• Sarah Spackman


I remember the days when Instagram first was introduced to the world. And to be honest, in the beginning, I thought it was only a photo editing app not necessarily social media. But as Instagram grew, so did my love for this silly app. I would share pictures without a planning my feed out ahead of time, and making anything aesthetic was not in my vocabulary.

And now? Instagram is one of the ultimate drivers in my business. Probably about 75% of my inquiries come from people who found me on the gram! Instagram is an extremely powerful marketing tool when used correctly, but so many businesses struggle to get engagement and are constantly feeling defeated because they don't understand the algorithm.

And while I am a firm believer that we shouldn't put our eggs all in one basket, and not reply 100% on Instagram to move our businesses, I do know there is power in that app, and I want to share some real strategies you can start implementing today that have personally worked for me, and how I am able to fill my calendar thanks to Instagram.

Shifting your Mindset

One of the first things you need to do to be successful on any platform, but particularly Instagram is to understand what it actually is. Instagram is social media, and why do people go on social media...? TO BE SOCIAL. Instagram is not a place where you should just be dumping out promotions constantly and trying to sell, sell. sell to your audience.

There are 3 main reasons why people use social media... 1. To be entertained. 2. To be inspired. And 3. To be educated. Your audience wants to connect with you, and Instagram is often times the first introduction we get with potential clients so we don't want to immediately be telling them to buy from us when they don't even know us! Once you are able to understand why people are on Instagram you will be able to create content for the app that serves that purpose. This can be creating thoughtful captions that educate students or clients on your services, or how to succeed at something in regards to your industry, or you can post inspiring thoughts and words that motivate your audience, or just post the daily things happening in your life. Again, Instagram is social media, which means we do not (in fact we should not) just be posting about our businesses 24/7. We need to be creating a personal brand. Telling people who we are, what makes us unique, and so on, because when people feel like they can relate to you, they are more likely to buy from you.

Break It Down

We have to think about Instagram in a few different chunks. Your feed, Your Stories, and your Dm's. Your feed tends to be the place of growth on the app. Your posts are the ones people will find through hashtags, getting tagged, and so on. Think of your feed content as the "heavy content" as I like to call it. Serve your audience in your feed with content they want to see or hear more on. Provide a lot of value on your heavy content. This is where the "education, inspirational, or entertaining comes in". We want to avoid posting any "fluffy" content or captions in our feeds. I see it a lot with other photographers who post things like "lovers at sunset" under this amazing photo and all I can think is "Man I wish they told me more! I want to know the story behind that photo! Who are they? Why should I care?"

These are all questions you need to ask yourself before every single post. Who is this for and how will this serve them?

Your stories are a place to post more personal content that builds a connection. This is a place where you show pictures and videos of your cat and dog. Talk about a funny story that happened to you today, or just what is going on in your everyday life. Stories are so powerful and a great way for people to see beyond your business, to really get to know you because it is face to face interaction and you are talking directly to them as if it were a FaceTime call.

If you ever have heard of the like/know/trust factor then a good way to think about the breakdown of Instagram is that your feed is where people "like" you, your stories are where people "know" you, and your DM's are where people "trust" you.

Your DM's are where the magic happens. Your audience can reach out to you specifically, and talk on a one on one basis asking questions, inquiring, and more. You can definitely sell through your DM's the easiest but also just build your trust factor like crazy because if you are responding to every DM (as you should be) then people will learn that they can rely on you to be thee for them and that you are a real person with real feelings. Plus you can make it extra personal by sending video chats or voice memos instead of just text!

What Numbers to Pay Attention To

Not every number on Instagram is important. Personally I believe that follower numbers and # of likes are irrelevant when it comes to growing your business. Just because someone has 100k followers, does not mean they know how to monetize that audience. I have literally personally known people who have major followings and do not make a single dime from it. So stop comparing yourself to larger accounts, and focus on your own followers even if there are only 100 of them. Because think about it, that's 100 people that chose to follow you. 100 individuals that see the value in what you offer. If you were standing in a room with 100 people around you, I bet it would feel like a lot, so do not let your mind tell you any different.

The numbers you should be paying attention to is your engagement. Meaning, the comments you get, the DM's, who responds to your story questions or polls, and so on. Engagement is where it is at peeps. Having a bunch of followers will not benefit you if only 10 people are actually engaging with you.

The goal is to create sharable content. Meaning, content that people want to show to their friends, their own audiences, and so on. These are the posts that people tag their friends in, post to their stories, and comment on. Basically, creating content that naturally turns into word of mouth marketing - the most powerful marketing strategy if you ask me.

The Power of Video

Video is where it is at sister. The engagement on Instagram stories and IGTV is dramatically higher than engagement in a regular post. The creators behind Instagram know that people want to see more videos so they are constantly boosting Lives, IGTV, and stories to give the people what they want.

If you are one of those people who is scared to get on video, I get it! So here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Just post a 1 minute video on your story of your face talking to the camera every single day. You can talk about what you did that day or what you are going to do, introduce yourself, tell a funny story that happened to you, or talk about the same topic you posted about in your feed that day. I just challenge you to show up for at least one minute each day because I promise you, over time it gets easier and easier and pretty soon you won't even bat an eye to show up on video.

2. Drop the robot voice and pretend you are FaceTiming a friend. People want to connect with you, but when you sound super boring, you will lose their interest. You do not have to be crazy and loud to keep people engaged with you, but don't try to put on your "business voice", just be yourself!

3. If you are a little more advanced and are comfortable showing up on video, you can take stories a step further to boost engagement. Use those features such as polls, question boxes, etc to keep people interacting with you every day. You can even use stories to build your email list, and build credibility. Another thing to keep in mind is to have text on every story. A lot of people have their phones on silent even when they open stories up, but if you have subtitles written on each slide they will be able to tell what you are talking about without turning the volume on. This can help keep people interested in what you are talking about as well and serve a larger range of people.

When you do end up selling...

Try to break down your marketing into simple sentences. It can be really easy to go on and on and talk a lot if you are a naturally wordy person like myself, but when you are trying to sell to someone you want to think about how you can market that product or service and describe it in 1 sentence instead of 5. People have very small attention spans, and if we drag things out, there is a good chance we are going to lose them, but if we are able to show value quick and in a simple way, then we are able to give people that "instant gratification" we all want in life.

Spark Notes:

Remember, Instagram does not have to be complicated. The key things to remember is that IG is a social platform so we want to be sure we are always talking to our audience and engaging with them so they engage back with us. We want to make sure that we are showing up in all seasons of our life, not just for business chats. Show yourself, who you are and what you love! Create relatable, shareable content so that you can create the like/know/trust factor with your audience.

Enjoy it! This app was made to be fun, so don't over think it too much. If you just remember that you are a real human, and all of those followers and people commenting on your posts are humans too, you will do just fine!

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I'm Sarah Spackman

I'm a western wedding photographer, an online marketing expert, and I have a huge passion for teaching small town girls how to live up to their fullest potential!



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I'm Sarah Spackman

I'm a small town country girl born with stars in my eyes, and I turned my love for horses into a full time entrepreneurship career capturing love stories and teaching other peeps like me how to follow their freaking hearts.​

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