M&M 54: How to Stand Out and Make Great Content on Instagram

With over a billion active users worldwide, Instagram continues to be a dynamic social media outlet. Are you scratching your head wondering how you can stand out and make great content on Instagram? We’ve got some practical tips in this episode to help you get started.

In this episode sponsored by The Rich Miser, we speak with Eric Patrick from Black Market Exchange about:

  • The origin of his Instagram account and brand
  • Tools and practical tips for maintaining style and brand
  • His methodology for selling products without being “salesy”
  • The frequency and scheduling of IG posts

Time Stamp

Intro – Eric Patrick- Hip-hop lover, investor, teacher, Instagrammer
1:00 Creating a unique brand
2:20 Building a business from a social media platform
5:15 Stop trying to sell stuff
9:50 Sharing more of your personal life through photos
11:10 Branding your images
13:00 Mistakes to avoid when using Instagram
14:20 Consistency in posting

Creating a Unique Brand

Eric has a definite presence and style with his brand, Black Market Exchange. It all began back in 2014 when Eric and his wife were expecting their first child and he wanted to start investing to bring in some extra cash.

Over the summer of 2014, Eric began sharing what he was learning about investing, which went far beyond stocks and bonds, on Instagram. The response blew him away. Not only were family and friends responding, but he was hearing from people he had never met.

He decided to create a platform to share all the information he was learning with young people who didn’t want to learn from a dude in a suit scrolling through a slide deck. He combined his love of money and hip-hop to create a brand unique to his message. His desire to offer something that wasn’t being offered led to the thought, “Where do you get something you can’t find anywhere else? The black market.” And the Black Market Exchange was formed.

Building from a Social Media Platform

I don’t know if you noticed the order in which Eric built his online business; he built his Instagram first and a website later. The website actually didn’t come along until December of 2014. This is the opposite order from what most people in online business follow. Typically, someone starts with a website and follows it up with social media channels.

When Eric first started sharing about investing and finance on Instagram, he was using his personal page. As he got more and more responses and his following grew, he decided to start a new page and solidify his brand. Eric calls himself a latecomer to the social media game, always falling a year or more behind joining the newest platform.

One of the things that Eric does really well is that he knows his audience. He doesn’t talk about budgeting and cutting your spending because you can find everything you need to know about those topics in a thousand other places. But nobody is talking about investing to his specific audience.

Stop Trying to Sell Stuff

If you look at Eric’s Instagram feed, you immediately notice the lack of sales posts. For a brand that needs to sell items in order to be successful, you might wonder how he manages to get those sales without more outright ad posts.

When Eric was in the beginning stages of his business, someone told him, “People don’t want you to sell them anything but they do want to buy stuff.” He’s tried to follow that thinking ever since by asking for opinions on his products and offering a coupon for participants rather than trying to sell his products outright.

Black Market Exchange shirt exampleEric’s swag has a definite “look” just like his overall brand. The origin, though, might not be what you expect. Take a look at ​this t-shirt​ that he designed. Yes indeed, he got the idea from the nutrition facts on food items. ​Another one​ takes terms that most people are at least slightly familiar with and simply packages them in a fresh way to get attention.

Because Eric’s swag speaks for itself, he can put photos of them either alone or being worn on his Instagram and they tend to sell themselves.

Sharing Your Personal Story

When Eric first started the Instagram channel, he was adamant about keeping his business and his personal life separate. He kept it that way until he started realizing that people didn’t know anything about who was behind the company and who he was.

One thing that Eric stresses to anyone wanting to get started on Instagram is that Instagram favors pictures of people. Keep that in mind if you have a product-based business. Share photos of people wearing or using your product, not just the product itself.

Branding Your Images

Along with sharing personal stories through your photos, you also need to consider having a cohesive look to your feed. Color plays a huge role in that cohesion.

Think about some of the major brands you could recognize by color. What is McDonald’s signature color? How about Best Buy? Mountain Dew? Coca-Cola? I’ll bet you could answer every one of those. You want people to be able to recognize your brand by deciding on colors and using them consistently.

When Eric was choosing colors for his brand, the first choice was a no-brainer. Green is the color of money and so it’s his signature color. One quick look at his Instagram feed and the green pops out at you.

Eric is a huge fan of​ Canva​ and finds their templates very helpful when creating his images. He also looks for inspiration in the Instagram feeds of other people he follows.

Mistakes to Avoid on Instagram

The number one thing that Eric recommends is not doing images that are text only. He did that when he first started but he’s had to work his way out of it. Quotes are great but find a way to include some type of photo with the text for the best results.

Video is everywhere, including Instagram. If you ignore video, you won’t see the growth you want in your business. You can include video in your Stories, in the newly released IGTV, and you can also upload audio clips to your Stories. If you have a podcast and you aren’t using Stories to upload clips from it, you are missing out.

If you look at Eric’s Instagram feed, you will notice a few things. First of all, you notice the colors. You may also notice the people he has in some of his photos and the quotes. The other thing that is obvious in his feed are the hip-hop lyrics. He uses the theme of hip-hop to get his message about investing across to a certain audience. If you want to see more engagement on IG, choose colors and a theme for your feed that will speak to your specific audience.

Consistency in Posting

The main thing to remember about Instagram is that it’s like any other social media platform; you have to be consistent to see results.

You want to post at least once per day when you are getting started. If you post too little, people don’t have a chance to learn your brand and decide to follow you. If you post too often, you’ll drive people crazy. Once you are a bit more established, you can post just 3-4 times per week and be okay.

Until recently, Instagram hasn’t allowed schedulers to post to the platform. You could create your posts and save them but the scheduler would only alert you when it was time to post it. That has changed and Instagram has opened up to schedulers. Eric’s favorite scheduler to use is Buffer simply because of its ease of use and the ability to manage your other social media platforms as well.

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About Our Host

Joe Saul-Sehy is the co-host of the Stacking Benjamins personal finance podcast and operates the Stacking Benjamins blog.

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