Use Insights to level up your Instagram content

Use Insights to level up your Instagram content

Do you know how to measure exactly what’s working on your Instagram profile? Today, you and I are going on an adventure. We’re going to explore the murky depths of your Instagram Insights, and bring to the surface the information that will help you make decisions about your Instagram content.

To help you imagine this, we’re going to use a concrete example. Here’s a question I had in from a listener, Jeni.

 “I’ve used an app called Buffer which uploads multiple social media posts to the various platforms at once to try and save time, however I noticed that the buffer uploads don’t seem to get as many “likes” as previous posts. Do you know if this is just a coincidence, or if there’s some kind of algorithm blocking the visibility of an app like this?”

In an earlier episode we talked about cross-posting content from Instagram to Facebook, and Buffer is one of the tools I suggested you could use. So this is a really important question to answer for those of you still considering your options.

How does Buffer affect your reach on Instagram

I looked in a few places online to see if there were any reliable stats on this. The first thing to say is there’s no official statement from Instagram saying how they handle third party posts in the algorithm. Facebook, the parent company, did release a statement but it only referred specifically to the Facebook platform, and it said that third party and native posts are treated the same.

Second, the research that has been done was all done by companies who own third party apps for posting to social media, so they have a vested interest in proving to you that you can safely use their services. Their research should be taken with a pinch of salt. Across thousands of posts from a variety of third-party tools onto different platforms, couldn’t find any statistically significant difference in performance between native posts and third party tools.

Best content to post on your Instagram Feed 

Since the research doesn’t seem to match with Jeni’s experience, the next thing to do is measure if there’s really a difference. Even if you don’t care about Buffer, you can use this exact process to compare any two types of post on your Instagram feed. You could see if selfies perform better on your Instagram. You can find out if adding text to your pictures will harm the reach of your posts. The limit to what you can measure here is your imagination!

In Instagram app, go to your own profile, open the menu and tap on Insights to find all your data. On the Content page, tap See All to show the grid of all your feed posts. 

Filter your posts by engagement, then sort your top 20 into Buffer vs Not Buffer, or whatever your categories are. Then do the same with reach, likes, and other important stats. 

Insights for your Instagram Stories

When you go to the Content section of your Insights, you can scroll down to see a few recent stories, and click See All.

This will show you all your Stories for the last two weeks. As with the Feed posts, there’s lots of filters you can use. 

The main things to look for are

  1. How many people look at your Stories compared to your total number of followers?
  2. When you post a series of clips to Stories what is the typical drop of in reach between the first clip and the last?
  3. What types of Stories content shows the least drop off? And the most?

How to measure your Instagram growth

If growth is a key goal for your Instagram account, you need to know what kind of posts reach the most people beyond your current followers.

Under each individual post you can find detail insights – look for the percentage of people not following you. In my experience, the two main factors here are the quality of your hashtags, and whether or not there’s a person in the photo.

How to get website visitors from Instagram

We’re going to talk about this lots more in a couple of weeks time, but for now, start by looking at profile views for the week. This is a pretty reliable measure of how interested in your company people are at any given moment. Your only website link is in your profile, so people have to go to the profile if they want to click it. Combine your weekly profile views with website analytics to see what kind of click through rate that is turning into for your business. On weeks when you have high Instagram profile views, does that affect your website traffic?

Your questions

I love featuring listener questions in podcast episodes! You can submit a question through our contact form, or you can send me a message @thewhinco on Instagram – I’d love to hear from you!

On Instagram “I don’t think, I just do,” with Marc Keys

On Instagram “I don’t think, I just do,” with Marc Keys

Marc Keys is a strength and conditioning coach with his own gym in Leith, Cast Iron Strength. On the podcast today, we talked about the good old days of blogging and Facebook, and how Marc has now moved to Instagram as a key way to promote his business. Marc has read so much about business and marketing that he has some really interesting insights to share. 

As well as the in-person coaching and the gym, a big part of Marc’s business is his online coaching, which started on the back of a blog he wrote for fun. “Anti-Bullshit Training” was founded on Blogger in 2008. In 2013 Marc decided he needed to monetise that audience and so moved the blog to his current brand name Cast Iron Strength, and started accepting online coaching clients. In the early days, he managed those relationships through email, and now he’s graduated to WhatsApp. It’s a great place to keep in touch with clients, and really easy to share video clips, which is perfect for coaching athletes from afar.

In Marc’s business, the measure of a good coach is always clear. The numbers an athlete can lift are the whole point of the sport. In rugby, for example, it doesn’t matter what a player can lift if they aren’t smart enough on the pitch. But in strength sports, you put the effort in and you get the results out. It’s a very direct relationship. Sometimes I wish marketing worked the same way! He references this famous (in the strength community) quote from Henry Rollins,

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.” – Henry Rollins

Whenever I run an Instagram training workshop, I always reference the Cast Iron Strength Instagram feed as an example of great marketing. Unlike a lot of my other examples, it’s not at all manicured. A week in the life of Marc’s Instagram, he tells me, is not at all planned or strategic. But it’s brilliant!

There’s a few reasons why this works so well. First, Marc’s success is very easy to see in videos of his clients lifting, and he has a lot of that material to share. Second, his feed, and his Instagram Stories, give a really honest picture of what it’s like to work with him, witty banter and all. When you’re in a crowded market, your personality and presence form a big part of the reason people will choose you over a competitor. Third, he has a really cute dog. Which always helps.

Because he’s read so extensively, Marc’s in-grained knowledge of good marketing really comes across in his posts. He references the book Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. Miller’s approach is that your marketing should tell a story that puts the customer at the centre. They, and not the service provider, should be the hero.

Gary Vaynerchuck and Grant Cardone are two other great business writers who Marc recommends. As he notes, they put themselves out there, so that people can get to know them. Marc tries to do the same.

Then I brought up Facebook. Marc’s reaction was probably my favourite from a guest yet! We talked about his first foray into Facebook Ads, with some impressive numbers! But things are very different now – so if you’ve been struggling with them too this may reassure you. At least his ads aren’t losing money, so I asked what kind of ads he runs. Images with lead capture forms seem to be the most useful, as long as the images are of lifters doing a good job!

In the future, Marc is hoping to improve his online offering with some group coaching and self-paced training courses. The typical model for an online business is to have a pyramid, with plenty of free content, some low-cost one-off products, an affordable group programme, and then more expensive one-to-one services. At the moment Cast Iron Strength’s online branch only has the free stuff, and the one-to-one coaching. So we talked about platforms to use for training. I’ve used a Facebook Group, with a small group where we all went at the same pace through a structured course, for the All-in-Whin Marketing Method. Then for lifetime access I also have the course set up in a membership area on this site too. However, that feels like a difficult model to scale yet, so my future plans are to investigate course delivery through Kajabi as I’ve enjoyed using that as a student in the past.

Before we finished up, I asked Marc for his best piece of advice for other business owners. Stay within your means. He encourages all aspiring entrepreneurs to keep their overheads low, and only take educated risks. Develop a minimum viable product, and crystalise what you’re offering and who it works for. Then customise your products towards your specific customers. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s a good idea, or even if people say it’s a good idea. Don’t believe anyone until they give you money.

“The first rule of business club is Make Money.”

Get connected

To find Marc’s Minute of Bullshit and other classic content (including the occasional rude meme…) find Marc on Instagram @castironstrength or on the Cast Iron Strength website.

Give your Instagram an MOT

Give your Instagram an MOT

When was the last time you reviewed your own Instagram profile to make sure everything is in good order?

Today, I’m going to take you step-by-step through an Instagram MOT. It will help you look at each element of your Instagram profile in turn, to make sure it’s working properly. 

Everyone loves a template – to get yours, hit the button below, and pop in your email address so I can send it right to your inbox.

You’re welcome!

I’ve highlighted some of the key takeaways for you in today’s show notes, but make sure you listen to the podcast and download the checklist to squeeze out every last wee bit of value.

What to say in your Instagram bio

We start by looking at the most basic elements of your Instagram profile. Remember when you first created your account you spent about a minute on your bio? Now’s the time go back and review it and make sure you’ve included all the right info. Is there something in your bio to let people know what you get really excited about? Use your passion for your business to help you connect with potential customers.

What is an Instagram theme, and do you need one?

If you’re a regular on Instagram you may have spotted some accounts using an Instagram theme. This is a short hand way of describing a consistent visual style for all your Instagram posts. It’s not like a WordPress theme though, you can’t just download it and be done!

Here’s some examples of feeds that use a consistent visual style. When you look at your profiles, what do you see that makes some or all of their posts easy to recognise?

First there’s @beingbossclub To create posts like these you need to use a separate image editor that lets you add layers and different effects. Not for the faint hearted!

Next is me! Come and say hello @thewhinco Although I’ve tried to make my feed look consistent, I’ve picked two very straightforward things to make it recogniseable and pretty. I don’t have to agonise over what to post each time, and I don’t need to clog up my phone with fancy apps for creating my pictures.

Lastly we have @castironstrength, who we’re having on as a guest next week! Marc’s attitude comes across perfectly in his Instagram feed, but you can also spot some consistent elements, because many of the videos he posts are filmed in the same location. Also his cute dog is there. Love a cute dog.

How to use Instagram to grow your business

Whatever your business, the three most important parts of your Instagram strategy should be the captions, the hashtags and the comments. Make sure you’re using each of these thoughtfully and strategically. 

How can you use captions to start conversations and help people get to know you? How can you use hashtags to grow your audience and connect with potential customers? How can you use comments to share your knowledge and help out others using the platform?

There are so many ways to do each of these things right – make sure you download the checklist and listen to the podcast where I really get into the details.

Get your Instagram questions answered

I’d love to feature more listener questions in the podcast. Drop me a DM over on Instagram, or send me an email! I’d love to hear from you if you have any feedback. And of course you can subscribe to Whin Big on Apple Podcasts, and leave us a review

Virtual assistants and Instagram, with Louise Oliver and Rachel Anderson

Virtual assistants and Instagram, with Louise Oliver and Rachel Anderson

Rachel and Louise are virtual assistants who work together under the banner of SmartPA. They’re also sisters, who have been business partners and collaborators for many years! In this episode, they talked me through all of what a virtual assistant actually does, and dished the dirt on what it’s like to have your sister as a business partner. Rachel and Louise are just starting to use Instagram, alongside LinkedIn, Facebook Groups, and in-person networking. So we spent some time talking about my best advice for business owners hoping to get the most out of Instagram from the very beginning. We also talked about their amazing networking calendar – visit the Calendar Girl website to see all the events coming up in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Louise bought into the SmartPA franchise a few years ago, right after she had her son. The company she’d been running before had closed, and she needed to find work that was flexible enough to handle with a new baby. She had plenty of the skills and experience needed to run a company, and found an advert for SmartPA by pure co-incidence whilst trawling job posts at 2 in the morning. Rachel trained to join her shortly afterwards, and so far they seem to be loving it!

What does a virtual assistant actually do?

One way to describe a “VA” is a freelance personal assistant. The term virtual implies Louise and Rachel always work remotely from their clients but that doesn’t have to be the case. They can also show up in person at events or in offices to help out where needed.

The work they do is quite varied, and so far they’ve yet to answer phones for a single client. Instead the spend their time writing blog posts, helping with social media, organising receipts and planning events. Many of these are things a business owner could do for themselves, but as Rachel says, “why would you?”

Because of the variety of their work and their clients, there’s not an online tool around they haven’t used or investigated. Whether it’s an email service, a CRM, accounting software, or even design tools, it seems like Rachel and Louise have looked at just about everything – so they’re great people to ask for recommendations!

Running a business with your sister

Before they started with SmartPA, Louise and Rachel each ran their own company – something to do with pensions – but the two companies worked very closely together, due to the nature of their business. So they have many years of practise working together, and a great sense of humour about it. 

They both have very different skills and preferences, which means they make an excellent buy-one-get-one-free pairing. Louise is good with reports and figures and spreadsheets, whilst Rachel is a people person and loves to organise events. When pressed, neither of them could come up with a favourite project because they each enjoy so much of what they do. I think the lesson here is to find a business partner, sister or not, who has the right set of skills to complement your own. Where you can share the work in a way that suits everyone, it’s much more enjoyable.

Focus on relationships over pitching

Even though they’re great at keeping on top of content for their clients, Rachel and Louise find it difficult to keep on top of their own digital marketing efforts. They do a lot of in-person networking, and find that their clients come through referrals, and getting to know people. Business owners need to trust their VAs to hand over tasks to them effectively, so that process of building relationships is key. When they do use social media, they focus on connections with people rather than broadcasting a sales pitch or showing off what they can do.

LinkedIn is a great place to do that, but they actually get more traction in Facebook Groups. Over time they’ve found a few groups that have a great community and allow them to build on in-person relationships and to offer help and support to new people too. Again, they use the groups as a way to connect with people personally, instead of posting offers or pitches about their services. It took a bit of trial and error to find the right ones, and found over time it was better to stick with a few that really worked than to expand too far. Engagement from group members was the most important thing to look out for.

Your Calendar Girl – the networking website

One of my favourite things that Louise and Rachel work on is their Edinburgh and Glasgow networking calendar. This is a fantastic resource for local business owners who need to spend more time meeting other business owners in person. When Louise started working as a SmartPA, she trawled through Eventbrite to find events. However, a lot of the best ones she only found through word of mouth, and were hard to discover online. After putting all of these into a shared calendar and using it between the two of them, Louise then responded to requests from other people to share the calendar more widely, and eventually found a website creator who suggested putting together the site as it is now. There were some fun ideas of how to “jazz up” the site a little, although in the end they didn’t quite come to fruition. Maybe their Instagram account would benefit from re-purposing some of the pictures!

“Multitasking is the worst thing… it’s actually really detrimental.”

Focus on one task at a time

Louise suggested the most important thing for business owners to master is just to do one thing at a time. If you do more than one thing at a time you won’t give your best to either task.

Sometimes that might mean using a VA, an accountant, a subject expert of some kind. Where you’re not amazing at something, or you don’t like it, or even if it just takes up too much time, outsourcing is a great way to give yourself some breathing space to focus your efforts where you can make the most impact.

Rachel and Louise do some outsourcing themselves – as well as having an accountant, they are able to connect with others in the SmartPA network to get expert help for clients who need some really specific support. At the moment they work alongside a consultant in America who does just that.

How to get started using Instagram for business

Rachel has already set up an Instagram profile for their business – her handle is @RachelA_SmartPA so go and say hello. Because she’s just getting started, I shared some tips and ideas for how they might get off to a great start.

1. Seek out the accounts you want to do business with.

2. Communities build up around specific hashtags – work in those communities like you might in a Facebook Group.

3. Lastly, when it comes to your early posts – don’t overthink them. 

If you’re looking for more guidance on great strategies for Instagram, check out episode 2 of the podcast, where we covered an amazing Instagram growth strategy in five easy steps.


Facebook and Instagram – should I cross-post everything?

Facebook and Instagram – should I cross-post everything?

Business owners need to save time on social media, because it’s a giant time vacuum. Like all of you, I have limited time, so I’m always looking for ways to make things more efficient, and give myself fewer tasks.

Customers are busy people too, so we know they probably won’t see everything we post on every channel – so it makes sense to repeat things in different places so that we can extend our reach as far as possible. Today I’ll introduce you to four activities you can do to reduce the risk and maximise the rewards of cross-posting your social media content. We’re going to talk specifically about FB and IG today, but you can apply this approach to any combination of social media channels.

How do people use Facebook and Instagram differently

As usual, your customers are the very first point of consideration. How are they using each platform differently? How people overlap between your different channels? You’ll find most people are on more than one channel, but each channel is fulfilling a different need. They use them all in different ways. Talk to people you know – friends, family, customers, who all fit your ideal customer persona. Find out the specifics of what they do and where. If you’ve not considered your customer persona before, download the template below.

Most people are on Facebook to look for family and friends and see what they’ve been up to. They may also be using Facebook Groups to connect with wider communities where they can ask for recommendations and advice.

Instagram is generally for sharing the coolest parts of their lives, and people are interested in a broader circle of friends and acquaintances too. People are more likely to follow, see and engage with content from influencers and brands. There’s a move towards vulnerability and sharing more of our feelings too, but more asking for emotional support than for recommendations.

Make a separate plan for Facebook and Instagram

Sit down and work out how you want to represent yourself directly to people at the moment their on each channel. Each channel will be different, because of the ways they use them.

If you’ve been using both channels for a while, have a look through the types of content you’ve posted on both channels, and where it’s performed best, relative to the size of your audience.

Consider also what your plans are for your business, and how each channel can help you reach those goals. Where do you have the bigger audience, where is it easier to grow that audience to meet your goals, etc. If you’re seeing a real difference in success between the two platforms, that suggests you need to change your approach for the one that’s lagging behind.

Choose specific content types that you want to use for each platform. In episode 2 we talked about selecting content types for Instagram – selfies, product shots, quotes, lifestyle pictures, etc. Do that separately for Facebook and for Instagram, based on the way you want to present yourself.

See where there’s overlap between your plans for each channel.

Once you’ve considered each channel individually, it’s now safe to go on to making a joint plan. For example, you might want to post lots of selfies on Instagram along with a few product pictures. And then on Facebook, you plan to post lots of products, but also quotes and conversation starters. Where there’s overlap (with the product pictures) then these are the smart places to cross post. Don’t cross post the other stuff just for the sake of ‘putting something up’. Sometimes the content would have a negative effect, if you were to post it on a channel it’s not suited.

The frequency of posting on each channel will also be different. On Instagram, the ‘optimal’ is once per day, whereas on Facebook, your page might do better with 2 or 3 posts per week. Not everyone is the same, of course, so set your own posting frequency based on what works best with your audience. But if you post content a lot more often on Instagram than you do on Facebook, then your cross-posting frequency should reflect that too. What feels like ‘a little’ on Instagram can be ‘lots’ on Facebook.

The best way to cross-post between Instagram and Facebook

To cross-post successfully, you need to do some set up. Read our blog post on how to make sure your Facebook and Instagram pages are connected correctly. Then you can follow the instructions here.

If you are creating the post on Instagram, it’s best to leave your hashtags out of the caption, because they’ll look odd on Facebook, where people don’t use hashtags. Instead you should add a comment immediately after you create the post which has all your hashtags listed. As long as you post it right away, Instagram doesn’t mind the difference. To get the post on Facebook, you simply turn on the toggle (so it’s blue) on the last page before you publish the post.

If you’re creating a post across from Facebook, you can share it to Instagram by selecting the option at the bottom of your post, before you publish. Once you’ve shared it across, go directly to Instagram and add in the list of hashtags in the first comment on the post. If you leave it, you’ll miss out on your chance to be the most recent post in each of the hashtags you’re using, particularly the ones which are quite busy.

The alternative to this is to use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts on to each of your social media channels, instead of using the built-in features. The more channels you’re using the more helpful this can become. Even just for Facebook and Instagram it can help to keep you organised, although they do have a cost. Alongside Hootsuite, you can also consider Later or Sprout Social.

Using a scheduling tool will give you a better overview of the content going out on each channel in a single screen. It also gives you flexibility. You can use different sized images, for example, or adjust the call to action to match the platform. You can also keep your hashtags in your Instagram captions without having to edit posts after you’ve shared them across.

An even simpler solution to your marketing strategy

If all this seems like a lot of work, don’t worry, there’s a solution for that too. Pick ONE social media channel, and focus your efforts there. If you want it to seem like less work, choose a channel you enjoy using. If you want to get the most return on investment, choose the one your audience use to find and buy from businesses like yours.

Whichever platform you choose, focus on building genuine connections with your audience and make sure you’re doing everything right. If Instagram is where you choose to double down, make sure you grab our checklist to get everything set up and running properly. It’s called the Instagram MOT – click the button below to get your copy.

Get in touch

Thanks for joining me today to talk about sharing content between Instagram and Facebook. Instagram is one of my favourite topics, so if you have any questions you’d like me to answer, feel free to get in touch. Send me a direct message on Instagram @thewhinco. Or you can send me an email through the contact form. I’d love to feature some listener questions in future episodes!