Social media management essentials for Instagram

My Instagram account passed 1,000 followers in the wee hours of this morning.

I don’t say this to brag, but to highlight that my target has been achieved. This was set out in my Instagram experiment, which I started 14 days ago.

The aim of the experiment is to find out if Instagram is worthy of social media investment. In short, I think it is.

How has this been done?

  • No followers or likes have been bought, I have noticed that some others do employ this tactic but I think it’s something that can hurt in the long term.
  • Very high quality content has been produced that is aligned to my natural skills.
  • Real comments made on influential accounts.
  • Following accounts that resonate with the content I have produced.
  • Strategic linking with other social media accounts, which syncs with my overall content marketing strategy.
  • Have real conversations with people who have influential accounts.
  • Like and follow other accounts that resonate with the content marketing strategy.
  • Defollow those accounts who turn out not to be fruitful.

These essentials can be applied to most social media efforts. Basically it’s produce great content, be yourself, talk to people and help others.

Simple really.

The benefits have been:

  • Increased traffic to my site
  • Increased email subscribers (due also to offering a quick and easy report to download)
  • Connections built with influential people with established followings
  • Ideas generated simply by observing more closely what works and what doesn’t on a new social media platform
  • Content created specifically for Instagram can be used elsewhere and possibly to build links (going to experiment with building links with my graphical quotes this week)

People who have never conducted any Instagram experiment tell me it only works for specific things, like selfies, makeup, food… etc. But I have found this not to be true and discovered countless cases of people making it work for them in niches such as laundry, dentistry, currency exchange and so on. I will cover these case studies in a future post.

It comes back to what I always tell the people I coach; it’s about communication and persuasion. Social media platforms are simply mechanical devices to allow this to happen. You can use any system which helps you reach the crowd to market your brand, products and services, it’s simply down to decoding the means to be successful and doing it.

There is the issue of ROI of course, but the effort I have got to where I am in a couple of weeks is minimal, partly because I have done this a number of times before with other social media platforms and similar techniques and attitudes work across different platforms.

The bad news is that is may not be as easy for you. This is after all my job and I spend a lot of time thinking about the issues and have had years of experience. I am prepared to take on a few clients to help them boost their Instagram efforts though, which allows you to go about building your business and allow my experience and skill to help you with your social.

Get in contact if you wish to get help with your current social media management.

Is Instagram worth adding to my content marketing mix?

Upate, I started actively promoting my Instagram account 4 weeks ago and it now has over 1,500 real followers. Read more about it in my Essentials for Instagram marketing, post.

According to Forrester, when it comes to brands, Instagram gets an engagement rate which is 58 times better than Facebook. From a marketing perspective, we should really be looking at building an Instagram presence. Check out our current offer pricing for social media management.


I wanted to know if Instagram is worth paying attention to, as I keep being told about people and businesses that are using it to great success. So I started building my Instagram account to see what the results were,

My philosophy when it comes to new platforms is to go where the hungry people are and ignore the hype that the gurus are shoveling.

What I have found out on Instagram is very tasty, there are a lot of hungry people.

With this in mind I started to test the platform and look for ways to make using the platform more efficient, or in other words game the system.

Currently I have 649 followers, I follow 496 and my posts get around a 100 likes on average.

There are some tricks of the trade I have quickly found out.

#hashtags work, but the trick is not to put them in the post, but in a comment. This way you don’t look too spammy and after a few comments your #hashtag mambo gets buried.

Your #hastags should reflect the business you are in. I see chancers cramming and spamming with little effect.


Your content must be fantastic. No duh, you still can’t put lipstick on a pig. There is major competition for eyeballs.

You can use Instagram for any niche. YES YOU CAN! I note a laundry business and a dentist who are killing it. If you don’t think they can it simply means you lack the imagination and creativity to make this platform work for you. Instagram is simply a delivery system to trigger thoughts in the brain which lead to emotional associations and actions.

It takes a lot of work. I have been using and abusing social media platforms as soon as they were invented. My first post on Instagram was 245 weeks ago and you can see that I started out as a family/look how cool I am, type of feed that most users post, “ooooh a pic of a cup of coffee, how original”. But back then I didn’t see it as something to really get excited about, but now I do.


I started this experiment with 177 followers and so have built around 400 in 10 days quite easily. What is the value of an Instagram follower? I think it’s quite low, I wouldn’t think it gets exciting until way past the 10k follower mark. But in 3 – 6 months I hope to tap that.

How can I make money out of Instagram. It’s all very well having a funky social platform to share pics of coffee and quotes, but at some point you must make money. I have already made money from it. I created a pdf, a quick and easy to read download for my productised service,, called, “5 Killer tips for idea creation”. I then hooked it up to my email list and put the link to the report in my Instagram profile. Now at this point the SEO will be brushing the Dorito dust off his new Ben Sherman shirt and asking if it’s a dofollow link.
No, of course not, it is not a link for a bot to slurp at, it is a link for a human being to follow to then sign up to the email list, ready the report and increase the emotional connection to the brand of
This is content marketing.
From my current Instagram activity I get about 2-3 sign ups a day, which I am happy with.


What type of content works on Instagram? I have gone for a “positive quotes” vibe. I am good with words, so I stick to what I am good at. If I were a 24 year old, hot surfer with abs of steel (hard to imagine but work with me) and golden locks of hair cascade onto my tanned shoulders (steady on). I would probably focus on something else. Great photography also excels on Instagram and living in Cornwall makes it a great option. It’s best to establish and stick with a style and theme.

But here’s the thing.

If you are a business person who does not have an digital marketing agency, or a few savvy people waiting around to be utilised, don’t invest time in this but hire someone who can. There are quite a few people out there who offer reasonable packages and I am taking on a few clients of my own, although I have limited space.


What is the future of Instagram? My experience is positive, I am finding that my own sayings actually perform better than the quotes of famous people. This may be due to the fact that people crave authenticity. I wouldn’t go the quote route for everyone, there is a lot that people can do with infographics and if you already produce infographics it’s a no brainer to chop them up and post them.

Contact me if you want to learn how I can further help you with an Instagram strategy.

Don’t do Outreach like one of those PR types, do it like an SEO


When building web links you should be using FBI powered, psychographic profiling during outreach.

It’s no longer enough to simply show people content and expect them to do what you want them to do, which is sharing and linking. You need to put a particularly crafted piece of content in front of someone you KNOW will desire it.

You KNOW they will desire it because you have conducted psychographic and cultural analysis of your target.

This is actually very simple.

  1. You find out someone eats pies.
  2. You give them pies.
  3. They eat pie.

If this is too simple for you I can find a Digital Agency who will charge huge amounts of money to explain the same thing in a more complex way.

This series of posts is part of my current Instagram experiment

Using SEM Rush to determine link quality

This is a guest post by Ryan Stewart, who first came to attention from me with his great blog post on, Why I Stopped Selling SEO Services and You Should, Too

Link building is about one thing: driving traffic.

That’s it. Mostly.

So what about link building using social media?

I see a lot of sites actively marketing themselves through social media, and I get it. From a purely business point of view, any link that drives traffic to your site is a good link. Traffic is traffic, and social media can bring it in.

However, from a traditional SEO view, those kinds of links lack the domain authority and trust flow (often less than five) and wouldn’t be considered a good link.

Search engines crawl between websites through links, so it’s easy for them to measure how much traffic is passing through a link. And that’s the measurement you want to tap into.

Measure The True Metrics

SEM Rush, a paid subscription service, is my favorite link building tool.

There are a lot of third party tools that promise to help you measure traffic with their own custom metrics–domain authority, or trust flow, for example–but what you need to be measuring are the metrics from Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Third party metrics are fine–don’t get me wrong–but they aren’t true metrics from search engines and they aren’t as useful for link building.

SEM Rush is the place I go to measure what the search engines are measuring, and it’s what I use to help me determine which websites are a good target for my link building efforts.

SEM Rush has the ability to gather a lot of data, but for determining link quality, it is particularly easy to use:

  • Take the URL from the website you are targeting for link building, and paste it into the top search bar.
  • Click on “Organic Research” on the left-hand side and a drop down menu will appear.
  • Click on “Positions” from the dropdown.

SEM Rush

On your screen, you’ll see lots of data with an at-a-glance graphic, as well as a traffic and keyword chart. (Click on “Try new design of Organic Search Positions” if your screen is different than the screenshot below.)

semrush 2

You will do these few steps for each website you are researching, concentrating on the information provided on this one screen. From here, you can use a simple three-step process to streamline your link building program.

1. Look At A Site’s Link Quality

The first step is the main step: figuring out which sites have high quality links.

There are a few things we need to look at to determine that link quality, and SEM Rush makes this information pretty easy to find. The questions you’ll need answers for are:

  1. How many keywords is that website ranking for?
    1. How much traffic does that website have?
      What is the cost of that traffic? (This is calculated by how much it would cost to pay for that traffic via Google adwords.)

SEM Rush creates a graphic that tells you these three things at a glance.

SEMrush 3

If you figure that keywords are approximately a few cents each, you can do some rough math and figure out how much the traffic costs per keyword.

The main thing, though, is you want to see more keywords, more traffic, and higher cost. For the three metrics in this graphic, the higher the better. Any potential links that you might end up placing on such a site, whether through guest blogging or other methods, can drive lots of traffic back to your site as well as increase ranking.

We’re going to come back to link quality in the third step, when we get to prioritizing our link building targets.

2. Look For Clean Domain History

Next, you want to find out whether the website you’re targeting is clean.

Look at the graph located to the right of the link quality graphic we just talked about. This graph shows traffic or keyword rankings over time.

A huge spike and then a sharp plummet is not a good sign. A spike and a huge crash means the domain could be potentially toxic. It has stopped growing and its traffic is drying up. Mostly likely, it was penalized for shady activity in the past.

SEMrush 4

What you want to see is a graph that shows the domain moving up and to the right, like the screenshot below.

SEMrush 5

A graph like this shows a site that is actively gaining traffic and actively marketing itself. Sites with these types of graphs are ones you want to place on the top of the list for link outreach.

3. Prioritize Your Efforts

Now that you know the quality a potential link has, and how healthy a domain is, you’re ready to prioritize.

But first: even if a website has low traffic or evidence of traffic drops, you may still want to work with them.

The point in searching out quality is so that you can prioritize your outreach efforts and make better use of your resources, not to avoid connecting and networking with other sites. High quality websites always go first because they have the most impact on your site’s SEO rankings, but don’t write off the other sites.

So, what is a high quality site? It’s a site with lots of keywords, lots of traffic, and a high cost for traffic with a clean and steadily growing history for its domain.

To target the high quality links first, follow a few simple steps.

1. Set standards based on link quality.

Set a standard between 1 and 5, with 1 being the lowest, signifying a link that isn’t as powerful, and 5 being the highest with a powerful link and your ideal target. Use the chart below as a guide to help you categorize the link quality from your SEM Rush research.


These rankings will be your tags for each link.

For sites that have a mix of rankings, such as level 3 keywords but level 2 traffic and cost, you would assign a level 2 ranking. Essentially, you’re trying to average out the data to determine the best quality ranking for each site. It’s especially important to honor the traffic history (i.e. if all the data is a 3 ranking, but there is a traffic drop, the true ranking for that site will be a 2).

2. Track rankings and interactions.

Create a spreadsheet in which you track the name of the site, the status of your contact and interaction with the site, the numerical tag ranking, the type of link you’re requesting (e.g. guest post), and the site URL.

Our concern here is tag each target domain for the quality of the link.

The tags can be used for different reasons other than just easily identifying top targets. For example, they can be used to assign writers for your guest blogging program. To get a guest post on a site with a 5 ranking will need a higher quality writer (which will cost more), while a 1 will not.

Once you have the sites prioritized and tagged using the SEM Rush data, you’re able to pursue successful link building without wasting time and basing your actions on guesses.

Wrapping it up

There’s a lot of information on the web about how to build links the “right” way. While a lot of SEO metrics like Domain Authority, Trust Flow and Citation Flow are helpful, they aren’t Google’s metrics. Simplify your efforts by focusing on one thing: building links that drive traffic!