16.01.2024 09:06

Case Study: How start-ups and freelancers are generating leads from Instagram to expand their business

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It should be no surprise for start-up businesses and freelancers alike, that there is a wealth of business opportunities to be had on social media platforms.

Instagram, in particular, has exploded in popularity over the last decade, with the social media platform totalling in at over 800 million users, which equates to 500 million active accounts according to Omnicore.

Rather than questioning whether you can utilise social media to rapidly expand your business, start-up owners should really be asking how. That there are competitors generating leads from Instagram is a fact, which means there is the potential for you to do the same.

Start-ups freelancers generating leads InstagramBut how can this be done: how do you use the tools of social media marketing to generate leads from Instagram.

In this article, we are going to show you a case study of how fitness start-ups and entrepreneurs are employing social media marketing in order to generate leads from Instagram.

These skills are entirely transferable to different industries and sectors, meaning you can use this article as a step-by-step guide with regard to expanding your own business, whatever that may be.

Chapter One: The fundamentals of social media marketing for personal trainers

Nobody can run before they walk.

While generating leads from Instagram may sound exciting (and as your business develops, it really is!) first, you need to do the leg-work.

Here are the basics you’ll need to cover in order to get your account ready for the prospective leads you’ll generate at a later point.

Step one – set-up your account

If you have a social profile on Instagram already, you will need to switch it to a business account. This is relatively easy to do. Go into settings (via the cog symbol in the top right hand corner of the Instagram dashboard) and click “switch to business profile.”

You then have access to the features associated with an Instagram business account. Take this opportunity to learn the ropes a little. These tools are designed to help you maximise the impact of your business, so knowing the ins and outs is crucial for later success.

There is, however, one setting that is more important than the others to get right at this early stage.

Instagram Handle Example Personal TrainerInstagram will give you the option to integrate your new business account with your Facebook business page. We strongly recommend that you do, as this is a guaranteed way to transfer your followers from one platform onto the other.

Making your Instagram account look the business, whether you are a fitness business, an online marketing agency, or a local bakery, is just as important as the content you produce. People will only follow an account that looks professional and appealing.

As well as the obvious advice, to post aesthetically pleasing content (Instagram, after all, is all about the image), here are some ways to improve the overall appearance of your account:

Step two – brand your account & create your description

Instagram handle

Try and create an Instagram handle that is similar to your existing brand. Consistent branding ensures that your new clients can identify with you both online, and in person.

From our experience in the fitness industry, we’ve found the following method is particularly effective for freelancers and personal trainers…

An easy way of achieving consistent branding for fitness professionals is to make sure your handle includes your name, and some variation of “PT” (as demonstrated above).

If “PT” looks clumsy, we usually suggest researching some synonyms around exercise and fitness. Of course, this tactic can be employed in various industries. If for example “[YOUR NAME] Marketing” doesn’t have a nice ring to it, search for some synonyms.

The key is to be sensible and logical with your handle. At the end of the day, your goal is to get personal training clients from Instagram, so it makes sense to ensure that it is clear from your handle what your account is all about.

Don't make your prospective followers guess!

Logo / Display Image

When creating your Instagram account, it is key that your profile picture stands out. To do this, make sure that you upload it 180 pixels by 180. This way, your image will maintain its high resolution on both desktop and mobile devices.

If you don't know how to resize an image, you can use this free tool.

If, however, you don't have a logo yet, you might want to think about getting one professionally made.

Don't worry, you don't have to spend lots of money.

Ascend Training Twitter Logo ProfileIn fact, there are loads of graphic designers out there who will be more than happy to draw up an easy and elegant design for your business. 
A basic design is not going to cost you much, and the time saved trying to do it yourself is more than worth the money.

For a directory of freelance graphic designers, where you can post a full brief and budget for the work you want done, try Quasa Connect.

In the Quasa Connect app, find tasks from clients from anywhere in the world, now it's possible!

Connect your crypto wallet to the Quasa Connect app and answer published tasks.
Complete your profile and add a portfolio so clients can see what you can do, find and select you.
After the customer has chosen you and entrusted his task, you will begin the implementation, and when completed, click the “Finish” button.
The reserved money will go to your balance in the application when the customer accepts your work.

Click "Withdraw" and receive Quasacoin (QUA) cryptocurrency to your personal crypto wallet.

Quasacoin (QUA) is a cryptocurrency that was specifically created for settlements between freelancers and clients, so you can always exchange it for any other.

On decentralized exchanges like Uniswap, SushiSwap or Balancer, exchange QUA for bitcoin, USDT or any other cryptocurrency. You don’t even need to register on these exchanges, everything is anonymous. You also connect your Metamask or Trust wallet and change QUA. Very safe and secure.

There is no need for conversion and complexities with banking operations. No need to know the laws of different countries.

Create description / Bio

Your bio will be the first piece of information that prospective leads will see regarding your brand. Making a good first impression is therefore paramount.

As well as your overall brand, your bio should match the style and tone of your account. Again, this may sound obvious, but it is absolutely key for effective social media marketing for personal trainers.

If, for example, you are using your account to build your audience and to get new personal training clients on Instagram, you need to ensure you sound professional, and to provide links to any affiliated blogs and websites where prospective clients can read about the services you offer.

Add Relevant Links

As mentioned above, adding links to your website, blog, sales or content landing pages, will help you divert traffic from Instagram to pages that really count (in terms of your business).

Contact Information

Contact Information instagramEnsure that your contact details are up to date, primarily your business phone numbers and any email addresses you have, and don’t forget to input your location. Actionable links through which potential clients can contact you are crucial for your business.

Among other things, most people use Instagram from a mobile device, meaning they can literally just push a button (or link) if they want to get in direct contact with you.

A top tip: If you operate a static business (i.e. you’re a shop operating from one location, or your services are only available to a local populace) you need to emphasise this in your contact information, and brand yourself around being the “best service in…” that specific location.

Step three – make your page look busy

Treat other Instagram users like, well…humans.

You’re only going to start following and engaging with an account that looks real. What we mean by this, is that your account has to have interesting content: good quality pictures and videos in a consistent style are a must.

To have any success with social media marketing, your account has to look like it could provide some value to its audience.

Start uploading some photos and videos, and remember to include relevant hashtags, appropriate for that image or video. In some industries, this may be easier than others. For example, for a fitness provider or personal trainer, there are a great number of gym and fitness hashtags to choose from.

If however, you operate in a “boring niche,” you can be clever with how you tag your content. Here, you can target what are called “shoulder niches” or niches that are related to your own, but are also independent in their own right.

For example, if you’re a start-up selling health insurance in a local area, then you can target niches related to high-impact or contact sports, where injuries are likely to take place.

We will dig a little more into the importance of hashtags and hashtagging in general soon…

Step four – get your first 500 followers

Now your account is looking the part, with decent images and videos uploaded, you are ready to start getting clients from Instagram.

Most importantly, you need an audience, to share your promotions, blog posts, tips and tricks with.

To get off the mark, get all your friends and family to give you a follow. It may sound obvious, but this is the starting point for all Instagram users. You can bet that even the biggest of Instagram celebrities counted their parents, aunties, and uncles among their early followers.

Additionally, find Facebook groups that are specific and local to you. This is a key in the social media marketing process, especially for start-up businesses operating locally.

Liverpool Health Fitness Facebook GroupYou usually have to request access, but as long as you are not spamming the page with self-promotion they will allow you to put links to your profile after your comments and posts.

As you can see below, while setting up OriGym’s social media, we found health and fitness groups local to the Liverpool area. This provided hundreds of potential leads and followers for us to target and was integral in the early process of generating leads from Instagram.

Chapter Two: Advanced tips for generating leads from Instagram


You’ve covered the basics of social media marketing and generating leads from Instagram, which should give you a solid foundation.

The above tips will put you ahead of many of your competitors. You’d be surprised as to how many striving start-up businesses and freelancers fail to capitalise on their social media presence, allowing their content to go stagnant or ignoring it altogether.

What we’ll now cover are some more advanced tips, helping you propel your Instagram presence, and business, to the next level!

Scaling your audience on automation

Now that your account has some soft traction, it’s time to really put your start-up business on the map.

This part is going to require some investment. However, given the number of leads that are up for grabs on platforms like Instagram, this early investment is minimal.

Put it this way. Having 500 followers is great... but what about 50,000? The only way to do this effectively, is to use some paid tools to help you along the way.

A recommended Instagram tool, used by start-ups and large organisations alike, is Follow Liker. As such, it is the tool we will use to for the next part of this how-to article.

We should however emphasise that there are alternatives out there, and you should use whatever you feel comfortable with, or whatever suits your needs.

We have used (and had success with) Follow Liker in the past, therefore it is our tool of choice.

instagram bannerFor the purposes of this article, we are going to use Follow Liker to help us:

  • Follow Users
  • Unfollow Users
  • Send Direct Messages
  • Like photos
  • Comment on photos
  • Schedule Tasks
  • Blacklist unwanted users
Set-up follow liker automation

Like Instagram, you are going to have to sign up to Follow Liker with your own account. There’s a quick and handy link to do that here.

Once you have paid your initial installment fee, you will be sent the application to download the software along with a unique code. And once you’ve done that, you’re all set!

With the administrative processes behind us, it’s time for you to configure the settings you want.

This can be a little tricky if you’re new to using the software. There is, however, a comprehensive tutorial on how to get the most out of Follow liker here, which should be enough to get you up and running.

Think you’re ready to kickstart your start-up empire?

Not so fast!

Before jumping right into Follow Liker, you NEED to - at the very least - read the rest of this article. We’re moving into the important bits of how exactly to go about generating leads from Instagram.

Following – targeting

Every successful business on Instagram is using some variation of this technique. Without exception.

Targeting is the process of following accounts online, based off recreational interests and followed accounts.

Sounds pretty obvious, right?

The clever part is that Follow Liker allows you to do this all on automation. This allows start up-businesses to scale up their social media marketing tenfold.

For example, as we want to get personal training clients from Instagram, we need to use a little bit of logic as to who our prospective clients are.

This will allow us to advertise our unique brand to our desired niche. These targeted customers are likely to follow us back, which in turn builds an online audience who are likely to interact with our posts.

However, you have to exercise some caution when setting up automated following. Let's clarify some rules of Instagram:

Firstly nobody really knows the exact number of how many accounts you can follow or unfollow within a specified time period. Unlike Twitter, who publicise their follow limits, Instagram is incredibly weary of user experience.

In short, you can’t go mad on the whole “following potential leads and customers” tactic when you’re devising your strategy for social media marketing.

Accounts that continuously violate Instagram’s guidelines can be temporarily blocked, have restrictions put in place on certain features, and in some instances, can be banned altogether.

Trust us, this is not an empty warning. We have pushed these limits in the aid of research…

big bossHere are our recommendations based on trial and error after some wrist slapping from the powers-that-be at Instagram:

  • Set-up to only follow 500 accounts per day
  • Expect around a 15% follow back ratio
  • Unfollow accounts after 3 days that do not follow you back
  • Set the delay between follows for at least a minute.
  • Set a daily photo like limit of around 600 likes.

Now you know how to like people (within the laws of Instagram) here’s the part you really need to pay attention to…

Who should you follow to build your audience?

As mentioned previously, if you offer a service specific to a geographic location, you should only focus on following accounts according to that location.

Building relationships with people on the other side of the planet is nice, but that’s all it is. They are never going to pay you, or invest in your service.

You need to be more intelligent than that to get clients for personal training on Instagram.

Conversely, if you’re an online marketing agency and believe you could help clients from around the world, you need to focus on the specific niches and fields that you have expertise in marketing.

Having the mind-set that everyone is a potential client is also wrong. In our case, we had to quickly admit that not everyone was interested in going to the gym, let alone in having a personal trainer.

So how to find the right kind of people?

Think of Instagram as a series of lists. It actually has your exact target market all nicely categorised for you, you just might not know it yet.

Through using the search feature on Instagram, or through the hashtag explorer, you can locate other users and small businesses who may offer similar services to yours in the same location.

So how to find the right kind of people?Once you have found some appropriate accounts through this method, you can copy and paste their handle and insert it into Follow Liker.

And here’s the clever bit: the software will incrementally follow all of your competitor’s existing followers.

Remember, their followers will largely consist of existing clients, former clients, potential clients as well as local people who are interested in what they do. Such lists are invaluable if you are to effectively expand your prospective client lists.

Now listen up, because this next part is key...

Automated messaging: the key to generating leads from Instagram

Everyone on Instagram gets a notification when a new follower has followed their account. In this sense, think of the last step as giving your potential personal training clients a gentle nudge.

It’s kind of like saying, “Hi I'm here, and this is what I do.”

The aim, of course, is that they will like what you do, and will hit that follow back button. Without really doing much, this process is exactly how you can convert people from being casual followers into actual tangible leads.

But what does that mean? What exactly constitutes a lead?

A lead is a name and a piece of contact information, typically in the form of email or phone number, (but it can be in other forms too, as long as there is the means to get in touch). As a broad definition, it is any instance where someone actively gives you their details for marketing purposes.

Are you beginning to see why this is important in terms of social media marketing for start-up businesses?

Using Follow Liker, or a similar automation tool, you can set up trigger automated messages to new followers. This means, every time somebody follows you, the automated software will message them with what you wish to bring to their attention.

With this in mind…

How do you go about gathering information from potential leads on Instagram?

Now bear with us, because this part requires a little more investment. As they say, you have to speculate to accumulate!

Fitness Landing Page Conversion ExampleLet’s assume you’re at the very start of your career as a start-up, and you don't even have a sales page on your website yet. If this is the case, you can use ontrapages.com/ or www.leadpages.net/ to capture people's information.

These two websites allow you to create customised landing pages or sales pages. This, in turn, gives you a platform to entice new leads, allowing you to advertise special promotions and limited time offers.

Once you have created your landing page and you love the way it looks (remember, consistent branding is key), insert the URL into your automated message on Follow Liker.

When your automation starts and people start following you back, they will start receiving your customised message with a link to your landing page.

Trust us on this one: if it’s a great offer or an appealing free giveaway, people will start applying for it, regardless of whether they know you or not.

Now to convert your leads into paying clients!

Giveaway Competition Social Media Instagram SampleOnce your leads start coming in, you will find that your email address and phone will become inundated with contact details. What’s more, you are going to want to be able to gather this information into easily distinguishable categories, in order to effectively market promotions in the future.

Customer relationship manager (CRM) software tools such as MailChimp, Get Response or Aweber offer free services where you can store all your new Instagram leads. Not only that, but it will also let you create branded email templates, send invoices, distribute automated emails to your contact lists, and much more.

This is the strategy tens of thousands of small and large business utilise across Instagram to gain new customers. This way you can market to those people again, again and again!

We highly recommend integrating CRM software into your social media marketing. We have found that, for personal trainers and start-up businesses alike, (who, by nature, are busy enough as it is) it will save you valuable time and effort.

And that’s it: you now know how to generate leads from Instagram in order to expand your start-up or freelance business!

AWeber Email Marketing Presentation Tool SoftwareThere are many tips on how to survive as a freelancer and many ways to improve your lead generation strategy. You’ve targeting potential leads, used software and landing pages to capitalise on the work you’ve done with regard to generating leads from Instagram, and logged all of your new clients into a CRM software.

Now it’s up to you to maintain your Instagram feeds, and keep on top of lead generation.

Remember, the key to succeeding as a start-up using digital tools is knowing who your clients are. The more specific you can be in the early stages of this process, the better quality leads you will produce at a later point.

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