How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Alexis Davis and Candice Georgiadis

If I could inspire a movement involving social media, it would be one focused on bullying and safety online. I love social media due to how we’re able to learn from one other and share commentary, but the abuse and name calling that happens along the way, especially involving our young people must end.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexis Davis, Founder of The Content Plug. She’s obsessed with social media marketing, content creation, and teaching others how to use digital tools and platforms to build a brand. She’s worked with The Andy Roddick Foundation, BlackPeopleMeet, General Assembly, the NCAA Men’s Final Four, SXSW, and numerous small businesses + personalities nationwide. She uses her platforms as a mini media outlet to discuss the pros and cons of social media and its effects on topics ranging from tech to pop culture.


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’ve always been obsessed with tech and social networking since the MySpace days. Once I learned basic HTML, I was the user who would update her profile each week and add new music to her playlist daily. Naturally, my friends would always message me asking for help updating their pages.

Facebook became the “it” platform when I was in high school and I quickly asked a friend to send me an invite once grade school students could join. When I started college, everyone began using Twitter, and I found myself creating and managing every club and organization account that I could get my hands on as I understood how to manage them easier than most did. I would send dozens of tweets on my way to class each morning and I quickly realized that I had no problem keeping everything organized. My early liking to social also assisted in my transition from public health to public relations.

After college, I found an internship that focused on content marketing and social media. It allowed me to learn more about the growing industry well before I had the opportunity to take on social media manager roles at two different companies. I quickly became that person who wanted to take on side projects and help others with their businesses and accounts in order to gain more experience. Therefore, the natural next step was to create my own company that I could grow over time.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I’m an authority on social media marketing because I’m using, testing, and researching the platforms we know and love every single day from a business and personal standpoint.

It’s simply not enough to only read how to use social media as you must really get hands on, know how to use new features, and be ready to adapt as quickly as they change.

I’m also quick on my feet when it comes to appropriate responses, campaign ideas, and general discussion around what brands are doing and could have done better. I love to share these ideas and tips on my company blog and as a part of my #SocialTipSunday Instagram Story series on Instagram.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I absolutely love teaching classes and workshops as I personally want as many people to know and understand how to use social media as possible. Back in July, I had the opportunity to teach a workshop to 80+ people as a part a day-long workshop event at The University of Texas at Austin.

I was approached a few weeks later by an attendee who said she enjoyed the workshop and that she was surprised it went so well due to automatically questioning my expertise because of my age. I was stunned by her honesty, but not surprised. As a 27-year-old, I’m often challenged by others regarding my social media and content marketing knowledge as some believe that I must be too young to really be knowledgeable on the topic. However, who better than a millennial to teach you how to use social media?

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?

The biggest mistake I’ve made since starting my business was when I registered for my LLC. The LLC paperwork asks for applicants to write the entire name of their company out without initials or abbreviations. I wasn’t sure if LLC would automatically be added to my name or if I had to include it, so I spelled out “Limited Liability Company” after my company’s name. When the paperwork came back and I saw the name spelled out, I just shook my head and laughed and then proceeded to pay for the edit. I guess you can say I started two companies this year!

The lesson I learned from this is to always ask questions when you’re unsure of something or if you need assistance. We often try to do so many things on our own, but in reality we more than likely could have achieved them easier, faster, and, especially in this case, with less spend than if we did the task on our own.

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?

In my opinion, Facebook is the most effective to use to increase business revenues due to algorithms, advertising, and their acquisition of Instagram. It is difficult, but not impossible, to be a successful business without using Facebook in 2018 because of the number of ways to gain attention via both physical and digital traffic. Even businesses using Instagram ads must first have an Instagram Business account and a Facebook Page in order to use Instagram to its fullest potential.

Even if a brand does not want to focus on Facebook, cross promotion of content should be implemented due to its ability to help with search.

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.

Instagram is my favorite social media platform because I love how the app focuses on pictures and videos to tell stories and lacks all of the other overcomplicated features and needs. For those looking to leverage Instagram to improve your business, remember these six items:

1.Take full advantage of the Instagram Business features

If you’ve already taken the time to link your Instagram profile to your Facebook Page, then you should use all of the features that come with having an Instagram Business account including advertising, analytics, contact buttons on your profile, automatic posting with third party apps, and shopping (more on this later). For example, contact buttons allow users to directly call, email, book an appointment, reserve a table, and much more without ever having to truly leave the Instagram app on their own.

2. Create and manage three different Instagram strategies for maximum exposure

While Instagram is one platform, your feed, Instagram Stories, and IGTV are three vital and different parts that should work together seamlessly. In order to do this, consider having a strategy for each part of Instagram so you can better plan and understand where your content best fits based on your specific audiences and their needs. For instance, if you notice that users are making it to the end of your minute-long videos on your feed, consider testing out long form content on IGTV and cross-promoting the video in your Instagram Story using the swipe up feature.

3. Use hashtags to network and be discovered

Every Instagram post can have up to 30 hashtags and many businesses and brands fail to use them to their full advantage. Since users can now follow Instagram hashtags as easily as following an account, try using hashtags that relate to your products and niche in order to find and engage with potential customers, business partners, and inspirational accounts. At the same time, using hashtags helps these accounts find and engage with you! Don’t forget that hashtags also work on Instagram Stories and IGTV too.

4. Gather free information from your audience using Instagram Stories

If you’re unsure about what your audience wants, or if you simply need a refresher, use Instagram Stories tools such as the questions, polls, or emoji slider stickers to gather effortlessly free data about product needs or wants! For example, if you own a clothing brand you could use the questions sticker to ask customers an open ended question about the types of products they’re most excited to see in the spring. The polls sticker could accompany two sample items and then inquire which color is the audience favorite in order to determine which product to release first. Finally, the emoji slider can help poll an audience on how much they truly like or dislike an item in your catalog.

5. If you sell physical products, shopping tags are a must

Speaking of catalogs, if you have a business that sells physical goods that people can buy online you should absolutely be implementing Instagram shopping into your strategy. Shopping posts in the feed and in Instagram Stories make it easy for customers to purchase products instantly. All users need to do is set up their catalog in their Facebook Business Manager or a shop on their Facebook Page. Once approved by Instagram, you can tag multiple products at once instead of sending people to one link in your bio.

6. Stay consistent with great content, but post with a purpose

The best way to improve your business on Instagram is to stay consistent. Your business cannot and will not grow if you do not post regularly on Instagram. However, this does not mean you should post junk multiple times a day. Instead, create and then plan out top notch posts with a legitimate content/editorial calendar. This way, people can count on you and your brand to provide you with the most engaging, entertaining, and informative content on a regular basis.

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. :-)

If I could inspire a movement involving social media, it would be one focused on bullying and safety online. I love social media due to how we’re able to learn from one other and share commentary, but the abuse and name calling that happens along the way, especially involving our young people must end.

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 meet with any business leader I would meet with Robert F. Smith, the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. I would love to discuss how he grew Vista, hear stories about being an African-American VC, and learn how and why he decides to stay under the radar. Smith is also one of six billionaires in Austin, Texas and luckily we both reside in the Texas capital. I’d happily fit into his schedule any day of the week!

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!