Successful content creators understand that the value of their brand on social media is measured by the engagement their content generates among a defined audience - meaning, in this case, likes, comments, shares, or other forms of "content interactions." This is what drives platform algorithms to push content out to larger audiences, creating opportunities to build one's own brand and generate interest among followers, sponsors, and clients.
But as a small content creator or business, how does one get the engagement ball rolling? That's the topic of my conversation with Ginger Starr Borden, who helps content creators and small businesses get noticed on Instagram. Recently, Ginger grew her own Instagram account from 3000 to more than 49,000 followers. And in this episode, Ginger shares some of her insights on how she achieved that using what's known as an engagement strategy.
You can connect with Ginger on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/gingerstarrborden/ or on her website at https://www.gingerstarrborden.com/.
Music licensed under StoryBlocks. Closing track: Reaping Havoc, by Humans Win (formerly Lance Conrad).
Thanks for listening! Have a comment or question about a topic or episode? I'd love to hear that. Feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Also, check out the store link on my website for resources and merch for content creators.
Episode 4 - GSB Interview
[00:00:00] Tim: Unless you're already a celebrity, there are going to be a lot of times when you need to either make the first moves or follow up with people who've shown an interest in your content if you wanna build your audience. This episode is about how to do that the right way.
[00:00:13] Today my guest is Ginger Starr Borden, who helps small businesses and solopreneurs get seen on Instagram. Ginger is based in West Virginia, but works with people from all over the world. Recently, she has grown her own Instagram account from 3000 followers to more than 49,000 followers in just the past few months.
[00:00:33] And today we're going to talk about how Ginger did that, not only by creating great content but also by leveraging what's known as an engagement strategy in social media. Ginger, welcome to the show.
[00:00:45] Ginger: Thank you. Thank you so much, Tim. Good to be here.
[00:00:47] Tim: Yeah, I really appreciate having you on the show. You were one of my first connections on Instagram, and I've learned so much about social media by following your content over the last couple of years. And so really just appreciate having you on the podcast.
[00:01:03] Ginger: It's good to be here and I'm glad to hear that. I'm really glad. Yeah. You've been with me for a long time on my journey, so that's fun.
[00:01:10] Tim: Yeah, it's been fun. I feel like we've gotten to know one another over social media.
[00:01:16] Ginger: It's what happens. You never, I mean, this is the first time I've seen you and then, but it feels like we've been friends for like a couple years, like we were saying, so that that's right.
[00:01:27] Tim: Yeah. It's one of the cool things, I guess, about social media, is you can meet people and make those kinds of connections.
[00:01:33] Ginger: Yeah, that is very cool. I love it.
[00:01:35] Tim: Yeah. So maybe you could start by just telling us a little bit about how you got started in social media.
[00:01:41] Ginger: So I, to be honest, I started because my husband and I have been entrepreneurs, we've owned businesses. We still own a dental IT company, and we traveled a good bit with that company. But as I started seeing that I wasn't as necessary in the business because he was hiring other people and they were doing more of the traveling and our kids were growing up and moving out of the house very soon, I decided I needed something to do with my time. So I wanted to do something on you know, more of on my own.
[00:02:11] And Mark has always been management, project management, and marketing have always been things that I've been into or interested in. So I decided to start on Instagram. I started in 2018. I started as a network marketer and I was, you know, just figuring things out. Wasn't super passionate about it, was in the beauty industry.
[00:02:36] Wasn't super passionate about it. You know, I did it, I liked it, but what I enjoyed more was the technical side to things, how to get Instagram, to work, how to get, you know, how to grow on Instagram effectively, what strategies to use. That is what drew me more than anything else. So in 2000, late 2019, I switched my page. I switched my niche to Instagram growth. And you know, again, everybody, every expert in the world said: "do not switch your account, start a new account." You're gonna, you know, it's just gonna be a hassle and it's gonna be terrible, but I wanted to do it. I wanted to go against the odds.
[00:03:17] I wanted to grow an account when somebody said that I couldn't. That's the way I am. That's what I, you know, that way I could say I did it. It it's doable. It's hard, but it's doable. So that's what I did. And yeah. So, end of 2019, started my Instagram growth niche. And here we are in 2022 and I still love it.
[00:03:39] Tim: That's cool. What made you choose beauty? At first, was it the idea that there's a market there and that's where, where you thought you should be.
[00:03:48] Ginger: The market. And it was a friend like presented the situation to me. So I jumped on it for that. But again, it just wasn't my thing. I didn't enjoy it as much. I, you know, just, it's never been my thing, a more of a tie, my hair back and a ponytail kind of girl, no makeup on the weekends kind of thing. So it just, it did not align with me, but I think it was a great lesson because I, I saw what not being truly aligned yourself, did to your business.
[00:04:23] Tim: Right. I think it's something that a lot of content creators learn because they do make that decision to try and target something, they think, okay, there's a market for this, so I'm gonna do that. But then realize just how much work it is and how much you know, you really have to put yourself out there. So you have to love what you're doing, believe in what you're doing, and that's what, you know, gets you to that level of success. I think.
[00:04:49] Ginger: Absolutely. Yeah, you are absolutely right. You know, if, if you're not passionate about it, if you don't wake up in the morning thinking this, yay. I get to do this. It's hard to stay consistent. It's hard to stay in front of everything. It's hard to think about the pain points of your audience and to, you know, do all the things that are necessary for growth, if your heart's not in it to do that. So it was a good lesson for me to learn the, you know, of course, the hard way. We learned most of our lessons, the hard way.
[00:05:05] Tim: One of the things you're well known for on social media is how to leverage an engagement strategy. And that's really where I started, you know, following your account and learning about that. But for folks that aren't familiar, what does that mean to pursue an engagement strategy on social media?
[00:05:37] Ginger: Again, when I started I did not, you know, people would say engage, engage, engage, engage, engage. Well, the thing that I didn't see most experts or gurus or anybody talking about, was who to engage with, how long to engage with them, what, you know, what types of accounts to engage with, why you needed to engage with them. So, as I started researching all of this and figuring out all the ins and outs, and doing it the right way, which was what I, which is what I call engaging, engaging with intention.
[00:06:10] Then I really started to notice huge shifts in my business on Instagram, on my growth, on connections with people. You know, I was in the same mindset as most creators as far as like getting the numbers in, you know, engaging with as many possible people as you can in a day, no matter how long it takes and that quickly leads to burnout.
[00:06:31] And the reason is because you don't really gain a lot from that, you know, you. You gain more from engaging with the same 20 accounts every single day. Then you do engaging with 220 accounts every single day that are all different. So, you know, as I figured this out, as I learned this, then I just started, okay, this is the information I wanted to know.
[00:06:56] So now I'm going to teach this because I'm seeing it working, seeing it help, help my growth. So that's when I started showing everybody else. This is how you do it.
[00:07:07] Tim: Yeah, I was doing the same thing. I was following that $1.80 strategy of trying to leave, you know, comments. But if you're trying to reach that many accounts with comments, of course, all you're doing is, you know, couple of emojis a like, nice post, that kind of thing. It just doesn't get you anywhere. You might as well as well pursue the $3 strategy. Increase it even more, you know?
[00:07:30] Ginger: You know when you think about it now? It makes sense. You know, you have some stranger that comes onto your page and you have 50 comments on your post and somebody's new to the table, well reciprocating to them is not necessarily something you, most people are gonna do.
[00:07:46] You know? So, but create a connection with people as you create relationships with them, as you show up consistently, show that you are interested, show that you value what they're posting. That creates a connection, creates a relationship, and then they start reciprocating back. Which I mean, it makes sense. It's human nature. It's how we all are.
[00:08:06] Tim: For sure. That's one of the things that's so interesting about social media strategy. I think there's such an element of human psychology to it and an understanding that you can build a much better strategy.
[00:08:19] Ginger: Yes.
[00:08:20] Tim: And, recently you've been applying some of that strategic approach and other things you grew your Instagram account from three K to over 49 k. So that's a significant increase over the past several months. So, so what changed, how did you accomplish that?
[00:08:38] Ginger: I became extremely clear on who I was serving and, and I know that sounds like a cliche. I know that everybody says that, but it really is true. That clarity. I, did a deep dive into who I wanted to be like, who I wanted to be presented as, and who I wanted to serve specifically.
[00:08:58] I wrote it all out and did a whole spreadsheet audit, and all this other stuff. And I updated my bio. I got really clear on my content pillars and what I was going to talk about. And I really just focused on that and I focused heavily on my engagement strategy.
[00:09:17] Up through from that 3000 up to about 20,000, I reciprocated every single comment that somebody left on my post. Somebody left a comment, even if it was the emoji comments, I went back to their page and I reciprocated. I did that for as long as I physically possibly could, because after, so, after, after so many comments, you can't do that and run a business.
[00:09:41] Tim: Absolutely.
[00:09:42] Ginger: So I can't do it that anymore, but that I think is a missing element that a lot of smaller accounts have. Is that they're just not willing to do that, or don't think that, or don't know to do that. Which is one of the strategies that I believe absolutely helped me grow my account. It was those relationships and that loyalty that I created with my audience, you know, if they followed me and they commented they every day, no matter what they did, they were getting a comment back, at least from me.
[00:10:13] Tim: Yeah, absolutely. And you see some small accounts that they only have three comments, but they haven't replied to any of them. And then yeah. You know, you wonder why they're, they're stuck in that in that smaller space. And the, you know, the other thing too is just Like you said the, the meaningful comments makes such a difference. Because that way you, you do build those relationships. And if you can build that group of like 20 or 30 allies, then it really helps to give your account a boost, like to get that momentum going.
[00:10:44] Ginger: Absolutely.
[00:10:45] Tim: And then the challenge is like keeping up then once you start to get to that level.
[00:10:51] Ginger: Yeah.
[00:10:51] Tim: If you wouldn't mind sharing, like how, how much were you engaging or how many hours were you spending at that period when you were trying to get to 20 K?
[00:10:59] Ginger: From 3000 to 20,000, I was probably engaging about two hours.
[00:11:03] Tim: Not too bad. It's still manageable, right?
[00:11:05] Ginger: It was, yeah, it was still manageable. So I have a secret hack that I use for engagement. I have an iPad and I bought a wireless Bluetooth keyboard to go on it. Okay. It saves so much time. So, you know, cuz 10 fingers are faster than two. I used to engage on my laptop. I used to use Instagram on my app, on my laptop. But as Instagram started to see that I was doing more and more of that, they started seeing it as bot behavior. So they so a couple times they had me go on my app on my phone and do a face recognition to show to prove that it was me. So at, at that point, I got the iPad and started doing it that way. So I would not suggest to do it on your laptop if you're doing like a lot of engagement.
[00:11:53] Tim: That's how do usually only do like 15, 20 minutes at a time, so I've been staying on the right side of it.
[00:12:00] Ginger: Now you do it for an hour or more, and you're just rolling through doing a couple hundred. Then yeah, it it tends to flag you and right. That's always a heart wrenching feeling cuz you're like, oh I'm about to get kicked out.
[00:12:13] Tim: Absolutely. So what motivates you as a content creator?
[00:12:18] Ginger: You know, honestly, it's conversations like this, it's helping other people it's, you know, that DM that I get saying your content has helped me grow. And it's somebody that I have never talked to, somebody that just DMS me and says, you know, just following you and following your tips, I've grown 3000 followers or something like that. You know, to me, that is what makes it all worth it. And I'm like, you know, little pat on the back it's great.. So that's what keeps that's honestly, what keeps me motivated is the helping other people and getting them to succeed. You know, my students, when they're doing good, I'm doing good. So yeah.
[00:12:54] Tim: Well, your content I'm sure has helped a lot of content creators. And, and I think that that's a key too, is that it, it's not just the engagement, but when people come to your page, there's also a lot of value there in terms of what they'll learn. What, what is one piece of advice that you would give to artists or small businesses who are, who are looking to grow their social media account? I, I know there's, there's a lot you share within your programs, but maybe if you just had one quick tip to offer listeners, what would it be?
[00:13:24] Ginger: So, beyond engagement. You know, I'm gonna say engagement, so I won't talk about that. So beyond engagement, I would say to completely understand who your ideal audience is. You can only provide value to someone when you know what is valuable to them. I hear this a lot, you know, what is valuable content? What is valuable content?
[00:13:45] Well, that is different for each business owner. It's different for me, it's different for you. You know, the value that I would give out would not be the same value that your niche audience would want to see. So it's different for everyone. You really need to understand who that your ideal audience is. And for new creators, I would say that that person is quite often who you were, before, where you got, where you are now. So no matter what niche, if you're in the health and fitness, well, at some point you wanted to know the things that you know right now and you were struggling. So that is your ideal person, that, that struggling person, that you were in the beginning of your journey, talk to them, you know, explaining to them, help them talk about the pain that you've been through. That's relatable. All of that becomes valuable content for your ideal audience.
[00:14:41] Tim: Yeah, and I think that there's a good message there too, for people that maybe are hesitant to follow smaller accounts sometimes because they think, well, I'm mostly gonna learn from, you know, larger accounts. But you know, you just need somebody who knows more than you do and if you're just starting out, all kinds of different content creators that can, can help.
[00:15:01] And you have to adjust it to what your strategy is. And like you say, what works for one person definitely won't work for somebody else and, and you've gotta find your own kind of unique path through it. That, I think, that's part of what makes it kind of interesting too.
[00:15:16] Ginger: Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree with you on not looking at follower count necessarily. Look for value. Because you know, some of these smaller accounts, I mean, they're, they're at that point where their information is still really raw and they're, you know, they're sharing that deep, emotional connection that they have to the problem which comes through in their content. And they're actually providing a ton of value at this point, because they're not bored of the subject yet. So definitely don't discount smaller accounts and the value that they could provide.
[00:15:52] Tim: Absolutely. And I, I think it's a good thing that I guess Instagram keeps changing too, cuz that keeps giving us new things to talk about.
[00:16:03] Ginger: It always gives me new things to talk about, for sure. Yeah. Well, and I kinda, when I chose Instagram growth is my niche, that was kind of my thought too, cuz I understand how you know, data is, or how platforms are and how, you know, things change and we get updates. And so for me, updates are exciting. It's something new to figure out. It's a new challenge to find a strategy for that will help me and then help my audience and help my students and help everyone. So, change is good in my opinion. Even though I know not everybody has that same idea, but I really, I enjoy it.
[00:16:41] Tim: Yeah. When a new feature rolls out, it gives you new opportunities to engage with your audience, new, new formats, to try out and can really help to stretch you as a content creator. And, and for me, that was a big thing with reels. Like I was pretty hesitant to do videos, but you know, thanks to the relationships I had with people on the platform, I thought, well, just, you know, try it.
[00:17:04] Ginger: Yeah, you get used to it. I was the same way, you know, being, having a technology background. I, I was used to being behind the screen, not so much in front of it. And I was very comfortable there. I think most of us were very comfortable there. You know, a selfie every once in a while. Show your face was, you know, ample enough to do or put yourself on stories that disappear in 24 hours. Okay. I can do that, but now yeah, it's out there for the world at all times. It was, it's difficult to start doing that. It is for most people.
[00:17:37] Tim: Yeah, absolutely. So I have one of my last questions here and that is do you have a favorite technology tool that you use? Could be software or hardware
[00:17:48] Ginger: So, okay. I'm more on the software side. And I'm not gonna say Canva cuz that's everybody's thing. Everybody's favorite. But honestly I do a lot of work in Airtable. I love Airtable. I like it because I can use any spreadsheets, cuz I used to have spreadsheets just everywhere. Spreadsheets for this, and that, and the other. And they were just scattered all over and I'd have to click through 'em and everything, but you can upload your spreadsheets into Airtable and have them all in one little location. Super easy to get to. I can get to it on my phone, my laptop. You know, it's just really easy to manage those spreadsheets when they're everywhere. And updating one place, updates everywhere. So, I know that kind of may sound kind of boring, but air table's my, my favorite.
[00:18:35] Tim: No. Anything that, anything that helps improve efficiency, that's exciting. And I looked into air table a little bit. I started using it. But you you've given me a little bit more impetus to keep going with it. It is a little complicated at first. So you have to get over that learning curve, but you know, if you say it's good, I'm gonna keep going and try see if I can figure it out.
[00:18:59] Ginger: It is. It's good. I use it. You know, I have a spreadsheet for for content ideas. So I don't use like a notes app or anything like that. Everything goes into Airtable. And, in the car, my husband's driving and I think of something, I can type it into Airtable and it's gonna be, you know, something that I can work and, and flush out more ideas, with once I get home and get on the computer and work on it.
[00:19:22] So it's my favorite. I absolutely love it. I've used Trello, Notion, all of them. And air table is, by far, my favorite. It is a little complicated. I mean, I think that any software that offers a lot, right. It has a lot more bells and whistles and it will have a stiffer learning curve, but definitely worth it with Airtable
[00:19:43] Tim: I think, yeah, sometimes those are the ones that can help you the most. The ones that you invest the time in learning, and like you say, it's got more of those bells, whistles and features that you can use. That, that's also the thing I've learned about technology tools recently was just taking care with not switching them too often.
[00:20:04] Ginger: Yes.
[00:20:04] Tim: Because, you know, it's easy to get sucked into the idea of like, oh, this new tool seems pretty cool. Maybe I'll try that. And then another one, another one. You're spending all your time on the learning curve of new software instead of actually leveraging the software you have.
[00:20:20] Ginger: Yes, that is 100% true. I, I learned that lesson when I switched my email platform. I switched from one to the other. And it was the learning curve. It was the data move. It was like the whole thing. And you think, oh, I'm just going to learn this software. It's not that quick and not that easy. And you know, what would take you five minutes is now taking you 30. And that 25 minutes is valuable. You could be doing something else. So I completely agree that.
[00:20:56] Tim: Yeah, exactly. Sometimes stick with what you've got, especially if it's working for you.
[00:21:01] Ginger: Yeah, now I'm much more selective about anything that I go to learn. I, I wanted to learn video editing. So I've, I've researched and researched and researched. And I think I'm sticking with Adobe, premier. I think that's the one I'm going with, because once I learn it, that's it. I'm not gonna try anymore. I'm just gonna stick with whatever I figure out.
[00:21:23] Tim: That's a good one. I think it's, you know, well, well known in the, in the industry.
[00:21:27] Ginger: That's what I was thinking. They're always gonna have updates and the price isn't too bad.
[00:21:31] Tim: Well, it's been, it's been great talking with you, Ginger. I was wondering just by way of wrapping up, if you could tell us a little bit about your courses and programs and, and how you can help content creators.
[00:21:42] So I have I have a, I have a freebie, which is how to get your comments pinned. It is an ebook that, you know, again, back to engagement, when you get your comments pinned from a larger account, everybody in that comment thread sees your, your comment, which builds your authority gains exposure, visibility. I mean, it's just a, it's a great opportunity. And so the entire ebook is built on the strategies that I've used to get hundreds of pinned comments on larger accounts.
[00:22:14] That's a good one. I read it.
[00:22:17] Ginger: Yeah, it's really helped me. I you know, I recently heard that people are paying creators to pin their comment as well, so interesting. So I'm hoping that my, my book helps some people make a little extra income. So the next thing would be, I have a, a Reels mini course. It is basically to help people, you know, like we were talking, a lot of people are behind the screen. They don't really wanna get in front of it. And one of the things with that is that learning curve, you know, how do you use the Reels app? How do you edit? What does this button do? Kind of thing. So my mini course helps with that.
[00:22:53] I have an engagement ebook bundle that helps with the engagement strategies. Like to do for one hour a day. You can do that as often as you want. But it's like the minimum of one hour a day for growth. If you do this engagement for one hour, each day, you will see growth.
[00:23:10] And then my signature program is my 90 day. It's a group program with 12 weekly sessions, one hour each. And my online course, which takes you from wherever you are to doubling your reach, increasing your growth, improving your leads, understanding how to communicate with people for growth as well.
[00:23:29] Tim: Well, you know. What you've been able to do with your account. That's a lot of proof that you know what you're talking about and that you can help other creators get there. And I know there's a lot of content creators who have benefited from your content. So, you're helping a lot of people and thank you for that. And keep going!
[00:23:47] Ginger: Thank you. Thank you so much.
[00:23:49] Tim: Yeah, thank you. It's been great having you on the show. And. Well, I'll be looking forward to seeing you around Instagram again.
[00:23:56] Ginger: Awesome. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
[00:24:02] Tim: So to wrap things up here, I think it's fair to say the primary goal of many content creators on social media is to build an audience by sharing their content. Similarly, businesses often see social media as a channel through which to promote their products and services. However, if the strategy is based entirely on content push, and there's no giving aspect, it's gonna be very hard to make progress. And this is where I think that a lot of the information Ginger shared today can be really critical to growing your audience, if that's the goal. Certainly, the approach she's been using has worked very well in her case.
[00:24:39] So for me, there's two key takeaways from our conversation. First is the principles for effective engagement on social media are much the same as they are for an in-person networking event. That is to say, to be most effective, you need to put in the effort to make a meaningful connection with people and seek to help those people without expecting anything in return.
[00:25:01] And when someone supports you and leaves a meaningful comment on your account and makes the first move that way, you should be, in turn, supporting them and responding back to their comment. This is gonna be a lot more interesting for you and effective than running around and saying the equivalent of hello to a hundred people a day by leaving an emoji comment on a hundred accounts, if I could go back to that in-person networking event analogy. I mean, if you think about it, we tend to do business and support the people that we have a real relationship with.
[00:25:34] The second thing is being clear on who your target audience is. This goes beyond demographics and topics. It's also about the audience's goals, their values, their challenges, what motivates them, what kind of help do they need?
[00:25:48] These are all the things that you'll find out through research, but also through engaging with that audience on social. So I think it's helpful to think about your engagement strategy, not as something separate from your content strategy, but as part of it.
[00:26:04] Engaging in real conversations on social media is gonna give you insights about your ideal audience. It's gonna give you ideas for content, and then the comments themselves, if they're good and meaningful comments, are going to exist on other people's profiles as part of your content footprint.
[00:26:23] And I'm just gonna end here on one last thing. And that's the time dimension. Commenting on other people's posts and reciprocating comments on your own posts in a meaningful way definitely takes time. There's no question about that. But here's two quick tips to manage this aspect. The first is to balance the output of your content with the output of your engagement strategy, cuz they're both very important.
[00:26:48] And if you're posting daily and you're having trouble keeping up with that, as it is, then you might wanna dial that back a bit to like four, five times per week. And balance the content push with a little more engagement, or maybe hire a virtual assistant to help you with some aspect of your social media, so that you can free up time and increase your capacity overall.
[00:27:13] Other things you can do is to get yourself a simple timer and set a limit for how long you're going to engage. Because it can become a bit of a time pit and so you've gotta manage it. You can actually get a lot done in 20, 30 minutes at a time, and it's easier to get into if you know that there's an upper limit to how much time you're going to spend..
[00:27:35] And then having that time limit also helps you keep focus during the time in which you're doing it. And you won't be as likely to be tempted by being distracted with, you know, all the stuff that's going on on social there.
[00:27:49] So give this strategy a run and let me know how it goes. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. And if you found this helpful, a positive review or rating for this episode would mean a lot. Thanks for listening. And we'll see you again.