This afternoon, I got a chance to do a little bit of experimenting with social selling using Instagram. Since their new release of stories, I’ve sought to spend more time there, all but eliminating my use of Snapchat. By the sheer number of users on Instagram, it seems like a better choice on where I should spend my time.

So, like with many IG Story users, I got pretty addicted, doing more than just a few “instasnaps”. I recorded a series of videos, adding in the marker and text overlays sharing a tip per video to make up a longer story that would leave a user with a better understanding of a particular marketing strategy. I made sure to try to keep the text overlay higher up on the video, so that when I chose to download each individual story, and upload it on my regular Instagram feed, the text would show, prompting someone who was browsing my feed to click and watch, based on the topic.

Additionally, you may have noticed that with both videos shared in an Instagram feed and stories, you have the option to see who has watched the video and get information on how many times each video has been viewed. With the Story feature, you are unable to use hashtags and there is no opportunity to comment, only for someone to send you a direct message. If posting to the feed, you can use hashtag research to identify the best hashtags and related ones to include (add up to 30 hashtags per post) to increase views and engagement on your post with comments.

With this awareness, I did two things. I watched other peoples Instagram stories and responded with a DM where appropriate just to keep in touch. There may or may not be a direct need to pitch anything at this time, but by maintaining communication in a private way, I’m working on building a relationship. Of course I could go to all my friends individual feeds to do it, but whoever shared a story gets top priority and may get a message if the video warrants a DM (no flirty stuff here, just easy breezy “OMG, that’s so funny!” or other light communication). By doing so, I’ve started talking to people who I’ve been connected to for some time. Inevitably, some will go visit my profile, see what’s in bio that they can click or otherwise engage with me via DM or on my feed.

The other thing I did, as I alluded to earlier, was upload my downloaded individual stories to my feed. I tried to optimize each post using either a caption with no hashtags and putting the hashtags in the first comment (one strategy some say works) or putting all hashtags (I want to reemphasize hashtag research on each and every individual post, also including related hashtags that IG gives you clues on if you click a particular tag) in the caption with a call to action. Then, after waiting about a day, I responded on my post to the comments. There’s no rule about waiting before responding, I just didn’t get back to the video post. I gave a call to action to DM me for more information.

Next, because about a day had passed, I clicked on the views to see who had actually viewed my video. If it was another agency, I messaged them to thank them for watching and to let them know that I was open for collaboration. If it was a brand, I messaged them personalized messages including direct mention of a post on their feed or website so they know that I was a legit person and not a bot, thanking them for watching and letting them know that if they needing marketing and PR support, to be in touch.

I’d read before about using native messaging for social selling in Whats App and Kik but hadn’t really thought about using Instagram for the same thing. I don’t necessarily want to cold DM them so by using this strategy, there is some inbound marketing going on allowing them to come to me, see what I’m saying and then I follow up with a casual message and no hard pitch. I’ll report back on the findings and see how successful these types of campaigns are and whether I get any traction.

I anticipate at some point folks will start going insane and find some way to make it ultra spammy but I hope that like on LinkedIn where we sometimes get an instant message pitch immediately after confirming a connection, that there are still some people who will genuinely want to build a relationship and be in touch casually. My goal isn’t to pitch a product or service using IG, but to make some warm contacts that I can build on at a later time, especially since I will continue to post more stories and videos to my feed to nurture new and returning interest.

As Instagram rolls out new features, I will add to my strategy and try different tactics for lead generation and nurturing. Ah, one more thing. My link in bio is a lead capture for the 7 day DIY PR course but as I do new videos, I’ll have an email list for each of the topics with ecourses so that I can build my list based on the specific items I teach, all rolling eventually into the Power Positioning program.

Update 9/1/16: I did get one response. Unfortunately, Instagram is full of bots and other people wanting to sell you their stuff. So this strategy works definitely to make sure you’re doing outreach, but you may also want to reach out only to very specific people who watch your videos and engage on your posts. Having a very specific target in mind will help you prospect the right people for sending messages too and looking for further engagement. For example, folks who have watched your videos who are professional service consultants in Las Vegas who have posted pictures within the past week.  This way, you’re not spending a lot of time writing to stay at home moms who don’t run a business.

What about you? How are you using Instagram strategically to drum up attention for your business? Leave a comment below.

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