Marketing, Social Media

Followers Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number

So you own a business, startup or blog, or all of the above. You continue to push out social media post after social media post. And you keep praying that follower number increases. You obsessively check your phone to see who added you on Instagram and Twitter. You await new subscribers. And celebrate every time you gain a new follower on Bloglovin’. STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING! That number doesn’t matter. Whether it is 200 or 20,000 it is moot. Your focus needs to shift. 

Followers' Ain't Nothin' But A Number  |  Stop what you are doing, the number of social followers you have does not matter! See why.  |  Think Creative

Engagement, Engagement, Engagement

The number, the exact number is totally irrelevant. Sure the more you gain the more confidence you might have, or the more brands might consider partnering with you, but that shouldn’t be what’s driving the boat. Instead your focus needs to be on engaging your audience. Get them to read your content. Comment on it. Share it with their friends and colleagues. Send you emails. Maybe they will even write a blog article about how great you are. That sort of interaction is what you are looking for. Sure you can pay Facebook or Twitter to get additional impressions, which will potentially boost your follower numbers, but if you only pay short term, in the long run you could potentially see a decrease in site impressions. 

As you gain a following, specifically with Facebook, they determine how many people “get” to see your post in their newsfeed. If there aren’t “likes”, “shares” or “comments”, i.e. engagement, the post impressions could be dragged down significantly. I am not saying that paying for exposure can’t work in certain instances, but it has to be a well thought out process. 

Quality over Quantity

Would you rather have 100 clients who pay you $100 dollars each for your services, or 10 clients who pay you $1,000 dollars? Either way you end up with $10,000, but I almost guarantee there will be more footwork, planning, and communication confusion with those 100 clients than you would ever run into with just 10. Sure those 10 clients expect more because they paid more, but they also are likely to be the people who tell their friends about your awesome service when the time is right because they invested in you and what you are doing.  

“If you’ve been using the number of followers you have to measure your social media success, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Do an audit of your audience and determine which users are the right ones, and cull your lists accordingly.” (source)

I wish there were more to say, but it really is that simple. Switch you focus and cut yourself some slack. It is ONLY A NUMBER!

How do you measure engagement with your business or blog?

Social Media, Profitability, Instagram

How to Use Instagram Stories to Get More Sales

Instagram Stories debuted and our biggest complaint is that we don’t know what to call them. InstaSnaps? Instants? Snaps? Insta Stories? #TheStruggleisReal.

Besides that, we’re in love. 

We’re not here to debate whether Instagram stole SnapChat’s idea or any of that jazz. We love them, we use them and we know they’re going to help with engagement. If you want to figure out how to make actual sales from them then you’re in the right place. P.S. from here on out we’ll be referring to them as Story or Stories. You can call them whatever you want.

Instagram Stories debuted and our biggest complaint is that we don’t know what to call them. InstaSnaps? Instants? Snaps? Insta Stories? #TheStruggleisReal.  Besides that, we’re in love.  |  Think Creative Collective

We talk a lot about humanizing your brand and the power of putting you in front of your brand. Here’s what happens when people see a face attached to a brand. They:

  • Find ways to relate with you;
  • Are more forgiving of blunders;
  • Think of you as a person, and
  • Connect with you on a deeper level.

So what’s the combined, massive effect of all of those things?

Your clients and customers will spend more money and stick around longer (probably because they’re busy buying everything you offer).

Why? Because you showed yourself as a real life human freaking being.

Look, we know it’s hard to find that fine line of personal life + business life. We know a lot of you choose to not show certain aspects of your life (kids, where you live, no makeup, etc). That’s cool. We’re not asking you to upload your entire family reunion photos to Instagram.

But, maybe you could Story it? 

Maybe you could Story your morning coffee (the one that isn’t perfectly edited). Or your evening glass of wine. Or your family at the zoo.

Because the cool thing about the Stories on Instagram (similar to Snaps) is that they only last 24 hours. And no one can comment or like them. And no one can share them.

How cool is that?

Stories on Instagram are the perfect platform to showcase what you’re eating (because no one cares unless you’re an actual food photographer), where you are (without showing your address), and what you’re doing outside of work.

Once people get a glimpse of that (even just for 15 seconds), they feel connected. They see that they own the same living room rug as you, or enjoy extra butter on their popcorn like you do, or - just like you - have kids that throw themselves on the floor of Target.

This is brand relationships at its finest, y’all.

Another unique aspect of Instagram Stories (one that Snapchat failed at) is the ability to comment privately on the Story. Ever since Instagram Stories came out we’ve been getting DMs from people with whom we’ve never interacted before.

We were able to have actual conversations with potential customers (or past customers) and it was amazing. 

So, if you’ve been Grumpy McGrumperson about Instagram Stories lately, maybe it’s time to change your tune.

Consider the behind-the-scenes value you could add to your brand by participating. Brainstorm some scenarios where you could Story and consider making a list of what you absolutely don’t want to Story. 

Think outside the box. Live a little! Let us see what you ate for lunch today.


If you want to check out what we’ve put on our Story lately be sure to follow along with us on Instagram!


Facebook Groups, Social Media

How to Use Facebook Live to Grow Your Small Business

As a small business owner, Facebook is definitely not the hot place to be. With less than 5.5% referring traffic for our own site, Facebook was never the platform that made sense for us to invest our time on. Until they changed the live streaming landscape in August 2015.

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Now, it wasn’t until February of 2016 that all accounts were able to use the streaming capabilities on their own pages. From August to February the only type of accounts able to use live streaming were celebrities and journalists. But it’s interesting to note that these two (very different types of people) were using Facebook Live in the exact ways that would be helpful for small business owners (see, our obsession with Amy Schumer was for research!).

So, before we can get into the amazing impacts that Facebook Live can have for your small business, let’s squash some myths, and give you some tips.

  1. Periscope is practically dead. Although there are still some diehard ‘scopers out there who refuse to leave the platform most everyone else has jumped ship. The idea for the two are the same: you open the app and go live. The ease of going live is tremendously easier inside Facebook (one app for the win), there are next to 0 spammers and creepers (especially if you are Live in a group vs. a page), it’s easier to go back to type responses to comments (once the video has ended), and it can live forever if you so wish.

  2. Speaking of going live in a Facebook group...this is the only way we use the Live features. Facebook gives you the ability to go live on your personal page, your business page, or within any group you’ve created. Way back when we started our business we created a Facebook group so we could easily converse with our audience, let them know about new things coming, and provide support. It’s now grown to almost 4k members (and growing on average by about 431 members per month). It makes the most sense for us to converse here because these are the people who are truly invested (not only in their business, but in learning). If we’ve already got an eager audience why wouldn’t we cater to them?

  3. If you’ve been thinking about going Live, but don’t know where to start, it’s okay. Our first couple of Live streams didn’t have much of a plan or an audience. Until your audience starts to see that you aren’t just going Live for the heck of it they will tune in. Our views and engagement go up every time we go Live. We recommend having some talking points ready so you’re not a blubbering fish on live stream. Even if no one shows up, remember that your audience can watch it later, and you’re getting good practice!

  4. Just like any other platform if you aren’t being consistently present it won’t work. One Facebook Live won’t make you 6-figures on your next launch, but you can build the relationships with your audience to build on the goal.

Okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way and we’re all on the same page, let’s move forward with The Super Duper Facebook Live Strategy for Growth Plan (did you read that like a gameshow host?).

At the end of the day what anyone’s audience wants is a closer connection, and more scoop. It’s why we follow celebrities on social media platforms and it’s why we’re addicted to their Live streams. We feel like we’re taking a peek behind the curtain and we love it. Now, don’t confuse this comparison with the idea that we want you to celebritize your business. We’re not asking you to chase that status at all, but what we do want you to mimic is the purpose. So how can we make that happen?

Get Real

This is one of the biggest benefits of going Live, hand’s down. Right now (depending on your other social media efforts) you might just be digital biz with no real human-ness to you. Going Live solidifies that you are in fact a real person, with real feelings, opinions, and personality traits. Showing these off gives your audience brand new ways to connect with you.

Oh, you have the same Ikea rug in your living room as me? TWINS

Oh, you talk really fast and use your hands to make a point? ME TOO

Oh, you sit in the Target parking lot to catch a quiet moment before browsing the dollar spot? I DO THAT ALL THE TIME

See now how we can begin to feel like we relate, and know each other on a different level? Yeah, this is business gold. This is the turning point where people will buy because they either kind of like or need your products or services to the point where they will buy just because you are kinda their internet BFF.

Give Sneak Peeks

Creating a new product? About to launch your new website? Have new packaging to show off? Let’s see it on Live! These are all great opportunities to give your audience on Facebook Live the VIP treatment. We all love to see something or find out something before “everyone else” so consider teasing whatever new thing is happening in your business as a Live stream.

Tell them how excited you are, ask for feedback, as for beta testers, show the new thing off even if it isn’t finalized. Guess what this will create? An eager line of people ready to buy whatever new thing you just teased. Boom.

Show Behind-the-Scenes

We’d all like to believe that we live in these Pinterest-worthy offices, in our HGTV ready house, and we’re always wearing pants. That just isn’t the case and that’s okay. Don’t let perfectionism hold you back from showing some behind-the-scenes action.

Maybe your audience wants a tour of your office or workspace? Maybe your studio is a hot mess with a huge custom order that is about to go out? Maybe you’ve got a wild set up for those new course videos that need recorded?

These are perfect opportunities to show your audience what it takes to create and make in your business. Once we get the big picture (you mean those watercolor tumblers don’t just make themselves??) we begin to understand and appreciate the hard work it takes to make the final product. This leads to a better understanding of your time frame, price or quantity. Customers who “get it” are the best customers.

Give, Give, Give

When all else fails (as in you don’t think any of the above examples will work for you) then you can focus on giving. Educating, inspiring, helping, strategizing, whatever works for you, do that. In our business model we’ve found that the more we give the more that comes back to us in outstanding ways. The better experience we can provide our audience the happier and more fulfilled they’ll be.

If we can establish our expertise enough in some Facebook Live videos that you go buy #AllTheCourses, great. If we show off what we know and it helps you right then and there, great. It’s a total win, win.

Consider taking the topic of an old blog post and dive deeper in a Facebook Live. Or maybe you learned something in biz/life this week that your audience could benefit from? Maybe you came across a quote that you just needed to hear so you talk about it on Live?


Now for your homework (homework in a blog post is kind of how we roll). We want you to pull out a calendar right now. Pick some dates that you could go Live on your page or in your group. Set it in stone. Then go through this post and brainstorm what you could chat about and provide on camera. Assign topics and a few bullet points to your dates then tell your audience that you will be there LIVE! Build up hype around your videos so your people know that you’re even doing them. Then just do it, hit live, take a deep breath and go for it.

P.S. We like to use this iPhone tripod while Live streaming to avoid shakiness.


We're always partying on Instagram!


Facebook, Social Media, Instagram

The Power of Unplugging from Social Media

Do you ever notice how you read one post online about a topic and next thing you know you’re being served up ads or related content out the wazoo? Yeah, the secret that our phones are listening to us 24/7 is out. Although this is fantastic for a personalized ad experience it certainly doesn’t help our already overwhelmed minds. When we sit down to read just one thing, all of a sudden we look up and we’ve zombie-style zonked out, staring at our phone for hours on end.

When this happens it makes us begin to hate our phones. It makes resentful of social media apps that may not be at fault in the first place. So what do we normally do when we feel this way? We shut down completely and never look back. Well, since our businesses rely on the buzz of social media, we can’t leave it for too long.

But there is an opportunity to not feel tied to your phone like it’s an extra arm. There are strategies you can put in place to avoid the total social media burnout.

unplug-postgraphic2.jpg

 Here are some quick tips to help ease some of the social media overwhelm that leads to a total unplugging.

Turn Off App Notifications

First we started with the Periscope notifications (does anyone still use that? Did we just age ourselves by 6 months?). Those tiny dings going off all the damn time started to drive us batty. So out they went. Then we turned off Facebook Messenger notifications. For some reason some people still think it’s okay to have business related conversations in the messenger app (hint: it’s not) so we just avoid the urge to respond by not hearing the ding.

After a few months of that we were still feeling a bit tied to our phones (heck, our batteries were also draining super fast). So, next up came the Instagram “heart” notifications. If you go into Instagram settings you can specify which notifications you want to get (you can leave comments or follows on if you want). We eventually turned everything Instagram-related off, but more on that in a second.

Finally, we went all across the board and turned off Gmail and Facebook notifications. At first we felt like we were leaving a crying baby in a locked room kind of panicky, but we decided to give it a few days to see if it made our overwhelm better or worse.

It turns out it was the best freaking thing we’ve ever done.

Look, we love us some Instagram. Like, seriously love. We also love chatting with peeps in our Facebook group. But here’s the thing: when we would get a few notifications pop up we would drop what we were doing to address them then pick up whatever task we were working on. This is no bueno for productivity. We found that we started to resent it when people would comment on this or email us that. That’s not a normal feel, dude.

We found that we wanted to give minutes and spend time in these apps to engage, respond back, comment, etc. So without any notification whatsoever we’re able to decide the time to do that on our schedule.

Pick One Day to Respond to Messages & Comments

Now that we weren’t getting notifications for #AllTheThings and needing to respond within seconds, we had a little bit more love for our apps. We now pick times throughout the day to pull up the apps on our phones to check the activity and respond to comments. Sometimes this is set (if we know we post at a certain time, we’ll check it about an hour later), but usually it comes up when there’s a lull in our day. Say for instance when Photoshop is taking 18 years to load.

We know some bosses who will only check and respond on a certain day of the week. This may work for them or their business, but we find that we don’t like going that long without responding. Choose a rhythm that works for you and try it out.

Understand & Remind Yourself That You Can't Be Everywhere

This is a big one. We would rather you not have your hands in too many social media buckets and instead pick 1 or 2 that you want to rock really well. Don’t half-ass 7 things, just full-ass one, okay? We accepted early on that Instagram was our happy place, but Twitter wasn’t. Totes okay. We spend our energy in the app that we love and that we know our audience is already hanging out in.

We give ourselves the grace that we’re not going to respond within seconds and that’s okay. We’re not saving lives here so a delayed response isn’t going to hurt anyone. We encourage you to set boundaries and expectations for your audience by being on social media when it suits you.

The more you’re able to set boundaries, the more love you’ll have for the platforms, which will lead to better content and engagement. Win, win.


We hope these are some tiny changes that you can allow yourself to implement here and there for your creative sanity. Our minds already feel like we have one too many tabs open so it’s nice to do what we can to lighten the load.


Join Us on Instagram (Well before you unplug)


Tutorial, Social Media

How to Schedule Social Media Content using Post Planner

When it comes to social media schedulers it seems that it’s usually a bit of a piecemeal to get all the functionality you need for your business. The terms of service for each platform varies so much that it’s hard for one scheduler to be an “all-in-one”. So, while we still use and love Later for our Instagram scheduling, we haven’t really been in love with our options for posting to Twitter and our Facebook group.

postplanner-postgraphic.jpg

When we were voicing our frustrations with our options someone in a Facebook group suggested we check out Post Planner. Holy Moly, were we impressed! First off, it’s $2.00 a month cheaper than what we were using (#DollaBills y’all) and it had some unique features that we didn’t even realize we were missing. If you’ve been considering Post Planner or if you already have it, but not quite sure how to use it, then read below for a full tour of our favorite features.

WHAT THE HECK IS POST PLANNER?

And more importantly, why do you need it? Social media can be tricky, and it’s hard to be active on all the platforms during the day without it sucking up your entire calendar. So it’s nice to have your posts scheduled out in advance so you stay on top of your social media game. Heck, anytime we can get a robot to do our work for us we’re going to do so.

Basically, Post Planner allows you to plan and schedule content to your Facebook Page, Facebook Group, and Twitter. Starting at just $7 a month for up to 10 profiles, 100 posts per day and 1000 planned posts it’s a clear winner over other apps like Buffer that cost $10.00 a month and only allow 100 planned posts a month.

We’ve been able to link our Twitter and Facebook Group so we can plan out content to our hearts’ desire, which frees up a ton of time on our part.

LET’S WALK THROUGH THE APP

First, you’re going to want to create your account. We chose to sign in with our Facebook information to make life easier, but you can create an account with your email (you’ll need to sign in to Facebook to connect your Facebook page or group though).

The first tab you’ll land on is the “Find” section. This one is both cool and lame at the same time. It’s cool because it lets you browse various categories such as “marketing”, “business” or “quotes” and related articles or statuses will pop up. We use this feature solely to get ideas on what to share, write ourselves, or just for inspiration. We don’t share these actual articles because we don’t know who they’re coming from. We like to support people we know in real life (even if just virtually) so we hope that they work on this section a bit. It would be nice to be able to load up accounts you actually follow to see what they’ve been sharing with the ability to re-post it within the app.

So you can skim over this section if you want to. We will point out though that the reason why this is neat and we hope they integrate it differently is that it’s super beneficial to share others’ content. It helps provide a smorgasbord of related and valuable content to your audience without it just coming from you. Sharing Karma is a real thing, y’all.

If you did feel inclined to share from this “Find” section, you would simply click on the article and up would pop your share box. We’ll go over more features of this share box below.

The next tab you’ll see is the “plan” section. You can set your default posting times in here if necessary. Say for instance you never want things to post on a Tuesday (weirdo) you would simply click on Tuesday to gray it out (similar to how Saturday and Sunday look). We chose not to set default posting time because we knew we were going to override them elsewhere. More on that below.

Okay, this is where it gets fun. Here is what our “Post” tab for our Facebook Group looks like. One of the features they have here, called the “Recycle”, is hands down the reason why we love this app. What it allows you to do is set a specific post to “Recycle” at a time you designate. We’ll show you how in just a bit. Here’s how that’s different than what Buffer can offer you. Say you want the same Facebook Group prompt to go out every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Well, in Buffer you could schedule in to do that once and save it to your library, but every week or so you’d have to drag it from your library to your Tuesday spot. If you placed too many of the same post (if you wanted to pre-scheduled out Tuesdays for the rest of the year for instance) Buffer would stop you. No bueno.

Another cool thing we want to point out is that if you click on the “Posted” tab you’re going to see all the things that have already gone out. From there you can click on previously posted items, edit (if needed), and repost. This is similar to Buffer’s library, but way more simple.

Here’s how our Twitter feed looks. You’ll notice that we have “Recycle” on every single post here too. What we were finding with Buffer is that since you could only pre-load 100 posts at any given time then we could only schedule so far in advance. That only lets you schedule 3 posts a day on Twitter per month (not counting if you have anything set to your Facebook Page or Group). Three posts a day on Twitter is not enough, folks, so we need more.

With Post Planner’s intro package you can have 33 posts a day on Twitter (whoa) or roughly 10 to 15 like we have because we also account for the posts we have planned in our Facebook Group (to reach their 1000 limit per month).  

Here’s scheduling a tweet in action. We only plan for blog posts to be shared inside Post Planner. We have a IFTTT set up to post our Instagram posts to our Twitter as native posts (i.e. not an Instagram push, but a true Twitter post with an image). So we’re either sharing and repeating our own blog posts or the posts of people we love.

So here we’ve simply copy and pasted the direct URL to a blog posts of ours. Don’t worry about how long the link is, Post Planner automatically turns it to a bit.ly for you. The image that we have on our post automatically loads as the image to share (tweets with images perform better than tweets with just words). If we wanted to add more words we could, but we like to keep it simple (also, #Lazy).

You’ll see that we check “show Sharebar when link is opened” - we’ll go over that in a bit. Now, let’s plan this sucker.

If you click the “Add to Plan” it will pop this tweet up in the next open spot in your queue. If you click the drop-down arrow you’re going to get some more options.

From here you can decide to share as your next tweet no matter what is scheduled, share right now, or to schedule. When you open the “Schedule Post”, this is where the magic happens. You can set the exact time you want to schedule the tweet and select it to repeat if you wish. We select all of the blog posts we share to repeat, because we are very picky about what we share, so since we know it’s valuable we know you’re going to want to see it again.

Once you decide to repeat a post you can change it to repeat every # of weeks, days or months until a certain end date or for forever. WHOA. Think of all the possibilities! Once you pick your repeat plan just hit “Schedule”.

Now, your tweet will show up in your queue with the bit.ly that Post Planner gave it (feel free to make your own custom bit.ly in your bit.ly account, but this is just an extra step). You’ll also know that the “Recycle” is on because you’ll see the grey recycle icon on the left.

If you hover over the tweet, this purple bar will come up. This is your chance to edit, delete or re-schedule. You’ll only need to re-schedule if you didn’t select it to repeat forever.

Oh, one other cool feature is that you can open up Canva directly inside the app if you don’t have a cute graphic to share. In-app friendliness is kind of our jam.

Okay, now let’s talk about what the heck the Sharebar was all about. It’s pretty much our favorite feature ever. So you know how when you share other people’s content you’d kinda sorta like to get them back over to your site too? Well, this is where Sharebar comes in. When you share a blog you can enable the Sharebar to show and this is what it’ll look like.

Here we are on Megan Minns’ website and our information is showing at the top of her webpage. It doesn’t block anything she already has going on it just simply reminds people who sent them there and enables them to head back to our website, Facebook, and Twitter account. If we wanted to show an email opt-in we would need to upgrade to the Guru plan at $15 a month (not bad at all).

In order to enable your Sharebar you have to create it first. You can find the information on how to do so in your Post Planner settings.

Whew! That was a lot of information. Your takeaways are this:

  • Post Planner is awesome

  • Sharing other people’s content is nice

  • Sharebar is totes cool

  • Scheduling this much content saves a buttload of time

We hope this walkthrough gave you some insight into how powerful this app can be for your business. Now get to scheduling, babe! Create your account with Post Planner now.


Instagram is Our Main Jam!