Authentic Online Marketing

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Authentic Online Marketing with Ruthie Gray
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Ep. 23: How to use an Instagram challenge for follower growth

Let’s talk Instagram challenges. We just wrapped up our growth challenge over in our Authentic Instagram Engagement Facebook group. Let me tell you, we hold that challenge one or two times a year and it’s always such a fun, positive experience. We work with a community of Christian female entrepreneurs, podcasters, authors, and bloggers. They’re all seeking to grow their Instagram audience while making an impact for Christ. 

While I grew my own audience and platform through this experience, I felt that others might want to know how to hold an Instagram challenge. Maybe on a smaller scale, especially if you’re just starting out or regaining traction.

What you’re about to read is a small part of a coaching session inside my paid program, the Insider mentorship.  During the upcoming session, member Joni Scott asked this. I think it’s a valid question to share with you. This way you can start holding your own free Instagram challenge to grow your platform. 

After the show, be sure to click on the show notes to follow her and say hi!

*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!

Authentic Email Marketing School

Click below to visit Joni’s Instagram!

Click to visit Ep. 9: Effective Newsletter Opt-ins for email list building

Click to visit Ep. 10: How to write newsletters they actually WANT to read

Click to visit Episode 11: 6 Email providers for newsletter marketing

Using an Instagram challenge to promote follower growth

After working hard on her Instagram account, Joni’s question was:

“What are the next important things to focus on, to build a tribe and add more value? 

I would like to work towards virtual and in-person mini prayer retreats. I have some great ideas, but I think it’s still a few steps away. I’ve changed my profile about a hundred times since my last hot seat. Like most of my Instagram it’s better, but any new feedback would be welcome.”

How opt-ins can promote your Instagram challenge

I would encourage you to get an email opt in made and get in the email cycle. The reason for that is, yes, we are building on Instagram and I have some ideas for you for your tribe there, but in case Instagram quits on us we want to have that newsletter that we own. We do own that. And so that is why I did mail out my first one.

Email and newsletters and opt-ins are always a very hot topic because they’re very important.

Your highlights are beautiful. I love them. I love your feed. It’s fun. There’s a lot of variety. It’s not just the same thing. 

I think you’re doing a great job building your tribe. Something that you could try is implement a prayer focused Instagram challenge. Think a five day challenge or a five day prayer Instagram challenge where it has a specific focus.

Staying within the app for an Instagram challenge

What you can do is work through email, but if you’re really wanting to grow your Instagram following, you can just do it on there and form a chat group. Every day on Insta or email list, people can let you know if they are up for the Instagram challenge.

You could open up the chat group five days in advance of the Instagram challenge, so people can get to know each other. Do that five day Instagram challenge in your chat group. Give the prayer prompt every day.

Benefits of a chat group

In the group, each person could weigh in on what their need is that day. So it could be something simple like that that would really help you. That’s how I started building my following for teaching Instagram. I started doing little challenges, like a five day engagement challenge, and opened up a pod.

People got to know each other. They loved it. We made it fun. You don’t have to do a whole lot, but people love community. So that is a great idea for you.

You’d want to start announcing it probably two to four weeks in advance, you know, start talking about it, that it’s coming, and make it a niche focus to where as for people who want to pray for their adult kids or pray for something specific. Another thing that I want to challenge you is to grow your following. See there’s two ways to grow your following. The one is through your own concentrated followers, your avatar, what you’re trying to do and serve them. Then the other is through your colleagues.

Collaboration is key

You know, even going back to this week’s Instagram challenge of collaborations reaching out to someone else in this group would be great. Both of you could do something like a little live together about prayer. Then say I want to invite you by the way to join my five day prayer challenge.

It’s happening, XYZ time. The first thing you want to do is decide the name of your prayer challenge. Decide when it’s going to be, then start seeding it. Try to do a live with someone else so that you can broaden your message. 

Then, all of her followers can get notified as well as yours.

It needs to be someone that would compliment your brand and what you’re doing. 

Go LIVE to announce your Instagram challenge

Thirdly, if you do that Instagram challenge, you will want to go live probably a week before and announce it again on your own channel even if it’s just for five to 10 minutes just name what you’re covering on those five days and what it’s about so that people will get it.

On that last day, tell them there’s a chat group offered. It could be as simple as here’s the challenge. Send me a DM and I’ll add you to the chat group or the waitlist.

Encourage your audience to share it to stories

When they join the chat group you need to ask them if they would share it in stories that they’ve joined, and tag you. You will probably most likely by then at least have a visual for it in your feed posts. They can share it!

Share to their stories and all that. Just ask them to share and tag you. If some of them are on your list, go ahead and share it to your list too. Send that graphic and say, if you’re in share this to your stories and tag me. 

Wrapping up

After Jonie’s hotseat, she went on to collaborate with another member of my mentorship and they held a prayer challenge together. This is what we’ll follow up with next week – how to collaborate on a challenge to grow your audience on Instagram.  

So my question for you is, what kind of challenge could you do to grow your platform?  Make sure it’s geared towards your own audience message and the offerings you have or hope to have in place.  Choose 5 or 7 days just so you don’t get overloaded on your first go around.

You can also use this to grow your newsletter platform at the same time.  Provide a special download, a guide or checklist so you can take the relationship off social and into their inbox.  As you heard, I encouraged Joni to get her newsletter opt-in in place and start sending consistent emails.   I have a few slots left as a matter of fact if you’re interested in growing your email list. It will also touch on honing your story branding skills, and getting those open rates up.  We will have information in the show notes so you can check it out, but the deadline for sign up is February 9th so be sure to check it out and see if it’s for you!

The main thing to keep in mind is to provide value for your followers.  If you do this without expecting anything in return, they will become your biggest fans and eventually, your clients.  Some of my clients now started first with my Instagram challenge 2-3 years ago.  Eventually others will not only want to follow you, but collaborate with you, which we will talk about next week!  Join us then and don’t forget to check out our email school while the doors are open!  FOR NOW, REMEMBER TO share your message your way in your own authentic voice.

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