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Rhea Freeman: Five Ways To Leverage Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business

Show up. All the wrinkles and grey hairs you’re seeing? No one cares — they want to see you! People buy from people, and if you’re hiding yourself away, you’re not giving people the chance to connect. It’s hard to think of one time when this has been successful because it’s happened so often. I know so many of my clients have taken the leap to share themselves, whether that’s an image or an Instagram Live, and have been overwhelmed and touched by the amazing support of their fans.

As a part of our series about How To Leverage Instagram To Grow Your Business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rhea Freeman.

Rhea Freeman is a small business coach, award winning PR adviser and social media expert who’s based in the UK. She helps numerous small businesses through her own Small & Supercharged Facebook groups, and through her weekly podcast. Rhea is also a #SheMeansBusiness accredited trainer (a programme by Enterprise Nation and powered by Facebook to help women improve their digital skills) and she’s a Facebook Certified Lead Trainer too.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s hard to believe that my first job was as a horse riding instructor when you look at what I do now, isn’t it? But I think that this is testament to the fact that whatever you do in life, you develop skills that lead you to where you want to be. When I was an instructor, I spent all day, every day, teaching people how to ride their horses better. How to understand how what they were doing directly impacted the result, the theory behind what they were learning and why, and all manner of tips connected to being a more effective rider. Now, although I don’t teach riding anymore (and haven’t for over 15 years!), the skills I developed then teaching have served me incredibly well for what I do now as a small business coach, PR adviser and social media expert. I lecture, coach and teach across a wide range of digital marketing subjects, and knowing that in most situations I can get people to understand, learn and apply what’s being taught in a way that makes them feel good, well, it’s priceless!

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

I had a very bizarre thing that happened at an event, which was down to Instagram. I was looking some products on a stand and I was very aware of two people just standing behind me. I turned around and it was two people who wanted to speak to me because they followed me on Instagram and we’d had a chat via DM. More than that, one of the lovely ladies wanted to have her picture taken with me. It was completely bizarre because I’m not a celebrity with millions of followers. But also reinforced my belief that these platforms, when used well, have the power to do so much, including make real connections that can enhance and enrich our lives.

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’m sure there are plenty, but it always takes me a while to see the funny side if it’s something that (I think) is going to upset anyone! I try and spin ‘failure’ around too. To make it a teaching point. I know it sounds a bit lame but it honestly helps!

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?

Of course. I’ve been coaching small business owners around social media, PR and business development for years, and have also done a lot of work managing people’s social media platforms. Last year, I won the Top 10 Advisers award for PR from Enterprise Nation (hence I now say I’m award winning), which was a really proud moment. I am also a #SheMeansBusiness accredited trainer — which is a programme run by Enterprise Nation and powered by Facebook, and I’m a Facebook Certified Lead Trainer. I have five additional Facebook Blueprint Certifications too.

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?

Any platform where your audience is has a place. I tend to connect with the majority of my customers via Instagram, but do also get a steady stream through Facebook thanks to my free Small & Supercharged group (aimed at small businesses and influencers in the equestrian and rural sector). In terms of revenue, my membership groups have a Facebook group element, so you could definitely say that my usage of Facebook is one that earns me the most money.

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.

Show up. All the wrinkles and grey hairs you’re seeing? No one cares — they want to see you! People buy from people, and if you’re hiding yourself away, you’re not giving people the chance to connect. It’s hard to think of one time when this has been successful because it’s happened so often. I know so many of my clients have taken the leap to share themselves, whether that’s an image or an Instagram Live, and have been overwhelmed and touched by the amazing support of their fans.

Stay in YOUR lane. Focus on what you’re doing. What other people are doing — what your competitors are doing, is none of your business. Don’t use the size of their following to either beat yourself up about yours, or rest on your laurels because they’re doing better. I spoke to a client a few weeks ago who would look at a similar business’s following and use that as a measure for how she was doing (as in, if she didn’t have as many followers). Just don’t. There are so many factors that can influence a following size and its growth. And you don’t know all/any of these!

Produce good quality content. If you want to succeed and sell through Instagram, you need to make sure your content is as good as it can be. It doesn’t have to be a professional image or a professional video, but investing some time into improving your photography skills will help you leverage Instagram well, because the image is the bit that stops the scroll. Have a look at your Instagram now- which pictures do you scroll by? Are they sharp or blurry, full of shadow or bathed in natural light?

Engage with customers. If people ask you a question, answer. And if they respond to your posts, make answering them a priority. This will allow you to make real life connections with your fans and followers, and that can be huge. I’ve made some lovely friend though doing this!

Collaborate. Collaborating with the right people will help get your content out to a brand new market, how good is that? You might plan to do a competition, a joint Live, a Reel, you name it- you can reach a lot of people, really quickly with the right collaborator. I do regular Lives with one of my customers and friends, and it’s such a great way of connecting to people online.

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. :-)

‘Not your people’. I use this a lot when it comes to social media content! So many people try and fit a box that the environment has provided, when they really don’t. Fans have followed your account to hear from you. And if they don’t like your style, then they can leave too. When this happens, don’t take it personally, just think ‘not my people’ and move on!

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 :-)

YES! Jasmine Star. I think she’s incredible and I love her attitude — she just does the work, doesn’t she? It’s such a powerful message!

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

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.