Talk It Out Tuesday: Coffee Chat
Using Instagram like a Boss
with Guest Host, Tyler J. McCall
Tyler J. McCall is an Instagram connoisseur, social media master, and badass marketing strategist for creatives. He teaches his students how to have more conversations with your followers, drive more traffic to your products, services, or blog, and increase sales by drawing from his 10 years of experience in non-profit marketing and community building.
Episode 20 Coffee Chat Replay
Episode 20 Podcast
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Lauren Dragon-Cook: Hello everyone! How are we all doing on this fabulous Tuesday? We are here with my good friend Tyler McCall today. He is an Instagram genius! We love him to pieces. He is fabulous and approaches Instagram in a way I think will be very helpful and give a new perspective. Tyler is real. He is down to earth. He is not a bullshitter. So please join me in welcoming him and making him feel at home and part of this family!
Tyler McCall: Hi everyone! I am so excited to be here today. This is great! Thank you so much for having me today and everyone who is tuning in!
Lauren: Let people know how you got into Instagram? How has your journey led you to really being at the forefront of teaching people how to use it properly?
Tyler's Street Cred
Tyler: So my background is in the nonprofit world and community and political organizing. That is what I did in my life before doing what I do now. I was in the nonprofit world for about 6 years and then spent spent a couple of years doing community and political organizing. I also started and ran a nonprofit for a while and then helped LGBTQ communities in rural North Carolina. All that fabulousness. Toward the end of my nonprofit career… I don’t know if anyone here has come from that background. But nonprofit work is very exhausting, burn out is high. I was burnt out! I was over it. I started doing this side hustle thing.
So back in 2015 I made a handmade room and linen spray. It was called Mr. McCall’s Fine Fragrances. It was essentials oils... all natural. The only way I marketed that was on Instagram. I didn’t have any money. I was literally buying the bottles for the spray on Amazon and then printing the labels off at work after hours. The hustle was very real back then. I had the trunk of my car FILLED with all of this fragrance. I would drive around and go to little shops and take samples in. I would go to trunk shows and craft fairs and then I started Instagram. I slowly but surely spent relationships on Instagram to sell this product. This was at a really cool time where influencing was just starting on Instagram. I had people posting about my product for free because I did the craziest thing. You may never guess what it was…
Lauren: Tell me!
Tyler: I built a relationship with these people. That was it! I engaged with their content. I commented on what they shared. I slide into their DM’s when it felt appropriate. So when I launched Mr. McCall’s I would message them and say “Hey I love your content. I feel your followers would really love this product I created. Let me send you some for free. Let me know what you think”.
That was it! No obligation, no expectation. And I was just getting post after post after post. So fast forward to the end of 2015 I was ready to go from my nonprofit job.. I had had it. And I started doing more side hustling with social media management. There was a cute shop in downtown Alabama that was carrying my Mr. McCall’s products and their Instagram was garbage. And I went in there and said “I love you, I love what you do, but your Instagram page needs help. I will run it for your for $200 a month”. And they hired me! I started running their Instagram account and then got more clients through social media management. I was then able to leave my job at the beginning of 2016.
All of 2016 I was running a small agency with a close friend. We were doing social media management. I was exhausted. I hated it. I was BROKE! I didn’t know what I was doing. At the end of 2016 my business partner and I sat down and decided to do something different. I want to go a completely different direction. So 2017 started and I was on my own. So all of last year was this year of exploring and fuginrig out what I was passionate about. How I wanted to show myself online. How I wanted to serve my community. By the end of 2017 we opened the doors to the Followers Into Fans Society. That is now the only thing I have to do because it is the only thing I want to do. It is members of our community market themselves in a really genuine way.
I think what has made the difference for me and how I am able to approach Instagram in the way I do is because I pull from a lot of experiences. I pull from marketing my own product online. I pull from the experience of marketing for other people. I pull from working with local businesses. I also pull from the experiences of the nonprofit world and the realm of community and political organizing, which I think is the most important part of what I bring. It really taught me the value of building relationships and focusing n community and getting people passionate about something.
That is what a lot of people are missing on Instagram. They are creating content to create content. But they are not keeping the goal or objective in mind of “how do I get these people who are following me passionate about what I am doing? How do I get them to a place where they will tell the world about me on my behalf for free?”
That is a lot of the work I do now for other people. Its not about the quantity of fans, its about the quality. Its not the number of likes you get, it’s the quality of the conversations you are having.
Lauren: Tyler… if I didn’t already love you before I love you even more now! I just want to keep you in my pocket at all times. Its revolutionary in how you go about things… but then again its not. It’s a lost art form. Connectedness.
Tyler: My entire marketing strategy is rooted in relationship marketing. Its all about talking directly to someone, identifying a new or a problem they have, and then positioning your product or service as the solution they need. In doing that you are turning off the wrong people. You don’t want people following you that aren’t really interested in what you sell. And then you are also getting the right people really excited about what you sell. That way the question isn’t can I afford this or is it too much, it is where can I send my money? How do I buy this thing because I need it? And when you are marketing from a place of a relationship and the quality, selling becomes unnecessary really. You are no longer selling to someone, you are serving them something they really need. For me a lot of this comes through mindset shifts and recognizing that the success of my business is really rooted in what happens between my ears.
Which is hard! But when you take that responsibility for your relationships and for your content things change. A lot of people now are being passive in the way they market, rather than being active. We post a pretty picture with a link and wait for people to find us, when really we should be going out there with our content and pursing people. Its not about the hustle, its about really intentional engagement and taking that intentional action to engage with people. That way when people come to you and see your content its either beautiful, inspirational, or educational so it becomes a no brainer for them. They will want to follow you and learn more about working with you.
Inside Follower to Fan we have this whole system we teach where we get really crystal clear on who you are speaking to and then we can build a content strategy. A lot of people go to the content first and not the audience.
Lauren: I do want to backtrack for one hot second… in talking about you need to figure out who your audience is first… if you don’t know who you are speaking to, when you create content you are literally throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping it will stick. That is not how you should be going about it. I feel like so many people out there who are social media gurus… they talk about what techniques and tricks have worked for them, but what they are missing is framework. A set of steps to follow in order to make sure you can’t d anything but succeed. That is why I love love love Follow to Fan so much! It is a breath of fresh air. You are the solution! You give a reason why this process and framework works.
So Tyler, in this group we are mainly wedding professionals, but within that there are different facets. Some bloggers, some photographers, some planners… so how do they go about creating those relationships and cultivating a community on Instagram when they are more of a service based than a product based?
Marketing A Service vs. Product
Tyler: I love this question. I want to challenge the belief that product based business have it easier on Instagram. I think they have it harder. I think it is easier for a service based business to market on Instagram… let me tell you why!
Product based business have a really easy thing to create content around... their product. They also have a high likely hood of boring the shit out of their audience really quickly. Because your product is incredible, I applaud the work you’ve done to make this thing by hand. The intention that goes into it.. I love all of that. However… no one case as much about that product as you do. And what tends to happen is product based businesses will just post their product again and again and it gets really boring for their followers because they don’t understand how it fits into their life. Or many they just buy it once…
As a service based business you have unlimited opportunity and potential. You can talk about so many things related to the service you can provide.
Let me give you some examples!
The Story Background Content: Tell me the background of why you decided to offer this specific service. So if you are a wedding photographer, tell me why you decided to be a wedding photographer. I don’t want to hear the story of how you bought your camera… but WHY did you get into this. What is it about love that you love? What is it about weddings you’re are attracted to you? And then I want to know the history of you getting into photographer. I want to know about your first wedding. And then I want to know what you learned since then. I want to know about your favorite types of weddings, and the weddings you don’t like to shoot. I think when you know your audience it makes it easier for your audience. They have this moment where they immediately know it is whether for them. And you want to turn off the people that aren’t for you. You want people to not follow you. That means you know you are talking to the right people! Tell me about your couples, but do it in a way where you talk about your experience being with them during that day. I want to know about the experience! I want you to feature your couples and allow them to tell your story about you being a part of their wedding day. You spend the most time out of anyone with the couple on their wedding day. They didn’t hire you just for the photos… they hired you to capture a visual representation of their day, they want that memory. The other reason is because they want to spend their wedding day with YOU. There are many different personalities in the world. Maybe you feel you are really shy and awkward… someone will resonate with that. Maybe you are super talkative and you’re really grandiose… that will resonate with someone. Maybe you want to go on a hike with them… that is going to resonate with people. But they need to see YOU. They want to connect with YOU. I built my business by supporting and helping people in the wedding profession. I love you and care about what you do! However… wedding pros tend to come from a place of creating their beautiful content and expecting the work to flow to them without doing ay other work. At the end of the day you are a business. That means you need to take ownership of your marketing, you need to brand your story, and you need to be proactive in how you are showing up online. That also means you need to recognize the fact that while social media are amazing places… nothing will ever beat the value of in-person connections and referrals for your business. Referrals are the life blood of the industry. So if all you’re doing is posting pretty pictures on Instagram, that business can’t grow because you need relationships. You need real in-person networking relationships with people who serve people that you want to serve as well. Instagram can allow you to do that! You can like their content and comment… but those relationships are so important.
I was having a conversation with another wedding pro the other day about nailing down their ideal client. And let me tell you… its hard work! You are trying to attract a very specific type of person and a specific time in their life. We have 3-6 months after the proposal when decisions are being made. In the grand scheme of things that might be a few thousand of people at a time. There are so many people selling programs that tell you how to do that. But why can’t be build a presence online that connects people who resonate with your message and then connect more people who resonate with that? Why don’t we spend the time developing real relationships with people who serve those people as well? So when someone is looking to do their hair, that person knows you as the photographer? Or as a videographer? Or as the makeup artist.
Social media is a valuable thing. You need to be online. People need to be able to find you and see your work and connect with you. At the same time social media does not relationship relationships. It does not replace referrals. It can’t! It never will! Those relationships and referrals are so important for getting people to your business.
Lauren: Mind blown! This is literally what I try so hard to cultivate without our little community. It really is about the relationships and connection with people. Everything else will follow suit. But if you are not doing those basic things right out of the gate, then it is going to be a struggle. You are going to be asking yourself where is my next client coming from? What am I doing? What am I doing wrong? Will I be able to eat this month?
How to Build Relationships
How then… that is the real question. How do we do this?
Tyler: The first thing is to recognize… you’ve probably been told by others that there is just a simple formula for this. Use this caption and use this photo. But is it not true! Instagram is very a niche specific. It is a place where you have to have this strong understanding of who you are speaking to and what you are saying to them and it has to be in a way that is very specific.
Who are you speaking to? Think about them in a way that takes into account their values. There are a few ways we can do this. Survey past clients. Call them, go to coffee. Talk to them about “Hey tell me why you hired me?” (If you do not have a place for people to tell you how they found you in your initial contract or survey… go do that right now!) You need to be collecting data and information. Everything in your business is just data! This is how you figure out how to market and how to price. You need to ask “why did I stand out to you? Was it the price? Was it the photos? Was it meeting me in person?” You need to ask them what it was like to spend time with you on their wedding day. I want you to spend some time ranking your clients. Who were your dreams clients and who were the nightmares? Are their any characteristics you can make sure you are NOT speaking to or you ARE speaking to in the future?
Figure out their values. While you are doing this you may discover your values and your clients values are the same. And that may be true, however they mean different things to different people. You have to get really clear on that.
What is your objective? What are you trying to accomplish on Instagram? If you say you want more sales… then I want to unpack that. We need to recognize that if you are wedding photographer and you are selling a $2,000 to $10,000 photographer package, that isn’t going to sell through one single interaction. It takes some work. Something we do inside Follower To Fan is we get really clear on your conversion metrics. What is the conversion factor you want to track? I’m a big fan of tracking and looking at a quarterly basis. We need to measure this someone. Maybe you just want to convert more followers to commenters. Or maybe you want more people to stick around for your Instagram story. Whatever your objection is is going to influence your content. This path of how we get a random person on Instagram to like our content, to engage, to inquire. That’s the path we need to take them on. How do we insert content through this path to achieve our objective?
Clarify our story. Here is something I want to point out… I’ve been walking you through this process and we have not yet talked about your phot, your caption, your hashtags… all of that stuff is the easy stuff! Actually what we teach inside Follower To Fan… I teach you a planning system where you can plan up to a months worth of content in an hour. Your effort and energy needs to go engaging outside of your account. We get clear on what is your unique brand story. How can you show up in a way that is true to you? And then we can create your brand voice and identity and your posting habits. We can then go out and engage and get new followers. But we cannot attract people to our account and content, if we haven’t done all of this first. I see a lot of people that are not growing, but you can’t expect your following to grow if you don’t have quality content. I don’t just mean a pretty photo, but Instagram isn’t a photo sharing app it is a story telling app. That means you have to have a great photo and then put your energy into writing captions. Something that is of value to your followers! Then you can engage with people to bring them back to your account.
This is all a process that builds upon itself.
Lauren: This is what isn’t spoken about. These elements and this course of action isn’t talked about. We just want quick results and they think the money is in the number of followers you have. Unfortunately it isn’t a quick fix.
I’ve been contemplating creating an ideal client challenge for people. When I was in Disney with my screaming children it was great because I was looking at all of these characters and it clicked for me that all of these characters have different personalities and that is so similar to clients we work with. Who would I jive best with? Are they sassy and grumpy? Are they sweet and kind?
This is such good stuff!
Tyler: I want to go back to something you said… I hear Natalie Frank say this almost a year ago. It really connected with me. “Stop trying to replicate what other people are doing on Instagram.” Some people will go to successful people’s Instagram accounts and try to copy what they are doing. Use the same hashtags, post the same type of content. But we are trying to attract different people. You don’t need to be me on Instagram. We are in different phases of our life. We are trying to attract different people. That’s how who we are trying to attract can influence our content. You need to not replicate what someone else is doing. Instead follow a framework that you can get really clear on these key parts of your business.
Instagram is not a marketing strategy. It is a channel.
It is one piece of the puzzle. When we talk about your objective and voice and audience… those are all brand elements that should be consistent on your website, your blog, your in person interaction. We just talk about it through the lens of Instagram because it is the platform most people use as a first step in getting people into their business. There is a lot more than just Instagram.
I see a lot of people who get obsessive over just the Instagram and think that is the be all to their business. It is so important… however there is a lot more that goes into your overall picture to marketing your business online and in-person. Don’t lose sight of that.
Lauren: Tyler… where have you been all my life? It is so true and it is just one component of your business. Don’t let is consume your business. It is the relationship and referrals and type of community you have going… you have to cultivate that and Instagram is just one means to do that.
I have a million questions that I could ask… I feel you have given them a new lens. How do they go about finding hashtags that would be poignant to their ideal business? How do they do without replicating? How do they find ones that are pointed to them?
Tyler: Again it is about the audience. Recognizing that hashtags have two main purposes.
Hashtags allow people to find you. It is true. However they don’t do that as much as they used to. The conversation we would have on Instagram a year ago would’ve been very hashtag focused, however what is happening now is that so many things have change don the platform and how people are using it, that people finding your through a hashtag isn’t as pervasive as it was before.
Now hashtags should be used to help you find people to engage with.
As you are coming up with hashtags there are a few things you should be thinking about.
Is my ideal client here? Are they using these hashtags? Are they following these hashtags? Could then end up in this hashtag?
Do I want to be associated with this content. (For example, look up #entrepreneur… it is trash! It is filled with terrible content and quote images and stacks of money… none of it is related to entrepreneurship.)
Then use hashtags on your post. They still work! People just aren’t engaging and consuming content in the feed as much as they did before. Instagram is about stories. That is really where it is all happening now. More importantly, pick hashtags you want to engage with. Where you want to go into their accounts that are using those tags and follow and like and consume the content that way.
If you serve people locally, then you want to use a lot of location specific hashtags. Try abbreviations, try making words plural, try shortening words or lengthening words. Try using area codes or zipcodes. Test our different hashtags. When I do my research, I do it in Instagram because they will recommend related hashtags and show you how large it is. There is a sweet spot for hashtags. You want to look for ones that aren’t super overly active, where your content will get lost too quickly.
Lauren: I am just speechless after every single time because it is such a breath of fresh air. So much energy and time is put into this and it can be exhausting When you first started, Tyler, you started at 0… where are you at for followers?
Lauren: How long did it take you to see that growth?
Tyler: Using Instagram from a business perspective to market myself and what I do since mid-2016… almost two years. At that point I had maybe a few hundred followers who were friends and family. It has grown since then. Most of my growth came toward the end of last year. Something you need to know is if you are in the line of a consultant or operates a launch based business…. It can grow your community exponentially. If anyone is this space is an educator or speaker, the visibility side of your business is really important. I’m at a place in my business right now, where I am proud to say I have a multiple six figure business. Here is the thing… I don’t have hundreds of followers on Instagram or on a mailing list. What I have is a community online where I show the eff up. I’m not always on, I don’t allow it to consume me. But when I am there I am there and I am available for people. It is a boundary that you need to work on building. Those boundaries between life and work and being online as a person versus a business, it takes work and practice. But I don’t have all of these things other people have, I just have my community where I speak to and I stay very visible.
It takes time. Social media is a long game. It is not a flash in the pan. If you are in business to make a quick buck, then you probably don’t need to be in this group. But if you are in this because you want to build a legacy, you want to have impact then it doesn’t matter how long it takes.
There is a really popular concept online… if you only have 100 followers and all of your effort is going to getting more followers, think about how much of a difference it would make if you put half of your effort into engaging with people who are already there! Just serving those 100 people really really well… having conversations and getting to know them… you better believe those people will be loyal and devoted to you and will tell others about you.
Why are we putting so much obsession into trying to get more more more! Instead of recognizing we have people who are already here!
Inside Follower To Fan society we had a really great conversation where someone had grown their followers from about 800 to 1,600 within a couple of months and she was frustrated. She wanted more people. My partner Eric who works with me, he jumped into the chat box and said “how would it feel if you walked into a room and 1,600 people were sitting there and waiting to hear from you?” That is all you need! What is one more person? If you walk into a room with 1,600 people waiting to hear from you, think about what that would do for your life and business?
Lauren: I think a lot of people due to the nature of the beast and being in the wedding industry there is a high turn over rate. Because once you are done with a client you have to find a new one. But what I think a lot of people fail to recognize and embrace is if you have done a good job of building a community, they will sign your praises to everybody and anybody they know. Clients will still continue to come. Don’t worry about growing your following. Continue to show up for the people who have already hired you and do a stellar job of serving. They will do the work for you! But I think people get so scared that they won’t talk about them. It is just the opposite!
Business vs. Personal
Do you recommend having a separate account for business and personal?
Tyler: Great question. Whatever account you are going to use to market your services needs to be focused solely on that audience and purpose. It doesn’t need to be so stripped down that it is just business. Its needs personality. You need to be there. Do you feel the need to have a space on Instagram where you can post pictures of your kids, your dog, your food, and you want that to be part of what you are doing? If so, then that needs to be a separate personal account. If you don’t feel the need to do that, then you can have just one account. It depends on whether or not your business is a personality branded business or if it is more of its own entity.
For example, I have a personal brand. I am Tyler J McCall. I have created the Follower To Fan Society. If you encounter my content online, I talk about Instagram but I talk a lot about life and lifestyle. Because discussing those things is a way in which people better understand what I do, my approach, and they type of life I’m able to live because of my business. It is all tied together.
If you are going to use an account for your business, make that account specific to that thing and you need to upgrade to a business account profile. You cannot market without that profile because you do not know what you are doing. You don’t have the data to make any decisions.
Lauren: You nailed it. To even go further with that, if you are your brand that is the difference between if you are separate from your brand. I am my brand. I am The Wedding Boss. I had some stories on Instagram from my trip to Disney. But if I was still actively planning weddings, would I have still posted that? Probably not. Because that brand was more business-esque.
I feel I could literally sit and chat with you all day. This has been so helpful. And I think a lot of people weren’t expecting this. I think a lot of people were expecting the tips and the tricks. But what so many people in that mindset are lacking is the framework. I would highly encourage everyone to follow Tyler on Instagram.
Lauren: Absolutely check him out.
Follower to Fan Society Review
Lauren: I had to really narrow down my life and focus on what was going on with my business and it was the perfect time. I will be totally honest, I haven’t even begun to scratch the service on what Tyler has to offer with this service. But even just the little bit I have done has been a total game changer. In all facets of my business! I cannot thank you enough for that. It is just the beginning.
Tyler: Of course! I think we have the most supportive Facebook group on the planet.
Lauren: Really truly! It is one of the best I have ever seen.
Tyler: Such an engaging and supporting place. We have members that bust through the framework and then they are still there! It is such a valuable place to be in. We need relationships to make this business thing work. Working from home is great, being your own boss is great, rocking that yoga pant lifestyle is great. However, you need people to cheer you on. You need people to call you out on your bullshit. You need people to answer questions and cry with you and yell with you. Complain about things with you! Follower To Fan provides that to a lot of our members. I am so grateful the people who are part of this community are so passionate about making it what it is.
Lauren: That is another reason why I love it so much myself. It is so reminiscent of what we have happening and going on here! If you are going to bring negative bullshit energy, you are getting your ass kicked faster than tomorrow. We have to embrace and support each other. That is why your community too is a safe place.
Thank you so much Tyler. If people have questions what is the easiest way to reach you? DM on Instagram?
Tyler: Yeah on Instagram! You can also check out TylerJMcCall.com we have some free content and downloads you can grab.
Lauren: You have one all about the engagement season!
Tyler: We will start promoting that in the fall. Eight out of the top ten most days people are getting engaged are between Thanksgiving and Valentines day. So we have this walkthrough that shows you how to get your Instagram account ready for that time of year. And how to find those couples!
Lauren: A million thank yous! I hope you all enjoyed our time with Tyler. Next week we will be chatting with Brittany Berger. A really good friend of mine. We will be talking about recycling content. Don’t miss that!
I hope this has been helpful for everyone! See you next week.