How To Grow Your Audience with Tyler McCall

[353] How to grow your audience through Instagram Stories with Tyler McCall

Are you using Instagram Stories as part of your social media marketing strategy? Or maybe you’re publishing stories but feel unsure how to turn them into sales ?

If you’re keen to get to grips with Instagram as a tool for your business (and make it more than just a fun place to hang out, post photos and scroll through dreamy images of holiday destinations), you’ll love this podcast interview with Tyler McCall – an Instagram expert who teaches entrepreneurs to build their online communities through Instagram. We discuss the latest Instagram and Instagram Stories strategies you can use to grow your audience and sales.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}

About Tyler McCall

Tyler McCall started out in marketing for non-profit organisations. After developing a boutique social media agency as a side hustle, he fell in love with Instagram. Now he teaches entrepreneurs to build their online communities through Instagram. He’s particularly fond of Instagram Stories, where he can often be found in Target or on road trips.

Understanding your ideal customer (and why it’s vital for Instagram growth)

Back in 2016, Tyler had just a few thousand followers on his Instagram account. When he saw the kind of results his clients were getting with his Instagram growth strategies, he decided to apply them to his own account. Since then he’s grown his own following to over 30k.

If you’re looking to grow your following on Instagram, the worst thing you can do is focus on the numbers. What really matters is whether you’re attracting engagement, leads and sales from your ideal clients – and you don’t necessarily need a large following to do that. Tyler points to the recent example of Instagram Arianna Renee who has 2 million followers but was unable to sell 36 t-shirts for a new product line she was launching.

He tells students inside his membership community the Follower to Fan Society that he would rather they have a small, engaged following – who will actually buy from them – than a massive one who don’t want what they are trying to sell. “If you can’t even get the 10 people, or 100 people, or 1,000 people who follow you right now to buy your stuff, what makes you think that having 10,000 or 100,000 followers is the solution to that problem?” he says.

The most important part is getting clear on the type of person you’d like to follow you – and that person must be someone who would actually purchase your products or book your services (or knows people who would). It’s not enough to think about their age, location and income, you have to understand their hopes, dreams, fears and desires, says Tyler. That way, you’ll be able to create high-quality content that really resonates with them.

Some people get stuck at this point – especially if they have the type of product/service that people only buy once. But Tyler thinks this is short-sighted. If you take the example of a wedding professional, for example, it’s tempting to think you can only capture buyers who are getting married (or thinking about it). But everyone knows someone who is getting married, so if you target your ideal customer and people who are like them (but aren’t necessarily getting married right now) you’re immediately casting your net wider.

How to attract your ideal followers

It’s easy to look at Instagram educators who have tons of followers and think it’s easy. All you have to do is post pretty photos, with great captions and a bunch of hashtags and your following will grow. But many of these experts grew their accounts a few years’ back when these strategies worked. But things have changed on the platform.

Once you’ve established who you’d like to attract on Instagram, you can’t just sit around and wait for the right kind of followers to find you. You have to go out and find them, says Tyler.

He suggests checking out your competitors’ accounts to see who is following them, then checking out those peoples’ profiles and engaging with them there. All of this takes time, but will help you grow your following more successfully – and make sales – in the long run.

What kind of content you should be posting on Instagram

Recent changes to the Instagram algorithm mean one post now lasts three or four days. This means you can get away with posting just a few times a week on your grid – and post on Instagram Stories every single day.

While there are no hard and fast rules about what to post to get engagement, Tyler recommends creating content that inspires, educates and/or entertains your audience.

You should be prepared to test your content to see what is of interest to your audience and not get attached to the results. This means being okay with posting content that may totally flop or bomb. Test different types of photos, captions, videos, quotes, memes and track the engagement.

If you have a product-based business, Tyler recommends making your account a place for your followers to ‘escape’. This means building a following around a vibe or intention rather than a ‘hey look, do you want to buy this thing?’ This is particularly true for product-based businesses who can get stuck in a rut of simply posting photos of their product.

“It could be a moment of beauty, a moment of humour, it’s a moment of inspiration…it’s making them [your followers] think differently,” he says.

He also suggests product-based businesses think about how they can inject a human element into their photos. “Show someone interacting with the product. Show someone using the product. Those subtle shifts in the content you create can make a huge difference for the value of the content for your followers, and it can also sell more, because people then understand the product itself and how they can actually use the product.”

How to create great content for Instagram Stories

The first thing you need to understand about Stories is that they are not generally about attracting new followers – they are connecting with and converting your current followers. So, there’s not going to be much you can do using stories to grow your following.

So if you want to get your current followers to watch your stories, you need to make sure you are directing them there from your grid. So a great way to do this  for a product-based business, for example, might be posting the finished product in your feed, and then saying in your caption, “If you want to see how this product is made, go watch my Instagram story today.” Then share the creation process in your story. Because stories disappear after 24 hours, you may need to go back and edit the caption later.

All great stories have a beginning, a middle and an end – and Instagram Stories is no different, says Tyler. So let people know what they are going to see first, take them on the journey with you and wrap it up at the end with a clear call-to-action.

This doesn’t necessarily mean posting your story all in one go (in fact, adding to your story throughout the day can help boost your engagement on Instagram). But posting three or different ‘storylines’ within a 24 hour period can work well.

Make sure you diversify your stories with a variety of content e.g. photos, talking head videos, graphics, text on screen. This will help hold your audiences’ interest.

And keep them interactive by asking questions and/or using the polling function, slider poll or quiz feature. The more you can get your viewers to talk back to you, the better your engagement (and sales) will be. “If you can strive to create a relationship and connection with people that’s not rooted in your desire to monetise that relationship. Instead, it’s rooted in your desire to just genuinely connect with those people, and that’s really what makes all the difference in marketing on Instagram nowadays,” he says.

Get into the habit of giving at least one call-to-action that invites people to DM you, says Tyler.  If you can make it “easy and natural” for your audience to talk to you, that’s when you’ll start to make sales.  If you can get your audience used to chatting to you over direct message about your latest road trip, or visit to Target, when you do put up a post inviting people to book a discovery call, buy your product or sign up for your new programme, it will be far easier for them to reach out and make a purchase.

Many people worry that their life is too boring for Instagram Stories. If you feel like that, you can use stories to ask your followers to tell you about their lives. “Learn more about them, who they are, why they came to you,” he says. You may find some stuff there that will be really surprising to you – for example, they really enjoyed a picture or story you shared about your family or a holiday – which will give you confidence that your life is interesting enough.

Ideas for Instagram Stories

  • A day in the life (a behind-the-scenes account of your day
  • How I Made This (can be anything from a product to a set of coaching materials)
  • Tour – give people a tour of your office/studio
  • Tools/kit (Tyler has had great success showing his followers the tools he uses to record the classes for his membership)

How to make sales on Instagram Stories

Tyler has “story after story” of clients who are generating fantastic income via their Instagram Stories, with sales being made through direct messages. These include a member who landed a $25,000 social media contract from one DM and another who paid off $50,000 in credit card debt by selling her art through Instagram direct messages. “It’s proof that if you know who you’re talking to, what you’re saying to them, and how to engage with them… if you have those three things figured out, then anything’s possible for you on Instagram,” he says.

How to track your success on Instagram Stories

He advises measuring two key metrics: retention (i.e. how long people are sticking with your story, rather than moving onto the next one) and the number of direct message you’re getting.

Adding captions can be a great way to increase engagement (remember most people will be watching on their phone, with the sound turned down). You can either type captions onto your story or, if you’re speaking directly to camera, use a tool like Kapwing to burn them directly onto your video.

Find out how to use Rev and Kapwing to burn captions onto your social media videos.

Podcast Shownotes

  • Tyler’s business story (05:19)
  • The key things to grow your followers and engagement on Instagram (09:22)
  • Why you don’t need more followers on Instagram to get more sales (12:26)
  • Why getting engagement on Instagram isn’t about the visuals and hashtags anymore (16:31)
  • Why intentional engagement is key to growing your Instagram followers (17:55)
  • Why old Instagram strategies are outdated and no longer effective (20:20)
  • What you should think about when creating content for your audience on Instagram (23:45)
  • How you can use Instagram Stories to build connections and make sales (30:47)
  • Why you won’t need to sell anymore if you nail your Instagram Stories (38:10)
  • How to get your followers to watch your Instagram Story and what to post (43:08)


Tyler McCall Instagram

Tyler McCall Website | Free Instagram Masterclass

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