October 2018: How to use Insta Stories to get bookings, we’ve grown and homecoming
Visual communication phenomenon has been taking over the world wide web for quite sometime now. Photos, videos, insta stories, facebook lives, mini animated commercials, infographics, quotographics and so on are everywhere you turn! So in this world where only the strongest brands can win the attention of their online audiences, how do you make your company stand out!?
For the past month or so, I’ve been indulging myself (rather excessively) into the wonderful world of Insta Stories and sharing my life experiences, thoughts, things I eat, places I go, behind the scenes of my business and invitations to book projects with Visuable.
I wanted to see what difference this increased visual storytelling activity will make in terms of my reach, engagement and conversions. I see my sister Anna and her boyfriend Michael getting 1–10 sales each day from Insta Stories so I thought I will try this strategy out for myself.
Anna and Michael own a fitness brand: BeFit4Life (based in Poland) with marketing powered exclusively by their 28K strong Instagram account where they share recipes, fitness motivation as well as live trainings and cooking classes. The brand itself started as a free fitness motivation account when Anna decided to loose some weight a couple of years ago and documented her journey as she went along. Little did she know that her visual diary would turn into a full time business in just under one year! Anna’s journey attracted a very dedicated audience who found her story inspirational and motivating and fell in love with her recipes whilst on their own weight loss journeys.
Despite Anna’s lack of self-belief and a denial about her innate digital marketing skills (she was only sharing pictures of herself and her meals after all), I slowly convinced her to turn the account into an online business. She did not believe anyone would want to buy her e-books with healthy recipes, online training programmes and personalised diets that she had ideas for creating to help her community shift some excess weight.
I persuaded her to work through my Define Your Brand process together, developing her service range, creating her brand identity and figuring our what her target audience needs help with. We’ve created a brand story that she could tell through photos via her Instagram account and she got a Visuable website as a Christmas gift last year.
The website launched in December 2017 and her new 90-days transformation programme started flying off the digital shelves of her store within a matter of hours. The e-books that she wrote to create a passive income stream were selling like hot (healthy) cakes too!
Nearly one year after the launch, BeFit4Life is still going strong (and in fact currently expanding, designing a new physical product range and upgrading their brand and website to shift from personal / online influencer to a more commercial brand look and feel – watch out for the relaunch announcement coming very soon at Visuable). They swear by Insta Stories when it comes to getting sales. They are creating fun stories every day, and they confess that the minute they stop doing so, sales go down. So they keep sharing cooking experiments, home-based exercise routines and their love story! This strategy keeps them busy and booked up!
As some of you know, I personally am not a big fan of talking to the camera. It’s just not my superpower. What I believe I am really good at tho, is visual storytelling. So I’ve decided to come up with my own take on Insta Stories that will keep work for me and not make me cringe every time I do it!
I started my experiment on the 1st of October and I am happy to say that the fruits of my hard work started to blossom in just under 2 weeks! Our reach has grown significantly, with 100–350 viewers on average per story, our the engagement has gone up (I keep getting little messages from my audience and clients as a response to my stories, what keeps me in a direct contact with my community), and lastly the bookings started to come through too! I generated enquiries, answered questions, negotiated deals and closed bookings all via DM feature on Instagram. I’ve not been consistent day in, day out with my stories as life often got in the way and noticed the reach, engagement and enquiries dropped on days that I didn’t post.
In this blog, I want to share a few useful tips, tricks and apps that I use to keep my Insta Stories interesting, on-brand and converting.
1. Experiment with various media formats to switch things around:
Type (for quick text-based updates, different colour background and fonts)
Live (live streaming, ‘what’s happening now’ with comments function)
Normal (off-line video recording of what you see, up to 15 seconds long)
Boomerang (the funny looping gif style videos, up to 3 seconds long)
Superzoom (zoom-in effect videos with dramatic sound function)
Focus (video update with ‘find the face’ function)
Rewind (shoot a video update that plays in reverse)
Hands-free (record yourself using a self-timer function)
2. Use apps to add frames, layouts and text. My favourites:
QuickLayout (create a quick framed layout around your update)
Unfold (more diverse range of frames, updates and styles)
3. Use templates to create consistency and branded feel:
Achieve branded look and feel by creating a set of templates using your brand colours, logos, patterns and brand icons. If you don’t know what they are, just visit our brand design page, we have lot’s of examples of templates we made for our clients as part of their Brand Design Package. Templates are super useful at keeping your brand looking stylish, consistent and recognisable.
4. Have fun with stickers, emojis, gifs, pools and questions:
Stickers (add fun and help you convey your message visually)
Emojis (help you convey your emotions visually)
Animated gifs (exactly as above but moving, shaking and animated)
Pools (Ask a question and get YES/NO answer, market research at its best)
Questions (let your audience ask you questions which you can share)
5. Increase your reach with location tags, mentions and #hashtags:
Location tags (get your photos and stories appear under chosen locations)
Mentions (tag your friends to notify them of your stories)
#Hashtags (Instagram’s filtering and discoverability system)
Now you know the tactics, it’s time to devise a visual strategy as otherwise – how the hell will you know what stories to tell!? I’ve written a blog earlier on ‘How to create visual content which isn’t boring’. It’s the strategy that I follow from the very early days at Visuable, with brought me some fantastic results, so you’re very welcome to help yourself to it. You can find it here. In my blog, I explain how to define and curate an inspiring brand identity and tell your story online visually using photos that attract, engage and inspire your audience.
In summary, I feel that my Insta Stories experiment brought me some really fantastic results and proved my theory that ‘people buy from people they know, like and trust and brands whose values and beliefs they share’. People love a good story too so use brand photos and video content to tell yours, whilst showcasing your values and beliefs and building trust within your audience through this amazing tool that Instagram have created for you to utilise. I am certainly very excited to continue creating bite-size micro stories about my journey as a business owner to build my audience, connect with awesome individuals and discover their fantastic brands.
P.S. Insta Stories get a higher reach than normal posts at the moment, so you can use them as an amplification tool for your posts 😉. Don’t hang about, start sharing your brand story today!
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“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” ― Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo
Just last month I had to face something I totally did not feel ready for. I graduated from NatWest Business Accelerator Programme where I’ve been based, looked after and surrounded by an entrepreneurial family for over 18 months. After such a long time of feeling safe and supported I had to move out of the office and face the idea of doing it all by myself again, without my mentor being just a few steps away in case of an emergency (or an entrepreneurial meltdown), and it was terrifying!
Fast forward to now, one and a half months later, and I’m so happy that I was pushed out of my comfort zone and forced to take that next step towards up-levelling my business. I faced the uncertainty of the future, kept the clients happy and hired a amazing graphic designer, whilst also starting an MBA course!
So it’s now 2 of us working full-time and I couldn’t be happier! Inka, my Graphic Designer is super creative, imaginative and can bring to life just about any idea using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. She is a total tech genius, a master of colour and a savvy problem solver. She’s come on board to be my right hand at the creative studio and she is doing an awesome job!
I now have an exciting new vision for my business, we’re expanding our service range and our capacity have doubled thanks to Inka’s fantastic digital skills which means we can help many more clients bring their brand dreams to life!
After training many interns and having lots of temporary part-time staff over the course of last year I finally worked out what the roles and skills are that I need to bring on board for Visuable to grow and become better and better as serving our clients. It was a high time to take this necessary next step towards my business success. And I am so glad that I did! I now feel even more responsible and motivated to get up in the morning and keep pushing for my dreams.
What’s there to fear about change and decision making, if it gives such great results?!?
You can’t expect different results if you keep doing the same thing over and over again. 😊😍
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As you know, I am not from around here. What this means is that I need to commute home by plane. Same holds for my partner. This is why I often say that I live across 3 countries – UK, Cyprus and Poland and lead the jet-setter, laptop lifestyle.
One of the reasons why I’ve set up my business is that I never had enough holidays to be able to go home (or both homes) whilst also exploring other parts of the world too. So I’ve decided to built a company that allows me to take my work back home with me and work whilst I am away.
In October, I did a round trip between Cyprus >> Poland >> UK.
In Cyprus, there was a wedding to attend, a birthday party, Big fat greek family lunch and many friends catch-ups. The weather was still nice and warm so I managed two swims too, and also worked from the beach one of those days.
In Poland, I’ve experienced our beautiful autumn in it’s full glory. With orange and golden leaves everywhere around, rich sunsets over the forests and nature sights that I’ve visited and relaxing warm feeling in the air.
I got to see my parents, catch up with a high-school friend who is about to have a baby, attend my sister’s 30th birthday party and find out that she just got engaged. It was great to be part of all those events and feel as if I’ve never left. Here is a handful of photos that I took, capturing giant palm trees, majestic forests and all my favourite things about Poland and Cyprus.
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Lidia is a passionate, inspirational and transformational Creative Director. Her clients rave about her ability to extract a clear vision, turn that vision into a reality and create an online identity that they are proud to show off.
From an extensive career in marketing, photography and web design to a successful business owner, Lidia is synonymous with innovative, insightful, high-quality work.
Lidia created Visuable in early 2015 and has worked with 100+ brands, transforming their visual identities in a way that has not only lead to business growth but also inspired personal and business confidence.