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September 29, 2020

088 | 2020 Observations of Instagram to Help Grow Your Brand

I am a student of the gram. And I encourage all those who take my Instagram 101 course to also embrace the status of “student of the gram.”

If you want to use any social media platform to grow and solidify your business or brand, it will behoove you to learn about it – to observe the platform objectively.

Market research is a powerful tool. It sounds fancy but it’s not. Take note about what is going on with your profile and audience as well as others’ profiles and audiences.

We also do this inside Instagram 101. What does well? The goal here is to determine what you enjoy + your audience responds well to. This way, we are leveraging your preferred media and adding value to your humans. Win-win.

We’re always looking for that win-win.

So, in today’s episode I plan to share with you what I have observed throughout 2020 on Instagram with small and large accounts alike.

For some context, I follow people in different arenas outside of health and fitness. But the point is we’re all “creators.” I enjoy following style accounts, photographers, travelers, bloggers and general content creators. It feels organic to the platform and I learn a lot from them and how they use social media.

That’s just to say that if you’re only following people in your field, it can be useful, refreshing and fun to branch out into other genres. It’s truly the same as a writer telling other writers that if they want to get better at writing, to READ LOTS OF BOOKS.

You want to get better at leveraging Instagram for your brand or business?

Follow a wide variety of accounts on the platform.

We will begin with the fact that Instagram is always changing.

This is the rather obvious observation numero uno.

The observation doesn’t stop with the fact that IG is ever-evolving. It’s the fact that those who use the platforms newest features early on may not get completely screwed as the algorithm drives traffic towards those using the new feature. Enter, Instagram reels.

You’ve got to be willing to roll with the punches. You also won’t lose your business or fail if you don’t use every feature.

Don’t sweat it. BUT – I do encourage you always try the new feature a few times simply to see if it might be for you and your audience.

Some people have absolutely thrived with Instagram reels. And I frankly see it being much more successful than IGTV because it is more digestible and shorter for compact entertainment or education. It’s more interactive than a typical post. You can have real length captions unlike IGTV. So all in all, reels might be worth your time.

Worth a try at least.

As is any new feature.

For instance, I found that my audience is not about IGTV. And if they are, it’s got to be under 3 minutes. So I don’t typically do them. It’s not content I enjoy making, and my audience doesn’t respond well to it either. Not for fitness. Though my episodes on eyelashes and messy buns have done well. Again, that’s just not my priority.

Sticking with the subject of content…

You don’t have to do it all to build a successful brand on Instagram.

I know of creators and professionals who almost exclusively post one type of content. And they’re winning.

This goes back to being really freaking good at what you do and clear about who you help and how you help them. And of course, being consistent. You can use every feature instagram has but if you aren’t clear and consistent, you’ll still fail at building and profitable business or brand. PERIOD.

Some creators use IGTV several times per week. These people thrive with video content. They’re good at it, and it is valuable to their audience. Some people exclusively create infographics, therefore that is what’s expected by their audience. They’re good at it, and it performs well for them.

All of this is to say, find what works for you, and leverage it. If you enjoy video and your audience is responsive to it, then create more video. Explore creativity there. If you find that your audience really enjoys gifs or info graphics, then make more of those! It truly is this simple.

But you don’t know until you try, and are willing to look the data objectively.

Engagement will eb and flow. The algorithm will change. You need to be adaptable, but also hold true to your expertise and your audience. We’re here for THEM. Not for the freaking algorithm.

Don’t get that twisted. Sure, play the game, but first and foremost, serve your followers well.

Marie Forleo says to ask “how can this work for me?” And that is brilliant advice. Instead of just writing something off immediately, give it a try. Explore how you can use it. If it’s a flop, at least you know for sure and can now move forward with confidence.

Just to give you an idea – On Instagram we have:

  • Feed posts (video, swipe graphics, still photos, and combinations of these) – interaction is comments, likes, shares, saves.
  • Stories (the snapchat of IG – live video or photo content) – interaction is DM’s
  • IGTV (the YouTube of IG) – over one minute [long form] video content, short captions.
  • Reels (the tik Tok of IG) – short form entertaining content. Like comment, share.
  • IG Live – (the Facebook live of IG) – Live video, comment, react.

You don’t have to do it all to be successful. I almost never see some of the “successful” people I follow in their stories. Like ever. And like I said, some people use primarily IGTV shared to their feed as their main form of content. Whereas I have done like, 5 IGTV’s since it came out. Some people have never used it.

Find what you enjoy and what your people respond well to. Don’t be afraid or too ego-centric to experiment with different types of content.

Next up…

You’re going to hate me for this. But…

The best humans are consistent. PERIOD.


Are you Beyonce? Sohee? Or Stefi Cohen? No? Didn’t think so.

This episode is about you GROWING a professional + profitable brand and business by leveraging Instagram.

You do not need thousands of followers to do this. But you do need to have grown an audience who is clear on what you do and how you are of value to them. This does not have to be SERIOUS. You can bring people joy and humor and lightheartedness.

But for the love of Baby Jesus in a manger, you will have a much easier time if you’re consistent.

Just like health and fitness, too often I hear people saying they’ve tried something and it didn’t work for them. BUT DID YOU THO? Did you do it consistently for two to three months? How well did you implement? Truly.

Sure, some scenarios will tell you quickly if it’s working or not. But others do take time.

And overall – while trying different tactics or not, you need to be consistently showing up in front of your people.

Alllllsoooo don’t get this twisted. You can only post three days per week but be in your story another three days per week and you’re now in front of people six days per week.

Look at your energy flow and where you like to be. Do that for the most part and use the other areas as fillers.

There is not much to say here beyond, BE CONSISTENT. And be improving. You look at anyone with what you view as “success” now, and I can guarantee they just kept showing the frick up. They respected the grind, and they put in their time.

You’re not special. Unless you’re famous in some other area, you’re going to have to put in the woman-hours too.

Consistency could fight this next one for the top spot…but

Engagement is king.

Drive engagement, drive engagement, drive engagement.

While we’re looking at successful people let’s all agree that they create shareable, savable, comment-able content.

How? Why?

The content they create is relatable – there is a connection point. They post on topics that many humans in their audience and beyond are already thinking or wondering about. Right? Or an experience that people within their niche will get.

In my field this could be as dramatic as discussing the over-sexualiztion of fitness, or as simple as lifting with or without shoes on. Very different. Both get heavily shared with I talk about them.

I just want to make clear that relatable content doesn’t need to be freaking ground-breaking or dramatic. It can be educational or funny.

But if you focus on one thing with your content it should be tracking your engagement and leveraging what gets the most engagement across all types.

First off you need to be a business account to do this; but look at your insights and see what posts score in the top for comments, likes, shares, follows, saves, reach and more.

You’ll start to see trends when you do this. Again, I teach on this in depth inside Instagram 101. Which you may or may not get a discount for if you’re on my main mailing list.

We’re looking for two trends here:

Which posts land in several categories? Meaning they get solid engagement across the board? Great, we need to create more content like this, or on these topics.

AND what types of content tends to fall into each of these categories? Meaning that one TYPE of content may tend to be shared or saved but get’s low likes. That’s 500% fine. A save and share is more intimate than a like.

When I say type of content I mean a graphic, or video, or swipe-able workouts. Right? You might find that ALL of your highest shared content was quotes. So you now know you can use that type of content to drive engagement.


This is what being a student of the gram looks like. Observe, make changes, grow, get better.

This is what I have observed on Instagram, especially to be true in 2020.

  • Use new features
  • Own 1-2 types of content
  • Be consistent
  • Drive engagement.

It’s not likely that you’re just grow an engaged audience who will eventually pay you on instagram.

It will take a lot of you being unapologetically yourself, and showing up to create content with intention to provide value. Authenticity + Authority. It’s my way of doing things. And it’s what I tend to see other successful humans doing as well. They just haven’t coined the phrase. 😉

Review of the week comes from MarcellaFitVa and says,

“Annie Miller is entertaining, insightful & incredibly intelligent about all things “Fitspo!” If you’re looking for a straightforward podcast without all the hoopla & “me, me, me” then this is the podcast for you. My favorite episodes are always when Annie has something to say & knows she might receive pushback & still puts her truth into the world. We need more people like Annie around but THIS podcast is the only one you’ll need to get you amped up about fitness, business and your own unique power! This is my favorite podcast to listen to on the way to the gym or right before I make a post on IG bc I feel like her energy rubs off on me. Listen to this. Stop with the BS. Let’s get to work. Again, listen to Annie Miller, y’all.”

Remember you need to check the show notes (here) to see if you were review-er of the week, and then keep an eye out to see if you were listener of the month as well. That will be in the show notes and Annie’s Weekly Wrap. You can subscribe to Annie’s Weekly Wrap here!

instagram observations in 2020 to help grow your brand with Annie Miller

If you find value here, on The FitsPRO Podcast, then pretty please head over to itunes, subscribe, rate and review the show. It means the world to me when you spread my message to more humans.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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