How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Use Automation Lightly” With Ashley Graham and Candice Georgiadis
Use Automation Lightly. Organic is always the best engagement you can have. No one enjoys bots or spam! There have been a plethora of automation tools that have emerged on the Internet, claiming to “instantly boost your Instagram engagements.” In reality, it is hard to gain followers and likes overnight without putting in actual work. Utilizing these commercial programs allow bots to run your account, commenting and liking posts under your behalf. Although this can attract new visitors to your Instagram, it goes against Instagram’s policies and brings in “fake followers” that may or may not be interested in your business at all. As long as you post consistent, relevant content, the engagement will come.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Graham, the founder and creative director of Brandesso, a modern-day brand communications agency that infuses brand authority through caffeinated strategies and communications through social media and other media outlets. To Brandesso, every brand has a unique story. Their creative process is to filter the raw, unique details of a brand and incorporate a well rounded methodology and strategy that brews the brand to stand out in their industry as an authoritative figure.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for the opportunity! I have thoroughly enjoyed my odd adventures that have led me to my career path in which I am excited to share them with you. To paint the picture, individuals who are in marketing have a special ability to notice the world around them and express their observations in a way that allures and attracts the eyes and/or minds of others around them. That is the power of marketing.
Aside from working in-house, I come from an influencer background where working with brands on their social media campaigns and their content plans became an integrated part of my career. As someone who is connected to sharing brand stories and making the connection between a brand and their audience, I wanted to not only continue the work, but I wanted the opportunity to also perform on a larger scale. Through various alignments, opportunities, and a deep passion for marketing, I discovered the drive to launch an agency-type business after running an influencer-driven hobby, and hitting the milestone of 12 years in marketing.
Q: Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
The psychology and meaning behind being social, is the act of pleasant companionship with friends or associates, as well as the interactions between individuals and/or a group of individuals creating a community with one another. The key behind great marketing on social media is being able to “talk” to your audience online as if they not a number, but a personality.
What makes me an authority in Social Media Marketing is my passion for truly connecting with people online. We live in a data-driven world in which from a business standpoint, it is important to track and monitor the type of engagement and reach we achieve for our clients. However, there is much more to social media than just numbers. In business, building and maintaining strategic relationships with your clients and community is important to the longevity of a business, so why not translate that online? I believe what makes me an authoritative figure on social media is being able to recognize the disconnect in the way we communicate online versus offline, and relay that information to those around me in order to make a positive impact on how we can communicate as a whole.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I am not sure if you would call it the most interesting, but I have had unique experiences that have happened at the lowest points in my business, in which challenged how I perceived the value and mindset of my business. As with any entrepreneur, there are countless bumps and bruises you are faced with that present you with a “fight or flight” response on how to manage certain challenges. What has kept me going at the absolute lowest points of wanting to flight and withdraw from the business, was the power of miraculous happenings at the most opportune moments.
I have been working with an advisory group in Chicago called Cultivate Advisors. My initial introduction to this business was made through nurturing a relationship with their brand through LinkedIn. Back in September of 2018, they hosted a conference for their current clientele as well as potential new clients in which they hosted a giveaway campaign for new prospective clients to enter in hopes to win a ticket. Needless to say, I entered the giveaway in hopes to win a ticket but did not win.
A few weeks from entering had flown by and I noticed I received an email from one of their advisors. They had been monitoring my posts on LinkedIn and felt that I would be a promising addition to the conference in which they extended a complimentary ticket. Seeing as I valued the opportunity and their generosity, I packed my bags and flew out to Chicago.
As a way to give back to those in attendance, the speakers decided to host a small social media giveaway for the attendees, which included 3 complimentary consulting hours with the CEO of Cultivate Advisors, Casey Clark. Seeing as I found myself at the low point in my business, I set the intention to win that contest in which I did. It was one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had this year.
Working with an advisory group has not only shifted my perspective in business, but also how to effectively track and monitor the process of scaling. If I could give any advice to a professional who is wanting to transition from their current positions to a role in entrepreneurship or running a business, it would be to save the finances to invest in an advisor before starting. It would help to eliminate some of the headaches you face making that first step and is also comforting knowing you have someone on the sidelines rooting for you from a structural standpoint.
In conjunction with more of the holistic opportunities I’ve had since I started my business, I have had the opportunity to engage in a few local speaking engagements in which I hope to continue to expand those opportunities in the near future.
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?
I wouldn’t say this mistake was funny at the time (it was actually quite humiliating) but looking back on it, I chuckle. When writing content for any type of medium such as a website, social media, e-newsletter campaigns, errors with grammar and spell-check are bound to happen and sometimes out of your control.
I was working on a e-newsletter campaign for a client that focused on announcing new ownership in which I had to elaborate on the owners name. After the draft was completed, I sent it over to the client for review, in which they brought attention to how their last name was spelled incorrectly. Unsure as to how this mistake could have happened (I clearly knew how the last name was spelled) I logged into the account to fix the variation of the last name and scheduled the email to go out. Within 15 minutes of the email being sent to a fairly large database, I received a text message from the client in which stated the last name was still spelled incorrectly.
The moral of the story is even when you think you have checked for spelling errors over 150+ times, check and review another 150+ times to make sure there is nothing that fell through the cracks.. And then recheck. I blame autocorrect, haha.
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?
The social media platform I find to be the most effective to increase business awareness to translate into revenue, has been LinkedIn. Compared to most social media platforms that are used for business purposes, I find LinkedIn to be the most “professional” as you are able to construct your profile in a business-oriented way, to not only showcase your business, but you as a professional/individual.
I recently launched a new program where potential clients or industry professionals can book a discovery consulting call with me for 30-minutes which is an in-depth call for them to ask me any branding or marketing issues they need clarification on or extra guidance on what they need to do to accomplish certain goals for their brand awareness. I have received the most inquiries through LinkedIn for this launch, as I feel the people who are utilizing LinkedIn to its full ability are already in the mindset to pursuing certain business transactions or to gain further industry knowledge.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
Connect/Engage With Local and National Businesses in Your Industry/Niche
There’s a reason why it’s called social media. It’s all about socializing with those around you! It is important to engage with your following. Often times we get so caught up with numbers, we forget about those around us. Connect with local businesses in your area or other businesses in your industry in order to create a support system to cross-collaborate. Do more than just follow! Engage with their posts, get an understanding of their business and what they offer.
It can be difficult finding time to post social media content when your agenda is already packed. However, with the help of social media management tools such as Sprout Social & Hootsuite, posts can be scheduled out anytime, anywhere. You can connect all your social media platforms, giving you the power to schedule and monitor posts seamlessly across them all. Posting consistently allows your feed to be fresh, offering new content for visitors to interact with.
Post Relevant Photos With Branded Captions
Instagram can help customers learn more about your business and what it offers. When creating content, keep your brand personality in mind. How do you want visitors to view your business? What do you want them know? Post photos that are relevant, only sharing content that amplifies your brand! Don’t forget to pair them up with witty branded captions! We might know a thing or two about that 🙂
Use Relevant Hashtags
Want your photos to reach new specific niches while growing your engagement organically? Utilize hashtags! Hashtags make it easier for users to find your photos, grabbing the attention of those who may be unfamiliar with your business. Use hashtags that are both trendy and applicable to your brand. They say “the more the merrier”, but that may not be the case for hashtags.
Keep Aesthetics in Mind
Instagram is all about visual creativity! Popular Instagram accounts all have one thing in common — they have coherent feeds. Create an aesthetic that is deeply rooted to your brand identity, following a common theme that can speak volumes about what you’re all about! Understand your brand and put #nofilter on your values, let them shine through your posts! Create photos that help illustrate your brand personality through a fixated theme, whether it be modern and minimalistic or cute and colorful! Utilize mobile applications like UNUM and VSCO to edit your photos and plan your feeds.
Use Automation Lightly
Organic is always the best engagement you can have. No one enjoys bots or spam! There have been a plethora of automation tools that have emerged on the Internet, claiming to “instantly boost your Instagram engagements.” In reality, it is hard to gain followers and likes overnight without putting in actual work. Utilizing these commercial programs allow bots to run your account, commenting and liking posts under your behalf. Although this can attract new visitors to your Instagram, it goes against Instagram’s policies and brings in “fake followers” that may or may not be interested in your business at all. As long as you post consistent, relevant content, the engagement will come.
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. :-)
One of the biggest conflictions I have noticed in business is the lack of compassion and respect in transactional relationships. I truly believe that there can be a holistic approach to doing business, even when it comes to money.
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 :-)
I would love to meet the model Ashley Graham in person. Not only do I resonate with her name (obvi), I also admire her courage and drive to channel her own experiences in life to help the well-being of others. She is the epitome of a go-getter in showing that she doesn’t take grief from anyone, is proud of who she is as a woman, and wants to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Social media, including Instagram, is such a powerful tool if used correctly. Not only do I utilize social media to connect with wider audiences in hopes to attract more business, but I also use it to showcase the real, authentic experiences and struggles that I face being an entrepreneur, and how I can help motivate and encourage others to still pursue their dreams, regardless of how difficult it may be. Getting out of the “fear” mindset is crucial when pursuing an entrepreneurial role, in which I believe I can relate with Ashley Graham on this and every level.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!