Instagram is a wonderful tool for your business. From Reels and IGTV, to Stories and the Feed, there are so many ways to build your brand’s voice through the popular app.
LaShawn Wiltz of Everyday Eyecandy joins Jenny Guy, our Director of Marketing, in a conversation about the new Instagram features and how you might want to distribute your time to maximize engagement.
LaShawn has a whole lot of knowledge on how Instagram and its algorithm works so you don’t want to miss this one! (Originally aired 9/24/2020)
Watch the video here or check out the transcript below.
Navigating the New Instagram
JENNY GUY: It is Thursday, September 24, and you are watching Teal Talk®, the show where twice a month we force experts from the digital content creation industry to talk to me for an hour, sharing their expertise with our audience. I’m your host, Jenny Guy, Director of Marketing for Mediavine, and someone who has yet to have an edible pumpkin spice anything in 2020. This is criminal, and I feel like a failure.
It’s fall, or it’s autumn, which one do you guys say? I don’t know.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Fall.
JENNY GUY: Fall, fall. I like to say fall has fallen, but I was told that sounded kind of fatalistic, so, you know, whatever. Are you a fall or an autumn person? I have yet to– so, I haven’t had a pumpkin spice or anything, but I have lit up some very basic seasonal candles just to commemorate the season. Some apple stuff. So I feel like I’m in the mood.
But today I am so excited. Everyone’s saying they’re so excited. I’m so excited. We’re talking about something we either love to hate, or hate to love. Long story short, our relationship with Instagram is complicated. And guys, go ahead and kick us off right by telling us your favorite filter in the comments.
But however we feel about Instagram personally, we can say with certainty that a lot of brands that work with influencers love the ‘gram. And it’s a metric that a lot of people ask about and pay attention to. And my guest today is an Instagram whisper, and is here to help you harness the powers of that platform for the good of your business.
LaShawn Wiltz is the creator of Everyday Eyecandy where she blogs about motherhood, simple solutions for moms like her and her passion for capturing everyday moments through photography and Instagram. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, you can find LaShawn on Instagram, and we will share those links.
Capturing the beauty in life’s everyday moments. Documenting her days as a wife and mom with half-finished coffee in one hand and her camera in the other. She is wonderful. We’re so glad you’re here.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Thank you for having me.
JENNY GUY: OK. So. Guys, if you’re sharing a filter or just sharing love for LaShawn, either way, we will take both. I want to kick off by learning a little more about you, LaShawn. Your journey as a content creator and what brought you to Instagram, and why you love the platform so much that you teach others about it.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Well, it started off when I got my first iPhone. I was late. I was late to the iPhone game.
JENNY GUY: Samesies.
LASHAWN WILTZ: I got my first iPhone and I was like, I can get on Instagram now! I was a new blogger at the time. I just started blogging just because of my son. I like to post pictures of him. It was the easy way to let my family follow along, and I got on Instagram.
You know, back then it was just cute filters.
JENNY GUY: Sure.
LASHAWN WILTZ: And, you know, you just posted. And it went out there in the world, you didn’t worry about who saw it, it just went out there. And somewhere along the way people started wanting to pay me to post these pictures. And I was like, oh, OK. And it grew from there.
And I started randomly giving people advice. You know how–
JENNY GUY: Yes.
LASHAWN WILTZ: –somebody asks you, well what do you do, what are you doing. And you say it. And they say, oh that worked for me. You’re like, oh, so it works for other people, too. And it just kept going like that, because I love Instagram. I love Instagram mainly because of community.
I’ve been on there a long time now. My son is going to be turning eleven, so at least 8 years, maybe.
JENNY GUY: That’s awesome.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So I have a large community on Instagram that is actually a community. And I’ve always said, if you want to succeed on Instagram, you have to build a community because that’s where it is. And so I started teaching other people that.
And then people started asking me to talk about it. I was like, OK, and it grew from there. I think I love to teach about it because it’s like one of those things that I can talk about and not get bored. So that’s why I started going ahead and talking more about it.
JENNY GUY: I love that because that’s a totally different approach than what a lot of people would say with Instagram. And I also think it’s something that we always talk about on here, it’s that you have that expertise. That it’s not something you think that you’re necessarily an expert in, it’s just something you’re natural– like, you talk about it and people are like, whoa.
LASHAWN WILTZ: I just like it.
JENNY GUY: And you go, oh, it’s just what I do. I just like it and it happened.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yeah. I’m one of those people who are obsessed with it, you know. Somebody posts about it and I’m like, oh, what did you, did you do that. I’m always asking my friends, test this for me, could you do this. So, yeah, I love it.
JENNY GUY: That’s awesome. And I love the idea of creating a community. So we’re just going to jump right into the elephant in the room, whatever you want to call– whatever filter is on it. There’s no doubt that the Instagram algorithm is the source of a whole lot of hand-wringing and hair pulling amongst this influencer community.
And it happens at least, in part, because we have all seen, I’m sure, what Instagram popularity can do for your traffic, and your work with your brands, and your bottom line, really. It’s a thing. So how do content creators get out of this grind of comparing stats? And if you’d explain this by telling us, how does Instagram work?
LASHAWN WILTZ: OK. So the thing that everyone needs to understand about Instagram is Instagram has one goal. One goal. And that’s to keep you on the app as long as possible. So whatever you do on Instagram to keep someone on the app, i.e. on your post, or on your stories, or on your video, Instagram will reward you for it, because they’re like, yes, that is all they want.
That’s why video leads to more engagement. That’s why Stories and Reels work. Because people fall down the rabbit hole and they just keep watching, and clicking, and scrolling. And that’s what Instagram wants. And so as long as you make content with that thought in mind, you’ll succeed.
JENNY GUY: That is extremely helpful. So another thing that I think a lot of people have talked about, especially amongst the influencer community in recent years, is the buying followers. And the pods, and the giveaways, and the bots, and all of that. How do you feel about that type of thing in terms of buying followers versus– or giveaways, or I talk about that. I know you’ve heard it. We all have.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Another thing about the algorithm is– pods were originally made– the way pods were originally supposed to work weren’t this, but a group of accounts that were alike, that had similar type of content. They band together to help each other out.
Because back then it used to be that, if somebody gave you a like or a comment in the first 30 minutes after you post– 15 to 30 minutes after you posted, it would boost you in the algorithm. Not true anymore. But that was the original thing about it.
But the way the algorithm really works is that, when someone likes your post Instagram not only shows that person more of your content, but it shows a teeny portion of their followers your content, too. And because if they like it they think their followers might like it. But what happens is, when you have pods, it’s the same people liking your stuff each and every time. So you never get any more impressions, any more reach, than those people.
And then Instagram stops showing your content, because they’re like, OK, it’s the same people every time. The algorithm is smart. You cannot game it even though people think they can. So that’s why pods– I always say it’s OK to have, like, personal pods where you tell your friends, hey, I got a post up.
And in some pods that are– because of the algorithm, you might never see these people. If you have pods like that where you’re like, oh, friends, I posted something. You know, that’s fine. But those pods, those big pods, where it’s like thousands of people who they’re a car account and you’re a mom blogger, that does not mesh. Their followers won’t care one bit about your baby, at all. They care about cars.
So you know, things like that. Buying followers, it’s the same concept. These people don’t know you, they don’t like you. They like any and everything, and they confuse the algorithm because the algorithm’s like, I don’t know what they like so I don’t know where to categorize you.
And giveaways? Giveaways don’t really work because, I mean, they give you more followers in the short term. They work like that. But the problem is, most of these people either leave after the giveaway is over or become dead weight because they never engage with your content. And Instagram wants people to engage with your content.
And so that signals the algorithm that your content in trash, and then they don’t show it to anybody. So that’s how I feel about it.
JENNY GUY: Well, thank you. I mean, guys, I asked. If anyone’s out there– I’m the one who did this. I asked the question. That’s helpful. That’s really helpful because a lot of time, like we said, there’s a lot of pressure to have these high numbers and to engage.
What would you say– would you say that Instagram has really helped your work with brands? Like you said you were starting to get paid like, that’s how it began.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes. I can say right now, about 75% of my income comes from Instagram. And I always like to point that out because I’m not huge. I am not like this big, big, Instagrammer. You know what I mean? I have under 50,000 followers. But I have a core engaged audience.
So if I put a link up from a brand that I trust, and that they know I trust, they will swipe up. You know, they will click on it, and brands have figured that out. Sometimes you have to show them, but they figure that out. So I always say, if I can do it with my size following, anybody should be able to if you do what you’re supposed to do.
JENNY GUY: OK. Two questions. Follow ups. One, can you tell me about your– do you mind telling me how big you are? Two, will you tell us– you said sometimes you have to show them. Give us some tips on how you would show a brand. Demonstrate that type of selling power.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So I think I have 33,000 followers today. I know 33 and some change.
JENNY GUY: Loosely that, yes.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yeah, loosely that. But show– like for instance, I had a brand came to me last week. I told them what my rate was. And they came back and said, well with an account of your size usually this is what we pay.
And I proceeded to– I took screenshots of my analytics, of my last sponsored post that was like theirs. Same type of brand. And I showed them the back end. I was like, remember, likes on Instagram are not the same anymore. But I’m going to show you my back end, how much reach that post got, how many impressions that post got, and in the story, how many swipe ups that got to the brand’s link.
And they’re like, oh, OK, here you go. So I got my rate. And that was something I learned from one of my friends, but it worked. So I’ll always say, do it.
JENNY GUY: That’s awesome. I love that. And I love that you kept negotiating with the brand and let them know that size doesn’t matter. OK, not necessarily. It matters to a certain extent, but it’s not the only thing. And like you said–
LASHAWN WILTZ: It’s not the only thing.
JENNY GUY: –likes are very different now. We’re going to talk about that in a second. But how are likes different now? Let’s just jump in.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Likes are different because you got to think about the fact that there are some countries in the world where likes are not a factor anymore. They took them away. And in the US, of course, we still have them, the majority of accounts. There are a couple that don’t. But for the majority of the world, there is no likes.
So you got to think about that. And then a lot of people don’t hit like anymore. People are stingy with their likes now. People are more likely to comment, actually, than they are to like. I know I forget to do it sometimes. Sometimes I forget to like and then I have to go back and go, oh, oh, let me like this post.
JENNY GUY: Yes, same. Same.
LASHAWN WILTZ: And it’s like, you’ll see it, you’ll laugh about it, you’re engaged with it, you’ll read all the other comments, you’ll even like some of the other comments, but you won’t like the post. That’s how Instagram works these days. And so you always have to remind brands that is how it goes. Sometimes they need educating, so you just got to remind them.
JENNY GUY: Definitely. OK. So while we cannot control the Instagram algorithm, we are all about focusing on what we can control. So what should we focus on with our Instagram strategy now?
LASHAWN WILTZ: You should focus on Stories, Reels, and your engagement, which we talked a little bit about. But those are the three things that you really need to focus on right now because that is what matters to Instagram, and that’s what matters to brands. Even though they’re not going to come out and say it, but that’s what matters.
JENNY GUY: You may have to tell them that that’s what matters.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes.
JENNY GUY: But that is what they should be look– in terms of what’s going to give them the results, give them the return on their investment and working with you, it’s that. So let’s start with Stories because, I love a good Story. They’re my favorite.
LASHAWN WILTZ: I do too. So Stories are Instagram’s darling. It’s the one thing they stole from Snapchat that they made their own that actually is great. Everybody– people scroll this way now, instead of this way first. I know there are some days where I get on and I might scroll my Stories and get off.
JENNY GUY: Yes.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Not even look at my feed.
JENNY GUY: Same.
LASHAWN WILTZ: And I know other people do the same thing because Stories are entertaining. You know, they keep us on the app, which is what Instagram loves. They’re personal, it’s like being a voyeur. I always tell my clients, you are the reality show. That is why people are watching.
It’s like a reality show on your phone you can go to, you can come back to, and keep watching. That’s why good story matters, because you want to keep people engaged. They help with that like, know, trust factor.
JENNY GUY: Say that again. Talk to us about like, know, trust factor.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So when people like, know, and trust you they’re more likely to become your super fans and they’re more likely to click your links. They will always leave a comment. They will respond and heart every Story. And when you ask them to buy something, they will buy it. That’s what you want.
They will swipe up and go to your newsletter. They will get off the app, which– let me break and say that’s what your ultimate goal should always be. Get them off the app. Because we don’t own Instagram, Mark does. So get them off to something you own. OK. Off my soapbox.
JENNY GUY: No, but no it’s the truth. No, I love that. I love hearing that. And the truth is, yeah, they don’t own it so what you’re doing is at odds with Instagram. So how do you balance that out? Because you said their goal is to keep people on the app, your goal is to get them off the app onto your own stuff. So how do you balance that out?
LASHAWN WILTZ: So you balance that out. That’s part of the like, know, trust factor. Because if they don’t like, know, and trust you, which is what you do with Stories, you get them– you let them in. You let them see the you behind the frame, you know, and everything.
Which, once you do that, you can subtly direct them to, oh, do you want to know more about this meal I cooked, it’s on my blog. And then you put the little swipe up where you say, go to the link in my profile. They’ll go. Hopefully, on your blog, you have something where they can sign up for your email list and, you know, there you’ve got them. You have captured them.
That is why I always say Stories are the most important part because they help you with that like, know, trust factor. They help people like, know, and trust you so that they like you, and they click your links, and they swipe up, and they buy your things.
JENNY GUY: They become your people. They become your–
LASHAWN WILTZ: They become your super fans, your super fans. That’s what they are. Like Pat doesn’t know what you’re saying.
JENNY GUY: OK. So I’m going to pause you here because I want to hear– if you don’t follow LaShawn you should because she has amazing stuff. I find her Instagram Stories to be incredibly– they’re like my ASMR. I love listening, I love her music, I love her whole aesthetic. I love her coffee. Like, it all– And it becomes routine for me to watch, and listen, and engage with her.
So tell me, how do you make a great Instagram Story? And how do you decide? Because your aesthetic is so yours. It is yours so uniquely. How did you come to that?
LASHAWN WILTZ: So when someone goes through Stories you want them to know it’s yours. You want them to be able– because I know I follow people where even before I look up and see whose Story it is, I know even if they’re not in the frame, because of the aesthetic. Because of how it is, how it starts, how it goes.
What makes a good Instagram Story, is that it’s a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end, just like a story. So, you know, people always post, like, these one frames and then they leave. And I’m like, OK, that’s boring. No one’s going to come back to follow up to see what else went on, you know what I mean?
They’re going to quick tap through to the next person because you boring. And then you will not show up the next time that they’re on Instagram because, you know, they didn’t follow through. Bloggers, you know, we are all influencers. We are storytellers. We have to do the same thing on IG that we do on our blog, tell a story. So that’s what I always say.
People always say, well what do you post about? I’m like, your life. I think my life is boring, but my coffee Stories, that’s me. That’s one thing that’s mine. I have a friend who posts coffee Stories too, but hers are completely different than mine, and that’s OK.
So, you know, I watch her, because I think her’s are funny. You, know, she watches mine because mine are just different. So you have to find something that is your own, something that keeps people coming back, and go for it. Post it.
JENNY GUY: Yeah, post it. And trial and error is where that’s going to happen, right? I’m sure you didn’t wake up one morning and go, my coffee Story emerged fully formed from my brain.
LASHAWN WILTZ: No. I always say, everybody should have what I call content buckets. You should have them for your feed, and you should have them for Stories. Like things that you always– that you pull from that you always post about.
So for me it’s coffee, motherhood, work-life balance, health care, or me time. So every time I post on Instagram, it’s going to be about one of those things. I rarely deviate. Of course I’ll deviate for, like, important events, like, you know, current events that pertain to my life.
JENNY GUY: Of course
LASHAWN WILTZ: I will post about them. But for the most part, when you come to me you know that’s going to be something that you’re going to find. I’m even going talk about my son, my coffee, how much work I got to do, you know, you going to see me on my Peloton first thing in the morning. Something like that.
So you have to start making yourself a routine. It’s like you said, you want you to be a part of their lives, where you are part of their routine. So remember beginning, a middle, and an end though, please.
JENNY GUY: So in terms of the content buckets do you have, like, spreadsheets where you keep ideas for stuff that you know that work because– in case you run out? Like do you ever just go– I mean coffee is great because you’re going to drink that. That’s going to be every morning.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Every day.
JENNY GUY: You’re going to drink the coffee. So it’s there. But if, for other content, are there other, like, do you ever have ideas? How do you do that?
LASHAWN WILTZ: OK. So most of the time I have an editorial calendar for Instagram. And not only for my feed, but I have one for Stories. So I basically know, on a given day, what type of content I’m going to post. So I know if I talked about one piece of content a lot yesterday I might not talk about it as much the next day. I have it spread out.
So I might not know exactly what– no I’m lying, I know exactly what’s going to be posted, in general. Some of it’s live, some of it’s recorded, and some is just shared from other things that I’ve already found on Instagram. So it’s a planning thing, and that makes my life easier, too.
JENNY GUY: What do you use for your editorial calendar for Instagram?
LASHAWN WILTZ: A calendar.
JENNY GUY: OK, you just use a regular calendar. Awesome. I love it.
LASHAWN WILTZ: A basic planner. A basic planner. I’m like, yeah, you know. Yeah. I just need a basic planner.
JENNY GUY: It’s whatever works. OK, so Christine had a question. She said, I’m curious about LaShawn’s thoughts on longer text and feed posts. I know she’s focusing on Stories and Reels, but I still love the feed.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So Instagram is like micro-blogging these days. So the thing about the longer posts on your feed is, are you saying anything interesting. Are you keeping the user’s attention. So I always say if you’re going to have a long caption, you have to capture their attention in the first sentence, like when they’re scrolling. When they see, you know, because it cuts off after a certain amount of characters.
JENNY GUY: The ellipses, yeah.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yeah. You have to capture their attention with that first sentence. That’s what I call a call to action. You’re telling them, you’re asking them a question, you’re telling them to do something. You’re telling them to double tap, you’re telling them to post an emoji of how you felt today. Something in that first sentence that makes them want to stop their scroll.
Otherwise, they’re going to just keep going. And sometimes with a longer caption it’s better to put something at the beginning and at the end. Because, otherwise, they’re going to get bored. Unless they are loyal followers. Now your super fans will read everything. You know, they’re regular people, you’ve gotta capture their attention.
JENNY GUY: And that makes– that’s a lot of sense and you want to have, I’m sure, a balance of that content. I want to talk more about balancing all of the different things out. But I also want to talk– we talked about the new Instagram, and so let’s talk about Reels.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Ah, Reels.
JENNY GUY: Oh. Not a big fan, eh?
LASHAWN WILTZ: No, I actually like Reels. This is Instagram’s new baby because Instagram loves video. Let me repeat, they love video. I always say, whenever Instagram introduces something new you have to try it. You have to do it. Because whatever is new, that’s what they’re going to push.
And the main reason that you want to do Reels right now is for the potential. The reach, the discovery, the engagement. It’s crazy right now because Reels, of course, are being prioritized in all the ways that people search for content on IG. You can find when you open up the explore tab, it’s the first thing there. It’s the top piece of content that is on there. It is like they’re trying to force you to do it.
JENNY GUY: They really want you to like Reels.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes. If you do a hashtag search, it’s there right at the top. If you go to the Reels feed. Reels has its own feed, I mean, come on. And even if you do an audio search, like if you tap on the song that somebody used for Reels, it’ll take you to an audio search where it will show you every Reel that used that song.
It is so many ways that Instagram has made it so that you can find Reels. They want you to use Reels. And even today they just updated it so that they’re 30 seconds long instead of 15, and there’s a 10 second timer instead of a three second timer. So, I mean, Reels are here to stay. They want us to use them.
JENNY GUY: They’ve gone all in.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes, they have gone all in. So now we have to. So that’s my thing about Reels.
JENNY GUY: All right. So, Larisha asked a great question. She says, I’d love to hear tips on creating them, especially for people who did not, or do not, or refuse to, do TikTok.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So I don’t– any Reel that I create I don’t create in the app because it’s clunky. And until they fix that a little bit more I will not be creating in Instagram. So what I usually do is, even like when I did my 15 seconds of summer, because that was, like, the perfect way to do a Reel, I just recorded little scenes every day, all day. So, like, 5 seconds here, 5 seconds there.
And then you can stitch them together in an app. I use InShot, so it helps me to stitch together my Reels. And then I take the Reel into Instagram and add the music. Why? Because when you use it– it’s just like TikTok in that regard– is when you add the music in the app it will boost you in the algorithm more than if you use your own music.
JENNY GUY: So My Quiet Kitchen, good question. Ugh, Reels, what is it, and what should we put in them? I mean, fair enough.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So they can be anything. They can be fun. They can be– I’ve seen Reels where they’re, what do they call it, educational. Like there are people who do quick little cooking videos, cooking Reels. There are people who do quick informational– like there’s one girl, she talks about IG a lot. She does little informational Reels.
There are people who do funny Reels. There are people who just do the snap Reel where they’re changing clothes. They are basic. Don’t over think it. You can sit there and just snap, snap, snap, and change clothes if you’re a fashion blogger.
You can sit there and do a quick this is how you boil an egg. Simple things like quick bites of content. That’s it. And now they’re 30 seconds long so you can get a little bit more content in them. 15 seconds was kind of hard, but 30 seconds you can definitely get more into them.
JENNY GUY: Love that. OK.
LASHAWN WILTZ: It’s just, don’t think too hard, just do it.
JENNY GUY: Jump in. Jump in, make a Reel. Do it today. Engagement. Let’s talk about that.
LASHAWN WILTZ: All right.
JENNY GUY: Because you’ve said likes are different. So what are we looking at if we’re not looking at likes as much?
LASHAWN WILTZ: So saves and shares are the new likes on the ‘gram.
JENNY GUY: OK.
LASHAWN WILTZ: OK. So, why? Because it gets your content in front of more people. It makes people physically interact with your post, which is important. Because when people physically do something to your post like comment, like or share it, or save it, Instagram is like, oh, they’re on the app longer.
Remember? That’s what Instagram wants. That’s all they want. So remember, engagement is down right now, which is–
JENNY GUY: Overall.
LASHAWN WILTZ: –which is a question I always get from people. I always have to remind people, especially right now, you have to look at what else is going on in the world. People are tired. This is not going to be– Instagram is always like this. It goes in cycles.
And really, in September it’s always down, mainly because people’s kids are going back to school. Parents are trying to get back into their rhythm. And with the way the world is right now, we’ve got virtual school over here, we got people trying to do Zooms all day, you’ve got to manage everything, and people are tired of being online.
JENNY GUY: Yeah.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So it’s not us, it’s them. But this too shall pass, as it always does. I always say, keep doing what you’re doing, because when people come back in full force you want Instagram to still know you’re there. Because if you thought, just because you’re like, oh, ain’t nobody watching anyway, then when people come back, you’re behind.
So I always say keep going. And one more thing that I have to say. One reason why engagement is down for a lot of people, especially a lot of influencers, is because you didn’t pivot during Covid. You did not pivot.
People are at home and you were still posting these aspirational, I’m going on this fabulous trip, look at this fabulous trip I went to last year. Don’t nobody care no more. That’s the thing. Now it’s all about relatable content.
How can they relate to you?
You can have relatable aspirational content, but you have to spin it that way. Just continuing to post your fashion posts with no context. You know, not saying this is my outfit for Zoom today instead of saying, oh, look at me, this cute sale I went to at Target. You know? Some people lost their job, they don’t have money. You know what I mean?
JENNY GUY: Yeah.
LASHAWN WILTZ: You have to know your audience. If your audience is not responding to your content most likely there is a reason and you are it. So you have to learn to pivot and see what do they want. What do they want from me now.
And find out. You can do that simply as just, like, poll your audience. They will tell you. People have no shame, they want to give their opinion. So that’s my soapbox that I’ll get off of now.
JENNY GUY: I think it’s a great– it’s a good soapbox to be on. And as you were saying, we’ve been in here for six months. You don’t know what people want. And like you said, if you don’t know, ask. Why not? Why not just ask?
LASHAWN WILTZ: Ask. Instagram has those lovely polls, and question boxes, and then when people like–
JENNY GUY: I don’t have to type. You can just push the button.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes. And when people comment and like and use your polls and everything, that gives you engagement. So I’m always, like, come on, people. Just do it. Just do it.
JENNY GUY: So Quiet Kitchen said, perfect, love that explanation with regard to Reels. Carly Anderson says, yes, the pivot, yes, yes, yes. Sally says I love LaShawn. Larisha says, keeping up with trends, pivoting, literally all helps so much. So smart.
All right. So I’m going to follow up. When you were talking about shares and saves being the new likes, love that. What have you seen with the type of content that encourages those saves, encourages those shares.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So things like educational content. Like if you’re educating somebody. Memes. Right now, memes are– memes are hot.
JENNY GUY: Memes are life.
LASHAWN WILTZ: That’s an old way to put it. People will share–
JENNY GUY: Give me memes, give me gifs, and give me carbs, and I’m done for the rest of my life.
LASHAWN WILTZ: People will share a meme. People will share a good infographic. People will share a good carousel post that educates. I always say, every once in awhile– I have like a, what do I call it, Instagram mastermind– and we always say, every once in awhile, you need to share one of those posts that make people click and save.
It’s just– that’s something you need to start incorporating into your strategy. Either it’s a joke, it’s a recipe. Oh, you can say, save this recipe for later. Or you a graphic, or a craft, anything tell them to save it so that they can.
JENNY GUY: Very smart, love it. It’s just as simple as telling them to save it.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes.
JENNY GUY: I’m sure it makes a huge difference as opposed to thinking that people do know that they should.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Right. No, you have to tell people what to do. It’s a fact.
JENNY GUY: Always. Always. We’re getting lots of informative carousels right now. Sally says LaShawn has helped me with my Instagram account. She knows what she’s talking about.
LASHAWN WILTZ: I know Sally.
JENNY GUY: She’s a smart cookie. Quiet Kitchen says, you guys have done this brilliantly. Thank you. I don’t know if that was for LaShawn or Mediavine, but either way, we’ll both take it, and we love it.
OK. So how do you balance all those different forms of content out? How do you take Stories, Reels and your feed and get a cohesive Instagram strategy that works for you?
LASHAWN WILTZ: So like I mentioned earlier, I have a content calendar. I literally, every Sunday, I plan out my week. Not only plan out like what I’m going to post on my blog, I plan out what I’m going to post on Instagram. And I can always tell the weeks when I’m successful.
So, like, last week, I was not successful. This week I’m doing a little bit better. But it’s like, if you plan stuff out it’s easier to remain consistent. So, just like I said, I have the content buckets. I plan my Instagram within an inch of its life.
I know what I’m going to post on Stories. Sometimes I do what I call, I say, be a part of that prerecord life. I will prerecord stuff, and I have folders on my phone that say “for Instagram.” And I have folders that say “for Instagram Stories.” Even in Instagram, if I see a meme, or I see a post that I know I’m going to share sooner or later, I save it to a folder called “to share to Stories.”
Just so that I already have that content ready, pulled up, and I can just share it and keep it moving. If I’m going to do a post, I already write out that caption beforehand, I’ve already picked my hashtags. I do this for the week. That way I’m not scrambling at the last minute trying to say, oh, I need to post, what am I going to post. I don’t have any of that.
I have a friend who plans a month ahead. I’m not like that, but the concept is the same. Like I said, choose your content buckets. I’m always about that prerecord life. Pre-write your IG captions.
And my favorite tip is, don’t go on Instagram. So people are always like, well, what do you mean, you’re always responding to your Stories and everything. I’m like, I’m responding from Facebook. I am not on the actual app because the app is a time suck. I will start scrolling and watching people’s stories.
But on Facebook, all I can do is see when people respond. And I’m on there. So I have specific times where I can go on Facebook anyway, just like Instagram. And so then I will respond to all my comments and then keep it moving, but I’m not on the app.
I spend about no more than two hours a day on that app, if that, on a good day. So that’s on a busy day. I have time limits, because otherwise I will– I got too much else– too many other things to do. I can’t be on Instagram. And I’ve learned that that is the only way to have a life. Stay off the app.
JENNY GUY: And I love that. It’s so smart. It’s hard. So Larisha says, it’s exhausting, but it’s worth it. Schnelle says, dedicated to the craft, I love it. Suzanne says, this is gold, thank you. Jennifer says, I do the Story share folder. That folder to share within the phone is brilliant.
Brenda says, that is so smart to save things to share in Stories later. I feel like I’ll see things in bunches and on some days, not so much, so it’s a good idea to save it.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Exactly.
JENNY GUY: And cue it up. Jennifer says, how can you respond on Facebook? I think I broke something.
LASHAWN WILTZ: You responded? I don’t know. Oh, oh you mean on Instagram. Oh, so you can either do it in Creator, Facebook Creator account, or mine is connected to my alerts. I think you have to agree to it.
So when I go on Instagram I see the alerts for IG as well as the regular. So sometimes, I mean, my inbox is busy, because I do respond to lots of my people. And I purposely create content that makes them want to respond, because the algorithm likes you that way.
So it takes me– it takes me a while. So I see a lot of responses. But I have a set time, like it’s a timer, I only let myself stay on for like 10 minutes answering those questions real quick, and then I get off. The only time I’m really on Instagram is early in the morning and in the evening.
Like most of the time I post a post in the evening, so that’s usually when I’m on. Or I post once early in the morning. And usually for Stories I go on briefly and post something, because I already have it ready. Or either I’m getting ready to record it right then and it’s going on. So that’s all.
JENNY GUY: Love. Now are you using– so Jennifer is saying, Facebook Creator, she’ll look for that. On desktop are you using it?
LASHAWN WILTZ: On desk– on desktop. Or there’s also an app, if you just want to go on and look at just your responses on Stories, Facebook’s Threads app actually will let you do that. And the thing about Threads app is, you can record Stories in there.
And you know how we always tell you to caption in your Stories, it will caption them for you.
JENNY GUY: Oh.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yeah. Just something to think about.
JENNY GUY: OK. So you said you don’t personally scroll, you’re not on there for longer than two hours a day, you’re using Facebook to keep you from going down the rabbit hole. How much actual content are you posting via all these different places a day? Like, what’s an average for you?
LASHAWN WILTZ: I don’t post on my feed everyday. My feed is maybe every other day. But on Instagram Stories, remember they have a beginning, a middle, and an end, so that’s at least three frames for me.
JENNY GUY: Got it.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So I usually post a group in the morning, in the early morning. I post a group mid-morning around 10:00-ish, 11:00-ish. I post again around 11:00 or 1:00-ish, something like that. Usually I put a transitional post in between. That’s usually one of those memes or a post that I’m sharing. I call them transitional posts.
Then I post something around dinnertime and maybe in the evening. So maybe four times a day. But that’s by design, because it keeps me constantly in the little– when they first come on I’m there. It’s something new for them to see. So that’s what I do.
JENNY GUY: Very smart. OK. Question for you from Jenny Fielding. What should travel influencers be posting while we can’t travel? My niche is cruise travel so I’m very wary of posting irrelevant content that’s not about cruising, should I be?
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes. So unless you’re posting about how you are cruising during COVID. And no one is cruising during COVID right now.
JENNY GUY: If it were an option, please don’t.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Right. This is where you have to have the pivot. You either have to start talking about other aspects of travel and what you can do now, because that’s what keeps you in a niche, but it’s a broader niche. And this is also a time for you to branch out.
I always say, this whole year has forced all of us to find another content bucket. So now it’s time for you to pivot and find another content bucket. That’s the only way you’re going to stay relevant, because like you said, no one is cruising right now. I mean, when we start cruising again, maybe. Then you can be like, yes, this is how we cruise with COVID. But right now, no. I mean, no.
JENNY GUY: Yeah, yeah, totally. OK. So Jennifer says, I can type faster on my computer, this will save me so much time. You may have changed my life. Christine Koh said again, what’s the app that captions Stories, Story videos.
LASHAWN WILTZ: It’s called Threads. T-H-R-E-A-D-S. You know, threads, just like threads. And it looks like a little Instagram box with a circle in it, like a video.
JENNY GUY: Brenda says, I just go to my Instagram account directly on my desktop and reply to things there. It’s much easier for me to avoid the time suck on my phone.
LASHAWN WILTZ: See. See. We don’t have time to have time sucks anymore. At least, I know I don’t. So that is the way to get it done and still respond to your people, because they need responses. We’re not Beyonce, we must respond to our comments.
JENNY GUY: True.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So that’s a good way to do it and still save yourself time.
JENNY GUY: It’s such a crying shame that we’re not Beyonce. God.
LASHAWN WILTZ: I just want her money, but moving on.
JENNY GUY: I mean, yeah, it’s the woe of my life. Somebody– somebody respond to my Instagram comments. The peasants need to be responded to. OK.
Jenny Fielding says, also would love to know how much time we should spend engaging on other people’s content, and how important is that as a part of your Instagram strategy to growth?
LASHAWN WILTZ: So you have to use Instagram like a regular person. Posting and ghosting does not work. So I have– you know those folders on Instagram where you can save things? Every day I have a different folder, or group of people in those folders, where I go to their content every day, and I make sure that I comment on those people.
Now some of those people are what I call my super fans. The people who always comment on my stuff. I may not follow them but I try to at least once a week go in and comment on their stuff. Some of my friends are in that folder because I’m not on Instagram all the time, so I might miss their post.
So that is the way I keep up, in general. And then in the morning, in the evening, when I have what I call free time on Instagram–
JENNY GUY: Right.
LASHAWN WILTZ: –that’s when I just scroll and like. That’s when I go on the explore feed and I see what’s going on there. That’s when I’ll just go through and if I see an interesting comment, I might go to that person’s feed and look, like, oh, that’s nice. But it’s constantly using the app like a real person. You still have to do that. Just set aside 15 minutes. Set a timer. Go for it.
JENNY GUY: And we had heard earlier this summer that you have to, if you’re using your business account, if you’re using your branded account, you need to be strategic about what it is that you are liking and following because you’re teaching the algorithm that entire time. So if I’m like–
LASHAWN WILTZ: Sure are.
JENNY GUY: –if I’m a vegan blogger and I’m like a closet– and I’m sorry, I don’t think anyone out there is– but I’m like a closet bacon person and I go like all the bacon accounts in the dark of night when no one is there, they know, right?
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes. That is why I have a whole separate private account where I follow a whole bunch of stuff on there that I would never follow on my regular place. That account is ratchet. But, you know, that is like my follow all the things that don’t have anything to do with my brand, you know, person.
So people are always like, oh, you didn’t follow me back. I’m like, no, I didn’t, I’m sorry. And it’s nothing personal. I might follow you on my personal account, but not on that one. So, yeah, you have to be strategic about that.
JENNY GUY: I love that. Larisha says, I’d love to hear LaShawn discuss any tips on diversifying content between Reels, Stories, feed and IGTV. We have not hit on IGTV yet.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Diversify how? So are you meaning like what type of content?
JENNY GUY: I think she’s saying, and I asked this a little bit earlier, how much are you focusing. You said you post on your feed every other day usually.
LASHAWN WILTZ: That’s me.
JENNY GUY: And about three feed posts a week, roughly. And then you’re doing about– you’re doing four bursts of three Stories a piece a day. So how much of that is Reels, and then do you do IGTV?
LASHAWN WILTZ: IGTV. [SIGHS] I hate IGTV. I’m not even going to lie. I do it every once in a while, though, because Instagram still likes it. So I always say, depends on what your brand is.
Larisha, you do food, right? So I would say, for you especially, IGTV should be big. You should be making food videos. You should be making quick little food Reels. You should be posting, you know, your food in Stories.
Shopping in Covid times. How to– you guys are vegan or vegetarian now? I can’t remember. But things like that is what you should be doing. You can spread it out, little bite size pieces of content everywhere. You don’t have to do it every day because that’s just too much.
None of us are super like that, unless you plan ahead. But I would say, at least once a week you need to use one of Instagram’s favorite things. Reels, Stories, IGTV, you need to use them.
JENNY GUY: And I think that’s what she just clarified in her question. She said how do you keep up with it all, basically. And that, yes, you said at least once a week it’s a good thing for yourself to go and try one, even if you don’t like it, try one of their things.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Right. And that’s another thing that has to do with planning. If you plan it out, it’s easier to keep up. So if you plan at the beginning of the week, you know you need a Reel. You know you need an IGTV. You know, you can split some of your IGTV and make a Reel out of it.
You know what I mean? You can post your Reel to your feed, and that is a feed post. You have to be strategic and also save yourself time. But plan. Plan it out.
JENNY GUY: Plan. Planning is so important. And however you choose to plan.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes.
JENNY GUY: A planner of her own. Just a paper planner, which I love. Is it a fancy paper planner?
LASHAWN WILTZ: No. It’s a basic one from Dollar Tree. And it’s just for Instagram. I wish I had it with me, but I don’t. But it’s just for Instagram. It’s just basic. And it has the weekly one sheet, and I use that for stories. Yeah, it’s basic.
JENNY GUY: I love that.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Basic.
JENNY GUY: Tiffany says, hi LaShawn. When you say you share your favorites to folders is it actually in Instagram? And Jennifer said yes, Tiffany, when you click save there’s an option to put it in– create a folder.
So how many folders do you have? Do you use those a lot? She’s embarrassed about her folders. Y’all, I’ve uncovered a secret.
LASHAWN WILTZ: OK. I have over 30 folders. I’m not going to keep counting.
JENNY GUY: Wow.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Because I have different– because sometimes I’ll save accounts because some of my clients, I’m interested in showing them something from them. Or sometimes I have categories of people. Sometimes I’m doing research. So I have folders for everything. I use those folders.
JENNY GUY: So you mentioned clients. Tell us a little bit more about what you mean by clients.
LASHAWN WILTZ: I do Instagram strategy reports where it’s like a one on one with me where I deep dive into your Instagram. I basically tear it apart. And I tell you what you should be posting, what you’re doing wrong, what you could do to improve.
I give you a whole plan. Basically, those content buckets, I tell you what they should be, what I think they should be.
JENNY GUY: Great. Yeah.
LASHAWN WILTZ: I help you with Stories, Reels now, IGTV ideas, plans, I give you homework. And we do it with a Zoom call, too. So it’s like a whole thing.
JENNY GUY: Yes. There are all sorts of things that you have. You do the one on one consultations. You also have– and you have an Instagram book. You have a book that you have to offer that we’re going to actually share all the things in there. So tell us– and this isn’t something that we’ve talked about yet but, hashtags on Instagram.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Oh, hashtags. I hate hashtags. Right now hashtags are not doing what they usually do.
JENNY GUY: OK. Fair enough.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Instagram is tweaking something I do believe. But hashtags, I always say, are the keywords of Instagram. They help Instagram group us into categories and things like that. So it’s good to use hashtags to help people find you.
They’re like exposure. You’re not necessarily going to get a follow from it like you used to. You might not even get a like from it, because people scroll. But you will get that impression. You will get that reach from the hashtag.
So that is something to consider. I always say, you can get banned, shadow banned, they want to say, for spammy behavior with hashtags. Like using too many, using the same ones over and over again. Using what they actually have as banned hashtags.
So I always say, with your hashtag strategy, be careful. Lately, I’m trying to use less hashtags–
JENNY GUY: OK.
LASHAWN WILTZ: –simply because I want to train Instagram to recognize my posts without so many of them. So that’s just my new thing right now that I’m trying.
JENNY GUY: Give us some numbers. Give us a ballpark on what is too many. Or what is less than what–
LASHAWN WILTZ: I would say 10 is a good number to use.
JENNY GUY: OK.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Anything over that you are– I mean, you can use them. But it’s more about the combination of hashtags. And are you using hashtags that are too big. Because some of them are huge. You’re not going to get seen unless you, too, are huge.
I always say, the smaller ones, like the 50k to 100k, in that range, those are community-like. So people are in those actually looking for stuff. Anything under 50k, you run the risk of not that many people being in it and not that many people using it. So that is a thought.
JENNY GUY: It’s a lot like keyword research and SEO. Like you said, they’re the keywords words of Instagram. You’re looking for the low hanging fruit that you can actually make an impact on as opposed to–
LASHAWN WILTZ: That’s exactly it.
JENNY GUY: — I’m going to try and knock Beyonce out of this hashtag.
LASHAWN WILTZ: So instead of saying– right– instead of saying food, which has millions of searches.
JENNY GUY: Right.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Even instead of saying vegan, you might want to say vegan casserole. You know what I mean? Something like that. Break it– niche it down when you think about hashtags.
JENNY GUY: I love that. And we put this in the comments, we’re going to get back to your questions here in a second.
But if you go to any of LaShawn’s great stuff, from the Instagram one on one strategy sessions, to her book and she’s also got a Stories course that’s in there, you get 10% off. You get that discount with the code MEDIAVINE in all caps. That’s in there.
How long is that good for LaShawn? How long will you let people use that?
LASHAWN WILTZ: Oh, you can use it infinity right now
JENNY GUY: Infinity! That’s my kind of code. So go over and check out everything she has to offer if you need more, because I certainly need more. I’m very interested to hear about her Stories course. OK.
Larisha said, since you aren’t a huge fan of IGTV, I’m curious if you will pivot to doing more of them now that Instagram is in alpha testing of ad revenue of Instagram TV?
And I actually wanted to get into this before Larisha mentioned it. Ads are becoming a thing.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes, yes. Of course. That’s why I always say, I always add one eventually. Like I don’t aban– I hate them. But I will do one because I know that, eventually, they are going to add ads to them. And I want the content there when they do.
So I, let me see, I did one maybe a week or two ago. But I try to do one at least every couple weeks, or at least once a month. Right now, it’s really once a month, I’m not gonna lie. So as the holidays come there are more opportunities to do IGTV.
I used to do them a lot last year, but things are different this year so I didn’t do them as much. So that is something I need to get back to. But yes, I do always tell people in my strategy do as I say, not as I do. Do more IGTV because they’re going to have ads.
JENNY GUY: We’re also hearing that there’s a rumor going around out there that the Instagram algorithm favors ads. What are some better resources to understand how ads are working on Instagram and if they should become a part of your strategy.
LASHAWN WILTZ: It’s like, well, listen, Mark owns Instagram like he owns Facebook. And you know Facebook is pay to play now. It really is. Instagram, I believe, is heading that way, albeit a little slower than Facebook got there. Facebook, just, one day we were fine and then one day it was like, bam.
Instagram is taking its time getting there, mainly because no one is taking the bait. Big brands are, but influencers, we are not taking the bait, yet. It is a way, if you do it right, to get your content in front of more people by boosting and things like that.
But once you do it once, just like Facebook, you have to keep doing it. So just one thing to think about.
JENNY GUY: It’s like when you shave your legs. You can’t go back.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yes. You can’t go back. I mean you’re just prickly. If you color your hair, you got to keep going.
JENNY GUY: Well, you don’t.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yeah, now you should see all this gray. Moving on.
JENNY GUY: Everyone’s like, I love that choice you made. I’m like, it was a real great choice, wasn’t it? Not a choice. All right.
LASHAWN WILTZ: This is life. Yep.
JENNY GUY: It’s just the way it is, and I’m here now.
So Brenda says, I started using hashtags a bit more intentionally a couple months ago and it has been slowly helping me grow my count. Slow and steady, but it’s working for me for organic growth because my account is small.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yay. And that’s the thing about Instagram now. We cannot expect the monstrous growth that you used to even two, three years ago. Everything is slow and steady on Instagram now. So you cannot judge your growth by one post or even, you say, oh, I posted every day for a week, and nothing happened.
No. You got to do it consistently over a longer period of time. I will say, though, Reels, if you really– right now– if you want to really grow do a Reel every day. Watch them come in.
JENNY GUY: Love that. All right. So we are, unfortunately, about out of time, which I dislike because this has been an awesome hour. And so much to learn. I’m going to make an announcement real quick. But before, I’m going to give you the final question.
Which, I want to know what accounts do you follow that are inspirational for you in terms of learning? Either about Instagram or just learning about how to create beautiful posts. So it can be straight up knowledge for Instagram, or it can be your favorite accounts to follow just to look at beautiful stuff and to talk about the anatomy of a great post.
Guys, the next episode of Teal Talk®— we are not on next week, but we are back in October. Thursday, October 8 at 3 PM Eastern time. I have Daniella Flores of I Like To Dabble and Schnelle Acevedo of Brooklyn Active Mama. We are talking about living your best graphic design life with Canva.
We’re going to get into branding. We’re going to get into organization. We’re going to get into, obviously, social media templates and how to create the things you want for that. But take it beyond that and how to really organize what you have on Canva. And use some of their new tools that are out and how to maximize those for content creators.
So that is October 8, don’t miss it. If you are a fan of our show, and I certainly hope you are, and you want to see more of this great content from people like LaShawn, and Schnelle, and Daniella, please like us on Facebook at Mediavine.
Go to our YouTube. That’s where all the episodes go when they’re done, they’re edited, and they are on our YouTube channel forever. And they’re also always still available on Facebook. So we want you to watch these.
We’re not going to hide them from you. Promise you that. LaShawn, tell us about those Instagram accounts that we have to go follow right now.
LASHAWN WILTZ: OK. First one is Cookayemonster. Kay is, she’s not even– she’s a photographer. And normally I would not follow her because she does a lot of fashion posts, but her Stories are excellent, they are marvelous. They are beautiful. They are creative.
And I spend a lot of time stealing her filters and things like that, because she is truly awesome and a creative and it’s very inspirational for me. Shavonda, S. Gardner Style, she is a, what do they call it? A home decorator account.
JENNY GUY: A DIYer.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Yeah, DIYer. Her home is beautiful. She lives in Sacramento. But what I like about her account is the engagement. She has an actual community.
And the way– like if you look at her Stories, and even her posts, the way she interacts with her audience, I love that. And so I’m always following her for tips and things like that.
Style Fit Fatty does an excellent job of the share and save type posts.
JENNY GUY: Yes.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Excellent job with it. And you don’t even realize that’s what she’s doing to you.
JENNY GUY: Which is the best way to do it, of course.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Right. Unless you’re like an Instagram nerd and you’re like, oh, I see what she did there. It’s very subtle, and her aesthetic is beautiful. Her family is beautiful. And you’re just like, oh, I just like her. I want to like her post.
A-S-E-K-Y-B. And she does have a pretty account. When you say you want– everybody is like, well what does a cohesive account look like? That is what it looks like. It’s just her family, you know, and they’re cute. She has the cutest kids.
But they all– it flows together. Everything she does flows, from the filter she uses, the content. So I’m always like, do that, do that, do that.
Jennifer, who is on here. Jennifer Borget. Just because it’s, once again, it’s one of those pretty cohesive accounts. And then even in her Stories the way it all– like her Stories and her feed usually flows together. So that’s always– I always say that’s a good thing to do.
For Instagram, there are not a lot of really good accounts on there. I’m not gonna lie. Some of them don’t always do the right thing. But there is one. What is her name. Natasha. Sol Studio Marketing.
And you all should follow her right now because she’s doing a 30-day Reels challenge. And she’s teaching about Reels as she learns about it. So I’ve been finding that fascinating. And I think she’s going to have a real course at the end of the 30 days.
So if you’re interested in that, that’s the type of thing– you might be interested in her. I do like her, though, yeah. That’s it.
JENNY GUY: And follow LaShawn, obviously, at Everyday Eyecandy. Go there.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Oh, yeah, me!
JENNY GUY: Yeah. Follow her. Love it. Coffee Stories. Can’t get enough. And definitely use the code MEDIAVINE, all caps, to get 10% off all of her excellent Instagram help and trainings.
And if you really feel like you just need a deep dive she’s there, she’s available. LaShawn, it’s been so good to have you. Thank you so much for your time.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Thank you for having me.
JENNY GUY: You’ve been a delight. OK. Everybody, we’ll see you in two weeks. Go out and get a pumpkin spice latte something, and enjoy the season. Bye, you guys. Thank you.
LASHAWN WILTZ: Bye, guys.
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