Business Success


  • Written by Ashley Ann

Today I'm going to give you guys some information that I think you probably don't know, along with some general rules of doing business on Instagram. So first thing first, a lot of you guys will be shocked to know that the average American spends about 53 minutes a day on Instagram. Did you also know that the average American using Instagram, who is between the ages of 19 and 35, admits to checking Instagram at least three times a day? And then out of that group, 70% of them admit to using Instagram when they're in the car ... driving (at the red lights and stop signs, of course). How many of you can believe that? I believe it because I see people all the time when I'm driving. Sometimes I see them at stoplights, mid-roll in traffic, down the road, with their phone stuck up by the visor. This has become part of our real life.

So as I always tell my audience, the number one rule of marketing is to be where your customers are ... get in front of them … and a lot of them are on the Gram! Now don't get it twisted; 92% of millennials, baby boomers, and generation Y have Facebook accounts. So they have Facebook accounts, but the daily usage isn't the same as it is; 51% of millennials admit to using Instagram every day. If you notice when you're on Facebook and looking at the users, the demographic on Facebook has become older. That is because, on Facebook, you have a lot of people who are actual baby boomers. These groups of people are 50, 55, 60, 65 using Facebook, and there was nothing wrong with that at all. However, depending on who you're trying to reach in your content and your customer base, this will have a significant shift for some of you and what platforms you've been putting your energy into.

So, for instance, if I'm doing my videos or Lives on Facebook, my analytics track in real-time shows me if the video performed well with women between the ages of 48 and 58 who live on the West coast. It tells me that as the video is working. The average age of my viewer on Facebook is always older than the average age of my viewer on Instagram whenever they're watching my live stream. And I know some of you are like, why does this matter? Well, it matters because depending on what type of product or services you have, it will have a massive impact on what platform you need to be spending your money on and what platform you need to be spending your time on as far as creating content. It may not be the case for all of you because some of you may have a pretty young base on Facebook, and they really like using Facebook. So some of your analytics when you're doing videos, live streams, or if you boost a post, it may perform really well with people that are between the ages of 28 and 32. I believe it depends on your audience base, and your analytics will show you. I found this interesting as some of you have products and services designed for people in specific age groups. So some of you probably just realized you've been spending a lot of time on the wrong platforms.

Now what's really unique about Instagram, which I love …  on Instagram, someone is four times more likely to engage with you than they are on Facebook, specifically for companies and brands. So for businesses, brands, and companies, an Instagram user is four times more likely to follow you, comment, share your content, or like your posts compared to Facebook. So now, not only is it a numbers game, it may be the pool of people you are circulating in. For some of you may see that the pool of people here is smaller here on the Gram, but you will be seen more often, and you are going to be able to develop a relationship. In turn, that may become a more lucrative source for leads, sales, and those types of things.

When we come to Generation X or Gen X, those are the young ones. Gen X and Gen Y, with Millennials being in the middle, in case you are wondering. So when we talk about Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials, you're pretty much talking about anyone from an infant up to, I believe, it's around 50 to 55. When they get into baby boomers and boomers, those are going to start becoming your people that are 56 and older. So consider an If you get into an app like Snapchat, which is pretty much dominated by people 17 and under. There are people in their late twenties and early thirties there, but the rate for someone over 40 is almost non-existent; the percentages are actually under 5%. Just to try and put stuff into perspective for you.

Next, what surprises people about Instagram is that Instagram users typically have a higher disposable income than Facebook users. The social media app with the highest income rate for users is LinkedIn, but LinkedIn is built for business, so you get a lot of COO CFOs, a lot of owners, or owner-operators. LinkedIn is a different market, but if we're going between Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, Instagram has the highest rate. Think about it, a lot of the people on Instagram are in their prime earning years. You have a lot of Millennials on Instagram. So if someone tells you that there's not any money to be made on the Gram, you can tell them scram. I don't know why people believe that. I don't know. I don't know who started a vicious rumor, but people believe it, and it's just not true.

When it comes to Millenials and Gen X, 49% already say that they follow brands and companies on Instagram, and 78% of Millennials will go and search for a brand, a company, or a product on Instagram before they go to the company's website. So before somebody finds your website before someone is hitting Bing, or the Yellow Pages before someone is on Yelp, they are going in, they're looking, on them via Instagram with hashtags (yes, hashtags work). I do it all the time, looking for a photographer in whatever city I'm in because I want to schedule a photoshoot while I'm there.

I will pop onto Instagram and type in #photography, #photographers, #atantaphotograhy and start searching to find photographers that I could contact if I liked their work and have scheduled a shoot with them. Many people have found me for wedding planning on my EventsByAshleyAnn IG 
People search Instagram for everything, restaurants, yogurt shops, and they are out there looking to figure out where they want to go, where they want to spend their money, who they want to pursue, who they want to do business within real life. I want to put it into perspective for you to understand what a powerful tool it is, and it's a straightforward tool. Instagram is accessible to pretty much everyone, but many of you just haven't put together a plan on how to use it for your business.

So, the first thing we want to do when we get into general rules for trying to do business on Instagram, I need about 95% of you reading this to go and take a look at your bio. Most of our bios are self-centered and are "like me" focused instead of "you" focused. "You" focused is how you add value to the consumer, how you add value to a customer, what type of content they can expect from you what you can do for someone else instead of what someone can do for you. We're trying to switch over our bios to communicate how exactly we affect the world or what people can expect from us if they're going to connect and follow us.

Often what I see when I go and look at people's bio is them talking about basically how great they are. It will say Ashley Ann, and I'm a millionaire, and I run five companies, and I like macarena and do the Tootsie roll. Or they'll have some quote on their page, and that's cool if you're just a social user for Instagram. However, if you're trying to build Instagram for a business, you may want to do a little bit more than that when people tell me that they don't know why they're not making sales. First of all, because when someone comes to your page, they don't have a clear understanding of what you do and how it will be beneficial to them. Please understand that people care about how you can help them. People get other people requesting things from them all the time. Very rarely do they have someone who comes to them and says, "How can I help you? How can I assist you? What can I do to make your life easier? What can I do to help you reach that goal? Is there anything I can do to help you get closer to where you'd like to be?"

Essentially that's what you want to use your bio to do. When you go into the mode of, I'm amazing, I'm awesome, I'm great, I'm talented, or I'm fantastic, then the customer or that person who's viewing doesn't have the opportunity or the desire to connect with you. Basically, they don't care about how great you are. People don't like it when I say that (your mother cares), but they don't care. Now, eventually, over time, as they get to know you, and you start to showcase yourself as a resource, then they are going to have a respect and a fondness for how great, how knowledgeable you are, or how you're able to create or curate the content that you're putting out that they're able to consume. But that's a process.

When people pop into my DMs, come on my Lives you all, or tell me how happy you all are that you started following me. Or those people that come in and they say, they've learned more coming to two of my live streams than in a whole eight-week course they spent $10,000 on with somebody else. Things like that are amazing to me, but those things are coming overtime again if you notice. My content is what's helping me establish that I'm I don't have to tell you that I'm fly or that I'm amazing. If you come to my page, stick around, interact, pay attention to the content I'm posting, pay attention to my Lives, then you'll start to develop that opinion on your own. And so you want your audience members to conclude that you're awesome sauce or that they want to spend time with you, they want to talk to you, they want to listen to you, they want to have some type of interaction and engagement with you. What I think happens a lot of times is that small business owners don't understand that concept. It goes completely over our heads, and we start posting really salesy stuff all the time. What you're doing is you're asking people for things. You're basically going up to someone who doesn't know you, and you're asking them for money.

I had a woman that popped inside of my inbox, and we haven't spoken in years. Out of nowhere, she DM'd me saying, "I think it's great that you're getting back fit and that you're working with your trainer. And he's an amazing trainer, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Nutrition is an important part of fitness. I would love to have a few minutes to talk to you about the benefits of this nutritional supplement…."

My initial thoughts were … Excuse me. Ma'am, I haven't spoken to you in years; why are you trying to sell me something, not a "Hi, how are you? What's been going on?" She gave me no opportunity to go to her page to check to see what's been going on in her life or what she's been doing. I had no chance to see what type of amazing results she's gotten from this nutritional supplement; absolutely, none of that, she immediately tried to sell. So I want you to think about that If you're out here in these social media streets and if someone finds your page, which is the case because a lot of times, people are going to find your page before they talk to you. Remember, I told you 78% of Millennials are actually going on social media and looking for companies, businesses, and brands trying to see what you're about before they even go to the website or before calling on the phone.

So if the only thing they see on your page is sale, sale, sale, which is you saying give me something, give me something, give me something, but you haven't extended anything to them, the audience is going to ask themselves is that someone that you want to keep hanging out with? Is that someone you really want to follow and see what they have going on? Is that something that you are trying to be a part of? Probably not. And don't get it twisted. I'm not saying don't make offers and sales because we have to make offers and sales; I believe in making offers and sales every single day. So if you're posting three or four pieces of content a day, and then you put up an offer for sale. Well, no one cares. Especially if you wrap it into some other type of content, or if you wrap it into maybe you're answering a question, or you're showcasing your work or reminding people how awesome you are at what it is you do. Well, then, at that point, no one even realizes that they've been sold to because it's more informative, and it's sparking a desire for them to want to come and consume your products or your services. Does that make sense?

So, the first concept is we need to look at our bio and see if we're doing a good job of communicating to the social media streets and adding value to someone's life, so they want to stay connected to hang out with us. Understanding the balance of socializing on social media and what brings me to my second general rule, service sells. If you focus on serving people, becoming a resource, if you focus on trying to answer questions and help people with problems or get to the desired state, you will find that you will make a ridiculous amount of sales.

People will literally start to pop inside of your DM, show up in your comments, and people will come into your lives like they do to me all the time and ask if you have a product that covers X, Y, Z? Do you have a course that can help them A, B, C? People come to me and ask to buy things from me, and I'm not going out, saying buy my stuff. Do I make offers on my page? Yes, however, because I'm so focused on serving, answering questions, helping people get to desired states and overcoming problems or different challenges, or maybe just being a listening ear, it created me to establish myself as a resource in the marketplace. This causes people to come to me and ask if I have a product or a service to help them? If I have a program, or is there an event coming up that does X, Y, Z?

I did the same thing with my event design and production company. I focused on what I could do to help people, like with etiquette, invitation wording tips, showing different proposals to show people how they can make their wedding stand out, or give tips on first dances. I just worked on being a resource for any type of question I knew that a girl may have about a wedding or that I knew a woman might have about a baby shower. I would do my best to try and put that information out there and answer those questions for them. And I did that on Facebook for years, then I would sprinkle in pieces of my work, and it led me to be able to create a massive company with a huge payoff.

The next thing I always say, content is cash, content is cash, content is cash! You must first be consistent with your content. Consistency is more than the frequency of when you post. Some people think that if they posted eight times today, eight times yesterday, and eight times the day before, that means they are super consistent. However, all that consistency is not working because they are not getting sales or leads. So, first of all, we need to be consistent with the type of content.

I like the 80 20 rule. It helps me in a lot of different areas in my life. And it definitely will help with your Instagram pages and posting on your social media. Typically what I do is come up with content banks. Content banks are just basically topics that I want to cover on my page. When I go-to topics, I always ask myself, how do I want people to feel on my page? And for me, the answer would be, I like people to feel empowered. I like them to feel inspired, and I like them to feel motivated. I also like people to feel almost kind of relieved, like, to feel like this is not as tricky as they may have thought it was going to be.

If you have a clothing store or a boutique, I would want people to feel like they're a bad chick or a bad man if I were you. I would want their self-esteem to feel high when they're engaging or interacting with me. I may want them to feel beautiful, and I may want them to feel heard. Whatever it is, think about the type of feeling you want someone to have. If you're a comedian, you just may want people to feel happy or joy or to laugh or to spend the next 30 seconds watching your video, and it makes them forget about their problems.

All of us will have different things we want people to feel when they come and interact with us. That is going to help me figure out my topic. Now because I know I want people to feel empowered, motivated, and encouraged. I want people to stay on track and have some accountability, so now I have my topics. My topics are based on motivational stuff, inspirational things, on top of me doing my facts, opinions, and selling.

The next thing you need to ask yourself is, what do you want people to do? What actions do you want them to take on your page? Do you want them to go to your website? Do you want them to buy something from you? Do you want them to tag another person? Do you want them to ask you questions? What do you, what do you want people to do? Do you want them to share your content with other people? Because again, this is going to direct and dictate what type of content you're putting on your page. It's also going to give you some directions into your call to actions. We are going to ask how people are using our products or services? Or what benefit can they get from our product or service? And then, the next question I'm going to ask is what product or service do I offer to the marketplace? Because some of you have several products or services or product lines.

All of this is going to help you with your content. Now you will know about posting videos about your products and how to use them, why they can use them. You can maybe give tricks or tips, extend the usage of your product, and repair its usage. You need to think about everything that you can around that product or service. The next thing, when you think about how people are using the product or service, what's the desired result? So you should think about all of the challenges, all of the pain points, all the different types of questions that people have. You need to use that to your benefit, to create content around it that is highly valuable, and at the same time, it's going to lead to you making more sales.

So come up with your overall topics. Some of you may have five or six different topics that you want to share on your page. I don't share celebrity gossip on my page at all. Most of the time, if I'm talking about a celebrity, I'm talking about them in a business venture or some new type of contract that they've gotten and their philanthropic work. I think more along those lines because that's interesting. After all, my page is about business. My page is about getting money, financial stability, and things like that. So if you scroll down my page, most of the time, when you see me mentioning a big company or a celebrity, it has something to do with business. It may be talking about things like branding or their marketing.

So once you figure out your topics, it would be like celebrity business stuff, regular updates to social media, new apps, tools, and pages. I like to answer questions that people give to me and turn those into pieces of content as well. Of course, I'm going to post about my products and services, and I will talk about the benefits. I also put up quotes, and there's a fair amount of people in my audience who are Christian as well. So anytime I can find some type of scripture that's relevant to business, cash flow, increase in stewardship, and things like that that fall in the motivational and inspirational subject. That's like 80% of how my little page works, and for the most part, if the content does not fit inside one of those topics related to business, I'm not posting it.

Now the 20% is where you have the opportunity to showcase your personal side. That may be whenever I stream at my nephew's baseball game, me having a house party, or at my Christmas party and singing karaoke. It could be a selfie because I'm going out or headed to the concert. Maybe putting up some type of meme about a television show or something that all of us like to watch. That is not related to business at all; it is just more like personality relationship-building stuff.

If you go through those questions, it'll help you figure out what topics you want on your page. And then from that, you start building your banks, which is getting things like a lot of quotes, pictures, images, creating videos, and finding videos.

You also need to be consistent in how your content looks. I'm not saying that you have to go for a full-blown color scheme; I'm not really into super highly-styled pages. Yes, they're beautiful. But almost every really beautiful page that I see on Instagram they're following is trash, and their sales are trash, their reach is trash, their engagement is trash. People aren't really into it. And I, I feel like that's for two reasons. I think reason number one is because when something is highly stylized, I think people all almost automatically feel like you're trying to sell them something or you're not authentic. When you're connecting with people in the social media world, people don't want to connect with someone or something that they feel is inauthentic. The second issue you have when you do that is you put so much work into the styling and imagery of the page that you're not putting enough work into the value and connecting with people.

Do I think that your page should be, you know, a little bit better than average? Yes. Do I feel like you should put in some effort and, you know, maybe edit some things and come up with cool graphics? Absolutely positively. I've seen people only posting content once or twice a month because they're trying so hard to stick to a color scheme. So when I talk about being consistent with the styling of the page, I'm thinking more about the font, how you provide information, if you're using a four by five, or a one by one.

You don't want the page to look like trash and confused. That's not what you want your page to look like. You want it to have some type of cohesiveness, but I just want you to understand that every photo doesn't have to be from a professional photographer. Everything doesn't have to be styled, staged, or really polished. But if you can start getting consistent with the fonts, get consistent with the sizing of the images you're using, get consistent with how you present headlines and things like that, I think that leads to more conversions because it's easier for people to see what you're doing.
My last piece under being consistent is you need to be consistent with communicating to your audiences. When I say, be consistent with communicating to your audiences, I mean, literally use your, use your "ask me anything" feature, use your poll functions, tell people to drop comments or emojis below, invite people to slide into your DMs. A lot of the sales that go down on Instagram come through the DMs. Now, this is not unique to Instagram. This is just business in general, and It's not unique to any specific platform. This is whether it's in physical life, offline, or online; it does not matter. People want to know how your product, your service, your book, your podcast, your consulting, whatever it is, how it benefits them specifically.

Again, they want to know how it benefits them specifically. So whenever someone can ask you a question in the comments, or they can slide in your DMs, or they can type back to you in the little ask me anything, and you can give them a specific application for them … it increases the propensity for them to buy. If I can't get you to understand how one of my courses or classes is beneficial to you or how it's going to help you improve your business, your life, your finances, or save time, then you're not going to take that course or class with me. If I get on Instagram and start teaching Facebook ads, but I didn't take any time to explain how Facebook ads are beneficial and how it's going to help you build your list, make more money, drive more traffic, and all that. If I don't get on here and I don't explain it to you, then whenever I say, I have these Facebook ads, class, come and register for it, are you going to buy the class? No, because you don't see how it applies to your life.

You need to create open lines of communication. I see many people in businesses on Facebook that have not created open lines of communication. Some people are closed off. An entertainment page may be able to get away with a private page, but most small business owners, when you have private pages, that works against you. It depends on the type of page you have. An entertainment site or gossip page will probably get people to follow them if they are private. But if you're like me, like I'm a business builder, many people would not follow me if my page was private. They would probably think I was hiding something. Private business pages make people skeptical.

It's about creating some type of open dialogue. So if you ask questions, if you invite people, or you literally can put up a post and say, if you have questions about this, or if you want to know some more, DM me, I'll give you all a real-life example. One day I was on, and I was putting up some stuff about vaccinations and autism. I'm actually pretty knowledgeable about the subject because my nephew has autism. This is something, for about ten years now, we've been gathering information and learning things and trying things. Some people had extreme opinions against what I had to say, but I stood firm in whatever it was. The one thing was there were so many parents that dropped inside of my DMs after this post to ask me questions about what I knew, vaccinations, and all kinds of other questions. They were so afraid to ask in public because they did not want the court of public opinion falling on them. But they turned around and came right into my DMs and asked me for all the information they could get from me. And I was happy to give it to them.

I just want you all to understand; there are some people who are really private. Is that anything to be ashamed of? No. Are they doing anything wrong? No, but sometimes people just don't want to hear other people. They don't want to hear other people's opinions. And so they would rather have private discussions with you. A lot of you, especially those of you that are coaches and consultants, and those of you that deal with people's credit and finances. Those of you that deal with people, emotional state, marriages, relationships, stuff like that. For those of you who are lawyers dealing with legal things and business ideas, and intellectual property is extremely important; you create an open dialogue. So that people in your audience know it's okay to send you a DM. It's okay to respond to this question. They really need to feel comfortable doing that because a lot of them, you can come in, and then you can speak to them one-on-one and then move them to the proper product or service, you know, or refer them whoever they need to speak to.

And a lot of you are missing sales just because people don't feel like they can DM you. I get DMs all the time, and some of you are always surprised that I respond to you, but I do, even though it may take me a while, but I'm going to respond to you. Unless it's just foolishness, then I'm going to just ignore you. For the most part, I get in the DMs, and I will respond and answer questions. Many people won't ask during the live or in the comments, but after the broadcast, they'll be all in my inbox asking me all sorts of types of things. So you really need to create an open dialogue, and that's going to help you all start making more sales.

The best ways to create that is you consistently have to tell people, drop a comment, send me a DM, put up the little questions inside your stories so that people know they can talk to you. These are some things that you can start putting into action right now to start the process of building up a buying base and getting people comfortable with being able to shop with you, purchase with you, ask questions, refer to you, and share your content.

Building Your Social Media & Business With Ashley Ann

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