Instagram Stories: How it Blew Up My Email List

Instagram Stories: How it Blew Up My Email List

It seems that everyone is talking behind Instagram’s back and how it’s a rip off of Snapchat. It’s like high school all over again—hair flips and oh no she didn’t finger snaps included.

And I get it…

Look I’m pretty active on Snapchat so I see where these critics are coming from but you should know that I’m not a fan of negative talk and as a strategist, I like to keep an open mind of what new opportunities Instagram Stories has to offer.

So I’ll give you my two cents of Instagram Stories and the results I’ve had with my personal account so you can make an informed decision on what you want to do. Hold on to your mouse because this is going to be good…

How Instagram Stories Grew My Email List

10x More Views with Instagram Stories

Compared to SnapChat I had 10x more views on Instagram! I was blown away by that number and a little self-conscious because my life behind the scenes is usually unfiltered and unedited. But as I looked at Instagram Stories under a microscope, the jump in views totally made sense and here’s why…

Almost all of my family, friends and clients were ALREADY on Instagram.
They were already familiar with Instagram. And they were already familiar with the type of content I shared on my feed. So when I started posting Instagram Stories, there I was at the top of their feed egging them on to see what was going on behind the scenes of this mompreneur’s everyday life. And it worked. I got more views than I ever did on SnapChat AND more comments!

5x More Comments

I’m used to getting messages in my inbox from prospective clients and brands that want to partner with me (shoutout to Wood Watches by JORD, love you guys) but this time I was getting comments from people gushing over my sweet dance moves while stuck in traffic. People that normally gave me likes on my carefully curated photos and usually didn’t leave any comments were now responding to my Instagram Stories. The raw unfiltered me turned out to be more interesting than my super edited images.

And you know what else I noticed? All you entrepreneurs are going to love this… Stick with me here, it gets better…

137% Increase in Email Subscribers

Downloads of my lead magnet, The Ultimate Checklist of an Irresistible + Profitable Facebook Page skyrocketed!

Soon after I started posting Instagram Stories, a notification would pop up on my phone that I just got a new email subscriber.

And let me tell you, I don’t run any ads for my lead magnet. I used to but I don’t anymore. I’m busy working on new content but if people want it, it’s there on my website for free under Stephanie Liu Resources.

So if I’m not running ads, how do I know that it’s coming from Instagram? Because the bio link on my Instagram account is tagged with Google Analytics tags. That’s how I know. (By the way, if you’re not tagging your links on social, we need to talk. And when I mean talk, I mean-we need to get that shit taken care of right now.)

All that people could really do when they followed me on Snapchat was view my snaps and leave a comment. If they wanted to learn more about me they couldn’t click on a link to my site. To get people to go my site I’d literally have to say in my snap, “Go to my website” or write over my snap with my website address and cross my fingers that someone was actually going to be able to remember the URL to type into their browser later.

Now imagine how annoying it would be to watch a snap and hear someone repeat their website address snap after snap. You sir, get a finger snap cause I’m out!


But with Instagram Stories, if the user liked what she saw , she could just tap on my profile photo, view my feed and click on my bio link. And look even if she clicks the link, goes to my site and doesn’t give me her email address, I still win because my site has a Facebook pixel and I can retarget her later.

Are you seeing the possibilities yet?

Do you see the big picture?

Have you started thinking of how you can use Instagram Stories?

And how much did this all cost me? Zip. Zilch. Nada. All I had to do was be comfortable being in front of the camera and share my unfiltered POV on life as an entrepreneur. Imagine looking at your email list a month from now and seeing how it’s grown because of Instagram Stories? How amazing would that feel? Pretty amazing am I right?

So to all the Instagram Stories folks throwing shade, go ahead and continue to sit on the sidelines sipping that haterade because this gal, her clients and her tribe will be in the spotlight and going all in Instagram Stories.

Are you in?

Facebook Timeline Template – Free Download

Facebook Timeline Template Download

I’ve been covering the new Facebook Page Design or template for quite some time here because the layout impacts your cover photo. In fact, I’ve been helping clients all month in getting their creative assets in order. If you haven’t heard, the new design is going to move your company name and category from the bottom of the cover photo and make it a text overlay (along with a few more changes – watch the video for details).

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New Facebook Page Design is Almost Here

New Facebook Page Design is Almost Here

In March I covered the 4 Facebook Page Design Features You Should Watch when Facebook rolls out their new design and now the time has finally arrived…

Early adopters who signed up for Facebook’s Waitlist started receiving messages this week that their Page would be upgraded to the new design on Friday, June 6, 2014. As predicted, the ability to “Highlight” posts no longer appears to be an option for Page Managers with the new single column design. However, Page Managers can still “Pin” posts to the top of their Timeline to capture the attention of visitors that come to their Page.

Facebook New Page Design 2014

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How to Use UTM Tracking Codes with Pinterest Pins

Pinterest UTM Tracking Code

Pinterest announced today that they are now adding support for Google Analytics UTM variables or “tracking codes,” which will allow content creators to measure the performance of each Pin. If you’ve only been reporting how much referral traffic Pinterest brings to your site – you’re in for a real treat.

Sure it’s nice to know how much Pinterest accounts for total traffic but understanding which piece of content is driving all that traffic is even better! All you have to do is add a snippet of text at the end of your URL.

Marketers that run pay-per-click (PPC) or display ads, do this all the time—I know because I used to be a Search Engine Marketing Manager and tagging ad campaigns was super important for tracking performance.

So what are UTM Tracking Codes?

I like to think of them as Who, What, Where, When and Why variables because they complete the story of your analytics. A typical URL with a tracking code looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 10.45.46 PM

Campaign is usually the name of your promotion. Example: utm_campaign=SpringCleaning

Source is the name of the website that is driving traffic to your site or blog post. Example: utm_source=Pinterest

Medium is how that traffic is delivered like PPC, display ads, email or social media. Example: utm_medium=Social

Content identifies the type of content like leaderboard, header photo or pin. Example: utm_content=Pin

Term is the keyword to help describe the content. Example: utm_term=audit

The great thing about UTM Tracking Codes is that you don’t have to use all of the five variables, you can choose the bare minimum or get super detailed.

How to Use UTM Tracking Codes on Pinterest

Let’s say you have an online website selling dresses and you wanted to create a Pinterest board for “Little Black Dresses Under $100.”

If the URL for the little black dresses you want to pin was, I would edit it to become:

So when someone comes to your site and buys a dress (any dress), you can take a look at your analytics and find out what that person was looking at on Pinterest that drove them to purchase.

To break it down even further, I would set up UTM variables like this:

  1. utm_campaign=Name of Your Pinterest Board
  2. utm_source=Pinterest
  3. utm_medium=Social
  4. utm_content=Pin
  5. utm_term=Keyword Describing Pin

Helpful Hint #1: If you want to change the source of an existing Rich Pin, Vincent Ng at MCNG Marketing has a great tutorial on How to Link Your Website to Any Pin on Pinterest.

Helpful Hint #2: You can use Google’s URL Builder to create your “tagged” URL but it can get really messy if you have a lot of Pinterest Boards or campaigns that you want to track. You want to make sure that your campaign names are spelled the same and have the same letter case.  If you used “LBD100” and “lbd100” as your campaign names, Google Analytics would think that they’re two different campaigns and you’ll have traffic metrics for two campaigns when you really wanted them to be rolled into one. To help you avoid making that mistake, you can use my Google URL Builder Worksheet.

Pinterest Google URL Builder Worksheet

If you haven’t been able to tell yet, I’m a huge data nerd and I love Excel. With a few Excel formulas, I’ve made it super easy for you to add your UTM tracking codes and have it automatically append to the end of your URL.

Pinterest Google URL Builder

All you have to do is fill out columns A – H and the worksheet will give you a tagged URL in column K that you can copy and paste to Pinterest.

Pinterest Google URL Builder Part 2

The formulas in the worksheet are updated all the way down to row 50 so you can easily get started.

Ready to give it a try? Get my Pinterest Google URL Worksheet for FREE when you sign up for my newsletter!

UPDATE: Sorry this freebie is no longer offered.

Social Media Spring Cleaning Checklist

Social Media Spring Cleaning Checklist

Social Media Checklist

Spring is just around the corner, I challenge you to go beyond removing clutter from your home and take a stab at cleaning up your company’s presence online.

To give you a head start, I’ve created a social media spring cleaning checklist that applies to most social networks. If there’s anything else you’d like to add to the list or if you have trouble finding where to make changes, add your suggestion/feedback in the comments section below.

Harlem Shake Invades Little Italy

Harlem Shake Invades Little Italy

When you work at an agency, creativity is bound to happen. We decided to take a break from our desks today and have a little fun in the office elevator. Mums the word if the elevator isn’t functioning afterwards.

San Diego Restaurant Week: 7 Tips for Restaurant Owners

San Diego Restaurant Week: 7 Tips for Restaurant Owners

San Diego Restaurant Week kicks off January 13th – 18th with over 180 participating restaurants in 12 unique regions across San Diego. It’s the perfect opportunity for  guests to discover new restaurants around town and indulge in the art of dining with discounted prix fixe menus for lunch and/or dinner.

Now if you’re a restaurant owner that’s participating in  the event, you are going to have a lot of competition that week and you will have to be on top of your marketing to break through the noise and get the attention of foodies all over San Diego. Fortunately, I have a few tips on how you could do just that. Please note that these tips are based on outside observations, I am not affiliated with San Diego Restaurant Week at all.

Let’s start with how you can optimize your listing on the San Diego Restaurant Week (SDRW) website.

Tip #1: Feature your restaurant logo.
SDRW is a great way to attract new guests to your restaurant. Prove to them that you’re an established restaurant by putting your best foot forward and including a logo in your listing. This shows that the restaurant is buttoned up.

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Checklist for Facebook’s Updated Cover Photo and News Feed Ad Policy

Facebook is  making changes to its policy on Cover Photos and News Feed ads in regards to text overlays. Effective January 15th, text will be limited to no more than 20% of an image’s area. Logos with text will count toward this limit.

According to Facebook’s updated guidelines under Section III.D, “Ads and sponsored stories for News Feed that originate from Pages may not include images with more than 20% text.”

Since the launch of Timeline, Facebook has always deterred the use of calls to action and price/purchase information in photos to prevent brands from sharing images that looked like traditional banner ads. However, the policy was vague and not always followed or enforced.

This time, to ensure advertisers are compliant with the new policy, the company is developing a grid-based text overlay detection tool to identify non-compliant images. A version of this tool will be available within Power Editor to help advertisers know in advance whether images will be approved.

Since this new image policy impacts community managers, creative directors, and individuals that specialize in Facebook advertising, now is the best time to get everyone on board and discuss how to prepare.

Below is a short checklist to get started. Remember to allow yourself enough time to audit, edit, and update images.

Facebook Checklist

  • Audit all Timeline cover photos and alert the Creative team if any images need to be updated.
  • Check images in current and upcoming Facebook ad campaigns to ensure ads get through the approval process.
  • Review editorial calendars to ensure images in posts that may be supported later with a Promoted Post abide with the new ad policy and replace images as needed.

If you have any other suggestions on how to prepare for Facebook’s updated ad policy, please leave a comment below.

Instagram Disables Twitter Cards And How It Impacts You

As of Sunday, Instagram photos no longer display on Twitter as cards but as links to a photo’s Instagram URL. Viewing Instagram photos now involve an extra click and images that were previously shared on Twitter via Instagram no longer appear on a user’s profile.

In response to Instagram’s actions, Twitter has released an updated app that allows users to edit and refine photos with a filter. Images shared via the Twitter app will now appear as cards in tweet streams and Instagram photos will continue to appear as links.

If you were a hardcore Instagram user that also shared images on Twitter, you’ll also notice that those images no longer appear on your Twitter profile.

Overall, the impact of these updates mean:

  • The best way to share photos on Twitter is to use Twitter’s app
  • Content publishers now need extra time to jump from one app to the other to share a single photo
  • If a publisher continues to share Instagram photos on Twitter, he/she should include a clear description of the photo to entice followers to click

[Image Source: Flickr, WebRankings Pictures]


Make Your Instagram Photos Private in 3 Steps

Make Your Instagram Photos Private in 3 Steps

Now that Instagram has released web profiles, that means photos you shared on your public Instagram profile  can now be accessed online. Anyone who knows your Instagram handle can go directly to your web profile at[username] to view your filtered snapshots. If you already had your Instagram profile set to private, only your approved followers will be able to view your photos after they’ve logged into


If you were like me, I originally had my profile set to public because I knew that they could only be accessed via a mobile device . Now with the rollout of web profiles, I felt a little bit uneasy seeing my photos on a desktop and decided to make the switch. If you’re interested in making your Instagram photos private, here are 3 easy steps to ensure your photos are shared with the people only you give permission to. Note: These instructions are for the Apple iOS. For Android instructions, please visit Instagram’s Help Center.

Step 1: Log into Instagram and go to your ‘Profile’ by tapping the far right address card icon.

Make Your Instagram Photos Private Step 1

Step 2:  Tap the ‘Setting’ icon in the upper right hand corner.

Make Your Instagram Photos Private Step 2

Step 3: Scroll down to ‘Photos are Private’ and toggle the switch to ON to turn privacy.

Make Your Instagram Photos Private Step 3

Congratulations, your profile is now private!

P.S. For those that were curious, the Step 1 image features a nice dim sum spread from Emerald restaurant here in San Diego, CA.