This month I hit what felt like a career milestone—I attended my first conference, the Social Media Strategies Summit, in San Francisco. Scratch that, I attended and presented at my first conference thanks to a former colleague who invited me to be a co-presenter—two birds with one stone! It was an enlightening experience professionally. I got to learn more about the landscape of social media, as well as on a personal level, it brought me closer to the idea of being a working professional.

My presentation focused on innovative Instagram strategies that can be used for B2B “unsexy” brands or those in saturated markets. While I don’t know everything there is to know about Instagram (how can you, really?), it was a great experience to share some of my knowledge about the platform and interact with other professionals to expand that knowledge. The presentation used @KabbageInc, @MailChimp, and @Glossier as case studies. You can check out their profiles and read through the tips below for a little recap of the talk.

3 Tips for Creating Instagram Strategies

  1. Find the compelling story in your brand.
    Kabbage provides small business loans online and they showed their dedication to small businesses through their Week in the Life photo series. This series highlights the small biz products their employees are using in their offices and humanizes their brand image.


  1. Don’t be afraid to go niche.
    MailChimp services businesses with email marketing software. You might think email is hard to make visually exciting, but MailChimp manages to do it by playing up their monkey mascot and using fun, bright colors.


  1. Focus on your target audience and unique selling proposition.
    Glossier is a beauty brand faced with the challenge of competing with the countless beauty/lifestyle brands on Instagram. Through their careful curation of photos, they create a “cool girl” brand identity that speaks to their audience.


My main takeaway from this event was that social media is a vast, complicated thing. My initial fears of not being “expert” enough to be there dissipated because there’s always more to learn about social media. Everyone has their own toolbox of preferred platforms and strategies, so what might seem straightforward and simple to you could dumbfound someone else. For instance, I listened in on an ASPCA presentation about their 150th anniversary event and was amazed at how they merged traditional and digital media, and the long timeline that went into planning for it. That’s a world I don’t come from, but I’m throwing that knowledge in my toolbox for future use.

In the end, the experience of going to the conference was energizing. Events like these are important because you get to hear from people who operate differently from how you do and that’s the best way to learn. Plus, it’s also just fun to be in a room full of other professionals who are passionate and crazy about social media!