Vivien Conway and Tasha Meys are a dynamic duo in the digital marketing world.

Ace The Gram – their Instagram consultancy, has gone from strength to strength demonstrating how Instagram can be used to develop and grow businesses.

Corey Hinde chatted to Vivien Conway, one half of the dynamic duo, about all things Instagram….

Corey Hinde:  G’day Viv going to give you a squirmy one first… I think that you guys are THE premier Instagram experts in all of New Zealand and Australia.  Please accept that compliment. How long have you guys been crafting your Insta skills?

Vivien: Thanks, appreciate it! I started using Insta for business in 2014 for an Activewear business that I had, Vivid Sportswear. Tash started maybe a year later to showcase her Food Styling skills as we were both studying Food Science and looking to head into the workforce! 

We’ve since managed accounts for the likes of Rhythm and Vines, Comvita, UNO Magazine, Fit Mixes etc etc, and now a lot of our work is based around training others to get epic results on the ‘gram. 

CH:  Do you think that Insta is something that all businesses should be exploring or do you see far more returns for various types of businesses?

VC: Absolutely. If you think about how we viewed websites 10 years ago, they were a ‘nice to have’ and now they’re definitely a ‘need to have’!

We’ve seen the same trend happen with Facebook pages. Who starts a business nowaways and doesn’t create a FB page as soon as you do the website?! Next will be Instagram….

To measure returns you’ve got to start with why you’re on Instagram in the first place. If you’re on Instagram to drive people to your e-com store and make sales, then that’s what you need to work towards.

If you’re trying to build brand awareness (maybe you’re a plumber, or your product is in supermarkets) then that’s slightly different too. 

The biggest misconception is that you’ve got to have a ‘pretty’ business to do well on the gram. Definitely not the case!

Check out @pipemasters_mtmaunganui, @maersk_official or @givebloodnhs for some less sexy Insta examples…

CH:  You’ve got a business partner and from the outside it looks like you guys are just having a ball….were you friends prior to partnering up?

VC: Despite both growing up in Tauranga, we didn’t meet until we got put in the same year-long group project at Otago Uni. There were two other group members but we always seemed to be on the same wavelength – plus we ended up just chatting about Insta for a lot of the time! We found out that we worked well together before we were friends.

CH:  I’ve got some questions below from members of our group… before we fire into those what is the SINGLE BIGGEST mistake you see from businesses using Instagram?

VC: If someone’s first point of contact with your business is on Instagram….does your account reflect your brand? If you’re a high end brand do you have photography that reflects that? 60% of people discover new products on the ‘gram. And no, I’m not making that up… 

Your customers are there and searching. If you’re not doing a good job & putting your best foot forward, what do you think your customers (or potential customers) will think?

CH: Any other key areas people should focus on or things that you often see as an easy fix?

VC: Focus on providing value. What do your customers actually want from you? Is it info, great photos, etc… An easy fix for not being great at photos would be to use stories more often. People expect these to be more ‘raw’ and behind the scenes etc. 

CH:  If you could go back 2 years with your own Instagram journey what would you do more of, and less of?

VC: WAY MORE INFLUENCER MARKETING. Wow. If I knew what I knew now…… and less home made photos. Pay/bribe someone else. It’s worth it!

CH:  Actually, the questions we are getting mostly relate to the same thing – stories versus posts.  What do people need to know about the usage of one versus the other?

VC: Peoples’ behaviour is changing on Instagram and we’re seeing lots more engagement on stories at the moment. Like I said before, they don’t have to be perfect (yay!) and our feed posts can still act as our finished portfolio and represent our overall brand. 

CH:  Brag time… and this is to help people see the value of talking to you about Instagram… give us a success story from a business that wasn’t sure they’d succeed with Instagram, but DID?

VC: We worked with a local magazine, UNO. Magazine, and managed to get 6000+ posts to their hashtag, #unomagnz, and to over 30k followers in just over a year. For them they were able to push out their stories and content, but also offer posts on their account as advertising to clients. 

We had to think a bit differently in this situation, as with a quarterly magazine there’s only so much UNO. content you can post, so we reposted lots of NZ places snaps to draw in a local audience that would still be interested in the magazine.

It was a roundabout way to reach their audience but it worked! At it’s peak the account was growing by 300+ followers a day. 

CH:  How strong is the influencer game on Instagram in NZ?  Are people making good livings by charging companies to post about their goods and services?  Is this something companies should look to do?

VC: There aren’t many full time influencers in NZ…. but there are definitely more and more influencers popping up in different niches which is an epic opportunity for brands!!! 

The influencer industry is still quite a ‘wild west’ in terms of rates and what to expect – we’ve heard all the stories!!! But brands should absolutely be making the most of influencers.

The biggest piece of advice I could give would be to DO.YOUR.RESEARCH.

Don’t just pick someone cause they have the most followers or the most likes.

Think about who you’re actually trying to target, ask for audience insights screenshots if you have to, communicate clearly, and track your data!

CH:  Good Oil Marketing get a lot of questions from followers about Instagram, and we usually refer them your way because we know you guys are the best.  Where is the best place online to send people – please give us a link or two….

VC: Thanks team!!! The best way to reach us is via email….

[email protected], on Insta at @acethegrampodcast, or check out the Ace The Gram Podcast on Spotify, iTunes, or Stitcher for heaps of free Insta tips!!

CH:  Last question… is TikTok the next Instagram?

VC: Funny you ask that, we actually did some testing with TikTok earlier in the year and with the way that Gen Z is using the platform we’re going to see a big uptake in years to come. The next Instagram though? Never say never!

But it will be interesting to see how it will come up against the data powers of Instagram & FB & how they’re innovating.

Thanks Vivien… really appreciate you taking the time to help our readers.  Next coffee is on me!

VC: Thanks for having me – speak soon!

Vivien Conway and Tasha Meys from Ace The Gram