Authentic Online Marketing

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Authentic Online Marketing with Ruthie Gray
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Ep. 31: Building an Authentic Instagram Platform without compromising your calling

My guest today speaks about building an Authentic Instagram Platform, and her name is Belinda Letchford, my good friend and parenting coach. Today we’re discussing learning how to implement an IG strategy without compromising your calling. She has learned valuable insights from our pro member hot seats like how to better use stories, make connections with your target audience, and more. 

Belinda Letchford  lives in Australia, writes on her website and she talks to Moms across the world (thanks to the internet) with her teaching and coaching. Belinda encourages mums to build strong relationships, shape their children’s hearts and use the whole of life to teach faith, character and life skills. She has 4 adult kids, whom she homeschooled. They have all left home now so life looks very different but she continues to support moms to be heart-focused. 

*This episode contains either affiliate links or links to my products. Should you choose to purchase, the show will go on! Woo hoo!

(Click below for show notes & Resources)

Belinda Letchford, Live Live with Your Kids

Building an Authentic Instagram Platform (Without Compromising Your Calling!)  

Belinda, what were some of the frustrations you experienced before you really had a grasp on a good Instagram strategy? 

The Learning Curve of Building an Authentic Instagram Platform

B: I felt I needed to get on Instagram and that there was a huge generational gap between other people using Instagram like my kids. The way they shared on Instagram was so vibrant and full of energy. I felt I really needed to get to that point if I was going to continue reaching the next generation of moms. It was hard because I’m a word based person with a focus on blogging and speaking. To switch it over to being image-based and concise with words was really challenging as well as uncomfortable. 

R:  It is hard and my target audience is my age, trying to figure out instagram. They say a lot of the same things. A lot of our peers have on Instagram who can figure it out. But, it’s challenging to women our age to learn all of these tips and tricks in the first place.

B:  Yes, and I think that makes you choose a different aspect of yourself to share as opposed to when you’re teaching. I’m very comfortable talking to people sitting at my dining room table but learning to share on Instagram is completely different.  

R: We’ve been learning together for a while! Belinda has been tagging along with me to learn and change up her Instagram.  I’ve noticed a big difference in her strategies. Belinda, share with us what kind of strategies you’ve started to implement with your heart-focused parenting Instagram account and where you’re seeing results. 

B:  I think the biggest strategy that I have changed is how you’ve encouraged me to share more of my everyday life, not always teach. I think it’s a security blanket for me to have that message always at the forefront. At the same time, that’s my passion. Finding the gentle balance of life is just my heart message. 

Generating Authentic Conversations on Instagram

B: What I really learned is how to take images and the captions and make them into a conversation. I can go from my own feed to jump over into someone else’s image and caption and create a conversation over there. 

I’ve been really challenged lately when I have conversations here at home, I engage with all sorts of people about multiple things. That’s what I do when I jump over to other people’s feed and engage with their captions. I might jump over to someone to talk about marriage or to talk to someone about fashion. Maybe I’ll go to talk to them about living in an RV. I think that’s a really big lesson for me is to broaden my experience. 

One of the things I try to keep myself very aware of is I want to engage with mums and help them grow as mums. It doesn’t matter what the experts tell us.

I can only do that at a deep level with a few women at a time. The whole push from Instagram, generally speaking, is to grow a big account and get a big name. 

I have to constantly remind myself to look at this small number of people messaging me. If I had that number of people sitting at my dining room table everyday talking about one important thing for them as a mom, I would feel that I was making a huge difference. We put it on this platform that has so called “no limitations,” but it’s just there for the whole world to see. Numbers are endless, and that kind of bigness can distort reality. If I help one mum today, that’s great! I really try to keep that perspective.

Keeping Perspective in Mind

R: When you hear people starting out their email list they’ll say, “Well, I only have a hundred followers.” However, if you had a hundred people in the room with you and you had their attention that’d be a big deal! We can’t despise the day of small things, it has to start somewhere. I know Belinda is really focused about not getting into all of the vanity metrics or all the latest fads on Instagram. She’s just doing a few targeted things really well so she can remain true to her calling. 

B: That’s partly for my own sanity because I’m a collector of information. I think I can do all these various things but the reality is that I just can’t. My goal is not to be too big and my motivation is to help each mom that crosses my path. The whole system is set up to get in your head. I stop and ask myself, “Why am I here?” I’m here to encourage the mum that needs to understand things in a different way than her community tells her. I want her to know she can build a strong family and honor God at the same time. Everything gets filtered through that lens– that’s my why

The flip side of that is Instagram is supposed to be a fun place! As we start to look at Instagram for business, that can be taken away. Sometimes we rob ourselves of that opportunity to be creative and have fun. Ruthie, you really enjoy the fun aspect of Instagram and that’s inspiring to me!  

Weekly tasks to Foster an Authentic Instagram Platform

What are some specific things important for you to get done on Instagram every week?  Stories?  Feed?  Polls?  DM’s?  Where are you focusing your time? 

B: My feed is kind of down pat. I know the content, the images, and my preferences there. I’m just trying to stay consistent with that. I’m trying to grow in the area of stories and and using the engagement stickers.

My biggest challenge right now is to use stories that reflect my everyday life. I want to get engagement on that so I can then talk to people about my everyday life. The other day I shared my garden in a story poll and the conversations were great surrounding planting flowers. I have definitely been using stories and stickers to generate conversations and getting to know my people. 

R: You recently shared with me that you feel like you are really gaining ground on connecting with your target audience which is your ideal follower.  How are you accomplishing that and what are you doing? 

authentic Instagram platform quote

 Building Authentic Connections with Your Audience

B:  I’m taking it one at a time and very slow. I am visiting their feed and having conversations about what they’re posting. It’s about getting to know them, rather than asking them to get to know me. I am trying to keep a handful of people in mind who I visit every week.

The other thing I’m doing is, when I post, I go back and visit everybody who liked my previous post. I think the theory is that it kind of activates the connections on the algorithm and so forth. It’s really about an action trigger reminding me to visit those people and consistently turning up on their feed. This is what is helping me jump to the next level of conversation!

R:  Exactly, so your heart-focused ministry and message is still shining through in how you are reaching out to each of these people in your target audience. You’re showing concern for them! It’s not, “Hey I’m Belinda and I can teach you how to parent your kid!” More like, “How are you, what are you doing, how do you do this?” It’s more about them, and that is what I constantly am trying to teach my followers. When someone comes to your account, they’ve got to know, “What’s in it for me?” We get it backwards a lot of times.

I love that you’re reaching out to get to know them and build friendships. That’s what it’s all about when it comes to building an authentic Instagram platform. It’s not like we’re a storefront, “just come in and buy our wares!” That’s not where it’s at.  I know that you do want to eventually have a product, yet you continue to minister to moms.

I feel like you are definitely on the right track and I love the connections I’ve been seeing you make. You’ve just really turned your strategy around and I’ve seen you have a lot of “aha!” moments, especially during this Pro Membership group.

The Importance of Community in Building an Authentic Instagram Platform

B: The reason I joined the coaching group was because I wanted your constant encouragement to stay on track. I also wanted to benefit from the collaborations with other people in the group. Learning together has been a great way to just gain the confidence to stretch out. You’ve been telling me for awhile to share more of myself on stories. It’s by your gentle encouragement and by the group support culture that you’ve developed that I’m gaining confidence!

R: You see, Belinda started in 2020 with me in my very first coaching group that I launched. She then graciously decided to join me in this summer coaching group! Stay tuned, because doors will open again in June for my Insider Intensive! 

I want to give a word out there to everyone to be sure you’re cultivating the friendships that you see on Instagram. Whether it be ministry, selling, or business on the side like Belinda and I have, you never know when those people are going to come to you and see you as an authority.

Oftentimes this is surprising to us that our peers come and say, “hey I want to learn from you”, but that’s the thing! You just never know when you could be building that authentic connection, and when you continue to present yourself as a real person who wants to help people, it makes all the difference.

Belinda Letchford

Belinda Letchford  lives in Australia, writes on her website and she talks to Moms across the world (thanks to the internet) with her teaching and coaching. Belinda encourages mums to build strong relationships, shape their children’s hearts and use the whole of life to teach faith, character and life skills. She has 4 adult kids, whom she homeschooled. They have all left home now so life looks very different but she continues to support moms to be heart-focused. 

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