Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Julia: Today I’ve asked Kat, our operations manager at Stratos, to come and share a little bit about posts that she saw. This is what I love about Marketing in the Wild, and this is actually why Marketing in the Wild exists. We see things on social media, on billboards, commercials, et cetera, and we’re always thinking about, Hey, how did this land? What does this mean? How should we apply it to our business? 

And so she saw this particular post. I’ll let her tell you about it. And she has come up with some points that might be helpful to you in regards to following and who to follow on social media. It’s a great short episode, jam packed with some really, really good advice.

She’s gonna be talking about who to follow. I wanna ask you if you’ll be willing, unless if you’re driving, don’t do this if you’re driving. Pull out the phone you’re listening to this podcast on and go to our Instagram @marketinginthewildpodcast and give us a follow. We’re trying to really grow a community around marketing in the wild, and we would love for you to be a part of that.

So, put down your phone. I mean like pause this maybe, or if you can multitask, go over to Instagram, Follow us on Instagram, and then get back to the podcast. So without further ado, here is Kat on who to follow. And, apparently, don’t follow friends and family.

Kat: The other day I opened Instagram and I was logged into the Stratos account and the very first thing I saw when I opened the app was a post that said in all caps, DON’T FOLLOW YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY. And it got me thinking. We agree your friends and family aren’t necessarily the target audience, so who should you be following from your business Instagram?

By the way, I opened Instagram to do something else, and so I wasn’t actually paying attention, and so I didn’t see who posted that. So if you have any idea who posted that, please let me know so I can give them credit. But we started thinking about this idea, don’t follow your friends and family.

So who should you follow on Instagram or LinkedIn or Facebook or whatever social media you’re on, but I’m gonna use Instagram as the example today. So we have broken it down into three categories of accounts that your business account should be following. The first is your direct competitors. The advantage to following direct competitors is seeing what they’re doing, seeing what they’re posting, seeing how other people are interacting with them, so it’s not just seeing their content, but it’s also seeing the comments on their content.

Their ideal target audience is probably your ideal target audience, and so seeing the people who comment on their posts helps you understand the market better, helps you understand the people that you’re trying to reach. How to find your direct competitors? You can search Instagram, search Yelp, Google, and you can look for other businesses like yours.

For example, if you’re a plumber in Chicago, Illinois, then you can search plumbers in Chicago, Illinois, and you can go and you can follow every single plumber that’s in Chicago, Illinois. That’s kind of a weird example. We don’t do much content marketing for plumbers, but you get the idea. So the first category, you should be following our direct competitors.

The next category is customers. You wanna be following your past, your current, and your ideal customer. So it’s not just people who are buying from you today, it’s also people who have purchased from you in the past, and people that you hope will purchase from you in the future. Again, this is so that you can see what they’re posting.

You can get to know the people that you want to be purchasing from you, and then you can cater your product, your services, and your marketing, especially, to those people. How to find your customers, especially your ideal customers? You can encourage current customers to connect with you on Instagram, so when someone checks out, maybe you’re an e-commerce website. When someone purchases from you in the receipt that they receive in their email, you could do a plug to follow you on social media, and then when they follow you, be sure to follow them back. It’s gonna show that you are invested in your audience, that you’re invested in your customers. When they follow you, that you’re following them back, you care about what they have to say.

You can also follow your most engaged followers. So these are people who maybe have never made a purchase from you, but they are always liking your posts. They’re always commenting on your posts. Maybe they’re even DMing you, they’re responding to your stories. You definitely wanna follow those people. And then if you’re following your direct competitors, which you should be, because that was number one, then you can see the people who are engaging on their posts and you can follow them as well. Some people are gonna be private accounts and you’re welcome to send a follow request to private accounts, or you’re welcome to say, “Yeah, I don’t think I wanna follow private accounts. That feels like I’m infringing on their privacy.”

We see it both ways. We at Stratos, we follow everyone on our team, we follow their Instagram. Of course, some of our team members have private accounts. We’re gonna follow them anyway because they’re our staff and so it makes sense. They are absolutely our target audience. But if we were gonna try and follow their friends or friends of customers that we have, and we’re seeing that it’s private accounts, maybe we wanna make sure that we have an engaged relationship with that person before we send them a follow request.

For example, maybe we have someone who is commenting on every single post and we go to their account and we find that it’s private. We already know that they, you know, are championing us. They’re supporting us because they’re commenting on every post, so we would feel pretty comfortable sending them a follow request. Whereas, if we get a brand new follower one day and we go and we check their account and it’s private, we may not send them a follower request until we’ve established a little bit more of a relationship.

But in terms of private accounts and whether you should follow them, that’s totally your call.

Guys, I hate to interrupt this podcast, but I wanna share a quick message about a resource we have here at Stratos for you. 

Hey everyone. This is Allison from Stratos. Need some help refreshing your brand guidelines? Our team has put together the ultimate branding worksheet so you can fill in the blanks to develop your own cohesive and comprehensive brand guidelines. Get your free copy at marketinginthewildpodcast.com/freebies.

Kat: So we talked about direct competitors, we talked about customers, and again, we’re talking customers that have purchased from you in the past, that are purchasing from you currently, and that you hope will purchase from you in the future. So there’s a little bit of a judgment call there on whether you think someone is your ideal customer or not.

And then the third category of accounts that you should be following is inspiration. Your Instagram feed is a really great place to find inspiration for your next post, so you can be following accounts that inspire you and that will help make scrolling, fun, and fueling. One of the things that we never want to happen is that every time you have a task for your marketing, you just absolutely dread it.

But if opening your Instagram for your business gives you a beautiful curated feed of posts that you love to look at, you love to engage with, you want to comment and you want to share, that’s gonna be much more fueling and that’s gonna give you much more inspiration for your own content, for your own business.

So, for example, I run a sticker business on the side. It is completely a passion project. I make zero money selling stickers, but I like to design stickers every now and then. So I have a sticker company, and from my sticker business Instagram, I like to follow other sticker creators. That’s gonna be my direct competitors, but I also like to follow graphic designers who are doing design that is completely different from mine.

So this could be poster design, digital marketing. Anything that inspires me, but isn’t necessarily related to stickers. I also like to follow stationary companies, like maybe you’ve heard of Rifle Paper Co. They’re in, she’s a graphic designer and she has stuff in, I mean, even in Target now, but that’s an account that I really love to follow, or different graphic designers who have products.

People who make greeting cards, all of these things that are, you know, kind of related to stickers, right? But they’re not my direct competitors. They’re just inspiration. That way, when I log on and I’m scrolling through social media on my business page, it’s fun for me. I get to see the posts from people who are doing things that are totally different than the things that I’m doing.

So follow accounts that inspire you. How do I find those accounts? You can head to the explore page and just start scrolling. Instagram’s algorithm for the Explore page is pretty good at showing you stuff you’re gonna be interested in, and then the more you interact with some of those accounts, the more Instagram will understand what it is you’re looking for on your explore page. So when you find a post that you like, go to the account and if that account is inspiring to you, make sure that you follow it. 

So don’t follow your friends and family. It sounds jarring. It sounds almost offensive; you know, I want to follow the people that I love. So here’s the caveat. If your friends and family are your direct competitors, your customers, or your inspiration, then absolutely follow them.

But otherwise, maybe leave following your friends and family for your personal account. But on your business. You should be following your direct competitors, your customers, and other accounts that inspire you. I hope this was helpful to you. If you have questions, you can let us know. You can DM us on Instagram. Of course, you can email us. Our email is on our website, marketinginthewildpodcast.com. We look forward to hearing and answering your questions. We love Instagram strategy and so if you don’t love it, we completely understand. We will love it enough for both of us. Thanks so much for listening, and we hope to see you next week.

Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have, if you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and want to give us a rating or a review, I promise we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us.

Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week and I hope you will be too.