Like many, our professional lives were upended with the COVID pandemic. In 2020, both of us were suddenly furloughed from our corporate jobs and had to take financial matters into our own hands.
Separately, we each took the abrupt loss as an opportunity to start our own businesses, scaling our individual enterprises to more than $10,000 per month in revenue through Instagram alone. It turns out, our efforts on Instagram were fate because we ended up connecting on the platform as well in April 2020.
After several months of managing our solo businesses, we realized our ideas, services, and even our clients were similar, and instead of being competitors, we felt it was best to join forces and essentially, go bigger! This is how we ended up co-founding our company, Elle Synergy, an online education business designed to help service-based entrepreneurs build and scale their businesses with the power of Instagram.
Since banding together, we have scaled our company to the point where we now bring in an average of $50,000 per month and we owe it all to—you guessed it—Instagram!
There are various reasons why we believe Instagram is the place to be for business growth. Number one being that Instagram is the best platform for potential clients to see each of the different versions of you.
Instagram covers multiple bases with photos, videos, messaging, and more. Plus, there are so many different avenues to connect with others. You can provide more edited, curated content with feed posts versus more raw, real content with stories, use IGTV as a way to produce longer-form content, or send DMs as a way to get in direct contact with others you’d like to be in contact with. No other platform offers this many forms of content that can help you build a genuine connection and direct relationship with your audience.
The secret is not to focus on Instagram only, but to consider Instagram like a business itself. Since Instagram hacks are changing constantly, we instead focused our attention on real marketing and sales strategy to grow an audience and convert our followers into paying clients.
We call it the BCC Framework and here are the three components.
Without a strong business foundation, you won’t go anywhere. What this means is that you can sign up for Instagram with the best goals and intentions, but if you do not have these key foundational components in line for your business before you start posting, then you won’t be getting too far!
Before the Elle Synergy Instagram went live, we had already picked our niche audience and made sure it was a profitable one. Since our niche is service-based entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses, we knew it would mend well with our expertise and passion for personal branding and Instagram marketing.
Secondly, we also set out to define our target customer. You need to know exactly who your ideal customer is (not just what age they are). What are their major challenges or pain points? What social media accounts are they following? What are their goals in life and/or business? Ask yourself all of these questions so you can find the people who need you and get a better understanding of the types of content they’ll be looking for.
Lastly, know your offer. While this may seem like common sense (after all, what are you going to promote on Instagram if you don’t even have an offer?), it cannot be stressed enough. As soon as we knew our target audience and ideal customer, we set out to design IG Business Academy™. That way, when it came time to launch the Elle Synergy Instagram, we already knew what we were going to push users and followers toward.
Once you have a strong business foundation, it’s time to put a powerful content strategy in place that will attract your ideal clients like magnets.
A solid content strategy will ensure you’re consistently showing up for your audience. Like pretty much anything in life, when you have a plan that is achievable and can be executed you’re more prepared and success will come much easier.
There shouldn’t be any guesswork on Instagram. That is, every piece of content you put out there should have meaning, as well as a strategy tied to it based on what you put in place with your business foundation.
For example, when gearing up to launch our first course, IG Business Academy™, we tied each and every piece of content we created to the NMCOM formula, which stands for niche, market research, client, offer, and message. In other words, to attract the right audience, each piece of content we created was geared toward the right niche, based on relevant market research, written in a voice that appealed to our ideal customer, along with clear messaging and a link to our course offer.
Bonus tip: Instagram is really pushing its video features at the moment to counter its competitor TikTok, so don’t forget about the Instagram Reels feature! Creating Reels is going to be extremely powerful as far as being seen, so you don’t want to forget about them. Make sure to take advantage of this short-form video content to reap the benefits of more visibility and growth.
Attracting new followers is great, but what good are they to you if they are not converting? We often see clients fall into this conundrum and think the answer lies in gaining more followers and visibility. Really, what they need is a better conversion system.
Your content, as well as the actions you take on Instagram, are going to have an impact on your conversion. A few best practices from us include:
Don’t give everything away for free and let your audience know what you keep from them.
We have a very clear distinction between our free and paid content. For example, most of our free content is very high-level and will not go into the finite details, or it will be a detailed lesson or piece of advice on a much smaller topic. For bigger topics like business foundations or high-converting content strategy, our audience knows they can access those pieces of wisdom by paying for our course.
This is a nice strategy to have in place because your audience will be appreciative of the complimentary content you’re giving them, and therefore will be more likely to buy from you for the higher ticket advice and expertise.
Don’t offer free advice in your DMs, have a strategy to go from freebie seeker to buyer.
It’s important to learn how you can convert freebie seekers into paying clients in your DMs. If people are reaching out to you, then that is a great sign. It means they see you as the expert you are and want more from you. It is really important to learn how to deal with DM questions because the person could be a potential customer, and your conversation could just lead to a sale.
But on that same note, you also want to be sure you’re not giving free advice away. First of all, this would not be fair to your paying clients, and secondly, it pushes those freebie seekers to think you give everything away for free. Under that assumption, why would they see any value in one of your paid programs?
Don’t act like an influencer (a.k.a. nice girl next door). Act like an expert!
As a business owner, it’s important to understand that Instagram is not a place to “act like an influencer.” When you show up on stories, you should have a goal. It’s not just about sharing some fun “behind the scenes” or your latest success story. You should instead always be thinking about converting your followers into paying clients. That is your #1 focus.
In closing, it is important to note that the steps we provided above are not an overnight success plan. Building a loyal following on Instagram takes time! The biggest mistake we see our clients make is giving up too early. We can’t tell you how many new entrepreneurs we see stop after only a few months because they “only gained 200 followers.”
Having a small audience can be enough as long as you are building a tight-knit community of fans. Your fans, and the word of mouth they spread, are going to be what helps you grow month to month. In fact, we have had students of ours sign on new clients with less than 1,000 followers on Instagram at the time. Don’t focus on your follower number and don’t give up too early. Focus on your strategy. Focus on asking the right questions and posting the right content. The rest will come.
“You should instead always be thinking about converting your followers into paying clients. That is your #1 focus.” —Ginny Fears and Laura Haleydt
About the authors: Ginny Fears and Laura Haleydt are the co-founders of Elle Synergy. Through their signature course, IG Business Academy™ (IBA), and their free Instagram resources and teachings, Elle Synergy helps skilled entrepreneurs to build and scale their businesses with the power of Instagram. Ginny has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in marketing and has worked in marketing for the past 10 years. Laura has an MBA and over five years of corporate marketing experience for global brands such as Carlsberg and Somersby. Laura and Ginny have been featured in CNBC Grow, Thrive Global, and Authority Magazine to name a few.
Featured photo: Color Joy Stock