How Instagram Creators Can Turn Their Content Into Commerce

So I’ll assume that you’ve read this piece on why Instagram creators need to turn their content into commerce.  Now, let’s talk about how.  Take a look at this chart.

This is a simple framework for evaluating whether your content has direct monetary value. The first thing to know is that there are 2 key metrics you need to consider. First, you need to evaluate the engagement level of your content.  And second, is the enlightenment level.  Content that is, itself, a digital product and should be marketed and priced is entertaining on the engagement metric, and informative on the enlightenment metric.  

Entertaining vs. Amusing

That is why premium tv costs money and commercials do not.

Marketable content offers genuine entertainment whereas non-marketable content is merely amusing.  It gives us a chuckle or a smile. It doesn’t stick with us, or leave us wanting more. It’s a Geico commercial.  Understand? Entertaining content, by contrast, engages us on a deeper level.  It’s like a tv show we tune in week after week because we’re involved with the characters and invested in the story.  It touches and affects us as humans.  And that is its value. That is why premium tv costs money and commercials do not.   So when you look at your content, consider whether it has lasting, sustaining entertainment value or whether it is just a short-term amusement.

Informative vs. Illustrative

The second metric you need to consider is what I call the enlightenment metric.  Is your content informative? Or is it illustrative?  Informative content teaches you something that matters to you.  When you consume informative content, you are transformed in some way.  By contrast, illustrative content merely presents something to you. It may be new, it may not be, but it lacks the quality of leaving you transformed.  You may walk away with a bit of curiosity (which is a great sign that it is effective promotional material), but you won’t be meaningfully affected.  

Now, there’s a lot more to this for people who are interested in a deep dive, but this is the general concept.  Now, let’s look at some examples of this framework in practice.

How about an example?

Here’s an example. I was watching a hair video on YouTube the other day.  It was a woman who tried a new hair product and, spoiler alert, she absolutely LOVED IT!  It was a perfect example of what to do.  But at the end, she cut to her final look.  It was beautiful!  She looked stunning!  I wanted that hair style. Her makeup was flawless. It was so aspirational.

If she gets only 1% of her viewers to pay $1, bam! She makes $10,000.

Now that video was a huge success.  It racked up more than 1 million views and sparked other YouTubers to try the product on their own channels. By any measure, it was a big success. Take a look at the video here and then we’ll talk about it:

Now, this video is brilliant because it is a product review that turns into a before-and-after.  She starts the video by trying something kind of experimental and engages her audience with the suspense of whether this will turn out great, or be a disaster.  That’s must-see tv.  Now, my absolute favorite thing about this video is that it is a watchable, enjoyable, shareable, amusing video that inspires others. It is a perfect example of what I call promotional content.  Here’s how:

  1. It’s promotion for herself and her channel, people share it, she gets more subscribers and followers
  2. It’s promotion for the product she used.  That’s evident in the number of people who were inspired to try it for themselves on their own channels.  Not to mention viewers at home who were eager to give it a try. But there’s one more piece.
  3. It’s promotional for any marketable content people can purchase FROM HER.

Because she’s a smart creator, Faye in the City creates engaging promotional content but she reserves the MARKETABLE content.  The How-to.   She gives us this incredible look, and we get to go on this fun journey with her, but she cleverly doesn’t give away the goods on how to create it. 

I know that a lot of Instagram creators are interested in getting brand partnerships, but the great thing about this framework is that you can do both. 

So here’s what she could do with that to turn that successful video into a five-figure financial payoff.  She could make a step-by-step guide for achieving the final look. If she could get 1% of her viewers to pay $1, bam! She makes $10,000. Right away.  There’s no need to wait for a corporate brand to notice her and offer a brand partnership (which, by the way, wouldn’t be nearly as much).  And YouTube ad revenue is laughably paltry. But, truthfully, she could charge $2 or $3 or perhaps even more and multiply her revenue.  It’s that simple.  Furthermore, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  That video is there forever. As long as people trickle in and see it, they can pop over to her tutorial and she makes money on it forever.  Not bad, right?

The tutorial for how to create the look is the stuff she could charge money for.  Now it’s true that the vast majority of people may not be interested in a full step-by-step tutorial, but she doesn’t need the vast majority of people.  She can make five figures with as little as 1% of her viewers.  She doesn’t need more subscribers or anything. Even one-off sales to people who are just passing through equal money in the bank. That’s incredible!  Don’t pass up on the opportunity.  

It burns me up to see so many Instagram creators giving away the how-to when it can generate another stream of revenue from them.  I know what you’re thinking – why would anyone pay for a tutorial when there are so many available for free online?  You’ll find your answer in this article here.

I know that a lot of Instagram creators are interested in getting brand partnerships, but the great thing about this framework is that you can do both.  You can create content that is promotional for your partners and for your own digital products.  It just takes a bit of strategy in planning and creating your content.  

So, if nothing else, remember this. When deciding what kinds of content Instagram creators want to create and share, they should consider what is promotional vs. what is a product. It’s time to get in the game for yourself and turn those digital products into another revenue stream for yourself.  You won’t regret it.

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