Having spent every day of April so far talking about social media, it has made me realise that an automation process is far more valuable than I every really considered.
I had never taken this much time to consider how much of a role it plays in our businesses. It is a massive part of our strategy and without the right tools, we wouldn’t be able to execute like we do.
However, there are also times when the personal touch is required and using Instagram video to direct message new followers is a great way of getting you or your brand in front of the right people.
Probably the best way I can explain this is to take it back a couple of steps and explain where this has come from and about a conversation I had not too long ago that has been playing on my mind.
So recently I have a very interesting conversation with a business owner. He has started a new venture and is looking to get the word out about his latest product. We were talking about his content plan and social media strategy and one major question came up. He asked me;
“How can I stand out from the crowd and cut through all the bullshit that’s already out there?”
Well this is indeed the million dollar question. To answer his question I went on to his market research, his target audience, content strategy and so on.
I was just about to give him the real truth, that in order to be rise to the top, you have to be the best (which I believe is 100% true btw) when he stopped me. He said: “Yeah I know all that, but what about that personal touch?”
The personal touch is perhaps something more associated with off line business, rather than online, but it really shouldn’t be. This question got me thinking. Over the years we have incorporated the “personal touch” into many of our ventures, from free one on one sessions, giving away paid products to loyal fans and followers who had been with us from the start, to even flying people in from other countries to spend the weekend with us as a show of appreciation, but what about now, what about a “personal touch” online.
We spoke for a little bit, I wanted to get to the real heart of the question and understand what his definition of the personal touch was. Eventually, I got it out of him, he wanted to know how he could stand out and be more personable on social media, in particular on Instagram (his industry is a very visual one).
There was the obvious, reply to comments, interact with followers and don’t always be on there to promote, But again these were obvious. How could he truly do something that would set him apart from the competition and give his followers that personal touch?
Use Instagram Video for that Personal Touch
Instagram Video Messages
Having given it some thought, this is what I can up with. Why not utilise the video feature of Instagram to give his new followers a shout out using the direct messaging capabilities? There are of course ways that you can automate DM’s to new followers using various pieces of software, but people tend to find these somewhat spammy and they are most certainly not “personal”.
Take the time to speak to them
In order to stand out, you need to be doing something either better than how your competition does it or do something that no one else is doing. How many people are sending personalised videos to their new followers?
While I can’t put my finger on it, there are very few people doing this, why? Well, the reason is that you can not automate a personal message, it has to be done for each one and this takes time. Most people just do not have the commitment to their audience and perspective clients to do it, it’s that simple.
We spoke about how this could be done and I will go into that in a moment, but one of the things that a new business has going for them is their scale. It is not scale in terms of how big their company is, it is the scale in terms of how small their following is. Being a smaller company and having fewer followers has it’s advantages. The true entrepreneur and business owner will realise that this has it’s advantages, and like having any advantage, you need to be able to leverage that in you favour.
With “the competition” having so much attention and so many new followers every day, this task of sending them a personalised direct message video would be almost impossible. However, when you are starting out, no one knows who you are and therefore gathering a following takes time. So the amount of new followers you can reasonably expect to get in a day is negligible compared to the already established companies out there.
The question I asked him was, do you think that you could commit to recording 10 short videos a day on your iPhone. He said he probably could, so here is what he is going to do.
Check out your followers
We all get notifications when we get new followers, whether that’s a push notification or when we open up Instagram and see the activity. What I’ve instructed him to do is to take the time to have a quick look at their bio’s and if you need help with your bio check out my tips on that here. Then take a note of their name or Instagram user name, where a real name is not present and what they do.
He then opens up the video function on Instagram and shoots a quick video to them. The dialogue for the video is the same for everyone, it is only the names that change and here is the script.
“Hey (username or personal name) really appreciate you following us on Instagram. I would love to know what it is you do over at (business name). Or I would love to know what I can personally help you with (in the case of a personal account). Drop me video message back and let me know.
This video is then sent directly to them and will land in their inbox on Instagram. The impact it has can not be overstated. A personalised message does take time, of that there is no doubt and your followers know that. The impression this gives to your new follower is that they matter to you so much, that you have take the time to talk to them directly, not spam them with a generic piece of text.
What If I can’t do it every day
Of course, this question was bound to pop up. There are two solutions as I see it. The first is to have a prerecorded message in your camera roll that contains the script above, but does not have the name or business personalised in it and just send that to them. It will take less time, but the impact will also be lessened.
The second option is to schedule time every day or two days or even once a week depending on how many followers you are gaining and batch these videos. The one thing to remember is that no one is really doing this and your followers do not expect it. So don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it done on the day, or two days later, they do not know they are missing out.
What is important is that you remain consistent with it, for the first while at least. At some point, there is every chance that it will no longer be viable to do it for everyone, due to the large volumes of followers coming through the door.
I know that many of you reading this have probably asked yourself the same question, which is why I wanted to share this conversation with you. It is a little different to my usual “how to” articles on social media, but I hope you stuck with it and can take something from it.
Now I know that I have focused in on Instagram, but there is nothing stopping you using this tactic on Facebook or Twitter. If these mediums are performing better for you then try it there instead.
Regardless of whether or not you opt to deploy this tactic in your own social media strategy, the question remains the same. What can you do that will set you apart from the competition and give your audience that personal touch?