Instagram is a social network not many businesses were able to figure out.
Sure, it’s great for branding, but how do you get leads out of it?
The two first rules of building your social strategy are :
- Be where your audience is at.
- Focus on your strengths.
That’s what ‘Joy’s World’ founder, the guest of our latest live show did.
When Gili Biegun, Founder of Joy’s World, moved to Florence (Italy) to study, she had a dream but zero connections or commercial experience.
So how did she went from a student trying to pay for school to:
- Build a fashion photography business
- Gain 80K loyal Instagram followers
- Build partnerships with some of the top fashion brands in the industry (You’ve heard of Chanel, right?)
- Cover some of the world’s most lucrative Fashion weeks and runway shows.
Last week, Gili joined us on a Facebook Live chat to discuss exactly that.
You can watch the full interview below (Don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube channel).
Do you want to know what are my main takeaways? Keep reading this post.How to grow your business using Instagram (Live Interview & insights) Click To Tweet
7 Lessons on how to grow your business using Instagram.
Luck = Be Proactive
One of the biggest misconceptions about many of the business who’ve started by using social media is that “it just happened” to them.
“I had a cool account, somebody noticed me and it got big” – know these stories?
Yeah, they’re usually BS.
Gili got her first break because she saw a post by an Israeli fashion blogger looking for a photographer to accompany her in Milan (Gili lives in Florence – and hour and a half away by train).
Not only did Gili reached out to her, she’s the one who suggested she’d come for free and crash on the blogger’s couch for the gig.
Talking about going after your goals, right?
Instead of waiting for her business to pick up. She picked it up herself and created her own opportunities. Something she’s been doing ever since.
As she mentioned in the interview “Sometimes you’d send out 100 emails a day and you’ll get one reply. And it’s a ‘No.’
The next day you get up, and send 100 emails more. It’s a numbers game until you build your brand, and then it gets easier. But you keep sending 100 emails a day”
Lesson learned: If you’re just starting out, or even if you’ve been at it for a while, you create your own luck.
You will never build your business by waiting for things to come to you.
Focus on Quality Content
If you look at Gili’s Instagram, you’ll see the content she posts is way above your average “good looking” Instagram post.
The reason so many Fashion brands are looking to work with her, and so many people are engaging with her content on IG and her website, is because of the quality of her work.
You won’t catch any “quick selfies” or bad angle and low-quality pics.
She makes her point acknowledging – If the content wasn’t good, no premium fashion brand would’ve wanted to work with her.
Sure, sending 100 emails a day is great to grab attention, but if your content isn’t good enough, it’s not going to help.
To stand out – your work needs to stand out.
No tricks, marketing or sales will work if your product isn’t good.
The better your content is, the higher quality your product is, the easier it will be to promote it and get people interested in it.
But if it isn’t any good, you’ll have to work extremely hard to get noticed. Even then, you’ll probably won’t get the results you’re looking for.
Don’t give yourself any discounts or make excuses.
Your audience doesn’t see your “reasons” to why your content isn’t as good as it can be. They only see the end product.
Instagram Influencer VS. Instagram as a marketing channel
When I first asked Gili to do the FB live with us I asked her:
“Would you come talk and how to build your brand and become an Instagram Influencer?”
She stared at me with a fierce look and said: “I’m a photographer, not an Instagram Influencer.”
During the show, I’ve asked her: What’s the difference? You post things and gain a lot traction either way.
Here’s a breakdown of her explanation:
Instagram Influencers are people who work Instagram into getting the acknowledgment of the fact that they have followers and engagement and that’s what they capitalize on.
That their posts can go viral or get a lot of attention – and that’s what they monetize on.
As a photographer using Instagram as a marketing channel – you care about reach and following – as a mean to an end- generating more leads.
Sure, once you get traction you start getting free stuff from brands.
But the real interest for getting Fashion brands to find her Instagram profile and hire her for a shoot or as a long term partner.
Instagram is a marketing channel, not an end goal.
Focus on your business goals and KPI’s and don’t fall in-love with vanity metrics.
For a fashion photographer who gets so much engagement and large followship, it’s easy to get distracted and transition to becoming an “influencer” by becoming obsessed with “number of followers,” “Likes” and “Comments.
But because Gili knows her goal is to become a leading Fashion Photographer, she’s focused on one thing – quality leads she gets from Instagram.'Focus on your business goals and KPI's and don’t fall in-love with vanity metrics.' How Joy's Worl Founder built her business using Instagram Click To Tweet
Engage with your followers
“Most nights, instead of going to bed, I’ll stay till 2 AM answering comments and personal messages”.
Gili doesn’t only reply with quick “Thank you’s” and smilies.
She takes a genuine interest in her followers and is willing to dive deep into conversations with them.
Why? Because that’s the first rule of building a strong community around what you do.
Showing gratitude and paying attention is key. Sometimes Gary Vee is right.
Be grateful, acknowledge the attention you get from your followers and always give back.
Some marketers just think that people will engage with their brand forever as a one-sided relationship.
Building a community and brand loyalty is about remembering this is a two-way street.
Don’t ignore your fans and followers. Build relationships.
Story tell (bring yourself into the story)
At the beginning Joy’s World was focused only on the photos Gili took of products, Fashion shows, and models.
After a while, Gili saw that whenever she posted a behind the scenes photo, engagement on her posts increased.
“People were looking to learn more about the person behind the photos,” she says.
Since the moment Gili saw the reaction her followers had to her giving them a sneak-peek into her personal life, she understood she needed to change the way she communicates.
She started posting more picture of her day to day life, including her husband, their dog, behind the scenes of photoshoots or even her doing the day to day ‘boring tasks’ like sending emails and answering fans.
Know your audience
To take pictures that will get you the right followers and leads, you first have to know who you’re trying to target.
If Gili would’ve wanted to become an Instagram Influencer – she would’ve to focus less on having amazing shots, and more about her lifestyle for example.
But because she knows that it’s not what her target audience is looking for, she can steer away and focus on creating the right kind of content.
As she explains in the interview – she would go to her follower’s profiles, chat with them, talk to the PR agencies and brands who hire her as a photographer to learn more about what they were looking for.
She would also look into her analytics to see what’s working and what’s not.
Gut feeling is nice. Being data aware is a recipe for winning.Gut feeling is nice. Being data aware is a recipe for winning. Click To Tweet
Know who you are up against
Except from talking to her audience, agencies, and brands to learn more about what they’re looking for in an Instagram feed, Gili keeps a close track on colleagues and competitors.
“I’m always looking to learn more about what works and what doesn’t, I look at what other photographers are doing and what’s working for them and get inspired.”
By understanding what others are doing, Gili improves her content but also learn how to differentiate herself and become even more unique with her work.
You don’t have to always reinvent the wheel with what you do if you see something is working for a colleague or a competitor, learn from it.
The Instagram work of Models, photographers, and Instagram Influencers always seems glamorous.
Beautiful pictures, fancy locations, and a lifestyle imagery most people envy.
Getting there and producing it, is hard work. Like any business – if the front looks well organized
Like any business – if it seems easy, it’s just because the manager is working extremely hard to make it look like it.
I hope you watched the video and had your insights and takes from it.
If there’s something, in particular, you’ve taken from our chat – feel free to share in the comments!