This past weekend Dana and I attended a Pinnacle Global Network event where we had the opportunity to listen to Chalene Johnson speak on tactics and techniques to grow your engagement on Instagram. For those that don’t know Chalene Johnson, she’s an entrepreneur who made a name in the fitness space and has grown to become a business coach and influencer. Chalene’s talk covered topics I found relevant to share with our community of clients and prospective clients so we decided to cover these topics in our Wicked Marketing Podcast. As a top Los Angeles marketing and advertising agency, we broadcast the recording of this podcast episode through Instagram Live as it was a perfect fit for covering the topic. You can listen to our podcast recording here as well as read the transcript of the conversation below:

Dana:               Hi, this is Dana.

Carlos:              And this is Carlos.

Dana:               And this is Wicked Marketing. Welcome to our podcast today. Glad to have everybody listening.

Carlos:              And watching us on Instagram live.

Dana:               And watching us on Instagram. Yeah.

Carlos:              Yeah.

Dana:               We’re going to talk a little bit about Instagram today. We had a great weekend conference in Palm Springs and Chalene Johnson came. Oh my God, what a dynamo, right?

Carlos:              Yeah. She was brilliant.

Dana:               She had the stage. She was so amazing and she’s, if you don’t know who she is, check her out on Instagram because she’s just a spitfire and knows an incredible amount of how to maximize and leverage Instagram.

Carlos:              Yeah.

Dana:               So it’s great. That’s what we want to talk about.

Carlos:              I actually hadn’t even heard of her before and now that I have-

Dana:               Oh, we love her.

Carlos:              Yeah, we love her and we definitely recommend that you guys check it out. That’s also the reason why we’re going live today with the recording of our podcast. So with that, let’s start talking about Instagram.

Dana:               Yeah, let’s go. Let’s go, Instagram, as you all know, you’re there.

Carlos:              So Chalene was discussing, we were in a large group over, what, do you say 200, 300 people in there?

Dana:               It was actually 400 people-

Carlos:              400 people.

Dana:               … Pinnacle Global Network. Yes.

Carlos:              And one of the things that she talked about is the importance of not only focusing on the type of imagery that you’re putting on Instagram but the fact that you need to be authentic. So let’s talk a little bit about that. Traditionally, Instagram is a visual medium, right? So people, because of it being a visual medium and it all initially being all about photography and beautiful imagery, there’s a lot of both people and brands that are on there that have been focusing a lot on creating these artificial images, right? So…

Dana:               Right. And so something looks beautiful. You go to the wall and every slide is the same and everything kind of has this feeling that you can, not necessarily emotionally, emotionally feel, but you have a look that’s pretty.

Carlos:              Exactly. And I think that as Instagram has evolved and more people have gotten on it, what we’ve come to realize is that, that’s not effective for everybody, right? So just looking at a wall that looks like literally a piece of advertising constantly is not as engaging for a personal brand maybe or a business brand as it is for someone that is in beauty, makeup…

Dana:               Right. Maybe fashion.

Carlos:              Fashion, photography.

Dana:               That would make perfect sense for them.

Carlos:              Exactly.

Dana:               Right.

Carlos:              And those cases, it makes absolute sense to have something like that on your wall or have your wall curated like that, but when you’re looking for people to authentically engage with your brand and really develop a connection with your brand, there is nothing better than authenticity, right?

Dana:               Yeah. And you want to see who somebody is. You want to feel who somebody is behind the brand. I mean, at Wicked Bionic, we’ve tried so many different things, just thinking about different types of things in a wall, we always try with ourselves before others. And what we realize over and with our clients, over and over again, when you put people in the image and you get to understand a little bit about them, you feel a sense of connection and trust.

Carlos:              And that’s the thing, right? What is it that your brand is trying to communicate when you’re on Instagram? Each social network has a reason for existing, right? A raison d’être in French. And when you think about Instagram, it is about the emotion that an image gives you when you look at it, right? And also, that is the way to get people to actually engage with your brand on Instagram.

Dana:               Put a video up there and that’s it, right? You get to see a personality as well, which is what, Chalene, if you look at her stuff, I mean, she’s wacky fun. So she’s got a lot more personality than most of us, right?

Carlos:              Yeah.

Dana:               I mean, yeah.

Carlos:              Yeah. But one thing that she said that absolutely makes sense is if you think about social networks as a business, right, what they’re looking for is to retain people on their sites for prolonged periods of time. That’s how they’re able to serve advertising and that’s how they’re able to measure engagement, that’s how they’re able to create audiences for people to target through marketing. So like everything that generates money and longevity for a social network right now is tied to the time that people are on the site. So when you are thinking about why is my Instagram not effective, or I’m putting all this effort into Instagram and I feel like the algorithm is not showing my post to as many people, or how does the algorithm even make the choice of what to show to people?

Carlos:              If you start tracing it back to the content that you’re creating and whether or not it’s engaging for people, meaning people are going to spend time on it, then you get a measure of why certain content does better than other content. So she provided some tips that I thought were really great tips about how to drive engagement on your posts.

Carlos:              So let’s talk a little bit about those. One of the tips that she provided was, it’s always better to do video or do…

Dana:               Multiple images.

Carlos:              Multiple images, right. So, what are called the carousel posts on Instagram? A carousel post is always better than a single image. Why? Because it takes longer for you to go and swipe through several images than it does to just swipe up on one image that you…

Dana:               And Instagram is just trying to, is just seeing where people stop and what they do. So the longer you’re there, watching a video, swiping them multiple pictures, that’s what matters and keeps people engaged.

Carlos:              Yeah, absolutely. So, another one of the tips that she provided was creating long captions.

Dana:               Right. Right.

Carlos:              Right? So we’re so used to social media being quick, right?

Dana:               Right. Short, soundbites.

Carlos:              And short. Mind you, no one’s going to read your caption if they’re not attracted to the image or the images. So it’s a combination of both. But really thinking about, okay, now what is it about what I’m posting that I’m really trying to tell people? And how do you break it down into something that is interesting for people to engage with and also make it, because you can make a caption really long, but that doesn’t mean that people are going to read it, right?

Dana:               It’s interesting. Yeah.

Carlos:              So don’t force it, but make it into something that is interesting that people really want to read, that they want to, maybe you’re providing tips or you’re giving people information that they can use to learn about what you do…

Dana:               Well, maybe it’s something shocking and in some way, that makes you stop, goes, what is that about? We’ve all gotten those emails with incredible subject lines that make you go, “Oh, I got to open this.” And like, “Ah, it was just a sales thing.”

Carlos:              Exactly. So you don’t want to be salesy on your Instagram.

Dana:               Yeah. You just want to be honest.

Carlos:              You want to be honest and you want to connect. So those are a few of the ways that you can do it. Other ways that people are doing it that are interesting all have to do with interactivity, right?

Dana:               Right.

Carlos:              So Instagram provides you with tools to make both your images and videos interactive, and those tools are something that people use just for fun. But when you’re thinking about creating these posts or these Instagram stories, which is definitely a place where you should be putting your time and effort into, the use of these tools within the story will enable you to drag on that engagement and also the people interacting with those tools.

Dana:               Mm-hmm (affirmative), responding.

Carlos:              Or responding to those tools is going to count towards your engagement on your posts. So let’s talk about some of those tools. So there’s polling, right? So you can create a poll, a yes or no type answer on your poll where people can jump in and you can put in a question and they can connect with it and they can see what other people are responding to. You can use stickers, right? Stickers are a fun way-

Dana:               Stickers are fun, they’re fun.

Carlos:              … to have something on there that sort of makes people stop, hashtags, so people can click on them. Anything that people can touch-

Dana:               Right, use their screen.

Carlos:              … and engage with or that they can touch the screen and stop in order for them to be able to read or pause or whatever. All of those are interactions on Instagram that are going to help you lengthen the time that people are engaging with your content.

Dana:               And Chalene said a great thing and it’s kind of in our world, it’s A/B testing, but she said a great thing. She’s put out so much content and I think she has over half a million followers, and she was saying, she’ll put out one thing that, let’s just say, multiple images or a video and she will put a certain type of subject line or whatever, and then she’ll do the same type of thing with a different subject line or a different image and really kind of test and see where people are. And she says things have fallen flat that she thought there would be a connection to and then other things when she… I love what she does, when she’s trying to make a business decision about maybe a new product or something that she wants to put out there, she was saying that she will throw it out to her audience. Now granted, she has half a million to respond-

Carlos:              Yeah.

Dana:               … but she will throw it out to the audience and say, “Which one do you guys like best?” I mean, how fun is that?

Carlos:              Well, and that, I think that’s great.

Dana:               So fun.

Carlos:              Because then, you… we tend to assume that we know everything or that the people that engage with our brand should know everything about our brand, right? Or sometimes, we think that we’re going to talk about something and it’s going to be dumb because it’s just generic to us. But what you have to remember is that whatever it is that you’re marketing, it could be shoes, it could be t-shirts, it could be your services, you have assumptions from inside of the building, right? Because you’re so engaged with it, it’s so part of your day-to-day-

Dana:               You know it so well.

Carlos:              … that you assume that people already know things or you assume that people are not going to care about things or you assume what people will care for. And the point that Chalene was making is that you really need to go out there and see what’s going to resonate.

Dana:               It’s research, live research, really, right?

Carlos:              It’s live research. Yeah.

Dana:               I mean, that’s what it is. We all spend so much money and so much time with analytics and stuff on our end. And then you just ask your audience, if you have a decent size audience, to be able to get some opinions back and forth, and then you can go to market.

Carlos:              Exactly.

Dana:               You spending all that crazy money.

Carlos:              So, focusing on your authenticity, looking at what is going to resonate with your audience and how do you drive more time for people on Instagram is definitely going to be what’s going to help you measure success. Tactics, like using Instagram stories and implementing polling on there, going live, like we’re doing right now as we record this podcast, we’re actually live on our Instagram.

Dana:               Yes, for fun.

Carlos:              So people are getting to preview-

Dana:               For fun. Super fun.

Carlos:              … our podcast is going to be released in the coming days.

Dana:               But I forget that we’re doing a podcast as well, so this is going to be recorded as well [crosstalk 00:12:23].

Carlos:              Yeah, so this will be released-

Dana:               Wicked Marketing.

Carlos:              … in the coming weeks on the Wicked Marketing podcast, which you guys can subscribe to. And so what we’re trying to do here is really get you to think about why you’re doing Instagram, right?

Dana:               And I think, we hear the word authenticity and we say, “What does that mean?” Because Carlos and I really went to work on our business for three days and we’re like, what is it… all of us, we are our business, right? It’s not this thing, it’s we are our business, who’s behind the business. And we want to work with people that know and like us and trust us, and just like you would, finding people that you feel comfortable with. So how else do you expose that except by doing things like this and being able to share? So authenticity, I believe, is not being so afraid of thinking you have to be buttoned up or behave. I used to think, you have to behave like a professional, when I was younger. You have to be what a professional looks like, whatever that story was. And so it’s been very interesting having my own business for five years, over five years, is that I can put me into it. I can just be me and it’s so much easier than creating a persona or an idea or…

Carlos:              Well, and I think that’s a great segue to the final portion of what we’re going to talk about as far as engaging with people on Instagram. Instagram, as with every social network, is not a set it and forget it, right? So when you’re talking about authenticity and personality and engagement, right, and length of time that people are spending on your Instagram posts or Instagram stories or Instagram lives, what you want to think about is how much effort I might be putting in after I put that content out there, right? So if people are going on, which I’m seeing all these people coming and waving on our Instagram live.

Dana:               How fun is that? Hi, friends.

Carlos:              Hello, friends. Is that you can’t just leave it there. You can’t just, you have to look at the comments that people are putting on your posts because…

Dana:               And respond.

Carlos:              Once you’re being authentic, right, people are going to have questions.

Dana:               And we want to have, it’s a back and forth, so it’s developing a relationship through a medium where you can be yourself, they can be themselves, and then you’re connecting. It’s such a cool thing when you think about it.

Carlos:              So to that point, one of the things that Chalene talked about, which I just took for granted that people knew about and they don’t, funny enough, no one knew there, was text shorteners, right?

Dana:               Yeah. Yeah. So fun.

Carlos:              So text shorteners is something that I will encourage you guys to look for and learn about. So basically, what text shorteners allow you to do is to pre-craft, meaning you think about the things that people may have questions on related to your brand or product or service that you’re putting out there on Instagram, and create responses that are lengthy responses, right?

Dana:               Personalized responses.

Carlos:              Personalized, lengthy responses so that they spend time reading your responses to their questions, right?

Dana:               Not a novel, but a lengthy response.

Carlos:              But still to the point, right? You want to encourage people to keep asking you questions so you don’t want to give them like a mile-long response. But with a text shortener, you can attach that canned response, that’s what it’s called in marketing, canned response, to three or four or five letters in…

Dana:               A, B, C.

Carlos:              Well, I wouldn’t do A, B, C, but something like…

Dana:               RLF.

Carlos:              Yeah, letters-

Dana:               DCA.

Carlos:              … that you wouldn’t normally use, so that then when you need to send that response to someone, whether it’s in a text message or in an Instagram post or a tool like that, you type those three, four or five letters, whatever it is-

Dana:               That you’ve memorized.

Carlos:              … that you’ve memorized for that response, or you could even have a document where you track it, and it will immediately insert your long response to it.

Dana:               So as an example, if somebody says, “Gosh, Dana. Oh my God, where did you get your glasses?” Don’t say that nobody cares. But if somebody says, “Where did you get your glasses?” And I know that they’re going to ask about my glasses, I would have a text that says, basically, “I bought them at this store. You can go over there. LensCrafters has this. Here’s the place. Blah, blah, blah, blah. And here’s what they were and here’s how much they cost.” If I know somebody’s going to ask about that, I can just do the text shortener and it’ll have that response. Sounds like it’s from me, personalized, but it just makes it quick when you’re on the go and you have, certainly, you have the kind of crazy following that people like Chalene have.

Carlos:              Yeah. Or in cases like the live podcast that we’re doing right now on Instagram. If someone were to text us and say, “Hey guys, loved it. Do you guys have any way for me to get those tips in a fast way?” Then had we done it, which we didn’t, so don’t ask.

Dana:               Don’t ask.

Carlos:              We could just have those-

Dana:               Right.

Carlos:              … that quick-

Dana:               Response, with the response, yes, [crosstalk 00:17:27].

Carlos:              … response with the text shortener that could send all of that information to the people that are listening [crosstalk 00:17:33].

Dana:               For sure. So just look up, just google text shorteners and you’ll see, it’s a very cool tool. I just worked on it a couple of months ago and it’s super fun. So.

Carlos:              Yeah. So those are our tips for Instagram.

Dana:               And that’s our love for Chalene Johnson. Look her up.

Carlos:              And our love for Chalene Johnson. She deserves it.

Dana:               And she’s got, I can’t bring it off the top of my head, but she’s got four brands, so she really became incredibly successful in the fitness area. And so pyro, P-I-Y-O.

Carlos:              P-I-Y-O.

Dana:               P-I-Y-O. Yeah, dot com.

Carlos:              So she has the top infomercial in 2019.

Dana:               She’s awesome.

Carlos:              So she’s awesome. We encourage you guys to look into her. Maybe one day, we can have her on our podcast as a guest.

Dana:               Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Carlos:              That would be awesome.

Dana:               That’d be great. So, listen, thank you so much for listening, you guys, and we’ll talk to you next time.

Carlos:              Talk to you next time.


Reach out to Los Angeles multicultural marketing and advertising agency Wicked Bionic to be a guest on our Wicked Marketing Podcast.

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