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The Insta-Plan: Using Instagram to Connect with a New Audience

They say you find yourself in your 20s and you stop giving an eff about what anyone thinks in your 30s.

I’ll be hitting the big 3-0 and officially joining the #dirty30club next week, and I’m really looking forward to the next decade…in no small part because I spent much of the last 30 years caring a LOT about what people think.

In high school, I had this binder — you know, one of those that sweet nylon ones that zippered around the outside? — to keep track of what I wore every day.

five star binder

Source

…Because I actually thought people would care if I repeated an outfit.

Starting my business felt a lot like that. I didn’t know a lot of other entrepreneurs back then and I was always worried about what people would think.

“How much should I talk about my work?”

“Will people think I’m crazy for doing this?”

“How many pictures of me is too many to put on my website?”

I dissected everything, constantly wondering what people would think if I did X, Y, and Z. And as a result, I did pretty much…nothing…to put myself out there.

Three years later, my perspective is entirely different. I’ve learned how life rewards those who are bold enough to just go for it without overthinking. And I’m SO ready to embrace this new not-giving-an-eff stage and have some more FUN with my biz!

The first quarter of 2017, I focused on strengthening my systems and have gained a lot of clarity into how the moving pieces of my business fit together. And I noticed one area where my biz was majorly lacking.

It happens to be — surprise, surprise! — in the arena of putting myself out there. 😉

One of my goals for Q2 is to create a solid system for this to get the gears movin’ and groovin’.

…Which brings us to Instagram.

 

Why Instagram?

 
I’ve been craving real, genuine connection lately. The more I learn about email funnels and persuasive copy, the more I appreciate authentic connection.

Sure, you could apply some copywriting magic tricks and sell your products, but is that all you want?

I’d rather have real-ationships that blossom into lifelong customers. And in the name of real-ationships, Instagram’s where it’s at.

The connections happening on Instagram are AWESOME. I feel like I truly know my favorite Instagrammers. And I want to get in on that action.

It also allows for a blending of work and personal, which, honestly? Is what my life looks like.

I have clients who feel like friends, biz buddies that feel like family, and my brain is constantly whizzing with new biz ideas and excitement over what’s next. I genuinely love what I do and the blending is real.

Plus, it will be fun to explore a totally different medium and get visually creative after writing all day!

 

The Insta-Plan

 
One photo. Every day. For three months.

Here are the specific tools that are helping me do that:
 

Trello for organization

I’m using a Trello board to keep track of post ideas and store screenshots of inspiration that I see floating around.

I have a theme for each day of the week to guide my content and make sure my Signature Blend looks and feels like my brand. Though I’m not going to be too rigid with it. If switching it up feels good, I’ll definitely do that. #gowiththeflow

Click here to see my Trello board template and save a copy for yourself! » (No opt-in required.)
 

JK5 for interest

I have five totally non-business things that I’ll be weaving into my posts. The idea came from a great Jenna Kutcher podcast on authentic social media marketing (click here to listen — I highly recommend!)

She calls it the JK5 and it’s a mini-system to bring more YOU into your Instagram. She says her goal is to “invite you into my life so that I can be invited into yours.”
 

Captions, hashtags + comments

I’m going to write long-form captions, not quick and clever one-liners. The accounts I admire tell a story with each and every post so that’s what I’ll be doing, too.

I’ll also be experimenting with hashtags to see which connect me with the right kind of people. I’ll add a few hashtags to each photo and over time, analyze which ones get the best engagement…then rinse and repeat.

And I’ll be doing a lot of interacting with others’ accounts. I’m not just pushing my content and hoping people come to me — I’m going out into the big wide Insta-world to engage with content that I love from other entrepreneurs.

 

The Challenges

As excited as I am about this new Insta-xperiment, I’m going into it aware of a few hurdles I’m likely to face:
 

Fear of putting myself out there

Remember the zippered binder? Yeah. This one might be tricky.

I’m a naturally private person. So the biggest challenge is that sharing so much of myself feels scary. (Though that’s also the reason why I feel like I need to do it!)

I’ll be adopting the mantra of “feel the fear, but do it anyway.” And reminding myself that the world won’t end if someone doesn’t dig my post.
 

Accepting imperfection

There are so many accounts filled with gorgeous posts that make taking beautiful photos look easy as pie. I’m a little intimidated to throw my hat into the Insta-ring.

But I also know that the only way to get better at something is to practice. So I’ll need to get on board with the fact that my early photos aren’t going to be perfect. Or, ya know, anywhere close.
 

Being consistent

Right now, I don’t post much on Instagram. So posting every day feels like a LOT.

Like blogging, the key to a successful Instagram strategy is consistency. To make it a priority, I’ll be applying the same trick I use to find time to create blog content every week.
 

Recognizing interesting moments

My life is (at least) 90% boring.

It’s mainly me…at home…with a cup of tea and my laptop. How do I make that engaging day in and day out?

This challenge is also majorly exciting. I’m looking forward to noticing the magic I usually take for granted and finding meaningful moments in each and every day.

 

Wanna be Insta-fam?

 
So that’s the plan, Stan. For the next three months.

At the end of Q2, I’m going to review what worked, what didn’t, and how I want to continue.

But for now, it’s all about sticking to the plan, staying open to what happens, and having fun!

If you’re starting an Instagram journey of your own (or you’ve been on one for a while,) I would LOVE to follow along!

Just pop your handle in the comments so we can connect. 🙂

And you can follow my journey at @whitneyryan. Can’t wait to watch each other do this thing!

join the convo

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to Instagram marketing — or social media marketing in general?

Any pointers for me as I get started with Instagram? Anything that works like a charm? Pitfalls to avoid?

What is your Insta handle? I want to follow along, bud!

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