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Instagram Stories and the Parallels to…Solutions Consulting?!

By Michael Tan

At Appian, we have an amazing culture. Our culture is one of the biggest factors that has kept me around for 10 years (I encourage you to read more about it from a few of my colleagues, Tricia and Monika). We believe in our culture so much that we invite all of our employees to share it with the world through #takeoverTuesday on our AppianLIFE Instagram. I jumped in head first for the opportunity to represent the Appian London office, except I had forgotten one thing: I am not the most literate with respect to Instagram Stories or Snapchat!

Sheepish admission: For most of my life the story I told myself was that I was not “creative” or “artistic.”

Art and music class growing up felt more like a chore than the creative release in my day (and I’m definitely not the person you want on your team in Cranium or Pictionary). Leading up to my big day taking the reins of the AppianLIFE account I had to succumb to my own vulnerability: my lack of knowledge about what makes a great Instagram story. This led to a lot of preparation where, oddly enough, the parallels between great Instagram stories and my role as a Solutions Consultant dawned on me.

Please indulge me here :)

For Solutions Consultants, being prepared and knowing what demo tactics we have at our disposal allows us to tailor the content of our sessions; preparation leads to better outcomes, less time wasted, and happier prospects. On preparedness, the unofficial Bible of Appian’s Solutions Consulting team is Demonstrating To Win!, and covers several areas we need to know for a successful demo, a few (product, product strengths, product weaknesses, and equipment) paralleled my experience with Instagram Stories.

First, similarly to needing to know the ins and outs of Appian, I had to learn what the different modes of Instagram could do. I started by watching a lot of other Instagram stories, including the previous Appian ones, to see what was possible and try to deconstruct what they were doing.

Trying to be cool like our VP, Michael Heffner

From there I read a lot of articles and watched various tutorials and how-to’s. In seeing different examples, this started to help generate ideas for what I could do myself.

Market research from other influencers

Researching different accounts, reading tutorials, and practicing on my own account is no different from discovery meetings with prospects providing us the knowledge of what parts of our product or what use cases would be of most relevance to them and practicing for my own demonstrations. From there, it was on to some fun practicing on my personal Instagram account!

Testing on my personal account

…and trying to build an outline for what I would do on the day:

Script planning for my big day!

My personal technique for preparing for my own meetings and demonstrations is through mind mapping as mind maps lends themselves really well to helping manage the time of a meeting. An important lesson I have learned in my career is that by showing you value someone’s time, this demonstrates they have value — and that you value their time more than your own.

On knowing our own equipment (for us in the Solutions Consulting team) this is typically having the right adapter to share our screen, or something as simple as ensuring we have a Wifi or mobile connection. On my Takeover Tuesday, I knew I wanted to use Instagram’s Stop Motion functionality for something cool, so I even went to the extreme of purchasing a tripod to ensure it would be steady and turn out great!

After all this preparation, it was really just a matter of using the techniques I learned to show how awesome the London office is! For a Solutions Consultant, preparation is the key to successful meetings or demonstrations. It is our responsibility to demonstrate our product and company in the best light, creating a vision for how we can improve our prospects and customers and this begins with preparation. In the same way I had so much fun tackling the challenge of depicting the London office life in a clever and artistic way. I would encourage anyone whose company provides an opportunity for an Instagram Takeover Tuesday to take the chance to do so, as it should provide an opportunity to get excited about work and expand your own creativity.

The interesting outcome of the exercise, beyond reminding of my own job, was that it showed me a way to be a better Solutions Consultant.

Through being curious and facing my own vulnerabilities, I learned cool techniques by deciphering how others did them and practice.

Some of my Stories from the day!

P.S. Another parallel I realized was, with Solutions Consulting at Appian and Instagram, I could be mistaken for someone with some creativity.

Instagram Stories and the Parallels to…Solutions Consulting?! was originally published in AppianLIFE on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Published on May 24, 2018

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