- Kar Brulhart has more than eight years of experience in social-media management.
- After losing her job at a wellness firm, she launched a social-media consultancy in January 2021.
- Entrepreneurs should focus on sharing a media mix including static, carousel, and video content.
When COVID-19 hit the US, Kar Brulhart was working as the head of social media and partnerships at a wellness company. When the firm went under, Brulhart sought a new job that combined her passions for social media, public relations, and global growth.
In January 2021, she launched an eponymous social-media-strategy agency and joined the 5.3 million Americans who started their own businesses that year, according to US Census Bureau data. Brulhart 's eight years in the industry have included work with the United Nations, Apple, and Michael Kors. Her company offers services like one-on-one coaching calls and courses that help small-business owners grow their social-media followings organically, without using any paid advertisements.
As social media continues to be a lucrative business opportunity, Brulhart has no shortage of clients looking to build their profiles. She booked six figures in revenue in 2021, according to documents verified by Insider.
Today, she works with clients on perfecting their content strategies and taking advantage of what the social media platforms offer, including new methods of monetization and understanding the algorithm.
Brulhart spoke with Insider about what she'd learned over the past eight years and how small-business owners can organically grow their followings.
Video remains important, but a media mix is best
Video has been the No. 1 feature for small-business owners to focus on when looking to grow over the last few years. But today, a mix of media types is key, Brulhart said.
"What's moving the needle for growth right now is a mix of content," Brulhart said, noting that Instagram Reel video engagement has dropped compared to past months. "What this means is that we're moving back to posting more static content, meaning images and carousels, in addition to Reels."
What's more, including a mix of content allows entrepreneurs to tap into multiple different growth metrics: Reels tend to reach those who are not already following the account, while static images typically find more existing followers, Brulhart explained. In order to grow sustainably, it's important to tend to both existing and potential followers, she added.
To be sure, videos are still a highly effective way to share a brand's ethos, aesthetics, messaging, and information, Brulhart said.
Personality can have more weight than a big budget
It's important to share brand messaging and personality with audiences today, especially with the saturation of users on social platforms, Brulhart said. Small-business owners that lack large budgets for marketing can still emerge successful by focusing on engaging social media campaigns, Brulhart added. But there are some tactics both small and large businesses should follow.
"Showing your personality, core values, and standing up for social issues are important in building brand messaging," Brulhart said, adding that small brands had owned these methods in the past.
New ways to monetize content can create additional income
Both TikTok and Instagram have implemented tools to encourage users to stay on their platforms, Brulhart said.
One way Instagram is encouraging users to prioritize its platform is by including new methods of monetizing content. For example, now creators can create subscription-based content where followers pay a monthly fee for access to exclusive posts, stories, or group chats.
Small-business owners can utilize this by incentivizing their followers to join with discount codes, insider deals, or early access, Brulhart said.
Specific analytics can guide your growth
Analytics offer the clearest way to determine how to increase your content's reach and therefore your sales, Brulhart said. A company's goals dictate which analytics are the most important for a business owner to watch, she added.
"It's important to look at everything holistically and understand what each individual metric does," Brulhart said. "Engagement is a really important metric because it's the overall health metric of your account: If you have a high engagement, that signals to the algorithm that your content should be shown to a wider audience."
However, engagement relies heavily on likes and that is not the only number you should pay attention to, she added.
Instead, nonvanity metrics — such as click-through numbers (read: clicks on your email-address button or responses to your stories and direct messages) — can be more helpful in explaining the back end of a business, including where sales and customers are coming from. Reach, which compares your engagement numbers with the total number of post views, is another indicator of the success of your posts in regards to the algorithm, she said.
"Saves are a really important metric because they show you what type of content is being looked at as a reference point or being saved for later to inform a future purchase decision," said Brulhart.
Being intentional with analytics research can help guide you toward what the platform's algorithm is pushing and what your followers are drawn to, Brulhart said.
Instagram vs. TikTok for business growth
TikTok has tons of users, but Instagram remains a strong social-media option for businesses, Brulhart said. For example, Instagram's "shoppable tags" allow brands to directly link a product post to an online store, which leads to direct sales, she said.
"TikTok is fantastic. It's where the trends start," Brulhart said. "But when it comes to monetization, many business owners I work with are not making anything on TikTok."
TikTok's algorithm often allows users to grow more rapidly. Additionally, their content is often pushed to a wider or more varied audience, she said. Given these differences, the decision of which app to use depends on your company goals: awareness or sales. Sometimes, a combination of the two is the best way to create a marketing strategy, she added.