Social Media influence can bring you notoriety, cash and, sometimes, a new gig (or two). But how do you actually get your audience to grow? There are three things that are essential for all digital brands, no matter what you’re saying, sharing or selling. And I’m giving them to you, right here.
Consistency. Clarity. Communication.
Those are the three things that every brand, entrepreneur and influencer needs to do in order to build a healthy digital community that translates to clients and builds your bank account.
This article is more about the authentic connection than it is about any hard and fast best practices.
It’s about understanding who you are and what you’re offering then it is about building a sales funnel or the perfect Facebook ad.
It is about mindset, intuition and goals. All of your goals.
Step 1: What is Your Community?
Tribe, community, gang. Whatever you call it, it’s all about the people you’re engaging with. The content you share, the products you sell — they have the power to change someone’s life. Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, building a following, a community, means that you have leverage to work with as you work your way up the ladder as a careerpreneur, which is my term for someone who treats their job like a business.
In order to build a community, you have to understand what the people who follow you, are inspired by you and choose to connect with you are interested in as a unit. What shared traits do they have? What shared interests? Identify those first, at least the top three, before you define the relationship.
Step 2: Define the Relationship
Are you the teacher? The guide? Coach? Cheerleader?
Defining the relationship in your community is a key step… it’s a key step in every, single relationship you have (right, millennial friends?!?) but in building a community that converts, it’s even more important. Be the Alpha your community needs AND help them grow, share and be confident in their own abilities.
Step 3: Give the People What They Want
Once you know what common traits and interests your community (or desired community) shares, it’s easy to give them what they want. And, if you’re still not sure? That’s where polls and quizzes come in. Creating a quiz (like my “What’s Your Boss Style?”) is a great way to generate leads that are interested in what YOU have to offer. Polling your Facebook group or your audience on Facebook in general, is the best way to figure out what they want. You can also look back through your past posts to get a sense of what’s popular in your organic content strategy.
Overall, the three steps to building a community involves setting a clear intention for your efforts ONCE you’ve established the needs, hopes and dreams of the community you desire.
And then? Then it’s just about being authentically, awesomely, amazingly, YOU.
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Ever see a video, hear a podcast or see an Instagram feed and feel a little jealous? Comparison can be toxic, but the inspiration for elevation with an aesthetic that really and truly resonates with you? THAT is one of the best ways to move your brand and business forward. In this post, I’ll share some hacks for creating content that is #InstaGoals for less!
Do you ever feel like everyone else has it figured out while you’re still playing dress-up in your mom’s suits?
As someone who – quite literally – played dress-up for hours and hours in her mother’s suits from the 80s and 90s (shoulder pads and all), I can tell you this is part of the practice of becoming an expert in your zone of genius. It is part of the practice of advancing in your career and it is part of the practice of finding your voice in an oversaturated and fatigued marketplace.
It can be downright exhausting — and detrimental if you don’t take some time to get clear on your mantras, your goals and your content buckets to hone in on the area(s) that YOU want to own.
This is challenging, no doubt about it. In a world where everyone’s life, business, marriage, motherhood and workouts are #InstaFiltered, it can seem like you’re the only one going through this phase of life-acne, but I promise you’re not alone.
I promise you.
In my mission to be transparent, I will say that I once felt this way. I often felt not good enough when I worked at some of the biggest names in the business… and then, when I went off on my own, I realized that those titles reinforced that belief in me and once I let go of expectations, I was truly able to soar and work with even bigger names and create massive success for my clients and myself.
How Did I Do It? Practice.
Practice is a word that has resonated with me since my days of daily hot yoga sessions before sunrise — as a little girl, I imagined the woman I wanted to be. I’m a very visual person, my memories and dreams play like film clips in my mind, like a kaleidoscope of a highlight reel I once hope to share. So my image of me as an adult has always played out this way in my mind. And from an early age — 8 at least — I kept looking in the mirror searching for her, willing her into existence.
Two decades later, she is here, she is fierce and she ain’t even halfway done.
But that was a practice. It was the practice of figuring out what truly fit my style, my mission and my personality as I went through the runway of work and life, trying on new titles like last season’s t-shirts and collecting case studies like Ariel’s baubles.
Next year, I’ll enter my third decade and I firmly believe in the power of three (that’s a story for another post; it will come so stay tuned) — for me, this is when my practice has hit one of it’s most aligned moments. And that’s where I pick up the title of this post, the power of a staged space.
My new apartment is great, it works for what I need it to way more than any other space but it’s definitely not “ideal.” It doesn’t have the perfect clean light that I need and the windows don’t look out into the majestic city like the windows I someday know I will have (hoping and wishing and praying) but that shouldn’t matter, right? It’s my home and I love it and it should be good enough for all of my content needs.
Should — that word can be such a B.
The reason I’m writing this post today is because of an episode of Happy Thoughts Show run by two girl bosses and friends, Sara Wiles and Lacey Sites. Last night’s episode featured comparisonitis and how to deal/what it is. I was so intrigued by the responses that so many of the ladies had because I do, as I explained above, DEFINITELY remember being there myself professionally. And while I don’t always struggle with this as a CEO, as women, there are always ways in which we judge ourselves too harshly and this comes up for us.
So many of these things, however, can be quickly fixed with a little zuzsh — as I like to say. Basically, a little quick fix solution to turn the space you have into the space you want to have someday in some way. Working with what you’ve got to create what you desire — THAT is key to this practice. As I shared today “See it. Believe it. Think it. Be it.” because you’ve already got everything you need, you just gotta make it #werk.
In times when you wish your brand looked a little more Kardashian and less Kitchy, there are spaces that you can use to stage your content collection.
Breather is a great app featuring workspaces AND photo/video spaces in several major cities (Canada too!). You can rent the spaces by the hour (and you’ll get a discount if you use my code) or by the day. I did a photoshoot in one of these spaces last fall and it was GREAT. It allowed me to get all the shots I needed without having to worry if my apartment was clean enough.
My favorite photo series, ever (for my brand) was taken in my 450 sq ft apartment, the one I had before where I live now. Yes, really. I got some green screen from a friend who purchased it wholesale at a production house in Brooklyn and then we used two massive lights to turn my apartment into the kind of “#lit” #InstaGoals are made of. I’ve also purchased my own lighting kit since this shoot, for $70 from Jet.com. Even if you think your space is drab, lighting can make a HUGE difference.
Flowers can completely change a shot. Placing flowers over your right or left shoulder just beyond the shot can open up a room and make it feel like you’re in a totally different space. This can be accomplished by shooting from different angles too.
If you’re ready for a big project, Peerspace is one to investigate. They also have spaces in cities all over the world that can be used for events, photo and video shoots, fashion shows, intimate dinners and more. What I love most about Peerspace is that some of the photo/video shoot spaces even come with lights — which totally beats trekking around Manhattan with your gear.
I hope these tips help you create your #InstaGoals photoshoot for your brand and business — and if you’re not resonating with that type of photography and brand representation? Find the five brands that fit YOUR idea of what YOU want to be and create your own #InstaGoals — because you deserve to write your success story on your terms, not on someone else’s.
Brand trust — in everything from e-commerce brands to brick and mortar stores to editorial brands — is gone. Consumers — that is people who buy, click, visit, read and share — are more skeptical than ever. This is a problem ALL brands, businesses and individuals who share content on the many digital platforms face — and yet, it seems like we’re doing nothing to combat it. There are many, many things that can be done but the most important thing YOU can do? Be transparent with your audience every step of the way.
Editorial brands like The New York Times have spent decades refining their reputation. Television news brands, like CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. have done the same. And now? Now we have a generation of consumers — in all age groups and all phases of life — who are skeptical of everything they see, read, share and hear.
Where does that leave us?
These digital tools — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more — are platforms meant to bring communities together. Like the meeting houses, bonfires and great halls, these platforms have become a place to buy, trade, sell and share.
And as trust in the information presented decreases?
Well, it stands that trust in brands trying to sell in the same arena would also decrease.
And you don’t have to take my word for it — Buzz Sumo recently analyzed over 880 million (yes, with an m) Facebook posts from brands and publishers and engagement is down by 20% — regardless of spending which, for many of these individual entities, increased dramatically over the same period.
As an individual, you may have noticed a downward trend too — and that makes sense because as the algorithm struggles to learn new ways of verifying real vs fake content, individuals and business pages, it puts a clamp on all information.
Organic reach still exists — if you have the right content strategy in place, you should be able to see an increase in reach with a few well-placed tweaks — but it is not the same as it was.
So what are online entrepreneurs to do?
Transparency is your friend
Sharing your success stories, case studies and launch stories is bread and butter of digital brand marketing when it comes to online personalities. The true key here? Is to break it down! Tell your audience how much you spent on Facebook ads, how much you spent with affiliates, where you placed your content and how much time you spent training your audience to be primed for purchase. Share your missteps (because nothing is truly a failure) as lessons learned to move forward.
Be the expert, own your space
Experts are a dime a dozen — but YOU have a unique spin for YOUR zones of genius and excellence. YOU get to decide what content you share and how your audience consumes it. And you get to shine in the darkness of unreliable content (otherwise known as fake news) by providing statistics, data and verified sources. You are a content creator 5% (or less) of the time and a content curator 95% of the time — curate wisely.
Own your missteps — see them as an opportunity
The New York Times prints corrections… every, single news organization in the world prints corrections. Humans are not infallible — we are HUMANS. It’s called Human Error for a reason and the best way to combat the problem of unreliable content on today’s oversaturated content platforms? Think like an editorial team — decide how, when and where you’ll acknowledge your corrections and make it public. Make sure that you’re owning these answers consistently in your messaging. Using a response grid (like the one I offer for free, here) is a great way to stay on top of this day-to-day and across a distributed team.
In six months of careful, strategic curation, I brought my Instagram brand from 2K to 10K and got the coveted “swipe up” for more in my stories. It may not SOUND like a big deal but as a digital marketer with many offerings, products and places to drive my ideal customer, it SO is! In these six months, I can also directly attribute clients and conversions back to my Instagram looking the way it does — so that means I turned my Instagram followers into clients. This blog will share more on how YOU can do the same.
Instagram is a powerful tool for conversions — paid and free — if you use it correctly. It may seem like magic, but I promise you there was a lot of love (of self), sweat (of hard #werk) and tears (of joy) on the journey to 10K for me. A LOT of it.
If you only read this far into the post, I can tell you the ONE thing you need to do to grow an authentic following (because yes, mine is also verified by one of the hottest influencer programs, Fohr) is this: training your audience by giving them content they want to see on a consistent basis with your unique, authentic voice.
That’s really all it takes to grow your following.
Of course, there are many strategies to get there and many ways to deploy these recommended strategies for success long-term but that ONE thing IS the key to success… and now, for the rest:
Get Your Look On Point
Instagram is THE most visual platform of the current “cool kids” on the social media block. It’s all about getting an image that speaks to what you’re selling AND to your ideal client. You might think that an image is perfect for your brand but if it doesn’t resonate with your client? Don’t post it. This makes me CRAZY when I’m working with clients — I know, I know, I KNOW you love the photos you’ve taken and curated as you built your brand but I also am an expert at increasing engagement per post — promise me when I say I know what your audience wants.
How can you figure this out without working with me? Well, guess, test and review is one solid strategy (and you can download a freebie on how to do that here). You can also check out your competitors and see what their audience is responding to — chances are, if they’re in your zone of genius, their followers are followers YOU want to bring over to your tribe too.
And, you can also check out the Instagram patterns that play well for large influencers. There are proven strategies that get results — the key is to put YOUR spin on it to make it authentic to you and attract your tribe like bees to a hive.
Strategic Promotions are Necessary
Facebook Ads are something I’m quite passionate about. Investments tell the Universe that you’re ready for BIG things and that’s important on many levels.
In terms of “the woo,” it is important to have a mindset for success. It’s why I share daily mantras on my Instagram profile — to hold MYSELF accountable to keeping a positive and optimistic mindset no matter what else is happening in my world.
In terms of practical strategy, it shows Facebook (which owns Instagram and is the “holder” for Instagram ads and boosted posts) that you’re interested in using this tool as a business-builder and that you’re ready to invest to do so. That’s big in the eyes of the algorithm and important for you to understand as you grow your brand.
By boosting individual posts on your Instagram Profile and also setting up small, strategic investments in dark posts through Facebook Business Manager for Instagram-only ads, you’re creating a loop of promotion that will attract the right people at the right time, every time.
The more you grow, the more likely your posts are to show up in the Top Posts feed for the hashtags you use (and if you’re not using at least 1 hashtag, you’re missing out; two hashtags is best for most brands in terms of getting optimal engagement… but that really varies and I often do use the full 10 until you reach at least 15K followers) which will then put you in front of many, many more of your ideal clients and their friends.
Should. Struggle. Obstacle.
I am on a mission to erase these words from my vocabulary when it comes to my business and my business-building efforts. It’s working, I made 6 figures in the first 6 months of this year which is only my second full year of entrepreneurship, but it is a challenge. Which I now see as an opportunity for behavior change that is really resonating with my audience.
Why should you care about this? Because BEING AUTHENTIC is a huge lesson learned on the journey to 10K (over 10K now… insert GIF happy dance here, y’all!).
Sharing the ups, downs and #lifelessons learned is a huge part of what makes the most powerful influencers powerful. Sure, beautiful photos get a bunch of likes and comments but how many of those likes turn to business? How many of those comments turn to cash?
Being authentic is what brings in the PAID conversions from Instagram and it is what sustains a brand long-term.
You’re not a flash in the pan — you’re in it for the long-haul and your brand will reflect that if you are authentically you every time you show up on Instagram.
Engage the Right People
I refer to Instagram as a vertical network. Twitter and Facebook are horizontal networks — because I see something in my main feed and immediately share it to my profile, making a horizontal leap, whereas with Instagram, I see something, I like it and I move on. I may reshare down the road, but the way someone will engage with it is, most likely, in a vertical view on their own feed.
The way to get around that on Instagram is to actually LIKE, COMMENT AND ENGAGE users on THEIR profiles, their photos and their content.
Reply to a story from a big influencer, share an authentic comment on posts that resonate with you.
Dedicate time to actually engaging with the community you want to build. It’s a “woo” thing — showing up the way you want your tribe to engage with you — but it’s also a strategic thing. The more you comment, like and engage, the more your username shows up in the circles you want to play.
Timing is Everything
Did you know that I’ve built over 25 Instagram accounts from scratch? Most of them have at least 10K followers if not more within the first 4 months of my control.
Why? Because I am as strategic about WHEN I share as I am about WHAT I share.
This is where switching to an Instagram Business Profile comes in handy. There are many, many different viewpoints on this but in my opinion and experience, it is the ONLY way to go.
The “research” says you should post in the morning on Instagram and yet, for most accounts, I see (in all different time zones and verticals) 7pm-11pm ET is the most active time frame.
Check your times, guess, test and review and check ‘em again, I promise it’ll be worth it!
Stick to the Plan
If you’ve read this far, I applaud you. I know this one is long but it’s FULL of good information.
This piece is one of the most important pieces of information I can share.
I cannot tell you how many times I thought about breaking my pattern for something cool or more relevant to that DAY or EVENT.
And I stopped myself because I was committed to my strategy.
And guess what? It worked.
Curate content… share things in real time on InstaStory but for your feed? Treat it with kid gloves and, whatever you do, stick to the plan you’ve chosen for at least 6-8 weeks. By then, you’ll have an idea of if it’s working and how to shift if not (or you could just work with me in one of my 1:1 coaching + execution programs!).
Give the plan time to work and enough data to review. That is what will keep your brand healthy for the long-haul, I promise.
If you’re looking for Instagram support, let’s schedule a discovery call and see how I can help YOU get the BIG results I’m known for.
Coach is someone who pushes you forward, helps you solve problems and creates new opportunities that you may not see when you’re so close to your brand, project or offering. But sometimes? Sometimes they’re complete and total bullshit artists who don’t know a thing. Other times? They are brilliant, magical unicorns who transform your business. I’ve dealt with both in my fempreneur journey and this is a tale of the unicorn.
When I launched CreatiVix Media, I was 27 years old. I “only” had a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts (in PRINT journalism of all things), about 8 years of experience under my belt and a whole lot of questions.
The marketing piece, the content piece, the fixing piece? All of those pieces were firmly on my puzzle board.
Even the contracting, closing and business hustling pieces were covered.
And yet, thanks to the conversations in the entrepreneur circles I started to frequent, I felt I was lacking. Lacking the “sparkle” that seemed to make these entrepreneurs validate their highest stars.
There are some things you do in business for market research — download competitors’ opt-ins, understand what the community is looking for in terms of formatting, presentation and so forth… this isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the constant conversation around coach validation.
Even someone as strong as I am, with the credentials I have, fell into the trap.
I’m sharing this to tell you two things — your Side Hustle Success Story IS waiting for you. And I cannot guarantee many things but I can tell you that I have never steered a client wrong. Things don’t always work but the tests are always so tied to their overall intentions that we get to the goal one way or another and that is the beauty of a good “Vix.”
And how did I figure out those two things? By having a competent business coach.
I don’t believe that people do things maliciously… well, I don’t believe all people do things maliciously. I think some people do but, overall, I think many “incompetent” business owners are just misled themselves by others. It is a pervasive mentality that can hurt entire industries if we are not careful. This post is not about this. This post is about three things you can learn if you find the GOOD people, the unicorns in the sea of sameness, the diamonds in the rough.
I spent the last six months working with Lacey Craig of A Lit Up Life in her Partnership Program. The program is simple — it’s an innovative way to look at coaching — no up front costs, only 15% of income earned during the length of our engagement.
That seemed easy enough. I knew I’d be able to make the money I needed if I had someone on my team. Here’s what else I learned:
Being High Level Pays Off
Working with Lacey was a joy because I didn’t just have someone on my team, I had someone who spoke MY language. I was able to quickly implement the things we discussed — revamping my website in 3 hours in one case — because I had the high-level knowledge and ability to do that. Implementation and execution of ideas is often where coaching felt hollow for me. I wanted someone who would be like my editors of old and Lacey, because she too understood and respected the power of content, was able to provide that quick volley back and forth.
Execution is Key
The ability to execute and quickly (if not immediately) test the things we discussed in our sessions was key. Many entrepreneurs hire coaches expecting them to build their emails and actually do the work of creating their content — and that’s not what business coaches do (however, I’m working to add that to the mix in an innovative way with MY new coaching practice!). What business coaches typically do is share templates for you to implement and keep you on task. They’re a great project manager, something ALL entrepreneurs need. That’s where masterminds come in as well once you’ve got the nuts and bolts down. Execution is a huge missing piece in the space and it took working with a truly competent and confident business coach (Lacey Craig of A Lit Up Life) to learn that and to see how I can help innovate in the space with MY strengths.
Creative Takes a Backseat
This is something I knew going into business coaching but also a theory that was tested and confirmed. Creative does not just mean the act of being creative it also refers to individuals who ARE creative and serve in creative job functions. Creatives (the people) make terrible entrepreneurs because they LOVE creating so much that they’re often willing to undersell themselves, which is bad for business. Being someone with both sides in my mind has been the greatest challenge of my life — understanding how to harness it was how I wrote my #SideHustleSuccessStory and now? Now I coach others to do the same… actually, I’ve been coaching others to do the same for nearly 6 years now, but it took working with a brilliant coach to understand that.
The moral of this story? Hire the right coach for YOUR point in the journey, when you’re ready to do so, not because someone else said you SHOULD.
Working with Lacey allowed me to see that I was qualified and ready to jump into a space I had rejected because it was by INNOVATING in that space that I had previously rejected that I could truly serve people with my level of expertise, connections and more.
Lacey is the queen of innovation and I highly recommend working with her if you’re looking for a coach that gets you and can help get you to open yourself up to the possibilities for YOU to innovate in YOUR industry. We’re not an island, working with others who are competent and qualified makes a HUGE difference in our businesses.
There’s no crying in baseball and there are NO guarantees in marketing. Marketing involves a series of strategies, tactics and content to promote your brand, service or product to your audience. That audience has to convert — or BUY — what you’re selling in order for all of the other elements to be successful.
Everyone loves a guarantee.
Unfortunately, in most businesses, you can’t give a guarantee. A lawyer can’t guarantee that you’ll win your case, a doctor can’t guarantee that you’ll survive surgery. A Rodan and Fields consultant can’t guarantee that their skin regime will save your face.
The only thing that is guaranteed in life? That there are absolutely no guarantees.
I deal with brands, entrepreneurs and influencers who always ask about guarantees for social media marketing efforts and that’s something I actually LOVE to do.
Most social media experts will see “success” as delivering clicks to your site from one or more social media platforms.
To me, that’s not enough.
And, luckily for my clients, I can guarantee that I will find all of the “workarounds” (or Vixes!) they need to not only deliver clicks but actually convert those clicks to clients to build their business and their bank account.
That’s why, these days, I’m choosing my words carefully and declaring myself a Chief Marketing Strategist for Entrepreneurs.
I’ve built dozens of brands from scratch, created businesses (profitable businesses) from nothing and teach my clients on a daily basis how to look at things from a different angle to increase their sales and, ultimately, help their businesses flourish.
My services are expensive, I get it. But the best part about working with me, or someone with my unique skill set (there aren’t really that many of us and none with MY specific background) is that you not only get someone who can create the right strategy for building your brand, business and bank account, you get someone who can execute on those strategies for you AND find the right people to supplement the execution (ex: the actual DOING of the strategy) as needed.
For example, a client of mine, a high-profile influencer, wanted to create a challenge to promote their new course.
They had an idea for the challenge but that was it — no content for the challenge, no images to promote the challenge, no emails for the challenge, no landing page copy.
In 45 minutes, we had a FULL promotion outline AND a rough draft of the images (also known as “creative”) needed to promote the challenge.
Forty. Five. Minutes.
In an hour and a half, we had the full landing page copy and basic themes for each email.
That level of speed only comes with years of experience and the guarantee there? The guarantee is that the content will be produced the right way, using the tactics YOU need to succeed.
The other guarantee? It will cost you half as much and deliver at least 2x as much in terms of success because if something isn’t working, there are many, many more tactics to deploy in real-time — giving you the best possible chance at success.
The moral of the story here is if someone in marketing offers you a guarantee, be skeptical. They are offering a guarantee that they can’t actually deliver on and that can be a costly mistake for your business and bank account.
The challenge is to understand what success truly is in this space and I’m offering you three key performance indicators for determining if your social media marketing and overall marketing efforts are truly moving your business forward.
More Followers, Influence and Audience
This is an easy way to measure if your Facebook Ads (and Twitter, Pinterest, etc) are working — if you’re getting more followers and a larger audience for your newsletter and group, your efforts are working.
Sales and leads for your business are a great way to tell if your marketing efforts are working. If you’re doing a print ad, you want to make sure you’re getting the impressions you were promised and this also rings true for social media ads. It is MUCH easier to track these on the digital side of things and important to remember that when deciding where to invest.
Every single time I tag a brand — from SoulCycle to the Backstreet Boys — I get a RT, favorite, like or mention.
Every. Single. Time. That’s because I’ve worked hard to not only create a brand that looks legit but also one that holds weight. It is important to measure your success in marketing efforts by how many people are reaching out to you for podcast features, Instagram highlights and more.
How do YOU measure key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business? What do you consider before you invest in marketing efforts?
I’d love for you to continue the conversation in my FREE Facebook Group — DIY Your Digital Empire.