From Casual To Content Planning Pro: How to Scale Your Instagram with 1 Simple Tool

If you work in social media or are promoting your own small business via social media, then you know (or at least you should know) that there are a few key metrics. Engagement is Queen, as this can be a powerful metric for brand deals and tells you that your audience actually cares about your content, which really means that you are connecting really well with you audience.

Beyond engagement you want to be increasing your followers. Especially on Instagram, where reaching the 10,000 follower milestone opens up a number of powerful tools for your business (hello Swipe Up feature).

But how do you get there. How do you take your small, locally owned business from a few hundred followers to becoming a locally known and loved brand on Instagram?

The secret is in this blog post. Keep reading to get in on it!

To Fail to Prepare is to Prepare to Fail

This classic quote is a classic for a reason and where I’ll begin your journey to social media success.

Early on in my career I would always see people saying “create a calendar”, “have an editorial calendar”, “have a content plan”, to which I initially turned my nose up. I thought that my instinct was enough and that planning would take too long.

At first this worked out okay, but after a while the content started to feel disconnected. One day we were posting about topic A, and the next we were posting about topic 8. The lack of continuity was affecting our numbers and confusing our audience.

Admittedly it took me years to land on a content planning and scheduling technique that actually worked. Since I’ve started to use my content planner for Instagram, all of the accounts I manage have seen the type of growth that you see over years. My own personal Instagram has seen 300% growth in the time span that most accounts only see 14% – 16%.

What Is Important In a Plan?

There is a lot that you could plan, but what’s important to have in your planner? What will actually help you feel at ease when you go to create the content, publish it, and promote to your audience?

First you want a general idea of your content pillars. These can be laid out in a content brainstorming matrix. Something that looks like this:

content brainstorming matrix

Along the top you’ll see your themes. These are your content pillars that you’re going to focus on. If you’re a fitness business you could talk about injury prevention, nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits.

Once you have you content pillars you’ll then use the 4 main types of “winning” content to help you brainstorm. That’s what you see on the left side of the matrix (not shown: entertainment and promotion). Studies have shown that people love educational content (how to’s, tutorials, lists, etc.). Especially if it helps them do their job or hobby better.

The next type of winning content is inspirational. In the example of the fitness business, this would be your testimonials or your transformation stories. They can be inspirational in the sense that they show a business win, but they could also show how you overcame a struggle. This brings people in and humanizes the brand.

Speaking of humanizing the brand – entertaining content is our next type of winning content. This is why videos like the bottle flipping trend, or the planking videos are so great and why they go viral. In fact, entertaining content has the greatest potential to go viral – if you do it right, of course. Going back to my fitness business, entertaining content could be a silly video your staff make to poke fun at personal trainer stereotypes. It could also be fun behind the scenes content that lets people be extra nosey, which ultimately brings them closer to your brand.

And finally, promotional content. Gary Vaynerchuk advises people to jab more times than you land the right hook. Promotional content is your right hook. With that in mind, you want to create way more educational, inspiring and entertaining content before posting something promotional. Give people value. Give them so much value they feel indebted to you and will buy from you without hesitation.

That’s the idea at least.

Okay, now you have your content ideas in your brainstorm – now what?

It’s Time to Get Organized

When I say get organized, I mean that you need to organize all of those ideas into functioning posts.

You’ll need to figure out your posting schedule, what type of content you’ll create for that idea (video, image, carousel, reel, etc.), write your caption – complete with CTA, hashtags and any mentions if you have them. And of course, lastly you’ll want to figure out the best time to be posting your content based on your page insights.

monthly content planner template

The drop down options in the example above show you just 1 example of how you can use the different types of content to educate, entertain, inspire and promote on your page.

Under files you have the option to drop the actual files, or you can link it if you’ve designed it in a program like Canva. Alternatively, if you are saving files onto an external hard drive, you can write out the file pathway so that you never forget where your content is.

I find that it also helps to have a number in mind for each type of content. If you are posting 3x/week, you could also be posting a Guide 1x/month, you could be aiming for an Instagram live at least 1x/month and so on and so forth.

In my content planner, I’ve created formulas so that the sheet tells me when I’ve created enough of each type of content I have planned. It looks like this and it auto-populates as I input my content into the planner.

content tally

Take It One Step Further

I am an organizational freak, so I actually like to take this content planner one step further by planning every week out.

Essentially this is gives me a day-by-day view of the content, instead of just seeing it as 1 big list in the monthly planner. The nice thing about this step is that you are copying and pasting the data from the monthly planner into the weekly planner tabs.

Weekly planner. Get the Planner Here

The weekly planner has the same tally system on the side as the monthly planner, but it has been modified for the weekly goals.

I really like the weekly planner because then as I plan my week of work, I can go into the weekly planner and I know exactly what’s happening that week in terms of content. Sometimes looking at the big monthly plan can be a lot and my eyes can get tired looking for specific pieces of content. But that’s just my preference.

Best Practices on Social Media – BONUS

As a reminder to myself I like to create a tab that has all of the best practices that I’ve collected over the years. In the heat of a busy week I can forget that I am supposed to engage and what exactly that includes. It can also save me time by reminding me that when I post a Reel, I can post and then leave the app for an hour while the views build (posting and ghosting isn’t my favourite hack, but it does work!).

So How Does This Help You Grow On Instagram?

I started this article by saying that I have secrets to help you grow on Instagram. So what is the big secret?

Consistency.

By using a content planner your content themes will be consistent. Your posting schedule with be consistent. Showing up on stories and using all of the content tools available to you will be – you guessed it – consistent.

The final thing that needs to be consistent is engagement. You have to be on social media every day engaging with your audience. Remember – this is called social media. The more you are on a certain platform engaging with people and creating a fun environment for other users, the longer they will stay on social media. The more you encourage people to stay on the platform with your content, the more Instagram will reward you with views and more followers.

So that’s it! The cat is officially out of the bag and you now know the secret to growing your Instagram. I hope this helps you grow your business, reach your ideal client and help you achieve your higher purpose – whatever it may me.

Want the Instagram content planner I use? You can get yours by clicking the button below! Thank you for support and happy content planning!

Struggling to Plan Social Media Content? Try This!

Creating social media content can sometimes be tricky. I don’t work in the same city as any of my clients, and during the lockdowns both physical locations were closed. So how did I plan my content?

Truth is, during the initial lockdown it was all about reaching out to the staff and clients to see if they’d be willing to contribute content. User Generated Content is a valuable tool when your business operations are interrupted.

Getting that content was not always easy. Staff changes happened, and I wasn’t always able to count on the same people from week to week. Clients were also dealing with their own lives and asking them to help with content creation during an incredibly stressful time verged on being insensitive and tone-deaf.

So I was forced to rethink my social media strategy.

Thanks to TikTok I have been exposed to a number of social media managers who are full of good tips and tricks. One of the best lessons I learned from their 1-minute promo clips is that you should look at social media content as a solution to 4 problems: education, promotion, inspiration/entertainment, and engagement. According to the HubSpot flywheel, content should also attract, engage, and delight.

So using all of this, I now have a pretty fool-proof social media content creation strategy.

Let’s use the flywheel elements as our main framework for social media content. Content that attracts will be entertaining, inspiring, and educational. Engaging content should engage (duh), and entertain (in order to drive more engagement like saves and comments), and promote (enjoying the content so much that they click the shop link or fill out a lead form). And finally, once you have customers, you want to delight them with entertaining and inspiring content, such a testimonials and company updates.

So now let’s look at what each of these types of content can include.

Attract, Engage and Delight Content Ideas for Personal Trainers

By following this content layout, and keeping the 4 solutions in mind (Educate, Entertain/Inspire, Engage and Promote).

If you want a full 30-day content calendar designed specifically for personal trainers, then click the link below:

Social Media Direct Messaging: A Case For Sliding Into DMs and Creating Genuine Business/Brand Relationships

My headline on this website is “Discover the Power of Social First Digital Marketing” so if you are surprised or confused by this title, well, I invite you to keep reading.

Sliding into DMs has quickly become synonymous with the new way of picking someone up. Where you used to get your best friend to tell your crush’s best friend that you like them, we are now using social media as the middle person.

Now, this is a digital marketing page, so I promise that there is a marketing and sales point to be made here.

DMs are the only private area of social media platforms. Your posts on social media are sent out into the world for all to see as soon as you hit “post”. But your DMs are yours. Someone taking the time to send you a DM shows a different level of effort to connect beyond leaving a comment or liking a post. Although there is some abuse of this feature with bots and drop-shipping companies inviting you to their ambassador programs, there is still some opportunity to do good here.

I’ve heard of people building real relationships via DMs, and so in this new era of customer service I think that the DMs are one of – if not the key place – to build genuine connections with your prospects and customers.

The Power of the Modern DM

When I first started using Facebook I was still using MSN messenger. So when Facebook introduced the world to Facebook messenger, there wasn’t anything special about it. Fast forward 15 years and the DM has come a long way.

Facebook, for example, has introduced a number of features for businesses to help improve response times, answer frequently asked questions, and even thank people for sharing recommendations (both negative and positive).

Instagram’s DMs, as an extension of the Facebook ecosystem, are also incredibly powerful. As a personal trainer you definitely want to be using the DMs as a place to nurture leads and current clients. You have a number of options to make this experience as personalized as possible.

Automate Your DMs

The first I recommend is setting up automated DMs. If you’ve ever seen a personal trainer, or any small business owner on IG, include a “DM me [WORD]”, it’s probably because they have set up an auto-response.

You can set up auto-responses through Facebook messenger. On Facebook for desktop go to your Facebook page and on the left hand side choose “Messenger”. On your Business Suite App, click the 9-dot square in the bottom right hand corner, click settings, and then automated responses.

You have a number of options for auto-responses like away messages, hours, etc. but to set up your auto-responses to prompts like “DM me [WORD], you’ll want to use the frequently asked questions button.

In here you’ll set the question to your prompt word. This could be something like CLIENTS or PERSONAL TRAINING or I’M READY. Whatever you choose to be your prompts, make sure you put this in the question box.

Then in the response box write out whatever your auto-response will be. This could be something like

“Hey! Thank you for the DM! I am so excited that you’re interested in personal training with me. Follow the link to learn more about my personal training program. If you’re ready to commit to your fitness today, then hit the button to sign up for my group session!”

Obviously you can customize this to sound more like you and include the information that you want to include. Along with your message you can include an attachment, like a free download or info package, or you can include a button, directing people to sign-up or shop pages.

Automation can save you A LOT of time, and I highly recommend this. I’ll be doing an article on automated email sequences at a later date, so stay tuned for that.

Personalizing the DM experience

Okay so you now have a steady flow of clients following you on Instagram and/or Facebook. What if someone sends you a message with a question, comment or concern?

The absolute best way to respond to these is by making it as personal as possible. You really want to show you care and you that you want to be there for them. What shows you really care? Video and voice messages!

Here’s a quick story to demonstrate my point:

Before moving to Sweden, I had been following Passion for Baking on YouTube. Her Swedish Princess Cake video was so relaxing and it looked delicious! When I was in Sweden, I sent her a message a few weeks before my birthday asking if I could order a cake from. It would be a dream come true to have 1 of her cakes and I’d do anything to have one.

The woman who owns Passion for Baking, someone that I adored, sent me a voice note. It made my day. Even though she was saying that she does not do deliveries, and so the message was disappointing – that didn’t matter. I had just received a voice note from someone who I was a big fan of.

When you are hired as a personal trainer for a client, you are in some way an idol to them. They trust you to care for their health and that trust creates a unique bond. So if they send you a message one night saying they’re feeling really low in confidence and energy and don’t know that to do – send them a voice note or a video message. I promise it will work wonders for your business and only make the client-trainer bond stronger.

Make DMs a Part of Your Funnel

I hope I have made it abundantly clear that DMs can not only save you time on lead generation, but they are also an incredibly valuable tool for client-nurturing activities. It only takes a few minutes to set up your automated messages, and it will save you so much time in the future.

And when your clients are looking for a personal connection to you, sending video or voice messages can help you stand out from all of the other personal trainers on the market.

If you have more questions about how DMs can help you scale you personal training business, send me an email at contact@rileypearce.ca

Client Success Stories from the Pandemic

I think it is fair to say that the fitness industry has been hit really hard during the pandemic. Gyms have been closed for months here in Ontario, Canada and we haven’t been able to stay open for more than 3 months at a time, despite having some of the most strict safety measures.

The pandemic forced many service-based business to modify their services and adapt them to the online world. As a social media manager, and the head of marketing for a personal training business, this has been a year full of challenges.

What makes a challenge worth it? The successes the come from it. Here are some of the successful moments from the pandemic.

Dance Studio Doubles Brand Awareness in Less Than a Year

As the world went into lockdown, the normal foot-traffic and in-person events came to a grinding halt. In August, 2020, I was hired to provide consulting services to a dance studio in Ottawa. They had created a number of new online services, but weren’t getting the marketing help from the Franchisor.

When I started they had 181 followers on Instagram and just over 600 likes on their Facebook page. Here’s where they are at now:

How did they achieve this?

  1. We created a consistent posting schedule. One of the dance instructors would post Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I would post Tuesday and Thursday. Every day had a theme, which creates a collection of content that followers can count on.
  2. We also cleaned up the branding across platforms. Ensuring the profile images were not pixelated, there were useful Instagram highlights, and the images and videos had consistent filters and colour schemes.
  3. I also suggested that they run free workshops using Facebook events to increase awareness and interest in their online group dance classes. By creating an event, we could also use some promotional money to promote that event and get more responses.
  4. In the early days I also suggested running brand awareness campaigns. These typically included their most popular post and just a few dollars a day to get their Facebook and Instagram page in front of more people.

As you can see from the data above, the combination of these strategies has doubled the following on both their Facebook and their Instagram page. We continue to see growth across both platforms and I’ll work closely with the owner to keep this up.

Are you looking for social media management or consulting services? Book a free, 30-minute discovery call. I’d love to chat with you about your goals and how I can help you achieve them.

Dance Studio Sees Massive Increase in Website Visitors from Social Media

Social media is a great tool to connect with new clients and create an engaged community online. But it can also be a great way to get more website visitors. As business owners you know the importance of having a website. It is yours, you own the content on it and it is the place get more leads into your sales funnel/flywheel.

For the dance studio, I wanted to make sure we didn’t just create a social media following. I wanted to make sure that we were using social media as a way to get more people to their brand new website. The more visitors to the website, the more authority it builds, which is great for SEO.

Here are the results:

Data from August 2020 to April 2021

Some key strategies:

  1. Social media ads have definitely played an important role in getting more eyes on the website. For the ads that promoted specific services and products, I always used the Google campaign link creator so ensure that all social media ad clicks would be attributed to social media.
  2. Using the website link space on Instagram and Facebook is so important. Whenever we have a new promotion, service or announcement, I always advise the owner to use a powerful CTA that gets the audience to click through their website.
  3. I encouraged the owner to write 1-2 blog articles per week. These articles are typically business updates and articles to accompany their weekly “Technique Thursday” videos that are shared to their social media channels. Blogs are a powerful tool for SEO and studies show that posting at least 2x/week to your blog and increase your organic website traffic.

We will continue to adapt our strategies and pay attention to the data as the situation changes during the pandemic. When the dance studio is able to open again, we will have to shift our strategy and listen to the audience and clients to ensure our social media strategy continues to provide value, increase brand awareness and drive more leads to the website.

Personal Training Studio Adapts to the Online Market

My day job is working for a personal training business located in Ottawa. They have 6 personal training studios across the city, strategically located in busy business and high-foot-traffic areas.

When the pandemic hit it meant that everyone who used to walk by the location on their way to work or school, were no longer there.

So, like many fitness businesses, we adapted. Sessions moved online and we started to look at how we could keep our trainers and the business top of mind for our clients.

Here are a few key stats from the pandemic:

Newsletter Marketing

Newsletter Stats during the first month of the pandemic

Our weekly newsletter became a hub for content and value-creation for our clients. We wanted to create a place that would connect them and let them know that we still care and value their business. Our open rates averaged ~40% mark, and CTR was always above 4%.

Online Personal Training Stats

We had to move our services online, but we also knew that the whole market would be shifting online. We created specific training packages that were slightly less expensive than our in-studio packages. We’ve also recently created a brand new format of personal training online, Personal Training with Friends, which gives clients access to a personal trainer for $20/session and they get to train with 2 of their friends! This brings back to community and social element of personal training.

During lockdowns, all of our social media marketing was pointing towards our online personal training services. We would share information, answer questions and listen to what the clients were saying online to ensure we provided the best service possible for them.

By including more calls to action and intentionally using our social media channels to drive traffic to our website, we more than double our social traffic to our website:

Lead Generation in Lockdowns

I have to talk about lead generation before I finish this article. This is a crucial part of any fitness business. You need the consult requests and trial offers to be coming in in order to continue growing your business.

Because lockdowns have closed our brick and mortar locations and people are continuing to move out of the city-centers (where most of our locations are), we had to make sure our digital marketing was on point. This means creating content that brings people to the website organically, having the right ads and making sure our social media is optimized for lead generation.

This was the greatest area of growth and learning for me as an individual and the head of marketing. I couldn’t just see the website, social media and online advertising as their own entities. I had to find ways to make sure that our keywords were present on the website and social media. As I looked at the traffic insights from google analytics and social media insights, I learned more about the types of people who were asking for consult requests. This information was then passed on to our SEO team who runs the ads for us.

By making sure all of our digital marketing efforts were working together, we actually saw a slight increase in consult requests during the lockdowns, than we saw the previous year. Here are those stats:

I’d be lying if I told you this was a smooth and simple process. I have had to create systems for myself and the company to make sure that our digital marketing strategy is analyzed and adapted on a regular basis. Seeing social, email, inbound and paid digital marketing as 1 integrative system has taken to adjust to, but it has paid off.

One of the greatest lessons from this past year has been that adaptability and empathy are crucial. The expectations from the public change from day to day, the English language continues to evolve and our responsibility to provide an inclusive service has never been more important.

Empathy and adaptability have been the main drivers of all of the strategies used. If you market with compassion and open-mindedness, your business can never fail.

If you’re curious about how social media and inbound marketing can help you achieve your business goals, book a free 30-minute call. I’d love to chat with you about your goals and how I can help you achieve them.

Using Emerging Technology to Power the Future of Marketing in the Fitness Industry

This morning I woke up with a thought: “how could VR be used for retail and services?” The thought was prompted by a video I recently watched of Gary Vaynerchuk speaking to an audience and he just casually mentioned that people should be paying attention to VR for retail. In the moment I was like huh? That seems gimicky to me.

But then the thought lingered in my mind.

So when I woke up this morning I decided to do some research. Turns out publications like Forbes have been writing about the use of AR and VR since 2018. This is not a new idea, but it is one that has taken time to gain any type of popularity. I would argue that it still isn’t anywhere near being a popular idea.

Who is Using VR?

I have a family connection to an architect who designs hospitals. I can remember a number of years ago that they were discussing the use of VR to help show hospital directors and CEOs what the hospital would look like. So instead of showing drawing and mock-up images, these individuals were now able to step inside the future hospital and get a feel for the space as if they were really walking around it.

This makes sense as an application for VR and I feel like the difference that makes for the architecture industry is significant. Contrast that to the retail example that Gary V was talking about, I thought that VR in shopping would be ridiculous.

This would require everyone to own a VR device. Now, most of our phones are actually already capable of this. In fact there are YouTube videos that you can watch using your phone and a set of VR goggles that immerse you in the video. So we are halfway there but the goggles range in price and quality so that can be tricky.

But let’s say everyone is ready with the goggles and the technology to take advantage of VR in the retail space. This could create a number of options for retailers. As a consumer I could enter store in VR and look around for a pair of pants, for example. If I find a pair I like I might be able to try them on in VR, given my phone stores data about my measurements. If you’ve ever bought a pair of jeans online in “your size” only to receive them and have them be too big or too small, then you can see how this would be a very cool application of VR.

But again, this all depends on consumers having the tools to access this type of shopping and the retailers have the manpower and technology to develop this. Which, if you read between the lines, will mean that this is reserved to the wealthy and the mega-retailers.

So after I had done some research and added and removed a number of different VR goggles from my Amazon shopping cart, I started thinking about how this could be applied to service-based businesses like a personal training facility.

VR at the Gym

The following examples are very specific to the gym setting that I work in, but I do believe that these ideas could be modified to fit your working environment as well.

When I think about VR and AR (augmented reality) at the gym I can imagine a few different applications.

We are currently working on creating video content to help answer clients questions and to help give new clients a better understanding of what the personal training experience is like at Free Form Fitness.

If we were to use VR we could actually take these clients to the specific gym they are looking at training at and take them on a virtual tour of the facilities answering the most frequently asked questions and maybe even including a virtual testimonial in this video. So now not only are we onboarding the client with a welcome package and video series, but we have given them a chance to imagine their lives within the space. That familiarity makes people more inclined to spend their money at that specific business.

We also have a Virtual training option, which brings 1-1 personal training sessions into the home via a zoom call. Many people feel like these sessions could never compare to what you get at the gym. But what if we took people through a workout using VR and showed them that even with goggles on they have enough space and equipment to get a great workout from home.

There are a lot of cool ways you could help introduce a client to the personal training experience using VR.

Now AR has a few applications as well. During the consultations we typically take the new client on a tour of the facility and explain that in 1 area people typically stretch, in another area we use specific equipment for specific exercises. But what if we gave the new client an iPad (which we already have at the gym) and let them point to different areas around the gym and see how each space is used.

I think about all of the young, nervous clients that I used to train. It would take them several sessions to understand the general flow of the space and how they could use each space while they were waiting for their session to begin, or after their session during their cool down. Having a visual representation of this would eliminate all of those nerves, making people feel even more comfortable with the service you are providing.

Outside of the personal training studio space, larger big-box style gyms could provide AR that would demonstrate to their members how to safely use different pieces of equipment. On certain machines they have images that show how to use it, but even those can be confusing. And what about free weights, suspension trainers, and squat racks? What if a member could point their camera at one of those and be shown a number of exercises ranging from beginner to advanced that are possible?

This Tech Can Take Gym Spaces to the Next Level

I have a number of other ideas that would massively improve the gym experience and even make life easier for the personal trainers and facility managers as well, but I’ll save those for another day.

The point I am trying to make it that although AR, VR and even AI may seem confusing or too futuristic, this is the time to start exploring their applications. Especially if you are in the marketing space like I am. My whole purpose is to assess the market and then figure out how the company can deliver exceptional service to our clients, therefore resulting in a greater piece of the market-pie.

As marketers this tech-tools should be at the front of our minds because their applications could improve and augment the experience of our clients. And if you can create new best practices using this tech, and create a whole new set of experiences for the clients – well, wouldn’t that be something?

Where do I go from this explosion of curiosity and ideas? I’ve added a tech board to my feedly app so I can stay on top of trends and continue to feed these curiosities and ideas. I’ll continue to explore and theorize all of the ways this emerging tech could be integrated into the industry and daydream about the way it could change the future of the industry forever.

How to Write a Blog Like HubSpot

I spend a lot of time reading HubSpot articles. I stumbled upon their articles early in 2020 after listening to The Marketing Book Podcast and hearing them mentioned a number of times. I figured if all of these prominent marketing and sales authors are talking about HubSpot, there’s probably something good going on there. In this article I am going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to write a blog like HubSpot.

Who/What is HubSpot?

HubSpot is a an all-inclusive customer management and business marketing system. The company recently hit a major milestone have over 100,000 subscribers to their CRM (customer relationship management system). The cost of their software? Over $1,000. So with 100,000 subscribers to their software that’s a very successful company.

But here’s the thing – this is not a greedy, slimey tech company like so many of us have learned to know. No there is a great deal of integrity that comes through with everything that HubSpot produces.

I follow them on every form of social media and they do an exceptional job of engagement. They share information and then give the audience a chance to retweet or reply. On instagram they often use polls to help you move through an educational piece of content.

As a customer relationship management software company you would hope that they would be this good at connecting with their customers.

HubSpot also runs a very popular marketing conference, Inbound, which is named after the 21st-century mega-marketing strategy known as Inbound marketing. This is the core marketing strategy that I have learned from HubSpot and it has helped many businesses around the world bring their customers to their website. Not only that, but once those customers are on the website, Inbound marketing creates an ecosystem on the website that is full of educational content that helps answer the customer’s questions, dispel their doubts, and make them believers and high quality leads.

The best part – besides the time and labour required to make the content, Inbound marketing is essentially a free lead generation system.

But enough about that. This article is about the fool-proof method that HubSpot uses to write articles that educate and convert customers.

Titles that Answer Audience Questions

The best way to write a title is to write it in a way that answers your target audience’s questions (or your buyer personas questions, to be more specific). This is not just about writing about what you think your customers are asking about – its about doing the research to know exactly who you customers are and what their specific pain-points and questions will be.

For example, I have been talking a lot about ClubHouse in my IGTV series, #SocialSaturdays, but because I am an android user, I can’t access the app and therefore don’t know how it works. As a social media manager, I imagine I fit into one of he 4-5 buyer personas that HubSpot has created through buyer persona research. We are young, eager learners who like to stay on top of social media trends. So they wrote the following article with this title:

Starting an article with “How To” has been shown in tons of studies to be great for click through rates. I needed help understanding how to use ClubHouse, and HubSpot wrote a How To article, and made sure to mention it was a step-by-step guide.

So step 1 of writing a blog like Hubspot: Let your audience know that you are going to answer their question in the title.

The Art of Instant Gratification

Another thing that sets HubSpot apart is their use of free resources to provide instant gratification to their audience. If I am looking for how to create a marketing plan I can read through their article, or I can get an instant download of a marketing plan template – score!

All you have to do to get the resource is enter your email and voila – free resources. Of course this means that you are now part of HubSpot’s CRM, and more often than not you’ll receive an email shortly after downloading a few resources asking if you’d like to set up a call to talk about their CRM software. This is fine and their customer management employee are pleasant to deal with.

Anyways – back to blogging.

Once you’ve drawn in your audience with a great title that lets them know you are going to answer their questions, the next thing you can do is let your audience know that there’s a free template available. Like this:

I have become trained to look for those square brackets when I am perusing the HubSpot blog. I know that the articles with those square brackets have additional value and their resources are always awesome.

Step 2 of writing a blog like Hubspot: Add extra value as soon as possible (if it is relevant to your article)

Guide Your Reader

When an article is going to be longer format, it is important to introduce the contents of the article in a table of contents. Not only does this allow the reader to jump to the relevant section it is also great for Google Featured Snippets, which are those quick answers that Google gives you when you ask a question like “What are popular social media apps?” and it gives you something that looks like this:

When Google is crawling a website it will look for HTML anchors associated with headers (this is why being strategic with H2 and H3 headers is important), or bullet point lists. If you get these right you’ll find yourself with a coveted spot on the first page of Google search.

Step 3 of writing a blog like Hubspot: Use a table of contents to help guide the user through the subtopics in your article

Highlighting Content

Okay so I have a confession. I have been using one of the HubSpot tricks throughout this article. Those grey-ish blue boxes that highlight the steps to writing a blog like HubSpot – that’s a strategy used by HubSpot for a number of different purposes.

I particularly enjoy when they use it to summarize the main points of the article, or, when they use these highlighted sections to provide a definition of a technical term. Look at this example from their article on how “How to Optimize Your Content for Google’s Featured Snippet Box”:

As someone arriving at their site you would be looking for more information on the featured snippets. HubSpot very quickly gives you a dedicated moment in the article to learn what a Featured Snippet is and they explain it in layman’s terms. This helps build trust with the audience and establishes HubSpot as an expert on the subject.

So without further ado, here is my next highlighted section:

Step 4 of writing a blog like Hubspot: Create highlighted sections to build trust with your audience and make it easy to pick out important content.

The Rest Is Just Good Webcopy Etiquette

After optimizing their title, adding value right away, creating a roadmap for the reader, and making important content as obvious as possible the rest is just good online writing etiquette. Here’s a summary of the best practices for blogging

  • Use headers to break up the text into sections. These are your H2, H3, etc. tags. They can also be crawled by Google and can improve your SEO rank
  • Keep your paragraphs short and easy to read. A paragraph with too much text will look like neverending text on a mobile device and it will be easy for the reader to lose focus. Remember that humans have short attention spans, and those white spaces between paragraphs are enough to refocus your audience
  • Using active voice more than passive voice. Active voice is a more accessible way to write and will be easier for larger audiences to understand.
  • Break up your text with relevant media. This is where the highlights boxes can be useful. You can also embed videos or images, just as long as they add to the content and don’t distract the audience from the content.
  • Have clear calls to action throughout your text. HubSpot invites you to read related articles and download useful resources throughout their articles. This is great for lead generation and for keeping people on your website longer (which is great for SEO).

Step 5 of writing a blog like Hubspot: Remember the basics of good online writing.

You Are Now Ready to Write a Blog Like HubSpot!

If you follow and practice these 5 steps in your own writing, you’ll be well on your way to writing blogs like HubSpot. Remember that knowing your audience is like the pre-step to these steps. You have to know who your audience is before you start answering questions.

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#SocialSaturdays – February 27

Every Saturday on my Instagram page I host an IGTV series called Social Saturdays. In this series I talk about what’s going on in the world of social media, and provide actionable tips and resources for social media managers and digital marketers. Check out the last three episodes here:

I took a quick break from Social Saturday last week because I was in Ottawa for work and visiting family and there really wasn’t any spare time in my schedule. I did have an idea for the video, but I am going to save that one for later šŸ˜‰

On tonight’s show, I am talking about a couple interesting topics.

Is ClubHouse Living Up to the Hype?

Two weeks ago I talked about Twitter Spaces and how this will be Twitter’s attempt at competing against ClubHouse. Since then it feels like all I have heard about in the social media-verse has been ClubHouse this, and Clubhouse That.

More and more of the podcasts that I listen to are talking about ClubHouse and inviting their listeners to follow them on ClubHouse, which is great if you are on an iPhone. However, if you’re an android user there isn’t a way for you to join in on the fun.

I have found an app that is similar to ClubHouse and available to my fellow android users. It is called Stereo and uses avatars as talking heads, and allows you to host live podcasts (similar to ClubHouse).

Stereo App – ClubHouse Alternative

So I haven’t had the chance to really play with the app yet, but I do find the user interface very easy to use. The app is free, and when you initially sign up you get to create your own avatar, which is a fun feature. You’ll also have a chance to choose some topics that are relevant to you as a listener and stereo user. And – it is available on iOS and Android devices (Take that ClubHouse and Twitter Spaces!) This is what my avatar and profile looks like.

Once you’ve created your profile and chosen a couple relevant topics to follow, you’ll be taken to the main listening page of the app. This is the one area that I don’t love, but only because it auto-plays the audio. You are able to mute the app, but I would prefer an option to yes, join, or to simply keep swiping through the shows and have the muted feature as the default.

Speaking of which, that is a fun feature of the app. Unlike ClubHouse where the shows are invite only, Stereo allows you to swipe through shows and discover new topics very easily. While watching a show you also have the chance to send reactions, which is a feature found on Twitter Spaces. You can record a quick message as well, or share the show with friends.

Sample screen from the stereo app

When you want to go live for a show you have to partner with someone in order to go live. This is where having friends on the app comes in handy. You can invite a friend, colleague, or guest to go live with you and start your live audio immediately, or Stereo will pair you with someone in your niche.

If you are adventurous and feel like having a conversation with a stranger to get new insights and perspectives, this is actually a very cool feature. The openness and randomness of it makes this a true social platform because you get to connect with people you know, but also get to know new people.

If you’d like to follow me on Stereo, click this link to get started.

Tips for Instagram Users

The second topic on the show is all about using Instagram. I wanted to give this platform a special shoutout in the show because I feel like it has been getting some criticisms that I choose to see as opportunities.

Instagram responds to every new trend by creating their own version.

  • Snapchat = stories
  • YouTube = IGTV
  • Pinterest = Guides
  • TikTok = Reels
  • Facebook Live = Instagram Live

Now although it may seem like they lack imagination, Instagram has always added additional features to these to make them useful tools for any creator or business. Stories have a number of capabilities, great features, augmented reality capabilities, and tons of stickers that help businesses create more conversations (DM Sticker, Ask me Anything, Polls, etc.).

WIth IGTV, although it seems like these are being forgotten by Instagram, they can create value for a business who is not ready to make the move to YouTube. I like using them because it the vertical layout feels more personal, and it is on the platform that I am creating all of my content. This allows me to tell a more consistent story throughout my feed.

I think that Guides are a very cool tool. Instagram Guides lets you choose accounts or posts to highlight in 1 guide. I have used this to create a guide for PT clients that helps them find healthy post-workout options after their session at one of our locations. When I created the guide, it notified the accounts we included and they gave us a shoutout as well. So these are a secret weapon for creating and engaging your community. It also gives you more authority within your niche because you are able to make recommendations.

Lastly, IG Reels are the best way for Instagrammers to increase their reach exponentially. Before Reels the only way to be found by other accounts was to promote your account on other platforms, or find a way onto the explore page. With Reels, users are finally able to access more instagram accounts than ever.

So although there will always been shiney new social media apps popping up, Instagram has been a leader in adapting to the new trends and giving their users similar tools while maintaining the goal of connecting users through beautiful content.

That’s it for this week! As a reminder you can watch the full IGTV #SocialSaturdays Episode tonight on my Instagram. It usually gets posted around 6:30 pm, unless I run into technical difficulties.

Let me know in the comments what you’d like me to talk about in next week’s episode!

Top Social Media and Marketing Article of the Week (Feb 8 – Feb 12)

I am going to start a new series of blog posts that highlights some of the best articles that I have come across. I use an app called Feedly to organize marketing and social media content and spend an hour every day reading through the latest articles.

From the articles in my feed I’ll select a handful of the most useful articles and share with you why they were worthy and how I could see client’s using the strategies outlined in the articles in their own online marketing efforts.

Without further a-do, here are the articles I’ll be covering this week:

  1. How Micromarketing can take you strategy to the next level” – Hubspot
  2. Social Media Customer Service: To Do it Right” – Hootsuite

“How Micromarketing can take you strategy to the next level” – Hubspot

I am a big fan of HubSpot and they do an excellent job of presenting new ideas that allow you to dive deeper into the world on marketing. What I liked about this article was that it was a quick read. When I am being introduced to a new topic, I like to get a summary-type of article so that I am not too bogged down with details. (Imagine a teacher explaining organic chemistry on your first day of science class, instead of teaching you about the periodic table.)

They provided some well-known examples of micromarketing as well, which I found to be very effective. Their use of the Coca-Cola “Share a Coke” campaign helped make the idea of micromarketing very clear.

So what is micromarketing? Based on what I understand from the article it is an even more detailed look at your customer-base and designing marketing campaigns or products/services that speak to the customer directly or a small subset of a larger target audience.

In the example of “Share a Coke”, Coca-Cola was able to provide a personalized experience by printing 150 of the most popular names on their bottles. When the campaign launched they were able to track the bottles that were purchased to get a better idea of who is buying their bottles. More importantly, as mentioned in the HubSpot article, they ended up selling 250 million bottle of coca-cola in a country of 23 million people.

By simply adding a personalized touch to the bottles, they inspired more people to buy more of their products. This is the key to micromarketing: go deeper with your segmentation and targeting. Learn more about your customers/audience, and deliver better products, services, and marketing based on their unique qualities.

Social Media Customer Service: To Do it Right” – Hootsuite

What really struck me about this article was that they opened it with a number of important facts relating to the customer experience online. I’ve included a screengrab of the facts here:

So there is a lot to take in there but I want to focus in on the fact that customer service interactions will increase by 40% this year, and that the time it takes a brand to respond on twitter drops by 30% when they don’t have a designated customer service account.

I don’t know about you, but I have taken to Twitter in the past to reach out to brands when I have a customer service issue. The quickness of those responses is a major factor in how I feel about the brand. I can remember when I tweeted about waiting patiently for my Monday newsletter from Greatist and within a few minutes I had received a DM from them and they were DMing me to say thank you and offer to send me a free t-shirt for being a fan of the blog.

I have never forgotten that experience and still think highly of Greatist because of that interaction.

I wanted to highlight this article because it ties in another relevant practice on social media, which is social listening and monitoring. This is the practice of setting up filters to monitor conversations online about your brand, your niche, and the news. This allows you (as a brand) to interact with people who are talking about your brand – and not necessarily tagging you or using a hashtag. It keeps social media social, which is something you’ll hear me say a lot.

Having a customer service account dedicated to responding to customer service requests is an important part of that online conversation. By dedicating accounts, and therefore a team, to this effort you can expect a higher satisfaction rate from your customers. The customer service representatives are also the ones who have been trained to handle customer service requests, so they are the best trained for these interactions – online or in-person.

Summary

I have to be honest, this was a very busy week, so I wasn’t able to read as much as I had hoped. With that said, I am noticing a trend towards both of the ideas mentioned in this article: more defined targetting/getting to know your customers on a deeper, more detailed leve and better online customer service.

The two ideas go hand-in-hand. If you understand your customer better, you’ll know how to answer their questions better. If you are responding to customer service requests in a timely manner, you’re learning about the issues your customers are having while also providing a great experience for them.

If you are to implement these ideas into your marketing and customer service efforts, I would bet that you’d see a more positive brand sentiment and greater overall satisfaction from your customers.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

4 Benefits of Social Media Giveaways

If you are on social media chances are you have seen, or have even entered, a social media giveaway. All you have to do to enter is like, tag other accounts, and follow the account(s) running the contest.

There are few major benefits to doing social media giveaways:

  1. Increase brand awareness
  2. Highlight a company value
  3. Build strong connections with other businesses or influencers
  4. Increase your following

Increase Brand Awareness

With all of these people liking and tagging their friends, your brand is getting a major boost for impressions. A few brands and influencers have really nailed this by offering incredible giveaways. The major one that comes to mind from this past year is Love-Islander, Molly-Mae Hague’s summer giveaway. This included iPads and Louis Vuitton handbags and laptops – it was a massively generous giveaway and the generosity awarded her almost 3 million comments, millions of likes, and she even had articles written about the event.

This was to thank her followers for 1 million YouTube subscribers and certainly got the word out about Molly-Mae.

Highlight a Company Value

Depending on what you decide to giveaway or the companies and influencers you partner with, you can use these giveaways to share something that you care about. Right now I am running a giveaway on one of the Instagram pages that I manage and we are highlighting the fact that we support our community.

Supporting local has been a big part of 2020, and as this company is a local business, I wanted to make sure we let the public know that we really do walk-the-walk and it isn’t only self-serving. Not only will the giveaway prize be a gift card purchased by the company (not donated), but the giveaway also gives clients a chance to interact with a charity that we are supporting for the holiday season.

The giveaway will definitely give us more followers. But those followers will have a special first engagement with the brand. Their first impression of this company will be that they are generous, and that they support local initiatives.

Now if your first impression of a brand was that they gave back to their community, I’d bet that the brand made a pretty good first impression on you.

Build Strong Connections with Other Businesses or Influencers

In the social media space we can sometimes forget that social media is meant to be social – not just to glorify our own stories and promote our products (though it is a great tool for that). By running giveaways we really open up a great opportunity to be social with other brands and influencers online.

Before setting up a giveaway it is important to reach out to the accounts you’ll be partnering with or donating to. You’ll want to establish a relationship with those accounts so they know you’re a legitimate partner, and that you’ll stick to your word when it comes time to donate.

If all goes well and the two (or however many) of you are happy with the results, you’ve just made a very strong social media connection.

Think about your personal account. You probably follow a few hundred people on social media, you may even like the majority of posts that you encounter on your carefully curated feed. But then there’s the people that you’ll be happy to respond to their stories. You comment on their posts, and you’ll even try something they’ve shared on their feeds.

The example above shows the kind of relationship that businesses and influencers can have on social media if they leverage things like giveaways. Let me say it again: social media is meant to be social. So don’t be afraid to reach out and engage. You could find yourself in a symbiotic social media relationship.

Increase your following

I left this one as the final benefit of social media giveaways because although it is definitely a benefit it comes with an asterisk. You can expect to see a major boost in followers during the giveaway, but if your content afterwards doesn’t meet the new follower’s needs, then you’ll likely lose them.

Be sure that if you are looking to gain followers from a giveaway, that you nurture those new followers. Send them a direct message after following and ask them what type of content they love on social media. If you see yourself losing a large number of followers after the giveaway, try posting a few stories with the poll or question stickers.

You’ll never know until you ask.

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How to Start Writing Articles

I have been writing content for Free Form Fitness for 2 and a half years. It seems crazy that in just 7 weeks I will have written 150 articles for them.

Here are this articles main points:

The One Thing I Always Ask Myself Before Writing

The thing is, every single week I think to myself “what the h*ll am I supposed to write about now??” Even as I stared at the blank page of this blog post I had that exact same thought.

Before I opened this page I had 15-20 ideas swirling around in my head. I have been thinking about starting this website for weeks now and have 2-3 new blog ideas every day. So why is my mind struggling to find a topic?

My theory with this is that as soon as it comes down to the moment that you have to put your words on the page there is a moment of self-doubt, or fear, or insecurity that creeps in. The questions of “who actually cares?”, and “what if it isn’t as good as I want it to be”, or even “what if people hate it”, all come to my mind when I begin the process of writing an article.

If every content writer allowed these thoughts to stop them there wouldn’t be any content online – and wouldn’t that be an absolute shame.

What Helps: Target Topics

When I write for Free Form Fitness I know that all of my topics should somehow relate back to health, fitness, and (most importantly), personal training. When I looking for a new topic to write I just have to think about something within those broad topics and ask myself a specific question. The answer to that question becomes the article.

For this article, as it is my first on this website, I had to think about what my broad topics are for this website. My tagline talks about discovering what it takes to be a self-taught marketer so what broad topics can relate to that.

For me, these topics are:

  • Content Writing Strategies (like this one)
  • Content Creation Resources (like Canva and Pinterest)
  • Marketing Ideas (from campaigns to copy)
  • Life as a self-taught marketer (from imposter syndrome to rewarding success)

With these 4 broad topics in mind I can continue to ask myself questions and seek out answers to them. Another very important part of this is that as I live my life and do my job, these topics will always be on the back of my mind. So when I complete a new project, or if I come up against a problem, I can write down the idea and share it here.

Let me say that again: write down the idea.

If you think you’re going to remember a topic idea, my hat goes off to you. There have been many great ideas lost because I thought that’d I would ” remember them later.”

So if you are new to content writing I’m going to tell you something that I wish someone had told me when I first started: know you broad topics, and then ask questions about them. Even if you think they are common knowledge, they may not be. Better yet, you may even be able to find an aspect of that common answer that most people didn’t understand. Your writing will always be unique because you’ve written it.

Just Start Writing

Once you’ve figured out your broad topics, and you have a few questions you want to answer, just start writing. Start writing whatever comes to mind and before you know it you’ll have the beginning of a great article in front of you.

I’ll share some of my favourite writing editing tools and resources in later blogs because for now I just want you to start writing. We’ll get into the nitty gritty of publishing an article at a later date.

If you like what you’ve read, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter. I use this newsletter to keep subscribers updated on the latest blog. That’s it. I’m not trying to sell anything. I just want to keep you informed.

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