Andréa Jones of OnlineDrea: How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business
Create Share-worthy Content: The way that the algorithms are today is that the Instagram algorithm wants people to linger on your posts. They want people to experience your brand and not just keep swiping. One of the best ways to give that little notification to the algorithm and say, “Hey, this is important,” is to have people share it. It is one of the most powerful ways to dramatically improve your business.
As a part of our series about How To Leverage Instagram To Grow Your Business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andréa Jones.
Andréa Jones is fiercely committed to helping businesses and podcasters build profitable online communities through simple social media solutions. Andréa and her team of eleven serve nearly two dozen notable brands across the globe. She’s the host of the Savvy Social Podcast and the creator of the Savvy Social School, a digital platform designed to teach its 100+ members how to implement organic social media strategies.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I got into the online space very early when I started a Harry Potter blog back in 2004. I constantly found myself being drawn to social media. In 2007, I started a YouTube channel while I was still climbing the “corporate ladder.” I worked my way up through my career at a spa from the front desk to management. It was then when I realized how much I enjoyed helping companies build their social platforms. I knew that’s what I was supposed to be doing. Then in 2013, my husband and I met (through YouTube of all places!) and collaborated on some content for our channels. We began dating long distance, fell in love and eventually got married in late 2014.
He was the catalyst for me to start my business, OnlineDrea.com. I knew I wanted to leave my corporate days behind and when we got married, I moved from the U.S. to Canada to be with him. It was out of necessity that I started my business and got it off the ground. We made some big goals from the get-go (for him to be able to leave his job and join me in the business) and with our backs up against the wall, it was now or never.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Back before blogging was “cool” and before I even started my social media marketing agency, I ran a fashion blog for a few years. During that time, I got to work with very exciting brands like CoverGirl, Neutrogena, Giant Tiger, Dillards, Macy’s and Goodwill. While running this fashion blog, I got invited by Steve Madden himself to interview him for my blog. It was an exhilarating experience that I will never forget!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Back in my early days, I was hired as an actress to complete product reviews for items that I never actually tried. There are literally videos of me saying, “try this shampoo, it’s amazing,” for products that I hadn’t ever used before. Someone that I know reached out to me and told me they saw me on a YouTube ad. I was embarrassed that I was promoting something I didn’t love and quickly realized that I didn’t want to be aligned with that! It is funny looking back on it but I realized through this experience a big lesson: you should always be authentic and align yourself with things you actually enjoy.
Ok. Let’s now move to the main focus of our discussion. For the benefit of our readers, can you explain why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
I’ve been a social media marketer for over 7+ years helping to tailor done-for-you strategies for dozens of notable brands. My program, the Savvy Social School currently teaches over 170+ members (predominantly small business owners) how to implement organic social media strategies for their business as well as thousands of past members and 1-time workshop attendees. My podcast, Savvy Social Podcast helps entrepreneurs elevate their social strategies through practical, proven advice.
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
When it comes to the direct impact of growth in my own business, I’ve found that Instagram has been the most effective. For me, building partner relationships has been a key component of this. Being that I am a social media strategist, a social media agency owner and someone who teaches others how to use social media, a lot of times my ideal clients aren’t even on social media themselves.
They aren’t hanging out on Instagram or to be honest, many social media platforms at all. That’s why building relationships with partners like brand strategists, speaking coaches, web developers, graphic designers, course creators and other similar businesses is important to me because a majority of the time we share the same clients. That has been one of the most effective ways to increase my business revenue.
This is a big reason why when you look at my Instagram page, you’ll see I’ve got around 6K followers. I am working on building really deep connections and not just increasing the follower number for the sake of increasing it. When you’re thinking about leveraging Instagram for your business, you want to think about how it works for you and what you can do to really make an impact on the bottom line of your business.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share five ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
- Know Your Niche: You want to know where people are and be very tuned into what they need. I have a client who is teaching people how to build their soap making business. She is very in tune with who her clients are, she’s dynamic in her content and brings an energy to her work that other craft businesses kind of ignore. A lot of people in the crafting space tend to think a certain way, act a certain way and look a certain way. What she’s doing is shaking up that narrative by intentionally promoting businesses of color and other diverse soap making businesses that her niche can relate to and understand. In turn, this is exploding her Instagram page and getting her audience very tuned in. Knowing your niche and being able to speak to their unique set of challenges is something that helps attract more people to your brand and bring followers to you organically.
- Participate in Your Community: Oftentimes when businesses look at social media, they sort of view it as more of a billboard. I like to compare social media to dating because if you’re dating, you could get all dressed up, sit at your house and wait for someone to knock on the door but most often if you’re dating you’re likely going to go out and network. You’re going to go into the community and chat with real people. Marketing on social media is the same way. It’s not like a billboard where you sit and wait for people to look for you. You have to be in your community and network. An example of this is for one of my life coaching clients, before us working together their hashtags weren’t being acknowledged, shared or used strategically. We started participating by sharing the posts that their account was tagged on and engaging with other people in the community through hashtags. We found that this helps you as a company to have a pulse point on what’s happening in your community. It also shows that you care more about the people than about making the sale and making the money.
- Share Your Story No Matter What Others Think — You want your Instagram to clearly share the story of who you are and what you stand for (no matter the opinions of others)! I currently have an OBGYN client who recently had someone in her community who didn’t stand for the right things and who wasn’t honoring that all humans are created equal. She took a stand and said something about it on her Instagram. She got a lot of flack and negative responses from people telling her she had no right to speak on the issue. However, on the flip side, she also had so many new people come into her community. These new people were attracted to her story and her brand because she decided to share something no matter what the naysayers may say in response or think about her. This helped her establish herself as a stronger brand and get her followers super tuned into what she’s saying, her message and what she’s doing.
- Create Share-worthy Content: The way that the algorithms are today is that the Instagram algorithm wants people to linger on your posts. They want people to experience your brand and not just keep swiping. One of the best ways to give that little notification to the algorithm and say, “Hey, this is important,” is to have people share it. It is one of the most powerful ways to dramatically improve your business. Secondly, when people share your content it’s maximizing the number of people who are going to see that post and it reaches beyond your audience to other people. One example of this is one of my feminist life coaching clients. She has a strong stance on thought work, the mind and how we as women (especially as women of color) live in this world. We often pull her strong quotes and content that will shake things up a little bit for her posts because we know it will be shared on social media. Another client of mine who is a doctor has had great success with sharing topics in an infographic style which makes it very easy to consume and share in stories or by sending it directly to a friend via direct message. Share-worthy content is like an amplified version of word-of-mouth marketing which is very cool because instead of us promoting who we are and what we do, our customers can share a thought-provoking or informative post that will help their friends and spread our message even further.
- Use New Features Like Reels: The algorithms LOVE when you use their latest features. Instagram wants its users to test and try out their new features. They also want people to spend time on their platform consuming other people’s content from their latest features. When you create using these features, they’re automatically weighted more and more likely to show up to an even wider audience. Right now, this would be Instagram Reels so if you aren’t on Reels yet you want to start thinking about how you can get on there. One example of how you can do this and get started easily is by taking some of your previous video content, chopping it up and using it on Reels. The way that Reels is set up is very similar to TikTok in that it’s set up for discoverability and helps you to get noticed and followed by new people who like similar content to what you share!
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Something that I am extremely passionate about is moderating the amount of time we spend on social media. I know that might sound odd coming from a social media manager and strategist who has built an entire business around it and as someone who coaches people on social media, but hear me out…
Social media addiction is a very real thing. The designers of these platforms create them to be addictive. They design these apps so that you can keep scrolling through and consuming more and more content on their platform.
One of my big missions is to help people moderate their social media usage, especially as business owners. A lot of busy entrepreneurs will feel like they have to spend their time on social media platforms to connect with their customers. They will soon realize how many hours that they’re spending each week online when they could be accomplishing other things.
I want to inspire a movement of social media mindfulness. This is a concept that has come from my history with social media. In 2017 when I was three years into building my business, I got completely overwhelmed with notifications. It was notification overload! I was managing several clients, logged into all of their accounts on several platforms and getting hundreds of notifications from DMs, retweets, likes, comments, all of the things.
One thing that saved me from this was I realized that I needed to be more intentional and mindful. Now, I have all notifications turned off. Instead of being bogged down by constant notifications, I log into the apps regularly while I am working and when I’m not, I can just set it and forget it until it’s time to check in again.
Additionally, I use a lot of meditation to start and end my day. When it comes to social media and the work that I do, it’s no secret that there’s a lot of negativity floating around on social platforms. It can be a lot to take in when you’re constantly seeing negative comments online. My meditations help to set the tone for the day and get me in tune with my emotions, better understand myself and my overall thought process.
Getting in tune with thought work has been a game-changer for me. Thought work is the study of the mind, brain and how it works and the idea that our circumstances are neutral and we get to choose how we feel about them. For example, if we see an email over the weekend we can choose to feel panicked about it or to let it be, not think too far into it and be okay with the thought of responding to that email on Monday morning.
I am actually so passionate about social media mindfulness that I created a free mindfulness series with meditations to help you understand your relationship with social media, prepare you to react to negativity on social media and so much more.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
If I could have a private breakfast or lunch with anyone, hands down it would be Oprah! She inspires me so much, especially with her interviewing style. She is a great interviewer and I aspire to take away some of her skills and techniques for my podcast and the interviews I conduct. The ways in which she’s developed over the years and built her career is truly inspiring. I look up to her so much as a woman in business. I just love her.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!