Why I take Instagram seriously, and you should, too.


My friend Tiana Madera has an extraordinary podcast called “Torch.” She is one of the hardest-working podcasting professionals I know and I warmly recommend that you subscribe to her insightful show (expand your potential, spark your inner drive, find your voice!).

The other day, Tiana posted a quote from one of the guests on her show:

“Being famous on Instagram is basically the same as being rich in Monopoly.”

My first reaction was to laugh and think “yeah that is so right!” but then I thought about it some more and thought “wait … that is so wrong.”

Fame – at least to the extent that it helps you become known in your industry – is essential to almost any marketer and business professional. Allow me to explain, with a relevant example.

Putting the course before the horse

I have a spot on my site where people can sign up for an hour of my time to discuss any marketing or business problem they might have. I enjoy these sessions immensely and I have a 100 percent success record so far!

Quite often, these business problems ultimately boil down to a lack of awareness for a person or a business … even when on the surface it might seem like something else!

An example.

During the pandemic, quite a number of people committed to the extraordinary effort of creating an online course. I’ve talked to many professionals who studied best practices, spent countless hours creating content, mastering the course delivery system, and promoting their idea like crazy.

And then … nothing happens.

Most entrepreneurs expect me to tell them the content is wrong, the idea is wrong, or the audience is wrong. But the problem is normally this: the person simply isn’t known.

To me, being “known” is different than famous. Being known means having the reputation, authority, and presence to help you earn the right to sell something to people.

Spending money on a course is a very personal decision. For many, money is tight, time is precious, and they are taking a risk to believe in you. If a potential customer has never heard of you, they’re just not going to buy something that intimate and important.

If you’re preparing to start something new, it’s almost always a good idea to be known first. There’s no downside to building your personal brand other than the time it takes.

Instagram and an imperative to be known

I used an online class as an example here but really, it could be anything — and especially personal services like real estate, insurance, and consulting. People generally are not going to buy something because of a logo, SEO, or the colors on your website. They want to know YOU.

This brings me to my second thought on Tiana’s post. The quote from her guest suggests that being famous on Instagram implies that you are fake … and worthless as play money.

I don’t like people who sell or spam on Instagram (Ann Handley recently wrote: “Instagram is not LinkedIn!”) but I love getting to know people through the authentic lens of their personal photos.

In fact, this is how I became friends with Tiana. We had been connected through social media for many years but I really came to trust and admire her through her honest posts and beautiful photography on Instagram. We’ve become friends, collaborated several times over the years, and now here I am promoting her awesome podcast on my blog.

I don’t talk to her very often, and in these COVID times we can’t meet face-to-face, but I can still connect to her in a human way every day through photos.

What I’m offering today isn’t rocket science but I think it’s a subtle point. Even if you’re only posting pictures of your favorite meals, your dog, and an occasional sunset, Instagram isn’t fluff.

It’s YOU.

And for your reputation and ultimate business success, that might be everything.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of several best-selling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com.


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