As a part of our series about How To Leverage Instagram To Grow Your Business, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Hernandez, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at lotus823.
David leads his team in catering to a diverse range of clients with a multidisciplinary approach. His visionary leadership, dedicated marketing expertise, and drive to excel are at the heart of lotus823’s success and reputation in the integrated communications space. Most notably, his expertise in leading social media platforms, such as Instagram, has led the agency to produce measurable results from clients wishing to grow their online presence.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Starting at a very young age, I was taught to follow my passions and work hard as I followed them. I wasn’t afraid to do what I loved and be proud of who I was. For a long time, my biggest passion was music. I knew I wanted to work within the music industry to some capacity and created an environment for myself where I could thrive and find out what I truly wanted to do. I networked with other musicians, toured internationally, and eventually gained the titles “Co-writer”, “Co-producer”, Music Director, Sales Manager, Vice President, and more. But, the more I learned about the music space, the more I was drawn to strategy and community-building. So many of the musicians I worked with had fanbases that they engaged with differently, creating a sense of community that made others truly interested in their work. I think that spending so much time behind-the-scenes brought this out of me. Over the course of 20 years, I developed a new passion for connecting brands to different communities. I wanted others to feel like they were a part of a community the way that I always did in working with musicians and businesses in the music industry. So, I decided to create a space where marketing and public relations professionals could take brands and businesses that they’re passionate about and strategize ways to increase their brand visibility, generate their own “fan bases” and foster a community in a way that drives results.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Honestly, one of the most interesting and surreal moments happened recently. Founding lotus823 with my wife, Allison, it was at our dining room table where we conceptualized the idea that for a brand to succeed in their industry, they needed an integrated approach and marketing strategy. After celebrating lotus823’s 10th anniversary at home due to COVID-19, I truly had a full-circle moment. Our agency has come so far, and I realized that it truly doesn’t matter where you are if you want to succeed.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the funniest mistakes I can remember was in the early phases of lotus823. We were building out a trade show promotion for a client and I was ordering metal buckets that would be filled with the brand’s product and some promotional items. Unfortunately, I was so tired that I ordered miniature buckets, the size of a teacup! When our team received them, it was like a scene from This Is Spinal Tap! Everyone laughed at how tiny and unusable they were, I must’ve turned purple! Luckily, we had time to order the correct ones and the client was none the wiser. I think one of my main takeaways from this was that I’d been trying to do too many jobs at once. I was trying to wear all of the hats in the beginning, and there were times when I surely did. But, I learned that I can’t always do it all, and there are times where mistakes are made. Now, we’ve built an amazing team at lotus823 to make decisions, collaborate and be autonomous where needed.
Ok. Let’s now move to the main focus of our discussion. For the benefit of our readers, can you explain why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
I have over 10 years of integrated marketing experience, including comprehensive, multi-channel marketing campaigns such as social media strategy, influencer marketing, brand strategy and more. Prior to launching lotus823, I spent 20 years in the retail and marketing industry, holding leadership roles at companies such as MARS Music, OMI Medical Imaging and Guitar Center. Being fully immersed in all aspects of marketing and seeing the rise of various social media platforms helped me understand how to adapt marketing strategies, and how to drive results with the use of social media.
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
We’ve seen great results for our clients with Instagram marketing strategies. Although every client is different in terms of which social media platform produces the best results, it is by far the most effective to use to increase business revenues. In addition to crafting content for a variety of clients within diverse industries, we always place emphasis on the results and visibility that Instagram provides. Not only this, but we can actively measure results for different campaigns we run, whether it is sales, clicks, swipe-ups, likes — Instagram provides great insights for any type of content.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share five ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
Through all of our work at lotus823, we’ve noticed that Instagram remains one of the most effective tools for digital marketers to help brands grow. Here are some ways to leverage Instagram to drastically improve your business.
- Utilize all of the tools Instagram has to offer. In order for Instagram to be an effective marketing technique for your business, you need to take advantage of the entire app. From sales tools to the Shop, Stories, IGTV and Reels options — there are so many ways to create content and ensure that you are engaging your audience. Whatever the goal is, whether it is driving traffic to a business’ website, increasing sales on a specific product, or simply educating an audience about a brand — thinking about what you want out of your content is key as you move forward with content creation.
- Keep up with Community management. We like to make sure that our clients are being active on the app to keep their business profiles interesting, and that the business is interacting with their community. Engaging your followers in the comments section of your Instagram posts, sharing testimonials and taking their feedback into consideration is key when strategizing. Not only does this help you figure out what your demographic is, but it also helps you to build that community and make them feel heard.
- Optimize your business profile. Your business’ profile be aesthetically pleasing, while also including relevant information. Your business should take full advantage of relevant hashtags, a brief bio, links to your website or a linktree, the business location, contact information, and more. It is so important to be informative, while maintaining consistent branding, so that your business is easy to find and your products are easy to purchase.
- Collaborate! The team at lotus823 is so passionate about collaborating with other brands or influencers that match a business’ mission. Instagram is full of influencers waiting to endorse products they’re passionate about and other brands looking to reach similar goals as your business. This is a great opportunity to increase exposure and leverage another business or influencer’s audience to grow your own audience. The app provides so many opportunities for collaboration through story or Reels takeovers, IGTV, giveaways, and guest blog posts.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I were to start a movement, it would be to help normalize mental health and encourage others to take care of their minds and bodies. It has always been a part of my mission with lotus823 to encourage a healthy work-life balance and encourage overall wellness. I think that there is such a stigma around mental health and to put work above all else. But, I truly believe that if we encourage everyone to incorporate more wellness practices into their day, like meditation or exercise, that we could help so many. People all over the world collectively experienced so much stress this past year, it is more important now than ever to prioritize mental health.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
If I could speak with anyone in the world right now, I think it would be Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. This book became the foundation for what my wife, Allison, and I founded lotus823 on. His perspective emerged from over 25 years of experience and research into what drives companies, and what makes them truly succeed. I would LOVE to pick his brain and speak more with him on the topic of business growth, sustainability, and having a passion for what you do.