Instagram is one of the easiest social media platforms to market your products and gain followers. You don’t need to be a social media mogul to use and market yourself properly on Instagram but here’s a little guide to help you get through it.

  1. Set up a username. Make it short, catchy, relevant and easy to remember. Do not use special characters. No _, @, $, %, # or any of that. Do not make your username “C40Y130Y” if you’re trying to write “CHOYBOY.” Just don’t. It looks like a fake profile or a spam/scam profile.
  2. Now that you have a username and your Instagram set up, log in to Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) or any Instagram analytics software. This is important because you want to be able to quantify what posts gets the most views/likes and why. Which leads to…
  3. #Hashtags. Unlike long tail SEO methods, hashtags should be short and to the point. You want to make sure it’s relevant to the niche you’re targeting. You should probably do some research on popularity of hashtags by just searching the term in Instagram’s search bar. You also have the benefit of creating your own hashtags. I don’t use Instagram to post pictures of my projects since it doesn’t make sense to send pictures of a wall of text, but if I were to post pictures, I’d hashtag #choyboy or something like that.
  4. Make your biography simple. Explain in a few words who you are, why you do what you do, your links, and maybe a few promos.
  5. Take a screenshot of your followers. There are times when a user would like every one of your pictures. Take a screenshot of that and Instagram their support. Everyone loves shoutouts.
  6. Social media is a place to engage in conversation. Tag people who engage in constant communication on your posts. Reply to users. Create conversations and build relationships. Start searching and liking other pictures. Comment.
  7. Automate your #hastags and likes. There are applications available that allow you to search a specific hashtag and like up to X-number of pictures per hour. Warning: Use proper hashtags and be creative. There are millions of pictures with #fashion hashtagged on it. If you like that, it will get lost in the clutter. Try to be specific and creative to search for hashtags with less than 50k pictures and focus on those.
  8. Like any other social media platforms, content is everything. Post at least 5-10 times a day. Instagram has millions of users and its extremely fast paced. People will scroll through pictures fast and not all pictures will appear on people’s feeds so don’t worry about reposting content. FYI, Instagram users are most active at night. Don’t worry about running out of personal content. Use content found on Instagram and just give credit to the poster by tagging them and mentioning them in the comments.
  9. It’s always hard in the beginning but don’t give up. Once you’re past the first 500, 1000, 2000 followers with original and reposted content and proper engagement of followers, your posts and popularity will eventually just take care of itself.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment or email me. I’d be happy to talk.

ChoyBoy Solutions: Why AdWords is a Waste of Time and Money; An Intro to Social Media Marketing

I apologize for the misleading title. At first glance, it may appear as if I hated AdWords, which really isn’t the case. AdWords is a great tool meant to drive traffic and create conversions but like any other tool, it’s only effective if you know how to use it. If you don’t know how to use it, you’re most likely wasting your time and time is money…so it’s like losing twice as much money! If you don’t know how to use AdWords, check out the 6 steps I use to set up my AdWords campaigns.

From the perspective of a small startup brand, AdWords may seem enticing to use to generate traffic and create conversions but all that money you’re shelling out could be used to create products and hold events and pretty much build your brand. Most brands are looking to create a following; a loyal group of people that absolutely loves what your company is about and would kill (not really) for the products you make. I’m sure you’ve all seen the long lines that wrap around corners for shoes or shirts from brands like Nike or The Hundreds. Love like that cannot be bought nor can it be replicated through the use of AdWords. It can only be built through the blood, sweat and tears of creating solid content through writing, YouTube videos and interacting with people face-to-face…then posting it on your blog for the world to see. But not everyone will see it. Not everyone would want to see it.

An extremely quick intro to marketing via Social Media.

1) If you haven’t already done so, create a blog (I use WordPress), Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr account. Pinterest is a big maybe for me because it’s not where my target market is BUT if you’re targeting women ages 16-35, go ahead and join Pinterest. Pinterest is heavily dominated by females so it will work to your advantage, just not mine. Spruce up all of those accounts to make it look like nice and consistent with your website. Make sure all your accounts are listed on each other. You want a link to your Twitter account to be on your Facebook and a link to your Facebook account on your Instagram and so on and so forth. Make sure they all link back to your online shop.

2) Download HootSuite or any other application to manage your accounts. Start sharing and start #hastagging. I know, I absolutely hate #hashtags but guess what, deal with it. They work. Hashtags allow you to search by that specific hashtag. Let’s say a fitness company wants to post a picture about legs. Hashtags for that would be something like #legday or #legpress. Well guess what, people who use hashtags use that hashtag. Just go ahead and search that hashtag and like the customer! Sometimes the customer will find you! But be selective when you choose hashtags. Nothing vague. Be specific to save time.

3) Start blogging. You know that WordPress account I told you to make. Use it. Start writing content and make sure they automatically post on to your other accounts to take reach the audience on those platforms. Make sure your blog posts are anywhere between 350 to 500 words. Make sure that all your efforts on social media can be collected onto your blogging platform. There’s plugins to make it happen so it’s not that difficult.

4) SEO plugins/Meta tagging. You need this. Rather than spending money on AdWords, building rich content and optimizing those pages with keywords is a smarter way to go. It may not produce the results as fast as you want but you’ll gain a following of avid readers who are genuinely interested in you and your company.

5) Engage your readers. Start asking questions. Start leaving comments. Start suggesting products. Don’t just set up your accounts and leave it be. The internet is dynamic, not static. There is no such thing as “if you build it, they will come.”

So what would you rather do? Spend money to gain random traffic or build a following through sharing your experiences? One may convert to sales, the other, no questions asked. It’ll work.