When I first started my home based business, one of my biggest concerns was that I didn't know enough people to be successful. To make matters worse, I feared I would ruin the relationships I did have if they became annoyed by what I was "selling." As an introvert who runs from conflict, I wasn't sure I would ever earn enough money to make it worth it.
My saving grace as an introverted network marketer has been social media. I dove in to trainings, soaked up advice from top leaders, stalked successful people on their social media sites of choice, always looking for the next tip or strategy that would ignite my business. While I am still far from an expert, I have definitely picked up a few things along the way.
Today I want to dive into my favorite social media platform: Instagram. I have had so much fun connecting with other moms of young children, mom bloggers, and moms who do direct sales, and I have started to see some success from all the time I have dedicated to better understanding the platform and developing my own style and voice. Here are the things I have learned along the way:
In the beginning, I got a little lost by emulating other people I saw as successful. The more I learned, however, the more I realized that true success can only come when people get to know the real you. "Authentic" is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but what it means to me is that you are slowly unfolding your own story, sharing your own thoughts and opinions, and truly connecting with others through Instagram. If you're "borrowing" other people's words and ideas, your followers are just getting to know a knock-off version of someone else.
Develop A Unique Style
I have always admired my sister Molly's eye for Instagram. The aesthetic of her feed is so tasteful, and I always tease her that she sees the world through the lens of an Instagram square. As lovely as her style is, it's not my style, and I shouldn't try to make it mine. Once I gave myself permission to edit my photos how I like them, I really found my stride. I found I gravitate toward crisp, bright images with a color scheme reminiscent of the beach. Others excel at moody pictures with grey tones, while still others use a florescent color scheme and are killing it! Find what speaks to you, and run with it. If you don't, you'll grow incredibly bored with your pictures and Instagram will become a chore.
Interact - Don't Be A Lurker!
Before I started my health and wellness business from home, I was super arrogant about social media. I didn't post much, and when I did, it was just a few carefully chosen pictures of what was going on in my life. I didn't comment on other people's things, because I wanted to give the impression that I was too good, or too busy to "waste" time on social media. Now I realize that social media is a wonderful gift meant to connect us to other people, but of course, to be used in moderation. It shouldn't replace real human interaction.
Having said that, I love the genuine connections I have made on Instagram when I am brave enough to put myself out there and comment on a stranger's picture, or follow someone simply because I love the content they are putting out there. I love replying when strangers comment on my own posts. I love when a few comments back and forth with another mama on Instagram turns into a friendship! If you show up for other people and support them with genuine comments, questions, and compliments, they will show up for you.
Advice for Using Instagram for your Home Based Business
Find Your Tribe
Use those hashtags, people! They exist for a reason. On what other social media platform are things so perfectly categorized? If you want to find other moms of young children, look up hashtags with the word "toddler." If you want to find other ladies that shop at Target, there's a hashtag for that, too! Where are all the other SAHMs? In a hashtag, of course. Working moms? Hashtag. Use those hashtags to locate and genuinely connect with people you relate to. And remember, the people following your account aren't just a number to add to your stats at the end of the month. They are real people who want the real you.
On the flip side, make use of hashtags yourself to be found by other people. Describe yourself and your picture with your hashtags, and it won't be long until your number of followers starts to grow.
Showcase Your Products as a Lifestyle
It's super easy to just take a selfie with whatever product you're trying to sell. However, I personally scroll right past when I see a cheesy picture of someone pointing out a label or brand name. It's not because I don't like that people are trying to sell something - I get it! It just doesn't make me stop and say, "I need that in my life!"
On the other hand, if you can show me the results, what problem you're solving, or an action shot of how the product is used, I am bound to be more intrigued and want to learn more. Be creative with how to work your products into an aesthetically pleasing picture, and create curiosity with your caption.
Don't Spam: Provide Value
Most of us love word of mouth recommendations from our favorite bloggers or other influencers we follow on Instagram, even if we know they are getting compensated for that post. I always see comments like, "What lipstick are you wearing?" "Where did you find those shoes?" "Your rug is gorgeous - where is it from?" "What brand of vitamins do you use?" This is usually because they have already gained trust with their followers by being genuine, showcasing their excellent taste, and recommending their favorite things even when they're not affiliated with that brand in any way. They provide value on a daily or weekly basis by doling out free tips and advice. They let us in and allow us to see many aspects of their life, not just what they are selling.
Mix it up! Think of what makes you unique, and what you're passionate about. Share those things! For me, it's pictures of my family (mostly my kids), healthy snacks but also sometimes donuts, the beach, and general lifestyle photos. My health and wellness business and products are part of my lifestyle, so I thread those in when it works.
The only exception would be if you've created an account solely dedicated to your product. I have seen this done masterfully only when value is provided in between or with product posts. Recipes, healthy lifestyle tips, workouts, inspiration, etc, would work for a health and wellness business. Makeup tutorials, makeovers, or tips on how to use certain tools or brushes would work if you're a consultant for a makeup company. Some gorgeous essential oil accounts give recipes to diffuse, how to use oils in cleaning products, or how to make your own face scrubs. Provide value, and people will be more interested in what you're selling.
Invest in Yourself
Let me preface this by saying that I dislike the idea of automation in social media accounts. I resist the idea of outsourcing or automating anything, because I want the people that follow me (and the people I follow) to be built on a real connection or commonality. I don't like the spam bots on Instagram that leave vague comments that don't even apply to the picture you posted. So no, I'm not going to talk about spending money on a service or app that automates these procedures, even though other people have found success with it. That's my own opinion and stance on the matter. To each their own!
What I do believe in is investing in a course to educate yourself on how to find your ideal follower, how to turn Instagram followers into clients, and best practices for posting, captioning, and growing your account. The tips I have posted are fairly basic ones that I have learned over the years from watching, reading free sources, and trial and error. My account really started to grow, though, when I invested in an Instagram course that taught me how to zero in on my client avatar, and work with a purpose when I spend time on Instagram. I don't have time to waste flailing around, or throwing spaghetti at a wall hoping something sticks. I had to learn from an expert, and I had to learn quickly.
The course I took was exactly what I was looking for. It walked me through step-by-step, giving actionable tips, worksheets to fill out, videos to watch, examples to follow, a private Facebook mastermind group where I could ask questions, lifetime access to the information, and tons of extra free courses and resources. If there's anything I dislike, it's paying for information that I already know. I'm a self-motivated lifelong learner, and I believe I can figure most things out on my own. However, I know when someone else has already put in the work and has more experience than I do, it is sometimes smart to invest money in order to shorten the learning curve. As a Spanish teacher, that's what I try to do everyday for my students, so that's what I look for in an online course. Someone with a teacher's heart who wants to see their students succeed, who needs to share what they have learned.
Here is an affiliate link to the course I took: Infamous to Influential
"Infamous to Influential walks you through legitimate methods that are proven to cultivate REAL, ENGAGED, and TARGETED Instagram followers that are specific to your industry, niche, and business. But don't think follower growth won't be quick, because it will! You'll be surprised!"
So whatever you're using Instagram for - your blog, your business, or simply to connect with other like-minded people, be sure to do it with integrity. Find your style, voice, and purpose, and people will be drawn to that! And if we're not already connected on Instagram, find me here and say hi!