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Over the last 10 years, we have seen the rise of a new era of business, where you don’t need a degree, a trade, a wealthy family around you, or even much of a skill set to make money.

Your age, race, location, and religion play no effect on your ability to create cash flow from the online world. With the right tools and an internet connection, we are seeing millions of people young and old use social media to build businesses and create streams of income for themselves – everything from part-time to millions of dollars a year for some individuals.

The future is here now and only evolving faster. Long gone are the days of people thinking platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are a fad.

If you are a business owner or someone who is just starting out and you aren’t on social media, you will get left behind.

Take a look at some of these facts:

Companies such as Apple, Starbucks, Taco Bell, and many other Fortune 500 businesses have turned to social media as a way for exposure. They realize it is the future and understand it’s the best way to reach young people today.

Facebook ads, for example, did over 40 billion in 2017 in total sales and in 2018 almost 50% of the world recorded at least one log-in on some social media platform according to Entrepreneur.com!

Forbes just named Kylie Jenner as the youngest self-made billionaire at the ripe age of 21 years old.

Guess what? She did it through leveraging her name and makeup line with social media.

I truly believe that this new wave is only going to get bigger, and the people who build the largest brands over the next 5 years will not only make the most money but will create the most impact in the world.

So, with that said, I want to provide some value by telling you how to leverage social media to enhance your online digital footprint and not get left behind as this information age continues to evolve.

To do so, I have chosen to focus on the fastest growing platform in the space for the last 5 years, Instagram!

I have interviewed some major Instagram influencers on what the keys to success are for anyone in any business to build a legitimate following that can be monetized.

These influencers have millions of followers combined and over 10 years of Instagram experience. Here were the top 3 tips that they all agreed on

1. Build a Cult-Like Following of People Who Love Everything You Do

Having a lot of followers on the front end looks really good and is the starting point for establishing yourself as the figure of authority – however, without a backend following of truly engaged people, you won’t see true engagement or ever really sell anything.

The goal is to not only establish credibility but also to build a culture with your followers, so they listen and take action on every move you make.

There are many ways of doing this, but by far the most effective is utilizing your story feature on Instagram.

The strategy with Instagram stories is twofold – first, to provide as much value as humanly possible. Everyone on Instagram is trying to sell you something, but few are giving any real value.

Realize that no one cares what you know until they know that you care!

Find creative ways to do this. A few examples of how you can give value are by simply uploading motivational/inspiring content, sharing tips and tricks that you have learned inside your specific niche or industry, or actually giving something of value away for free to your followers. Ebooks, courses, cheat sheets, video recommendations, etc. are all great and easy value adds that people would love to receive.

The second strategy in building a cult-like following through your stories feature is by showing your day-to-day life to your followers. This strategy is what allows your followers to really connect with you on a deeper level.

An example of this would be you waking up in the morning and taking a video of you talking about how excited you are for the workday and giving a tip about your morning routine. As dumb as it may sound, it works.

Another example would be you walking across stage accepting an award for something. Your story is a peek into your actual life, and we recommend showcasing everything in your life from bad to good and all in between. It shows you are human and allows you to not only establish some credibility with your followers but at the same time connect with them.

We live in a filtered world, and the brands that are raw and real in 2019 will take the upper hand.

These two strategies work even for someone with a traditional business. It allows you to create that synergy with you, your company, and your customers.

2. Create a Clear Message Through Quality Posts

 Content is king on Instagram and really any social media platform for that matter. One of the biggest mistakes that so many people make is that their content doesn’t portray a clear message in an effective way. If someone clicks on your profile, they should know within seconds what type of brand you have, what niche you are in, and what they will get by following your account. Here are a few recommended steps to achieve this.

  1. Decide what type of brand you are building. Is it a fitness-based page? A sports-oriented page? A motivational quote page? The best way to do this is by starting with whatever excites you and you are passionate about. You can’t hit a target you can’t see.
  2. Design your content around that overall theme. If your page is all about health and fitness and a majority of your content is of your favorite Netflix show, you won’t make it far. Post content related to the story you are trying to tell people.
  3. Follow a posting structure. We recommend having one or two columns on your feed be the same style photo. This allows for clarity for your potential followers and structure for yourself on knowing what to post. An example would be having two columns that show your personal life and what you are all about, while the third column is motivational quotes with a white background.
  4. Quality content will make or break your account. You don’t necessarily need to live the filtered life, but you do need to make sure your content is sharp and high-quality imagery or video. Blurry images, for example, will only push people away. Social media is a visual stimulator, so make sure your content sticks out to capture the short attention span of new followers.

3. Engagement, Engagement, Engagement

If you haven’t already realized from the title, engaging with your audience is such a major key when it comes to building a brand online. You will never be able to acquire new clients or sell anything without first spending time proving to your followers that you care. People don’t care what you have until they know that you care. You can prove this by showing some Instagram love. Do things such as respond to every comment, like the photos on your feed, and even of new followers that come over. Respond and send direct messages to network and connect with people. The most powerful action you can take is actually following someone. We all want that follower number to go up, so by following an account you like and dropping a few comments on their posts, you’ll see massive returns in the form of engagement back on your own profile.

With engagement, it’s a consistent thing that never stops. You can’t spend time doing this one day then never again. It’s an everyday thing, no matter how big you are. The best in the game with millions of followers even do this. Take Gary Vaynerchuk for an example. The guy has over 5 million followers on Instagram alone and literally responds to hundreds of comments and direct messages every day. He does this because he realizes the value it brings to potential customers down the road.

Imagine walking down the street and some random person comes up to you in the middle of the day and says they have an awesome business opportunity, and then proceeds to ask you for a hundred dollars. The vast majority of people would think that person is crazy and wouldn’t dare hand over the money. So why do so many of us do that online? You can’t ask for a sale on Instagram if your audience doesn’t trust you and like you first. Focus on providing immense value by engaging with your audience. Remember the rule of life: you always get what you give.

 

These 3 strategies work, plain and simple. They are all agreed upon and put to use every day from some of the best in the game. The ones who apply them and stay consistent over this next year will look back and be ahead of everyone else come 2020.Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.

Alex Lombard is a digital entrepreneur and social media expert.
Alex is also the CEO of Visionwall INC where he helps influencers create credibility and enhance their digital footprint online. He personally works with over one hundred 7 and 8 figure earners across a few major industries.
Alex owns @visionwall and @the.success.club on Instagram totaling just shy of a million followers. Alex loves to travel, meet new people and build businesses online.