How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Identify who (what audience) you want to talk to and use hashtags to get involved in conversations”, With Zoé Bélisle-Springer & Candice Georgiadis

Identify who (what audience) you want to talk to and use hashtags to get involved in conversations. Hashtags not only make your content reach more people, but they’re also great for finding the discussions you want to take part in. Take for example Victor Valverde, of Kut Haus Salon in California, whom we interviewed for Phorest’s Instagram eBook. On his salon’s account, 60% of the communication is geared towards their general public consumer or ideal client, 20% towards the industry, and 20% to industry partners, such as brands like Oribe or L’Oréal. It’s all about finding that balance and understanding what drives your business. I won’t get into the whole “working with influencers” conversation because we could be here for days, but hashtags facilitate finding these people or brands you want to talk to.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Zoé Bélisle-Springer, Digital Content Editor at Phorest Salon Software. Zoé is an experienced content producer whose expertise lies in building relationships and developing content channels such as award-winning podcasts and blogs that have a proven track record in driving growth at the top of the marketing funnel and positioning SaaS companies as thought leaders in their vertical.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Sure! Three years ago, hailing from a sound recording career and in need for a change of perspective on life in general, I took a one-way flight to Dublin, Ireland. I didn’t have much to my name at the time: I had a 2-year working holiday visa, a bit of money, and two backpacks. I fell back on my feet within three months, during which I simultaneously continued the freelance work I had been doing on the side for a few years and looked for a full-time job. I couldn’t afford to be picky, but I fell upon what felt like the dream job on paper — turns out it was also a dream job in real life! — writing blog content and managing social media at Phorest Salon Software. I had the writing experience through freelancing, and although I didn’t have a marketing degree of any sort, I had been working with advertising agencies in Montreal for five years through working at a post-production sound recording studio. Fast-forward three years later, and here we are! Still growing with Phorest, with the only exception that I’m now back in Montreal, working remotely and travelling to the US on a regular basis to help the team build the brand out there!

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

Until recently, I had been managing Phorest Salon Software’s social media platforms and running its worldwide campaigns for nearly three years. Alongside this, I have been producing and distributing a variety of educational content across six regions, including the United States. For instance, our blog includes social media advice and tips, including things like how businesses can use Instagram to increase engagement, while our podcast provides insightful interviews with industry experts, coaches and consultants — sometimes very social media focused.

Over the past three years, I’ve also written e-books (guides to Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat) covering the ins-and-outs of using each of these platforms to promote and brand businesses in the hair and beauty industry. My most recent work includes moderating a panel of artists at Modern Salon’s Salon Digital Summit, which took place in Los Angeles in early November 2018, and which discussed the impact of being authentic and showing personality on social media, but especially on Instagram.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Well, if I’m 100% transparent, I did initially turn down the final round interview in Phorest so technically; this career might not have even happened! I suppose that makes for an interesting story, considering where I’m at now, haha.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

During my first week in Phorest, I was tasked with taking the two blogs I had written as part of my “challenge” during the recruitment process, fine-tune them and publish them. Now bear in mind, I can sometimes go into long and over complicated technical explanations. So, rookie mistake, that’s exactly what I did… except I wasn’t talking to the right audience for that. Not even in the slightest. It didn’t pass “quality control,” and I had to rewrite the entire blogs from scratch. I can’t be thankful enough for that mistake to happen though: it’s what taught me the importance of being able to read and understand an audience, but also adapt to tone and voice.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

I don’t think there’s just one answer to this. For some, it can be Instagram. For others, it can be Facebook. I think to answer that question you must understand who’s your ideal client, what they’re like, on what platforms they are and where you can find more people like them. If you look at the salons and spas in Ireland compared to those in the United States, for instance, there’s a world of difference. You’ll see most of our salons’ clients in Ireland active on Facebook, whereas in the United States, there’s definitely been a shift toward Instagram. And let’s be real, as long as they have online bookings to support the growth of their business, people can book appointments on any social media platform!

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Make sure your profile is public and switch to an Instagram Business Profile
    The easier you make it for people to get in touch, the better. With an Instagram Business Profile, you get to add call-to-action buttons such as “Email,” “Call,” and “Directions”. For businesses who take appointments, you can even go one step further and add a “Book Now” button to really make yourself accessible. We’ve seen this work incredibly well for salons and spas’ online bookings systems.
  2. Use Instagram Stories to drive business and engagement
    Stories have become Instagram’s most reliable feature to drive business and engagement for both personal and business accounts. It’s the perfect feature to show your business’ personality and bring a bit of “human” into the mix. Show behind-the-scenes, introduce your staff or highlight what’s going on during your events! Being personable and authentic builds your audience’s trust. Other benefits include: building engagement faster and easier with interactive stickers (polls, questions, gif), drive traffic to a specific website or link (‘link in bio’ or Swipe Up Feature for Instagram Business accounts that have over 10K followers), sharing content that doesn’t disrupt your feed’s theme or aesthetic, sharing exclusive content and staying in front of your followers’ minds. Also, don’t forget to tag locations and people in your posts!
  3. Start using Instagram Live
    If you’re comfortable with speaking in front of a live audience, then going Live could separate you from most Instagram accounts, as the feature still isn’t getting as much use. However, do plan a strategy. How long will your Live be and what topics will it tackle? Who will be involved? How will you promote your Live in advance and on other platforms? Often, it’s also a way to gain new followers. Finally, make sure you answer people’s questions when you do go Live. This feature is a comments generator, and you’ll want to make sure you’re also engaging with your audience in that regards. Going live can help you with connecting with your followers, getting discovered by new people and learning more about what your followers like. Think about using it for announcing giveaways, contests, winners, introducing a new product or service, show behind the scenes content from the events you attend, host Q&As and even do a product demo or a how-to!
  4. Get on IGTV before it gets too crowded!
    Not every business has started using IGTV, so it’s the perfect time for you to shine. I was speaking to a hairstylist during an event a month ago, and she was saying how with IGTV, she was able to get featured on the Explore page. Instagram is pushing people to use it more, and she had a “first-mover” advantage. Don’t sleep on this feature!
  5. Identify who (what audience) you want to talk to and use hashtags to get involved in conversations
    Hashtags not only make your content reach more people, but they’re also great for finding the discussions you want to take part in. Take for example Victor Valverde, of Kut Haus Salon in California, whom we interviewed for Phorest’s Instagram eBook. On his salon’s account, 60% of the communication is geared towards their general public consumer or ideal client, 20% towards the industry, and 20% to industry partners, such as brands like Oribe or L’Oréal. It’s all about finding that balance and understanding what drives your business. I won’t get into the whole “working with influencers” conversation because we could be here for days, but hashtags facilitate finding these people or brands you want to talk to.
  6. Use Instagram Ads
    The final tip on the list: pay to run ads on your account. Your promotion will appear in people’s feed amongst regular posts and will have a “sponsored” mention. These posts will not appear as a post on your salon’s profile feed so they don’t disrupt your feed’s aesthetic and they can be as timely as you want or need them to be. The ad can also display a call-to-action, so if you’re looking to drive people to a booking page or a website, you need to get onto this. Slick and efficient, this technique will generate brand awareness, drive traffic to your site or links and get you new followers from reaching targeted audiences.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Every year, on a set day and for 24 hours, Bell (a Canadian telecommunications company) donates 5 cents to mental health initiatives for each text message, mobile and long-distance call made by Bell Canada, Bell Aliant and Bell MTS customers. The company also gives 5 cents for each tweet using #BellLetsTalk; each view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat; and each use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. Since the initiative began in 2010, more than $86.5 million has been donated to mental health initiatives across Canada.

I would love to see the social media giants (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat) do the same thing for the funding of a worldwide ocean cleanup. We need to do more around this. It’s unarguable; we need healthy oceans. Maybe if we all started using the #IChooseTheOcean and had it trending on all platforms for an extended period of time, our voices might be heard?

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Seth Godin — without the slightest hesitation. I can’t think of many authors who have had the kind of lasting impact he’s had, and I profoundly relate to a lot of his ideas and mental models. I always look forward to seeing his short blogs in my inbox. They’ve helped me push through a whole lot of projects and challenges in the past few years, and I’d love to get the chance to thank him personally for always coming through with the right words. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a chance to do so at some stage; his AltMBA online workshop is actually on my list of things I want to accomplish before I turn 30!

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Identify who (what audience) you want… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.