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What We Talk About

Instagram is not a secret strategy anymore. But amidst all the talk of maximizing your Instagram efforts, there’s a lot of discussion about… “The Algorithm.”

It’s tempting to try to play the game for visibility… but perhaps part of you wonders if that’s coming at a cost.

Our guest Nicole Hamzeloo will talk to us about an Instagram Strategy that actually works… withOUT worrying about the algorithm and how its constant changes affect your business.


Mentioned in the Episode
Episode 7 – How to Promote Your Next Launch Without Paying For Ads with a Promo Storm
Nicole’s Website

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn
Follow Nicole on Instagram

Listen to more:
Episode 13 – Your Digital First Impression with Brand Specialist Altimese Nichole
Episode 19 – Nail Your Ads with FB and IG Advertising Specialist Michelle Bridger
Episode 39 – Sustainable Social Strategy: How to build a valuable social media presence withOUT burning out with Katie Brinkley

Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Alyson Lex 0:01
You've probably heard that Instagram is an amazing way to connect with your audience to engage them in conversations to generate leads. But what you may not have heard about is how to actually sell your products or your services, right on Instagram, or to create a funnel that uses Instagram, that leads to sales. And we all know sales are what makes business go. So that's why we asked Nicole Hamza Lu, to come today to talk to us about exactly how to sell your products, your programs, your courses, your services, all of that good stuff, using Instagram. So Nicole, thank you so much for being here with us today.

Nicole Hamzeloo 0:50
Yeah, of course, I'm so glad to be here.

Alyson Lex 0:54
Want to ask you really quick? What is the biggest mistake that you see entrepreneurs make with their Instagram strategy?

Nicole Hamzeloo 1:02
Yeah, so I would have to say the biggest thing that I see is people basically using like these copy paste type strategy. So kind of looking to what other people are doing, looking at someone who is maybe similar to them, or who they're aspiring to be like, and using what they're doing and taking it as their own and thinking, Oh, it's working for them. So it's gonna have to work for me as well. And so instead of really being intentional and purposeful about what's going to work for you, specifically, in your business, specifically, you're just taking what everyone else is doing and using it as your own instead, which is definitely a mistake. Because most people, if you're taking a look at what other people are doing, they have put the thought and the strategy into it. And they're looking at it from the perspective of their business and what's going to work for them and their business. So that doesn't mean that it's something that you can just do and take as well and implemented into yours.

Jennie Wright 1:56
I was wondering, though, because one of the things that you were talking about is using copy and paste strategies and seeing what works for somebody else, and then trying to apply it to you. That doesn't work. But I see a lot of people doing it and getting, like a little bit of success from it. So are you saying that it doesn't work in a long term capacity? Or it's?

Nicole Hamzeloo 2:15
Yeah, I would say it's, I understand what you're saying. Because like,

obviously, you want to see what's what's out there. You learn from people who have come before you learn from mentors, and other you know, of course, there are some best practices to be using. But you do have to funnel it through the lens of your own business, and not just taking things because it's working for someone else. So you have to really pay attention and say, does this, is this going to work for me? And how can I fit it into and make it my own? How can I shift it and change it so that it actually works for me? And so yes, you can kind of get inspiration and learn from what other people are doing. But you don't want to just take it at face value and just say, Oh, it's working for them, I'm going to do this too. So it's really about putting it through the lens of your own business to see if it's something that you can take and make it your own.

Jennie Wright 3:02
That makes sense. But I have a question that kind of follows up from that, which is the you know, where do we come up with ideas then? So we now we know what people are doing? We know what we should be doing instead what you just answered? But how are we going to come up with ideas because with all transparency, building up the content and building up the ideas for the social media sort of machine can feel really overwhelming?

Nicole Hamzeloo 3:23
Yes, I think the best way is to listen to your audience, ask your audience questions, understand what what are their problems? What are they looking? What are they searching for on the internet? What are they looking at? What are what's kind of the questions that are coming up in their minds everyday that's related to your business and what you can offer. But using your audience is the best way that you're gonna be able to get content because they're literally telling you what they want to know more about. And so if you can utilize them, you're gonna have like an endless supply of ideas just based on talking to your audience listening to them, seeing what they're looking for asking them what their what they're searching, what are their problems, what are their questions? That's I think the number one place to start for sure.

Jennie Wright 4:03
And you're asking them right on Instagram, are you doing a post and saying, Hey, what do you guys want to see in here? or How are you finding that information? And how do you do that? Especially if you have no audience?

Nicole Hamzeloo 4:13
Yes. So there's a few different ways. Yes, I definitely mean like, directly asking them so you can do put up a poll and your stories. You can put up questions you can dm people directly and ask them if they'll do market research for you or like, you know, even just simply asking them like what are your biggest questions around XYZ? So yeah, dming people reaching out to people like that. Another really great way to go about kind of finding ideas and what people are searching for. There are a few different tactics that I like to use. One is if you honestly if you just go to Pinterest, you can type in like let's say your business is your health coach or something like that. You can go on Pinterest and you can type in like healthy diets like healthy recipes like health, health and fitness and see what pops up. What are the top things that people that is coming up because when you put in that information, it's been applied. pull up the things that most people are searching for most people are clicking on and looking at and those pictures like headlines are going to give you really good topic ideas you can do the same thing with google those are both like two really great resources where you can just type in generic things and it'll start pulling up really related content that people are really searching for so i think that's a really great way to go if you don't have an audience yet but then once you do start building up the audience you want to directly ask them as much as possible because that's when you'll be you're the closest to them at that point and so you want to use your audience as much as you can but it's really great to start with google and pinterest i think

Alyson Lex 5:34
so one of the things that you mentioned was stories and i know that that is just one of the types of posts that instagram allows you to do in fact there are 5am i right yes

Nicole Hamzeloo 5:47
i almost want to say yeah if you want to count guides that six but but guides are compiled ation of different forums so i would get

Alyson Lex 5:56
five so let me see if i get this right because you're the expert clearly so there's the regular post that shows up in the scroll then you have stories then you have reels which are basically like the competition to tick tock yeah then you have live which is live and then i gtv which is essentially like a competitor to youtube yeah right on the five

Unknown Speaker 6:21
yes yes

Alyson Lex 6:22
okay so how do we choose which one to use and when

Nicole Hamzeloo 6:26
yes so honestly if you want to use instagram as one of your main platforms as you know one of the main social platforms if you want to really incorporate it into your marketing plan i would say it's best to use all of them but of course i don't need to say like post every single day on every single one doing what works best for you but you know people consume content in very different ways and so unless you have an audience that's specifically telling you like i only like to watch this or i only like to view this and i don't ever watch like i do tvs i never watch reels unless you know directly from your audience that they're not watching one of the pieces of the ways to post then you should be on all of them because people do like to consume content in different ways and most likely your audience is going to consume the content in those various ways but what i would recommend is really content repurposing so you can just take a post if you do like a more like a longer form caption and one of your posts and then you pick that out and you make three reels from it or something like that or you expand on it and then igtv so it's more about you want to kind of rotate and use all of them of course i think it's more important to test it out and see what works for you and see what resonates more with your audience but i'm definitely more of a fan of video content in general so you know i would have forego a post verse you know i'd rather see you do a live or an igtv than a post because the video content you can get so much more out of it and people can really connect with you a lot more so if you're going to only pick one or two i would say go with stories and one of the video forms so either i dtds lives are reals um but i do think it's good to do all of them and just repurpose the content and you know test it out on one of the one of the ways that you post maybe test it out in static posts see if it works well and then from there repurpose it into other pieces of instagram content

Alyson Lex 8:18
so that sounds like a whole lot of time and energy and effort right taking content that you've put in one place putting it in another how do we do this effectively so we're not just playing on instagram all day

Nicole Hamzeloo 8:34
yeah so honestly i would say take the longest form content that you are producing so let's say you do a static pose or maybe you are doing like a quick five minute video in a five minute video you can pull out so much information from that that you could probably create a week's worth of content from that so i always like to say start with the biggest chunk of you know thing content that you create whether that's maybe a blog post that you did or if it is a quick video you can transcribe the video and then just pull bits and pieces out of that and repurpose that into a post repurpose that into a quick real even put it you know do a quick even short take a shorter snippet of that and post it to your stories is more video content so i always try to go the easiest way possible start with the biggest chunk and then just take bits from that and go from there i think that means that you're really only creating one piece of content that you can now make maybe 10 to 20 pieces of content from that

Jennie Wright 9:28
and that's totally doable and before we get to my next question i have to comment on this because it's driving me crazy i have been watching reels yeah the reason i've been watching them so i want to see what other people are doing and then i want to effectively create a strategy that works for me by watching real reels i literally there's only like six songs that people use on these things every single one of them is stuck in my head i hate it why are people making such like pro forma content where it just looks the same you know the do you know like all the why are people doing that

Nicole Hamzeloo 10:00
Yeah, I mean, honestly, I think it's because Rails is still on the newer side. I mean, it's maybe about six to eight months old. So it's really, I mean, I think people are still just a little bit lost on what actually to do. And they're using what they're seeing other people do and taking that as their own. And, you know, some of those things are what is performing well, and so they're seeing, like, that's what everyone's doing. So I have to now do that, too. But they're, you know, I like to encourage people to get a little creative with it, make it your own. Again, I've seen a lot of people who now are, what I like to say to do, is if it's easy for you to show up on stories, I like to say just like, talk, you can talk to the camera on doing a reel just like you would a story. It doesn't have to be music and no words you can you could speak as still too. So try something different, be a little bit creative, do what works for you. But I think the reason is because it is a little bit newer, and people just still aren't 100% sure, what are the best ways to use it right now. And so they're trying to just see what's already out there and copying that a little bit.

Jennie Wright 11:02
Okay, that makes sense. And I know that, you know, when the episode when this episode comes out, rails will have been around for a little while longer, which is totally fine. So we'll kind of hopefully, fingers crossed over here, see some evolution and how these things are coming out? Because I mean, my idea now is, I'm going to have to do something really different, because I cannot do what these people are doing like the bed, you know, whole thing with like the head banging against the wall that is my camera. Like all of those things. I just can't, I can't, I will not like I must, I must rage Rage Against like, I just can't do it will not do it. So you mentioned earlier that to test and see what resonates with our audience. And that's typically measured in likes and comments. So how can we really using Instagram to drive sales instead of those vanity metrics? What's the method that we can use to do that? Yeah,

Nicole Hamzeloo 11:49
so I like to say to really view Instagram more as part of your marketing plan. So you know, you can really use it, I like to say like, that's where people people are on Instagram all the time, that's going to be kind of like the top of your funnel, that's where people find you or originally like are attracted to you to see what you're doing. If they like what you're doing, then they can from there kind of dive deeper into your profile, see a little bit more of what you're up to, maybe they go and click on some link link in your bio to go download a freebie, which then leads to a paid offer. So I really like to view Instagram, not as you know, it's a piece of the puzzle, basically, it's not the whole picture, it's going to be part of a way to attract people part of a way to get people to know you. But then from there, that's when the other pieces of the puzzle can kind of fit in and can kind of guide your guide your audience or customer down a different journey down a different path. But the other thing I like to say about Instagram is it's also a really great place to build relationships and make connections with people. So you can it does have the capacity and the capability to have those one on one meaningful connections and relationships with people. So using the DNS as a way to actually get those sales and calm and the sales and conversions. So not just you know, putting a post out there, seeing what happens with the likes and comments and then leaving it at that like be more interactive. Use it as a tool to talk to people to get to know people to interact with your, with your audience with your ideal clients. And having conversations with people is really what I think is going to drive a little bit more of those sales, especially for your higher ticket items, you know, lower ticket, that's where kind of that funnel piece comes in, where you're more just attracting people through Instagram, and using it as a way to market whatever it is you have to offer. But that's kind of more the top of the funnel. And I think another really great way to get sales and conversions from Instagram is honestly using stories. I think stories are your best place to sell. Like I put a few things on my feed posts and things like that about like what I have to offer. But usually it's mostly in the stories that I'm sharing a lot of that information because that's where your most engaged audiences. That's where the people who are already potentially interested in what you have to offer who are liking what you're putting out there. They're gonna look at your stories, mostly. So using polls and quizzes and questions in your stories to know what your audience wants to see from you to even say like, Hey, I'm doing this, this and this, like, is this something you would be interested in? Or is this something you need help with? And if they respond to that, go ahead and dm them reach out and see if they're interested in your actual paid offer. So I think stories is a little bit underutilized. And you know, I think a lot of people post static posts about what their offer is, but I think stories is really where you can sell.

Alyson Lex 14:39
Gee, it's almost like the social media platform wants you to be social.

Nicole Hamzeloo 14:45

Alyson Lex 14:47
Okay, so kind of related to that, because, you know, you've heard marketers come in and ruin everything. And that means that we've kind of figured out that there's this algorithm and that's what gets your stuff shown and you The hashtag game and all of that stuff. Should we be concerned with playing that game? How do we handle all of that? jazz?

Nicole Hamzeloo 15:09
Yes. So this is a great question, because I think so many people get so in their head about this, and instead of spending time, you know, moving their business forward, they're spending this time like searching about what's the next algorithm hack gonna be? What do I have to do to keep up with the algorithm, things like that, I truthfully believe it is a waste of time to kind of try to beat the algorithm, because it is constantly, constantly evolving. And I know, I know, Instagram is probably not as evolved as Google is, but even Google, like with their, with their updates, and things like that they do make updates daily to their algorithm, and I'm sure Instagram is, you know, maybe not exact same page as Google, but they're very close, they're very similar. So they're always evolving, there's always gonna be something new, a new feature, and you have to get more followers a new algorithm switcher change that's affecting things. And so it's really not worth your time and effort to figure out what's working best what's going to work best for the algorithm. It's again, not saying to never try like a real, never try, like the new features and things like that. But do it if you want to, and if it really aligns with your business, and if it makes sense for you. But really, I think the best thing to do is continue just to focus on good content content that your audience really relates to, they really find valuable, because then it's not really going to matter what happens to the algorithm, because the people who already like you who've been following along with you who find yourself valuable, are going to keep coming back, no matter what they're going to keep sharing your stuff, they're going to keep engaging with it. And that's what's really going to push you further to get more followers and reach and grow anyways. So definitely I say don't pay attention to the algorithm, focus on creating content that people like connecting with people engaging with people, that's something that's kind of like going back to the basics, but that's never gonna change. And that's always going to be something that works.

Jennie Wright 16:58
Agreed. I'm still in a NEO fight and the whole Instagram world, quite honestly, I'm not even I'm baby status, cuz, you know, compared to everybody else, and that's okay. Yeah, I had focused all of my time on Facebook, that's where my ideal client is, they play on Instagram. So when I put content on an Instagram, I do get, you know, I do get some interaction that I've, I've been posting every single day, pretty much. And I do see those numbers start to climb, which is great. I also get very angry when I see the bots come in, and like, like my profile, and then, you know, two or three days later, they leave and I'm like, you know, because when you look at your metrics over seven days, or 30 days, it's like you had you know, 45 people like your profile in seven days. And then 26 of those people buggered off. Right? So you're seeing this, like the swing, but if you know, over time, the trend is higher, which is fine. My question, and it's just sort of like the one of the last questions that we're probably going to ask right now is, you know, we're playing this game with Instagram, and that's totally cool. But if we are promoting something, and we are trying to create sales, is it just, Hey, you know, putting a post out and saying, Hey, here's my thing, I've got a course, come register, come check it out. Are those working? Or is it the content post with, like you said, on stories, where it's like, here's four things you can do to improve ABC and XYZ. And while you're at it, come check out my brand new course. What's gonna work best? Yeah,

Nicole Hamzeloo 18:27
that's a great question. Honestly, I think, you know, maybe a couple years ago, something like that could have worked, but people are getting smarter. And people also have shorter attention spans, and there's so much competition out there, there's so much selling being thrown out as all the time that you do, I think have to be a little bit more creative with it and speak a little bit deeper to the pain points that people have the problem that people have, and speak more to that transformation. And so that can be done in the static posts, I don't want to say like, it's not worth it to put out a post about whatever you have to offer. But I also think it's about leading up to it too. And what's the kind of content that you're putting out there before you actually say, Hey, here's my course. Because what let's say your courses addressing you know, I guess we'll say social media for this, for example, but if there's a specific you know, how to how to do Instagram for for new businesses, if you're new to Instagram, you don't know how to do it, like whatever, leading up that month leading up to me posting that launch of my course, I'm going to be talking about the problems that people are having, that's already getting them in that mindset of like, Oh, I'm gonna need this product. So it's really about leading up to it and you can do that in stories. You can do that in your posts. You can do that in all the forms of the ways that you can post on Instagram, and you can use the variety but I think stories is just really powerful because you can actually speak to the camera you people are seeing you talk people are seeing how you come off and I think that's really powerful because people do buy from people and they want to get to know you and you're they're going to get to know you a little bit better through a story versus a static posts.

Alyson Lex 20:03
That sounds very similar to what Jenny and I talked about, with something that I've coined the promo storm. And I don't know if Jenny's really on board with that name, but I've steamrolled her into loving it. And it's basically like you said, that build up of like, Alright, I like metaphors. So we're gonna dive into it. And we actually did an entire episode on this, and I'll link it in the show notes pages. But when a storm comes in it very rarely, just, bam, all of a sudden it's storming, right? But it builds up and you get some winds, and maybe it starts to drizzle, and then maybe a roll of thunder, and then it builds and builds. And that's what you're talking about is all of that build up. Then when the day lose happens, and the lightning strikes, that's your promotional period. So I think we're really I like that strategy. And I think that it works. Because it gets people in the right frame of mind. I love that.

Nicole Hamzeloo 20:58
Exactly. Yeah. It's, it's people are smart now. Like, you have to really put a lot of effort and time into the marketing side of things and how people are going to receive this, what's going to make it the you know, you can't just throw something at someone that they've no build up to like no context before, it's like, it's not gonna make sense. And it's not going to land with people. So yeah, it is all about I think the you know, the actual launch period is like not as important as all the stuff that comes right before it. A giggle

Unknown Speaker 21:32
Alison years ago,

Alyson Lex 21:37
she changed the color on me. I love everything that you have said today. And it's really inspired me to play more with Instagram. Because like Jennie, my ideal audience has always been on Facebook, or maybe even LinkedIn. And so I focused my attention on there. But I love the idea that you can build those relationships and those connections. You can do that on Facebook and LinkedIn. But I feel like maybe Instagram is a little different. The attitude might be a little different over there. Am I right? Yeah.

Nicole Hamzeloo 22:09
And I think I heard a stat the other day. I think 95% of people open their dm, like read dm messages, whereas like Facebook and LinkedIn is I know, definitely not that high. So Instagram, it really is a place to build those relationships, for sure.

Alyson Lex 22:25
So where can we find you? I'm thinking you probably have an Instagram account we can go to but where can we find out more about you?

Nicole Hamzeloo 22:32
Yes. So Instagram is definitely my main platform where I have probably most of my stuff. So that's at thrive collective co on Instagram, and then I'm at thrive collective, my website, and then I also am on LinkedIn as well, I actually really like LinkedIn. And that's just drive collective co as well.

Jennie Wright 22:49
We like the word thrive, as you know, like the whole cast is called throat System to THRIVE. So I think it's perfect. This has been really, really great, Nicole, we've really enjoyed this conversation. Not only that, because you've pulled in some really good information. But also you've, you've pulled in some perspective, some grounding, I think when it comes to looking at how we should be using Instagram for our businesses, there are a lot of people out there talking about how to use social media. And there's a lot of hype, and there's a lot of fluff. And I really like the fact that your strategies and what you're saying, are grounded in some real world stuff, and not looking at the vanity metrics. And your goal is creating those connections and relationships, versus what can I post today that's going to people, you know, make people just be outlandish, right. So I really appreciate that. And I have a couple of things that I think we can use as takeaways today. And I think those are really, really important. So we do these takeaways, where we look at what the expert has said, and the things that we can apply right away in our business. Number one is we want you to be social and engage on on Instagram, don't just post and hope. So have a little bit of a strategy on this, right. So figuring out how to be social and engaging with your people without just, you know, throwing something up there. And the other thing is obviously having to come back and interact with the people that actually may have commented, it's one thing to post. But it's also one thing to post and disappear and not come back. Right? Don't try to game the algorithm. This is number two, stick to the principles of success, and use it as the place to build relationships. It's the long game, Nicole was saying that the algorithm is changed pretty much on a daily basis in some of these platforms. There's no point in trying to game it, you're going to frustrate the crap out of yourself. So go for the long relationship, go for the long term success and see what works personally for you. I know personally that at one point I was posting stuff and I was getting all this interaction and boom, there was no more interaction. So you know that I think that was a little bit of an algorithm for me. But I had to change up my content and I'm getting that interaction again. It just means I've got to be very manipulative, very pliable numbers. Three promo needs to have some build up. This is something that Alyson and I pontificate ad nauseum. You can't just kind of go and come in and just be like, hey, look at me with my puppy in the backyard and the flowers and buy my thing, buy my thing, because it creates this like sense of whiplash. And when we create this sense of whiplash with people, they really don't like it. And they do not respond to it, they literally will go, not today, sucker, and they'll just like, totally look at something else. Right. So before you launch, start posting content that relates to your audience that connects with your audience, and then you can promote to them once you've created that engagement. I think it's really, really important. So I just want to take a second to call and say, thank you so much for doing this. With us today. We really, really appreciate it.

Nicole Hamzeloo 25:42
Yeah, of course. Thank you so much for having me on.

Jennie Wright 25:45
Absolutely. And if you're listening to this podcast and you want to get more, please do consider following us on your favorite podcast platform, so you don't miss any of the episodes that Alison and I are creating for the System to THRIVE. We also would love to hear your feedback. And you can do that by leaving us an honest review. If you want to know more about how Alison and I support our clients, then go over to System to THRIVE comm check out the work with me tab and see how or if Elsa and I can support you in achieving your business goals. Thank you so much for listening and we'll be back again soon answering another big question.



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