Sean Pon


Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Sean Pon, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Sean is the iron chef of growing Instagram followers.

Some of his clients are SEO companies upselling Sean’s service.

If you’ve thought about growing followers on IG, please feel free to pick his brain.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until bitcoin value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.


Table of Contents

What was your journey like?

So my journey was a little different I guess, I first started out in the Armed Forces (UK).

After my little trip to Afghanistan I started on Twitter around 2009 .

It took me a few months to figure out but I found by tweeting celebrities from all over the world I was actually getting responses, with those responses came a few hundred followers.

I was hooked chasing the followers.

Before I knew it I had an impressive list of celeb followers who communicated with me often and my account blew up to 170,000 followers.

Because of the following the Military asked me to liaise with them and boost some of their posts, a good example would be “loose lips sink ships” so yeah I would retweet for them etc.

Anyway time came for me to leave as I had a baby boy so I turned my attention to SEO.

Started a nice little business here in Scotland but I was always looking for the edge so after pushing Twitter accounts for clients I made the leap to Instagram… boy was it a tough leap.

I hate taking photos of myself, I don’t want to take photos of what I am eating for dinner… so what else was there.

Why could I possibly want to get on a platform like that!!! I know most of you are still probably thinking the same thing right haha.

Well all I can say is my Instagram journey took off, before I knew it I was creating 100 accounts just for myself to test with, try out niches and see if I could set up quick drop shipping sites.

Cats, dogs and even Harry Potter accounts! But these days I comfortably manage accounts for my SEO clients, Roofers, Electricians, Security companies.

The usual clientele as you can imagine. Instagram is on the rise people, and I am willing to bet most of you are not on it yet as well as your clients.

Hoping we can fix that.

What are some of the niches that can benefit from IG?

Honestly all niches, I mean we have to look at the demographics of course – 59% of 18–29 year olds use Instagram.

33% of 30–49 year olds use Instagram and 18% of 50–64 year olds use Instagram.

So with such a high volume of youngsters maybe funeral homes and care homes are not the best niches to promote however why not do it anyway.

As long as my clients can think of content, I am able to target their demographic.

Ok so scenario… young couple sitting at home, they know they need to look for a roofer to fix that leak.

The Mrs is on Instagram looking through her feed and BOOM… she is just followed by a local roofer.

Oh wait, that local roofer just liked 2 of her photos as well.

What a nice company they must be Ok so it won’t always happen like that, but bottom line is I manage to follow around 800 new targeted people every single day.

I like hundreds of images of targeted accounts also… that is a lot of people getting notifications to their mobile devices, and it may as well be from your friendly local client right!

Where to start first ? what to learn first about instagram ? Any blog posts or courses you recommend ? ( your own)

I am not selling myself as a guru, sure I have picked up some nice things along the way… the most important info being how NOT to get your clients account banned lol.

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But if I were starting out I would focus on the basics.

1) Does the client have an account already, if so how old is it? This matters as Instagram needs to trust your account before it lets you push it’s limits.

New accounts get banned REAL quick!

2) What is the quality of content like?

Now this gets mega complicated, some even add a light blue filter over the content as apparently people find it more appealing and having all your images looking similar is a good thing for the feed.

This is all psychological of course.

3) ENGAGE… goodness honestly engagement is key on Instagram!

I have an account with 32,000 followers, it pretty much takes care of itself, posts automated etc… but when I got lazy with it and stopped talking to my audience the comments stopped.

Sure it gets 1200 average amount of likes but only maybe 10 comments.

It doesn’t matter if you have 100 followers, get commenting with them, build that community… I can’t stress this enough. I read this little stat somewhere:

Instagram has a 2.2% per-follower interaction rate, Facebook interaction rate is 0.22.

As for courses, I am being asked to build one but honestly I can’t recommend any courses yet.

No one has blown me away in this field yet.

I spent hours and hours going through Youtube videos, everyone marketing themselves as Instagram Ninjas but I was often let down by their knowledge.

For me I just tested the hell out of the platform, I must have lost about 70 of my own accounts in the process.

TOP TIP! Do NOT add your website URL to more than one account on Instagram.

Jeezo I lost a few accounts that way!!

How old the account should be ideally for Instagram to trust that account??

So you know you can buy them right, a dollar or 2 will get you a 3 year or 5 year old account.

But chances are that account will have been hacked and stolen from someone so that part is pretty dull!.

If a client came to me with a fresh account I would take a month or 2 gaining trust.

Maybe start by following 250 each day, sure they may only see 20 new followers a day but that is still something.

After a week I would maybe raise my following by 50 so start following 300 and so on.

I would keep it below 650 follows a day though whilst the account is growing and keep the website URL off it too, some reason as soon a you add it Instagram watch you a bit more closer.

Why should businesses leverage IG?

Instagram is on the rise, sure it’s already one hell of a player but it keeps getting bigger!!!

The stats are proof you guys should be on the platform and selling it to your clients.

Ok so let me give you some stats and you can see for yourself why businesses should be leveraging it (disclaimer – not my research but still interesting).

59% of Instagram users in the US are below the age of 30

33% are between the ages of 30 – 49

63% of teens between the age of 13 – 17 use Instagram

31% of US based Instagram users make $75,000 + a year

Users of Instagram under the age of 25 spend 32 minutes a day on the platform while users over 25 spend 24 minutes a day on the platform.

The most viewed stories on the platform are created by brands.

The amount of videos viewed on the platform has increased by 80% YOY.

25 million business have a profile on the platform and over 200 million people visit one business profile a day.

80% of Instagram users follow a business.

60% of users find new products on the platform.

75% of users take action after viewing a post, such as visiting a website, making a comment or reaching out in person.

70% are more likely to make a mobile purchase after seeing a post.

Posts that use at least one #hashtag have 12.6% more engagement

Seems to me that at the rate the platform is growing and the benefits it continues to give businesses it should never be a question of why should businesses be on it, it’s more of a “what took you so long”

Instagram automation tools big yes or no? (massplanner ?)

Yeah they went underground!!!

Apparently got I some serious trouble.

There is a new one called Jarvee, I haven’t used it so can’t speak for it but everything I have seen on it looks pretty good so far.

Automation, hell yes! I would need an army of VA’s to do what I do for my clients.

I have manage hundreds of accounts for clients and I couldn’t even comprehend how long that would take me manually.

Lets look at following people… If I follow 800 a day, doesn’t seem too hard right?? 800 a day every day.

Gets a little tougher doesn’t it… but what if I said to you, cool but don’t follow them all at once because if you follow too quickly you could get banned.

Maybe follow a couple every 58 seconds or so…. now you would be telling me I am taking the piss.

But fact remains Instagram has it’s limits and even attempting to do this manually can land you with a banned account.

Of course on the flip side…. do automation, get cocky and you could just as easily find yourself banned.

TOP TIP – Make sure the proxy is a virgin one, lost many accounts to bad proxies

How would you compare FB and IG?

Hmm comparing the 2… over the last few years I have seen a shift.

Facebook is becoming the platform for the generation that was alive when it started (us old ones) and the young ones are not even registering on it anymore.

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They are getting too bothered by their mum or Gran popping up liking every photo.

I suppose in many ways Instagram gives the younger audience more freedom to be themselves.

Sure Facebook is trying to change with the times, I hear that it is trying to boost it’s video platform (the new Youtube) etc but fact remains it may be too late.

Ok so it may be Under 29’s have the lions share of Instagram at the moment, but time stands still for no man.

As the years go on the platform statistics for 30’s and 40’s will continue to rise naturally and since Instagram started it’s ‘stories’ section of the platform it has been taking Snapchat by the balls.

Hey it’s hard to compare the 2, less bitching on Instagram, it’s a much cleaner platform with way less clutter.

Ok so your business may be accessible to smaller audience (at the moment) than on Facebook but it will be more visible to that audience meaning far more engagement!

Good thing is we don’t need to pick… but just please stop neglecting Instagram folks, start making money selling it to your clients.

How would you compare the engagement level on instagram compared to other social media ? (pinterest , fb , snapchat, twitter ?) whats the difference.

Engagement level is high on Instagram. That is without a doubt.

Comments do take some nurturing, got to build the trust and community.

Pinterest… honestly never used it apart form to get the social signals etc.

Here is that previous stat I posted earlier regarding Facebook: Instagram has a 2.2% per-follower interaction rate, Facebook interaction rate is 0.22.

Now for snapchat… it’s dying, Instagram screwed them when they launched their stories feature.

Snapchat is losing hard, it has fewer users, a more confusing interface, inferior features, and the ad space is terrible.

Again worth being on them all though… well maybe not Pinterest haha no one is getting me on that

What are common mistakes people make when marketing via IG?

Personally no one wants to follow an account that just talks business, that is my biggest hate on the platform. people want, informative, funny and engaging content.

If you just go on and on about your deals or how great you are it will get very boring very quick.

Mix it up a little… bring a little personality to the account!

Always remind me of that swimsuit company that promised a $65 swimsuit to everyone that reposted and tagged the company within 24hrs on instagram…

You can guess what happened, it went viral. 3,000 shares in just a few hours and rising quickly!

The amount of hate they got was insane!!

So don’t make promises you can’t keep as it may end up in you giving away millions in free products I guess Influencer marketing would be a main one to focus on here.

I had a nice guy last night asking me what to do with his client who is 100 thousand followers, he asked me about influencer marketing as his client provides a service.

Meh, with clients that have a service you really want to be more focussed on the targeting.

An Influencer might blast the post out like a shot gun and maybe some of the shot will hit the target your aiming for but most won’t (sorry for the bad analogy).

The thing is I find loads of them have fake followers anyway, it’s easy to spot when people have tried to cheat the system.

You just need to look at their engagement.

I find that accounts with 25,000 to 30,000 followers usually get anywhere between 500 and 2k organic likes on their posts.

If you are dealing with an influencer who has 80,000 but only 1k likes then something is wrong there.

There are just too many ways people can buy likes, buy follows, by reposts or video views.

Cheating the system just wont make you any money so why bother doing it.

I would rather have an account with 1k followers with high engagement where I can reply to customers etc than 100,000 with thousands of likes but no comments.

So my advice… stay away from influencers, they will most likely mention you and promote you to thousands of bots… no thanks.

Don’t post and sit back expecting the world to applaud, get involved, get liking your followers photos, comment on their accounts…or get someone like me to do it for you and just charge your client more lol.

What does sell best on instagram ? how quality are the leads ? compared to linkdin?

I am not a huge fan of Instagram regarding leads, it is getting much better for businesses though.

Some of the fashion accounts have some really cool features where you can buy the clothes in the photo, some apps have been developed to improve this shopping experience.

I see this being a MUCH bigger space soon!

I mean Linkedin is a more dedicated platform to business, so B2B would be Linkedin.

But to target general audience then you wont find them on Linkedin so you hit facebook and Instagram.

Brand awareness, make that your focal point, get the engagement going and the leads will come. Hope that helps?

How to ideally structure website?

Header… Content and yeah add a footer in there.

How do you generate leads/sales for businesses using Instagram? Im an Instagram marketer myself just seeing if you have some interesting methods?

Interactions mainly, following only gets you so far. I respond to every single comment that lands in my posts.

As engagement rises so does your visibility.

If for example it’s a coffee shop in South Carolina… I target users in that area, followers of other coffee shops in the town i.e. their competition, local businesses and so on.

Then I might set up a auto messaging feature to thank them for following back.

Maybe provide them with a little gift like a discount or something but again I keep it friendly and less business like.

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I always get the standard “hey thanks for following, check out our website”.

Naaah, make it more welcoming like “Hey, thanks so much for following our little Coffee shop, have you visited us before?”

This invites engagement, then sell them something haha.

But honestly I am teaching you to suck eggs right, but I just believe in keeping it simple and friendly on this platform.

Well as compared to snapchat does IG provide correct ROI?

Unfortunately buddy, I won’t be able to give you a straightforward answer to the question of ROI.

Because social media ROI is hard to define, measure, and calculate accurately, for several reasons.

Some businesses will see a much higher ROI than others, b2c tends to get much more value out of Instagram than b2b and of course the businesses that may have a strong visual appeal (such as travel agents) will also benefit more than those that don’t.

Following of course plays a large factor in ROI too, Posting to 100 followers and engaging or an hour will be less returns than posting to an audience of 70,000 followers.

This is why my first step is always to increase my clients following, organically of course.

Do you recommend any IG courses?

Not really mate, people keep pushing me to do courses but every account is different, like the niches all need a little tweak here and there.

It is hard to generalise it for the masses. I really need to put something together for people in this industry though if it is wanted.

What automation tools do you use?

I am going to do a video and review some tools, I think it would be best as there are some good tools out there.

But it’s just you need to know the limits, tools only get you so far, it’s always a risk

What is the best way to grow IG follow and and generate leads to product? Like collecting of emails, sign ups, and products sales and rest?

Well I have this one account.

It is a harry potter page, it’s all automated, I scraped photos from other accounts and it posts a collection of pre-written content I did all HP related.

Then I chucked up a quick landing page saying I had a Harry Potter themed subscription box coming soon and I was looking for early signups.

I placed the URL in the bio, set up mail chimp and sat back and watched the signups.

I enjoyed checking in on it week after week and watching the numbers grow.

Of course I would then invite them to pre-purchase the box before launch etc etc.

Sure that style can be done for many niches, get it all automated and let it run lol.

As for growing the account well it got to 5k very quickly, but sure being a harry potter fan account helped.

Do you think that IG is a suitable channel for this client (B2B essentially)?

Honestly I feel it is of course better for b2c, having a large brand following can’t hurt, but with very little ways you can target the people you need to reach i.e.

The particular buyers then I feel it isn’t great for the leads. But it does help grow the brand, that much is for sure.

I think if it were me I would still build a strong Instagram presence to represent the company and the products, but not particularly for direct leads.

If some business owners are camera shy or are private persons, is it still possible to grow the account without having the business owner showing his or her face in the posts? I notice the influencers with millions of real followers are usually the star of the account.

Yeah for sure.

They would post photos of the recent completed work, or the office or the vehicles or anything special happening in the community etc.

What are best metrics to see the performance of an Instagram Influencer?

I am VERY sceptical when it comes to influencers. Too many apps providing empty likes and follows.

I just make my own little army of accounts for that niche. Like fan accounts and get them to support the brand account.

Pretty easy to get a couple of thousand followers, make 50 accounts with over 2k each and you have no need for influencers lol.

How would you use insta as an SEO agency looking for clients?

I’d just get super targeted with the following.

Create funny content, pop on the stories feature and even Instagram live.

It’s really the same no matter the business, grow a good targeted following, provide quality content and engage.

If you were local… maybe it be cool to just target every local business in the area.

Set automation to like and maybe comment on the photos the local businesses post.

If you are popping up in their notifications every few days (not too stalking level) then I would think that would be of benefit

Automation, software recommendation if you don’t mind.

Only commercial one I am hearing good things about is Jarvee at thr moment.

But automation is risky… too many ways to get banned.

Have proxies been used before.

Adding URL in bio can trip you up if automating.

What are the follow limits, how quickly can you follow, how many liked can you provide and so on.

Then Instagram algo changes and if your not on the ball your account may get banned.

Still the go to guy for White label IG?

I’m certainly good at what I do but haven’t been the best at maintaining the business side of things but I’m getting better. is my site with some info.

But don’t purchase through it as I always give discounts to members of this group.


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