Corey Walker is the co-author of Instagram For Dummies and Instagram For Business For Dummies, a how-to guide for using Instagram to market your business. She is also the owner of The Marketing Specialist, a digital marketing agency where she helps businesses achieve success in the digital world.
How I Work, Episode 29 with Corey Walker (Marketing Specialist)
Corey sat down with Josh Becerra in episode 29 of How I Work to share the inside scoop on Instagram for Dummies and Instagram for Business for Dummies – both of which she co-authored. She also explains the importance of thinking of Instagram as a funnel and knowing when to put information where. Plus:
- Her #1 Tip: Whenever Instagram pushes something new, use it
- B2B Instagram Success: Highlighting staff, a human touch, and humor
- Why having an accountability partner is so important
Buy Instagram for Business for Dummies on Amazon
Transcription: How I Work, Episode 29 (Corey Walker, IG for Dummies)
Josh Becerra: Hi, everybody. This is Josh Becerra from Augurian. Welcome to this episode of How I Work. I am joined by Corey Walker. Thanks for being here, Corey.
Corey Walker: Of course, glad to be here.
Josh: Corey, you are the co-author of Instagram For Dummies and Instagram For Business For Dummies, a how-to guide for using Instagram to market your Business. You’re also the owner of The Marketing Specialist, a digital marketing agency in El Dorado Hills, California.
Corey works with several clients to produce social media strategies, including creating graphics and written content, advising on video, scheduling content, buying ads, tracking analytics. Loves helping businesses achieve success in the online world. Thank you so much for being here. I’m super excited about this conversation.
Corey: Yes, me too.
Josh: Let’s get started by having you tell our listeners a little bit about how you got started in social media marketing and then this focus on Instagram. I mean, you have books that you’ve written now, so Instagram is a particular platform. What was it about Instagram that was so compelling to you?
Corey: Well, I got my start in marketing a while ago. I’ve had my agency for 17 years before the social media, so I did a lot of print work, newsletters, email newsletters, all that kind of stuff. Then I started seeing this new thing, Twitter, and I started dipping my toes in the water of that and Facebook and then eventually Instagram. I just really liked the combo of Facebook and Instagram, and then, of course, once Facebook bought Instagram, it was just kind of a natural flow.
I started dabbling in Instagram a little bit more and found that I could be seen more on Instagram. Facebook had gotten so crowded and it was so hard to be seen organically that I hopped over a little bit more on Instagram and was noticing, “Oh, people can actually see my stuff, and I’m getting likes on things and I’m getting engagement,” so I started building more of a community there and then the opportunity for the book came along. One of my co-authors, Eric Butow, he had been writing Dummies books for a long time on multiple different subjects.
They had asked him to write an Instagram book, so he thought, “Well, I know how to write,” there’s kind of a formula for writing in the Dummies style, but he didn’t have a ton of experience using Instagram to promote business, so he asked me to do that with him, and then we brought on Jenn Herman. Of course once you write a book about Instagram, you really got to go all in on Instagram.
Josh: Yes, for sure.
Corey: Then once I wrote the book, I’m like, “Well, I better know a lot about Instagram now, and I better really use it.” It was a little bit cart before the horse kind of thing, but I was already using it, but it really reinforced my using it on a much wider basis.
Josh: Instagram, when I think about it, I definitely feel like from a business perspective, B2C, and like influencer marketing and things like that seem super important. As you know, listeners of our podcast are many SaaS marketers, software as a service, and of course, there’s software that you’re selling B2C, so let’s maybe talk about that first a little bit. Intuitively Instagram is good for B2C and kind of feels like a slam dunk, what are some of the most effective things you see B2C companies doing with Instagram? Or is there like a brand that you say, “Man, go and look at the profile of this brand on Instagram. They are using it super smart.”
Corey: There’s definitely companies, and some of the bigger companies when they go all in on Instagram, they can do some fun things. Chipotle is one, if you want to take a look at Chipotle, and Califia Farms, they do oat milk and almond milk and creamers and things like that. They both do a good job, but what I like about Chipotle is they infuse a lot of humor into what they do, and so they’re embracing the newer things like Reels. They’re using Reels and going out to some of their customers and then going out to some of their employees and doing fun things with them. They’re using Stories. Basically, the thing that works the best with B2C is thinking of Instagram as a funnel.
If you look at the top, you’re going to have Reels, and Instagram is just pushing that out like crazy because they’re trying to beat TikTok, let’s be real, so they’re just pushing that, pushing that, pushing that, so you can get your new eyeballs at the top of the funnel in Reels. Then you’re going to go down a little bit further, and they’re going to post more information either about their product or about their service on the main feed, and that gets people to get to know them a little bit better and like them at that point.
Then they’re shifting into Stories and maybe Lives and getting a little bit more personal or doing some more fun things that they might not have done on the regular feed. The businesses that are kind of embracing that seem to do really well, and I will say nice photography helps, like Califia Farms, they’re really good about having really good photography and using Reels. Basically, anytime Instagram comes out with something new, I encourage people to start using it because they’re going to push it hard.
Reels, it’s been out now for I think two years, and just now a lot of people are starting to hop on it. I saw it as an opportunity early on and said, “Okay, this is going to be big. I need to start doing these.” I did get a lot more traction once I started doing those. Anyway–
Josh: Man, I really love how you’re thinking about this as like a funnel. I never really thought of particular features within like a social media platform, pairing that with a different part of the funnel. I really think that’s smart.
Then the other thing that I think is a good call out is, at least in our experience with our own profiles, has been when you add people, like I’m thinking about, let’s use Chipotle as an example. One thing is to put on a picture of a burrito or a bowl or something that looks fabulous and that’s great, but another thing is to actually have that employee or that customer, that human, like we have seen way more impressions, engagement, all of those things when you have more human-centered content. Would you say that’s true?
Corey: Absolutely. I have kind of a weird client base. I have hospital and medical group marketing on one side and restaurants on the other side. I don’t know how I landed those two things, but on both, I will say when I mix in profiles of the employees, it always does well because you’ve got both the other employees cheering them on.
Then restaurant or like a medical group, you’ve got either the patients or the customers saying like, “Oh, yes, Stacy, she is wonderful. I love her. I love when she serves me this,” or “She takes great care of my mom,” it works fabulously. That’s one. When you’re questioning as a B2B thing, like how can I use Instagram for B2B? That’s a great one to incorporate, is “let’s highlight the staff,” like who’s the person that’s in charge of this function, and put a human touch to some of these things that can feel very– they’re just not tangible, so it puts the human back in.
Josh: Yes. I mean, it’s called social media for a reason, I guess. Nobody is social with their burrito, we’re social with other humans of course.
Josh: You brought up B2B. We’ve talked a little bit about B2C and how that’s a little bit more– Intuitively, I think people can understand how to leverage Instagram. You talked a little bit about B2B, so let’s explore that a little bit more. Do you have some examples of B2B businesses that you think are doing an awesome job? Or like beyond what we are just covering, which is the people side of like posting about people, what other strategies or tactics have you seen that work for B2B on Instagram or social in general?
Corey: MailChimp is a great example of B2B and then Google has a separate page that’s called Life at Google, that is talking more about the employees and what they do there. As far as MailChimp goes, that’s a fun one to watch because they have a whole film series on different topics. I think Björk, kind of a crazy entertainer from the ’90s. She did a film series with them. They have a whole section on their site that’s just this film series and then they’ll take little snippets of it and do reels about that.
They do feature employees. They also have this fun thing where they have created these fake books. For different areas of the site, they have a fake book, so it could be like The Case of the Abandoned Cart, and they have a book cover for that, and then it’s all about–
Josh: Fiction or nonfiction?
Corey: [laughs] I guess it’s fiction, I don’t know, but it’s just the cuteness of they have a fake book cover and then it talks about one of their features, which is customer journey, and you can go back and retrieve your abandoned cart people through their email. Yes, that’s a fun one to watch because you can really see some of the fun things they do. They do also fun reels and videos with some of their employees, just doing humor, if you can infuse it, especially with software because it can be kind of a dry topic.
Corey: Yes. If you can figure out a way to incorporate some humor, that’s always going to help you.
Josh: I think in the end good marketing really has a message that resonates with the person’s wants, needs, or problem that they’re trying to solve. If you can do that or articulate that in a fun way or in a really dramatic way, I think social lends itself pretty well to doing some of that. I love that. I love that thought. We’ve talked a little bit about profiles that are doing awesome, what things are working. Let’s talk a little bit on the flip side about what strategies don’t work or what you’ve seen brands do and that you think people should be avoiding, especially on Instagram or other social media sites for that matter.
Corey: Sure. One thing I see a lot of with B2B is really dry. People will post just like stock photos of, say, somebody at their computer, pointing at the computer, or a business meeting, and it’s so obvious that it’s a stock photo, and it’s just like, “Eww, no one cares. This is so bah,” so I will have people, my clients, and they’re like, “Oh, well, I have all this stuff, and it’s just stock photos, and it’s so boring,” and it’s just no one cares.
It’s like they’re going to see that go through their feed and they are just going to keep scrolling. That’s a big one for me, is like you can incorporate a little bit here and there and maybe if you have a text overlay that kind of explains a little bit. I’m not anti-stock photo for everything, but if that’s what your whole profile is, is static photo posts of stock photos, then you’ll just– Yes, it’s not going to work for you. [laughs]
Josh: Yes. Definitely doesn’t have the personality that you want it to have. Especially Instagram, it’s about photos, it’s about photography, right?
Josh: Of course, you’ve got the Reels and other things, but loading it up with stock photos, that’s a good call out. Other things that you’ve seen that you’re like, “Oh, don’t do that”?
Corey: Yes. When people will do– They’ll have a business but then they’ll infuse all these other random things, like they’ll just post a meme that they thought was funny, and it has nothing to do with their business. Memes can be really great if you incorporate them and if they make sense with your brand. I think MailChimp does some memes, and it can be a really great tool, but if you are a business, and I don’t see this as like the bigger businesses, they know better, but somebody that maybe has their own business and they’re a little bit smaller.
They’re like, “Oh, this is funny. I’m just going to post this meme on my account.” It’s like, “Okay, but how does that relate?” Things like that, and some stuff, if it’s funny, I’ll post a meme maybe on my personal side or on my Stories because that’s kind of showing my personal side, but when they just post something on their main feed and it’s supposed to be a business page, it’s like, “I don’t– Where are we going here?”
Josh: It doesn’t work.
Corey: Yes. Then another thing is just not using a wide variety of content types. If you are just relying on the single static post, you’re not going to be seen very well. If you embrace Reels, if you go live every once in a while– I will admit, I don’t really go live and it’s something– it’s on my list for 2023, like go live. I don’t know why. I think I’m totally comfortable doing a podcast thing like this, and even if it’s live, if I’m with another person, I think I just need to have some collaborators because I don’t know what I would talk about just talking to myself, I feel. [laughs] It’s strange.
Josh: I’ve been myself experimenting a little bit with the kind of first person hold the phone and just do a monologue.
Josh: It brings up all these insecurities, “We’re human.-
Corey: “This is awkward.”
Josh: -Do I look dumb? How do I sound? What am I wearing? How’s the lighting?” Anyway, it’s taken a couple of runs at that to get used to it, I’ll be honest with you, though.
Corey: Yes. Yes.
Josh: But that’s a good call out to not just focus on one feature within the platform but to leverage more things. I’ve seen that on LinkedIn. If you have different types of posts and content, you do kind of gain reach somehow. There’s something in these algorithms that say like, “Don’t just post the same static image all the time.”
Corey: Yes. What I’ll do is I’ll download some of my Reels and put them on LinkedIn, and it’s different, people– and I won’t do as many of the jokey ones unless I have a fun Friday, and it always does relate back to my business somehow, but yes, it’s different, and it’s of course in the vertical format, so it’s taking more space on LinkedIn than most of the other posts. I think people really–
Josh: They play, kind of autoplay, and if you’ve got the closed captioning, people can read it, and that is engaging. Yes, I know that that catches my eye way more than a static image post, for sure, even on LinkedIn.
Corey: Yes, definitely.
Josh: Okay. Let’s switch gears a little bit. You told me that you’re going to be releasing the second edition of Instagram For Dummies now in early December, so woo-hoo. That sounds awesome.
Corey: Yay. [laughs]
Josh: You talked a little bit about your co-authors and how you got into it. Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like writing for the Dummies brand and then is there anything new that’s in this second edition that you want to highlight in particular?
Corey: Yes. Well– Okay, let me go back to your– This is like a multifaceted question.
Josh: Yes, it is. Sorry.
Corey: Working with the Dummies brand, it’s great, it’s nice that both of the books, the Instagram For Business For Dummies and Instagram For Dummies are in their second edition because it does make it a lot easier to write. The first one that we wrote, it’s completely from scratch. Now it’s getting easier, but I will say Instagram is constantly changing, and this year was a doozy.
They were just like– we were writing all summer, and I was purposely waiting until the end to write the Reels chapter because I knew, I’m like, “Oh, they’re going to keep adding stuff.” That is a challenge, just keeping up with the changes as you’re furiously writing and making sure that they’re not going to change something again. With a printed book on a social media platform, you have to do your best and hope it doesn’t change too drastically.
Josh: Yes, they’re iterating and iterating and iterating really quickly. You get this snapshot in time that you get to capture. I’m sure there’s major tenets that flow through no matter what the iteration is that they’ve created.
Corey: For sure. Yes. I mean, they might add another small button or something that changes the screenshot, but for the most part, it’s going to be solid. Another thing that’s nice about working with a larger publisher is, unlike if I was writing this book myself, it would probably never get finished, but when you have a publisher, you have quarterly deadlines, so we have to get a certain number of chapters in to release, like royalty payments and advances and stuff like that. That is the push that I know I need.
I know a lot of people out there that are like, “Oh, I want to write this book, but I just don’t have the time for it.” If that’s the case, get some kind of accountability partner or literally get someone to say, “I’m going to charge you $200 if you don’t get this chapter in to me by November 30th,” because it’s hard.
Josh: “You’ve got to take me to a steak dinner.”
Corey: Exactly. It’s really hard, unless you have somebody saying, “this needs to be in.” When you’re running a business and doing all the other stuff, it’s easy to shove that aside. That’s nice working with a major publisher. As far as what’s in the book that’s new, well– Sorry, I’ve got my thing on mirror, so I never know which way– It’s not the regular, so I can have the books facing the right way. It’s a mirror, so I always feel backwards. Anyway, this purple one is the one that’s going to be replaced with a green edition. That’s not the major change, by the way.
There’s much more content, but that one we had two chapters on IGTV. IGTV is not any longer, so those chapters were replaced with chapters on Reels. We go really deep into how to use Reels, all the different functionality, how to do transitions, and what works well, things like that. That’s a big change. There were some changes with Stories just in small buttons and things like that. Basically, every screen has changed in some manner. They move buttons, they move things around. We had to do a ton of editing. Probably one of the biggest things was the IGTV leaving and now Reels coming in. If you’re into Reels, that’s going to be a big one to watch.
Josh: Well, that’s really cool. I can imagine, because I know I’ve read some of the other Dummies kind of content, other books and things like that. I haven’t gotten my copy yet of Instagram For Dummies, but I promise you I will.
Josh: Because it is like the For Dummies concept, you have to be explaining the details. When I think about the complexity of a single social media platform like Instagram, big kudos to you and your co-authors for figuring out how to put that in a way that someone can follow and learn from down to the button. That’s amazing.
Corey: Thank you. We take all our own screenshots of everything and then it goes through an editor that, frankly, was not an Instagram user, which was helpful because she would go through and try things out and be like, “Well, what does this step mean?” Sometimes when you use things over and over, it’s just like, “Oh yes, you do this, this, and that,” but she would go through it and be like, “Well, I don’t understand what you meant by this.”
There’s that, and then it goes through a technical editor that tests it again and does every single step, so you can feel pretty confident knowing that everything is tested out. We test it, then it gets tested again and tested again. Yes, it’s thoroughly reviewed for accuracy.
Josh: Well, it’s great that you’re making those contributions to the space. I really have appreciated the conversation and some of the insights that you’ve provided about profiles and what companies are doing from both B2B and the B2C perspective, that is awesome, and what things should be avoided. Hopefully, the audience of SaaS marketers can take some things away from this episode of How I Work, but that’s really all the time we have for today. I really appreciate the conversation though, Corey.
Corey: It was great talking to you.
Josh: Remember, the second edition of Instagram For Dummies is coming out in early December so maybe a good gift for the new year for people you know. Right?
Corey: For sure. Yes, definitely.
Josh: Awesome. Thanks so much, Corey.
Corey: Thank you.