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Welcome to the Profitable Mindset, a show dedicated to teaching you the skills you need to build a profitable product-based business that makes you feel free and fully in control. Here’s your host, Charlotte Smith.

Hey there. Welcome to episode number 15 of the Profitable Mindset podcast, and it’s titled Seven Steps That Will Help You Find Customers on Instagram. Instagram is a very quickly growing social media marketing channel, happens to be owned by Facebook, and a lot of your customers could be on there now. You could also do a little polling of your customers to find out if indeed they’re on there, because you don’t want to waste time figuring out a new platform if they’re not there, but I’ll bet a lot of them are. If you know that is where some of your customers and potential customers are hanging out online and you want to give Instagram marketing a try, then today’s episode will make it worth your while. These seven steps will help you get off on the right foot.

Now, if as soon as I said Instagram and Instagram marketing you got this feeling of overwhelm that you’re already struggling to keep up with your marketing and do you really have to add yet another marketing platform, well, if you’re not on Instagram already and you don’t have time to add another marketing channel, then by all means don’t rush over there and start your account, okay? You don’t need to be everywhere. If you don’t have time, focus on the things you’re currently doing to market your business.

But, I do know that many farmers are already on Instagram because I’ve met a lot of you from over there and we’re enjoying it. We’re having fun with it. So I want to make sure that if you’re already committed to using that platform that you know what are the best practices for Instagram. So that’s what today’s episode is all about.

Now, just like I talked about in the last episode, it’s really important to remember that social media is a great place to build a community, but it’s not a place to sell your products or spend a lot of time trying to sell your products, okay? That is going to be very little of what you do there. You have to earn the right to even let people know you have something to sell on social media platforms and Instagram included.

If you just post about the things you have for sale all the time, you will get penalized repeatedly until you end up reaching so few people, and often you can’t figure out what’s going wrong, you’ll eventually think it’s just not worth being on social media anymore. I do not want you to experience that. I have been in Instagram jail before, and it is very difficult to get out of. So let’s make sure you’re doing the right practices on Instagram first.

And as usual, I love sharing a review and giving a shout-out to a listener. You all, many of you, are reporting the most amazing results in some of your emails, and messages, and comments to me, and I just want to share one of those today. Today’s review is from iTunes. I want to give out a shout-out to Rachel. She has had great results from the podcast and shared with me there. Rachel says, “My husband and I started a small chicken farm selling our fresh pastured eggs a little over a year ago, but it wasn’t until we found this podcast a month ago that our business became what we dreamed it to be, sold out of eggs as soon as they are laid. Both of our mindsets have completely shifted, and the podcast is the main reason for this. I’m positive that without Charlotte’s help we would never have grown our business this quickly and with this much success. Thank you, Charlotte, for your invaluable information.”

Well, you are so welcome, Rachel. Thank you for taking the time to post this comment. I am just so grateful that I get to be in this amazing community sharing these things that I know can help you, and I love that I get to watch you guys grow, too. So thank you so much for letting me know what’s working for you all.

Okay, so back to Instagram as a marketing channel. First, I’m going to go over three myths that many business owners have about social media. Then I’m going to cover the seven steps to finding more customers. And of course, I have a free Instagram guide that lays it all out for you. It’s a big guide, I think it’s 18 pages, that accompanies this episode, so you will want to be sure to download that. It’s free, and that is at 3cowmarketing.com/instagram2019. Also, that link is in the show notes if you just want to grab it there or type in that URL I just said.

Then, go follow along with today’s best practices over on my Instagram account. Since we’re talking about Instagram, I would love to meet you there. I’m @charlottesmith3cow, (https://www.instagram.com/charlottesmith3cow/)  the number three, and you will see an example of exactly what I’m teaching you this week and next episode, too. Be sure to introduce yourself there. I would love to follow you back, all right? So I want to meet you there on Instagram if you’re there. And just know that if you’re not, listen in for the future but don’t feel like you have to be everywhere right now.

Okay, moving on. It’s very important to know, first of all, that Instagram is a marketing channel. It is not your marketing foundation. It’s really important you let this sink in. A social media platform is not your marketing foundation. It is just one of the channels you will use. Your marketing foundation, at this point in time, is still going to be your website and your email marketing, okay? Your foundation of your website and email marketing together must be working strong and it must be consistently bringing you business and solid money before something like an Instagram channel will ever work to bring you new customers and bring you profit, okay? Just know that.

I don’t want you to make the mistake of thinking that you created your website and since it’s not really working for you, you’re not making a ton of money there, you’re just going to jump over to Instagram instead. Because guess what? You won’t make a lot of money on Instagram either if your website is not already consistently making you money. This is exactly what I teach you how to do in Farm Marketing from the Heart. I’ve worked with my students in there, and they are learning exactly how to build their marketing foundation so that then they can branch out to other channels like Instagram. So just make sure your marketing foundation is set.

Then, Instagram as a marketing channel is a valuable tool. It helps you reach new potential customers, helps you reach all these new people and funnel them into your email list. But one of the drawbacks is that a marketing channel can be distracting you from building that solid foundation. Here’s why. It feels like you’re working hard to grow your business, right? You put a photo up on Instagram. Maybe you’re putting photos up there five days a week. You’re taking time to create a caption that’s really engaging, and then you get some likes from it. You get some comments, and you’re having conversations over there. So it feels like you’re working really hard. It feels like you’re producing marketing content, and it feels like you’re building a business. But I’m telling you, it doesn’t work to put dollars in your bank account if you don’t have it set up so it’s funneling people into your email list where you can reach them consistently. Consistency is key in marketing. And you can’t consistently reach enough people on Instagram to make sales.

So like I said, it’s a good place for building community, but not to build a profitable business. As long as you recognize that, you’ll be able to focus on the way that Instagram can help you build your foundation. It’s just not going to replace your foundation of your website and your email marketing. So don’t be deceived into thinking that you’ve done your marketing for the day because you posted on Instagram and got some engagement, okay? Without that website to direct people to from your marketing channel, you can’t grow a business.

Okay, so say your home base is strong. Your website and your email marketing are working. They’re bringing you in money. Then let’s help you focus on reaching new potential customers on Instagram. First of all, I want to go over the common myths that many business owners have. One is a lot of people think you need thousands of followers to be successful, so they’ll go do things like they’ll buy followers, or they’ll play games on there, like the follow-unfollow game, or do giveaways. What you need to know, though, is those are not real engaged followers. So often, if you see a business that has tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers, those aren’t real followers that are actually engaged in what it is the business is offering. They aren’t engaged in your brand. They’re usually just followers that were attained through purchasing them or playing that follow-unfollow game. So they just aren’t viable potential customers.

These huge numbers of followers and the likes that you will see, which are often by bots and automatic, those are what’s called vanity metrics, meaning they’re in vain. They don’t really mean dollars in the bank, but it looks good to other people. You see those accounts and you think, “Oh my gosh. They’re so popular. They must be making so much money.” They have 100,000 followers, so you think they’re making tons and tons of money. Well, they’re only making tons of money if their website and email marketing is working, okay? So social media followers, Instagram followers are not as valuable as email subscribers. Only a small percentage of your Instagram followers will actually ever see your posts because of the algorithm that’s on Instagram, and it limits your reach.

Let me give you an example. Say you have a thousand people who follow you on Instagram. Chances are when you put up a post, and you can look at the stats to see this, you may have 250, 300 people out of the thousand followers that you have that were shown your post, okay? And then a few of those might be people who don’t yet follow you. So you can see those stats right in there. Now, compare that with sending an email. Say you have an email list of a thousand people. Almost 100% of your email subscribers will receive the email. Very, very little goes to spam when you’re doing email correctly.

So if you’re working with me and you’re learning how to market the way I teach it, you probably have an open rate of 25 to 40% of your email list opening your email, okay? Then you probably have about 10% of them buying from you, okay? So a thousand people on your email list, you’re going to make a hundred sales from an email. If you have a thousand people who like your Instagram account and you put up a post, you will not ever have a hundred sales from that one post, okay? I just want to use that example to reiterate how much more valuable email subscribers are than Instagram followers. It’s just not a place to consistently sell or market your products.

All right, so myth number two about Instagram is that a lot of business owners think you need a ton of hashtags or the right hashtags are the key to success. Well, I want to say that hashtags were very helpful a couple years ago, but they aren’t working as well as a strategy as they used to. Every six months or so, the algorithm changes what works to be better use of your time on Instagram or not as good of a use. So hashtags are not working like they used to. But still, you’re allowed 30 hashtags, so why not use them? In that case, if you’re going to use hashtags, make sure you’re using hashtags that your ideal customer is looking for, okay? What hashtags are they using? Probably not farming topics.

The second thing on that is to use hashtags with about 50,000 to maybe 500,000 posts. What happens is if you have millions and millions of posts under the one hashtag, your post is highly unlikely to be seen by anyone. Just know that the fewer posts a hashtag has, like I said, somewhere in the 50,000 to 500,000 post range, will mean your post is more likely to be seen.

For instance, if you sell pastured poultry and you want people to come buy your chicken, if you use hashtag chicken, well, there are about 23 million posts using hashtag chicken today. So the odds of your post being seen by someone who could actually buy a chicken from you are very, very slim. Whereas if you used the hashtag chicken recipes, there are about 197,000 posts under that hashtag, so higher likelihood of your posts being seen. Or hashtag chicken dinner, that one has 496,000 posts, okay? So just get creative. Don’t use a hashtag with millions of posts. You just won’t be seen.

And now, myth number three. That is a lot of business owners think that you constantly need to be selling and talking about your products to get noticed, but this is not the case. And as a matter of fact, you’ll be penalized if you’re consistently trying to sell or push your products on Instagram. You just won’t be shown very much in the feed and your reach will be severely limited and it’ll just decrease over time. So if you’ve noticed that happening, that’s what’s going on. You’re just putting up too many sales posts.

The truth is social media platforms, like Instagram, are not for selling your products. People come there to be inspired, or connect with their friends, or they want to watch funny cat videos. They don’t want to be sold to. So remember that your goal on Instagram is to build a community of followers, followers who care about you because you’ve shown them with your content that you care about them. And they can see this because you’re sharing things they’ve told you they’re interested in. Then, at some point, on the very rare occasion, you’re going to invite them to maybe click the link on your profile and get your chicken recipe book or some other free gift you’ve created for them. Or you’re going to invite them to read your latest blog post on how to create a cozy fall home or decorate the holiday table. So you’re directing them to something that will get them on your email list.

That’s what you want to learn to share on Instagram, and that is how to make a community. When you listen to your customers and your potential customers, they’re telling you what it is they want to hear from you about. Then, every time you do have a post that is promotional, trying to get people to buy something from you, maybe you’re telling them which market you’ll be back or at on the weekend, or may be you’re saying click the link in our profile to find us, the algorithm knows you’re trying to attract business and make money off of that so your reach will be limited on that post and several of the posts following it.

There’s a strategy to fix that. Every time I do put up a sales post that says something like, “Click the link in my bio for more information.” or for the price sheet, or for ordering, or anything like that, then what I do is I take the next 5 to 10 posts and I just post relationship-building posts to get my reach back up where it was before I posted a post that was hinting at sales or getting customers. That algorithm is super sophisticated, and it can tell when you’re trying to get someone on your email list or sell something. That’s okay, you guys. Just know that that’s the way it works. And now you know how to play the game and you can fix the problem when you trigger it. That’s what I mean when I say you’ve got to earn the right to sell on social media. You’ll probably put up about two weeks worth of posts that are relationship building before you then get the chance to offer them to buy something or invite them to get on your email list. Then you go back to two more weeks of relationship building, okay?

All right, so now that you know what not to do, how do you build an engaged community on Instagram? Well, I’m going to go over the steps, the seven steps now, and step one is you’ve got to post regularly and consistently. It doesn’t work to just post once in a while, all right? I had a farmer email me and say she wanted to start with Instagram and so she was going to post maybe once or twice a month. Well, that’s really not going to make much of a difference. So if you’re going to go all in, make sure and wait until you have time to post a minimum of about three times a week, okay? And that is the bare minimum, okay?

You will want to build up to posting consistently four to seven days a week on Instagram. Now, personally, I could never do seven days a week. But best practices, people are getting best results from posting seven days a week. So if you want to and you have time, go for it. But I can’t right now. I do about four days a week, and I’m happy with that.

Also, it’s important to recognize that there are a lot of people today who are trying to get off social media because they know that it’s geared towards creating addictions. You probably notice your anxiety goes up when you jump on Instagram. Well, everyone else is noticing that, too. And that’s intentional. They are creating these platforms so that you get a little dopamine hit when you log in. You see how many likes you got and you see how many comments you got, so they keep you coming back for more and more. And because of that, some people are really limiting their time on social media accounts, me included. So I don’t want to post seven days a week. Because once you post, you have to be available to answer questions and reply to comments or, again, you won’t get noticed in the algorithm so you can’t just post and not be there.

For instance, I take most weekends off social media, and I just try to post about four weekdays. Once in a while I’ll do a weekend post. But the key is you want to be consistent about it. It doesn’t have to be the same four days every week. But if you’re going to do it, do it the four days a week, just doesn’t have to be the same ones, all right? And you don’t want to post four days one week and then take two weeks off because you got busy, too. You can’t do that either. Just know that you can pre-schedule your posts so then it’s easy for you to pop in there for a few minutes during the day and get it posted. That important thing is be consistent about it.

Okay. Now, step two is you want to follow what I call the 80/20 rule when you’re building community and building relationship. So you’re posting relationship-building posts 80% of the time and you’re only selling or asking them to opt into your email list via your profile 20% of the time or less. Instagram treats an attempt by you to get them to come to a market, or opt into your email list, or sign up for a class just like you’re trying to sell a product, and your reach will be limited. So I only want you to try to do those things, like I said, about 20% of the time or less. So then, 80% of the time you’re posting about things that your ideal customer’s interested in hearing from you about, things that inspire them, or educate them, or engage them. These are things they’re already telling you they’re interested in or you can see it on their social media accounts.

Like right now, my ideal customers are taking their kids to the pumpkin patches on the weekend and posting all about it. So I know they’re into fall traditions, and pumpkin patch, and decorating, and caramel apples, and those sorts of things. That’s what my customers are interested in, even though we sell chicken, okay? But when I post those relationship-building things, they’re going to get interested in me and my farm and come buy our chicken. So make sure you’ve been making notes of how you are going to relate to them.

Okay. Now, step three is you’ve got to engage on other people’s posts, your ideal customer’s post, your actual customer’s posts, and your potential customer’s post. Most people make the mistake of putting up an Instagram post and then waiting for people to comment on it. But that rarely happens unless you’ve started the commenting process by commenting on others’ posts, again, your customer’s posts and potential customers.

A good practice for me is I like to make it 10 comments a day on other accounts’ posts, all right? It just I’ve gotten to the point where it takes me about 10 minutes to do this. And when you practice that too, you’re going to watch your follower amount go tremendous, grow tremendously and consistently. Then what happens is you get more and more comments on your posts because you’re going out and commenting on their posts first, and then you get more reach. The Instagram algorithm sees you as relevant, and you get pushed out to more people. So it’s important that you set aside time where you’re commenting on 10 other people’s posts each day.

The other part of it is it has to be a genuine comment. These algorithms, these bots are so smart. They know the difference between a two-word response that says something like, “Nice job. Cute photo. Happy birthday,” and they don’t count that in the algorithm. The bots want to know that you’re leaving genuine comments. So a comment only counts to help your reach if it’s about five words or more. That means that you have to make sure you actually stop and think about what it is you’re leaving a comment about, okay?

So I’ve learned I can’t mindlessly leave comments. I actually have to read their caption, figure out how I’d respond, and leave a genuine comment. But like I said, I practiced it so much that it takes me 10 minutes to leave 10 comments. You will get really efficient at it, and it’s totally worth it.

All right, now let’s talk about photos. Step four is your photos must be high quality. In today’s world, you’ve got to have higher quality photos than in the past. You used to be able to get away with lower quality photos. But cameras have gotten cheap and phone cameras have gotten really sophisticated these days so audiences on Instagram expect high quality photos.

I bought this fancy expensive camera about five years ago. It was just for my marketing, and now the iPhone camera I have today is way better than that one. So I don’t even use my fancy expensive camera. I just use my iPhone camera. And chances are you’ve got a pretty good phone camera, too. But just know that you’ve got to have high quality photos. People are not tolerant of low quality photos. And unfortunately, I see a lot of farmers posting blurry photos and dark photos, so just don’t post those. Take a little bit of extra time and make sure they’re high quality. It’s super easy to edit them in the Instagram app. Just take a minute or two, lighten them up. Most of the time that’s all they need, is to be lightened a little bit, okay?

And watch your background. Keep your backgrounds not very distracting. So when I’m doing food photos, I have a perfect background. I have this little coffee table. I got it at a garage sale for cheap, but it has a slab of marble on top that comes off. I just carry that marble slab around the house when I’m taking food photos. It’s so easy for me to make them look really elegant on that slab of marble. So chances are you can improve your photography skills by watching some free YouTube videos and finding some simple backgrounds inside your house, and you can upgrade your Instagram account photos almost immediately, okay?

This brings us to step five, which means I want you to plan for your success. I want you to, if you’re going to use Instagram, pull out your calendar, block off 15 to 30 minutes a day. Or maybe you’re planning doing all your planning on Sunday at the beginning of the week, so you plan for two hours on Sunday to get the week’s worth of posts set up. But somewhere in your calendar, plan for your Instagram marketing time, okay?

Oh, and the other part of this I want to make sure you know is every single comment that someone leaves on your posts, any of your posts, you want to make sure you comment back to them, because this is just an invitation to show up higher in the algorithm and get more reach. So don’t let someone’s comment just sit there unanswered. This is a little free bonus for you to comment back to them, okay?

The other thing is the sooner you get a comment on your photos, the higher reach you will have in that algorithm. That’s why I like to post my photo in one sitting and go make my 10 comments, and then I’ll start noticing comments coming in on my post. Then I’m still on Instagram. It’s still within my 10, 15 minutes to get those comments and respond back. So be really strategic about that. I’ve just laid it all out for you, and it works great.

All right. Now the other thing I would love to invite you to consider is to schedule a professional photo shoot. I go out one day a week, and I spend maybe 30 minutes with my iPhone taking photos of what’s going on now. Last week, we cleaned all the pumpkins out of our garden and we decorated our farm store, and our porch, and our garage, and the sheds with pumpkins. I got lots of pictures that I’m going to use over the next probably 60 days in my Instagram marketing, okay? So I’m all set there.

But the other thing I do is I always have a professional photo shoot once or twice a year during various seasons. I try to mix it up. That way, I always have a database of professional photos to pull from for my Instagram marketing I want, but I’ve also got them there for my website, or my blog posts, or different webinars I’m giving. So I want you to consider scheduling a professional photo shoot.

And if you’re thinking, “Wait, I don’t have any money to do that,” guess what? I’ll bet you can find a professional photographer local to you who will barter for some photos. When I first started my farm 10 years ago, professional photography was not in the budget. I have bartered a half a pig. I’ve bartered a quarter beef, chickens, cheese classes. So the first five years I bartered. And then now that I’ve been in business for 10 years, it’s totally within the budget. So now we’re able to pay cash for our photography session once or twice a year, and it’s fabulous. So that way I always have a database of either professional photos or the photos that I’ve taken with my phone.

All right, now, step seven. You guys, we’re almost to the end of this. Step seven, how I get it all done. I want to share with you a really cool tool I use online, and it’s called Planoly, P-L-A-N-O-L-Y, .com, and that is the tool I use to pre-schedule my Instagram posts. And I love it because I can look at my whole grid out there in one or all at once. I can look at two weeks’ worth of photos and see how they stack up next to each other. It’s really cool, so give that a try.

The other thing I …. Just before I close, I want to answer this question a lot of people ask. They say, “Is it okay to post on Instagram and then just click that little button to have it auto post on Facebook?” Well, I want to caution you to not to do that. Even though Facebook offers you to do that, and of course Facebook owns Instagram, they kind of punish you when you do it. They know when you auto post in both places, and then they limit your reach. Darn those guys. So here they are offering you to be able to do that, and then you take a little hit when you do that.

So just know it takes me about 30 extra seconds to post on each platform separately, and it’s totally worth the extra reach you’re going to get by doing so, even if it’s the same photo and the same copy. What I do is I pull it up on my Planoly scheduler. I copy the caption before I post to Instagram, because you can’t copy it afterward, and then I jump over on my phone to the Facebook app for my Facebook business page, and I paste the copy there, minus the hashtags of course. Then, the picture’s already saved in my photos. Therefore, in 30 extra seconds, I post organically from each platform. That way I avoid getting penalized yet again, all right?

You just got to learn the rules. It’s a fun game to play when you play by the rules. So I’ve laid out all the rules here in these seven steps and the three myths, and I want you to be successful on Instagram if you’re going to give it a try, okay?

So two things, be sure to get the free download for this episode. It’s called 10 Steps to Profit and it’s at 3cowmarketing.com/instagram2019. The other thing is please go find me on Instagram, Charlotte Smith 3 Cow. Introduce yourself so I can follow you back. And let’s meet up over there, too, all right? Take care, you guys. And I can’t wait to see you next time.

Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode. For more great resources, check out theprofitablemindset.com. See you next time.

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