Getting Into Instagram With Mary Pendleton

At Raddle we get a lot of people booking brainstorms about Instagram. ‘How to launch IG for biz’; ‘How to grow my IG following’; ‘How to find good hashtags’; ‘How can I make the most of my limited time to build my biz IG ‘; and so on. So we decided to sit down with IG expert Mary Pendleton for answers. We LOVE Mary. When it comes to IG she knows her stuff and she delivers IG truth bombs without making you feel… overwhelmed, cuz she’s super chill. Check her out on IG @lovemarypendleton and you’ll see what we mean. 

Here’s Tex’s interview with Mary. Hope you enjoy it!


Tex: Solopreneurs feel like they have no time, and they’re pretty convinced that they need to do Instagram for their businesses, what do they do if they don’t feel like they have time for it?

Mary:   My advice here is that you don’t have to post every day of the week. I suggest posting three times a week, and on the days that you don’t post go on Instagram and engage a little bit. All you have to do is get seen, right? So rather than spending all of your time creating content, it’s better to create three decent posts and then go out there and start saying hi to your ideal customers. Search them out via hashtags they would use. Spend ten minutes a day on the days you don’t post doing that. Stay active everyday, but don’t spend time creating this amazing content 5-7 days a week because the life span of Instagram is so short that if you do it three days a week you can have just as much success. Something I’ve done in my own business, because for me it’s too much to post everyday, and I live on Instagram, is definitely giving myself the freedom to post LESS.

Tex: What is the best scheduling tool, in your opinion?

Mary:   I’m passionate about this one. I love Planoly so much. I love it because the interface is so easy to use. It can cross-post between Facebook and Twitter, it auto-schedules your posts so you can plan them all however far in advance you want, you can plan out the whole month if you want. There’s also notes on the calendar, so I use Planoly to visualize, to put notes on every day of the week, so I plan out my whole content calendar with little notes and then I fill it in with posts as I go. Having a strategic plan for the whole calendar one month at a time makes sure that I hit all of my content pillars, that I’m not just posting for posting’s sake. Each post has an actual strategy behind it. And Planoly is really helpful in laying that our for me, all in one place. Whereas, Later is just more messy for me and I don’t feel organized when I use it. A lot of people really like Later, but it’s just not for me. Another app that I really love is called Preview, but they don’t auto-schedule posts which is a huge deal breaker for me. But, if you’re the type of person who just likes to post in real time, Preview is great. They have built in filters that are really good and they have a great caption tool inside the app where they give great prompts. If you’re struggling with coming up with captions, Preview is a really great resource. Even just following Preview on Instagram you’ll learn so much. It’s called The Preview App.

Tex: To outsource, or do self? That is the question.

Mary:   Yes! That is a great question because if you are a personal brand, it is really hard to outsource your Instagram when so much of your content comes from your heart and soul. For someone else to get that correct is practically impossible. However there are parts of your Instagram that you can definitely outsource, including your outbound engagements. Like I was talking before about how important it is to go out and comment on other people’s accounts, that’s definitely something that you can outsource. That’s something I actually have team members do for me because it’s a little bit mind-numbing. I reply on my own posts and on my DMs, but I will give my team hashtags to search and they’ll go out and start commenting on as many accounts, using those hashtags, as they can. I use a team in the Philippines to help me, I found them in a Facebook group recommended by trusted friends. This woman has a team in the Philippines and I’ve recommended her to so many people. It’s great because they’re just really good at tracking all the work they do. Sometimes outsourcing Instagram engagement is really difficult because there’s no paper trail, it’s not like you can log in and see a list of all the comments you’ve left, but they have an awesome system set up and they do two hours a day per account. It’s $160 a month for two hours a day.

Tex: How to start building your following?

Mary:   I actually have a four-step method called the Hashtags to Customers System, and I’ll walk you through it. The first step is, Assess. So assessing who your customer actually is. It’s all about doing that ideal customer avatar brainstorming so you know who you want to actually follow you. The second step is, Attract. And the way to do that is with hashtags. So you want to use niche hashtags that your ideal customer would be searching for on Instagram. This is like using hashtags as if they’re invitations to a party, no one is going to come to the party if they don’t get the invitation. Use hashtags! That’s what you’re going to use to start drawing people in, and it might not be zillions of people but it’s going to be the right people which is way more valuable. The next step is, Adore. And that is, instead of attracting people, you’re also going out and loving on your ideal customers where they are. So you’ve invited people to your party first, now you want to go out and go to their parties. That means searching hashtags that your customer is using on her own posts and commenting on as many of those as possible. Just like a friendly tap on the shoulder, not being “sales-y”, just commenting like a normal person specifically about the post. And the fourth step is, Advertise. I have this method of running retargeting ads just to people who have engaged with my account in the last couple of weeks. And I do my kind of “sales-y” thing just to them because I know they’re my target audience, and I can do it very cheaply. Two dollars a day is my budget. That’s where I do a lot of my promotional type of things, just having that retargeting ad running all the time is how I can help to convert my warm audience to actual customers.

Other strategies about growing your account would definitely be giveaways, which really have to be more strategic than you think because you have to give away something that people are actually dying to get AND not make it too hard to enter. Also another way I love to grow accounts is to do Instagram takeovers. So, finding another account that shares an audience with yours, and you go on their account and share three pieces of value and invite people to follow you, and they come on your account and do the same. 

Tex: Where do you find the best hashtags for you?

Mary:   This is such a good question because there are so many hashtag apps and hashtag search tools. I only use Instagram as my hashtag researcher. I feel like it’s the most current and the most trust-worthy. I do quite a bit of hashtag research. I have my handpicked hashtag library of three thousand hashtags divided by categories that I share with my members of the Hashtag Hero Academy. But all of those hashtags I’ve researched just through Instagram itself. I use Instagram to search, I start it with a really broad word and then it helps me go down the rabbit hole. I stick to less than 750,000. I have a hashtag ladder system where, out of the thirty hashtags you’re allowed to use, I do one-third 500,000-750,000, one-third 250,000-500,000, and then one-third super niche 250,000 or less. The bigger ones, you’re going to get a more broad span of people seeing you. They may be your ideal customer, they may not be, but you’ll definitely get a lot more eyes. And then as you niche down you’ll get super specific about the people you want to find you. There will be less of them but they will be high quality.

Tex: Tik Tok? Should solopreneurs be on Tik Tok?

Mary:   Oh, yeah! I’m all about it these days. I’ve really questioned this myself. I have a mentor who is obsessed with Tik Tok and she keeps pushing it and I’m like, Ugh! I haven’t seen any success with it, why am I doing this? But I was like, Okay, for the month of October I’m committing to posting once on Tik Tok everyday. What I do really like about it is I can cross-post to Instagram and Facebook, so I can get more content out of it than just Tik Tok. But! A couple of days ago, I had a random video go viral, it has over 100,000 views already, and I’ve already gotten emails from people wanting to hire me for my services. The video had nothing to do with my services actually, but they looked at my profile. 


Mary Pendleton is a nationally recognized social media strategist and self-proclaimed chillpreneur. Her expertise lies in Instagram growth with a passion for purpose-driven businesses! With services from full management and strategic planning to DIY memberships and courses, she has services for all budgets. Mary is a California native and calls San Francisco home. 

Visit her IG here https://www.instagram.com/lovemarypendleton/ 

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