How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Business With Integrity + Beauty With Melissa Camilleri

Episode 13

Are you enjoying the Podcast? Then I invite you to hop on over to iTunes to subscribe, rate + review it. Here’s a quick video on how to do a podcast review on iTunes. (It’s simple if you follow these directions). Note: It can take up to 24 hours to show up on my Podcast. You’re welcome to send this to anyone you think it would delight. May good fortune always follow you!

Want to know how to subscribe on your phone? Watch this video.

Want to be a guest on my Podcast? Jet me an email with your topic and a link to your bio here.

Send Susan a Voice Message!

Click below to send me your voice message with a question or topic you’d like to hear more about in my upcoming podcasts! I will answer the most pressing and popular ones in a future episode. (I’ll mention your first name ONLY to protect your privacy.)

How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Business With Integrity + Beauty With Melissa Camilleri

Welcome everyone to the Be a Media Darling podcast, our topic today is how to use Instagram to promote your business with integrity and beauty. We are talking today with Melissa Camilleri. She is a high school English teacher turned CEO and founder of Compliment Inc, which is a lifestyle brand that seeks to encourage, inspire, and educate. Even though it started off as a college scholarship fundraiser for her students, Compliment has grown to be an online destination for people seeking gifts that uplift and give back.

I invite you to take her 21-day Insta Course at I’ve gone through it and it is fantastic, plus she’s got a whole community of helpers in the private Facebook page which is really awesome and wonderful.

Yes, it is an awesome group. It is one of the coolest things about being in the Insta-course program is the community that you are instantly apart of. I am blown away by the graciousness and the generosity of the people in that group who continue to help and inspire me even as each cohort goes through the program.

It has been really amazing that way. Let’s talk about how to use Instagram to promote your business and what kinds of businesses should be on Instagram? Karen Leland and I when we were talking about branding, we talked about how you don’t have to be on every social media. You want to be on the social media where your people are. I have brought up to her, “Well what about loving it? What about [the fact that] you’ve got to be in the medium that [you] love?” She’s like, “Eh! If you don’t love the medium where your people are, you can hire someone to do it.” You have to be in the medium where your followers are, where the kind of people who would want what you have are hanging out. What are particular ones where you can use Instagram to promote your business and ones it works the best for?

There are 500 million active users on Instagram right now and it is growing and growing by droves every day. Because it started off as a mobile social media, it used to mean that you could only access it on your phone. I found that any sort of web-based business was seeing a lot of lack of Instagram because people are already on their phone and they are moving about, they are mobile. They see Instagram and they can click directly on your link to get more information. If you have any sort of web presence, Instagram is the place to be.

When it comes to where your people are hanging out, I think predominantly, people are using Facebook, but I think millennials are a little bit more inclined to use Instagram. If you serve a millennial market Instagram is a good place to be. For example, Snapchat is also big right now. I am not on Snapchat because I don’t want to spend my time and energy focused on growing another platform.

What I love about Instagram to promote your business is it’s so visual. For me, as a product-based business, that works really well. One of the barriers why some people who are not product based businesses, they are service based, they get stuck in the mindset that, “Instagram is not for me, what can I show a picture of me doing if I’m a service based business?” That is where I challenge the people who go through my course who are service based, to think a little bit differently, to shift their mindset to more of a growth mindset and think about how can this work for your business, because people are on it. People are on Instagram, they are spending a lot of time on Instagram. I think it behooves all businesses to be on Instagram because that’s where people are. People are really enjoying that platform as a place to share photos. You also build community and relationships really well on Instagram more so than you can on Facebook or Pinterest or some of the other social medias that are out there. That’s why I prefer it for my brand.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

Being so visual is what Instagram to promote your business a natural fit for many companies.

Yeah, I want to talk about the building of relationships on Instagram to promote your business, because you are really big on that. You’ve got over 30,000 followers now. You have done that in very short order. First, for a service-based business. What is an example on how they can use Instagram to promote themselves? They are not thinking visually, they are like, “What do I do, put up a picture of me and my client? That is not very exciting or beautiful.”

Most service-based businesses have a web presence when it comes to blogging. The first place I would like to start when I am monitoring service-based businesses on Instagram, is to think about what visuals you will include if this was a blog post? What will the visual look like if you were going to pin it on Pinterest anyway? Take a picture of that thing, or find a stock photo of that thing that you would use to illustrate that idea. Even breaking that down a little bit further, if you think of your blog post or your thing that you want to encourage, or instruct, or to entertain your following, if you think about that as the wording of a children’s book, how would you illustrate that page in a children’s book? What will be the visual cues you would use to get somebody’s attention?

Sometimes that translates into using textual images, meaning you put text over a photo, but I think you can even get a little more outside the box. One of my favorite examples is I have a good friend, Jennifer E. Snyder. She is @jenniferesnyder on Instagram. She is a writer, podcaster, and a professional freelancer in a lot of different media outlets. She is fabulous at building Instagram community in the service-based sector. She will take an excerpt of her blog and use that as the caption.

That’s where she starts first because she is a linguistic thinker. She is a writer. She thinks in captions first. She will think about what her caption is going to be as an excerpt of her blog post or something she wants to teach her following, and she will find a way to illustrate that. She writes a lot about the outdoors and being in nature. Lots of her photos are taken from walks with her dog or her hikes in the mountains. They are really beautiful scenery shots. But she is a writer. She is not taking pictures of her computer screen or her hands on the keyboard. She is really thinking out of the box to illustrate this stuff that she is talking about within her captions.

Some people come at it first from a visual perspective, especially product-based businesses, they show pictures of their products. But if you are offering a service or you are a thought leader, you can come at it first from the caption. Understand what you want to say first and then find a way to illustrate that. It is a mindset shift that can really aid people when they are coming at it from a service-based perspective.

So what you are saying is to not think literally. She’s a writer but not to be taking pictures of your writing. I mean maybe you might have beautiful pictures of stacks of books. You are saying to think outside the box and think impressionistically. What is going to make this person feel? Is it the beautiful outdoors, because people want to see some beautiful scenery but then linking it with a caption that makes sense for whatever she is writing about. It doesn’t have to be that literal connection. Lots of people, even in their blog posts, want it to be literal. If they are talking about something, they want to have a picture of the something versus the picture of the feeling. They want to have the feeling, is that what you’re saying?

Yes, exactly. In the Instagram course on how to use Instagram to promote your business, we spend a full day talking about what kind of emotions do you want your people to feel when they come in contact with your social media. On Instagram, that translates to when somebody sees your pictures, what do you want them to feel by interacting with your brand? So we brainstorm emotions, we brainstorm that, “I want somebody to feel like they are experiencing luxury,” or whatever your branding is. Once we have determined what we want people to feel, we start brainstorming on how we can show that visually, how can we show that emotion visually?

We did do some study on other advertising or in commercials, just like how a truck commercial makes you feel freedom or feel independent, like the open road and independence. We talk about those visual things and how to connect that. You can really think metaphorically with your photos. You don’t need to be an exceptional photographer in order to make Instagram work for you. There are all kinds of free stock photos you can use, you can screenshot things from other accounts and give them credit so it’s like citing your source. There are all kinds of resources on that and we go in depth in the Instagram course talking about those things and about strategies.

It is so important about how you want to make people feel. That is the basis of using Instagram to promote your business. When you are looking at commercials on TV, like those famous ones for Budweiser with the Clydesdales and things like that. That makes you feel really good and happy and then want to connect with that person.

Right, and beer is nowhere in the actual commercial until maybe the very last second. It is not just a picture of a beer can. It might be pictures of girls in bikinis because you are selling sexy. You are selling some other kind of emotion. We talk about that and we really do some deep work into our branding and think about, “How do I want my people to feel? What are ways that we can get people to feel that way without showing our product or showing the literal iteration of our service?”

I have a few counselors or therapists who have gone through my training and want to connect people and want to build a community on Instagram for their practice. For client confidentially, you can’t show yourself actually giving somebody a therapy session, so you really have to get creative. It may seem like a challenge, but to me, it is a really exciting challenge. It’s like, “How can I show this to connect with people in a visual way that makes them feel something?” That is the foundation of success on Instagram, in my mind.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

You can find great stock photos to use on Instagram to promote your business or brand.

That’s really wonderful how you mentioned the way to get there is to not freak out if you can’t and you’re not a great photographer, you can use stock photos and screenshots of other people’s Instagram account and give them credit or tag them. The other thing which I think a lot of people have had success in on Instagram to promote your business, and you use this, is you said putting words or your own words in quotes on the actual image or it could be a stock photo image. One of the places you can get this, I don’t know if you use it, but it’s Word Swag.

Oh yeah, that’s my favorite.

Yes, I love Word Swag because it’s like a designer has done your beautifying for you and there are so many choices.  Melissa’s 21 day Instagram course is at where you can take her course. Are you giving that year round now or are you starting at specific times?

For the rest of 2016, we are doing it at specific times. I have two cohorts that are planned, one begins on August 8th. I also have one launching toward the end of October to get people prepped for holiday sales. I haven’t made solid plans for 2017 yet and I haven’t decided if I’m going to roll this out to be evergreen so that people can just take it whenever they want to.

Oh that’d be great. That’s super great advice for any service based business or product based business. Do you advise to how do you grow your business? You have to have some sort of strategy to get people back onto your website and on your list and to buy. What is your strategy for that, to not be salesy and selly, but also to be providing the beauty and the feeling, and also you want to engage people with your content on your website and go deeper with you.

And drives traffic.

Yes, and drives traffic. How do you do that?

There is a book by Gary Vaynerchuk called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. He talks about, essentially, you want jabs and they are how you create community, and you are getting people into and engaged in your story and in what you do. You give them lots of touch points into understanding who you are and what you stand for and what you do.

The right hook is the call to action or the sale. Some mistakes I see people making on Instagram is that either it is all of those jabs or all just about creating community and there is never a sales pitch, or it is like pitch-pitch-pitch-pitch everywhere. Both ways aren’t the way to go. Either extreme doesn’t benefit you in the long run. Having that balance is important.

In Instagram, I try to make it about five jabs to one right hook. Or five community building or emotionally engaging posts to one sales post. It doesn’t always work out in that perfect formula, but that is a good ratio that I am trying to think about. I want to post five pictures that are getting people into understanding the brand about Compliment is, and then one post that actually calls for a sale. Something like, “These candles are in the shop and you can get them at this link. Our link is in our bio.” A lot of people will say that on Instagram because you only get one clickable link on Instagram in you bio.

I want to be really clear when it comes time to sell, that I am selling in that post. I have seen a lot of really well intentioned people who get bashful when it comes time for the sale, to actually let people know what the heck they are doing. You won’t drive traffic that way.

It is important how you let people know how they can connect with you. In the eCommerce side, I point to the product in a picture and I will say, “Here you can get this, go to this link”. If you are somebody who books services, then you are talking for five posts, you are talking philosophically about something; you are teaching your followers something or entertaining them in some way. And then you would say, “Sessions for this summer are booking up. I have ten slots left. Be sure to jump on that today.” Then, “Go to my link.” Direct traffic that way. Or, “We are doing a give way on our blog today, be sure to click this link.”

That’s great, I remember seeing a guy who is a screenwriter who did a lot of teaching and quoting people. He then had a link to, “Hire me to be a script doctor for your script.” He had those, what you are saying—don’t be shy about the sale because you are doing it as a service to your audience. Don’t try to mask it either, be very clear, “This is what I am offering to you, if you like it, go here. If it is for you, go here.” If you are having a sale then here it is. Just keep it clear when you are selling, what you called jab, jab, jabbing or creating community service and giving beautiful value.

When it comes time to give the call to action, don’t mask it. Don’t say, “Well maybe if you want to, you could possibly…” Be direct, be clear. If people want to buy, they are going to buy. You need to make it easy for them. Point them in the direction of the URL that you need them to go to. If you are selling a particular service, like you are selling a specific course, you can change the URL in your bio instead of it just hitting your homepage where all of your things are available. You might make your URL specific to the one thing you are promoting in your call to action on Instagram. You can change that clickable link whenever you want so that you can get strategic that way.

In the bio, you are allowed one link so that you can change that whenever you want depending on what your call to action is for your sale. You can put the link in the post itself in the Instagram post, but it is not clickable. The only clickable one is in the actual bio. You can still put it both places so people can cut and paste it.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

When it comes time to sell on Instagram to promote your business, don’t be shy, be direct and clear about your offer.

The other question I have about that is, do you have a strategy for using Instagram to promote your business where you are moving people back to your site, like for a blog post, to keep them deeper in your content before you are selling them? Is that part of the strategy of getting them on your list?

For me, for getting people on my list, the best conversion I have on my website to get people on my list is my popup. When people arrive at my homepage, whether or not they purchase something, it pops up. For eCommerce, it looks different than for service based. I have it where you’ll get 15% off on the first purchase on my eCommerce site. When people click on Instagram, the popup will come up and people will sign it there just to get the first discount of the thing that they buy. In order to drive more people to my list, I’ve done a couple of things on Instagram, and the most effective one has been to do a giveaway.

I tell my Instagram people that, “I am giving away whatever X product to five new subscribers to the list. You have from now until the end of the day to signup if you’d like to win.” You probably have seen Instagram giveaways where it’s like you want more people to follow you on Instagram. I try take my traffic from Instagram and convert them to my list periodically. We know that the email list is the ultimate gold. Instagram is driving people to that. So I’ll say, “I am giving away five to the first five people to sign up.” Or I’ll say, “I’m giving away five of these products and I’ll draw names from the hat on anyone who signed up to the newsletter between now and the end of the day.” I create some scarcity or time limits so people rush to do that.

It’s been a really great way to get people in on my email list. I do have several thousand people on Instagram, but that has translated when I do those little giveaways. Probably 100 to maybe 150 signups per day each time I run one of those giveaways. It is easy for me because I have products to giveaway. For a service-based business, you can do something similar and say, “For all the new people who sign up on the list, between now and tomorrow at midnight, I’m going to give away a $25 gift card to Starbucks.”

Or you can give a downloadable pdf.

Yeah, anything!

Anything that is electronic works as well, as where you are giving away physical things, but people can give away electronic things too.

Sure, absolutely, or a session with you, or a 20 minute consultation. There are all kinds of cool stuff you can do.

That is a great idea for businesses that are service based. What about contests? Is that a good way to promote your brand, or business, book, product, or service, or cause?

Sure, a contest would be where there is maybe a hashtag contest where you ask people to post pictures of something that’s thematic to you. For example, a blogger that I worked with, she was doing something about what it looks like behind the scenes of entrepreneurs and how we can be vulnerable together. She created a hashtag for this project, and she invited all of us, anybody who was participating from her Instagram, to take a selfie with like a confession of what your life as an entrepreneur. Which was hilarious. My confession that I posted was something like that I have five piles of laundry waiting for me when I get home. We were encouraged to use this hashtag. It was great because people followed her, the blogger who created this contest. I am not even sure if there was like anything that anybody won. It was like a campaign, but you could certainly do prizes as well. It was really fun to see what people shared.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

Hashtag contests are a fun way to use Instagram to promote your business and gain followers.

She might have gotten a thousand new followers, because we were also told to also tag her in the post. People were like, “What is this thing? Oh my gosh, it’s getting so many likes and so many follows!” She, prior to the contest – and she didn’t just run it on Instagram, she found some key influencers that would help her project. She reached out to a few of us who serve a similar client as her in a different way, and asked if we would be involved in this. She gave us instructions to get the momentum going, but anybody could have joined the contest. It wasn’t just the people who she asked. It was anyone.

You helped promote it? You were one of the key influences, so you popped that up on your feed.

Correct. But by being involved, I was still a part of the contest. There was not anything to win, but I gained new followers because I was part of this contest.

You gained new followers and so did she, so it helped all the influencers as well as her. Do you remember the hashtag?

I don’t off the top of my head, but let me look it up.

These are the kinds of strategies that Melissa talks about in her 21 day Insta Course. There are people within the community and you can ask technical questions. I remember I used the community because I can’t pull this up and do certain things on my iPad or iPhone. I was just having some tech problems. There were a lot of great people in there saying, “Try this and try that,” until I got it figured out.

People talk a lot about strategy. There are those that are super active and really experienced. They seem to always be in there to lend a helping hand to talk about creating strategies and creating campaigns, as well as the challenges of doing tech stuff. I thought, and I was reading what other people even if it wasn’t my specific issue, I was reading and learning about other creative things that people were doing that helped me figure out that, “Well maybe I can use that same idea even if I am in a different industry.”

Absolutely. So I found it, it is #theimperfectboss. The woman who created this campaign is Ashley Beaudin. She is @fireandwindco. I think, from this campaign or this little contest, she probably gained more than a thousand, I’m going to go out on a limb and say 2,000 or 3,000 from this because so many people got involved. The way she did it was so interesting the way she reached out to influencers saying, “Would you mind sharing? This is all that I’m asking you, post a picture of a confession.” It was fun; we got see what people were saying.

That was great, and I don’t know if you still have it but to see what is the right way to approach people because it obviously was successful. I think it is super valuable to take a look and see how these things are done so that anyone can see how to use Instagram to promote your business. We are talking about it, but it is great to see the inside and the back story of  these things.

That’s why it is really nice to be, like you mentioned with the community on the 21 Day Insta Course, it’s really nice to be a part of a community of people who are really willing to help one another grow in the same ways that they try to grow. I get ideas from people all the time in there, and we are all in it together. The dynamic of that group is such that, if we find something that works for us, we try and share it so people can replicate that in their own industry and own brand. It is a really cool thing to be part of because we are constantly learning. I just really appreciate that from the people who have stepped up and we can call leaders in that group.

It’s really been wonderful, and I really appreciate that. In turn, it makes me try and step up if I have an answer for something – which is rare. But if it is a PR kind of question, I can definitely step in there. So, did she direct message you for that?

She emails me for that, and that brings up a really good point. Direct messaging in Instagram is a great way to make contact with people. However, I really caution against making that the first contact you have with somebody. It is like cold calling. It feels like a little bit private, when you don’t know somebody yet. Direct messaging, I feel like on Instagram at least, is a great tool to use with people who you already have established your relationship with online. Emails are a teeny bit more formal and taken a little bit more seriously and more professionally.

So Ashley, she reached out to me via email, and to be quite honestly that’s probably why I saw it and read it. When you send a direct message to somebody who does not follow you back, it doesn’t always show up in their queue to read. It is like in a hidden folder and it might unintentionally go unnoticed. I do encourage people when I’m reaching out to other influencers or other people that they are trying to build a relationship with on Instagram; it serves you better if you reach out via email first. It is more professional and nice first step as opposed to calling somebody at their home, which is what a DM would be like.

I see, and what you are saying is that Ashley may have followed you but you may not have followed Ashley and she might not have seen your direct message anyway. The direct message is too direct to touch somebody for the first time when you don’t know them.

Yes, and it’s the other way around, I think she follows me, but because I didn’t follow her yet, I wouldn’t have seen her direct message.

That makes a lot of sense. Since we are talking about hashtags, what’s up with them? Sometimes they seem to work really well for some people and not so much for others. Some people use hashtags a ton, and some people hardly at all, but they have big followings. How does it work?

If you are Taylor Swift or Beyonce, you do not need to use hashtags because you already have a following and people are looking for you because people of know you elsewhere. If you are trying to build a following and gain new followers, using hashtags is a great tool. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. I try to use all thirty for most of my posts because I am trying to be seen by new people. Hashtags, for those who are unfamiliar with how they work, is kind of like a digital filing system. Imagine Instagram like a gigantic filing cabinet. You pull out a drawer and there is all of the hashtags as different folders in that drawer. Your photo will get filed under a folder of whatever it is that you hashtag.

For example, if you use thirty hashtags on your photo, it will be like having thirty copies of your photo and leave them in thirty different folders in the filing cabinet. If you use #Friday on your folder, and somebody opens that metaphorical filing drawer of #Friday, they will see your photo. If you hashtag on the same photo #Friday #almosttheweekend, then whatever file folder is labeled on that, it will show up there as well.

By using thirty hashtags, you are showing up in thirty different feeds that are categorizing these photos. That is the best way I can think of explaining it. Sometimes it is easier to poke around and see what I mean.

Let me use a direct example since you do beautiful jewelry for people that have a compliment in them. You might do hashtag for Mother’s Day like #mothersdaygift. Anybody who is searching for a Mother’s Day gift would put that hashtag there in the search bar and all of the photos that were tagged with that, so your beautiful jewelry is tagged with that, and they could know that they could buy that for Mother’s Day.

Correct, that is exactly right. I see lots of people using hashtags. Some do it well; some do it not quite as well. I think that when hashtags first started on Twitter, they were used as a digital filing system but also like a cheeky parenthetical. Instead of writing out that thing whatever you wanted to say and make a caption, you would say like #thankgoditsalmosttheweekend. While it is funny and it reads really well especially if you are a writer and like using parentheticals, where it is a fun way of doing it, it might not be strategically the best way of doing things, only because other people might not be searching for that hashtag. You are not going to show up in people’s hashtag searches.

Effective ways to use hashtags, I would say when you are first starting out, is to use as many as you can which is 30 per photo. You want to get strategic on thinking about where your potential customers are going to be searching. For me, you would think that I sell jewelry so people are going to hashtag search for jewelry. What I find after a lot of trial and error is that the people who are posting and searching under the hashtag of jewelry are other jewelry designers. They are not the people who are going to be buying my stuff because they can make it themselves.

Instagram marketing

Instagram marketing strategies with soul

This is all through figuring out what is working for my brand. I need to be more creative. I started trying to use hashtags that are more relevant to the values of my brand, and who the people who are buying my products are doing in their lives, not what I am doing in my life. Let me give you a specific example. Because I was a teacher in a classroom and Compliment started as a fundraiser for scholarships, and we continue to give scholarships, a lot of the people who are attracted to my brand are also teachers. I use lots of hashtags that are relevant in the teaching world, even though what I am promoting is jewelry.

I am trying to connect with people on values and connect to them wherever they are and knowing stuff about my ideal client and customer. Other ways that I have seen people do this is like hashtagging a particular value or another industry that they want to be working with. For people like, Susan, you work with a lot of small business and entrepreneurs who are trying to get more media spots to get help with their PR. Using hashtags that are popular among entrepreneurs would benefit you. That would be, I know this because I type this into Google, like the most popular hashtags for entrepreneurs.

There is one which is #EntrepreneurLife. Hashtagging #EntrepreneurLife is going to attract entrepreneurs to your feed, and they are going to see your picture through that hashtag search because they are looking for things that serve them. There is a whole strategy behind hashtagging and the most effective way to do that would be by thinking about who your ideal clients, where they are searching online, and then using those tags on your photos.

What you are saying is that one of the hashtag strategies you use is your values and who you serve, your ideal client. You need to know what they are searching. I had a client and she is like, “I come up first on Google.” I was for a term she used on her blog, but no one was searching by that term. She had put the term on her blog and I was like, “Of course you comes up first, it’s on your blog, nobody is searching for that, of course you’ll come up first, but nobody is going to find you.” It is not about making up a term, it is about finding out what your ideal client is searching for and then finding out that hashtag and putting it on there. Whether they are searching for services or for values, I use one that is #philanthropy or #greenliving, because those are people are attracted to my Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul brand.  

I do use #jewelry because I want jewelry people to look at me so I can get in O Magazine. That is a hot place for people to go because she is always showing jewelry on O Magazine. You might have specific hashtags for specific offerings as well as what your offerings are and your specific photos. It is not that you are using exactly the same ones every single time.

It could be based on the picture. You could have a series of hashtags that you use that are general, that you use for all of your pictures, and then a rotating series depending on what photo you are promoting or what product you are promoting online.

To make an amendment to #EntrepreneurLife, I don’t know why I thought it was with a Y, I must have seen that with something else and confused it. This is a good teaching tool for figuring out which hashtags might be good in your industry. I try and look for hashtags that have in the six figures the number of posts that are under the hashtag are in the six figures; at least a hundred thousand or no more 999,999 ones.

If it is too popular, nobody will ever find you.

If it is popular, you are lost. If there are a hundred people who have only used that hashtag, what is the point? You will not get found. The sweet spot is between a 100,000 and 750,000. How do you find out how many people are posting? If you go to Instagram and you click on the little magnifying glass icon, you can type in and search under tags. I typed in #EntrepreneurLife, with an “I” like how it is supposed to be spelled, I know how to spell it, I promise. What pops up is that there are 695,052 posts under #EntrepreneurLife. If you were going to post something there, it would be filed away with that many other pictures, and that is an active hashtag. It is being used a lot. That might attract a certain kind of person to your feed.

That is super great. Melissa talks about all these very specific strategies to use Instagram to promote your business in the 21 day Insta course which is There are so many, “get followers quick” tips on Instagram. While we want followers, you also want engagements. Which ones do you recommend? Of course we want followers, but you just don’t want anybody. You want people who are right for your offer and what you stand for.

This is not the most popular thing that people want to hear, but I am really big believer in taking the time to actually build the relationship on Instagram. I have not yet found a “get followers quick” kind of an app that actually works well. I don’t know if they exist. If you can do things the quick way or the right way on Instagram, in my mind, it does take some time and effort. There are things that you can do to maximize the aesthetic of your Instagram feed that you can use hashtags strategically, that you can connect with the right influencers in order to find the right followers quickly. But it is not an overnight thing.

If you are promised thousands of followers overnight, while your numbers are definitely going to go up, it doesn’t translate into sales. If we are in business, the whole key to business is that we need to be selling something. We have to make money. It is a good ego boost when you do these contests or you find these apps that give you lots of followers quickly. It might feel good for a second on your ego, but it doesn’t translate into sales because those are often not real people. If they are real people, they are not engaged in your brand in the right way. In my mind, it is much better to have 100 followers on Instagram of people who are real people, who are interacting with you, who you are building a relationship with, who love what you are doing, and are actually going to buy from you, than having 100,000 followers of people who are never going to convert in sales. What is the point? Why do that?

I am at 34,000 followers right now, somewhere in that area. That happened over a couple of years. There have been years where my growth has been really fast and big but it is because I put the time in to build my Instagram. It didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen while I was sleeping, because I did not try – it actually happened because I put the work in. What does that look like? To me, it is not hard work like hauling bricks for miles. That is hard work. Engaging people on Instagram, it is not that hard of work. It does take time though. I try and do things to build a relationship as quickly as possible to maximize my time.

One of the strategies that I use is to engage with the people who follow me and engage with new people who I want to follow me. I will set a timer on my phone for ten minutes and I will go in and like and comment genuinely on as many pictures as I see in my feed. I am not talking about things by just saying, “Cool pic” on everybody’s picture. I look at their picture, read the caption, and I try to say something thoughtful.

If you are on Instagram, you might have experienced this before where you have written a post or posted a picture that is really heartfelt, and somebody has given you a comment that just says, “Really cool,” and thumbs up. They really did not read what I wrote because it is about my grandma passing away. A real person who you are engaging with wouldn’t write that kind of spammy comment

When you see those spammy comments, those are coming from the apps that promise you followers quickly. That is not the kind of reputation that I want to build online. I want to build a thoughtful reputation. I take ten minutes at a time, and then I will try and do it if I am the passenger in the car, and we are going on a road trip. I am going to spend ten minutes and do these comments. If I am standing in line, I did this at the DMV couple of days ago, I spent ten minutes and I wrote those comments. Just chunk it out in my day and really read and think about something and leave those comments. When you engage with other people, they are going to engage back with you. Be interested and give compliments, and learn about the things that you are doing. You can be even more strategic in your time management by targeting people who you believe fit your ideal client profiles.

If you have a service that is geared towards stay at home moms, you may find people online who are stay at home moms by looking at their hashtags or doing a search of stay at home mom bloggers or something, and then following them and commenting on their photos to really show that you are engaged with what they are doing. That is how you get more people to follow you. It is like just being a real person.

You do it regularly for the specific ones. You are not just doing it one time per specific person. You go back over and over again and make those meaningful comments on their pictures.

I think of Instagram as like a cocktail party where I wouldn’t just show a slideshow at a cocktail party and not have anybody talk to me or not engage with people. The way that I would make friends in real life is the way that I want to make friends on Instagram. I introduce myself and try to find a commonality, and say, “Oh you are from Sacramento too… We have a shop on such and such, what a coincidence…” How would you build a conversation in real life? That is what I am trying to do on Instagram.

That is really enlightening. I was having trouble myself in terms of how to interact. I am like you, I would go make very specific comments on something that really moves me or really beautiful or something like that. I remember feeling a little off put by people who would just do the “cool pic” with the thumbs up, where it didn’t relate at all to the comment or the text or the picture or the caption. It was just like kind of an automated response that somebody did. It might not have been by a spam bot, but it certainly was not thoughtful. I didn’t have any incentive to respond back other than saying thank you. How many times can you say thank you to people? It is not a conversation, is what you are saying.

Sometimes, you might get a comment where there are plenty of times where I go through my Instagram and see “Oh my gosh, I love this,” and there all you can say is, “Thank you,” but it is genuine. It is not the only time that I interact with that person either. Sometimes, the best way to respond is through an emoji if you can’t think of anything else. It might be just like I’m sending you love, or when the time is right, you would go back to that person and see what else they are posting and actually leave something thoughtful so there can be an exchange or a conversation. Even if it means you set your phone for those ten minutes so you don’t get sucked down the rabbit hole of Instagram. In those ten minutes, if you can only leave two super thoughtful responses or captions or comments back on people’s pictures, then that is okay because you are building a relationship there with somebody.

People buy from who they like. This is not just an exercise in social media. It is an exercise kind of like in being a likeable person, and being relational. When people say, “Oh what is your secret?” There really isn’t a secret, I just try to be friendly to as many people as possible online and doing it as often as possible. With the weirdos, I block the weirdos. People appreciate kindness and some friendly commentary. We don’t want to feel invisible. If I can be witness to somebody and say “Hey you are not alone,” or, “Hey, this is inspiring, this cracked me up. Thanks for the smile.” People would say that somebody is listening out there and they are going to follow back.

I like what you said that in using Instagram to promote your business, this is a conversation like at a cocktail party. You start with small talk and opening a conversation and finding a commonality or expressing a true thought or feeling or whatever it is back to them. It is heartfelt and it is thoughtful and it is something that is very specific and personal. Some people forget about that and try to be clever or just find an emoji that is not appropriate, but to really look and listen and connect with those people that you want to have a relationship with. I think that is important to connect with people who you do want to build that connection with.

Yes, and a little bit of quick rapport. We are past the day where people feel like it is weird to make Internet friends. I know that there was such a stigma several years ago, but I can’t tell you how many Internet friends I have now. I meet them in real life. When you tell people who don’t have an online presence, what you are doing like, “I am going to meet my friend.” ” Oh, how did you meet?” “We are online friends…” It sounds so weird, but it is not. It really isn’t. You can get to know somebody through social media and through what they are doing online and create some really cool connections that way. People buy from who they like. People work with who they like.

If people are off put by your stuff, then they are not going to buy from you. It will behoove you to do things the right way and build real relationships. How do people have businesses before the Internet? The businesses still existed. It was all about building relationships in your community.

Do you still have your service for the people who maybe don’t have ten minutes a day, or they have ten minutes a day, but they want to expand their Internet presence more but don’t have more than the ten minutes a day? Do you still have your service to use Instagram to promote your business where somebody gets to know your feed and helps respond for you?

Yes, that service is called Insta Freedom. We only offer it to people who have gone through the Insta Course first because there is a reason; if we are doing this service for you and attracting new eyes to your feed, you have a responsibility as like your social media manager to be posting content that connects with people. You need to make sure your bio says certain things that people understand how to buy form you. It is like a team effort in that way. We want to make sure that people gone through the Insta Course first before they sign up for that service so they know what they are doing on their end.

Your course is a really valuable service. Your people understand what it takes to build an Instagram presence. Some people might want to do it a little bit faster, and that is a way that gets an integrity that they can do it.

We manage the engagement piece of it to help you build the relationships online with people and places that you feel are your ideal clients or influencers are hanging out. We try to do that service for you to make your hands free to do the other things you need to be doing in your business. Which is like ten million other tasks.

So have we covered all of the mistakes you see that small businesses make when it comes to promoting their business on Instagram?

To add to one other mistake I see people making, is that they are not clear who they are posting for on Instagram. I see this mostly with service-based businesses. People’s feeds will look like a mismatched photo album of the day-to-day life of a person with business. I recommend to people to have two different accounts, if you want to be posting lots of personal photos and having an account for your personal stuff that is housed on one place, and having an account that is really specific to your business and who you are trying to serve. You have two different audiences there. As much as we want to believe that all of our clients want to know all the details of our personal lives, our clients really don’t, they don’t care that.

You posting a picture, unless it is part of your brand, there is always that asterisk or caveat. Unless your personal life is really part of your brand, for example, if you are a mompreneur and balancing your children with your business as part of what you are doing with your brand, then obviously pictures with your kids would be fine on your feed. If you are someone like Susan, for you, you are trying to help people get more exposure on media in all different forms of media; it probably wouldn’t make sense for you to post a picture of your dinner on your profile. Even if it is really interesting to you and it was really fabulous. If that dinner was with Oprah, then that is a different story – you definitely want to post that.

You want to think about whom am I posting for? Why am I posting this picture? What this picture is going to make people feel? If you can’t answer those questions, don’t post it.

BAMD0013 | Instagram to promote your business

Traditional PR can intersect with Instagram to promote your business via blogs or other media.

I am also curious as to how you use Instagram combined with your PR? You do traditional PR too. You get into magazines. You do podcasts like this. How do you integrate that? How does that intersect with traditional PR?

When I write for a publication, I try to get published by someone else, I make sure to mention in my bio where people can find me on Instagram. When things do published, I will drive traffic from my Instagram to that link of wherever my stuff is published. For example, a couple of years ago, this link has served me so well, I published something on Cameron Diaz’s blog it is called Our Body Book.

It was an article about basically we rise by lifting others. It is my whole brand slogan for Compliment. I wrote this piece about what that means. Our Body Book who has hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram linked to me saying, “Here is an article from Compliment,” and they did this on Instagram.

I got probably 500 new followers from that one link which didn’t really originate on Instagram. It originated on a blog. Because they have a Instagram presence as well for their blog, that created a whole lot of back traffic to me on Instagram. That was really cool.

Cameron Diaz’ people found your blog link and posted it on their Instagram feed?

No, I did a guest post on that blog. I submitted an article and got published on that blog.

How did you submit the guest post? Is there a spot for that and you applied?

I did it the old fashioned way. I read the blog. It is so old school. I read the blog and I thought “Oh my gosh, they are totally talking to my kind of person. I think that their readers would love what I am doing. I have some stuff to say.” I found who the contact or publisher was. I found her on Twitter, and I tweeted her and said that I have an idea for an article that would fit under this section or this heading. I did my research. She said, “Awesome, here is my email, send it over.” I did and she loved it. She said to send a headshot and all of my information. I did and they published it. I was like the good old-fashioned way of doing freelance work.

That was a relationship and again, you did your research and you found the exact spot on the blog where it would fit. That’s super important, you did not just send a generic thing, “Hey I’d like to write an article for you. Would you be interested in this?”

I was finding a way that I can be a value to her publisher or the blog master or something. I know she needs content for this section. The thing that I want to write about will fit in this section. Let me pitch that way. I came at it really knowing the things that they already published and it didn’t go the other way around. I wrote for that blog. It wasn’t like I had something lying around on my computer and thought where I can find a home for this? Although that does work as well. This was very intentional.

Because I had a relationship with her people at that point, then they followed me on Instagram, I followed them and they posted a photo. It wasn’t of my product; it was like the blog photo that they said they have this new blogpost up by @shopcompliment. I got a huge wave of traffic on my Instagram that way and to my website. That one link still drives traffic to my website today and that was published in 2014.

Do you take that link and republish it on your Instagram to promote your business periodically, or repost it?

I haven’t reposted it in a really long time. When it first came out, I did. I probably should recycle some content. It was a great post. I still stand by the things that I said. It would probably be a really good idea to do that.

How about Pinterest with a great photo? Because Pinterest is super.

Yeah, it does drive a lot of traffic. Instagram, although it is my preferred method of social media and my preferred method for publicity, I don’t do things on Instagram just in isolation. Everything works together. When I have news spot with my local news station where we do a Christmas gift guide, I make sure that my Instagram is shown up on the screen like on the ticker. They can find me on my website and also on Instagram. I put my handle up there. Every time I have a news spot, I get new followers on Instagram. I post on Instagram that I was on the news and ask them to check out the link to the clip.

I don’t think we have given out your handle. Is it at @shopcompliment? I know we’ve been talking about your course, but I know people are going to want to see what you are doing too. You want to see it by example so you get a real sense of what Melissa is talking about by going to  @shopcompliment because you can see the different types of posts and how she is responding also to the people who are following her. The graceful way that she is selling her jewelry and sharing content that is valuable to her users or her audience, that share her values. Somebody might not be ready to buy your jewelry right at this moment, but when they need a gift or want something special for a hostess or for their mom or a friend or whoever, then they will be thinking of you and you will be top of mind.

Right, exactly. I’ve read this, and you and I have talked about this in the past before, that it takes somebody at least seven interactions with you before they take action by purchasing your stuff.

Now it’s seven to ten. It’s gone up.

Seven to ten interactions, that’s a lot – I want to make sure that my interactions are always positive, always uplifting, and always enlightening. When it comes time to be like “Oh yes, I have heard of Compliment before. I will go and follow.” Seven to ten times is really a lot. I don’t take that lightly. I see that as a huge responsibility to make sure that I am constantly generating useful content for people.

We are talking about somebody who is seeing on you on TV or read your blog post, somebody who visited your site, someone who found you on Instagram or they saw you on Pinterest. Those are all the touches that count, seeing you over and over again. If they follow you, obviously, you have a chance to continue that connection.

Correct, exactly.

Thank you so much for joining us to talk about how to use Instagram to promote your business with integrity.

Thank you so much for having me. It is always a pleasure to talk with you.

Fantastic information. Thank you so much Melissa. You have been such a great guest. This is amazing information about online and traditional publicity and using Instagram to promote your business in the right way to build your audience and to build your buzz in a way that is really with integrity and beauty. I so appreciate you.

My pleasure, I appreciate you back.

About Melissa Camilleri

She is a high school English teacher turned CEO and founder of Compliment Inc, which is a lifestyle brand that seeks to encourage, inspire, and educate. Even though it started off as a college scholarship fundraiser for her students, Compliment has grown to be an online destination for people seeking gifts that uplift and give back.

She founded the company in late 2011. She sets aside 5% of all product sales to the Compliment scholarship program. She has raised tens of thousands of dollars in educational funding for girls who dared dream big and break the cycle of poverty in their families through education. Ever the teacher at heart, Melissa is the founder of 21 day Insta-course which helps others to gain massive exposure on Instagram – which I’ve taken – on a shoe string budget, and many other workshops and trainings. We were just talking about how to train the trainer. She also helps people with the audacity to dream a little bigger, finding their unique gifts and talents, and spread their messages throughout the world. She lives and loves in Northern California. I invite you to take her 21-day Insta Course to learn how to use Instagram to promote your business. I’ve gone through it and it is fantastic, plus she’s got a whole community of helpers in the private Facebook page which is really awesome and wonderful.


Take Melissa’s fantastic Instagram course (I am!)

Give an uplifting gift to someone you love

Listen to Melissa talk about how she created a 6 figure business + gives back

Follow Melissa on Instagram

Follow Susan on Instagram

Media Training Tips for CEOs

Media Training Tips for Entrepreneurs, Authors, Coaches, Consultants, CEOs

Are you enjoying the Podcast? Then I invite you to hop on over to iTunes to subscribe, rate + review it. Here’s a quick video on how to do a podcast review on iTunes. (It’s simple if you follow these directions). Note: It can take up to 24 hours to show up on my Podcast. You’re welcome to send this to anyone you think it would delight. May good fortune always follow you!

Want to know how to subscribe on your phone? Watch this video.

Want to be a guest on my Podcast? Jet me an email with your topic and a link to your bio here.

Send Susan a Voice Message!

Click below to send me your voice message with a question or topic you’d like to hear more about in my upcoming podcasts! I will answer the most pressing and popular ones in a future episode. (I’ll mention your first name ONLY to protect your privacy.)


Like what you read? Share it!


Hi, I'm Susan

I’m a media coach, martial artist + marketing strategist who helps you communicate your values, mission + message during media interviews to multiply your revenue while building your brand + business. I believe that you don’t need to brag, beg or whore yourself to get the publicity you want. Nor do you need to be an axe murderer, a shamed sports star, or be involved in a sex scandal. There is another way…

Subscribe to the Podcast

Get your FREE publicity gifts

The 15 best places for products, services, causes and books.

Own Your Worth

5 Ways to Say No Without Guilt, Shame or Blame. 

Recent Podcasts


Liked this episode? Get more like this every week by signing up: