Six steps to run a Brand Ambassadors program on Instagram


If you already have loyal customers who are active Instagram users, why not take advantage of this valuable asset to grow your brand on Instagram?

Your existing customers are your best advocates and your best marketers. Encourage them to support you along the way by offering them some incentives like store credits or special discounts.

Consider running an Instagram Brand Ambassadors Program for your clients and fans. This is the most authentic and effective way to grow your brand on Instagram, with high ROI in the long run.

Who can be an Instagram brand ambassador?

Your existing and potential customers who love your brand and use Instagram to connect with their friends and family would be a perfect fit for this program. They don’t need to have a big following on Instagram — you can even work with people who have 200 followers — but they do have to show up on the app frequently.

Your brand ambassadors might not even be your customers yet. Sometimes people could be interested in trying your products but might have limited funds; they may, however, have extra time to spare.

Why work with Instagram Brand Ambassadors?

  • It is an effective way to build a loyal community and increase ROI.

According to a Nielson report, 83% of consumers in 60 countries say they trust friends and family recommendations over any other form of advertising. Brand Ambassadors' audiences are composed of a narrow group of friends and relatives, but this narrow group of 200 - 2,000 followers is very likely to be actively engaged and responsive to the ambassador's content.

  • It’s a small, low-risk investment with quite predictable results.

You can start working with one or two people and see how it goes. You don’t have to invest a significant amount of money to get a shout out from an influencer or run Instagram Ads.

  • You are building trust within your target audience.

Consumer trust is a highly valuable commodity for every brand. Your clients' recommendations are the most effective and authentic way to grow your brand online.

How Brand Ambassadors are different from Micro-Influencers?

  • Micro-influencers make high-quality posts in a short period of time and reach a wide audience, while brand ambassadors create numerous posts over a longer period, though typically at a lower quality and to a smaller audience.

  • Micro-influencers are great if you want to reach as many consumers as possible. Brand ambassadors are a long-term investment focused on engagement. Their audiences are smaller, but ROI is higher in the long run.

Six Steps to run a Brand Ambassador program

1. Make your program’s requirements clear

Cindy Collins from Euphoric Herbals added a section to her website where people can fill in an application to become an Instagram Brand Ambassador. It says:

“Apply to become an Instagram Brand Advocate for Euphoric Herbals. We select a limited number of people per year; we choose new brand advocates about once every 3 months.


- Brand Advocate term lasts 30 days.

- Earn store credit.

- Your Instagram account will need to be public, or you can create a separate account if you prefer.

She also asks applicants to answer the following questions:

  • How often do you go on Instagram per day? Per week?

  • Have you ever been an ambassador before for another company?

  • Do you have any thoughts or ideas you would like to share?

This way you don’t have to approach a potential participant on Instagram; rather, you can send them to your website to apply for a program.

2. See if your applicants qualify

See if your applicants qualify by asking for the additional info.

  • How often do they go on Instagram per day? Per week?

  • Have they ever been an ambassador before for another company?

3. Offer an incentive

You can offer your customers either a store credit or a discount, so they could buy the product they love. You can reach out to them directly by saying “Would you be willing to help me in exchange for some product or store credit?” Offer to let them try your product for free if in exchange they would post on Instagram and “story” their experience with your product.

3. Choose your ambassadors wisely

Choose people who share similar interests with you. For example, if you are a brand with a focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness, choose people who also care about these things.

4. Be clear on what content you expect your ambassadors to create for you

  • Let them know when and how often you want them to post.

  • Send them examples of content you’d like to see (both Stories and feed posts).

  • Tell them what content they could repost from your account. Explain how to repost your content and give their thoughts and opinions on it.

5. Make the process of working with you as easy as possible

Communicate with your ambassadors often. Give them the tools they need: graphics, post examples, and scripts for communicating with followers in comments and DM, so they will sound authentic and not “pitchy”.

If you are a small emerging brand that sells a very “niche” product and wants to grow authentically on Instagram, running the Instagram Brand Ambassadors program is a must for you.

At Salted Papaya we can help you choose ambassadors, set up this program for you, and scale the results with Instagram Ads. Sign up for free 30-min video chat with me here.

Message me to sign up for a free 30-min video chat.

New trends leveraging User-Generated Content (UGC) to increase sales on Instagram

Bloggers and brands make a lot of beautiful content on Instagram, but often times it doesn’t feel genuine. Unlike User-Generated Content, or UGC, which feels authentic and original, because it is created by real people who use the product.

UGC consists of any form of content that's created by users about a brand or product. UGC isn't paid for, that’s why the majority of people trust content shared by “average” person more than by brands.

How to encourage your users to create UGC?

Women's clothing company Aerie created the #AerieREAL, a simple but powerful campaign. Aerie asked followers to share their unretouched swim photos with hashtag #AerieREAL and they’ll donate $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association. In addition, they get to share a picture of an influencer in a swimming suit to inspire people to make content themselves.


But you don’t have to pay an influencer to create content - you can do it yourself.

Challenge your gang

Christina Pardy,  founder of a Boston-based knitwear company @shitthatiknit posted a video of herself jumping into fresh snow wearing a bathing suit and her brand’s hat. Creating the hashtag #binkinisandbeanies, she challenged and encouraged her followers to do the same and share their content.

Her #binkinisandbeanies challenge rules:

1. Go outside in you STIK hat and your fave bathing suit

2. Post it and tag #binkinisandbeanies

3. I will be picking the top 10 winners for free hats

4. I’ll be live updating the submissions.


The outcome? Over 30 people have participated in the #binkinisandbeanies challenge. Christina reposted all posts and Stories on her Instagram.

Were these people posing wearing bikini’s in 20 degrees Boston weather because they desperately wanted a free hat? Of course, many of them wanted to win and get the prize. Competing is fun! But most of them participated because they liked the idea of challenging themselves to do something really brave, like doing a “snow angel” while wearing a swimming suit.


You have to come up with a cool hashtag for your UGC campaign, as Christina did with her #binkinisandbeanies tag. It’s also a good idea to include your brand name into a hashtag as Aerie’s #AerieReal. But it is more important to make it simple, memorable and imaginative, like AirBnB’s #notyettrending for not-yet-discovered places, and #livethere about “living” in a city vs just visiting.

Instagram Stories

With Instagram Stories having become an even more popular tool than Instagram feed, generating UGC has become a much smoother process. If you ask people not to post something, but “Story” it, they are much more likely to participate. Their bikini picture or a selfie without edits will disappear in 24 hours, so why not to join and try to win a prize?

Scale your UGC campaign

Ok, you have boosted Instagram engagement and got a few hundreds of new followers and a couple of sales. Is it the end of story? No, it is just a beginning!

Partner with influencers to recreate your “moments”

A customer of the cosmetics brand Glossier made an organic video where her son brushes her brows with the brand’s brow palette.  Glossier then took this organic content and turned it into a blended influencer campaign. They partnered with mom-bloggers from micro-influencers to bigger deals, had their sons do their brows, and posted it all on Instagram. Glossier’s Editorial Director Emily Ferber said that it was one of the most successful marketing campaigns that was very aligned with their brand strategy.


Use Instagram Ads to promote your best performing UGC

You can repurpose your content for advertising, asking your users or influencers permission in advance. At Salted Papaya we implemented this strategy for one of our clients: we repurposed a video made by an influencer for a Stories Ad, and we got leads (messaging replies) with $1.5 cost per lead, running the ad for the cold audience. Read more about the results that we got.

If you have an additional budget, you can recreate your best performing UGC video by hiring a model/influencer and a professional videographer, and use this video as an ad banner. Glossier did just that.

make your UGC shoppable

If your customer created beautiful content featuring your product, don’t miss that opportunity to squeeze all from it! Repost this content as a feed post or Story, and tag your product with shoppable tags.

Don’t forget asking your customer for permission first, and mention them in the captions. This is a very simple strategy, but robust and effective.


Are you still hesitant on leveraging UGC for your brand on Instagram? Then you are ignoring the most effective and less expensive way to get results from this platform.

At Salted Papaya, we can help you to plan and implement your UGC strategy. Contact us to learn more.

How To Create A Perfect Instagram Bio


Instagram username (Instagram handle)
If you promote your business on Instagram, use its name as a username. If your business name is already taken as a username, try keeping your business name as the first part of your username so that people searching for your business are more likely to come across your account. DO you know that you can change your Instagram username anytime you want, right?

To make your profile searchable, you should include relevant keywords to include either your Instagram username, or Instagram name in your profile.

Instagram name (goes after the username)
Instagram name is where you should clarify what you sell, or what kind of services you provide. Describe your product or business in 30 characters.

Your bio has to answer the question: Why me? Why buying my service or product? And you have to be persuasive enough.
Even if you are a brand - add some personal touch to your business description. People buy from people!

Branded hashtags
Since March 2018 Instagram made hashtags in bio clickable. Now, users can click hashtag in your bio and see all the posts that contain that hashtag. For example, all posts about your new product, your company’s story, your own introduction, etc. You can use hashtags in bio as your IG profile’ navigation. Just make sure you create a unique hashtag with your brand’s name in it.
Also, let users know what hashtag they can use to share user-generated content with your brand.

Call-to-Action (CTA)
Which CTA to use? It depends on a way how you interact with your leads. Do you want them to go shopping on your website, send you an email, or DM on Instagram, or send an FB message? Add a relevant link to your bio. Change it as often as you want - just don’t forget to remind your readers that you updated a link in bio and why.
If you want to add several links to your profile, use Linketree or services. 
I like these services, but if you have a website, I'd recommend creating a landing page specifically for Instagram, and link to it from your bio.

Add your city.

Adding a city is important, even if you are not a local business. People want to know where you are located.

Visual and writing style

  • Use line breaks and spacing to make your bio easy to read.

  • Use emojis as bullet points, and choose them carefully so you can illustrate your point. Remember, that line breaks, spacing and emojis don’t always work the same way for web and mobile. Prioritize the mobile look.

  • Be original and fresh, don’t use writing cliche in bio!

  • Don't be too serious. This is not Linkedin, and even not Facebook. People are here to have fun and entertain themselves.

  • That’s all for today. Please ask your questions! I attached screenshots of Instagram profiles that I consider well-written and descriptive.

Planning Your Instagram Photoshoot


I can’t stress enough the importance of professional high-resolution pictures for Instagram marketing. Instagram users have much higher expectations for content they’d like to see on Instagram than on any other social network.

That is why having a professional photoshoot is a must-have if you want to promote your product on Instagram.

What you need to discuss with a photographer before the photoshoot to make sure you will get what you want.

  • The number of photoshopped images you will get as a result of photoshoot.

  • What details to highlight and the angles needed, how many close-ups for each product.

  • How many products you want to be photographed.

  • Images' size. At least 50% of all the images should be composed in such a way so you can resize them to 1:1 ratio (Instagram feed format). Try to avoid vertical images unless you want to run Instagram Stories Ads.

  • Images' rights. Make sure that the rights for using all the images are included in the price of the photoshoot.

  • What kind of images do you want? Do research on Pinterest by searching for the keywords related to your product. Do you want product-only images or in-context or lifestyle images? What kind of mood do you want these pictures to convey? Create a board on Pinterest and add there all the images you like. Share this board with your photographer.
    Also, you can search for related images on Instagram by using relevant hashtags. You can download images from Instagram using a service called Instagrab.

  • Light. Artificial light is more easily controlled, but you can get great product images using a natural light source as well, especially for lifestyle images.

What to think about when you are planning a photoshoot

Color scheme

While planning a photoshoot, keep in mind the color scheme for your Instagram feed. I’d recommend choosing 4-5 main colors you will be using consistently. If your product is very colorful, use neutral backgrounds.


Pictures of people, and especially those where people express emotions work better for Instagram. If you could hire a model (or ask a friend or do modeling yourself), that would be ideal!

Propes, accessories, backgrounds

To convey the right mood, or for adding a particular color to your picture, try to use different backgrounds or accessories, but don’t forget a golden rule - less is more.


Make sure you will have close-up pictures, where people can see the texture and smallest details of your product.

Where to find photographers and how much do they charge

  • Photographers in Boston area charge from $200 to $700 per photoshoot. Experienced photographers -$400-$700, beginners and students -$200-$300. I would recommend to check their portfolio first and see if they can create catchy product images.

  • If you like a photographer but not happy with his/her rates, try to negotiate.

  • I’m looking for photographers by asking for referrals in local Facebook groups for entrepreneurs.

What's your experience working with a product photographer?

How To Use Instagram Stories


Why should you make Instagram stories a part of your marketing strategy?

  • More than 50% of active Instagram users watch stories, but not many users post them, so competition is lower than in the feed.

  • Instagram Stories are discoverable: people who don’t follow you can see your stories too.

  • Instagram Stories now have more features for the audience engagement than the feed posts.

What is Instagram stories?

  • A photo or a video, length - up to 15 sec for video, and 4 sec for photo. Dimension: 9:16 (full portrait) format is best for Instagram story as it occupies the whole screen on the phone, but you can use horizontal videos as well.

  • Instagram allows adding an unlimited number of stories in a row.

  • Instagram stories will disappear after 24 hours unless you add them to “highlights”- stories that stay in your account as long as you want.

Instagram Stories basics

Whether you want to show some “behind the scenes” sneak-peek, publish a customer’s review, announce a sale or a new product launch, ask a question, etc. - create your posts with a purpose in mind.

CTA (Call to Action)
What do you want your followers to do after watching your story? Include a call to action in the end of the most of your stories. If your account has more than 10k followers, you can add an outbound link to your stories (“swipe up” feature). If not, you can offer your followers to check up your bio (link in bio), invite them to read your latest post, send you a direct message, or ask a question.

Stickers and GIFs
Stickers and GIFs are a big thing on Instagram Stories. Make sure you use them often and with creativity. I’d even recommend to use apps like InShot to use custom fonts, stickers, and create collages.

Polls and Questions
Poll and question stickers are great ways to engage your audience. If you want feedback from your audience - use a poll sticker to ask your followers a question. By using a questions sticker, you can get followers a chance to ask you a question. You can answer all their questions in your stories next day.


70% of people are watching stories with sound on. But it is a good idea to design a story the way it will make sense to watch it without sound.

Saving Instagram Stories

You can download/save your Instagram Stories (amazing feature if you running Instagram Stories ads!). Once you’ve created and posted you Instagram Stories, you can download individual posts, or even whole stories if you want to use them again for another piece of content.

Do you use Instagram Stories? What is your biggest struggle so far?

How is FB Advertising different from Google AdWords?


Many of my clients ask me this question. My clients are smart - almost all of them already have an experience of using Google AdWords for their product before starting with Facebook Ads. I see that some of them are making the same mistake: they are trying to replicate their Google AdWords ads for Facebook, and it is not working.

Why? Because Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are absolutely different in terms of customers’ behaviour.

People  search Google when they are already in need of wat they are searching for. They are already interested in the keywords that they typed in the search box. That’s why the average CTR (number of clicks per number of impressions rate) is 2%, according to WorldStream data. That’s not as bad as you think! :-)

People are hanging out on Facebook to look for entertainment and communication. They are not interested in buying a dress or signing up for an online course. That’s why the average Facebook CTR is more than a half less than for Google Adwords (0.9%).  

But what about the conversion rate (number of conversions per number of clicks)? For Google AdWords, it is 2.7%. For Facebook Ads, it is 9.21%. The difference is huge! It means that if you happen to catch Facebook users’ attention and persuade them to click on your ad, they are three times more likely to buy your product than people who search on Google.

That’s why the requirements for content for Facebook Ads are way higher than for Google AdWords. To make people click on the ad on Facebook, your video has to be really fun or engaging, your ad copy has to catch people’s attention right away, your offer has to be super appealing, or your boosted post has to tell a story that sparks people’s interest.

The usual bla-bla-bla like “Find New Winter Styles Perfect For The Season. Shop Xxxx Today!” won’t work on Facebook.

So, if you are advertising on Facebook, focus on the quality of the content of your ads to increase CPC. And when you are using Google Adwords, focus on your landing page quality to increase conversion rate.

Five reasons why you should move your store away from Etsy


My experience with having an Etsy store

When I decided to launch my store selling handmade hats and scarves, I thought of Etsy as of my best option. This platform particularly focuses on handmade products, right? I decided this was a potentially good way to go.

Setting up the store on Etsy platform was simple. I added professional pictures and detailed descriptions for my listings, and started impatiently waiting for customers. But it turned out to be not so easy as I hoped. Adding new listings didn’t mean that your store will get discovered by Etsy users right away. Traffic was extremely low, and I did not have any sales. And it was January, the high season for my warm wool hats!

My Etsy store Spring&Winter

My Etsy store Spring&Winter

I read everything I could find about how to boost traffic and get discovered on Etsy search when  I started with the platform. To improve my shop’s SEO, I packed product titles and descriptions with popular search keywords relevant to my hats. I added more pictures and expanded the “About” section. My SEO efforts boosted traffic a little bit, but it didn’t change the situation overall. Traffic was still very low.

So what else I could do to get more traffic? I asked that question in a Facebook group for Etsy sellers. Many Etsy beginners admitted that they struggle with the same issue. Etsy professionals advised me to promote my business on social media, and route the social media traffic to my Etsy store. Several people said they are actively using Facebook Ads and Google Ads to get traffic and sales.

I thought OK, maybe this is a way to go. But when I started to promote my Etsy shop on Facebook and Instagram, I had many questions about that strategy.

Promoting your business on social media takes lots of time, efforts, and money. Why should I pour all this hard-to-get traffic to the third-party platform, instead of my own website? Here I give you five reasons why having an Etsy store is a poor long term investment.

Five reasons why investing time and money in an Etsy store is not a good strategy for the long run

1.   What was on Etsy, stays on Etsy

Your Etsy shop has a successful history: many sales, many times your store has been “favorited” by users, and many stellar customer reviews. But what if Etsy changes its algorithm one day, and your sales slow dramatically? Or you decide to launch your own website or Facebook store, and move away from the platform? Unfortunately, you will lose all your store history you worked so hard to build.

 2.  You can’t retarget your Etsy store visitors on Facebook and Instagram

Retargeting is a proven way to serve your ads to people who have already visited your store. If you want to use Facebook Ads to grow your business, this is the most efficient and cost effective way to get more sales.

AdEspresso, an official Facebook partner, says that average rate of conversion is higher for a retargeted audience, than if you would advertise to people who never heard of you.

To use the retargeting option, you need to add Facebook pixel to your website. It is not currently possible to add the Facebook pixel to a shop on the Etsy platform. This is perfectly reasonable for Etsy because they want you to use their own platform for advertising, but it isn’t necessarily reasonable for you. The more opportunities you are missing to track your Etsy store visitors, the more valuable data you are losing. This is valuable data that you could have used to convert prospects into sales.

3. The Etsy audience is limited

The total number of Etsy buyers is around 30 million, according to the Etsy website. Sounds impressive, but this is only 4.3% of total Instagram audience, and only 1.5% of total Facebook users. Some people may argue that Etsy audience is better suited for entrepreneurs who sell handmade products. While this may be true, it doesn’t mean that your target audience shops there. I can only find out by selling.

For example, if I sell high quality product at a price that is higher than average on Etsy, my target audience is not higher than 2 to 3% of Etsy users, or 100,000 users. But if I were to sell  on Facebook, my target audience would be 60 million users. I would have a higher chance to sell my products on Facebook to my audience, especially with effective targeting.

4. There is no targeting option for advertising on Etsy

Speaking about targeting, Etsy doesn’t know much about its users so it doesn’t offer you any options to target your audience with either organic reach or paid advertising.  The only way to affect how Etsy shows your product to people is by optimizing your listings with relevant keywords. You can’t target your audience by age, location or interest, as Facebook or Google AdWords offer you to do.

3. Starting on Etsy is super hard for the beginners

 Even if you sell awesome hats for a reasonable price, your chances to get on the home page of Etsy is almost zero. As a beginner, Etsy’s algorithm weights your store low because your traffic is low and the number of favorites and sales is low. If you somehow manage to get on the first page of search results, one small picture and a price tag are all you have to compete with other sellers.

This is not that competition itself is bad. The problem is that Etsy has a very limited number of tools that you can use to win in this competition, especially when you have just started on Etsy, and haven’t built your store history yet.

5. People don’t spend time on Etsy

You know what I’m talking about here. People come to Etsy to buy what they want and then go back to Facebook and Instagram. The period that you can grab their attention is quite short. If your store hasn’t been discovered during the first 20 to 30 minutes, you are done.

These are my reasons to leave Etsy and launch my own website. I know many people who have established shops on Etsy, which they had launched a couple of years ago. Yet they struggle to make their business grow, or grow faster that it does now. My guess is that the amount of time and effort the store owners have already invested into Etsy is holding them back from moving away from the platform. But I’d recommend them to do make this decision sooner than later if they want to win in the long run.