Li has turned her love for social media into a real growth rocket business by helping early-stage startups grow their Instagram engagement and brand while defining their target audiences. She also creates unmatched content for her clients. Li shares her story of how she has grown her agency and provides tips on how anyone can dominate their far left story on Instagram.
Andrew: Hey guys, it’s Andrew with jumper and I’m joined by Li from GoalViral. How are you?
Li: Good, how are you doing, Andrew?
A: Good, she is the expert. I mean that’s my go to person when I need anything Instagram. (laughs) She is a marketing firm that specializes in brands for growing your Instagram accounts and has a team of people and growing that is just amazing and done really great work for lots of different companies. And so, she has come on board today to… we’re gonna to talk about one of the things to day about how to dominate the far left spot on your Instagram page, right, so we… so, Li’s gonna go through all this. It’s kind of a technical thing, but it’s very valuable and we’ll ask questions throughout, there, but yeah, Li why don’t you start off, and give a little background about you guys, what you’re doing, what you do, how you go viral and then we can jump into the conversation.
GOALVIRAL AND GROWTH HACKING WITH INSTAGRAM STORIES
L: Alright, awesome, thanks for the invite. And yeah, so my name’s Li and I’m the founder of goalviral and a little background about us is that in the past decade, I’ve been spending time here in the Silicon Valley being a growth hacker for different companies, and recently I started my own agency helping local start-ups in San Francisco to grow their Instagram brand and their Instagram dominance. So basically, where a team of really talented growth hackers that can help you gain traffic and a lot of targeted traffic and create content for you on Instagram that organically rank you up. So we’ve done a lot of decoding of how Instagram works, and how to actually get ahead of competition because Instagram has become a very crowded space, especially in the past year, all of the advertisers try to run more ads on Instagram and the people that you follow these days are no longer popping up because the space is just really limited. So today, we want to cover the topic of… right now, story has pretty much taken over as compared to in a past, posts were really where you check out on Instagram. But now, a lot of the time, that viewers and users spend on Instagram are actually coming from Insta stories.
L: So, as a marketer, yourself or as a startup or a company that if you help Instagram for… I want you guys to understand how it works with the algorithm for story ranking and how do you get to… for example, you have 10K followers on Instagram, but all of these followers are probably not gonna see your story all the time, because Instagram rank you, your story, by the relevance over between you and your followers. So, how you go to the most far left spot is what you want to, I guess, get more exposure to your followers. And so, the first thing first is to make your viewers watch till the end and this algorithm pretty much applies to any video platforms including YouTube, and Facebook stories. So, if you have pushed a content out on story and your existing followers saw it, so be sure that your content is interesting enough and it probably throws some kind of unexpected events or drives some kind of emotion to make it memorable. So, the viewers of your story will watch it till the end, then when somebody watches it to the end, Instagram stories is gonna remember that and the next time they’re gonna push your content over to that viewer who watch to the end and they’re gonna see it again next time. So, do that consistently. And the way to do it is to also have a theme every day. So, there’s a really famous Italian blogger that I follow she’s probably one of the most popular influencers, on Instagram. Her name’s Kiara, and the way she does it, is that she has a theme every day, so her theme is pretty much, you know, since she’s a fashion blogger she shows off her outfit every day, and that’s one theme every day. So, when you swipe and look at her story, you know what to expect, and that’s kind of like a ritual that she sort of built for her viewers. Oh, today, she’s showing this outfit, and tomorrow she’s trying that outfit. And that’s sort of what people are looking for to view on story. Therefore, she will always pop up on her viewers’ far left corner.
L: And then another thing about Instagram-story ranking is that we all know that engagement rules on Instagram and engagement means how many likes and comments that you get in the past. But right now, Instagram is taking a very heavy weight on the direct messages that you get. So, if in your story, you’re able to throw a question out, ’cause Instagram just had a new feature, added recently. It’s called ask any questions. So if you have that out on her story and you get a ton of questions coming in, so whoever that asked you a question and take that initiative as your follower or viewer they immediately get a positive score, in terms relevancy to you, so once they ask you a question or once they DM you, that can help you gain a lot of more relevancy to that account. So, in the future, if you push another story out, whoever the asked you a question will see your story ranked up on the left. Yeah, so I guess that’s the secret of how to rank up to story, to get as many direct messages from your followers as possible and try to have them initiate the conversation. If not, you could pretty much go out there and direct message them and start a conversation, just basically build a relationship and as long as they get back to you. And that’s also a positive score in terms of the algorithm rankings. Yeah, that’s about it. I hope you guys learn something about how to dominate the far-left spot of Instagram stories.
A: So, theme wise, what makes a good theme in terms of your brand and stuff, like how do you come up with a theme, how do you conceive of what a theme would be.
L: So, I want to give a good example that I saw was from Evelyn… they have a pretty great following and engagement on a gram. So, it’s a clothing brand here in San Francisco and they have a theme called transparency. Tuesday, every Tuesday. There’s this host that was stand in front of story and answer all the questions the followers have. So, they’ll be like, “Oh your new tshirt, will size small fit me if I’m this weight and whatever. Or how does it feel when I wear your new slippers? So, they’re gonna answer all the questions. So, every Tuesday, it’s a theme for them to answer questions. And another theme I noticed that they do is they come up with the best comments on the post of the day. So, every day they just crop a comment from whoever that left them a comment, so this encourages their followers to comment more. So, if your comment was captured as the best comment of the day, then they post it on story, they’ll be like, “Oh this is an epic comment… so whoever that commented on that gets rewarded by the feeling of getting featured. So that’s another theme they throw out. So those are good examples.
HACKING THE DIRECT MESSAGE
A: Right, So, in terms of the, in direct messaging and stuff like that, is that just going out? And so in terms of direct messaging trying to get that engagement with the brand, what kinds of questions have you seen that work really well, or is it just based out of Brand? How do you get that engagement so that there is interactivity in Instagram?
L: That’s a good question. Yeah, so I have tested out a few different ways to ask questions on to drive direct messages over to your inbox. One way that works really well for one of the accounts that we manage is to ask for help. So, people love to provide opinions, people love to provide advice to whoever that need help with. Given it, what’s the next product that I need to produce? Should I make a blue or red? And then you can be like “Help! I need some opinion about how you do this?” So, people love to provide opinions and provide help. So, that’s one really powerful way to drive more engagement. But the bottom of this, you also wanna be very genuine and you genuinely wanna know the answer of it versus you’re just throwing out a question that you don’t really care about it. So, it’s a lot about driving engagement and really build a connection with your followers.
ENGAGEMENT VIA DIRECT MESSAGING
A: Right, and you were saying that you can also reach out to people as well, to try and get engagement, is that correct? You were saying you could go out to a different group, different pages and then basically connect with those people to try and get engagement into your brand as well?
L: Yeah, so you could get engagement from DM and DM probably rules for engagement scoring right now, I’ve had a lot of experience with another brand who is a smaller brand than our brand, but we’re in the same similar vertical. So I have one person who reached out on direct message to me, and I was like, “Oh I don’t really have time to talk to you, but she keeps messaging me every day and she talks about her life and she asked questions, ask smart questions, then I ended up kind of having a conversation with her in direct message and a few days later, probably a week later, I realized every time when I log in to Instagram I always see her story on a far last left, it means that Instagram realized that we have a lot of back and forth convos going on, so that way her story is always in it of the most far left in my feed.
A: So, I sort of top of mind kind of –
A: I guess Instagram must figure that that is where your eyes are attracted towards. So that must be like where you look first on the top left.
L: Pretty much, yeah
A: there that’s showing up over there. So is there ways to automate this type of thing or is there is more of a manual kind of types of things that you have to do on this.
L: For now, I’m not quite sure, I think last time I checked Instagram hasn’t opened up its API to the direct messages, so you can technically send a message over to anybody that is from a bot or any automation. Right now, we’re doing it really purely just manually, but probably in the future once more people use DMs and hopefully Instagram got to open up the API, then we get to definitely automate it, but it defeats the purpose somehow about the core belief of Instagram is to connect people and get you have genuine engagement. So, I’m like more 50-50 about it. It’s nice to connect with others that you care about and have back and forth conversations in DMs, and therefore organically rank up for their story queue. But in terms of automation, a lot too, if we can identify 100 accounts that we wanted do business with, I’d love to have the automation feature as well at some point.
A: Yeah, I mean, that would probably be a big huge time saver on that kind of thing with that.
L: Yep, Exactly.
BRANDING AND CONTENT MANAGEMENT
A: And of these things when you’re doing these kinds of stories, I mean, are these posts, are they mostly… I know you’re saying that the question but is the ultimate goal, it’s a really sort drive sales with this. I mean, with the friends that you’re working with to get that place, I don’t know here is… so what is the goal of being the top story?
L: Right, I guess it’s about an enhancement of your branding because they’re already… whoever that can see your stories is already a follower of yours. If you produce content that’s highly engaging that attracts their eyes all the time. And then, so you also have back and forth conversation direct message them. So, this is really good, I guess, for partnerships for influencer marketing. When you work with micro-influencers who are following you or you followed them as well, and then so by doing this you’re gonna always keep top of mind for them. So, it’s more about the strengthen the connection and top of mind the kind of things. In terms of partnership with influencers, it’s all about…. you’re really dependent on how great the campaign they’re gonna generate for you or if you’re co-developing a campaign that would be better, but sometimes working with influencers could be frustrating. So to build that connection just right off Instagram is hard, but if you guys have a lot of engagement, a lot of connection, a lot going on and they check out your stories all the time so they’ll keep you top of mind and therefore when you guys get to really get the work done for campaign roll out, I think they’re definitely gonna do a way better job.
CUSTOMER AVATARS AND ROIs
A: Right, right, right, so in terms of like… Okay, so if you’re doing that content piece, right, and you’re trying to create that sort of highly engaging kinda content, how do you come up with a strategy for creating that highly engaging kinda content, like what is the thought process on that.
L: Well, yeah, I guess, yeah, this is a really, really good question. A very open-ended as well. I’m not quite the content person, to be honest. I have a team who actually are very talented to produce the content so the way we do it is that we do… the strategy that we have been using is to identify that one person that you really, really want to serve well, that one person that will love your content, love your brand, so we identify that person by what values do they have? What age is this person and what’s the name? So, give this person a name. And so, we also talk about what kind of interest does this person like sports or fashion, what is it? And are they family-oriented? And we kind of break it down to a very, very granular understanding of who is it really is that we wanna serve well. So, as long as you figure that out, then whatever, that you build in your content has to be really focused on this person’s interest and we just kind of go from there and brainstorm different ideas that could potentially serve this person very well.
A: Right, so you’re building the customer avatar, I guess it in terms of what that is. And do you keep refining that customer avatar like when you’re doing this, are you looking to get an ROI out of this kind of customer or just more like, more comments, more engagement?
L: Yeah, so we do look at the ROI and the engagement numbers every week and we keep refining on that, and we also work directly with the client who probably are more familiar with who they’re actually serving. So, we got feedback from our clients and we also look at the metrics and the ROI and everything over the time we could find out if, oh, if we want an improvement to that is that because our arbiter is not quite accurate or not in the week? Constantly find out there’s another group that we never thought about would come out on Instagram and start engaging with you, and then we investigate on that as well. So sometimes it’s not only one person that you’re serving, one type of personality and what type of demographic. So, it could be different type that comes in. So, we identify them as well.
A: Okay, that it’s just a refining process, trying to figure out that. Do the clients typically know who their avatar is when they come in, are they pretty much… do you help refine that for them by asking them those types of questions.
L: Yeah, it really depends. I think if it’s an earlier stage startup that we work with, if the clients are still figuring out the product development and they probably haven’t started selling a whole lot of it and then they’re probably imagining oh we’re gonna sell this to this group. But at the end, it always kinda ended up different from the experience versus if some of our clients, we have been working with them for a while, and their products has been really mature and rolled out internationally, and they know exactly who they’re talking to and really depends on the product stage of the clients.
A: Interesting. And are there… is it pretty general, if you’re going from the US to Europe to Asia, is the profile pretty much the same or is it tweak based on who their target is? An international type of client avatar or is it more like a nationwide…
L: Right, for international ones they really, it also kind of depends on how complex is the product. Sometimes they keep the product consistent across different countries so that will probably serve a similar group of people but there are just different nationalities, but demographics-WISE, or use a behavior-wise, it might be similar. If it’s a product that is more versatile and you could pretty much customize it, it could potentially serve different types of avatars in different countries.
L: And the acceptance of positioning is different. Some countries are more serious, they don’t like jobs, and some do like get more like here in the United States? So, we kind of tweak it a little bit in different countries.
A: So, you’re tweaking, so the post themselves depending on where you’re doing it, do they have multi-pages like one first, say Europe, one in the US and then they have different profiles and a story, a different messaging on those type of pages.
L: And so, they do have different pages, sometimes it depends on the type of product, the type of market they’re after in the language. The target audience speak. So, we usually, sometimes we partner with local pages that are they’re just managing their own sort of social media and then we share the content, but the caption and the positioning that we talk about or potentially could be different.
A: Yeah, and so when you’re doing this with your clients if they have a social media team that’s doing Facebook, and not Instagram, do they work with you on these types of things as well? Or do they also hire out just because they wanna have the content created by you but they’re gonna post it on…. How do clients work with you?
L: You mean an international client?
A: Well, just now, just regular, just in any client. So, if they have a social media team in place, but they’re not maybe doing Instagram really well and they’re looking to outsource that PE, they had an internal team, but they just like they were too busy… Do they hire you to take over that kind of a thing and then they have sort of their own?
L: Yeah, so we have two different models, one model is that we take over completely for the social media channel, and we work directly with the founders, so we work with a lot of early stage start-up founders who don’t really already have a marketing team, so that’s when we kind of deploy a marketing… social media marketer to help on that full time, so the founders can focus on what they do the best which is product. Usually here in San Francisco. In another way is that we have a really, really mature product that that works really well is to do DM outreach to micro-influencers with a community for you if you’re a social media manager and you help with somebody who’s always on the phone engaging with micro-influencers and that’s what we come in place to help existing marketing teams to build a connection and the community of social media micro-influencers who could give you a shout-outs and potentially that’s a very powerful way to grow your brand, because micro-influencers, potentially recruit a hundred of them who have a few thousand followers and that’s almost a million of the followers potentially you could reach… and we do that for existing marketing teams, and we can do all the legal and the contracts and follow-up all that work from that as well.
A: Yeah, okay, okay, that’s cool. Yeah, it’s very interesting. So, you can fit into almost any model I guess, with the way that your agencies to set up, I guess you can.
L: Well, I guess. We’re are still growing, and we’re still refining our features and processes, but right now, we’re happy to work with early stage companies here in Silicon Valley, and we meet with you in person and we’re just your helper for social media.with if people wanna get in contact with you, what’s the best way to do that.
A: Yeah, so if people want to get in contact with you, what’s the best way to do that?
L: Yeah, sure so if you guys shoot us an email, so our email is email@example.com. It’s a, “Go viral” is spelt as G-O-A-L-V-I-R-A-L dot com. So, getting to a goal, growing your brand
A: Alright, cool, awesome, well, yeah, so this will be in the slide back anyhow, of that. So, you can always contact Li on this stuff but Li’s awesome. I had, I have many conversations with her late at night asking her what do you think about this or what do you think about that? She’s a go to person, I know her for quite a while we’ve done some speaking think together and well I just wanna say… thanks Li for coming on helping out the community here. And do you need any questions about Instagram, it’s the person to go to.
A: So, thanks so much for your time, good talk. Bye!
L: Thank you, Bye!