As a recap episode of my interview with John Mouret, one of the top 10 Yahoo finance influencers, we discuss details about the Instagram algorithms and how they work. He’s someone who understands these algorithms to a very high and detailed degree that very few people do and we go over a lot of information regarding them. Jean revealed there’s actually 10 different algorithms and how there are strategies we can implement to speed up content production and make your content trend better, such as applying color trends and other actionable steps that you can apply instantly to start gaining more traction with your account.
While you won’t be lost if you listen to this episode first, I highly recommend you take the time to listen to the actual interview in episode 92. Otherwise, this recap episode touches on the main points and includes my 2 cents on what was discussed to expand on things a bit and give you applicable strategies for your business.
Images & Composition
One of the first things we can do to improve how our content trends is use more consistent and favorable colors. Specifically, Jean referenced the Chase Bank blue and how it’s too dark for Instagram and how lighter shades of blue tend to work better. Now unfortunately there’s no true definitive list of every color that works best on Instagram, but it’s theorized that opting for brighter shades of colors is what you want to aim for. Again, though theories, they come from analysis over time and what you should do is take a look at your content at a deeper level and ask what posts were the best that you’ve ever done? Start analyzing things like how the photo was composed, where the subject was placed, what colors appear in the photo, and even the caption and structure of the description. The truth is most people don’t fully analyze every aspect of these that are the real patterns that cause content to trend better.
Analyze Your Market
Additionally, looking at top-trending content in your industry always provides more insight but is something most people fail to do. The hashtags may be correct, and content might even be highly valuable and well-written, but the visual aspects are noticed (image and colors) before the caption and description ever are. This is essentially your main “entry point” or first piece of a post that’s going to be noticed, and every detail counts in determining how much engagement a post gets and if it makes a user want to read the caption and description.
So search hashtags in your market and look at what post types are most popular. More specifically, post types would be infographics, seamless carousels, video, video with subtitles, etc.
Captions & Descriptions
The next analysis that should be done are on post captions…not just having a caption in general but how they’re formatted. Paying attention to the amount of spaces, bullet points, and emojis used as well as what the first line of the caption is makes a big difference. Is the caption grabbing audience attention? Are the hashtags placed in the description or as a separate comment?
It’s important to be aware of things on a marketing level rather than just on a surface/consumer level and the fact that there’s psychology involved in advertising and marketing. Let me share a theory I have that most people have never picked up on.
So Taco Bell made Baja Blast and it was an exclusive flavor you couldn’t buy anywhere…for over 10 years you couldn’t find it at gas stations, other restaurants, or anywhere else. But as a kid as I, like the rest of the world, was less health-conscious that long ago and pretty much ate Taco Bell every day for lunch during high school…with a Baja Blast. It was rare and the only time I could get it. Even if there was Mountain Dew and I would think to myself “Yeah, Mountain Dew would be good right now”, I’d still choose Baja Blast simply because of the exclusivity factor.
Now after 10 years they finally started supplying it at gas stations and I remember thinking “They’re so stupid to give up that exclusivity factor”. One day I ended up buying one from a gas station, opened it, drank it and thought “Wow, I really want a taco now” and then all of a sudden it hit me…they’ve marketed to their consumers in a way that positions their products being exclusive with each other so that every time I had a taco I’d also have a Baja Blast and vice versa. This created a 10-year association with me and their customer base where you almost can’t have one without wanting the other.
This is only one random example, but my point is that people don’t think at that level as far as analyzing marketing and why things around them work the way they do.
So I’m mostly bringing this awareness to you to know that you need to be able to analyze things on a marketing level further than just what you see. Many people simply think things like “Oh yea, that was a good ad”…but what makes it a good ad and why was it so effective? If you can’t come up with at least 10 reasons for every TV commercial then you’re missing those deeper things and that’s totally fine to average consumers, but the awareness is where it starts at identifying how pieces of content trend well.
Many people think they understand something they haven’t actually done yet simply because they’ve seen someone else do it. But understand If you haven’t gone through it and seen the results yourself then you don’t truly understand it. In all honesty, it’s okay not to understand it. However, what’s NOT okay is to not admit it.
Components to Success
One of the biggest things that advanced entrepreneurs understand that beginners don’t is that when you’re analyzing things on a deeper level and facing the fact that you don’t know things that you haven’t personally done before, that’s when things start to make sense. It’s one thing to hear from someone or the media that you should never give up, which is something I’m a strong proponent of doing, but until you’ve had a scenario where, against all odds, you didn’t give up and pushed through to hit your end result at the last second you don’t have that experience and story for yourself…and don’t grasp the concept of what never giving up is truly like.
Simply put, if you haven’t gotten a post to go viral, then you don’t actually know how to do it and you need to analyze that process on a deeper level…what is actually going viral in your market? Break it down second by second and look at the things most people wouldn’t catch on that surface level and apply those deeper aspects all back to your business.
Modeling and Not Copying
You wouldn’t get into music without learning music theory and understanding bears, music, or the crucial pieces that you can analyze in order to compose a good song. If you don’t start with those fundamentals you’re going to be trying to make up for centuries of knowledge that’s already been found with music. You wouldn’t pick up a guitar and start plucking strings expecting to compose a song without taking lessons or understanding how a song is made with a guitar…and so many people make it much more difficult on themselves thinking they can do it alone when they don’t have to. Letting go of your ego and understanding that there are people doing things better than you are, and that’s totally okay. The only way to get there quick is to model off of what they’re doing.
Story Sharing Worthy
Another common mistake I see people make with content is not asking themselves if someone would find their content interesting enough to share it to their stories. There’s 2 ways people can share it; they would either share it just directly with a friend or they would add the post to their story.
As an example, the one time a picture of someone just standing by themselves would get shared is an attractive girl account. A guy would see this attractive girl and DM it to one of his buddies, but he’s not going to add that to his story…most likely because his followers wouldn’t find it interesting. However, if it gets DM’d that’s the easiest way for hashtags to kick in. Now as the easiest way for a post to start trending it’s not only getting sent to an extra pair of eyes that would likely not have been reached through hashtags or explore but likely that whoever it’s sent to is actually interested in that content (assuming the person sending the post and the person receiving it both know each other well enough). But other than it being personally sent, why would your post get added to someone’s story?
This is another common problem I see; when coaches try to follow the influencer model of an attractive girl account or something similar. They just post a picture of themselves, add in a long-form caption and think they’ll get likes from their following. While you might get likes from you following or do well on hashtags or the explore page the post wont go viral and you won’t grow at a rapid speed. I’m not saying it doesn’t work at all that way, but I’m saying you won’t grow at that rapid speed you’re looking for.
So imagine for a moment I took a picture of myself in a suit on my way to a business conference. There’s no text on the image, no value to the picture apart from it just being an image but gave a caption that dropped serious value bombs and value. How many people that don’t know me are going to actually read my caption? The only people that will are the ones that first liked my content or the ones that just trust me so much that they actually look for the information I put in my captions.
But no one is going to add that post to their story, because the caption doesn’t fit. This is one of the reasons infographics do so well, the value is on the image itself and people don’t have to read the caption first to gain any sort of value from it…making it easier to share because people notice it right away, it’s more convenient.
Trust Score & Staying Active
This is a score that Instagram has on your account that measures how active of a user you are and how much they TRUST you to post good content. John speaks that if you use IGTV sometimes or have done an IG Live, if you put up story or profile posts consistently, have your bio completely filled out, comment on posts and tag friends and utilize all of the features (especially stickers and things like the quiz and poll feature on your stories) are things that help with how well you build that trust with following accounts. And using trending stickers in your stories like the “Stay Home” branded ones additionally helps move you to the front of people’s story feeds because IG recognizes that your content is important.
Things like this helps build engagement with people that would probably not be seen otherwise, but by using all of the features Instagram sees that you’re an active user that they like to have on the platform and this provides them with data on which features of their app are good as well as the fact that you’re keeping other users entertained.
If you spend a lot of time on someone’s posts, regardless of whether you might like it or not, the amount of time you spend on it or if you go back and view it again, IG can keep track of that. So how does this play into how you make content? When you make posts that are more detailed and higher definition, with more layers; a foreground, subject, background, etc. people are going to need to stay on your piece of content longer to fully consume what’s in the post.
It’s another concept I’ve talked about with having multiple likable components to your photos. People are only going to visually zoom in on the photo. If there are details in your photo for them to really zoom in on they’re going to spend more time dissecting and analyzing your post, and IG recognizes that as something valuable to them.
One big time-saver that John talked about was keyboard shortcuts for hashtags. There’s actually 2 reasons this helps speed up your hashtagging process. Basically how this is done is you can go into your phone and create a keyboard shortcut so for your different group of hashtags you have different shortcuts to type in. Say for instance I have an entrepreneur group of hashtags that I can instantly auto complete by typing in “E”, making the time spent adding hashtags much shorter.
Now am I going to post that exact same group every time? Absolutely not. If you were using the same hashtags every time that’s one way to severely limit your hashtag reach, so you should always be using different hashtags…but it’s always good to start with a base of tags of 30 or so and then modify around 3-5 (or just modifying whichever tags don’t apply to this specific post).
This doesn’t only save you time, but prevents you from the app, which you don’t want to do. Even if you just had to minimize the app to copy the hashtag group from your notes app, Instagram doesn’t like that and it affects your trust score.
Planning Content Ideas
A lot of times you’ll have an idea for a post but won’t be in a position to make it at that current moment. In fact, most of the time I have an idea for a post and might come up with a quote, idea, or some kind of video idea while I’m driving. When I was a new entrepreneur I’d assume I’d just remember it later. But what I realized is even if I remembered 90%, that 10% could change the post for the better and make a difference. So don’t risk forgetting something you thought of, it could leave you back at square one. Put a note on your phone called “Content Ideas” and just have it ready to go with a bullet list when you have ideas.
Additionally, say you remembered most of your idea. It still takes mental energy to recall the idea you had that you could be spending on other things. Stop relying on yourself to remember all of these business tasks and ideas you have. I certainly didn’t create every book or podcast idea I had on the spot, and more than that I certainly didn’t just remember it later and not write it down in some way.
So create a pattern or workflow that’s easy and allows you to get ideas down quick to reference and create more content with later. Even if you see something on Instagram that you like, be it a font or color scheme, DON’T just assume you’ll remember where you saw it and find it later. Take a screen shot with your phone or save/bookmark that post within Instagram so you know exactly where it is when you need it.
It’s not only about using bright colors and providing valuable captions. People notice when your content has some sort of uniformity to it. A specific accent color placed in the same place of photos, or using the same font in all your image captions makes a big difference and provides a visual aesthetic that helps promote your brand and make you stand out. Even without people necessarily noticing specifically what that uniformity is, it’s still visually pleasing and actually will create more interest and engagement in your overall content. You may even consider analyzing your post feed and archiving posts that don’t match your brand’s theme or aesthetic.
As a matter of fact, I gained about 5,000 followers last month and one of the biggest differences was that I archived posts that didn’t match my page theme, even if it got a lot of likes. I probably archived 20 posts that just didn’t fit the style of my page…and all of a sudden my page looked a lot more uniform and my follower conversion ratio went up rapidly.
All of these strategies will help improve your consistency and speed up your workflow. They’re tactics I’ve implemented myself and have seen great success with. Again, I would recommend listening to the full interview with John for more details, but these are things you can start applying to your account right away to see results.
Start With A High Quality Product
Whether you’re a local store owner or starting an online e-commerce business you need a really good product to be successful. I know it sounds obvious, but this is much easier said than done. Most e-commerce businesses nowadays might be new entrepreneurs doing print-on-demand, drop shipping or Amazon FBA and though they’re all viable business models that are likely using Amazon research tools and other services to see what products are selling, most don’t have very much competition.
They simply source that product, private label it, and modify it or just directly drop ship it. What this does is potentially allow you to have more people come on and sell the exact same product as you, but also makes it so you can start a business much quicker with less risk. However, the problem is if you sell anything that’s not high-quality, regardless if it’s unique or not, you’re going to have a lot of customer service issues and likely product refunds. This is going to put you in a hole and cause bad publicity, bad reviews, and conversions that continue dropping over time.
In the end you’re not doing e-commerce the right way, because if you were able to sell a bunch of crappy product, you would feel weird about it at this point as most people would. I’ve actually had this with my e-commerce business in the past where we have some products sold that are decent quality and not cheap, so it’s not like we’re charging a lot of money for them…but if customer’s don’t rave about them, it makes things a lot harder, especially when running paid ads. Because if you’re running ads to a specific product and can get people to share the ad (meaning they really love your product), you’re showing them it drastically reduces your ad cost and raises the return on your ad spend.
Embracing The “Pay To Play” Model
Free traffic from people sharing your ad only really takes off when you have an awesome product. Therefore, if you don’t have a high-quality product, you’ll be back at the drawing board in a year or two…and even if you just make a quick buck, while it won’t be a COMPLETE waste of time, you’ll still end up learning how to sell through e-commerce. But if you’re looking for something you won’t have to redo in a couple of years, you’re going to have to find a quality product.
Additionally, something else you should embrace is understanding that “pay to play” is okay. A lot of times people ask if Instagram is becoming more like this. The answer is that Google, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube…they’re all pay to play because that’s how business is. It’s not something you should be totally scared of, but something you need to learn, and it can be difficult.
As an example, in my e-commerce business last week I debuted a new product that made around 50% off sales as a test, We posted about the sale to over 46,000 followers, sent around 8,000 emails, and posted around 4 times to our Facebook group of 1,500 – 2,000 members. On top of that I also ran paid ads with a few hundred bucks and was able to generate more sales with the paid ads, followed by organic marketing. Now the marketing sales were actually higher. They made us more money because even though there were less of them, they were targeted to people that were already following us.
Leveraging Organic Marketing with Paid Ads
So you want the combination of the two, because it’s really difficult to rely on organic marketing alone, especially if you’ve already targeted your specific audience with it. I wouldn’t be able to simply run another sale the following week and expect the same results. Overall you want a way to spend money on advertising and make money from it because business is spending money to make money, and by being afraid to spend money and only stick to organic marketing you’re going to limit your potential and require a lot of your time.
You should always be at least thinking “How would my business exist online with paid ads?” because the only time you’re going to keep running paid ads is if they make you more money than they cost and that’s really the awesome equation we’re all going for in online entrepreneurship; “How can I spend money to make money on advertising?” and then you scale it. One you get this equation down, you can keep putting more energy, effort, and money into that and reproduce a profit.
No matter what your job or craft, if you aren’t making money at it you can’t do it full-time. If you really can do paid advertising it’s going to be the quickest way to scale profits simply because of how much time organic marketing takes to build an audience. However, using both at the same time is a great strategy as you’re building that organic audience in the background over a long-term period while leveraging paid ads in the short-term to gain profits sooner.
None of your marketing practice will matter if you can’t get that good offer at the beginning. If you have a good offer right away it means that there was some way to effectively sell your product through paid advertising. Now of course you will have to spend money on ads, but it’s better to be in a position when you’re making money. For example, you can work a day job to pay for ads as a steady source of income to get sales and ultimately have the chance to leave that day job and pursue your e-commerce business full-time once it progresses enough as opposed to trying to allocate a set amount of your savings for ads without having an income stream to work with.
Adjusting How You Sell
Upon speaking with a student last week on a coaching session, she was asking how to sell her product. As someone who sells photography for realtors in Costa Rica, these realtors hire her to take photos of the house and the whole pitch is that these photos are going to look a lot better after she edits them than if the realtors just took them…but she wasn’t getting sales and the people there weren’t buying. But the underlying issue is just that there’s no market in Costa Rica for people investing in high quality photography for these homes.
Now if we think about this story and analyze our sales process, what does this lead to? You could simply assume “People don’t buy that here, so I guess I’ll just close the business” when that’s not really what’s happening because the value of that offer is the same no matter where you go…it’s just going to be priced accordingly. But the thing is that if there are people that like it in one country, there’s people in others that will like it to, we just have to alter how the product is marketed.
What you need to have is value-building phrases to sell your product with. The thing is that building value with someone you’ve never met before isn’t easy, especially in an e-commerce business. That said, you have to know that they don’t believe what you say unless you prove it, so you need to use facts. Regardless of having a lot of followers and awesome reviews, everyone has their doubts and is skeptical to a degree. So if you say something like “I’m going to take the best photos of your house that you’ve ever seen” while it may be true, they’re not going to naturally believe you.
So instead if you were to say “Studies show that listings sell 50% faster when they have professional quality images versus images just shot with any camera” then you can sell your product a lot easier, even if you’re charging a higher price. After building that value you can also sell it by saying “Hey, if you’re sick of taking your own photos and you just want to get back to doing what you do best I’ll come in and take the photos, edit and upload them. They’ll be high quality photos that will sell your listing faster.” you might even be able to charge pretty much whatever price you want. If you can build value using facts that proves to them the end result will be exactly that, you gain their trust and business more easily.
By identifying your product, your problem, the value you offer, and the way you’re selling it you’re going to reach a solution. Alternatively, if you identify the problem as “people are broke and won’t buy because of this” you’re not going to reach your solution. Think about what you’re really doing for people, what the biggest problem is that you’re solving, and how you can base your marketing around that.
These aren’t just tactics on simply having a landing page that goes through an offer or how to build an ebook that sells a product, but tactics to more efficiently engage and build trust in order to market your product and make actual sales. You have to get those key things down and set in place first to reach your audience and appeal to them. Your quality product needs to solve a consumer’s problem and provide them with value they believe in. Again, you really should be doing Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube ads for e-commerce.
Low hashtag impressions are crippling to your engagement and can stem from a few different scenarios. Often times, it’s easy to blame the cause being what’s known as a “Shadowban” on your account in which Instagram limits your content reach by restricting your content’s visibility on the platform. While there is a way to remove a Shadowban, it’s important to figure out whether this is the actual cause of your low hashtag impressions and poor engagement or not.
Before We Get Started
As you know from my previous episode my IGMSecrets account was disabled. I had initially left a link in the description for anyone else that had their account banned as well, but I’ve changed it since then. This is because I started watching various YouTube videos and noticed that a lot of people were offering the same type of links but they were all different URLs. Essentially these different links have different questions for the different scenarios in which your account was banned. That’s probably the link they were given for their specific scenario, and it may not apply to yours. That said, I wouldn’t recommend using their link since it’s likely one that was provided by Instagram for them specifically.
I haven’t really seen most cases where people think they have a Shadowban to actually be one. What’s normally happening is that they just aren’t getting the impressions they would like, but are still getting a very small amount of hashtag impressions overall. However, as a Shadowban is theorized to be a scenario in which you’re not getting any impressions whatsoever, it’s likely you haven’t been Shadowbanned if there’s still a small amount of impressions on your content.
Using Unrelated Hashtags
So with the first scenario let’s say you’re creating posts about a fitness workout and throwing things like #Trump2020 or #Biden2020 on them just because they have a lot of traffic right now and your strategy is to use them to get higher impressions because of their activity. When someone sees a post in their feed because they follow a certain hashtag but the post they’re seeing isn’t related to the relevant content or the point of that specific hashtag they can press on the 3 dots at the top-right of the post and select “Don’t show for this hashtag”….which makes the entire group of tags stop working.
I would like to think you know not to use unrelated hashtags by now, but if you’ve still been using random hashtags that aren’t appropriate for your content, this could be the cause of your issue.
Your Content Is Falling Behind
Likely everyone’s least favorite possibility is that your content isn’t keeping up with what Instagram is expecting to see nowadays and, more specifically, that your content isn’t evolving and progressing over time. It’s very common for people to tell me they’re not getting the amount of hashtags they’re used to getting by posting the same content they always have. Honestly, the fact that you aren’t finding ways to improve your content over time can easily be your issue. You’r a content creator so you should always be trying to raise the bar and striving to release better content to keep your engagement up.
If you’re not seeing the hashtag impressions you’d like, I encourage you to go into a specific post and check each individual hashtag after posting within a few hours, as well as checking again around 6-12 hours after. See if and how you’re ranking on the hashtags you’re using. If you’re not ranking at all or ranking very poorly, I would look at what the top posts are for those hashtags and take notice of the quality of content others are producing. Ask yourself if you’re getting even close to the same level of value that is being packed into other similar kinds of posts.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the video editing, camera effects, etc. I’m talking more about things like if your content is humor-based, are you keeping up with the relate-ability of the top trending memes? Or if you’re a fitness-based account are you putting out the quality and amount of value in your posts as some of the other trending accounts?
So keep in mind that it can be your hashtags that you’re doing wrong. But if you’re using the right hashtags or ones that have trended well for you before, don’t be afraid to place the blame on the content because it never hurts to improve and optimize that area of your posts.
Using Banned or Hidden Hashtags
This last scenario is whenever I see a legitimate Shadowban (as in someone’s account is actually hidden within Instagram) from something they’ve done. With other bans like when your blocked or comment blocked, or when your account is disabled Instagram will send you a notification about it. However, it seems that being Shadowbanned is the only one theorized to be a restriction that Instagram doesn’t notify you of.
There is one way I’ve actually seen people be significantly affected with their hashtag reach, and that’s because you’ve used a banned or hidden hashtag for a long period of time without realizing it. Yet, most of them aren’t, right? Most people aren’t using hashtags that are borderline inappropriate and likely to get banned. You’re likely using a lot of very appropriate hashtags in general. But for some reason one of them just happens to be hidden or banned at the time you use it.
Now, what that does is if you accidentally use one of these, it will make your entire group of tags stop working and will hinder the engagement of your future posts as well. For this, what I like to use is a program called IQ Hashtag. It has a lot of useful features but we’re only going to examine one, and this one by far is the main feature that I would be looking at this software for. The hashtag performance tool it has is also really useful because it will tell you if you were able to rank on thee top posts for any hashtags so you can really track your performance and see if you’re getting a lot of impressions that a tag is coming from. Ultimately this is really useful because that specific data isn’t really available otherwise.
As far as getting a Shadowban lifted, you want to go to Profile Analysis and view the Banned Hashtags. So ones that I’ve used are “Hustler” and “MarketingMasterclass”, both of which I would never have thought were actually banned. So I used these tags almost 2 years ago and I was never going to find these tags by searching through all of my posts and individually remove these. However, what I was able to do was use this app to see which of my posts had used those banned hashtags, and then scroll through my profile and remove them that way. It takes some time to bounce back after a Shadowban, but this method significantly helps your Hashtag impressions come back.
IQ Hashtag is a really useful tool, though unfortunately it’s a paid app. However, it’s only around $12 or $19 per month. You can also do a yearly plan but only for this particular feature alone. You could even use it for a month just to find and remove any posts using banned hashtags and then end your subscription if you wanted, but it’s definitely worth the price because if you don’t have hashtags working for you it’s going to be really hard to grow an organic Instagram following even just from frequent posting.
Additionally, there’s also a free version of the app but it only allows you to see general banned hashtags and not search your account to see which of your posts have used any specifically.
So in short, a Shadowban seems to be complex issue for a lot of people, but it usually comes down to analyzing these different scenarios and seeing which one is the reason for your low hashtag impressions. The first is generally the outlier and the 2nd or 3rd situation is just that your content isn’t getting out there. So if your hashtag impressions seem to be all over the place with high and low engagement, it’s worth analyzing the hashtags you’re using as well as your content quality. Then at the very least you can look into the app to see if there are any banned hashtags you may or may not be using.
Whoever can spend the most to acquire a customer wins.
This is likely a phrase you’ve heard before in the marketing space, and it only makes sense, right? It’s easy to assume whichever company has the most money comes out ahead against their competitors. But what it REALLY means is the companies that can spend $10 and still profitably acquire a customer versus the ones that can only spend $5 are the ones that are going to be able to scale ads to really make their efforts fruitful…and the way we’re able to sell more to each customer is actually NOT in pricier products.
Instead, it’s by having a more complex back-end system, subscription services, up-sells, and other things. In this episode, I’m going to give you the 7 most important things to test for to determine whether or not an e-commerce product is going to have massive scalability potential. While you don’t have to pass all 7 to be successful, being able to find a product that passes as many of those checks as possible is what really separates a seven-figure e-commerce brand from the rest of the pack.
1. Target Market Accounts
It’s optimally ideal to pick a niche for your product. However it can come with a caveat; namely that sometimes we can pick niches that are too small. That said, it’s not always as daunting as it seems to look at a much larger market and want to play into it as a newer, small-scale business. But that doesn’t mean you can just throw yourself into the deep end and expect to float to the other side without swimming.
A simple way to test the waters is to see if what size following the biggest page in your market has. Ideally we’d want to find an account with at least 1 million followers, and hopefully there are a couple of them. If there’s not, and the biggest page in your market only has around 100 followers or so, it’s going to be hard to scale in this niche market because there isn’t a very large audience to appeal to…which leaves a lot more work to do in order to become the new big account around to ever get above 100k followers. However, if the big accounts in the same market are well over 1 million, and you look to do paid posts with them, you have a much higher potential to grow your account to at least a 100k.
2. Target Market Hashtags
After researching other accounts in your industry to see how they’re handling marketing strategies it’s crucial to make sure to use effective hashtags on your posts. I would make sure to use the biggest tags in your industry with your main (largest) tag hitting at least the 10 million mark, followed by 2-3 with at least 2 million. This doesn’t only make your content relevant and searchable within industry-specific posts, but helps your content reach a wide enough audience to gain more attention over time.
So unless we see at least 2-3 million uses from our main hashtag and at least 10 million from the top tag it’s going to target too small of a space.
3. Subscription Models
Aiming for viral posts is a great way to reach the largest audience possible and there’s much to be said for your audience helping spread the word. Your products should be marketed to create a willingness in your customers to want to relay the experiences they’ve had by using your product. Word-of-Mouth is a powerful, tried and true way to market your product and it only builds you a stronger reputation over time.
But by offering your customers something more than a face-value product, such as a subscription, you provide more incentive for long-term return on your investments. Your customers are actually happy to be part of a weekly, monthly, or yearly subscription service they can count on getting new products from, even if the products are selected randomly. It doesn’t only leave a sense of surprise and excitement, but makes them feel as though they’re part of something special and makes them want to, dare we say, BRAG to their own followers about being part of your market in some way.
4. Emotional Purchases
Products that fulfill a purpose for a customer are an easy win, but being able to create an emotional connection with them is even better. Until your product becomes exciting enough for customers to want to buy on the spot, you likely have to run sales to keep your profits up. However, with emotional purchases they don’t just buy your products to complete a task or cross off a check-list item anymore, they do so because that emotional attachment produces a strong bond that it becomes more of a WANT than a need.
If not just on brand loyalty alone, an emotional purchase can involve an impulsive desire to who the consumer can show the product off to. Being able to appeal on a deeper level with your customers alleviates the need to always be a sales-oriented company.
5. Upsell Potential
While it’s true that if your product has a subscription model it likely has plenty of upsell potential, it’s also possible to have a product with upsell potential without needing to run it under a subscription-based service. One of my favorite ways to accomplish upselling is through a funnel. As a proponent of ClickFunnels, it makes an upsell incredibly easy.
For example, say you’re selling a product for $10. The customer clicks “checkout” and it brings up a dialogue box with the option to add an additional product as a special deal or at a fraction of the initial price. All they would have to do is click on “Add to Order” to make things easy. It creates less work for the user with a quick and effortless way to get an additional sale for your products.
And it doesn’t end there…even if the customer refuses that “special offer” as an add on, you could continue with another option such as actually asking if they’d like to start a subscription service or, at the very least, even offering them another deal. Using something as effectively simple as ClickFunnels or a funnel-based purchasing model creates a lot of upsell potential for your product while giving the customer a variety of interesting options they didn’t think to look for.
6. Customization & Personalization
A popular part of e-commerce is giving the user the option to customize their product in some way. Customers may want a product for what it is but, much like providing them with a product that creates an emotional attachment, allowing them to have their own sort of “signature” or personality instantly heightens their desire to have your product.
Though it ultimately creates that emotional impulse with the customer, it also creates more work to customize your products (potentially in an infinite number of ways). However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing…because it allows you to charge a higher price when you give them the option to customize your product for themselves (emotional purchase as well as upsell potential).
7. Giftable Products
This really goes hand-in-hand with the customization & personalization factor. It’s clear that anyone loves being able to customize a product for themselves to show off to friends and family…but when they see the ability to customize it to their own liking for themselves, they easily think of how they might be able to do it for someone else.
Maybe they order a coffee mug the first time around with a photo of their dog on it. Every time they enjoy a cup of coffee they admire the photo, attaching emotion to the product. Now, because they enjoyed the experience from start to finish (and continually do so), they want to pass that feeling on to someone else they care about. This then creates reorder potential for your product from the same person.
It’s an effective way to add value without adding cost because in the end they’re purchasing your product more on an emotional decision rather than simply to fulfill a need…an empty space in their cupboard, so to speak…which can greatly increase your profit margins and gain repeat customers.
Though there are even more methods for testing how your product scales in your market, these are my definitive 7 that should be most paid attention to. Examining these will truly help you refine your marketing process and optimize the niche and customer base your targeting. Make sure to listen to the full episode in my discussion with Peter Pru to hear more details on defining e-commerce product scalability.
One of the most popular topics and desires in having an Instagram (or any social media) account is how to grow your following. In this article we’re going to look at seven different of the most commonly taught growth strategies, some of which I don’t advocate. However, they’re still important to cover because despite not being what I would consider a “best practice” other people suggest them and it’s, at the very least, important to know what they are and ultimately your decision whether you choose to use those tactics.
So let’s get started by going over these seven important topics and examining the pros and cons of each to help you determine which strategies are best for you to use to grow you Instagram account and remain unique and true to your own brand. Before we do I want to make it clear that I don’t recommend trying to do all of them at once, it’s better to zone in on a select few and be really good at those than to try and spread yourself thin and do as many as possible badly.
1. The $1.80 Strategy
The “Buck-Eighty” strategy was made popular by Gary Vaynerchuk and really saw a lot of attention 3-4 years ago. This is where you go to various accounts within your industry and leave genuine comments on their posts. The reason why it’s called the Buck-Eighty Strategy, and I might be slightly off on this, is because the idea is to choose 20 different hashtags in your market and leave comments on the top 9 trending posts for that particular hashtag. More specifically, 9 posts multiplied by 20 hashtags is 180.
The idea is to follow this strategy every day to help grow your account. While it does work to an extent, or at least did a lot more so when it was first popularized, I’m not the biggest fan of it due to it no longer being a more efficient way compared to other strategies we’re going to cover. And the reason for this is because back when Instagram first became popular and hashtags weren’t as saturated, a lot of accounts weren’t really that keen on different marketing strategies so it was possible to leave all of those comments and get 20-40 followers a day. Whereas now you’re likely to get around 5-10.
So if you don’t mind the hustle of spending an hour or so every day to squeeze out those extra followers then this a strategy you could try implementing.
2. The Follow-Unfollow Strategy
This isn’t one we’re going to focus too much on because a lot of accounts have caught onto this and it’s more or less been labeled as a bad technique, but still one that’s widely taught. Now it does happen to work but it’s bad for a few different reasons.
Basically you’re following a large number of accounts within your industry in the hopes of attracting relevant people who like your content, and then unfollowing them after a period of time. The reason that this can backfire is because rapidly following a large number of accounts can raise a red flag in Instagram’s algorithm, causing you to get follow/action blocked, similar to when you comment too quickly too often and you get error messages that your comment couldn’t be posted.
As a good reminder, once you’re follow blocked it’s easier to have it happen again even after the block’s been lifted. Think of it as Instagram’s way of cracking down on the use of automation software, and because your rapid repetitive actions are similar to what an automated software would do, you’re flagged as possibly not being a real account.
3. Automation Software Strategy
Using automation software is exactly what it sounds like as a way to implement the first 2 strategies we just discussed, but through the use of a robot that automatically takes care of all the work for you, which is unnatural and actually quite obvious to spot.
Now of course using automation software can deliver some quick results, but through this rapid implementation of those strategies you’re left wide opened for Instagram to block your account. This doesn’t just make getting your account unblocked difficult, but creates quite the up-hill battle of catching yourself back up to organically and genuinely growing your account afterwards.
4. Engagement Group Strategy
This strategy is one I can’t personally vouch for because I’ve never been in one that has been good or effective. I’ve been in about 15 of them and they just turned out to be more annoying than helpful. Essentially what these are is a group message with a lot of different members in the same market. Every time someone in the group uploads a new post they share that post to the group or let the group know there’s a new post from them and then everyone in the group likes, comments, and saves the post that was just uploaded to help the post trend higher and improve engagement.
Now overall the idea for this strategy is awesome and Instagram hasn’t taken any actions to get rid of these groups, so they’re safe to be a part of. However, the reason I haven’t had a good experience is because over time people just lose interest in it, at least as far as doing their part of commenting on your posts…and even if they do they don’t tend to be genuine or well-thought out posts that provide any value or show Instagram that the comments left are relevant to the post itself.
Lastly, when people get lazy about keeping up with the group it easily turns into a situation where members think “This person didn’t comment on my post so I’m not going to comment on theirs” and no one ends up getting the attention on their posts the group was made for in the first place.
5. Paid Shout-Out Strategy
A paid shout-out strategy is when you can either pay an influencer or a large content page (like a repost account) to just share your post or shout you out to their followers. It could also work for a page that just posted entrepreneur and motivational quotes all day, for example…and this is actually a way that I’ve built a following for my own Instagram account, because there are so many entrepreneur accounts out there and the pricing in that industry is usually good.
However, the success of this technique and pricing will depend on the industry you’re in, along with how big the accounts are that you have the opportunity to do a paid post with (you clearly wouldn’t do a paid shout out with a small account that doesn’t get a lot of traction with the content they post).
If you choose to use this strategy remember that just like with your actual posts, you want to provide the account doing the paid shout out with captions and information that is going to have a good opportunity to trend within that industry and get likes and high engagement.
6. Ad Running Strategy
This strategy is obviously going to cost money and isn’t and easy one for me to just tell you to run ads to some sort of free resource and guarantee you make money off of it. So a free resource would be an eBook, guide, cheat sheet, or video series and is something we can give in exchange for their email. It could also be a lot like a webinar or free coaching call…there’s so many things you can offer for free in exchange for account or email leads. So whatever you’re really comfortable with giving, you’d run ads for that.
Essentially you run ads to a post that says “Opt in with your email and get this free thing” and you can set up some sort of automation sequence on the backend that introduces them to your Instagram or Youtube account and offers them a free resource while you spend the money on advertising to get you a new form of contact that you can continuously market to after the ad campaign finishes running.
This often results in gaining their following you on social media with the addition of gaining more traffic on a product in your business. Even if you gain a followers and an additional way to market to them through their email, they may not opt to purchase your product. However, offering them something free isn’t only appealing, but giving away something of value helps to build trust in your brand and makes future advertising to those same people more successful. Additionally, building that trust is a way for them to potentially share your profile, posts, and brand with their own following as well.
7. Giveaway Strategy
Everyone loves winning free stuff through Instagram or other social media giveaways and making “Follow me” as one of the requirements to enter the contest is an easy way to gain followers. The only problem with this is that once the giveaway ends the people that didn’t win fall off pretty quickly and unfollow you. So it’s important to remember that we want to create a way to have quality entries that result in quality followers that will stick with you after long term. This can be done in a number of ways, whether it be some sort of hook that makes them look forward to a future giveaway you’ll run or by getting their contact information through the post or a form so that you have a way to reach those same people again in the future.
Though the more the merrier is great when it comes to your followers, wee don’t want those short-lived “general followers”. The goal of your business is to make money, even on social media…and being able to have even a smaller but TARGETED following is going to yield much higher rewards further down the road. So it’s not only being able to cater giveaways or promos to industry-related accounts, but to really identify who your “dream customer” is, and cater your content to them.
So back to our giveaway. Let’s say you get each entry’s email address. When the contest is over, you send out a notification to everyone letting them know who won. However, instead of leaving it at that, you can take advantage of online marketing by giving everyone who didn’t win some sort of special offer. For example, if you’re a coach you could offer a free 20 minute call to anyone that didn’t win and then within that 20 minute call is when you could try to offer a discounted price for coaching or sell them on supplements or something similar.
Remembering that building trust FIRST is going to get you those long-term supporters who don’t just disappear right after a giveaway. You have to offer them something of value to make it worth their while and even if they don’t want what you’re offering at first, they’ll remember that you had other things of value they may have an interest in later, or know someone else who does.
Now so far I’ve listed these 7 strategies from my least to most favorite, and the 7th is definitely the most complicated of all. However, that also makes it the best when done correctly. That said, if you want to learn exactly how to do a giveaway on Instagram in the most efficient way possible, I’ll teach you through my Master Class. I do ask for your email to get in, but it’s a 1 hour of training, so make sure to have your notes and a cup of coffee ready to go and I promise it’s going to be worth your time.
Over time the Instagram algorithm has become increasingly competitive, making it more difficult for the quality of your content to trend with hashtags or the explore page. Short of buying a professional quality camera or hiring a crew to edit your work, there’s 7 ways to instantly level up your content that you can actually apply starting on your next post.
1. Vertical Content
The first tip, which I’ve spoken about before, is making 4:5 vertical content. This size for your images seems to trend quite a bit better than horizontal or square images. The reason for this is because the algorithm favors it, or more specifically, recognizes that users are more attracted to it (which ultimately is determined by the likes and engagement posts with this size image gets) and the more time users spend looking at your post, the better your content trends.
So if your post has a horizontal image or widescreen video, users can see your post and the next post from another user in their feed at the same time, making it easier to just continue scrolling…the idea is to take up as much real estate on someone’s post feed with both quality images in a 4:5 format along with a well-written caption.
With iPhone your camera settings allow you to select the 4:5 crop ratio when taking a photo, whereas Android users will have to manually crop it, or use a photo editing app to do so such as Canva by setting the size of the canvas to 4000×5000 pixels.
2. Labeling Content
You have such a short time to grab someone’s attention, especially on social media. Chances are, even with an eye-catching photo, there’s still a small chance someone will actually take the time to read your entire caption, even after double tapping to like the post. That’s where putting a label or headline on your image or video really makes the difference.
Putting text directly on your photos or videos gets more impressions from the explore page. When your post shows up along with potentially millions of other posts with similar content, the user is going to seek out whichever answers their question or “scratches the itch” of what they’re looking for, it’s simply just more enticing. Therefore, the more immediately descriptive and on-point your content is, the more likely a user will choose your post over the others the explore page displays.
The best way to think of this is that your image catches a user’s visual attention quicker than words will. However, the text added to the image is your Call To Action, which gives a clear indication of what your post actually talks about. These 2 things compliment each other in a simple and easy-to-understand way that instantly appeals to the user when they’re searching for a topic like yours. Now that you have their attention, they’re interested in reading your actual caption that goes into detail about your topic.
3. Composition & Music
The next most important thing to optimize on your posts ranges from the brightness and color of your photos as well as the music included in your videos, so let’s start with the former.
Taking photos where there’s good lighting or backlighting adds a lot of depth to your photos. However it’s important to remember that even if your photo is darker you can always add more brightness and color with a photo editing app or Instagram’s photo editing feature before uploading your post, but you can’t really take brightness or washed out colors from your photo without downgrading the image’s overall quality.
An easy fix is to add a little saturation and play around a with the settings Instagram has available, or just use one of their stock filters to add some quick enhancements for your post.
If you don’t know how much color or brightness to add you need to research other accounts in your industry and how their most popular posts look. Being able to analyze your own content and the content you like gives insights to what others find more visually appealing.
Additionally, putting a little more strategy into the overall composition of your photos really enhances the main subject you’re photographing. Subtle differences can have a huge impact when adding things such as accent colors or items. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a plate of food, what color is the plate and does it make the food pop out or get lost in the rest of the photo? Are you using a table cloth or placemat that adds a color accent, or even a candle in the background that gives off additional ambient light to enhance the mood of the photo?
Paying attention to all of these small and subtle components improves your photos and engagement so much more than a bland picture, even if you still have the same subject in focus.
Now as far as audio, Instagram has pretty strict copyright infringement checks that can make it difficult to add music to your posts, but it’s still possible to have a good selection of tracks to choose from to make your posts reach a much higher engagement, because having music in your posts is a lot more appealing and interesting than having none at all…because everyone likes music and, more often than not, people will stop on a post when music starts playing instead of scrolling through because there’s no audio to catch their attention in addition to an attractive photo.
One way you can add music is buy purchasing a song from iTunes and then adding the track in iMovie when editing the video on an iPhone. Android users will probably have to do some extra research into how to add music they have the rights to use in their video. Either way, apps that supply music for you to use that also let you edit videos won’t run into copyright issues such as Splice or Magento. Otherwise, there are a lot of great royalty-free or copyright-free music playlists on Youtube that you can pull from by Googling “Youtube to MP3 Converter” or something similar.
5. Captions with More Value
It’s one thing to provide value in your caption, but it’s another to keep you captions clean and easy to read and comprehend. There are a lot of people that have great things to say, but disorganized and cluttered captions leave them with poor engagement because it’s difficult for anyone to easily dissect and absorb what the captions are explaining. That said, the first line needs to catch their attention in order for them to continue reading, but before that they have to like the image in order to read the first line.
Let’s use an example of an influencer who posts about traveling the world. What travel tips or advice can they provide to their audience? What value does their content have that anyone else can benefit from? While you might have an interesting story to share, unless you have long-time followers that truly like your content and personality, no one knows who you are, much less sees the value in your personal posts. Unless you’ve first provided them with informative content they get value from, you’re not going to get the engagement and followers that make your account grow.
That said, analyze your posts and how they’re composed. Surely you’ve edited the photo enough, but does the headline on the photo catch your attention enough to make you WANT to read the description beneath it? And even then, does the description give anyone that might be interested in that topic useful tips or advice they can apply to their own life in some way? Lastly, always keep your captions formatted with proper paragraph spacing, numbered lists, and/or bullet points. Anything to lay your content out with organization and hierarchy is even visually appealing to read, and that’s something that will always improve engagement.
6. Carousel Posts
This is a simple fix a lot of accounts need to make. If your engagement is going down over time and your content has stayed the same, implementing carousel posts is a way to level up your content in a few different ways.
First, creating a carousel post naturally creates more time that a user spends on the app and specifically on your post. Many people like to use infographics, which is a great method…but if you’re going to use an infographic, make sure they contain a lot of useful information. Not only does this require the user to take more time to read the information you’re providing, but you can’t really teach something effectively with a couple sentences.
So rather than if you have 4 tips to give and fit them minimally on one image, you could take those 4 points divided over 4 images in one carousel and fill each with a greater amount of detail, ultimately providing much more value on each topic and create a higher level of engagement. Additionally, you can even influence the actions of users to scroll through each image in your carousel with small things they might not even be aware of, but see and take action with…such as an arrow icon pointing right on each image. It suggests there’s more content to read, and even if a user doesn’t necessarily even care about your content, a universally recognized symbol that suggests an action often prompts the user to follow through on it.
7. Content Templates
This is going to speed up your content creating process and ensure you’re delivering content that remains consistent to your style. Content templates are something I use regularly and I have a few different ones based on what I’m posting. This doesn’t only help my branding because of the kinds of topics I might repeatedly post about such as marketing tips or hashtag tips as opposed to video-based posts, but it allows me to better organize the layout of the posts in my profile.
So using my account as an example, I have a different template if I want to post about Instagram specific tips as opposed to if I want to post about general entrepreneurship or if I instead decide to post a video…this takes a lot of extra thought out of creating content and makes it much easier to get content released in less time.
Taking some time to look over your past posts that have the highest engagement and analyzing what that formatting or template is that you used and then reusing it for other posts will allow you to level up your content and make posting a lot more enjoyable.
The last tip is to improve your content is to click on the hashtags you’re trying to rank for and look at what sort of content is trending for them. Comparing what your posting to what’s already out there getting the most attention is one of the easiest ways to reformat and improve your own process to better your results as you go. Ask yourself honestly whether or not your content is on-par or coming close to the same sort of visual appeal or valuable content other posts are. You already know what’s trending by checking the posts under those hashtags, and even if your content isn’t quite there, you have a target to aim for in the way you format your own content.