I have the pleasure of introducing you to my good friend and Instagram expert, Tyler McCall. (Hint, hint: You probably recognize his name because we just announced he is going to be on stage at our 4th annual SBHE Live in May!). Now, when it comes to social media, we already know Instagram is the place to be. Instagram is the place for connection, engagement and yes, even conversion!
With that said, so much has changed on Instagram in 2018, that I think it's time we discuss what's working, what's not working and what strategies you must immediately implement to make this platform work for you! Let’s dive in!
One thing I recently realized was that I need to make sure I am actively seeking out relationships and building real true friendships. Not just pitching people and asking for things, but actually building relationships online. So let’s talk a little bit about that and is it possible to build a true friendship, a true relationship online with a stranger that you've never met before and, and how does that work?!
Tyler: “First of all, you and I are doing that every day in our businesses, we rely on those relationships. I think it's so funny now compared to when I first got on the Internet in like the late 90’s and don't talk to strangers online, now, we say talk to all the strangers online!! Meet up with them, have fun, build businesses together. I think it's totally possible.
And not only is this possible, you have to do it and I think it really starts with a few key things. I mean, getting complete clarity around who you're trying to reach online is so important and I think a lot of people just get burned out or they feel behind because they don't know who they're trying to connect with. They don't have clarity around who their audience is and I like to think about it from more than just like demographic things like their age and where they live and what they do.
I mean down to what they value, what their hopes and dreams and fears are because that's where we can really create compelling content that not only positions our product or service in the right way, but it also positions us in the right way. So, we can find common ground for people. I talk about a lot of different topics on Instagram. I teach Instagram, but my Instagram account is not all about Instagram and one of those things for me is Target. I'm legitimately obsessed with Target! I talk a lot about target, talking about going to target, I do target runs and that's like common ground for my followers.”
So that's been a struggle for me but I've been trying to get better and get out of the mindset of people don't care and think sometimes they do care because that's what they're doing and it's just a way for you guys to connect.
Tyler: “Here's the cool thing about sharing about Target or about sharing anything that you're interested in that’s personal, that allows you to build this connection, is we can accelerate the know-like-trust factor by sharing that type of content on a platform like Instagram, especially when we do it through stories. Even more importantly when we are driving conversations to direct messages and that means that our audience builds that trust with us so much more quickly and that way, when it comes time to sell something, we're not like slimy and sleazy trying to promote something but saying, hey, here's a thing I think it would be really great for you! If you want it, you can get it if you don't, okay, cool, stick around for more Target runs!”
If I'm a business strategist or I'm a fitness expert, whatever it is, can I still share something like Target that has nothing to do with teaching entrepreneurs business or teaching people how to get healthy? Can I still share that? How much is too much?
Tyler: “Not only can you hear that, you should be sharing that! So what I like to think about, what I teach my students is, we get complete clarity on the audience and then we get a really clear objective around all of our content on Instagram.
So every time we're creating and sharing something, we're always asking ourselves these two questions, which is what will my audience get out of this? How will they be educated or inspired or whatever it may be, and then what are they going to do with this? So always pairing an action with the goal of the content we're creating. So you're not necessarily going to share every intimate detail of your life, you can, but you don't need to do that. Instead, what I like to think of is picking a couple of things, a handful of things that I can share about me that are personal, true and genuine. They're not contrived authenticity or let me put some checks and check boxes. It's real stuff and something that my audience will connect with as well.
So that's where it's really important and a lot of people are missing that piece. They'll be like, well, I want to share about my cat all the time. Well, if your audience isn't full of cat lovers and sharing about your cat may not work, but if you're a mom and you're talking to other moms, then share all the things about being a mom! From like carpool to, I don’t know, diaper blowouts!! Share it all!”
I think a lot of people are very held up on the fact that they maybe don't have 10,000 followers yet, I just want that swipe up feature and they'll do anything to get to 10,000. What do you tell somebody who's not there yet? Someone who is desperately feeling like they need to get there
Tyler: “First of all, if someone who has the swipe up and who uses the swipe up from time to time, it ain't as good as you think it is! Here's the thing we all have to recognize about Instagram and that is that Instagram is not a traffic driving platform. It was never designed to drive traffic. It has never been optimized for driving traffic. If your main goal with Instagram is to get a bunch of followers and then drive them off Instagram, it's not gonna work because that's not what Instagram does.
Instead, you have to approach Instagram from a perspective of, I want to connect with the right kind of people are, whether 100 of them or 100,000, doesn't matter and then I want to build a relationship with those people and then I want to nurture our relationship on the platform. Of course there's a time to drive them off to a mailing list or to get people to a sales page or to get people into a Facebook group, but so much of that can be done and it's actually a lot more successful when you do it using Instagram stories and direct messages.
So I'll give you a perfect example. I was sending people away to an opt-in and I posted it on my Instagram story with a swipe up and then I also posted it, if you want to learn more, click here, just answer this poll and I'll send you the link directly. I think we had like 38 people swipe up, which is not a high conversion. You know, I'm getting like a few thousand views on my Instagram stories, because, spoiler alert, people don't love the swipe up because it's kind of laggy, Instagram's internal browsers not that great.
Then we had over 100 people who asked for the link directly and I sent it to them. So you have such an incredible opportunity and I was talking about this with my students. People who come into our community who have like 500 followers and they're engagement is 40-50% and then someone over here with 50,000 followers who's struggling to get a hundred likes, right?
Smaller audiences aren't an incredibly valuable asset for you and your business because you can connect more directly with those people. So don't rush to get the 10k because it's not that great at the end of the day and listen to someone who uses the swipe up regularly, I can fully admit like it's kinda lazy marketing, right? You're just saying, here's the thing, if you want it, go get it. See you later. Good luck. Right?”
Our last launch, we stole your idea. I heard you say that somewhere, do the poll and then privately message those people. So the one you just gave an example of, they knew they were getting the link, but the one you had mentioned was are you interested or do you want more information or have you bought yet? Whoever clicks maybe thinking about it, we message each one said, hey, I see you're thinking about it. Any questions for us? And now not every person's going to respond. All it takes is one person to engage and go, yeah, actually I had a question about that and we worked a lot in our DM’s at our last launch and we were directly getting people to add to the cart right from inside of messenger.
Tyler: “And now they have new built in replies in DM’s so you can create keyboard shortcuts. You just type a few words, it pre-populates the entire message. I mean, they've made it so dead simple for you to do this, that if you're not like you're missing out on really valuable interactions.”
Now I want to ask you, how are you personally trying to connect with people that you want to connect with and get noticed and build a relationship with? Can I ask you how you're trying to do that? It's different when you're trying to connect with your audience members and you're trying to connect with somebody that maybe you could collaborate with, you could be on their podcast…
Tyler: “ I think the first thing is knowing that it's all genuine, like never approach any of this growing your following, making connections, getting invited on podcasts or Facebook live, whatever. Never approach that with oh my gosh, what can I get attitude because it's not going to work. People smell it from a mile away,
Always going in, in a genuine way where I'm like genuinely engaging with people on Instagram and of course I listen. I like a ton of stuff because that's how you grow your following by the way is by engaging outside of your account, but when it comes down to people that I want to have a relationship with, that's when I follow people.
I only follow people that I trust and respect that I want, to consume something from. Liking their posts, commenting and then watching their Instagram stories and responding is a really important part of this puzzle. Another thing you can do is sharing their content into your Instagram stories. That's a really great way to share their content. Just doing things like that that are really genuine, sharing people's content and connecting with people through direct messages, finding commonalities with them, finding conversation.
You know, my past year in business, like every opportunity I've had, every bit of visibility, every time I've gotten on a podcast or Facebook live or whatever has come from an Instagram DM, that's where it all started so that that's what I would say just like show up, be of service, engaged with content, follow along in a genuine way and don't do it from a, what can I get out of this type of approach or mentality.”
I always think like if you want something, you better put that out into the world. You better. If you want likes, you better start liking. If you want comments, you better start commenting. Right? So I think if you are not strategic yet on, I've got to be thinking about how can I give before I'm starting to get too, I want you to think who's somebody that I loved listening to this week, maybe their podcasts, maybe I love this post. Take a moment to share that out with your audience.
Tyler: “I think another great way to think about this, and I heard someone say this recently, it may have even been when you and I were together at Scale Tp Success, but someone said, people are out here wanting like 10,000 followers on Instagram, but you can't even make a thousand people feel like they're connected with you, like what are you going to do with 10,000 people because you can't even create the right content for 100 people yet. And that's not like a negative and kind of a mean thing to say, it's just the reality of where you need to think strategically about why you want these number of followers if you can't build relationships now with the folks you've already have.”
I heard somebody once say we're so focused on the followers and the number that if we actually just focused on the value and the content, those followers will come, but we're so focused that we're not even putting out great content so the followers won't come. So, let's say you're messaging somebody, sharing their stuff out or commenting with them, one important thing that we have to mention too is this is why it's so important that Tyler has these amazing stories every single day, because if he keeps messaging me or shouting me out or doing something and I'm like, who is this Tyler guy? I might check out a stories for the day and I'm like, okay, he's funny. I liked him. Right? And all of a sudden I'm like, who is she? I want to know more. So if you're constantly doing that, but then there's nothing for them to see or experience. I think you're going to lose a lot of that possible connection.
Tyler: “Totally. So having that consistent content is really important, especially on stories now because Instagram has now made it where anytime you tap someone's profile, if they have a story, it takes you to the story. So every time you see someone's happy little face on Instagram with that cute little rainbow circle around it, you tap on it, you're going to their story directly!”
Now when you started consistently creating, or maybe you weren't even consistent, was it easy for you in the beginning? Did it come naturally or were you forgetting to do it? What did that look like?
Tyler: “So I have been posting on Instagram stories at least every other day with some gaps in there since it came out at the end of August, 2016. So for over two years now. It's a part of my daily routine. I post on my Instagram feed maybe once every four or five days now, or even longer than that because the feed doesn't really drive as much account growth anymore as engaging outside of your account, attracting people, they'll see what you have to say but people are going directly to stories. For me, connecting more intentionally with a follower is the top priority, so Instagram stories allow me to do that every single day.”
I love that and I agree. I don't really read feeds. It's more of like who's ever happens to be the top one is maybe what I'm going to see. Other than that I'm just bingeing stories as I'm on there.
Tyler: “Exactly. We always hear the dreaded algorithm word and people decrying the algorithm because it's ruining their lives!! I don't think it's the algorithm on Instagram, I think exactly what you said is true. Our habits on Instagram have changed and we're not mindlessly scrolling through the feed. We're not really looking to the discover tab or going into hashtags anymore. We're just bingeing Instagram stories.”
Any tips for creating a good Instagram story?
Tyler: “Oh yes.! Oh, I got all the tips! I'll give you two. The first one is to go back to elementary school when you're creating your Instagram stories. Remember that fourth grade lesson around what good stories have…it’s beginnings, middles and ends. I see a lot of people creating Instagram stories without that and the reason that's not a best practice is when you create stories without a beginning or an end in particular, as you are training your audience to be one of two things, to either be confused when they start consuming your story because there's no context for what they're watching or to be disappointed because there's no resolution at the end.
So always create a beginning that really sets the tone for what they’re going to experience and then wrap it up at the end with either a call to action or thank you for watching or a see you later, whatever, and make sure that whatever and the whatever is in the middle of that story, that it's a value for your followers.
So that's the first thing. The second thing is, the best way to do this, to make it really simple as you're getting started, is to storyboard out your Instagram stories. Now, this is not something you should really have to do forever. But for a lot of folks, as you're getting started and you're like, okay, I've listened to this podcast, I want to go create a really valuable Instagram story, or I want to go create an Instagram story to introduce myself or my team or my product. So you're just going to get a stack of post it notes and you're going to write on each post it. Note each part of your Instagram story and then what you're going to say and the photo and what the picture is of, and then another video and the text on the screen.
Whatever you want to do. It's really great to alternate your type of content and the story because it keeps your audience engaged and then you're going to put that out on the wall, on your desk, wherever, and just go along. Follow along your storyboard. The reason we do this as we start out is because if you can get in the habit of creating stories that have beginnings, middles and ends, and they have a thought, a thread that ties it altogether, stories are going to be much more intentional and in turn you're going to have higher retention on your stories and then more people actually following through and taking action on what you share.”
You had brought up how maybe your assistant or somebody is posting for you, putting in a graphic. Now, I don't know about you, but anytime I go to somebody's story and it's always the not even promotional, but it's just a graphic with a photo and it's just not like real life, I start to very quickly realize that's not somebody I need to keep checking out anymore because they're not actually being active, so I try to be like a really good mix of yes, some stuff's promotional, we share what's going on, we'll link to the podcast, but then also you're everyday you're going to get to see a little bit of my life because I want people to know it's still there. How do you balance both of those? Is there a rule? Is there something we should be thinking about?
Tyler: “Yes. The first thing to recognize is that Instagram stories are not the place…I'm just going to say this boldly and proclaiming…it's not the place for always being branded, curated and perfected. That’s just not the purpose of Instagram stories. I think stories have shifted how we're using Instagram overall because the obsession with branding and curation on the feed is even fading away. I don't necessarily have a rule of thumb, but I would just say off the top of my head, no more than 10% of your content should be overtly promotional or branded.”
People want to hear from other people and they love seeing them versus a written testimonial. They love seeing that, okay, this person looks like me or feels like me or sounds like me. I also think it's great to let people kind of take over your story's a little bit. It helps you come up with content and you don't have to jump on as much. I liked that you brought that up and then with captions, I don't know about you, but for me I might be some places where I can’t have my volume on and I'm still scrolling Instagram stories and if you need volume and it's just you talking, I just skipped right?
Tyler: “Exactly. Yeah. You know the latest stats from Instagram, now they're saying that nearly half of Instagram story viewers are watching with the sound off. So when Instagram stories rolled out they said that like 80% were watching with the sound on and I knew that that was probably either not true or would not stay the same because we know on Facebook, 80% watch with the sound off. Right? So now it's like, I think they said like 45% watch with the sound off and then about 60 are watching with the sound turned on. Another key stat that they just said that's an updated stat is now 1 in 3 Instagram stories leads to a DM, it used to be 1 in 5.”
Are there any common mistakes that you were seeing that it's just a pet peeve of yours where you're like, guys, have to stop doing this?!
Tyler: “I have a lot! I have a lot! I kind of touched on a few of them as we've talked today, like always driving traffic off of Instagram. It's a poor use of your time and it's a really a bad use of this kind of relationship you have with your audience. If you're always using your post and your stories and whatever else to say, go here, go here, go here, go here, it's just not going to be super effective. So that's the one that drives me crazy.
Over-posting in the feed is a really common one that I see. So the way that the algorithm works now is your content last longer than ever before. We know that people aren't in their feed as much, so you don't need to post two and three times a day in your feed. You probably don't even need to post once a day in your feed. You can actually post less often and it won't get you the same, if not better results. So that's another thing that you can think about changing and your strategy.
The last one will be not using your bio to its full potential. Your Instagram bio is such an important part of your overall Instagram strategy because when someone comes to your profile for the first time, whether you've engaged with them and they're coming to find out who you are or they've seen your Instagram name somewhere, whatever it may be, they're looking at your bio, and your Instagram story highlights that you can now save on your profile and your top 6-9 posts to decide whether or not to follow you.
So that bio needs to really, clearly let them know what you do and always focusing on the transformation or the benefit of it. The feature of what you actually do and then what it is about you that's unique or interesting that they can connect with and then a clear call to action. A few things you can include in your bio to make this really effective are your location, is a really great thing because people think they can connect with you on that.”
If you guys are loving this interview with Tyler, you need to listen to the full podcast with him! The feedback from our community has been amazing and you don’t want to miss it. Tyler and I go more in depth including his thoughts on if we should be using IGTV!
To connect with Tyler you can find him on social, @tylerjmccall and be sure to tag us both and share your big takeaways.