Whether you use Instagram for personal use or for business marketing – this article could be eye-opening for you.
Selling and marketing products or services through Instagram is a regular practice among a wide variety of entrepreneurs & businesses.
However, not everyone who leverages this social media channel is 100% satisfied. In my opinion, it is not the platform, but the wrong approach to Instagram that is to blame
Let me say it again – the approach is wrong, not the platform *Instagram* itself.
This ‘wrong' approach begins with a strong desire to sell products or the products you are asked to sell (as a social media manager) as fast as possible to as many people as possible (everyone).
In this article, I will dive into both of these scenarios at the same time and as you will see, the outcome is absolutely the same.
To illustrate this, I will give you an example of a ‘Status Quo' Instagram marketing strategy.
Most Instagram marketers use this (old) strategy.
First, let me set the stage – let's see how this all works in real life.
Meet Anna, she's a beginner social media marketer.
She knows how to find great images and use Canva to edit these. She is familiar with Instagram scheduling tools for marketing. She knows how to write great captions and how to add relevant hashtags. Anna is still waiting for her big break in social media management.
Anna has a solid marketing background; she learned a lot in the past few years on YouTube, she read blogs and attended marketing seminars. She knows how things work because influencers and industry leaders shared their knowledge and expertise with Anna.
While she is looking for more clients, Anna
In the meantime, Anna is thinking about, and planning to start her own local business and promote her business through Instagram.
Anna wants to become her own boss and do things the right way.
For now, she's developing that idea…
After searching Upwork, Fiverr and Truelancer all she's got to show for her efforts are $5/hour project offers which will not help her pay her bills.
Anna has a personal Instagram account where she shows off her life, posts new stories, and interacts with her friends.
That's the account she plans to use to promote her business in the future.
Sadly, she lost 1267 followers (out of 10138) overnight recently when Instagram seemed to do a bot purge.
That drop got her Instagram profile below that 10K mark she worked so hard to get.
This unpleasant event disappointed Anna; if made her weary about what to expect from Instagram in the future.
She put so much effort into the development of her and her client's accounts. She is now determent she needs a plan to improve the current situation.
Let's get back to our ‘status quo' Instagram marketing strategy.
What is Anna doing, what is her strategy?
Here it is:
1) Anna has a written content plan. It's a Google spreadsheet full of awesome ideas and example references of what to post.
2) She also has a separate spreadsheet with relevant hashtags for the niches she works on for her clients.
3) Anna is smart – she's using different services for mass following and mass liking, which gave her great results: +750-1500 followers every month. Not bad.
4) Anna posts images and stories daily, and once in a while hosts a live broadcast.
5) Anna knows how to write great captions and valuable content, she's obsessed with the beauty industry niche and knows what to deliver for her followers on her personal Instagram page.
However, this implemented strategy does not work for Anna as expected.
What could be wrong with this strategy?
Anna is doing all the right things she knows to do; she posts content regularly, has good engagement rates and is present for daily marketing interactions with her target niche.
Looks good, correct?
Have a look from a different angle – the Instagram ‘algorithm' is straightforward, and here's exactly how it works:
Each time Anna adds a new piece of content, it is shown to a small portion of her followers – the most active followers.
Let's assume that for now, her follower's list is 10.000 people.
The first thing that happens is that Instagram will show her post to 10% of her followers. If that initial content gets views, likes, shares, comments and saves – that sends signals to Instagram to push her content to another segment of her followers, possibly another 5-10%.
If Anna's audience reacts each time a new push happens – Instagram repeats this move until the number reaches 30-35% of Anna's total audience.
This was an example of the perfect post, on a perfect day, in the best time of audience activity.
When someone is forgotten, that person forgets about the human on the other side of the screen.
Approximately 6500 followers of Anna were not served her content, they did not receive that message Anna spent so much time crafting.
Now on that very day, Anna took the plunge. After dreaming for years to open a beauty salon and to help other women look more beautiful, she actually did it.
Everything is ready: the salon launched and is ready for
Anna decides that promoting her new business on social media is the right move to reach these potential clients and she creates content to post to her Instagram profile.
Content includes backstage photos, before\after images, live streams, interviews with her team, happy customers, tips & tricks and she even
She is on the right track, or is she?
6500 previous followers, and 500 new followers – gained in the last month – are simply ignored.
These people miss the newsworthy event altogether.
They don't have any idea what Anna has been up to for months.
Her Instagram marketing struggles are real and painful, because of the Instagram algorithm limitations.
What can be done?
The questions mulling in her head are ‘How can I promote my business and boost it in 2019?' ‘How can I get my message and promotions delivered to my audience?' and ‘How can I increase the number of visits to my salon?'
Fortunately, there is a way.
It does require a few extra steps, but in the end, using this strategy will completely change Anna's approach to content creation and marketing.
Let me ask you a question:
‘Do you think that the number of your Instagram followers matter?'
That ‘the more the better' is a true statement?
Take a second, try to answer it.
I've heard it a LOT of times.
People believe this to be true.
Here is the simple truth; the number of your Instagram followers is irrelevant.
nstead, the most important part is your relationship with your followers, not the number of followers.
As an active Instagram marketer, I know a few Instagram ‘influencers' personally – people with huge followings.
Their accounts have 100K to 870K followers. Big accounts, right?
When these influencers post something to Instagram, they get a ton of engagement, with a minimum of 50 comments in the first hour, and around 100 in the next 24 hours. Their stories get discovered by thousands of people. However, engagement rates aren't so perfect – less than 10%.
And this suits these huge accounts. [Why this happens the way it does is another topic, so I'll skip it for now.]
The interesting part is that these influencers post a lot of semi-random content – sponsored posts or stories, with the lion's share of products or services which are nothing special or do not fit the audience.
This is however, how these influencers earn money – they sell ads in their feed.
They try to figure out how to ‘show' these promoted products or services in the right light.
Then some of their followers influenced by this ‘influencer' ‘follow' the recommendations, and they buy the product or service that was promoted.
When they try or consume it and are not satisfied with the product or service, all of the hard feelings automatically reflects back on the person who ‘recommended' the product or service in the first place, the
This is how influencers lose trust, and attention.
Whenever this happens it is because they feel the need to promote everything to everyone (in their niche).
As I see it, the biggest problem influencers have is the quality of their audience.
It's too broad; not defined enough.
These influencers try to please everyone, their content isn't specific, in most cases these accounts perform as entertainment groups or soap operas: to see, enjoy, and then forget 10 minutes later.
In summary: huge numbers doesn't matter. What matters is your relationship with your followers, your crowd, your tribe.
Always provide true opinions and recommendations as most people adhere to ‘f
As an Instagram marketer, I work with dozens of micro-influencers who own tiny accounts with less than 5K followers.
They don't use any mass following software or tools, and most are not really ‘marketing'.
What they know, and what are good at, is how to grab the attention of their tribe. They know how to create the exact content their audience craves.
They know how to add some basic hashtags, that is it.
However, when they do have a product or service to offer and promote – their tribe buys like crazy.
This phenomenon was described by Peter Drucker, and can be described just in two sentences:
Micro influencers win because:
When they come across a perfect product or service, that fits their audience's needs they don't need to push or ‘sell' it, all they just do is show and tell.
And they do.
I know you are wondering how these micro-influencers bring this information to all of the right followers at the right time if Instagram reaches only 30% of the audience?
I am about to share their ‘secret weapon' with you, which helps most of these micro-influencers to achieve their goals.
The secret is called messenger marketing.
I actually predict this ‘trend' will continue in years to come.
You see, Instagram engagement rates will continue to fall, and there is nothing you can do to change the algorithm.
It just is.
More than 60% of your audience does not receive your marketing messages on Instagram.
Imagine that most of your audience consists of people who are indeed interested in you and your product or service.
No matter how great your content is and no matter your efforts to reach out to all of those people; it's impossible to reach them all simply by posting to your feed. (read: via Instagram).
Therefore, in order to take control of the communication with your tribe this communication needs to be steered away from Instagram.
Grab your tribe, those who you want to communicate with and bring them into ‘your own game'.
Here is a simple to implement strategy for doing just that.
In fact, their is no need to be:
Let all those stereotypes go.
Instead, create the same incredible content and deliver it straight to the people who are willing to receive it.
The difference is that you don't send it out ‘to the masses'.
Instead, you send if to those who want to receive it and who showed interest.
Did you know that openings rates in Messenger is around 90%?
Did you know that people
Subscribing is done in one click from a smartphone or laptop.
Next, let me show you the math by getting back to our previous examples with micro and macro influencers.
Huge accounts first: 100K with a reach of 25% is 25000 people.
If influencers ask their followers to swipe up, follow the link, subscribe to emails – and we go by the earlier assumption that only 30% of the people who see the posts, we can assume the subscription rate for those influencers
Open rates of emails (the old way) are around 20%, therefore we calculate about 1500 people opened their email after subscription.
Link click rates in emails is around 30%, so now we have 450 clicks.
Around 5% of people would buy the offer at the price point of $50, so in this example, the influencer would have approximately 23x$50 = $1150 in sales.
Remember these numbers depend on the relationship with the Instagram account owner or brand; the number would fluctuate a
Next, let's compare this to our micro influencer with 5000 followers.
Reach could be better, but not always (remember the Instagram algorithm limitations) and I will assume it's 40% because of great relationships, high-quality content and messenger marketing outreach strategies.
Of the 5000 followers, with regular interactions, around 60-80% of all this audience have subscribed via Facebook messenger. This micro influencer has 3000-4000 people on their list ready to message.
All other rules apply as before: Open rates of messenger are around 90%, click through rate is 30% and sales conversions around 5%. Now the numbers look like this:
2700 people opened a message, 810 clicked on a link, 40 people bought a product or service.
40x$50 = $2000 in sales.
That's double in comparison with influencers with a 100K account.
2X results on 10X smaller Instagram account.
In summary: Create content that is relevant to your followers and do not ever miss a chance to communicate with your tribe again.
Create pieces of content to be seen by all of your audience by delivering it to the right people, after they ‘raised their hand' and gave you that permission to message them.
Ask people to join your ‘insider tribe' for more awesome content in your topic\field\niche using messenger marketing.
Make it easy for your tribe – one click (more on this at the end of the article).
But never, I repeat never spam them.
Provide value, help solve their problems, share experiences.
Know and understand your customer.
Here are some trends I see happening in 2019, and beyond:
1) Instagram engagement will continue to decline.
Fewer people will see your content, no matter how you promote it natively via Instagram marketing channels (feed, stories, live) or how hard you work at it.
2) Messenger marketing is the next step to delivering your content to your tribe with insanely high open rates (for now).
Those rates will decline over time, but in 2019 I predict you still have a year or two to leverage this tool.
3) By all means, continue to build your tribe and following on Instagram. Just move them into your funnel.
4) Messenger Marketing is not a ‘magic pill' and should not ever replace great content and
Using messenger marketing as an Instagram strategy will position you ahead of the competition.
That is, if you start implementing it today.
5) Next, learn how to use messenger marketing for Instagram.
I invite you to visit my online masterclass, where I'll show you how you can implement all of the strategies described in this article.
Find online masterclass schedule and book your spot now on my website: #hexometer-broken-link-repair-https://smartengager.com/masterclass
Filmmaker, Photographer, Digital Marketer.
What I do mostly is travel around the world, discover wonderful destinations and improve myself.
Also I teach a bunch of courses about photography, filmmaking and digital marketing.
Feel free to contact me on Facebook or Instagram if you have any questions.