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I’ve been spending a ton of time in my DMS lately and this episode is inspired directly by you and the one question I see popping up again and again. It’s this: But what if I don’t have a big following or I’m literally starting from ground zero. Can I really do this? Am I too late?
Everyone starts somewhere, right? And even though I teach instagram and social media strategy now, I didn’t always have one. I also didn’t magically start with thousands of followers and a clear vision for how the social media world could transform, enhance, and even sustain my business.
Social media it THE. PLACE. to begin leaving hints, sharing your journey, inviting others to hold you accountable and paving the path for your people to find what you’re about to drop into their worlds.
Maybe you want to lead events or masterminds on a specific topic you’re well-versed in, or you have a product you’d love to begin creating and selling. The thought of going from regular ol’ you to BUSINESS OWNER EXTRAORDINAIRE or CEO is stressful to say the least. And I can’t tell you how often I’ve had people with just an idea ask me: but how? How do I just start? How can I begin impacting people right now? Is there really a way?
And my answer is always yes, there is a WAY, it’s free, you’re probably already hanging out there, maybe even wasting time on it daily, and it’s through social media. So let’s dive in to what I’d do if I were starting over, starting from scratch, or pivoting my current audience of friends, family, and that random human you met that one college night at Pizza Hut back in 2008 that added you as a friend — because it’s time to simply START and stop believing the lie that you’re too late to the game.
Start with who is already there
First, I want you to not think about launching or strategy or a logo or the perfect name for an LLC — none of that crazy stuff in terms of running a business yet. Just focus on WHO you already have in your court. The followers you already have are there for a reason. Sure, if you’re not in the entrepreneurial space, many of them are probably family members and friends, and so they are actually the PERFECT people to begin nurturing!
If you’re legit starting from zero and don’t have an Instagram or Facebook account, do not fret! You can still jump in feet first — signing up for an account and beginning to connect with and follow friends and family is super easy and Instagram and Facebook make it absolutely fool proof. Just create an account, upload a profile pic, and when you sync your name, email and phone number with your account, it automatically begins sourcing people you know from your contacts so you can just click follow — and they’ll likely be excited you’ve joined the platform and will follow back!
On another note, if you DO already have an Instagram or Facebook but have kept it on private to keep your world a little more behind the scenes from the rest of the world — or you’re hiding awkward high school photos from your colleagues, hey no shame! — I would recommend doing a quick sweep of your content, deleting or archiving anything you wouldn’t want the world to see, and then taking the plunge into public profile land.
If you’re wanting a tactical assignment before we move onto step two, here it is: today do a post and tell your audience (whether it’s 5 people or 500) that you’re trying something new and you’d love to know what 3 words come to mind when they think of you! See if they align with the direction you’re wanting to go, maybe the response or responses will encourage you or inspire you, but if anything, it will help you get into the habit of letting people into the process and inviting that engagement — and don’t get frustrated or upset if no one responds, let that help you to see that maybe you’ve never invited people to comment or give feedback or voice their ideas on your platform, something that we often forget to do as we share our lives! If anything, feel the confidence that will come as you try something new and invite the people who might already be there to go a little deeper with you.
Simply starting, whether you launch an account today where only your mom and your friend follow for now or using what you’ve already got online is the best place to begin. Doesn’t that seem so much more comfortable than quote-unquote “perfecting” your business plan and offer, not sharing a word about it, and then cold-launching it out into the world without a clue if your messaging is right, if anyone cares or the offer fits?
Give them a peek inside
Start giving your followers a peek inside what you’re starting to work on. Even if you’re still figuring it out yourself. Even if you’re taking a course or going through a program to specifically nail down your offer and strategy.
A lot of times we believe that we have to show up when we have the answers, when things can be wrapped up with a pretty bow, when we have it all figured out, but I’ve made a way bigger impact in the seasons when I chose to show up AS I was learning, when things were messy and imperfect, in fact, those shares resonated the most because that’s what most of our lives look like behind the scenes.
And let’s be real here, NOT having the answers or everything figured out is probably the most relatable and real way to start sharing about your journey. People LOVE to see the process. They want to know what you’re learning, how you’re using it to create your offer and build something.
So start leaving breadcrumbs — talk about the course you’re taking, the personal transformation you’re experiencing or the thing you’re starting to work on launching. Give peeks behind the curtains of what you’re learning and beginning to lead up to. These little snippets will almost prep your followers for what’s coming instead of one day, out of the blue announcing: “I have this thing, come buy it!” We’ve seen that happen before and it can be a major turn off for most people.
Action tip for step two: What would it look like if you shared your own story behind something you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s a story of transformation that you can paint the before and the after and share a little bit about how you worked through a personal transformation to allow people to visualize themselves working through something similar while simultaneously inviting people to celebrate alongside of you — let me tell you, the internet is in desperate need of people who are willing to spread joy and celebrate, so people will love to hear what you’re up to and the story behind something you’re leaning into!
Every single time I’ve invested into an online course, a mastermind, or some sort of mentorship, I’ve shared about it publicly because I want people to hold me accountable and I know if I publicly proclaim I’m going to do something whether it’s running a marathon or learning something new, just that public proclamation on it’s own is like an accountability buddy built in. Knowing that even if just one person saw that post, they might ask me how it’s going and I’d hate to not follow through on that promise to myself and that proclamation I made to anyone who would take notice!
Share your experience while you’re in progress and way before you’re already done. The progression will be as much a journey for your followers as it is for you, and because most people start sharing when they’re already done and ready to sell or offer, it’s hard for others to keep up with and genuinely feel connected to what they have worked SO hard to create.
Express where you’ve been & where you want to go
Have you ever heard someone say “Dress for the job you want,” or is it just my mom who told me that? You can also show up on your social platforms as the person you want to become.
Start by changing all your social media bios to express where you want to go. Use titles that communicate the role you’re morphing into and where you want to be, or say things like “Obsessed with XY and Z” or “I help [these types of people] do [blank — basically something you’re working toward]” to convey themes, topics, and ideas you’re in pursuit of. This is essentially your tagline or headline that help people connect with your account and let them know what they can expect from you!
Start weaving this shift into your content as you begin to post. I always talk about how brands should have 3 brand stories — their origin story, transformation story, and possibility story. If you’re just starting out right now, THIS is your origin story, right in this very moment. You are living it, so… share the reason why you are pursuing this new idea. What is your motivation? What is your why? What inspired you to finally go for it? How did you come to this thing and decide to act on it? Share snippets of this story in all of your content.
Now, after your origin story comes the transformation. Your transformation story is commonly the moment or moments in your life when you realized or decided: I need more. More impact, more influence, more meaning, more levity, more beauty, more joy, more compassion. We all have these shifting moments that come where things just click and you have a clear realization of: something needs to change.
And finally, the possibility story — this can show up in two different ways. The first way is to show what is possible through your personal experience, basically if you can do this thing, anyone can. What challenges did you have to overcome to finally begin? Were there fears or insecurities? How are you pushing past them? What would you tell someone else afraid to start? Paint the picture of possibility even though you don’t have all the answers — actually, especially because you don’t have all the answers.
Create organic traffic using hashtags
I have to share what I believe is the most underestimated and underrated tool on social media: hashtags. Now I did a whole deep dive on hashtags and how to use them strategically in episode 308, and it’s chock-full of the best practices, what NOT to do, and strategies to easily incorporate them into your instagram game.
If you’re ready to fully utilize their power, be sure to listen to that episode. For now, I wanna give you my top 3 hashtag tips to start working into your posts today!
First, quality over quantity. You want to be selective in the hashtags you use, and make sure that they resonate with your ideal client AND that it’s something your ideal client is actually searching for or will connect with. Hundreds of thousands of people will use #entrepreneur every day, so how can you be specific and targeted with yours? Utilize geography, your specific niche, and anything that details exactly what’s in the photo and what you do. For example, #wisconsinpainter will track a whole lot better than #artist.
Make sure your hashtags match the image and caption. Instagram specifically is getting smarter in a lot of ways — we all know that. If you have a photo of your pancakes and a blood orange mimosa, don’t start hashtagging things like #digitalmarketing or #weddingphotographer. Make sure your image and caption correlate with the hashtags you use.
Don’t use the same batch of hashtags in every post. Instagram’s technology sees that and senses a little fishiness, and they may suspect that it’s a bot posting, not real-life you! Plus there’s no way the same group of hashtags are relevant for each and every post you make. That’s why I really recommend creating a bank of hashtags within different categories that you post.
Join facebook groups (or start your own)
My final tip is one that I wouldn’t have even considered 9 years ago — pretty sure they didn’t even exist back then, but my goodness, what did we do before facebook groups?! By joining groups within your niche or eventually even starting one of your own, you’re automatically engrained and knit into the fabric of a community of like-minded people. What a gift, especially in this online space where so many of our digital connections can feel very surface level and fleeting.
We have several facebook groups for the different facets of my business, and they’re basically like these mini-masterminds and communities where peers can come together, ask questions, get support, cheer one another on and brainstorm together. When you’re just starting out, I recommend joining one or two in the industry you’re pursuing in order to A. watch how group administrators facilitate interactions and nourish the community and B. to generate your own community of people in your industry through genuine interactions and encouragement.
Just start typing in the search bar keywords, topics, or titles and see which groups pop up that you can join or request access to! There are SO many different communities waiting for you to join and pro tip: show up with a heart to serve and not sell, the givers in the groups always come out winning more than the takers! Be open to meeting new people, creating connections, taking friendships outside of the group, and don’t just be a wallflower, interact and contribute!
The Big Picture
So… are you feeling ready to go? Doesn’t it feel SO much better when you’re starting from the bottom of the mountain and you have permission to NOT figure out every little thing from the jump?
And by the way, no one in the history of launching something great has had it all figured out in the beginning. Not Oprah, not Tony Robbins, not Amy Schumer and certainly not me. All of the leaders you’re watching, every single one starts somewhere. Everyone starts with ONE step.
Honestly, it’s not just a smart business move and solid launching point, but it’s also pretty darn cathartic. You’ll soon find how utterly not-alone you truly are in the pursuit of something on your heart, and how people in your life or social media circle want you to succeed and are thrilled to cheer you on. If it helps, think of your social media as your legacy, your story, with each post adding more to the narrative that is your life, the one your loved ones will read someday. Each post is like a love letter to the universe and through you inviting people in on the journey, you’re simultaneously inviting people to show up bigger for their life too.
And like I always say, there’s only one way to get started: by just doing it. Just taking the leap and continuing to show up, sometimes when it’s messy, sometimes when it doesn’t feel easy, sometimes when you’re uncertain or discouraged. Done is better than perfect, and I think you’ll find things have a way of unfolding and becoming clearer as you keep pushing forward. So, it’s your time, friend. Time to start.