What the Heck Is a 9 Grid? - Episode 128
This special edition episode is where we are talking all about what the heck is a 9-Grid and is this a strategy that I should be implementing as part of my marketing plan.. If you want to find out if this could be a strategy you want to use you can tune in here:
You're gonna wanna listen all the way to the end because I share some bonus tips and some insider secrets that if you decide a nine grid is right for you, you're gonna wanna know. We're gonna talk all about what the 9-Grid is, who it benefits, and how you can use it as part of your overall marketing plan.
And quite honestly, where I found the 9-Grid super helpful is how it gives you time back because you're not pumping out content-- And if you're not posting at all, it lets you leverage social media without getting on the content hamster wheel and again, stressing out and spending time on social media content and giving your energy to the algorithm.
So first of all, what is a 9-Grid ?
It is a visual Instagram strategy where we create a cohesive set of nine posts that go in a consecutive order on your grid that come together to create a larger image or theme that tells a story. And what I really like to say is it's almost like a mini website for your Instagram grid.
The first nine posts the user sees when they hit your profile are gonna answer the question of who you are, what your business does, the problem that you solve, the customer that you help, who your ideal client is, what makes you different, and what your brand values are so that you can truly attract and nurture and convert your people.
Why is an Instagram 9-Grid strategy helpful?
As a busy business owner who is wearing all of the hats and doing all of the things and has a million things on their to-do list, creating Instagram content and marketing altogether, sometimes, falls to the wayside, it sits on the back burner--You're just not getting to it. And I hear from so many business owners "I'm just not posting on Instagram". They do what I call the post and ghost where they post a few times and then they never get to it, and their Instagram profile is just, sitting there not doing them any justice, and quite honestly, they don't have the time to feed the algorithm with the consistent content that it "needs to stay active".
Or when they do create content and put it out there, it's like crickets and nobody's engaging. Nobody's commenting, nobody's liking, and you're like, oh my God, why am I spending time on this anyway? I'm gonna go do something instead. So you might think like, okay, well then I just won't post. I just won't use Instagram. But here's my argument to that--3 billion people are on Instagram, and your customer is probably on Instagram. If you're finding business or you're attracting new eyes to your business in other ways, such as client referrals, networking, maybe it's trade shows, maybe you have a brick and mortar, maybe you do long form content such as a blog or a podcast. So, you're using SEO or you're doing guest speaking to drive awareness to your business...You're doing other things where someone might discover you and decide to go check you out on Instagram.
Fun fact, I needed a new primary care doctor. I googled functional medicine providers in my area, and then I checked out their Instagram, and then when I chose it was because I liked her social media content and I got to know her vibe. But, I'm pretty sure that most medical providers don't have time to be sitting around creating social media posts because it is time consuming. So having the 9-Grid Is a way to set it and forget it when it comes to your content. You've got the powerful nine posts that are gonna tell that story, right? When somebody hits your Instagram profile, so when they're looking you up because a friend referred them or they met you somewhere, or they found you on Google or whatever it is they can go to your Instagram and they immediately know what you're all about. But you're not having to constantly pump out content and think about, "is this post gonna make sense?", "Is this gonna work?", "Is it gonna do what I need it to do?" And I also know if you've been a listener to the Consistency Corner podcast at all, or you've hung out with me, or followed me on Instagram, is that one thing I will tell you is:
social media is not a strategy
It's a container for your messaging and it is a part of your overall marketing strategy. As a business owner who is maybe handling your own marketing or your team is handling it while wearing a thousand other hats -- you know you still need to be on there and you know that the content that needs to be in that container needs to be consistent with your brand message and tell the story necessary to nurture and convert your ideal clients. So again, that's where the 9-Grid comes in. You have this really cohesive strategic content plan that tells a story in those nine posts so that you can set it and forget it.
Now, a question I get a lot is, "but don't I need to be pumping out content or feeding the algorithm for Instagram to show my content to people?" Yeah, but here's the thing.... If you're not getting clients from Instagram anyway, who cares? It's probably not the best use of your time. You should be doing other things such as networking, such as creating long form content, legacy content that lives on your website or somewhere outside of social media since you don't own social media content and doing things that are nurturing your audience in that way.
I'm not saying you should create a nine grid post it and then suddenly your business is gonna change like overnight. It doesn't work that way. There's no one thing, there's actually no simple or easy hack or easy button as they say, and if someone's telling you that there is red flag run the other way, they're just trying to take your money.
This is one piece of the puzzle. Social media is one piece of the overall strategy and puzzle, and you can use the 9-Grid to make this piece something easier to manage.
So how do you know what content to put in the 9-Grid and how do you create it so that it is cohesive?
Well, there's some major things you wanna hit. You want to:
- You want to introduce yourself and introduce your business.
- You want to talk about your offers. What do you sell? What are your services or your products if you're a product-based business?
- If you have a lead magnet or a freebie, you want one of the posts to be about that so that you can capture those leads somewhere outside of Instagram, such as your email list.
- You want to talk about your brand values and what matters most when it comes to how you serve your customers and how you run your business.
- And you want talk about some of the problems that you solve for your ideal customer. What are those problems and what are the unique ways that you solve them?
Those are the things that are gonna go in those nine posts-- and so you're thinking, okay, but how do I make the pictures and the words all come together? Well, typically we're gonna create a graphic that spreads across those nine posts, and I personally like to create graphics that can be split into posts that will stand on their own, meaning there might be some carryover from post to post, a little piece of an image, or a piece of a graphic, or a color or something like that.
For the most part those posts can stand on their own so that they can be repurposed onto other platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn. But you can also create a 9-Grid, meaning nine squares that is one or a couple of images spread out into those nine posts. And so when somebody's scrolling through the feed and that post pops up in their newsfeed and it's like a corner of something and they're like, what the heck is that? They click on it to go to your profile, and then they see it's big. It's part of a larger storytelling idea, and that can be really helpful for a relaunch with a new logo or a new offer, a new product that you want to promote, maybe an event that you're hosting. But regardless, there's different ways that you can create the design.Next up- in the captions is where you're going to tell the story.
Now, how often do you have to update your nine grid?
Well, that's really up to you. I like to give at least 90 days for the nine grid to live so that you can get some data about how people are interacting with it. How often people are seeing your posts about how not posting is impacting stories, and views. If you're using reels, again, that's your choice. Whether or not you're gonna use those things or not, I personally would recommend that you use at least one, if not both, a little bit, but it doesn't have to be constant.
I always coach my clients and teach you guys that consistent does not have to mean constant.
And the same goes for social media, but the nine grid gives you a consistent presence with that strategic messaging for your marketing so that when people do find you on social media, you know that you're nurturing them with the content that will intentionally tell your story, support them in their journey to solve the problem that you solve, and build those relationships. Because here's the thing, relationships are what lead to sales and consistency builds trust, which builds relationships, so you want consistent messaging in those posts, especially in you're not posting on the regular.
So that's what a nine grid is. It's a piece of your overall marketing strategy for Instagram, which is again, a piece of your marketing plan and one of the many things that a small business can do to grow their overall audience and nurture and to convert customers.
A nine grid is a way to help you set it and forget it when it comes to grid content, so that as a small business owner wearing all the hats, you have that time back.
This will give you time back to do other things, but you know, you've got strategic content that people can consume or binge really to find out more about you and your brand and what you do. You can choose to update that nine grid quarterly, you can choose to update it every six months, you can choose to update it whenever you have a new offer. It's really up to you and what the data is telling you and what you have in terms of your bandwidth as a business owner to be able to look at to refresh your website. And quite honestly, a website refresh can cost thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars, where a 9-Grid refresh is a much smaller lift.
Now, how long does it take to create a nine grid? Well, it really depends. For me who is a content strategist and a content creator, it takes me anywhere between 10 and 15 hours to create a total nine grid strategy and finish the content.
And when I say strategy- when I meet with a client and do a nine grid for them, we really dive into your brand's mission, vision, and values. We dive into your offers, we dive into who your ideal customer is, all those brand details that are really important to tell your story in those nine posts. And then I put together a cohesive strategy with the graphic that we choose and leverage your brand photos and your images or stock images if you don't have them to tell that visual story.
We make sure that the graphic is aligned with the tone of your brand, the storytelling that makes sense for your brand and how you want your customers to feel when they work with you. Once we get it posted, then you don't have to think about it anymore. It's done, and they're ready to nurture your audience as they find you on social media.
Have more questions about the 9-Grid Strategy? Feel free to DM me on Instagram and we can talk through it. We can talk about whether or not it makes sense for your business right now, what it is, what type of effort or lift it's gonna take for you to do one yourself, or what it would look like for The Consistency Corner to support you in creating a done for you nine grid as part of our simplified content plan.
We know that Instagram is just a container. Social media in general is just a container.
This simplified content plan actually also includes a marketing funnel strategy for you for an entire quarter, customized to your bandwidth with things that you can also be doing outside of social media to grow your business, as well as custom stories, prompts, reels, prompts, or email prompts based upon, what makes sense for you so that you can use marketing to grow your business.
So now I will share two bonus tips with you!
And the first one is, if you decide to create your own nine grid, the number one tool I recommend is called Pine Tools. That is how you will take your overall graphic and split it into nine posts. Super helpful. Makes your life way easier than trying to create nine separate posts in Canva.
The second bonus tip that I'll share is in terms of reels. If you decide you'd like to create reels or you have an idea for a reel, go for it. If you don't, you do you right? But, video content is a powerful way to reach new audiences and to nurture your existing audience because showing your face and using your voice helps establish those relationships. So, if you use reels as part of your overall marketing strategy, when you post the reel, here's my insider tip, you're gonna post it as normal so it will show on your feed, and on your grid for a minute or a second, or however long. But then you're gonna go to the reel once it's already posted, and you are gonna click the little dots on the side, and you're gonna click manage, and then you're gonna click "hide from grid." The reason that you will do that instead of just initially hiding it, is by allowing it to hit your grid first. It will show in the feed. I know this, you're probably like, what Ruthie? What are you talking about? But it will show in the feed and then you can hide it from the grid so that it's not messing up that nine grid that you worked so hard to design, or we worked so hard to design if you hide it initially.
What I have found, and I've experimented with this, is if it never hits the newsfeed your own followers don't see it. So it doesn't get a chance for anybody to engage with it, and engagement will actually help it be shown to more new users.
If we work together, I will give you, attract, nurture and convert strategies that you can do and be consistent with based upon your bandwidth to get you to those business goals.
No matter what else is going on we'll customize it to you and make it something that you can actually be consistent with. So, I am already cheering you on. I cannot wait to see the content that you create and am excited to have you here.
And if you are ever interested in the done for You nine grid strategy or an Instagram nine grid strategy session, you can learn [email protected].