How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Maree Jones and Candice Georgiadis
I had the pleasure of interviewing Maree Jones, social media strategist. Maree Jones is passionate about everything she does, and it shows. As a seasoned content, social media and PR strategist, Maree manages all aspects of social media campaigns for clients: from executing day-to-day tactics that excite fans and followers to creating that perfect 30K-foot view social strategy. A trend forecaster and social media proponent for both individuals and organizations, Maree speaks all over the US on how to achieve a best-in-class digital footprint and online reputation. Blending data analysis with a razor-sharp intuitive approach, Maree’s insights have been featured in PR News, Inc., AdWeek, Buzzfeed and other online publications, and she has received recognition for her work in PR by the American Advertising Federation. Not to be outdone by her professional accolades, Maree’s personal interests include being a wife, mom, foster mom, pet mom, a remote work advocate, and the creator/Chief Curator of her own buzzworthy digital platforms: FemmePrint and The Influencer Whisperer. Maree currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama, and travels all over the US to speak to and work with organizations of all shapes and sizes.
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 began working in social media nearly 10 years ago. Back then, I was actually an educator, and I started getting my students interested in the material they were learning by incorporating elements of social media. It was a smash, but what I quickly realized was how interested I was in social media as a discipline. So I left teaching and began offering my services to whoever would let me. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working with large and small ad shops, PR firms, beloved national CPG brands and really amazing global communities. Today, I manage social media efforts for organizations such as Young Entrepreneur Council and Forbes Business Councils.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
I don’t necessarily see myself as an authority or expert, just because the world of social media is in constant flux. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of someone who is an expert in a discipline that isn’t the same as it was a year ago. What I do refer to myself as, however, is a superuser. I consume and create an extraordinary amount of social media content for myself and my clients, and I see every piece of content published as an opportunity to learn and to better perfect my craft.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I’ve been in the office chair posting when a piece of content I developed suddenly went viral. I sat in disbelief as those numbers went up and up and up. Into the hundreds. Into the thousands. Into the millions. That’s a wild experience. It’s something everyone thinks they want, too, until you realize that when something goes viral, it’s almost as if it doesn’t belong to you anymore. It’s just out there. For the world. Then there are questions of licensing and monetizing and whether or not you should.
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?
When I first started, I did what many people do when they first start out, or if they’re inexperienced with social media — I linked my accounts. Specifically, I connected my LinkedIn account and my Twitter accounts together. So when I posted on Twitter, it went straight through to my LinkedIn feed. One Saturday, I kept Tweeting out pretty obnoxious Tweets about my team (and a few Tweets about the other guys). The next day, when I checked LinkedIn, I noticed a pretty snarky comment from a man who was my insurance agent at the time, berating me for not keeping LinkedIn “professional.” Needless to say, I learned my lesson and unlinked my accounts. I also found myself another insurance agent.
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?
For the past couple of years, I have had an on and off freelancing business, and most of my website referrals tend to come directly from LinkedIn, and, surprisingly, Twitter. People find me, and they want to see what type of content I produce for myself, before entrusting me to develop content or creative for them. I would say that consistency in posting (meaning every day, or every other day) for several years, directly attributes to the success and growth of my freelancing business.
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.
High-Quality Images: Instagram wouldn’t be the platform it is without beautiful, compelling images. No one is successful on that platform without something cool, great, creative, funny or interesting to share on a regular basis. High-quality photos must be the backbone of any Instagram strategy.
Consistency in Posting-Frequency: As I mentioned with LinkedIn and Twitter, consistency of posting directly contributed to my personal business growth. The same can be said for Instagram. Posting frequency, and learning what that should be for your business, is something that’s very underrated.
Leveraging Stories: It’s not enough to share a post. The super users are alerting people, via Stories, of the fact that they’ve posted something. It can be an incredible tool for getting more views and interaction on your regularly scheduled content. Plus, you can make it much more fun and engaging with gifs, stickers, and other clever Story accessories.
Saying NO to Automated DMs: I can’t tell you how disappointed I am when someone sends me an automated DM after I follow them. It’s incredibly presumptuous from a customer journey perspective.
Boosting or Promoting Posts to Target Audiences: There are some really great promotional and targeting features within Instagram business accounts. I especially love to promote content while targeting people similar to my followers. It’s handy regarding finding like-minded people.
Community Management: Some of the most successful Instagrammers are ones who take the time to follow new people, comment on posts, ask people questions and actually engage.
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. :-)
I noticed that there is so much negativity around social media: from fake news to issues with influencers and authenticity to complaints of social media being a time suck and an addiction. I started trying to spread much more positivity in my content about social media and some of the good that it can do. I would love to see much more positivity in all of our news feeds!
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 want to have breakfast with Amy Poehler. I’ve been captivated by her since watching her on SNL, and I’ve loved everything that she’s done since. From some of my favorite movies and shows to her book Yes Please to what she’s doing with Smart Girls and Making It. She’s the epitome of creativity.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!