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What’s the Story with Instagram Stories?


With the popularity of Instagram continuing to grow, many new users are starting to feel a little more adventurous and ready to make the leap from simple Instagram posts to using the Instagram Stories feature. If you are not familiar with HOW to post an Instagram story, you find this easy 4-step guide here.

If you are on the fence about WHY you should be using Instagram Stories, here are the reasons that it’s a good idea for you and building your platform:

> Stories are a great place to EXPERIMENT. Because they disappear in 24 hours, posts to Stories do not need to be perfect in composition, color or branding guidelines. You can test some new content ideas as well as try out the constantly upgraded features*. Also, you can get a sense of what your viewers most respond to. (*If you are starting out – keep it simple with hashtags, handles and locations; or step up your game with GIFs and filters!

> Stories provide a great opportunity to UP YOUR VIDEO SKILLS. Again, think of Instagram Stories as a place to PRACTICE doing videos – either short form or long form, selfies or videos of other people, places and things.

> Even though they “disappear” in 24 hours, Stories CAN BE DISCOVERED and SHARED by others who are tagged in your stories. I see influencers repost others stories where he or she is tagged, again great way to let others do your marketing for you.

> If you want to keep your story on your Instagram profile, you can always add it to HIGHLIGHTS or POST it directly to your feed. Think of your Instagram Stories as “rookie content” that when it does well can get promoted to your main feed or your profile.

> You can actually get your followers to ENGAGE with your stories. Not only can viewers reply via message or emoji, they can answer your “polls” and “ask you questions” using the myriad of features. (If you have teenagers, they have mastered most of the newest features – ask them for help!)

Think of Instagram Stories as a great opportunity to share with your followers a more casual, personal behind-the-scenes access to what’s going on in your world. It doesn’t have to be the buttoned-up, beautiful and perfectly branded posts that many have come to expect from Instagram feeds.

Need some inspiration? Here are several people who I think do an great job of using Instagram stories:

  • Ann Handley (Chief content marketer, Marketing Profs): @annhandley
  • Jessica Gordon Ryan (Chief Influencer, GimletStyle): @gimletstyle
  • Monica Kang (CEO, Innovators Box): @hi.mhk

If you want to go deeper with Instagram Stories, check out Jen Lehner’s amazing new “Create Your Branded Story for Instagram Stories” guide here.

If you have been interested in trying Instagram Stories, consider an Instagram Story Challenge. Try posting stories everyday for a week! If you tag me (@sheesalt), I promise I will reply and repost and encourage you to keep up the good work.

Share your Instagram handle in the comments below. And feel free to ask any questions you might have about Instagram Stories.

Anne Bogel Modern Mrs. Darcy

Behind the “Seens” with Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy

Writer and podcaster Anne Bogel loves diving in, hiding out, and creating her deep work yet still manages to be everywhere, all the time making sure the world knows about great books and better reading.

Anne Bogel is the genius behind the hugely popular Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and the “What Should I Read Next?” podcast. Followed by thousands of readers, authors, and publishers, she is a tastemaker through her popular book lists, reading guides, and stylish posts about life in general. She is also an author of two books about the reading life.

I’ve been a fan of Anne’s for more than five years when our virtual worlds brought us together in real life (shout-outs to Laura Vanderkam and Holland Saltsman here). Her ability to consistently and creatively share content that is interesting, engaging, followable and fan-able never ceases to amaze me. I was thrilled that she took some time to share how she does it!

Check out our “Behind the Seens” video – (and see the person behind the groovy voice):

Read on for highlights of our conversation: 

Nancy: Anne, I’ve always thought of you as an early adopter and a quintessential tribe builder. You were building a community online before everyone talked about how to do that. Have you always been that way?

Anne: I don’t feel like an early adopter. I always felt like I was late when I started blogging, and I waited a year to get on Facebook and Twitter. I do love to try things. Breaking things is okay with me even though my it might not be okay with my husband who is the person I call to fix them.

What has been a game changer for you in terms of growing your audience?

I can think of 3 things:

The first was changing from an anonymous blogger to being personal. It was early on and I realized that it wasn’t quite as scary online and being part of the blogosphere and I really saw a change when I started writing in a more personal way.

The second thing that happened was that other people who had influence with their audiences started sharing my blog and letting people know that they might like it as well. That was really a big deal.

The third thing was starting the “What Should I Read Next?” podcast – it’s about book talk, reading recommendations and literary matchmaking. People really connect with the medium and it’s been so much easier to make connections. With the podcast people tell me that it’s part of their day. I had heard that all this was true about podcasting, but I was still surprised when it happened.

You also do a great job of taking your awesome content and leveraging it, so it reaches the most people. I see you doing that with your reading guides, but also with your podcasts and your blog posts as well. It’s a terrific case study for others who don’t get as much traction or who haven’t been able to share their content across multiple platforms.

I’m glad it looks that way because I am doing it “wrong”. I should spend more time promoting and less time creating but I like doing it this way. I’m glad to hear your feedback.

What is your favorite social media platform? Or, if you can’t pick a favorite share with us why you love those you use and how you’ve gotten there.

I used to love Twitter, but now it stresses me out. My favorite is Instagram. It’s pretty. I like catching up with my actual friends and the book community on Instagram is pretty great.

I really don’t use Facebook personally, only for the business side of things.

And I do use Pinterest to promote things, and I do use it personally. My daughter and I recently searched for ideas because we are painting her room. I like their search function for project things like that.

What are you doing today that you feel is new?

I am making myself try on social media. I have some big long-term projects going on and my instinct is to go in my cave and work on them and nothing else. I do have a belief that’s sweet and a bit naïve; that good work will win out – that people will find it. But then I know that’s not always true. Sometimes I read a book and I’m wondering why everyone isn’t talking about it because it’s so good – and then I realize it’s because people don’t know about it. I make the effort to do good work and be on social media. Especially Instagram stories. I never wake up wanting to do one, but once I get going I’m like oh, this is fun!

Can you share with us what’s behind you on the wall in your office?

It’s a calendar of the past two and the next six months of my life. It’s how I plan out what I’m working on to make sure that everything is accounted for, and to be sure that it all gets done. I have to be able to see it all at a glance, so I taped up some calendars and used post it notes and found a way to see what’s coming up and what’s next.

What’s your secret for growing your tribe? What is it about Anne Bogel or Modern Mrs. Darcy that keeps people coming back all the time?

I don’t know how true this is in 2018 but in 2011 when I started Modern Mrs. Darcy, it was an oddball blog. Toni Morrison said that if what you want to read doesn’t exist, you have to write it. I think what also works is that it’s specific, it’s personal, and I think what works for our audience is that we are super-nerdy about books and reading. What we’ve heard from our audience is that no one is passionate about this in their personal life, so they are looking for it online.

My husband said this early on – you don’t have a niche but you do have a tightly defined demographic. And they are interested in books and reading but they also wear mascara and drink tea and I’m up for sharing that stuff too.

What do you do when you aren’t writing or posting online? How do you recharge when you step away from the laptop? Besides reading – which we know you do.

I like to walk the dog. I’ve talked about that a lot and I also like to walk alone, or with friends or my husband. I like to eat. I love to go out for a bite or a drink. We are hikers and paddle boarders – which is a new family thing. And every now and then I like to rearrange the books on my shelves. I get so many books, so when they stack up I know it’s time to alphabetize the book shelves again.

Before we go do you have anything you want to share with us? Something that’s coming up in a few months – hint, hint?

Yes! I have a book coming out on September 4th. And it’s about reading. It’s titled I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life. You can go to annebogel.com and pre-order, and we have fun pre-order bonuses. You can also go to idratherbereading.com. All those sites will get you to the right place.

If you are not already a fan of Anne Bogel, at Modern Mrs Darcy and What Should I Read Next, then connect with her here:

Your reading life will be better for it. I promise!


Want to book time with Nancy? Schedule your free consultation call now!

Behind the "Seens" Laura Vanderkam

Behind the “Seens” with Laura Vanderkam, Author and Time Management Expert

Laura Vanderkam shares how promoting books has changed and how her podcast helps her stay connected and grow her audience.

This has to be the biggest treat for my “Behind the Seens” interviews so far! Last week I was thrilled to interview author Laura Vanderkam (my client for more than 8 years!) who is a prolific writer and a time management expert. In the time that I’ve known Laura, she’s written and published at least 4 books, had 2 (more) kids, done a TedTalk (2.5 million views) and managed a family move from one big city to another.

Laura truly walks her talk and it’s been great fun to be on this journey with her. In our Facebook LIVE chat, we talked about her new upcoming book Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done (May 29th, Portfolio), as well as all the things that go into promoting a new book.

Check out the video here:


Or read on for highlights of our conversation…

We’ve been through several book launches, and each time, it feels like things have changed a bit. What would you say has been a game-changer for you in the last year or so? I know you’ve seen a shift in how you grow your audience.

Well, the “Best of Both Worlds” podcast was started in the past year, and that has been a great way to bring in new audience members and it’s also helped me cement the relationship I had with existing audience members and readers.

There’s a lot of time between books, and not everyone is a blog reader. I continue to write on my blog all the time, but not all those who pick up my book read the blog. My publisher shared that my audiobook sales are a higher percentage of my book sales than the average title.

It’s because busy people are listening in their cars. I realized it was a good idea to be there in that space and podcasting was a great way to do it. My co-host Sarah Hart-Unger and I launched the podcast in August of 2017, and it’s been really fun to watch that grow.

What did that entail? You have a lot of content and information to share, so that part might not be hard. What would you share with others who might be thinking about podcasting?

I think it’s a great idea to have a co-host; someone that you have good rapport with and that has similar interests. They can bring a different take and you will always have something to talk about.

I also think it’s easier for listeners to be part of a conversation instead of listening to me talk on my own. It’s more engaging, and we feel like we are discovering things together as we have these conversations.

We do have a lot of guests, but we don’t always have to, and that’s helpful. The fact that the two of us can create an episode with just us talking about a topic gives us much more content than if it was just me, or just her, or always having to have a guest for every single episode— and do the work that is involved with that.

Do you feel like you’re picking up new audience members, or are you just reaffirming the audience you already had?

I think that many of our listeners were readers of my blog or Sarah’s blog, but I do think that there are people listening who weren’t readers of mine or Sarah’s blog because they are podcast listeners instead of readers.

I know this because Sarah was commuting and listening to podcasts, and didn’t find any that talked about her situation—we wanted to fill that niche in the market.

What is your favorite social media network?

Thanks to Nancy, I’m everywhere – but I would have to say the two I check the most are Instagram and Twitter. Facebook was fun, but I feel like it took a turn in 2016 to be more political and divisive in some ways. It became awkward because I have friends and family on both sides of everything.

I love Instagram, because I enjoy seeing the baby and children photos and pictures of friends and family. That’s what I’d always loved about Facebook, so now I do it there instead.

Twitter is the place to be for breaking news and I find myself there reading about what’s happening if there’s a major story in the news.

You do a lot of speaking, and I think Twitter is also great for that too. It’s a good way to connect with people who are attending, and it’s great to see what people are saying about your presentations.

I always check Twitter after an event and see who commented and what they said. It’s a great way to follow new people who are engaged and interested in the same kind of information. I’ve met a lot of really cool people that way.

What are you doing differently for this book launch?

We’re definitely doing more for pre-orders, although that’s not completely new. I don’t think it’s really different, but the fun thing is that with each book, your list continues to grow.

In 2010 when I started my email list, it was about 200 people whose emails I’d managed to get and that’s how we started. Now it’s about 40,000, and that’s great. It’s cool to email them and tell them you have a book coming out. That’s been pretty fun to watch as it has continued to grow with each launch.

Shameless plug – it’s not too late to pre-order and get the pre-launch goodies here (until May 29th)!

That’s true! I am hand signing bookplates that you can put into your book, since I can’t come to your house and sign your book personally! One reader posted that she got my thank you note with the signed bookplate and was dancing around the house, which was so sweet. It’s amazing to me that people are surprised to get a thank you for buying the book.

You have some very loyal fans and I’m sure they are excited to get Laura Vanderkam swag!
What do you think is your secret for engaging your audience? To get to a 40,000+ subscriber list and to keep your incredibly loyal audience on the blog – what is your secret?

Well, you keep showing up. I blog a lot, probably 4 times a week or so, and have been doing that for 8 or 9 years. People feel like they know you and are invested in what’s going on and the things we talk about.

Adding the weekly podcast episode and showing up there every week is another big step. I do think it’s also about giving people information that they aren’t getting anywhere else. The internet is full of repackaged stuff that you’ve seen before, so with the books, I try to break some new ground.

The past two books are based on original quantitative research on how people use their time, which you aren’t going to get from other books on this topic. I like to share that, and hopefully, it means readers will find some things out and learn about how the world really works.

I also share how real people are doing this. I’m especially looking to change or at least provide an alternative to the narrative that women can’t have a successful career and a family, or if they try, then their life will be a crazy mess. I aim to be straightforward while I present a new perspective on how to do this well.

Oops – we can’t forget to give a shout-out to your “new look” online.

I have a new website! It’s great. Nancy project managed this and it our 3rd iteration. It’s good to refresh from time to time.

Since your new book is about being Off The Clock, what do you do to disconnect?

I love to read, and I talk about this in the book; how I have been more intentional and how I’ve made more time to read. I also run. Running is a great way to unplug.

Every day.

Yes, 500 days straight. I also sing in a church choir, so I have rehearsals every Thursday night and sing on Sunday mornings, and that’s been fun.

We have a viewer question – she wants to know what Laura Vanderkam book she should read first and are they all on Audible?

I believe so. There is an audio version of every book on Audible, and the new book will release the Audible version about the same time as the print copy.

I think 168 Hours is a good intro into my time management philosophy. The e-book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast is short and a good way to get started, as well.

Thank you so much, Laura, for joining me.

Thanks for having me, and for sharing the information about the books.

Here are the myriad of ways that you can connect with Laura and learn more about her approach to making the most out of your time and your life!

Follow her on Facebook, InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Behind The Seens Cindy Ratzlaff

Behind The “Seens” with Cindy Ratzlaff – Queen of Brand New, Brand You

Cindy shares real-time, tested, social media strategy advice from that you can implement now!

Cindy Ratzlaff the “Queen of Brand New, Brand You” has worked with hundreds of authors and developed the campaigns behind more than 200 New York Times bestselling books. She is a fantastic keynote speaker and marketing strategist, who has created award-winning marketing campaigns for publishers, authors, entrepreneurs, and businesses for her entire career. I’ve long admired her work and her Book Expo speeches, so I knew it would be fun (and it was!) to talk about what new strategies and trends she recommends for clients now. 




So what is the biggest game-changer that you’ve seen for authors? What’s changed in social for your clients?

Just recently there was a big change on Facebook with their algorithm. Here’s what I tell people, “Take a deep breath. Facebook changes things all the time.” If you’ve seen your reach diminish with the changes there are a few things you can do to get those numbers back up. We may never see the reach we used to have, but it’s still a remarkable (free) way to reach your audience without advertising.

Today Facebook cares about comments and conversation on your posts.

This is how I do it: I will post something about my personal experience; sharing that I’ve found when I use video my reach is better. Then I’ll incorporate a “call to action” to engage in an authentic conversation. I might say something like “have you noticed the same sort of results with video?”

I am always mindful about serving my audience as well – so I’ll always add that I’m happy to share tips, provide feedback or answer any questions around what the post references.

(Minute 8:50) Cindy shares her specific example of how she saw her reach go from 5000+ likes to less than 1000+ and how she used her conversation strategy to see them go back up. It’s a great real-life example.

(Minute 12:30) How to get the most from boosting a post to reignite your audience engagement.

What is your favorite social media platform? I realize it may differ for yourself and what you might recommend for clients but what do you like most, and why?

I started on Twitter before Facebook and it’s still my favorite platform. I use it more for news and information gathering rather than promoting things. I have lists that I check so I can see what type of information my favorite authors, or journalists or influencers are sharing and decide if I want to check it out, comment or share it.

It’s almost become a trend finder for me, and a place to keep tabs on breaking news. I want to be mindful of what’s happening. I’m don’t want to be promoting a new program if there’s something cataclysmic going on in the world.

Let’s talk about Instagram. Writers sometimes don’t understand why or how that platform can help them and I know you have some thoughts about that. How do you use it?

Instagram is changing, too. They are encouraging people to turn their accounts into business accounts. That will give you access to some new tools that are in the works that will allow you to be able to sell with one click from Instagram.

For my site, Instagram and Pinterest are my two biggest sources of referral traffic. Instagram surpassed Facebook when they made the recent changes.

Instagram gives your followers a great behind-the-scenes look that people find interesting. It also helps people feel like they know you, because they’ve seen photos of your dog, your home, things you like to eat. It’s an intimate way to create real connection.

Instagram lets you invite your fans into a world with you.

What are you doing differently?

We are seeing new social norms. While social media allows for great authenticity, there is also the chance that you may mis-speak or offend people with a phrase that wasn’t intended to be offensive.

I now see that leaders on social media (authors, thought leaders, influencers) have a chance to calm the conversation and create a safe space for others. We can give people what they want; helpful, meaningful information, and curate the conversation, as well. That may also mean blocking people who have a different agenda than you do.  That’s part of being on social media today and that’s new. I have not had to do that in the past.

What are your secrets for connecting with your tribe? What do you do to support your authentic approach to engagement?

I post on Facebook every morning at 6:00 AM Eastern time and have “conversations” with my followers until 7:00 AM. A few have been “chatting” with me for so long that I can ask about them specific things in their life. I always reply to comments using their name, acknowledging them personally, anytime I comment or reply to someone who has taken time to engage. It’s important to acknowledge them as a person.

My page is about happiness, and there are people who come there because they need “some happy” in their life. I really want them to get what they need, and feel good about that.

At the end of the day, your audience also wants to be seen and heard.

(Minute 34:00) LinkedIn Publishing Strategy

You can put a long-form post on their publishing network, and if they like it, they may share it with their “weekend reads” section which reaches 8 or 9 million people. It must be 1000 words or more. If you have something interesting to say putting it on that platform is a good way to potentially be seen by millions.

If your audience is on LinkedIn and you feel like you are fighting to be seen on Facebook, posting articles there may be a better option.

Let’s talk about stats. I know we both agree that it’s about “quality over quantity”. But authors looking to be published tell me the first question that they get when shopping their books around to publishing houses is “how big is your platform”? How do you address that?

Publishers want to see that you have a following—but there are more ways to demonstrate that than your number of Facebook or Instagram followers.

Think of other ways to do that. Here are some ideas:

  • Do a blog tour. If you’ve been interviewed by 15 bloggers in the past year, those posts live on forever and you can show them that reach. Show them how you can do that again – list new contacts and demonstrate the reach they have.
  • Podcasts give you the same opportunity and publishers are paying attention to that right now (either as a guest or by doing your own podcast, to gain reach).
  • Publishers like knowing that you already have 500 books sold. What corporate contacts can you reach out to for commitments to buy your book for employees or clients?
  • Speaking engagements and their reach can demonstrate your platform too.

These strategies make publishers take notice because they’ll see that you are motivated, and you understand how to engage your audience so that they’ll be eager to buy your book. Again, social media stats alone don’t always translate into book sales.

What do you think about the trend to messenger, bots and text messages instead of email. What advice are you giving?

As a consumer, I have signed up to get text messages from companies that I buy from often. They send a text occasionally when they have a sale, and I’m fine with that. I have also received unsolicited messages from other Facebook pages I follow, and my response was to unfollow them.

Because it’s a one-way form of communication, I feel that it’s going to have limited effectiveness. For some, it may be their preferred way to get their weekly tips or sale notifications. It all comes down to knowing your audience, what they want, and how they want to receive it.

What’s next for you? What do you do when you aren’t engaging on Facebook or helping your clients?

I’m focusing more on speaking these days, and that’s going well. I’ve also been traveling a lot, and when I travel, I unplug. I want to be with the people I’m with as part of my travel experience.

Where can people find you and stay in touch with you?

Brand New, Brand You” on Facebook
Queen of Your Own Life” on Facebook
Cindy on Instagram
Cindy on Twitter
Cindy’s website

Online Marketing Advice You Need To Know Now

Marketing Tips and Takeaways from INBOUND17

Still spinning from INBOUND17, an annual marketing conference in Boston, where I spent four days with 20,000 other fellow marketers, I am excited to share some of the top takeaways and immediately actionable insights. These ideas will help you be strategic about what’s trending in online marketing, so you can stay ahead of the curve and become even more connected to your clients and fans. Dive on in.

1> “Instagram is Facebook’s next Facebook”

So says Facebook’s (owner of Instagram) CEO Jeff Zuckerberg. Straight from the horse’s mouth, Facebook expert Mari Smith advised it is imperative to include Instagram in your social media strategy. When Facebook is putting their energy there, so should you, with opportunities for the fastest growth in growing your followers and increasing your brand awareness.

TAKEAWAY TIP – Connect your Instagram profile to your Facebook page for analytics about how to be more strategic with the right audience. Make sure that your Instagram is “on brand” with the rest of your social media profiles.

2> Video, video, video!

Yes, video continues to be the content darling with social media, especially with Facebook TV and video ads. Also from Mari Smith’s presentation, we heard how Facebook is (still) giving priority to videos created in Facebook—not only for posts, but also for ads. It is getting easier and easier to create more professional ads without having to spend a fortune on video production. Some of the video tools Mari recommended were Wave and Animoto.

TAKEAWAY TIP – If you haven’t started, start RIGHT NOW! Start experimenting and post something THIS WEEK! If you have started, take it up a level – especially if you have a great idea for video or television series.

3> Less is more. Quality over quantity.

20% of your content (the unicorns) is bringing in 80% of your traffic. Work it, be smart, be strategic. This message was repeated in many different forums with varying degrees of statistics. But the general message from all of the speakers I heard (Dharmesh Shah, Hubspot; Larry Kim, Wordstream, and Garrett Moon, CoSchedule) was that you should focus your growth (10x growth, not 10% growth) on these really big content ideas and winners.

TAKEAWAY TIP – Find your most popular content (check the analytics from your website and social media) and make a plan to make it work harder.


4> Be human and connect.

We all want to belong – but we need to be solid in belonging first to ourselves. With a new book out, called Braving The Wilderness, Brene Brown kicked off the conference with a most powerful call for everyone to be more engaged with their fellow humankind. Fresh from the front of the Houston hurricane disasters, she had real life stories and proof that we are capable of being humans together – not apart.

TAKEAWAY TIP – Call, touch, hug and/or really look at someone today and everyday! But also as we think of our companies and brands, it’s imperative to be OK and even stand out or stand alone in our authenticity.


5> Creativity happens whenever we solve problems.

I took comfort in being reminded that being a creator doesn’t mean you have to be an artist or designer, or really good at making things pretty. Specifically, Wharton professor and author Adam Grant had some very pragmatic suggestions no matter what you do or who you are for how to bring creative ideas to life …which often involve working with your grumpy outlier cohorts.

TAKEAWAY TIP – Have a plan for bringing your next big idea to life. Don’t assume the people who are like you or who like you are always going to be your biggest advocates and the people who can most help you succeed.

Check out my LIVE FB video from INBOUND here. And if you want more insight in how to apply these trends and tips to your online marketing strategy, set up a clarity call with me now.