In today’s episode, we sit down with Tash Meys and Viv Conway, who provide consulting and execution services dedicated to fast-tracking a company’s Instagram growth and engagement.
“I think if you’re not using social media, it can be overwhelming with which platform to choose,” says Tash, when asked about what Instagram is and how it’s different from other mediums.
We’ll talk with Tash and Viv about how to learn about Instagram, why Instagram is an important business tool, and…
Patrick Stroth: Hello there. I’m Patrick Stroth. Welcome to M&A Masters where I speak with the leading experts in mergers and acquisitions. And we’re all about one thing here, that’s a clean exit for owners, founders and their investors. Today I’m joined by Natasha Meys and Vivian Conway, better known as Tash and Viv, founders of Ace the Gram. From their home base in New Zealand, that’s right The country in New Zealand, Tash and Viv provide consulting and execution services dedicated to fast-tracking a company’s Instagram growth and engagement.
Now, what excites me about this entire subject is this challenge that all business owners have, not just emerges and acquisitions, but attorneys, bankers, private equity. The challenge is how can you separate yourself, your firm and your message above all the others and cut through the clutter to distinguish yourself to your ideal clients. And so we’re always interested in finding new tools, or new processes or new platforms.
And this is one that, you know, I didn’t think about, but contrary to conventional wisdom, Instagram isn’t just for millennials. Business owners right now are racing to find ways to better connect their customers, prospects, as well as colleagues and influencers through this most powerful new social media platform. So Tash, Viv, thanks for joining me today and welcome to the podcast.
Viv Conway: Thanks for having us. Patrick. Very happy to be here.
Tash Meys: Yeah, thank you so much for having us. We’re excited to chat about all things Instagram marketing today.
Patrick: It’s got to be eye-opening, to say the least. Before we get into Instagram, and, you know, Ace the Gram and other Grams that might be in the discussion today, why don’t you tell us about yourselves. Also do identify you know, which one is talking every now and then so we can get a feel for that. But tell us how did you get to this point in your career?
Tash: Yes, sure. So for reference, it’s Tash currently talking.
Viv: And this is my voice. I’m Viv.
Tash: So we started our business Ace the Gram about four years ago. We met when we were studying at Otago University, which is in New Zealand. We’re actually studying Food Science at the time. But Viv began a sportswear label, a sportswear brand. And she started using Instagram to market that business. And she was finding that she was getting a lot of website traffic and a lot of orders from Instagram from people finding her brand on Instagram. And simultaneously, I was starting a creative account on Instagram where I could showcase my photography and my healthy food and recipes.
And so gradually, that became what some people call an influencer account and I was doing collaborations with various brands. And Viv was getting more sophisticated with her Instagram marketing techniques for business. And then we kind of went down the line a little. We were consulting a lot with each other. And we started taking on clients and helping them do what we had done for our pages for their business. And then eventually, we combined and then four years later, it’s kind of been a crazy journey. But yeah, we’ve learned a lot.
Patrick: And Viv, you want to throw in anything?
Viv: Yeah, no, I normally let Tash give the backstory there. And I suppose Yeah, just does make us unique coming from that brand and influencer point of view. I think that’s what a lot of our clients enjoy about the way that we work with the general understanding of how it works from both sides in terms of collaborations. And I think as well, one of the favorite things about what we do is we’ve worked with such a range of industries.
So from, you know, real estate agents, to consultants, to product business owners, to events companies, every Instagram strategy is so different. And we tailor an Instagram strategy exactly for the company because that intention is really different. So we really like, you know, the creative way that you have to think of different strategies for each specific industry or company.
Patrick: A lot of us aren’t real social media savvy right now. We’ve just either by choice or intimidation or whatever just haven’t gotten into using social media as, you know, the younger folks have. Do me a favor for the audience, describe what Instagram is, how it’s different from some of the other social media platforms. And then also, if you could talk about what are influencers and some of the other jargon that’s out there, relative, that would help us as we learn more about Instagram?
Viv: Yeah, great question. I think when, you know, if you’re not using a lot of social media, it can be really overwhelming with knowing which platform to kind of choose. And it really depends on where is your audience? Where do they spend the most time? You might find that your audience spends a lot of time on Twitter or Facebook. But Instagram has just hit more than a billion monthly active users.
So which is a massive number and it just means that your audience is on the platform. So it’s about in our position, how can we get in front of our audience because we know that we’re, that they’re there, and they’re using the platform. We’re seeing some different platforms come out at the moment with the gen z really leading the charge around the Tik Tok sort of era at the moment, but a lot of people are still, you know, advertising on Facebook with pay to play because people are still there and so on.
Tash: Yeah, so I think the differences between the main platforms, and so Facebook actually owns Instagram, they bought them quite a few years ago now. And Facebook’s more for information and, you know, to your friends with all your friends and family. You might like a few business pages, but Facebook is different now because to create any impact as a business on Facebook is pay to play.
So you won’t be shown to that audience and who likes your business page on Facebook without paying. And you’re gonna get shown into I think 0.01% of those organic reach at the moment, whereas Instagram is a more visual platform. So it’s more about the visual content that you’re putting out. And you are on a level playing field with a normal user. So if you have a business account, you’re shown an algorithm to just as many people as a personal account would be.
And so we’re seeing that because you’re not getting penalized for that and because Instagram has such a high engagement rate, which means various people using the platform tend to action more than other platforms. So for example, all you can do on Instagram is scroll down a fate of images and like or comment as you go or watch stories.
And that means that the engagement on the platform is really high because they’re laser-focused on this one piece of content at one at a time, which can be super powerful for brands. And a picture speaks 1000 words so when a brand has a grid of images that, you know, display, they came messages in visual form, and then they’ve got some captions and some other assets to back that up, then that can be amazing for, you know, a business’s messages and to show those messages to their target audience.
Patrick: Well, the goal for business owners, and I’m coming from the platform of LinkedIn, which is the more business CD’s resume display out there and it’s amazing how many people are on LinkedIn that don’t even have a picture, which is a tremendous, you know, hurdle for a lot of people to deal with. But, you know, the goal for business owners right now is to get out there and they want to develop trust, and then also create sustainable relationships with both clients and I guess centers of influence is what we used to call our influencers. How can that be accomplished in Instagram? How does that work?
Viv: Yeah, that’s a great question as well. We was having a chat with. I’m not sure if you’re aware of Sabrina Phillips. She’s a woman’s business coach. And part of what she talks about a lot, and she talked about it on our podcast a little bit was that, you know, a website can only say so much. And it can be often static. But the thing about social media and the thing about Instagram in particular, is that you can give people insight into more than just your services are offering.
So you can take them a little bit behind the scenes, you can really build trust and through authenticity and relatability, build a connection with someone at like a one to many ratio, not just a one to one. And with that being said, it also allows, you know, it also becomes a channel that you can communicate with people back and forth as well instantly. So it’s a massive tool that can be used in this space as well.
Tash: Yeah, so Sabrina has a multi-multi-million dollar consulting business company, and she credits a lot of that to her Instagram and her social media personal branding presence. So she not only talks about, you know, say she’s running a big business mastermind in Bali or Morocco, then she’ll take her audience in a more intimate form through that experience so that then they want that experience too so they’ll buy it. So they’ll see that displayed on stories and various posts, she’ll talk to the camera, she’ll show that whole business journey, which you can’t really do as well on any other platform.
So Instagram, that’s Instagram’s superpower, as you can show the whole holistic of, holistic picture of your business more than you can on any other platform, which really resonates with people. Because I think in 2020, and for brands to be successful, they have to take more like people and for people to be successful, they have to act more like brands. And it’s that intersection which we’re seeing. So we’re seeing those, you know, those key business leaders often have a really strong personal brand, or they’ve bought a strong brand and personality into the business. And Instagram can showcase that incredibly.
Patrick: Okay. Well, you mentioned Sabrina. Let’s talk about business applications because a lot of our audience are going to be in the financial sector, between the private equity business owners themselves, investors, bankers, particularly investment bankers, and m&a attorneys and other corporate attorneys. Give us some examples of how a business owner or a professional in this space that you’ve worked with has engaged you and what you’ve done for them.
Tash: So I think, for example, if you’re a lawyer or an accountant, so we’ve worked with an accountant who was like, okay, cool, we’ve got this big accounting company, corporate and they want to get their name out there more and attract that target audience using Instagram. So a lot of that came about, okay, how can they provide the best value to the audience so that they’ll choose them above their competitors and they’ll have multiple touchpoints with that company? And one of those ways was education.
So it was thinking, Okay, what are these little tidbits that people can find out about the accounting world, that’ll just give them quick fixes that we can make visual for Instagram? So then we made like branded tiles, which were just little text, colorful in your face sort of visually appealing tiles that we could post on their account with little fix and little helpful tips for the target audience. So that was one content pillar.
And then another content pillar would be, you know more about the people that they work with and showcase some of the brands that they work with and the story behind them. And then the third content pillar was more it’s kind of if your audience has heard of Gary Vee, it’s that jab jab jab right hook mentality on social.
So it’s value value value, and then you offer your service or what you can offer someone that they can buy from you. And then that would be the fourth content pillar or the third content pillar. So we break down an Instagram strategy into what that person’s intention is and then who the client is. And then the best value that we can give that client and then what that looks like in the form of content and captions. And then we can either run it for them and do all of that, or we can consult with them on the more strategy level.
Viv: And you’re actually an advantage when you are in an industry, which can be confusing for the end-user. So you know, if you are the expert, and you’re either the attorney or say you are the accountant, there’s a lot of information in your field that other people or your clients find really confusing. So for example, that accounting firm I saw being put up, you know, a story the other day saying, Hey, did you know minimum wage is going up on the first of April? You know, and it’s just little tips like that, that are actually really helpful and relevant to the audience. And they just been seen as providing constant value, which is awesome.
Tash: Yeah. And I would say that as well for investors who want to create more value for the companies that they’re investing in is you look at someone like Mark Cuban and he talks, he’s got a strong personal brand. And if he uses a platform like Instagram, if he then starts to showcase some of the brands that he has invested in, then it’s suddenly giving them more traction and them more audience eyes because he’s then providing value to them and then, therefore, making them more valuable to help himself. So it can really benefit in that way as well.
Patrick: So you can be an investment banker or an investor in a company, you could be that company’s Kardashian as the Ambassador going out and really pushing up the profile of a company.
Tash: 100% it’s like it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s like how Gary Vee prides himself on being, you know, investing in Facebook, or Snapchat or whatever it is, and then watching them blow up. And now he’s so influential that when he, you know, has invested in Tech Talk and then says, I’ve invested in Tech Talk, so, therefore, it’s going to be so big and successful and all these companies who say him as an opinion later in social media, therefore, jump on Tech Talk. It is the self-fulfilling prophecy for him. And that’s what he’s created purely from his social media presence.
Viv: I love the Kardashian of the company analogy. That’s great. We’ll use that.
Patrick: Very good. It’s all yours. I steal from a lot of other people and other things. So that’s quite alright. Would you define what’s your ideal client profile for Instagram?
Viv: Yeah, awesome. Okay, so the best, when we really gel like we were really in our zone of excellence is when we are working with often marketing teams, we’re often working with public companies and larger corporates. And we’re working in with a marketing team on working out, okay, how can we front for your brand messages?
How can we get across to your audience? What we want to share because often a lot of larger companies are actually doing really positive initiatives in the community. So it’s about not only sharing what the in terms of key message is but actually, you know, spreading the good work that they do as well. And it’s, we’ve seen some really good results in that area as well.
Tash: Yeah, I think it becomes, you know, there’s obviously the ma and pa businesses that have their business and want to showcase its key messages and that’s really important for their direct sales. Whereas when it comes to a bigger corporate, it’s actually about all these things that’s happening behind the scenes of the businesses, you know, the things that they’re sponsoring the clients, they’ve taken on the initiative that they’re doing the core messaging, and it’s about streamlining all of that information into, you know, what do we actually want to share?
And what do we want to get out to our audience and prospective people? And how can we do that in a really value-giving impactful way? And I think that’s what we specialize in for that type of client is streamlining what is actually going to resonate with people on social and then curating a fade around that.
Patrick: Okay, so essentially, it’s going to be not just a publicly traded companies, it can be all sized companies, preferably somebody with either chief marketing officer or they have some resources toward marketing already, just not this particular channel. And organizations or founders or investors, they don’t need to create content or create their identity from scratch. They have a message. They can fine-tune it, but they know what they want to say. They’ve got it. It’s just I don’t know how to get this message onto this platform.
Tash: Yeah, differently. And I think what we’ve realized is so many of these big companies, they have this cool message, which is why they started. But this seems to get sort of diluted and lost across all the different things that they’re a part of. Whereas what Instagram does is it brings it back to that core message and their core reason that they exist and then it streamlines the messages that reflect that into the world to then resonate with those people as to why they started the business.
And so that’s why, yeah, we like to work with people who already know the brand and know their identity, but they’re like, okay, you know, marketing managers are often so swamped with all the things that they have to do. And founders don’t have time to suddenly learn about this social media platform that they should be on. And that’s where we can take the reins for them.
Patrick: And then I just think with the requirements, you have to post certain things. What do you post? When do you post? If there are responses coming in how do you deal with them? I mean, it’s just somebody that organizes that kind of platform is would be most helpful for somebody who’s done it already. So you kind of can set up the process or the schedules, the timetables, for the activities and so forth.
So I think that’s really good. What does, if you’re bringing on this ideal client, okay, what is an engagement look like? What’s the time frame? If they’ve got a message, they haven’t done any videos or anything yet, which, you know, they could pretty much do that fairly quickly, but what’s it like timeframe-wise, onboarding, what does that look like? Because I can see a lot of people very interested in this to get a feel. So what’s it like, engaging with you guys?
Viv: I like that you bring up content. Because often, you know, we could start, you know, we could have a chat with someone and break down a strategy session in an hour or so and get started on an Instagram tomorrow. But the reality is it comes back to content. So the, you know, the basis of any Instagram account comes back to you in value. So we need to understand what kind of content they’ve got available, what kind of, you know, photos, videos, whatever it is, what different key dates are coming up, what needs to be covered in the stories and how. And also where we’re sort of hidden.
So it’s about will we be creating content? Have they got content already? Like you said, it can be created. It’s about bringing it back. And then with the captions, understanding that brand’s tone of voice so really diving deep into those brand guidelines and figuring out how we’re going to best push it out there and going a little bit of, you know, getting approval in terms of drafts. And then, but the turnaround time always comes back to strategy sessions as well. So that would happen the first time. And then every month, we continue to sit down and, you know, figure out what’s working, what can be improved on and go from there.
Tash: Yeah, so I think timing-wise, it would be about three and directions. So it’d be initially just, you know, testing the waters, seeing if it’s gonna work. We only take on clients that we actually see that Instagram could create a powerful impact for because we want to do best for the client. And so the first interaction and then second interaction, as you’re on board, it’s all happening, we’re strategizing, we’re getting the content color and getting everything sorted.
And then in between the second interaction, the third interaction is when that that marketing manager or founder is getting together all of the content assets or they’re taking that content and we can instruct them how to do that. And then the third interaction is basically cool, we’re up and running. It’s all happening. And this is what we’ve learned. This is what we’re tweaking. Do you have any feedback? And then it’s all go.
Patrick: The question I have as a prospective client would look at this is okay, right, I’ve got the content, we’ll have our strategy session. How long from the strategy session until we’re actually on Instagram, number one. So that could be three to four weeks if we, if everything else was kind of in place, you know, tell me if I’m right or wrong there. In addition to that then, when do you get the feedback? Okay, we’ve posted on Instagram, how long does it take to get feedback?
Tash: So we give it, we do monthly analytics reporting every month. So and that’s also to keep us really fresh with those key dates coming up and what we want to push for that company in that month. So if we did our strategy call and you had all the content ready to go, then we would start your Instagram account that week. And then would be posting, say, five times a week. And then you would get your first report the month after that strategy session. And then from there, you would get a report every month and we would tweak things every month.
Patrick: So, I’m sorry, so if you say you’re posting five times a week, so Monday through Friday, there would be an Instagram post.
Tash: Yeah, yes.
Patrick: Okay. And then, does that go on the whole month or is it just one week of that, and then a week off, and then another week? What’s the pattern?
Tash: It’s, yeah, five times a week, four weeks in a month every month. Yep.
Patrick: Wow. Okay. All right, man, that’s a lot of messaging. Well, give me your, that’s not oversaturating a message either. I can just see people would post on LinkedIn, you know, every day and that starts to get a little monotonous. But this is nice and fresh because I guess it’s instant as the messages go through. But the, what’s the timetable for a client response or market response out there? I know you’re doing the analytics. But can somebody expect that maybe they’ll get pinged or liked or somebody will reach out to them within a certain amount of time?
Tash: Yeah, that would definitely straight off the bat because we’ll do it hashtag strategy to get them in front of the right people, etc. so they’ll start to get like straightaway. But from the inquiry standpoint, then it’s often about gaining that traction and building that trust over time. Because as we know, social media platforms, there’s no silver bullet growth hack to make you incredible overnight. So it is that gradual build of trust in touchpoints and getting that traction with people who might be your clients.
So then we would say, then would start to get probably messages in inquiries after maybe two months, and then we would hope that that would increase more and more and then we would look at what we’ve done the previous month and have a look at what was generating the most feedback. So the most engagement and inquiries and then we would double down on that.
Patrick: Well, your honesty on the no instant gratification is helpful. I guess what happens is because those posts are going out each day, you’re gonna just have a greater sample size and you’re going to find out a lot faster if a particular content piece or a thought piece that went out, did it resonate or not. So I think that’s helpful.
They also like, I really think you should push the analytics because I think that’s a very, very helpful thing for those of us that have marketing messaging, but we don’t have the capability for the analytics. So I think that’s a tremendous value add. Anything else you want to tell us about Instagram, how you came up with the name, stuff like that?
Tash: How did we come up with the name? That’s a great question.
Viv: It was a reference to cards.
Tash: But do you want to know something funny about Ace The Gram, is so Ace The Gram is and when we were thinking about this way we’re thinking, you know, the ace card.
Viv: King queen ace.
Tash: King queen ace. When you do something ace you do a good job and then obviously Ace The Gram because Instagram. But a couple of times people have been a bit suspicious of our business because of the word gram. And so once we got all these company stickers sent to New Zealand to seem to us with our logo on it. And then they went missing and we’re really confused as to why. And then a couple of months later, a cop called me and they said, Hey,
Viv: Because this is New Zealand and so like, the Cop knew Tash who was involved. This is New Zealand.
Tash: Yeah, the cops. Did you ever get stickers made for your business? And we’re like, yes. Oh, if you found them, we’ve never found them. They never turned up. And he said, Well, we’ve actually just done a drug bust and we’ve found your stickers on one of the boxes of drugs. And we were like, oh my gosh.
Patrick: Man, I know that’s colorful.
Viv: Yes, yes, definitely a different story. Definitely a different story. It was so funny.
Tash: Yeah, but safe to say we have nothing to do with drugs. But um, but yeah it was a bit of a
Patrick: Not that there’s anything wrong with that because there are certain things that are now legal that in the past, were in the gray area we should say. And so what, you know, you’ve got your labels and you’ve got your stickers and everything. And I can also advise people I wouldn’t worry about the time difference between New Zealand and California anywhere thanks to technology. That’s a bridge this easily crossed. As a matter of fact, it’s probably easier speaking with you on a strategy session than driving from Silicon Valley into San Francisco. So that isn’t an impediment of any type. Ladies, how can our listeners find you?
Viv: Great question. We are available at acethegraham.com and on Instagram at Ace The Gram Podcast.
Tash: Yeah, and if you’d like to email us it’s just firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick: Okay. So it’s just a simple email@example.com. Okay. And then your podcast can be found on Apple, all those other podcast places as well?
Viv: It’s all the places
Tash: Yep. Just go to Ace The Gram. Have a listen.
Patrick: Very good. Really appreciate it. It was a lot of fun learning about this and I wouldn’t be surprised if a certain m&a insurance firm is going to be participating on Instagram in the not too distant future. So, ladies, thank you very much and I encourage everybody to have a look.
Tash: Thanks so much for having us, Patrick.
Viv: Thanks Patrick.