Zach Benson is the founder of Assistagram, where he’s guiding other influencers and Fortune 500 companies into social media success.
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Tribe Influencer – FREE Insider’s Guide to Travel Instagram Growth Hacking Guide from Zach! (Sorry! This link was active when this episode was first published in 2018 and is no longer an active offer.)
Assistagram – Instagram Marketing Agency
3 Value Bombs
1) Being consistent with the small things in life that seem to make no difference at all, but you keep doing them over and over – that’s how you gain momentum.
2) With everything in life, you have to monitor. You’ve got to be testing, optimizing, and adjusting based on the feedback that you’re getting in real time.
3) It’s all about thinking, “how can I help someone else solve their problems, serve them, add value, without expecting something in return?”
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: How to Travel the World for Free with Instagram with Zach Benson
[01:34] – Zach shares something about himself that most people don’t know.
[02:50] – Zach gives us a little teaser about the things we’ll be chatting about today.
- Learn how to grow your Instagram followers
- What are engagement groups?
- How to monetize your account.
[03:47] – Why does Zach love Instagram as a platform?
- The shift from Facebook to Instagram is moving faster than ever before.
- When it comes to organic traffic, and getting leads and sales, Instagram is the platform to be on. If you’re not on Instagram, now is the time to hop on!
[04:29] – Ways to grow your Instagram followers.
- One option: You can acquire or buy an Instagram account with 50,000 to 100,000 followers that’s already been built in your industry or niche.
- You can buy these Instagram accounts through Assistagram, or FameSwap and Flipmass are two other sites that can help with this.
[06:36] – What are engagement groups?
- The most basic ones are a DM group where you have about 15 people.
- The best way to get into these groups is to acquire a big account so you can get into these premium engagement groups.
- If you have a big account, you can network with other big accounts and drop a link to your smaller accounts in order to help it grow
- You can pay to get in these big engagement groups, too
- Instagram is a huge opportunity. There’s a whole ecosystem within Instagram right now where people are literally building lives, lifestyles, businesses – all around Instagram.
[09:09] – When you gain that momentum on Instagram, people start working for you and reach out to you and feature you.
- John asks, “How do we attain it, and what can we do to our Instagram accounts to help?”
- Consistency is key. Being consistent and persistent everyday, day in and day out.
- You have to post at least 1 time a day. If you want to see growth, it’s more like posting 4 times a day, 7 days a week.
- Being consistent with the small things in life that seem to make no difference at all, but you keep doing them over and over – that’s how you gain momentum.
[10:00] – Is there a such thing as ‘Instagram Fatigue’, where if you are posting 3 or 4 times a day people get sick of it?
- You have to monitor your account and see how your audience reacts
- As with everything in life, you have to monitor it. You’ve got to be testing, optimizing, and adjusting based on the feedback that you’re getting in real time. There’s no “set it and forget it” system. It’s about adjusting, so you have to be flexible.
[11:09] – Zach tells us a story of one thing he did that had a huge impact to his Instagram account.
- They researched different location tags that people were using in a 10-20 mile radius in the city – tune in to hear more!
[12:42] – How do you involve people to get excited about your Instagram account? And how do you create a powerful network?
- It’s always all about thinking about how you can help someone else solve their problems, serve them, add value, without expecting something in return.
[15:29] – Leverage your followings to get free stays.
- He started out by sending an email, and then getting them on Skype calls.
[20:19] – What are ways to monetize your accounts?
- Do shout outs, promote people’s products on your page, or create your own product and sell it on your page.
[21:18] – How to “4 hr work week” this so you’re not spending all of your time creating content, or paying tons of $ to have content created, but instead enjoying your free vacation!
- Hire out content creators to create epic content for your personal brand.
[23:47] – Zach’s parting piece of guidance
- Create an offer and an insane amount of value so people won’t say no.
- It’s about being consistent and persistent.
- Tribe Influencer – FREE Insider’s Guide to Travel Instagram Growth Hacking Guide from Zach! (Sorry! This link was active when this episode was first published in 2018 and is no longer an active offer.)
John: What's shakin' Fire Nation? J.L.D. here with an audio masterclass on Instagram, specifically how to travel the world for free with Instagram. And I brought Zach Benson to come and talk about this. He is the founder of Assistagram, where he's guiding other influencers and Fortune 500 companies into social media success. So, unbelievable content's coming your way about, why Instagram, how to grow your following, the engagement groups, how to create powerful networks, how to monetize, how to leverage your following. All of this great stuff is coming up as soon as we get back from thanking our sponsor.
Zach, say what's up to Fire Nation, and share something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
Zach: Hey what's up, Fire Nation? Excited to be here. So, I mean, most people don’t know that I couldn’t say the letter R until I was in my twenties, so I expressed myself through dance, and pretty much traveled the world with dance, made it a full-time career.
John: Isn't it crazy how sometimes something like that can actually make you so much better or experience something completely different than you would have if you had just simply been able to pronounce the word R, or something like that? It's just crazy how this world works sometimes. And Fire Nation, this audio masterclass is going to be awesome. It's how to travel the world for free with Instagram. And guess what, I know a lot of you might not want to travel the world for free with Instagram, but it's going to be so much knowledge about Instagram, best uses, why it's awesome, etcetera etcetera. We're going to be having so much fun along all of those lines.
And hey, if you're one of those people that just takes trips every now and then, this can be a great way to leverage Instagram while you're on those trips. And myself, I'm about to go on a 65-day, 17 country European trip, and I am definitely gonna be taking notes on all of this from Zach today. So, Zach, give us just a little teaser, a couple of the really cool things we're going to chat about in this audio masterclass.
Zach: Yeah, for sure. So, in the past year and a half I've gotten myself and my friends over 250 nights for free, full board: breakfast, lunch, dinner, airplanes, everything, right? So, basically what you guys are gonna learn is how to do this without your own personal Instagram account, and how to do this without saving up those miles and those points because I can't keep track of that. So, this gonna be awesome.
John: I can't wait. We're gonna talk about how to grow your Instagram following as well, what engagement groups are, how to monetize your account. Just so many cool things about Instagram that I can't wait to talk about, so without any further ado, Zach, let's dive in. My first question for you is: why Instagram? Why do you love Instagram as a platform? Break that down for us.
Zach: The tension shift from Facebook to Instagram is moving faster than ever before, with the Cambridge Analytica stuff, the Facebook stuff. Mark Zuckerberg being in the news and the lawsuits and everything. So, right now Instagram has over a billion users, active users, every single month. Over 600 million active on stories. It's just coming out with all these new features like I.D. TV, so they’re taking on YouTube as well. So, as far as organic traffic, getting leads and sales, Instagram is that platform to be on. So, if you're not on there right now, now is the time to hop on so you don’t get left behind.
John: So, a lot of people are saying, "Okay, I'm gonna jump on Instagram but I have zero followers day one," obviously. So, talk to us about ways to actually grow your Instagram following.
Zach: So, this is the best way to growth-hack your Instagram, 1.) I suggest actually acquiring and buying a bigger account with maybe 50,000 followers, 100,000 followers. There's actually places that you can buy accounts, right? And then you can use that account to get into what's called an engagement group. So, DM group. So, basically each direct message group has about 15 people in them, and you can use your bigger account to get your smaller accounts, maybe the account that you want to grow, and you drop a link to that account, whatever account you want to grow in that engagement group, and then people like and comment on it throughout the day, and that's what makes your stuff go viral and get you followers.
John: So, do you have the specific name of one of these places where you can look to buy these bigger Instagram accounts?
Zach: You can just go the Assistagram.us and we have accounts for sale.
John: What are some other places?
Zach: Yeah, Fameswap, Flipmass, those are some good places too. So, yeah you can pretty much get any account, any niche, yeah. It's really cool.
John: So, you mentioned engagement groups a couple times. So, what exactly are engagement groups?
Zach: There's a lot of different engagement groups, but yeah, just plain and simple, the most basic one is what’s called a "direct message group" also known as "DM" group. And basically, in each DM group you can have about 15 people, and basically what you guys do is, you post and then you share a link to that post in your DM group so that the other people in that group can like and comment on your post. And if you get enough likes and comments within a certain period of time, that makes your post go viral and hit the export page, which could get you tons of followers.
John: Now, how do you get into these groups?
Zach: Acquiring a big account, so then you can get into these big premium engagement groups. Because I'm sure you guys have probably heard about these comment pods, and these engagement groups, and stuff, but what you really need is premium, big engagement groups. I'm talking about accounts that have, like, hundreds of thousand followers to millions of followers. That's gonna make a big difference. If you're just doing engagement groups with people your size or smaller, couple hundred followers, or a thousand, it's not gonna make any difference at all. So, 1.) If you have a big account you can pretty much network with other big accounts and you can drop a link to your smaller account into these bigger engagement groups because you already have a big account.
The other way is you can actually pay to get into these engagement groups. So, like you could pretty much message accounts that are bigger than you and offer them some money. Like maybe $10.00 for each engagement group they can get you in.
John: So, Fire Nation, one thing I just want you to recognize here is that Instagram is a huge opportunity. There's a ton of attention on Instagram right now. There's a whole ecosystem on Instagram right now where people are literally building lives, lifestyles, businesses all around their Instagram account. But guess what? Just like real life, you've got to network. You've got to go and meet people, you’ve got to find the right people to connect with, you’ve got to add value, you’ve got to invest in yourself, and that’s time, and in some cases, as Zach was talking about now, that's money. It might take a little bit of investment of dollar dollar bills to get the ball rolling.
And one of the things that I found with Instagram, and Zach maybe you can kind of give some feedback here, is momentum is so important. Once you start getting that momentum, then things start working for you. People start reaching out to you, people start featuring you. So, Zach, have you found that momentum as, 1.) Difficult to obtain, but then b.) Once you do attain it, really impressive and important for what it can do for your Instagram account?
Zach: Exactly. Consistency is key. So, if being persistent every day, day in, day out, even when you don’t feel like it, right? So, that means for Instagram, you guys have got to be posting at least one time a day. If you wanna see more growth, obviously, you gotta post three to four times a day, seven days a week. So, it's just being consistent with the small things in life that seem to make no difference at all, but you keep doing them over and over, that's how you get momentum.
John: Now, is there such a thing as Instagram fatigue? Where if you are posting three or four times a day, your followers are going to be like, "Okay, I get it. This guy's posting a lot." That happens with email sometimes. So, is that not the case with Instagram?
Zach: You guys have to monitor your account pretty well and see how your audience reacts to posts, right? So, maybe some will, when you post only once or twice a day, others three to four times a day, so it just depends, and I wouldn’t just say post three to four times a day forever, you gotta look at it in phases, right? It's like a 90 day sprint. Maybe you're trying to level up on your business, you go all out, you put in like 15 hours a day, but it's not something you do forever, like every single day for a year. So, kind of have to spread it out.
John: So, Fire Nation, like everything in life you just gotta monitor. You’ve gotta be testing. You’ve gotta be optimizing. You’ve gotta be adjusting, and pivoting based on the feedback that you're getting in real time. There's no one set it and forget it system. It's adjusting, it's being flexible. Zach, tell us a story of one thing that you did that really seemed to have a huge impact on your Instagram account. Take us to how the idea came to you, talk to us about you actually implementing the idea, and then talk to us about the results that happened from that.
Zach: One cool thing that I used for one of my restaurant clients, for example, that wanted more customers in their door. So, basically, we researched different location tags that people were using in a 10 to 20-mile radius in this city. So, he opened up this new sushi restaurant. So, basically, we found everybody who was using the hashtag sushi, logging in and tagging themselves at different sushi restaurants in that city, and we offered them actually, like, a 20% coupon off their first meal if they came in and said that they were from Instagram. And he ended up blowing up his business and just killing competition with that simple trick.
John: Fire Nation, how can you involve people to want to get excited about your Instagram account? To want to share it with other people and friends and say, "Hey, we can go out to dinner tonight, and if you do this and I do this, and we mention that we found in on Instagram, the boom, we can be off to the races with a discount or a free appetizer," or, you know, that's in the restaurant business, but apply that to your business. So, Zach, talk to us about creating a powerful network. What does that look like?
Zach: It's always about thinking about how you can help someone else and solve their problems. How you can serve them, add value, without expecting something in return. Giving with no strings attached. So, that's how I approach a lot of these relationships on Instagram.
When I direct message someone, I do my research. I do my homework. I figure out something that they're struggling with. Maybe it's like, their engagement is low on Instagram, and basically, I say, "Hey, I notice that you're posting great content, you have really great pictures and captions, but your engagement is kind of low. Here's what I could do for you for free for a month and if you like it then let's create a win-win. Let's work something out."
So, yeah, it's just usually me noticing things that people are struggling with and then offering free value or helping them some other way. Like hoping on a call and see how I can help.
John: Fire Nation, none of this is rocket science. This is how you should be building your business by doing the right things. And guess what, Instagram just happens to be an amazing platform that is now becoming multi-faceted. You have your Instagram feed, which you can post to three to four times a day if you want. Or at least one time a day. I try for one time a day, that's what I feel is a good rhythm for me. You can do Instagram stories, which are your 15 second clips to bring your audience closer into you, into your lives to see what you have going on in a really cool way that disappears after 24 hours.
Now Instagram TV is out, and that's ten minutes longer form videos where you can even dive deeper into this unbroken up video to share some really cool things. So, just realize that Instagram is becoming very multi-faceted, it is unlikely going to stop anytime soon because Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team who own Instagram are going to continue to try and keep Instagram cutting edge, period. And if you think that we've been dropping value bombs on Instagram, just wait til we get back from thanking our sponsor.
So, Zach, we're back and let's get to the meat and potatoes about what I think some people are pretty fired up about, and that's leveraging you following to get free stays. So, I want you to be specific here. Break it down for us. How do we do just that?
Zach: 1.) I suggest getting a big account because you're going to be able to leverage that. 2.) Let's say that you don’t have a big following, figure out a win-win for somebody who has a big travel account. Like, let's say 300,000 followers or even a million followers. What skills and strengths that you have, like, what value do you have to offer them that they could maybe do a promotional post about a hotel that could help you get a free stay. In exchange, maybe, help them with a [inaudible] [00:13:29] or you create them a Facebook chatbot, or something. Something that can really help them.
So, that's how I like to, pretty much, network and create win-wins with people. But yeah, I also like creating win-wins for the hotel because these hotels get quite a few emails a day and now's the time to actually do this stuff because hotels are spending a lot of money on influencer marketing in sponsored posts and stuff, so figuring out a way to differentiate yourself, whether that's, like I said, in your area of expertise, whether it's creating them a sales funnel, helping them with lead-generation, Facebook chatbot, you name it.
John: Zach, give me a specific story of you getting a free stay. Walk us through that entire process.
Zach: I actually take initiative and reach out to these hotels, a lot of them reach out to me, but I feel like I'm missing out if I don’t actually email them. So, I start off with an email subject line, "VIP reservation," and then I introduce myself in the email, like, "I'm Zach, Instagram influencer, founder of assitagram.us. We specialize in campaigns that reach millions, we can grow people really fast, and here's what I like to offer because I'm actually wanting to come out your way and visit your hotel. And in exchange for a couple of complimentary nights, we can do this, this, and that.
So, a couple positive Instagram posts, Facebook, TripAdvisor review optional, and then plus we can teach you how to get your next 10,000 followers on Instagram. How does that sound?
John: So, that's the beginning part of the process, then what's next?
Zach: Basically, these hotels, they're like, "Okay. You have a huge network and stuff, but what Instagram accounts are these posts gonna go on?" So, that piques their interest enough and creates confusion to get them to reply, and I be like, "You know, actually it's going to be better if we just hop in a skype call." So, basically, I seal the deal on the call. So, it's like five to eight exposures before they actually buy a high-ticket sale.
So, that first exposure is that email, second exposure is reply to that email, third exposure is that skype call, then they're like, "Okay, this guy's nice, he's genuine, he's cool." And then, we work out a mutually beneficial deal where I get a free stay, they get some value, and then we meet in person, and then they're like, "Okay, this guy's cool." And then later I do what I say, so I keep my promises, they're like, "Okay, woah, he's got integrity. He did what he said he's gonna do and this stuff is really great."
So, that's five exposures, so I built trust. So, I put them through this process because they end up all being clients. And then I'm like, "We can actually grow your account and create your own powerful assets so that you're hitting the top posts and getting millions of reach every single day."
John: That's a five-step process, Fire Nation, that anybody can follow to at least try to get that ball rolling. And guess what, you're not gonna hit 100, you're not gonna bat 1,000, you are going to get a lot of "Nos" and people that just do respond and are just like, "No, we're not interested." But guess what? One out of ten, one out of 20 times, you're going to be able to take that next step, and get on that skype call, and take that next step, and take that next step.
So, the process is the process. You have to put in the time. So, let's talk specifics about monetizing your account, because let's be honest, if we're gonna spend a lot of time, a lot of energy, if we're going to be spending money investing in buying other accounts, etcetera etcetera, monetization has to be part of this equation. So, what are ways you can monetize your account, Zach?
Zach: Yeah, you can do it through shout-outs, affiliate marketing, promoting other people's products on your page, creating your own products to sell on your page, yeah, shout-outs. There's a bunch of different ways to monetize, right? And then also leveraging the account and your following because with a certain following, maybe you have 10, 20,000 followers, you're actually like a micro-influencer, so that basically helps you connect with more influential people on and offline.
So, when you're out and about at a business conference handing out name cards, you're like, "Hey, stay in touch, follow me on Instagram because that's where I post all my content." And if you're like, you know, you got like 50,000 followers, 100,000 followers, they're like, "Woah, this guy's legit." And they remember you out of everybody else, so it also, you can seal deals that way.
John: So, Zach, I loved this one phrase, and I just want you to be able to break it down for Fire Nation. How can you actually four-hour work week this kind of lifestyle so that we, as in Fire Nation, are not spending any time actually creating content, paying tons of money to have content created, all of that stuff, all while enjoying our free vacation? How is that even possible?
Zach: Guys, honestly, when I get these free stays, I do like absolutely nothing. Pretty much, I hire out video and photography content creation, so let's say that I go to the Maldives, I search for the top photographers in the Maldives.
John: Where do you search for them, by the way?
Zach: "Photographers in Maldives" or like "photographers in Bali."
John: Got it, so you just google that?
Zach: Yeah, I just google that. And then I email them, and I'm like, "Hey I'd love to hire you for a couple of hours," and if you can get a local person to do it, that might only be, like, $25.00 an hour. So, then it's like, hiring them for a couple hours, I create epic content for my personal brand, and the hotel for like $50.00. And yeah, 15 to 20 edited photos, like a 60-second video, you know, that’s amazing. So, if I'm staying at a hotel in the Maldives that costs $3,000.00 a night, I don’t mind spending like $50.00 on some content creation, and then doing some posts on my Instagram. That's a really cool hack. So, you guys don't need to be photographers or videographers to do this. You can just hire out.
John: So, Fire Nation, I hope you're recognizing that there are just ways to create a business and a lifestyle around so many things, this included. So, if this is just kind of one of those that resonates with you, whether you wanna be traversing the world, potentially for free in a lot of places, doing these different things, hey there's some great tips, tools, and tactics here. Or alternatively if you just wanna be testing some of these things out on some vacations you have planned coming up, or even some stay-cations that may be close to home, have some fun with this stuff because guess what? It can't hurt to put in the hard work and learn a little bit about Instagram and what they have going on there. So, Zach, what is the one major takeaway that you want Fire Nation to really make sure they walk away with? What is that?
Zach: Just what we were talking about, right? This doesn’t only apply to free stays: this just applies to everything in life. Create win-wins and then offer an insane amount of value so that people don’t say no. And of course, you're going to hear some "Nos" but that one "No" is going to lead you to that next "Yes", right? So, it's just about being consistent, persistent, and never giving up.
John: Fire Nation, remember you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you have been hanging out with Z.B. and J.L.D. today. So, keep up the heat. And if you head over to eofire.om and you type "Zach" in the search bar, his show's page will pop right up, and we're going to have links to everything that we talked about today. These are the best show-notes in the biz. Timestamps, links galore. And Zach, what's your final call-to-action to Fire Nation where they can find you, etcetera?
Zach: Guys, we're actually giving a free PDF to getting started with this growth-hacking and travel stuff, so that's at tribeinfluencer.life/fire. You guys can get the PDF there too. Or you can just reach out to me just at assistagram.us. Email me, I'll respond. I'd love to hear your story. Oh wait, J.D., I have one more thing I want to offer Fire Nation. I'm gonna give you guys $150.00 off per month, if you sign up for the basic package, and $250.00 off per month if you sign up for the High Fire, or the Commercial package. So, a great deal here. All you gotta do is mention "Fire" to get your discounts. Thanks guys.
John: So cool. So, I just want to say, Fire Nation, you want to put in the work if you want to get the results. And head over to tribeinfluencer.life/fire for that completely free PDF. And again, Zach shared his personal information if you want to reach directly out to him, he will get back to you. So, Zach, thank you for your time today, for sharing your truth with Fire Nation. For that, brother, we salute you. And we'll catch you on the flipside.
Zach: For sure. Thanks. Thanks so much for having me.
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