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EPISODE 65 37 mins

Influencer Marketing on Instagram for Ecommerce Brands

Posted on 24th February 2016 , by Kunle Campbell


About the guests

Simon Heit

Kunle Campbell

Simon is the founder of IG Shoutout Network, a pioneering Instagram marketing platform. Brands and businesses come to IG Shoutout to choose from a wide selection of influential Instagram accounts available from which to purchase ‘shoutouts’, or in other words, posts to their highly engaged mass audience



Today I’m joined by Instagram expert Simon Heit, who is going to talk about influencer marketing on Instagram. Simon is the founder of IG Shoutout Network, a pioneering Instagram marketing platform. Brands and businesses come to IG Shoutout to choose from a wide selection of influential Instagram accounts available from which to purchase ‘shoutouts’, or in other words, posts to their highly engaged mass audience. On the flip side of course are Instagram account holders seeking to monetise their influence who come to apply to IG Shoutout network to be listed there.

We focus on how businesses can utilise Instagram influencers and how IG Shoutout Network actually helps. We discuss the two types of influencers and then go into some best proven practices for collaboration. Simon also gives us some tips for growing your Instagram account, as well as recommended tools for managing it.

So if you are looking to either add new followers or to expand your sales on Instagram, tune yourself in to this episode!

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Key Points in Influencer Marketing on Instagram

1: The IG Shoutout Network

A Marketplace for Instagram Shoutouts

IG Shoutout Network is an online marketplace that facilitates the correspondence and transactions between influential users and big brands who want to leverage those user’s followings. An influential user can set up a pricing pattern for how much they want to charge for the promoted posts and then brands and so on can come and shop around for which influencers they want build social campaigns with. The site has a communication-heavy interface where you’re allowed to you formulate those campaigns and measure their effect. Influencers are filtered by category. So there’s Fitness, Cars, Travel, Humour, Food/Nutrition, Ladies, Celebrity, and Fashion.

Price Range

This price range that each influencer sets describes the range in duration that the post can go for. Influencers will charge anywhere from five dollars up to several thousand dollars per post.

  1. The durations are at the vendor or the influencer’s discretion so if you want to keep it up for one hour that’s obviously going to be a lower price but if the page very active, one hour could still have a pretty drastic effect. Because of most of the engagement happens during the first few hours of the post being uploaded anyway and tapers off and it really hits bottom after about six hours. So the sweet spot is between one and six hours.
  2. There are also many different options that they have available such as you can be tagged in the photo for an additional X-amount of dollars. If there needs to be tangible products shipped to them, then you can formulate that through the correspondence but that’s another one of those higher-end price range selections they can choose.

Time Zones and Demographics

The time zones vary according to their following, where they’re located. What we do is we have that in the time zone obviously and we display that to the potential buyer so that they are well aware of what the time zone is of all the followers. Not only the time zone, but things like interests, so if it’s a fashion page then it’s obviously going to be majority women. Or if it’s a cute animals page, it’s going to be majority women or younger folks. We have those demographic data available to the privileged users who are shopping around to buy the promotions.

Performance Data

So basically what we do in our backend is a little report on a line graph: when the post went up and the upticks on that line graph. So you can benchmark against time and followers on the axis and you can see you on which date you gained how many followers. Currently the data reporting that we have is more follower-centric since it’s a little bit harder for us to integrate with e-commerce end-user to see how the impact affected sales.

Interest and Activity

The most interest and the most activity on my site would definitely have to be in the Fitness and the Food/Nutrition categories. We now have 61 accounts on the fitness category. A lot of the transactions do take place off-site that are more centred on consumer goods and electronics. A lot of app deals are going on where the younger demographic accounts are being purchased on to be promoting games and useful apps that a lot of the younger demographic uses.

Two Influencer Types

There are two main types of influencer accounts.

  1. The Influencer: There’s an influencer who is generally just called an influencer and they have their face attached to the likeliness of their brand. So for example, if I’m an influencer then it’s my name, I’m Simon Heit and my appeal is me.
  2. Niche Page: Then there is a niche page where it’s more of an interest. So for example, I have a fitness page called Fitness Digest that has about 200,000 followers. So that doesn’t really have a face to the name. It’s more like an interest or fan page.

The value of promotions on niche pages are significantly lower because followers are far more likely to act and to engage with an actual person, albeit in impersonal medium like social media. With the bigger brands, we’re seeing more interest with the influencers. And then with the kind of mom and pop or the recent startups we see more and more interaction and transactions going down on the niche pages. So there’s something in it for everyone.

Qualifying the Influencers

What they do is they come onto the site, they authorize their Instagram account by API to prove that they actually own the account. We then weed out the ones who obviously aren’t having genuine engagement or who don’t have high enough followers. We want to make sure that the influencers we let on board are of that highest quality so that people who spend their hard-earned marketing dollars towards a goal will actually get what they’re paying for.
So to qualify, generally we require a minimum of 25,000 followers and at least engagement ratio like 1%. So if you have 100,000 followers, you should see at least 1,000 likes on average per post. But we generally don’t accept pages that get less than a few hundred likes per post. If it’s a niche we don’t have very many accounts in, I’ll be more lenient.

2: Best Practices When Engaging with Influencers

Optimizing the Flow

When a consumer is browsing Instagram, their behaviour very impulsive, it’s very fast-paced and they’re scrolling up and down the newsfeed and half the time they don’t even stop on the image if it doesn’t interest them. So the key is to make them stop on your ad and make them really engage with it. So the more engaging, bright, colourful, and appealing your imagery is, the more likely you are to snag more of that attention. So anything from sure that the flow of traffic is optimized from the newsfeed all the way down to the point-of-sale. Making sure every little bit is optimized and fast as possible. Because these kids, let’s face it, they have a low attention span so if they’re seeing that it’s hard to check out, they might just close out. Make sure everything’s as easy as possible, cut and dry.

It’s very fast-paced and they’re scrolling up and down the newsfeed and half the time they don’t even stop on the image if it doesn’t interest them. So the key is to make them stop on your ad and make them really engage with it.

Age Brackets on Instagram

There’s generally a few different age brackets on Instagram but the two main demographics are 13 to 17 and then 18 to 24. The 18 to 24 bracket, those are the ones that you want to aim for most because they are obviously going to have the money to purchase your product or service or are willing to act upon what you’re trying to get out there.

And then anywhere beyond 25 starts to taper off and not to have many people using it. But it really just depends on the niche. So if the niche is travel-oriented or success-motivation-entrepreneurship oriented then you can have more of those older demographics.

Proven Tactics

A lot of marketers are seeing that when they first try, they first try like the product with a text overlay on the image. And that’s somewhat effective but that’s less likely to be approved by the influencer because it’s very commercialized. And more vendors are wanting to not appear so bought-out, if you will, and more just like a subtle product placement type of endorsement.

So if you’re following a page that’s for example fitness oriented and you have a product in the fitness industry like, say a supplement, what a lot of brands have started to do that they see is more effective is to integrate the product with the influencer themselves. So if I’m following this person of interest then I’m more likely to engage with the post if that person of interest is actually in the post and holding the product than say if they just posted a photograph of the product itself. So they’re putting an ad in front of the user but they’re not bombarding them with commercialized imagery and verbiage, and it’s very effective.

What a lot of brands have started to do that they see is more effective is to integrate the product with the influencer themselves.

But with the niche, yeah it’s a little bit harder so usually they just submit something that’s more relevant to that niche. So if it’s fitness, they’ll put like a fitness model holding the product or they’ll just dress it up in a nice way where it’s not too commercialized or invasive or annoying, if you will. So for example, if it’s supplements then they might put some supplements in the gym, have a cool backdrop and just make it appealing visually.

3: Growing Your Instagram Account

Tips for Growing Your Instagram Account

  1. Value: The best thing you can do is prove your value to be followed. Make your account followable. Update regularly with very good content that’s relevant to your niche.
  2. Emulate: Find out what does good, find out what engages well and just emulate that across your channel. So if you see a competitor doing it really well with certain type of posts then you might want to consider emulating what they do.
  3. Encourage Tagging: So for example, if you have a post where the messaging is centred around friendship or love, a lot of people will see that and then they’ll tag their friends or they’ll tag their lovers or they’ll tag whoever. But to really steer that behaviour it’s recommended that in the caption you’ll put something very engaging like, ‘Tag somebody that this reminds them of,’ or something like that, just telling them what to do. That way you kind of get that viral spread.
  4. Hashtag: Another good way is to hashtag under the relevant interests. And if you’re getting a lot of engagement then you actually have the opportunity to show up on the top post under that hashtag. And that really helps to bring in more eyeballs from people who are browsing that hashtag that wouldn’t otherwise have seen it.
  5. Collaborate: The more people within your industry that you reach out to and collaborate with the better. GoPro for example, they will reach out to influencers on a network that are centered around action sports and travel and photography. And the more people you reach out to, the more people you have posting you, the more opportunity to gain your following.

Setting Page to Private During a Campaign

Another good tactic that I’ve seen people use on other people’s posts. Say it’s a food niche and I will get posted on this page that has a million followers and I will have a picture of very unhealthy looking brownies. But in the caption I’ll say, ‘Healthy vegan egg-free gluten-free brownies. For the recipe, go follow this food page.’ And if you click through you’ll notice that that food page is private. So what that does is force the end-user to follow that page in order to see the content. And when you have the requests coming in you just approve them, approve them, approve them and you’ll see that your following rate will grow double digit percentages as opposed to not doing it. If brands come on to IG Shoutout and collaborate with influencers and niche pages, while they’re being promoted on these pages, I wouldn’t say for every campaign, but it’s generally a good practice to put your account on private so that for those potential followers to gain access they are forced to follow you.

Time Investment on Instagram

I’d say the more time spent, the more positive benefit you can get out of it. So obviously you’re going to want to be updating your account regularly, I’d say at least two posts a day will suffice but sometimes even more. I wouldn’t go overboard and do you know a post every two hours but it’s a general good rule of thumb is a post every three hours if you’re trying to maintain a very active following.

Appealing to the Millennials

As far as the different ways that brands and marketers can really optimize and appeal to Millennials is, obviously things happen very fast on Instagram, so if they have a video that’s very engaging… Because obviously it’s more imagery for the same time slot, basically. So I’d say videos are a good use of your efforts because they’re very engaging and instead of one picture it’s however many frames are in 15 seconds to get your point across.

4: Parting Advice

General Instagram Tools

  1. Prior to Direct Message being possible on Instagram, people used to communicate heavily on Kik and they still do. So Kik is a messaging app that a lot of the niche pages use to communicate and to collaborate. But DMs also work.
  2. Anything like Excel. Obviously you can build excel databases and list all the accounts that you want to work with and just really organizing and crunch your data there.
  3. Dropbox or any other cloud-based media storage lockers where you can distribute and synchronise your media across your entire team. So for example, if you have a digital marking department in your company, Dropbox is a very good tool to use to distribute the video among the team members, have them be posted and viewed and critiqued that way.
  4. PayPal because everybody on Instagram uses PayPal for their transactions.

Instagram Marketing Specific Tools

  1. Iconosquare is the classic tried-and-true good data-reporting system.
  2. Simply Measured is a more detailed analytics reporting systems.
  3. Next Big Sound is music industry centric, and they report on a lot of things going beyond Instagram, all the social mediums tied together into one, so that’s a very good useful tool.
  4. Instagress is an automation tool. It’s a gray area because the ethics of that is questionable. But people use those to basically hit the quota of how many Likes they can place every hour, and how many followings that they place. You know, I’m sure you’ve seen somebody follow you and then unfollow you, that’s somebody using an automated system.
  5. Hootsuite can remind you when to post and basically give you your contents and everything, except actually post. They don’t post for you because you can’t make a post on anywhere except the mobile device.

Key Takeaways

(02:05) Introducing Simon Heit

(05:11) IG Shoutout Network

(17:01) Best Practices When Engaging with Influencers

(22:42) Growing Your Instagram Account

(31:11) Parting Advice


Transcript

Kunle: Hello guys, welcome to today's episode. Today's show is all about influencer marketing on Instagram and I'm joined by Simon Heit, the founder of IG Shoutout Network. It's a pioneering first of its kind Instagram marketing platform. I'll tell you how it works. It is pretty much a platform where brands can hire Instagram experts from there. It's a marketplace of Instagram influencers, so creators, producers, brands, and individuals can purchase shoutouts on Instagram accounts. And Instagram account holders basically can monetise their influence. From an e-commerce standpoint we're going to talk about how to utilise Instagram influencers and how IG Shoutout actually helps. Without further ado I'd like to welcome Simon to the show. Welcome to the show please, Simon.

Simon: Thank you Kunle, good to be with you.

Kunle: Good stuff. Could you take a minute or two to introduce yourself to listeners.

Simon: Well, I've been in the social media game professionally for over a decade now. It all started with Xanga and MySpace. From humble beginnings I used to promote my uncle's surf shop on Hawaii on MySpace and did pretty well with that when I was about 13 years old. And between then and now just doing things like promoting music artists on MySpace and graduating to things like Facebook and then eventually mobile centric platforms like Instagram. And eventually I realized that a lot of the influential accounts are monetizing their following to e-commerce sites within the relevant niches. So I recognized an opportunity and I built what has come to fruition as IG Shoutout Network.

Kunle: Okay. So do you have a music background on because you said you help bands with social media.

Simon: I do. I work actually part-time for a record label here in Los Angeles and I develop the websites and handle a lot of social media marketing for artists and producers and things of that nature.

Kunle: Have you worked with any bands our listeners would have heard of?

Simon: There's bands like The Main and things like that, yeah.

Kunle: Okay. All right, cool. Right, so I brought you on board to really talk about Instagram marketing. And you've set up IG Shoutout for how long?

Simon: Let's see, it was founded in the summer of 2013 so about a year and a half now.

Kunle: A year and a half. Okay.

Simon: Almost three years actually, sorry, my math was wrong on that one.

Kunle: Three years, okay. So you were at the start of Instagram when it was not necessarily quite mainstream now. And you've seen it grow and your database of influencers would have grown over the period. Before we talk about that, could you explain to, because I think I didn't do such a good job at the start with IG Shoutout. But could you explain how IG Shoutout Network actually works?

Simon: Well sure. Well the model is sort of like Etsy or Fiverr.com if your listeners are familiar with those models. But basically what it is, we facilitate the correspondence and transactions between the influential user and the big brands who want to leverage those user's followings. So what we have is an online marketplace where if you're an influential user you can set up a pricing pattern for how much you want to charge for the promoted posts and then the brands and so on can come and shop around for which influencers they want to build social campaigns with. And what we have on the site is a communication-heavy interface where you're allowed to you formulate those campaigns, right, and use it to measure their effect of mass after the fact.

Kunle: Okay. I'm on IGShoutouts.com and right there on the navigation area I could filter the influencers by category. So there's fitness, cars, travel, humour, food & nutrition, ladies, celebrity, and fashion. So I'll just hover over to fashion, and then there are a few influencers here. Now there seems to be like a price range, $9 - $12 for one person who's got 102,000 followers. Another has got 48,000 followers. And there's a price range. Could you explain what the price range is all about? How do you hire them? What kind of actions do you ask them to do? And there's also system, it's quite nifty, I like that.

Simon: Yeah, right on. This price range describes the range in duration that the post can go for. So for example, the lower end prices is usually about one hour so they'll charge anywhere from... these influencers will charge anywhere from five dollars up to several thousand dollars per post. So these lower-end niche pages will charge say eight dollars for one hour for your post be live on their page for one hour and then up to a hundred dollars and that will be 12 hours. Or many different options that they have available are you can be tagged in the photo for an additional X amount of dollars. Or you know if there needs to be tangible products shipped then you can formulate that through the correspondence but that's another one of those higher-end price range selections they can choose.

Kunle: Okay. And why an hour? Is an hour sufficient for a brand to gain exposure? Why don't the posts just sit on the Instagram page?

Simon: Well that, the durations are at the vendor or the influencer's discretion so if you want to keep it up for one hour that's obviously going to be a lower price but if the page very active, one hour could still have a pretty drastic effect. Because of most of the engagement happens during the first few hours of the post being uploaded anyway and tapers off and it really hits bottom after about six hours. So the sweet spot so to speak is between one and six hours.

Kunle: Okay. So you get a maximum exposure within that hour. And then what about the times? Obviously when everybody is asleep it would not make sense actually posting to. So what kind of trends are you seeing from a scheduling standpoint actually working on Instagram?

Simon: Well it really depends on the individual pages, their following, where they're located. So we just recently had a page join, they're all from Poland, and the vast majority of the following is from Poland. So what we do is we have that in the time zone obviously and we display that to the potential buyer so that they are well aware of what the time zone is of all the followers. Not only the time zone, but things like interests. So for example, if it's a fashion page then it's obviously going to be majority women. Or if it's a cute animals page, it's going to be majority women or younger folks. We have those demographic data available to the privileged users who are shopping around to buy the promotions.

Kunle: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. Okay. Besides hosting the listings for these influencers, what other data do you have access to after the purchase? So I'm a brand, say I'm a fashion brand and I'm trying to pump up my Instagram account. And at the minute we have say 20,000 Instagram followers and our target's 100,000. So we come on to IG Shoutout to reach out to an influencer to say publish our Autumn/Winter Collection, just an outfit we think is quite popular. And we successfully purchase a deal or a shoutout or some exposure. My question really has to do with, do you have data on the performance of what I've purchased?

Simon: Currently the data reporting that we have is more follower-centric since it's a little bit harder for us to integrate with e-commerce end-user to see how the impact affected sales. So basically what we do in our backend is a little report on a line graph, when the post went up and the upticks on that line graph. So you can benchmark against time and followers on the axis and you can see you on which date you gained how many followers. So basically it's a blip on the chart and you can read it that way to see how many followers you gained on what sort of time period. We have that and that's pretty much it that we have now but in the future we look towards building a more valuable reporting system.

Kunle: Yeah, that's sufficient in the sense that no one is going to want to provide access to their analytics on sales. That was my question precisely if you mapped out the net impact of followers to their account. Because I suppose there would be two objectives for listing on IG Shoutout. One would be to bump up your follower accounts on your accounts. And then the second would be direct sales, which is hit and miss on social media anyway.

Simon: True.

Kunle: So looking at IG Shoutout again, where are you... you have fitness, cars, travel, humour, food, ladies, celebrity, and fashion. Where are you seeing the most activity? What categories are you seeing the most interest and the most activity?

Simon: The most interest and the most activity on my site would definitely have to be in the fitness and the food/nutrition realm. So we have now 61 accounts on the fitness category as you can see. A lot of the transactions do take place off-site that are more centred on consumer goods, electronics, a lot of app deals are going on where a lot of the younger demographic accounts are being purchased on to be promoting games and useful apps that a lot of the younger demographic uses.

Kunle: Okay. And how would you describe an influencer on Instagram?

Simon: Well, there are two main types. There's an influencer who is generally just called an influencer and they have their face attached to the likeliness of their brand. So for example, if I’m an influencer then it's my name, I'm Simon Heit and my appeal is me. Now on the other head of the coin is a niche page where it's more of an interest. So for example, I have a fitness page called Fitness Digest that has about 200,000 followers. So that doesn't really have a face to the name. It's more like an interest or fan page. And the value of promotions on fan pages are significantly lower because followers are far more likely to act and to engage with an actual person, albeit in impersonal medium like social media.

Kunle: I see. And from the two accounts on IG Shoutout, where are you seeing more activity or more interest stemming from?

Simon: Well, with the bigger brands, we're seeing more interest with the influencers. And with the kind of mom and pop or the startups or the startups that started last week, you're starting to see more and more interaction and transactions going down on the niche pages. So there's something in it for everyone. And so like I said earlier, the prices range from anywhere from five dollars all the way up to several thousand dollars a post.

Kunle: Yes, I could see some really interesting price ranges on here. Okay, so how do you sign up influencers on a regular basis on IG Shoutout?

Simon: Well, what they do is they come onto the site, they authorize their Instagram account by API. That'll prove that they actually own the account. So we have some leeway there, some proof. So what we do is we have a list on the backend of all the applications of people trying to apply, so what we do is we weed out the ones who obviously aren't having genuine engagement, we weed out the ones who don't have high enough followers. So what we do is we want to make sure that the influencers we let on board are of that highest quality so that you know people who spend their hard-earned marketing dollars towards a goal will actually get what they're paying for.

Kunle: Okay, so what's a minimum number of followers you will consider to bring on to IG Shoutout?

Simon: You know, it's a range but generally if it's a niche we don't have very many accounts in I'll be more lenient, but generally it's about 25,000 followers and at least engagement ratio like 1%. So if you have 100,000 followers, you should see at least 1,000 on average per post. But we generally don't accept pages that get less than a few hundred likes per post.

Kunle: Okay. So that engagement ratio is likes per post to the total followers.

Simon: To the total followers. Yeah.

Kunle: Okay. That makes sense. And 1% is kind of like a thresh hold. Okay, all right. That makes sense. Now, most of the listeners here are less of influencers on Instagram and they will be more media buyers. So from a media-buying standpoint, what best practices, from all the data you've got since 2013 do you have to share with listeners on the show on engaging with influencers?

Simon: Right, well a lot of the tips I can give you are pretty cut and dry and pretty obvious such as making sure the image you submit or the video you submit is of the highest quality and it's effectively conveying your product or service that you're offering. Just making sure every little nit-pick is optimized. So anything from the quality of the video to what you saying in the caption, is making sure you're driving as much traffic and attention. So obviously when a end-user or consumer is browsing Instagram, their behaviour is such as, you know it's a very impulsive, it's very fast-paced and they're scrolling up and down the newsfeed and half the time they don't even stop on the image if it doesn't interest them. So the key is to make them stop on your ad and make them really engage with it. So the more engaging and the more bright and colourful and appealing your imagery is, the more likely you are to snag more of that attention. So anything from making sure that the flow of traffic is optimized from the newsfeed all the way down to the point-of-sale. Making sure every little bit is optimized and fast as possible. Because these kids, let's face it, they have a low attention span so if they're seeing that it's hard to check out, they might just close out. So the the best way is just to make sure everything's as easy as possible, cut and dry, and you know there's just so many different ways you can optimize that.

Kunle: Okay, you talk about kids. Could you flesh out the term kids? Do you mean Millennials? Do you mean under 18's?

Simon: Yeah, Millennials. There's generally a few different age brackets but 13 to 17 is one and 18 to 24 is of another pretty big one and then anywhere beyond 25 starts to taper off and not to have many people using it. So the two main demographics are 13 to 17 and then 18 to 24. Those 18 to 24, those are the ones that you want to aim for most because those the ones that are obviously going to have the money to purchase your product or service or are willing to act upon what you're trying to get out there.

Kunle: Interesting. So you reckon that over-25 year olds, Instagram is not necessarily the platform for over-25 year olds.

Simon: Well, I mean it is, it really just depends on the niche. So if the niche is travel-oriented or you know like success-motivation-entrepreneurship oriented then you can have more of those older demographics. Actually, my mother owns a yoga page with 140,000 followers and I'd say the majority of the followers on there are 20 to 25, even older.

Kunle: Wow, did you help to set it up or did she do it all herself?

Simon: I helped her set up a lot of it but the all the content there she is responsible for.

Kunle: That's very, very inspiring. Okay. Right, so from an image standpoint, from the data that's come in to IG Shoutout, what brands or what images have blown your mind in terms of the response and the engagement it received?

Simon: Right, so you if you're following a page that's for example fitness oriented and you have a product in the fitness industry like, say a supplement, what a lot of brands have started to do that they see is more effective is to integrate the product with the influencer themselves. So if I'm following this person of interest then I'm more likely to engage with the post if that person of interest is actually in the post and holding the product than say if they just posted a photograph of the product itself. So there's for example one very effective way that marketers are... you know, they're putting an ad in front of the user but they're not bombarding them with commercialized imagery and verbiage. So there's that and also different marketers are seeing that when they first try, they first try like the product with a text overlay on the image. And that's somewhat effective but that's less likely to be approved by the influencer because it's very commercialized. And more vendors are wanting to not appear so bought-out, if you will, and more just like a subtle product placement type of endorsement.

Kunle: But how do you do that with a niche page?

Simon: But with the niche, yeah it's a little bit harder so usually they just submit something that's more relevant to that niche. So if it's fitness, they'll put like a fitness model holding the product or they'll just dress it up in a nice way where it's not too commercialized or invasive or annoying, if you will. So for example, if it's supplements then they might put some supplements in the gym, have a cool backdrop and just make it appealing visually.

Kunle: Okay. Right, makes a lot of sense. Now, what tips do you have for e-commerce brands listening to rapidly grow their Instagram pages?

Simon: There's a lot of different methods. The best thing you can do is prove your value to be followed. Make your account followable. Update regularly with very good content that's relevant to your niche. Find out what does good, find out what engages well and just emulate that across your channel. So if you see a competitor doing it really well with certain type of posts then you might want to consider emulating what they do. So for example, if you have a post where the messaging is centred around friendship or love, a lot of people will see that and then they'll tag their friends or they'll tag their lovers or they'll tag whoever. But to really steer that behaviour it's recommended that in the caption you'll put something very engaging like, 'Tag somebody that this reminds this of them,' or 'Tag your soul mate,' or something like, just telling them what to do. Because a lot of people just like to be told what to do and they'll follow the directions.

Kunle: Yes, absolutely. So from what I've just picked up now, tagging is a really important element for...

Simon: Yeah, and what I mean by tagging is you know obviously, you target them at your friends username so that way you kind of get that viral spread. Now another good way is to hashtag under the relevant interests. And if you're getting a lot of engagement then you actually have the opportunity to show up on the top post under that hashtag. So for example, I own a page called Sweden and every time I tag Scandinavia on my pictures, since i get a lot of likes I usually end up being on the top post on the top post under that hashtag Scandinavia. And that really helps to bring in more eyeballs from people who are browsing that hashtag that wouldn't otherwise have seen it.

Kunle: So you own the handle @Sweden?

Simon: Yes.

Kunle: [laughs] Okay. All right. How many accounts do you own on Instagram?

Simon: I personally own about a half a dozen. I have co-ownership with half a dozen more with other people.

Kunle: Do you mind if we link to your personal Instagram accounts from the show notes of this episode?

Simon: No, I don't mind at all.

Kunle: Okay, so we'll pass it on after the call. Okay.

Simon: Cool.

Kunle: Right. And I suppose they're all in their thousands, the followership?

Simon: Yeah, hundreds of thousands, yeah.

Kunle: Okay, so we talked about tagging, we talked about hashtags. What other tips do you have for brands listening looking to grow their Instagram accounts quite aggressively?

Simon: Right, just the more people within their industry that they reach out to and collaborate with the better. So if you're selling... GoPro for example, they will reach out to influencers on a network that are centered around action sports and travel and photography. And the more people you reach out to, the more people you have posting you, the more opportunity to gain your following. And another good tactic that I've seen people use is on the people who are posting, they'll post and an image that says something like... okay, here's a good example. A food niche. I will get posted on this page that has a million followers and I will have a picture of very unhealthy looking brownies. But in the caption I'll say, 'Healthy vegan egg-free gluten-free brownies. For the recipe, go follow this food page.' And if you click through you'll notice that that food page is private. So what that does is that forces the end-user to follow that page. And when you have the requests coming in you just approve them, approve them, approve them and you'll see that your following rate will grow double digit percentages as opposed to not doing it.

Kunle: That's very clever. So would you suggest if brands come on to IG Shoutout and collaborate with influencers and niche pages, that they set their accounts to private?

Simon: Yeah, while they're being promoted on these pages. Generally, I wouldn't say for every campaign, it's a generally good practice to put your account on private so that for those potential followers to gain access they are forced to follow you. And then we know obviously when they follow you they'll be looking for that content set that you promised. So for example if it's a recipe then you can put that image and subsequent recipe in the caption, which I find does really well.

Kunle: Okay. These are really, really awesome tips. Is there any other question I haven't asked or any other tips you think they can learn from or they could use, any other tactics?

Simon: I believe we've covered all the bases, really. As far as optimizing the checkout flow I'd say that's more at their discretion but the more simple and the more cut and dry the process of point of sale is, I'd say is just the most effective. So if you have guest checkout enabled, I think that's optimized because a lot of people are too lazy to make an account. Or I've seen a lot of people who were coming to me and complaining that they don't get a lot of sales, but then I'm checking out their user flow and they're asking the customer to answer a dozen questions before they can even check out. So there's definitely a lot of ways where you can really... UX experiences you know that's obviously of their discretion so I think just the most optimized way is just to make it as simple as possible.

Kunle: So the really, really core... One is obviously your content of building out a portfolio of share-worthy content. And then the next really is tagging, where you tag, you ask people to tag their friends, have that call to action, ask people to do stuff. The other thing you said was hashtags, working hashtags. And the other thing is collaborating with people in the industry as well as using networks like IG Shoutout. Right, so, time. Let's talk about time, let's finally talk about time investment on Instagram and return on investment. From your, you've been around, I would consider you an expert, an Instagram marketing expert. And from your perspective, what kind of time do brands spend or should they spend managing their Instagram accounts? Especially when they're trying to reach out to the Millennial age bracket, the 18 to 24 year olds?

Simon: I'd say the more time spent, the more positive benefit you can get out of it. So obviously you're going to want to be updating your account regularly, I'd say at least two posts a day will suffice but sometimes even more. I wouldn't go overboard and do you know a post every two hours but it's a general good rule of thumb is a post every three hours if you're trying to maintain a very active following. As far as the different ways that brands and marketers can really optimize and appeal to Millennials is, obviously things happen very fast on Instagram, so if they have a video that's very engaging because obviously it's more imagery for the same effect... or not the same effect but for the same time slot, basically. So I'd say videos are a good use of your efforts because they're very engaging and instead of one picture it's however many frames are in 15 seconds to get your point across.

Kunle: Right, I will just wrap up now, and prior to wrapping up... What Instagram marketing tools would you recommend for managing accounts on a regular basis?

Simon: Well actually there's several. As far as different goals and different objectives, there's a lot of ways you can utilize third-party apps on a mobile device such as Kik. Kik is, prior to DMs being possible on Instagram people used to communicate heavily on Kik and they still do. So Kik is a messaging app that a lot of the niche pages use to communicate and to collaborate. But DMs also work. Anything like Excel. Obviously you can build excel databases and list all the accounts that you want to work with and just really organizing and crunch your data there. There's apps like Dropbox is a very good one, or any other cloud-based media storage lockers where you can distribute and synchronise your media across your entire team. So for example, if you have a digital marking department in your company, Dropbox is a very good tool to use to distribute the video among the team members, have them be posted and viewed and critiqued that way. Another good tool is PayPal because everybody on Instagram uses PayPal for their transactions.

Kunle: Okay, what about any Instagram marketing specific tools? Do you have any?

Simon: Right, right. Yeah, there's Iconosquare which is the classic tried-and-true good data-reporting system. But there's other more detailed analytics reporting systems like Simply Measured is a very good one and Next Big Sound is another one, that's more music industry centric but they report on a lot of things from, you know, going beyond Instagram but all the social mediums tied together into one, so that's a very good useful tool because it goes beyond Instagram. Marketing is more than just Instagram, so. There's other tools that you can use to automate your behaviours such as Instagress and things like that where it's kind of like a set and forget kind of thing. Those are more gray area because the ethics of that is questionable but people use those to basically hit the quota of how many Likes they can place every hour. And how many followers and following that they place. You know, I'm sure you've seen somebody follow you and then unfollow you, that's somebody using an automated system.

Kunle: Okay. Besides Instagress, are there any other Instagram automation tools you'd recommend?

Simon: I can't think of any at the top my head but there's also other tools like Hootsuite and things like that, that don't necessarily post for you because you can't make a post on anywhere except the mobile device but there are sites like that that can remind you when to post and basically give you your contents. So it's basically doing everything that TweetDeck sort of does except for actually post for you.

Kunle: Okay. Brilliant, brilliant. Okay, let's wrap up. Finally, could you let our audience know how they can find and reach out to you?

Simon: Yeah, I can be available via email Simon (at) IGshoutouts.com or on Skype, Simon.Heit. Also via the contact form on the bottom of our website, IGshoutouts.com.

Kunle: Good stuff, good stuff. I will be sure to link to all of those. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Simon. It's been a pleasure.
And to all 2Xers, thank you for sticking to the very end of today's episode and hope you've found Simon's Instagram influencers tips inspiring and actionable for running your Instagram campaigns. I'll share all his details in the show notes and all of the links to the tools in the show notes. There will be a blog post which will just expand into every detail we've covered here in our conversation. Just head over to 2XeCommerce.com to grab the show notes and read the full transcript. And if you're not on our email list, just pop in, sign up, and you will get lots of actionable e-commerce tips. Until the very next show, do have a good one, everyone.

About the host:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

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