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Using Instagram to promote your business with Elizabeth Stiles

Traders- Hints & Tips

Learn more about using Instagram for your business.

For our very first Instagram Live chat of 2021, we spoke to the wonderful Elizabeth Stiles, about using Instagram to promote your business. Elizabeth is a Fashion Brand Consultant, hilarious Podcast host, excellent motivator and general social media guru. Nicki and Elizabeth chatted about all things Instagram, promoting yourself on social media, confidence, and gaining that crucial self belief mindset.

With over 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, Elizabeth now works as a Fashion Brand Consultant, advising independent brands on how to market themselves online, sourcing and using suppliers, manufacturing, mindset and more.

Elizabeth is constantly creative and spans a whole range of branding and business advice, not just within the fashion industry. She’s great at engaging her social media followers and has over 13,000 Instagram followers currently! She’s therefore the ideal person to share tips on how to use Instagram to promote your business.

Check out the Instagram Live chat with Pedddle founder Nicki and Elizabeth below, or read on below for more tips, tricks and clickable links in our chat highlights.

Looking for tips on a different topic? Click here to browse Pedddle’s library of useful articles.

Watch the Live interview

What mindset do you need to use for Insta?

Imagine you’re directing traffic – you’re telling people what to do and where exactly to go. People can be afraid of coming across as bossy, but if you tell people where to visit, what to click, what to watch etc, people respond well to clear instructions.

If you want to use Instagram to promote your business, tell your audience to watch your IG Live, tell them to visit your website, ask them to watch your Stories and they’ll delve in further instead of bouncing away to the next Instagram page. Engage and draw them in.

In marketing, we talk a lot about Sales Funnels. Instagram is basically top of funnel traffic direction; a little light-hearted fun to direct potential customers to look further into your business.

You’ll have heard of the 20/80 rule. 80% of the time you want a call to action. Whether it’s polls, ‘double tap to agree’ statements, asking questions in your Stories and so on, you want to make your customers interact with you in some way. It’s great to have some light-hearted fun, post photos of your lockdown walks, tell customers what you’re up to that day or post a light-hearted meme, but you also want to be informing your audience and asking them to interact on a business level.

Think about how a conversation works – call and response. Tell your customers something and get them to respond – engaging is all about getting the conversation going. Ask questions, run polls – don’t just tell them things.

What makes a great product based business account on Insta – are there principles you advise sticking to?

Use the 80-20 rule! Lots of business coaches suggest this strategy to promote your business on Instagram – I talk about work 80% of the time, and the other 20% I talk about trashy TV, yoga, living in the countryside and my cat. It’s ok to be light-hearted – when you think about ‘sharing something personal’ online, it doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful, it can be what you’re watching on TV, talking about the weather or a nice photo from a walk you had that day. Just because you’re using Instagram to promote your business, doesn’t mean it has to be ALL business – and in fact, people don’t relate to faceless, 100% business chat.

I recommend drawing a line between the things you do and don’t want to share – after all, it is a business account. I don’t like showing inside my house, photos of my family or my partner – but I will happily show my cat and talk about how I’ve eaten too much sugar (I call myself a sugar monster!). For example, you might want to talk about being a mum, but you don’t have to show any photos of your kids. Giving people a little bit of you helps them to connect with you – even if you’re a private person, there will be some things you’re happy sharing.

What kind of content do people engage most with?

Video content is more important than imagery right now. I always advise my clients to do a ‘video first’ approach. Utilise Reels, IG TV, IG Lives etc – if you can post a photograph of something, think about how it could be a video instead.

I recently had a girl who wanted to show a moodboard, but instead of just photographing it, she did a timelapse of her putting things on the moodboard. It’s not as easy as simply taking a photo, but it gets results.

The algorithm rewards you for using Reels right now, as Instagram are pitching themselves against the success of TikTok. Often once you post to your grid, the algorithm shows previous posts less in people’s feeds, as it’s promoting the ‘latest thing’. However, Reels have a much longer shelf life, and therefore video content will reward you for a much longer time than a flat image – so it’s worth putting in the time.

Planning is key. It does take extra effort to create video content, but that extra effort will last you for a much longer period of time. Sit down, think about what you’re going to film and how, and do your research – it’s hard putting the time in to have a good think about it, but it will pay off.

How do you create great video content?

Timelapses are great for showing how things are made – it’s lovely watching a ceramist work at a pottery wheel, or seeing behind the scenes. You don’t have to appear in a video if you don’t want to – you could just show your hands. Even hands can show your personality – use jewellery and rings or set the scene to give a snapshot of who you are and the kind of things you like. You could do a studio tour with text layout and add music over the top – think about what your ideal customers would be interested in seeing, or you could even ask questions in your Stories to see what they’d like to see.

Some people are conscious of showing certain aspects of themselves. For example, successful marketing expert KimDoesMarketing is French and has a strong French accent, so she’s conscious of talking in her videos, although she’s happy to show her face on her Instagram grid. Instead, she makes Reels which have text over – they have her face in but not her voice. My own Reels got better as I did a skills swap with JessicaDoesLife – she’s a video editor, so we worked together to create some of my stuff.

What’s the difference between Reels, IG Lives and Stories – and what’s best?

It just comes down to the length of the videos. Stories are a super quick snippet, Reels are a maximum of 30 seconds, and Ig Lives (which then turn into IGTVs) are a minimum of 1 minute long – so the only difference is short and long form.

Think of Stories like your own reality TV show – they’re a running commentary of your day. At the moment, we can all feel a bit stifled being stuck at home, and wondering about content to post on our Stories. However, even chatting about the whether or our pets or home-schooling os something people identify with during lockdown. I definitely notice a difference in engagement if I don’t regularly post Stories.

If there’s content you want to be able to refer back to in a month or two, think about making a Reel instead of a Story, or an IGTV if you can draw it out further! You can there go more in depth with a snippet of your business or exploring one of your products or how it’s made.

For example, I recently did a ‘small business haul’, where I showed off some small business purchases I’d made. I made it into a longer video which will stay longer on my Instagram and I tagged other businesses too, to give them exposure. If you’re running a craft business, this is a good idea as you can tag other small businesses and all share it, making it a collaborative effort for exposure which will reach a wider audience.

Lots of people talk about the Instagram algorithm changing often. How do you battle the algorithm?

You’ll never ‘complete’ Instagram – there’s no way you can ever know the exact algorithm and ‘win’ it. People often want to settle into a routine and do the same thing every day – but you don’t want to be the person in the office who’s set in their ways, you want to inject life and energy into your business, and adapt and transform constantly.

Sometimes you need to put your business hat on, and take the emotion out of what you’re doing online. Maybe people just don’t like your image or the piece you’re working on, maybe it’s not a great photograph so it hasn’t received many likes. Beating the algorithm isn’t just about days and optimal posting times – it’s about creating funny, informative, unusual, entertaining, engaging or beautiful content that people want to find out more about.

Also consider engagement – are you liking, commenting on and sharing other people’s posts and pages? The more you engage with others, the more they’ll want to share your stuff too.

I recommend checking out GrowWithVix on Instagram – she creates carousels and videos about busting the algorithm myths, and she also has a new course out which is great. Who Moved My Cheese is a good little book about dealing with changes in life and business too.

We loved your Beyoncé analogy about saying the same things twice…

People often worry about posting about the same thing more than once. I always compare it to Beyoncé – just think about how many times she’s sung Single Ladies in different place vs how many times you’ve loved it!

When I launched my course I went back and looked at all the content I’d put out previously – I’d done about 350 stories, a few LinkedIn posts, several emails, roughly 12 IG Lives. I looked at the repetition and I felt like I’d hammered things too much, but you have to remember that not everybody will have seen all of those things. Remember that your content isn’t for you, it’s for your audience – even if you’re starting to bore yourself with it! Just because you’ve said something 4 times, it’s very unlikely that your followers will have seen it all 4 times! This doesn’t just apply to product launches, but with events and other aspects of your business too. When you post things to your grid or your Stories, not everyone will have seen every single one. Also, I do get people that ‘unfollow’ my Instagram page once I start selling and promoting new courses and other things – but there are always other people to take their place! Don’t be afraid if you experience a slight dip.

Customers want to share your journey – that’s why they follow you. That involves the sales aspect and product launches too. As we said before, give people direction and tell them when and where to turn up. For events and launches especially, put things in a countdown story, build the excitement and then your customers can share the experience with you.

You have a FREE positive mindset course coming up. Please tell us more…

In January we tend to put pressure on ourselves to plan for the year and set goals, but now the days are finally getting longer and the sun is coming out, we decided it was time to start planning now instead!

I run a course with Sophie French, an NLP Practitioner who’s an expert on creating a positive mindset. It’s called the Self Belief Sessions, but before we get stuck into that we’re running a free pop-up Facebook group – and everyone is welcome. It’s not just for fashion brands and whatever your small business status, you’re welcome to join us. If you feel you want to be doing something but you’re getting held back, if you feel like its Groundhog Day in lockdown, then this Facebook group is for you.

For 3 days at 12 midday, we’ll be running a Live chat, which will then be recorded but will disappear after a week. You’ll be able to find it via the link in my Insta bio next week. Monday is all about how to stop caring about what people think, Tuesday is about deleting that negative thoughts folder in your mind, and Wednesday is about asking permission to do things. Each session will be 30-45 minutes long, and we’ll start each one with a little meditation to get in the right mindset for the session. Be kind to your mind!

We hope these tips help you!

Blog last updated February 2021.