As the legendary Seth Godin puts it, “marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.”
In other words: it’s time to quit using Instagram to promote your products and, instead, focus on building a connection with your audience using Instagram storytelling. Because, building a connection with your audience is a helluva lot more important than any vanity metric. The number of followers you have is irrelevant if none of them gives a crap about you.
Tough love, but true.
If you’re only in it for the Instafame and couldn’t care less about whether your following translates into real cash money, then please stop reading – I don’t want to waste your time. This post isn’t going to teach you how to increase your following overnight.
(Pssst! Have you downloaded my free Instagram hashtag cheat sheet yet?)
What storytelling with Instagram will do, however, is start getting your Instagram audience to know, love and trust you. Heck, you can even call them your “tribe” if you like. An audience like this genuinely cares about your content, waits with bated breath to see what your next post will be and, when you finally do sell to them, hands over their credit card quicker than you can say “buy from me”.
Don’t believe me? Here’s an example: The incredibly talented folk over at Smack Bang Designs tell such compelling stories that they’ve built an incredibly passionate audience. It wouldn’t surprise me if people started getting tattoos of their logo, a la Harley Davidson.
When they launched their ebook late last year, their website crashed because the anticipation was just that insane. I was so keen to buy the ebook, I accidentally bought it twice, and I still can’t remember how much it cost because I just wanted it, and I wanted it right now.
Air New Zealand also tells incredible stories. They’re not the cheapest in the airfare game – nor do they try to be. Instead of constantly marketing bargain airfares, like many other airlines do, their social media posts are about building connection. They tell stories that tug on their audience’s heartstrings and even extend this to their in-flight safety videos.
The magical thing about storytelling is that once you start showing your followers why you’re different, you stop having to do the icky “selling” thing. You stop having to compete on price alone. Oh, and you build brand advocates who share stories about your brand in blog posts like this one.
So, I’ve convinced you to start telling stories using Instagram… Now, where the heck do you start? What do you write in your captions?
(PS. I wrote a 126-page ebook on how to market your business on Instagram. Click here to check it out and buy the Instagram ebook).
What spurred you to start your business? Was there a huge life-changing event, or was it a culmination of little events?
Here’s an example: I started Wildbloom because I was sick of seeing deceitful brands using buzzwords to make uneducated consumers think that their products were healthy when they actually weren’t.
What’s the bigger purpose behind your brand? What’s your vision? What’s one big hairy scary goal you’d like to achieve?
It’s terrifying to dream big, and even scarier to share it with several thousand of your closest social media friends. But, the people in your audience who connect with your purpose will become your biggest fans.
When you’re a little business sitting at the grown-ups’ table, it can be tempting to pretend to be bigger than you are. If you’re a small business, it’s time to stop pretending to be a big corporate. Stick a photo of your smiling mug on Instagram and say a big “g’day” to your followers.
Do you collaborate with other small businesses? Maybe one of your suppliers or employees is doing an epic job and deserves a mention. Share this too, because these people are all part of what makes your business great.
What happens behind the scenes? Is there a special somethin’ somethin’ that goes into making the magic happen?
Maybe everyone else in your industry follows the same process, but you do things differently. Use Instagram storytelling to show your audience how your process is different and tell them what this means for them.
You do have brand values, right?
If you don’t, that’s a conversation for another day. But, for the sake of this blog post, I’m going to assume that you do.
Share your values with your audience and talk a little about what they mean to you, and what your values mean for them.
For example, one of our values is “Marketing Honestly” – we straight up will not work with a brand that we don’t feel good about promoting, or that we believe is deceptive in any way.
We incorporate this into our Instagram strategy by highlighting a brand we think is aligned with this each week during our #GoodBrandAppreciation.
Sure, testimonials are good, but stories are better.
How have you transformed a client’s life? Or, how has a customer used your product in an innovative way? Or, what is something cool that a long-term client of yours has achieved?
Sure, Instagram is visual, but you might be inspired by a certain playlist, or by the latest Tim Ferris book, or by staring into the depths of your dog’s gorgeous hazel eyes.
Share these things with your audience – chances are there will be others who share similar inspirations.
The biggest takeaway from this post? Be human and focus on building a connection using Instagram storytelling, not on simply building your following. When you’re six-feet under, nobody will care how many followers you had or how many likes you got – they’ll remember how you made them feel.
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