Episode 99: What’s The Biggest Mistake Business Owners Make On Instagram, And Are You Making It Too?

Jody: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of Online Confidential, and

Jody Milward

Jody: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of Online Confidential, and I am so excited to bring this special guest to you today. This guest is someone that I followed way back in the day when I got started online. I looked up to her and went, oh my gosh! I remember seeing her from afar at an event that I went to over in America, my first American event.

And so since then I have had the absolute pleasure to work firsthand with her and her team and see the amazingness that they create with their online business. So now that I’ve got you all in suspense, I’m super excited to announce the Instagram Expert, Sue B Zimmerman is our guest on today’s episode!

Sue, welcome!

Sue: It’s so good to see you and, wow! So not only have you been following me, but what I love most about our [00:01:00] relationship is that we’ve been together in person in Nashville and Chicago and even though we live so far away, and it’s a day ahead for you, here we are,  it’s great.

Jody: It is! And I had such a great time working with your team and meeting you and the team face to face. And like you are the real deal. You know, you walk the walk, you talk the talk. I think I got them around the wrong way. But, what you’ve done with Instagram and the community that you help and the heart that you have to continually create the content.

We were sitting in the little Nuttella cafe there in Chicago, and you just said, ‘right, this is how you do a reel.’ And it was bang, bang, bang, bang, I was like, ‘oh my gosh.’ And so I learnt this directly from the Instagram Expert Sue B Zimmerman! For those who haven’t had the pleasure of connecting with you or following you in the past, in a couple of sentences, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.[00:02:00]

Sue: Yeah. So I’ve been a lifelong entrepreneur and always have leaned into building community with every one of my businesses. And for the past 10 years, We’ve been teaching business owners, just like you how to really understand how to use Instagram as the go-to marketing tool to build a successful, sustainable business.

And it’s not just how to do social media, but it’s what to do with your social media strategy to get people, to take the action that you want them to take.

Jody: Awesome, and with that guys, Sue has the street cred behind it. She’s a top 50 social media influencer, been listed as one of the top female business owners and entrepreneurs to follow.

So, she’s not new to this game at all. And like I said, she’s got the runs on the board. So when it comes to marketing our businesses on Instagram, [00:03:00] Sue, you have a great analogy of like these five neighborhoods, tell us a bit more about those.

Sue: Yeah. So I think it’s for now because Instagram keeps changing features,

Jody: I can’t keep up with it. That’s why you’re expert.

Sue: Yeah. So let’s just anchor this with the analogy that Instagram is this village with billion plus Instagram users and with that comes opportunity. And also Instagram is, as we say, in Boston, wicked smart, because they constantly are creating different, what I call neighborhoods in this village called Instagram, where you can create content and that content in the different neighborhoods, whether it’s your feed, stories, Instagram live or reels.

Different audiences pay attention to different neighborhoods based on different interests and the way that they [00:04:00] like to engage with the app. So now more than ever, it’s important to understand all of the nuances, because back in the day, when I started teaching Instagram over 10 years ago, it was just a square photo in the feed.

And there was only, you know millions of people on Instagram, not billions. And so the app is constantly evolving and changing based on habits and interest of those that are on the app. And so with that comes really understanding how to put together that high level strategy. That’s going to attract your ideal audience that you want to serve and only your ideal audience, so that you can grow a community.

Without the overwhelm with those connections, with those intimate conversations that ultimately lead to conversions and opportunities.

Jody: And I love how you said, and only [00:05:00] your ideal client, right? So you don’t have to be talking to everyone. And that’s a big mistake that we see. A lot of people make that don’t wanna exclude anybody, but it’s like talk to your ideal client.

You will still pick up other people along the way. But talk to your ideal client. So with all your years of Instagram and helping people to build their business on Instagram, what’s one of the biggest mistakes that you see they do all the time.

Sue: Well, I think it it’s what you just said is people try to be too many things to too many people.

And I always say the riches are in the niches and the more you can niche down, the more opportunity you have. And we are constantly evaluating and looking at that as well as a company and recently over the past year we added ‘for women 45 plus’ to our bio, because that is the demographic of who we primarily serve and know it’s the demographic of who we serve.

So the more you kind of call out your audience, they [00:06:00] will raise their hand and say, she’s talking to me, that’s my person. And so the mistake I see people making is they’re too general. They’re not specific enough with their content.

And another mistake is that the content is not dynamic or interesting enough in that it’s primarily something that you see somewhere else or someone else is doing it, or you can find it on Google and now, more than ever when we hear the word authenticity, it really is the content creator’s knowledge base. It’s their experience of doing what they say they do and selling what they sell in a way that showcases them as the go to expert or authority or author or leader or author.

And you get those accolades from your customers that get success from what you’ve done. [00:07:00] So it’s, it’s important to understand how to serve your audience and how to really help them win at the game of business. The more success they have, obviously, the more success you have. And so a mistake that people make is that they’re too eager to have results too quickly.

They’re not patient enough with understanding their audience and speaking to their audience and they think, oh, I’m just going get on Instagram and start making money and it doesn’t work that way. Right.

Jody: Right. Right. And it’s a long game for sure. And I mean, if, if you have someone that is saying yes, get on Instagram straight away and start making dollars, I think awesome, run in the other direction, because it is a long game strategy and we need to set those expectations.

Now I love how you said at the start that you’ve put into your information that age range of women over 45 plus. Because [00:08:00] that’s calling out your ideal person. So when it comes to setting up like our our Instagram bio, what are some key features that we should put in there?

Like, you know, is it SEO, optimized? What should we actually say there to probably identify ourselves to our right clients?

Sue: Yeah that’s a great question. And a lot of people make the mistake of not optimizing their bio and having what I call a Boss Bio, I want you all to have a Boss Bio.

So with that, there are typically eight touch points that one should be paying attention to.

One, is their avatar and is it a representation of you and your energy and your business?

Two, is the username, the account name of your account, does it make sense? Are there numbers in it? Is it random or is it easy to remember?

Three is the name field, and this is where 9 out of 10 times people don’t have this right. It’s where the SEO is in [00:09:00] the name, field, not the account name, but the name field, where you now get up to 60-ish characters where you can literally have those keywords, that people would be searching to find you. If you want to check out those keywords, you can go to the search icon, which looks like a magnifying glass, put in those keywords and see what comes up. Look at that content to see if it’s the right keyword for your business.

So the right avatar image, the right username, the right SEO, having a bio, you get 150 characters to say who you are, what your authority is, and what’s in it for your audience if they choose to follow you. This is not about you, it’s about your audience winning, so crafting a really creative bio that speaks to your ideal client is very important.

Another mistake I see people making [00:10:00] is they don’t put a call to action in their bio, with either a finger pointing down or an arrow pointing down, telling them what that link in their bio will help them with, the problem it will solve. You know, it’s really important to make sure that whatever you’re linking in your bio is clearly explained with that call to action.

Then also having the right link or links if you’re using a third party app like linktree to link, and tracking that link correctly. So you know what kind of success you’re having from those clicks.

I also say that your highlights are actually part of your bio as well. For those of you that don’t know what a highlight is, it’s the circles under the bio where you can save your stories as a resource. It’s kind of like tabs on a website and those highlights can also be branded in a creative way and named in [00:11:00] a creative way. So if someone lands on your account, they may spend a significant amount of time looking at those highlights at those resources, learning more about you, your team, behind the scenes, some tips and getting to know you better before they even start looking at your content in your feed.

So these are all touch points in your bio that are important and should be optimized. A lot of people aren’t checking all the boxes when it comes to.

Do I have the right photo?

Do I have the right username, the right name, field, the right file, the right call to action, the right link and the right highlights?

And then the eighth thing that, you know, I’m back into the bio is really taking a step back and looking at it, or even having your friends look at it and say, does this make sense with who I’m trying to serve? Does this bio speak to you? Again, you being the [00:12:00] ideal client.

Jody: Awesome. So much gold in those eight things. The highlights, like you said, I’ve been to people’s Instagram page and have a look at what their stories have been, and getting that better feel for them. And then, like you said for a business owner or for a service provider, as you know working with ad managers predominantly, it’s like, okay, how is this positioning you maybe as an authority or establishing some sort of relationship or connection with your potential clients?

So having strategies, and I remember back when I was working with you a bit and I’d go, okay, I’m working with Sue, I’ve got to get my Instagram sorted and I’d be thinking, what would Sue do? And I’d be making all these things and then I’d get a message from Sue saying, ‘what did you do this for?’ I was like, ‘ah, I dunno.’

So being very strategic with all of it and that positioning yourself as an authority.

Circling back to those neighborhoods that are around. If someone [00:13:00] was to just be focusing on one of those at the moment, which one would you say to focus on?

Sue: Well, it is currently reels. We are in September, 2022.

And you know, for the past year, Instagram’s really been favoring this neighborhood and it’s based on the user demands and interest of short form video. And so before we even get into reels as a neighborhood, I think it’s really important for everyone to hear that now more than ever people hearing you, seeing you connecting with your smile, your eyes, your energy.

The real you all aspects of that authentic self, I think is literally what’s trending on social, not just Instagram. And so the reason I wanted to preface that is because that segues into reels. Although with reels, you don’t always have to be [00:14:00] on camera, but I will tell you that our best performing reels are the ones where Morgan and I are on camera and it’s our original voice with our original tips that no one else is talking about.

Again, we’re looking to build trust and connection and relationships, and so people can relate to you when they feel you. And so reels can now be up to 90 seconds. They don’t have to be that long, but there’s so many different ways to creatively make a video and Instagram is always adding new features, editing features, just everything to make it so much easier for people to do that.

Jody: I think I can hear a huge sigh of relief across the world. That what you just said is like, you don’t have to sing and dance and lip sync and all the rest of it. That was a [00:15:00] challenge for so many people.

Sue: Yeah, just quickly to interject, I find accounts that are only lip syncing who have mad dancing skills and lip syncing skills. And I scroll and scroll and scroll, and I want to hear their voice, and their advice, and their thoughts, and their ideas, but yet there’s none.

They’re just using the trending audio and the trending music. And that to me is not worthy of building trust. That’s someone that has great skills and I, as a business owner, want to hear your thoughts and ideas around what you say you’re an expert on. Not how great you are at lip syncing and dancing.

I think that that has been a problem for some accounts that are just thinking that’s all they [00:16:00] need to do to have success on Instagram.

Jody: Oh, one hundred percent. You’ve hit the nail on the head with that Sue, because that’s what we want to hear. And for most of us, that’s what our ideal client wants to hear as well.

Again, what’s positioning you as the authority here on this platform? Doing new reels and such. So reels is the focus. And then also, again, like you were saying now, just recently was seeing you and hearing your voice, because then when they go on and read posts from you or read your emails, they can hear your voice in their head and they can see you.

And so that’s just, again, fast tracking that authority building. So when it comes to reels and I know one of your biggest things is consistency. Be consistent and take action. You are the queen of reels, you’ve got all your content going out all the time. How do you think of that content?

So if someone is sitting there going, okay, I’ve got to use this for reels. What am I going to do? And what’s the secret to it? [00:17:00] For me, I love batching and getting a few done at a time. It’s awesome. It’s done. You can do a month’s worth of one minute things in no time at all, but what secret tips or hacks do you have when it comes to consistency and creation?

Sue: Yeah, so complete transparency we have a social marketing team that comes up with the content that both Morgan and I share. So I want everyone to know that we have two very successful series that are on our feed. One is ‘Steal This Post Idea’ that Morgan does, and she is the other person in the avatar, who is my partner and CEO of this business.

And then I have ‘Instagram Hacks You Wish You Knew Sooner’. Those are both series and we are constantly coming up with steal this post idea, ideas and hacks. And so those are being batched typically five to seven at a time. And when I get my [00:18:00] ClickUp notification that I need to get them done, I set aside two to two-ish hours, outfit changes, and I have a system and a process to do it quickly and easily.

And I’ll share some of those tips with you guys in a second. For those of you that are struggling with the content creation, we always go back to what are the most frequently asked questions that you’re getting either in your email or on your lives or in your DM or on your feed? And those can be great reels. Just make sure that you always have a hook.

The hook is what hooks them in on your reel. So people know what’s in it for them if they watch that reel. A big mistake in reels is that people aren’t putting the hook or the title on the reel. And then it’s like, why should I watch this?

You want to make sure they know why they should watch it. So do you want me to segue into a couple tips?

Jody: Yes, [00:19:00] give us those tips.

Sue: Okay. So we use ClickUp as our content management tool, and it’s just a really great way for us to move projects along within our company. But if you’re a solopreneur or entrepreneur, a couple of tips for you are, when creating your reels, you can create your covers in either in Instagram stories, or if you have an iPhone, it’s very easy to use the camera and set it to 16:9 and then use the timer and step back and take a picture.

One of my favorite hacks is if you just don’t quite know how to do that, just take a video of yourself moving and then take screenshots or just holding a pose or just like, you know, just grabbing those screenshots, making sure there are 16:9, or using Instagram stories selfie style, and just taking your photos.

So typically I take four photos [00:20:00] in different poses and my team picks the one they like best for the cover, but here’s the big ninja tip to all the ladies in the house, whatever photo you take put in your Instagram story, swipe once to the left so that you have the Paris filter, it smooths everything and it looks so natural. And it’s just a little, a little tweak to the photo that makes you feel more confident. And that’s my favorite filter. I don’t typically use Instagram filters to do much but that’s my little secret weapon to making sure that with your cover photos you’re just going to feel really good about it. So that’s the cover photo.

And then in terms of the content. Oh, my goodness. Christie on my team told me about the teleprompter app that we’ll have to share in the show notes where you can literally script out what you wanna say and use this phenomenal mobile app, put your phone in a [00:21:00] tripod or, you know, and, or just lean it against the base.

And as long as you’re looking at the middle of your screen and it doesn’t look like you’re reading it’s a game changer. I used to have to memorize my scripts or put post-it notes on my phone so I’m able to just get them done. So that’s another great tip. And then finally, you want to have a little movement or interest if you’re doing one line after the other.

So if you don’t want to do the teleprompter and you want to just do one line at a time, you can use the timer in reels and do a countdown. Say that one line, and then move your position or your point of view or come up closer, set the timer and do another line. So you can do one line at a time and it’s kind of like a jump cut video and it keeps your audience a little bit more interested.

Now Instagram recently added transitions, which is more [00:22:00] advanced in reels. We just started talking about it and that’s another way to kind of add a little movement in between each clip. And there’s just so much that you can do in reels. And I hope that those tips help each one of you that are listening.

Jody: Absolutely. I love the little the countdown timer reel and moving it around that certainly will have more interest and capture people’s eye. I love seeing those kind of things. And I’ll definitely try the Paris filter next time I do a post. But guys, if you want to look at any of this stuff that Sue has said and all those tips and those theories that she was talking about, Sue, where can people find you on Instagram to go and check all that out?

Sue: So you can find us at @theinstagramexpert and we actually have hashtags that you can search on mobile only to find all the  [00:23:00] Steal This Post Ideas and all the hacks. I use the same hashtag so they’re curated in a hashtag hub and that way you guys could find them all, but typically I’m wearing a hat in all the hacks.

They’re all labeled and all of Morgan’s Steal This Post Idea are labeled as well, but I’m gonna just send Jody these hashtags so that you guys can just search them. And it’s great.

Jody: Awesome because the stuff that Sue has there on Instagram, you’ll be able to watch something and go, right, I’m gonna go and implement this because, Sue is like, I don’t just watch, but do kind of person.

So any information that she puts out, it’s going to help you to take action. And it’s that consistent action that’s going to help you get results, get visible to your ideal clients and then start generating more clients, more revenue using Instagram. So, aside from all this amazing, amazing free content that Sue has out there, [00:24:00] she does have like, you know I’m biased I know, but Sue has the best Instagram training out there.

Sue, how can people find out about your Instagram training, tell us a bit about that.

Sue: How can they find out about our Instagram training? Yes. Well, we often have that training. The link is in our bio for people. And do you have a special link for them to get it as well?

Jody: We can put one of those in the show notes.

Sue: We can have a special UTM link for you. But we are sharing that training frequently as a link in our bio because it is a free training that often converts people to joining our membership.

Jody: Which is so important because like I said here’s this number of neighborhoods on Instagram and it’s always changing.

And one of the hardest parts is trying to keep up to date. And that’s what you and your team do so beautifully. If there’s something new that’s [00:25:00] out, you guys are on it straight away so it’s like, ‘okay, great, thanks for that, Sue’. And not only will you tell us about it you’ll tell us here’s what you’ve got to do, here’s the step by step process. So the pressure is off to try and stay up to date, just tune into your community there. And it’s like, you know it.

Sue: Oh, definitely. I mean you know, women, 45 and older, we go slow, it’s step by step so that there’s no overwhelm and everything makes sense.

So the way that we teach is one lesson builds on the next and the next, because you can’t get to doing an Instagram live until you’ve learned all the nuances about setting your account up properly with the bio that we talked about. Right? So again, Instagram is a marketing tool and we want to make sure that you have the right strategy for your audience.

And that’s the goal. That you’re always creating relevant content for your audience, where they raise [00:26:00] their hand and they say, that’s my Instagram educator. That’s my ads expert educator. And they continue to learn from you. And then when they’re ready to invest, they will. I mean, it’s so much easier to make a sale when you’re serving consistently.

Jody: It certainly is. It certainly is. Well, thank you, Sue. Is there anything else, any last final, hot tips you have for us as we go out there and be all inspired to use Instagram and go do a reel?

Sue: Yeah. So I always love my action takers. Always. So if you’ve listened to this, if you’ve heard this interview, come on over to Instagram and on the last post, let me know that you tuned in and, and at mentioned Jody, so that we can see that you listened and let us know what your biggest takeaway was.

Or if you have any questions, please ask those as well. And myself or my team will definitely answer. [00:27:00]

Jody: There definitely will. I can vouch for that. Well, thank you so much, Sue. So guys run over and check out Sue on Instagram at @theinstagramexpert or So thank you, Sue. It has been a pleasure here talking Instagram with you today, from your place over there.

In the past, over in Eastern time zone to me down here in Australia. And guys, go out, have a look at Instagram. Look at those neighborhoods, reach out to Sue. And thanks for being here with us today and all the best with your Instagramming. Thank you, Sue.

Sue: You’re welcome. So great to see you.

Jody: Bye.


I love to share practical information to help you improve your skills, learn something new or help you avoid the mistakes that many Ad Managers and I have made to help fast-track you on your journey as a well-paid and in-demand Ad Manager.