When I first moved to the United States from my native country Bulgaria, I was excited at the prospect of earning my specialty certificate in Orthodontics at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
Fast forward several years, and I was practicing my dream job as an Orthodontist full time for several dental practices. All the while, I continued to travel, taking trips to stunning locations around the world whenever my vacation time would allow.
After meeting my husband and realizing we shared that same wanderlust for seeing the world, we began traveling together, taking beautiful pictures in every city we visited.
Always the perfectionist, I would strive to have my hair, makeup and wardrobe impeccable in each shot; as well as choosing ideal scenery in each location with the right lighting (early dusk is best for natural lighting).
I realized that sharing my travel experiences with the world through blogging and social media was a second passion of mine, and I began researching camera equipment and developed photo editing skills.
I built my blog and I began following influencers I admired to learn the ropes of acquiring a targeted social media following.
Within two years my blog, BubblyMoments.com, became a leading luxury travel blog and my Instagram page @bubbly.moments amassed more than 670K followers, making my platform not only popular, but profitable.
The significant following I built attracted the attention of some major brands, and before I knew it, I was working with companies like Clinique, Revolve, Macy’s, Pantene, Olay, and Dunkin Donuts to name just a few of the numerous brands I have endorsed on my platform.
I now split my time between my two professional passions: being an orthodontist and giving people beautiful and healthy smiles; and traveling the world with my husband while earning a second income as a luxury lifestyle and travel influencer.
Below are my top methods for transforming your passion into a successful social media brand.
An Interesting Activity Against Interesting Scenery Equals a Great Image (or Video)
Whether it is a still image or a video, the best content typically has more than one point of interest, meaning you are typically looking at an activity or person against an interesting or beautiful backdrop.
A common example: a beautiful girl up against a plain white background is nice to look at. A beautiful girl on a tropical beach, on a Ferris wheel, or next to a horse is even better.
A beautiful girl up against a tropical beach backdrop who is jumping in the air, riding a horse or eating an ice cream cone is AMAZING!
Why? Because there are three distinct points of stimulation in that one image. Creating multiple stimulation points with each post takes creativity and some production value, but it is well worth the effect.
Choose a Theme and Stick to It
If you are looking to grow an online brand, build social currency, and ultimately monetize your platform, you will need a social media brand that is consistent in its theme.
There can be some flexibility to this theme, but overall, your account should stick to posting content that got people to follow you in the first place.
You don’t want your followers to be unclear about why they are following you and ultimately hit the dreaded “unfollow” button.
For example, if you have gained your Instagram followers by posting images of your fresh baked cookies and pies, and you suddenly post some images of you snuggling with your cat, your friends might dig it, but your dessert loving zealots will lose interest.
What you can do is tie it together. Wear a cute or fun looking apron in the picture or video, and if your kitten is licking the side of your face, you can caption the image with, “Kiss the cook!” Either way, keep it consistent.
Post at Regular Intervals
Many people are afraid that if they post content too often, their followers will get annoyed and unfollow them.
If you start posting ten times per day, then you’ve got a point, but this is about consistency.
Treat your social channels like a television channel. Get your followers accustomed to seeing posts from you consistently.
For example, every day at 11 AM and again at 6 PM could work. Don’t post every hour on the hour, and don’t skip days or weeks if you can help it.
Engage with Followers and with People who Like and Comment on Your Posts
When people admire your content by liking and commenting, try to acknowledge their time and attention.
Answer some of their questions, like their comments, and send a cute emoji their way.
Let them know you appreciate their loyalty. Scroll through your message requests and, assuming a comment or question is appropriate, give a quick and insightful reply.
A little back and forth engagement will go a long way in building your following.
Post Interesting Captions
There’s nothing like a cleverly worded caption to take a social media post from cool to epic status. Interesting and engaging captions don’t just elicit more engagement, they also make your posts more shareable.
It can be one word, a phrase, a sentence, a quote, a series of emojis, or you can even treat your posts like a microblog where you deconstruct the meaning of life with each post.
Captions, when done correctly, are great conversation starters and allow your personality, product, or service to shine.
Use Some Niche Hashtags
If used correctly, hashtags can be an effective marketing tool, particularly on Instagram. Somewhere between 7 to 10 hashtags will do the trick if they are the right ones.
Make sure your hashtags are relevant to your content and choose hashtags that are more niche, rather than broad.
Super broad hashtags like #travel #food or #beauty will tend to leave your post buried at the bottom when you are first cultivating your following. Instead, look for hashtags that are popular enough to be searchable, yet are less broad.
Hashtags like #travelgoals, #blueeyedbeauty #favoritefood #passionforfashion or other more niche terms will give your posts more of a chance to get discovered by your potential audience.
Emilia Taneva is a Chicago-based orthodontist, dental expert, and social media influencer in the luxury lifestyle and travel space. Follow Emilia’s globetrotting adventures at BubblyMoments.com and on Instagram @bubbly.moments.