They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of the #2 most popular social media platform, Instagram, those pictures are proving to be worth a lot more, especially for network marketing/direct sales businesses.

No doubt you’ve heard stories or seen articles about women, just like you, who are not only making a name for themselves on this popular social media platform, but also are generating new leads, selling more products, and connecting with people all over the world.

What is Instagram?

If you’re not already familiar with Instagram, it’s an app that basically allows you to share photos/videos right from your phone. You can use pictures/video from your camera roll or take one directly from the app. Then, you can spice up your photos with filters, some text, and/or hashtags before sharing it with your followers.

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has continued to grow in popularity. In June 2016, Instagram announced, “… Our community has grown to over 500 million Instagrammers – more than 300 million people using Instagram every single day.” Facebook even took notice and purchased the app in 2012 for $1 billion.

Why Use Instagram?

Because so many people are using Instagram, it can be a great place to find and connect with potential customers and business partners. As a network marketing/direct sales professional, Instagram can help you tell a story about your products and business by using engaging pictures to get attention from people on the internet.

As you probably know – pictures and videos are the “hottest” forms of communication on social media platforms, as they receive more clicks, likes, and shares than anything else.

Instagram allows you to:
::    Create your own “media channel” so you can publish tips and content that attracts people who are interested in what you have to offer
::    “Show” people your products and opportunity (instead of telling them)
::    Help people solve a problem or get a result (by sharing helpful tips or content related to your products and opportunity).
::    Help YOU stand out and create a following related to your area of expertise (health and wellness, weight loss, beauty tips, etc.)

How to Get Started Using Instagram

Create a Compelling Profile – If you want to inspire people to follow you on your Instagram account, you need an effective and attractive profile.  Your profile should:

::    Contain the same name or “social media handle” you use in other places (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

::    Include a friendly, professional-looking picture.

::    Include a link to your website so followers can read more about you and your biz. (This is REALLY important as ideally you want to move people from Instagram to your main website, where they can learn more about you, your products and your business opportunity.)

::    Use popular keywords to make it easy for people to find or discover you. (Use the search bar in Instagram to research keywords in your niche, i.e. health and wellness, beauty tips + hacks, etc.)

Have a “Posting Strategy” – Instagram can help you get attention for what you do and attract people who may want to buy your products or check out your opportunity. Before you hit the “share” button, you need to have a sound strategy for why, when, what, and how often you post.

Ask yourself:
::    WHO is my ideal prospect – what kinds of people are the best fit for my products and business?
::    What kind of posts does this audience want to see? What content or ideas would be interesting or helpful?
::    What do I want my audience to know about me, my team, my products, or my opportunity?
::    When does my audience seem most engaged with my posts? What are the best times to post?
::    Am I posting enough, or too much? How often do I want/need to post?
::    What type of content do I want to share? (images, inspirational quotes/sayings, video, or a mix of all three?)
::    What type of visual story do I want my Instagram feed to tell?

Being aware of these factors will help you create content your followers will look forward to seeing. Over time, you can build the kind of connection and relationship that leads to more sales and even new members.

How to Use Hashtags Correctly – If you’re not familiar with the term hashtag, it’s a word or short phrase, proceeded by “#” symbol, commonly used on social media.

Hashtags turn phrases into a searchable link, which then makes it easy to search for topics, names, or products of interest. They’re also ideal for organizing and tracking content.

Hashtags are a very helpful way to “tag” your images so people searching for those terms will discover your images or content and find you. For example, if you have a weight-loss product, you may use a hashtag like #loseweight or #getfit with your post. When people search for those terms, they can find YOUR images and may start to follow you (yes, a new lead!).

If you sell skin care, you might use a hashtag like #beautytips or #lookyounger with your post.

Ideally, you should incorporate no more than 4-5 hashtags into your post description. Don’t hashtag every single word, just pick the most relevant and popular.

#Hashtag Tip: Not sure what hashtags to use? Think about topics that would be of interest to you or your followers, or are relevant to your post. Try to avoid hashtags with millions of posts, as this could cause your post to get lost in the Instagram fray.give

Give and You Shall Receive – You don’t want to use your Instagram feed to constantly post pictures of your products or business. People get turned off and will stop following you.

Instead, use the Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook philosophy created by Gary Vaynerchuk. In other words, about 80-90% of your posts should be about providing helpful tips or content for your followers, while the remaining 10-20% should direct them to your products or opportunity.

“Value” post should include:
::    Tips and inspirational quotes related to your topic (health and wellness, organizing, weight loss, beauty tips, or whatever makes sense for your products and biz opportunity)
::    Re-posts from other accounts (share posts from other people’s Instagram pages, etc.)
::    Interesting finds – other useful “stuff” you come across on the internet
::    Favorite memes or funny pics

“Ask” posts should:
::    Focus on your biz
::    Showcase your products or opportunity
::    Talk about a new product launch, upcoming sale, invite people to check out your business, etc.

Keep-calm-and-stay- engaged-9Stay Engaged – Like any social media platform, it’s all about building relationships with people. When someone likes or comments on your posts, comment back. Answer their question, thank them for commenting, etc.

Another great strategy is to “follow” people who follow you. It shows them you appreciate their follow and value their engagement and interaction. Be sure to like and comment on other people’s content as well.

If you use a popular hashtag in your posts, be sure to check out other posts in that hashtag and like or comment on them.

What’s Next for Instagram?

Like its parent company Facebook, Instagram continues to evolve and change. Recently Instagram upped its game with the release of Instagram Stories, a feature similar to Snapchat.

Now, users can share videos or multiple photos with their followers directly from the app. You can share as many as you like each day, though each story disappears after 24 hours. You can share your stories with all your followers, make them private, or send them as a private message. Instagram Stories are now appearing at the top of everyone’s feed.

To create your own story, simply click the Story icon, (circle with +), and begin recording or snapping photos. Think of it as another option for engaging and building your biz and your relationships.

By: Sonia Stringer

My Name is Ali Ghavami. I'm PhD Techno-Entrepreneurship and MSc statistics. My career is University Lecturer, Business Consultant and Market Analyst. In this page, I'm going to share with you, my useful application contents which are the result of my many years experiences and knowledge in launching startups and consulting to over 30.000 entrepreneurs and companies in Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, Canada, UK, Australia and also membership in "American Marketing Association", "Iranian eCommerce Association", "Iran Specialists Association", and "Iranian Statistical Society".

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