We all know that it goes down in the DMs… but the question is: when? The answer, not as soon as you might think.
The primary takeaway we learned from Erin Cell’s special appearance on Magnet Marketers… creating connections on Instagram takes time and patience is key.
In the episode we dove into how to best approach creating connections, what research is required to find the right people, the best way to start conversations and how to create a lasting working relationship that spans years.
Thoughtfulness is Key
Instagram is a place where we can really make quality connections, so we need to be thoughtful about how we go about it. We’re not here to make connections for the sake of connections; it’s about connecting to the RIGHT people. That takes time. That takes research, especially when looking for potential partners, companies and/or supporters to align with. We want to think about finding like-minded businesses, aka “our kind of people.”
Determining who is the best fit means you need to put in the time and dig in. It can be a little overwhelming to figure out where to begin, but start with those warm contacts first!
Look at those who are following you and/or attending your events. You probably have industry leaders in your circles! Or maybe someone in your circle works for a company that you’re looking to make a deeper connection with.
Think about how you could align to provide value to each other by way of sponsorships, partnerships, prizes, promotions, etc…
While we are looking to build those connections that are mutually valuable, starting the conversation with an expectation of the relationship is a sure fire way to stop it before it even starts. So, before you dip into those DMs, starting to build the relationship means going into it with an open mind to see what can come out of it... build that sense of connection FIRST.
Best Practices For Reaching Out
Now that you’ve got your connection priorities, it’s time to start engaging with their content. This will give you a good sense of whether they’re going to align with your brand and/or event and will start to build the relationship.
Like, comment, share and interact with their content and their audience! You want to have a REASON to take it to the DM. But the reason shouldn’t be a direct ask immediately.
When you are engaging or reaching out to an individual striking the right tone is super important. It’s about being conversational and fostering that sense of connection. It’s also about using the right channels for the right people.
When we know WHY we are using the channel and what we’re using it for, we can be extra intentional about our approach to using it.
For instance, LinkedIn can be an excellent place to create connections - especially if you’re looking to connect with a specific company. Use LinkedIn search to see whether you have a first or second-degree connection to the company!
Remember: it’s not about the tool as much as it’s about the technique. And while we do love a good tool like Hashtagify (which will let you execute hashtag research to narrow your search results,) you can’t automate these connections and expect to get the same result.
There are tons of tools that can automate comments, but there’s nothing as powerful as a human being acting with intent. There’s nothing more rewarding than speaking to another human that has conviction and clarity in their mission.
Things To Avoid
Starting a conversation by sending a DM happens AFTER you’ve taken the time to really become part of their world. The conversation starter should be simple: say hello, give them praise for a recent post or ask a question! Once they respond, continue the conversation. Don’t force it. No one likes an awkward DM.
If they can’t help with what you’re looking for, no worries. Keep the conversation going. You never know where that relationship might lead in the future.
When it comes down to it, you want to avoid these three things at all costs:
- Don’t go in trying to sell something: remember, we are trying to build relationships here! It’s not about the ASK. It’s about the connection.
- Don’t be pushy: if they say no, say thanks and ask them if you can check in after a few months of time have passed.
- Don’t get down on yourself if you hear “no”: trust Erin, you are going to get SO MANY “no’s” before you get “yes’s.” There are always going to be reasons why people don’t want to participate in whatever it is, but keep looking and you’ll find the right partnership/company/person that you’re looking for!
The big takeaway? >>> DON’T be transactional! Don’t just walk away and stop the conversation when you get a “no.”
When we’re building community, we want to be intentional so when we’re chatting or reaching out, it isn’t always about an ask. It’s about mutual support of each other along the way.
The point? >>> You never know when the boomerang will come back. Rest assured, it will.
Building a Strong Partnership
We want to create memorable experiences - whether it’s with our clients or partners. That’s why it’s critical to make sure there’s a mutual exchange.
We want to give something back to them - whether it’s buying from them, promoting them/giving exposure, tickets to our event, etc.
Keep in mind, it doesn’t always have to be swag. One year, Erin worked out a great partnership with a local winery where they provided wine for an event and in exchange, they were able to showcase their brand, gain exposure AND send one of their teammates to the event to learn all about social media!
Even a BLOG post can be a form of community-building. Collaboration on blogs can be a great way to “gift” because it’s a way of digitally featuring and showcasing experts.
The goal is to build that sense of community and invite people in.
It’s all about creating a situation where BOTH parties win!
Oh and the best part? >>> Erin is still connected to this winery which speaks to the longevity of these connections. Connections made on Instagram LAST when you put in the time to foster them.
A Real-life Example
We couldn’t resist sharing one of Erin’s stories as an incredible example of how to put these practices into action.
Erin was putting together an event and was able to use the power of Instagram to secure SO many connections. Here are the types of relationships she made and her tips for doing so!
Sponsorship: (Ballistreri, Kingman Winery and Agorapulse)
When it comes to sponsors, it’s about putting ourselves out there.
Erin found two wine vendors AND a company to serve as sponsors for her event. She also invited Agorapulse because she’s a huge fan (like, who isn’t) and they sponsored, provided giveaways and had a speaker at the event.
“Don’t feel bad asking the question, they can always say no,” Erin reminded us.
The result? >>> Both wineries ended up providing wine for 2 upcoming events she was hosting. PLUS, she still promotes them, as well as Agorapulse, to this day!
Partner: Food Trucks
Erin took to Instagram and started to do some research. She looked to see what trucks were active on social media and told people in her community about the event AND the need for food trucks. She used the search feature in Instagram to find Denver food trucks and looked to see who was posting consistently.
Erin wanted to make sure that she was speaking to the RIGHT people; people who “really understood” social media, so that they saw the value in her event and what she was offering to the food trucks. She also offered local food influencers free tickets to the event, as well as discount codes to offer to their followers, as a way to really engage the local influencer community.
Contests & Giveaways:
Think about something that’s relevant to the audience. We want to give things away that are meaningful to them! Reaching out to vendors who will find value in making a connection with the audience in attendance.
Donations & Venues:
It’s all about utilizing our network and thinking creatively. Thinking about who we know, where we want to be connected, and seeing whether they can do an introduction for us. When we reach out to our connections and just ask for help on something, we often have people who are willing to make meaningful connections for us.
For instance, a result of her efforts, SO many people within Erin’s network started to make introductions for her. Erin didn’t have to blindly reach out to everyone because the strength of her network was able to do some of the lifting for her!
Now THAT is the power of connection.
Putting It All Together
The best part of all of this? >>> We can do this no matter what industry we’re in! When we think about what we can do, and how we can give back and support others, we set ourselves up to have successful working relationships.
One place we can get started today is refining our Instagram bio. Our bio should be descriptive and really tell people who we are and what we do, so that people know what it is that they’re getting from our page.
People are definitely searching for what it is that you have to offer on Instagram, so you want to set yourself up to show up when they search!
Plus, seeing that Instagram is also adding search within the description itself (meaning that even the content that you’re writing in your posts can be searchable) there is a huge opportunity to be found on the platform right now when you're thoughtful and descriptive with your content.
At the end of the day, Instagram is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used for conversation, telling your story and creating amazing connections.
What do you think? How have you used Instagram to create meaningful connections?
Share it with us in the comments below!