7-Figure ABCs of Instagram: Audience, Branding, and Content | Nathan Chan, AWeurope 2018


Awesome! Well, it’s fantastic to be here in sunny Barcelona. I’ve come from very, very cold and wet
Melbourne, Australia. This is probably the only conference in the world
where I can wear a loose, kind of hipster shirt like this. I hope everyone’s having a great day. So in today’s presentation I’m going to be really sharing with you everything that I’ve learned on what it takes to build, grow
and scale an Instagram account. Not only just from a followers perspective but also on how to generate sales because one thing I want to share with you guys is having millions of followers on social media is great but it doesn’t actually mean anything
unless you can turn that following into an engaged audience of people that actually buy. So. Who am I? Well, my name is Nathan Chan and I’m the CEO and publisher of a company
called Foundr Magazine and I’ve used Instagram
to build multiple businesses now. We’ve generated tens of thousands of customers
through the platform. And much like you, I had a dream to start a business and that was four years ago and I actually built Foundr from the ground up
from my parents bedroom into a multimillion dollar media company in the past few years. So what I really want to share with you today is my three steps on how you can use Instagram. I want to keep it simple. I know there’s a
tonne of different things that people share about Instagram. I want to keep it
really, really simple for you guys. So this is my story and how I got started
on Instagram. What you see here on the screen is
the front cover of the first edition of Foundr Magazine So when I started Foundr, I actually knew nothing
about entrepreneurship. I knew nothing about branding. I knew nothing about design. I knew nothing about editorial. I had this dream to start this magazine. I worked in IT support. I used to actually crawl under people’s desks and fix their computers. It was time where I really hated life and I just wanted to find work that I was really passionate about and the reason that I shared this cover with you
is because it’s actually quite embarrassing. You know one of my favorite quotes from a guy called Reid Hoffman is, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” And I’m super embarrassed.
Like, this is the first cover of the magazine. It doesn’t even have a successful person
on the front cover, along the way, you know, I’ve interviewed people like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin.
All these crazy successful entrepreneurs. I actually had a stock image because
no one would get back to me and that’s kind of where I was at when I first got started. So, when I launched the magazine, this was the first day that we launched. This is how much money we made. As you can see here on the screen we made $5.50 and that was life-changing. Guys, put your hands up. How good was the first dollar you made online,
if you remember that? How good was that feeling? Like you just, “Yes! I’ve made it!” I’m going somewhere with this thing that I’m building.
I’m going somewhere with my online hustle. and that was me, you know, only four years ago,
so I knew nothing. And I started the business while I was working
in my day job, on the side. It took me about a year to build up
the magazine subscription base and eventually after that year, I actually
left my day job and that’s a photo of me on the last day of my 9 to 5 job,
doing work that I was hating and actually went full time on Foundr. And the problem that I was facing was much like a lot of you guys. I didn’t know how
to do media buying. I wasn’t very good at Facebook Ads and I had to work out
how I could actually grow this thing. And what happened was, one of my friends,
he’s super successful on Instagram. He has a multimillion dollar business,
e-commerce brand, and it’s all driven from Instagram. Hardly does any media buying and he said to me, “Nathan you, should think about maybe
using Instagram to grow your magazine.” And he was like, “I’m not sure if it would
work though because you guys are B2B and it only really works well for B2C.” So I started speaking with him and he gave me a few tips and what happened
next was I tried some of these things that he said to do and little do I know, after doing a few of these things, the magazine subscription base exploded and along the way, we’ve been able to generate hundreds of thousands of
email subscribers in the past few years and really grow our business rapidly fast. Now one thing I want you guys to take away as well. When it comes to
utilising Instagram, it isn’t, like I said, just about the followers. It isn’t about
just getting a direct response. You do a post and someone’s going to buy. What you can do is you can use that audience that you’re pixelling to retarget them and you can start to build awareness. So it’s really, really strong for top of funnel awareness for your brand or your business or whatever it is that you’re trying to sell or grow online. So why is this important?
Well, I believe Instagram is, if you are starting any kind of online play,
especially e-commerce, you need to be utilising Instagram because it is
the best channel to generate free traffic. Okay? It is the best channel out there,
social media channel, to develop free traffic. And that’s why I used it. Because when I started Foundr, we’re a bootstrap startup. I started it with a few $1000s and when I left my day job
I was living off ramen noodles so I had to find a way that I could grow this business and I didn’t know how to
do media buying, I didn’t know how to do ads. I tried doing ads, I tried paying for
app installs for the magazine but nothing was working. So for some of you guys out there,
you might be thinking, “Oh you know it looks like a bit of work.
It might be a waste of time. I can just go and buy traffic and it’ll be super easy.” But the thing with Instagram is it is the easiest platform to generate
traction with a B2C type brand or selling some sort of physical product. So I cannot stress enough that
Instagram is super powerful. So with Foundr, we generated
over a million plus followers in two years. Along the way we were actually recognised by some industry thought leaders
like Gary Vee or Michael Stelzner and have been very, very impressed
with the stuff that we’ve done and I actually repeated this a
second time, so I’m not just a guru standing up here saying “You’ve got to use Instagram.”
I’ve done it multiple times. I’ve grown multiple businesses. There’s just a little e-commerce business that I
launched with my girlfriend on the side and that’s doing really, really well
and all the traction is coming from Instagram as well. So here’s just a little bit of a backend,
just one of the businesses, it generates 20,000 monthly visitors from Instagram. 20,000. So that’s free traffic and this is some of the stuff
that you guys can do if you’re going to follow what I’m about to share with you. So would you guys like to know how to do this too? Yeah? Awesome. Alright. So there’s two caveats to this formula, to what I’m gonna share with you. The first one is the way that
I’ve always done it is I’ve always had a strong brand behind whatever it is I’m
selling for Instagram. So with Foundr, we’re a digital magazine, a print magazine and we’re on a mission to build a household name, entrepreneurial
brand, that impacts tens of millions of foundrs on a monthly basis because I believe that most of the content
out there right now sucks and we are trying to change that. So you have to be working towards developing a brand. The strategies that I’m gonna be sharing with you do work if you don’t have a brand but it definitely helps which is really, really important because other
people buy from other brands or other people they know, like and trust. So another reason I really believe, because I know a lot of you guys out
there might be working towards developing a brand or
you don’t have a brand right now, I’m a very, very big fan of building a business that has a brand behind it. Why? Because it’s a scalable asset
that can potentially one day be sold over a long period of time. It’s easier to scale over time. You can launch many new verticals under it so one thing that I’ve found with Foundr
and other things that I’ve done is with the brand, once we build this audience, like we have on Instagram, we can
actually bolt on other products or services underneath it and we can find
out other ways to serve our audience and fundamentally if you look at the
Instagram platform as a business the whole goal is to build a strong
relationship with the people that follow your Instagram account and that’s why I love Instagram is because you can build a very deep relationship and connection
with your audience that follow your page. The second caveat to what I’m about to
share with you is your product has to be good. You can’t sell, you can’t polish a turd and I know a lot of you guys out there, I’ve been fascinated by this world and I’ve been speaking to a lot of people
and I think a really big important thing is you have to have a great product fundamentally. You know, one thing I’ve learned from all of my years and not that many, really, of building businesses and getting into this world is the most successful startups,
the most successful companies fundamentally have a superior product in the marketplace, and that’s something that, if you’ve got a crappy product, what I’m gonna share with you
actually, Instagram is a waste of time. So here my three steps. Step number one is to utilise shoutouts to
grow your accounts and work with influencers. So, what are shoutouts? A lot of you guys would have heard today or yesterday about influencer marketing
and how extremely powerful that is but fundamentally what you want to be doing
is getting other people or other influencers in the market that you serve to share your content. To share content about your product. Now you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, Nathan, I’ve tried that. I’ve tried this whole influencer marketing thing.
It doesn’t work.” That’s right. For a lot of people it doesn’t work because there’s a lot of influencers that don’t have a good relationship with their audience so you might be paying an influencer
$300, $400 to do a post and you might not get a return. However, I’ve spent a lot of money. I’ve wasted a lot of money and struggle to work this stuff out
and from what I’ve found, the best influencers that you wanna work with are ones that have a Youtube channel
or they’ve been on TV. Now there’s plenty of them out there, and the reason they are the best kind of influencers to work with is because of the level of relationship that they have with their followers. So I’m gonna repeat that again. The best kind of influencers to work with are ones that have a YouTube channel
or they have been on TV and you wanna look at their engagement rate
from a like-to-follower ratio perspective if it’s under a 100,000 followers, you want to have
a 2-5% like-to-follower engagement rate. So, there’s 3 kinds of ways that you can work
with influencers and get them to share your content, and grow your following, and grow your brand, and grow your reach, and get more people pixeled, and be able to retarget them and sell more product. The first way is to send them
your product or the physical product that you’re selling or you’re affiliating for for free. You send it to them. The second way is to get
them to share your content and you will share theirs. Now this one’s a little bit more tricky because you have to develop
your own Instagram accounts yourself. Now you can create what I call
niche accounts or fan pages around a certain topic, but this is really, really key that it’s like a partnership. And if you don’t have something to offer then the next two best ways
to work with an influencer is to either pay them or send them your product. Now when it comes to working with influencers, here’s just a case study that we did
for the physical product-based business that I launched a little while ago, and this was a $15k in a day case study. So from a $500 spend we’ve got a 30x return. Now I’ve blurred out who the person is but, as you can see, there was a massive spike in sales and that’s what we can track, this return, but what were the key parts? Well, she’s actually been on TV and she has a really, really strong
relationship with her audience. Now when it comes to doing shoutouts
and wanting to work with influencers, one thing that I wanna share with you guys
that I think is really important is don’t just think, “What can I take from this influencer. I just want them to post my thing
and I’m just gonna pay them. And it’s going to be a transaction
where I win and they lose” because what you’ll find is
those kind of relationships don’t really work. So when you’re reaching out to influencers, one of the best ways to work with them is actually not to expect anything in return. If you’ve got a great product that you’re selling let them know that you’re a really big fan of what they’re doing and you’d love to send them the product for free
in exchange for content. And I’m gonna share with you
why that’s really, really important in a second. But, you know, when it comes to doing shoutouts another reason that you would get other people,
work with influencers, get them to share your content is because it can rapidly grow your follower base. You expose your content to that influencer’s content and that’s just an example of someone that did that. So this is how to outreach to influencers at scale because I know you guys, you love to do things fast and you want to scale it up as fast as possible, so the first thing that you want to do is get a virtual assistant to build a list of influencers using the parameters that I shared with you. So you want to find influencers that have, let’s say, under 100,000 followers is a good parameter and have an engagement rate,
like-to-follower ratio of 2-5% Even higher is even better. Now you know that they will be open for business if they have their email address in their profile so build a list. Get your virtual assistant to build a list in a spreadsheet with the name of the account, the name of the influencer and their email list and how many followers they have and their engagement rate. The next step is to use a tool
and there’s plenty of tools out there like this. This one that I like to use is called woodpecker.io. Now the reason this is really powerful is it allows you to scale your cold email outreach on steroids. You can send emails, batching them
at a couple of hundred per few hours and you can send them out to influencers and you can automate the follow-up. You can automate if they don’t open. You can automate if they don’t reply to you. You can send them another reply and the most powerful thing you can do here is it doesn’t look like you’re actually
putting them in MailChimp and blasting them
and there’s an unsubscribe at the bottom so it looks like you’ve actually wrote to them and you can template all of these emails and this is how you can do this thing at scale, if you want to go hardcore you could be
reaching out to like 50 to 100 influencers a day. Now of course a certain percentage of influencers won’t get back to you but that’s totally fine because you’ve got your virtual assistant to use
these parameters that I’ve shared with you on the best kind of influencers to work with to get a return. Now this is what you wanna say in your email. Now this is the template that I recommend that you use. You don’t have to use it
but I’m just gonna read it out to you quickly. I can’t remember it off by heart but it says, “Hey, insert name,” And you can do this. You can use
Woodpecker to insert the person’s name and you say, “Hope you’re doing well. My name is X. This is my brand. I’m from this company. insert product.”
You know, a photo of your product. “The reason that we want to reach out to you is because we love what you’re doing, XYX, blah, blah, blah. We’d love to send you the product
in exchange for content. And you don’t have to post,
but it would be great if you did. Look forward to hearing from you soon.” Now the reason that, like I said to you before, you wanna actually make sure you get content
over pushing them to post is because the content is where the magic is. The content is what you guys can use in your ads. The content is what you post on your
actual feed and nothing works better than
other people seeing other people utilising a product that you wanna sell. It’s very, very powerful. So you wanna set up that automated follow-up and just rinse and repeat that process. So that’s how you outreach the influencers at scale and work with them so that you’ll get a return. So that brings me to my next step,
which is step number two which is kind of obvious but I think it’s very, very important and it’s often overlooked
for anyone that wants to master Instagram and that’s to post insanely good content. I don’t know why, but so many
people, when they’re trying to utilise Instagram, they just post stuff that looks like crap. And that has to change. If you wanna develop a great Instagram account
that’s gonna grow exceptionally fast you need to make sure your content looks great and that’s why, when you work with influencers, you have to ask them for the content and you need to focus on the content, and if they love the product,
a lot of them will post about it. Believe it or not,
so many more post about it than you would think because they love the product which comes back to my second caveat. You can’t polish a turd. So when it comes to getting product from the influencer, try and get videos if you can. Videos are really powerful. Try and get photos of them using the product. Try to get them to take more than one photo for you. But nothing sells like case studies. Case studies and showing people,
everyday people like you or I, using that product. Whatever it is is one of the best ways to sell your product. And this is what you guys can use in your ads as well, when you’re doing your direct response, your PPC, YouTube,
whatever it is you’re using, Facebook Ads, and this is the thing that we all struggle with. Us at Foundr too.
We can never get enough great creative. So you can use this strategy to get awesome content to put throughout your social media channels and also to use in your ads. So this kind of content
is what I call user-generated content. Now there’s a few ways that you can get it but this is one of the best ways that I’ve found. So when it comes to great content
you have to have great photos. You have to have people perhaps showcasing
a certain lifestyle that’s attractive. You really have to know the market that you’re serving. You have to make sure that the photos and the influencers that you work with
aren’t just attractive people. You wanna work with everyday people as well that perhaps have a
really strong relationship with their audience and they’re everyday people just like you or I. And you wanna make sure there’s photos
of people utilising the product. Very, very key. Look at the aspirational stuff and also you wanna be able to use that content
to create product benefit videos. They are very, very powerful. Some of you guys might see some people,
they run ads with these videos. We call them, at Foundr, “BuzzFeed style videos”. We’ve seen a lot of success when it comes to modeling these BuzzFeed-style
product benefit-based videos, running them as ads and then
also running them on our Instagram pages and then using the content that we
get from influencers to build out these great product benefit videos. You can find someone on Upwork to create something very, very similar really, really cheap. So, as I said to you before the extra bonus with this strategy is you really, really wanna make sure that
all of this content that you’re gathering, you put into your ads. because this is the best creative you can get and this is how you’re gonna sell even more product. So, you work with influencers, get them to produce content for you, focus on the content, find out what a win-win is for them and then get the content that they’re using,
putting it through all of your Instagram accounts or your Instagram account. Then you wanna make sure that content you use goes into your ads and the PPC that you’re doing, and then the traffic that you drive,
you retarget those people as well, to build awareness and to get them into your funnel. So another thing you wanna be doing as well,
when it comes to content is using Instagrams stories to sell. And we’re seeing a lot of success right now utilising Instagram stories. It’s not just about your Instagram feed anymore and what we fundamentally do at Foundr is
we use Instagram stories to push to our blog posts, push to our more lighthearted content
that actually builds up our retargeting pixels because one thing that I’ve found, and I believe now, is pixel is the new email. So with our strategy using Instagram we wanna get as many people as we can to our site so we can pixel them and retarget them just like how you guys know how powerful retargeting is. So one thing that I wanna share with you as well is when it comes to followers, like I said before, I really don’t care how many followers
follow our Instagram account. Yes, I know we have over a million followers
on the Foundr Instagram account but it really is top of funnel brand awareness. And then building up that pixel. It’s so extremely powerful. So step number three is I’ve got a few really powerful growth hacks
on how you can generate more followers. One that you can use, and it’s kind of low leverage
but it generates sales, is using direct message. We use direct message to speak to a lot of influencers, to work with them, to reach out to them if they don’t respond to us over email, and another thing we do as well is we use direct message to generate sales. So if you see someone that comments
on one of your photos and then you actually go and follow them
and send them a direct message, people are very, very receptive. Another thing you wanna be doing as well is liking and commenting and engaging with other big Instagram accounts in your market. The more that you do that, you can get a virtual assistant to do that, obviously don’t be too spammy, but the more that you can be seen out there,
the more you’ll grow the following of your page. Another way that you wanna drive traffic
is using the swipe up in Instagram stories but you can only get that
if you have over 10,000 followers so that’s why the goal is
to get as many followers as possible, utilise influencers, post great content and just keep rinse-repeating that formula I shared with you and then when you are doing posts,
like using shoppable links, or doing a post about your product, always get people to drive people to the link in your bio. We drive, still, most of our traffic from our link in the bio. Now, the other piece of the puzzle, when it comes to generating a crap-tonne of followers
and growing an Instagram account is using competitions and giveaways for growth. Now this is something that I’ve seen
a lot of accounts do really, really well. There’s an example here. A company called Sunny Co Clothing. They gave away a free bikini
if you just cover shipping and handling. Now their account grew, how much was it? 740,000 followers overnight which is absolutely crazy. Now obviously this is an outlier case study but what I want you guys to take away from this when it comes to using competitions and giveaways is the more insane the giveaway, the more insane the competition, the more likely you’re going to get traction with it. I think something that’s really, really important as well when you’re using these competitions and giveaways, make sure whatever it is you do the thing that you’re giving away relates to your product so you’re going to attract the
right kind of people that obviously are interested in buying your product in the future. A lot of people say that when it comes
to competitions and giveaways that you don’t attract the right kind of audience. We did a competition and giveaway for Foundr and we found, we generate hundreds of thousands of
dollars from a product launch in a week and 18% came from this competition giveaway
that we did which was incredible. So you know, competitions can be very, very powerful. You can do them with influencers as well. You can get your influencers, you can work with influencers to drive a tonne of traffic, eyeballs
and awareness to your competition but the biggest thing is, that I want you to take away, is try and do them at least once a month. And they’re very, very powerful. Alright, that’s it from me, guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed this presentation. I wish you nothing but success in life and business, and go crazy on Instagram.

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