Every day, I hear questions like “How do I grow my Instagram account?” and “How do I use Instagram to grow my business?” at my consulting and coaching business. There are countless articles addressing things like photo quality, bio, post times, tagging, etc., but no one seems to be talking about the most important things.
When we work with brands on their social media platforms, we always begin with this question: Why are you on Instagram?
Purpose Beats Strategy
Stop strategizing and clarify your purpose. The question “why” is the question of purpose. Purpose is the foundation of strategy. We love strategy and teach powerful strategies that have generated millions of dollars for our clients. But the truth is, it’s not the real starting place.
When looking at your purpose, consider these things:
- Is your purpose clear? If it’s not clear, people won’t connect to it. Can you and others picture it instantly? Could it be more specific or simplified? Can it be understood by a 6-year-old?
- Is your purpose compelling? If it’s not compelling, people won’t be inspired by it and won’t remember you. Does your purpose solve problems that people actually have? Does it enhance lives in a tangible way? Does it make me want to do a backflip with a half twist into a champagne pool or is it boring?
- Is your purpose authentic? If it’s not authentic, people won’t trust you. So is it really, truly yours? Do you actually care? When you woke up this morning, did you say, “Thank God I get to do this today” or are you trying to be something you’re not?
To clarify your purpose, take the XYZ test. Sometimes we take brands through long and deep journeys of soul-charting exploration to uncover their vision, mission, purpose, values, disruptive angles, offer and messaging. But other times we just use the XYZ test.
Here’s how it goes: We help X do Y so that Z.
X= type of person
Y= type of activity
Z= type of result
- Hi, my name is Morpheus. I help the chosen one find his path so he can liberate all of humanity.
- The Disruptive: We help socially conscious entrepreneurs grow their businesses so they can change the world.
- Hi, my name is Willy Wonka. I make fantastical candies for children so they can rediscover the magic of life.
The bottom line here is that when you can articulate yourself in a clear and compelling way, it will naturally resonate with your community.
Experiences Beat Products
Stop selling and start creating an experience. When you are selling, it’s all about you. But when you are creating an experience, it’s about them. There’s a huge difference in building a following and cultivating a community. Just because you get 1,000 likes when you post photos of yourself does not mean you have a community.
To create a powerful experience, you need to understand your audience. Who are they, what do they want and why do they want it? You must learn what they like, love, hate, laugh at, feel, want, struggle with, eat for breakfast, and wake up in the middle of the night thinking about. Discover their greatest fears and deepest pleasures, their favorite books and shows, what angers them and how they can get what they want. Then use that knowledge to serve them.
The Festival Exercise
Imagine your brand was putting on a three-day event. What would you plan? Where would it happen? Who would come and why? What would the space look like? Who would speak? What would you do? What would conversations be like? What would you eat? How would people feel? What would they be wearing? How would people’s lives change?
If your Instagram were the digital representation of this, people would likely feel a powerful emotion. A recent study shows that brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity receive three times as much word-of-mouth publicity than less emotionally connected brands.
Here are a list of questions to help you clarify the experience you are creating:
- What are five benefits my community receives from me?
- What are five things they learn from me?
- What are three emotions they feel while they are here?
- What are three places I will use Instagram to lead them to?
Collaborating Beats Self-Promotion
Stop promoting yourself and start collaborating. Would you rather listen to someone tell an epic story about something that has changed their life or listen to someone talk about how cool they are? Exactly! Don’t make your Instagram be “that” guy. When you talk about your own awesomeness, people might trust you, but when others talk about your awesomeness, people are much more likely to trust you.
Here are some steps from our free Instagram collaboration guide:
- Blow people’s minds. There’s no better marketing than this. Deliver something amazing, period.
- Identify your allies. What are top five other brands that your customer also engages with? How does what you provide compliment what they offer? What are five brands that share similar values to you?
- Clarify your offer. Identify how you could add value to these communities. Consider creating a custom product, service or piece of content that would cater to the desires of this community.
- Reach out. Use our template to reach out and build a relationship. Look for what you have in common and discuss the ways you could add value to their community. In a true collaboration, everybody wins. Creating mutually beneficial arrangements takes finesse, but when you get it right others will sing your praises!
Here are some of the ways to collaborate: giveaways, contests, special promotions, interviews, blogs, joint products, takeovers, mutual events or training, and podcasts.
By collaborating, clarifying your brand purpose and creating experiences that people can feel, you’ll be able to successfully grow an engaged community.
A version of this article was previously published on The Disruptive blog.