogging work for your business? Share it with me in the comments below.

          

call - 616.821.7244  |  email - sonja@jobsonstudios.com  |  follow along - @jobsonstudios 
Grand Rapids, MI

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