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Gene (00:02):

Hey everybody. It’s Gene Marks and welcome to this week’s segment of The Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast. Thank you so much for joining me. Let’s take a shift this week, a little pivot and talk a little bit about social media marketing. I know there’s a lot of attention that’s given towards spending time in marketing on Twitter, as well as Facebook and obviously LinkedIn as well. And that’s all well and good but today I want to talk about Instagram. Instagram, as you know, is owned by Facebook and I don’t want to insult your intelligence, but it’s a video and photo social media platform. There’s like a billion, monthly active users around the world with more than a half a billion of them are on the platform daily.

Gene (00:46):

It is the sixth biggest social media platform behind WeChat that’s China’s Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, YouTube and Facebook, right? So it is a giant platform for people that use it. I don’t know if you’re on it or not, but the demographic trends younger. I’m on Instagram. I don’t post anything on Instagram, but I follow a lot of hilarious and funny accounts on Instagram and scroll through it probably every day. I even get ideas for comms that I write or funny things to post and other social media sites because of it. But my business isn’t on it. Having said that though, many businesses are on Instagram and really using it to make some money. One example is a guy named Hugh Dillon. Hugh is a freelance event photographer.

Gene (01:33):

And he’s based in my hometown of Philadelphia. He has a great website called Philly Chit Chat. And what the guy does is he goes all around the area and he attends events. He takes pictures and he leverages Instagram to help promote his photography business. So, he’s got about 40,000 followers right now on his blog account. And he’s got 10 or 15,000 followers on Instagram as well. So he shows up when there’s celebrities in town or events he’s attending or nights out with his friends and family. And he says people recognize him from Instagram. He says it frequently turns into work for him. So it’s a perfect example of an entrepreneurial photographer that’s really leveraging that site to make money for him. I talked to another woman, a client of mine, her name is Kristen McCoy.

Gene (02:24):

And she is a provider of local meats and cheeses and fruits and vegetables for parties. Her company is called Crumb and Cow. And she’s got about 17,000 followers on Instagram. I mean, what she does is she posts all sorts of the things that she’s serving and making and selling to her customers. And it’s kind of a delicious site to look at. And because of that, it attracts people to come to her, to have them cater her events and parties that she’s doing. So again, here’s another example of a business that’s really, really leveraging it, right. So I mentioned earlier about Instagram and its demographics, I mean, according to certain research that I’ve done about 75% of people aged 18 to 24 years old in the United States use Instagram.

Gene (03:14):

I mean, 75% of people in that age range. The next most popular age range are 57%. These are the 25 to 30 year olds, right. I mean when you’re on Instagram and if you get on it, you’ll see. I mean, like most of the people there, they’re following celebrities, they’re following funny accounts, they’re following their friends. I mean let’s face it, if you’re selling machine parts or industrial components or thermoplastic injection moldings used in the aerospace industry, yeah it’s possible that maybe your audience might be on Instagram. But listen, I have another client that is in the automotive industry and they do custom detailing for cars as well as painting and body work on cars. And they often post photos and videos to their Instagram site showing the work that they do.

Gene (04:02):

And they’ve attracted a whole bunch of car enthusiasms to their sites. So it’s like, listen, you’ve got to choose the social media platform that you want to be on. And for many of these people, Instagram is definitely the way it is, you know? So, how often, like, what’s your commitment? Well, you know, Kristin who runs Crumb and Cow, tells us that she posts on Instagram at least six times a week. She says that it’s all content by photography. She says it can be time-consuming. She puts a lot of attention to details when setting up a shot and because of that she feels like she could be doing a lot more, like she’s just scratching the surface, but it’s a commitment that you’ve gotta be doing. Hugh Dylan, the guy that I mentioned earlier, the event photographer, he’s posting a few times a day. When he posts, he leverages hashtags on Instagram.

Gene (04:58):

Those are the ones that will number sign, just like Twitter, where you can try and get your feeds onto your hashtag search. He’s responding and engaging with his community. He does get comments from his users. He uses Instagram. Instagram has a feature called reels where he can create longer form videos. Instagram only has a minute videos you can post, but if you use their reels function, it’s longer form. So people want to see more, they can click on it and it takes them to a longer video. He also does Instagram live a lot, he will be at events or he will be doing something and they’ll just blast it out live. I mean he’s got a plan for doing this. It’s a thought out plan as to what his posts are going to be.

Gene (05:41):

He takes it really, really seriously. I mean, Hugh is a photographer. So you would expect his content on his Instagram page to be a very high quality content. And it is, I mean, he says it’s key to have good photos. He wants to make sure they’re cropped correctly. He says to his clients, like if you’re going to hire me to come and cover a ribbon cutting or a store opening, whatever, make sure there’s advertisements to your store maybe a banner or something behind you. So when I post this on my Instagram, people will see it. Cause people are scrolling through this, so you want them to see the products that you have as often as possible.

Gene (06:21):

So all of that is something that both my two clients, Hugh and Kristin do on Instagram. You might want to consider hiring an Instagram consultant to help you. There are a lot of people out there that you can find on LinkedIn. You might want to consider advertising on Instagram. I mean some companies are doing that big brands and in fact, don’t even limit yourself to advertising for products on Instagram. You might want to consider advertising for people on Instagram. I’ve seen ads from some larger brands from McDonald’s and burger king and other outlets where they post funny little videos on Instagram, where they’re trying to get employees to work from them, you know? So if you do ads on Instagram it’s relatively less expensive than doing them say on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Gene (07:06):

So it can start out that way, but just remember it, that your ads can be eaten up pretty quickly by clicks, that might never turn into a sale. And what starts out as like a $500 budget could turn into thousands of dollars. So you really have to keep a close eye on it. You might want to hire somebody to monitor that. You have to try out different campaigns. See what’s working but for some people advertising on Instagram can really reach their audience. And again, their audience can be customers or it could be actual employees, you know? I mean in the end, Instagram may not be for all businesses. It might not be for your business, you know? But for some it’s kind of perfect. I mean, for freelancers and artists, content creators, restaurant tours, retailers, where you can promote your wares.

Gene (07:50):

You can build a reputation there. You can enhance your brand. You can engage with your audience. You can show your services and sell your products. You can make it fun. You can make it visual. You can make it interesting. You can make it quirky. I mean, there’s all that opportunity to do that on Instagram, but like anything else in this world, you gotta put the right amount of time and resources into it to really make it work, but consider it, if you think that you fall into those categories. So those are my thoughts on Instagram. I think it’s a great platform to consider if your business is right for it. So give it a shot and think about it. So thank you so much for joining me again. My name is Gene Marks. You have been listening to Small Biz Ahead. I will be back with you next week with some more thoughts on another issue or some tips and advice for helping to run your business. And in the meantime, if you would like more tips and advice on running your business, you’d like to listen to our podcast, visit us at or There you can get all the information that you need. I hope you visit. And I hope we see you back again next week. Take care.

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