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“Build a community and have fun first, then sell” With Candice Georgiadis & Jenn Herman

Build a community and have fun first. Then sell — but not often. I don’t know how many times I can stress that “social media” is about being “social”. It’s not a billboard and it’s not about selling as a first priority. It’s about building a community around your brand and Instagram is probably the best platform […]


Build a community and have fun first. Then sell — but not often. I don’t know how many times I can stress that “social media” is about being “social”. It’s not a billboard and it’s not about selling as a first priority. It’s about building a community around your brand and Instagram is probably the best platform for community building. It’s arguably the most interactive platform and drives great engagement, making it easier to connect with your audience and build relationships. Those relationships will lead to sales but the focus should be on your community and how you can serve them, not how you can push another sale on them. While my account is far from the ideal template for most, I rarely post anything promotional on my account. I don’t often talk about the services I offer or how to book consultations with me. Instead, I share breaking news and updates about Instagram or social media. I host an Instagram live every other week that is webinar style, where I interact with my audience while talking for 45–60 minutes on a topic that matters to them. And every week, I get people emailing me or direct messaging me asking me for advice, signing up for my newsletter, or asking to work with me. Because they see me regularly and have built a trust in what I offer, the sale happens naturally.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenn Herman. Jenn Herman is a social media consultant, speaker, and globally recognized Instagram expert. She is the forefront blogger on Instagram marketing and her blog, Jenn’s Trends, has won the title of a Top 10 Social Media Blog in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Through her blog, consulting, and speaking Jenn provides tips, resources, and training for small to medium sized businesses that need to structure their social media strategies. Her business background includes Administration, Sales, Human Resources, and Marketing and she enjoys bringing all these skills together to help you grow your business. Jenn has been featured in Inc., Fox News, Yahoo Finance, HuffPost, The Verge, CBS Radio LA, and numerous other podcasts and publications. She is the author of “Instagram for Business for Dummies”, “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Instagram” and “Stop Guessing: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Social Media Strategy”.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was working at my corporate day job in the aerospace industry and trying to get upper management to understand the value of social media while getting them to open the curtain, so to speak. In that industry, privacy and security is paramount, so sharing things publicly is a hurdle and changing their mindsets was a challenge. I learned a lot and overcame some hurdles that I figured others could probably learn from. So, I sat down on my couch one Saturday and launched a blog. Just like that, Jenn’s Trends was born!

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

When I started blogging, it was a hobby and I was a nobody. But I fell in love with Instagram about 6 months after I started my blog and started writing about how to use Instagram for business and marketing. It was all very experiential — I shared tips I learned, tactics that worked, or didn’t work, for that matter. I took my readers on the journey as I explored the app. In the process, and because at the time, there really wasn’t anyone else blogging consistently about Instagram, I gained notoriety. I started getting invited onto podcasts and interviews and speaking at conferences to teach instagram marketing. In 2017, I was approached to co-author “Instagram for Business for Dummies” which published in 2018. As a result of my presence in the industry over the years, I have become friends with many of the experts in the social media space and have gotten to know the people behind many of the third party tools available. This network of people has allowed me to stay abreast of all the latest news, updates, and trends in the industry.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

A few years ago, I was called to be an expert witness in a court case. I was requested by the defence attorney to speak to the use of the defendant’s social media and the possibilities that someone else could have posted on his profiles. I warned the defense attorney that I might be a better witness for the prosecution but it didn’t matter since the case never made it to court.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early on when I started appearing on podcasts, and Google Plus Hangouts (back in the day!), I had some slower internet speeds. I often had a bit of a lag in the audio when being interviewed. Well, on one interview, right before we went live, the host asked if everyone was ready. We all said “yes” or a variation of that. I said something “yup”. But because of the delay, my “yup” is the first piece of audio in the live broadcast and the recording. The whole video starts with my “yup” then the host introducing the show. It was so embarrassing and now I always nod in agreement rather than say anything out loud in these situations!

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

This is a bit of a complicated question for my business… Overall, I would say Instagram has been my biggest reward for generating revenue. I have the largest audience there and I host live broadcasts every other week plus I share Stories and posts that educate my audience. This is how I build trust and community with my audience. Which, in the long run, drives consulting clients and strategy support my way. This is where I get my largest revenue conversions. But this often takes months or years of relationship cultivation.

Additionally, I have a strong presence on Facebook, specifically my Facebook group. While I am building a community there just as I do on Instagram, the audience is smaller and more devoted so they convert more quickly in general. But this is usually on lower ticket items. I don’t get the same conversions on the larger package and consulting services I offer to this audience.

This is why it is so important to know your audiences on each platform and craft strategies for each. I know what to sell and how to sell it on each platform — and they are completely different in every way.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Use keywords in your username. The only two searchable criteria on Instagram are the Name and the Username. The bio and everything else is irrelevant for search. Therefore, to be found by potential customers and new followers looking for you, you want your business name (or whatever brand name you are known as) in at least one of the two fields. Then, include other keywords that your audience is likely to be looking for. For example, my username is @jenns_trends (my brand name) and my name is “Jenn Herman | Instagram Expert” (my actual name and what I do). This way, if anyone is searching for my brand name, my actual name, or an Instagram expert, chances are I will appear in the search results!

Write a really good bio that appeals to your audience. Your bio is the equivalent of your 30-second elevator pitch and it’s your first impression to new visitors. Most of the views on your bio come from first-time visitors so the bio should be directed towards them. It should tell them who you are, what you do, and why it matters to them. It should include a call-to-action corresponding to the URL in your bio. It should also be full of your personality and not reek of corporate jargon. Use emojis and characters to add color and dimension. Use spacing and formatting to make it visually appealing and not simply one long run-on paragraph. One of my favorite accounts that always has a great bio is @thelovebombco — her bio tells you who she is and what she does, with her personality, and the call-to-action to get a free product!

Set up the Action buttons on your profile. Convert, convert, convert! Yes, you can drive conversions from Instagram! But you need the Action buttons set up for best results. Having these buttons front and center on your profile makes it easy for your customers to connect with you, contact you, and even reserve or purchase from you directly. You can have up to three Action buttons on your business profile. The default options to choose from are Text, Call, Email, and Directions. You can set these up by going to “Edit Profile” and selecting the “Contact Options”. If you complete any of the basic info (email, phone, or business address), the corresponding Action buttons will appear on your profile. If you don’t want people to have directions to your business, simply delete the business address info. You can also add third-party integration Action buttons by selecting the “Add an action button” option and adding a button for “Buy Tickets” that integrates with Eventbrite, or any other variety of options from the list of approved partners.

Build a community and have fun first. Then sell — but not often. I don’t know how many times I can stress that “social media” is about being “social”. It’s not a billboard and it’s not about selling as a first priority. It’s about building a community around your brand and Instagram is probably the best platform for community building. It’s arguably the most interactive platform and drives great engagement, making it easier to connect with your audience and build relationships. Those relationships will lead to sales but the focus should be on your community and how you can serve them, not how you can push another sale on them. While my account is far from the ideal template for most, I rarely post anything promotional on my account. I don’t often talk about the services I offer or how to book consultations with me. Instead, I share breaking news and updates about Instagram or social media. I host an Instagram live every other week that is webinar style, where I interact with my audience while talking for 45–60 minutes on a topic that matters to them. And every week, I get people emailing me or direct messaging me asking me for advice, signing up for my newsletter, or asking to work with me. Because they see me regularly and have built a trust in what I offer, the sale happens naturally.

Have a content strategy. If you don’t have a strategy, you’re basically throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. But then when it does stick, you have no idea what you did to make that happen and you’re left floundering to capitalize on it. To start your strategy, you need to know your WHY. Why are you using Instagram and why is it of value to your audience? When you answer those, you can start to create content that supports that end goal. Your strategy should focus on creating QUALITY content that appeals to your audience (in reference to building that community I talked about in point 5 above). Quality means high resolution images/videos and your own images or videos. Not taking something off of the internet and posting a meme or random stock photo. But taking relevant photos and videos of your business, product, or other related aspects of your business. This may mean you need to schedule and plan photo shoots (even in your backyard with your phone) in advance. If so, do that! People on Instagram want pretty pictures, not memes and lots of text. Your photo should capture their attention and the caption is where you should speak. Your caption should have a strong opening sentence that grabs their attention and takes the message of the post that much further, including a call-to-action (like “click on the link in the bio” or “email us for more info”) if appropriate. Your strategy should also focus on posting frequency. These days, less is more on Instagram in general. So posting a couple times a week is completely ok. You should only post as often as you have quality content to post. If you can only create one high quality, relevant post a week, then stick to that. Don’t force yourself into posting mediocre content merely to say you posted “something”. That actually hurts you in the algorithm.

Use hashtags for exposure. Hashtags on Instagram absolutely work, but you have to be strategic with their use. My recipe for success recommends using at least 15–20 hashtags per post (you can use up to 30). Combine 3–5 popular hashtags (these are hashtags with upwards of about a million posts), 3–5 moderately popular hashtags (those in the low hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of results), 3–5 niche specific hashtags (those with less than 10 thousand results but that are hyper targeted to your industry), and 1–3 of your own branded hashtags. Additionally, all of the hashtags on your post should be directly related to the content in the post and/or your industry. You are not hashjacking popular or trending hashtags just for the sake of it. A great example of an account that uses hashtags well is @octonation. They incorporate a variety of hashtags that appeal to their audience and reflects their content. As a result, they frequently rank highly in various hashtag searches and reach hundreds of new users. And finally, don’t just use the hashtags that you want people to look for, use the hashtags that your audience is actually looking for. For example, if you’re an insurance broker, people on Instagram aren’t looking for insurance brokers — that’s what Google is for! But, they are looking for cars perhaps, and people with cars need insurance. So you can tap into some targeted car related hashtags where your content fits in relative to that market.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m super passionate about education and really teaching everyone — kids, college students, and adults — tangible and practical lessons. If I had a magic wand to grant a wish, it would be to find ways to provide more affordable education to more people. It could be classroom education, or practicum or internship opportunities, or seminars and online trainings. Education is the key to success and changing our lives for the better.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to sit down with Bethenny Frankel. I think she’s incredibly smart and business savvy and just crazy enough (like me) to be fun! Lol! But I have huge respect for how she’s built her businesses, is incredibly charitable with her time and resources, managed being an incredible mom through a contentious situation, and that she continues to be fabulous and down to earth all at the same time.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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