Holiday Instagram Challenge
CHALLENGE DAY #1: SET YOUR CHALLENGE PURPOSE
Becoming skillful on Instagram takes time and consistency - you’re probably not going to be able to achieve all of your Instagram goals in 7 days.
You will definitely move forward and pick up skills to get you where you want to be.
One of the ways you maximize improving your IG skills over these next few days is by not spreading yourself too thin and just focus on improving one aspect of your Instagram account during the challenge.
With that said, I'd like for you to commit to and choose one of the following areas to spend the most energy on. You will touch both of these areas (and much more) in the challenge, but I want you to set your purpose for the next few days so you can actually see your progress..
So, which area would you like to see the most improvement in over the next week?
Increased engagement around posts
Increase in followers
Action Item #1 - Share your area of focus in the group
Once you’ve decided on the area you’d like to see the most improvement in, share your choice in The Refreshed Moms Group. Use this sentence starter when you post:
I’m participating in the Holiday IG Challenge and my goal is to increase my account [insert your goal - either followers or engagement]in order to [insert why you desire to increase in this area right now].
Action Item #2 - Download the worksheet
Download my Instagram Branding “Before” Worksheet to document where you are starting with your IG account in order to be able to note your progress after implementing what you learn. We have to have a good understanding of where we are in order to get to where we want to be, and everyone starts at zero, right? This worksheet is just a resource and business tool designed to help, so don't feel any kinda way about your numbers - no matter if they're high or low. No-comparison zone always, right?
Challenge Day #2: Clarify Your Brand
Ok, so out of all of our lessons, this one may take you the longest to think through.
It’s not hard work, but it’s necessary work.
Because we’re going to focus on your message and your branding - quite possibly the most important aspect of your business presence on Instagram.
We’re going to cover three areas: Customer, Business, and Personal Branding.
If you haven’t spent time figuring out who your perfect customer is, you want to put a little bit of work into this before moving on in the challenge.
Some questions that can help you gain more clarity around who your customer is are the following:
What is your niche market? (Example: Moms)
Do you serve a sub-niche in that market? (Example New entrepreneur moms with small children)
Can you name three of their top issues, challenges, problems, pain points, or frustrations? What keeps them up at night? (Examples: time management, self-care, how to get their business off the ground, how to monetize, how to leverage social media)
What words would you use to describe this group of people? (Examples: confused, hesitant, unsure, tired, over-committed, ambitious, self-starters)
Now, let’s spend some time getting a bit clearer on who your business is. I like saying “who” instead of “what” in order to give your business an actual personality.
Ask yourself these questions:
How can or do you/your business help your ideal customer solve the problems you’ve identified?
What makes you different from your competitors?
Direct sales ladies, a good question could be "What makes my team different than someone else's team in my company?" - Team dynamics makes a big difference when selling and recruiting, yes? Another question could be, "What makes what I bring to the table different than my team members?"
Why do you think people come to you (or will come to you) for help?
What words would you use to describe your business and how it helps your sub-niche/customers?
Finally, let’s focus some time around how you play a part in the branding of your business.
Your uniqueness is a big reason you stand apart from others that may be offering similar or even the exact same products or services as you do.
I'm not the only biz coach out there - there's tons of us doing amazing work. But that doesn't mean I won't stand out to the people that I desire to work with. Why? Because no one can duplicate me. My services can be duplicated, but Deanna cannot be.
Making sure your personality and authenticity shines through is very important as you build and strengthen your brand.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
How do you want people to see you?
Can you list 5 - 6 words you would use to describe your “brand” personality?
Think about your IG feed - what emotions do you want people to feel when they view your account?
Worksheets to Help
I created two worksheets for you to use to help you think through the answers to some of these questions. They're just tools designed to get you to a point of clarity around your branding. If you feel you’re already clear on this for your business, awesome!
If you think you could use some help with this (most do), then I definitely recommend completing the worksheets.
Worksheet #1 - Your Customer & Business Personality
Worksheet #2 - Your Personal Brand Personality
Your Action Step: Craft Your Brand Personality Description
After you’ve completed the above work, it’s time to describe your brand personality in a one to two paragraph statement.
There is space in Worksheet #2 for you to draft this.
Here is an example of a brand personality statement:
“I am able to communicate in a way that is authentic and transparent to my moms. I inspire them in their desire to grow a business, tapping into their God-given ambition and drive to build something from their heart. I encourage moms that may be struggling with their emotional health, inspiring them to take good care of themselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I help moms know that whatever it is they bring to the table, they are capable and they are enough.” ~Deanna Mason, Refreshed Moms
Now it’s your turn! Take an imperfect step and draft your brand personality description.
Once you’ve completed it, your accountability step is to copy and paste your description into the Refreshed Moms Group. Look for the Day #2 Image and post your description in that thread.
I'll wait to send Challenge Day #3 until the day after tomorrow in order to give you some extra time with this step. Keep a lookout for it - we’re going to go a little deeper in our journey to engage and connect with our IG followers this season.
See you in the group, and stay refreshed!
Challenge Day #3: Mapping Your Message
Now that you’ve completed Day #2 and have a clearer picture of whom it is you serve, what their problems are, and how your brand can help them solve their problems, it’s time to start crafting your IG messaging.
We’re going to do a little exercise called “Emotion Mapping.”
I heard about emotion mapping first from the amazing Jasmine Starr.I've just kinda tweaked it a bit to teach it in a way that fit my business approach.
The idea behind the way I emotion map is to consistently take your followers on a journey with you that helps them overcome their problems.
You're entire feed can be one big fat amazing resource - all the time - that your followers will want to revisit often.
Today, we will focus on the first step in the emotion mapping process, which is identifying the top themes you want to talk about with your captions and images.
These themes should completely support and align with your brand personality description crafted on Day #2.
Let’s revisit my brand personality description to use as an example:
“I am able to communicate in a way that is authentic and transparent to my moms. I inspire them in their desire to grow a business, tapping into their God-given ambition and drive to build something from their heart. I encourage moms that may be struggling with their emotional health, inspiring them to take good care of themselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I help moms know that whatever it is they bring to the table, they are capable and they are enough.”
So, the question I need to answer is, what types of things can I talk about on Instagram to support what I'm saying my brand is as well as help my ideal customers solve their problems. Some of the things I currently talk about are the following:
Coffee (you must know coffee is a problem solver, yes?)
Family - My children
Family - My husband/marriage (this is rare though… I may need to step it up! LOL!)
Notice what you don’t see on this list:
Coaching with me
Buying my products or services
I’m not saying I don’t talk about those things, I’m just saying they are not topics that represent my brand.
There’s a difference - does this make sense?
Is there room for selling things on Instagram. YES! Definitely. But, you don’t want your account to be about the sell, at least not just about the sell.
What I want you to work on is creating a feeling. Connecting with an emotion. Creating an experience for your followers.
There are ways of converting followers into sales, most definitely. But, you’re not going to do that, most likely, by posting an image and letting people know what you have to offer.
Building that type of trust - the trust where someone buys something from you just because you promoted it - takes time. A LOT of time.
So, you’d be better off spending your efforts on IG relationship building and strengthening trust. Let your followers know you understand their needs, and that you would love to be resource for them to meet those needs.
And you can do this by creating your very own, brand-specific emotion map.
Action Step 1:
Spend some time brainstorming a list of 10 - 20 things that you can talk about on Instagram that align with your brand personality. Use the top of the worksheet below to capture your ideas. We’ll circle back to the bottom of the worksheet later in the challenge.
Once you’ve picked out your 10 - 20 themes, you know what to do – Post them in the Refreshed Moms Facebook Group! This is a community effort, and your thoughts may spark creativity for others that may struggle a bit with some of this. It’s also a great accountability resource.
Find the Day #3 Challenge Image in the group and post the below sentence starter along with your list of 10 - 20 themes in the image thread:
My brand serves my followers on IG by talking about the following themes on my feed:
[insert your list]
I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Day #4 will arrive tomorrow - so be alert. :)
Staying Refreshed (or trying very hard to do so),
Challenge Day #4: Inspiration & Prop Gathering
Now, let’s get to the fun stuff! Are you ready to jump into some photo planning?
I really get excited about this part - curating my own branded images has been on of my favorite things to do around my IG presence. I see ideas for photos EVERYWHERE now. Maybe I’ll turn you into a master photo generator before we’re done.
Today, you are going to spend some time getting inspired!
Having an idea of the photo direction you want to go in can really help you be prepared for your prop selection.
One of my favorite tools to use for inspiration is Pinterest!
Remember, you are looking for photos that are going to help you share your brand message - photos that help you connect emotionally with your followers around their needs and how you resolve those needs for them.
Watch my quick video tutorial on how I use Pinterest to gather ideas and make a shopping list of potential items to grab at the store or find around the house.
Gather Your Props
Now that you know how to get the creative wheels turning in order to prepare for your photos, make a list of what you need and start gathering your props.
You don’t have to recreate the exact thing you saw on Pinterest. Keep it simple and don’t get overwhelmed with this part. You don’t need a whole lot of props to pull this off.
I definitely encourage you to use as many things from home as you can. But, you may want to go out and do some shopping for a few things that you just gotta have!
One of my favorite places to shop and get the most bang for my buck is Dollar Tree. Maybe check out your local dollar store first before you start hitting up the Hobby Lobby’s and Targets. No need to spend a ton of money for props.
Don’t Forget Backdrops!
In addition to your prop items, I also want you to grab things to use in some of your backgrounds. We’re going to keep it really simple, but here are some background ideas to think about:
Foam board (make sure one is white)
Large sheets of paper - maybe size A1 (make sure to grab white as well as any other colors you may want to use.)
Fun place mats
Before you grab too many items, think about where and how you want to store them at home. Grabbing a storage bin may work, or maybe you have some free shelf space. As you continue to work on curating your own photos, storage will become an issue, so just think that through a bit.
I use these cute little IKEA bins to sort and store my props. It makes it easy to find what I need when I’m gathering things for a branded photo shoot. So, one bin is for mugs and dishes. Another bin is for office desk supplies, and then another one for small pictures with cute sayings on them. I even have them sorted for holiday-specific items.
Once you have your prop list complete, your action step is to post your list under the Challenge Day #4 Picture in the Refreshed Moms FB Group.
Your accountability step is to take a picture of all of your gathered props and post it under the Challenge Day #4 Picture in the Refreshed Moms FB Group. It’s one thing to plan what you need, it’s an entirely different thing to actually take action and actually get the props.
So, let me see a picture of your props all in one place so I know you're ready to keep going!
And, it’s always amazing to see what people start with and how those simple items help create beautiful, professional-looking images.
I’m giving you a couple of days to complete this step, so look for Day #5’s challenge email to come on Sunday - and it’s a good one. We’re jumping into hashtags next!
Until then, stay refreshed my friend.
P.S. - We’re almost there!
Challenge Day #5: Photo Shoot & Editing
OK - I lied… accidentally.
Day #5 is not actually about hashtags - we’ll be covering hashtags on Day #7, which will be sent out on Wednesday - don’t hate me too much.
I completely forgot that I need to cover your photo shoot first!
After talking about your photos, we’ll do a little bit of work around captioning and scheduling your posts on Day #6.
So, today, our focus is on shooting and editing your photos.
Are we friends again? I sure hope so.
Now, you're ready to start snapping some pictures!
If you’re the creative type, it’s time for you to get those juices flowing - let’s see what you can do!
If you’re the not-so-creative type, I want you to start out by keeping things simple - just one item staged in a picture can still make a beautiful shot.
Here are a few tips to get you going.
Find a place in your house where you have a decent amount of natural lighting. I don’t have a ton of space or windows in my home, but my living room is where I normally set up. Open curtains and do whatever you may need to do to get as much indirect natural lighting in as possible.
Note that some parts of the day may be better than others, so just play around with times if you need to.
Set-up and Staging
Let's stage your pictures next.
I try to stage a few shots at a time so that I can transition from shot to shot easily, or at least get my thoughts out around what I want to try and shoot.
I’ve included two videos to give you some tips on actual shooting your pictures.
You can just use your phone if you like (that’s what I do most of the time).
My daughter also helps me with my shoots - she holds my backdrops for me since I don’t have a wall to tape my paper to. She’s always willing to help if it means she can step away from her school work. LOL!
Video tutorial links:
Getting to 20 Photos
What I want you to do is try and create more than one look/shot per set of props. You can do this easily by shooting a flat lay as well as a product shot - giving you two different pictures with just one set-up.
Another way you can do this is to just add different props or elements to change the look up a bit.
Your goal is to re-purpose your props in order to get as many different photos as possible. Remember, we’re trying to get 20 pictures total.
Refer back to your Brand Mapping Worksheet from Day #3 to see how you can use some of the same props to talk about multiple themes just by rearranging your props in different photos.
Take plenty of pictures.
Investigate each picture to make sure items are place correctly and there isn’t something random showing up that you can correct easily.
Check to make sure things are centered the way you want them to be and that they all look balanced.
Minimize shadows as much as possible - many times it’s just as easy as switching the side you’re taking the photo from or by turning your staging area to face a different direction.
When you’re finished, I want you to choose your top 20 pictures. Once you’ve chosen them, you can delete the rest if you like. We’re only going to work with those 20.
Feel free, however, to keep as many as you want. I just find it hard to edit when I have a lot of photos of the same thing on my phone. I delete all except for the ones I’m actually going to use.
I’m going to show you some simple ways to edit your photo using an iPhone. I am going to assume Android has similar functionality as well, but the point of this is just to show you how you can get a clear and amazing-looking picture in just a few clicks.
Execute your photo shoot! Go ahead and start taking your photos and edit the ones you desire to use.
Post one of your favorite edited photos in the Refreshed Moms Group under the Day #5 image. I cannot wait to see your beautiful creations!
Tuesday, I’m going to talk about captioning and scheduling your photos.
You’re almost ready to start engaging with your ideal followers - you’re getting your feed ready to add value to their lives and serve them well. Just wait and see!
Challenge on, and stay refreshed my friend.
Challenge Day #6: Captioning & Scheduling
Day #6 is here, and we’re ready to talk about how to use captions to increase our engagement with our followers. And, we’re going to wrap today up with a quick lesson on how to batch plan for your IG post - which is totally a bonus lesson so you must understand how much I really love you.
There is an art to creating engaging captions.
You, personally, also possess an art for engagement that is specific to your audience.
Not every audience responds to the same things, and you’re followers have their own unique make-up. Why? Because no where on IG do those exact followers all come together in one place. This is authentic to your feed. Which means the way you engage them needs to be just as authentic as their convergence is.
There are, however, some general things that seem to work well on Instagram no matter your business. A few of them are the following:
Pictures of your family and/or children
There is also a certain type of post that, generally speaking, doesn’t perform as well. Can you guess what kind of post that is?
Anything that is selling something, or anything that has a call to action (like join my group, follow my blog, download my freebie), tend to not do well.
That doesn’t mean people are not seeing them. It just means people think twice before engaging around it.
So, our job as boss moms on IG is figuring out just the right mix of posts that are strictly about engagement with those that have a call to action of some sort.
The Instagram algorithm
One of the ways our posts get in front of our followers is by increasing the engagement around them. Engagement includes how many people like a certain post as well as how many people comment - thoughtfully - on your post.
Getting people to do one or the other is good, but getting people to do both is fabulous! When we do this, IG rewards us by putting our post in front of more of our followers.
How to increase engagement
Here are a few tips on how to increase engagement around your Instagram posts:
Be consistent. Post content regularly. Once a day is definitely sufficient. Spend your time increasing getting engagement around just that one post. Kinda makes things simpler.
Post the types of things your followers seem to want to see on your feed. Notice what types of things your followers are already vibing around, then post those types of thing more often.
Ask questions that inspire quick but thoughtful responses from your followers.
Respond back to every comment your followers leave. Don’t ignore any of them - not even the ones you think are from bots. Let your followers know you want to engage with them.
Connect A LOT more than sell. This is truly just my opinion. Not everyone follows this rule, and there are definitely exceptions if you’re in a promotional period for something specific. But for the sake of example - generally speaking - if you post 7 times a week, make just one of those post around selling something.
Give gentle and authentic calls to action. When you are giving a call to action, let it be a soft touch. Let your caption add value in a way, and figure out a way to work in a call to action.
Here is an example of a post that went really well for me that included a call to action:
Challenge Day #7 - Finding Your Ideal Followers
Alright! One more challenge lesson before we all go ghost on each other for Thanksgiving (specifically my U.S. moms out there!)
This lesson is probably the reason why most signed up for this challenge in the first place.
Today we’re talking all about finding your ideal followers on Instagram.
Please keep in mind that the work we’ve done in the previous challenge days have all been about getting you ready for this lesson.
Nailing your brand and messaging - and creating photos and captions that share your brand and messaging - is much more important than what I’m teaching below. If you don’t have clarity around those things, this lesson will truly be a waste of time.
Make sure you do the work from Challenge Days 1 - 6 before employing these strategies. You only have one time to make a first impression, so let’s make the effort behind the Day 7 work count!
You can use Instagram hashtags to find your followers. I’m going to share with you how I do it, but understand other people may approach this differently. I will say, however, that this strategy does work.
Write down a list of 5 - 10 hashtags to research. Feel free to do even more, but this is a good number to start with.
You’re looking for hashtags that your ideal follower would use, not hashtags you or your competitors would use.
For example, if you sell makeup products to moms, you’re not looking for hashtags like #makeupartist or #makeuptutorials. Why? Because those are not hashtags your ideal followers would use.
You want to research hashtags like #stayathomemom, #sahm, #momofthree, or #homeschoolmoms. Why? Because I’m thinking that somewhere in there you’ll find customers using those tags that would be perfect for your business.
Once you create your hashtags list, go into Instagram to check them out and see if the type of people using those hashtags are actually people you want to work with or people that you believe would be interested in what you have to offer.
Watch my video tutorial to see how I do this.
Growing your followers
Now, I’m going to show you a system that you can use to consistently grow your followers on Instagram.
You can decide how much time you desire to commit to this in your work week. But, whatever amount of time you decide on, the key is to be consistent and stick with it in order to have steady growth.
Once you understand how this works, set your timer, and just go for it. Once the timer shuts off, your done for the day!
Here’s my system to increase my followers with the exact right people that I’d like to serve and do business with.
1. Make a list of 20 to 30 Instagram accounts that seem to fall into your ideal customer description.
2. Spend time every day for the next week engaging with them around their posts that week. Like and thoughtfully comment on as many as you can in the time frame you set aside to work on Instagram.
3. Follow the accounts that you desire to follow, but don’t feel obligated to do so. Follow them because you want to, not because you hope they follow you back.
The thought is that some of the people you engage with are going to hop over to your account and check you out. By this time, your account should be ready to serve them once they get there. Some will decide to click follow if they like what they see.
I follow a similar system for increasing engagement and deepening relationships on Instagram. The only difference is, instead of making a list of 20 to 30 accounts that are not following me, I make a list of 20 - 30 accounts that are already following me.
I like my list to contain some of the accounts that are already liking and commenting on my posts with those that I don’t usually hear from. I do this in an effort to grow relationships with as many of my followers as possible.
The thought is that the more we engage, the more we build trust. People tend to purchase from people that they know, love, and trust. So, I’m spending time creating some virtual relational equity by reaching out to some of my followers intentionally and engaging with them.
Decide on your focus
Right now in my business, I’d much rather spend my time deepening relationships with people that already like and follow me than grow my followers. So when I set my timer to work on Instagram, my time split usually looks something like 20 minutes with my current followers, and 10 minutes with new people.
You, however, may have a goal to grow your followers instead of deepen relationships over the next month. If so, your strategy may be to spend more time engaging with people that are not following you right now.
You have to make the decision on what you want to focus on in your business. Your focus and needs will change from month to month or quarter to quarter - and that’s totally OK. There’s plenty of time to do both. Just set your purpose and commit to it. Then pivot when you’re ready and focus on something else.
Make a list of hashtags to research.
Post your hashtags list under the Day 7 Image in the Refreshed Moms Group.
Breaking for Thanksgiving
So, if you’re like me and live in the U.S., you’re about to shut down and enjoy family and friends for a couple of days, stepping away from work a bit.
Although this is Day #7 of the challenge, I have one more bonus lesson waiting for you. I also want to walk the execution of all you’ve learned out with you a bit and make room for questions you may have.
But, you’ll receive the bonus lesson next week - so don’t worry. Relax and refresh as you enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday, and we’ll reconnect on Monday and spend next week rolling out your plan.
I’ve truly enjoyed creating this challenge for you - just a few more days before I’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed the IG t’s.
Happy Thanksgiving, and stay refreshed friend.
So this is how it works (and it works beautifully let me tell you).
You are new to boss momming, and you’ve hit a roadblock.
Something that has caused you to pause and has paralyzed your forward movement.
I promise you, the answers are already inside you, you maybe just need a little help pulling them out.
I’m kinda a ninja at helping you move past your hurdle, your sticky place, your frustration.
And I’d like to help you out. For free.
No strings. You can put your guard down. Just relax and let’s vibe together to push you forward.
Cause it’s just what I like to do.
Yeah, you may decide you want to keep me around. I’m pretty magnetic that way. 😂
But you may get your answer, and just move on to continue to create beautiful things in your business.
Either way, you’re unstuck, and it only took 15 minutes to do.
So, what do you say? Wanna ask me a question? Why don’t we try it out right here. Go ahead. I’ll mini-session right here with the first person to ask me a new-to-business question, time management question, or self-care question... I’ll even hop on over to a homeschooling boss mom question. 😉 (Geez, what am I getting myself in to? 😂)
Or if you’d rather, click my link above and schedule 15 minutes with me. I’d love it.
Now scheduling for next week and first week of November. Let’s rock together shall we? How may I serve you?
This entire post was basically a call to action, but it’s a really soft touch and not salesy. Salesy copy would actually feel really weird on my feed, because it’s not who I am or what I want to project. So make sure that even when you’re selling, it feels good to you and is aligned with who you are and who you want to be for your followers.
NOTE: There are other ways to determine if you're receiving great engagement around a post. If people are direct messaging you around the content, opting in to your freebies, or converting in other ways besides liking and commenting on your post, those are stronger measures of success. So don't get stuck looking for a ton of red hearts and comments if your followers are responding in ways that are not as visible as those things.
I'd rather have someone complete a discovery form over them liking my image ANY DAY. Followers eventually converting into well-served purchasers down the line is THE ULTIMATE barometer of your effectiveness on leveraging IG for business.
Planning your photos and captions
If you’re a planner and like to batch your social media forecasting, here is where you can circle back to the Brand Mapping Worksheet and plan your photos as well as type out your captions.
Here is a video tutorial on how to use the worksheet to plan out your images and your captions.
BONUS LESSON: Scheduling
There are a few free apps out there that you can use to schedule your posts for IG.
Buffer is a cool one.
Preview is another.
My favorite right now, however, is Planoly.
Here is my tutorial on using Planoly to preview your feed, schedule your images, create captions, and assign hashtags.
Post one picture you're planning to use on IG along with the caption you want to use under the Day #6 Image in the Refreshed Moms Group. If I have any coaching tips around it, I'll make sure to share. This should be a lot of fun!
Only 1 more day left before you’re ready to apply all that you’ve learned to your Instagram account! We’re jumping into hashtags and finding your ideal followers next - it’s going to be good!
See you for Day #7! Hang in there!