YOU GUYS! It has been so long since I've shared an Education post and I'm SO PUMPED ABOUT THIS!!! Tyler J. McCall is an Instagram Marketing Strategist who helps creatives market their business using everyone's favorite social media channel :)
Tyler and I met through a friend of ours, Alex Cottles of The Routine Creative (the same fella who did my branding & new logo!) and I've been following his work for a long time. His Instagram is full of marketing tips cushioned between silly and heartfelt posts about real life that will make you feel like you've known him for years. Without further ado, I am pleased to introduce you to Tyler, the Instagram Guru who is going to help take your business to the next level:
1) Talk a little about your personal experience with Instagram marketing. What got you into this specific field? You have a constantly growing following (of over 10,000!) and a beautifully cohesive feed – is there a specific strategy you can point to that helped you get to where you are today?
My background is in marketing, communications, training, and operations in the non-profit and community organizing worlds. Right after college, I went to work for the YMCA and continued on that path for nearly six years - with some breaks in my time at the Y to do community organizing and start my own non-profit organization. All of that work taught me the importance of building relationships, forming communities around a common cause, and marketing in a really genuine and honest way.
I left the Y at the beginning of 2016 - after working on the side managing some Instagram accounts for other folks for about six months - and went out on my own. Over the past two years, I’ve been able to work with hundreds of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and start-ups. I’ve done a mix of content creation and management, coaching, consulting, and writing social media strategy. Regardless of who I’ve worked with or what industry they’re in, they’ve all been creative businesses - they solve problems, offer products, or deliver their services in a really creative way.
The biggest strategy I’ve used for Instagram is always remembering that what I’m doing on social media is about real people. There are human beings behind those accounts I’m following and interacting with. There are real people buying the products I’m selling, listening to what I have to say, and reading what I write on Instagram.
2) When you work with a creative business to explore how best to market and strategize through Instagram – what is that process like?
It’s a really fun process that takes MUCH longer than someone would expect and that’s because marketing yourself on Instagram is all about branding. And I’m not talking logo or graphic design. I’m talking about the hard work that a lot of folks haven’t done for their business. So, the process starts with conversations about your ideal client or customer - we build out that individual’s profile and work to understand where they are online, how we can find them, and what we need to say to them.
After that, we start building out the brand through values and storytelling. We talk about what values you are using to lead your business and what your brand story is. From there we create your visual and voice standard guides so you have a framework for the content you’re going to post - the photos AND the captions.
Once we’ve done that, we can create an editorial calendar together, talk about what you’re going to post and when you’re going to post it, and how to get your content out there in front of the right people.
Then, and only then, do we talk about growth and engagement strategies. Most people approach Instagram completely backwards - they try to get more followers and connect with their ideal customers or clients before they’ve gotten clear on who those people are, where they hang out online, how they want to be spoken to, what types of content they want to see, and how to build a relationship with them.
I always tell my clients that we have a lot of foundation to build before we ever get to the fun stuff!
3) What tools do you find most helpful to getting your posts seen by the right people?
Engaging more than posting is my biggest rule of thumb on Instagram. You have to get out in front of people and you can’t just spend all of your time posting and not going out and finding people to engage with your content - that’s like screaming into a vacuum. Your growth and discovery on Instagram is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend engaging on the app.
4) There have been many changes on Instagram over these last few months (the new algorithm, Instagram Albums, the implementation of Instastories, etc.) . How have these changes made Instagram an easier or harder to use platform for creative entrepreneurs to grow their business?
Whew! I know, right?! Instagram has been keeping us on our toes over the past 12 months. Listen, I get that it’s overwhelming and downright frustrating most days. But, I think it’s good news. I think it’s good that Instagram is adding in new features and tools and functions on a regular basis. That means they are trying to grow the app and want to keep up with the popularity of their platform. I don’t think people realize that Instagram has grown rapidly - the number of users has doubled in just a few years - and they’ll have 1 billion users by the end of 2017. That means that Instagram, as a company, has to keep up with the time (and start monetizing what they’re doing so it’s sustainable).
The change I love the most, as a content creator, is the algorithm. I know plenty of people hate it; but, I love the fact that my content lasts longer now than it did before. I like that my post from last Friday is still getting likes and comments. That means I can post less often and spend more time engaging with new friends on the app.
5) What are your thoughts on Instagram stories? Are they essential to staying visible?
Oh yeah, they are absolutely essential. We’ve seen a shift on the app since they were introduced in 2016. People are using them and watching them like CRAZY. Instagram hasn’t given us toooo many details; but, we do know that Instagram Stories are being used by around 200 million Instagram users EVERY DAY (that’s more users than Snapchat even has). So, around ⅔ of Instagram’s daily active users are using Instagram Stories. We also know that 1 in 5 Instagram Stories leads to a direct message. The fact that Instagram has given us a tool that leads to direct conversations with our followers 20% of the time is incredible. Could you imagine if 20% of your followers commented on everything you post? How cool would that be?!
6) How many times do you recommend posting on Instagram per day? How many Instagram stories?
This definitely depends on the life of your account, your industry, and what you’re trying to accomplish on Instagram. My rule of thumb is to post on Instagram at the very least 3-4 times a week and on Instagram Stories at least 2-3 times per week. Your consistency in posting and engaging is more importat than the frequency of your postings.
7) Who are your top 3 favorite Instagrammers to follow? What is it about their profiles that draw you to them?
I really love designers on Instagram - I’m so inspired by what they do. There are a few accounts I go back to over and over again…
@bpatrickflynn for his Instagram Stories. Brian is an interior designer for HGTV with homes in Atlanta, the north Georgia mountains, and Iceland. He also travels often for pleasure and for his work. I love his Instagram Stories - especially when he is working on design projects and when he is on the road.
@insieme_house for inspiration and good vibes. Astrid is an interior designer living in a tiny a-frame home in the New England. I love her aesthetic, her design sense, and how friendly and caring she is on Instagram.
@holdenmesk for his fun and funky designs. Holden is an Asheville-based designer who I’m just totally obsessed with. I love his unique and creative designs so much and his Instagram is so fun to look at.
8) Are there any particular types of posts that you feel do better than others? (Videos, Insta Albums, engaging captions, etc.)
I know that vertical posts do better than any other type of post - they take up the full screen and steal all of the attention when people are using the app. I also know that photos of people - especially of YOU if you’re a personal brand - and funny or inspirational quotes do really well.
9) If you could leave us with one piece of advice on how to use Instagram to grow our businesses – what would it be?
Focus on the people, not the numbers. Your goal on Instagram is to build a community of raving fans, not a bunch of followers who don’t know who you are, what you do, and why you do it. I’d rather you be able to name your followers than rattle off how many you have and your engagement and conversion stats.
Message your new followers and say hello. Respond to comments and have conversations. Ask questions and spur discussions. Foster a community of people around your business or brand that grows to be as passionate about what you do as you are.
10) Where can we get in touch with you?
You can find me on Instagram @tylerjmccall and connect with me in my new membership community, the Follower to Fan Society, at FollowerToFanSociety.com
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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