For those who are visiting my blog for the first time – I’m Sven, one of Boost Yourself’s founders. The other alfa male is Teet. A year and a half ago we sold our first superfood blend, which we had produced in our home kitchen, in www.boost.ee online store.
We did everything by ourselves – developed the product, put up the online store, made the photos, wrote the texts and did the marketing.
Since our parents or a mysterious leprechaun didn’t give us a pot of gold, we had to do everything by ourselves. We’ve had to learn ten different occupations thanks to that. So, if everything else fails, I can at least become a photographer, writer or even marketing specialist. It’s an experience that they don’t teach you in school.
From the start, our main focus has been social media – Instagram and Facebook. We saw great potential in these two channels, which is the reason why 99% of our marketing budget goes into making them stand out.
For 9 months, starting from 2016, I was in charge of the Boost Yourself’s Instagram account. I posted 2-3 times a day, no matter what day it was or where I was – no exceptions. From the summer of 2015, we haven’t skipped a day.
Have all of these posts been great? Definitely not… but it has taught me a lot about what is “Yay” and what is “Nay”. In just 9 months, I grew Boost Yourself’s Instagram account followers from 3000 to 10 000.
1. Producing content is harder than I thought
In the summer of 2015, I tried posting smoothie photos that were taken from photo bank – didn’t work. The photos were beautiful but too emotionless. We learned that reposting other Instagram users pictures is way more effective. So we encouraged our followers to use the hashtag #boostyourself.
Today, ⅓ of @boostyself feed is our photos, ⅓ is reposted (other users) pictures and ⅓ is photos, shared by our customers. Managing the Instagram account by yourself may become overwhelming after some time, so you might have to take on some minions to help you.
2. Buying followers is NOT the key to success
When we had under 1000 followers, it was hard to find people who’d want to collaborate with us. We had 400 followers and he/she had 47 000. To reach 1000 followers, we bought followers for a couple of times. Shortly after we realized what a great mistake it was – after few days the follower’s number started to decrease again. You get your desired 1000 followers by the evening and when you wake up, there’s 972 left. We’re dealing with fake accounts here and as you know, Instagram deletes them automatically every minute.
Lesson: there are no shortcuts, you have to work for it!
3. To reach the world, you have to use English
We decided that Instagram is going to be our doorway to the world, so from our first post, we’ve done it in English. It hasn’t been easy… making the post (thinking about its title) could sometimes take hours, but it has also gotten us many foreign collabs and customers. Approximately from 25 countries all over the world. The furthest we’ve gotten from Saaremaa: New York, Hawaii, Singapore, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Without Instagram, we would never have reached to those customers.
4. Sterile product photos don’t belong to Instagram
Perfect product photos are pretty, but they don’t belong to Instagram – they belong to your online store or web page. There’s no reason to put the designed advertising material up to your business’s Instagram. The eye sees them as ads and jumps right past them. And then you’ll mope there with your 11 likes, thinking where did I go wrong. Read on to find out the answer to that.
5. Emotion is more important than the quality of the photo
Instagram craves for emotion – remember that! Your Instagram should call up emotions and positively affect your customers’ mood, not only talk about your product. 90% of the photos shared under #boostyourself are taken with a phone, but it moves people. It is real and real sells.
The quality of the photo doesn’t always have to be perfect. Don’t be afraid to experiment and let your audience decide. Like we say at our lecture – don’t overthink it, you’re not making a magazine (unless you’re managing @voguemagazine)!
6. Photo’s caption doesn’t have to redescribe what’s happening on it
The photo alone tells a thousand words. When you have a photo of cute little kittens, then you don’t have to caption it “Cute little kittens *cat emoji*” – it just doesn’t add anything to it. The photo is the first contact, so it has to draw attention. If it’s interesting, I’ll read the caption.
I’ve experimented with long and short captions, and I believe there are a place and time for both of them. But… I prefer keeping them short and striking. When you have more to say or show, then add “call to action” in the end and direct them to click on the “link in the bio”.
7. Consistency is the first cornerstone
1000 posts (2,7 posts a day) helped raise Boost Yourself’s followers to 10 000. How long would it take to make 1000 posts, if you did one post a week? The answer is 19 years.
If you make 17 posts a week and 7 of them are not Nobel-Prize-worthy, then it’s not the end of the world – because there were 10 posts that were awesome! When you make 1 post a week and that wasn’t the best, then well… you’re screwed. People will just forget you and that’s not how you’ll increase your followers. In my opinion, one post every other day should be the bare minimum and if possible, then one post daily.
I’ve noticed that a lot of entrepreneurs are rather optimistic about their social media strategies. For some reason all that energy goes down the drain after 16 posts, when they realize that being active on social media isn’t all fun and games after all, but really hard work.
Later.com is a great tool, which I used for a long time. It helps you schedule your posts and notifies you when it’s time to post them.
8. Using # is more important than I expected
Thanks to hashtags we’ve found customers from Canada, who were searching smoothie recipes under the #smoothie – they found us, loved what we were doing and placed their order. Using hashtags correctly will increase your visibility. Not using them will not even give you a change.
Under one photo you can use up to 30 hashtags. Use the hashtags that people are already using, no need to invent new ones yourself. Under #besthomemadeveganpeanutbuttersmoothie will just be you with your 3 vegan peanut butter smoothie pictures and that’s it.
Under #smoothie – 6 807 303 posts
Under #smuuti – 2191 posts
Yes, I agree that there’s a lot of clutter and irrelevant posts floating around under popular hashtags, but tell me a better way – I’ll wait.
9. Collaborations help you grow faster
Instagram isn’t a world of your own – you aren’t there alone. Be a friend, comment and like other people’s photos. Ask them how they’re doing, what they’re doing – become their friend. Communicate with them as you would like someone to communicate with you. Find the people, whose followers would be interested in you and what you have to offer, and wrote to them. And don’t start with talking about yourself, talk to them about what matters to them. Tell him/her why you like his/her Instagram account etc.
Thrive for long time relationships and collaborations. My advice to you is to start with the people, who don’t ask for your credit card information on the first date. The ones who ask for money aren’t interested in your product – they’re only in it for the moolah.
10. Instagram account is like a homepage
If someone were to look at your Instagram account today, would he realize (in 5 seconds) with who he’s dealing with:
1. Who are you and what you’re offering?
2. How does it benefit me?
3. How can I buy it?
If he won’t find the answers to these questions, then all you have is a beautiful exhibition, which is great to look at, but won’t bring traffic to your homepage and will definitely not increase your sales.
Google Analytics (Acquisition/Social/Overview) last 30 days shows that from social networks:
- 90.7% of the traffic originates from Facebook
- 8.9% of the traffic originates from Instagram
- 0.4% of the traffic originates from everything else combined
We’re only paying for advertising on Facebook and Google, Instagram brings traffic organically.
11. Imperfect post is better than no post
Making some posts took me hours and even then I wasn’t completely satisfied with the outcome. I learned that you have to shut down the perfectionist in you and let the audience decide. If the post didn’t bang, then it didn’t. If it’s a success, then I got a valuable lesson, which helped me get to know myself and Boost Yourself followers better.
If you look at what social media channels are people using nowadays, then you can see that Instagram is stepping on Facebook’s heels. So start investing your time into it; post 1-3 times a day; collaborate; use hashtags and write in English.
There’s no shortcuts to success – only hard work and consistency.